Brain Food: Almond-Crusted Salmon

Brain Food: Almond-Crusted Salmon

It's rare that I post recipes on my website. It's also rare that I make food that I like so much that I feel I MUST share it with the world. The preamble here is brief because I get annoyed when I look up a recipe on a website and have to scroll past a ton of narrative I'm not interested in, and that has no impact on my life when I'm only on the page because I want the fucking recipe.

frustrated child

Brain-boosting nutrition dominates this salmon dish. Read about how the brain bebefits from this dish on page 2 this post. There's a lot of info there.

After I ate this salmon dish for dinner, I took my dog for a walk and suddenly got clarity on a professional challenge that I'd been grappling with for over a month. There's one task that's been on my to-do list for weeks because although I thought I knew how I wanted it done, and although I could see in my head how it could look, it didn't seem quite right, and I just couldn't get the task out. Something was missing. After a piece of almond-crusted salmon and a dog walk, I received the answer in my mind  As I tweeted, “#brainfood & #exercise #FTW.” (And possibly some of the EFT that I did earlier.)

Now, here's the fucking recipe:

[Jump to recipe notes and nutrition notes.]

Almond-Crusted Salmon

Makes 2
(It's easy to increase or decrease serving size)

Ingredients

1/4 cup raw almonds
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
The Zest of 1 lemon [works for 1 or 2 servings of salmon] Salt and pepper to taste – or a few grinds of pepper and a couple of pinches of salt

1-2 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions

  1. In a food processor or food chopper, chop the nuts and seeds until they are fine. This is the coating. The finer you get the mixture, the more likely it is to stick to the fish.
  2. Add the lemon zest and give it another pulse to mix
  3. Rinse the salmon and pat dry
  4. Put some coating on a plate
  5. Dredge each side of the salmon, patting the coating on if that helps it stick
  6. Heat 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil or olive oil in a pan over medium heat (amount depends on the size of the skillet you're using)
  7. Cook the salmon for 4-5 minutes per side.
  8. Serve over greens, such as spring mix, that's been drizzled with juice from the lemon you zested (1/2 a lemon should be enough, but you decide how wet you want it). You can also add a drizzle of sesame oil.

(Click images for full size)

Recipe notes:

  • You could start with almond meal or almond flour. I didn't have any.
  • You could use whatever seeds you'd like. Chia seeds and/or sunflower seeds would probably work. My intuition guided me to hemp and pumpkin.
  • You could replace the almonds with pecans or other nuts of choice (not peanuts).
  • I ended up with enough coating for two servings, even though I'd only thawed one piece of fish, so I've got some leftover coating for the next time. If you end up with more coating than you need, you can use it on salmon in the future, or use it as a topping for salad or yogurt. If you're not going to use the ground nuts and seeds in the next couple of days, freeze the leftovers. They could go rancid.
  • I didn't use the best quality salmon (it was a frozen fillet from a box, bought at a grocery store) but the execution was nearly perfect. I say “nearly” because I didn't chop the nuts finely enough.

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My Ayurveda Morning Routine… Then & Now

My Ayurveda Morning Routine… Then & Now

Back in February I had this idea: Start a new ayurveda morning routine (or, at least, ayurvedic-based). Blog about it.

The routine included activities I was already doing, such as yoga and meditation, so I was building on it. It also incorporated habits that I used to have but had stopped.

I started strong. Then a few weeks in I started a new corporate day job and my schedule changed both in terms of how long I had for said routine, and my blogging schedule. Honestly, for the first month of my employment I had little energy to do anything outside of work. (Working to make money vs. working on my passion is a topic I'm putting some notes together on, potentially to create an article on LinkedIn.)

What's in an ayurveda morning routine?

