I made soup from scratch for the first time, and not only was it was so delicious, it was easy to make, too. I’m going to make soup all the time now. For someone who loves soup as much as I do, you have no idea how wonderful this is. This first batch I made was a zucchini cashew soup, and all it required was some cashews and zucchini—plus salt and seasonings to taste, but I’m the type of person who could totally eat it as is. I never knew that making soup like this could be so easy. So, clearly I'm so excited, and I’m going to give you this super easy, super healthy recipe you can enjoy as a hot meal or as a cold summer delight.
This recipe makes 1 serving—obviously I made more than 1 serving, because I’m on a tight schedule so I made multiple servings to enjoy throughout the week:
1 large or 2 small zucchini, cut into chunks and steamed
¼ cup raw cashews
Himalayan salt or Bragg® Liquid Aminos (to taste)
Herbal seasoning or fresh herbs, like basil or dill (optional; to taste)
Steamed vegetables (optional; for chunky soup)
Soak cashews in enough water to cover for 1 hour; drain. Combine cashews, zucchini, salt or aminos, and seasonings in blender and mix until smooth, adding water as needed for desired consistency. Pour into saucepan and reheat gently, but do not boil. For chunky soup, add steamed chopped vegetables of your choice. Can also be served cold. Serves 1.
17 g fat
3.5 g saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
30 mg sodium
21 g carbohydrate
4 g fiber
9 g protein
1,036 mg potassium
The ingredients, directions, and nutrition facts are from the Beachbody Ultimate Reset meal plan.
I can't wait to experiment with more soups :D
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I tried meditation for the first time in high school, when my cousin started raving about it. I distinctly remember him trying to explain to me what to imagine in my head, and if I remember correctly, he said something like “Imagine your inside an ornament, and you’re pushing out the watercolors, to keep the paint from dripping on your head.” Well I don’t remember his exact words, I just remember that imagery of pushing the paint away. Anyways, that didn’t really work too well, because I’d push the paint away, then my mind would wander one way, then I’d push more paint away, and then my head would wander another way. I did not feel relaxed or rejuvenated afterwards.
The second time I tried meditating was when I was going through a very stressful time, and someone suggested I do 20 minutes of meditation a day. So I did it for a little while. The problem with that was that my leg would fall asleep by 10 minutes, and then all I could think about was how uncomfortable I was. Again, it was not a relaxing or rejuvenating experience. And even when I did twenty minute guided meditations my mind would wander all over the place, and it didn’t feel any different than any other second of the day.
Then last week, my friend was telling me that she had started meditating to a 6-minute meditation, and every time she falls asleep before it even ends. So I thought, 6 minutes is doable, and I totally need to meditate or find some way to get my brain to signal to the rest of my body that it’s not as stressed as it thinks it is—whether or not that’s true. And the thing is, she and I have both been experiencing the havoc that stress can do to your body. If you’ve been following Love, Justine all along, you’ll remember that I’ve mentioned how out of whack my body has been since law school started, despite the fact that I work out 5-7 days a week and generally keep a clean diet.
So yeah, I’ve been meditating since Saturday and I really like this one. And actually, I realized it is not 6 minutes, but 16 rather. Although, my friend probably falls asleep after 6 minutes, which is great for her.
The first night I tried this guided meditation, I didn’t fall asleep before it ended, but I definitely felt very ready to sleep. When I laid down, my body sunk into the bed like I was sinking straight into dreamland. I kept wondering how my friend was falling asleep before the meditation ended though, and I figured she must be meditating laying down. Or else she is sitting up in bed and then just falling over. So then I tried the meditation lying down and of course I fell asleep before it ended, too. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not though. I mean, am I really reaping the benefits of meditation that way?
In any case, I think it’s important to find something like meditation, if not meditation, to learn how to deal with your stress. The thing I like about this third form of meditation, is that unlike others, where they try to keep you in a positive, and “forget” your troubles mindset, this one tells you to embrace your troubles, to feel your emotions. As my friend’s doctor told her, “It’s 2013. We know that stress has physical impacts on your body.” And for A types like my friend and I, we tend to push all of our emotions and stress down, thinking that we’re taking care of it and “dealing” with it by continuing to move on and carry on. However, all we’re doing is pushing all of that bad stress down, and we keep cramming them down, but it doesn’t go away like we think or hope it does—it just builds up and then manifests itself in some physical ailment.
So the point is take care of your stress. If you just push it aside, it will find its way back to you. If you try to cram it into the deepest corners of your nowhere, it’ll just build up inside you until it is flowing from nowhere into everywhere. Instead, feel it, embrace it, and then take care of it. Really take care of it.
