Pasta con Broccoli

I like broccoli and eat it often. It is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can find; it’s readily available and inexpensive. People who say they don’t like broccoli have probably never had fresh broccoli prepared properly.

Here’s an adaptation of an old family favorite that is simply delicious.

  1. Cut up a head of fresh broccoli into whole or half florets. Use the stems too, but peel them as the skin tends to be tough the farther down from the florets.
  2. Blanch the broccoli in a pot of boiling water for about three minutes or until slightly tender but still crisp.
  3. Remove broccoli from the pot and cut into smaller pieces. Reserve the water to use for cooking the pasta.  If you’re in a hurry, you can cook the past while you finish cooking the broccoli.
  4. Chop a small onion and two cloves of fresh garlic. Sauté with two or three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat until the onion turns translucent. Adjust the heat as needed to prevent it from burning.
  5. Add the chopped broccoli, a couple shakes of salt, a bit more olive oil, and a half cup of water. Add additional spices to taste (I like sweet basil, a bit of oregano and a dash of cayenne pepper.) Stir it up, cover, and cook over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is tender but not mushy.
  6. Add a pat of butter, stir and turn heat way down to just keep it warm while you cook the pasta. You may want to adjust the salt and seasoning too. You may need to add a bit more water to the broccoli mixture before serving. It should not be too dry.
  7. You can use the reserved hot water (or not, as you prefer) to cook the pasta. Bring it back to a boil, adding enough water for the amount of pasta you will be cooking.
  8. Cook the pasta of your choice (I prefer whole wheat pasta, spaghetti, linguini or even rotini or penne) according to the directions on the package. Drain pasta and place on plates. Top the pasta with desired amount of the sautéed broccoli.
  9. Top it all off with freshly grated or shredded Parmesan, Romano, or asiago cheese and chopped walnuts (lightly toasted or raw). The family recipe used toasted bread crumbs as a topping but I find that it makes the dish too dry, and the nuts are more nutritious and I like the texture.
  10. Add more salt if needed. I prefer to use instead Asian fish sauce which has a bit of extra flavor. My favorite is Lucky brand because it has no preservatives or extra ingredients, only water, salt and anchovies.  
  11. Enjoy.

Staying healthy and keeping things moving

I’ve long believed that good health depends on eating a proper diet, getting plenty of exercise, keeping a positive attitude, and avoiding stress as much as possible. That includes acknowledging our emotions as they arise but not allowing them to control our behavior. Feelings are to be felt and to be recognized as messengers to our rational side that something in our past has triggered a reaction. There is the tendency to blame the person or event that has triggered the feeling and to lash out, but that only causes more pain for ourselves and those around us and leaves us stuck in our patterns. There are many approaches to personal growth that can be effective in helping us to become more happy and whole. I leave it to the reader to seek them out.   

But this essay is about a specific physical problem I’ve had and how I’ve been dealing with it. With advancing age, problems with constipation become more chronic and worrisome. Bowel movements often become less regular and more difficult, the elimination urge less intense, and stools drier and sometimes hard to pass. Over the past few years that has been my own experience. “I’ve tried everything” as they say, and had not found a satisfactory solution, until recently. Although I’ve gotten results from herbal laxatives, magnesium supplements and glycerin suppositories, I’ve been concerned about becoming dependent upon them from continual use.

Now I think I may have found the answer I’ve been looking. It involves the addition of plain wheat bran (not bran cereal) to my diet. I’ve been using it now for several weeks, including it almost daily in many of the things I am accustomed to eating, plus a few new ones. I’ve been adding some bran to the smoothies I make to pour over my homemade granola a few mornings each week, and when I make pancakes or waffles I substitute bran for about a quarter to one third of the flour. I like to bake and I’ve started making bran muffins and it seems that if I eat one or two the next day I have better regularity, stronger urges, and softer stools. Bran, which I buy in bulk at a local supermarket, is inexpensive, has an excellent nutrient profile, and works even better than the expensive fiber supplement that I had been using previously.

Besides the consumption of bran as I’ve described, I take most mornings a teaspoonful of the magnesium supplement, Calm, which is a powder that fizzes when warm water is added. I think that may also be a factor in my bowel improvement but I will try gradually reducing the frequency to see if that makes any difference.

The muffin recipe I use has been adapted from one I found at I’ve reduced the amount of sugar because I find that most recipes make things much sweeter than I like, and because I add raisins which are naturally sweet.

Here’s the recipe in case you’d like to try it.

