Tag Archives: avocado

Kiting Kale

Research Update: 

Totally killing it. Or not. So far we’re still having issues with downloading the data and using FreeSurfer to adjust the images, so for now I play with sticky notes and read the amusing answers our small sample size (8?) have written for the TTCT.

Brief explanation: TTCT (Torrance Test’s of Creative Thinking) was a test created about 30 years ago by Ellis P. Torrance. There are figural and verbal components, where the figural requires the subject to draw some sort of picture with a foundational doodle/pattern provided and the verbal requires the subject to practice divergent thinking, which is essentially a form of brainstorming. I’m administering these tests pre- and post- the Mindfulness Meditation program (MBSR) and checking out what neurological correlations there might be between meditation and creativity (a long shot, I know. It’s just silly and fun).

Check out this article from Newsweek for a more thorough explanation of the figural component of the TTCT and to see how it’s graded: “How Creative Are You?”

I had a few favorites from categorizing the verbal components of the tests today. My favorite responses to the question “Just suppose everyone had 6 fingers instead of 5, what would happen?” were: “A reassuring pat on the butt would feel that much larger” “People who used to be able to put their fist in their mouths might not be able to do it anymore”. One person wrote a passionate essay on environmental issues, a couple senators, and the destruction created by supporting small businesses (“That’s great guys. It’s fine. Really.”)

Ah, science.

To be a little more serious (wait, this wasn’t serious enough?), I came across a study published recently in Frontiers of Psychology called “Meditate to Create: the impact of focused-attention and open-monitoring training on convergent and divergent thinking”.

The study addressed the idea that different types of meditation can lead to different brain states. This is an extremely good approach as everyone likes to ask 1) can you be good at meditation? 2) what is it? Well, there is no short answer to either, as there are hundreds of types of meditation. To quote Patanjali from the yoga sutras (aka sort of yoga bible?): “I.39 Or [the steadiness of the mind is attained] from meditation upon anything of one’s inclination”. He states this after listing about 10 types of possible meditations.

In the study, they predict that focused attention meditation (inhalation to a specific body part, exhalation from there) leads to higher abilities to perform tasks related to convergent thinking (one correct answer, i.e. remote association task – three words are given like time, hair, and stretch, and participants are asked to come up with one answer – long). For divergent thinking (they use the verbal part of the TTCT), the authors predicted that open monitoring meditation (breath is used to “set the mind free” and allow any thoughts or emotions to arise naturally and be nonjudgementally observed, very similar to mindfulness meditation).

The results (in short summary mode) by conducting the experiment on a group of 16 people with a lot of OM and FA experience:

1. There was no difference in performance on the RAT in either group.

2. OM meditators significantly outperformed FA meditators in the TTCT verbal tests.

3. Both types of meditation elevated mood

4. Potential self-selection and demand characteristics may have biased the results somewhat

5. Check out other types of meditation in other religions? Oooh fun future project?

Anyways, glad I came across this as it is a good article to go off of for my thesis. And there’s a great chunk of it that I really appreciate in the intro:

However, the methodological diversity across these studies with regard to sample characteristics and type of meditation is considerable, which renders it question- able whether they were actually assessing the same construct and processes. Moreover, there is still no mechanistic model explaining how creative processes operate and how different type of medita- tions might affect these operations, which in view of the lack of conceptual clarity may not be surprising. To address this issue, we tried to avoid addressing meditation and creativity as a whole but, rather, focused on particular, relatively well-defined meditation techniques and specific subcomponents of creative performance. 

Daily Nutritional Facts

During my first week at Clover I tried a couple of the coffees – Stumptown (Indo) and Terroir (Colombia). Ayr had us trial taste and see if we could match the hot coffees to the cold. I guessed correctly, but when I tried to explain the flavor differences, I ended up describing these shapes instead (doodle time!):

The way Ayr described it was that the George Howell Coffee was that it was more acidic and fruity, while the Stumptown (the local coffee) was more well-rounded, dirty, earthy and complex. The Terroir was easily identifiable when hot because it still had a fruity, stringy taste and texture, while the Stumptown transformed from a complex, leveled cold to a buttery, smooth hot.

Last Friday was my friend’s fundraiser for her non-profit in Guatemala, Unmarked Streets. They seek to create a network of women who go through an entrepreneurial program, as well as distribute technologies that increase public health, protect the environment, and further education. Asides from teaching a class with the theme “Gratitude” (I referred to Roy Horan’s speech on how the key to creativity is gratitude), I made a random assortment of desserts ranging from vegan, gluten-free peanut butter cookies to the raw cacao cookies and a terrible attempt at the brownie bites (that ended up being the flattest thing ever because I made such a small portion).

Also created the love of my life – raw kale salad with miso ginger dressing. For some reason I felt like calling this dish Kale Kites. I have no idea what it means, but I felt like going with it. I didn’t realize after up to 5 days of storing kale, it largely becomes inedible because it starts going really bitter. (also there was an interesting study done by the owner of Harvest Coop that when kale is shipped across the country, the 2 week shipment – though the kale looks fresh – makes kale lose up to 70% of it’s nutrients, especially the vitamin C)

So what you need…

  • kale of choice
  • cooked quinoa (preferably chilled, unless it’s a cold day) – for regular, cook 1 cup of quinoa with 11/4 cups of water
  • tempeh 
  • soy sauce
  • black sesame seeds
  • any additional veggies you want (in this salad I had tomatoes)
  • sauce: miso ginger dressing and vegannaise

1) Tear up the kale, leaving the stalks behind (munch on it like celery sticks!)

