Power Lunch Ideas

If you read my post entitled Power Breakfast Ideas, then you know that thinking about meals and what to eat during cancer treatment is a difficult task. Besides your emotional and physical reaction to the changes taking place, your mind just isn't capable of adding yet one more thing to worry about.

Ideally, someone can help you with meal prep a few days a week.  If not, below are some easy ideas to help you ensure you're getting the necessary nutrients during or after treatment, to build your immune system and boost your energy.

Click here to be taken to the Fantastic Foods section under Diet and Nutrition for more ideas on what to eat!  I hope this Power Lunch Guide is helpful to you.

~*~*~*~

Sardine or Salmon Salad Nicoise: romaine, arugula, endive and radicchio greens, 3 oz. wild caught cooked salmon, or 3 sardines, tomatoes, red bell pepper, lightly steamed green beans, sunflower sprouts, avocado and apple cider vinaigrette or lemon juice and olive oil.

Hoda’s Garbanzo Bean Salad: 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans, 1/4 c. cooked organic brown rice, ¼ c, chopped scallions, 2 Tbs. chopped red onion, ¼ c. chopped tomatoes, 1 Tbs. each chopped basil, mint, parsley and ½ - 1 tsp. chopped jalapeno pepper,  Season with a little salt, juice of 1 small lemon and 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil.

Tabbouleh Lunch: (click here for my recipe) and ½ baked acorn squash, small organic greens salad or steamed greens flavored with garlic powder and a squeeze of lemon (swiss chard, kale, spinach, beet greens).

Tempeh Sloppy Joes: Chopped grilled tempeh mixed with tomato paste, 1 tsp. olive oil, garlic, diced bell pepper & chili powder and a dash of salt. Serve open-face on 1 slice whole-grain bread, with steamed broccoli and beets or carrots. (courtesy of Jeanne Wallace, PhD, CNC)

Bison Burger: Organic grass-fed bison or beef burger (scant 1/4 lb) topped with ripe tomatoes or tomato paste, lettuce, red onion and sprouts; serve with sweet potato oven-fries sprinkled with pepper & garlic powder. Add a side salad of organic greens and chopped apple with a lemon, garlic, olive oil dressing.

 Whole Grain Pasta Salad:  Use buckwheat or kamut pasta; add chopped veggies, parsley, basil, garlic. Heat enough tomato paste and water to make a sauce, adding oregano, basil, garlic powder, black pepper, a little sea salt and olive oil.

 Veggie Wrap: Organic cooked brown rice, organic black beans, avocado, cucumber, broccoli sprouts, scallions, chopped cilantro and onions, wrapped in a sheet of Nori seaweed or whole-grain organic tortilla or rice-paper wrap.  (courtesy of Jeanne Wallace, PhD, CNC)

Tempeh Fingers: Marinated strips of tempeh wrapped in steamed chard leaves, with a baked sweet potato or yam topped with a mixture of 1 Tbs. flax oil, 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast 1 Tbs. chopped chives or green onion and shredded rice/ almond cheese.

 Vegetable Curry: Curried veggies over 1/4 c. organic brown basmati rice or faro, cooked in green tea. Serve with a cucumber, mint and tomato salad.

Vegetable or ‘Free-Range Chicken’ Burrito: Mix cooked chicken or roasted veggies with organic pinto or black beans, a little brown rice, salsa and/or guacamole in a Whole Wheat tortilla.

Pacific Brand Organic Soup: In a pinch these can be used as a base (tomato, butternut squash, and mushroom varieties).  Add your favorite veggies, beans or whole grains.

~ To Your Health!

In the News: Integrative Medicine: Antioxidants and Chemotherapy

Share widely!

Antioxidants and Chemotherapy

By Drs. Kay judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden

Published: Thursday, May. 31, 2012

Inflammation, and the use of antioxidants to put out inflammatory fires, is a hot topic these days. What do we mean by inflammation?

Inflammation is a natural and necessary response in the body whenever we are accosted by harmful germs or when we injure ourselves. When this occurs, our immune system steps in to fight foreign invaders and to bring our body back into balance so that we can heal.

Inflammatory chemicals are produced during this process, which can be harmful to our tissues, but antioxidants in our foods, such as vitamins C and E, help to quell this response and restore order to our tissues.

Inflammation can run amok, however, and cause persistent damage to healthy tissue, especially if we smoke or if we are overweight or obese. Chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat cancer also produce severe inflammation in the body, and this particular inflammatory response helps to kill off cancer cells. But it also harms healthy tissue in the process.

Many oncologists have been fearful of having their patients take any antioxidants during chemotherapy for fear that antioxidants might reduce the effectiveness of the chemo.

In a recent article in the journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies, Dr. Keith Block, a renowned integrative cancer specialist affiliated with the University of Illinois, discussed his review of more than 2,300 studies on the use of antioxidants during chemotherapy, and his report is very reassuring.

In summary, antioxidants often help to reduce side effects from chemotherapy, and this may allow patients to complete their full course of medication without interruption, which itself leads to better outcomes. Certain antioxidants also enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy, reduce long-term toxicity and improve survival.

Not a single study reviewed by Block showed any evidence of antioxidants interfering with the effectiveness of chemotherapy. In fact, a recent article looking at the impact of antioxidants in Chinese women undergoing treatment for invasive breast cancer found that use of antioxidant vitamin supplements in the first six months after diagnosis resulted in a reduced risk of both mortality and cancer recurrence.

Other studies have suggested survival benefit in certain cancers when patients take melatonin, as well as reduced toxicity from chemo with the use of glutathione and coenzyme Q10 among others.

So, if you are affected by cancer, what should you be thinking about to protect yourself during and after chemotherapy? First and foremost, begin by eating a super-healthful, plant-based diet that is loaded with dark-colored fruits and veggies so that you maximize your intake of antioxidants from your food, which is the most powerful way to get them.

You can also consider supplementing your diet with some of the more powerful antioxidants, such as fish oil, coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium, though we recommend that you meet with an integrative cancer specialist first so that you can determine which supplements are ideal for you, given your particular tumor as well as your treatment regimen.

And for those of you who have been affected by cancer, either because you or a loved one have faced this disease, there is a conference coming to Sacramento in September that you should know about. It's titled "Cancer as a Turning Point, From Surviving to Thriving," and it is a gathering of some of the best and most inspiring experts in this business.

Cancer as a Turning Point is sponsored by the non-profit organization Healing Journeys, whose vision is that everyone touched by cancer or any life-altering condition be empowered to move from surviving to thriving. This conference is usually offered in two cities across the country every year.  The conference is free to all attendees, though donations are greatly appreciated to offset the cost, and donations are also tax-deductible. For more information, and to register, go to www.healingjourneys.org.

