Take a Nighttime Walk

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Years ago, when my dog Payton was still with me, the two of us walked frequently at night. Payton, who was a rott/chow/lab mix looked like a Rottweiler. And she was the size of one. No one ever bothered us as we walked the neighborhood after dark. In fact, people tended to cross to the other side of the street if they saw us coming.

Today, I don’t walk much at night, even when I travel. Most evenings you’ll find me back at my accommodations by the time the sun sets.

However, when I visited Edinburgh during the month of December, I quickly discovered that darkness enveloped the city by late afternoon. Every day there, whether I was still out exploring, attending an event or grabbing groceries to take back to my apartment for dinner, I experienced Walk #46 in my 52 Ways to Walk book…Take a Nighttime Walk.

Take a Nighttime Walk title

Take a Nighttime Walk

According to Annabel Streets, author of 52 Ways to Walk, 99% of Americans and Europeans live under skies that are so light polluted that the Milky Way is barely visible.

Which is why, in 1999 when an earthquake cut power to Los Angeles, panicked citizens called emergency centers, reporting alien activity in the skies. People reported a “giant, silvery cloud” hovering over the city. Turns out, these citizens of LA were just seeing the Milky Way for the first time!

We need night vision. Darkness is a fundamental human need. Scientists suggests the lack of true dark skies contributes to depression, insomnia, obesity, weakened immunity and heart disease. Exposure to light at night interrupts circadian and neuroendocrine physiology, which potentially speeds up tumor growth.

Take a Nighttime Walk Princes Street
Take a Nighttime Walk – The sun is setting on Princes Street…at 3:10 PM

Turn Off that Nightlight

According to Dr. Eva Selhub, even low levels of light at night affect the plasticity of the brain and interfere with normal brain cell structures. Plus researchers believe that even a nightlight inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep.

Night walking helps us sleep by acting on the homeostatic sleep drive. In spite of the almost universal fear that humans have of the dark, it is apparent that we need darkness to survive and thrive.

Nocturnal walks reacquaint us with starlight and moon beams, and introduce us to landscapes that feel both familiar and strange. Night walks recalibrate our bodies’ clocks according to light/dark cycles that have existed for millennia.

Organizations like International Dark Sky Association are designating areas of darkness with night skies protected from light pollution.

Go to DarkSky International to find the area of darkness closest to you.

Take a Nighttime Walk Anchors Close
Anchors Close, off of the Royal Mile, where I could take a nighttime walk with very little light.

Tips for Walking at Night

You don’t have to drive for hours to find a dark place to walk. However, the less light, the more authentic the experience.

For a first time night walk, pick a familiar area. Walking at night involves some risks which can be minimized by choosing an area that is level and free from trip hazards.

Start your walk at dusk so the eyes adjust to the failing light. Walk slowly. Listen to sounds such as owls hooting or frogs singing.

Carry a flashlight with a red light setting to protect your night vision and yet provide some light if you need it.

Wear sturdy shoes or boots and layers of clothing as temps cool after sunset. Use a walking stick for greater stability.

Bring along a fully charged cell phone, in case you need to call for help, a water container and snack, if desired.

Take a Nighttime Walk Wheel
Take a Nighttime Walk = The Wheel

Taking a Nighttime Walk in Edinburgh

While I did walk with some light, many of my nighttime walks in Edinburgh were in very low light. Fortunately, I’m very familiar with the city and didn’t experience any problems walking in the dark.

The golden hour in Edinburgh during winter begins about 2:30 in the afternoon. The sun sets about 3:30 and it is full dark between 4:00 and 4:30. I confess that while I researched many other aspects of being in Edinburgh during the winter, such as temperatures, I failed to check sunrise and sunset times. My first afternoon in the city I checked the time on my phone in surprise when I noticed twilight approaching. It was 3:10 pm.

However, I came to love Edinburgh after dark. That magical old city becomes even more magical in the dark. Lanterns cast soft lights in closes and even busy streets such as the Royal Mile are not brightly lit.

And perhaps most enchanting of all was walking through Edinburgh Botanic Garden after dark. The familiar completely disappeared, replaced by fairy tale landscapes lit by candles and lanterns and tiny twinkling lights.

Take a Nighttime Walk Cindy
At Edinburgh Botanic Garden after dark.

Seeing with Fresh Eyes

Because my other trips to Edinburgh were during summer and fall, I’ve never experienced the city after dark. During those seasons, the sun doesn’t set until 10:00 pm or after.

I’m so grateful for the experiences of walking Edinburgh in the dark and seeing it with fresh eyes. And I slept well at night, in total darkness, in my little Rose Street apartment.

If walking provides an important form of exercise for you, then the book 52 Ways to Walk is for you!

The activities in the book 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 Walk with a Map at this LINK.

Do you take nighttime walks? Where is your favorite place to walk in the dark?

Take a Nighttime Walk Grocery shopping
It was twilight when I went shopping for groceries for my first dinner in Edinburgh…and full dark when I left the store.

 

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Mediterranean Salad

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Are you looking for an easy to prepare, full of flavor salad that is hearty enough for the main meal and flexible enough to serve as a side? Then you will LOVE this fresh Mediterranean salad that is vegan and Blue Zones compliant.

