Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why You Should Pay Attention To Your Chocolate Cravings

Craving chocolate is telling you something more than that you want to eat it!

Craving chocolate is telling you something more than that you want to eat it!

Do you crave chocolate? Or know someone who does? If so, it’s important to pay attention. Your body’s cravings can be a sign of a deficiency.

For chocolate cravings, there is usually a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an important mineral the body uses to help absorb Calcium, to regulate the nervous system, and as a result, help with overall wellbeing, dealing with stress and fatigue. Things like extreme exercise, prolonged stress and too much coffee can drain our magnesium from the body.

So, what should you do when you crave chocolate? Eat more magnesium rich foods! The best source of magnesium is in green leafy vegetables like Kale, Collard Greens and Spinach. Even though they are not as fun to eat, green leafy vegetables also contain other vitamins and minerals that will help your body have more energy and better elimination.

But, we all know that chocolate is much more fun to eat than vegetables. While the headlines love to claim that chocolate is good for you, what they usually don’t explain is the type of chocolate matters. The cocoa bean is the source of chocolate we love to eat, but it has to be processed through heat, and an alkaline process to reduce natural acid, which drains it of the “good stuff” that makes it healthy, flavonoids. Chocolate makers know this, and work hard at creating very dark chocolate so they can sell a tasty chocolate with a health benefit claim. So, the darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids you get.

If you’ve ever tasted baking chocolate, the powdered kind that doesn’t have sugar and fat added to it, you might have found it to be terribly bitter. That is the closest to pure cocoa bean we get in the grocery store. And, if you wanted to get the health benefits of chocolate, that’s what you’d eat. In my experience it would be just like taking herbs Juli prescribes!

So, remember when you do want to eat chocolate that tastes good and has some flavonoids in it, choose dark chocolate. Milk chocolate covered caramel nuts won’t count! And, white chocolate doesn’t have any real chocolate in it at all. It’s just sugar, flavoring and fat.

Now that we’re in the “Month of Chocolate” with Valentine’s Day, remember to take care of your body while enjoying a splurge of dark chocolates. Love your body by eating more green leafy vegetables and taking your herbs.

Warmly,
Holli Margell

Nuclear Hepcats: Never too old to share your talent

On January 3rd, 2014, my sister sent me a link via email with the title, “Have You Heard Anything about This?” As a result of this email, by the morning of January 4th, 2014, I was in Full Freak-out Mode. The link she sent was about the possible continuing and complete meltdown of Reactor Number 3, or perhaps it was Reactor Number Two, in Fukushima, Japan. There is nothing, and I mean, NOTHING, that puts me in a tizzy of alarm more than nuclear power, nuclear waste, or nuclear meltdowns. So, what is a girl to do, but head out on the town and enjoy herself? (In case there aren’t many good times left.) By the way, in case I have unwittingly just sent anyone else into Freak-out Mode, the verdict is that no one knows anything, or if they do, they aren’t telling us, and maybe everything is hunky-dory and maybe it isn’t, but Carpe Diem! Now, I should get back to my original point. Rather than spend a quiet evening developing carpal tunnel and ruining my eyesight, by scouring the internet for the truth in rumors, I purchased tickets to see Pearl Django at Jazz Alley.

I love Pearl Django, and if you don’t know who they are, you are really missing out on something. They play fairly regularly at Jazz Alley, which is probably one of the best jazz clubs in the Seattle area, featuring legendary artists such as Dr. John and Tower of Power, amongst numerous others. In fact, if you don’t know about Pearl Django, you probably don’t know about Django Reinhardt and that is almost un-forgiveable. He was the most amazing Gypsy-jazz guitar player of all times and despite an injury at the age of 18, which left some of his fingers burned and permanently paralyzed, continues to influence guitarists with his unique and vibrant style. I love Django Reinhardt so much that I named my cat after him. No kidding. I have a cat named Django and now that everyone has seen that movie, Django Unchained, you all know that the “D” is silent. Django is a wonderful cat and worthy of his name, but they don’t allow cats in Jazz Alley, so he had to stay home, which was probably for the best since he makes my boyfriend sneeze.

So there we were, with an intimate little table to the side of the stage, sipping our drinks (coffee for me as it was a very cold night) and waiting for the show to begin. I think it is important to mention that my boyfriend isn’t really into jazz that much, but he is open-minded and a good sport, and most importantly, I was buying, so all was pleasant in the world already (despite the occasional thought I had of the state of the planet). I was glancing around at the other tables and making some mental observations of the type of audience present that evening, which was very diverse and that is always nice to see, when the band approached the stage. With them, was an older gentleman whom I didn’t recognize from having seen the band before, and who was introduced as Bucky Pizzarelli. Bucky Pizzarelli! Well, I had heard of him, but I hadn’t known he was playing with them on this show. I was very excited to have this opportunity and for it to be so unexpected as well! The band began to play and my mind was completely blown away, but in the best of ways.