And for more information on an integrative approach to cancer treatment, look at Block's 2009 book "Life Over Cancer" (Bantam, $28, 608 pages) or Alschuler's gem that she co-wrote with Karolyn Gazella, "The Definitive Guide to Cancer: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing" (Celestial Arts, $25, 496 pages), now in its third edition.

~ Be Well! ♥

The Windmills of Your Mind

Are You your thoughts...?

Have you ever considered that perhaps, once our brain has been programmed with what and who we think we are... dating back to messages and impressions received in childhood and the teen years, that becomes the theme music over which all the lyrics of our life are written?

Unless we start to consciously erase and re-record our theme music, writing new movements to create the person we want to be, we're stuck.

We get so caught up in the constant and unrelenting work of our minds (sane and less than sane thoughts) that we identify those ramblings with who we are!

IF you meditate, then you've observed the absurd goings-on in our attic! My goodness, how busy!

meditation-1287207_1280.jpg

Deepak Chopraadvises us to attempt to live in those moments of silence between thoughts.  A challenging and wonderful practice.

During a normal day many of our thoughts are logical and grounded so they aren't huge offenders... it's the thoughts that judge...telling us we aren't smart enough, or kind enough, or beautiful enough, or tough enough that we love to identify with and that can drag us down.  It's the instantaneous reactions, void of purposeful control or scrutiny, that get us in trouble.

You are... or become... what you identify with.  Release your identification with your thoughts and choose who you are by they way you act and react to life.

One of the laws of the cosmos is: Like attracts like. If you send out negative, self-defeating thoughts, more of that will come your way. On the other-hand, if you insist on finding the good, the positive, or the opportunity for a change, in whatever you face or in yourself, the universe will amplify this aspect.

We all have weaknesses. Focusing on them makes them bigger.

We all have strengths. Focusing on them makes them bigger.

