lifestyle

  • “Sum­mer of Love“

    The Sum­mer of Love was a social phe­nom­e­non that occurred dur­ing the sum­mer of 1967. As many as 100,000 peo­ple, con­verged in San Francisco’s Haight-​Ashbury dis­trict.

    Tie-​dyed cloth­ing, love beads, men with long hair and a mantra of “free love” char­ac­ter­ized the coun­ter­cul­ture hip­pie groups that flocked to the city. A swirl of art, pol­i­tics, music and rev­o­lu­tion was in the air in 1967.

    Among other notable shifts in tra­di­tions, this was the period in time that influ­enced our cul­ture in the food move­ment and pol­i­tics toward nat­ural, organic and veg­e­tar­ian diets in Amer­ica.

    The pol­i­tics of food remain cen­tral to those con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen­ing in Cal­i­for­nia regard­ing organic farm­ing, sus­tain­abil­ity, improv­ing child­hood nutri­tion and the obe­sity epi­demic.

    Present day activism rises from the national trend toward local, sus­tain­able and con­scious eat­ing. Con­sumers want to know what they’re eat­ing, where it comes from and how it is pro­duced.

    Lucky for us then that locally grown actu­ally means we’re able to enjoy mel­ons, stone fruits, sweet corn, beans, pep­pers, toma­toes and pota­toes that are actu­ally grown and har­vested close by.
  • #100 Days

    A new year brings a clean slate with high hopes, dreams and every great pos­si­bil­ity.

    Opti­mism abounds as we pack away orna­ments and reflect on the pass­ing hol­i­day sea­son.

    Res­o­lu­tions swirl around improved eat­ing habits, exer­cise and renewed pos­i­tive behav­iors.

    Key to com­mit­ment is mak­ing a rou­tine of the hatched plan. Cre­ative types might be famil­iar with the “One Hun­dred Day Chal­lenge”. This could breath life into most new year’s deci­sions look­ing to alter reg­u­lar daily reg­i­mens.

    Land on one small thing to do for the course of one hun­dred con­sec­u­tive days. For artists (and other “cre­atives”), it means choos­ing one exer­cise like writ­ing, sketch­ing, tak­ing pho­tos, draw­ing, etc. and then doing that task each day. Doc­u­ment­ing the daily task is part of the project.
  • Air Fare

    Vaca­tion­ers will take to the skies in record num­bers this sum­mer. Air travel can be very stress­ful with TSA check­points and man­ag­ing per­sonal affects.

    Feel­ing good at the end of a flight may depend on how well and what we eat and drink inside the air­port ter­mi­nal.

    Hydra­tion is essen­tial to hav­ing a good travel expe­ri­ence. Bring a portable water bot­tle to be filled once inside secu­rity clear­ance or pur­chase bot­tled water at ven­dor loca­tions. Drink up!

    Avoid bev­er­ages known to upset the tummy. Too much cof­fee, alco­hol or orange juice will bother most peo­ple. Order more sooth­ing drinks like club soda or herbal teas.

    Fruits like berries, pineap­ple, can­taloupe, cucum­bers and water­melon con­tain a high per­cent­age of water.
  • Beyond Straws

    Cities across Amer­ica have been imple­ment­ing bans on plas­tic bags, plas­tic straws, poly­styrene and other mate­ri­als used for food and bev­er­ages.

    Retail and food­ser­vice estab­lish­ments have seen oper­at­ing costs rise along with alter­na­tive pack­ag­ing costs.

    Con­sumer expec­ta­tions are higher and grow­ing in the realm of single-​use, dis­pos­able items, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to take out foods. Lit­ter and waste are not the only two con­sid­er­a­tions.

    The gen­eral pub­lic is sen­si­tive to the envi­ron­men­tal and human health issues related to the overuse of plas­tics. Overuse of the seduc­tive one and done, throw-​aways is get­ting national atten­tion.

