I’ve been thinking about the relationship between intention and impact. It’s a basic concept in diversity work and applicable to many other modalities such as how and what we eat.
Simply put, it asks us to recognize that even if our intentions are good, we might still say or do something that has a negative impact on ourselves and others. Assuming everybody sees things the same way can get us in trouble. I am particularly sensitive to statements that start with, “We all know that …” When I find the utterance too off base to my experience, I push back gently with, “That’s not been my experience” or “that isn’t true for me.”
The saying, “where attention goes, energy flows and results show,” fits neatly with the distinction between attention and intention. Attention is close or careful observing or listening. Intention is the course of action that one plans on following. Attention takes place in the present and intention concerns itself with the future.
Halfway through 2023, a look in our rearview mirror—or a full length one for that matter—reveals how well we did with the resolutions (intentions) we might have stated at year’s start.
Dipping into the Positivity Realm—the metaphor first posited by philosopher Jonathon Haidt—provides a good visual. He suggests that we are of “two minds.” One mind is our rational, logical, practical mind—we think about what we want to do, make plans to do it, and start in on the plan. The other mind is our emotional mind. How we feel about something is often the determinant for what we do or don’t do.
Haidt asks us to imagine we are riding an elephant that will take us where it wants to go. “Let’s go!” we tell the elephant, urging it to the produce section of our organic market. The elephant ignores us, turning toward the display of cakes and doughnuts. You get it. We struggle with what we know is good for us and what we know isn’t. This existential dilemma can play out daily in terms of what we choose to eat.
Summer is the right season for healthy and ample. Home gardens, Farmers Markets and shares in CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a way for small farmers to directly market their produce to the community.) overflow with the fruits and vegetables of the season.
If you’ve read my columns over the years, you will know that I have a penchant for transformation. I like starting with an initial recipe or preparation and then use it again in a different guise. I can often get three different dishes from one initial recipe. I buy accordingly since I look forward to what emerges later in the week.
Here are some suggestions for starting with one category of preparation and its metamorphosis to another. I hope these suggestions appeal to your “elephant” enough so you’ll head down healthy paths!
Fancy fruit salad
Combine fresh berries or other summer fruits such as plums, peaches, and nectarines. Add a squeeze of lemon and maybe a shot of sweet liquor. Serve with flavored yogurt.
Pie or Custard
Bake leftover fruit in tart shells, as the bottom layer in my Buttermilk Pie, or as a base for Clafoutis. (Recipes online at 3rdActMagazine.com)
Crisps and Crumbles
Use leftover fruit in crisp recipes, and add some chopped candied ginger or other dried fruit and chopped nuts to the standard topping to take it up a notch.
Fruit sauce for cakes or ice cream
Heat leftover fruit with whatever preserves or jams you have in your refrigerator. This a great way to finish the small amounts of jams that need using. Add whatever flavor liquor you have at hand. Let the mixture simmer, perhaps adding some lemon or other citrus juice to brighten it up. Serve over ice cream or cake.
Summer greens offer us more choices than the winter ones from warmer climates. In addition to the standard leaf lettuces and Romaine, try mizuna, radicchio, mesclun, watercress, and mustard greens. Toss them with tangy dressings made with lemon juice and herbs, flavored oils, or buttermilk.
Summer Salad Soup
Don’t toss your leftover or wilted salad greens. Load them into your food processor or blender and add several cups of buttermilk, V-8, or tomato juice. Blend until smooth and check for the balance of flavors. This is where fresh herbs like basil, dill, mint, and cilantro add punch and flavor. Add salt and pepper and/or garlic to taste.
Roasted or Baked Greens
If you’ve ever had a grilled Caesar salad, you might remember the surprising combination of crisp and hot, with garlic and anchovies melting into the warm greens.
That’s the idea of roasting or baking some of the heartier greens and using them as welcoming beds for eggs or other proteins. Cabbage and kale, bok choy and collards, mustard greens, and beet greens all benefit from heat.
Toss them with garlic and olive oil, salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices you like. Roast in a hot oven until they wilt and brown a bit. All of them will benefit from a shot of Worcestershire sauce.
Rebecca Crichton is executive director of Northwest Center for Creative Aging and presents programs on that topic in the Seattle area. She worked at Boeing for 21 years as a writer, curriculum designer, and leadership development coach. She has master’s degrees in child development and organizational development, and is a certified coach.