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Don’t Know How to Pick Fruits and Vegetables? Follow the Italian Lady

Don’t Know How to Pick Fruits and Vegetables? Follow the Italian Lady

Supermarkets haven’t destroyed farmers, although they have made their lives a lot harder. It’s not rare to see a weekend outdoor farmer’s market in the US, but in Italia, where I come from, they work every day.  Italy’s outdoor market, the popular mercati is what makes it great. That’s Italy.

Imagine stalls and booths with Italian men and women behind them, selling basically everything—from five different varieties of tomatoes to prosciutto and other various types of deli meat, fresh baked bread with olives, butchered lamb meat, fish and wine: wines from the local region, homemade, tasty, rich in flavor.

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Italians don’t go to the local outdoor food market just to fill out their fridge; they go to fill out their senses with sound and smell. You pass by a stall that sells fresh smoked cheese with basil, you can hear the wine being poured, you can smell the fresh bread and it will stimulate your appetite. Passing by the flowers you remember the games you used to play when you were a kid in your garden, just before your mother called out for you to come inside because it’s dinner time.  “Come”, the old vendor says with its strong baritone voice, “try this prosciutto, you’ll love it”. And you do.

You can find everything there, from healthy food to clothing, shoes, souvenirs, flowers and cookware.  They are opened every day of the week, except for some Sundays.

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But, even if you live in Italy, not every product is of best quality, and that can be applied to the market places everywhere. There’s a great tip: follow the old lady. In Italia we call them nonne which basically means grandmother, but it can be applied to any old skillful lady. Italians are traditional and the roles in family are pretty much known in advance. Nonne have been cooking for their families for decades and they know which tomato is best for spaghetti, what meat goes in it and where to find it. They are, how should we say it, the best source of information as they have probably been patrons of the local mercati for those same decades.  That wisdom has been transferred through generations and when you spot one, and it’s easy to so because they carry a canvas bag designed to pile in as much excellent products as possible to carry home and cook for their loved ones, follow them and take notes. They will take you to the right guy.

If there isn’t one in sight, you can spot a quality vendor just by pure observation.  He is the guy behind a stall where people are waiting to be served.  This is how you spot a true fair one.  If there are up to five people waiting to be served, the product offered is a good one, and if there are more than five people in front of the booth, get in the line. Nonne know why.

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If you are wondering why I wrote this article, it is because I am an advocate of healthy, homemade food, and I want to create a desire in you for the food that exudes the perfect smell of flavor and taste. I have learned a lot from my nonna. Just add raw vegetables and fruit to your meal and you will achieve that. Italians cook pasta as basics and they just add in sauce, cheese, meat: the things they have in the fridge, and a lot of salad.

This is not a big diet change. It is just a way to healthier and tastier food.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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