When I started my routine, based on some googling and what I'd seen in an Instagram account I follow, it looked like this – though the order would sometimes change:

  1. Meditate (20 minutes) – I still use the Insight Timer app.
  2. Journal (15 minutes)
  3. Scrape tongue with a plastic tongue scraper (30 seconds or so)
    • Ayurveda recommends scraping away white coating that accumulates on the tongue overnight. This coating is perceived as accumulated undigested toxins sitting in the digestive tract. Those toxins can cause illness.
  4. Splashing cool water on my face/in my eyes, 7 times.
    • Ayurveda recommends splashing your face and eyes with water as soon as you wake up, seven times. Seven represents the body’s chakras, or energy centers.
  5. Drink a half liter or full liter of warm water.
    • Some practitioners recommend lemon, some recommend lime. Morning lemon water has long been part of my routine. Sometimes I juice of lemons or limes. Other times I use lemon or lime essential oil from Young Living, or their Citrus Fresh essential oil blend, which contains orange, grapefruit, mandarin, tangerine, lemon, and spearmint. Some days I get my magnesium in, with Natural Calm lemon flavoured powder.
  6. Give myself a body massage with coconut oil or sesame oil (washed off in the shower).
  7. Oil pulling with coconut oil and a couple of drops of Living Libations Healthy Gum Drops, done for 10-20 minutes.
    • Oil pulling is where you swish oil around on your mouth.  I scoop up some oil with a spoon, add the gum drops, and pop it in my mouth. It's part of the oral hygiene routine, though NOT a replacement for brushing teeth. When you spit, always do it into a garbage can, as it can clog pipes.
  8. Skin brushing with a dry skin brush before showering.
    • Skin brushing, allegedly, helps encourages lymphatic drainage, improves blood flow, and rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin. It improves circulation and helps rid toxins from the body.

So many steps!

That's a LOT of steps. I also walk my dog in the morning, and like to do morning yoga. It's time consuming, and I was keeping it up at least 6 days a week. I tried including pranayama (breathing) exercises but I kept forgetting to do them.

Sometimes I multi-tasked with other activities on the list, or with other activities. For example, I'd oil up and then sit at my computer, or oil up and then empty the dishwasher. Or sit with oil on my body and in my mouth at the same time.

Oil pulling is one of the activities that I've been doing on and off for years, and I usually do it in the shower (again, spitting into a garbage can). Once, I sat down on the couch with my body oiled and coconut oil in my mouth while my man told me stories. For 10 minutes, I nodded and “mmmhmmm”ed , amused by it.

From this morning: Preparing for morning oil pulling with @nutiva coconut oil with 2 drops of @livinglibations Happy Gum Drops. 20 minutes of swishing later, my mouth feels fresh and clean. Next step: Brushing with Living Libations Tooth Truth Powder Polish and Neem Enamelizer liquid and my @drtungs ionic toothbrush – all part of the Living Libations Successful Self Dentistry Kit. My mouth always feels extra clean when I use these products. I'm almost out of the enamelizer. I've been making it last by not using it every time I brush, instead alternating with an all-natural toothpaste. Living Libations also makes an oil swishing serum that's on my wishlist for the future. . . . #ayurveda #ayurvedicremedies #morningslikethese #healthyliving #wellness #oralhealth #findinghealthwellness

A post shared by Andrea Toole, ADHD Coach (@findinghealthwellness) on

(My sister commented that she has a similar routine. Of course she does!)

My Ayurveda morning routine now…

When I stared my new job I couldn't sustain that time-consuming ayurveda morning routine. Some experts say that you should wake up at 6 am, or before the sun. By the end of March, the sun is rising around 7 a.m. My optimal sleep cycle is 11 p.m. -7 a.m., though 10:30-6:30 is do-able and 6:30 wake up is necessary now. I still need 2 hours before I leave for work in the morning!

I need 8 hours of sleep, though can get by on 7.5 without feeling too bad. When my dog was a puppy I DID get up before 6 a.m. to walk her before work but she's older now and her morning needs have changed.

