What personality traits lead to longer lives?

Robert and Kat on a rock in Laguna Beach
I was looking at old photos yesterday and love this one of my kids in Laguna Beach.

My dad sent me an article yesterday that I found interesting. Normally we don’t share many articles because we’re not on the same side politically. I’ve learned to stay out of those conversations or sharing those types of articles with him. After at least 15 years of our conversation blowing up and hurt feelings, we’ve both learned what to share and not to share.

So, the article he sent me was about how neatness and being organized can affect longevity. The article he sent me was written by Marta Zaraska called:

Type A Is A-OK

CONSCIENTIOUS PEOPLE DON’T JUST HAVE MORE ORGANIZED SPICE RACKS. THEY CAN ACTUALLY LIVE LONGER, SCIENCE HAS FOUND. HERE’S HOW THE REST OF US CAN LEARN TO ENJOY THE DELIGHTS OF DILIGENCE.

Here’s an excerpt:

IF YOU’VE EVER TRIPPED over a stray sneaker, you know the health hazards of messiness. Yet research shows that keeping things tidy can affect our physical well-being far beyond preventing injuries. Conscientiousness—the personality trait that organized, responsible people typically possess—has been linked to lower levels of inflammation, less risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and greater longevity. The trait is so good for you, says Brent W. Roberts, PhD, a personality researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, that “it would be wonderful to bottle the effect and deliver it as an elixir.”

Though conscientiousness may not sound so exciting—organizing your desk, getting to appointments on time, double-checking your work, dusting even the hard-to-reach places—the health effects are anything but dull. Studies reveal that being highly meticulous can lower your mortality risk by 35 percent—more than the famed Mediterranean diet. Conscientious people tend to be at a healthier weight, walk faster, and have stronger lung function and grip strength than the messier among us. They also have a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and are 20 percent less likely to get headaches. What’s more, research shows that having these qualities as a child can lead to better health up to 40 years down the road. (Whip out that tidbit next time you’re urging your kids to follow the months-untouched chore wheel on the fridge door.)

Read in Real Simple: https://apple.news/A__tqG4k3TEKX-ckHUYHAIg

The article goes on to explain why and how it works from a scientific perspective. It also states there is hope for people who constantly run late and are slobs.

I was very messy as a kid. My room was a joke in the family. As I grew up I got much neater. I’m very conscientious about being on time and keeping a neat house — if you don’t look in the closets where I haven’t unpacked boxes yet. I do try to keep the stacks neat, though.

I think I hate being late because my mom was never on time. I remember visiting my brother in the Seattle area and he was having a BBQ. My mom showed up three hours late. Needless to say we were all frustrated. I also remember taking ballet as a child and waiting on the sidewalk for my mom to pick me up all alone — long after all the other moms had picked up their daughters.

Have you learned to not talk politics with family members? Or do you enjoy bouncing ideas and opinions off each other? Do you consider yourself a Type A personality, neat and conscientious? Do you hate being late? Or do you care?

Onions and garlic

onions and garlic heads in wooden box on table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

This past week I heard two things about onions and garlic that I never knew before. Actually, I need more information because I don’t understand the reasons behind the suggestions I got about onions and garlic.

With my husband sick, I made him chicken soup with lots of garlic and onions. I divided the soup into a portion for me and one for him in tupperware that I left on the front steps for him to pick up. It was delicious and I cooked a second batch yesterday afternoon.

One friend told me that her mother-in-law would place sliced onions throughout all the rooms of the house when somebody was sick. She did that decades before COVID, but I’m wondering, what would it hurt? Then again, what would the purpose be?

I talked to another friend and she asked me for my recipe for chicken soup. I explained that it’s quite simple:

4 chicken thighs with skin and fat

5 cloves of garlic minced

1 large onion sliced

baby carrots and chopped celery

1 box of unsalted chicken broth, add equal parts water

Put in a pot and cook until done. Salt and pepper to taste.

My own throw it together chicken soup recipe

That’s it. My “throw it in a pot chicken soup recipe.” My friend suggested that I let the sliced onions and chopped garlic hang out together before cooking them.

“Why?” I asked.

She explained that it brings out healthful “properties” in the onion and garlic when they mingle.

However, I do not know what these properties are or how hanging out together changes anything. A quick google did not help. But I tried it anyway, I left the garlic and onions together on the cutting board to blend and rest together before throwing them in my new big red soup pot from Target.

I did find out that garlic and onions are in the same family and they are helpful anti cancer foods:

The Allium genus includes garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. These vegetables are popular in cuisines worldwide and are valued for their potential medicinal properties. Epidemiologic studies, while limited in their abilities to assess Allium consumption, indicate some associations of Allium vegetable consumption with decreased risk of cancer, particularly cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25586902/

What do you know about garlic and onions and their healing properties? Would you put slices of onions around the house when someone is sick? Do you think it kills a virus, or the virus is attracted to onions and is absorbed by them? I remember reading about placing sliced raw onions in a sick persons socks. Maybe there is something to this?