    In sev­eral cities, cus­tomers must request plas­tic straws for drinks. Some have begun to carry their own bam­boo or metal straws to juice joints. We are all, by now, accus­tomed to pro­vid­ing our own reusable tote bags for shop­ping at retail stores.
  • Birth­day Wishes

    It’s not that we hate cake. Most of us have enjoyed a deca­dent slice of choco­late, coconut or red vel­vet cel­e­bra­tory cake before.

    It tasted great as we toasted the bride and groom, grad­u­ate, retiree or anniver­sary couple.

    Birth­day cakes are a bit dif­fer­ent and very per­sonal. Young ones get tur­tles, trains and car­toon char­ac­ter cakes molded and dec­o­rated to their surprise.

    Teens fre­quently bake their own or one for their friend. They choose ice cream cakes, fun­fetti or Oreo cookie cake. Cup­cakes included for teens and sweet­ness is off the charts.

    Adults get the wide open cake range from car­rot with cream cheese frost­ing to molten choco­late lava and every­thing in-​between.

    Birth­day choices run the spec­trum with­out any guilt over bak­ery pur­chased cakes. Bundts and spe­cialty types go over the top on stun­ning designs. Where to place the can­dles might prob­lem­atic between the swirls, curls, rib­bons and fresh flower petals.

  • Cel­e­brate!

    Mother’s Day 2020 was a remark­able hol­i­day. Sons and daugh­ters had to pivot away from nor­mal ways to honor mom.

    Mod­i­fied behav­iors post COVID-​19 takes some get­ting used to. Not every­one is com­fort­able or eager to rub elbows with oth­ers.

    In many cases, elder or vul­ner­a­ble fam­ily mem­bers still require quar­an­tine pro­tec­tion. This makes it dif­fi­cult to gather around a table for cel­e­bra­tion.

    June is a mad month for birth­days, grad­u­a­tions, anniver­saries and wed­dings. Father’s Day is on Sun­day, the twenty first. Expect new ways to show our love and remem­brances.

    Large gath­er­ings have been vig­or­ously dis­cour­aged. Self-​distancing is the new norm for any type of social fes­tiv­ity. Smaller groups of eight or fewer will still have to mod­ify to com­ply with vigilance.
  • Cheer­ing Up

    The Spring Equinox, also called the Ver­nal Equinox, has long been cel­e­brated as a time of renewal and rebirth.

    March 20th marked the first day of spring in the north­ern hemi­sphere. In nor­mal times, this gives peo­ple a chance to gather and focus on the sea­sonal events that lift us up.

    Cul­tures cel­e­brate spring fes­ti­vals and hol­i­days – like Easter and Passover – around the equinox. Sport­ing events, con­certs and the like boost our social inter­ac­tions and spir­its.

    We are not liv­ing in nor­mal times. How­ever, there are some things we can do to ease our psy­che dur­ing this chal­leng­ing period as we fol­low the edict to dis­tance our­selves from oth­ers.

    As self-​quarantines and man­dated restric­tions are fol­lowed, there is cheer­ful work to be done. Take this time to pre­pare gar­dens, flower beds and planters.

    The ground soft­ens and the dirt becomes warmer. If it’s too early to plant, take this chance to pre­pare. Groom, weed, hoe and turn the soil.
  • Chill Fac­tor

    One great aspect of sum­mer din­ing is the obvi­ous, more relaxed approach to meals. “No fuss” and “effort­less” are hall­marks of any indeli­ble al fresco lunch or sup­per in July.

    Whether a crunchy radish or car­rot is plucked from our own gar­den, pur­chased from a sea­sonal farm­ers mar­ket or for­aged from the pro­duce aisle of a local gro­cer, they get sliced the same.

    In sum­mer, straight­for­ward ingre­di­ents and sim­ple serv­ings lead to plates that are an invi­ta­tion to relax and chill out.

    Noth­ing for­mal is required. Take note of com­pat­i­ble part­ners or oppo­site attrac­tions. Bright col­ors, var­ied tex­tures, a dip or spread here, a bowl of olives or Mar­cona almonds there and “voilà”.

