Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Gold of the Incas

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) a Super Whole Grain, was considered the gold of the Incas and is mostly grown in Peru and some other South American countries. Not only is it a rediscovered ancient whole grain, and the Mother of all Grains, it's one of the best protein choices for vegetarians because of its complete amino acid content meaning it is as close as you can get to the high protein quality of meat. Probably even better than soy protein since soy is highly genetically engineered nowadays, because it's very cheap to produce and easily fed (however unnaturally fed) to the excessive amount of animals that are brought up to supposedly feed the world! Anyway, by now you probably know how I feel about these genetically engineered foods and poisonous ways of growing food; I don't like it, so let's get back to Quinoa which is my favorite grain.
Once cooked quinoa has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and nutty flavor which I love. I mentioned it's high in protein, but it's also high in fiber, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. So, it's good for pretty much anyone, but especially for heart health, bowel issues and helps to control blood sugar levels as well as satiety. Quinoa grows on stalks with large seedheads that can be almost any color, from red, purple and orange to green, black or yellow. It's been designated a "super crop" by the United Nations, for its potential to feed the hungry poor of the world because it's drought resistant and NASA has proposed quinoa as an ideal food for long-duration space flights. Pretty cool I think!
Read more about Quinoa here.
The only problem with Quinoa is that you can't get it local, unless you live in South America, but still I think it's worth buying because of it's high nutrient content, especially if you're a vegetarian. You can find it in most Natural or Whole Food stores. I was told it's not found in Turkey and that I have to order it from Europe or US and so I have been asking friends who visit from outside of Turkey to bring me as much of Quinoa as possible:) But I found it in Istanbul, actually my brother found it in the store called Safran in Nisantasi, Istanbul. Yeeey! It's a great Natural Food Store I highly recommend you visit (Address: Valikonagi Caddesi, 58, Nisantasi, Istanbul). The quinoa they sell is not labeled as organic and they apperently import it from Russia who probably imports it from South America, so it comes a long way poluting the air. But, at least someone thought of importing such a wonderful grain that's not grown here, so I'm still happy with what I've found. So now I can cook it whenever I want or maybe I'll try to grow it here by sprouting:)
And here is my easy recipe you can use to try Quinoa. I added some Turkish words to clarify some meanings.
Quinoa with Veggies
Serving Size: 1.5 cup
Makes about 3 servings.
1 cup Quinoa
 2 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 green bell pepper (2 tatlı biber)
1 red bell pepper (2 tatlı kırmızı biber)
1 cup of sliced mushrooms, any kind
1 cup of chopped zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
4-5 strings of green onions or chives

1.      Wash and then cut up the vegetables into cubes, except for the mushrooms.
2.      Place the quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
3.      Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, for about 10-15 minutes.
4.      While the quinoa is cooking add the oil and chopped vegetables (except for the green onions) in a pan, cook at medium heat and stir the vegetables every 30 seconds or so until they become softer.
5.      Once the vegetables are cooked, add the chopped green onions and stir few times to cook all vegetables together.
6.      Once both the vegetables and quinoa are cooked add the vegetables in the pan with the quinoa and mix.
7.      You may choose to add a pinch of sea salt and/or black pepper to the dish, but I usually cook without them. So I suggest try it without salt and then add salt if you really need to.
8.      Serve warm. Enjoy!

Note: Best part of this recipe is that you can choose any kind of vegetable you like to mix with the quinoa, and you can really chop them up any way you like. You can either mix other vegetables with the ones I chose here or you can choose your own vegetables, such as eggplants, spinach or broccoli. Also you may choose to eat the vegetables raw, in that case, just chop them up and mix them with the cooked quinoa and wait until the dish cools down for a cold quinoa salad.
Images are from Google.
Let me know about your experiences with Quinoa. With Love. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Do You Need to Bottle Feed?

Another breastfeeding related online article of mine after the 'Why Six Months Exclusive Breastfeeding' article. Just click on the title and the website with the article should come up. Hope it's useful to some!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Am From Venus!

