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Friday, March 25, 2011

Mastery, Personal Achievement and Alfredo

I was trying to catch up on the various blogs I follow and happened upon one of Lori Painter's on Mastery.  (Lori's blog is: She had an interesting take on the subject of mastery.  The premise is very simple (aren't the very best things usually?).  It goes something like if you spend an hour a day, 6 days a week working on developing a skill, or learning all you can about a particular area, etc., then in one year's time you would have the equivalent of an Associate's degree, in two years, a Bachelor's, in 3 and Master's and in 4 the equivalent of a PhD.  Now, of course, she cautions, you might have to actually be coached by someone or attend an educational program, but the point is, you could attain a certain level of MASTERY, simply by putting the time in.

This concept is not rocket science and even Nike adopted as their slogan, the to-the-point instruction, Just Do It, but there is real power in those simple words.

I thought about how much time I have put in to the mastery of nutrition, health, vegan cooking, raw food recipes, etc., over the last year or so and I think, yes, I've easily averaged the required 24 hours per month.  I thought about how much more confidence and certainty I have in this field now, and although I know I have as far to go as I have come, in fact, much farther, it still feels good to have come this far.

Then I thought about the times in my life when my health and proper nutrition was NOT at the forefront of my thinking and focus....the grab something quick to eat days....the mindless finish-the-entire-bag-of-m&m's days.  I was simply out-of-touch and not putting in my 'time' to develop myself.  How silly to put ourselves at the very bottom of the list, and sometimes not even on the list at all.  It is only through being our best and being our authentic self (a concept I am coming to embrace wholeheartedly), that we can attain our goals, help others and truly be there to make a positive difference in this life.

Also, in that simple concept, is the answer to our goals that have remained elusive....we just need to put the time in.  Period.  If you are present and focusing on whatever goal, you are going to aren't going to just stagnate over and over again for an hour a day, 6 days a week.  You WILL move forward! 

I think too, we always have to realize, that progress as it occurs, may not be obvious.  In horse training, we understand that horses don't learn perfectly, they don't progress perfectly; this is also true with humans.  But like a single black stone in a sea of white pearls that we can't take our focus from, or a sore spot in the mouth that the tongue constantly wants to play with, we are sometimes drawn more to the 'failures' or things that don't go quite right.  But it is usually when things are NOT going perfectly, that change is on the horizon.  Within every moment that is not going along smoothly, is the potential for smoothness, and vice versa!  It's up to us to shift the focus over to the side of progress.  That famous journey of 1,000 miles does indeed begin with a single step and the progress along the journey is made, just one step at a time.  We always want the next step, which is good and keeps us driven, but when the focus is truly on the step we are in, we get the joy of that mini-accomplishment too.


I'm back to trying new recipes each week, and have selected the next few that I am going to prepare from Chef A.J.'s book "Unprocessed".  I really am enjoying that book and do recommend it.  I have a recipe from Lindsay Nixon's new book, The Happy Herbivore, and an interview with her, and I hope to get that done this weekend, so I can send it out on the blogosphere.

In the meantime, I wanted to try something I thought my husband would like, and he loves fettucine alfredo, so I thought I would make up Creamy Cashew Fettucine with Mushrooms and Peas from Robin Robertson's book,  1,000 Vegan Recipes, .  Alfredo sauce...oommmm...pounded away some of that in my day.  Just the thought of all that cream, butter and cheese, now sounds like death on a platter.

Creamy Cashew Fettucine

1 T olive oil (I omitted)
4 med., shallots,minced
12 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 C dry sherry (I omitted)
1 C  baby peas
salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 oz fettucine
3 C Creamy Cashew Sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 C finely chopped roasted unsalted cashews (I used raw)
1/4 C dry unseasoned bread crumbs
1 T minced fresh parsley (garnish)

In large skillet heat the oil over med heat (I used water).  Cook shallots until soft, about 5 mins.  Add mushrooms and cook til soft, about 4 mins.  Add sherry and cook stirring, 1 min. to cook off alcohol.  (I did add some water with some sweetener in it to replace this as I don't use alcohol).  Remove from heat, stir in peas, season with s/p to taste, set aside. 

Cook fettucine in boiling water til al dente, about 10 mins.  Drain well and return to pot.  Add mushroom and pea mixture along with cashew sauce.  Mix gently to combine, then transfer to baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with cashews and bread crumbs.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins (375 oven) and then uncover and bake 10 more mins to brown top.  Sprinkle with parsley.

 Creamy Cashew Sauce
1C raw cashews
2 T nutritional yeast
2 C unswt. soy milk (I used almond milk)

In blender process cashews to a fine powder.  Add yeast and 1.5 C of milk.  Blend til smooth.  Season to taste.
Transfer to med. saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Stir sauce til hot, about 5 mins.  Add more of the milk if thinner sauce is desired.

While eating this last night, I immediately thought of the things I wanted to change.  As I was making up the sauce, I loved how creamy it was looking and thought, oh....this is going to just be awesome.  Well, it seemed very dry to me and lost the creaminess in the baking process.  I'm going to play with it a bit, and maybe double the recipe and maybe add some tofu, just play and see if I can keep the creaminess.  Now, my husband surprised me by saying that I should leave it just as it is, that he really like it.  I'm so proud of him and how much he is trying to eat well.  He even made suggestions of other veggies that could be added to this, broccoli and cauliflower being his choices.  Nothing says "I love you" like a spouse that will get behind you on a program and even contribute.  If you've read my earlier posts, you know it wasn't always this way, so change (AND PROGRESS!!!!), do happen, one recipe at a time.

{Note:  If you are vegan or trying to be, you simply must get one of Robin Robertson's books.  I have had several of hers from the library, and decided on Vegan Planet, and 1,000 Vegan Recipes as two I had to own.  Now, the recipes do have oil, salt and sometimes sugar, and therefore substitutions need to be made, but there have been many times when I've just opened the 1,000 recipes book and flipped around and gotten great inspiration for dishes to prepare.  Great books for sure.  Check your library listings for titles by her and others....gotta love the library!}

Sue, working on an Associate's Degree in Better Living, in Ohio

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