Zero Calorie Foods, If/Then Snacking, Saying Grace and 3 Fab NYC Kitchen Supply Stores

 

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Have you ever noticed how extremely grateful dogs seem to be when you throw them a bone or dish up their chow?

Like they are eating for the very first time.

Saying Grace

Taking a moment of gratitude before each meal is a mindful and thoughtful approach to eating and enjoying time together. I’ve noticed a few times that this can make guests at the table a little uncomfortable. Perhaps they don’t want to say grace to a God they don’t know. Or perhaps they don’t know what to say, or maybe how to lead the prayer.

Saying grace or taking a moment to pause before dining together, can be as simple as bowing heads or holding hands and saying thank you to each other and the host. Each culture has a unique way to pray. One of my favorite mealtime prayers. . .

Let us be together; let us eat together.

Let us be vital together, let us be radiating truth, radiating the light of life.

Never shall we denounce anyone, never entertain negativity.
      The Upanishads

Snack Struggles

Okay, so here is my new If/Then algorithm for snacking. If I want a bag of salty Kettle chips, then I snack on cucumber slices with sea salt. I don’t think I will ever give up my search for nutrient dense snacks pack as much gratification as a bag of potato chips. I found this Zero Calorie Food chart today on Rodale’s site, (publishers of Prevention Magazine). Click here for the full article. With the exception of the celery, these foods are lower in calories than most. For example, a cup of apricot is about 79 calories.

Zero calorie

If you are visiting New York this upcoming holiday season and you are looking for unique gifts or something special for yourself, I have three timeless and classic Manhattan favorites that are all so very close to each other  and located in the Flatiron district right below Madison Park, home of the original Shake Shack, which by the way is open until Christmas. I’m curious, what are some of your favorite places to shop in your town/city village for kitchen tools and table settings?

Whisk at 933 Broadway

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Fish Eddy’s 889 Broadway

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ABC Carpet 888 Broadway

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ABC

Home Made Love with the Best New Cooking Tools Ever

holding-handsThich Nhat Hanh writes, “When you say something like I love you. . .with your whole being, not just your mouth or your intellect, it can transform the world.” Because we are interconnected, when we awaken love in ourselves and express it, our love changes the world around us.  The hearts of those we touch are opened, and they in turn touch the hearts of others.

Love is the basic nature, the goodness of all beings, waiting to manifest. Whether we offer love in silent prayer or aloud, we are helping love to flower in all beings everywhere. This expression of our deepest nature is the living power of loving kindness – as the Buddha said, “it glows, it shines, it blazes forth.”   A quote that brought me to tears today from Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Cooking with Love

Fatto a mano in Italian means “hand made” and fatto in casahome made“. To prepare home made meals by hand with love is an active meditation and the creation of loving kindness. Just like a hug, a tender kiss, a warm embrace, preparing a meal for friends and family with the intention of savoring some time together around the table, is a beautiful way to touch each other’s hearts.

Meals can be sacred. Taking a moment of silence before eating, saying a prayer of gratitude together can make a meal sacred. A lovely prayer-poem from 13th Century Persia and direct quote from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Some nights stay up ’til dawn as the moon sometimes does for the sun.

Be a full bucket, pulled up the dark way of a well then lifted out into light.

Something opens our wings, something makes boredom and hurt disappear.

Someone fills the cup in front of us, we taste only sacredness.

Some of the coolest new kitchen tools to help make meal preparation a little bit easier.

The Pot Clip – less mess on the counter.

Pot ClipOn Amazon Trudeau Pot Clip,Assorted Colors

The Citrus Sprayer – for a fresher than fresh spritz of lime, lemon and/or orange.

Citrus sprayer Existed-lemonOn Amazon Lekue Citrus Sprayer Set

The Rinse Bowl and Strainer – such a smart idea.

Rinse Bowl

On Amazon Umbra Rinse Bowl and Strainer, White

The Onion holder – because I cringe when I see my daughters slice onions. Safety first.

Onion holderOn Amazon  Norpro Onion Holder/Odor remover

pancake-Know-Existed-pancakeA pancake pen – creativity in the kitchen. The ultimate fun do it with a kid in the kitchen tool.

On Amazon – Tovolo Pancake Pen

My Life Changing Winter Book List

I have a mile high list of many, many books I want to read this fall and winter. This is just a few stories up. If you’ve read any of them, let me know why you think they should be on my list (or why I should take a pass). Or better yet, maybe you have another book that I should read first. Do share.

Dilbert

Book 1. Influence by Robert B. Cialdini because I need/want to stockpile my weapons of persuasion and it’s one of Scott Adam’s favorites. Scott is the creator of the comic strip Dilbert above.

