I invited a dear friend of mine, Susan Guillory, to contribute a blog on mindful eating. Susan is a mover and shaker in the whole foods movement. In the 1970s, she co-founded Bread & Circus, a whole foods market chain in the Boston area with her former husband, Anthony Harnett. The Bread & Circus stores were later acquired by Whole Foods. In conjunction with the stores Susan taught healthy cooking for 22 years.
It was the 1960’s and Michio Kushi was introducing mainstream America to mindful eating for the first time. His method was the Zen Macrobiotic diet, which incorporated the slow eating of healthy Japanese foods. I was lucky enough to learn of his teachings from my neighbor in New York City, while I was attending NYU. On the weekends we took many jaunts to Boston where Michio was giving bi-weekly lectures on "the Order of the Universe" at the Arlington Street church. One of the premises of that yin-yang based philosophy was the importance of eating slowly enough to "drink" one's food by chewing it 50 times per bite. It was recommended to "chew" your drinks slowly too, by sloshing them around in your mouth before swallowing. Kushi explained that digestion begins in the mouth and when food is first mixed with saliva, the remaining organs have an easier job.
I digested these teachings and kept them close until my little ones were first eating solid foods. I made up a song for them, to the tune of "Row Your Boat" that went like this; "chew, chew chew your food with your little mouth, happily, happily, happily go your little teeth.” I was conscious that family activities like this plant the seed for mindful awareness that can last a lifetime.
To this day I enjoy discovering new teachings of mindful eating, like Savor the book which offers these lessons from a meditative perspective. Dr. Cheung’s valuable nutritional information makes it the preeminent book of healthy, mindful eating.
To this end – please enjoy a couple of my favorite recipes for slow, mindful eating. All of them are best served hot so plan cook-time accordingly.
Brown Rice & Butternut Squash
Serves 4 with leftovers
1 cup long grain brown rice
2 cups water or vegetable stock
(+1/2 teaspoon salt if cooking with water only)
Combine ingredients in saucepan with a lid. Let mixture come to a boil then simmer on very low heat for 50 minutes. Turn off heat and let rest for 15 minutes, covered for another 15 minutes.
Oven roasted butternut squash
1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in 2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, mix all ingredients and place in covered baking dish. Cook for 20 minutes or until tender.
Tofu with greens
Serves 4 with leftovers
1 box firm or extra firm tofu
1/2 cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1 small knob fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1 bunch chopped scallions
1 small Chinese cabbage or 4 Bok Choy or 2 bunches spinach
2 tablespoons sesame or canola oil
Remove tofu from box and cut into desired pieces, i.e. 1 inch. Place in bowl and add half of the soy sauce, 2 of the chopped scallions and the ginger. The tofu can marinate for any length of time from overnight to 10 minutes. Wash and chop greens, heat oil in large sauté pan and add the remaining scallions. Stir for a few minutes then add greens and remaining soy sauce, stir. After one minute add the tofu with its sauce and mix well. Cover pan and cook at low heat for 10 minutes.
Photo Credit: Woodley