18 September 2014

Vacation, Greens, and a Cake Revisited

It's Thursday, and it's time for a roundup of wellness bits and bobs, readers.


A recent article in The Washington Post elucidated the idea of "collective restoration" propounded by Professor Terry Hartig, environmental psychologist at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Collective restoration holds that when people take vacations at the same time, the relaxation of a true, non-working vacation helps people better deal with their daily work when they return from vacation.


As a DMV area denizen for the last three summers, I can vouch that in August when DC empties out, people are a lot more chill. I had the most fun in August the last three summers, out of any other summer month. Granted, I wasn't on vacation, but as the article states, that chill attitude is contagious. I dealt with a lot of tourists last summer at WFM and they didn't rush me, didn't lose their tempers over certain products not being available, and they appreciated free noms at Foodie Call and the Friday One Day Deal demos.


The takeaway from the article, besides the fact that, comparatively, the US has a pretty terrible vacation track records regarding companies' policies towards paid vacation, is that we should try to extend that vacation "glow" into a more mindful, time-abundant attitude all year 'round. OK, so that's not what's stated explicitly, but it's implied, I think.


Heh, ironically, I have less than ten pictures of the outdoors (in the DMV) from Summer 2013, no kidding. I worked all summer! I have the most outdoors pictures from the less than 72 hours I spent in the OBX at the end of July-beginning of August.

[caption id="attachment_2472" align="aligncenter" width="298" class=" "]Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 21.08.37 PM Mt Vernon Trail, Alexandria, VA[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2473" align="aligncenter" width="300" class=" "]Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 21.09.23 PM Scary Arlington, VA, before a storm. Nota bene that I was stopped (see, the light is red). Bonus points if you can name the intersection.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2471" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 21.06.44 PM Fourth of July: no one's commuting on I-270 except for meeeee. Don't try this at home, kids. Actually, this is not 270. Can you name the short interstate in Gaithersburg that links I-270 to the toll road MD 200?[/caption]


I was listening to a webinar the other day, and perhaps it was due to the brevity of the presentation that the presenter didn't get into detail about the kinds of greens one might put in smoothies besides spinach and kale. Thank goodness I was in listen-only mode because I was yelling, "You're a wellness coach and you don’t know other greens for smoothies? Are you nervous for this presentation? Collards, chard, tatsoi, micro greens, arugula, all manner of kales, beet greens, carrot greens, avocado (sort of), moringa, greens powders, wheatgrass, barley grass, oat grass, sprouts, dandelion greens (personal fave with d'anjou or bosc pear)…THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS."


Just whatever you do, don't mix a whole (peeled, but still pithy and seedy, mind you) tangerine with carrots or greens or anything else. Worst juice I ever made. Lost half a lunch that day, in my macrobiotic days.

Now I am a remedial wellness student sometimes when I realise that this delicious cake will make me go bonkers because I used regular organic cane sugar, yet I eat it anyway.


Here's the recipe for this post. TC asked for a Black Forest Cake with chocolate frosting instead of the traditional white frosting. We didn't have any kirschwasser or Luxardo Cherries so I made do with a jar of regular, red 40-filled maraschino cherries. Hey, ya gotta live a little, right? Right, just a little, and then you get back on track.

Cake: this cake officially does business as "Satan Cake." I've made it for two Satanists, and sugar is the pure embodiment of evil for me. NB: Satan, for modern Satanists, is the image of earthly existence incarnate. Jewish and Christian theologians added the "evil" valence to earthliness. Get it? Good.



Modifications to Satan Cake:

I added 1 cup of chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup of quartered, pitted maraschino cherries to the batter. I baked it in two 9-inch pans, which took about 40 minutes.

I made a filling of 1 cup maraschino cherries, 1/4 cup cold water mixed with 1 tablespoon tapioca starch, and 1/3 cup organic sugar. I cooked it on the stove until thick.

I made the same vegan buttercream as in the original recipe, but I used a cup of Earth Balance buttery stick instead of half margarine and half shortening. None of the organic markets around here sold the EB shortening sticks or the Spectrum organic palmfruit shortening in a tub, which is strange.

TC helped me decorate with walnut halves and the remaining maraschino cherries.










I thought I took a picture of my juice, but I didn't.

I made fresh collard apple ginger juice the other day. Or it's a smoothie. Yay, Vitamix. I think the addition of nondairy milk or creamifying agents (coconut shreds, flax, oats, peanut butter, frozen 'naner-meows--that's bananas to you--protein powder, etc.) makes a juice into a smoothie. I like my fibre, so pressed juice, as opposed to blended juice, is meh in my book.

[caption id="attachment_2489" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_2222 Smoothie of pineapple and Vanilla RAW Protein, with 6-Minute Chocolate Cake. I made the cake with coconut sugar, a lower-glycaemic sweetener. A much healthier cake for breakfast.[/caption]


Anyway, before I got on this semantic tangent, when I drank my juice, I thought, ahh, yesh, I used to drink this stuff every morning. How did I do that? Then I remembered, oh yeah, this is why. Instant energy shot! And I'm not talking a blood sugar spike and crash. I'm talking I can feel this stuff as pure plant energy! Why don't I do this anymore?!

It was a habit, one that can be rebuilt, better, stronger, faster...(I don't think the Vitamix will go any faster; I feel the low wattage from the outlets in this old house are making the mixy mix go a tad slower).

Do I seem psyched about life? Yes! Why? I'm working on my novel again! Next week it'll have been eight years since I woke up and heard a line that's not even in the story, but it's one of the underlying plotlines. Dual sports (off-road capable motorcycles) saved my novel, seriously, providing me an escape from certain plot snags at the end and the end (yes, that's correct) in the second book.

I was considering the stock interview question the other day, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Being a homeowner, published, and in grad school. What would I be studying? Ultimately, I'd like to get a PhD in religion, though different masters degrees along the way (public health, library science, business administration) would be practical and relevant to my career goals in corporate wellness and academia. What would my dissertation cover? How different occult groups view food, eating, and the body as relates to consumption, and how those views differ or harmonize with the larger society's take on the same. In short, cake and cults, quiche and Qabalah, snacks and Satanism, tacos and Tarot. Such a dissertation really would be a perfect intersection of my interests.

Vampyre Tarot, anyone?


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