    The point of eat­ing, after all, is to nour­ish, restore and replen­ish. What we eat mat­ters more than how it is served. The plate itself is only a visual invite. If it looks good, we want to dive in.
  • Curb Appeal

    Tech­nol­ogy has risen to the occa­sion when it comes to keep­ing us con­nected in these days of “social distancing”.

    Online shop­ping and pick-​up ser­vices have enjoyed a surge in demand at retail.

    Once we move past the COVID-​19 cri­sis, it will remain to be seen how this retail shop­ping seg­ment fares.

    Restau­rants of all lev­els of ser­vice (fast casual to high end, white linen) have been hard hit in keep­ing the doors open. Ones that can offer curb­side pickup or take out, are being cre­ative in adapt­ing menus.

    Feed­ing con­sumers is deemed an essen­tial ser­vice. Restau­rants have been there for our cel­e­bra­tions. Every mile­stone– birth­day, anniver­sary, retire­ment or pro­mo­tion feels spe­cial when enjoyed at a favorite din­ing place.

    To those who are the reg­u­lar week­night home cooks, din­ing out is a big reward. The break from the norm gives an indi­vid­ual a chance to relax and be “waited on”.

    Din­ing out typ­i­cally gives choices not usu­ally in the home meal plan rota­tion. Fewer choices is new norm. Picky eaters are with­out their favorite go to.

  • Dad Food

    Dads have that rep­u­ta­tion for being “super-​heroes”. That does not mean they have to eat like Super­man, right?

    Dads are just reg­u­lar peo­ple look­ing to stay fit and healthy for their fam­i­lies. They do like to eat, drink and be merry when the oppor­tu­nity strikes.

    Upcom­ing Father’s Day is a per­fect chance to share good food with the fathers in our lives. Like most hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, the ways we make merry are diverse and unique.

    Every­day dad food does not trans­late into “cheese, bacon and burg­ers”. Tra­di­tional fare from days long past was largely meat and pota­toes basics for Dads. Maybe for most con­ven­tional men, that would still be typ­i­cal.

    New dude foods, pre­pared by using the fresh­est ingre­di­ents, strike a cord with those favorite fam­ily tra­di­tions and deliver full of fla­vor on the plate.

    By exam­ple, Pops might like a nice ravi­oli with red sauce, skil­let chi­laquiles or mar­i­nated skirt steak on Father’s Day. Cook­ing at home can be a group effort. “No fuss” should be the mantra of the day, but if a lit­tle extra effort is made, we’re good!
  • Eat, Drink, Rest.

    Cold and flu sea­son has arrived with some vengeance. It is shap­ing up to be an intense cou­ple of months.

    Hol­i­day travel and shop­ping crowds con­nected the dots on both coasts.

    Hard to know which is which? Usu­ally, colds are milder and include a runny or stuffy nose. A cough and sneez­ing go along with a cold.

    The flu is usu­ally more severe and typ­i­cally comes on sud­denly. The flu has a knack for wip­ing peo­ple out for a few days. Fever, body aches, and exhaus­tion com­monly accom­pany the flu.

    Pre­ven­tion is key. Hav­ing a flu shot will min­i­mize the affects of this year’s virus. Proper and fre­quent hand wash­ing will stave off con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing germs left on door knobs, phones, uten­sils and other surfaces.
  • Flu Shots

    Cold and flu sea­son is on the hori­zon. Some work places have already seen the unwanted viral spread of germs, coughs and sore throats.

    This is a good time of year to refresh the fun­da­men­tals of pre­ven­tion. Invest­ing in healthy habits is a good jump start to ward­ing off a lousy cold or flu bug.

    Flu vac­ci­na­tions are avail­able at nearly every phar­macy, gro­cery store and clinic in town. Dou­ble down on pro­tec­tion by boost­ing your immunity.

    The Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus sea­son is just under­way. Some of the best sources of vit­a­min C are cit­rus fruits. Juic­ing up with new crop navel oranges, grape­fruits, tan­ger­ines, man­darins and lemons gives the body a lift and sup­ports the body’s nat­ural defenses.

