Strange Fruit : Racing for Real

ravenswood run
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Yesterday morning, I ran a 5k. More specifically, it was the Ravenswood Run in Chicago’s newest yuppie neighborhood. With doggie yoga shops and puppet shows for canines abound, this several block stretch of cobblestone is a winning lukewarm combination of inauthentic Thai restaurants (read: Polygon Cafe) and upscale dive bars (@mosphere).

The race was sold out this year. 3,499 runners and I were feverishly doing our last-minute stretches at the starting line. Earbuds were in, scaredy-cats were out. As we began our slow progression through the shut down streets, it struck me how bizarre it was to be doing the exact same movements as so many other humans with the aim of finishing first, with no other true motivation than personal glory and accomplishment. ravenswood run starting line

Yes, the race benefits the local food pantry and Episcopal church, but people participate for their own reasons. Community, health, goal-setting, companionship, boredom. I like the competitive aspect of it all. This particular event spurred me to set a personal record despite the fact that I drank too many liquids beforehand. I pushed that thought out of my mind as I kept pace with a lady wearing a neon orange sports bra, her skin a wrinkly reminiscence of tanning salons and leisurely pregnancies.

As we fidgeted impatiently before the 8 AM foghorn, the announcer asked us to give a prayer before we ran. It was unclear whether it was to honor the Boston Marathon victims or because the run was affiliated with the Church. Either way, I looked around and wondered what it would be like to live in a truly secular society.

Crossing the finish line, I saw crates upon crates of ripened bananas, big boxes of bottled water, paper cups overflowing with Gatorade, and gooey complimentary cinnamon buns further down the street. Why not have water taps ? Don’t they know that you don’t need electrolytes after running a 5k ? What did they do with the extras ? You would think the food pantry got them, but it’s hard to tell.

After I got my gear and changed, I opted to make breakfast at a friend’s house instead of paying $10 for mass-produced pancakes soaked in syrup. They could have been tasty, but I’m skeptical. Have you noticed ? Although it felt good to finish the run and know I did something to help the community, I think next time I’ll try and do something a little less high-impact for the sake of my joints. That, and eat less salt.

6 Quick Ways to Make Salmon

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Salade de jambon cru et saumon fumé. (salad of...

Salade de jambon cru et saumon fumé. (salad of ham and smoked salmon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everything we see these days is about “lose weight fast,” “get healthy,” or “tons of omega-3s!” What does it all mean ?

Your body needs certain poly/mono-unsaturated fats, and omega-3, omega-6, and omega-12 are these fats. They can be found in foods like avocado, salmon, nuts, and flaxseed.

It’s not about getting skinny, it’s about getting healthy. Some people like the thought of salmon but wish it were easier to make nutritious food with their busy lifestyles.

As long as you have a kitchen and basic appliances, you should be able to use at least 2 of these methods to make some mouth-watering fish.

1. Bake it

Take a filet and set your oven to 425 F. Wrap the filet in some foil and add whatever seasonings you like. My favorites are ginger, miso paste, and sesame oil. If you have a sweet tooth, you might like a combination of equal parts maple syrup, soy sauce, and orange juice. Take out the steak after 15 minutes, or less if you like it a little raw.

2. Poach it

Take a filet and season it with veggies, sauces, and powders. Curry and onion go well together. Throw it on a microwaveable plate and pop it in the box for 2.5 minutes (newer microwaves, full power) to 5 minutes (older microwaves, full power.) This is a quick and easy way to make healthy meals in a limited kitchen.

3. Fry it

Mi-cuit (half-cooked) salmon is a delicacy in many restaurants. If only people knew how simple it is to make at home ! No need to be scared of eating raw fish. Unlike meat, raw fish rarely makes people sick. You might not like the taste, but you won’t get sick from eating it. Just take a filet with the skin on and put it on a greased frying pan (olive oil and grape seed oil are going to be your healthiest options). For a mi-cuit cut, cook each side for 2 minutes on medium heat. For a well-done filet, cook each side for 5 minutes on medium heat.

4. Grill it

Grilled salmon is absolutely delicious. Wrap a filet in some foil and place it on your grill. Depending on how thick the piece is and how big the fire is, you might want to poke it with a fork and see if the metal comes out cold. If it’s cold, that means it’s still a little raw inside. If you do this right, you may see some charring on the salmon, which is perfectly normal.

5. Boil it

This is for people who like stews, soups, and very well-cooked protein sources. Boil a pot of water and place a salmon filet inside with a dash of salt. Cook on medium-low for 15 minutes or until the salmon is flaky and light pink.

6. Do nothing

That’s right, eat your fish raw. Some Westerners might cringe at the thought of eating raw fish, but as long as the product is good quality, this is actually the the healthiest option. Dip the fish in some soy sauce, wasabi, or lemon juice for a tart finish. Remember, the more you cook your meat, the less nutrients it retains.

That’s my mini-tutorial on how to eat salmon. I try to eat salmon once a day. Not only is it great for your hair and skin, but fish oil is known to improve mood and sleep patterns, too. What’s more, it’s a great source of Vitamin D for those of us who are not fortunate enough to live in a place where it’s sunny all year-round. Now that you know how to make salmon, you should go out and buy some for your next meal. Skimping on your health and the quality of your food is not a good idea. Make sure you buy the best, or close to it ! Skip dessert and buy some nice salmon steaks instead.

Did I miss a technique ? Let me know your favorite ways to make salmon.

Holistic Healing

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Serendipity is not dead. And I don’t mean the romantic kind, either. On my way in to the gym today, I sauntered over to the complimentary massage corner and asked the masseuse his name and if he would be finishing up soon. He smiled and said he was almost done. His name was Michael. I could hardly wait to get the tension out of my body.

Michael took 15 minutes instead of 5 because he said I had so much heat coming off my neck and shoulders. There’s something to be said about feeling the energy of another person when your bodies interact. Michael told me that heat was coming off of my torso in waves. Educated by a naprapath, he attended the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago. He chopped my back and arms while using traditional Chinese massaging method that he claimed would simultaneously prevent carpal tunnel, loosen the joints, and relieve stress.

It was a glorious 15 minutes. After the session, Michael advised me to go out and buy some Epsom salt. The magnesium, he said, would loosen my muscles and prevent me from being sore tomorrow morning. From my limited kinesiology background, I knew he was right. He also said it was important to drink a lot of water to hydrate my muscles before and after the workout. There was a lot to talk about–I mentioned Amos Soma’s book Stretches in Bed and Tough Like You, must-reads for any health and wellness experts. Holistic health is not just a fad, it is a legitimate alternative for people who are disappointed in their Western medical practitioners. Skip the chiropractor. Educate yourself.

Stretches in Bed

Amos Soma

The AlchemistPaolo Coelho’s book The Alchemist says that if you want something badly enough in life, all the world will rearrange to help you achieve your dream. Maybe that is what’s happening here. My dream of helping people get healthier minds, bodies, and spirits by spending less time in front of screens and more time in the natural world is slowly becoming realized. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’.

Eastern medicine gets a bad rap, but the truth is that it treats the root of your illness instead of the symptoms. It looks at the entire picture. Western medicine has its triumphs and benefits, but for those of us that are looking for a different path, holistic health is a credible alternative. Chinese medicine is rooted in a tradition that goes back much further than anything we have in the West. It has been tried and true for centuries, so giving it a try will not hurt anyone. What do you have to lose ?