Transitions and inversions: Life is wonderful

I have recently re-discovered my yoga practice.  It is a wonderful joy and I am loving re-engaging with my practice and with the way my body feels and moves in yoga. While I was in Washington, D.C.  I took a class and was fortunate enough to discover a workshop on the shoulder joint that Chrissy Carter was leading on Saturday before I left.  I do wish I had found it earlier so I could have attended more sessions.

studio dc

On Thursday evening the teacher told us the theme of the class was transitions.  I almost laughed.  That seems to be my life right now – one large, long transition for the past few months.  I have gone from one end to the other, thinking I knew what was ahead in my life only to find that I was totally wrong.  That is what often makes life wonderful – not knowing what lies ahead.

It seems that I have also been practicing inversions quite a bit.  (Here are two  articles I found that lists benefits of inversions.)  Inversions turn us upside down. Everything looks different, therefore opening up new perspectives.  Practiced correctly and under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher, they are truly beneficial.

The workshop on the shoulder joint was truly fascinating and enlightening.  In this kind of workshop you often have to get up and close and personal with someone you don’t know in order to really learn.  The benefit is that most people who come to a workshop like this know and expect that.  Tracing the shoulder joint, understanding more about how it works and moves has already been beneficial in my continued yoga practice as well as in the pool.  This adds a dimension to what I have already learned about my stroke, breath and alignment.

One of the wonderful surprises of returning to practice after the other training I have been doing is that some poses that I was never able to do seem easier.  I have moved into pigeon pose on more than one occasion without the difficulty that I recall having years ago.  This is a hip opener, an area of my body that is notoriously tight which has caused problems when I run.

There are many poses that continue to keep me humble though.  I will probably never  be able to do a handstand due to my vision issues.  There are other poses that I am working on as well. It’s all a learning process and a wonderful journey.  I am glad to be back on the mat.

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Augusta Half Ironman: A few more miles to go

I did not quite make it to the finish line as I had hoped.  66.2 miles is much farther than I have ever gone though. There were many things that went right on Sunday and the months leading up to Sunday.  I’ll concentrate on those factors for the most part.

Generosity

In early June I received a text from none other than Jeff Spires, our favorite TriAugusta ambassador.  Jeff wanted to know if I had a place to stay during the race because the Butler family were offering me a place to stay.  Jeff connected me with Kim and we exchanged information and made arrangements to meet when I was in town for Gatorfest. I felt truly blessed by such a kind offer and even more so after meeting the family and spending the weekend at their home.  This was the first race where I actually had a tri sherpa. I was so appreciative of being dropped off and having help gathering everything after the race without having to walk a mile carrying my gear.  They were also on the run route cheering.  Lily is quite skilled with a bullhorn :)

butler familyThe photo includes Nick, Eddie (who ran as part of a relay team this year), Lily and Jack.  I am sorry that I did not get a photo of Kim.  I look forward to seeing everyone again when I return to Augusta.

Preparation

Anyone who participates in triathlons knows the amount of preparation involved.  There is a lot of preparation, training, revising, refining, etc.  My preparation involved training for several months,  figuring out the right nutrition for this year, packing, re-packing, taking things out and packing again, and, finally, the few days before the race.

My overall preparation was not as consistent and smooth as I had hoped.  Early in 2014 I was sick for several weeks and my training all but stopped.  In August and September my attention turned to helping my sister who was ill.  I was away from home and training for almost 2 weeks. My training was put aside, other than going to some yoga classes primarily for relaxation, and I considered not going to Augusta because I didn’t feel that I was really prepared enough.  I knew I had enough training overall and since my only goal was finishing, I decided to do the race.

One thing that I did figure out was my nutritional plan.  This has been the most difficult part of my longer races and rides.  This year I finally figured out how to carry a water bottle on the run. It is not as easy as it might sound to non-runners. It is essential for me. I also started using Skratch Labs about a year ago and switched from gels and other supplements to real food.  Before I left Tuscaloosa I made a batch of peanut butter and jelly rice cakes, wrapped them up (still not as pretty as Kim Bragg, but I am getting better).  I also determined how much Skratch Labs I would need, got the packets ready, and decided that I would carry two water bottles on my bike and stop at each aid station to refill the bottles with water and Skratch Labs.  I decided to use not only the raspberry but also the rehydration mix during the ride.  Before the race I had a bottle of mango hyper hydration mix.   On the run and right before the swim I did use Hammer gels.   My only nutrition mistake was taking a Bonk Breaker on the run since I didn’t have quite enough of my own stuff with me. Never again. I know I don’t like Bonk Breakers.

