Walk in the Cold

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I admit that I am not a fan of cold weather. Normally I choose to stay indoors when temperatures dip into the 30s and lower.

However, on my December trip to Edinburgh, Scotland I knew I’d better change my mindset. I didn’t travel to Edinburgh to sit inside my temporary apartment. No. I traveled to Edinburgh to attend the city’s Christmas Market and to explore the city on foot.

It was fun to combine that trip with one of the walks from 52 Ways to Walk, the book I purchased last year.

This is Walk #1, Walk in the Cold.

Walk in the Cold title

Why Walk in the Cold?

Some people love the winter season and absolutely enjoy spending time outdoors in spite of the colder temps. In fact, those people feel exhilarated by the brisk air.

I’m not one of those people, or at least, I wasn’t. No, I’m more a snuggle up indoors person waiting for winter to shift into spring.

For many years however, I wanted to explore my favorite city during the holiday season and experience the Christmas Market. I researched the weather in Scotland during December and watched the forecasts on the Weather App. Expected day time temps were expected to hover in the mid 30s with night time lows in the 20s. That’s below average temperatures for Scotland in winter.

I adjusted my attitude about the cold, read Week One, Walk in the Cold in my book and prepared for those low temps by purchasing the proper clothing and outerwear. (Read about the essentials for cold weather that I traveled with HERE.)

I discovered there are benefits that come from spending time in moderately cold temperatures. Check them out.

Walk in the Cold coat
For my daily walk in the cold in Edinburgh, warm layers and a heavy coat kept me comfy.

Cold Reduces Inflammation and Pain

We know this is true. Injuries such sprains respond well to an ice pack. The cold eases painful muscles, joints and tendons while reducing inflammation and swelling. Cold also raises the levels of adiponectin in the body, a protein that combats inflammation.

Cold Increases Fat Burning

The body has stores of brown fat tissue, which is different from white fat. Brown fat burns calories and uses energy, essentially turning calories from food into heat. Cold increases brown fat activity and raises metabolism.

Researchers studying brown fat found that it also contains mitochondria, tiny factories inside the cells that convert food and oxygen into a form of energy called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP supports all the processes in the body, regulates appetite, improves insulin sensitivity and stops the premature death of cells.

Walk in the Cold boots
Walk in the Cold – keep feet warm and dry with wool socks and sturdy boots.

Cold Strengthens the Nervous System

An increase in fat burning modulates the sympathetic nervous system. The colder temps act as a mild workout for the nervous system, which in turns adapts and grows stronger.

The brain functions better as well, during colder temperatures. The brain needs glucose and when glucose is low, the brain becomes sluggish. That’s why we think more clearly when exposed to cold rather than heat. The body uses more glucose to cool down than it does to heat up. Studies found that we think more clearly, decisively and calmly when in cooler temps than we do in warmer temps.

Cold Improves Mental Health

Spending time outdoors, during cold temps, has powerful restorative and revitalizing effects. The cold calms the nervous system while slowing and steadying the heart rate, easing anxiety and stress. We build endurance as well, without requiring the body to work so hard.

Walk in the Cold st andrews square
Walk in the Cold – St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh

Tips for a Walk in the Cold

First, we are talking about walking in moderate cold with temperatures above 0. Anything below that is considered extreme cold and great care should be used when outdoors in those temps.

Dress in layers to keep the body comfortable without sweating. The hands, feet and head cool down first so wear gloves, thick woolen socks, boots and a cap on the head. Make sure boots have adequate tread on them to prevent slipping on ice and snow.

Keep the body hydrated. Carry water or even a warm drink in a thermos. Caffeine, found in coffee and some teas, actually spurs on brown fat activity.

Fuel the body with frequent highly nutritious snacks or small meals. We burn more energy while out in the cold. The body needs the extra fuel.

Walk briskly. We use our arms for balance so keep gloved hands out of pockets. Use a walking stick to navigate slick areas and step sideways on stairs and when going downhill.

Walk in the Cold castle
I carefully climbed many stairs, some coated with a thin layer of ice, for this incredible view of Edinburgh Castle.

My Walk in the Cold

I spent a week in Edinburgh, walking in the cold daily. And you know what? I came to deeply appreciate my cold walks.

I dressed properly. I carried snacks and water. And when necessary, I walked with care in icy places. Every moment spent in that magnificent city was wonderful and the cold didn’t deter me at all.

My daily routine included breakfast in my top floor apartment (Check out CoDE Boutique Hostel), a morning spent exploring, lunch at a vegan restaurant and then more walking until dark, which occurred about 3:30 in the afternoon. Yes, the Scottish days are extremely short during winter. I ate dinners that I prepared in my apartment.

Some days I headed back to my apartment shortly after darkness fell. Other days I attended scheduled events such as Christmas in the Botanics at Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. And some days I just enjoyed wandering Edinburgh’s cobbled streets after dark, taking photos and marveling over lighted Christmas displays.

My last full day in Edinburgh was the coldest. Temperatures never rose above the low 20s. After days of walking in the cold though, my body acclimated and I like to think my brown fat was firing away! I did well that day, exploring Dean Village, strolling through the Christmas Market and saying goodbyes to beloved places in the city.

I did indeed feel energized and revigorated. And I learned that I can tolerate the cold and not only that, I can enjoy the outdoors in chilly weather.

Walk in the Cold circus lane
One walk in the cold took me to a new to me area in Edinburgh…Circus Lane.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

If walking provides an important form of exercise and relaxation for you, in all kinds of weather, then this book is for you!

The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. You can read about my first walk from the book HERE. And my Walk in the Rain at this LINK. I intend to continue selecting different walks from the book.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

Do you enjoy walks in the cold?

Walk in the Cold Edinburgh

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Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome

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One of the highlights of my recent trip to Edinburgh was a vegan afternoon tea at The Dome. This gorgeous restaurant seemed perfect for a fancy afternoon tea. My nearby accommodations meant I could walk to The Dome. And I knew, from photos on social media that the interior was magical, all decorated for the holidays. I couldn’t wait.

And yet, that afternoon tea almost didn’t happen!

Check out my beautiful experience. It’s a memory I cherish.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome title

History of The Dome in Edinburgh

Located at 14 George Street, in New Town, The Dome occupies the site of the former Physician’s Hall. Built in 1775, the construction of the hall ran over budget, leaving the Physician’s College in debt. The college eventually sold the building to the Commercial Bank of Scotland.

