Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lentil Veggie Marinara with Angel Hair Pasta

This is a delicious hearty marinara packed with protein from the lentils. It's both gluten free and vegan, which makes my body super happy! It's also pretty darn tastey, which makes my mouth happy.

The first time I made this dish I created a smaller batch, so this time around I didn't hold back. I've honestly been eating this pasta for lunch every day this week, and I'm not yet sick of it. Pretty astonishing. Granted, I don't want it to go to waste either—lots of hard work and goodness down the drain—so part of me is wishing I'd frozen some or taken some to the neighbors. PS, I love sprinkling feta over top—yum!

Serves 8

1 cup uncooked brown lentils
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, diced
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons homemade Italian seasoning (click here for recipe)
Gluten-free brown rice angel hair pasta, cooked (or any pasta or veggie noodles of your choice—we love spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles)

To cook the lentils, put lentils, water, and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook with the lid off for 45 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. The water will be nearly gone.

Add oil to a large skillet and sauté garlic and onion. Once the onions are soft, add bell pepper. Cook for another few minutes. Then add tomato, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and cooked lentils. Let it simmer until the bell pepper are cooked as thoroughly as you like.

Spoon over top a steaming plate full of pasta. (Okay, not literally a whole plate full, because that would not be a very balanced "green" meal, so maybe fill half your plate with a spinach or kale salad.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meditation—What's all the hype?

Meditation is a state of deep peace due to the absence of thought—quieting your mind enough to then listen for answers you're seeking or to receive whatever peace or tranquility you need. Why do we need to clear our mind of thought? Well, according to a study done by the National Science Foundation, we produce from around 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day! Some of us up to 60,000 thoughts. Though baffling, the majority of these thoughts aren't the most productive or even self-supporting. Our minds are filled with worry about paying the bills, regret or self-belittling from rehashing a previous conversation, or fear that we won't have what it takes to succeed in our daily roles. Notice how most of our stress comes from what has already happened or what is to come! Whoever thought we could just enjoy this moment, right here, right now?

Meditation can be therapeutic, calming, and rejuvenating because we give our minds a break, which gives our bodies a break from stress, and takes us to a place where we can be free of that barrage of negative shatter. The American Medical Association has identified stress as the root cause of 60% of all human illnesses and disease. Stress often starts with skipping meals, overeating, insomnia, headaches or stomach aches, anxiety, ADHD, and lack of motivation. Click here for more fun facts on stress.

Meditation influences people in different ways, but from what I've found they are all positive influences. So why not give it a try? One article I found in Psychosomatic Medicine (Speca 2000) reported that after taking a group of cancer patients and having them participate in a weekly 1.5-hour meditation class for 7 weeks, the participants reported that a 65% decrease in Total Mood Disturbance and a 31% reduction in Symptoms of Stress. Patients reported less depression, anxiety, anger, and confusion, and more vigor. They also reported fewer cardiopulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms, less emotional irritability, and less cognitive disorganization. This is just one report, and there are hundreds more out there!

Day 1 of a free 3-week meditation course starts today, offered by Deepak Chopra, an expert on calming the mind and inviting self-discovery through meditation. Click here to sign up. This is my third time participating in a 3-week meditation course with Chopra, and I've LOVED every one. I admit, in my last two courses I missed about half of the days. Some mornings I had a hard time making it through the whole meditation because I was already feeling the rush of my day, but the mornings I did allow myself to be still I felt a difference in my perspective on life and had less tension in my body.

This 3-week meditation course focuses on how each one of us is put here on earth with a purpose, and when we still our minds, clarity can come so that we can know what we are here to do. If you've never meditated before, give this course a try. You've got nothing to lose. Just find a quiet spot each day where you can sit comfortably and listen. If you've meditated before and it didn't stick, this is a super easy way to try again because they email the meditations to you, and the meditations are guided. Way easier than flying solo!

Enjoy your journey to mindfulness!