Yep! Lately, I feel like I am from another planet, such as Venus, living in Istanbul on Earth. If I was coming from the planet Venus to inspect Earth, I would probably say this world sucks (pardon me), the living creatures here have no humanity although they call themselves human. Although, would it be easier to inspect this world and the creatures living on it as an outsider (as in someone from another planet) or insider (living within the community)? I consider myself as an outsider, foreigner living in a new community. I can't tel you where I'm from really, at least not one place, and I don't think I can call any place home anymore. This makes me so insecure about where I'm living now...dah!
But, guess what happened...I finally got myself to sit in silent meditation! (ok! it's been only 2 days in a row now, but it's been awhile since I did it). I had tried this before, maybe several times a year during a yoga class, in the beginning I hated it, was so painfully boring, and then after 6 years of yoga practice, my yoga teacher training required me to do that everyday for a month and somehow I loved it then and promised (huh?) myself I would keep doing it everyday, but of course I didn't do it once we got other assignments. But it has been always on my mind, "I have to meditate today or I have to do my own yoga practice at home today"'s not like I hadn't done it before, but my mind is so good at finding excuses and getting angry ever since I'm living in Istanbul.
I'm reading a book in Turkish called Mavi Orman (Blue Forest), by Defne Suman, a Shadow yoga teacher living in US and Turkey. And I'm thinking I'm so good at picking the book that exactly matches my mood and my needs at that time...this has been going on for about a year (cross my fingers!). I decided I love this book from the first page I read. Actually I love the title too! It's making me think a lot, reflect on myself and the changes in my life. I feel my yoga practice is supposed to be doing this to me, not this book, but maybe I needed the extra kick of inspiration from this book.
Actually just when I've been thinking..."I think I've learned everything I need about yoga" I am being bombarded with all these new concepts, techniques, ideas about yoga that I had no idea existed or for some reason I had been ignoring them for so long. Now I know the more I practice and the more I experience life, searching and learning never ends!
So, going back to my life in Istanbul being an alien from Venus.
I don't like what I have become while living in Istanbul with my parents. I don't feel like myself, it feels like all my self-work, from doing yoga and growing in US are gone to waste which feels like a nightmare coming true!!!
So, this is why I feel alien to a culture, house, people that supposedly I could say I'm part of, but I don't think I am really. Also, what's the point in forcing it so hard? Yes I know life is hard anywhere whatever you're doing, but I don't have the same desire to go on as I did when life was hard in US. Maybe it's the lack of a community, a safe place for me to feel welcomed and at home. I haven't found this in Istanbul, not with old friends or with my family and can't say much about new friends since it's too soon....but I have hope for Bodrum, I had the feeling of a community where I belong there, so Seriously! I just have to get settled there as soon as I can.
Anyway, I forgot to mention what happened after the meditations...I felt so comfortable, safe and at home while sitting in meditation, I felt it within me, I was IT, the safe home. And once it was over I was able to carry that feeling throughout the house and into majority of my day. Wow! This is amazing! Could I possibly do this everyday? Since, I have definitely decided to live in Bodrum and my time in Istanbul is temporary and we know the ecstasy mood after yoga and meditation is real easy to continue when you're not in a chaotic living space, Can I do this in a chaotic living space? or in other words, Could I meditate everyday in my chaotic life in Istanbul and hold on to the safe home ecstasy feeling right in the middle of chaos? I know I can do it in a full hot Baptiste style yoga class where the person literally next to me is dripping their sweat on me (and mine on them), so why not in a super crazy, smelly and crowded city like Istanbul when even living with my parents seems so crowded to me? This is going to be my homework to myself while I live in Istanbul! If I can do this then maybe I won't have to be so irritated and angry in Istanbul, I might learn something very important. Or maybe I am really from Venus and they're going to come back for me and save me from this planet:))
We'll see...I'll write to you from Venus:)
I love these words from a teacher, "Take a deep breath, and let the moment go." It makes it easier to end things when you don't want to end it but know that you have to.
Love to you all:)