My younger daughter Adriel shared this delicious salad with me. The original recipe contains feta cheese and mint. I adapted it slightly to make it vegan and substituted one of my favorite herbs, fresh dill, for the mint.

Try it and let me know if you enjoy this good-for-you Mediterranean salad as well.

Mediterranean Salad title

Mediterranean Salad

I’ve lived a plant based lifestyle for eight years. That change in diet made an incredible impact on my health and life.

A couple of years ago, I discovered the Blue Zones, areas around the world where people live the longest. It has been a natural progression to combine the two to create a 100% plant based Blue Zones lifestyle that seems to suit me the best. I frequently use my Blue Zones Cookbook to prepare delicious, hearty meals. And when a recipe comes to my attention that fits my parameters, I’m happy to include it too.

You can learn more about the Blue Zones HERE and about the beginning of my plant based lifestyle in this POST. Read on for the easy to make recipe for Mediterranean Salad.

Mediterranean Salad delicious

Mediterranean Salad

Fresh, plant based, Blue Zones inspired salad.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Salad

  • 1 15 oz cab chickpeas, drained
  • 1 15 oz can white beans, drained navy, great northern or cannellini
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved use pitted olives
  • 1/3 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small English cucumber, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh dill, chopped

Instructions
 

Dressing

  • Combine ingredients in a shaker jar or small bowl. Shake or whisk until ingredients are combined. Set aside

Salad

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and mix gently. Store in refrigerator. Makes approximately 8 servings.
Keyword Blue Zones, Mediterranean, Salad, Vegan

 

Mediterranean Salad Tips

This recipe is so easy and also very adaptable.

I use a small mason jar with a lid to mix the ingredients for the dressing. After shaking the jar well, I set the dressing aside or pop it into the refrigerator.

To make quick work of chopping and dicing veggies, I use a mini food chopper for the green pepper, red onion and English cucumber. And I’ve found a pair of kitchen scissors works well for snipping fresh herbs and the green onion tops.

Use your favorite type of white beans. I’ve tried the recipe with cannellini beans and navy beans.

Kalamata olives are Greek olives. Buy them pitted and then simply slice in two. If you really like Greek olives, add more. Roasted red peppers are found in the pickles section at the grocery store. I drain and chop with a knife. And I slice the cherry tomatoes with a serrated knife, cutting them in half or quarters.

I love the fresh parsley and dill! Add your own favorite herb such as mint or oregano. If you like a hint of spiciness, add crushed red peppers to the dressing.

Mediterranean Salad bowl
All of the Mediterranean salad ingredients, prior to add the dressing.

Enjoying Mediterranean Salad

This salad easily makes a main dish meal with the beans providing protein. Add sourdough bread if desired. And the salad makes an excellent side dish. I included it with a baked sweet potato and quinoa last night for a delicious dinner.

This is one of those salads that tastes even better the next day, after all of the flavors have combined. I love it so much that I typically buy enough ingredients to make it twice in the same week.

Do you enjoy Mediterranean food? Try this tasty salad and let me know what you think!

Mediterranean Salad with Sweet Potato
Mediterranean salad with quinoa and baked sweet potato.

 

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Health Benefits of Humming

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The topic for this blog post came about through a series of synchronicities.

After picking up my teenage granddaughter Aubrey from school one afternoon, she commented that I always hum in the car. She is right. I typically hum, almost under my breath, whenever I’m driving or riding in the car. Aubrey said she liked that I did. It is a comforting sound and something she has heard me do all of her life.

I thought more about my humming the next day and remembered that I hummed to my children when they were babies and to my grandchildren, to help them fall asleep. I didn’t hum a song. Instead the hum was very low, more of a vibration than a musical sound. And anytime I am alone, I softly hum a song or create my own.

That afternoon, I saw a tweet from a friend of mine on Twitter, now called X. He shared that he also hums and explained that there are actually good reasons to. That led me to do research which resulted this post.

I was surprised by what I discovered. You might be too.

Here are the very real health benefits of humming.Health Benefits of Humming title

The Practice of Humming

When scientists explored the science behind sound healing, they discovered that conscious, self created sounds, such as humming, can literally rearrange molecular structure and bring healing to the body.

This phenomenon is called the humming effect and these are the benefits.

Humming Calms the Nervous System

Humming creates a vibration within the body that in turn triggers positive shifts. One of the most important effects is the stimulation of the vagus nerve which governs the body’s parasympathetic rest and digest states, lowers anxiety and causes the release of powerful relaxation hormones and endorphins.

A stimulated vagus nerve helps us to regulate emotions, ease stress and better handle bouts of depression or anxiety.

Humming also moves you out of “fight or flight” mode and into relaxation.

Humming Boosts Cardiovascular Health

When we hum, the level of nitric oxide in our nasal passages increases greatly. Nitric oxide naturally relaxes constricted blood vessels, lowering stress on the heart and vascular system and reducing blood pressure.

Blood vessels that are more open better deliver oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the body’s organs and tissues which reduces inflammation and supports healing.

