Mindful Eating

Just last night I was discussing eating habits with a good friend of mine.  We talked about unhealthy diets and the over-eating epidemic that’s going on in the States right now.  (Although she is generally very healthy) she confessed to me, “I’m proud of myself.  I just learned to stop eating my meals before I got to the point of being overly full.  You know, when you feel like your stomach is so big you just want to lay down and take a nap for a while.” I think everyone can relate to this- even kids.  One out of every there kids are overweight or obese.  It is pretty obvious that many young people should be eating better.  – But kids as well as adults need to start being more mindful and appreciative of their food.

Coincidentally, I just came across an interesting article that I thought would be perfect to share on this blog.  As a yoga teacher who has taught the young and older, I have repeatedly expressed the important philosophy of “mindfulness.”  The instructions to being more mindful are quite simple, but to truly practice mindfulness even some of the time is challenging and takes effort.  Nevertheless, it is critical to utilize while eating, which is what this particular article touched on.  Mindfulness is purely being where you are in the present moment.  It is being aware of your surroundings – soaking up every piece of life you are privileged enough to enjoy.  It is noticing the shapes of the clouds, the eyes of the passerby, the way your body moves so uniquely to anyone else as you walk and run.

As a child, we are given the blessing of automatically thinking and feeling in this way when we play. (As adults, this is often lost.)  Being present and conscious of our feelings and of our world is so important to creating a positive and fruitful life.  It is key to experiencing true appreciation for the way things exist.  From my own personal experience and research, I believe this kind of practice offers great emotional and physical health, as well.  It is so important because it is how we can tap in and listen to our higher selves to understand what we really need and desire in life to live fully. But how can one practice this mindfulness while eating?

Mindful eating is as this New York Times article describes: ” … not a diet, or about giving up anything at all. It’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it. You can eat a cheeseburger mindfully, if you wish. You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough. Or that it really needs some salad.”

All you have to do is take your time.  If you can, cook and prepare meals yourself or with family (stay away from take-out).  This helps build a greater bond with your food.  Take the time to appreciate what you have in front of you. When you’ve sat down to eat, focus on your meal without talking, watching TV, or reading.  Look at your food, take a small bite and taste it.  Let it sit in your mouth and really absorb all of the flavor.  Maybe you could even put your fork down as you chew and swallow.  Just go slowly.  Feel a connection to your food.  Touch it, smell it, and bask in the pure beauty and color of your senses.  Mindful eating will help everyone better understand the absolute vitality of healthy eating – how your body responds to what you put into your mouth and stomach and if you are in fact, really hungry or just indulging!

Next time you eat (or are eating with your child), encourage yourself or others to take time.  Nothing is more important than what goes inside of your body; what fuels your heart to pump your blood and keeps your lungs soaking up oxygen.  Unconscious binge eating of sugary and refined foods is at the center of America’s eating, health, and even environmental issues.  Let’s begin our journey to a healthy relationship with food starting at the family dinner table, through eating habits that really pay attention.

Apple Cartwheels


Apple recipes are great for making sweet dishes also nutritious. Apple Cartwheels (by www.tasteofhome.com) combine an alluring mixture of apples, creamy peanut butter, honey, raisins, and chocolate chips.

Ingredients: ¼ cup of peanut butter 1 tsp of honey ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips 2 tbsp of raisins 4 medium-size unpeeled Red Delicious apples, cored

All you have to do is combine the peanut butter and honey in a mixing bowl, then the chocolate chips and raisins. Fill the centers of the apples with the mixture and refrigerate for about an hour. Finally, cut the apples into ¼ inch rings and enjoy!  This recipe is moderately low in calories (50 per apple ring) but will fill you up quickly!

NEED A FEW GOOD REASONS SHOULD YOU EAT MORE APPLES?

1. Eating apples (the biting and chewing) keeps cavities away.

2. Apples can reduce your risk of many cancers.

3. They are high in soluble fiber, which decreases the risk of diabetes.

4. Apples decrease cholesterol and keep your heart healthy.

5. Eating more apples will also keep disease away by increasing immune system function and are helpful inmaintaining a healthy liver!