Read:  Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition

influence-book

Because I have read the teachings of Lucius Annaeus Seneca and Marcus Aurelius and I’m just      crushin’ on these great stoic thinkers. Show me the way.
Book 2. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

A guide to the good life

Book 3. Super Betterbecause who doesn’t want to be?  Read: SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient–Powered by the Science of Games

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As Victor Frankl once said: “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.

The Purpose Driven Life is on my list because, I’m always seeking. The question of existence….. Why am I alive? The question of significance…..Does my life matter? The question of purpose……What on earth am I here for?

Book 4. Read:  The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?

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The master’s journey can begin when you try to learn any new skill.

Book 5.  Read: Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment

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I love to cook and I have a thing for vegetables.

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Book 6. Read and Eat:  The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why

I heard an interview with Derek Sivers and even though he didn’t email me back, I am still very impressed with his brain.

Book 7.  Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur

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Book 8. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. Dale shares simple wisdom that really makes you think good and hard about why you’re worrying and if those things are really worth worrying about at all. And God help me do I worry about everything.

Read:  How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

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Detox Lemonade & a Healthy Salad

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Lunch yesterday near the office in Soho, NYC. I am obsessed with this spicy detox lemonade at Chop’t.

Going to try to whip this up over the weekend and found a few recipes on line. The ingredients seem simple enough – the juice from whole lemons, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Some add sea salt to boost the “flush”.    I know this master cleanse has been around for quite some time and Beyonce brought it back earlier this year, but I never tried it like this at home as an every day drink.

I found three sites that have different recipes, but they all look a little like this –

  • 2 TBSP organic fresh squeezed lemon (do not use canned or frozen or bottled juice)
  • 2 TBSP organic maple syrup
  • 1/10 TSP organic cayenne pepper (I’d probably add more spice)
  • 10 oz medium hot water (cold water may be used if preferred)

Although I am not a big follower of detox anything, this lemonade just tasted delicious.

According to Healthy Crush:

Lemon juice and cayenne pepper both have anti-fungal, immune boosting, and detoxification properties. A great source of information on the benefits of drinking lemon water can be found here in this article.

Lemon juice is great for digestion, destroying bacteria and cleansing the system – it supports the liver and kidneys to get rid of toxins.

Cayenne pepper increases metabolism, stimulates the circulatory system, aids digestion, helps regulate blood sugar and more.

Two additional recipes at 7 minute and Style Craze

More delicious detox recipes here –
Everyday Detox: 100 Easy Recipes to Remove Toxins, Promote Gut Health, and Lose Weight Naturally

 

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A Super Simple Way to Prepare Farm Fresh Vegetables

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You know that wonderful feeling that bubbles up when you go to a fresh farm stand on the side of the road and you load up on your favorite vegetables? Still covered with dirt, very much “in season” and obviously locally grown.  Juicy, ripe healthy tomatoes, corn, spinach, broccoli, beets, carrots, onions, cilantro, radishes, peppers, squash, etc., stacked chin-high in old wooden crate bins.

You haven’t even started cooking and your soul feels nourished. The smells, the colors, the textures. Yes, this is how food is suppose to be. Like you’re deliberately shopping for something very wholesome and pure for yourself. In my mind, this is where nourishment begins.

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I have a favorite “health food” grocer in town but I stay away from this isle on the left. The plastic jars, the amber bottles and the supplements with names and claims that are absolutely daunting to comprehend. This aisle gives me a headache. I find it incredibly ironic that a “natural” market would have so many processed products. Take a real mindful look at the photo above. Do you get the same feeling when you are bagging a bunch of fresh radishes as when you are  reading the back of a supplement box? Probably not.

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I obviously love vegetables and share one of my favorite and easiest ways to prepare them so you can nourish yourself all week long.

Grilled Vegetables Marinated in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Roasted Garlic

Step 1

Put on your favorite play list, pure a glass of wine and wash, chop and dry your favorite vegetables.

Step 2

Heat up the grill while you chop and saute fresh garlic in a teaspoon or so of olive oil. The more garlic the better as far as I am concerned.

Step 3

Grill vegetables, let them cool a bit and then toss with garlic. Add a bit of oregano, garlic salt, pepper, fresh basil and turmeric to taste.

Pack them for lunch and eat them with dinner all week long.

Tips

Don’t procrastinate and wait a few days to clean and cook your harvest or you will feel guilty about wasting them. With the exception of potatoes and onions, real food doesn’t last for weeks in the fridge.

Do bulk up and prepare enough for the week.

Do chop and slice them according to how they will cook on the grill and keep the red onions thick or they will fall into the fire.

