The Wish Tree. Keep Wishing.

Wish Tree at the Brooklyn Museum

“Yes, I’m your angel – I’ll give you everything – In my magic power – So make a wish and I’ll let it come true for you. Tra, la, la, la, la.” 
~Yoko Ono lyrics “Yes, I’m Your Angel” from the album “Double Fantasy” (1980)

Yoko Ono presented a “Wish Tree” to the Brooklyn Museum in appreciation of her 2012 Women in the Arts Award. “Wish Tree” is an ongoing project that has been installed across continents for decades, gathering wishes from more than one million people so far. After each presentation, when all of the wishes are collected, they are buried (unread) around the Imagine Peace Tower, an outdoor light installation in Reykjavik, Iceland created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. The Brooklyn Museum’s Wish Tree is new, and so it needs more wishes, but when a wish tree is full, it looks like this:

For over fifty years, Yoko Ono has made art that requires viewer participation for completion. Yoko provides the pencils, tags, and instructions. (“Make a wish, write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of the wish tree. Ask your friend to do the same. Keep wishing.”) You make the wish. Yoko encourages us to believe in the collective power of our hopes for the future. I encourage us to believe in the power of wishes for ourselves. Wish to make it easy to eat in a healthy way.

Your thoughts: Would you like me to hang a wish for you? Let me know. Keep wishing.

Order the Wrap

At a recent expo in a faraway place, to my surprise, my beloved Damascus Bakery had a booth. Damascus Bakery, the tiny retail shop, is on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, and I walk there often. (See The Road to Damascus.)  As it turns out, Damascus Bakery has production facilities elsewhere in Brooklyn and in Newark, NJ, and they supply the flatbread used some of America’s leading restaurants, markets, and institutions. If you order the wrap at Starbucks, Arby’s, or Chick-fil-A, then you are eating a Damascus Bakery product. On the retail end, you can buy Damascus wraps and flatbread at Whole Foods, Costco, and BJ’s stores.

What Makes It Great  

The secret is the yeast. You can smell it before you walk into the bakery. Damascus’ Middle Eastern artisan flatbreads are distinguished by their rich and savory flavor. Their lahvash wraps, panini, flatbreads, and roll ups complement any fill. The roll-up (like a lahvash, but a rectangle, not of a circle) is a very flat piece of yeast-dough baked quickly (20-25 seconds) on both sides in a very hot oven (800oF). Nutrition-wise, Damascus Bakery breads are exactly what you want in bread: low in calories, carbohydrates, and glycemic load, but high in fiber, protein, lots of other nutrients, with very few added ingredients. See the Nutrition Facts label for the roll up. Watch this short video of a woman making an interesting and healthy chicken salad roll-up, and get the chicken salad recipe. Enjoy!

Your thoughts: Have you tried a Damascus Bakery product?

Walk Like Your Life Depends on It

A bloggers holiday for me this week. Hurricane Sandy canceled life. Not that I’ve been inconvenienced in the least little bit up here in the “Heights.” Okay, my beloved Prospect Park and Brooklyn Botanic Garden are closed and my ride is busted for the foreseeable future. You may recall from past blogs (If You See Something, Say Something, Three Degrees of Separation from “Snackman” and Heineken Takes Over the NYC MTA) that I ride the New York City subway. Now, for me, the subway goes in one direction, East. To get to Manhattan, I can either wait in an insanely long line to catch a shuttle bus across the bridge or walk or ride my bike. Thank God I’m in shape.

insane line

Walking, Walking

The other day, my daughter and I walked to Dumbo to see the destruction (not bad). The walk was three miles there and three miles back. Whoops! I wore the wrong shoes. To get to Manhattan from my apartment, it is four miles to the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, and then it’s another three miles up to 34th street where the power works.

I have read that the average American walks only 350 yards a day, which is around 1/5th of a mile. That a total of 1.4 miles a week. Pretty useless, don’t you think?  I have not seen it written, but I believe it makes sense for everyone, except for the most infirmed, to be able to walk at least ten (that’s 10) miles a day. You don’t have to feel great at the end, but you should be able to do it. And so, if you can’t walk a distance, then start with this 10K (6.2 mile) Walk Training Schedule for Beginners from the Guide to Walking at About.com. You never know when your life might depend on it.

Your thoughts: Can you walk a 10K?

