When you eat vs. what you eat

lobster roll and chips
Lobster Roll at Freshies in Park City–the best food I’ve had in Utah.

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that said when you eat can affect your mood. And not just your mood but mood disorders. It was called When We Eat Can Affect Our Mental Health by Alina Dizik.

Here’s an excerpt:

The hunt for connections between our food and our mood is gaining steam in scientific research. New findings show that it isn’t just what we eat but also when we eat that affects how we feel.

Delving into the relationship between eating patterns and the body’s circadian system shows how eating on an unpredictable schedule such as during the body’s resting phase at night can hurt our mood or exacerbate symptoms of mood-related disorders, according to research from Elisa Brietzke, a professor of psychiatry at Queen’s University School of Medicine in Kingston, Ontario, and Elena Koning, a doctoral student at Queen’s University Centre for Neuroscience Studies. Their research builds on earlier studies showing that eating meals at different times each day contributes to weight gain and is linked to depression.

https://www.wsj.com/news/life-work

Their advice is to fast 12 hours at night. In other words don’t eat too close to bedtime. It can interfere with circadian rhythms that I wrote about last week HERE.

It’s also important to stick to the same schedule of eating — even on the weekends.

Here’s more:

MS. KONING: Eating rhythms that aren’t consistent from day to day, or that occur in the incorrect phase, desynchronize the circadian clock, which has a negative impact on mood. It can be hard to pinpoint an exact cause of altered mood, but we know that the brain is susceptible to changes from the body’s energy supply.

A meal eaten in the day has a very different effect on your brain and body than a meal eaten at night. Food is a wake-up cue to the brain and can worsen sleep quality if eaten too close to bed. Melatonin levels start to rise three hours before bed, and the metabolic process following food intake is negatively influenced when the melatonin levels rise. Essentially your body needs at least 12 hours of fasting at night, yet most people only get nine hours.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-we-eat-can-affect-our-mental-health-11660319113?mod=e2tw

Do you stick to a regular schedule for meals? How does your mood get affected if you’re off schedule? Or if you eat too close to bed time?

What I miss about California

Huevos Rancheros

“Let’s go out for Mexican food for breakfast,” my husband suggested yesterday.

I had heard about a good Mexican restaurant in Phoenix from a neighbor. But it was a good 45 minute drive. Seemed a bit much to drive an hour and a half round trip for breakfast.

We talked it over and decided to try something close to home. I looked up all the Mexican restaurants in the area and only one had huevos ranchero (which I order) and machaca (my husband’s order.)

I called and the phone rang and rang. I looked online and saw you could order for pickup. I placed the order and my husband drove to pick it up.

He came back empty-handed and said the restaurant was closed. In the meantime, our daughter had called and I told her we couldn’t find good Mexican food around us.

“Don’t you have a Filiberto’s?” she asked.

She lived in Tempe for one year and had one around the corner from her house.

I found one 15 miles away from us. I called and called. They didn’t answer the phone. We decided to drive and place our order. We didn’t care to eat inside because it smelled funny to us. By the time we got home with our breakfast, more than and hour and a half had passed. We could have driven to the place in Phoenix!

In California we had great Mexican food everywhere. My favorite was El Gallito. I miss it. It closed a few years before we moved. There were many small mom and pop Mexican restaurants and we found several we’d go to all the time after our El Gallito days were over.

I wrote about El Gallito and comfort food HERE.

The breakfast was good, but not great. The eggs, beans and rice were good, but there was no sauce. I’ve never had “dry” huevos rancheros before.

I think we could make a fortune opening a Mexican restaurant in our area.

What’s your go to comfort food? Do you have good Mexican food where you live? What are the best restaurants in your area?

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?