Oki Doki Carciofi

October 7, 2014

“Silly is you in a natural state, and serious is something you have to do until you can get silly again.”
~ Mike Myers


A friend of mine who lives in Italy once asked me to explain the meaning of “okey-dokey”, the colloquial English language expression for “o.k.”.  I told him the term is similar to the Italian “va bene”, but that it is rather old-fashioned-sounding.  To be truthful,  answering someone with the words “okey-dokey” always seemed kind of goofy to me.

As a young adult, the importance of appearing cool at all times, even when alone, was paramount.  However, now that I’m a bit older, I have come to realize that a little bit of goofiness now and then is not a bad thing.  In fact, less seriousness and more silliness can actually be beneficial to your health.

A link between laughter and the healthy function of blood vessels was first discovered by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center in 2005.  Their findings showed that laughter increases the blood flow by causing the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate in a manner similar to the benefits of aerobic exercise or the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins.  The benefits of laughter, however, are spontaneous and have an immediate effect.

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter causes the release of beta-endorphins in the hypothalamus gland, leading to the release of nitric oxide, which dilates the vessels, in addition to protecting the heart by reducing inflammation and preventing the formation of cholesterol plaque.  Laughing has also been shown to reduce stress hormones as well as to boost the number of anti-body-producing cells, leading to a stronger immune system.

As a yoga instructor, I like to utilize the benefits of laughter by including a pose known as “Happy Baby” (Ananda Balasana, in Sanskrit).  Happy Baby pose is easy to do.  It helps to release the lower back and stretch the hamstrings, all while reclining on the floor.  My version of Happy Baby also includes a bit of laughter, which lifts the mood and benefits the heart.  Don’t do this pose if you are pregnant.  If you have a neck or knee injury, check with your doctor first.

How to do the Laughing Happy Baby:

1)   Lie down on your back, on a rug or yoga mat.

2)   Bend the knees and bring them toward your chest.

3)   Reach up and grab the outer edges of your feet.

4)   Stack your ankles directly over your knees, so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor.

5)   Flex the feet and pull down, drawing your knees out and toward the floor, on either side of your torso.

6)   Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose, filling your lungs completely.  As you exhale, laugh heartily: “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”, expelling the breath with each “ha”.  Do this, inhaling through the nose and exhaling with hearty laughter, at least three times.


Baby yourself with a little laughter.  Try this simple pose once a day.

“A person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused.”
~ Shirley MacLaine


Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Artichoke Hearts: cheesy, creamy, artichokey, yummy!


Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Artichoke Hearts
(Panino alla griglia con formaggio e cuori di carciofi)
Not your everyday grilled cheese, the addition of artichoke hearts to this comfort food classic adds a tasty twist.  Be sure to use plain artichoke hearts, not the marinated kind.

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
Sourdough bread slices
(you will need 16 small or 8 large slices of bread)
Butter, for frying (4 or more tablespoons)


In a medium bowl, mix cheeses, mayo and chopped artichoke hearts until well combined.

If using large slices of bread, cut in half, making two.

Spread about 3/8 cup of the filling between two slices of bread.  Press down a bit with your palm.  Finish with the remaining filling and bread.

In a large skillet, griddle or frying pan, over medium-high heat, melt butter and swirl around the pan to coat.

When butter sizzles, carefully add the sandwiches, no more than two at a time.  Cook a few minutes until bread is golden brown, then carefully flip with a spatula and cook the other side until bread is golden brown and filling is melted.

Serve warm.

Serves 4 to 8


2 Responses to “Oki Doki Carciofi”

  1. Marie

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

  2. Gina

    The legendary commenter has returned! I’m guessing you were both in Happy Baby pose as you wrote that 🙂