Higher levels of nitric oxide also to clear up and prevent sinus infections. My friend on Twitter claims this happened for him.

Nitric oxide also relaxes the muscles in the lungs and widens airways, making breathing easier. And because nitric oxide has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal properties, it boosts the immune system.

Humming Relieves Pain

Authors Jonathan and Andi Goldman, who co-wrote the book The Humming Effect, suggest that humming can help reduce pain, especially when the sound is consciously directed toward the part of the body experiencing discomfort.

Remember that Frequency + Intention = Healing.

For example, if your elbow hurts, visualize your elbow surrounded by a bright, white light as you hum.

To feel better overall, visualize the body’s cells being charged with healing energy as you hum.

Humming Helps You Fall Asleep

Humming causes the body to release the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep in the body. Right before bedtime, prepare for sleep by softly humming.

This fact both surprised and delighted me. The low humming I instinctively did as I cradled a baby against my chest always soothed them into sleep.

Health Benefits of Humming better sleep
Health benefits of humming – helps you fall asleep

Humming Detoxifies the Body

By allowing greater flow in the lymphatic system, humming helps to cleanse and detoxify the body. A strong lymphatic system helps to defend against infections.

Humming Grounds You

Humming is similar to meditation in that it grounds the body. It also roots the voice in the diaphragm, creating a pathway for expressing yourself authentically.

For grounding, sit comfortably in a chair and allow the vibrational sound to rise and ebb naturally. Allow the humming to take you out of your head and into your body, into yourself.

How to Bring Daily Humming into Your Life

Humming is easy. Anyone can do it. We often hum subconsciously as we work or drive.

For the purpose of healing, consciously hum.

Bring air in through the nose and then hum in the back of the throat as you slowly exhale. The vibration should be low and deep enough to reach the chest. Place your hand on your chest and make sure you can feel the vibration there as you hum. If you can, you are creating the most benefits.

Hum for at least five to ten minutes, two to four times a day.

You can sit quietly and hum, as part of a meditation practice. Or hum while you walk outdoors, do housework, rock a child to sleep or my favorite, while you drive.

Are You a Hummer?

Knowing now the benefits of humming, I am much more intentional about it. It’s become a part of my daily practices for improved health and wellbeing.

Are you a hummer like me? Did you know that you can create greater health with your humming?

Health Benefits of Humming driving
Health benefits of humming – hum while driving or riding in the car

 

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.

 

 

Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup

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Tortellini is NOT a typo in the recipe title. I have an easy Vegan Tortilla Soup that you can check out HERE. This delicious recipe is a mashup of Mexican and Italian cuisines to create a uniquely flavorful dish.

My daughter Adriel shared the original recipe with me and I successfully “veganized” it to create a yummy, satisfying soup that’s free of dairy products and meat.

Try out Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup this week. Trust me, you’ll want to make it again.

Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup title

Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup

I LOVE soup. Although I especially enjoy a bowl of hot soup during fall and winter, I’ll make up a pot of soup any time during the year. I like having the leftovers in the fridge for a quick meal. And most soups continue to blend flavors after they cook so they taste even better after a day or two.

Because of my fondness for soup, I’m always looking for new recipes to try. When my daughter and son in law told me about a recipe they tried and gave it high marks for ease of preparation and flavor, I knew I wanted to try a vegan version.

This soup simmers in a slow cooker, making it very easy to prepare. Plus, you get the benefit of the incredible aroma wafting through the house as it cooks.

Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup recipe

Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup

Savor the blended flavors of the Mexican soup with an Italian twist
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian, Mexican
Servings 8

Equipment

  • 1 Slow Cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 2 12 oz pkgs Impossible Ground "Beef"
  • 2 10 oz cans Diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  • 1 32 oz Veggie broth
  • 2 10.5 oz cans Tomato soup, condensed
  • 1 15 oz can Non GMO corn, drained
  • 1 15 oz can Black beans, drained
  • 1 1 oz pkg Taco seasoning
  • 1 8 oz pkg Vegan cream cheese with chives, softened
  • 1 18 pkg Refrigerated vegan cheese tortellini, uncooked

Instructions
 

  • In a non stick skillet, brown Impossible ground "beef" until it is no longer pink. Add taco seasoning and diced tomatoes with green chilies. Cook over medium heat for five minutes. Transfer mixture to slow cooker.
  • Add veggie broth, tomato soup, corn and black beans to slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW heat for 4 hours.
  • Stir soup and then gently stir in vegan cream cheese with chives and vegan cheese tortellini. Cover and continue cooking on LOW heat for one to two hours. Check soup after an hour to see if tortellini is heated through.
    Makes approximately 8 servings.
Keyword Italian, Mexican, Soup, Vegan

 

Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup in slow cooker
Vegan Mexican Tortellini soup in slow cooker.

Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup Tips

I appreciate how quickly this soup comes together. Once it is in the slow cooker, I can focus on other things.

I use a high quality non stick pan to brown Impossible ground “beef”. It doesn’t contain fats so it can stick easily. I thaw out the packages, if purchased frozen, and crumble and brown just like regular ground beef.