In 1844 the hall was demolished, making way for the current structure. The Graeco-Roman style, with arched and keystoned upper windows and a Corinthian portico offered a magnificent presence on George Street. Inside, twin staircases rose to offices on the floor above and in the main hall, arched ceilings and a coffered dome capped the center of the building.

In 1959 Commercial Bank of Scotland joined with the National Bank of Scotland. The building on George Street no longer served as the head office. Caledonian Heritable Ltd bought the building and created The Dome, opening its doors in 1996.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome exterior
The beautiful exterior of The Dome on George Street, Edinburgh

What The Dome Offers

Whether you desire afternoon tea or a delicious meal, a meeting room or a place for a private dinner, The Dome provides.

The Grill Room

The former banking hall under the dome now functions as the Grill Room. The Bar Area in the room serves snacks, sandwiches and drinks. The meal menu is a la carte. The Grill Room opens daily at noon. Check out the menu and make an online reservation for a meal or drinks HERE.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome under the dome
Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome – the Grill Room under the dome

The Club Room

​The sumptuous Club Room is considered one of the most beautiful rooms in Edinburgh. Sparkling mirrors and chandeliers preside over dark green banquettes and tan chairs. This room provides the perfect setting for a romantic meal, a casual catch up with friends over tea or a special family get-together.

The Club Room opens daily from 10:00 – 2:00 for breakfast and Morning Tea.

Click LINK for menus and to make a reservation for the Club Room.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome lobby
Looking up after walking into The Dome.

The Front Bar

If you want a cozy yet gorgeous room for a drink, look no further. The Front Bar occupies the building’s storeroom. Outfitted with rich wood paneling and Swarovski crystal chandeliers, it’s an intimate yet showy spot to share drinks with friends.

Choose from superb cocktails, an amazing malt whisky selection and a huge range of gins. Or try a craft or draught beer, champagne or Prosecco.

A 50 inch television allows sports fans to catch a rugby game or a Wimbledon match.

Opening times for the Front Bar differ daily. Call ahead to find out when the bar room opens.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome lighted doorway
Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome – lighted doorway into the Grill Room.

The Georgian Tea Room

Daily afternoon tea is served in the beautiful and classy Georgian Tea Room upstairs. In Scotland this is called the first floor, as opposed to what Americans call the second floor. Climb the gorgeous curved staircases for access to this room or take the lift (elevator).

The tea room offers a variety of tea services: afternoon tea, gluten free tea, vegan tea, tipsy tea and children’s tea. The tipsy tea provides a tea infused cocktail for each tier of food.

The Georgian Tea Room opens daily at noon. Check out each menu and make reservations ONLINE.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome georgian tea room
The Georgian Tea Room

The Afternoon Tea That Almost Didn’t Happen

As I shared at the beginning of the post, this beautiful experience almost didn’t happen.

I booked the trip to Edinburgh in August, inspired by years of dreaming about attending the city’s Christmas Market. After two years of shut downs and limited travel due to COVID, I was excited to finally attend in 2022.

A formal afternoon tea at a special location, like The Dome, was high on my list of planned activities.

I knew I needed to make a reservation. What I didn’t realize is how popular The Dome afternoon teas are, especially during the holiday season. Early November I got online to make my reservation and found The Dome completely booked up for the week of my visit. I felt so disappointed. However, I knew other places for vegan afternoon existed in Edinburgh. The search began for another afternoon tea time.

Two weeks before my trip, having not found another unique place like The Dome for afternoon tea, I felt a nudge to check online reservations again. Perhaps, I thought, a cancellation opened a spot. I am so glad I checked. There was indeed a time available, three days after my arrival. I happily booked my vegan afternoon tea at The Dome.

Cozy Georgian Tea Room.

My Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome

I chose the vegan afternoon tea. Although I do have a gluten sensitivity, The Dome can’t combine gluten free AND vegan so I didn’t worry about gluten that afternoon.

My accommodations on Rose Street, CoDE Boutique Hostel, was one block away from George Street. My second day in Edinburgh I walked by, to make sure I knew the precise location and then eagerly anticipated my special afternoon tea.

With my reservation pulled up on my phone, I arrived at The Dome fifteen minutes early on Friday, December 9. On the portico, people queued, waiting for an opportunity to step inside The Dome and admire the Christmas decorations. With a reservation though, I didn’t have to wait.

Once inside I took photos of the lobby and then climbed the stairs to the Georgian Tea Room. My table for one was ready!

I ordered a pot of Delicious Berry tea and while waiting for my afternoon experience to begin, took more photos before the room filled with people.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome Christmas trees
Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome – Christmas trees in the Georgian Tea Room

Unforgettable Afternoon Tea

Truly, even after all the anticipation, the experience surpassed my expectations.

The wait staff appeared often to see if I needed anything. Soft lights, Christmas decor, crisp white linens, a silver teapot and shiny silverware created a beautiful oasis to relax and savor the moments along with the tea.

I know my eyes teared up when the tiered tray with my vegan treats appeared.

On the lower tier I found a baby potato with walnut pesto and three sandwiches: roasted veggies and hummus, sundried tomato and basil, and artichoke, peas and mint salad.

The next tier contained a scone with vegan cream and jam.

And the top tier offered sweet treats: lemon tart, strawberry sponge cake and Mille-feuille, a puffed pastry filled with vegan cream.

It was ALL delicious, filling and perfectly prepared. I had an hour and a half to enjoy this special treat so I took my time, nibbling and then pausing to sip tea. I relished my the time at The Dome and made it count.

Pot of Delicious Berry Tea at The Dome
Pot of Delicious Berry Tea at The Dome
Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome
Beautiful vegan afternoon tea at The Dome.

Afternoon Tea Fan?

I’ll never forget my afternoon at The Dome. In a city I dearly love, enjoying a Scottish tradition that I practice daily, this experience felt magical. I’m ever so grateful.

And, I look forward to a return experience someday.

Are you an afternoon tea fan? When you visit Edinburgh, I highly recommend The Dome.

For other wonderful vegan fare in Edinburgh, check out this post.

The Dome

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Vegan Eats in Edinburgh

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In December 2022, it was my great pleasure to experience my first international solo trip. A long held dream of mine became reality as I visited Edinburgh, Scotland during the holiday season. I enjoyed the Christmas Market, the beautiful décor and festive atmosphere, visiting areas of the city I’d yet to explore AND the amazing vegan food.

This was my fourth visit to this extraordinary city, my third as one who practices a plant based lifestyle, and I so appreciate all that Edinburgh offers in the way of vegan options.

