The Whole Truth

By Fay Grant Guide contributor | May 25, 2014
Photo by: Ben Grant Find peace in solitude

Five Feel-Good Things To Do This Week

 

1)   Find peace in solitude. Nowadays it’s so easy to reach for your smartphone or remote control the moment life comes to a standstill, but taking some time for yourself — and more importantly feeling comfortable with your solitude — is necessary for self reflection and finding inner peace. It's a challenge to slow down and retreat from the world, and our culture doesn’t allow us the opportunity to feel like we deserve time to stop and do nothing. Most of us have been trained to feel like taking a break from the daily grind means we aren’t actively accomplishing something, but finding peace with being alone is an important part of our personal growth. Take this week to stop measuring your success and self worth by the amount of tasks you’ve completed and instead find comfort in solitude. Take a deep breath, relax and be grateful for the time you’ve been given to reflect on the things that matter most.

2) Don’t fake it. Faking a smile and good mood have become a necessary skill in almost every phase of life but studies say that faking enthusiasm throughout the day can lead to withdrawal and a bad mood. Try to take a day to be honest (and polite) with your coworkers and family. It’s OK to admit that you’re not perfect and allow those around you the opportunity to empathize with your true feelings.

3) Cover up. Now that the weather is finally heating up, it’s crucial we all remember the importance of protecting ourselves from skin cancer, facial brown spots and premature aging. Whether you’re hitting the pool or one of Western North Carolina’s beautiful swimming holes, putting on sunscreen will help prevent sunburn and shield your body from the effects of ultraviolet radiation. Before you glob on oil and suntan lotion to achieve that dark, gorgeous tan, stop and think about the consequences. In the long run, applying a thick layer of waterproof sunscreen will protect your skin and keep you looking your best…even after your bronzed summer glow fades away.

4) Reduce stress. You’ve made it through the yearly frosts and it’s finally time to get excited about the joys of summer. Life can be stressful no matter what your lifestyle but reducing your stress level is beneficial for your health and overall wellbeing. Try keeping a positive attitude, exercise regularly and remember that a lot of the events you’re faced with are out of your control. Make sure to get enough rest — and most importantly don’t rely on alcohol or other drugs to calm you down when the going gets tough. It may seem like the relaxing effects are quick and inconsequential, but the stress that drugs and alcohol have on your body are counteractive. Reduce your stress levels this week by letting go of the things you can’t change, eating healthy and enjoying a good laugh with your closest friends and family.

 

5) Come together. Making new friends isn’t just about having a full calendar but more about building loving, quality relationships with new people that have the potential to change your life for the better. Try talking to the person next to you in your weekly yoga class or go for a group hike like the Blue Ridge Parkway Hike of the Week, an easy-to-moderate, 3-mile roundtrip hike to the ruins of historic Rattlesnake Lodge, at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 30. It’s the first hike of the summer season and a great way to connect with other like-minded people in the community. Make sure to bring water and wear good walking shoes.

 

In Season: What do you do with arugula?

GRILLED NAAN WITH ASPARAGUS PESTO AND FRESH ARUGULA SALAD

(Serves 4)

 

This week I’ve decided to share my most sought-after secret recipe using my favorite leafy green…arugula. Rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals and a great source of vitamins A, C and K, this peppery leafy green is a delicious and healthy way to spice things up.

 

Asparagus Pesto:

  • 3/4 pound asparagus, each spear about pencil-size, tough ends snapped off
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic
  • 2 pinches coarse sea salt
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 4-6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (save 3-4 tablespoons for garnish)

 

Arugula Salad and Dressing:

  • 2 heads garlic
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 1/2 cup green onions, sliced thin, bulbs and pale green parts only (about 6 onions)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

 

Crust:

  • 2 packages of whole wheat naans (4 naans total) from your local grocery store
  • Course salt and pepper (to taste)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut tops off heads of garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in foil and roast in oven for 1 hour. Let cool, then squeeze cloves from skin.
  2. Once garlic has been removed from the oven, preheat your grill to 425° in preparation for grilling your naans.
  3. Meanwhile, make the pesto: Boil a large pot of water on the stove and salt generously. Boil asparagus about 3 minutes (or until tender); drain and spread out on paper towel to cool.
  4. Cut asparagus into thirds and save the tips for salad. In a food processor, pulse together asparagus stalks, pine nuts, basil, garlic, sea salt, and pepper to taste. With machine running, drizzle in 6 tbsp. oil. Add parmesan in batches, pulsing after each batch (pesto should be thick). If cheese begins to clump, add water, 1 tsp. at a time, until it loosens.
  5. Prep your dressing: In a small bowl, whisk 2 tbsp. oil, vinegar, sea salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
  6. Finish the salad: Put asparagus tips, arugula, green onions and roasted garlic cloves in a large bowl.
  7. Brush both sides of your naans with olive oil and sprinkle with course sea salt and pepper.
  8. Grill naans for 2-4 minutes on each side or until they are lightly browned. Remove from grill and set on serving plate.
  9. Spread about 1/3 cup asparagus pesto over grilled naans. Toss salad with dressing and divide among the naans. Top with remaining parmesan and cut into slices, or fold and eat taco-style.
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