In case you're interested in trying out a little meditation, here is the link: http://www.unlearnyourpain.com/index.php?Unlearn%20Your%20Pain%20Book.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I don’t like when people ask me if I’m still on my "health kick." What does that even mean? I’m not kicking my health anywhere; I just choose to live a healthy lifestyle, so if I’m kicking anything, I’m kicking toxins and a poor immune system out of my way.
Yes, I have a diet that includes eating non-processed, non-chemical infested foods, but I’m not “on a diet.” Being on a diet insinuates that I’m on a temporary slim down or something. But nope, it’s just me making the most of life and enjoying the best of life.
Of course, I don’t deprive myself of anything. Trust me, I love ice cream and Napoleons too much. I just 1) make sure something is worth my calories, and 2) don’t feel guilty as long as I’m maintaining an overall clean diet.
So…the next time someone decides to ask me if I’ still on my “health kick,” let that person be warned that I will kick him/her in the butt for asking me that.
I think it's totally unfair to make someone feel bad for eating healthy. Not to mention, it’s just not nice to make someone feel bad for doing something that is not doing any harm to others; and is in fact a great thing, even if you don’t understand or agree with it. If you’re going to be a butt head like that, then sit back and enjoy the show while everyone else kicks ass, and you find yourself one day having to kiss theirs ;).
BIG LOVE & BIG HUGS
At times, the road we choose can be extremely lonely, even if we’re not the only ones walking it. I was really starting to feel all the stress and pressure of the bar, school, and work, and I started to feel so alone—the second loneliest time I’ve ever felt in my life, and that's saying something if you know me. I mean, I could feel my head pulsating, and I was listening to classical music to keep me calm.
Obviously, I’m not the only one under these stresses right now. I’ve got friends in class me with me, going through the same things. But then again, we’ve all had different experiences in law school, so there’s not necessarily anyone who REALLY knows what I’m going through. It doesn’t help that my family doesn’t understand—I mean, they’re supportive in their own crazy way, and I love them, but they just have no clue. Thankfully, I have a few friends who are extremely supportive and they help me escape the madness every now and then.
There is however one person, who I knew would know exactly what I’m going through, who I could confide in, and who could give me the reassurance I needed to restore my faith and confidence in myself. She knows my ups and struggles in law school. She knows how hard I work. She also knows how to talk to me like a human being. So I went to talk to her today, and suddenly all that negative energy just melted away. I mean, I still can’t help but worry, but it’s not the kind of worry that will not hinder my performance.
The thing is, we’re never really alone unless we let ourselves be. I could have kept everything to myself, try to let this episode of panic subside on its own, but this time I knew I couldn’t. For those of you not in law school, or who haven’t been to law school, it’s totally normal to have mental breakdowns every now and then, leading up to the bar. Normally my “moments” take care of themselves, or I do something to take care of it somehow; but this time was a little different.
I think I just have a lot more on my plate at the moment, and I could feel myself burning out, but I was desperately trying to fight it. I can’t burn out now. It’s way too early to start burning out. I can’t burn out until after August 1st! After that, I can burn out in the Swiss Alps, on a lake in Italy, or on some centuries old cobblestone road in France. I don’t care.
So just remember, when you feel alone, know that you’re not and find the one person who knows exactly what you’re going through. That’s what “Love, Justine” was created for—a place for you to know that you are NEVER alone. Also, have at least one or two people in your life who help you escape, even for just an hour or two. When I get together with these friends, we do not talk about school—at least not in detail. We talk about guys, love, relationships, people, history, faith, happy things, human things, whatever. And of course, just take care of yourself. Know yourself. Know what works for you. This week, classical music worked for me. Next week, I may go horseback riding.
Have faith, and choose to be great :).
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I thought I was going to finally end my blood draught, when I met the minimum iron level after the re-prick. I've been deferred the last 5-6 times I've tried to donate blood for a low iron level, or my vein being too small. One time, they missed my vein, and had to dig around in my arm to find my vein, because they're not allowed to re-stick you. Needless to say, that was not very comfortable.
Today, after they checked my iron level twice, because the first time I was .9 below the minim level of 12.5, I finally met the minimum level--I was right on point at 12.5. So I was super excited, because it's been at least a year and a half since I have last been able to donate.
