Monday, January 27, 2014

Loving Relationships

Regardless if you are looking to improve relationships with friends, family, or significant others, think about what makes you happy. Look beyond this commercialized time to send Valentine's Day cards and buy expensive flowers and dinners. This blog is encouraging you to find the important relationship with yourself. The more I experience relationships, hear about others and read expert advice... I realize does anyone really understand relationships?

While defining yourself, realize that relationships involves two people. Relationships require effort. What works for one couple will likely not work for another. Don't compare yourself to others; work together to establish what works for you. While acknowledging my past, learning from my experiences and lending a listening ear to others, here are some underlying qualities that I have learned to be important.
  • Communicate
    • Be kind to one another, but do not be afraid to speak your mind. If something is irritating or upsetting to you, discuss your thoughts. Your loved one should want to listen to your emotions as you do the same for them. 
    • Discuss your expectations and what you want from a relationship. Take the guessing game out of exclusively dating or casually having sex. Be able to talk about important issues. As things are getting serious, how do you budget your finances and do you want to eventually get married or have children? Certain opinions can be deal breakers, so it is best not to tip toe around the difficult conversations. 
    • Do not assume you know what the other is thinking. Simply ask.
    • Put your phone and social media aside and spend quality time with each other.
  • Respect
    • You must respect yourself first before others will start to show you respect. 
    • You will not always agree with one another, but you need to respect others' thoughts and opinions to have a relationship. 
  • Honesty 
    • Be honest with yourself. Sometimes you either like someone or you don't. You may not always know why. As practical and realistic you try to be, you can't help who your heart loves. 
    • To build trust, you must be honest with one another.
    • Honesty ties in with respect and communication. Do not build a relationship on secrets and lies that won't last. 
  • Be comfortable alone
    • Do not depend on someone else for happiness but find happiness in yourself. 
    • Many people stay in relationships because they're afraid of being single. They would rather be unhappy with another than alone. 
    • Find "me time" to avoid burnout and stress. Read a book, take a painting class, write in a journal, exercise, sip on tea - make time to prioritize yourself rather than putting your health last when too busy trying to please others. 
    • Don't settle. Your opinions matter.

It's not about finding the "perfect" match. What may seem "perfect" right now may change as you age and life experiences occur. People aren't perfect, so relationships aren't perfect. It's simply about finding someone you enjoy spending time with. Someone who makes you happy. Someone to tell you when you're being irrational and ridiculous at times but will support your strengths and successes, and vice versa. Relationships should be about learning and growing together.

For those of you who have found "the one," I am happy for you - remember to take the time to love and appreciate one another. For my single readers, "the one" is out there, so keep loving life and yourself.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lentil and Bean Chili

Readers on the east coast warm up with this vegan chili.  This dish is made with black beans and two varieties of lentils.

Health benefits of lentils

  • Great plant source of iron and protein. About 1/4 cup (dry) lentils provides 13 grams of protein and 20% daily value of iron.
    • Tip: Pair plant-based iron sources (non-heme iron) with vitamin C to enhance iron absorption.  Examples of high vitamin C foods include broccoli, tomato, red and green peppers, oranges, and strawberries. 
  • High in fiber
    • Tip: To ease tolerance, slowly increase fiber consumption along with increasing water intake. 
  • Low in fat
    • Tip: Swap out or reduce the portion size of animal proteins for lentils.  This will cut saturated fat content to improve overall health and weight control. 

Lentil and Bean Chili Recipe
Combine in a large pot and let simmer for about 45 minutes.
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (2 medium) sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup (2 stalks) diced celery
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 cup (1 small) chopped zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup (1 large) diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup black lentils
  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 1 cup water
  • 16 ounce jar of tomato sauce 
*Note: The lentils do not require soaking prior to use.  The lentils and beans will absorb some of the liquid from the water and tomato sauce, use larger amounts for increased liquid texture if desired.