Another Annual Orphan Thanksgiving

This year I am upholding my own Thanksgiving tradition with what I refer to as Orphan Thanksgiving. It is a cozy and enjoyable event for the people who share in this wonderful celebration. I invite friends who don’t have a place to go for the holiday, usually because their relatives live far away.

Though there is a considerable amount of food prep involved, I get a kick out of making each dish and roasting and carving the turkey. You might think that this desire to cook huge holiday meals and have people over is something that was handed down to me from my mother, but my mom never entertained guests in our home, and she never considered herself a cook. My mother’s idea of cooking was to heat up Stouffer’s entrees or throw a piece of meat on the broiler, and when the holidays arrived, she made restaurant reservations instead of spending time in the kitchen. Somehow I had a natural affinity for cooking and baking, and I also quickly discovered how much I enjoyed hosting events. I am certain that my desire to host parties evolved from my tendency to nurture others.

Thanksgiving-Dinner-New-York-CityWhat’s on the table this year? Turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole (a HUGE hit), mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. I’m letting my guests bring dessert to ease the cooking and baking load, since I make these feasts by myself. Since I fully believe in enjoying “normal” foods during the holidays, provided they are enjoyed in moderation, I have no problem featuring a few “forbidden” foods on the holiday table.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Advertisements

Yes I Write Prescriptions. No I Won’t Write One For Your Brother.

As a fully licensed, board-certified physician, I have written my share of prescriptions over the years for medications, imaging studies, etc. I recognize that it is an incredible honor and privilege to be able to write scripts, and I never take advantage of it. However, there are people out there who think nothing of asking me to write prescriptions for them, simply because I am a fully credentialed physician conveniently standing there in front of them. What is especially irritating is when people dare to ask me to conduct curbside consultations or write prescriptions for their family members or loved ones who not only aren’t there with them to be examined, but who are complete strangers to me. Tell me, how in the world am I supposed to conduct a medical evaluation on a complete stranger, sight unseen? These same individuals also tend to get offended when I kindly tell them that their loved one needs to be seen in person by a qualified medical professional who can assess their condition and administer the appropriate treatment.

So if you are the kind of person who is in the habit of asking doctors to do similar favors for you or your family, please understand that your requests are unreasonable and inappropriate. If your husband, sister, son, cousin, or best friend needs medical attention, do the responsible thing and either tell that person to go see a doctor, or take that person to the doctor.

Vegan Date Oat Bars

My version of Vegan Date Oat Bars before cutting down into bar sized pieces.

One evening in October, when I was post-photo shoot, starving and tired, I walked into Vintage Grocer in Malibu. I was definitely in the mood to forage for food, so I hit the hot foods section and chose a chicken curry dish. However, my sweet tooth was asserting itself, so I wandered over to the vegan baked goods section. My reasoning was that I would probably be able to find something decently edible in that area which wasn’t too decadent. My gaze landed on a vegan dat oat bar, and it sounded kind of tasty to me, so I selected it.

By some miracle, I waited until I got home to sample the date oat bar. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. I thought it would be good but not mind-blowing.

I took the first bite. WOW.

It was absolutely delicious!

Since then, I have purchased the bar two more times. I have been determined to figure out the exact ratios which make their bars so delectable, but I’ve only experimented twice with my own guess on a recipe which might replicate theirs closely.

The bars I have made have been quite tasty, and I swear I will figure out how to make them as incredible as the ones from Vintage Grocer. I still can’t figure out how Vintage Grocer keeps their bars from crumbling, and I still have to place mine in the refrigerator to set before I cut them into bars.

Here’s my interpretation of these incredible bars:

DR. NAITO’S VERSION OF VEGAN DATE OAT BARS

INGREDIENTS
1. Date Layer:
• 3 cups water
• 3 cups chopped pitted dates
• 8-10 frozen dark cherries, chopped
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2. Bottom Layer:
• 3/4 cup gluten free flour/almond meal blend
• 2/3 cup shredded coconut
• ¼ cup sunflower lecithin
• 1 cup (packed) organic dark brown sugar
• 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt
• ¼ cup sunflower lecithin
• ¼ cup vegan butter
• ¼ cup olive oil
3. Top Layer:
• ¾ cup gluten free flour/almond meal blend
• 2/3 cup shredded coconut
• ¼ cup sunflower lecithin
• 1-1/4 cup (packed) organic dark brown sugar
• 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt
• ¼ cup sunflower lecithin
• ¼ cup vegan butter
• ¼ cup olive oil

PREPARATION
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8×8-inch metal baking pan. Bring water to simmer in medium saucepan. Add dates and cherries; simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

2. Bottom and top layers:
Combine flour, coconut, sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in two large bowls; stir to blend. Add lecithin and oil. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps form. Bottom layer mixture evenly over bottom of pan which has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Spread date mixture evenly over bottom layer.

Add top layer, and press gently to adhere. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 50-55 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack, then place in refrigerator for two hours to set.

Remove from refrigerator, cut into bars and serve.

The Magic Of Kundalini Yoga

I fell into kundalini yoga quite by accident earlier this year, when I decided to sign up for a class at a local yoga studio which was listed on ClassPass. From the first class, I was deeply moved, intrigued, and interested in continuing the practice. I hadn’t been aware of the fact that kundalini yoga is considered to be the most powerful and spiritual form of yoga, but I am grateful that it is now a part of my life. Kundalini yoga also complements my daily meditation practice.

