Happy New Year, my friends. It’s the end of the first week of January, and I want to ask how your New Year’s resolutions are going. Not that I’m doubting anyone’s ability to stay on track…I just know from my own personal experience, when I’m overly ambitious, usually after 5 days, I’m more discouraged than ever.
Most years my intentions are: to work out at the gym 6 days a week, practice yoga every morning after meditation, lose the 7 pounds I always put on between Halloween and New Year’s, drink 10 glasses of water each day, give up alcohol, sugar, caffeine, dairy, and bacon (secretly my favorite food), keep a gratitude journal, and floss nightly. I know that doing all of these things would be fabulously healthy for all of us, but in the real world…it’s just not happening all at once, at least not for me. I’m not a big fan of pain and suffering, and cold-turkey deprivation always makes me feel, well, deprived.
This year, my New Year’s resolution is to simplify my life and yours. In fact, in the weeks to come, check out how Figs and Function will be simplified too. More photos, less words.
If you’d like to join me on this journey of health and wellness, peace and mindfulness, de-cluttering and organization, and a lot of friendship and fun, follow Figs and Function as we step-by-step “clean up” together. Each week we’ll address a different area of our lives to simplify, purify, purge, clean, reduce or eliminate, as well as talk about adding healthier foods and exercise for our bodies, and thinking positive thoughts for our minds.
I’d love to hear how things are going for you as we progress through this exciting journey into wellness together. I’ll answer and post any questions or comments you may have so we can all benefit. I also welcome any suggestions or stories of your experiences.
Are you with me?
- Oldest member of the Brassica (cabbage) family and among the earliest cultivated. Other Brassica members include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi.
- Today, most popular vegetable in Scotland and Ireland.
- It is cultivated in North America, but has not achieved the widespread use as it has in many European countries.
- Kale is at its best during the winter months. It’s very cold- tolerant and often harvested long after it begins to snow. A few frosts will create very sweet and tender kale.
- Has a mild cabbage-like flavor. It’s distinct but not overpowering.
- It is interchangeable with broccoli and other hearty greens in recipes.
- Excellent source of Vitamin A as beta-carotene.
- Excellent source of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C.
- A decent amount of fiber, iron, folic acid, and calcium.
- Good for bone health because of Vitamin A, iron and calcium.
- Loaded with Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting. Far more Vitamin K than broccoli, spinach, and Swiss chard.
- Contains high amounts of the carotenoids; lutein and zeaxanthin. These are two powerful phytochemicals that may help keep the eyes safe from macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Kale prompts the liver to release enzymes that may fight cancer.
- Look for deeply colored, crisp, textured leaves free of blemishes and yellow spots.
- Avoid bunches that appear wilted or limp.
- Wash kale leaves well, checking the underside of each leaf for soil.
- Remove stems from mature kale leaves by folding the leaf in half lengthwise and striping or slicing away the thick stems.
- Steam mature kale leaves for approximately 4-5 minutes, depending on age, size and amount in steamer. It is ready when limp, but retaining some texture.
- Toss steamed kale with olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs.
- Can sauté kale for about 8 minutes on medium heat with a bit of olive oil.
- Add sautéed kale (chopped) to omelets, quiches, scrambled eggs, casseroles or mashed potatoes.
- Add chopped raw kale to hearty soups and stews toward the end of the cooking time.
Here are two of my all-time favorite Kale recipes. This first one is from the book, Power Foods, 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients, from the editors of Whole Living Magazine.
Egg, Kale and Ricotta on Toast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 cups chopped trimmed kale (about 1 large bunch)
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 slices rustic bread, toasted
3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic until barely golden, stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Add kale and the water; cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add lemon juice and salt, and season with pepper; stir to combine.
I used sliced shallot instead of the garlic in this recipe. Mr. S. and garlic…not friends.
2. Spread each slice of bread with half of the cheese. Top with kale mixture, dividing evenly.
3. Heat remaining one tablespoon of oil in another skillet over medium heat.
Crack eggs into skillet, one at a time. Cook until whites are just set, about 2 minutes. With a spatula, carefully place each egg on each bruschetta, and serve.
Wash kale and remove stems. Tear kale into pieces, mix with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or until crisp.
Purge those Pages – Catalogues and Magazines
Are you an avid magazine reader? Do you receive a ton of magazine subscriptions? Are you on every catalogue mailing list that there is? Guess what? That’s not the problem. The problem is you still have those issues from last year and the year before that, and maybe as far back as 2009. You know as well as I do that unless you’re in the fashion world, those outdated Vogue magazines are doing you no good. Unless you’re a personal trainer, your Men’s Health will have pretty much the same articles as last month, and next month – How to Get That Awesome Six Pack. And you know, seriously, you’re not going to buy and restore that 1969 Chevelle SS 396 that you’ve been eyeing for the last year, so why not throw away that issue of Hot Rod magazine. (Mr. S., I’m talking to you, sweetie).
The Chinese believe that there is an art of living in harmony with your surroundings, known as Feng Shui. If we eliminate the clutter from our lives, both physical and emotional, we’ll make room for more opportunities, more experiences and abundance to arrive. In addition, if we allow clutter to build up, we may attract negative energy in our home, as well as make the energy stale and stagnant.
So please keep that in mind for anyone who might be having trouble parting with many years’ worth of People magazines. Or, if you’re not ready to let go yet, (I did tell you we’re doing this step-by-step, no pain), you can keep all of your favorites in a magazine holder like this one.
I admit, I do keep all of the back issues of Whole Living Magazine, a holistic health magazine, and Delight, a new publication offering awesome recipes and stories for those who are celiac or gluten-intolerant.
Here we go
Gather up all of the magazines, catalogues, newspapers, etc. into a shopping bag or basket from every room in your house or apartment.
Find a comfortable place, table or floor, and separate your journals into piles; yours, mine, ours, theirs. Depending on the inhabitants in your home, you may have up to four piles.
Start with your own pile. Go through the table of contents of each issue to determine if there are any articles, recipes, or photos that you’d like to save. Are there any perfect gift ideas from those catalogues? If so, tear them out and start another pile of those tear sheets. Do this with all of the periodicals in your pile. You should now have 2 piles; one pile of articles to keep, and one pile of magazines to purge.
Take the pile of old magazines and catalogues that you don’t want anymore and get them out of your house.
You have 2 options:
1. Recycling Bin
2. Give to a local hospital, library, school, nursing home/retirement community, doctor’s office, laundromat; basically anyplace where people have to wait.
Now go through your pile of articles that you want to save and separate them into categories; i.e. recipes, gift ideas, articles of interest by category; health, politics, fashion, pop culture, cars, vacation ideas, whatever.
Now this step may be different for all of us. As many of you know I’m a total technophobe, so my system for saving articles is old-school…literally. I buy the cutest file folders I can find and label them “gift ideas” or “vacation ideas”, etc.
Now Mr. S, on the other hand, my paperless posse, will scan all of his articles of interest and put them in a “folder” on his computer. I applaud anyone who does it this way…but for me, I’m just more comfortable seeing my pretty accordion files, with my cute folders, precisely labeled.
Now give the other piles of collected magazines to the appropriate owner to go through to do what you did with your pile. Don’t be discouraged if they just want to throw the whole mess away and not file anything. Secretly that’s what we want anyway, right?
So my friends, I hope this little exercise of purging your outdated magazines and catalogues will be the start of a beautiful, healthy, and clutter-free friendship between us. Also, if you get time, please try the yummy kale recipes and let me know what you think.
I’m looking forward to our adventure of simplifying our lives together.
Until next time,