Sunday Detox: Organic Easter Egg Dyeing!

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A few weeks back, Taryn and I took my mother out to lunch for her birthday.  We went to Tom Colicchio’s “low key” restaurant Craft Bar, and I ordered a salad.  When it arrived it had a pink hard-boiled egg on it.  Curious.  It was pickled, the waiter told me.  I was intrigued.

A few days later – and because she’s particularly in tune with the universe – my dear friend Rebecca send me this.  A recipe to make pickled eggs of every color, just in time for Easter.

So, today, in an ongoing journey to reduce the chemicals in my cooking, I took a stab at making organically dyed Easter eggs.  It was super easy, with one minor (but fun) bump in the road in the form of a baking powder-induced dye explosion (see video below).

I know Easter is winding down, and your egg dyeing is coming to an end – but if you find yourself with a few extra hard boiled eggs this week, try this.  I am now riding the pickled egg train, and I want you to hop on.

You can check out the recipe for detail on the process and colors, but essentially you boil water, vinegar, salt and sugar, and then add the veggies and spices that create the dye color of your choice (beets for pink, purple cabbage for…you guessed it, tamarind for yellow, and so on).  Pour that mixture over hard boiled, peeled eggs placed in heat proof jars, and let them sit for a few hours.

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And the result…

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I’m going to throw them back in the dye overnight to make the colors a little deeper. Process improvement:  I’ll do this the night before next time…!

Now that I’ve got the base down, I’m going to try to get creative and make different colors.  If you’ve got any bright ideas on how to turn these eggs teal or lime, let me know.  Happy Easter to all who celebrated today!

&d

International Day of Happiness!

Lucy Ethal in kitchen dancing

In 2012, the United Nations established March 20th as the International Day of Happiness as a catalyst for people to try to create a happier world for themselves and for others.  Bhutan has embraced the idea and developed a Gross National Happiness metric that’s looked at alongside GDP as a way to measure a country’s economic success.  We dig it, and are hoping that other countries will follow suit.  In the meantime, we’re spending today taking this concept seriously and thinking about a few of our joy-inducing tricks.  

Kitchen dancing:  We did a lot of hosting this weekend, and in the middle of the inevitable chaos of navigating a small kitchen together, Ben and I amped up the music to do a little kitchen dancing.  There’s something about dancing with abandon in the kitchen that brings full on happiness back into any room.  We tend to break it out if we’re starting to get irritated by the lack of counter space or simultaneous chopping, washing, and cooking that has to happen within a two foot radius.  This weekend our signal was me holding a knife in the air and shouting “You’re always in the EXACT wrong spot!!”  Time for a kitchen dance.  

Trampoline workouts:  Turns out jumping up and down on a trampoline like a little kid serves up a serious workout.  While you need a little real estate — which runs sparse in NYC — to have one of your own, as long as you’ve got high ceilings, you’re golden.  The other option is to check out one of the many trampoline-equipped gyms in the city.  Even if this wasn’t a great workout, wouldn’t it be worth doing anyway for the pure joy of getting bounced into the air?

Poking fun at work life: We all do semi-ridiculous things in the name of workplace culture.  If I ever need a quick mid-week laugh, I pull up Justin Timberlake’s and Jimmy Fallon’s #hashtag skit that reminds me how ridiculous our social media language and engagement can be.  Another one for work-related comedic relief?  This viral skit that emulates a conference call in real life.  We’ve ALL experienced conference calls like this, and probably will again this week.  

What do you do for a quick burst of happiness or laughter?  

&d

 

Sunday Detox: Suits and Slapstick

Beautiful Little Business Woman In Jacket And Tie

We all take ourselves a little too seriously, particularly during the week when our noses are to the grindstone in whatever professional endeavors on which we choose to embark.

Earlier this week, I was invited to a gathering of “intellectual leaders” and was placed into a setting that takes itself pretty seriously.  Prestigious. Important. Exclusive.  I signed up.  I arrived.  I deflated.  