You can make your own veggie broth or purchase it.

Use Rotel brand diced tomatoes with green chilies or your favorite alternative. Don’t drain.

For the vegan cream cheese and cheese tortellini, I purchased the Kite brand. It’s made from almond milk. I found both at my local Natural Grocers. The cheese tortellini was in the frozen food section. I purchased two 9 ounce packages and allowed them to thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Use your favorite brand of condensed tomato soup. Don’t add water. Just add the contents of the cans to the slow cooker.

When I made the soup, the tortellini was perfectly cooked through in an hour, making a total cook time of five hours.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator. The soup was even more delicious the next day.

Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup ready to eat
Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup – ready to eat

The Taste Test

This soup is amazing! The combination of tomato soup with a hint of spiciness and the vegan cheese tortellini is so delicious and satisfying. The added vegan cream cheese with chives makes it extra creamy.

Greg loved this soup too, as did my mother. I took her a container of the soup to try. We all agreed, it’s a keeper recipe! And it’s so easy to prepare.

I’ll be making Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup often!

Does this sound like a soup you’d enjoy?

Vegan Mexican Tortellini Soup in bowl

 

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Walk in Sunshine

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I’ve mentioned before that days and days of cloudy gray skies have a negative effect on me. Those symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder? I get those during the winter.

After an abundance of overcast skies this month and days of freezing cold, I was ready to get out of the house when the sun shone brightly today and temps reached the low 60s. I knew exactly how to beat the winter blues and boost my health at the same time.

This is walk number 26, Walk in Sunshine.

Walk in Sunshine title

Discovering Healthy Sun Practices

We owe cats our gratitude. Thanks to a cat that Danish scientist Niels Ryberg Finsen observed, sunlight became recognized as a source for healing.

Finsen suffered from a metabolic illness that would eventually end his life at age 44. However, 20 years before that, as a young medical student, he noticed that cats tend to gravitate to sunny locations. His observations led him to experiment on himself with the sun’s rays. Finsen concluded that sunlight has a useful effect on health.

Finsen won the 1903 Nobel Prize for his light therapy work. As his studies spread, 36 heliotherapy centers, also called sunbathing clinics, sprang up in the Swiss Alps. Patients exposed to sunlight often experienced encouraging results.

Today we tend to avoid sunlight, for good reason. Too much time in the sun isn’t good for us. However, up to 70% of the population is deficient in sunlight’s best known by-product, vitamin D. And scientists now know that isn’t the only benefit from limited sun exposure.

Walk in Sunshine sculpture garden
A place to walk in sunshine, the sculpture garden at Mercy Park.

Vitamin D

Although it’s only one of the benefits of sun exposure, let’s start with how important vitamin D is.

This essential vitamin is created when ultra violet light in sunlight touches the skin. The manufactured vitamin D travels to the liver and then the kidneys before becoming a hormone called calcidiol. This hormone regulates levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body, mineralizes bones and helps with the assimilation of vitamin A. However, calcidol has a relatively short life span in the body so we need frequent “doses” of sunlight to maintain adequate levels. Scientists recommend three to thirty minutes of sunlight a day, depending on skin sensitivity.

We learned during the recent COVID pandemic that vitamin D is crucial to the immune system. The immune system fights off pathogens by creating antibodies and also protects against everyday exposure to germs and viruses. The stronger the immune system, the better the body can resist illnesses during the winter months.

Additional Benefits of Sunlight

But there is more!

Heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, several types of cancers, depression, dementia and multiple autoimmune disorders are linked to low levels of vitamin D AND lack of sufficient sunlight. A 20 year study of 30,000 Swedish women identified a significantly higher death rate for those who avoided the sun.

It is now believed that sunlight activates T cells beneath the surface of the skin. These defender cells move into the blood, circulating throughout the body, boosting health.

Sunlight also plays a vital role in producing melatonin which helps us to sleep well and wake refreshed.

And sunshine triggers the feel good hormone serotonin. That’s another reason why we feel so good when we are outdoors in sunlight.

Walk in Sunshine - Mercy Park
Walk in Sunshine – Mercy Park. The pond still has a thin layer of ice on it.

Walk in Sunshine Tips

To benefit most from the benefits of sunlight, take a short walk whenever the sun shines, with sleeves rolled up and skin free from sunscreen.

Wear sunglasses or a wide brimmed hat to shield eyes from too much light.

Avoid sunburn by covering back up after 10 to 30 minutes, depending on skin type and sensitivity. Out walking, set a timer. When it goes off pull sleeves back down, cover up with a lightweight shirt or jacket and/or apply sunscreen.

Avoid highly polluted areas. Air pollution significantly reduces the amount of UVB and weakens the formation of vitamin D.

Morning sunlight helps to set circadian rhythms and improves sleep at night.

If your skin isn’t used to direct sunlight, build up exposure slowly. Start with five minutes and work up to 10 to 15 minutes.

If you are concerned about not wearing sunscreen, apply a mineral sunscreen that protects from UV rays without hindering the production of vitamin D.