I also planned my breakfast and tried to pay attention to my nutrition leading up to race day.  The difficult thing about not working out for periods of time is that my weight creeps up.  I did put on some weight before the race and that made things more difficult overall.   Getting my weight back to normal will be the focus of my training the next few months.

dinner 2014

Friends 20140926_195630

I can’t say enough about the wonderful friends I have made through the Augusta group.   IMG_224235604438531 (By the way, who can name the common factor in these photos?)  We ate a lot, laughed, encouraged one20140927_183516 another, had fun.   This is pretty much the way it goes with this group.  On the course there were lots of shouts of encouragement from many people and to many people.  There are first time half Ironman competitors and seasoned veterans in the group. There are so many more fantastic friends.  This year the group was split between Augusta and Chattanoog since  number of people who were at Augusta last year competed in the full Ironman this year.  It was a great day in both places.

Race day

Sunday, September 28 was race day.   I was up at 4 a.m. and Kim and I left the house shortly before 5.  She was volunteering at the morning bag drop off but took me as close to transition as possible on the way. I set up the rest of my transition area, got my tires pumped, talked to a few folks, and headed out to the swim start – only to turn back to transition since I had my glasses on.  My plan had been to say to Lisa Hughes, “Lisa, don’t let me leave with my glasses on” but I forgot to ask her to help me out.  By the time I made it back to the bus line, it was pretty long so I walked to the swim start.  That had been my original plan anyway.  It is a good way to clear my head and get mentally prepared for the day.

On Friday there had been a practice swim that was a bit tough.  The water was cold, the weeds were near the surface, and the swim was just slow.  I didn’t worry a lot about it but it wasn’t the practice swim I had wanted – or many others had wanted either. Sunday morning was different though.  Water had been released so the weeds were not near the surface. The river looked fast though it was not as fast as last year.  I was in the 5th wave so I did not have a long time to stand around and wait.  I decided to sit on the dock and wait for the back of the pack before I took off.

My swim was smooth and steady.  I stayed a bit over, but not close to shore.  I was fairly straight down the river and did not get hit or kicked or punched much.  A few times when I was looking for my next landmark one of the kayakers asked if I needed help. No, I am just looking for a marker for my progress.

My time was slightly slower than last year though the river was not as fast.  My overall swim was much better though.  All the open water swims that I have had since last September have helped me become more comfortable in the water.  As you can see from the swim exit,  I am quite happy.

swim

Transition was slower than I anticipated but I wasn’t concerned about that either.  I took time to do what I needed to, even though I did put my cycling gloves on inside out.  I had to fix that at the first aid station because they were driving me crazy.

Getting out on the bike took a minute.  My shoe was not fastened and I needed to get that right before I took off.  It was nice to see Glen on the hill and hear his words of encouragement. I started off in the right gear and got going pretty easily.  I have ridden and driven the course so I was ready for it.  Getting to the first aid station was pretty smooth.  I decided I would spend around 3 minutes at each of the aid stations. (My race, my plan.  Hush.)  This gave me time to take care of my water bottles, get a salt tab, and anything else I needed to do.  At the second aid station I let a young girl pour water on my head.  She was enjoying doing this for cyclists and it felt pretty good even though it was not terribly hot.

This year what I call the washboard road didn’t bother me. I was ready so I didn’t stop multiple times, thinking I had a flat tire.  The two mile hill came and went.  I wasn’t fast going up but I didn’t get off my bike.  I slowed enough at thebike2 hairpin turn not to crash.  The steep downhill was 36 mph, but I missed getting up the steep mile 47 hill because I didn’t drop my big ring fast enough. It just made me laugh. The end was uneventful and I once again enjoyed the cloverleaf getting back to Sand Bar Ferry.

 

My time was a bit slower than last year but we had a head wind and I took the time to stop and take care of my nutrition at the three aid stations.  I did not stop a number of times along the way as I had the first year.  The ride was very enjoyable and I used the time to scan my body and make sure I was in alignment.  My guess is about 2,000 people passed me. Many of my friends passed me and called out as they did.  I called out to others as much as I could.  The weather was beautiful and it was a great day to ride.

