Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just Start With Breakfast

You don't know where to begin. You want to eat healthier, and be healthier, but you just can't engineer a system that gets you there.

If you think of it, all you really need is a "foot hold" ~ something to ground you ~ a "set point."

Make it breakfast!

Most people probably run out the door without it, cruising through a drive-thru coffee bar instead.
But taking the time to fix a bowl of cereal (preferably, sugar-free) can re-orient you to what you really want ~ and that's to nourish yourself.

Much of our day is spent responding to things, so why not begin your day from a point of control?

Eating is the one arena in this crazy world, during these crazy times, where we can have some focus, some control ~ and achieve some very good outcomes.

Just a bowl of cereal with some fruit gives you the early morning energy boost your body needs, and it engages your metabolism to start burning calories. That's why you've probably experienced that your are hungrier then, by 10 a.m. Carry some almonds with you to snack on midday to stop those cravings and level out your blood sugars. They'll also get to work doing some good things for your arteries!

Make no other changes for a week ~ but keep that daily routine. Notice the difference it makes.

From there you can figure it out. Just eat more good stuff and eat less bad stuff.

Just pause long enough to notice!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mindful Cooking!

I've just spent the most amazing weekend in the mountains of the San Luis Valley ~ and much of it centered around food.

For four wonderful days a group of women writers enjoyed the peace and tranquility of a Buddhist monastery as we polished our word-smithing skills, while our culinary talents were nurtured in the kitchen. One of the monks both instructed and supervised as we sliced and diced the fresh vegetables and fruits that would star later at our dinner table.

My favorite was a Chinese Noodle Salad: Cooked Udon and rice noodles, layered with grilled tofu and eggplant, along with sauteed carrots, diakon (a large radish-type vegetable), steamed sno peas, and chopped red and orange peppers, English cucumbers, and Chinese cabbage.

The dressing was a combination of equal parts of soy sauce, dark sesame oil, rice vinegar, mirin
(not quite as much), and some finely minced ginger.

This whole process was enhanced by gazing out the window at a beautiful little garden with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as a backdrop.

Absolutely wonderful!

Monday, September 13, 2010

WHAT Are You Doing?

It turns out this is the pivotal question if you are going to eat "mindfully."

So much is about taste ~ the eating experience being "over" once you've swallowed your last bite.

Do you feel bloated, "stuffed", or are you craving more to eat? Then you haven't really nurtured yourself ~ you've just ingested calories because maybe you liked the taste, and perhaps the volume.

If that's the case, you probably find yourself on a pretty low energy frequency that matches well with TV programs that roll one after another, or hours surfing Facebook, or playing video games.
Our bodies, our minds and our hearts gain nothing from it ~ except the desire for more of the same.

It makes it so much easier to ignore our relationships, our inner conflicts, our frustrations and our disappointments. They all make for a good emotional salve, but the energy frequency remains the same ~ sluggish.

What would it be like to unplug, smile into the eyes of the person sharing the couch with you, and take time to appreciate and be grateful for a meal that you know will nourish your body?

Honestly, I used to read stuff like I just now wrote and think that it was all "too far out" for me. I couldn't relate ~ because I didn't want to be fully present when I was sitting down to eat. I saw food as a great escape ~ salivating over mashed potatoes and and salty gravy, buttered bread, meatloaf ~ and anything else that appeared on the table. Back in the day, I was after taste, and I was looking for volume. And I don't remember the people around me really "listening". We were all talking.

I came from a big Catholic family. We said grace before we ate, but I don't think it was with hearts filled with gratitude ~ it was what we had to do before we could eat. It was hard to feel nurtured and satisfied with all that guilt and shame that got dished up routinely in that culture.
So food helped with that sense of deprivation.

I see that now, but I didn't then.

So I offer to you that eating mindfully opens up a whole new world that operates on a much higher frequency.

I like it here so much more!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meet Leeks!

I should tell you just a bit about leeks, since I've referenced a menu item made with leeks at the bottom of my blog page.

You may not even know what they look like! Well ~ like giant green onions! Unlike onions, you have to cook them. They're great in soup ~ I sampled it last night. I don't suggest salting your soup after you serve it because leeks are high in sodium. But that's their only downside ~ far outweighed by the other wonderful nutrients that leeks possess to boost your immune system and keep you healthy (and make you healthier!)

Here's an interesting note ~ when I shopped yesterday, my neighborhood Safeway store didn't have any, but they offered to special order some. The clerk told me she used to always have them in stock, but no one was buying.

Too bad. The fresh produce section has lots of wonderful vegetables just waiting to be discovered!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Everyone ls a Cook!

As people are slowly but surely waking up to the fact that a pharmacy can reside in their kitchens, there's a universal truth that lags in belief.

It is this: Everyone is a cook.

The majority of Americans don't have the confidence, even though they are capable of producing. for example, a tasty marinara sauce for pasta if they have a skillet, some olive oil, a can of diced tomatoes (fresh is better, of course), and onion and some salt and pepper. Anyone can saute some chopped onion in a dab of olive oil, then add the tomatoes and some salt and pepper. Get fancy with Italian seasoning and some Parmesan cheese, and dinner is served!

But we get hung up on ingredients and measurements, just as we do calorie-counting. There's little we can really enjoy about the experience when we're stressing over details.

We can, however, put stuff together ~ and the more you do it, the more you develop the art of cooking. (Even if you're just mixing cans of food!)

For example, to that same tomato concoction, I added some lemon zest, and some diced basil, mint and parsely!

All of that good stuff works to nourish your body and boost your immune system!

The pasta, by the way, doesn't cover the whole plate. You don't have to measure it though ~ just use common sense about portions. Add some other vegetable to the mix instead of eating too much pasta. I also recommend buying the grain pasta, rather than enriched. Better for blood sugar control!

It takes a bit of planning, but once you get in stride with it, you'll find you eat out less, you feel better, and you're saving money!

Check out the section lower on this page on preparing Leek, Potato & Spinach Stew!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Buyer's Remorse

... and it frequently comes after I've eaten out. Like tonight ~ I had gotten a few things at the store to make a Greek salad with a simple pasta dish for dinner tonight, but when my husband got home after three days away, we said: "Let's go out."

Forty dollars later, we asked ourselves, "Why did we do that?"

That's how impulse buying feels ~ rationalizing before as to why you should, and thinking of other ways you could have spent that money if you didn't. Were we celebrating? No. Was it a special treat? No. It just felt like a good idea ~ maybe because we could leave the house.

Any way you look at it, when you're income is stretched, like it is for many of us ~ it was a big price to pay when we could have stayed here, saved the money, and ~ most important ~ probably eaten a much healthier meal!

(As we drove home I thought ~ I could have paid for two extra days of pre-school classes for my granddaughter this week with that money!)

Another example of our heads battling with our hearts ~ we can count on our heads to supply the arguments for going against our hearts ~ every time.

To be mindful here, what I know for sure (as Oprah would put it) is that I get a very good feeling inside when I've put my energy (represented by money) into nurturing myself. I do that with good food ~ and the $13 I spent at the grocery store this afternoon felt a lot better than the $40 I plunked down at the restaurant.

The food was good ~ but not as good as I coud prepare at home. Fortunately, the next meal always provides the opportunity to make another choice!

(Go to my Recipes linked at the bottom of this page to see what I could have had!)