My Walk in Sunshine

I felt an immediate boost in mood today when I woke to sunlight streaming in through the window. In the late afternoon, I drove to my favorite walking location, Mercy Park. Temperatures hovered around 62 degrees.

Carrying my metal water container and pushing my shirtsleeves up, I walked around the park for about 20 minutes, savoring the feel of sunlight on my face and arms. It felt SO GOOD to walk in sunshine. Apparently others thought so too. Dozens of people walked the path around the pond.

Health Boost

I needed that walk in sunshine today, as much as I needed nutritious food. I’ll be watching the weather forecast as we move into a new month and taking advantage of all the sunshine filled days.

If walking provides an important form of exercise and relaxation for you, then 52 Ways to Walk is for you!

The activities in the book 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 Walk with a Map at this LINK.

Are you getting outside on sunny days and boosting your health?

Walk in Sunshine rays on my face.

 

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.

 

 

Lentil Potato Stew

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I enjoy soup year around. However, I especially appreciate it during soup season…the winter months when temperatures drop and the days are short.

I’m also always looking for a new soup recipe. I tried this one recently, Lentil Potato Stew, and declared it a success. This simple recipe is adapted from one I saw online. With a few changes I made it vegan, gluten free and perfect for those on the Blue Zones lifestyle.

Lentil Potato Soup title

Making Lentil Potato Stew

This recipe uses readily available ingredients. You probably have everything needed in your pantry. And it comes together in minutes. Because lentils and potatoes cook quickly, you can have this delicious stew on the table in about 45 minutes.

Lentil Potato Stew bowlful

Lentil Potato Stew

Hearty stew that comes together in minutes.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large potatoes, diced
  • 16 oz dry red lentils, washed and drained
  • 1 cup kale, washed and stemmed May substitute baby spinach
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil in large soup pot, over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute until veggies are soft.
  • Add lentils, potatoes, kale, turmeric and black pepper. Stir to coat lentils and potatoes in oil.
  • Add tomatoes, broth and water. Bring to a boil, cover pot and reduce heat. Simmer 20 - 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add salt and additional black pepper, if desired. Makes approximately 6 servings.
Keyword Potatoes, Red Lentils

 

Lentil Potato Stew ready to eat
Lentil Potato Stew simmering

Lentil Potato Stew Tips

This stew is easily adaptable. Switch red lentil for brown. Remove the greens or substitute baby spinach for kale. Fresh greens or frozen work equally well.

Decrease or increase turmeric, as desired. Make your own vegetable broth or purchase ready to use. And you could add chopped squash if desired.

I use a mini vegetable chopper to quickly create diced veggies. This one HERE is similar. And I own a set of three stainless steel soup pots. I used the middle one for this recipe.

Lentil Potato Stew spoonful
Lentil Potato Stew – ladling it up

The Taste Test

Greg and I tried this recipe for dinner and found it full of flavor, satisfying and filling. I like using lentils for protein and pairing lentils with potatoes so I really enjoyed this stew. I also shared the stew with my mother and she liked it as well.

I’ll definitely serve this stew again. It’s easy to make, uses simple ingredients and I love that it’s perfect for my plant based, Blue Zones lifestyle.

Do you love soup during the winter months? Give this nourishing stew a try!

Lentil Potato Stew bowlful
Lentil Potato Stew – bowl full of goodness

 

Other lentil recipes you might like:

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Madras Curried Lentils

Lentils & Brown Rice

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.

Walk With a Map

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Whenever I travel, I browse through my fun book, 52 Ways to Walk, to see if I can find one that works with my trip. So far, I always have.

On my recent trip to Savannah, Georgia, I selected number 24, Walk With a Map. With my illustrated map of historical downtown Savannah packed in my carry on, I looked forward to carrying out this activity.

Check out why using a map in an unfamiliar area is actually beneficial!

Walk with a Map title

Imagining a Place

In her book, author Annabel Streets tells the story of a young woman who finds herself homeless in Paris in 1924, after her brother disappears. Phyllis Pearsall quickly learns how to navigate the city, even though the only map she possesses is one she memorized. Covered with newspapers at night, camped under a bridge, Phyllis pulls up that mental map and practices finding her way around Paris.

As she explores, she learns landmarks and comes to recognize what time of  day it is by the scents she sniffs in the air. Baking bread and hot chocolate mean it is still morning. Chicken and galettes signal midday. And frying fish, garlic and meat cooking mean evening has arrived.

Phyllis eventually becomes one of the most successful mapmakers in the world. She creates the first A – Z map of London and then the Geographer’s A – Z Map Company.

She is a testament to what neuroscientists have now learned: every walk is an opportunity to grow the brain.

Walk with a Map study
Walk with a Map – studying mine every evening at the hotel.

How Walking With a Map Boosts the Brain

Neuroscientists suggest that the hippocampus, the part of the brain used for navigation, grows as we use it and shrinks in size when we don’t.

Studies of London cabdrivers, who must learn to navigate that huge city, have oversized hippocampi, due to their skills in finding their way through London.

Sadly, technology today takes away our ability to navigate by landmarks or maps. It’s too easy to pull up GPS to find our way to an unfamiliar destination.