Another Deepak Chopra insight: "Be conscious of your decisions and make the best choices you can at the time and in the circumstances, and you will be making the forward ... progress."

~~~~

When I was a girl, one of my mother's close friends and distant relative was a darling woman named Shareefi.  She was one of the two daughters of a religious elder in our community. She was short and little on the round side, with a matching face...like the moon.

I don't think I can recall one time that she wasn't smiling...her eyes twinkling with deep creases at the ends.

It didn't matter what the conversation was about, Shareefi smiled through every word. If it was what one may consider sad news, she let her smile drop of 2 seconds, but it's as if her face couldn't relax into anything but cheerfulness.

That was 36 years ago... she obviously made a lasting impression on me. What a wonderful example of how to radiate our inner beauty into the world!

Own who you are. Recognize your beautiful self. Accept yourself for your strengths and weaknesses, because that's how we're all created...with aspects we have conquered and others to work on.  That's the point of life. So why not accomplish our growth with a resolve to do it cheerfully, like Shareefi?

While you can't control most situations life will offer you, you can definitely control how you choose to reactto them. It may take a little practice, but soon you'll re-program your brain not to automatically kick into upsetness, anger, self-defense, or alarm when things go differently than you expected.

How great to be able to handle every 'crisis' or 'disappointment' with calm and grace?

For an inspiring talk byHazrat Inayat Khan on Self Control, click here.

What is your ideal?  Hold that up before your mind's eye daily, it's your goal. Be relentless in your pursuit.

The next time you find yourself feeling low because of a some situation, or because someone is judging you, say to yourself, “I am not defined by situations or opinions, I know who I am.”

Inayat Khan said, "The greatness of man lies in the greatness of his ideal."

Become your ideal, but even as you strive to do so Love this beautiful creation that you are now.

We are all flowers growing together in the Universal Garden, whether temporarily in the shade, or struggling to bloom, each one worthy of shining in the sun.

~ Namaste. ♥

A Safe Chewing Gum to Treat Ear Infections!

I came across this article and just had to share it with you.  I regret the number of times I had to get antibiotics for my daughter when she was an infant due to recurring ear infections!  

Study Shows Xylitol is a Sweet Alternative to Antibiotics for Ear Infections

The author of this article, Carolanne, is a nutritionist, natural foods chef, and wellness coach.

Xylitol has been shown to have many health benefits, yet few know of its healing power to prevent ear infections in children. It inhibits bacterial growth thus helping to avoid the use of dangerous antibiotics.

Xylitol is a natural low-calorie, low-glycemic sugar substitute produced from the fibers of fruits, vegetables, and trees such as plums, raspberries, corn, and birch. Xylitol is as sweet as sugar and can be used safely by diabetics. As xylitol is a mild sugar alcohol, excessive consumption over 30 grams per day can cause a temporary laxative effect that disappears with continued use as the body adapts. It is also important to find a source of xylitol that is GMO free if made from corn.

The health benefits of xylitol were discovered during the sugar (sucrose) shortages of World War II in Finland where xylitol was produced locally in abundance from birch trees. The Finns began to notice a substantial drop in tooth decay as well as ear infections.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 857 children it was found that those using xylitol chewing gum reduced the incidence of ear infections by a full 40%.  A daily amount of 8.4 grams of xylitol was divided and given five times per day for two months.  The study concluded that xylitol inhibits the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, both of which are the primary bacteria that cause ear infections. Lozenges or xylitol syrup were found to be ineffective as was a dosage of anything less that five times a day at the specified amount.

In the United States, ear infections are treated aggressively with antibiotics. Use of antibiotics can lead to numerous health complications such as the creation of "super bacteria", recurrent infections, the destruction of friendly flora in the intestines leading to an overgrowth of fungi and yeast, and a compromised immune system. Antibiotics may also intensify, or sometimes create, symptoms of autism by aggravating Candida albicans overgrowth. Ironically, antibiotic treatment does not prevent complications associated with ear infections such as serous otitis, pneumococcal meningitis, or hearing loss.

For those concerned with the risks of using antibiotics for ear infections, xylitol has proven to be a safe and effective alternative.

Sources for this article:

Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Niemela M. A novel use of xylitol sugar in preventing acute otitis media. Pediatrics. 1998;102:879-884. Kontiokari T, Uhari M, Koskela M. Anti-adhesive effects of xylitol on otopathogenic bacteria. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1998;41:563-565. Ear infections: researchers study chewing gum as "preventative medicine," allergies as cause. Autism Research Review International. Volume 11, Number 1, 1997;7

Butler CC, Van Der Linden MK, MacMillan HL, et al. Should children be screened to undergo early treatment for otitis media with effusion? A systematic review of randomized trials. Child Care Health Dev. 2003;29:425-432.

Kaleida PH, Casselbrant ML, Rockette HE, et al. Amoxicillin or myringotomy or both for acute otitis media: results of a randomized clinical trial. Pediatrics. 1991;87:466-474.

Rothrock SG, Harper MB, Green SM, et al. Do oral antibiotics prevent meningitis and serious bacterial infections in children with Streptococcus pneumoniae occult bacteremia? A meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 1997;99:438-444.

Schmidt, Michael. Beyond Antibiotics: Strategies for Living in a World of Emerging Infections and Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria North Atlantic Books, 2009.

Disclaimer: We do not suggest using this information as an alternative to seeking Medical Advice.

How are You Impacting Your Teen's Health?

It is imperative that we pay attention to what our pre-teens and teens are eating.  We are heavily involved in setting the stage for their future health. Here is an excerpt outlining the Nutritional needs of teenagers:

Balanced Diet

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that teenagers have a balanced and varied diet. Eat five fruits and vegetables per day. These can be fresh, frozen, or dried. For energy, eat complex carbohydrate foods, such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread and sweet potatoes. Eat lean meat, poultry, eggs, fish, beans and nuts to boost your daily protein intake. Protein builds and repairs the tissues in your growing body.

Snacking

Snacking on unhealthy foods can lead to unnecessary weight gain. Having breakfast will prevent this. Breakfast gives you the energy you need to start your day and also helps with your memory and concentration. If you get hungry between meals, avoid snacking on chips, chocolates, cookies, cakes and other high-fat or high-sugar foods. These foods contain saturated fat, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease if eaten frequently. Snack on more nutritious foods such as cheese, yogurt and fruit.

Calcium and Iron

The body's demand for calcium is at its highest during adolescence. Calcium is vital in your diet to build strong bones and teeth. A low intake of calcium during this time can lead to osteoporosis later in life. This is a bone disease where the bones become fragile and likely to fracture. From ages 13 to 18, the daily recommended allowance of calcium is 1,300mg, according to the National Institutes of Health. For age 19, the daily recommended allowance of calcium is 1,000mg.  Eat calcium-rich foods such as low-fat dairy foods, green leafy vegetables and fish.

Iron also is an important mineral in a teen's diet, especially for young women. Eat iron-rich food such as meat, poultry, liver, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, green leafy vegetables, pulses, beans and nuts.

___________

Once a week 4-5 of my son's friends come over to participate in a role playing game  called MouseGuard, and I make sure that I prepare  healthy snack items for them.  It's surprising how well they like what I make and comment that at home it's invariably chips, or crackers, or soda, or candy that they snack on.