Building A Better Sidewalk

Subway grates and sidewalk beds

Recently in Scientific American, Better Sidewalks Could Bring Improved Public Health:
A new report recommends 43 public health changes that can make big improvements in overcoming preventable diseases. “To arrive at their recommendations, researchers reviewed more than a thousand studies of public health. Their findings are in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation. [Dariush Mozaffarian et al., Population Approaches to Improve Diet, Physical Activity and Smoking Habits.]  Some surprisingly simple suggestions could be easiest to institute. (For instance) try improving sidewalks and visual appeal of neighborhoods to make people want to walk, bike, or run more often.”

Around the corner from my Brooklyn apartment, policy makers have put the sidewalk recommendation into action. For quite awhile now, like maybe two years, the NYC Department of Design and Construction have been working on the Eastern Parkway Reconstruction Project from Washington Avenue at the Brooklyn Museum to Grand Army Plaza. They installed water mains and sewer replacements and now they are finishing up the pavement, curbs, sidewalks, bike path, catch basins, pedestrian ramps, green spaces, street lighting, and traffic signals. The job is nearly finished.

And so, this is a public health project in action, a benefit of city living, not so “surprisingly simple,” but easier than beating down each individual to change. I, for one, need no encouragement to use the sidewalks and bike path.

Your thoughts: Does your town have good sidewalks?

An Herb Garden Grows in Brooklyn

Enter….

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is like my backyard. I live that close. This week, I am enjoying the Herb Garden, a wildly lush kitchen garden like none you’ve never seen. The Herb Garden’s annual beds are planted with regional crops we know as food from around the world. The plants reflect the cultural diversity and culinary traditions of Brooklyn. Today’s round-the-world tour takes in The Americas, North, South and Middle, displaying corn (maize), squash and sunflowers; The Fertile Crescent and Sub-Saharan Africa, with millet, sorghum, soba (buckwheat) and okra; Southeast Asia abundant in basil and hot peppers; and the Northern Mediterranean region abounding with artichokes, herbs and beets. Then there are the medicinal herbs, echinacea and bee balm, and the ever-present kale. And this is just a bit of what’s happening. The warm weather crops, tomatoes, peppers eggplant and corn, are not ready to harvest. I hope I don’t disappoint the curator. Enjoy the tour. (Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

Your thoughts: Do you have a favorite botanic garden?

 

@MaryHartleyRD in the Word Cloud

Check out the word cloud of my recent Tweets generated by MyTweetCloud. Riveting content, right? That’s why you might want to follow me on Twitter (and Facebook too) at MaryHartleyRD.

Up in the Cloud

Algae appetizers AskMaryRD baby back pain beer bicycles BL14 bloat body image boomers breakfast brew Brooklyn calories cereal facts chocolate city living Congress craft beer Denmark detox diet dietitian diets doctor donteatit draconian duh eating disorders eco evoo exercise faceit family farmers market farming fermentation Fitbloggin fitness FNCE food foodie fuel gardeners gut HAES health healthy food heart health heatwave homebrew hydrate icecream intuitive eating itscomplicated japan july4 junk food justsayin keepitreal kidney kids kidshealth lift lorcaserin madeitup MassHealth MeatlessMonday microbes mindfulness mommy MyFitnessPal MyPlate nodiet nutrients nutrition NYC ObamaCare opportunity organic OWS patient pizza poison ivy pool poster preschool RDchat recipe recipes respect restaurants RI road trip savings sleep snack snacks sugar summer tea TheBiggestLoser thoughtsbecomethings toddler toomuchsitting truthiness vacation walking weekend weight loss

You thoughts: What else should I Tweet about?

My Favorite Icy, Fruity Treats

My daughter, a Brooklyn foodie, turned me on to my new favorite cooling sweet treat for the summer.

New York: Soft Serve Fruit

Soft Serve Fruit is THAT good. It is nothing but pureed fruit mixed with filtered water and cane sugar. Soft Serve Fruit is one appropriate way to enjoy fruit puree: watered down and eaten with a spoon. Soft Serve Fruit it is real fruit with vitamin C and a fair amount of fiber. It comes in four seasonal flavors and it is so low in calories that they almost don’t count.  Soft Fruit Food Company stores are found only in Manhattan and the Hamptons. I go to the Union Square location at 17th Street and Broadway, around the corner from where I discovered Olympus Authentic Greek Yogurt, my other favorite food. Fresh food wise, Union Square is the place to be.

At Home

You can make soft serve fruit in a food processor at home. Here is one recipe.There are others all over the Internet.