Check out these vegan eats in Edinburgh, for your next visit to Scotland.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh title

Researching Vegan Eats in Edinburgh

Because of my dietary restrictions, by choice, before I travel I research places to eat. And because I am typically on foot once I reach my destination, it becomes especially important to find accommodations near where I’ll explore and then search for vegan options in the surrounding area.

I’m very familiar with Edinburgh, Scotland. The city centre is comprised of Old Town and New Town, separated by a valley that is now Princes Street Gardens. The Christmas Market occupies space along Princes Street and in the gardens, which is officially in New Town and at the edge of Old Town.

Fortunately, I found the perfect accommodations for me, on Rose Street just a block from Princes Street and the market. You can see why I fell in love with CoDE Boutique Hostel, in this post on my other blog site.

Once I reserved a cozy, private apartment in the hostel, I searched the area for vegan cafes or at least, restaurants that offer vegan options. Edinburgh is home to SO many wonderful vegan restaurants. Plus, many regular cafés offer vegan and gluten free options as well.

I stayed a week in Edinburgh. The apartment’s kitchen meant I could prepare healthy breakfasts and dinners there while allowing me to dine out for lunch and/or afternoon tea.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh typical breakfast
The breakfast that I prepared each morning…oatmeal.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh

These are the places I chose during my week in Edinburgh. All but one were new to me, which meant delightful first experiences. And all were within easy walking distance from my accommodations except for one.

Seeds for the Soul

My sister and I enjoyed lunch at this 100% vegan restaurant in 2019. I KNEW I wanted a return meal here, even though it is not located near the city centre.

Located at 167 Bruntsfield Place, I dropped my carryon off at CoDE Boutique Hostel and then took an Uber to Seeds for the Soul for a leisurely lunch. This is literally the first place I visited upon arrival, other than a quick stop by my accommodations. After a long day of travel, Seeds for the Soul was such a treat, easing my weariness with hearty, nourishing vegan food.

Seeds for the Soul offers an impressive menu. From full vegan breakfasts to an assortment of hearty and healthy lunches and specialty drinks, this café believes in changing the world one plate, one meal at a time.

They make most of their food from scratch using organic and locally sourced produce. And they take to heart the words, “be the change you want to see in the world”, offering cruelty free meals, always. Read more about my first visit HERE.

This visit I lingered over the Nourish Bowl and then savored a pot of tea with a slice of vegan carrot cake. Seeds for the Soul was the perfect way to welcome myself back to Edinburgh!

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh seeds for the soul
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh – Seeds for the Soul bowl
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh seeds for the soul dessert
Seeds for the Soul vegan carrot cake and a pot of tea.

Holy Cow

This cozy café, located at 34 Elder Street , was one of the first fully vegan restaurants to open in Edinburgh. While they are famous for home-made vegan burgers, Holy Cow offers a variety of mouth watering meals and desserts.

Holy Cow prepares their food with careful attention to every detail, using only fresh, local, organic ingredients. Their Chefs bake organic rolls and gluten free breads every day. And if there’s room still after the meal, try one of the luscious home-made sweet treats created by Pastry Chefs Justina and Anatol.

A short 10 minute walk brought me to Holy Cow. The cozy café is located down a flight of steps, below sidewalk level, with windows along the front wall. I enjoyed a vegan Reuben sandwich, which was marvelous, and a side of rosemary fries…called chips in Scotland!

As I did at Seeds for the Soul, I took half my meal back to the apartment, for dinner, so that I had room for a slice of mango cheesecake with blackberries and a pot of tea. So delicious!

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh holy cow meal
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh – Holy Cow Reuben Sandwich
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh holy cow dessert
This vegan mango cheesecake tasted amazing!

The Dome Afternoon Tea

The Dome, located at 14 George Street, occupies a site that originally contained a physician’s hall before becoming a bank and then an award winning restaurant and bar. The current stately structure was built in 1844 after the original building was torn down.

The massive building houses a bar, a dining room, a private dining area, meeting rooms, an outdoor garden area for summer dining and a Georgian Tea Room. While it is not 100% vegan, The Dome offers vegan options.

There’s a cool story behind my afternoon tea at The Dome. Due to its popularity, reservations are required for dining and for afternoon tea. About a month before my trip, I attempted to make online reservations for the second week in December. To my dismay, there wasn’t any availability. The Dome was fully booked.

Disappointed, I began searching for another place for a special afternoon tea, however, as of two weeks before my trip, I had not found anything quite as unique as The Dome. I felt a “nudge” to check the online reservations again, in case there was a cancellation. Indeed, there was an opening, and I happily booked my reservation for a Friday afternoon, ordering a vegan afternoon tea.

This was such a treat, truly an experience I will treasure always. My afternoon tea was a visual and culinary delight. Check out The Dome online, for reservations and to see the menu. And watch for a full, upcoming blog post on this experience.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh afternoon tea
Vegan afternoon tea at The Dome.

NovaPizza Vegan Kitchen

After a morning spent exploring in a new to me section of Edinburgh, called Stockbridge, I visited this charming vegan Italian café for lunch. Because of my pre-trip planning, stopping by was no coincidence. I looked for vegan restaurants in the Stockbridge area before I visited Edinburgh.

NovaPizza claims status as the first Italian vegan restaurant in Edinburgh. It’s owned by a Roman family that prepares and serves authentic Italian dishes, plant based style!

Located at 42 Howe Street, NovaPizza uses local products as much as possible, while offering pizzas, pastas and other meals. They also offer gluten free options as well.

Although I arrived as the café opened, and was seated immediately, the small, cozy interior fills up quickly with hungry patrons. A reservation is recommended. I enjoyed a vegan gnocchi with a homemade rocket (arugula) pesto sauce, topped with tomato confit. It was incredible! And very filling.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh novapizza
Vegan gnocchi at NovaPizza Vegan Kitchen.

Stack & Still

This fun restaurant, located at 53 Rose Street, was literally steps from my accommodations on the same Street. They serve pancakes…in many different combinations, sweet and savory. You can create your own stack…or choose from their selection of signature dishes.

And while they are not 100% vegan, they offer vegan, gluten free and no added sugar options. That made Stack & Still my destination for a wonderful Sunday brunch.

I chose a vegan, gluten free, no added sugar pancake topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries, with a side of pure maple syrup. It was the perfect start to my day of exploring.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh pancake with fruit
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh – Stack & Still vegan pancake with fruit.

Wanderlust Café & Bistro

Located on the Royal Mile, in Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town, this little café was the perfect spot for a quick meal and a chance to get out of the cold!

