The Importance of Being Social

This week I hosted a “girls’ night” which included the usual food, drink, and conversation with some amazing people well into the evening. I have always enjoyed cooking and opening my home to family and friends, but most importantly, I know that regular social gatherings with your tribe are important to overall mental health and quality of life. Feeling like you’re part of a community and being able to share stories with others, allows people to connect on a deeper level – different from your day-to-day interactions.

The poet Rumi speaks of the “Open Secret,” which relates to the secret we often all keep from each other. This “secret” is that we are all struggling with the same life issues.  As humans, we all long to be loved, understood, listened to, and respected however, it can feel like we’re being weak to actually disclose these things. For example, when you pass an acquaintance on the street and ask, “How are you?” and they respond, “I’m good, thanks,” this is typically not an actual representation of their wellbeing or mindset. Everyone has stress and worries and fears but we don’t feel it’s appropriate or safe to express this in a quick exchange.

When I had cancer, I always felt the need to respond in an upbeat manner to questions of how I was feeling. I didn’t want to cause any additional worry to my friends or family and never wanted to come off like I was complaining. But how silly of me, of course internally I was thinking, “I feel pretty sh*tty!” At the time it seemed that no one could understand my struggle, and they couldn’t because that was unique to me, but this didn’t mean others weren’t battling their own stress.  It’s natural, human, and even okay to expect struggles. It’s critical to share and be vulnerable so we give each other the space to express what is really going on inside as well as celebrate our many wins in life. Otherwise, keeping our thoughts inside and not sharing can end up being like living in a mental prison.

So get a gathering on the calendar and remember to try and keep it healthy! Below is a delicious hummus recipe I prepared for the  girls’ night. To my personal delight, this received rave reviews. I incorporated butternut squash because it’s important to eat seasonal fresh foods. This practice helps your body to stay away from producing intolerances to eating the same thing all the time. Plus eating fresh can translate into eating local which supports sustainable farming. Additionally, I made beet juice cocktails (tastier than it sounds!) Enjoy!




Butternut Squash Hummus

1 ½ cups roasted butternut squash (half of a 2.5 lb. butternut squash)

1 ½ T olive oil and 1 tsp olive oil

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (about one can, rinsed and drained)

2 T tahini

1 tsp nutmeg

¼ cup of lemon juice

2 T water

½ tsp sea salt

1/16 tsp cumin

freshly ground pepper

1.    Preheat oven to 425

2.    Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds

3.    Rub 1 tsp of olive oil over insides of butternut squash (1/2 tsp on each)

4.    Place olive oil rubbed side down on baking sheet and roast for 30 mins

5.    Remove from oven and let cool

6.    Once cooled, scoop out 1 ½ cups worth

7.    Add butternut squash, 1 ½ T olive oil, chickpeas, tahini, nutmeg, lemon and water to a food processor or blender and process until smooth

8.    Add in spices and blend until well-combined

9.    Serve with veggies or crackers – I served with nut crackers as a gluten-free option and organic Annie’s “Ritz” crackers for the indulgers

10.  Will keep in fridge for up to one week