#AtoZChallenge — Mindful Eating

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


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Freshly made pasta is AMAZING. (This photo was taken before I started the keto diet, heh.)

Mindful eating is the practice of cultivating an open-minded awareness of how the food we choose to eat affects one’s body, feelings, mind, and all that is around us.

(source)

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t exactly encourage mindful eating. Eating was something I would always do at great speed, to the point where I would get scolded for rushing through dinner. I just didn’t want to sit at the dinner table any longer than I had to. It was all “What did you do today,” which I always found mind numbingly boring because it didn’t seem like actually talking so much as just going over itineraries.

I’ve also realized, upon reflection, that meals growing up were always very portion controlled and… kind of like being on a diet without anyone ever really needing to or saying the word diet. My dad likes to cook, and when I went off to college I didn’t realize that chicken stock and similar things could actually be bought in stores rather than made at home. Homemade stock, homemade tomato sauce, and homemade burgers cooked in the oven on little racks so all the fat (and moisture, and flavor) dripped out. Desserts were for special occasions, or if we had extra pears that my dad felt like poaching and making a simple syrup for, or sometimes just raspberries from the backyard with a little sugar and cream. If we had garlic bread, there were exactly four servings of garlic bread and no extras.

There was always one protein, one starch, and one vegetable, all of which were mandatory. Concessions were made for my dislike of certain vegetables, so I was never dragged kicking and screaming into eating a salad but I did choke down my fair share of broccoli. And if I took a really big scoop of mashed potatoes, or of rice, or of pasta, I often got a brief reminder not to eat too much starchy, bready things because then I might get fat.

When I savored food, it was in the somewhat rare evenings where we went out, or when I was at my Grandma’s house. Even then, I didn’t think too much of it.

Living in Sonoma County has changed my relationship with food entirely. Most of the restaurants around here have farm-to-table leanings, so everything is fresh and vivid and delicately nuanced with flavor. It’s that moment when you close your eyes and eat slowly, so slowly that in some moments you don’t even necessarily chew because you’re too distracted by just tasting, experiencing the moment.

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Chocolate Avocado Parfaits, with fresh raspberries and Pamela’s gf graham crackers crumbled up.

Kristen talks in her Healthy Eating Blog ‘Eating The Moment‘ post about how “eating often leaves us with feelings of guilt. We don’t listen to our bodies, but give in to our minds that are tricking us into thinking we’re hungry.” I remember experiencing that. But the more I take the time to savor my food, the less guilt I feel.

Also, now that I’m on the keto diet I pay a lot more attention to what I eat and experiment more with healthy recipes that I can make in our new slow-cooker, and that’s a whole new world of appreciation too. I even borrowed a book from the library (volunteer shelving leads to finding some interesting gems, let me tell you) full of low-sugar baking recipes and tips for using less processed sugar. I’ve made chocolate avocado parfaits, low sugar pumpkin cupcakes with honey-cream cheese frosting, dark chocolate coconut cups… Healthy desserts! And they were delicious.

I haven’t read the book that Kristen’s post is talking about, but I’m all for mindful eating. What about you? What kind of eating habits were you raised with, and how have they changed over time?

A to Z Challenge #25 — (Greek) Yogurt

I was introduced to the miracle of Greek yogurt parfaits through, of all things, a marketing job at a flatbread bakery.

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“Greek yogurt with honey is spread on a lavash sheet, followed by an assortment of berries, banana pieces and granola and then rolled up tight and sliced into bite size pieces.” (x)

First of all, it tastes fantastic and is a pretty easy breakfast to throw together and then carry out the door. Second, sometimes my job involved making these and feeding them to people while explaining that it tastes amazing and you can make lots of similarly delicious things with the bread.

I have since branched out to the Greek Yogurt and honey parfaits at Starbucks, and making my own at home. (As far as I’m concerned, the best brand of Greek yogurt is Fage, hands down, no contest.)

When I don’t have fresh fruit, I substitute jam — not quite as fresh and tasty, but still good. I should start going to the local Farmers Market!

What are your favorite parfait ingredients?

A to Z Challenge #7 — Gluten Free

My Grandpa is a tall, quiet man. He’s losing his hearing these days, but even before that I always knew him as a gentle giant and a good guy. Before he was diagnosed with celiac disease he was plagued by mysterious intestinal pain (which was a burden he bore quietly) and bad cholesterol. He became gaunt and pale. On medical advice he stopped singing with the tenors in the church choir, because long periods of standing left him dizzy.

Once he was finally diagnosed, Grandma had her work cut out for her. She’s alway been the matriarchal cook and hospitality expert of the family — I think it has something to do with being from Tennessee, and all that southern hospitality stuff. But this was back when I was in high school, in the mid 2000’s. At the time, there was one shelf in Whole Foods dedicated to certified gluten free foods, maybe two. There was only one GF flour blend that was easy to find (might have been Bob’s Red Mill, might not’ve been) so whenever Grandma wanted to bake she did a lot of her own blends, buying pure rice flower, chickpea flower, tapioca flour, potato starch, etc., and xanthan gum, which she once told me is like buying gold.

Continue reading “A to Z Challenge #7 — Gluten Free”