I was sick of faking it, tired of speaking for speaking sake, and tired of conjuring intellectual passion for a topic on demand. So, I opted out.  I was there in body, but not spirit.  I sat in the back, I didn’t speak, and I intentionally passed the microphone — the one I would normally grip onto — to others in the room.  

My first instinct was to be disappointed in myself.  Why couldn’t I “show up” for this?  Later on that week, as I was speaking to friends and colleagues about the experience they all responded with different versions of the same question:  “What’s really important to you?” “What felt inauthentic about that forum?”, “Why didn’t you feel like yourself?”

It’s hard for me to feel like myself in settings where the pretense is high, and where I can’t inject humor and the child-like do-whatever-you-want-to-make-yourself-completely-JOYFUL feeling.  Most professional settings (that I’ve seen anyway…) come with some level of affectation that we all contribute to in order to ensure others that we are comptent, smart, on our game. But it can stifle people bringing their true self and their honest thoughts to the table, which is bad for ourselves, our colleagues and our work.    

I bumped into an article a few days later that spoke to this same challenge, and the ways that businesses are starting to think about bringing in humor and comedy as a tool to make people more effective and purposeful in their work.  The entire article is worth a read but in essence it says:

“By using humor, we allow great ideas to come from anywhere. Humor breaks down barriers, and people end up having really creative ideas.”

As I thought about this over the past week, it helped reground me in how important it is to me to create professional situations that make people feel as comfortable as possible — that channel the humor and the child-like curiosity that we all have.  The humor that allows us to poke fun at the stiff suits we’re all wearing for unknown reasons. The curiousity that allows us to ask questions, whether or not we think we should already know the answers. The excitement for the world that allows us to truly enjoy it instead of growing tired of it, and that enables us to actually get something done together.

 

Sunday Detox: Granola!

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I love living in NYC, but it can be overwhelming and downright toxic for your health if you’re not careful.  I’ve always used Sundays as a day to reset – whether to recover from a long weekend of fun nights out, or to prepare for a long week ahead of work and travel where healthy meals are far and few between.  A little time spent on detoxing on Sundays has gone a long way to combat the madness of city living.

I’ve never been able to be too extreme in my approach.  Days straight of drinking only juices and concoctions or severely limiting my diet or behavior has never worked for me or has felt particularly healthy.  So, instead, I just try to set myself up for low-sugar, low-flour, low-alcohol weeks, kicking it off on Sunday.

Some Sundays are more successful than others.  Life is life.  But, I’ll plan to share one approach a week with you guys to try to keep myself honest, and hear how you all keep yourselves healthy.

First up:  my favorite granola recipe!  I grabbed and adjusted from Cookie + Kate, a fantastic whole foods cooking blog that you should check out.  I make it in bulk, and then try to pack it with me for breakfasts or snacks during the week.   It is naturally sweetened with honey (or maple syrup, if you prefer), instead of the pounds of white sugar you’ll find in the grocery store variety.  I also sneak in a little ground flaxseed for some extra Omega-3 and fiber. That, along with whatever combination of dried fruits, nuts and seeds I have in the pantry that week, and I’m done.  Couldn’t be easier.

The recipe below will yield about 5-6 servings, so I typically double it to have a stockpile.

Homemade Granola

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1½ cup raw nuts and/or seeds (I use a combination of chopped pecans, walnuts and sunflower seeds)
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg or cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup dried fruit (I use a combination of cranberries, blueberries and cherries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together all of the dry ingredients except the fruit.  Pour in the honey, oil and vanilla and mix it until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.  Throw it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and into the oven for about 25 minutes, stirring once about half way through.

Once it’s out of the oven, I let it set for a few hours.  I like my granola clumpy and it tends to stick together better than way.  Mix the dried fruit in once its chilled and set.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some granola to chomp…

&d