It takes under 10 minutes to assemble a plate that you can put in the fridge for your teen to find when they get home:

Girls who take Birth Control pills are at risk of Vitamin B depletion, and should supplement with a well rounded B vitamin.  This is not a trivial matter. Please, please try to encourage your children to eat a wide variety of foods.  And if you need tips for picky eaters, DROP ME A NOTE! I can send you list of  Lunch Ideas that are creative and healthy.

"Lifepak Teen" is a good supplement for kids between 9  - 18 and supplies the following vitamins and minerals:

Serving Size: 2 Capsule Servings Per Container: 60

  • Vitamin A   5000 IU
  • Vitamin C (as Calcium Ascorbate)  100 mcg
  • Vitamin D  200 IU
  • Vitamin E  50 IU
  • Vitamin K1  20 mcg
  • Thiamin  1.5 mg
  • Riboflavin  1.7 mg
  • Niacin  20 mg
  • Vitamin B6  5.0 mg
  • Folate  200 mg
  • Vitamin B12  15 mcg
  • Biotin  150 mcg
  • Calcium  250 mg
  • Iron  4.5 mg

Calories  

On average, boys require about 2800 calories per day; and girls, 2200 calories per day. Typically, the ravenous hunger starts to wane once a child has stopped growing, though not always, says the dietitian. “Kids who are big and tall or who participate in physical activity will still need increased amounts of energy into late adolescence.” During middle and late adolescence, girls eat roughly 25 percent fewer calories per day than boys do; consequently, they are more likely to be deficient in vitamins and minerals. Read more here.

Eating Disorders

Here's a little 'literature' on eating disorders that many young people have, which underlines the need for monitoring our teens and what signals they may be responding to:

Also, households where there are high academic expectations are well-known breeding grounds for eating disorders.

Finally, many young women between the ages of 14 and 25 develop an eating disorder when they are not only under stress at school or college but also uncertain of their sexual orientation or sexual attractiveness.

Websites

BAM is a website that is both Fun and Informative, and is recommended by Nutrition.gov as a place designed for kids 9-13 years old:

  • "BAM provides information to help them make healthy lifestyle choices. The site uses games, quizzes, and other interactive features to teach kids about topics such as food and nutrition, physical activity, and general safety."BAM!
  • WebMD
  • HealthyChildren.org

~ Be Well.  ♥

Since Chemo brain is common side effect of Chemotherpay, unless one is taking the right supplements to combat it, it can take a year or more to recover. I found this post relevant and enlightening!

You Want Me to Buy a What Maker? ?

Something is happening to our baking, frying and dough shaping skills! :(

At least someone thinks so...

I think it's reached epidemic proportions because you can't turn around before another innovation in the field of  bakeware, uuh, excuse me ... "Novelty Electrics" pops up!

Apparently, a slew of us no longer know how to pour cupcake batter into a muffin tin and place in an oven to bake, someone decided to make a gadget that bakes cupcakes. Phew!

Oh, and we can't cut dough into rounds that puff up when cooked, so we need a doughnut hole baking gadget. Seriously?

I learned that eggs need to be fried in circular molds in an Egg cooking gadget so they look like uniform flying saucers.

egg mold
egg mold

And dare you bake Brownies in anything but a pre-sliced and ready to serve sectioned pan?  We've been convinced that 'edges' are tastier than the gooey center pieces, so apparently we need brownies that have 4 outer crust edges.

Nordic Ware Platinum Brownie Bites Baking Pan

Finally, for the thousands of us who have tried and tried, but still can't manage to roll puff pastry around mini hotdogs to make pigs-in-a-blanket for the tailgater... FEAR NOT! -- the Perfect, Photogenic, Pesky,  Personal Pigs-in-a-Blanket Baker has come to the rescue! (say that three times in a row...)

I  don't mean to sound old-fashioned (when did that become an old-fashioned word?), BUT likerolling dough with a wood rolling-pin that I've had for 15 years; I like shaping dough with my hands; I enjoy putting a tray full of dough thingies in my oven and having each creation be a tiny bit different from the one next to it.

I want my fried egg to be slightly asymmetrical, with fluted wings around the perfect golden center.

fried eggs
fried eggs

And if you don't like the gooey middle cuts of my Brownies...well, boo you!

Sinfully Brownie

I don't need a rice cooker because I AMa rice cooker! :D

The only 'gadgets' I own and use enough to warrant having them, are my Crock-pot (God Bless it's hard-working soul), and my new BOSS (I bow to its oil-less creations).

I own the perfectly acceptable and necessary kitchen electrics... a high quality mixer, a food processor, a toaster oven, a masticating juicer, waffle maker and a powerful blender.

And who has room for all those extra Novelty Baking doodads?  Do they last more than 2 years before they fall apart? Are you really still cooking with Teflon coated cookware? I threw mine out 2 years ago, and that was rather belated.

I feel it's honoring the skills my mother taught me to knead, roll, cut, stuff and crimp dough.  No one is going to rob me of the pleasure I get from doing so.

My son and his cousin were 14 when we sat around our kitchen table, and I taught them how to stuff grape leaves.  They did a marvelous job.  In 15 years if someone decides we need a grape-leaf-stuffing-and-rolling gadget, I hope those two refuse to buy it.

I hope they remember the day we sat together joking about the juices squirting all over as they rolled each leaf, and my telling stories about helping my mother make fabulous dishes that took 2 or 3 hours to complete. I hope they remember the pride they felt when I served our family the grape leaves at dinner, and praised the boys for a job well done.

Den 0311
Den 0311

And when they sit around their kitchen table teaching their children how to crimp a spinach pie or stuff grape leaves, maybe they'll have a story to tell about me.

 Here's to being old-fashioned! Yes? ♥

Foods and Plastics... Should They Mingle?

I found a link to this article on the epigenetics project blog and wanted to share it with you.

I have a HUGE thing about plastics, aluminum foil and food, and now research is showing that plastic containers, bottles and wraps leach chemicals under all circumstances!

When my children were young I never packaged their lunches in plastic wrap without first wrapping the item in wax paper. I don't let plastic wrap touch the top of food I store in the refrigerator, and when I freeze meats, I wrap them in wax or parchment paper first, and then aluminum foil.

As you may know, acidic foods EAT right through aluminum foil in a very short time.

If you wrap a pizza slice in foil and look at it a few hours later...every point that came in contact with the tomato sauce has a hole in it!  Aluminum is toxic to our bodies!

 

Plastic in Food: Inevitable Transfer

It's long been known that infinitesimal bits of plastic get into our food from containers. The process is called "leaching" or "migration." The chemical industry acknowledges that you can't avoid this transfer, noting on its website that "[v]irtually all food packaging materials contain substances that can migrate into the food they contact."

Laura Vandenberg, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in biology at Tufts University in Boston stated: "But almost any plastic container can be expected to leach trace amounts of plastics into food," she says.

Heating food in plastic seems to increase the amount that's transferred to food.

Migration also increases when plastic touches fatty, salty, or acidic foods.

Although most of the chemicals making the culinary crossing are considered "safe," Jacob tells WebMD that's generally not because they've been proved safe, but rather they haven't been proven to be unsafe.

Well, that's enough for me.

Clever Plastic-Free and Low-Tech Ways to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Ramon Gonzalez May 15, 2012

Lloyd Alter

Many fruits and vegetables taste better eaten the day they’re harvested from the garden. But what if you need to store your crop before you can prepare it? It’s possible to store your fruits and veggies using old technology and avoiding plastic altogether for zero waste storage.

How­ To Store Fruits and Vegetables.

Tips and tricks to extend the life of your produce without plastic.

The Ecology Center Farmers' Markets produced a large list of ways to store your produce without using plastic to push the markets and customers toward zero waste. Below is a sampling of the plastic-free tips and tricks of vegetable and fruit storage.

Fruits