Wanderlust offers savory breakfast meals along with lunch, freshly squeezed juices, smoothies and hot drinks. You can request a vegan menu and non dairy milk for your coffee or tea.

Their specialties include vegan crepes, both sweet and savory.

I felt like nachos, however, and LOVED the vegan version served by Wanderlust. The meal warmed me up and gave me an energy boost to continue my walk along the Royal Mile.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh wanderlust cafe and bistro
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh – Wanderlust Café & Bistro vegan nachos.

Christmas Market Vegan Food

On my last full day in Edinburgh, I chose to eat “festival food” at the Christmas Market. I’d already walked through the market several times on previous days and scouted out which of the many food booths offered vegan options.

There were plenty of choices. I found an assortment of vegan offerings, from brats and hotdogs to sweet treats to hot chocolate made from non dairy milk to crepes and nachos.

It was very cold on this day, with temps hovering around 24 degrees Fahrenheit. I enjoyed a dairy free hot chocolate. And although I ate nachos the day before at Wanderlust, I couldn’t resist the smell of nachos…with vegan cheese, vegan haggis and jalapenos! I needed the heat. And how often do I get to eat vegan haggis??

I loved the lively, colorful, festive atmosphere at the Christmas Market. The cold didn’t stop people from enjoying the rides, the booths, the music, the sights and the food, me included.

I carried my steaming hot plate of food to a large communal dining area, with stand up tables and canopies overhead to protect from falling rain or snow. A light layer of snow clung to the table nevertheless, which felt perfect to me! I smiled at the mother with her children across the table from me and tucked into my meal.

It felt like a wonderful final vegan meal in Edinburgh.

Christmas Market nachos
Christmas Market nachos with vegan cheese and vegan haggis! It was wonderful. And yes, the photo is slightly blurry. It was so cold that my iPhone was not operating well.

Edinburgh, Scotland

I absolutely loved this solo trip to my favorite city in the world. It always feels like coming home to me, like I belong here more than anywhere else.

With their wealth of vegan restaurants and options, I certainly appreciate the ability to find plant based food here. In fact, there are so many vegan options in Edinburgh that I’ve only barely scratched the surface of what’s available. That just means I must return, to try more restaurants!

Have you visited Edinburgh, Scotland? What restaurants did you enjoy?

Enjoying tea tine at The Dome
Enjoying afternoon tea at The Dome.

For more info about being plant based in Edinburgh, read this post.

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Vegan Eats in Washington DC

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On my recent trip to Washington DC, to explore the city for the first time and to see my grandson Dayan, we came up with a fun daily plan: eat brunch together…walk in DC and visit museums and memorials…eat dinner.

DC offers many restaurants with very diverse food choices and vegan options are plentiful. While I’ve been plant based for more than six years, my grandson is not. Living, working and going to school in DC, he gets ample exercise walking everywhere. And he eats on the healthier side as well. So we chose places from different cultures that also offered vegan options.

I felt excited to try so many new restaurants and foods. Check out these vegan eats in Washington DC.

Vegan Eats in Washington DC title

Vegan Eats in Washington DC

What a rich foodie experience in DC. We enjoyed a wide variety of food, learned it’s best to make reservations for evening meals and definitely walked off our calories. That’s important due to generous meal portions! I usually ate half of my meal and sent the rest home with Dayan.

Art and Soul

Located in the Capitol Hill area, this hip restaurant offers seasonal, locally sourced dishes from owner and chef, Art Smith. In warm weather, enjoy dining on a spacious outdoor patio. Chef strives to make sure every plate achieves that perfect combination of sweet, salty and sour flavors.

Menu offerings range from southern favorites to bowls to pasta dishes to avocado toast.

Vegan options are limited here, however I enjoyed a delicious pasta dish with freshly sauteed veggies.

Vegan Eats in Washington DC art and soul
Vegan Eats in Washington DC – Art and Soul

Busboys and Poets

DC is known as a brunch city, which worked out so perfectly for my grandson and me. I looked forward to our first brunch together at this popular spot.

Busboys and Poets is located in a lively neighborhood, at 14th and V Streets NW, and serves as a bookstore, coffee shop AND restaurant. They focus on global fare and offer a wide variety of vegan meals. Busboys and Poets cares for the body, with its carefully prepared food, for the mind with curated events and for the soul with their books and poetry.

We made reservations and then browsed in the bookstore after we arrived. I loved the fun atmosphere. I also loved my meal, a vegetable quinoa bowl full of grilled eggplant, asparagus, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, avocado, red peppers and kale. Truly, it was SO good. And the portion was huge. Dayan took half my meal home to enjoy later in the week.

Busboys and Poets
Vegan Eats in Washington DC – Busboys and Poets

Doi Moi

For our Saturday evening meal, Dayan and I selected a Vietnamese restaurant, Doi Moi. This popular spot on 14th Street NW offers Southeast Asian fare, a vegan menu and fresh pressed juices.

Executive Chef Wade Foo Fatt finds inspiration for his dishes in the vibrant street markets of Vietnam. He relies on fresh herbs and vegetables to deliver a flavorful, healthy menu.

The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, with flickering candles at each table. I enjoyed the Ratatouille Curry, richly flavored with bell pepper, zucchini, eggplant, macerated tofu, coconut milk, cilantro and peanuts, with a side of rice.

Doi Moi Vietnamese Restaurant
Vegan Eats in Washington DC – Doi Moi Vietnamese

Gypsy Kitchen

For brunch on Sunday, we visited the bohemian inspired Gypsy Kitchen, also located on 14th Street. Even though it was cool and rainy, Dayan and I sat on the covered patio on the rooftop. Large heaters circulated warm air, making the setting perfect for our meal.

Gypsy Kitchen serves international dishes and cocktails for brunch, lunch and dinner in laid back, eclectic surroundings with warm vibes. Flavors hail from Morocco, Israel, Spain, Greece and Lebanon. I was particularly drawn by the boho decor…plump pillows, tapestries and woven rugs…and the fun menu.

Dayan and I started with the delicious house made hummus, served with flatbread. My meal was crispy cauliflower with a lemon tahini, dried fruit relish, capers and pistachios. We splurged on desserts, a Basque cheesecake slice for Dayan and grilled peaches for me. So yummy!

Delicious crispy cauliflower
Vegan Eats in Washington DC – Gypsy Kitchen

Rasika

As the long weekend wound down, we selected Rasika, a modern Indian restaurant for our evening meal. Located on D Street, between 6th and 7th Streets, this sumptuous restaurant offers authentic Tawa, Sigri, Tandoori and regional curry dishes, with vegan options.