How is kundalini yoga different from other forms of yoga? While it can be VERY physical, kundalini yoga is incredibly spiritual and meditative. You will spend a decent amount of time in “easy pose”, which is a standard pose for meditation. Kundalini yoga consists of chants, repetitive movements, and coordinated breathing techniques which are all designed to increase consciousness and activate the body’s energy centers. Because this type of yoga targets energy blockages, sessions can be emotional, intense, sacred, and filled with a sense of connectedness to everyone.

An article by James McCrae states that the objective of kundalini yoga is “decentralized and selfless – help people actualize their Higher Self”. The practice of kundalini yoga has been around since approximately 1,000 B.C. – 500 B.C. during the time in which the Upanishads were written. Kundalini, or “coiled snake”, refers to the energy of creation which sits at the base of the spine, and which can be activated and made to move up the spine and throughout the entire body. It was brought to the western world in the late 1960’s by Yogi Bhajan.

Kundalini yoga can be regarded as the fast track to spiritual enlightenment, and can bring about immense positive changes to one’s life. It increases awareness, brings a sense of well-being, and also creates a stillness and calmness which help to deflect the stresses of the modern world.

The Bikini Box

It may be considered strange by some people, but I perform scheduled purges of my belongings on a regular basis. Why? Because they enable me to stay organized, and they also force me to get rid of items I don’t need. Recently, I decided that as part of a household purge, I would go through every single bikini in my bikini box.

The bikini box I am referring to is an underbed storage box which holds all of my bikinis. I established this system several years ago when I began to accumulate bikinis and would use them in photo shoots. After struggling to sort through my collection when I packed for a slew of photo shoots over the summer, I realized that there were suits I had never worn, suits which had been shot too many times, suits which no longer fit, and suits which had never fit.

I tried on every single suit, assessed fit, and determined whether to keep it or give it away. If I decided to keep a suit, I then made sure the top was tied securely at the neck, and also secured the side ties on bottoms, to make it easier to put it on when at a shoot. I also cut off tags so that they wouldn’t poke at me or stick out and create extra editing work for photographers. I also labeled the bags I stored the bikinis in so that the styles could be easily identified without me having to remove the suit from the bag.

It took me five hours to go through that bikini box, which means I averaged about 20 suits per hour. I gave away close to 20 suits and kept the rest, making sure that each suit was in a slide lock sandwich size storage bag. The suits are organized by color, making it easier for me to select suits for a shoot.

Now I am ready to shoot!

Loaded Emails

When I sat down to write this piece, I was still steaming mad from an incident which occurred earlier that day. Basically, a whole slew of individuals, including me, who were working with a certain company, were summarily and abruptly dismissed via a very general email. In addition, the email dared to accuse us of engaging in practices which would definitely not be considered very decent, practices of which I was never guilty.

In a heartbeat, we were all cut at the knees, without any true explanation. Mind you, I had worked with this company for a number of years, put up with their frequent bait-and-switch tactics, and found myself fighting to stay in the game when the powers that be kept showing how fickle they were. It was one of those situations in which someone would suddenly get cut, then a few months down the road, someone else would suffer the same fate. It was obvious that loyalty didn’t matter to them, because they had no loyalty towards the people who worked for them.

How have I dealt with the sudden kick off the gangplank? I have cleaned house, cut out the fat just like they did. Since all the work I did over the years wasn’t appreciated, I had no problem deleting them from my life. I guess business is business, and no one’s feelings matter. Done deal.

The Challenges Of Modeling

If you’ve never balanced on a craggy boulder, while freezing your ass off and also managing to muster a facial expression which makes everyone believe that you are having the time of your life, then you have no idea what models often have to endure in order to get “the shot”.

Shot by the late Weiferd Watts in 2010

Modeling often is hard work. Those of you who are snickering need to hear me out. Those elegant or sexy poses which you will often see models in are often incredibly uncomfortable, especially when there are boulders, creepy crawly things, nasty wind gusts, and weather extremes to negotiate as well. Outdoor locations can be teeming with insects, or they may have shards of broken glass everywhere which makes it quite treacherous for a model to strike a pose. Models often have to “cheat” a shoulder or limb, meaning that they have to turn a body part in a certain way to create an angle which looks right in the camera lens, but which feels completely unnatural and often sparks muscle cramps which linger for days after the shoot wraps. I still remember holding a pretzel pose for a full ten minutes while the photographer happily shot away (see blog image at top of this post), but because I put myself into a bit of a meditative state, I was able to hold the pose without much discomfort. Alas, as I have gotten older, my joints are far less forgiving, and I must take a brief break after several frames are shot.

Another major challenge which models constantly face is that they have to evoke certain moods and looks at the drop of a hat, even if they feel ill, tired, bloated, or otherwise uninspired to shoot. If a model can’t convince the photographer, and more importantly, the camera lens, that she is indeed the vision which is called for in a campaign, she can forget about lining up much work as time goes on.

Over the decades in which I have been modeling, I have learned so many tricks which increase efficiency and reduce the risk of injury while on the job. I know what essentials to pack in my bag, even if I end up not using them at all. When shooting on location, I always bring a large black robe, which I refer to as my changing robe, and which gets so much flak from the photographers because it makes me look like a transient when I wear it. If I have to put my bikini-clad ass on a felled tree stump which threatens to deposit some splinters into my flesh, I grab a small towel or scarf to protect my skin. I have also adopted the habit of wearing aqua shoes when on location so that my feet don’t get scorched by hot sand or torn up by rough terrain.

Believe me when I say that being a model isn’t just about standing in front of a camera and looking pretty. Good models WORK HARD, and they maintain a positive, cooperative attitude. Even when the ocean water is freezing cold, or the weather is so blazing hot that makeup is literally melting off, models who know how to be professional will honestly grin and bear it unless it is actually causing frank injury.