Apples- Store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage, put in a cardboard box in the fridge.

Citrus- Store in a cool place with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container.

Apricots/Nectarines- On a cool counter or fridge if fully ripe

Cherries- Store in an airtight container. Don’t wash Cherries until ready to eat, added moisture encourages mold.

Berries -­Don’t forget they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag woks well, only wash before you plan to eat

Strawberries- Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.

Veggies

Always remove any tight bands from you vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breathe.

Asparagus- Place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. Will keep for 5 days outside the fridge.

Basil- Basil does not like the cold or to be wet. The best method is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside, left out on a cool counter.

Broccoli -Place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.

Carrots- Cut the tops off (but save them for tea) to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days, if they’re stored that long.

Cauliflower- Will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.

Lettuce- Keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.

Zucchini- Does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life skips the damp towel for carrots and stores them in containers of water that she frequently changes. According to Beth, the carrots, cut or whole, keep for a couple of weeks.

Saving Food from the Fridge

© Jihyun Ryou

How did we store food before we handed that job over to technology? Korean designer, Jihyun Ryou, tackled that question in her project, Save Food From the Fridge, which Lloyd Alter wrote about earlier here at TreeHugger, when she went in search of oral knowledge of elders and farmers.

What emerged is a simple and elegant way of storing and connecting to the ingredients we tuck away in the back of the refrigerator until they lose their flavor or start to decompose.

As gardeners we know about companion planting, but do we practice companion storage? Growing up apples were stored on the kitchen table or crisper in the fridge, while potatoes were relegated to the darkest corner of the food pantry.

Jihyun takes advantage of the ethylene gas emitted by apples as they ripen to suppress sprouting in potatoes.

What low-tech and plastic-less methods do you use to store your food?

Whimsical Eats

In my Appealing to the Eye post, I mentioned how visually appealing food just tastes better!  And if not better, well it sure draws you to want to try it. Getting children or finicky eaters to try something new or eat something 'healthy' is a challenge I'll bet each one of us has faced at one time or another.  But with just a little bit of creativity, they seem to be willing to override their objection if the food looks fun.

When my children were young, I told stories to distract them while eating, created faces on their sandwich bread by gluing pieces of fruit or cheese with peanut butter, or cut veggies in odd shapes.  It worked!

For Christmas, my daughter bought us two plates, one for me and one for my boyfriend, J.  This morning I was in a mood for a 'silly breakfast', a technical term referring to a plate of food that has an element of the ridiculous in it. I pulled out the "her's'"plate.

Don't you think your picky eater might be tempted to eat a flamboyant hat, earrings, and a bow in the shape of a heart and wings....and what if you expressed exaggerated distress as each item disappeared?

What do you think of my silly breakfast?  Would it pass the test?

What is your most creative way to get 'good' food into the stomachs of those you love?

breakfast face
breakfast face

~ Kawabunga! ♥

Beating Cancer with Nutrition

Below are a couple of pages from Dr. Patrick Quillin's book "Beating Cancer with Nutrition" to aid in motivating you to take care of yourselves now, BEFORE you have a 'reason' to.

If you feel you can't get all the recommended foods in your diet, then high-quality supplements can help.  I am happy to refer you to the brands made by reputable companies, known for the purity of their products, some of whom were recommended to me by the Complimentary practitioners I consulted with.

Please take the time to read this excerpt (since it took me two days to type out :)), and let me know if there is ANY way I can be helpful.

*~*~*~*~*

For the past 10 years, Dr. Patrick Quillin has served as the Director of Nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. He is an internationally respected expert in the area of nutrition and cancer. He has earned his bachelor's, Master's and doctorate degrees in nutrition and is a registered and licensed dietitian ( RD & LD) and Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) with the American College of Nutrition.

Starve the Cancer

Cancer is a sugar-feeder.  The scientists call it an “obligate glucose metabolizer”. You can slow cancer growth by lowering the amount of fuel available to the tumor cells.  Americans have become humming birds in their constant consumption of sweet fluids and foods.  The resulting constant high blood glucose levels yield many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and yeast infections. Trying to beat cancer while eating a diet that constantly raises blood glucoseis like trying to put out a forest fire while someone nearby is throwing gasoline on the trees.

sugar cubes
sugar cubes

Stop eating sugar. Eat very few sweet foods, including high glycemic fruits. Begin an exercise program to burn blood glucose down to a manageable level.  Your cancer is not going to be happy as you begin to starve it.  You will develop cravings worse than you currently have.  Ignore them and push through the discomfort.

Make fish and colorful vegetables the staples of your diet.  Eat small amounts of fresh fruit…(Berries, apples, pears, peaches) at a mixed meal, which will blunt the rises in blood glucose. Use cinnamon liberally, since it helps to stabilize blood glucose.  Take supplements of chromium and magnesium. I have yet to see a cancer patient beat the disease who continued to load up on the average amount of sugar in our diet, which is 140 pounds per year per person.

cinnamon
cinnamon

Avoid Malnutrition

Cancer is a wasting disease.  Over 40% of cancer patients actually die from malnutrition, not from cancer. Cancer generates chemicals that lower appetite while increasing calorie needs. The net effect is that many cancer patients begin to lose weight. You cannot fight a life-threatening disease while malnourished. You need all the proper nutrition you can get to feed your immune system, which is your army assigned to killing the cancer cells.  The backbone of the immune system is protein.

If you cannot eat solid foods, then try the high protein shakes.

Nutrition

While chemotherapy and radiation can kill cancer cells, these therapies are general toxins against your body cells also. A well –nourished cancer patient can protect healthy cells against the toxic effects of chemo and radiation, thus making cancer cells more vulnerable to the medicine.  Proper nutrition can make chemo and radiation more of selective toxin against the cancer and less damaging to the patient. (It's during this phase that you should consider supplements that support your body, and enhance the drugs' effectiveness).

Turbocharge Your Immune System

Your immune system consists fo 20 trillion cells that compose your police force and garbage collectors.  The immune system is responsible for killing the bad guys, any cells that are not participating in the processes of your body, including cancer, yeast, bacteria, virus, and dead cells. “Kill the bad guys and take out the trash,” That is what your immune system is supposed to do.  But since you have cancer, something is wrong with your immune system; usually either stress, toxic burden, or malnutrition.

Eat well and take professionally designed nutrition supplements. Lower you stress levels.  Use guided imagery to imagine your immune cells like sharks gobbling up the cancer cells. This technique REALLY WORKS!! Detoxify your body. The average American has 1,000 times more heavy toxic metals than our primitive ancestors before the dawning of the industrial age. Toxins shut down the ability of the immune system to mount a good battle against cancer cells.

As your cells divide billions of times daily, mistake cells are the inevitable consequence.  These mistake cells sometimes grow into cancer cells, which your immune system is programmed to gobble up like Pac Man. The average adult gets 6 bouts of cancer in a lifetime, yet only 42% of Americans will end up in a cancer hospital.  The other 58% had a respectable immune system, which protected them.

