Here some FREE food for thought for today and your week ahead:

There are some people who inspire me by something very simple: they seem to easefully maintain a soft and calm expression throughout their day. Even in times of stress, they appear centered and unruffled, as if they were carrying the expression, “This soon shall pass” in their hearts.

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I am inspired by the occasional stranger on the subway who centers me because they look so content and impervious to the rush-hour crowds, and the yoga student whose soft smile never waivers as she maneuvers from pose to pose.

Ever since I read the following quote of zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh a year ago, I’ve been making a more conscious effort to gently smile throughout my day. Doing so has been powerfully grounding.

As Thich Nhat Hanh so playfully shares in his small booklet The Long Road Turns to Joy:

“As you make the effort to let go of your worries and anxieties, please smile. It may be just the beginning of a smile, but keep it there on your lips. It is very much like the Buddha’s half smile. As you learn to walk as the Buddha walked, you can smile as he smiled. Why wait until you are completely transformed, completely awakened? You can start by being a part-time Buddha right now!

“The half smile is the fruit of your awareness that you are here, alive, walking. At the same time, it nurtures more peace and joy within you. A smile refreshes your whole being and strengthens your practice. Don’t be afraid to smile.”

Something so simple can be so strong and potentially transformational.

This week, I invite you to smile more on and off the mat. Feel free to share about your experience here.

(From a vanity point, smiling more, whether subtly or overtly, is an excellent way to prevent frown lines.)

This is officially my first blog from our new home in Easton, CT.  It’s very quiet in this neck of the woods; we mainly hear peepers, birds, and the incredibly active bullfrogs that live in the bog across the way.  In brief, I’m thrilled to be surrounded by nature once more.  I actually grew up about 8 miles from this cottage, in the neighboring town of Weston.  While I didn’t necessarily take nature for granted during my upbringing, 10½ years of New York City living (well, subtract a couple years in the middle when I was staying in India, Paris, and Kazakhstan) completely deepened my appreciation of it… the power of opposition, I suppose.  Anyway, here we are.

There are some amazing luxuries added back into our lives after years of apartment dwelling.  Just to name a few:

  • The use of our own WASHER and DRYER
  • The ability to step outside of our own home BAREFOOT and feel healthy about it
  • The fact we can temporarily put objects outside of our house if we need to make extra space to clean or organize (very good after a move)
  • The ability to buy groceries… LOTS OF GROCERIES and other essentials like kitty litter… I can get FAR more than I could ever lug on the subway!
  • The ability to GARDEN
  • The eventual acquisition of a basic WEBBER GRILL

There is one culinary adjustment that’s less ideal for an avid cook: the switch from gas to an electric coil stove.  We will eventually switch over again but in the meantime, I’m seeking to master my electric cooking skills.  After all, Julia Child cooked amazing meals on one for part of her career.  That’s the motivation I need.  It’s a bit of an abstract experience to not be able to see the flame or know how long it takes for the coil to cool down and heat up, but I’ll get used to it.  For small baking projects, we also have our beautiful Breville oven next to the stove. These things are stellar!

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I was actually pretty pleased with my first supper cooked over electric coils and would like to share it.  It was very simple: Pan-seared cod served with roasted balsamic Portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, and wilted baby spinach.

Note: I am still teaching at Park Slope Yoga Center Friday and Saturday afternoons. Fannie and I are also charging ahead with the Doing It podcast.  Check out episode 6!

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Finally, spring is arriving here in the Northeast, and crocuses are certainly a welcomed sight! I’m also so excited to experience the first of spring outside of NYC – Dan and I are moving to Connecticut tomorrow. This is what I wish I could make for supper tonight: Daikon and butternut squash soup, an excellent fix for any spring allergies settling in or winter colds still floating around.  Instead, however, I’ll be scrubbing away at the stove.

