The Magnificent Quince

Image Map Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Oh, how I love quince!

Are you familiar with these beauties? If not, get yourself to a farmers market or specialty food store soon and seek them out. The fruit shape looks like a combination of a pear and an apple. The color ranges from bright green when young to an electric and finally almost golden yellow when ripe. Quince must be cooked as they are extremely astringent raw (though some cultures do use them raw), but once softened in a bath of sweet syrup the flavor is like no other!  Slightly floral, a touch of the best apple and pear you’ve ever had, well balanced tartness, throw in some honey undertones and… wow! Set out a bowl of them for a few days and they will perfume your whole house.

A native to many regions in Central Asia, the quince has traveled far and wide and influenced the cuisines and lore of many cultures (Highly recommend looking up some quince history. Some fun info, way too much to write here). Served as a dessert, preserved in jams and spreads, cooked with meat and grains it lends itself to many dishes. Once cooked the flesh turns a luscious pink color.

I was first introduced to quince by my dear friend Lindsay, a native of New Zealand. She is a marvelous chef and we worked together for many years at her catering company. I believe the dish was poached fruit with vanilla custard. Simple, elegant and it blew me away! The quince was the most unique flavor I had ever tasted and obviously it made an impact. I’ve been waxing poetic about quince ever since. Thanks Linds!

My plan this year is to poach them in a light sugar or honey syrup with vanilla beans and then freeze several batches to devour during the nippy weather that is fast approaching. Last year I made a lovely quince chutney and an elixir for sore throats (and it was helpful!). The recipes and some fun quince facts came from a post called ‘quince essential’ from this lovely blog, A Raisin and A Porpoise.

The chutney is very yummy and would be a splendid addition to a Thanksgiving or other winter holiday meal, if you are so inclined. I hope I’ve inspired you to try this wonderful fruit and add it to your list of favorites. Happy Quincing!

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The Body Scan

Posted by Judy Moon

“Hello , my name is Judy and I am addicted to The Body Scan”

There must be a support group out there somewhere for us Body Scan junkies. What the heck is “the body scan” you may be asking?

It is a meditation that is part of the eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course, that was the brainchild of Jon Kabat- Zinn. It involves lying on your back and moving your mind through different regions of your body while breathing in and out from each region.

I have dabbled in meditation in the past and have always wanted a more formal practice, but for whatever reason, it kept falling off of my priority list. Sleeping in seems to win out more often.

Recent life challenges prompted me to stop making excuses and get busy with this practice I have been dreaming about. Heck, it’s even on my vision board!

So I decided that my week at the beach in September was going to be the kick off. I packed my copy of Full Catastrophe Living, and my practice CD’s, series 1 and 2, (yes, I still use CD’s) I decided to act as if I was enrolled in the eight week course and follow the guidelines in the book. I was going to do this finally!

Beach chair, beautiful view, sunny sky, warm breeze, meditation – piece of cake, right?

Well, the first day as I lay there listening to Jon’s soothing voice saying – “let go of the tendency we all have to want things to be different from what they are right now and allow things to be exactly as you find them.”  It triggered an immediate reaction in me  (and a few profanities) – “Are you out of your mind? Of course I want things to be different! Why the hell else would I be listening to this while I am on my vacation! I am supposed to be reading the September issue of Vogue right now – it’s tradition!!” Arguing with the CD – not very mindful Judy.

But I went with it, and breathed in and out of each region of my body and each day it got easier and there were fewer distractions. By weeks end I was hooked.

Would I be able to keep up my commitment when vacation was over? The answer is yes. I have to be honest and say that during week 3 and 4 when you alternate the body scan with some other practices, some involving gentle yoga poses and then in week 5 and 6 you don’t do the body scan at all – gasp! It was a little tricky. I was always waiting to get back to the body scan.

But I completed my 8 weeks and continue to meditate daily.