Nutrition products that have demonstrated an ability to bolster immune function include; colostrums extracts, whey extracts, aloe extracts, mushroom extracts (Maitake, AHCC [Immpower]), yeast cell wall extracts (1,3 beta glucan), IP-6 (phytic acid), ImmKine, and Essiac tea.

The Healing Power of Whole Foods

It is amazing how simple the answer to cancer can be. Our brilliant researchers have spent 33 years and $50 billion of your tax dollars wrestling with the complex issue of curing cancer.  Yet Nature has been solving the dilemma for thousands of years. All of us get cancer all of the time, yet magical ingredients in whole food diet are there to help the body beat cancer.  Ellagic acid from berriesinduces “suicide” in the cancer cells.  Lycopenes from tomatoes help to suppress cancer growth.  Genistein in soy, glutathione in green leafy vegetables, and S-allyl cysteine in garlic are examples of the new scientifically-validated cancer fighters of the 21st century.

You don’t have to wait 7 years while some drug company goes through $800 million drug approval process, nor for FDA approval, nor for a doctor’s prescription for some drug that has many toxic side effects and costs thousands of dollars each month. These miracle anti-cancer agents are waiting patiently at your nearby grocery store and health food store.

Herbal Medicine

There are thousands of herbs that have been used for thousands of years to treat cancer. None are guaranteed cures for all cancers, but many are non-toxic boosters of immune function and detoxification pathways. If you want the basic herb that all cancer patients should be using daily, then start with garlic--  as a food, seasoning, and/or pill supplement.

garlic
garlic

Many other herbs that merit attention are: Atragalus, Echinacea, goldenseal, licorice, ginseng, ginkgo, ginger, Rhodiola rosea and cat’s claw are on the hit parade of herbs to help you toward recovery from cancer. Work with a professional who can help guide you toward the herbs best for your disease, your therapy, your wallet and your stomach tolerances.

Healthy Fats

While too much fat and the wrong kind of fat have been killing millions of Americans for the past 50years, we are now finding a new form of fat malnutrition: deficiencies of the essential fats. Fish oil, borage or primrose oil, flax oil, conjugated linoleic acid, and shark liver oil are all fats that can help you beat cancer.  For a simple starter, begin taking a few capsules of fish oil daily, preferably basic cod liver oil with all the good Vitamin A and D intact. You can also make a delicious, healthy Italian dressing by using flax oil, olive oil, water, vinegar, and some seasonings.

Healthy fats line the cell membranes and help to lower blood glucose by making insulin more effective. Healthy fat make the immune cells more likely to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Order the Book here.

~ Be Well. ♥

That Cheeky Curcumin (aka Turmeric) is in the News

I love how frequently the foods we secretly know are excellent for preventing several serious illnesses, due to overwhelming testimony over decades of use, get 'discovered' by the news media, and featured. It may take the rest of the world a while to catch up with us, but the war is won a small battle at a time.  :D

*~*~*~*~*

Curry may help to boost the chances of fighting bowel cancer, according to researchers in the UK.

Laboratory tests suggest curcumin, a compound found in the yellow spice turmeric, can increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and has traditionally been used as an alternative remedy for a host of illnesses.

Now early test results suggest it may be able to reduce the development of bowel cancer.

The studies began after it was noticed that British Asians -- referring to Indians and Pakistanis -- were significantly less likely to develop the disease than non-Asians.

Now a two-year trial by scientists from Cancer Research UK and the University of Leicester aims to recruit for further tests about 40 patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver.

"We are very hopeful. You don't often see results like the ones we have had in the laboratory," chief investigator Professor Will Steward said.

"Certainly it is very, very promising and we are cautiously optimistic that we might see an improvement in outcome not just in terms of treating the cancer, making people live longer, giving people a better quality of life but also possibly reducing some of the nasty side-effects of chemotherapy."

Researchers hope that within three years they will have established once-and-for-all that one of our favorite curry ingredients is helping to prevent bowel cancer.

Hoda says: Why wait?? Eat more curries and stews with turmeric now!

Garbanzo Bean and Kale Salad
Thai Yellow Curry Paste
Read more here.
  ~ Be Well.

7 Random Things.. About Me

To fulfill the Versatile Blogger Award requirement, here are 7 Random things about myself: 1. I am passionate about: My children, my faith, good health, compassion for others, understanding teens and their struggles, speaking up when something looks shady.

2. From a shy wallflower in my teens, I've grown to be more like my Mom, outspoken and kinda opinionated! lol.  No body messes with my family without hearing about it (much to the chagrin of my children). :)

3. I love to belly dance, and dance in general.  Once the music starts, it's hard to keep me down.

4. I love cats although I pretend they are a pain and I huff about cat hair.  I had one outdoor cat, then my boyfriend moved in with his two (outdoor), then my daughter pawned two of hers on me (one indoors), and when I was going through Chemo, I waked into Petco on a Sunday (no, no, no..bad idea), and the next day went back and bought the baby black kitten (indoors) whom I named Basheera (arabic for "bringer of good news").  She brought me a lot of laughter, and now we have ... count them with me.. 1,2,3,4,5,6 cats!  AAAaaahhh!

5. Cooking brings me joy, and watching people happily gobble up what I make is instant gratification.

6. I miss many things about living on the Mediterranean: having my childhood friends around; lingering with extended family for 2-3 hours over multi-dish dinners; the small open-air Cafés at every curve on the mountain roads;  everybody you know converging to help when you need something; restauranteurs, taxi drivers, merchants and parking attendants remembering your name when you return more than twice; the amazing hospitality you are smothered with when there.

7. I am constantly working to shrink ego-based reactions and thinking, and expanding my ability to see the Divine in every situation and person.

~ Cheers!

The New "BOSS" at Our House...

Three weeks ago, one of my sweet nieces who used to make and bring me dinner every other week after my treatments (she was one of 3), sent me a Groupon notice for the Big Boss Oil-less Fryer. She knows I love Sweet Potato Fries, and the only place I can get them air-fried is in Berkeley (15 miles away). I immediately sent off for the Fryer... a $79 bargain.

A week later, UPS delivered a huge box to my front door.  I couldn't imagine what it was.  Yes, you guessed it was the Big Boss... and it was BIG!! In fact AWE-inspiring (phantom organ music here).

My son and I hauled it out of the box with two cranes and a winch, and set it on the piano bench.  Why the piano bench?  I'm not sure.  It seemed too overwhelming for the kitchen counter, and since the piano is just around the corner in the breakfast/computer den.. it seemed close enough but not too close.

The next 7 days I looked at it from a 5 -6 foot distance, assessing its personality.

The 8th day it seemed less imposing and actually friendly.

In the meantime, my 5 lb. bag of sweet potatoes was twirling its thumbs and tried to trip me twice as I passed by it on my way to the Cereal cabinet!

The 9th day.... TA DAAAA...I peeled two potatoes and my boyfriend J cut them into strips.  He and my son and three neighbor kids, moved the BIG BOSS to the kitchen counter.  He wiped down the large glass bowl and other parts.

We read the instructions and suggestions and directions. Carefully we placed the potatoes on the racks, cleared the area, plugged it in, set the temperature at 450º,  and turned the timer to 12 minutes.  J then lowered the handle into place (which turns the BOSS on apparently) then...

and WHOA!!  My eyes!!

An intense infrared glow filled the house, spilled down the counter to the floor and leaked out the doors onto the streets.

We stood transfixed...barely breathing.  "Is she gonna blow?" I asked J.

"I don't think so," he whispered back... his arms still spread out as if to shield us from an impending blast.

I tried to act nonchalant, and went back to chopping salad greens, peeking over my shoulder at the glowing UFO on the counter.

