Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Kippur

Tonight is the beginning of Yom Kippur!! It is debated to be one of the most important holidays in the Jewish  religion. It is about going back into the past year and looking at what you are sorry for and asking for forgiveness along with giving it.
I found it interesting why Yom Kippur the day of repentance comes after Rosh Hashanah the day of judgement and new beginnings. Now after doing my research online at myjewishlearning.com, ohr.edu, and reading The Rebbetzin's Husband blog (very insightful) I have come to a conclusion of my own not saying that you all should take what I say as your official answer to me I do recommend actually going to a rabbi and asking them). I thought of it similar to a Brit Milah or a Baby Naming, where we wait eight days after a child is born to name them and if it is a boy to have a circumcision ceremony. We wait days because truthfully it is a health thing. for one we don't know what the baby's health is like the first few days so we must act with caution, and second blood clotting mechanisms begin to truly work after the seventh day. I know it is not some miraculous purpose (I am not a kabbalist so I wouldn't even know where to begin with that). thinking about that I went back to Yom Kippur. We are not fully prepared to ask forgiveness yet and we must prepare and wait till we are developed enough mentally to ask for forgiveness and Rosh Hashanah is the day to start preparing. from there we have several traditions, mitzvot (deeds), and ceremonies that take place up until Yom Kippur to rid ourselves of our sins, ask g-d and the people in our lives for forgiveness and ask for a new start. on Yom Kippur we are called to begin a fast and think of nothing but what we have been preparing for. G-d is ready to give his forgiveness and the people around you are just as ready. In my opinion though I say ask the people first. G-d has all the patience in the world to wait but your family and friends are fasting so they are going to be a little grumpy by the end of the day.
The night of is really important health wise. For twenty five hours we are meant to fast meaning no food or water, bathing, leather and an array of other dos and don'ts. Before some of you go off judging why we do this let me give you an answer. It's pretty much like a Buddhist acid trip in my opinion and I don't mean that in the wrong way. What I mean is that we are more in-tuned with our spiritual self while fasting. It is actually commanded that we spend the day in Tefilla (prayer) over eating so that all we are doing is becoming more spiritual, more angel like and less animalistic in our ways. Of course this may be difficult for some and if you are sick or just can't survive without some water or food know that g-d is not a cruel being and it is believed that HEALTH COMES FIRST!!! If you need to go for a granola bar, go for the granola bar.
With this in mind if you do intend on fasting I have some nutrition tips and recipes for a pre-fast meal and post-fast meal.

Pre-fast tips:

1. WATER! try getting in twice as much water as you usually would
2. eat small meals the day before or the day of Kol Nidre (the beginning of Yom Kippur)
3. keep the salt and caffeine to an absolute minimal
4. carbo load the meal before you begin. go with grains, legumes and add a little fat in there for storage.
5. (this one I am still debating on) eat a sugary dessert. that doesn't mean go for a reese's (although I would want to). go for a fruit. it will give you the energy you need for the services coming right after.

Pre-fast recipe:

Chicken and Winter Squash Tzimmes (ashkenazi stew)

9 cups cubed peeled butternut, buttercup or hubbard squash (1-inch cubes; see Tip)
1 cup small pitted prunes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 1/2 pounds), trimmed
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place squash, prunes, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle chicken with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and place on top of the vegetables. Mix broth, orange zest and juice in a small bowl and pour over the chicken. Cover the baking dish with foil.

3. Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, basting often, about 1 hour more.

Steamed Spinach and Cashews.

1 costco bag of spinach
1 cup chopped chashews
Hot sauce or salsa and Dijon mustard to taste.

Steam the spinach till soft, mix with the dijon mustard and hot sauce, let it cool and add the cashews.

Post-Fast tips

1. pace yourself
2. start with a juice or something with nutrients and sugar
3. go low sodium
4. WATER!!!!
5. if you are able to go with a dairy meal over a meat meal. the sugars in your body are depleted and this will help plus at this time it may be easier on your stomach if you are not intolerant or allergic to dairy.

Post-fast recipe

Baked Eggs with Zucchini (serves 1)

    6 eggs, beaten
    2 cups sliced zucchini, unpeeled
    1/3 cup almond milk
    dash of salt & pepper
    Feta cheese

Mix everything together and place in a casserole dish and into the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. a few minutes before it is done sprinkle the cheese on top. 