I made it to T2 right about the time I predicted that I would.  I must have looked wobbly because one of the volunteers asked if I was ok.  I was.  T2 was slower than planned as well.  I had a harder time with my shoes than I thought I would have.   I also chose the wrong pair to wear, as it turned out.  Though the shoes look the same.  The pair on the left, which I wore on Sunday, cut into my right foot.

shoe choicesI knew my run would suffer because I had not been running.  Still, I thought I had far runmore than enough time to complete the run, even if I walked most of it.  I had my water and nutrition this year.  The run starts out on a slight uphill and then the rest is totally flat.  I walked up the hill and thought I could begin running once I reach the flat part.  I never really ran much of the course though.  I simply could not get started.  This year I stopped at every aid station and took water and an orange or banana.  I was making it down Greene Street in a decent, though not fantastic, time.  Friends on their second loops were passing me and we called back and forth.  Broad Street is the best part of this course because there are so many people out cheering for the runners.  Once I passed the corner where I was pulled off the course last year I felt a great sense of relief and I kept on going.  I made it down to the end of Broad and turned to head back.  The course passes the finish line and continues for the second loop. I could hear names being called at the finish, including some I knew.  I kept going. The most difficult part of this race is continuing down Reynolds past the turn for the finish line.  There isn’t much out there and there are not spectators, at least not by the time I got there.  There were a lot of people coming back from transition with their bikes and gear which only made me feel worse.  Eventually I made the turn back to go to the second time on Greene Street.  The aid stations were being dismantled by the time I got to Greene Street but there was still water and I moved a box to get a banana to stick in my jersey in case I needed it later.

Greene Street is really long when there are not many other runners on it.  I still saw people I knew though and they were making good progress towards the finish.  I was really dragging and feeling bad when I heard someone call my name.  I didn’t stop because IIwas just trying to keep moving.  But Allison Crow caught me and started going along with me, encouraging me and helping me make it a little farther.  She had already finished.  I met Allison last year and consider her one of my Augusta friends.   A police officer gave me water and the medics were at the corner where I finally knew I could not go any farther.  My knee was bothering me  quite a bit and I had nothing else in me.  I really did not want to meet the medical team again this year, but I did.

At the start of the run my back was bothering me but it quit hurting at some point and then my right foot started hurting due to the shoe problem.  This was what finally ended my run.  I was also having difficulty breathing but was able to visualize to help with that.   I made it 66.2 miles this year, 4.1 miles short of the finish line but still farther than I have made it in the past.

Medical tent medal

I was taken to the medical tent and checked out.  They gave me ice for me knee and Allison called Kim to tell her where I was.  The medical tent was also being dismantled by the time I arrived but there were still people there.  I saw the woman I had leapfrogged with on the bike finish the race.  The medical tent volunteers had been given finisher’s medals but one volunteer came to me and handed me his.  He said I had gone much farther today than he had and that I should have it. While it is a finisher medal, I know I didn’t finish the race on Sunday.  But the gesture and kindness made me cry and touched me.  I will cherish that medal until I earn my own finisher’s medal at Augusta next year.

 

Posted in Augusta 70.3, challenges, mental toughness, nutrition, races, triathlon, TriAugusta | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Returning to Augusta

Tomorrow I leave for Augusta, Georgia. This will be my second time to compete in the Augusta 70.3 Ironman and my 4th attempt to finish a half Ironman.  I never imagined that it would take 4 attempts to finish. I have declared that I would finish before.  This time I am claiming the finish.  I  think there is a subtle, but important, distinction.  I have done the training, even with the time that has not been as dedicated over the past few weeks due to my family circumstances.  I am confident in my ability to finish and have faith in my training and myself. I could not ask for or imagine a better support system.  This week I have carried three cards with sayings on them to remind me about what I know in my head, heart and body.  They are for me.  We each have our own mantras that get us through the races.  On Sunday at 7:48 am EST,  I will begin the journey again to the finish line at Augusta.

My friend Randy Cantu posted this video of the finish line earlier today.  He shared the video with me and I am posting as my claim that I will turn the corner from 7th onto Broad and cross the finish line. I’m hoping the video works since I had a difficult time embedding it.