Our reliance on technology is shrinking essential parts of our brains, making us more prone to dementia. How can we keep our brains more healthy?

Walk with a map. The hippocampus stores place memories. In a new location, we begin to create spatial memories that are stored in special cells. We create a brand new mental map as we walk and gather information.

Additionally, researchers found that the region of the brain responsible for spatial navigation also plays a part in prediction, imagination and creativity. It also helps with social navigation and building relationships.

Walk with a map landmarks
Walk with a map – landmarks such as City Hall in Savannah helped me build my mental map of the city.

Tips for Walking with a Map

In a new to you location, start with a general idea of your destination, without setting a time limit on getting there. Cities are good because they offer multiple ways to get to a place.

Study the map of the area before beginning the walk. Note the direction you’ll travel and try to stay away from overly busy highways or freeways.

As you walk, identify landmarks such as tall buildings, large trees, church steeples and anything that catches your attention because of interests you have. Using landmarks to navigate is known as landmark-based piloting.

And finally, use your senses. What do you hear as you walk? A chiming clock in a tower is good or the smell of bread baking in the corner bakery. Refer to your map to mark where those sounds or smells are and let those places serve as locational markers.

Pause as needed to get your bearings. Sit in a park, and remember that park as a marker. Study the map. Resist the urge to pull up GPS.

Once you find your destination, congratulate yourself! Well done. Now….see if you can find your way back to your hotel…or to another destination in the city.

Walk with a Map presbyterian church
Walk with a Map – church steeples make excellent visual markers.

My Experience on my Walk with a Map

I love the illustrated maps from Karpovage Creative. I have one for Charleston and Savannah and I’ve used them in both cities. One of the reasons I appreciate them is because they have historical buildings and locations marked on the map. That helps me find those visual markers more easily.

Every evening, I studied my map and made notes about what I wanted to explore the next day. It became a nightly ritual that I enjoyed as I sipped a cup of hot tea.

One of my planned activities was to find all 22 squares in Savannah’s historical district. They are laid out in a grid, so once you find one, you can figure out where the next one is.

However, more than once, I wandered away from the square I’d located. After realizing I had no idea exactly where I was, I’d pull out the map and study it to head in the right direction for the next square. I found them all.

The map also helped me get an idea of where the restaurants were that I wanted to try and how far the walk was to the meeting place for the ghost tour.

Walk with a Map pulaski square
One of the squares I located, Pulaski Square.

My Mental Map of Savannah

After spending five days in Savannah, and using my map as needed, I feel like I have a very good mental map of Savannah. Landmarks such as City Hall near River Street, Johnson Square, the Cathedral Basilica of St John and the Mercer House all became visual markers that helped me navigate. I knew I was headed in the direction of the river when I heard the barges or the cry of seagulls. And I could tell about what time it was by the trolleys going by and the delicious scents wafting from restaurants. I hope that means I came home with a bigger brain!

If walking provides an important form of exercise and relaxation for you, then 52 Ways to Walk 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 Take a 12 Minute Walk at this LINK.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk. And tell me. Do you enjoy walking with a map?

Walk with a Map mercer house
Walk with a Map – Mercer House

Interested in Savannah?

Check out these posts:

Vegan Eats in Savannah

Fun Things to Do in Savannah

Ghost Stories from Savannah

 

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Vegan Eats in Savannah

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For most travelers, enjoying the local cuisine is an important part of the travel experience. It is for me as well. However as one who lives a plant based lifestyle, I carefully research restaurants and cafes before I travel, for vegan options.

My research pays off. I travel with a list of possible eateries in the area.

Even southern cities like Charleston or Savannah, famous for comfort food, offer plant based options.

Check out these vegan eats in Savannah for your next trip to the city, if healthier eating is important to you.

Vegan Eats in Savannah title

Vegan Eats in Savannah

All of these restaurants are in Savannah’s historic district and very walkable if your accommodations are there as well. I stayed at Indigo Hotel and walked to all of these locations.

Most of these eateries are not specifically vegan, however they do offer vegan and vegetarian options.

Here are my top five favorites plus a list of other possible restaurants on my list.

Olympia Cafe

My first meal in Savannah took place at this restaurant near the river. Located only blocks from my hotel, it was perfect after a day of travel.

Located at 5 East River Street, Olympia is a cheerful Greek cafe serving authentic fare. Their food is prepared from scratch daily and they offer entrees such as Mousaka, Dolmades, Pastisio and Spanikopita.

They do offer a variety of healthier options as well. Browse the menu or ask your server for suggestions.

I enjoyed fries and a falafel wrap with fresh veggies, no cheese. It was delicious!

Vegan Eats in Savannah olympia cafe
Vegan Eats in Savannah – Olympia Cafe
Vegan Eats in Savannah olympia meal
Olympia Cafe falafel wrap with fries.

Kayak Kafe

This cafe at 1 E Broughton Street is a locally owned casual restaurant in the heart of the historic district. They specialize in freshly prepared salads, sandwiches, tacos and plant based cuisine.

Kayak Kafe serves locally sourced foods and use organic produce as much as possible. They also offer quality cocktails.

