A Mindful Eating Experience

I was planning on writing about something else this week, but after having a truly mindful lunch yesterday (something that’s been slipping for me since the holidays), I felt inspired to write about that experience instead.

I was excited about the meal even before I was hungry, since it was a new recipe a Bermuda Salad from the Moosewood Cookbook. It has steamed green beans, blanched red onions, cheddar cheese (of the almond variety, in my case), and parsley, all marinating in a nice dressing of salt, pepper, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic. I also added some quinoa to give a little more bulk, and had an apple on-hand.

After preparing that, the rest of my morning was spent doing a fair amount around the house, as well as a little shoveling from the blizzard we were getting. Since I’d only had a light breakfast, by the time I sat down to lunch, I was definitely hungry, having a sort of “running on empty” sensation. This made me appreciate my food even more.

Even so, I paused to admire the colors of the salad – lovely green of the beans and parsley, pinkish-red of onions, orange of cheese. I also took a moment to be grateful for the food, as well as for being in a warm, safe place on such a cold, blustery day. Then I began to eat.

With a new recipe you never quite know what to expect, but I wasn’t disappointed. The onions gave a hint of sweetness, the vinegar a touch of acidity, all blending with the other flavors to form a lovely whole. The beans also had a slight snap, which added a nice textural element. Then when I turned to the apple, it had a good crunch as well as perfect balance of sweet and tart to finish the meal.

As I ate, I didn’t read (my usual distraction) or do anything except focus on the food and watch the snow whirling about the windows. I didn’t get bored; quite the opposite. I found myself remembering growing up, helping to pick and snap green beans with my mom. I thought about the farmers who grew the onions, and wondered about whoever first decided to make “cheese” out of almonds.

Watching the trees outside sway in the buffeting wind, I thought about apple picking, how the orchards where I like to pick were enduring the same weather, and how the apple was a testament to everything its parent tree survived in order to produce it, as well as the miracle of the small seeds within that could grow another such tree.

I also noticed how the food impacted my body. I could literally feel the bites nourishing me, my energy returning as I chewed and swallowed, replacing the emptiness with a sense of wellbeing and focus.

Finishing it all off with a mug of warm tea, I felt replenished in so many ways, gaining energy not only from the food but from the mindfulness of it, of allowing myself time to truly engage in what I was doing and appreciate it in all aspects. And it was a useful reminder to me of why this is important to do, especially when I feel like I don’t have time – because that is when I need those moments of tranquility and recharging the most.

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