So here's what I say to 6 a.m. wake up – and especially any time earlier: Screw it. If you can do it, that's great! We all have different needs and rhythms. I'm a little envious, but I'm satisfied where I'm at, I'd just like to get up a little earlier. Last week I made myself 3 versions of a morning schedule. One does have a 6 a.m. wake up. I eye it in the way that one looks at something unappealing. Then I sleep later. Maybe if I start with 15-minute increments…

Do what's right for you (find YOUR health and wellness)

In an article on Chopra.com, provides the following note before its ayurvedic-inspired morning routine:

These suggestions for morning habits are inspired by traditions in Ayurveda; however, the invitation is to try them out, do what feels right, skip the ones that don’t, add ones that balance you best. They can be done in any order. Whether you’re already an early riser or more of a drag-myself-out-of-bed, stumble-to-the-coffeemaker, why-is-it-so-bright, kind of person—these tips will help you get a jump on your day.

Indeed. And I did.

The activities I kept were those that were already part of my life:

  • Meditation (20 minutes tops these days, though I'm striving for earlier wake up and longer sessions)
  • Journal
  • Yoga
  • Tongue scrape
  • Skin brush
  • Oil pull in the shower. Above, I said that I take a spoonful of the oil. In past warmer months when the oil was melted, I swigged straight from the container.  My Happy Gum Drops are a new addition – maybe I'll drop them straight into my mouth.
  • Drink warm water. I've been saying for years that even if I neglect to drink water throughout the day, at least I know I've had my morning water.

After 100 days of meditation I missed a day. And then went back to it. I'm doing yoga most days but I occasionally do skip. I loved challenging myself and feeling really good about streaks but I eventually decided to go easy on my self if I miss a day.

Sometimes I forget to skin brush as part of this ayurveda morning routine. I often forget to splash water on my face. Most mornings I go from bedroom to living room for yoga/meditate/journal. The massage would be nice, but it's more of a treat now. I remember one evening after I'd done it in the morning, when suddenly felt my neck release nicely and knew it was a result. The timing just doesn't work right now.

How do I feel from all this ayurveda morning routine stuff?

I honestly don't know if the skin brushing is benefiting me, but often times we don't see or feel health benefits. Not seeing or feeling doesn't mean it's not working, nor does it mean that it is.

My tongue always feels cleaner with a good tongue scrape. I use the small plastic scraper that came with the Living Libations Successful Self-Dentistry Kit that I won last year. Some people swear by stainless steel or copper. You could use the back of a spoon. I used to sometimes do that.

My teeth always feel cleaner with I oil pull before brushing. It amazes me that oil pulling will loosen debris from the day before that evening flossing did not.

I was sick with colds in both March and April, even though I usually only get sick twice a year, in fall and spring. However, both times the cold lasted less than a week. The first one stayed mostly in my chest. I didn't even go through an entire box of Kleenex. The second one was more intense and in my nose, but brief. It could be the ayurveda morning routine, the turmeric consumption, or the Genuine Health probiotics I've been taking.

All I know is that I'm trying, and being as consistent as possible without being extreme about it.

We try our best and be gentle on ourselves. That's the way to live.

I'm glad it took me a couple of months to get around to blogging this because it provided the opportunity for a “then and now” post, which I think is more interesting and relatable.

The Most Popular Drugs in the World

The Most Popular Drugs in the World

At the end of my Project Claudia post, I promised I'd address this one.

What do you think are the most popular drugs in the world?

By some definitions, it is marijuana but there are two others that are legal and so commonly used that people don't think of them as drugs at all.

Before I tell you what they are, I want to define two terms. Emphasis mine:

1. Drug:

“a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.” (Source: Google “drug definition”)
“any article, other than food, intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of humans or other animals.” (Source: dictionary.com)
something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness” (Source: Merriam-Webster)

2. Addiction:
“compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal” (Source: Merriam-Webster)
“the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” (Source: dictionary.com)

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons, including:

  • to feel good
  • to feel better
  • to do better – improve performance
  • curiosity and peer pressure

According to The American Psychiatric Association (APA), symptoms of addiction – or “substance use disorder” are grouped into four categories:

– Impaired control: a craving or strong urge to use the substance; desire or failed attempts to cut down or control substance use
– Social problems: significant problems at home, school, or work, including relationship problems; you stop doing activities you usually enjoy in order to use the substance (or perform the activity, as would be the case with addictions to gambling or internet or porn – to name a few).
– Risky use: you place yourself in settings or situations that could be or are dangerous just so you can continue to use.
– Drug effects: tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. (See M-W definition above.)