12 minutes were up.  Bodies came from everywhere to see if the fries were still there, or had been beamed up to the Enterprise.  Nope, there they were, a little golden, but not quite  done. Oh, where did we go wrong?  Maybe we should have bowed down lower?

We read the booklet again and Duh...we should have put one layer at a time for crispy fries.  So J carefully fished out one rack, and turned the BOSS on again. 6 more minutes and we had Sweet Potato Fries with a mist of oil, crispy on the ends and tasty in between!

I'm sorry we ate them before I could get another photo. :(

So now I am good to go... the BOSS is back on the piano bench gloating, and I am making my list of dishes to turn over to him...Roasted Game Hens, dehydrated Veggies, Minted Salmon, Onion Rings, Kale chips,  and Stuffed Peppers.

Got a request?  The BOSS is in!

~ Cheers!

Soybeans - Friend or Foe?

Soy is one of those "wonder foods" that used to be sold only in health food stores or Asian markets in western countries.

 

 

 

 

In the last several years, soy has been showing up regularly on the shelves of mainstream grocery stores, packaged in an amazing variety of products and flavors. At the same time, a controversy has been brewing – is soy healthy or risky for breast cancer patients and survivors? Do soy foods protect you from cancer, or do they hasten its development?

Soybeans are a great source of the anticancer compounds known as isoflavones.   These isoflavones have powerful antioxidant properties, and may be able to prevent cell damage (oxidation) caused by free radicals.

Soy isoflavones can act like weak estrogens, and may block estrogen receptors, similar to the way that tamoxifen works to prevent a recurrence of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer.

Sounds great, doesn't it?  But there may be a problem of "too much of a good thing."  Just as an excess of natural estrogen may fuel the growth of a breast tumor, too much of the soy isoflavone genistein, in concentrated form in many over-the-counter nutritional supplements, may set the stage for tumor development.

While moderate consumption of soy-based products is very reasonable, some supplements extremely high in phytoestrogens, especially soy-based isoflavone compounds and flaxseed based lignans, have been promoted as "natural" treatments for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Very well-designed clinical trials show these supplements are no more effective than placebo (sugar pills) at relieving these symptoms. There is good science to suggest these high dose supplements may have negative health effects.

The Bottom Line on Soy and Breast Cancer

You may get the most benefits from consuming soy isoflavones such as genistein, if the isoflavones come from food (sesame seeds, tofu, legumes)– not from nutritional supplements.

The American Cancer Society says that concentrated extracts of soy isoflavones may encourage tumor growth, and should be avoided. Women in the Japanese study who had the lowest rates of breast cancer had consumed soy from childhood, or at least from pre-puberty. Post-menopausal women should not overdo soy products, because the powerful isoflavones mimic natural estrogen, which fuels 80% of all cases of breast cancer.

References

  1. Barnes, S., et al.  "Soy Isoflavonoids and Cancer Prevention." Advances in Experimental Medicine & Biology  401.  (1996):  87-100.
  2. Barnes, Stephen.  "Anticancer Effects of Genistein."  The Journal of Nutrition  125  (1995):  777S-783S.
  3. Bergan, R., et al.  "Genistein-stimulated Adherence of Prostate Cancer Cells Is Associated with the Binding of Focal Adhesion Kinase to Beta-1-integrin."  Clinical & Experimental Mestastasis  14(4) (1996 Sept.):  389-398.
  4. Messina, M. J., et al.  "Soy Intake and Cancer Risk:  A Review of the In Vitro and in Vivo Data."  Nutrition & Cancer 21(2)  (1994):  113-131.

 

Wake Up Call - Pesticides, Natural Chemicals and Our Health

When I read information like the following Abstract, I'm stunned that we wait for someone to "prove" what we have enough evidence to "suspect" is the cause of illness.  We wait until it's too late to do anything about it...instead of immediately thinking, "My life is too precious. If there is a 'possible link I am not going to take a chance.  I can live without xxxx in my life."

Pesticides and cancer: Dich J, Zahm SH, Hanberg A, Adami HO.

Abstract

"Epidemiologic evidence on the relationship between chemical pesticides and cancer is reviewed.

In animal studies, many pesticides are carcinogenic, (e.g., organochlorines, creosote, and sulfallate) while others (notably, the organochlorines DDT, chlordane, and lindane) are tumor promoters. Some contaminants in commercial pesticide formulations also may pose a carcinogenic risk.

In humans, arsenic compounds and insecticides used occupationally have been classified as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Human data, however, are limited by the small number of studies that evaluate individual pesticides.

Epidemiologic studies, although sometimes contradictory, have linked phenoxy acid herbicides or contaminants in them with soft tissue sarcoma (STS) and malignant lymphoma; organochlorine insecticides are linked with STS, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), leukemia, and, less consistently, with cancers of the lung and breast; organophosphorous compounds (About 70% of the insecticides in current use in the United States are organophosphorous (OP) pesticides, a total of around 90 million pounds per year) are linked with NHL and leukemia; and triazine herbicides with ovarian cancer.

Few, if any, of these associations can be considered established and causal. Hence, further epidemiologic studies are needed with detailed exposure assessment for individual pesticides, taking into consideration work practices, use of protective equipment, and other measures to reduce risk. "

SourceDepartment of Cancer Epidemiology, Karolinska Institute and Radiumhemmet, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

_ _ _

And here is a summary from the EPA's website:

Pesticides and Food: Health Problems Pesticides May Pose

Laboratory studies show that pesticides can cause health problems, such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time.  However, these effects depend on how toxic the pesticide is and how much of it is consumed. Some pesticides also pose unique health risks to children.

For these reasons, the Federal Government, in cooperation with the States, carefully regulates pesticides to ensure that their use does not pose unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. "

What is "unreasonable risk"?  Is there such a thing as "reasonable risk" when it comes to our health?  Who decides?  People you know nothing about....or YOU?

YOU are in Charge of Your Health and the Health of Your Children

Were bombarded with pollutants from vehicle emissions, manufacturing plants, dry cleaner chemicals,  lawn mowers, those darn awful leaf blowers that make me cookoo, and pesticides sprayed everywhere.  It's a miracle our liver functions at all.  Then add pharmaceuticals, artificial coloring, sugar, lotions with Parabens and EDTA, and deodorants with things we can't spell much less pronounce, and no wonder we're walking hot beds for the development of Alzheimer's, Cancer and a host of other ailments.

Get in the driver's seat You are wise.  Don't wait 10 years until the FDA or the EPA has enough 'clinical' data.  By then you could be one of the subjects they're studying, God forbid!

I have thrown away my Teflon pans, I don't let plastic wrap touch my food (I place a small square of parchment paper or was paper on the food before I wrap it), I never put Aluminum Foil against any sauces or acidic foods (you know the acid eats right through the foil...yes?), and I told my gardener not to use pesticides on any weeds, and to hand rake my leaves.

Love your life and your children's lives enough to sacrifice convenience for caution. It's a different world...we have to think defensively. Some things we can do little about, like air pollution, so do what you can with things you have control over.

~ In Good Health.

Make it Colorful!

Breakfast Buzz

The best possible plate of food is a ColorFULL one.  The more the colors (and I don't mean food coloring sneaky peak) the better for you.

I posted a Breakfast Idea that included vegetables a few days ago, and mentioned that in Mediterranean countries the lack of fresh veggies at the table is unheard of.  Tomatoes, cucumber, fresh mint, parsley, olives, radish, and yes, even pickles are a common feature.

Since I am off dairy completely(with the exception of Whey Protein which has anti-tumor benefit), I eat Rice or Almond Cheese.