Classic Bran Muffins
Adapted from


  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup buttermilk
    (You can simulate buttermilk by adding 1 Tbsp lemon juice to a cup measure and filling with milk to the 1 cup mark. You can do the same using almond milk instead of cow’s milk, which I’ve found provides excellent results.)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I prefer olive oil or coconut oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4  to 1/3 cup light brown sugar (or more depending on your taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white or whole wheat flour (or a combination of both)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup raisins


  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the wheat bran and the buttermilk. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oil, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the soaked wheat bran mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir just until combined. (If the batter is too stiff, add a little more milk or water).
  4. Mix in ½ cup raisins.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups .
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes.

Here’s the nutritional profile of wheat bran that I found on Healthline at, which in turn is based on data provided at the Self Nutrition Data website:

Nutritional Profile

Wheat bran is chock-full of many nutrients. A half-cup (29-gram) serving provides (1):

  • Calories: 63
  • Fat: 1.3 grams
  • Saturated fat: 0.2 grams
  • Protein: 4.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 18.5 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 12.5 grams
  • Thiamine: 0.15 mg
  • Riboflavin: 0.15 mg
  • Niacin: 4 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.4 mg
  • Potassium: 343
  • Iron: 3.05 mg
  • Magnesium: 177 mg
  • Phosphorus: 294 mg

Wheat bran also has a decent amount of zinc and copper. Additionally, it provides over half of the daily value (DV) of selenium and more than the DV of manganese.

Not only is wheat bran nutrient dense, it’s also relatively low calorie. Half a cup (29 grams) has only 63 calories, which is minuscule considering all the nutrients it packs.

What’s more, it’s low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, as well as a good source of plant-based protein, offering about 5 grams of protein in half a cup (29 grams).

Arguably, wheat bran’s most impressive trait is its fiber content. Half a cup (29 grams) of wheat bran provides almost 13 grams of dietary fiber, which is 99% of the DV (1).

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Klaus Schwab’s Brave New World

This guy is serious. What could possibly go wrong?

Money transfers

FYI, this article from Business Insider is about pretty much the latest in peer to peer money transfers.

Zelle is a safe way to send and receive money, but beware of scammers

Here’s the intro paragraph:

There’s no shortage of peer-to-peer digital payment apps; in 2017, Zelle joined the ranks of services like PayPal and Venmo as a simple way to send and receive money via your mobile device. Unlike the alternatives, though, Zelle is backed by hundreds of banks and directly transfers money between accounts in minutes. 

But read the entire article before using.

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Incredibly awesome and beautiful

How can it be done any better than this?

Something to brighten your day…

Well worth a few minutes of your time:

How to Wash Vegetables and Fruits to Remove Pesticides

Here’s a great article from the Food Revolution Network.
How to Wash Vegetables and Fruits to Remove Pesticides

An important takeaway for me is this:

Here’s a quick and easy way to wash veggies using baking soda:

Washing produce - tomatoes - in a colander

For leafy greens

    • Fill a salad spinner with greens, then fill with water.
    • Add a teaspoon of baking soda and mix well.
    • Soak your greens for a minute, swish, dump, then rinse, and spin dry.
    • If you don’t have a salad spinner, you can add the greens, water, and baking soda to a bowl, let them soak, drain in a strainer, rinse, then pat leaves dry with a clean lint-free kitchen towel or paper towels.

For mushrooms

There is some debate in the culinary world about how to clean mushrooms.

Some chefs prefer to gently wipe mushrooms with a damp towel. However, to clean mushrooms thoroughly, you can gently scrub mushrooms using a mushroom brush and then rinse them quickly under running water. After that, blot the mushrooms dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.

For other veggies

    • Fill a large bowl with water.
    • Then add a teaspoon of baking soda.
    • Add the veggies.
    • Soak for a minute or two.
    • Scrub with a brush.
    • And finally, rinse off the veggies.

How to Wash Fruits

Washing fruit - blueberries and strawberries

Smooth skinned fruits, such as apples, nectarines, and cherries, can be washed in a baking soda bath the same way as veggies.

Berries can be rinsed under cold water in a mesh strainer, then gently patted dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels just before you intend to eat them.

Although your instinct may be to rinse off berries when you bring them home, doing so actually increases moisture and accelerates spoilage, microflora, and mold. Which is why it’s best to rinse them soon before you eat them.

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Snakes out early this year

I came upon this rattlesnake while walking along the Rillito Rive trail on February 15.

Is it necessary to force vaccines on children?

This article looks at the relationship between vaccination policies and children’s health and draws some surprising conclusions. It needs to be widely distributed and read.

Japan Leads the Way in Child Health: No Compulsory Vaccines. Banned Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) Vaccine


Eyes on the road