Whether you stop by for lunch, dinner or a drink, you’ll enjoy Kayak Kafe’s outdoor dining. The location is perfect for appreciating views of the city or people watching.

I love their vegan taco salad! It was so filling that I took half of it back to the refrigerator in my hotel room.

Vegan Eats in Savannah kayak kafe meal
Vegan Eats in Savannah – vegan taco salad at Kayak Kafe.

The Olde Pink House

I chose this restaurant, even though their healthier options are limited, because it’s one of the most famous in Savannah.

Located at 23 Abercorn Street, this restored Colonial mansion houses an elegant restaurant on the upper floors and a fun pub style tavern in the basement. The Olde Pink House serves up Southern cuisine and lots of charm. The wait staff is amazing and happy to share the history of the building, the oldest house in Savannah. Because of its popularity, you must make a reservation.

I made my reservation HERE before I traveled. Seated near a window in the spacious ballroom, I savored a vegan burger with avocado, served up with an order of crispy onions. After my meal, I toured the rest of the house, which is reportedly haunted, and the tavern in the basement, where, according to my server, most of the ghosts hang out! (Read Ghost Stories from Savannah!)

Vegan Eats in Savannah - the olde pink house
Vegan Eats in Savannah – The Olde Pink House
Vegan Eats in Savannah the olde pink house meal
The Olde Pink House vegan burger

b. matthew’s eatery

This classy, updated vintage space, at 325 E Bay Street, was a planned stopped for dinner, right before a scheduled evening ghost tour.

Their cozy interior offered a welcomed space to sit, after a full day of exploring, and eat a leisurely meal before my tour.

b. matthew’s eatery serves classic and new American fare for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in the historic district near the river.

I ordered their vegan Summer Risotto, loaded with veggies. It was perfection!

Vegan Eats in Savannah b matthews eatery
Vegan Eats in Savannah – b. matthew’s eatery
Vegan Eats in Savannah b matthews eatery meal
b. matthew’s eatery vegan risotto.

Flying Monk Noodle Bar

My last full day in Savannah ended with a delicious dinner here at this Asian restaurant located at 5 W Broughton Street.

I LOVE noodles and Flying Monk did not disappoint.

Pho and other Asian noddle dishes are offered in this trendy storefront eatery with outdoor seating available as well.

I had the veggie Singapore Noodles, a gluten free and vegan meal. And I lingered over it because it was so good.

Vegan Eats in Savannah flying monk noodle bar
Vegan Eats in Savannah – Flying Monk Noodle Bar
Vegan Eats in Savannah flying monk meal
Noodles at Flying Monk.

Other Vegan Eats in Savannah

Here is a list of other restaurants in Savannah that offer healthier meal options:

Fox & Fig  321 Habersham Street

Naan on Broughton  114 E Broughton

Hungry Vegan  2 E Lathrop

The Sentient Bean  13 E Park

Namaste Savannah  8 E Broughton

Henny Penny  1514 Bull Street

The Vault Kitchen and Market  2112 Bull Street

Java Burrito Company  420 E Broughton

I didn’t have time to eat at all of these restaurants. That gives me an excellent reason to return to this beautiful city!

Have you visited Savannah? What was your favorite restaurant?

Sidewalk dining
Sidewalk dining at Kayak Kafe.

 

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The Hungry Monkey

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Don’t you love cute downtown cafes? I do, especially those that offer fresh, delicious meals AND have vegan options.

In Downtown Joplin MO, a new restaurant is getting rave reviews and repeat diners who are enjoying the fun laid back atmosphere and the scrumptious food.

I got to try The Hungry Monkey over the weekend for the first time and I was not disappointed!

The Hungry Monkey title

The Hungry Monkey

This island inspired eatery, located at 905 S Main Street, offers freshly prepared tacos, sandwich melts, wraps and poke bowls along with Hawaiian shaved ice, cocktails and mocktails.

Owner Daniel Campbell worked in the food industry in Maui for more than a decade and also worked with Ritz Carlton before specializing in small restaurants and food trucks. He recently moved to Joplin with the desire to create a fun place to eat.

There are tables for dining in the cute, island themed interior and a counter with barstools. The restaurant is clean and filled with light from the large front windows. Help yourself to ice water near the order counter or choose from an assortment of drink options.

Poke bowls, a staple of the restaurant, are a popular rice and fish dish in Hawaii. Seasoned with onions and soy sauce, poke bowls feature an assortment of veggies along with a protein of choice and often seaweed.

At The Hungry Monkey you can order a particular poke bowl or create your own.

The Hungry Monkey interior
Order counter at The Hungry Monkey

What I Ordered at The Hungry Monkey

I love a good poke bowl because I can eliminate the fish or other meat proteins and substitute tofu or omit protein completely.

For my first Hungry Monkey meal I ordered a poke bowl with rice, veggies, avocado, seaweed, onion, jalapenos and grilled tofu. It was SO fresh and delicious. And even though I ordered a small bowl, I took home leftovers to enjoy the next day.

I added an unsweet tea to my meal as well.

The Hungry Monkey poke bowl and unsweet tea
Poke bowl with grilled tofu, rice and veggies and an unsweet tea.