To the right is the yummy and healthy Flour-less Flaxseed Pancake!  I sprinkled mine with cinnamon (anti-oxidant power) and Stevia.

My big bunch of Dandelion greens called me this morning, and they are so good wrapped around an Olive and stuffed in a pita bite that I happily included them on my plate.

Fresh Tomatoes sprinkled with dried mint (I make my own), and half an Avocado with salsa and lemon juice (more anti-oxidant power).

Here's a tip..

Bright and vividly colored vegetables—such as the ones used in salads and salsas—are rich in carotenoids, powerful plant pigments that reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and cataracts. But here's a little-known secret: To fully benefit from these disease-fighting compounds, you need to eat them with fat. In fact, Ohio State University researchers found that people who ate a salad topped with half an avocado absorbed five to 10 times more beta-carotene and lutein—carotenoids found in carrots and spinach, respectively—than those who had salads sans the fatty fruit. And eating avocado with salsa boosted the absorption of lycopene—a carotenoid in tomatoes—by almost five times.

"Fatty acids are needed to help carotenoids dissolve in the intestines," says lead study author Steve Schwartz, Ph.D. "These lipids are also an essential part of creating lipoproteins, which transport the carotenoids in the bloodstream."

~ Ye-haw!

Home

Sitting on the living room floor upstairs White veil folded over the top of her head

She holds in her lap a large round tray

Full of lentils,

Her right hand pushing each wavy row at a time

Up towards the top of the tray

Inspecting them for debris.

 

She wears a navy dress with white polka dots

And every grandchild knows that dress.

She’s recounting another story,

Always full of every possible detail

Often mimicking the players

In perfect adaptations,

While we sit listening.

 

Lentils picked through ...the tray

Is taken to the kitchen by the maid,

Downstairs she follows onions beckoning

To be chopped into perfect small dice

Excited to enhance the fledgling soup

Sautéed in green-gold olive oil

They wait to turn a luscious brown.

 

The telephone rings

Her youngest sister calling to say she’s coming by

One of my round aunts clad in black

White veil clinging to graying hair

Rosy face and twinkling eyes,

Three kisses on two cheeks

And a pinch of the chin.

 

The thick soup bubbles on the stove

Melding the flavors of crisp onions

And brown lentils with a hint of cumin,

A quick stir with the wooden spoon

Between lines of conversation

The latest family gossip

Floating around the room.

 

Arabic coffee is brewing next to the lentils

Thick, dark, rich its heady aroma

Vying for space between the airborne words

A quick boil, a resting minute for grounds to settle

Then into tiny flowered porcelain cups

A hint of sugar sprinkled, and quickly stirred

More news, laughter and plans for a visit

 

To an elderly friend who recently lost a husband...

The stone house on the corner

Above Abu Salim’s grocery store

A basket dangles from the balcony

Waiting to descend into his hands

And be filled and hoisted up again.

 

A sheik in black with a blue striped vest

Manicured mustache curled

A white cotton cap on his head,

He walks along-side his doe-eyed donkey

She, carrying baskets of honeyed figs

From the orchards at the top of the hill

Weaving down the winding streets to market.

 

‘Ahlan Yousef’ a greeting meets him

The source sits on a wooden chair

In front of the inviting barber shop

Sipping coffee from a gold-rimmed demitasse

A backgammon table laid out

Waiting for participants

On this sunny mountain day.

 

A hand touching his forehead in response

Donkey and master are closer to market

A taxi honks to get by the pedestrians

Tangling in the streets

Each shop with its own bouquet of people

Talking, kissing, catching up on the events

Since 10pm the night before.

 

Long straight hair at the skilled hands of hairdressers

Flow down slender shoulders

Framing lovely dark eyes,

As young women walk arm in arm in pretty skirts

Snacking on toasted melon seeds from crumpled paper bags

Avoiding the glances of young men

In tight shirts and store windows.

 

Each mother tows more than a child

Pretty frilly socks and matching ribbon in curls

Adorning chubby faces

Or shining black shoes and knitted sweaters

On a future man of the village

Who now holds a cone dripping with

Mango, peach and pistachio ice cream.

 

Stray dogs make their way to the back of butcher shops

Patiently waiting for today’s scraps

While the owner haggles with the woman

Veiled and gesturing at a piece of meat

Which he holds in his hand

20 lira is not what she pays for that very same

At Abu Amin’s shop across town.

 

A policeman’s whistle at a gray car double parking

The man in a blue shirt, his wife and children

In the back seat leaning out of windows

“Bas takki” he shouts at the officer

‘Just one moment’ and he’ll be gone

Just long enough for Sameera to run into the pharmacy

For father’s medication.

 

The incomparable Fairuz sings over the noise in the square

Her rich voice idealizing her country,

Comes from a radio on the balcony

Above the fabric store

Where Im Ali sews dresses for customers

While her children are in school,

Colors streaming from hangers.

 

‘Hey, ya Kamaaaaal’, call a group of young men

Leaning against a Mercedes

Turning the head of another making his way

Across the street to Ziad’s bookstore

Whistles and hand clapping when he hears

Laughter at his distraction as he finally sees

The goateed chins that beckon him.

 

Hugs go around the now circle of friends

Plans for an evening stroll after dinner

And hints at who they might run into

To spice the night’s ritual

A clasp of hands before Kamal returns to his path

A mental note to complete homework

Before the stroke of 9.

 

Dotted along the streets grey taxis

Usually a 6-year-old Mercedes

Carries six passengers tightly squeezed

Back from a day of work in the sun.

Skin darkened, sporting darker mustaches

Looking forward to joining family for dinner

Displayed in six or seven flowered dishes

 

Meals are an invitation to share good fortune

To catch up on the day’s news

To show generosity towards friends and family..

Mothers and grandmothers in their long dark skirts

Many wearing the white flowing thin veil over their hair

Spend the afternoon together preparing the evening meal

Always Turkish coffee at the ready.

 

Children play on the large verandas

Or on the street corners

Looked after by older siblings, cousins,

Or cheerful shopkeepers who too are friends..

No neighbor in this village is a stranger

No one keeps to themselves for this is a Community

Of family overflowing with love and concern.

 

Their hearts like their houses are close,

Like the winding alley ways

Their lives wind around one another

No one hesitates to ask for aid.

Nabeel skips morning chores to take Aunt Im Jamal to the doctor

Lena walks to town for a spool of brown wool

To mend upstairs’ Abu Fady’s jacket.

 

Between these snug two and three-story stone buildings

Serving as houses and shops…

Stray slender pine trees and fragrant flowery bushes

Winding narrow stairways and alleys

Sprinkled with cats and people

Busy with the day’s work

Acknowledging each other.

 

Where the spaces between structures grow larger

Stand houses capped with red tile roofs

Sit upon hill crescents offering dizzying views

Of tree green valleys and mountains

Gentle sloping land down to the shimmering

Blue waters of the warm Mediterranean

Its shores outlining modern cities.

There the men and women have a brisker pace

There the shops are shinier

The cars polished carrying fashionable passengers

The buildings taller, the streets wider

The pace faster, but still allowing friends to linger

Over coffees and sweets and late lunches

In the outdoor Cafés dotting every corner.

The cheeks here are red with premeditated color,

The shoes and handbags from twin material,

The conversations in three alternating languages

At each dining table, in each bunch of students

At Chez Michelle’s Salon and George’s Boutique

The dresses shorter, the makeup brighter

The flirting noticeable.

 

Her white head-cover now exchanged for a black one,

She makes her way to the city in the white Mercedes,

Kameel, the driver, in white starched shirt and long pinky nail

Making polite conversation...

Visits to Daoud the tailor, Kabé the jeweler,

And Abu Talal... the wholesale grocer,

Before returning home to the mountains.

 

A little something for me and my sister

Dad’s favorite fruits, dried beans and rice

To last a few weeks..

A bunch of fresh dates from Arabia

And ripe, orange, fleshy mangos from Egypt.

All congregate in the large kitchen

To help with parts of the bountiful evening meal.

~ Hoda A.© 2009