We started with flash fried spinach and delicious naan bread. I chose fragrant Dal Makhani with lentils, tomato, garlic and fenugreek served with rice. The whole meal, which we enjoyed in a leisurely fashion, was amazing. It was a fitting end to the weekend.

Rasika Modern Indian Food
Vegan Eats in Washington DC – Rasika Modern Indian Cuisine

Arepa Zone

Although Dayan returned to work on Monday, and I flew out that evening, we decided to meet for lunch near his office. In keeping with trying different foods, Dayan selected Arepa Zone, a Venezuelan cafe known for food truck style hand held meals.

This cafe says they exist to create delicious, authentic Venezuelan food in a casual dining atmosphere. They’ve served arepas, cachapas and tequenos in DC since 2014 and offer vegan options.

I selected the vegan arepa, a hand held sandwich with bread made from white corn meal, full of sweet plantains, avocado and black beans. I loved it!

My first arepa
My first arepa, from Arepa Zone in DC.

Vegan Foodie

You can live a vegan lifestyle…and still enjoy being a foodie!

What a fun four days in the nation’s capital, visiting my grandson, exploring the city and trying a wide variety of foods. I happily discovered that every coffee shop we popped into for a snack between brunch and dinner offered vegan options as well. And our sampling barely scratched the surface of what’s available in DC.

There’s no help for it. I simply must return!

Have you visited Washington DC? What was your favorite restaurant?

Busboys and Poets restaurant and bookstore
Busboys and Poets restaurant and bookstore.

Check out our DC walks in the rain in this post. And Fun Things to Do in Washington DC on my other blog.

 

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Minestrone Soup

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As colder weather moves into my area this week, the time felt right to make a pot of healthy, nourishing soup! Soup is one of my favorite foods. It is so versatile and I like creating a large pot of soup on Sunday and storing it in the fridge for a quick meal.

Flipping through the pages of my Blue Zones Cookbook, I landed on a minestrone soup recipe that looked amazing. After creating a pot of this flavorful soup, I discovered that it is, indeed, amazing.

Plus minestrone soup is easy to make, using on hand veggies, gluten free pasta and legumes.

Check out the recipe!

Minestrone Soup title

Why this soup?

I selected this recipe from the cookbook for a couple of reasons: I possessed most of the ingredients in my kitchen already and it has a good story behind it.

In the cookbook, this recipe is called the Melis Family Minestrone.

Which made me wonder who this family was!

They are a family in Sardinia, Italy, who hold the Guinness World Record for oldest family in history. The nine siblings boast a collective age of 851 years, with the oldest living to 109.

Everyday the Melis family ate the same lunch: sourdough bread, Cannonau wine and minestrone soup.

Minestrone is a soup made from veggies, beans and a grain, typically some sort of pasta. It is high in protein and dietary fiber, which is good for gut health.

Minestrone Soup Recipe

This soup is a great way to use up left over vegetables in the fridge. Below is a standard recipe but feel free to add other veggies.

Minestrone Soup ready to eat

Minestrone Soup

Rich with veggies, beans and gluten free pasta
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped fennel (bulbs, stalks and stems)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can navy or white beans, drained
  • I can red beans, drained
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2/3 cup gluten free pasta
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add onions, carrots and celery, cooking and stirring until veggies are soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic. Cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, potatoes, fennel, basil, parsley, rosemary, beans, veggie broth and water.
  • Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmering for 30 minutes. Add pasta, salt and black pepper and more water, if needed. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender but not overcooked.
    Serve with more olive oil, if desired, and a slice of sourdough bread.
Keyword minestrone soup

 

Tips for Making Minestrone Soup

If desired, substitute dry beans for canned. Soak bean overnight, drain and rinse. Simmer for two – three hours, or until beans are tender.

Switch out the beans, according to what you have on hand. I recommend always including chickpeas, at least, and then two more beans of choice.

Add or swap out veggies, using what you have on hand. Some good choices include summer squash, zucchini, and green beans. If fennel isn’t available, leave it out. I didn’t have fennel for this batch but found a source for it and I’ll include it next time.

Use a small size pasta. I chose gluten free elbow macaroni. If you don’t have gluten sensitivities, use regular pasta.

Include or swap out seasonings. Use dried Italian seasoning or thyme or try fresh basil, rosemary and parsley.

If you don’t have veggie broth, use water. Or use all veggie broth and no water for a rich broth. Make your own veggie broth using this recipe.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator, knowing you can heat up a yummy bowl of soup in a few minutes.

Minestrone Soup pot
Pot of minestrone soup.

My Minestrone Soup

I’ve enjoyed this delicious minestrone soup for lunch every day this week. While I intend to make a fresh and different pot of healthy soup each Sunday, this minestrone soup certainly stays in the rotation. It has the perfect blend of veggies, legumes, pasta and seasonings. I’m watching my sodium intake, so I appreciate the flavor the seasonings provide, without having to use much salt.

And as an extra bonus, this soup smells amazing while it simmers. And that is an important part of the soup experience for me.

I’m loving the Blue Zones Lifestyle. It is simple, nourishing and healthy. It keeps my blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the normal range, without medication. And it inspires me to try new recipes from the different blue zones regions.

What’s your favorite soup? Is it time to create a pot of soup at your house?

Minestrone Soup ready to eat
Minestrone Soup – ready to eat

 

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Walk in the Rain

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When the weather turns rainy, we often use that as an excuse to stay indoors. I know I love catching up on reading and drinking a cup of hot tea while listening to the rumble of thunder and splatters of rain against the windows.

However, getting out into that rain, whether it’s a downpour or a light misting, brings a host of benefits.

For walk number 12, in 52 Ways to Walk, I enjoyed not one, not two but four consecutive days of experiencing those benefits. As an added bonus, I did so in the company of my grandson, Dayan, in a new to me city, Washington DC.

This is Walk in the Rain.

Walk in the Rain title

Why Walk in the Rain?

Walking in the rain is a physical experience that allows us to literally feel nature against our skin. The rain surrounds us, fills our senses and awakens us to a greater awareness of our bodies.

Check out these reasons to pull on your boots and head outside the next time it rains.

Health Boosting Compounds Released

The pounding rain and increased moisture in the air releases very specific compounds that mix with the air we breathe. Inhaling this compound rich oxygen creates a heightened sense of well being. That upward tick in mood helps to lower stress, shift perspective and clear the mind.

