Recipe for Success

When we set a goal for ourselves, very often the difference between success and failure is our mindset. I’d say it’s the single most important factor in the outcome. So before you embark on making a change in your life — starting a new business, a new exercise routine, going back to school, finding a partner, deciding to lose weight – it’s helpful to ask yourself a few questions.

How committed are you?

Exactly how hard are you willing to work?

half ass

What doubts do you have?

What does reaching this goal mean to you?

Do you expect that you’ll see it through?

What happens if you fail?

Who can and will support your efforts?

How will you handle the first obstacle you encounter? The second?

When will you know you’ve succeeded?

These questions are meant to help you reflect on your own level of commitment as well as your doubts. Once you have a handle on these, you’ll be better prepared to move ahead with a mindset for success. Good luck!

Brahmacharya (aka moderation)

IMG_1621Those nice people at Lululemon send you one of their ubiquitous shopping bags even when you’ve ordered from them online. Smart marketing. I got one the other day that I haven’t seen before. In colorful, funky lettering it says “BRAHMACHARYA.” It’s not a term I was familiar with. On the side of the bag, they explained:

Brahmacharya (moderation, non-excess) This yama, or yogic philosophy, teaches us to recognize that moment of “just enough” so we don’t move past it into uncomfortable excess. Maybe it’s by pushing away the plate of french fries or using our pent-up energy for a run. By focusing inward, we keep our bodies healthy and energetic. (And hey, there are some things we’re better off avoiding altogether.) Where in your life could you use moderation?

Sounds like just the opposite of Gilding the Lily. I wonder if there’s a different yogic term for that? Look closely at the letters. They are formed by all those pesky things that we need to enjoy wisely or not at all — jellybeans, cookies, booze, chips, cigarettes, and artificial sweetener.

“Better than Tuna” Chickpea Salad

My new favorite recipe! It’s a great addition to the lunchtime repertoire. I love the crunch of the carrot and celery and the tanginess of the mustard and pickle.
better than tuna chickpea salad

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dill pickle, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup or so tahini (any  mayo works too)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons mustard (stoneground or Dijon)
  • sea salt & cracked pepper, to taste
  • dash of garlic powder
  • juice of 1 lemon

Directions

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place in medium-size bowl and roughly mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the remaining ingredients and combine. Thicken the consistency by adding more tahini or mayo. To thin the dressing, just add water or juice from the kosher dill pickle jar!

Serve as a salad or in a sandwich. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Download a PDF of this recipe.

Recipe adapted from Simple Veganista.

GMOs – What’s All the Fuss?

GMOs are  topic that I was interested in learning more about. I’d certainly heard they are controversial, but I didn’t know the facts. Here’s what I’ve found.

What are GMOs?
GMOs, short for “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. Commonly modified crops are corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. They are found in products containing high fructose corn syrup, corn, and soy (think processed foods). GMOs were introduced into our food supply in the 1990s.

GMO ingredients are used in about 70% of the conventional processed foods in the US Ninety-two percent of soybean crops in the US are genetically modified.

crop-duster

Why are they used?
The two major traits engineered in GMO crops are herbicide tolerance and pesticide production. The first allows farmers to apply herbicide to the entire crop without killing the main plants. The pesticide production involves breeding an insect-killing toxin in every cell of the plant.

Biotech firms that create GMO seeds believe their modifications will; increase crop yield, bring down food prices, reduce greenhouse gases, and lessen our dependence on oil (biofuels are made from GMOs).

FDA Approval / Regulation
The FDA has given GMO foods a green light. Their stance is that “genetically modified foods are substantially equivalent to non-modified foods.” A voluntary consultation process between the FDA and GMO developers is meant to encourage product safety. This involves an assessment that is completely entirely by the companies creating the technology. Results are then reviewed by the FDA.

Monsanto — headquartered in St. Louis, MO with locations around the world – accounts for 90% share of GMO crops worldwide.

Labels and Bans
Honestly...The Honest Co. BlogA majority of Americans want to GMO products labeled as such (93% according to a NY Times poll). As of June 2013, Connecticut and Maine are the only two states that require this labeling. A proposition in California was not passed. Many attribute the resistance to the power of the biotech lobbies. Though GMOs are deemed safe by the FDA, consumer backlash could be fierce were US buyers alerted to their GMO consumption.

