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

thank-you-sign

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.

sobremesa

 

Your Mindful Contribution to the World

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I was originally going to call this post Selling your Soul to the Highest Bidder  Inspired by a passage I have been studying from Aman Cara, I felt that this Labor Day holiday weekend is a great time to sit back, relax and reflect on the mindfulness of our contribution to the world through our work.

It is very difficult, at first consideration, to bring the world of work and the world of soul together. Most of us work in order to survive. – John O’Donoghue, Aman Cara

We need to make money; we have no choice.

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On the other hand, those who are unemployed feel frustrated and demeaned and suffer a great loss of dignity.

Yet those of us who work are often caught within a grid of predictability and repetition. It is the same every day. Work should not be like that at all; it should be an arena of possibility and real expression.

Working for Security

Respectability and security are subtle traps on life’s journey. Those who are drawn to extremes are often nearer to renewal and self-discovery. Those trapped in the bland middle region of respectability are lost without ever realizing it. This can be a trip for those addicted to the business world.

Your Work Identity

Many people in business operate only with one side of their mind: the strategic, tactical mechanical side day in and day out. This becomes a mental habit that they apply to everything, including their inner life. Even though they may be powerful people in the theater of work, outside the workplace they look forlorn and lost. You cannot repress the presence of your soul and not pay the price. If you sin against your soul, it is always at a great cost. Work can be an attractive way of sinning deeply against the wildness and creativity of your own soul.  Work comes to dominate your identity.

Read more    Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

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As Gregor Samsa, in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, when we are working just to survive, we are sacrificing a part of ourselves, perhaps the best part, either for others’ happiness or just to survive on a personal level.

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” quote from The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. “Calm —indeed the calmest— reflection might be better than the most confused decisions”  Recommended Reading “The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories

Your Unique Contribution and Training Your Mind

Try to establish whether the work you do and where you work is actually expressive of your identity, dignity and gifted-ness. If not, difficult choices may need to be made.

If you sell your soul, you ultimately buy a life of misery.

You need great patience and self-trust to sense the invisible harvest in the territory of the mind. You need to train the inner eye for the invisible realms where thoughts can grow and where feelings put down their roots.  Mindfulness at work starts with synchronizing with our experience. Being mindful at work is not simply a matter of being alert to the present moment, as if we were intently sightseeing or inspecting our experience. Rather, mindfulness introduces us to the reality that we are fully immersed – utterly harmonized 360 degrees – in the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Mindfulness reveals that for us to accomplish goals, conduct ourselves ethically, and contribute to our world we must first see clearly.

Read  The Mindful Leader: Awakening Your Natural Management Skills Through Mindfulness Meditation

I’m curious, is your being finding expression in your doing?

 

Insanely Useful Weight loss and Training Gear Investments

I’m not necessarily a gear girl because I absolutely believe it’s not the tools, it’s how you use them, however, on the other hand, I truly appreciate great quality when I find it. I wish I would have discovered a complete list of the best of everything when I decided to turn things around.

I have found the following weight-loss and training tools have stood the test of time, lasted way longer than I expected and helped me lose 25 pounds while getting stronger over the past year.

athleta Athleta Be Free Capris and the Relay Capris are both flattering with an awesome fit, even as I lost the weight. Perfect for warmer weather and summer months, even through 95 humid degrees in Florida summer heat.

Under ArmourUnder Armour Women’s Heatgear Capri Pants got me through the frigid temperatures last winter in New York, whether I was up at 5:30 am driving in my jeep to the gym or running to Soul Cycle in Union Square.

Extremely Mindful Eating – guarding Calories In & Out

I truly don’t believe I would have dropped the pounds if it wasn’t for tracking my calories. Now, I’m on my third Fitbit because I lost the first two “zip” models that you clip on your sports bra or pants, so I don’t recommend them at all. I have found that the wrist band stays on and when synced with the app is a truly mindful weight loss tool.

 Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black

When I first started wearing my LG Headphones around my neck I got some pretty strange looks, but they have become incredibly popular and since I’m the kind of geek that has practically strangled herself with her earbud wires wrapped around the Elliptical arm, well, these babies are both blue tooth and powerful.

LG Electronics Tone Pro HBS-750 Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Headset – Retail Packaging – Black

Supposedly drinking 2 to 3 liters of water a day will speed up your metabolism (read the NCBI study here), but regardless, staying hydrated is critical and also helps fill you up.  I dropped $24.00 on this Ello Glass water bottle at Whole Foods, and like everything else, I found it for much less on Amazon – under $10.00. It’s durable and dishwasher safe. Better for the planet, but also for your body.

 Ello Pure BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle with Lid, Coral Fizz, 20 oz.

Practicing Mindful Portion Control

I haven’t eaten off a regular size plate since I started enjoying nutrient-dense, high-fiber slow-carb meals. Small plates help keep portion sizes under control.

