3 Ways To Be Thankful

Published on Latino American Today, November 2013 -by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard.  

Chiles en Escabeche

How often do we stop and think about the meaning of Thanksgiving? As the holiday season approaches, many of us begin to feel a sense of rush in our routines that lasts until after New Year’s Day. Why does this happen? Do we experience urgency because we decide to cook special meals, choose to travel or shop for the perfect gift, or, all of the above? To boot, special holiday promotions hit us in every way possible. Rarely do we take the time to reflect on the true meaning of year-end celebrations to bring us peace and joy.

For some of us Thanksgiving Day is about eating the traditional feast, giving thanks, and offering a prayer to God in the company of family and friends. Then we return to our routine. For businesses, it is an opportunity to increase revenues significantly before year-end. Then the next campaign begins. For others, it may be an ordinary day. Then nothing happens. Treating this season as a new opportunity to renew our spirit can help improve our lifestyle and wellbeing.

Daily reflection and harmony.   Five minutes a day to think about what is going well and not so well can help bring awareness of what needs to change in our lives. Daily reflection allows us to correct or tweak unwanted behaviors or routines. Daily reflection and harmony can help us regain peace and joy. Peace and joy can make us healthier mentally and physically, too.

Eating the local harvest.   Making conscious efforts about food can increase our sense of self as we take responsibility for not only our wellbeing, but also our family’s. It takes time and effort to adopt wholesome eating behaviors and concentrating on buying locally grown produce when possible can increase awareness of eating fresh foods. Shopping with our eyes and buying vegetables and fruits of many colors and textures can help increase nutrition. For the holidays, choose simple recipes with few ingredients that can be prepared in minutes (recipe below).

Move just a little.   Many of us struggle with exercise. In fact, some of us even dislike the word.  Moving just a little everyday is a step in the right direction. Adopting an exercise routine is an acquired lifestyle. In the kitchen, at the grocery store, playing with pets and children, climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator, walking farther distances to our destination when parking at a lot, not spending lots of time sitting in one single space, all these are activities that encourage movement. And, stretch, just because it feels and is good for us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ensalada de Chiles Asados – Charred bell pepper salad

 Serves 4

6 multicolored bell peppers, rinsed, left whole
1 yellow onion, peeled, halved lengthwise
1 tbsp. flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Sauce:  2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 4 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. roughly chopped garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish: parsley sprigs

Prepare the peppers. Char bell peppers on a high heat grill (or on a gas stove) until skins blister and start to peel easily, about 5-8 minutes. During grilling time, turn peppers with tongs often to ensure even charring. Do not allow peppers to become too soft and mushy. After grilling, wrap the peppers in plastic and allow them to “sweat” for 5-10 minutes and then peel and Julienne. Char onions and when cool, Julienne.

Make the sauce. Place all the sauce ingredients in the blender and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Make the salad. In a medium bowl, using a plastic spatula, toss the Julienne peppers and onions with some of the sauce and the chopped parsley. Allow peppers to sit in the sauce for 20-30 minutes before serving, and garnish with the parsley sprigs.