Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is seen as a time for family and friends to come together and be thankful for the things they have in their lives.  It has also become synonymous with lots of good food. The traditional Thanksgiving meal includes a giant turkey, stuffing, bread, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and cherry pie.  My family is one of these traditional families who always eat the same food every year with no exceptions. But with people now being more conscious of their diet and how food impacts the environment some Thanksgiving dinners are transforming from the norm.

The biggest Thanksgiving food trope is having a gigantic turkey.  My family even eats a turkey from my aunts farm that they have raised for the event.  Now there are healthier options that people are choosing to eat as their main dish. Stuffed butternut squash is a great alternative because it is filling and squash still has the same nice fall feeling that turkey has.  You can stuff the squash with other vegetables and rice that way if people do not like squash then they can eat the things that are stuffed in it.

My family always has snacks out before the big meal so that people can munch on them while they wait and watch football.  We usually have different types of cookies and chips and dip. Having snacks out before the meal is a great idea to keep people from getting antsy while the food is cooking, but chips and cookies are not the healthiest way to do it.  A healthier option is to just put out a fruit and veggie tray. Everyone likes at least one type of fruit and/or vegetable. It will keep them occupied but it won’t fill them up before dinner.

Mashed potatoes are another staple Thanksgiving food.  Every family has their own mashed potato recipes and some are healthier than others.  A good alternative to mashed potatoes is cauliflower mashed potatoes. This is a good alternative to mashed potatoes every day, not just Thanksgiving.  A way to spruce up the cauliflower mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving is to make sweet potato and cauliflower mashed potatoes. You are still using potatoes, but you are not using as much because the cauliflower is most of the side dish.

The last food that is popular at Thanksgiving is the dessert.  A good alternative to apple of cherry pie is cranberry and blueberry crisp.  You use fresh cranberries and blueberries so you are eating healthy fruit, and you are just putting granola on top instead of the less healthy pie crust.

Summer!

With summer only two weeks away, there are so many things to think about.  Will you go back home? Where will you find a job/internship? And most importantly: What snacks will you eat?!  A new and fun trend is to eat fun, colorful, and healthy popsicles. Here is a list of some to try out this summer.

You can make a popsicle with just about anything.  A yogurt, granola, and honey popsicle is great for a hot morning or just a snack.  You can also add fruit to it, whatever you like in your yogurt. This is a great recipe that has a little crunch to it.  A pineapple pink lemonade popsicle is made with only pineapple

chunks, pink lemonade mix, and water. It’s a refreshing twist on lemonade for the hot summer.  A creative popsicle is a chai tea ice cream pop. This popsicle has an ombre look and the flavor of chai tea. It’s a great tea substitute for the hot summer days.  Rhubarb and elderflower ice popsicles are a different and fun popsicle to try. It is very easy to make with only having to use fruit and natural fruit juices. It is also a very pretty popsicle, if you add food coloring to make a very pretty shade of pink.  A fun, but not so healthy popsicle, is a chocolate popsicle. This can easily be made by freezing chocolate pudding. It’s great for a sweet treat during the hot summer months. Another frozen sweet treat is a chocolate covered peanut butter popsicle. It is exactly what it sounds like, and another great thing to eat when you need something sweet.  A different popsicle to try is a jello popsicle. This is very simple, you make jello and then put in the freezer. It is a fun and different way to eat your jello this summer.

Fruit popsicles are also very popular this summer.  A grapefruit popsicle is a refreshing and healthy popsicle to try this summer.  It is made with just grapefruit juice, lemonade, and a slice of grapefruit. This recipe is pretty to look at and tastes great.  Another fruity popsicle is a hibiscus and minty watermelon popsicle. This sounds very fancy, and very delicious. This is also a healthy popsicle to try.  Raspberry-mango popsicles are pretty to look at and a great combo of fruit. They are made with only raspberries, mangos, coconut milk, and honey. Peaches and cream is another great recipe for the summer.  Peaches and cream are abundant in the summertime so it’s fitting to put them in a popsicle together. A simpler popsicle is a strawberry popsicle. This is great to cool off with, and to make it a little more exciting you can dip the end in chocolate and put it back in the freezer.  Now you have frozen chocolate covered strawberries.