 

Eat up :]

Spice Up Your February With Shakshuka!

During our fine Februaries, it is easy to tire of winter . . . and winter squash, potatoes, carrots, beets, and turnips–those once-exciting storage crops that have been sustaining us since November. If you’re finding yourself positively bored with your usual winter flavors–with no sign of spring in sight–try this remarkably tasty and wonderfully easy recipe for dinner one night.  You won’t be disappointed.

Shakshuka adapted from Epicurious.com

This dish comes out great with jalepeños, but I’ve made it without in a pinch, and it’s tasty that way too.  Good quality local eggs and feta will really make a difference here.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium or large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked until tender, or 1 15 oz can
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes, or a 28 or 32 oz can, crushed or whole and crushed during cooking
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Warm pita bread
Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat*. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeños; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add chickpeas, paprika, and cumin and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add crushed tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta evenly over sauce. Crack eggs one at a time and place over sauce, spacing evenly apart. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 5–8 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Serve with pita for dipping.

*Since acidic tomato juices can damage the finish on your cast iron, try using an enameled cast iron pot or other ovenproof skillet for this dish.

Turnip and Apple Salad

Raw fruits and vegetables are not just tasty – they also contain all of the natural enzymes and nutrients that are partially taken out when they are cooked.  Eating more raw foods in your diet will increase your energy levels, let you sleep better, and increase mental clarity.  – And  the best thing about eating a lot of raw foods? You can eat as much of them as you want!

Preparing raw food is also usually much quicker and easier than cooking something else. Next time you’re looking for a snack or something light and yummy to add to your meal, try this raw turnip and apple salad.  Yes, root veggies are great raw, too!

Ingredients 1/2 raw turnip grated 2 large green apples grated Fresh parsley chopped Juice of 1/2 lemon Salt & pepper to taste

Chop/grate it all up, mix it in a bowl, and you’re ready to eat!

Feel free to experiment with chopped apples and turnips versus grated.  Texture can often determine your favorite and least favorite dishes.

Peanut Butter Squash Brownies

It’s almost February, which means that eating healthy and seasonal foods becomes a bit more difficult.  Winter time isn’t the most fruitful of seasons – but don’t fret!  There are still locally-grown veggies and fruits in Vermont that you can find at your co-op or farmer’s market.  Apples, beets, cabbages, carrots, potatoes, onions, winter squashes, and turnips are all still available.

Winter squashes may be unmarked territory to some but they are surly a delicious treat.  Butternut squash is one of the most popular choices for its great taste, high nutritional value, and easy storage over winter time.  This squash contains many anti-oxidents and large amounts of vitamin A (over three times the recommended daily allowance!), folates, riboflaven, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.  Butternut squash is one of the top dietary choices for alpha and beta carotene. It does not contain any cholesterol or saturated fats and is very high in fiber and phyto-nutrients.  Additionally, it is rich in minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, copper, potassium, and phosphorous.  Squash in general are very low in calories and are great for maintaining a healthy weight.

Butternut Squash is also anti-inflammatory, may help regulate blood-sugar levels, and prevent cardiovascular disease!

Have I convinced you to begin eating more squash, yet?  Awesome!  Here is a great recipe that kids will love to eat and help make.

PEANUT BUTTER SQUASH BROWNIES

Ingredients:

1 Egg (or egg replacer) 1 cup Peanut Butter 1/2 cup Honey 1/2 cup Butternut Squash Puree** 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda *Be sure to save your squash seeds as they are also super healthy and filled with protein!  Try roasting them.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 square pan for later.

2. Beat the eggs, peanut butter, and honey together until smooth. Then add the squash and baking soda until well mixed.

3. Pour into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.  You can stick a toothpick into the center to check to see if the brownies are ready.  If the toothpick comes out clean, then they are ready to go!

