All About Avocados

Avocado Health Benefits

Who’d have thought avocados would be so good for you? Now, I’m used to hearing about how fatty they are, so I’ve always been careful about avocado intake. But it turns out they do have other benefits.

Readers, how do you like to eat avocados? My favorite is guacamole (of course!), and I also like them in salads and on sandwiches, as long as they’re seasoned or covered in dressing. I always thought they were pretty bland by themselves.

Has anybody had a chocolate-avocado dessert? I heard chocolate and avocados was a thing now, but I’ve never tried it; it seems a little weird.

(I would have reposted this article, but the Food Revolution Network doesn’t let you repost on this site.)

Ginger: The Miracle Spice

All about Ginger

I’ve always loved ginger, but I never realized it had so many great health benefits!

Baked Black Beans with Sausage and Rice

Most of this recipe came from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything: The Basics. The sausage was my own idea.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
6 cloves minced garlic
3/4 cup of black beans, picked over and soaked the night before
1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 12-oz smoked sausage
Salt and pepper

Put the oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften.

Stir in the beans, add enough water to cover them by about 2 inches, and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary to keep the beans submerged, until the beans are softening but still hard in the middle, 45-60 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roughly mash about half of the beans in the pot with a fork, the back of a spoon, or a potato masher. Cut the sausage into pieces and add it to the pot, along with the rice, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine. The beans and rice should be covered by 1 inch of liquid. If there’s not enough water, add more to the pot. If there’s too much water, spoon some of it out and save it to add later.

Transfer the pot–uncovered–to the oven and cook until the rice and beans are tender, about 1 hour, adding water (or the saved cooking liquid) 1/4 cup at a time. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Easy Beef Stir-fry

I made this stir-fry tonight. It’s very simple and very quick, perfect to make on a busy day.

1 lb flank steak, cut in 1/4-inch slices about 2 inches long
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
6 to 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion or piece of ginger, sliced

Mix the first 5 ingredients and set aside. Put 1 Tbsp of oil in a hot wok or skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and salt. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are brown and tender. Remove from the skillet. Add the remaining Tbsp of oil to the skillet and add the onions or ginger. Keeping the skillet on high heat, add the beef mixture and cook, stirring, until the beef is completely browned. Add the mushrooms and mix well. Serve right away over steamed rice. Makes 2-3 servings.

Vitamin C

The Food Revolution Network: Vitamin C

We all know Vitamin C is good for us, and it boosts the immune system. Unfortunately, no one knows whether eating or taking more Vitamin C will protect you from COVID-19, but this article has interesting information on Vitamin C and its benefits.

Eight Days in a Mental Hospital

Last Tuesday, I was feeling anxious and guilty and having suicidal thoughts, so I called the 24-hour crisis hotline. I was just hoping for someone to talk me back from the brink. Instead, they called the police to take me to the emergency room at the local hospital. After that, I was sent on to Generations Behavioral Health, a mental hospital in Youngstown.

To be honest, I was relieved to go, because I thought I would finally be getting some help. And I did get some; they changed my medication, which got rid of the physical part of my anxiety. I’m not waking up one to two hours early, and I don’t have the knot in my stomach that was plaguing me ever since last August.

Unfortunately, there was no therapy at Generations. I talked for a short time with a nurse practitioner every day, and that was it. Sometimes we’d have group activities, but not often. Usually, they’d give us our medicine in the morning and at night, and then they’d leave us to our own devices.

I was upset with this, for two main reasons. First of all, I need way more help than just taking medicine, and I’m sure the other patients did too. In fact, one patient definitely needed a guide or an aid with her at all times, because she would yell out random things and break into song. And the aids there would just tell her to shut up. She wouldn’t, of course, and it made things extra uncomfortable for the rest of us.

Second of all, it was mind-numbingly boring. I brought along my tablet, but we weren’t allowed to have tablets or smartphones. I didn’t bring anything else to do. There was a bookcase of romance paperback novels, a few of which I read. There was a word search book and a lot of coloring pages, with crayons and markers, as well as two TVs and some playing cards. And that was it. That was all there was available to do. The boredom only made my anxiety worse.

I definitely don’t want to go back to that hospital. It had the feel of an institution, and I felt neglected there. I’ve heard there are better mental hospitals out there. For the sake of mentally ill people everywhere, I hope that’s true.

I have to eat my words.

Those of you who have read comments from me on your blog posts probably know that I wasn’t happy about going to work during the COVID-19 crisis, because there was nothing for me to do at work.

Well, I have to eat my words. Because today, due to a stomach bug, I stayed home. And in some ways, staying home is much worse than going to work.

Because I’m all alone. When my mind isn’t focused on something else, there are no other people around to distract me. And I can’t stop myself from thinking horrible, terrifying thoughts.

Now that we’re undergoing a frightening natural disaster, I keep remembering horrific stories about natural disasters, not real ones, but imaginary ones. Now that there’s a situation going on over which I have no control, I keep picturing even more terrifying scenarios where I have no control.

And there’s no one to talk to about it, no one to distract me from my fears.

I am terrified.

Earth: In the Beginning, Part 7

Explosion

Under the Earth’s frozen, icy surface,
Heat and pressure build up until the ice
Begins to crack, and smoke and lava pour
From underground, erupting volcanoes.
Carbon dioxide fills the atmosphere,
Causing it to trap the sun’s rays again.

The atmosphere absorbs more solar heat,
And more volcanoes push up through the ice,
Releasing even more warming gases.
At last, the ice begins to melt away.
The oceans, streams, and rivers start to thaw.
The life beneath the seas starts to wake up.

Earth’s Snowball phase is ended, and its ice
Has melted, is a distant memory,
When new forms of life begin to appear,
Larger, multicellular, specialized.
Though microbes have survived the long winter,
They share the oceans with new forms of life.

The first multicellular animals
Have now evolved and float throughout the seas,
Thanks to rising warmth and high oxygen.
Soft-bodied animals of many shapes
That drift through the water, much like microbes,
And feed by filtering out nutrients.

All at once, new life forms quickly evolve,
So fast, indeed, that in the far future,
Their appearance will be named “explosion”.
Not a violent explosion, with bright fire,
But one as deadly as a volcano
To the drifting, soft-bodied animals.

These life forms go extinct but are replaced
By distant ancestors of life today:
Ancestors of insects and crustaceans,
Of all worms, spiders, mollusks, and starfish,
And even of chordates. The stage is set
For animals to inherit the Earth.