April 19, 2012

Gender, Gender Everywhere

I stumbled upon this picture in a brand-new catalog the other day. It struck me, not because it was a surprise, but because of how extremely explicit it is:

Boys wear these clothes, have this haircut and use blue things.

Girls wear these clothes, have this haircut and use pink things.

It's no wonder why people who don't fit into those boxes feel weird. And it's also no wonder why people who DO fit into the boxes don't understand people who don't. Cisgendered people are only emulating the pictures. They are fitting into the norms that society dictates.

That works well when your brain matches the pictures--when the body you're born into lines up with the image reflected back to you by our society.

We aren't given instructions or guidance for thinking or living outside these boxes. Gender is everywhere. In our catalogs. On television. Outside our bathroom entrances.

What is your experience with seeing gender norms around you in your everyday life? How do you feel when you see them?

What steps have you taken to step outside these norms for yourself or for your child?

In what ways have you defied gender norms in your everyday life? How do you not match the pictures being presented to you and what changes can you effect within your current circle/community?

April 17, 2012

Gluten-Free Chicken Cutlet Dinner

So here's the thing: this was not a low-fat, low-calorie meal. It wasn't plant-based. I didn't make all the ingredients from scratch--I shopped at the local heavenly Dave's Fresh Pasta for the pasta sauce. I didn't even use super heart-healthy oils this one time.

But here's what it was:

1) familiar from childhood, but improved to be gluten-free
2) delicious and nutritious
3) comfort food for two people who need some comfort lately

My mom makes the best chicken cutlets. It was one of my favorite meals as a kid. Lately, I'm needing some of that home-cookin' comfort food. We eat plant-based, minimal-ingredient, meals all the time. Once in a while, it's nice to have something that's tastes really good and makes you feel good. I made some modifications so I can stick to my goals of eating less wheat and sugar as I enter the spring season.

So here's the recipe. Make it like I did. Make it the way you want to. I hope it brings you as much comfort and joy as it did for us. My girlfriend and I are each struggling with some stressors in our lives right now---car repairs, haircuts that didn't come out right, some medical hurdles. I knew just the solution: sunlight streaming through our curtains, crisp cutlets, soft quinoa pasta and tender arugula and spinach leaves.

Our food was truly our medicine.


Gluten-free Chicken Cutlet Dinner
feeds 2 with leftovers

1-2 lbs organic, free-range chicken cutlets (I added some dried thyme to dress them up a bit)
1 package gluten-free breadcrumbs (or homemade, if you can make 'em)
 2-4 Tbs vegetable oil (enough to cover bottom of large saute pan)
2 eggs

1 package gluten-free pasta (rice or quinoa)
fresh pasta sauce (I used the mascarpone tomato sauce from Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville, MA)
grated romano or parmesan cheese

fresh baby greens, arugula or spinach (I used BOTH!)
light salad dressing (I used Honey Poppyseed from Dave's Fresh Pasta)


lay out two plates: one has a generous pile of bread crumbs the other is for the finished cutlets
in a deep dish, crack open two eggs and whip with a fork to combine

lay each cutlet in the bread crumbs, coat, move to the egg dish, coat and back to the bread crumbs again. Lay the breaded cutlet on the plate. When you have done this to all your cutlets, move over the stove.

add 4 quarts of water to a pot and bring to a boil for your pasta.

heat oil over medium high heat in a deep, flat saute pan. If the oil sizzles when you put of drop of water in it, you know it's ready.

carefully lay each cutlet in the pan. Brown one side for a minute or two and then turn over. Place browned cutlets on a plate beside your stove. Be careful! The oil will be hot and the gluten-free crumbs formed a hard shell around the chicken, unlike when I've used wheat breadcrumbs. Make sure the chicken is cooked by cutting into it with a knife.

when your water is boiling, add the gluten-free pasta and cook according to package directions. drain in a colander and quick rinse with cool water.

warm pasta sauce in a small pot over medium-low heat.

toss baby greens in a colorful with dressing.

set your table.

finish browning cutlets and serve with a portion of pasta and spoonful of pasta sauce.