Rachel Ray red soup pot from Target.
My new soup pot in the Casita bubbling with homemade chicken soup.

One of my favorite things to do…

…in Berkeley

Grocery shop.

That’s because of Berkeley Bowl, which opened in 1977 in a building that previously was home to Berkeley’s bowling alley. Berkely Bowl West, which is a short walk from my son’s house, is on Heinz Street in a building that housed a ketchup factory.

My first trip to Berkeley, our son and his girlfriend took us to see their favorite grocery store and to have lunch in the cafe. Now when I visit, I have to go to Berkeley Bowl. How often is a grocery store an attraction where you take your guests? At the airbnb I’m staying in, the owners list Berkeley Bowl as a must in “things to do.”

I’m hit with a wave of anxiety each time I enter, due to the abundance. There are so many varieties of everything that it can be overwhelming. Then, I settle down and enjoy the experience. Wandering through produce, seafood, meats, snacks, sushi and hot foods — with so many ethnic cuisines — there’s too much and I want to try everything. It’s an experience you should not miss, if you’re in Berkeley.

Outside Berkeley Bowl West with watermelons and fruit on display.
Outside the entrance to Berkeley Bowl West, one of two Berkeley Bowls.
Fruits at Berkeley Bowl.
A photo of a tiny bit of produce.
Wide variety of mushrooms at Berkeley Bowl.
Mushrooms. Have you ever seen so many types in one store?
I never knew there were so many varieties of chanterelle mushrooms — which are my favorite. I used to go chanterelle hunting with my mom in Washington state.
potatoes on display at Berkeley Bowl
Potatoes. My cousins have a potato farm. I wonder what they’d think of the varieties.

sushi grade fish at Berkeley Bowl
Sushi grade fish display. Also, I counted more than 10 types of salmon in the regular seafood section.
Deli sandwiches and caviar at Berkeley Bowl.
Deli sandwiches and caviar anyone?
Produce at Berkeley Bowl
Non organic produce as opposed to their organic produce section.

I miss the cafe which is closed due to COVID. I think there is take out, but I loved sitting inside with my kids having a bowl of chowder or something else amazing. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in the area — and there are lots of amazing places to eat. I told my kids I could have breakfast or lunch there every day.

What’s your favorite place to shop and why? Do you have a place like Berkeley Bowl that you take guests to see? Are you seeing empty shelves? I haven’t seen any in Berkeley.

About the “right way to drink coffee…”

This is a wreath I made several years ago for our Palm Springs home. I found a spot for it on our gate in Arizona. The wreath has nothing to do with this story, but I found it in the garage and we hung it yesterday.

I read about the correct way to drink coffee in the Wall Street Journal and wrote about it HERE. That was a little over two weeks ago and I’ve followed the plan wondering if I could tell the difference or not. I’m surprised to report that it REALLY works for me! Who knew?

I feel better, I’m more alert. I have lost that groggy feeling I’d have when I needed coffee to get out of bed. The trick is that you don’t drink coffee right away, but wait 60 to 90 minutes to allow your body to naturally wake up. Cortisol is the hormone that tells your body to be awake and responsive. Having coffee right away interferes with the natural process.

Instead of my husband bringing me a cup of coffee and placing it on my nightstand — which he has done for the past 36 years — he has converted to bringing me hot water with one quarter of a lemon. The hot lemon water has its own benefits, smells wonderful and is cleansing.

I don’t have my cup of coffee until after I’ve written my morning pages. I’ve adopted my morning routine by following “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Then I do daily Bible readings, get out of bed and get ready to walk. I’m fully awake and ready to go — and sometimes I forget to have coffee altogether when I return.

I was very skeptical about this and surprised how this small change makes me feel better and more productive.

If you’re a coffee-first-thing-in the-morning person, give this a try. I’d like to hear if it had the same positive effect for you, too. Will you be willing to give it a try?

This was the wreath on our Palm Springs gate.

What’s healthy and tastes good?

quesadilla with spinach and avocado
My plant-based quesadilla with spinach and avocado.

My husband absolutely loves this quesadilla I came up with during our quest for a plant-based diet. I have given up going full on plant based because it’s does not agree with me. I get really shaky with low blood sugar. I’m sick of lentils and tofu. So I bake chicken, grill sea bass and the like to add to my daily veggies.

This quesadilla is absolutely delicious though. Here’s what goes in it:

First I saute´ spinach in avocado oil and put the spinach on a plate. Then I use the pan to heat a tortilla on both sides. I found the most amazing tortillas at the farmer’s market. (The one in these photos is store bought and not nearly as good, because we ran out of the farmer’s market ones quickly.)

Next I sprinkle a quarter cup blend of finely shredded Mexican cheese on the tortilla and one slice of havarti. I top that with spinach and a quarter of an avocado in chunks.

Top it with pico de gallo or salsa and drizzle sour cream.

