August 28, 2011

Mindful Cooking and Eating

When I am cooking, I try to breathe, sway back and forth, and feel the weight in my feet. It helps to simply whisper to myself, “I am cooking”. This reminder helps me notice what is happening and let go of thoughts about past and future.

I am conscious that making food requires energy: the meals I prepare absorb that energy and return it to those who eat them. In turn, I appreciate what’s on my plate much more when I am putting down my fork between bites, breathing, and savoring the flavors of a dish.

To put the techniques of mindful cooking and eating into practice, join me for a hands-on workshop series at the Ayurvedic Center.
Here are the details:
Mindful Cooking and Eating - Thursdays (Sept. 22nd, 29th & Oct. 6th)  
5:30 - 7:30 pm at the Ayurvedic Center of Vermont in Williston
$48 per class includes: hands-on cooking, health benefits of foods, shared meal, and discussion
Drop in or register for all classes by September 1st and pay $129
To pre-register contact 802-872-8898 or

Mindful eating can help people to both maintain healthy eating habits and cultivate greater connection with sources of nourishment. When I am paying attention to what I eat and how I feel while I eat it, I am less likely to over-eat and more likely to purchase ingredients that were not sprayed with pesticides or processed with solvents.

Experiment with reading, either silently or out loud, of these contemplations on food before you eat.
**This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard, loving work.
**May I eat with mindfulness and gratitude.
**I accept this food so that I may nurture others, strengthen my community, and nourish the ideal of serving all beings.
adapted from

August 21, 2011

Menu Planning for Freshness

Research reflects that fresh foods are often less expensive than processed ones. So, let's consider how we might gain access to these foods and set aside time to prepare them. 
>>Once a week, schedule 1/2 hour for yourself to browse through cookbooks and blog posts, choose seven dinner recipes, and make a menu plan. If you would like a menu plan worksheet, email me at
>>Once a week, spend an hour shopping for the items in your seven dinners. Purchase extra quantities so that you can make leftovers for the next day.
>>Set aside time to cook. Two hours weekly, when spent effectively, can yield most meal prep for the seven days ahead. When you are cooking, revise your notion of breakfast and lunch. You can have quinoa, rice, or oats for breakfast with fruits and nuts. You can have pasta for lunch with hard-boiled eggs and salad. Make spice blends that are ready to add to simple grains, proteins and vegetables.
>>Savor your food with friends and family!

Below, we are making spice blends for easy use. This one, which I call Mediterranean Mix, contains rosemary, lavender, basil, thyme, marjoram, and oregano.

August 19, 2011

Considering the Energy of Food

Food is life. As author Barbara Kingsolver writes in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, “all living takes dying”. She would know. Her book chronicles one year of her family’s life spent eating food raised either on their farm or within a 50 mile radius of it. From growing and preserving vegetables to raising and slaughtering poultry, the Kingsolvers did their best to re-connect with their sources of nourishment.

Vermonters may be familiar with this ‘localvore’ concept, which establishes community networks for growing and eating more local food. Both this movement and Transition Town, a grassroots effort to address climate change and provide alternatives to dwindling oil supplies, raise awareness about the need to shift the way we use energy. From the fossil fuel, wood, coal and natural gas that power our technology to the beans, grains, meats and vegetables that allow us to live, society needs resources in order to produce more of them.

Local chanterelle mushrooms
Yet, the current food manufacturing system consumes more than it produces. As Michael Pollan argues in his recent book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, large-scale food production has grown beyond its capacity to sustain itself. With so many options many are left feeling confused about what to eat. As Pollan explains, “what’s at stake in our eating choices is not only our own and our children’s health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth”.

By learning about the impact that our food choices have on the people and places which provide that nourishment, we may begin to notice how food access, or lack thereof, affects our communities and our health. Food Works is a Vermont organization that supports “local food systems by connecting area farmers to under-served populations”. Their ‘Farm to Table’ program delivers local produce to dozens of meal sites, including nursing homes, hospitals, and mental health programs, to serve those who are “nutritionally at risk”.

When a factory produces our food and ships it to the supermarket for us, we forget where it came from and how to use the strength of our bodies to raise it, cook it, and savor it. The more food we buy, the more money we must earn in order to purchase it. How can you divest yourself from this cycle?

Try these ways to reduce energy consumption when acquiring food.

Plant a garden. Visit to find farmers or community gardens with public plots.
Source local food through Vermontagriculture. com. Find farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and purchase or trade work for local produce, grains, meats, cheeses, and more.
Help your neighbors! Meet those whose gardens grow abundantly and work with them in exchange for vegetables.
Preserve food. See the previous post on this blog for easy recipes to preserve greens.
Get involved. Volunteer with the Foodbank’s Gleaning Program and collect excess farm produce for donation to those who could not otherwise access it.

August 15, 2011

Preserving the Harvest

This is the time of year to envision ways we can set aside food for the winter. If you have space in your freezer, consider preserving some of the green abundance of summer so that you do not buy as much from distant lands during the colder months. 
Here are some simple recipes to try. You can do this while you are cooking a meal once or twice a week. 

Lacinata Kale
Blanching Greens (kale, collards, chard, turnip greens or spinach):
  • Put on a big pot of water to boil.
  • Rinse kale.
  • Tear into 2 inch strips or manageable sizes.
  • Place the cut kale in boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.
  • Take kale out of pot with tongs, and place in a colander.
  • Rinse hot kale with cold water.
  • Drain any excess water off greens.
  • Place into freezer bags, labeled with date and type of greens.
  • Press any excess air out of bag and freeze.

Baked Kale Chips (kale, collards, chard, turnip greens or spinach):
About 1 bunch (6 ounces) of greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • Rinse and dry the greens and remove the stems.
  • Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.
  • Store in plastic bags in the fridge...if they last!

Healthy Eating Program

Need to detox, uncover food allergies, feel nourished & satisfied?

I will tailor your Program to your dietary needs and health goals. Programs include shopping lists, prep/menu plans, recipes, mindfulness, & nutritional recommendations.

Click here to try a FREE sample of the Healthy Eating Program.

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