Rhode Island: Del’s Lemonade

At home in Rhode Island, my favorite icy treat is Del’s Lemonade, fruit ice made from fresh lemon juice, plenty of zest included. Del’s Lemonade is Great Grandfather DeLucia’s recipe from Naples back in 1840.  (A bit of food history: The first Italian ices, granitas and sorbets were made with lumps of snow from Mount Etna. How romantic!) Lemon ices are so thirst-quenching and delicious, but watch out for brain freeze! Del’s doesn’t list the Nutrition Facts 🙂 Suffice it to say, Del’s is full of sugar.

Your thoughts: Do you love fruit ices?  Please share your favorites!

The Fascinating History of Beer

Beer has a fundamental role in the history of civilization. I wrote about it for Calorie Count a few years ago after hearing the story from a friend, a technical kind of guy who remembers every detail and then relates it back. You’ve been there; still, it was captivating. I’ve already made The Case for Fermented Foods, the essence of decomposition and metamorphosis and so, all of life. Nowadays, my daughter’s boyfriend brews beer and mead in bubbling cauldrons in their Brooklyn apartment. Stay tuned for more about that. The definitive guide to beer history is A History of Beer and Brewing by Ian Hornsey. I’ve condensed it here to a one minute read.

The History of Beer, Condensed

  • Around the world, prehistoric man discovers fermentation by chance occurrence as decaying fruit mixes with yeast, molds and bacteria in the air to produce alcohol.
  • 12,000 BC: Nomadic hunters and gatherers settle down to farm grain (presumably to make beer because bread-baking is unknown)
  • 7,000 BC: Brewing (i.e. intentionally making beer from grain or bread) is practiced in Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Israel, China, and South America.
  • 500 BC – 500 CE: Wine takes over as the preferred drink in the Western world.  Beer is for peasants.

Continue reading about The Fascinating History of Beer….

You thoughts: Are you a beer fan?

Brooklyn Is Like a Tropical Vacation

Heat or no heat, Brooklyn feels like a tropical vacation. I mean where else do you see an orange peeler machine, the kind that turns the orange round-and-round while the peel falls away in a ribbon? That’s because Brooklyn is Hispanic among other nationalities, especially during the summer.

Case In Point: I was walking to Staples to buy ink cartridges, as self-employed people do, past vacant lots and bodegas on a busy two-lane street, when I caught sight of a fruit drink operation. There was a truck with lots and lots of fresh fruit, condensed milk, sugar and sugar cane, juice, water, ice, and a blender powered by a simple motor. The fruit man was from the Dominican Republic and the set-up belonged to his cousin. (So many cousins!) A small drink (12-ounces) sold for $4.00 and a large was $6.00. I got a small pineapple-banana-milk “smoothie” and it was tasty, aromatic, filling, and light. The fruit man sold four smoothies in the 15 minutes I was there. That unlikely location turned out to be a goldmine for him and, as the gringos say, a win-win all around.

Little Green Algae Saves the Day

Truth be told, it’s going outside that gets me to exercise at all. I’m dependent on the beauty of nature. The gym is not for me. On most days, I walk outside in the gardens and parks and on the sidewalks because I don’t own a car. I made a Prospect Park Pinterest page to post some of the photos I take in Brooklyn’s Botanic Garden and Prospect Park with my crappy phone. This week I am gaga about the pond scum – algae – growing on the water in the ancient artificial pond in The Vale of Cashmere. The Vale is aptly described as “a strangely forsaken forest idyll in Prospect Park” in this photo essay. The lush formal garden is sunk into a glacial kettle where the wildlife live and play.

I ♥ Pond Scum

Pond scum – algae – are as much animal as plant. They contain chlorophyll and other plant pigments, but they don’t have stems, roots, or leaves. They have a true nucleus (plant cells do not) enclosed in a cell membrane with lots of DNA functions going on inside.

Someday, algae could save the world. Scientists are growing algae that convert sugars into hydrocarbon fuel to replace oil, plus algae can convert sugars into fat that, compared to traditional fats, has a healthier nutrient composition, a smooth mouth-feel and a rich taste that makes it perfect for baked goods. This new, sustainable fat works as a partial substitute for butter, eggs and even meat and growing it takes up so little space. We already eat algae as carrageenan, Irish moss seaweed, in ice cream, soy milk, and beer. Craig Venter, algae geneticist and entrepreneur, tells Scientific American, “Algae is a farming problem: growing, harvesting, extracting. It’s a work in progress, and we’re working hard.”

Pond scum saves the world! How great is that?

Your thoughts: Are you an algae fan?