I got on the table, and was so excited. I braced myself for the initial pain, and was ready. I don't know why, but I used to be fearless about needles. I loved getting shots as a kid. However, I've been finding that the older I get, the more nervous I get. Maybe it's just because I've had a few problems when it comes to donating...and the fact that the needles they use for blood donation are way bigger. Anyways, after they stuck me, the blood was flowing out slowly, so they babysat it, turning the needle every now and then to try to get a better flow. After ten minutes, they decided to stop, because apparently you have to fill the bag up in 20 minutes, or the blood will start clotting. Now, I have a very vivid imagination, so I don't usually like to look at the needle inside my arm, but sometimes I can't help but take a peek. After the nurse unwrapped and untaped my arm, I took a peek at the needle that was still in my arm, and it did not look pretty. It looked like the needle was poking up inside my arm--very disturbing. I don't know how it wasn't poking out through my arm. Freaky. I was already bruising, too, and my arm was both in pain and numb.
The worst part about this, is that I asked if they were able to use at least the blood that they did draw. Unfortunately, they have to throw away the blood they took. Before today, I was annoyed that I haven't been able to donate in a while, but this is worse. And I may not have filled the bag, but it sure looked like there as plenty of blood in that bag.
I greatly look forward to the day I will once more be able to save three lives with a pint of my blood.
For the rest of you, here are some tips to keep in mind if you are planning on donating blood:
Chocolate has benefits beyond comforting a broken heart. Cacao has incredible nutritious benefits, but is bitter on its own, so that’s why we add milk, sugar, etc. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals; and unlike other sweets that give you cavities, cacao contains theobromine which helps harden tooth enamel.
Some studies have even shown that dark chocolate helps curb food cravings, control blood sugar levels, raise good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol, and even reduce stress and cortisol levels.
It’s still high in fat and sugar though, so don’t think you can gorge on it all day and every day. I know—it’s a nice thought, but no. And not all chocolate is made equal. So don’t go stocking up on Snickers and Butterfingers while you’re waiting in the checkout line. All the other stuff in chocolate bars dilute the benefits of cacao, but if you stick to chocolate with at least 70% cacao, you can still reap the benefits.
I don’t like bitter things, which is why I’ve never liked coffee. So for the same reasons, I never liked dark chocolate, but I’ve found that there are brands that make high quality chocolate bars, and if you get the ones with a little salt in them, or nuts, it helps balance out the bitterness. And actually, the really good ones, taste better than the cheaply made dark chocolates. There’s also chocolate with chili peppers in it, which I’ve yet to try, but I’m really curious so I think I’m going to have to.
Some brands I’ve tried and love include: Theo (the first Fair Trade and Fair for Life certified chocolate), and Chocolove (cutest wrappers, and I love the love poems on the inside of the wrappers).
Have a sweet day!
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I went for a lovely hike this morning with a very dear, long time friend. I just love hanging out and talking to her, because we talk about everything—literature, travel, religion, politics, culture, food, and of course love and relationships. At some point during the morning, our conversation turned to guys and skinny girls.
I have an ex, who was not such a nice person, and I was NEVER allowed to be “fat” while I was with him. I mean, he would notice when I gained a pound, even before I ever did. And then my friend said the funniest thing in response to this. She said, “I wonder what is up with guys like that. Do they only date really skinny girls, because that is all they can afford to feed them?” I laughed so hard.
But seriously, what is up with guys who obsess over girls’ bodies more than the girls already do themselves? That’s just not right. It’s mean.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, another friend of mine said yesterday, “Ugh, I have to go dress shopping.” She is getting married this year. “I already hate shopping and trying on clothes in general, but then shopping for a white dress is like ‘I look fat from this angle, this angle, and that angle.’” Then our sweet Mississippi boy immediately responded and said, “No, you’re not fat. I’m from Mississippi, I know fat.” My engaged friend then said, "This is true." Her fiancé is from the midwest. She said, "Out here I'm a 6, but in Missouri I'm an 8."
We laughed about it, but it's so true. I mean, what she was saying about the different perceptions of women is so true. And it makes you think--in Southern California, and certain other areas around the world, are we so “Hollywood affected” that we can’t remember what a real woman looks like? Is being a woman with the body of a twelve-year-old boy really what we want?
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I’ve discovered the most brilliant show EVER. I’ve never been huge on the food programs on television. When I watch them, I just get immensely hungry, and disappointed by whatever my next meal is actually going to be; or I feel gross and bloated just from looking at all the fatty and grotesque amount of foods being displayed on my television.