Mindfulness is not about “getting anywhere”, or “letting go of anything”, it’s about trying to be fully where you already are. In Full Catastrophe Living, the body scan is described in this way, and I think this says it best – “By the time we have completed the body scan, it can feel as if the entire body has dropped away or has become transparent…It can feel as if there is nothing but breath flowing freely across the boundaries of the body.”

It is because of that description and feeling that I remain – addicted to the body scan.

Photo Credits // 1 Tsizaivandor // 2 Seeking Indio

The Golden Spice

Posted by Debi Phillpotts

I love Indian food… a lot. It’s so satisfying and it just tastes so good! There’s one ingredient that’s been used in Indian cuisine and Ayurveda (Ancient Hindu science of health and medicine) for thousands of years which has a wide range of healing properties that I think you might like to know about if you aren’t already aware.

Turmeric is an orange colored spice known for its antioxidant, anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s low in cholesterol and sodium and is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, B6, iron and potassium. It contains the compound curcumin, which gives turmeric its saffron color, which makes it capable of inducing cell death (apoptosis) to cancer cells. There are many studies conducted on this powerful spice which you can research on the sites such as www.pubmed.gov and www.greenmedinfo.com

Here are ten benefits of eating turmeric:
1. Cancer prevention
2. Arthritis reliever
3. Diabetes control
4. Relieves inflammation
5. Alzheimer’s prevention
6. Improves digestion
7. Natural liver detoxifier
8. Maintains ideal body weight
9. Reduces cholesterol level
10.Boosts immune system

This is one spice that is always in my spice cabinet and one I cook with daily for health and enjoyment. I want to share this recipe that is not only delicious but helps to alleviate any joint issues you may have. I’ve also included the link to a video that walks you through the process of making golden milk and turmeric paste.

Golden Milk
2 tsp. of turmeric paste
2 cups of milk (cow, goat, soy, almond…whatever you prefer)
1 tbsp. maple syrup, agave. molasses or any natural sweetener if you desire
1 tsp coconut or sesame oil (optional but highly recommended)
Combine ingredients in saucepan over medium for 2-4 mins and Enjoy!

Turmeric paste
1/2 cup filtered or spring water
1/4 cup turmeric
Combine in saucepan and cook over medium heat for 7-9 mins stirring constantly to create a thick and smooth paste. Add more water to keep a nice smooth consistency. Store in glass airtight container for 2-3 weeks.

Sources:
Green Med Info
WHFoods.org

Photo Credits // 1 Hang The Bankers

Massage Therapist Insider Series: Do People Ever Fall Asleep on Your Table?

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Posted by Alicia McCarthy

We’re happy to announce our first “series” on the blog. Alicia will be sharing common questions she receives as a Massage Therapist. Do you have questions? Enter your Q’s in the comments and we’ll address them over the next few weeks!

Do people ever fall asleep on your table?
This question is probably the most frequently asked question I encounter when giving a massage. It usually pops into the client’s head just as they were about to drift off to slumber land themselves.

The answer is yes; people often do fall asleep while getting a massage. I take it as one of the greatest compliments a massage therapist could receive, although the sleepy head in question can often feel self-conscious when I gently wake them at the end of our session together.

Everyone has different ways of relaxing, and that method of “letting go” can vary depending on each individual massage. As a frequent receiver of massage myself, I find it difficult to completely succumb to the drowsiness a massage can bring. I find myself jarring my senses back to reality right before I drift off to sleep. As a practitioner, I am often wondering how the massage therapist is achieving a particular “move”. However, there are clients that have the same curiosity and being awake and aware serves as a means to connect the mind to the body

If a state of sleepiness is your intention, you can try meditative visualization while the massage is in progress. Focusing your attention on the part of the body being worked on while picturing golden light shining on that area can help to quiet the mind. Setting an intention at the beginning of each session, and turning back to it can allow your senses to surrender to a relaxed state. Within some schools of thought, falling asleep is the ultimate sign of release that allows healing to occur

However you choose to spend your session, whether waking up with a little drool in the corner of your mouth or with joyous belly laughs, the goal is always the same: To heal.

Photo Credits // 1 Examiner // 2 Valley Massage Clinic