    A well-​balanced diet, rich in veg­eta­bles and fruits– leafy greens, cau­li­flower, mush­rooms and cit­rus fruits– pro­vides the nutri­ents to resist pathogens. Atten­tion to what goes on the plate is par­tic­u­larly impor­tant when fight­ing sea­sonal bugs.

  • Fork “Over” Knife

    A plant-​based diet can boost opti­mum health, decreas­ing the risk of heart dis­ease, Type 2 dia­betes, and cer­tain can­cers.

    The main advan­tages with a plant-​based diet seem to be related more to the foods con­sumed (eat­ing plenty of veg­eta­bles, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts) rather than those foods avoided (pri­mar­ily meats).

    Stay­ing at a healthy weight is eas­ier on a plant-​based diet and menu. A “less meat, more plants” style of eat­ing can improve qual­ity of life.

    Asso­ci­ated ben­e­fits include the reduc­tion of inflam­ma­tion and dis­eases attrib­uted to inflam­ma­tion. Lower cho­les­terol and blood pres­sure lev­els are oth­ers plus ups seen with plant-​based food choices.

    There are many dif­fer­ent types of plant-​based diets. The three most com­mon ones are: Vegan: No ani­mal prod­ucts such as meat, eggs, or dairy prod­ucts. Lacto-​vegetarian: No meat or eggs, but dairy prod­ucts are accept­able. Lacto-​Ovo-​vegetarian: No meat is con­sumed, but dairy prod­ucts and eggs are allowed.
  • Greens & Berries

    Decem­ber hol­i­days beg for some décor that is fresh and nat­u­rally fra­grant to com­bat the assault of plas­tic, glit­ter all things arti­fi­cial.

    Yule­tide cheer has evolved from past tra­di­tions into mod­ern day dec­o­ra­tions using ever­greens, berries, fruits and lights.

    Gar­lands, wreaths and can­dles were once the only sure thing when it comes to door­ways and man­tels.

    The sig­nif­i­cance of a wreath, sym­bol­iz­ing ever­last­ing life, goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times.

    A renewed approach to fresh arrange­ments main­tains mean­ing to the com­po­nents. Con­tem­po­rary designs appeal to a much broader con­sumer base.
  • Ground­hog Day

    We mean the film, not the actual day when some crit­ter in Penn­syl­va­nia comes out to pre­dict the weather.

    The iconic cult clas­sic is a movie in which the main char­ac­ter, bril­liantly played by Bill Mur­ray, is caught in a time warp.

    His guy relives the worst day of his life, over and over. Part of the premise is around the self-​absorbed and arro­gant behav­ior of Phil Con­ners. With­out any con­se­quence, he indulges in reck­less activ­i­ties.

    Cut to 2020 and the COVID-​19 cri­sis. Every day we wake up to more dis­mal news, climb­ing sta­tis­tics and what looks to be a repeat of the day before.

    The cur­rent spell hangs over every per­son, every busi­ness and every agency. We are des­per­ate to break the cycle.

    Stay­ing con­nected with oth­ers is a chal­lenge as mil­lions fol­low man­dates to shel­ter in place. The human spirit is tamped down with­out the pow­er­ful forces of touch, kind­ness and compassion.
  • Hydra­tion Sta­tion

    Steamy sum­mer days make it tough to stay cool. Stay­ing hydrated is another mat­ter altogether.

    Drink­ing enough water or other flu­ids is a tall order for some. It can require a delib­er­ate action plan. This is par­tic­u­larly true when it comes to seniors, chil­dren and athletes.

    Ade­quate hydra­tion can pre­vent cramps, heat exhaus­tion, dizzi­ness, low blood pres­sure and heat stroke.

    The aver­age per­son can lose as many as ten cups of fluid from daily activ­i­ties and exer­cise. This may be stag­ger­ing on extremely hot days with severe con­se­quences. Fre­quent hydra­tion is essential.