The other night though, I discovered “The Supersizers Go…” a British program, which follows restaurant critic Giles Coren, and writer and comedian Sue Perkins, as they travel through time and spend a week at a time, living and eating through different eras in history. The program is HILARIOUS. I can’t tell you how much I laughed out loud and even uncontrollably whilst watching these two time travel. They’re both really funny, and Sue is like the British Ellen Degeneres. And when I say that they live and eat through these different eras, I mean, they dress, behave, take up gender roles, common cultural activities, and entertain as they did through these periods. It’s marvelous. It’s brilliant. It’s even educational. It’s lessons on history, culture, lifestyles, as well as health and fitness. Each week, Giles and Sue get a fitness and health test done before they begin their week, and again at the end of their week to see what their period diet has done to them.
I have to say I never realized how common oysters are in British cuisine. Oysters existed in Britain even before tea did. Although, it does make sense since Britain is essentially an island. For fitness and health reasons, I probably wouldn’t have minded the food rationing days of wartime. In fact, I’m thinking maybe we should go back to some sort of food rationing program, just for health and fitness purposes, minus the powdered eggs and spam. While some people might think that drinking ales and wines all day long would be a magnificent idea, I couldn’t imagine not being able to drink water during the Restoration period—during that period the water was undrinkable. I would not have survived that period. I’d either die early of starvation from not being able to ingest any of the period delicacies, or I’d die of alcohol poisoning. I probably would have preferred eating as a regular civilian in Ancient Rome, too, as opposed to an aristocrat, because I’m not sure I could even go near testicles, womb, or door mice. In fact, through many of the eras before the 19th century, I’d probably be really thin, because I couldn’t handle the many animal delicacies—although, I wouldn’t have minded eating like Marie Antoinette. The 1970’s proved the importance of being active throughout the day. My favorite is the 1970’s alarm clock that brews tea while you sleep, so that you have hot tea ready for you as soon as you wake up. I think we need to bring that back! I also love the live frogs jumping out of the pie just for fun and entertainment during the Elizabethan era. That certainly would be entertaining, if you thought you were receiving a pie, and then frogs started jumping out of it. I must say, I have a whole new respect for chefs, whose cooking begins with the skinning, deboning, and de-organing of animals. It’s quite a job!
The funny thing, is that after traveling through all these different time periods, the general lesson about health and fitness, is what we all know—what you eat and what you physically do matters! It matters not just for your physique, but also for your hygiene, your mood, and your life expectancy rate.
Tune into the first two seasons on Hulu, and travel with these two through wartime (WWII), the Restoration period (1660’s), the Victorian era, the 1970’s, Shakespearean times (aka the Elizabethan era), the Regency years (1789-1821), the 1980’s, Medieval Times, the 50’s, the French Revolution, the 1920’s, and Ancient Rome. It’s fantastic, it really is! Giles and Sue are a riot!
BIG LOVE & HUGS
The holidays mean lots of family and friends time, feasts, and FESTIVITIES. So, I thought I’d help you maximize fun and happy times, by reducing the yucky hangover time.
Apparently, asparagus helps break down alcohol, so have some with your HEARTY meal before you have a crazy night. Drink lots of water.
Consume a little too much alcohol? Go bananas. Bananas are a good hangover food, because it is full of potassium and electrolytes, and alcohol pulls electrolytes and important nutrients (like potassium and magnesium) out of your body.
Contrary to common myth, Bloody Marys and fried foods, are no bueno for your hangover. So, don’t fool yourself into drinking more in order to cure your hangover. Drinking more alcohol just adds more toxins to your body, which means more work for your liver, and that will worsen the hangover symptoms. However, as we all know, drink lots of water throughout the night and afterwards. If you have a headache, you’re dehydrated, and thus need to rehydrate. Plus, water will help dilute the leftovers from your late night festivities that are still in your stomach. Additionally, contrary to my early morning visits to Hermitage Café (which are very rare, I might add), fried and fatty foods do not cure hangovers, because they in fact upset the stomach even more.
Drinking coffee may also back fire on you as a hangover cure; because, like alcohol, coffee can dehydrate you.
Do NOT take Tylenol. The combination will destroy your liver.
Your best bet—drink lots of water, replenish your body with nutrients by eating lots of fruit and veggies, and time. Your body needs time to clean up the damage.
Be merry, be festive; drink smart and safely, and whatever you do, do NOT drink and drive. Call a cab, or call AAA if you have to.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Trauma is something that takes time to deal with, and I’m not entirely sure that it ever completely leaves you. On top of that, trauma affects everyone differently, and everyone deals with it differently. I hate thinking that many children tonight are going to go to bed with nightmares already stirring in their heads. I hate thinking that many children are going to be afraid to go to school. Nobody should be afraid to go to school. School should be a safe haven for children. I love school. I went to preschool when I was 2 and I’ll be 25 when I finish law school this coming spring. If I could, I would probably even spend an extra year or two studying abroad somewhere. School is fantastic.