Last year, yoga practitioner, fellow life coach, acupuncturist, and Chinese herbalist Esther Hadasa suggested this excellent remedy for my pollen irritated, scratchy throat. I cooked up a batch that evening and must say, it was soothing, voice clearing, and delicious! As Esther told me, daikon releases mucus from the body and therefore helps the lymph system flow more efficiently, making it a great fix for allergies, colds, and gall bladder issues. I also added onion, ginger, garlic, bok choy, miso, a bay leaf, and thai red chili paste.
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The 5th episode of Doing It just hit the cyberwaves.  In this podcast, which you can subscribe and listen to for FREE on iTunes, Fannie Cohen and I explore the definition of attention.  We speak to a seasoned psychoanalyst named Dr. Bernstein, a humanities professor named Dr. Rebecca Painter, a cliaraudient and clairvoyant named Paul Selig, and Aikido master, author, and executive coach Wendy Palmer. One thing we really walked away with from doing this show is the notion that energy follows our attention, and our perspective on life is heavily influenced by how we focus our attention.  I believe we have a lot more say in how and what we focus on than we sometimes lets ourselves believe.  It’s a discipline… and a good and invaluable one at that.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the choice we have to be more attentive of and believing in our own self-worth and potential. I’ve also been thinking about the choice we have to cultivate a greater sense of harmony between breath, body, and mind.  It’s by taking small and tangible steps that we can begin to create a shift.  So, with that in mind, I have an invitation for you this week:

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While this is primarily a food blog, I occasionally like to cover topics that will nourish your in other ways. Developing this skill can be invaluable….

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. -Mahatma Gandhi

Recently, I was walking home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and overheard an interesting conversation amongst a group of teenagers. A boy was walking a beautiful young Vizla, or Hungarian Pointer, with two other girls. Another girl joined the group and was very excited to see the beautiful Vizla. Out of excitement, she happily said, “Good boy, good boy!” The teenage boy smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “You know, you aren’t supposed to say ‘Good boy’ or ‘Good girl’ according to the disciplinarian.”

Over-committing can devour your time! (btw - my mother made this last year for 4th of July. Pretty cool, huh?)

Over-committing can devour your time and energy! (btw – my mother made this last year for 4th of July. Pretty cool, huh?)

One of the girls said, “Oh! Is that like how parents aren’t supposed to say ‘No’ anymore at the Park Slope playground?” This led into a discussion among the teenagers about if and why such a rule actually exists. After all, isn’t it important to learn what an appropriately granted “no” means as a child? Isn’t it also necessary to learn how and when to say “no”?

The ability to say no can be one of the most essential energy savers and makers. Likewise, it’s a skill we can work to develop. Believe me, it can make a big difference. I used to be far too impulsive about saying yes when committing to events and engagements. Not only would I feel overextended, but worse, sometimes half-hearted or hesitant about the given occasion. The feeling of bringing a divided self to the table is one I particularly dislike and try to now avoid at all costs.

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On Thursday night, I made my favorite hoisin glazed salmon steaks with beautiful wild fish I found at Ruskin’s Fish Market in Crown Heights.  I underestimated how much I bought and was blessed with a bounty of leftovers.  I’m not sure why it works out like this, but my husband and I often find ourselves wandering to the Laundromat every other Friday (This probably wouldn’t be the case if we had our own washing machine).  As a result, I like to make tasty suppers that don’t require too much time over the stove (it’s a great night for baking, too).

Last night’s solution was turning the salmon into a nice chilled salad with scallions and serving it up with a ginger-hoisin-butternut squash dish and a mango, avocado, baby arugula salad with miso dressing.  This dish is almost gluten free, too.  You can make it so by using gluten free soy and hoisin sauce (I used the latter).

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$$$ The Cost $$$

Dinner for 2 cost about $13.50 or so (it’ll vary depending on the price of fish)

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Something I’ve really enjoyed over the past week has been cruising around New York City and Long Island with Fannie Cohen to capture some inspiring interviews for the next 2 episodes of our new podcast, Doing It.    If you’ve missed the first 2 shows, please listen and subscribe for free on iTunes by clicking here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/doing-it/id605177565

Our 3rd episode, which will hit the cyber airwaves in the next day or two, explores the essence of creativity.  Where does it come from? Is it teachable? Are we all born with the same potential to be creative?  The 4th show will feature 3 motivational DIY entrepreneurs: Bob and Joe McClure of scrumptious McClure’s Pickles, Kelly Dooley Kalley of the chic BodyRock Sport fashion fitness, and Rachel Winard, the mastermind of Soapwalla Kitchen.  Please stay tuned!

After a full day of interviews and travel, I returned home on Friday craving a wholesome meal.  My husband happened to have defrosted some all-natural bratwurst we recently purchased fro Whole Foods.  As some one who prefers to maintain a waste-not-want-not attitude, I wanted to use them up and decided to throw together a bit of Eastern European-inspired fare:

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Bratwurst served with warm red cabbage and apple slaw and organic basmati rice.

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