Brain, mind and lentil soup

Starting work in a new department is always exciting.

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Look at that beautiful strawberry cake! It was so nice of them to welcome me to the department this way! (I’m totally kidding 😉 Someone retired. Or came back from vacation. Either way that is one heck of a way to brighten up a break room! I feel bad I ate cake without knowing who to celebrate, but they didn’t leave a note or anything. They just sucked me into eating their cake. Thank God there weren’t more pedophiles in Concord growing up….)

I returned to work after being in complete exile the past few days. I was diagnosed with being an over worked, ambitious medical student.

That too was only almost true.

After being a bit “weekend-tired” on Sunday I went to work Monday feeling fine. Monday night I felt like I had been hit by a bus and basically didn’t wake up until Thursday.

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Sure we did just have exam period at school and starting a new challenging job always requires some mental stamina, but I always had the mentality “if you’re not tired, you’re doing something wrong.” My athlete brother has the principal, “if you can walk off the end of the field at the end of the game, you didn’t give 100%”. Well. I just face planted and hibernated for three days so it’s fair to say I gave my exams my all!

Speaking of mental stimulation. There was another interesting article in Helsingin Sanomat (national newspaper) that detailed the importance of mental stimulation at an older age. We’ve all heard the importance of keeping the control center active to prevent Alzheimers and other neurodegenerative diseases, but this article highlighted the importance of mind and brain. How the two are simultaneously engaged. We can overstimulate our brain suppressing the creativity of our mind.  The solution? Paint at work or have a creative job, I don’t know! But keep the egghead happy and balanced.

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Exhibit A on creativity and brains! (She wanted everyone to notice the color scheme. I think we got it, Mom.)

But then again there’s a chance Mike and Jenna might not be “all there” either… Hmm…

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July in Finland doesn’t always equal warmth and sunshine. Today we celebrated Saturday in long pants, colder temperatures. and LENTILS! We made fresh Ciabatta to go along with some lentil soup to fend us off the cold, and nothing says comfort like warm lentils and fresh bread 🙂

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And if anybody has any hints how to photograph lentils nicely, I’m all ears  😉

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And lunch isn’t complete without dessert right? 😉

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Lentils are great because they’re packed with nutrition, their expiration date is 100 years away, fantastic source of protein and so easy to make because you probably have all the ingredients for a great soup in your pantry already!

Lentil Soup – recipe for 4-6 people
Directions 

  1. Rinse about 1 cup lentils
  2. Add to a pot of 4 cups water (if you don’t use Cup measurements use a regular kitchen mug, just make sure the ratio is about 1:4 for a thicker stew, and 1:5 for a more soupy soup. Yup. Soupy soup.)
  3. Chop an onion and add it along with a bay leaf (or 5) to the pot
  4. Let this simmer for a while (about 30 minutes)
  5. Chop small cubes of carrot (about 2-3 carrots) towards the end, about 10 minutes before the lentils are ready. You don’t want to put these in the beginning because you’ll get mushy carrots. This might be incredibly obvious to most people but just hollering out to all the other cooking amateurs out there. I feel ya.
  6. ” Lentils love tomatoes” (<– basic kitchen romances everyone should be aware of) If you like tomatoes, you can chop up to 5 for this stew. We only had 1-2 , but we were missing out. Put more than 2.
  7. Salt. Lentils need salt. At least 2 tsp for this amount!
  8. Now you can let these flavors make sweet love in a pot for a while or eat it right away. Either way, the flavors will be on point 😉

A bouillon cube makes even the simplest soups taste delicious.  Unfortunately though, most bouillons contain the flavor enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate). While the FDA has classified MSG as safe, their long term health effects remain controversial. So, to be on the safe side, steer clear. They may not be bad for you but they’re certainly not good for you…  Salt, pepper, herbs and other spices will do the trick . Get creative! It’s good for your brain, remember? 🙂

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