Sunday, May 20, 2012

Being Mindful

It is so easy to rush through the day from one task to the next and never really stop and pay attention to the moment. When life gets hectic, I have to make a real, constant effort to pay attention to each task and to be aware of what’s going on.

Being present and mindful is especially important when it comes to food for me as I am an emotional eater. I am certainly a lot more mindful these days then several years ago, but when things get stressful, uncomfortable, overwhelming, and scary, I tend to “forget” about what I am putting into my mouth. I don’t truly look at the food; I don’t really taste the food; and I therefore easily eat a lot more food than I need. I may also “forget” to eat mainly plants.

Planning meals and scheduling time to eat throughout the day helps me a lot to pay more attention to what I am eating. But there are still times when I don’t pay as much attention as I should.

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a  new app for my phone to keep track of the food I eat. Since I don’t count calories or points, and really never have, I like that the app is very simple; I simply input whenever I eat something. Writing down everything I eat certainly makes me more aware. There are many apps out there that do very similar things. I chose My Diet Journal because it’s easy to use and free. I don’t really like the word “diet” in the title, and I am looking at the “diet” part as “the things I eat in a day.”

My Diet Journal
To be completely honest, I started inputting everything I ate about four weeks ago, but after a few days, in the midst of life being unusually hectic, I convinced myself that it took too much time. When I’m really honest with myself, I just didn’t make it enough of a priority. How long does it really take to input a meal into a simple smart phone app? About a minute or two. Did I truly not have an extra minute? I think we all know the answer to this question. I think it was just easier at the time not to acknowledge what I was putting into my mouth (both when it comes to quantity and quality).

So a few days ago, I started again. No more excuses.

How is it going? Well. I like keeping track of what I am eating, and it certainly makes me think if I really need that handful of chips or those pieces of chocolate after lunch (not that there is anything wrong with either, but often it’s just not necessary). Sometimes I also write down how I am feeling. This is especially helpful when I “forget” to write something down (like the late night bowl of ice cream that I added the next morning. It certainly wasn’t necessary, but I wanted something to calm my nerves. I think a cup of herbal tea would have worked much better…). In addition to food, I am also keeping track of my vitamins, which I have been taking very inconsistently.

So for the time being, I will continue to write down what I eat to check in with myself and to help me to become as mindful as I would like to be again.Questions: Do you keep track of what you eat? If so, how? How mindful are you throughout the day? How mindful are you when you eat?
Be well,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hot Lunch: In the Kitchen with the Sous Chef

The kid has a very interesting relationship with food as he tends to become obsessed with a particular food item; luckily it’s usually something healthy. Whatever food he is obsessed with, he’ll ask to eat any chance he gets before he gets finally tired of it. The problem is that he doesn’t always find a new item to replace the old one with so easily.

For a long time, the kid was eating a sandwich for lunch – more specifically, an organic nitrate/nitrite-free salami cucumber sandwich. I tried to switch things up many times, but he didn’t want to hear anything about it. A few weeks ago, he clearly got tired of his salami cucumber sandwiches, but it was hard to come up with a new lunch, and he often simply didn’t eat lunch and brought the sandwich back home. Yet, he refused to take anything else. He did make up for it by eating a big snack/late lunch when he got home though.

Then, one day, he said that he wanted hot lunch. His school has a good hot lunch program with local, organic food, but since it’s almost the end of the school year, it’s a bit late to sign up. Plus, I prefer making our food myself.

So we brainstormed and decided to make hot lunch ourselves. We bought a new lunch box, a thermos, and went shopping for the ingredients together. We made a simple pasta dish with onions, mushrooms, peas, a few tablespoons of half & half, and Parmesan cheese, and so far it is a hit. Now I’ll just have to find a way to convince him to switch things up…

If you want to check out how our cooking/assembling went, you can check out (parts of) our (long) video (which we made at the end of a looooong day…).

Questions: Growing up, what was your favorite lunch? Did you buy lunch or take it from home? Any funny lunch stories you’d like to share? I don’t remember much about my own lunches as they were pretty boring sandwiches. The kid’s older brother once “collected” sandwiches in his backpack when he was in middle school. At the end of the school year when I cleaned out his backpack, I think I found about ten completely rotten sandwiches…. I still get a visceral reaction when I think about it…

Be well,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rhubarb Strawberry Apple Sauce

Life continues to be busy, and unfortunately there hasn’t been much time for blogging. But we do make sure to make time for some fun in the kitchen, and the kid and I have been enjoying doing the dishes together. I hope that’s something we’ll enjoy doing together for a long time…

We got some rhubarb in our last CSA box, and I decided to make a sauce out of it. Since rhubarb is quite tart and there were only four stalks in the CSA box, I also used the strawberries and the apple that were in the box.

I remember rhubarb from when I was growing up. My mom grew lots and lots of it, but I never liked it very much, maybe because my mom usually cooked it by itself with very little sugar (which I appreciate now!), and it was just too tart for me.

Over the years, I have sampled various rhubarb pies, which I liked, but I always thought they must contain a ton of sugar because they were usually quite sweet and not tart at all…

I ended up really liking the sauce I made, and I ate it with Greek yogurt and also stirred some in some oatmeal. The strawberries and the apple added natural sweetness and took away some of the tartness of the rhubarb, and I added only a little bit of organic sugar. The sauce was still tart but pleasantly so. Maybe my taste buds are changing as I’m getting older… Smile

Rhubarb Strawberry Apple Sauce 
  • Rhubarb stalks (I used four)
  • Strawberries (I used  one container) – The sweeter and riper the strawberries the better
  • 1 apple
  • Organic sugar, to taste – I used about 2 teaspoons
  1. Cut the ends off the rhubarb and peel off the fibrous strings.
  2. Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces.
  3. Cut the strawberries and apple into pieces.
  4. Put the fruit into a pot with a few tablespoons of water.
  5. Cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until the fruit becomes soft.
  6. Smash the fruit with a fork, leaving some bigger pieces.
  7. Add sugar to taste before taking the sauce off the heat.

I’m glad the rhubarb showed up in our CSA box, as it made me give it a second chance. I’ve seen lots of rhubarb at the Farmers’ Market in the last few weeks, but I don’t think I would have picked any up… Trying new fruits and vegetables or giving them a second chance is one of the things I love most about our CSA box!

Questions: Do you like rhubarb? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat it? What’s a fruit/vegetable from your childhood that you didn’t like then but love now? I used to seriously dislike beets and now can’t get enough of them.

Be well,