Walk in the Rain rainy day
Walk in the Rain – rainy day in DC

Awakens the Sense of Smell

Rain washing trees, flowers, shrubs and grasses releases their unique scents. Those intoxicating fragrances, says Scottish writer and walker Nan Shepherd, can leave us “as good as drunk”!

Have you ever walked right after a rain, and smelled the clean, loamy scent of the earth? That scent actually has a name, coined by two Australian mineralogists: petrichor.

The rain creates many fragrances as it disturbs molecules on all kinds of plants and other surfaces. In urban areas and cites, rain releases the stored scents in rock, stone, bricks and concrete.

Cleanses the Air

The air is always fresher after a rain. That’s because the falling drops wash away pollution. Each drop attracts hundreds of pollutants, including dust, dirt, soot and other particles, scrubbing the air clean.

During and after a cleansing rainfall, everything looks different. Tree trunks and branches glisten, flower petals look dewy, colors seem brighter, streets and sidewalks appear fresh. Observing these cleansing changes increases levels of dopamine, the “feel good” hormone.

Walk in the rain showers
Walk in the Rain – showers release scents into the air

Increases Negative Ion Count

Additionally, rain raises the negative ion count in the air. Scientists believe the higher negative ion count improves cognitive performance, longevity and overall health.

We also burn more calories when we walk in the rain. Why? Walking in cooler, rainy weather requires more exertion, which uses up fuel in the way of calories.

Tips for a Walk in the Rain

Purchase water proof or water resistant garments including a jacket with a hood and pants that are snug around the ankles. A rain poncho works well too.

Water proof shoes, boots or rubber galoshes help keep feet dry and comfortable. Make sure shoes or boots have traction on the soles to prevent slipping on rain slick surfaces.

And if desired, especially in heavier rainfall, grab an umbrella as you head out the door.

Walk in the Rain lafayette park
Walk in the Rain – Lafayette Park in DC

My Walk in the Rain

I flew into Washington DC on a Friday morning and left late Monday evening. Rain fell every day, sometimes lightly and sometimes with more force. Temperatures steadily dropped lower each day until the highs only reached the low 50s on my last day in the city.

And you know what? The rain did not stop my grandson and me from exploring the city every day. We sometimes ducked into a museum for an hour or two, to dry off. Primarily though, we walked in the rain, jackets zipped up and an umbrella tucked into my Mary Poppins style bag for when the showers became unrelenting.

I loved the whole experience. At night I fell asleep in my hotel room, listening to the low growl of thunder and raindrops dancing against the large window of my fifth floor hotel room. And during the day I got to know DC with Dayan as an excellent guide. Fortunately, daylight brought overcast skies and rain only. Lightning never forced us to take shelter.

Those four days of walking in the rain with my grandson, visiting monuments, historical sites and museums and trying new restaurants created memories I’ll cherish always. I left DC feeling truly refreshed and invigorated.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

If walking provides an important form of exercise and relaxation for you, then this book is for you!

The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. You can read about my first walk from the book HERE. I intend to continue selecting different walks from the book.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

Tell me in the comments below about a walk in the rain you enjoyed recently!

Walk in the Rain wet pavement
Walk in the Rain – wet pavement in DC

 

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Vegan Meatball Recipes

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Have you tried the plant based “meats” from Impossible? I don’t eat Impossible Meats often, however I like having a package of the Impossible burgers in the freezer, for an almost instant meal.

Recently I tried the Impossible Meatballs, while preparing a spread of healthy snack foods for Greg and our son Nate to graze on while they watched a program together. The plant based meatballs made an easy to make appetizer that even our non-vegan son enjoyed.

I’ve created several vegan meatball recipes, using frozen Impossible Meatballs as the base. Try these for a plant based appetizer or a quick meal.

Vegan Meatball Recipes title

Where to Purchase Impossible Meatballs

Look for Impossible Meatballs in the frozen foods section of the grocery store, where healthy meal alternatives are offered.

The package contains approximately 14 frozen plant based meatballs.

In the same section, you can typically find Impossible patties, Impossible breakfast sausages and Impossible “chicken” nuggets and strips. All of these products are vegan/ plant based.

Keep Impossible Meatballs in the freezer at home until ready to use. In fact, all the recipes I came up with use the meatballs frozen. No need to thaw them first. And, the meatballs are individually frozen. You can use all of them or select a few from the resealable bag.

Vegan Meatball Recipes impossible
Vegan Meatball Recipes – Impossible Meatballs

Vegan Meatballs Appetizer

These plant based meatballs make an easy and delicious appetizer, ready in minutes using an instant pot.

In the instant pot, combine two packages of frozen Impossible Meatballs, 2 cups of sugar free grape preserves, 12 ounces of Heinz chili sauce and 1/4 cup of water. Stir to coat meatballs, cover instant pot and lock lid into place.

Cook for 6 minutes. Allow natural release. Keep meatballs on warm in instant pot or transfer to a crock pot and keep warm. Serve with long toothpicks on a platter if desired.

These slightly spicy vegan meatballs are wonderful with vegan charcuterie boards, veggie trays, hummus and chips, a fruit platter and an assortment of vegan cheeses and crackers.

Vegan Meatball Recipes appetizers
Vegan Meatball Recipes – appetizers

Vegan Meatballs and Pasta

Another super simple recipe using Impossible Meatballs is to add them to your favorite spaghetti sauce, heat on the stove and serve with pasta.

I used a sugar free spaghetti sauce and gluten free pasta made from brown rice.

Combine half a package of frozen meatballs with a jar of spaghetti sauce and simmer, covered, while cooking the pasta.

When pasta is done, drain, plate and top with heated through meatballs and sauce. Serve immediately.

Vegan Meatball Recipes pasta
Vegan Meatball Recipes – pasta

Barbeque Meatballs and Brown Rice

This equally quick recipe is my favorite.

Combine a package of frozen Impossible Meatballs, 1 cup of sugar free grape preserves, 1 cup of sugar free barbeque sauce and 1/2 cup of water in an instant pot. Stir to coat meatballs, cover and lock lid. Cook for 6 minutes. Allow natural release.

Serve over cooked brown rice. Add mixed veggies or a side salad.

I keep a container of cooked brown rice in the refrigerator, for quick meal prep. And I keep a bowl of chopped veggie salad in the fridge as well. I can have a meal ready in 15 minutes or less.

I’ve found the sauce ingredients can vary, with excellent results. For the latest batch of barbeque meatballs I used 1 cup of sugar free preserves, 1/2 cup of catsup and 2 teaspoons of mustard for the sauce. You can substitute a different flavor of jelly or cranberry sauce for the grape jelly.