Make Music + Food, Not War

I recently had the privilege of attending a concert by the Silk Road Ensemble

which is comprised of over 60 musicians from 24 different countries.  On Saturday night at Hill Auditorium, I heard Yo-Yo Ma, Cristina Pato, and thirteen other members give a whirlwind performance that took my breath away.

Using such varied instruments such as the cello, the gaita (a sort of Spanish bagpipe), the piano, tabla, and the human voice, they cooked up a multicultural mix of musical sounds and styles.

Every musician was very skilled as they effortlessly glided through different continental styles and modes.   I couldn’t help but smile myself when I saw the happy, satisfied looks on their faces as they played each piece.  One of the musicians commented on how the group arranges traditional orchestral pieces to suit the different instruments that find their way into the ensemble. He said it was like taking a classic recipe and improvising.

The wonderful collaboration reminded me of a dinner I had attended, where me and some of my Christian friends enjoyed some delicious Middle Eastern food with the Muslim students association.  The dinner was a peaceful and enjoyable way that different cultures could connect.

In general, it made me think that there would be a lot less political conflict, if world leaders sat down and ate together and played music together more often.  Who can honestly say they don’t like good music and good food, especially when mixed together?

Below: Yo-Yo Ma: the artistic director of the Silk Road Ensemble, and the man who inspired me to take up the cello in fifth grade and especially to master the Bach Suites.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend
The Man, The Myth, The Legend

A Wolverine Abroad: A church? In Italy? No way!

That’s right folks, I finally went somewhere while being here. What can I say, it cost money to travel. But, as I sit here eating Nutella and biscotti, I realized that I forgot to write yesterday. I know how important I am in all of your lives (note the desperation in my voice) so I wanted to fix it. As part of my Art History class here, we went to Padova to see the Scrovegni Chapel, the interior of which is completely decorated by Giotto’s frescos. These works reveal a lot about the style of the time, the skill of the best artists around, and the politics circling the pre-medieval world. I would also like to get this out of the way before introducing the subjects, just as a disclaimer. I don’t really like early middle ages art and all of the stuff up through the Gothic period. I enjoy learning about it, about the different developments and styles that were happening, about the masterpieces and great artists. But as art, it is not pleasing to me. I find the use of gold very gaudy and I prefer profound allegory to obvious symbolism. Whew! Now that we have that out of the way I can tell you about how I respect these works for what they are.

This chapel, painted in 1303, was donated by Enrico degli Scrovegni. His family, guilty of being usurers (loansharks) were in danger of eternal damnation, and so to save them and he built this chapel in the name of his late father. In order to show that he was repenting for his sins, he had Giotto depict a series of stories and symbols related to sin and redemption, and he placed the opposing symbols of vices and virtues across from each other.

The real masterpieces, however, are those that line the upper portions of the walls. There are three series of reliefs. They follow three bible stories; that of Mary’s parents, that of Joseph and Mary, and that of the Passion. These frescos were made in the period of Giotto’s maturity, and because of their time, they are true masterpieces and incredible proof of the development of depth and light in art stiles.

Though the perspective had not been invented yet, it is possible to see how Giotto has learned to show depth. It may not be perfect, but you are able to see how the hands on the chapel in the first picture appear behind and in front of the house. Or in the second picture how the outstretched arms of the lamenting man actually depict space. I know this sounds kind of silly, it kind of is, but for this period this was new and incredible. The idea of real space and true forms was becoming popular, and artists like Giotto were the first to master these concepts. Movement also became part of the style, which you can see in most of the figures, and especially the angels flying overhead. Trust me, these were the new big thing. Although he is not my favorite, I do like the fact that he stopped using so much gold in everything. Thank you Giotto!

And that’s enough of your art history lesson for today. I’m wondering, do you think food counts as art? I think so. I think for next week I’ll try and find some really interesting and artistic food to write about. It is Italy after all. I eat all the time here. It’s great, but it’s getting ridiculous!

Ciao ciao!

Danny Fob

Your Wolverine Abroad Blogger