Beet and Sweet Potato Casserole with Goat Cheese

4 cups of cubed beets
4 cups of cubed Sweet Potato
3 cloves of garlic minced
4 TB chopped scallions (give or take)
1 bag (250 -350 g) goats cheese
Olive oil

lightly toss veggies with some EVOO, place them in a casserole dish with the cheese and bake it for 1 hr-1.5 hrs and serve almighty deliciousness!

As for myself I am letting others do the cooking for a change because I really want to take the time to ponder on what I need to ask for forgiveness. As for now I am sorry to those I haven't been in contact as much, sorry to my parents for being a little to spoiled as for g-d... I am not sorry for what you have made me to be but I am sorry I haven't done what I set out to do this past year. I am sure there is more so I must go now and contemplate.

Till Next Time!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Recipes from Rosh Hashana

One of last night's great success!!

Cilantro Avocado Salad
  - Arugala
  - Spinach
  - Sundried tomatoes
  - Cucumber
  - Red onion
  - Cilantro
  - Toasted sunflower seeds (optional)
  - Fennel (absolutely needed for shear awesomeness)

    Avocado,fresh squeezed lemon and lime, distilled vinegar, roasted garlic, roasted onion, and roasted red jalepeno all bended up for deliciousness with a tiny bit of salt and pepper.

The other two awesome dishes:

Sweet Potato Black Bean Stew
  - Sweet Potatoes cut into 4s
  - Black beans
  -  Snow Peas
  - Cherry Tomatoes
  - Garlic (minced)

  - Ginger powder
  - Onion  
  - Red Bell Pepper
  - Pasillo Pepper
  - Chili Powder
  - Fresh Squeezed Orange and Lemon Juice

With this one I learned the hard way if you are going with beans from scratch COOK THE BEANS FIRST. Apparently they can take HOURS to cook. Dice everything else up except for the tomatoes, sautee the onion and place everything together once the beans are par cooked and cook on till the sweet potatoes are perfectly tender. 

Lastly: Eggplant Meat "Lasagna"

- Eggplant
- Ground Beef
- Ground Turkey
- Brown Mushrooms
- Red Bell Pepper
- Cherry Tomatoes 
- Roma Tomatoes
- Tomatoe Sauce
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Tomato Paste 
- Basil (dried and fresh)
- Nutritional Yeast
- Stevia 
- Oregano
- Thyme
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Pure Coco Powder
- Chili Powder 
- Salt & Pepper

dump all the tomatoes in a pan place a top and cook till all the tomatoes are easily smooshable (yes, I do have my own dictionary), add in a tiny bit of oregano, thyme,dried basil, coco powder, chili powder and Stevia and cook for a little bit more and add the tomato paste, tomato sauce and balsamic and let it simmer for a while. in a bowl mix meat, mushrooms garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, oregano thyme and basil together and lightly mix it together then brown the meat and mushrooms in a pot while baking slices of eggplant (with drizzled salt and pepper) at 425 degrees for 5 minutes each side. layer up eggplant, meat, sauce, sliced peppers and basil (in this order) and sauce at top place it in the oven at 375 for an hour then drizzle on nutritional yeast at the top and broil for nutty cheesy hint. 

Now to get ready for morning services! Chag Sameach Happy Holiday! 

Till Next Time! 


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rosh Hashana 2012

Tomorrow night is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I am celebrating with friends and family here at home and I get to do a little cooking.
Rosh Hashanah as I mentioned is the Jewish New Year. Rosh in Hebrew means head and Hashanah means the new year so the literal translation is head of the year. Like the more known new year Rosh Hashanah is a time to look back at our year and ourselves as a whole and decide where to go from here. next holiday is Yom Kippur which I will write about and I see as a sequel to Rosh Hashanah. For now I will concentrate on one holiday. Rosh Hashanah is a time not only to think and take a look at ourselves but also a time to have one great day. No working or school (although considering finals are coming up soon I may cheat a little), We scarf down sweet foods like pomegranates, apples and honey, delicious round raisin challah and any creative dishes we can think up like a sweet apple raisin kugle my mom has cooked up for tomorrow.
Each Rosh Hashanah for me is important. Every year I think of what I want changed, if I can change it myself and how I can do that. Each year it is pretty much all the same. I usually have the thoughts of wanting to be a better daughter, sister, granddaughter and friend, I want to have the courage to do many things that I should have done the year before and what my new goals and plans are for this year. This year I am adding the Israel National Trail to my list of new things along with start my career as a nutritionist and one goal that I have each year is finding friends and love. So those are my goals.
My next step is thanking Hashem (g-d) for everything. I thank him for my parents who have been spoiling me    all year and for my life, my brothers who are just down right awesome brothers, my grandma who shows me strength each day, the rest of my ginormous family that I have the privilege of enjoying life with, my friends all over the world and letting me learn how to live life through so many different experiences.
Next step is a little selfish. I ask him for help for the next year. Help in giving me courage, help my family and friends, help me find work and well sadly the list goes on so I sum it up in one line "Hashem, Please help me be honorable, committed, and courageous for the life I am meant to live for this next year."
Lastly I make a list of mistakes and faults that I was able to prevent and unable to prevent so on Yom Kippur I know exactly what to tell him.
I recommend every person take these steps. Even if your not Jewish you can do so, you can choose to do it January 1st for the new year or tomorrow for Rosh Hashanah:

1. what do you want to change and how?
2. What are your new goals and ones you have not fulfilled yet?
3.What are you thankful for this year?
4. Ask for help.
5. Make a list of faults to apologize for. You can list them for g-d and for the people in your life. for instance I am really sorry I wake up my parents every morning just to cook. wait for the right moment and say what you need to say.

There it is five steps to creating a new spiritual, emotional year.

I get to do this all while cooking for tomorrow. I have no clue how this is going to work but I am experimenting with a sweet potato stew, eggplant turkey "lasagna" and a salad. I will give you the details of them if it works out.

For now I am almost done cooking for this day and will go to bed to do the same tomorrow till the shofar (rams horn) is blown and everyone comes by to have one hopefully delicious meal.

Till Next Time!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A New Goal

I think it is time to change things up.
I have spent most of the time being sick trying to fight through it and run (literally). The past month I have been fighting with myself. battling the truth that breaks my heart (figuratively and literally). Imagine getting so close to your goal, you can see it right in front of you and then something pulls you away. That's what I have been feeling like for a while. I would get so close and then this pain occurs and it pulls me away. The last "long" run I got to was about 5.6 miles. Don't get me wrong 5.6 miles is fantastic. It is a great run to be able to do. Everyone should strive to get to that point and then progress to a 10k which is about 6.2 miles. Then go for a half a marathon 13.1 miles and lastly a marathon 26.2 miles. From there you can go even farther. Here's the thing, you would think it was about bettering yourself. To some extent that is important but that's not the purpose to go farther, faster or both. Why should you do so? Because it gives you purpose. live life without any goals for a day and you will go crazy. 
I know I am rambling off topic. I have a purpose for doing so. This was going to be my journey, I was going to join the elite, join those who have shown me that it is worth striving for something. I spent some time with people like Seth, Dustin, Jen (former RLFH trainer) and Jen (Spin teacher and running buddy) being taught that it is worth running to the finish line, not to be the fastest but to enjoy the journey. The goal at the end is just the reason you start the journey. I have been motivated by many others in my life but this group taught me what it means to love to run. I have been battling myself because as I run I start with this smile on my face. I feel the breeze of the wind cooling me down as I begin to sweat, I feel my legs telling me I can go even farther,and finally every thought from my mind disappears except for the image of the finish line. On a good day I get to that finish line with all of my motivators right by me in spirit. On a rough day I get so close up until all of the feelings I have just felt, the breeze, my legs, even the empty mind is taken over by a shot of reality. After a minute or two of peace. of feeling nothing but pride and the wind I am attacked by that sharp pain right in the heart. I don't know what it is but it tends to slow me down during a run until it gets to hard to even try running. Not saying that I am still dying from pain like I used to and in fact I think I am perfectly healthy.   What I am saying is the battle has been telling myself that it is time to wave the white flag and realize that like some people out there I just wasn't meant to run a marathon. It hurts when you are so motivated by others and when you don't want to disappoint those people and say what you need to say. So I am officially waving the flag and saying to my motivators forgive me for searching for a new goal that won't hurt so much. 

Now I have to add some goal to achieve. I don't go through the journey just to have a journey. without an end it really isn't a journey to begin with. Even life has an end, and what keeps us going is an image of what we want that end to be. For my new goal I am going to say this.... It will allow me to see America! It won't be for at least a few years till I am able to get this goal down because it will take time and I need to finish school first and begin this little crazy thing called a career, but it will be done. Of course with major goals you need smaller goals as check points so I am going to leave you with an image of the first check point which will also take some time just to train for. according to images I have to learn how to climb as well.

I guess the lesson is that even though I am technically quitting, even though I feel as though I am letting people down in my life I know that is not the case. I am doing what is right for me and everyone needs to learn when to say it's time for me to raise the flag and rise up again in a different light. So to go by the words of the late great Walt Disney " Around here we don't look backwards for long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down to paths."