** To make fresh puree, simply cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the cut-side down in a roasting pan and pour in a little water. Bake at 350 degrees until tender.  Let the squash cool, then cut off the skin and puree in a food processor or mash yourself.

ECO-FRIENDLY ALERT!

Try buying your winter squash organic if possible! Recent agricultural studies displayed that winter squash is a successful crop for use in remediation of polluted soils.  PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are dangerous and unwanted contaminants found in soil.  However, winter squash plants have been used effectively to pull PAHs out of the soil!  Even if winter squash is not planted as an intermediary plant (between other food crops for purposes of increasing soil health), the benefits still remain in squash’s ability to turn polluted soil into safe soil.  Buying organic winter squash will help to reduce and reverse affects of contaminants in the ground.

Apple Tart

The gift of Apple Tart!  Everyday Chef loves to celebrate the holidays with a well-earned sweet treat.  Here’s a delightful recipes that’s adapted from David Tanis’s og gourmet.com excellent collection of dinner menus, A Platter of Figs.

Apple Tart

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) cold butter in thin slices
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg beaten, plus enough ice water to make 1/2 cup

Filling

  • 8 medium apples (about 3 lbs)
  • 1 cup sugar, maple syrup, honey or ice cider for the glaze
  • 1/4 cup sugar for sprinkling on apples
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water

Preparation

Put flour, butter, and salt in a bowl.  With your fingers, work the butter into the flour until it looks mealy, with some large flecks of butter remaining.  Pour the egg-ice mixture into the bowl and quickly knead the dough for a minute or two, until it comes together.  It will be soft, sticky, and though gathered together, a little rough looking.

Sprinke dough with a little flour and pat into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.  Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready, divide the pastry in half (there will be enough for two tarts–you can freeze one half for another time).  Roll out the pastry into a rectangle, approximately 11 x 16 inches.

Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and let it relax, then trim the edges to fit the pan with a little edging up the sides; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Peel the apples and cut into thin slices.  Prepare your glaze by dissolving sugar, maple syrup, honey or ice cider in 1/2 to full cup of water over medium heat.  Simmer to a thick syrup.  Arrange the apples over the pastry in several rows, overlapping them like cards in solitaire.  At this point you could refrigerate the tart for up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Sprinkle the sugar generously over the apples and bake until they are browned and the pastry is crisp, about 45 minutes.  Cool on a rack.  Just before serving, reheat glaze and paint apples with glaze.  Slice into small rectangles and serve.  (Alternately this recipe still works well if you bake the tart initially with the glaze on it instead of applying it afterwards.)

Localvore Cranberry Sauce

Localvore Cranberry Sauce, from the Domestic Diva
Ingredients
  • 1 lb cranberries
  • 1/2 lb local quince or apples
  • 1-2 cups water (apple cider works will, but finished product will be less traditional in flavor)
  • 2-4 tbs local apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4-1 cup maple syrup
  • salt

Preparation

Cut up quince or apples, place in pot with cranberries and water/cider and vinegar.  Cook until cranberries are beginning to soften.  Add a pinch or two of salt and a good dollop of syrup.  Taste.  Add additional salt and syrup as desired until cranberry sauce tastes the way you want it.  Chill and serve.
Additional items to add:
  • Oranges or orange zest
  • Pomegranite seeds or juice
  • Ginger
  • White or brown sugar
  • Any other flavoring or spice you desire

Market Watch Talks Cranberries!

Locally grown cranberries are available from the Vermont Cranberry Company! Look for their brand in your local co-op.  Also, check out the following excerpt from RAFFL staff member Kris Smith’s Market Watch column.  She goes through the how-to of her VT cranberry sauce. Yum.

