PREPARE Curriculum: 7 Intensive Units to Be Ready for A Bright Future

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really one to just sit around and wait for things.

If I’m contained in our house, I learn to bake bread and switch to a plant-based diet, I study Buddhist meditation and become a yogi, I manage our investments to ensure ongoing passive income.

But these things have been mostly for myself and my family.

So one day I asked myself, how can I expand this to help the people and lives around the planet who are suffering and need some love?

Tim, Megan and I just finished a 4-day Tony Robbins virtual event for unleashing our beautiful inner selves, and this is what I came up with.

I was inspired by the story of Nelson Mandela describing his time in prison: “I didn’t survive, I PREPARED.” And so…

My PREPARE Curriculum. I created a self-study program that might take me a few years to fully immerse myself in and emerge from wiser and stronger.

Why? To learn as much as I can to be ready for our bright future, and to find like minds as we discover the incredible gifts of this unusual time.

I decided to share it here with you, both for my own accountability and in case you want to borrow any of it for yourself… Go ahead!

(Also, I don’t get any money or rewards at all for sharing these resources with you – I just want to contribute to our collective comeback after months of quarantine.)

Without further ado, the 7 intensive units of my PREPARE curriculum are…

1. Mindfulness and psychology

The main thing I seem to need right now is a way to balance emotions, stay grateful, and understand what’s happening in my mind. These are my top wishlist resources that I’m diving into first:

2. Compassionate relationships

The next thing I need is a sustainable way to maintain peaceful, loving relationships. Connections that are stress-proof where people love each other no matter what. I will be learning from these masters:

3. Homesteading in Hawai’i

Our plan is to create a sustainable farm in Hawai’i that provides for our food needs and strengthens our community. This is still a little ways off, but I can learn and prepare from these fine folks:

4. Sustainable income

With the uncertain future ahead, it’s making more and more sense to be self-sufficient when it comes to money as well as food. I believe it’s a wise investment to learn from these pioneers:

5. Cooking and movement

One thing we all need for a bright future is a healthy body. The ways we can help it are putting nutritious food in, moving ourselves, and getting enough rest. Here are my inspirations for optimizing health:

  • Isa Chandra Moskowitz. That’s all I have to say here. She dominates the plant-based cookbook space, and every single recipe I’ve made of hers is AMAZING. I will be studying her brilliant methods in depth. Some of her books include…
  • Sasha Martin’s Global Table Adventure for inspiration to cook recipes from the remaining 158 countries we have yet to taste
  • Paul Hollywood’s Bread – the Great British Baking Show judge shares his tips for artisan bread (I’ve already made variations on his cottage loaf and chelsea buns, which were delicious)
  • How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger (I’ve skimmed it so far, looks like useful, evidence-based tips on which foods to eat and avoid for different disease tendencies)
  • The End of Alzheimer’s by Dr. Dale Bredesen (I read it once but will need to read it again now that I’m almost in my mid-forties, since there’s Alzheimer’s in my family)
  • 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back by Esther Gokhale (I have chronic shoulder pain and need to learn better ergonomics and posture)
  • Yoga with Adriene free yoga videos (we follow her YouTube channel and monthly calendar of yoga classes, which we do every evening at 7 pm as a family)
  • Kinrgy virtual movement classes – a lively and loving combination of dance, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and positivity (we have a pass until the end of September)
  • Egoscue is a method of posture-based exercises to remove pain (I’ve tried some of them and they do help, just need to try the rest and implement a regular schedule)
  • Qi Gong exercises with Plum Village (can’t wait to try these out in my daily routine!)

6. Building community

Life isn’t much fun if you don’t have people to share it with. I don’t personally need a LOT of people around me, just a few like-minded folks in person and a wider global community that I can wake up each day to serve. I’ll be re-learning how to do this post-quarantine from these lovely people:

7. Helping the planet

Living happily and healthfully is all well and good, but we still need a planet to live on. These are some things I’ll be reading and working on to do my part:

OK, that seems like a good start! Megan is starting high school this year, so I guess I’m starting my own 4-year learning program too. 🙂

Now it’s time to put it all in a spreadsheet and track my progress.