I like a sauce that isn’t too sweet, that’s a bit tart and a bit spicy.

Vegan Meatball Recipes
Vegan Meatball Recipes – barbeque meatballs and brown rice

Try These Vegan Meatball Recipes

I practice a plant based lifestyle, avoiding animal products in my food, clothing, beauty products and life. And I follow the Blue Zones lifestyle, which discourages processed foods. Impossible meats DO fall under the processed foods category, which is why I use them sparingly.

They make a nice treat when I need a fast meal beyond a salad or a change of pace from beans and rice.

Have you tried Impossible Meatballs? Which of these recipes would you most enjoy?

Vegan Meatball Recipes spaghetti

 

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Walk with Your Ears

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Do you know that one of the main stressors in our lives is noise?

From traffic sounds to construction work to people talking to loud music or the television blaring in the background to the constant ding and chime of our electrical devices, we are bombarded daily with noise.

My activity this week, from the book 52 Ways to Walk, led me to a stroll through nature with the goal of disconnecting from all the noise in my life.

This is walk number 14, Walk with Your Ears.

Walk with Your Ears title meme

Bombarded with Noise

Noise is a by product of our lives, especially for urban and city dwellers. Various studies show that city noises result in an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Exposure to noise also elevates stress, creating inflamed blood vessels which raises the risk for stroke.

Studies of schools near busy airports found that students tested more poorly in cognitive and literary skills than those not near an airport. The World Health Organization believes that traffic noise alone contributes significantly to the loss of a healthier life. And even in a deep sleep, noise affects heart rate and blood pressure.

A study at Brighton and Sussex Medical School monitored the heart rate and brain activity of healthy adults as they listened to a variety of sounds. The brain region that’s active when we are resting and relaxed, referred to as that default mode, changed according to the sound listened to.

When participants listened to ocean waves, their brains switched into an outward focus of attention. Traffic sounds caused the brain to focus inward, in a state observed in people with anxiety, trauma and depression. And interestingly, the participants bodies followed their minds. In a more relaxed state their heart rates slowed, muscles relaxed and their digestive systems worked better.

Walk with Your Ears path
Walk with Your Ears – walking in the woods near Shoal Creek.

 

Walk in Nature

The answer to all the noise in our lives, is to take time frequently to walk in a quiet, natural area. Nature sounds bring powerful healing to the body, reducing stress and anxiety, lowering cortisol levels and boosting overall health.

The following nature sounds seem to positively impact health the greatest:

  • birdsong
  • moving water in a river or the ocean
  • rustling tree leaves
  • silence
  • twigs snapping underfoot
  • animal sounds
  • wind whistling through the trees
  • rain falling
  • acorns hitting the ground
  • squelching mud

And experiencing these sounds outdoors is better than listening to recordings of nature sounds. People report feeling happier and more relaxed after walking in nature, verses listening to an app with nature sounds. Additionally, the activity of walking contributes to the powerful effects of listening to nature.

Walk with Your Ears creek
Walk with Your Ears – stopping by a gurgling creek.

Tips for Walking with Your Ears

Following your ears as you walk in nature guides you to fresh experiences and an outwardly directed focus.

Choose an outdoor area away from traffic and city noises, preferably with trees and a river or stream nearby.

Walk alone, so that other than nature sounds, you walk in silence.

Listen for nature sounds such as birdsong, animal noises, water gurgling over rocks and the wind shushing through the trees. This is called susurration, which is defined as a whispering, murmuring or rustling sound.

Cup your hands around your ears, to amplify sounds around you.

Close your eyes occasionally, to turn focus from the visual to the auditory.

Follow a nature sound that you hear, to see where it leads.

Record your walk, catching some of the sounds you hear, to replay later.

Walk with Your Ears river
Walk with Your Ears – Shoal Creek

My Walk with My Ears

I chose a wooded area south of my city, for my walk with my ears. The Shoal Creek area offers walking trails along the river and paths through the woods, making it an ideal location for this activity.

There were other people around, walking dogs, jogging along the paths and playing in the river. However the walkers passed by with a smile and a nod and my walk took me deeper into the woods, where it was quiet except for birdsong, insect noises and the gentle breeze moving through the trees.

Near the river I discovered that one animal noise is somewhat annoying…the incessant barking of a dog. I’m an animal lover, however when out walking for the benefits it brings, a barking dog is low on my list of what I hope to experience. Fortunately, away from the river, I couldn’t hear the dog.

The auditory focused walk soothed my body, which felt tired after a very busy week. I loved the sound of the breeze stirring the leaves and listening to different bird calls and insect sounds. The cicadas sang their undulating song of summer while crickets chirped. I heard small animals rustling in the underbrush although I never saw them. And I stopped to talk to my old friend, Oak Tree.

I left the woods and the creek refreshed and feeling happy.

You can watch a ten second video of my nature walk HERE.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

Is walking an important form of exercise and relaxation for you? Then you would enjoy this book as well. The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. You can read about my first walk from the book HERE. Throughout the next year, I intend to randomly select walks from the book.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

Do you have a quiet, nature area to walk in?

Walk with Your Ears me
Loving the Walk with Your Ears activity!

 

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Green Beans and New Potatoes

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This week is National Farmers Market Week. These markets are a great place to gather fresh produce, organic ready made meals, handmade goods and a variety of other products such as herbs and plants.

In my community, the Webb City Farmers Market sets up every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday under an open air pavilion. It’s one of my favorite places to visit, especially during the summer and fall months when there is such a bounty of fruits and veggies.

On a recent trip to the market I picked up fresh green beans and new potatoes, along with other veggies. Although I grew up eating green beans and new potatoes that included bacon or ham, I knew I could create a tasty vegan version.

And I did just that! It’s such a simple, wholesome recipe too. Paired with fresh sliced tomatoes, this easy to prepare meal is one of my favorite eats on hot summer days.

Green Beans and New Potatoes title

Health Benefits of Green Beans and Potatoes

Before sharing the recipe, check out why green beans and potatoes are a good for you meal.

Green Beans

These veggies are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. And they are highly nutritious. Green beans contain vitamins A, C and K along with folic acid, calcium and fiber.

Green beans are also rich in iron, containing about twice the amount found in spinach, which means they are great for boosting energy and metabolism. They also offer an easily absorbed type of silicon, which is crucial for healthy connective tissue, nails and skin.

Because of their vitamin K content, green beans supports bone health, strengthening them from the inside out. And they are loaded with antioxidants that prevent free radical damage in the body’s cells.