2) Meanwhile, you should be sauteeing the tempeh on medium heat with some olive/coconut oil and soy sauce on it. It depends how much you want to use. I like mind to be cooked fairly crisp and moderately soy sauced up.

3) When finished, cut tempeh into pieces and toss into the salad. Add a cup or two of cooked quinoa. Sprinkle lots of black sesame seeds onto it (be more risky and sprinkle poppy seeds if they’re around!)

4) Add any more veggies you’d like to the mix, then make the sauce – I like to have a ratio of one tablespoon of vegannaise to an equal amount of miso ginger. Alter the ratio to your preference. For kicks, I tend to throw in Frank’s Finest Spirulina Gomasio, a delicious spice blend of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, Incan Spirulina, Himalayan Crystal Salt, and Onion Granules. It’s like sea in a basket. If this isn’t accessible to you, I’d go for something with umami/savory tastes like seaweed.

5) Mix, mix, mix by really massaging the kale with everything else to soften it and bring out more peppery flavors –> done!

Random last note – this isn’t so much a recipe as something I just randomly came up with. My mom introduced me to eating avocados with lemon and salt, which is absolutely delicious and I could probably consume for all three meals. Alas, I found myself the other night with no lemon in sight, but found a jar of poppyseeds instead (it took me a while to figure out that poppyseeds DO NOT equal lemon, they’re usually just paired)…so with a dollop of vegannaise, a generous handful of poppyseeds, and a sprinkle of salt, my avocado dinner was served.

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Filed under creativity, meditation, neuronerd adventuretime, science

always after avocados

You know you’re with the right people if they flip out after reading the sign: “5 for 1$ avocados.”

That’s what happened to Jos (APOLOGIES for spelling it wrong), Aida, Hena, and I on our way down to Monterey.

You can’t ever get enough of these technically-fruits-but-are-really-vegetables-so-they-probably-have-some-self-esteem-issues babies.

Down in Monterey we walked a few trails; tried to figure out people’s spirit animals; discovered the difference between a sea lion, sea otter, and a seal (okay I lie – I still don’t know the difference); ate tacky, overpriced American fried seafood; rediscovered white emo music and respectful-towards-women R & B of the early 2000’s; and kayaked over a kelp forrest. 

Proof that I’m a neuroscience major: I really think kelp leaves look like the brain.

Around 6:30, we were wrapping up our kayaking expedition and asked one of the guys who worked at the kayak shack if he knew about the mystical market that sold 5 for one avocados. To our surprise, he did know. And he told us we had less than 30 minutes to get there.

That got us moving.

Jos pedaled it and got us there just in time: 6:58 pm. To our frustration: 1. The market actually didn’t close until eight 2. The 5 for 1 avocados were weak (one was about the size of a prune). BUT there were still lots of other great produce at unbelivably cheap prices. And I stocked up on avocados anyways.

To celebrate, I used my connect brainset and now present to you avocado pasta and avocado mashed potatoes. 

Avocado Garlic Pasta with a Paprika-Infused Fried Egg (inspired by ohsheglows)

The creaminess of the avocado replaces any need for cream or milk. AND you get a healthy hit of monounsaturated fats, folate, potassium, vitamin E, and phytochemicals that may protect against eye disease and high cholesterol.  Omnomnom.

Ingredients for the Avocado Pasta

1 medium avocado

1/2 juiced lemon, as well as lemon zest for garnish (for those like the pre-summer me: lemon zest is when you shave off the skin)

3 garlic cloves

salt to taste

ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup parsley (or basil)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I used white truffle olive oil in this creation)

2 servings (or really as much as you desire) of some form of pasta

**optional: you could also saute some spinach and the garlic on the side and mix it in with the cooked pasta and sauce if preferred**

Recipe

1. Boil a few cups of water in a pot. Pour a couple tablespoons of salt in the boiling water. Cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes. Remove and drain.

2. While waiting, use a food processer to cream the avocado, garlic, olive oil, basil/parsley, and salt.

3. Combine the freshly cooked pasta with the sauce by tossing, then garnish with some lemon zest and pepper. Serve immediately.

SO SIMPLE. 

To make the side of paprika fried egg: before cooking the egg, heat up the oil in the pan with the paprika powder in it. The spice that’s made from grinding up bell or chili peppers (depending on the region) gives a great kick to the fried egg, reminiscent of deviled eggs.

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And now for Garlic Avocado Mashed Potatoes

Again – why need milk? The creaminess and subtlety of the avocados make this a homerun.

Ingredients (obviously change the amount based off of servings needed)

1 garlic head, skins off, 45 minutes wrapped up with olive oil and tin foil

5 small to medium potatoes (peel skins)

1 medium sized avocado

dash of lemon juice

rosemary optional (to taste)

salt and pepper to taste

Recipe

1. Toss the garlic cloves in olive oil and place in a “cup” of tin foil. Place in an oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

2. Boil the potatoes in a pot with water barely covering the potatoes for 15-20 minutes or until a fork easily slides through them.

3. When the garlic cloves and potatoes are done, mash together with the pitted avocado.

4. Add a dash of lemon juice, as well as salt, pepper, and rosemary to taste.

Future projects including avocados? 

Chocolate avocado cookies, avocado pie, avocado frosting & cake, avocado marshmallows, grilled avocados, avocado margaritas, avocado creme brulee, avocado soup, avocado brie apple quesadillas…okay I need to stop.

Once an avocado girl, always an avocado girl.

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