 

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Meditation on Mt. Ranier: Random thoughts about a summer of change

mt rainierI’ve been quiet for a few weeks.  It hasn’t been because I have nothing to say, but rather because I have been occupied with caring for my sister and getting her settled. Now I am back in Alabama and contemplating what’s next.  I have been thinking a lot, talking to trusted souls in my life a lot, and wondering what is next.

Earlier today I read, and subsequently listened to, Elizabeth Gilbert talk about not following your passion but following your curiosity.  I am always curious.  Always. I love being curious and questioning, thinking about what I am doing and how it fits together and most of all about the possibilities ahead   I am in a period of “not knowing”  and there are days when that scares me out of my mind and other days when I find it exciting and challenging. I’ve been in this space before – knowing that change was on the horizon but not exactly what was coming.  I plan and watch the plans disintegrate (like the plan for candidacy or thinking I knew my next career move) because there is something that I can’t yet imagine ahead of me.

Since the beginning of September I have re-discovered many things that I had left behind.  bala yogaWhile I was in Seattle I re-engaged with yoga practice  (not yoga as just another form of exercise) at Bala Yoga, a wonderful studio in Kirkland.  I attended several classes during the 10 days I was in Seattle – enough that I decided to buy a pass because I know that I will be back in Seattle and that I will return to the studio.  I had not practiced yoga for many years but was pleased at the way my body responded and remembered poses. It wasn’t all easy or exact, but there was an ease and I discovered a much needed place of retreat at the studio.  I worked with three different teachers and attended a Yin Yoga class for the first time.  The restorative poses accompanied by live music of Steve Gold were exactly what I needed.

I also spent time with Erika Ebbeson, a wonderful massage therapist and teacher, who helped me with releasing tension and relaxing during the week.  She pointed me to Katya Difani at Herban Wellness where I purchased tea and herbs.  Herbal teas and tinctures things that helped me a great deal when I worked with Jock Smith while I lived in Grand Rapids. I am already feeling the positive impact of what Katya recommended.

I continue to see some kind of ministry in my future.  I am a servant at heart.  I just do not think that it will probably be the traditional route that I was envisioning earlier this summer. It may through a non-profit or integrate the storytelling that I love so much but have rarely had the opportunity to practice since moving to Alabama.  I am confident that there will be an element of health and healing involved in what ever I wind up doing and that the triad of faith, story and healing will evolve in some way that I have not yet quite imagined.

You might wonder what Mt. Ranier has to do with all of this? ranier from the air Over a three day period while I was in Seattle Mt Ranier was glorious.  The mountain came out. The days were clear, bright and warm and as I rounded a corner or drove over a bridge, Mt. Ranier was there – stunning and magnificent.  I kept trying to find a spot where I could take a photo but it was like playing hide and seek.  There was no good place to stop and take a photo (hence the photo from the South Center parking lot at the beginning of this post).  As the sun set each day the glow of the sky changed and the red hues around the mountain created a sight that I find is beyond words.   Those of you who live in Pacific Northwest or who have seen the mountain like this know what I mean.  The rest will have to imagine. Most of the time that I was in Seattle, however,  Mt. Rainer was hidden in a veil of mist and clouds.  I knew it was there but I couldn’t see it.  I had to trust that the huge and magnificent mountain was just beyond reach and that at some point I would see it clearly.  I was not disappointed.  I did see the mountain for three solid days and again as I flew home.  My future is the same.  I can’t see what is ahead at the moment, but I will in the right time.

For those of you who would rather read about my training, I am two weeks away from Augusta 70.3.  Today we learned that the river is contaminated with some kind of spill or leak so hopefully it will be identified and cleaned up quickly.  I am back to some training before I taper for a few days before Augusta.  I swam on Friday and rode 15 miles today at a very good pace. The goal will be the finish line – just get there and cross it.  I have no stunning time goals to meet or anything else.  Just cross the finish line. After Augusta I will reassess triathlons with Sam. In discussing races with him as well as a few other people, it really seems that it is time to give up running long distances. Again, time will tell what the future holds for my athletic endeavors.

