Jambalaya is a simple, one-pot meal that is easy to make and perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. The warm spices perfectly complement cool summer evenings. Try altering the recipe with brown rice or another healthy grain for added fiber and nutrition.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 6 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups fat-free lower sodium chicken broth
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
- ½ pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and sausage; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add rice and next 7 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 2 minutes.
- Add broth, water, tomato paste, pepper sauce, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.
- Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, add shrimp and cook 5 minutes.
- Discard bay leaf and serve.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 ½ cups) Source: Cooking Light Easy Winter Recipes
Beyond our Control
This week we are radically accepting our life circumstances and working to change only the things we can. Hoping to influence things that are outside our control only leads to depression, anxiety and frustration. We must have the “courage to accept the things we cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.”
To help us work on our courage and wisdom this week, this art therapy exercise involves creating an image of what things we can and cannot control. You may represent this with abstract shapes and colors or choose to create identifiable forms and symbols. You might think about dividing your page in half or creating a circle to hold the things you can control. In some way, create a differentiation between the two sides. Choose whichever materials speak to you at this point in time.
Some examples of this are reflecting on what emotions you are able to control and some you have difficulty controlling. Sometimes we may want to control the way others think about us or act around us. Think about what you really do have the power to control in your life. For the things you cannot control, let them go!
Give Your Tired Feet a Lift
At work or at play, it seems like no matter what we do, we are on our feet. Sometimes, our tired toes need a break. When our feet feel tired, achy or tense, our mood is often affected so that we, too, feel tired and tense.
After a busy week on your feet, take time out to recharge with self-care. This self-time prevents depression or anxiety while recharging us, boosting mood and nurturing self-esteem.
For this caffeinated foot-rub, you will need: tranquil music, candles, a basin or tub, the following ingredients and nothing else (especially no technology!).
- ¼ cup sea salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee beans
- 1 tablespoon ground vanilla beans
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 pot of room-temperature coffee
- 1 carton of heavy whipping cream
- In a small bowl, mix together sea salt, ground coffee beans, ground vanilla beans and olive oil.
- When you are ready, find a quiet place to lay back with your feet in the basin.
- Play soft music, light candles and create a relaxing atmosphere just for yourself.
- Pour the pot of coffee in your basin or foot tub.
- Add the carton of whipping cream.
- Soak your feet in the basin for 10 minutes.
- Scoop the sea salt mixture and rub well over one foot, concentrating on calluses.
- Go slowly and thoroughly.
- Repeat with the other foot.
- Rinse feet, pat dry and follow with a hydrating moisturizer.
The caffeine in this recipe reduces swelling and redness while other ingredients soften and exfoliate tired feet. Your feet will feel refreshed, invigorated and polished, and ready to be shown off again.
As a young girl growing up in France, I picked up habits that I never thought twice about until I settled down as an adult in the U.S. Basic habits like “don’t leave things laying around,” “dress up always” and “be well versed in philosophy and the arts” seem tedious and almost pretentious in many other places. Yet the French seem to prize thoughtful discussion over personal talk, believe that we are all worth looking our best and find joy in all the little things in life.
For all its bustle and cultural idiosyncrasies, France taught me a simple, organic way of living that I am glad to incorporate into my daily life. Big life events – promotions, weddings, etc. – come and go, but finding joy in the little rituals that make up our daily lives contributes more to our mood, outlook and overall happiness.
Daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning the home and doing laundry should not be tedious, anxiety driven affairs but activities to enjoy. We took such joy in hanging the laundry in the orchard, washing windows and cleaning dishes. The scents, songs and conversations that made these activities so enjoyable were part of embracing a simpler, more enjoyable way of life.
In France, lavender seemed to be everywhere so that it perfumed each activity from cooking to dressing to cleaning. Here are a few ways to embrace a simpler way of cleaning that uses household ingredients and backyard herbs:
Vinegar & Water: Use a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water to clean windows, glasses, countertops and refrigerators. Vinegar disinfects, prevents mold and deodorizes surfaces. Don’t worry; the smell of vinegar dissipates when it dries. A solution of 1/3 cup vinegar and one quart of water is also great for cleaning wood floors.
Baking Soda & Water: Make a paste from baking soda and water and use in bathrooms and on kitchen appliances. This mixture softens grime and leaves ovens and microwaves sparkling, but must be wiped off thoroughly.