As of 1999, the EU requires labeling of their own products, imported products, and imported animal feed. The EU, Australia, and Japan are included in the “more than 60 countries around the world with significant restrictions on the production and sale of GMOs.” There is widespread cultivation of GMO crops in China, Canada, and South America.

Risks
The following problems have been tied to GMOs:
1)   Introduce allergens to food  – in early genetic modification experiments, Brazil nuts genes were introduced to soy beans. Resulting allergic reactions caused production to stop.
2)   Development of “superweeds” – Monsanto has developed seeds resistant to their herbicide Roundup. Repeated application of the chemical has created stronger more resistant weeds. This in turn necessitates the use of more herbicide. Vicious cycle?
3)   Increased levels of toxins in foods – The more herbicide required (see #2), the more poisonous chemicals are absorbed into our food. These same toxins spread to our air, water, and soil.
4)   Genetic Pollution – Once GMO seeds are introduced into the environment, their proliferation is next to impossible to control. GMO crops can and do contaminate non-GMO crops through wind, water, cross-pollination, and shared tools (some farmers rent harvesting equipment).
5)   There is no research on the long-term effects GMOs may have on humans. Concerns about health consequences include allergies, antibiotic resistance, asthma, auto-immune disease, diabetes, endocrine problems, gastrointestinal disorders, and reproductive issues.

What can you do?
NONGMO sealCheck Non-GMO Verified Products – an online database for brands and products that use no GMO ingredients.

Eat organic foods — The USDA certifies that organic foods are not bio-engineered in any way. Though it is possible for organic crops to be unknowingly contaminated by GMOs.

Look for the NonGMO label. By 2018, all products at Whole Foods in the US and Canada will carry GMO labels.

SOURCES

FDA.gov. Questions & Answers on Food from Genetically Engineered Plants.
NonGMOProject.org. GMO Facts.
NYTimes.com. Strong Support for Labeling Modified Foods. by Allison Kopicki.
PBS.org – Viewpoints: Is Genetically Modified Food Safe to Eat?
ResponsibleTechnology.org. Healthy Eating Means No GMOs. by Jeffrey M. Smith.
ScientificAmerican.com. Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea.
WebMD.com. Are Biotech Foods Safe to Eat?
WholeFoods Magazine, The GMO Controversy: What You Need to Know.
Tell FDA and Congress, Just Label It

Images:
Honestly…The Honest Co. and www.NonGMOProject.org

Home and Comfort is Within You

September is a big month for change: back to school, different job, no job, unfamiliar people, new location, ending relationships, shifting priorities. Many of us are facing one or more of these, and boy, is it stressful.

Of the life events listed in the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, 80% are related to change, while the top ten are all big life changes. What can we do to better navigate upheavals, large and small? How do we take care of ourselves during times of stress?

change1)   Optimism – When you find yourself wishing things were different, turn your thoughts to the present. Find something that you CAN accept about your new situation. Remember your thoughts create your reality. If you only see the negative, you’re opening the door to the creation of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2)   Don’t Take your Thoughts as Fact – Separate your reactions to circumstances from reality. We will drive ourselves crazy making assumptions, trying to predict the future, and analyzing. Simplify your focus down to what you know, and don’t give the crazy racing thoughts in your head any more power.

3)   Focus on the End Result – How do you want this situation to turn out? Define that goal in your mind. Write it down. Visualize it happening. Here’s where a self-fulfilling prophecy will work in your favor.

4)    Know your Core Values – Knowing yourself and what is most centrally important to you builds confidence to deal with whatever comes your way. When you clearly define what you need to be happy, you build self-reliance and resilience.

5)   Accept Change – It’s inevitable. Realizing this makes it a little less frightening. Instead of lamenting what you cannot control, focus on what you can. Try not to dwell on the “what ifs.”

Finally, remember Home and Comfort is Within You.

MORE INFORMATION

Podcast, Life Habits, Mentoring with Karl Vredenburg, July 12, 2013, Dealing with Change, with Mandy Kloppers. LH82.