I’ll occasionally share what I’m learning here on the blog as I go along, in between the recipes, so stay tuned for that.

Thanks for being here, lots of love, and I hope you keep learning and growing too, in whatever direction strikes your fancy!

Alexandra 😀 <3

Every Culture Matters: Understanding Each Other with Food

I’ve been struggling to find a way to be of service to the suffering planet and all its living beings right now. I’m not one to join crowds of people in a protest march, although I respect that right. But I do want to help.

In President Obama’s recent commencement address to 2020 graduates, he said that everyone’s talents are needed right now.

So I thought, what are my talents? I’ve done all kinds of things in my life, but what I’m doing at the moment is cooking and writing.

Could I use this as a kind of food activism to increase compassion and understanding in the world?

I took a look at our recipe data and realized that 68% of the recipes on this blog so far come from only 5 countries: United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Italy… all places predominantly inhabited by white people.

This makes sense for me because I live in the US, grew up in Canada which has a strong French influence, and my two grandmothers were from the UK and Italy. I cook from the cultures infused in me by my family and my current location.

But what if we diversify our recipes here, and try making one dish from each of the 200 countries around the world? What do people eat in Kyrgyzstan, or Namibia, or Laos?

The food people eat tells us something about their lives, how they spend their days, what they share with their loved ones. It can open our mind to other cultures and experiences, and increase our compassion for other humans.

It’s a great lesson to share with our kids too, as they grow up in this confusing time.

And since animal lives matter too, we’ll be choosing plant-based recipes wherever possible for each country.

I hope that this exploration helps us to keep moving forward, increases global understanding, and inspires you to help in your own way as well.

And now, here is the data on how many recipes we have from each country so far (also represented on the map above)…

USA: 67
United Kingdom: 23
Canada: 19
France: 19
Italy: 17
India: 8
Germany: 6
Israel: 6
Japan: 6
Australia: 3

2 recipes each from: Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Russia, Thailand

1 recipe each from: Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Jamaica, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania

Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Burkina Faso
Cote d’Ivoire
Cabo Verde
Central African Republic
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Holy See
Marshall Islands
New Zealand
North Korea
North Macedonia
Palestine State
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Sierra Leone
Soloman Islands
South Korea
South Sudan
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates

We have a long way to go, and this may only be a small way we can help in our little corner of the world, but if we all keep taking small steps together in the right direction, we’ll end up in a better place.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

9 Even-better-the-next-day Recipes With Lots of Yummy Leftovers

“Hooray, it’s leftover day!!”

Not a refrain I’d expect to hear very often. It conjures up images of microwaving sad containers of frozen mystery meals from who knows when.

But with the recipes below, there are always smiling mouths happy to re-eat what we enjoyed the night before.

Cooking once and eating twice also saves time and energy for whoever is the chef in the house. Bonus!

I hope you enjoy these, and I’d love to hear what your favorite leftover recipes are too. 🙂

#1: Paqa’s Best Banana Muffins

The kids here call my mom Paqa, which I’ve heard means Wise Elder in Peruvian. This is her recipe for the moistest, yummiest banana muffins we’ve ever tasted. At Paqa’s house there is always something delicious to eat!

#2. Zuppa di Fagioli (Italian Bean Soup)

There’s nothing like a bowl of good old-fashioned comfort food: beans, rice, veggies, and a delicious broth. It tastes like being in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. Even better if you soak your own dry beans the night before!

#3. Stovetop Cassoulet

This is a warm, comforting, sausage and bean casserole from the south of France. I had a craving for it on a sweltering hot day, so I invented a stovetop version rather than firing up the oven and heating up the house. It’s amazing served with your favorite freshly baked biscuits or crusty bread.

#4. Sesame Chicken with Soba Noodles

“Chicken and sobas!” is the frequent answer to “What do you guys want for dinner?” at our house. It’s a spin on a baked chicken dish I had at a retreat once, mixed with a yummy warm soba noodle salad and a side of veggies. Today’s veggies are the British treat of cauliflower cheese.  

