When no one is around and I'm just cooking for myself, I usually want a meal that I can prepare in 10 minutes or less. There's absolutely no pre-planning, I don't normally think to soak some rice, quinoa, legumes- however, when someone was coming over I probably did and will have some left over in the fridge.
I don't make fancy dressings, sauces, or sprout anything when no one else is there to cook for.
What I cook for myself is simple, quick, and intuitive to my nutritional needs. The picture is what I made for lunch today. What you can't see in the photo is that there is (at least) a good 1/4LB of Happy Boy Farm greens in this bowl, squashed and packed in there. From my 2 years of being a raw vegan, Eating massive amounts of salad greens just makes sense to me and comes naturally. I tossed the greens with a tahini dressing I mixed together in a bowl (tahini, oilive oil, hot sauce, lemon, apple cider vinegar, tamari, salt)
The salmon (about 5oz) was pan fried at high heat with just a pinch of salt and few drops of maple syrup. After flipping the fish over I turned the heat to med-low and thew an egg in the pan with another pinch of salt. I had a piece of sprouted wheat bread going stale in the fridge, so I put in in the toaster. Garnished with some hot sauce (burn baby burn from Oakland, CA) This meal took less than 10 minutes to make, and really vibes with my body today. Although it's debatable whether grains and protein should be combined, my digestive fire seems to be hot enough to handle it.
When you come over, we can eat the lentils that I sprouted and cooked with kombu, and the vegan nacho cheese with handmade chickpea burgers, the braised eggplant and hand cut pasta or lasagna. But when I'm alone it's quick and dirty =)
Have you ever opened an bag of chips and before you knew it, you were emptying the last crumbs with not much recollection of eating? Do you want to feel satisfied and not overeat? Want to digest your food better? Looking for a good challenge? Eating mindfully will help you train your mind, eat only what is necessary for your body and digest your food well.
Pre-Step: Do nothing else. No homework, work, reading, watching a movie, thinking about what you are going to do after. Just eat. If you are with friends, be with them in the present moment with your meal, rather that talking memories or plans.
Step ONE: Aesthetics: Set the table in a way that brings you peace. Free the setting of clutter, and give yourself enough room to eat. Put your meal together with love. Arrange the food so it looks good to you. Bonus: light a candle to help you bring your attention back to your eating.
Step TWO: Give thanks. Be thankful for the food in front of you and everything that has brought it to your plate. The sunshine, the farmers, the truck drivers, the worms, your paycheck, your bicycle. There are infinite things to be thankful for. Also, give thanks for your health and the people in your life who you love. You always have a choice to put your attention on what's missing in your life, or what you are grateful for.
Step THREE: Breathe through your nose. Digestion starts with the eyes, then with the smell. When you smell you food you actually activate the digestion in your belly.
Step FOUR: Chew. Your teeth are there to break down your food into mush. Your saliva is a big digestive aid too. Your body is so smart in that the more you chew, the more saliva is secreted, and the easier time your body will have digesting. This is why you should chew your liquids too!
Step FIVE: Slowly. One helpful tip is to put down your fork, spoon, spork, chopsticks with every bite. Chew until you cannot chew anymore. Breathe. And then take another bite. Sometimes I catch myself with another fork-full waiting impatiently at my face while I am chewing. When I notice myself doing this, I put my fork down and give myself a few minutes to relax again. It takes roughly 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it is full. Therefore, if you eat too fast, you won't be getting the signal until it's too late.
Give these steps a try. Try them all or just one at a time. The order is not as important as just trying the ones you are interested in playing with. If your schedule does not allow time for mindful eating, please consider doing a little time management or reformatting of your schedule. Your body will thank you for it.
Eric-James** photo borrowed thanks to thingswelove2.blogspot.com, which is also a good article about mindful eating =)
At my local farmer's market, Blue Heron Farms offers an abundance of organic kale at low cost (as low as 3 big bunches for $3). What do to with so much kale? EAT IT. Add i to your veggie stir fry, beans, soups, or what I like to do: make a meal out of it. I boil some water in a large pot and dunk the kale top first (yes, I keep the twisty tie on the kale and hold on from the bottom). I dunk the kale in the boiling water for a minute or two and then transfer to a ice water bath.
Then I chop the kale up in small pieces, massage in lemon juice, olive oil and salt, and top with blended walnuts, garlic and salt. It's awesome.
Sometimes I get to play in the kitchen with my buddy Lauren. We bought whole and fresh sardines (they were about 8" long), we cut their heads off, cleaned and butterflied them. Dredged them in flour and cooked them on high heat in a cast iron skillet. We seasoned them well with salt, garlic and lemon.
We set up a plate with tomato, a little cheese and a baguette. Such a good, clean, and energizing meal.
Sardines are high in omega 3s, selenium and B vitamins. They are a small fish and don't seem to carry as much toxins (mercury) as bigger fish. They reproduce fast and are abundant (for now).
I went on a BLT craze all last week. I would eat one 3 meals in a row. The reason? Salty, crunchy, sweet and spicy tempeh bacon... with toasted bread, aioli, crunchy romaine, and heirloom tomato. Some people like to get fancy with their BLTs and add a fried egg, avocado, mustard, etc etc, and while I completely respect that, I think a BLT is perfect in its simplicity.
The tempeh bacon method is fun. I cut the tempeh into thin strips, probably 1/8 of an inch. I lay it down on a hot oiled skillet, I sprinkle chipotle powder and salt and then add a little more oil to the top of the tempeh. I'll add a dash of tamari (on high heat this burns the tamari which is why I only use a little, and I want it to burn for the flavor effect I'm going for here).
When the tempeh is dark and toasted on the one side, I flip them. after a few minutes I'll add more tamari to the pan (more than the first time, but not enough that stays in the pan for more than a few seconds). When it's good an dark on both sides I remove from the heat and add a spoonful of maple syrup (not too much or it will be too sweet).
That's all there is to it. Assemble the rest of the ingredients and you're good to go. I think it tastes better if you cut it diagonally =)
I'm into making pasta. It's really fun and it really doesn't take all day, although it's fun to make a day out of it. This week I made some quinoa flour pasta. I use quinoa flour, a touch of organic tapioca starch, a couple teaspoons of guar gum, salt, and if I have some fresh herbs around I'll throw it in too.
I mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add egg yokes one at a time. This week I found myself blowing through so many yokes that I used a splash of the egg whites to supplement. I've used the whole egg and I find it doesn't turn out as well (not as rich).
I want the dough to be workable and not sticky. When I get it the perfect balance, I let it sit in a damp towel for 30 minutes.
After I let it sit, I knead it again before pinching off pieces the size of a golf ball (maybe a little bigger), rolling it out and cutting into pasta strips. Sometimes I roll it out and put it through a hand-crank pasta cutter. That's fun too. I have to keep dusting the dough and the work surface with more quinoa flour to keep things from sticking. If I end up sticking the pasta to my board in a couple spots, I'll take my knife and work it under to help release it without tearing it.
To cook: Add pasta to salted boiling water until it's floating (1-3 minutes). Mix with olive oil & salt, or your favorite sauce.