On top of the surreal coronavirus stress we are all experiencing, my husband had a sudden health scare that required neurosurgery. It was almost too much stress for us to handle. While the body is designed to manage acute stress beautifully, prolonged fear and anxiety are not the healthiest combination. On the other hand, neither is avoiding or denying these emotions. For weeks, we allowed the fear to just be there, acknowledging it, as well as each others' unpredictable moods, with as much compassion as we could muster. In hindsight, I realize we were practicing "being in the present moment," doing our best to stay focused on what was real now and noticing when our minds wandered into terrifying "what-ifs?" Boy, was that was challenging.
Then we prescribed ourselves a great antidote to the stress – a bit of daily vitamin J. You won't find vitamin J in your supplement bottle...
While this didn't erase the uncomfortable fear, it helped us calm down and rejuvenate a little each day with some needed fun and happiness. My hubby and I made it through May one day at a time with surprising moments of delight and so much gratitude for the surgeon and health care workers who provided the excellent care my husband needed, even more exceptional during this time of COVID.
Here's what we did daily to create joy.
- One day we had a 10-minute dance party to pulsating music written for just this purpose! Try Garmiani's "Barraca" on YouTube if you like to dance.
- A hilarious video of our son singing and goofing off when he was young gave us many good laughs.
- One evening, we played soothing ocean wave sounds on Pandora (my son's amazing discovery), lit a candle and ate a delicious, easy lasagna – gluten free, dairy free of course – outside in the late afternoon sunlight. Read on for my creamy, healthy recipe.
- Video chatting and playing online games with family and friends was novel and fun.
- Creative gluten-free baking is always my go-to for yummy nurturing. I swapped a recipe's added flour for GF tiger nut flour for a healthy banana bread. Tiger nut flour, rich in prebiotic fiber, was introduced to me by a good friend. What new ingredients have you played with?
- Intoxicatingly fragrant roses in the garden had us literally stopping to smell the roses.
- Hearing the creaking of an old, swaying redwood tree while hiking a nearby trail reminded us how vast and wholesome nature is.
- Layers and varieties of birdsongs outside provided beautiful music daily.
- Of course, binge-watching creative new shows on Netflix gave us an easy outlet for laughing and crying.
- Felt gratitude for all of the above.
The body follows the mind.
Are you familiar with this brilliant quote from Ghandi? "Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny."
Research on epigenetics shows that our thoughts, words, and emotions literally change our biology by turning genes on or off that code for diseases. When we pay attention to what's going well and tune into gratitude, we begin to experience positive shifts in our minds and our bodies. Alternatively, when we focus on the negative, we're literally feeding those negative emotions, and switching on those unhealthful genes.
As I write in my book, Gutsy, where attention goes, it grows. Where do you put your attention? What energy do you generate?
My prescription: Every day, choose a little vitamin J.
This dreamy recipe entails several steps. It's worth the effort up front as it offers you many no-cook leftover days ahead.
1 box of gluten free lasagna noodles (I use Jovial brand.)
2 T olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lb ground organic turkey
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 t garlic powder
4 c broccoli florets
1/2 head rainbow chard, chopped
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
10 oz frozen green beans, thawed and drained
1 c raw unsalted cashews
1/2 c water
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1 bottle of organic tomato pasta sauce
Optional, sliced vegan mozzarella (I use Miyokos brand.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pasta pot, add water, cover and heat to boiling. To a sauté pan add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sauté onions until translucent (about 5 minutes). In a bowl, combine turkey salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder. Add turkey to onions and sauté until cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a separate sauté pan, add remaining tablespoon olive oil. Add broccoli florets and chard. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When water is boiling, add lasagna noodles to pot and boil for 4 minutes, stirring often to prevent noodles from sticking. When done, drain noodles in colander, and rinse with cool water, separating noodles with your hands once they are cooled.
To make cashew cream, in a blender, combine cashews, 1/2 cup water, lemon juice and salt. Blend until creamy.
Here's the fun part: In a large baking dish, coat bottom with about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce. Spread 1/3 of the lasagna noodles on top of sauce into a layer. Add thawed and drained veggies and sautéed veggies. Spread evenly. Pour cashew cream over veggies. Layer on another 1/3 of noodles. Add ground turkey and spread evenly. Pour 1/3 of tomato sauce onto turkey and spread evenly. Top with remaining noodles. Cover with remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Cheese slices may be added by removing foil and adding on top during the last 5 minutes of baking. Enjoy!