I let it cook until the cheese is melted and the tortilla crisps to a golden brown. Then I fold it in half.

spinach and avocado quesadilla
I kept this one in the pan a little longer to brown a bit more.

What are your favorite healthy snacks? Do you have any simple recipes to share that I can add to my plant-based repertoire? Do you create your own recipes or use already written ones?

To juice or blend?

I talked to one of my friends who is a former nutritionist from Loma Linda hospital about plant-based diets. She said she and her husband decided to try it and one of the helpful things she found is juicing. It’s interesting that they are going mainly plant-based because her husband is a big hunter and their freezer (and mine) are stocked with venison and other game. He also free dives for lobster and fish. (Somehow when they’ve given me lobster, it never makes it to the freezer!)

I’m not 100% plant-based. I’m hypoglycemic and my body craves protein — in the form of chicken, beef and fish. But I’m trying to cut down on meat, so I thought juicing would be a good way to get more fruits and vegetables into my body.

Then my son said juicing removes fiber. He recommended blending. I googled the pros and cons of each and decided to try a blender, too. After a little bit more research I settled on a Ninja blender.

Ninja blender for smoothies.
My Ninja.

After my morning walks, I am now making fruit smoothies. I haven’t gotten into the green drinks — yet.

Here’s the recipe I threw together for a start. It’s delicious! Normally I don’t measure, but my husband is using an app to track calories so he asked me to.

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 cup cran raspberry juice

1/4 cup Vanilla yogurt

1 banana

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

BLEND!

It is so refreshing but not filling enough for me for breakfast. So, it’s more a pre-breakfast snack.

I almost forgot to take a picture of the finished product, sorry for the half full pic.

peach strawberry smoothie
Peach strawberry banana smoothie.


Do you prefer blending or juicing? Or neither? If you do like smoothies, can you suggest some recipes or your favorite drinks to try? What is your favorite breakfast?

It’s a Game Changer…

Lentil recipe with veggies.
Red lentils with veggies that I cooked Sunday.

Saturday evening, after watching a show on Netflix called The Game Changers, my husband announced he wanted to go on a plant-based diet. He said the show talked about the health benefits and that we should try it several days a week. Not go full vegan, but cut out meat three to four days per week. The movie featured professional athletes and Olympians who went plant-based and got stronger and gained more endurance. It argued against theories we’ve grown up with that to be strong you need to eat animal protein. The movie explained that plants also offer complete proteins.

When our kids were young, my husband told them that if they wanted to grow up big and strong they needed to eat something “with a face.”

At the exact time my husband said he wanted to cut out meat, I was charring a giant tri-tip on the barbecue that I found half price at the store. I also sauteed shishito peppers in sesame oil, cooked green beans from the farmer’s market and heated up mashed potatoes. It was a delicious meal. Yes, we eat a lot of meat. Would I be able to give it up? Or cut back? I crave protein and eat beef, chicken, pork and fish.

Charred rare tri-tip, green beans and mashed potatoes.
Last night’s dinner. Tri-tip charred on the outside, rare inside and veggies.

I watched the show on Sunday and thought I could try it a few days a week and see how it goes. We’re both feeling aches and pains we didn’t a year or two ago — and if a plant-based diet makes us feel better and healthier, why not? So, I cooked a batch of lentils. My son introduced me to lentils a few years ago and they are a staple in his diet. He’s not a vegan, but he definitely doesn’t eat meat every day.

I tried a different type that that I haven’t used before, fast cooking red lentils, and I simmered them in vegetable broth for 15 minutes. The package said one cup lentils to three cups liquid. They need to be rinsed before you cook them. Then I prepped garlic, onion, peppers, carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes.

Red Mill red lentils
The lentils simmering on the stove.
lentils draining after simmering
Red lentils draining after 15 minutes of simmering.
onions, peppers, celery, carrots and cherry tomoatoes
The best tasting and most beautiful part of this dish.

I sauteed garlic and onion and spices in avocado oil. I’m an avocado oil fan because it cooks at a higher temperature than olive oil. It cooks faster and hotter.

garlic and onions sauteed in avocado oil
Sauteed onions, garlic and spices of cumin, ginger, ancho chile powder, turmeric, salt and pepper.

The secret is to come up with a blend of spices that you love and season it well. The lentils pick up the flavors of their surroundings.

It was filling and delicious. I sent my husband to a friend’s house with a big slab of the tri-tip roast. I’ll enjoy the leftover tri-tip on a non-vegan day, but if I’m going to try going meatless three days a week, I don’t want it sitting in the fridge staring at me.

Should I try going plant-based three days in a row? Or, mix it up?

Have you tried a plant-based diet? How did it make you feel? I’m not known for a lot of will power. Do you have any tips or recipes I should try? Is it cheating to eat cheese or use butter? Would you give up meat? Why or why not?

Here are some plant-based recipes from the The Game Changers website: CLICK HERE.