 

 

Posted in challenges, change, family, passion, yoga | 2 Comments

Maybe we need front porches: Conversations and reflections on the Red Boot Coalition

One of the things I remember about growing up is our front porch. I frequently sat out there with my dad – two lawn chairs, side by side, watching the world go by. But we didn’t just watch, we talked to one another and to people who walked by. Oh, and we listened to baseball on a transistor radio. We also sat in the backyard that didn’t have a fence and we could see people and they could see us. And we visited. These were gathering places in my childhood. This was common  every day life. Kitchens were also gathering places, around tables, sitting and talking.  Relatives, neighbors, people who just dropped in all gathered around the table.  My mother was known for “throwing on a lunch” and my aunts could always pull a brownie or some other treat out of the oven or freezer.  Depending on the house, there was coffee or iced tea (not sweet tea – I didn’t learn about that until I moved South).  Most of all there was conversation.

Thus, my perfect house would have a wrap around porch, a big back yard without a barrier of a fence and a big kitchen.

Maybe I don’t need those things though.  Maybe it is just opportunity – presented, taken and created.

I have had a lot of chances to talk to people this summer and it has been wonderful.  Conversations that are not just “hi, how are you?” “oh, I’m fine (though I am not)’ kind of conversations, but deeper discussions ranging from the meaning and place of reconciliation, what is happening in community and what can I do to help, engagement with community and others, and deeper spiritual discussions about passion, where we fit and how we find our own way in the universe.  I don’t know that I realized how many of these discussions I have been involved in until Thursday night when I was fortunate enough to be part of a small group who gathered at Social Venture in Birmingham, Alabama to share an evening with Molly Barker as part of her Red Boot Coalition tour.

I discovered Girls on the Run and Molly Barker while I was working on my MA in Health Studies. I was immediately awed by the amazing work she started and that continues today, providing space and opportunity for girls in elementary and junior high to run and to learn about how to avoid the girl box. (more on boxes in a few paragraphs).  I had a project for a class so I wrote to Molly, not necessarily expecting an answer from an Executive Director of a national organization, but I received an answer and met a generous spirit.  Molly retired from GOTR and began to explore other avenues for her passions and change.  The Red Boot Coalition is one of those. She has been traveling around the country listening and talking with small groups about politics and change, what makes an excellent leader, what’s broken and how can we as individuals and in small groups, fix it?

I discovered that Molly was coming to Birmingham. Hooray!  I was hoping that she would.  Birmingham was the last stop for this venture.

group photoThursday was not the best day I had all week.  It had been filled with sorting through a maze of issues regarding Group Health, Medicare, nursing homes, and where my sister will ultimately wind up living when she exhausts benefits or when Group Health decides she is no longer making proper progress.  It was a frustrating day in a frustrating week. I was exhausted and thought for a moment about not going to the event. I also had a vendor visit and met her for dinner before the event.  Dinner was great and this is one of my favorite reps so it is always fun to catch up with her but I was cutting the time close and I was not quite sure where I was going. I left the restaurant and turned the wrong direction, of course, and got lost.  As I wound my way around Birmingham, trying to find the Woodlawn section of town and the building I still was not sure I would make it. But I did and it was great.

molly and millieAs I pulled up, my friend Theresa Mince was also pulling into the parking lot. (See her blog post about the evening here.)  We went in and found a small group gathered.  The group was great – passionate men and women who care about community, politics, resources and making where they live a better place.  We talked about politics – what does an excellent leader look like?  What are his/her qualities?  We talked about education. How do we help parents and students know the resources available? One of the most meaningful moments was when Dylan talked about meeting a student and parent face to face to talk about a program the student wanted to get into.  Face to face.  Not e-mail or text or even a blog.  They talked and the student had a face and a voice for Dylan, who seems like a wonderful administrator from the short time I was with her, but who talked about how that encounter made a difference.  Other teachers in the room talked about similar encounters. It is so easy to hide behind our internet and social media presence, but when we sit and talk then we can understand each others stories.  We talked about resources and working together instead of trying to create one more organization to do the same work.  I love the mural project that Kathleen Hamrick talked about creating in Birmingham.   There was much more.

group 2

This reminded me of my years in Grand Rapids, and especially living in the Wealthy Street and East Hills area.  It was the Center of the Universe. (For real. I have a photo of the sign somewhere.) There were people who really cared about the neighborhood and making it a better place to live. Many of them still live there and I watch the change that continues with some envy at times.  I miss my neighborhood.   Neighbors knew one another and watched out for one another.  Developers lived in the buildings they were renovating.  The neighborhood changed and became a place where businesses wanted to locate and where people wanted to live.  When I first moved there I had more than one person question what I was doing moving to “that” part of town.  The change came through engagement.