    There are plenty of tricks to boost smart hydra­tion. Visual cues are help­ful reminders to stay replen­ished through­out the day. Set up a hydra­tion sta­tion in plain sight.

  • Keto Sabe

    Eat­ing low carb or look­ing for ways to shake up the daily menu? Veg­eta­bles will then play a key role.

    Not all veg­eta­bles have the same impact when there is a com­mit­ment to reduce sugar intake.

    As much as we may love them, starchy veg­eta­bles are the ones to be avoided. This includes pota­toes, peas, corn, yams, beans and legumes.

    Best to savor those for spe­cial occa­sions or splurges. Car­rots, some win­ter squashes and even onions should also be con­sumed in mod­er­a­tion on a keto­genic diet.

    There are plenty of other great tast­ing, ver­sa­tile veg­gies to work into the daily mix. Nutri­ent dense, dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale top the list. They leap from sal­ads to omelets and power up protein-​rich smoothies.

  • Kit or Miss

    Nearly six years ago, meal kits com­pa­nies took the food scene by storm in the United States.

    They looked to be the major dis­rup­tors in how peo­ple choose to pro­cure, pre­pare and eat food.

    As Amer­i­can food cul­ture evolves, what we eat, when we eat and how we eat are all open to per­sonal inter­pre­ta­tion.

    The crowded space of meal kit com­pa­nies is fac­ing fierce com­pe­ti­tion as meal sub­scribers are select­ing from vast options for con­ve­nience, value and vari­ety.

    Gro­cery indus­try “brick and mor­tar” spend­ing rep­re­sents about $650 bil­lion, with a “B”, dol­lars in the U.S. The expe­ri­ence of daily pro­vi­sions can be frus­trat­ing at best with lots of energy devoted to meal plan­ning, gro­cery shop­ping and finally preparation.
  • Lis­ten to Mother

    Earth Day is just behind us. Mother’s Day is just ahead. The two cel­e­bra­tions bring aware­ness to the influ­ences of moth­er­hood.

    Mother Earth and Mother Nature cue their mes­sages from other like minded moth­ers. We are only on this lovely planet for a very short time. While we are here, we need to mind our man­ners and play by the rules.

    Things a mother might say–

    “Go out­side and play” was a mantra of all baby boomer moms. Get­ting on a bike or going for a hike meant ulti­mate free­dom.

    Being out in nature has a way is fast-​paced life of ours can eas­ily strip out any nat­ural rhythm that we humans long to be a part of. The cycle of each sea­son speaks to our pri­mal nature. Go outside.
  • New Rules

    The vast major­ity of Amer­i­can con­sumers agree that their lives have been dis­rupted by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

    Along with mas­sive dis­rup­tion has been a cer­tain degree of anx­i­ety, con­cern and fear.

    Vir­tu­ally all pub­lic busi­ness sec­tors have a expe­ri­enced some sort of change, dis­rup­tion or mod­i­fi­ca­tion to work­place pro­to­cols.

    Restric­tions have been most evi­dent for “essen­tial ser­vice” providers like retail gro­cery stores. For any­one with respon­si­bil­ity for doing house­hold shop­ping, notice­able efforts to calm wor­ried shop­pers are evi­dent.

    Retail gro­cers were quick to adopt: Shop­ping cart san­i­tiz­ing, 6’ rule of self-​distancing, rec­om­mended wear­ing of face masks and gloves, plex­i­glass bar­rier pro­tec­tion at check­out and restric­tions of num­ber of shop­pers by size of store.

    Active in-​store food demon­stra­tions, self-​serve salad and soup bars and bulk food bins were at once ban­ished. Fur­ther adap­ta­tions have seen direc­tional aisles, spec­i­fied hours for vul­ner­a­ble shop­pers and floor stamps and mark­ers for COVID-​19 mes­sag­ing.

    Obvi­ously, new rules at retail are some­what com­fort­ing to shop­pers. Most shop­pers grade the store and if they elect to shop there again by what they see as health safety mea­sures being fol­lowed. A sim­ple thing like ban­ning re-​useable bags took awhile to take hold.