Lemon & Salt: Sprinkle kosher salt on half of a lemon and use as an abrasive pad that cleans shower doors, brass, chrome and grease on kitchen appliances.
Linens: Old kitchen linens work wonders as cleaning supplies and eliminate paper-towel waste. They also don’t leave lint or streaks behind when cleaning glass.
Lavender: Dry lavender and use to fill sachets that keep moths away from closets and armoires.
Try simplifying your life and making your daily rituals more enjoyable. Rather than thinking, “Oh, here I go again, cooking dinner like I do every night,” turn on good music, find a fun recipe and make the kitchen your space. Truly be mindful and enjoy the activities that make up your daily life. Do less with more joy and you will reach a simpler, more authentic way of life.
The art journal is a very popular project in Art Therapy and other therapeutic modalities. This week I thought I would share some ideas on journaling using imagery.
Writing in a journal has its own benefits—we are expressing and organizing our thoughts and feelings, helping us communicate more effectively to others and understand ourselves. The use of art in a journal can help express different feelings without having to use words. Questions can be asked, and ideas can be explored. Art can help bring the focus to the present moment and also achieve greater insight into ourselves.
I’ve seen many different approaches to the art journal. One way is to use an old book, perhaps one bought from a thrift store or used bookstore, and covering each page with artwork. Perhaps the content of the book may play a role in how you decide to work on it. My example images are from a personal journal I kept a couple of years ago. You may start with a blank sketchbook, a lined notebook, or separate pages and join them together later.
The lovely part of the art journal is its wonderful flexibility. It can be private or shared, and its content may be all imagery, just words, or a combination of both. You may use paint on one page and collage the next one. You may have entries with pen doodles while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or picking the kids up at school, or you may spend hours on one entry. It all works, because it is all for you to express yourself and reflect on using your DBT skills.
Some specific journal entries may include:
- Creating an image emotions you are currently experiencing
- Creating images of healthy and unhealthy decisions
- Gratitude for simple things in life
- Collage/paint an abstract self portrait
Recently, news outlets have been debating scientists’ attempt at recreating and resurrecting the wooly mammoth from DNA strands found in frozen specimens. Some challenge whether scientists are too focused on the past and are failing to offer real-world benefits.
This thought-provoking debate inspires us to similarly challenge our own focus. Are we too engaged in the past to move into a better future? Does our present revolve around remembering things rather than enjoying the moment?
The baggage we bring with us weighs down our present lives so that not only can we not enjoy the moment, but we also bar the way to future happiness. When the burdens from past years accumulate, they overwhelm our emotional lives. Hanging on to old hurts makes them worse and harms our emotional wellness. It is time to finally let go.
Letting go feels difficult, if not impossible. It seems dangerous to allow ourselves to forget something so painful. But what is worse: not giving ourselves freedom from pain or forcing ourselves to live in it and thus compromise our health and happiness?
Letting go is as simple as it sounds: just let go and focus on the present moment. When that is just not possible, residential treatment programs can help women explore past traumas and move through pain into lives of joy and fulfillment.
When we release pain to our past and allow ourselves to forgive and forget, we free ourselves to live in a present of happiness and productivity.
August is one of the busiest times of year. Back to school time is a period of hectic sales, frantic mothers, busy teachers, the return of school-year traffic and after-school events. Whether you’re a parent or just stuck driving behind a bus, everyone seems affected in one way or another. The trick to surviving back-to-school season is organizing your time and space.
Our home is the basic foundation around which our lives revolve. It is the first thing we experience upon waking, last place we see before sleeping. It is where we take our meals and spend time with family. Its environment can be conductive to relaxation or promote anxiety and stress.
Studies show that our environment affects our moods, emotions and behaviors. Clutter hinders our ability to focus and process information, and creates anxiety. The home influences our day-to-day habits that can promote health or hamper our wellbeing. Cluttered spaces and lives monopolize free space and time and can lead to stress and frustration.
A clutter-free space allows women to relax without struggling to find calm or comfort. Similarly, a cluttered schedule creates a life of chaos and anxiety in which each activity is crammed between others and is purpose-driven rather than savored.
