This Friday, Jan. 20, is Inauguration Day in the US; Donald Trump will take the oath of office to become the 45th president of the United States.
No matter what end of the political spectrum you occupy, you’d have to agree the nature of American political discourse was dumbed-down during the recent election… and with the recent allegations that Russia has something very incriminating on President Elect Trump — and the subsequent discussions of how illicit this could be — this degradation of discourse shows no sign of waning.
There’s some irony in the fact the soon-to-be leader of the free world is a onetime reality TV star. This melancholy aside, however, what concerns me is this: Is anyone still considered smart these days?
As I mused last week, everyone has an opinion. Worse still, everyone seems willing to share their opinion, regardless of how ill-informed it may be. From fake news to those aforementioned reality TV “stars” to the too-much-information nature of social media, I sometimes feel as if we’re drowning in ignorance. Our society’s former trust in higher learning and professional experience has been blasted to bits by revelations of narcissism and abuse.
I’ve long believed in the adage “better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you’re stupid than open it and prove it” in situations where my intelligence could be tested. But we can’t always keep quiet (even though it may be the best thing for us). And it turns out there’s more ways to prove your acumen. The Atlantic recently compiled a number of proven tactics that make you appear intelligent, even if your IQ and the majority of your words say otherwise:
• Wear glasses (at least the “nerd” stereotype is pervasive in this ever-changing world)
• Be physically attractive, especially if you’re blessed with a long face, narrow nose and chin (win some, lose some)
• Don’t drink in public, especially at work-related functions (sadly, it’s usually work-related functions that require the most alcohol to tolerate)
• Use your middle initial when signing your name to anything (it makes you look like a published author)
• Don’t use big words (especially if you don’t know what they mean)
• Walk at the same pace at those around you (sure).
Of course, all these options are offered with tongue firmly in cheek, for the most part. I’m reminded of another adage when it comes to sharing intelligence: KISS, which stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” There is no substitute for being concise and coherent. Also, a dose of humility never hurt anyone, whether you’re a lowly peasant or a president.
One way to eat smart is to incorporate legumes — commonly referred to as beans — in your diet. High in fibre, protein and a range of vitamins, they are a nutritional powerhouse.
They’re also cheap! Whether you buy them dry and soak to reconstitute, or purchase ready-to-use in cans, there’s no greater nutritional bang for your buck. They’ll certainly help drain the post-holiday swamp of excess many of us are carrying around in our bodies.
Packed with veggies and soul-soothing flavour, biryani is a catch-all term for a south Asian mixed rice dish.
One-Pot Chickpea Biryani
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, halved
2 cups cauliflower, chopped
1 cup green beans, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 teaspoon garam masala spice blend
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 cups basmati rice
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. garam masala spice blend
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup cashews or almonds, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
Chopped cilantro for garnish
In a large pot, warm 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they start to brown, about 7 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
In same pot, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Toss in cauliflower, green beans and carrot, and sauté until they start to soften up and get browned in a few spots, about 5 minutes. Fold in chickpeas, garam masala, garlic, and ginger and cook for another minute to mix the spices. Remove from heat, remove all the veggies from the pot, and reserve.
In that same pot, warm coconut oil over medium heat. Add rice, cinnamon, bay leaf, garam masala, ginger and garlic, and sauté until spices start to smell, about 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is tender and liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes.
To serve, fluff rice with a fork, fold in veggies, three-quarters of the onions, nuts, and raisins. Top with some cilantro and the rest of the onions and serve immediately.