Category Archives: General Interest

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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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:

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


River rafting in Greece

Last June (2019) I was privileged to experience this little adventure with friends in northern Greece.

How five elder women are creating an intentional community in an expensive housing market

By Saki Bailey,|June 4, 2019

Five elder women in one of the highest-cost urban areas in the United States are banding together to build the intentional retirement community of their dreams.

San Francisco Bay Area residents Mary McDonald, Barbara Reusch, Alisa Foster, Harriet Tubman Wright, and Ina Clausen  were all concerned about where they would be living in 10 or 20 years, who would be helping to care for them as they aged, and how they could achieve their desire to age in an intentional community — especially given soaring housing costs. Hibiscus Commons, which is slated to be the first elder cooperative created in partnership with the Bay Area Community Land Trust, was born out of their conversations.

“If you are a homeowner, you may have the luxury of aging in your own home, but this isn’t the case for a lot of lower-income elders who have never been homeowners,” said co-founder Mary McDonald. “Even for those lucky enough to stay in their own homes, it can be lonely and isolating to age on your own, and expensive to get in-home care.”

Aging with security and dignity can be difficult or even impossible for some seniors. The fastest-growing segment of the homeless population is people older than 55, and that cohort is likely to keep growing as the U.S. ages. The number of Americans aged 64 or older will nearly double by 2030 from 20 years earlier, to 70 million. In the expensive East Bay, the problem is acute. “Almost half of the Oakland homeless population became homeless after the age of 50,” said Harriet Wright.

Hibiscus Commons, a self-managed elder cooperative and intentional community, addresses all of these things: the isolation that comes with aging, the insecurity of housing and living on a fixed income in an area with one of the highest costs of living in the U.S., and accessing the care needed as one grows older.
Read more…