Excess complexity and clutter can make our lives harder so that we can’t focus or mindfully appreciate the material and emotional richness of our lives. Simplifying our lives and schedules is one way to rid ourselves of anxiety and stress. It allows us the freedom to focus.
If you feel stressed for time this season, focus on organizing your space and streamlining your schedule. Cut back on non-necessary activities. Take a look at your schedule and decide which activities are the most important and cut others out. It’s far better to savor the moments we are given than to run from one to the next in a rush. Then we are able to enjoy what we have without being hindered by clutter and distraction.
This classic Italian dish translates to spring pasta and is so named for its focus on tender, fresh vegetables. Though its ingredients are not hard to find year-round, this dish can be altered to fit any time of year by incorporating seasonal produce. Alter the noodles and type of vegetable to recreate this easy dish without it ever tasting repetitive.
- ½ pound uncooked pappardelle or other wide pasta
- 2 cups (1-inch) diagonally cut thin asparagus (about ¾ pound)
- ½ cup shelled green peas (about ¾ pound unshelled green peas)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Cooking spray
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 2/3 cup fat-free lower-sodium chicken broth
- 1/3 cup whipped cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
- Add the asparagus and peas during the last minute of cooking.
- Drain; place in a large bowl.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Coat pan with cooking spray.
- Add bell pepper, onion and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes to pan; sauté 1 minute.
- Stir in chicken broth, whipping cream, salt and crushed red pepper; cook 2 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated.
- Add tomato mixture to pasta mixture in large bowl.
- Toss to coat.
- Sprinkle with finely grated cheese and basil.
- Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings
Source: Cooking Light Quick & Easy Low-Calorie Recipes
It’s that time again…..football time in Tennessee! Log on to any social media site at any given time and you will see post after post by different people letting you know exactly how many more days are left until the first football game of the season. Southerners are famous for their love of college football and come September, campuses across the region erupt with cheering fans and football get-togethers. Families and friends gather to enjoy good food and watch the game. Nothing gets your adrenaline pumping quite like watching the Vols enter Neyland Stadium by running through the “T” formed by The Pride of the Southland Marching Band.
While touchdowns, good food, and team spirit weigh heavily on the minds of football fans, many women are more concerned with the image of charm and class they are eager to portray. The long time tradition of dressing up for football games is prevalent at many SEC schools, and The University of Tennessee is no exception to the rule. Women are often “dressed to the nines” in their orange and white. Only in the south is game day more celebrated than any other event - even weddings are planned around game days!
Taking time for oneself to enjoy cheering for a favorite sports team is a great way to boost mood and joy and lower risk of anxiety or depression. Whether you enjoy dressing up, hosting a party or curling up in your pajamas to watch a game, taking the time for fun, mood-boosting activities is a great idea to add to your weekly schedule.
“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”- Bill Shankly
Claude Debussy’s Moonlight
To honor Claude Debussy, today’s Google Doodle animates one of his masterpieces, Clair de lune. This celebration of his work scrolls slowly along a moonlit river as lights keep time to the music and cyclists, cars, and passersby move along the quiet night.
Debussy is regarded as one of the most influential composers of the last century. His compositions were sometimes likened to be the musical equivalent of an impressionist painting. Debussy’s mysterious and glittering melodies evoke moods and music that take listeners upon an auditory journey through time and space, color, light and emotion.
His famous quote “music is the space between the notes,” illustrates the beauty of many of his pieces. Debussy gave each note reverence so that there was just enough emptiness to give the music space to be appreciated. Each deliberate sound melded together to take listeners on an exquisite journey.
We should treat each moment of our lives with similar respect. For each activity we add to our schedule, we sacrifice space. For each item we bring into our homes, we also sacrifice space, so that our lives become cluttered with superfluous nonsense and we can no longer hear our selves. Make space to cherish your possessions, loved ones and activities. When each item and event in our lives is deliberate, we experience deeper meaning and fulfillment and are no longer harried or driven by anxiety.
Debussy described himself as “one who sees mystery in everything – in the curve of the horizon, in the wind and in the call of birds,” and shares his musical journey with our senses so that we can take a rest and explore our imaginations.
Claire de lune is a relaxation masterpiece for self-soothing. Try enjoying this beautiful composition and make a note to make space in your life. There is no need to overthink. “It would be enough if music could make people listen,” Debussy said. With each deliberate activity, we build a better, happier life.