#5. Red Lentil Dal

The first spoonful goes into our mouths and immediately all the muscles in our face and shoulders relax. There’s a dreamy “wow that’s good” look spreading around the table and we settle into our bowls as though they hold delicious, precious treasure. Yes, it’s dal night

#6. Family Lasagna Night

Lasagna takes a bit longer to make than other pasta, but the prep time is actually not that long and the comforting nourishment is worth it. Side benefit: the whole house will smell delicious as it bakes away in the oven! This recipe makes enough for 4-5 people to have 2 dinners (leftovers are just as good as the original, if not better).

#7. Mennonite Seven Layer Dinner

I learned to make this casserole after enjoying it at my husband’s grandmother’s house. The seven layers are potatoes, onions, carrots, rice, peas, sausages, and tomato soup, with some salt and pepper for seasoning. It smells amazing in the oven and is a very comforting dish for all ages.

#8. Pasta with Lentil Mushroom Balls

We had fun deciding what to call these. They’re not meatballs, so are they plant balls? Bean balls? Vegan balls? Neatballs? Despite all the laughs, they’re actually very delicious. Lentils, mushrooms, and a bunch of yummy sauces and spices make for a hearty and nourishing topping for your favorite pasta.

#9. Chocolate Zucchini Cake with (Vegan) Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s zucchini season again in California, so we’re back to our favorite zucchini fritters and creamy zucchini pasta. But wait, zucchini chocolate bundt cake too? How versatile is this vegetable? I think this is my new favorite way to eat chocolate cake. Many thanks to Isa for inspiration.

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please let me know if you try any of these recipes and how they turned out for you.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

How to Save the World with Megan (Right Now!)

I challenge you – yes, you, reading this right now – with the eyes and the nose – to do one thing to help the environment today.

And that one thing could be to brainstorm/research/create a list of ideas for how to save the world, starting small, of course, but then tomorrow’s thing can be to do at least one of them. You can do it!

Here’s my list, feel free to borrow from it:

  1. Accept the challenge and don’t worry!
  2. Do a meditation!
  3. Begin at home!
  4. Turn off unnecessary lights and water
  5. Plant a garden and eat your fresh produce
  6. Eat more plant-based
  7. Take quick showers instead of baths (unless you would really like/love a bath!)
  8. Drive less, travel less – bonus: costs less!
  9. Cook instead of buying pre-packaged food – bonus: healthier and way more yummy and fun!
  10. Buy less stuff
  11. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost. Get creative!
  12. Use food scraps to make new taste sensations. Candied orange/lemon peels, veggie broth with stalks/stems, marmalade, etc.
  13. Buy organic, local, sustainable items instead of promoting non-environmentally healthy companies when possible
  14. Wear clothes until they are unwearable for you, then donate them, instead of buying all the latest fashion and throwing your old clothes in the trash or leaving them dormant in your closet. You can also sew up old clothes!
  15. Clean your air with plants around your house
  16. Hang up clothes instead of using the dryer. Tip: if you don’t have a clothesline or much space to hang up clothes, don’t worry! If you do your laundry in batches on different days, it won’t use more water, and you will be able to hang up your clothes in whatever space you have. You can also get creative with how/where/what you hang your clothes on.
  17. Eat more raw foods so you use less energy cooking – bonus: extra healthy!
  18. Borrow library books instead of buying them when possible to save paper
  19. Don’t get the receipt unless you need to
  20. If you don’t need (or REALLY want to), then don’t.
  21. Towel-dry your hair instead of using a hair dryer. It saves energy, helps you practice patience, and it is better and safer for your hair
  22. Use rechargeable batteries
  23. Research what can and can’t be recycled
  24. Clean up trash in your neighborhood
  25. Volunteer at local farms, beach cleanups, food banks, and other organizations in your community
  26. Donate to causes that help the environment
  27. Join events like the 2020 Earth Day online race
  28. Use reusable water bottles and containers when you’re out and about
  29. Bring your own lunch instead of buying fast food/pre-packaged food
  30. Support local business and community-supported agriculture – get farm boxes delivered to your door
  31. Join a protest for better treatment of the planet
  32. Write persuasively to convince people to join the movement!

Remember, the health and well-being of the people on the planet is essential to the health and well-being of the planet! If all the humans are healthy and happy, they can focus on making the whole of planet Earth healthy and happy as well!

Thank you very much! Happy Earth Day!!