Anyhow, I wanted to try to help the parents out, who are struggling with trying to talk to their young children about the events that happened today in Newtown, Connecticut; but also just for anyone dealing with trauma in general. I’ve had to deal with quite the traumatic experience, and though I wasn’t a young child when I went through that I experience, I think my experiences with coping afterwards may be able to help some of you out. After all, we learn from sharing—sharing our experiences, our mistakes, our triumphs, etc. Just remember, I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’m speaking from my own experience.
Initially, someone suffering from trauma may sort of shut down from shock. They may not want to talk. Talking is important, but you have to let it come naturally. So if your child, or whoever suffered the trauma, is not talking, don’t force it. Just make sure he or she knows that the communication lines are open.
We all want to protect our children and our loved ones. If we could, we would build an invisible shield around them to repel all the evil in the world. We can’t though. So when someone suffering from trauma tries to talk to you, and tells you that he or she is scared, confused, or whatever it is they’re feeling, don’t just say, “It’s okay, everything’s going to be okay.” Ask that person why she is scared. What are her fears? There’s probably not just one answer. Just listen. Don’t try to fix their fears and confusion for them. By asking the questions, you are helping them. Children aren’t as good with verbal communication, so you might have to help them out a little more with talking about what’s on their mind. If they ask you questions, be kindly honest. Don’t fluff, but don’t be rough. And if “I don’t know” is your most honest answer, then simply say, “I don’t know.” Also, reassure them that they are in fact safe—that you are there for them, and looking out for them.
I think one of the hardest questions to answer is “Why did this happen?” I imagine a lot of children and parents are asking this question tonight. I’m not sure if there’s a right way to answer this question, or any way. I imagine though, if I was a kid, I’d want to hear what I’m not always so patient to hear now—probably because I already know its truth, and sometimes when you’re down you don’t want to be told what you already know. If I was a kid today, asking my mom why a man shot and killed twenty children, I’d want to hear that bad things happen, and we don’t always know why, but we have to learn from them and make tomorrow better so that today and yesterday were not wasted. I think one of the things that really helped me, was when my dad said to me, “Now from this experience, promise me you’ll help those who can’t help themselves.” Basically, he was telling me to turn a negative into an exponential positive. Of course, I was much older than the children affected today, but it was helpful, and maybe you can find a different version of that message to tell your child.
I’m also a strong believer in therapy for anyone who is a direct witness/victim of trauma, like the children at Sandy Hook—physically harmed or unharmed—or even a child who witnesses abuse between his parents, even though he’s never touched. There’s something different about talking to someone in complete confidence, someone who knows how to listen, how to ask the right questions, and really just someone who is not prone to react overprotectively.
Some parents get uncomfortable confronting their child’s pain—that’s why we fluff our answers—but you have to suck it up. You have to keep those communication lines open, and be there when they need you. It’s one of the best things you can do for your child and yourself, if you really want your child to feel safe, and to feel peace. If you try to gloss over it, or shush their fears away, you’ll risk closing up the communication lines. Just remember, you don’t have to force communication—if they feel and know the communication lines are open, they will come to you. If they’re not talking, then every now and then ask them how they’re doing to remind them that the communication lines are open.
While you’re being supermom, superdad, or super-sibling/cousin/friend, remember to be normal. One of my biggest fears was people treating me differently, or like I might shatter any second. I didn't want that. I'm not sure that young children can understand that, but don't give them a chance to have more fears than they may already have. You don’t want to walk on eggshells, and you don’t want your child to feel fragile or different. You want your child to get back to normal, and happy, as quickly as possible. Of course, you can’t rush anything; but you can remind them of how awesome they are. Remind them how strong they are. Remind them that their strength is necessary for sharing their awesome. It sounds cheesy, but sometimes people need a little help remembering how to stand up.
As times goes on, I think the thing that most people forget is that when someone suffers from a traumatic experience, after they are all smiles again and all seems better, different things could trigger all kinds of emotions—whether it’s fear, tears, or anger. Sometimes things that seem normal, or used to be normal, may cause a different kind of reaction. So don’t be quick to judge or ignore. Don’t smother either, but just try to be understanding of what you might not be able to understand. As time goes on, remember that even if a person blocks out certain memories, memories can have an odd way of coming back to us. So again, remember to keep the communication lines open. If your child asks a question seemingly out of the blue, maybe it’s not so out of the blue.
I could go on, but I think these are some good basics for communicating with someone healing from trauma. If you would like to have a one-on-one chat about dealing with trauma, please feel free to contact me through the contact section of this site.
BIG LOVE & HUGS