Can you think of any everyday, common substances that fit these definitions and characteristics of drugs and addiction?

The two I'm thinking of are both white powders: One bitter, one sweet.

Remember, I'm talking legal drugs here, so no, it's not cocaine.

Common additive substance #1

This is one of them:
caffeinemolecule2

Its molecules are made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen atoms.

You likely have the means of making it at home. You likely consume it daily, or often.

It's available in grocery stores and specialty shops.

Two writers in The Atlantic referred to it as, “The World’s Most Popular Drug”.

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Genuine Health fermented Greek yogurt proteins+

Genuine Health fermented Greek yogurt proteins+

OPA header

Genuine Health fermented Greek yogurt proteins+  is my new favourite product, from one of my favourite companies in the wellness industry.

Let me back up a few months…

In January, I attended an event that promoted Greens+ Extra Energy. My inner nutrition nerd was stimulated. While I was already an occasional Greens+ user, I fell in love with the company. I subsequently begged them to hire me. They haven't yet, but they still might when the right opportunity comes along. The post I wrote about that event is one of my favourite pieces of writing. I've since quoted this part to other people, regarding the taste of Greens+:

Your entire life you’ve been eating or drinking stuff that’s not delicious simply because it’s good for you. As an adult, you do it because you’re taking responsibility for your own health. Ideally, you’d like it, but if you can tolerate it without hating it, that’s good enough. You suck it up and you do it because it’s part of “adulting”.

I continue to be impressed with the scientific research that goes into Genuine Health products and how conscious they are to combine specific ingredients and specific formats. It's easy for companies to put together a bunch of inferior ingredients, or inferior parts of an ingredient (say, a less effective part of a plant) and call it a healthy formula, but quality matters.

And so, when I got the invitation for the launch of a new product, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I knew that I would be educated and fed. I got up early to go to a breakfast event promoting fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ at Mamakas Taverna (80 Ossington Ave, Toronto).

Here's a snippet of the information I got from Genuine Health's publicity company:

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It’s springtime: Try Fiddleheads

It’s springtime: Try Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

Recognize those? Those are fiddleheads, in the wild. Along with

Those are fiddleheads, in the wild. Along with ramps/wild leeks, fiddleheads  – also referred to as “fiddlehead ferns” – mark the start of spring and have a very short edible season.

Fiddleheads are the unfurled frond of the ostrich fern. They're so-called because they resemble the curled ornamentation (scroll) on the head (end) of a fiddle. Fiddle head.

Fiddleheads are harvested for use as a vegetable. They're valued because they're beautiful, they have a delicate flavour and because of their brief availability. The psychology of “scarcity” drives people to them – the idea of “It's spring! Fiddleheads are here! Better eat them before they're gone!” Unlike other vegetables, you can't really eat imports because they're so delicate. Fiddleheads are also a score if you can find them while foraging. You must find them before they unfurl. Once they unfurl it's too late.

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It’s Springtime. Ramp It Up With Wild Leeks!

It’s Springtime. Ramp It Up With Wild Leeks!

It's springtime here in Ontario. According to the calendar been springtime for nearly two months, but the weather finally feels like spring. I get really excited with the warmer weather and not just because I'm not a fan of the cold. Sure, March brings maple syrup, and I look forward to that every year, but his time of year, May, is when the new cycle of vegetables begins. Next month we'll start to see fruit and in a month and a half the strawberries will be out. However, I'm getting ahead of myself. This post is about the start of spring vegetables! Over the next few days, I'm going to profile a few of these.

It's been awhile since I blogged regularly and I'm trying to get into a new routine – blogging first thing in the morning – and getting back to what I used to do well, in blog posts and newsletters for the CSA program I was part of. That is, research and present my research. After all, this website is about curating content and educating. My blogging mission statement for the past several years and through several blogs has been “writes to educate”.

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