I’ll Be Back!

I enjoyed this fun restaurant. There are so many options for meals and choices for what you want in those meals. I’m looking forward to going back and trying the veggie wrap and the Hawaiian shaved ice.

If you are in the Joplin Missouri area, stop by The Hungry Monkey. They are open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 – 6:00, Friday and Saturday 11:00 – 8:00 and closed on Sunday and Tuesday.

You can dine in, order for curbside pickup or receive no contact deliveries.

Have you had a poke bowl? What was in your bowl?

The Hungry Monkey poke bowl
The Hungry Monkey – poke bowl

 

Check out more fun things to do in Joplin MO HERE!

Interested in making your own poke bowls? Order this book.

Or make this easy Quinoa and Broccoli Bowl!

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Take a 12 Minute Walk

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I recently realized that it has been a minute since I experienced a stroll from the book 52 Ways to Walk. And with the realization came the determination to browse through the book and select a new walk to try.

July in Missouri is hot and humid. I didn’t let that stop me from choosing Walk #7,  Take a 12 Minute Walk. In fact, the muggy weather inspired this choice. Even with the late afternoon heat I felt I could handle a 12 minute walk.

Why 12 minutes?

Check out the post for the reason behind this particular time.

Take a 12 Minute Walk title

Why Take a 12 Minute Walk?

Sometimes, due to stress or busyness or life situations, we push the activity of walking to the “I’ll get back to it soon” list.

This chapter in the book encourages us to stop postponing this incredibly healthy activity and get back out there by walking for just 12 minutes a day. According to a study from Massachusetts General Hospital, walking for 12 minutes is enough to dramatically improve health.

Researchers tracked 411 middle aged men and women, measuring the levels of 588 metabolites in their blood. These molecules are biological markers within the body that gauge the current state of health.

By monitoring the participants’ metabolites before and after walking, researchers could determine the amount of exercise required before changes took place.

They found that after 12 minutes of brisk walking, 80% of the metabolites in the participants’ bodies showed positive change.

Take a 12 Minute Walk mercy park
Take a 12 Minute Walk – Mercy Park in Joplin

Changing Health for the Better

One of the metabolites that changed dramatically was glutamate. The brain creates glutamate when the body is under stress or exposed to toxins. Too much glutamate in the body is a biomarker for heart disease, diabetes and a shorter life span. Excess glutamate is also linked to brain shrinkage, a common cause of dementia.

Researchers discovered that just 12 minutes of walking, or other exercise, reduced glutamate levels by 29%. They also found a metabolite associated with liver disease and diabetes dropped 18% while another metabolite known to attack fat stores increased 33%.

This rather brief burst of walking or other exercise significantly affects the level of metabolites that governs bodily functions such as insulin resistance, oxidative stress, vascular reactivity, inflammation and longevity.

Armed with this important information, a daily walk of 12 minutes is extremely beneficial for health.

The study found that the best 12 minute walk to enhance health was a brisk or vigorous one.

Take a 12 Minute Walk pond
Take a 12 Minute Walk – standing by the pond

Take a 12 Minute Walk Tips

Walk briskly, building up stamina over time. A brisk or vigorous walk is characterized as taking 100 steps per minute.

Start by setting a timer on your phone for 60 seconds and then counting steps until you reach 100. Try picking up the pace if the timer sounds before reaching 100 steps.

Build up speed by alternating brief bursts of acceleration with regular walking. Do 15 second bursts of speed, then 30 seconds, then 60. Then return to normal walking for one to two minutes. Repeat.

Walking correctly with the right posture helps in walking faster. For tips, read the post Improve Your Gait.

Time a 12 minute route in your neighborhood or at a favorite park or walking location so you know exactly how far to walk.

Then set apart a time to walk. Early morning person? Walk before breakfast. More of a night person? Walk in the evening. Twelve minutes is a very doable amount of time to set aside for something as important as better health and wellbeing.

Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. And take along a container of water to stay hydrated.

Take a 12 Minute Walk happy
This painted rock on the sculpture made me smile. Happy? Yes, happy to take charge of my health.

Taking a 12 Minute Walk

My days are very full right now. However, I know walking is crucial. This chapter reminded me of just how important it is to make time for walking and other forms of exercise, daily.

I chose nearby Mercy Park for my first 12 minute walk. The park just added seven new sculptures to the grounds and I was eager to see them.

During my walk I alternated brisk bursts of walking with normal walking. I’ll have to work on improving my speed.

After my brisk walk, I made another, slower loop around the park so I could take photos and admire the sculptures. In spite of the heat, a steady breeze helped keep me cool and a fine mist off of the pond fountain was refreshing as well.

My intention is to take a 12 minute walk every day for the next 30 days and beyond. I’ll do a follow up post to share the results!

Take a 12 Minute Walk reflection
Take a 12 Minute Walk – beautiful reflection

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 Cold 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 highlights of some of the walks.

Are you ready to take a 12 minute walk this week? Where will you walk?

Take a 12 Minute Walk mural
At the end of my 12 minute walk.

 

 

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.