Navigating to the Blue Zone
Spring has finally sprung! And Spring in NYC, is a Spring like no other. The color combinations of the red, purple and white cherry blossoms, the reintroduction of native flora and fauna, the spike of ambient oxygen, the birds first songs, its crazy awesome. NYC’s spring is like the prologue to what scientist are now classifying as the blue zones, the places on Earth where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else.
BLUE ZONES tend to be saturated with HEALTHY and thriving individuals that are truly invested in building sustainable social relationships, identifying a purpose in life and creating a harmonious balance between their professional and personal lives.
My research on individuals who live healthy, happy and above all, FULLING lives, have revealed a salient virtue, those individuals all PRACTICE, improve and investigate novel ideas for healthy living.
On a more personal note, three of my four great-grandmothers are still alive. Two are currently living in the Caribbean and one in the United Kingdom. And what I have learned from interacting with these intelligent women, is that they embody a belief in a united family, they share a curiosity for learning and they all prioritize positive thinking.
For this season of my life, I am looking forward to adopting and internalizing some of my great-grandparents personal philosophies, (as well as others) towards my everyday experiences. I also encourage you, the reader, to challenge yourself and navigate with me, to the blue zones.
Health and Nutrition.
Most scientists agree that healthy eating habits are the cornerstones for all individuals looking to adopt a holistically healthy lifestyle. Those individuals tend to frequently cook for themselves (at least 4 times a week), feed primarily on seasonal garden vegetables, fruits and grains, and they also eat at consistent times.
Research shows that ANTIOXIDANTS are dietary powerhouses. They eliminate damaged cells and free radicals that accumulate in the body. Photo-nutrients that are found in vegetables, grains, herbs, spices and fruits, are all major antioxidant sources. Some pale and colorless foods such as garlic, onion and green tea are also rich in antioxidants. (National Geographic, Natural Home Remedies, Special Edition.)
So, in order to absorb the ultimate amount of energy and nutrients from your diet, it is best to eat a variety of seasonal foods to stimulate and improve one’s health.
Task 1: How can I possibly cook at least four healthy meals a week?
The initial step, by no means, is a walk in the park. However, every successful journey begins by taking one step at a time. If you could make a list of your weekly eating patterns, then this will provide some valuable insight. Or, you might try recording the quantity and quality of your diet for an entire week (you might find this somewhat supprising).
I tend to cook for myself quite frequently, mainly (at least for now) because of financial constraints. A crude snapshot of my grocery list includes: SWEET POTATOES, AVOCADOS, EGGS, PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM, ONIONS, GARLIC, RIPE BANANAS, SWEET PLANTAINS, MANGOES, BLUEBERRIES, CAULIFLOWER, BROCCOLI, CARROT, BROWN RICE, FLOUR, QUICK OATS, ALMONDS, HONEY and RED BEANS.
The food items on my grocery list were intentionally selected because of their unique caloric and nutritional values. The exciting part of cooking for myself, originates when I deeply crave the fried and tasty foods that I have become accustomed to, every since I migrated to the USA. So, for those moments when my train of thoughts is eclipsed by the golden image of a platter of popcorn chicken and french fries, or a good ole steaming American burger, this is what I cook instead:
To prepare this meal, I start by washing the cauliflower, then I boil it for about 8 minutes. After, I’ll add the cauliflower to a bowl of cold water. Next, I’ll dry the cauliflower and then add it to seasoned flour. Then, I’ll fry the cauliflower in olive oil for approximately 5 minutes. To be quite honest, the fried cauliflower taste really similar to popcorn chicken. For an additional flavor, I often mix barbecue sauce, honey and ketchup together, then garnish it over the cauliflower, and let it broil in the oven for an additional 7 minutes.
I prefer sweet potato fries to the Irish potatoes. So when I am preparing fries, I’ll divide the sweet potatoes into hand-cut french fry shapes, then add the sliced potatoes into a bowl of seasoned flour. Then I’ll fry the potatoes for approximately 10 minutes.
I haven’t always been a fan of burgers, but I do get the urge for them from time to time. But a more nutritious substitute to the burger patties are portobello mushrooms. I generally pan-roast a portobello mushrooms for about 15mins (after I have marinated it in olive oil and minced garlic). While the mushroom is roasting, I sauté onion, garlic and tomato to add as a topping. Sometimes I also add an egg and avocado to give the burger a little more personality.
I’ll end the diet part of the journey there. Or maybe not…I think its actually important to note that my favorite vegetarian meal is not an imitation of any American fast food item, it is simply a vege-bowl (a combination of almost all the vegetables that I listed, served over rice).
Also, the time that it takes to prepare and consume those meals ranges from 30 to 90 minutes. However, the process is quite therapeutic, cost effective and satiable.
Task 2: How can I say no the the American health care and cosmetic system?
It’s not that Blue zoners don’t ever get sick. Its what they do when they do become unwell, that sets them apart from from their peers. Blue zoners tend to intelligently self-medicate, move frequently, and explore their environment on a frequent basis.
Studies show that more people are opting to lead a more natural lifestyle, by taking a second look at treatments that their (great) grandparents trusted. More and more Americans are reverting back to folk remedies because of their effective healing properties. (National Geographic, Natural Home Remedies, Special Edition.)
I noticed earlier on in my twenties, that the front edges of my hair had started to thin. Research shows that the leading cause of hair thinning is a considerable reduction of a healthy diet, poor blood circulation and a lack of moisture in those areas. A remedy that I have found to be effective in stimulating hair growth is a aloe vera and peppermint Therapy Formula Shampoo from Mill Creek Botanicals. I also incorporate a generous mixture of Coconut oil, Olive oil, Castor oil, Lavender oil and honey, as a deep conditioner to reinvigorate my hair follicles.
For an holistic skin care, it is important to note that masks and scrubs are necessities. Face masks that can be created from your pantry is considered to be a necessary-win. My go to face masks is an almond and honey mixture. I also rinse my face day and night with Olive oil and use Coconut oil as a leave on moisturizer for both my hair and skin.
Task 3: How can I contently relax when I have all these responsibilities?
There is a simple answer to this. Life is for the living. So if you are alive, then you are living. And you can either live peacefully or miserably, regardless of your responsibilities.
My great-grandparents and blue zoners around the world are a testament to the benefit of a healthy lifestyle. No journey to the blue zone is perfect. The important part of the journey is your process. So, why not take the trip?