Saturday, October 8, 2011

Looking to the Future with a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

A lot of turning points happened this week. It was a merry-go-round of enlightenment. I went to a resume builder workshop on Tuesday. I roamed a job fair on Wednesday. I facilitated a focus group and partook in a CARmunity meeting on Thursday (As of this week we are officially recognized by George Mason University and the first School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution student organization legitimated by the school!). I went to my chiropractor appointment and walked out with spider technology for my wrist as well as my monthly visit with Cheryl. As for today, I’m writing it down to make sense of it all after coming back with the boyfriend from the pumpkin patch in Delaplane.

Well, that, and also to tell you the joys of pumpkin and my latest smoothie creation.

As I sat in the workshop I couldn’t help but feel so underachieved in comparison to the others. One was in the navy for nearly twenty years and was worried about finding a job. Another worked full time, volunteered often, and managed a 3.97 GPA. Sure, I was part of the BFSI this summer and I helped to create CARmunity with a small group of amazing individuals in both cases. I’ve facilitated talks, simulated conflicts, done extensive research based on theory and practice, attended seminars, and went abroad to Sweden. I have over three years of office experience and a year working in two caf├ęs. I will be working with kids in an after school program part time in the next week or so at a local community center. But after my job fair experience on Wednesday, I feel so unprepared for life after graduation.

I considered grad school, but I missed the deadline for spring due to some mishaps with my grades. True, I have wonderful references, but the Universe seemed to say that I needed to go out in the world and take a break from traditional academia for a semester. So that’s what I’m doing, and I have no idea where I’m going.

The employers at the job fair were mostly computer or business oriented, and one or two maybe had jobs for public relations or human resources. As a CAR major, our blessing and curse is how wide our potentials are. Since my concentration is international (with a little community/organization on the side), I could be a diplomat, run a non-profit, and work for the government. But I left that fair disheartened; no one there was looking for a Morri.

For a brief moment I felt like the world didn’t need what I had to offer, and that there was a lack of belief in my visions and potential. Doubt spread throughout my being like a sickness, a disease that only cooking and talking to other CAR majors experiencing something similar helped put it into perspective for me.

I have this vision, of founding a movement that follows in Busboys & Poets footsteps, a restaurant that promotes to flourish a healthy and cohesive community, one centered on the arts, dialogue, and holistic food. The holistic food part of my aspirations will have a modern take on traditional and comforting foods, that’s allergen friendly, mostly organic and local, and finally (I cannot stress this enough), affordable.

So I keep thinking about that job fair, all those people dressed in three-piece suits with resumes and this air about them I couldn’t relate to, and started thinking I was unqualified for what lay before me. Graduation is closing in, a mere two months away, and I don’t know what to do.

Actually, I do know what I want to do, and what I will be doing. I will get a job helping an amazing organization with sustainable development around food, or something to do with food distribution to those who may not know when their next meal will be, or do field work revolving around food and conflict. In a few years I’ll earn enough money to go to Johnson & Wales or Boston University and learn the art of professional cooking, restaurant management, and hospitality.

I will have my restaurant by the time I’m thirty (or at least something similar). Make no mistake about it, and it will be the most bangin’ thing since gluten-free sliced bread.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bake, Trial 1

Now, about my love affair with pumpkin.

I’m sure you know that the wondrous pumpkin is incredibly rich in vital flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants and vitamins such as leutin, xanthins, and carotene. It is a member of the cururbaceae family along with cucumber, squash, and cantaloupes, and is one of the most popular commercial field crops all over the world.

Oddly enough, I’ve found I’ve been craving pumpkin almost as much as I’ve been craving socca (definitely another post of the multiple variations I’ve done since my sweet and savory carrot socca recipe), and I think it has to do with manganese.

True, the pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) are the part of the pumpkin that has the majority of this trace mineral crucial to – you guessed it – thyroid and adrenal function.

According to The World’s Healthiest Foods website, high-manganese foods:
  • Help your body utilize several key nutrients such as biotin, thiamin, ascorbic acid, and choline
  • Keep your bones strong and healthy
  • Help your body synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol
  • Maintain normal blood sugar levels
  • Promote optimal function of your thyroid gland
  • Maintain the health of your nerves
  • Protect your cells from free-radical damage

And although manganese deficiency is rare in humans, the symptoms include (with mine starred):
  • Nausea*
  • Vomiting
  • Poor glucose tolerance (high blood sugar levels)*
  • Skin rash*
  • Loss of hair color
  • Excessive bone loss
  • Low cholesterol levels
  • Dizziness*
  • Hearing loss
  • Reproductive system difficulties*

If you think of incorporating more manganese into your diet, consider using these gluten free food sources:

Excellent sources of manganese include flaxseed, mustard greens, kale, chard, raspberries, pineapple, romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, kale, maple syrup, molasses, garlic, grapes, summer squash, strawberries, oats, green beans, brown rice, garbanzo beans, ground cloves, cinnamon, thyme, peppermint, and turmeric.

Very good sources of manganese include pumpkin seeds, leeks, tofu, broccoli, beets, and tempeh.

Good sources of manganese include cucumber, peanuts, millet, figs, bananas, kiwifruit, carrots and black beans.

I have been eating pumpkin and socca almost every day and literally cannot get enough of either. Even more interesting is that most of my favorite foods and spices are listed above. Anyway, here, have a piece of pie in a glass.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

8.6 oz (about 1 c.) Canned pumpkin
1 Banana, frozen (or fresh) and halved
4 oz Carrot juice
4 oz Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Place all of the ingredients into the blender and mix until thoroughly combined.

Serves 1, but can easily be multiplied to the servings you need.


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