 Bucky Pizzarelli's photo from http://benedettoguitars.com

Bucky Pizzarelli’s photo from http://benedettoguitars.com

I admire talent and Pearl Django is an amazingly talented band and always worth seeing, but the star of the show on this evening was Bucky Pizzarelli. At first, I could only hear him, so I moved my chair to a better position, that I might actually see him play. I was startled at first at how fragile he seemed in so many ways. He was older than I imagined, but watching him play, was witnessing a lifetime of experience and joy in his music and any impression of fragility was easily dispersed. His fingers never faltered, they moved from fret to fret with no effort and no hesitation. As the younger men accompanying him began to play faster and faster, he overtook them and he became the leader and the smile on his face was truly something beautiful to see. The crowd was entranced and so was I. It was more than just good music. It was more than just beautiful playing. It was A Life in song. He is 88-years-old and while others his age, or even half his age, believe that they have nothing to contribute any longer, he is there, doing what he loves and knowing that he STILL has something special. I know he made me happy that night and the little tears in my eyes were not from fear of what may or may not come to my life or to the world, but to the beauty of life as it is here and now. We can’t all be as talented as Bucky Pizzarreli, but we all have something to contribute to the world, no matter our age or occupation. I never make New Year’s Resolutions, but I make resolutions at times and under circumstances that inspire me. I can’t put into words how any of us, even how I, should live my life, but consider this article as food-for-thought. The earth turns, meteors fly by, power plants may “melt” and so many things are beyond our control, but the world is still a wonderful place too, and full of beautiful life and maybe the greatest lesson we can learn is to accept happiness when we see it. In the words of John Barrymore, “Happiness always sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” I hadn’t expected to get a new outlook on life by attending a performance at Jazz Alley that night, but I guess I left a door open. So, enjoy your life, keep those doors open, and Happy New Year!

-Mary Halecki

Chinese Mustard Green Soup Recipe

…You’d better hurry up before this vegetable disappears forever from the shelf of your local Asian grocery store!

Here is an story about the mayor of a large city in ancient China who went to his favorite restaurant, complaining to the waiter of his persisting cold. The waiter told him about the healing power of mustard green soup for such an ailment due to its cooling and soothing properties. The mayor took his advice and ordered Mustard Green Soup that evening. To his surprise, he felt greatly relieved the next day.

The rumor spread quickly, nearly everyone at the city hall and their friends and family with a cold symptoms trekked to the same restaurant where the mayor dined a few days earlier. The restaurant continued to sell out Mustard Green Soups every single day for a several weeks. Soon the healing power of the Mustard Green soup became known to the general public and everyone rushed to buy mustard greens. And unprecedented shortage of mustard green in the area lasted for a several months.

Luckily, there is no shortage of Chinese mustard greens reported in the US or Canada. If you are lucky enough to live close to an Asian grocery store, you would have no problem getting it. So let’s get busy and start cooking!

Mustard Green Soup

Mustard Green Soup

Recipe: Chinese Mustard Green Soup
Ingredients:
• 1/2 lb Pork spare ribs cubes (salted overnight)
• One bunch of Chinese Mustard greens (1 lb) cut into 1 – 2 inch pieces
• 2 slices of fresh ginger root
• A pinch of salt
• One egg (optional)
Directions:
1. Boil pork spare ribs for about 3-4 minutes until coagulation of the blood appears on the bone.
2. Discard the water and wash off coagulated blood.
3. Cut the rib into pieces & boil in 8 cups of water until meat become tender. Skim off any scum or excess fat.
4. Add Chinese Mustard greens and ginger and cook for about 10 minutes.
5. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
6. Right before pot is taken off the stove, you may slowly add a beaten egg while stirring the soup.

Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens

Many types of Asian greens, including Chinese Mustard Greens, are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C, E and K. They are also a great source of fiber, beta carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, lutein, folate and chlorophyll. So, if you have hard time getting pass the slight pungent bitter taste of this vegetable, just think of the all the benefits you can get from eating it. After all “The bitter the vegetable (or herb) is, the healthier it is for you.”

*Spare ribs in many Asian stores comes in strips cut parpendicularly to the bones, so it is very easy to cut into cubes. If the slab of ribs is only option available for you, go ahead and cut them into sticks along the bones.
*This recipe serves 6 -8 people.

Why Does It Feel Good To Be A Little Bad?

Letting loose can take you to a place of unexpected experience. Instead of worrying about everyone’s good time, denying yourself pleasure, behave badly, focus on making yourself shine and smile! Find a weekend, sleep early, dress up and put on some sexy clothes and get yourself out there and have some fun! I prefer to get lazy, spend a day in your pajamas and sleep in. You deserve a whole day of rest, I know I do.

On my work days, I stop procrastinating and wake up at 4:45am and do my hour of hot yoga. Get inspired, and get out there – be bad to finally love yourself and focus on only what is best for you!

To love yourself reflects on your love for others! If I am not well then how can I care for others? The truth is you have to take care of yourself first.

Love, Juli