CultureHealth

You know that moment during a meal when everyone is pleasantly full after finishing their entree, just before someone reluctantly reminds the table the restaurant is closing soon so it’s time to sign the check? That soul-warming instant when conversation flows effortlessly? This moment has a name. Sobremesa (n.) is a Spanish word meaning, “the time spent around the table after dinner, talking to the people you shared the meal with; time to digest and savor both food and friendship.” This word is the essence of why in an over stimulated, hectic world, it’s so important to make time to gather around a table for meals.

While I admit my love for the sobremesa is partially because I am a certified foodie, it’s even more so because the Sobremesa is a time for true conversation, an art seemingly dwindling in our generation. We are so used to texting and Facebook messaging entire conversations, that it’s easy to forget how beneficial face-to-face conversation is. While you might feel you know someone well, a deeper realm of connection opens upon seeing facial expressions, gestures, and all the multifaceted characteristics of speaking in real life.

There have been numerous studies detailing the benefits of “table time” in families and in any type of relationship. According to Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology and countless other sources, table time strengthens solidarity in relationships (families, friends, sports teams, roommates, and so on), alleviates stress, improves conversation skills, encourages healthier eating, and broadens intellectual horizons by sharing and listening to different perspectives. All this while possibly exploring new cuisines!

At least once a month, my roommates and I plan a “roomie dinner” where we each pitch in to help; someone purchases ingredients, another provides his/her cooking skills, and another roommate sets the table and helps clean. We gather around the table, leaving all school and life-related stresses at our desks for a few hours to simply enjoy each other’s company. Most dinners, we will choose a meal theme – anything from Mexican to Italian cuisine. Here are a couple of our favorite dishes:

In college, it is easy to get used to eating quick meals while watching Hulu between classes or meetings. I challenge you, however, to take a break. Carve out a few hours of your time and experience just how restorative and forever calming a dinner and its Sobremesa are for the soul.

Image: FoodiesFeed

CultureHealth

Thanksgiving is right around the corner – are you hosting friends? Helping family cook up a feast? Bringing a dish or two to a potluck?

Having just moved across the country and begun a new job that doesn’t afford me the time or moolah to jet back across the country on holiday, I’ll be spending my first Thanksgiving away from home. I’m lucky to have a group of friends here who will also be celebrating without family, but we’re not the most experienced chefs, and most of us have never hosted a Thanksgiving party.

Many of us are vegetarians and vegans, which means a little creativity is required to whip up a meatless meal worthy of celebrating on a day that’s known for its turkey, gravy and cheesy casseroles.

Below are recipes for an easy, last-minute, vegan Thanksgiving feast that won’t have you missing meat one bit:

Appetizer

Start off with a fresh, seasonal holiday salad.

thx 1

Holiday Salad with Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette – from Oh She Glows

Sides

It’s not Thanksgiving without the green bean casserole.

thx 2

Vegan Green Bean Casserole – from Fat Free Vegan

Forget the gravy, make this delicious twist on mashed potatoes.

thxn 3
Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Garlic Aioli – from Oh She Glows

 Stuffing

A delightful veggie twist on traditional stuffing.

thx 4

Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout and Bread Stuffing with Apples – from Food52

 Main Dish

 Simple, protein-packed and delicious.

thx 5

Quinoa stuffed sweet potatoes – From Veggie Dream Girl

 Dessert

 Easier than pie.

thx 6

Vegan Pumpkin Dessert Bars – from The Happy Housewife

 What? I didn’t say it was a healthy, low fat vegan Thanksgiving meal. It’s just animal product-less. And it’s super delicious – click each of the links above for the recipes! Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

What are you eating for Thanksgiving? Share below!

Image: The Happy Housewife

Health

Life gets in the way of a million things: plans, expectations, and more importantly, meals. Maybe you were already seven minutes late for that meeting and the idea of breakfast was pushed aside onto your mental list of irrelevant things you should do but don’t, such as wearing your retainer six months before your next dental appointment. But what if I tell you that skipping a meal translates to skipping out on a million ideas, brain connections, and memory collections. If you’re getting a clue at where I’m going with this, meals are not meant to be a burden, but more so, a fundamental supporter. They provide for the building blocks of your body. If you are having trouble keeping up with your meals, try out different things and explore a little change. And by this, I mean take more control of your days. Meals should be consistent and here are a few reasons why:

  1. Sugar roller coasters are not theme park-fun

In other words, eating lunch at 12pm and then at 4pm interchangeably between days calls for chaos in your system. When you have not eaten for a while, your blood sugar drops drastically and the next time you do eat, it sky rockets. In turn, you are setting yourself up for a diabetic lifestyle due to the constant insulin blasts. Doctors say that eating as many as five to seven small meals a day is a healthy way to keep your blood levels at a more-or-less steady level for most people. Take control of your schedule. If you are in the middle of work or class when you should be taking a lunch break, take the time to pack a meal in some tupperware or bag up a sandwich to squeeze in a chance to refuel your body during that busy time of day. It is essential that your body collects the appropriate vitamins and minerals in order for it to function properly. This also brings into consideration the content of your meals and snacks. Refined sugar will drastically spike blood levels unlike whole natural foods which, in turn, slowly and steadily raise your sugar levels. Sugar rushes not only cause disorder in the body but they also cause blood sugar to suddenly drop and this causes hunger shortly after. We all know that this isn’t exactly the most convenient of cravings when keeping an eye on health and weight.

  1. Your metabolism is like a muscle

People skip meals because a) they are incredibly busy or b) they are trying to lose weight. Either way, your muscles will weaken if they are not worked and likewise, your metabolism will get slower when it is not put to use. Each time you eat and digest food, your metabolism is making use of itself, as it should. A great portion is transformed into energy for daily necessities and a small portion, depending on the food of course, is turned into lipids. Skipping meals, on the other hand, halts this ongoing process and essentially affects your metabolic process. The next time you do eat, much of what you put into your system will not be as quickly broken down as it once was. Another way to view your metabolism is by thinking of it as a computer. If you turn it off, you must wait a while for it to start up again. Promoting its regularity is vital.

  1. Untimely meals translates into formless days

When a person lacks the discipline of eating on time, it only leads to a sense of disorientation. Putting off meals creates an entire shift when it comes to eating regularly. If breakfast is belated, your lunch will be too. If lunch is skipped, dinner will become your lunch and a late night snack will undoubtedly creep into your nocturnal endeavors. The cycle is eternal and one way of avoiding this is by making sure that you get something in your body shortly after you wake. Be it some yogurt and chia, toast with hummus, or even a vine of grapes, breakfast is the turning key to your engine. When outlining or scheduling your day, make it so your meals become your bullet points and your daily activities become your sub-points.

Eating on time is fundamentally important. It allows for a poised body ready to be productive. Living by a healthy meal routine will only help you conquer each day through a balanced system, a clear mind, and better access to the well of information your brain houses.