When I was driving to the pool way too early Friday morning I thought about Tuscaloosa and what has happened since the April 27, 2011 tornado.  We have an excellent leader in Mayor Walt Maddox.  He didn’t just show up for the photo opportunity. He has been part of leading the community back to a better place than it was before.

On Friday I continued discussion with my friend Heather.  I sent her a note, saying I wished she had been able to come but knew she had an important school event with her husband and daughter.  She asked about meeting and I first thought, “not today,” but then said “yes, of course” and I am so glad I did.  We had a great discussion about a wide range of topics – the kind of discussion that leads to something evolving and happening.

I have much more to write but I am in an airport, taking up a coveted plug for recharging, so I will end here for now.  Thursday evening was one more piece in my own journey of thinking about story, faith and health – what will I do and how can I make a difference for other people?  The possibilities are coming to light and I am excited to see where this will lead.

 

Posted in 5k, change, choices, Molly Barker, passion, running, stories | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Questions About Angels: Musing about literature

Questions About Angels by Billy Collins : The Poetry Foundation.

angelsI spent part of last week surrounded by wonderful books, books that were selected with love and care, books that brought back memories of learning to read, of childhood, of my mother’s annoyance for having to read the same book over and over and over because it was the one book that all three of her children loved (and she couldn’t stand the book).  Many of you will say, “aren’t you surrounded by books everyday?? aren’t you a librarian??”  Yes, to both questions.  But my sister’s personal library is a much different collection than the endless books on rows of shelves in a library.  Of course, some of the same books are on the shelves but they have not been loved and shared in the same way.

I came across Questions About Angels, a collection of poems by Billy Collins.  Though I was familiar with Collins and other collections, I had not come across this collection.  The title poem delighted me for a number of reasons. (Click the link and read it. See if it makes you smile too.)  I have continued to dip in and out of this volume over the past several days and have found several poems that contain images that make me pause, phrases that are a pleasure to read and contemplate.

I have thumbed through several volumes of poetry over the past week, however.  There are a number of volumes that were formative in my love of literature and language.  I have never been very good at remembering poetry for some reason but as I have looked at these books and thought about my sister, snippets of poems have been surfacing like lost gems.  Words and images provide comfort and reassurance that all will be well in time.

I also perused novels on the shelves in my sister’s apartment. When she requested that I bring her George Eliot’s Middlemarch and a notebook, I told her that I would finally read Dickens. Three degrees in English and I have never made it through a Dickens novel.  I hope no one rescinds my degrees.  So in her honor, I am reading David Copperfield.  I asked to use her copy, full of notes from her AP teaching, as my reading copy.  She said to keep it as long as I liked.  I feel truly blessed.

 

 

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Review: The With or Without Meat Cookbook

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN.  The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking.  Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association, 2014.  $18.95.

Recipes in The With or Without Meat Cookbook are flexible, full of flavor and simple.  Jackie Newgent has included 125 recipes that cover all meals as well as starters and snacks. Every recipe is plant based and is accompanied by tips on adding meat, poultry or fish.  Nutrition is balanced and meet guidelines for diabetic eating. Recipes include information on exchanges with or without meat.  Tips include ways to add meat to just one serving and to the full recipe.

The introduction explains the concept of flextarianism, someone who eats plant based but also eats poultry, fish or meat from time to time.  Recipes  generally serve 4 and can be easily divided to include meats.  Full of vegetables and whole grains, the recipes are appropriate for diabetics or for anyone who is seeking healthy options for meals.  Tips about how to include more vegetables as well as information about eating a plant based diet are also featured in the introduction.

Caribbean Black Bean Bowl is one example of an easy, flavorful meal.  Ingredients include sweet potato, green bell peppers, gingerroot, garlic, scallions, black beans and grape tomatoes.  This is prepared as a stir fry and is quick to fix.  It also includes several spices, giving it a distinctive taste.  Adding brown rice can make this a complete meal or you cn use the options included for adding pork.  (I will add the recipe when I have a chance to scan it.)

I highly recommend this cookbook.

carribean blackbean

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