The calcium in green beans protects heart health and helps prevent blood clots in arteries. And finally, these nutritious beans help prevent macular degeneration while maintaining good eyesight and night vision.

New Potatoes

Potatoes have a bad rap as an unhealthy food. They are, in fact, a very healthy and nutritious food.

The entire potato is edible, with the skin being very high in nutrients. Because they develop underground, potatoes draw trace minerals from the earth. They are high in potassium, B6 and amino acids…in particular Lysine in its bioactive form. Lysine fights against cancers, viruses such as Epstein-Barr and shingles, liver disease and inflammation.

Potatoes strengthen the kidneys and liver, soothe over excited nerves and help the digestive system to heal from Crohn’s, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers. They are antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial, relieving stress, supporting the brain and helping us to feel centered and grounded.

New potatoes are simply small potatoes dug up from the ground before they fully mature.

Green Beans and New Potatoes from the farmers market
Green beans and new potatoes fresh from the farmers market.

Simple Vegan Recipe

Excited to prepare the fresh from the market green beans and new potatoes, I considered how to season them for the best flavor. I didn’t want to add bacon or ham…but what could I add?

Instead, I came up with a very simple seasoning…smoked paprika. I loved how it gave the green beans and new potatoes a subtle “meaty” flavor and created a rich broth as the veggies cooked.

Here’s what you need for this recipe:

  • 12 small new potatoes, skin on, scrubbed and halved or quartered
  • 2 pounds of fresh green beans, washed and ends cut off
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 6 cups of water or veggie broth

Cooking green beans and new potatoes:

  • in a large cooking pot, cover prepared green beans with 6 cups of water or veggie broth (make your own vegetable broth HERE)
  • add smoked paprika and sea salt
  • bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for up to an hour, checking beans for tenderness after 45 minutes
  • add prepared new potatoes, stir to combine with green beans
  • bring mixture of veggies back to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender
  • makes 4 – 6 servings…store leftovers in refrigerator
Green Beans and New Potatoes plated
Ready to eat…green beans and new potatoes

Enjoying Green Beans and New Potatoes

I tell you sincerely that this recipe is so delicious! I love the combination of these two vegetables. And the flavor added by the smoked paprika was perfect. In fact, the broth is so good you’ll want to drink it if you have any left.

I didn’t miss the bacon or ham at all. With a sliced garden fresh tomato, this is the perfect summer meal. No oven use to heat up the house, one cooking pot and easy clean up. I kept the leftovers in the covered cooking pot and popped it into the refrigerator.

If you don’t have a farmers market near you, or a garden to grow your own veggies, look for fresh green beans and new potatoes in the produce section of your favorite grocery store.

Do you like fresh green beans and new potatoes combined together? If you make this simple recipe, let me know what you think!

Ready to eat
Ready to eat!

 

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Walk Backward

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I recently shared about the book 52 Ways to Walk. You can check out a review of the book HERE.

Although I’m excited to try out all 52 ways of walking, as suggested in the book, I found myself derailed.

I initially selected, randomly, a walk with others activity. And then the weather turned incredibly hot with temps at or above 100 degrees daily. Excuses, excuses.

Eventually I found a group to walk with and I’ll enjoy that shared activity with them soon. For my first walk from the book, I chose this one: #49 Walk Backward.

And yes…it is exactly what it sounds like!

Walk Backward title meme

Why Walk Backward?

There’s a fun story behind this walking activity.

In 1931 a Texan named Plennie Wingo decided to walk backward around the world. After practicing for six months, Wingo set out from Santa Monica, California with a stout walking stick for balance and tiny mirrors attached to his glasses so that he could see behind him.

Wingo walked backward across the US to Boston, Massachusetts. He sailed from Boston to Germany and continued his backward walk. Although he was jailed in Turkey, Wingo eventually completed a walk of 7,000 miles…all in reverse. He gained recognition as the Guiness record holder for “greatest extent of reverse pedestrianism” and lived to the amazing age of 98. Wingo attributed his good health to regularly walking backward.

The Health Benefits of Walking Backward

It seems that Wingo discovered a truth.

According to recent studies, the best way to improve walking forward is to occasionally walk in reverse. Doing so strengthens the lower body while improving balance and stability.

Plus when we walk backward without using our eyes to see ahead, we learn to rely on something called proprioception, a system of neurons embedded in our joints, muscles and limbs that work with our senses to communicate with our central nervous system and brain.

Researchers speculate that walking backward requires unfamiliar, more complex movements, enhancing proprioception abilities along with balance and perception.

Walking in reverse demands more physically as well as we start on the toes and roll to the heel. (Wingo went through 13 pairs of shoes on his historical walk.) We engage the shin muscles and glutes differently and lengthen out hamstrings.

Backward walking aligns the spine and pelvis, reduces lower back pain, strengthens knee joints and improves stride and gait.

Walk Backward view behind
Walk Backward – my view behind me as I walked

Tips for Walking Backward

Engaging in this activity requires some care. Wingo sprained one ankle and broke the other and he caused a car accident.

For safety, walk in a familiar area that is level and without obstacles. Ask a friend or family member to join you, walking forward and serving as a guide.

Focus on each step, walking slowly and pushing off the toe then rolling to the heel. Let arms swing naturally and keep back straight and head centered.

Keep the walk short if this is your first time walking backward. If you enjoy this activity build up to longer backward walks.

My Experience Walking Backward

I chose my neighborhood for this backward walk. Greg accompanied me as my guide and to offer an arm if I felt unsteady. My neighborhood contains fairly new sidewalks, making a smooth, level surface to walk upon.

Due to the heat, even in the morning hours, we kept the distance short and I didn’t walk backward the whole way. After climbing a hill part way, I turned around and walked in reverse for a while. And then I returned to normal walking for a distance before reversing again.

Immediately I noticed a difference in my lower back and legs. I could feel muscles working in ways I don’t notice when walking normally. Although the distance was just under a mile, I later experienced a bit of soreness in my left leg and foot from the unaccustomed gait. The discomfort quickly disappeared.

Overall, it was a fun and unique experience. And not one person looked at me strangely…well maybe Greg did…and no one ran off the road while driving by due to the unusual sight of a woman walking backward!

To receive the most benefits, I intend to include walking backward as a regular activity.

Walk Backward cindy
Me on number 49 walk backward.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

Is walking an important form of exercise and relaxation for you? Then you would enjoy this book as well. The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. And it inspires me to create other interesting walks as well.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

 

52 Ways to Walk book

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.