Simply delicious.

April 16, 2012

Why I'm Craving More Salads Lately...

Hey, it's spring!

Did you notice?

Check out this post I wrote about The Paradox of Spring, I think you'll enjoy it.

I'm craving more salad lately. I would think it's weird since I haven't been wanting anything but warm soups, stews and meat for a while--but my training as a health coach tells me otherwise.

According to some traditions, spring is a great time of year to cleanse the body of toxins and heavier foods that have been building up all winter. It's a time where nature starts shooting out buds, leaves and shoots to create new life.

It makes perfect sense that your body wants to ingest those buds, leaves and shoots to create new life within you! Regenerate those cells that you're made up of---eat what's around you to feel connected to the earth's natural cycles.

Or just eat salad because it's healthy and delicious.

The time for cooking and steaming greens is slowly fading away--our bodies need less heat and warmth because the season has shifted, the sun is now closer to us so there is more sunlight and heat available. Now is the time to move into a season of eating light, crisp, water-filled fruits and veggies.

Go slowly. It isn't summer yet. Take your cues from nature and eat what is currently coming up from the ground and is available.

That's good wisdom for life--take your cues from what is available and make good use of it. Don't go looking for what you need in places where it isn't available or flowing freely. 

Add some baby spinach or arugula to your plate with a splash of a vinaigrette dressing (nothing creamy or heavy) to kick start your digestion and cleanse your gut.

The Paradox of Spring

Spring: to rise, leap, move, or act suddenly and swiftly, as by sudden dart or thrust forward or outward, or being suddenly released from a coiled or constrained position.

Paradox: any person, thing or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.

One of my favorite movies is The Power of One. During this coming-of-age film about race relations in South Africa during WWII (from a white boy's perspective), a wise grandfather says, "anything in life, any question you have---always find the answer in nature."

I often think of this wisdom when I'm feeling challenged by something that I can't explain or solve. It helped recently when I traveled to Miami and chilled along the shoreline. I learned a really valuable lesson then.

Just this past week, Mother Nature humbled me with her wisdom once again. I was battling some profound restlessness and dis-ease of my spirit. I am going through some massive transition in my life and was really struggling in the transition zone---that place between the past, the present and wanting to know what the future will bring. Futile yearning, that. We can't possibly know anything other than the present moment. But I still wanted TO KNOW. I wanted things TO CHANGE

I noticed this restlessness, how it did feel just like a coiled spring inside of me. I saw how my response to it was playing out in my life--most especially how my perfectionism manifested and how I tried to control people, places or things outside of myself. I saw this. I recognized it for what it was, but not before it taught me a valuable lesson. 

Spring is a paradox of sorts. 

We equate the word spring with sudden movement, abrupt change in location or reality. But the spring I notice around me and within me isn't happening suddenly---it is happening slowly, one tiny bud opening, one blade of grass sliding from up from the ground, quiet, humble. No rush. No urgency. But intentional. On schedule. The beauty of spring comes from us gradually moving from stark, bare branches and barren ground to buds of light green, warmer air and the visible proof that change is upon us. The dark cold is over, new life is here and brings with it a feeling of hope, wonder and gratitude. 

The restlessness that felt like a coiled spring inside of me is the perfectly-timed change that is occurring below the ground, at the tips of tree branches and within all of us. 

I've always enjoyed the spring season because sunlight and warmth boost my mood and I move from commuting by bus to gliding along the streets on my beloved bike. I shift my eating habits. I come out from hibernation and move around more. This spring, of the year 2012, holds a lot of significance for me. I am using these weeks, days, hours and moments to mimic the magic of nature all around me. I am allowing buds of awareness to come forth, blades of grass to come up from the ground slowly as I recognize that nothing in nature happens overnight. Nothing within me or anyone changes overnight. Nothing in our lives shifts so abruptly. 

The paradox of spring is that it isn't springing at all--it is coming into awareness slowly, with intention, with awareness----renewal of self and spirit happens one breath and one bud at a time.

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