Patti Bess: Nourishing body, mind and community
There has never been a better time than now to analyze our life habits and make some changes. This stay-at-home order gives us all an opportunity to reflect, grow, expand, eat better and find new passions. In 2020 life seemed like a Surround Sound Soup of dark and dire predictions, conflict, loss, and economic woes. I am curious and excited to see what 2021 will bring.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word nourish as: to feed or sustain ourselves or others with substances necessary for life and growth; to stimulate and foster a feeling, a habit, or an attitude.
Our immune systems will reward us with stronger resistance if we include more fresh greens, fruits, nuts and grass-fed meats. Processed convenience foods only marginally sustain us. Organically grown foods minimize the amount of toxins we take in and leave our immune systems better equipped to fight off more deadly viruses and bacteria.
On the top of my list of nourishing habits for well-being is buying the best quality foods one can afford. I consider it a good investment to buy from our local farmers. Their produce is fresh picked, alive. I can forget it in the back of the refrigerator (only occasionally) for as much as 10 days, and it’s still perky and edible. The money spent with our local farms stays in our community. Many of our young people have chosen agriculture as their career, and it’s inspiring to see their businesses succeeding. The beauty of open spaces filled with growing produce, fruit or grazing animals is something worth preserving for our future, and it provides more open spaces for fire protection as well as food security if there ever were a “real” food shortage.
The second habit on my list for nourishment — keep moving! I had a Doctor at UC Davis for awhile who didn’t let me off the hook easily. On most visits she would ask, “Have you been walking?”
I’d whine in return, “Well, it’s been raining.”
Her response, “Ever heard of an umbrella?”
We are so lucky to live near accessible NID trails and back roads to walk or ride while keeping our distance from others. I particularly like Lower Colfax Road, the Old Downieville Highway and Hirschman’s Pond in Nevada City. I once had an 83-year-old landlord in the Santa Cruz mountains who would invite me to walk with him for his daily “bloodbath” as he called it. We walked all of the back trails around the summit. Staying active moves the blood carrying more oxygen to every cell and juices our joints. The secret is finding something you look forward to doing whether it’s yoga, jogging, paddling, tai chi or bike riding.
The third priority — one has to find a way to feed their mind. Everything in life begins with a thought/an idea whether it’s painting the living room, trying a new recipe or dwelling on a negative mood or attitude. Few of us realize how much our thoughts manipulate our lives, and we don’t carefully choose where we put our focus. Sitting still, time spent out in nature, reading or creating in some way, playing with our children or grandchildren — all of these can help build a satisfied mind and feed what it is that makes us feel nourished/content. Lately I have turned to journaling for insight into what works and doesn’t work in my life.
Where will 2021 take us all? Hopefully, eating delicious food. And on a less bumpy road toward making decisions that keep us strong and nourish our bodies and minds to build happier healthier lives, families and communities.
Curried Winter Squash Soup
This recipe comes from the Riverhill Farm newsletter. Butternut squash was exceptionally abundant this year, but other winter squash could work here as well. I usually make this soup from extra squash previously baked — baking two for two separate meals. It’s much easier to peel that way. It can be quite spicy so adjust the seasoning to your preferred intensity of flavor.
One medium onion, chopped fine
Two to three tablespoons butter or olive oil
Two large cloves garlic, smashed
One to two teaspoons garam masala (or use Curry Powder)
One half teaspoon ground cumin
Red pepper flakes for desired level of heat
One inch ginger, grated or chopped fine (optional)
One medium Butternut squash, about 1 to 1 ½ pounds
Four cups chicken or vegetable stock or partly use water
One half cup half n half
One half teaspoon Sea salt (or to taste)
Fresh ground white pepper
Parsley or cilantro leaves for garnish
Sauté onions in the butter in a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the apples, garlic, garam masala, red pepper flakes and salt. Continue to cook for another minute or two.
Stir in the cubed squash along with the stock/water and mix in the ginger. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 15 to 20 minutes depending if you have used baked squash.
Puree the soup in a blender or use a hand blender until smooth; return soup to the pot. Adjust the seasoning to your taste and stir in the cream. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, parsley or cilantro leaves.
Cleansing Green Juice
This cleansing juice I found in Katie Carter’s cookbook. It utilizes sweet, sour, bitter, and pungent tastes into a balanced juice you can make in a juicer or a blender for a mid morning or afternoon pick me up.
Two apples cored and cut into quarters
Four kale leaves or 2 handfuls of baby spinach
Juice of one lemon
One-inch piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
About 1 ½ cups water
Combine all ingredients in a blender with the water. Blend until it reaches a smooth juice consistency (more watery than a smoothie). Add more water if desired. To serve strain mixture through a large strainer into glasses, pushing the juice through with the back of a spoon. Sip and enjoy!
Patti Bess is a freelance writer and cookbook author. She has published in more than 20 magazines and lives in Grass Valley.
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