Do store in glass containers that are oven proof so you can continuously warm them up during the week.

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My favorite

New Snaplock Lid: Tempered Glasslock Storage Containers 20pc set~Microwave & Oven Safe

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Do add love and mindfulness to your cooking and eating

 

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Read How to Eat (Mindful Essentials) by Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Comfort Food, Mindful Kitchens and The Simple Art of Savoring Your Meals

RomansLeft to his own preferences, my husband will choose (actually prefer) to eat a full meal in front of the Jets game followed by a chilled bowl of chocolate ice cream. The absolutely crazy thing is, he seems so Buddha-like doing so, just delighted as he slurps his way through the soft melted mass of what I imagine for him is simply stomach-soothing flavor. Comfort food.

18105-Charming-Vintage-KitchenI, on the other hand, am completely opposite. The mere thought of reclining and eating has me choking on my guacamole and chips.  I don’t know how the Romans did it. For me, comfort and savoring begins with having time. It begins with slowing down, allowing enough time in my day for planning meals, discovering new recipes, unhurried shopping, cooking and eating.

Cooking with Jazz. The Little French Kitchen with the Vintage Red Radio

While in Paris visiting my daughter a few years ago, I noticed that she had developed the habit of turning on a simple vintage red radio of which played amazing jazz background music. What a way to set the stage for a meal that is meant to be truly mindful. The soft music that filled the tiny vintage kitchen was just perfect.

 

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A Thought About Mindless Stress Eating from this Vietnamese Buddhist.

“When a strong emotion arises within us like a storm, we are in great turmoil. We have no peace. Many of us try to pacify the storm by watching television or eating comfort foods. But the storm does not calm down after hours of watching. The storm does not go away after a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream. We hate ourselves afterward for eating the chips and the ice cream. (personal note – I don’t think this happens to my husband, he seems to be absolutely satisfied).  We dread stepping on the scale the next day. We vow to never do it again. But time after time, we do. Why? Because our habit energy pushes us.”

Quote from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

The Simple Fundamentals of Health and Zen Habits in the Kitchen

Leo Babouta, creator of Zen Habits Radio and ZenHabits shares an eight-minute podcast on the simple fundamentals of health. His message in summary – If you want to stay healthy eat a plate full of vegetables with every meal and do something active and fun every day. I can really appreciate keeping life that simple.

zucchiniVegetables are the foundation of your diet and they should be the first thing you eat with every meal. Don’t like vegetables you say?  Here are 27 amazing things you can do with vegetables that are relatively easy, budget friendly and simple to prepare.

I am by no means a vegetarian, but I do recognize that vegetables have been proven by research to be the healthiest food we can add to our plate.

Plant-based Proteins

Vegetables aren’t typically known for being a great source of protein, but there are some sneaky ones out there that supply a stealth source of protein.

Something important to keep in mind (from Shape Magazine) “Plant proteins are ‘incomplete’ proteins, meaning they don’t contain all of the essential amino acids,” To make sure you get the different types of amino acids you need, make sure to combine these veggies with whole grains.

Peas – Each half-cup contains three and a half grams of protein.

Spinach – You’ll find three grams of protein in a half cup of spinach.

Baked Potato –  A medium-sized one contains three grams. Need some fun topping ideas? Make these spinach- and goat cheese-stuffed baked potatoes.

broccoliBroccoli – Is filled with fiber (2.6 grams per half cup)—and agreat source of protein, with two grams per serving.

Brussels Sprouts –  Nutritional superstars: Each half cup packs two grams of protein, along with 247 milligrams of potassium and 110 micrograms of vitamin K. Luckily for haters everywhere, we found these six new (and delicious) ways to eat Brussels sprouts.

How I Plan to Create a More Mindful Kitchen to Help Savor Meals

I’m going to give my kitchen a deep clean with natural cleaners like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrated Cleaner, Basil, 32 Fluid Ounce (Pack of 2)

Then I will add candles, plants and a selection of teas and emergency stash of ginger lemon cookies for unexpected visitors. 

ginger-sandwich-ciikies-with-grapefruit-cream-fillingCarr’s English Tea Cookies, Ginger Lemon Creme, 7.05 oz box (Pack of 3)

While I personally make it a practice to gratefully pray before eating. I like this Buddhist sentiment about Saying Grace –

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~ Melody Beattie Buddhist Temple, Lhasa, Tibet

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I also read a great tip about  taking gratitude bites – a simple practice of saying “thank you” before each mouthful.

Other things I plan on incorporating into my mindful meals

Eating smaller portions from smaller plates – helping to manifest the mindfulness of simplicity – think: a lot less on my plate while discovering more spices and replacing honey as a sweetener in my coffee.

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