With sage in the air and the long-awaited turkey holiday quickly approaching, the Localvore Challenge is in full swing. For anyone who is still on the rocks about the challenge, I have two words for you: cranberry sauce. Making your own cranberry sauce literally takes five minutes and can be easily accomplished using all local ingredients, thanks to farms like Vermont Cranberry Company out of East Fairfield.To start your sauce, combine one cup of local cranberries with a ¼ cup of Vermont maple syrup and ¼ cup of water in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat for five minutes, or until all the cranberries are popped, stirring every now and then. My partner and I loved this recipe so much that we ate the full amount in one sitting, so plan according for your family size. If you have a group of ten at your Thanksgiving feast, I would at least triple or quadruple this recipe. Check your nearest co-op for local cranberries!

 

(Leftover!) Turkey Curry

The Domestic Diva’s Curry goes together just like her soups, based on your personal preferences and tastes. Please use this recipe as a guide and add or subtract vegetables and spices as you see fit. The Domestic Diva’s Turkey Curry

  • 2-5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2-2 inched of ginger, minced
  • 2-3 large onions, cut into medium pieces
  • 1-2 peppers, cut into medium pieces. Diva prefers colored peppers
  • 1/4-1 hot pepper, think jalepeno or thai chili, diced finely
  • 1-2 potatoes and/or sweet potatoes, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/2-1 head of fennel and/or celeriac, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/2- 1 rutabaga or turnip, cut into medium pieces
  • 3  carrots, cut into medium pieces
  • Whatever other firm vegetables you have on hand.
  • 1-2 cans of coconut milk
  • 1-2 large cans of diced tomatoes
  • Meat, raw or cooked (optional)
  • Spices: cumin, coriander, curry, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, chili or chipotle powder, salt and pepper

Preparation Place onions and garlic in the stock pot with oil and cook until fragrant.  Introduce raw meat if desired. Cooked meat will be added later.  Add vegetables one at a time, allowing them to cook and begin to let go of some of there “flavor”. Until all vegetables are in pot and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Add one can of coconut milk and one can of tomatoes.   Add cooked meat if desired. If you are adding fish wait until later.  If you desire more liquid you can add more coconut milk and tomatoes, or water/stock, and if you have white wine on hand some of that.  Taste.  Begin to add the desired seasonings one at a time.  Taste after each addition.  Continue to add spices until your desired flavor has developed. Allow to cook on low, until all vegetables are soft. If using fish add it when the vegetables are done cooking and cook until the fish is done.   Serve over rice. Super easy, freezable, and a great way to use left over Turkey from the holidays!

Brussels Sprout, Parsnip, and Leek Au Gratin

Add this dish to your localvore holiday!  Thanks to the Domestic Diva for sharing this tasty recipe with us. Ingredients • 5 parsnips, peeled, halved and cut into half moons • 2 large leeks, halved, cleaned,sliced into half moons • 1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed, cut in half, quartered • 1 cup cream or dairy cream substitute • 2 cloves of garlic, minced • 1/2 half white onion or 1 shallot diced, finely • 2 tbs corn starch (if using all local ingredients, use a local flour–but add it slowly to prevent lumps) • 1/4 stalk fresh rosemary • 1 stalk fresh thyme • 1/4 to 1 cup of cheddar cheese, grated • 1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (if using all local ingredients, try an aged Vermont goat cheese in lieu of Parmesan) • 1/2 to 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs, optional

Directions Saute leeks and parsnips in oil, butter, or bacon fat until tender. Place in medium oven-safe dish.  Saute brussel sprouts until browned and outer leaves become tender.  Season with salt and white pepper.  Add brussel sprouts to parsnips and leeks in the oven-safe dish.

In a sauce pan combine cream, garlic, and onion. Heat until hot.  Add corn starch. Whisk until smooth or puree in food processor.  Add rosemary and thyme and cook until warm and thick.  Add cheddar cheese, let melt. Taste, season with salt and pepper.  Remove rosemary and thyme stalks. For thicker sauce add more corn starch, whisking until smooth.

Pour sauce over vegetables and toss until well coated.  Bake in oven at 350F until thick, bubbly, and sprouts are tender, NOT mushy. Top with parmesan cheese and panko crumbs and bake until golden brown.

If traveling with this dish, pre-bake until warm and bubbly. Reheat at destination with parmesan and panko.

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