Boston International Ceramic Appetizer Plates, Nautical Flags, Set of 4

Speaking of fiber, I found Goya Beans, specifically black and small white beans added to every meal (just a few table spoons will do) are just what you need to keep the scale moving in the right direction.

Goya Premium Small White Beans 15.5 oz

It all started with changing the way I ate, which was absolutely mindless and mostly in front of my computer. The diet that changed my life, is The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

He’s the grandfather of self-improvement and performance coaching. Yes Anthony Robbins and yes his book Ultimate Power helped frame my new empowered mindset.


Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement

As fun as they are, do not buy the headbands at Free People or Urban Outfitters. They unravel and slide off, even during Pilates and Yoga and they don’t absorb jack. Try Mava’s instead.


Set of 6/4/2 PCS Multipurpose 12 in 1 Headbands for Athletic and Casual Wear, Highly Comfortable Seamless Bandana, Balaclava, Scarf, Face Mask, Best Moisture Wicking Headband With UV Protection, Suits Both Men & Women, Mava Premium Quality Headwear (Set of 6)

While they became a thing about five years ago, I am still in awe at how comfortable, light weight and long lasting my Nike Free trainers really are.

Nike Free 5.0

uni

And as the weather turns cooler here in the northeast, I love my Uniqlo down vests and jackets for working out. They are inexpensive, long lasting and wind resistant.

Do you have any workout favorites? Anything to recommend? I’d love to learn what helps you perform.

The Creative Process -When Inspiration Hits 

  The only obstacle in your way is you. Go ahead, get out of your own way. Get going. That’s the beginning of the muddled,scrappy and chaotic creative process. 

You can’t wait for the brilliant idea to come to you, you need to move toward it – you just need to start. If you don’t have a clue what you are creating – it doesn’t really matter.

   Act first and inspiration will follow. Write that sentence, paint that stroke, move your body, put pen to paper, pencil to pad, hand to mouse. Begin. 

You will only be inspired after you set forth. The brilliant stroke of genius appears after practice. Frustration will happen, push through.  This is the creative process. 

Mastering Your Mind with Charlie Bradford Part 3

 

enlightenmentI started this blog to connect with brilliant thinkers and doers like yourself with the intention of making new friends from all around the world. It’s been a little over  a month and I am excited to say, that it’s working. I am inspired by what I am reading and learning from so many of you.

I recently discovered, thinker, writer and modern day philosopher,  Charlie Bradford, author of Ensouling Potential. If you haven’t read Charlie’s work, I highly recommend you do. He is an authentic and insightful explorer of life and the bigger questions about our existence. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieBrad4ord

Why do you think people are attracted to negative conversation and news on mainstream media?

The answer to your 3rd Question:

Great question. People get a kick out of negative news primarily because it serves as a means to justify their own circumstances. If they see someone on the news, or hear about someone who’s in a worse situation than they’re in; they’re more likely to see their own life as a blessing. Which on the surface doesn’t sound like a problem; but this is a subtle form of psychological warfare, because the person who believes their life is fine just the way it is, because they’ve seen worse, will actually stop growing and unfolding their potential. Thus they are more inclined to settle for less in the presence of the greater possibilities that are out there, simply because they do not want to end up like the person they just saw on the news. Thus this negative information can condition the sub-conscious mind into a state of hopelessness, anxiety and general fear of the outside world. The world is not an evil, negative place. The Earth is in fact a beautiful garden that facilitates the unfoldment of all life, and anyone who has courage enough to take back their power from negative programming, will see the greater wonders that life has to offer.

Whats Really Going on with the World

The second thing is this: People want certainty. They want to know exactly what’s happening in the world. But here’s the bigger picture – everything is happening in the world. Anything that can happen, will happen, and is happening each and everyday. Wow, what a relief! Just by knowing this can clear our mental and emotional sinuses. The only thing mainstream media can do, is report on a tiny fraction of what’s going on in the world, because they could never cover what’s really going on because that would be an impossible task. Once we realize this fact, we can begin to wean ourselves away from the need to be informed by an institution that propagates provocative sound-bites that leave most people lost and afraid.

Cultivating an Improved Attitude

And lastly, we give away our limited daily-resources, our will power – every time we partake in such negative conversation and commotion. Most of the people who consume this kind of media, are not solution orientated. They’re happy to point the finger at who’s to blame, but they have no interest outside their own sphere of influence to offer any constructive means of correction.

The greatest investment we can make as individuals – is to cultivate a positive attitude. Positivity builds, negativity breaks down. If we nourish the mind, it remains useful, if we abuse it and feed it mental-junk, then it will lead us to our own destruction. We’re as free as our thoughts permits us to be. It’s that simple. We need to have a clear vision of what it is we want to experience in this life. If our mental barriers are not strong enough, and we allow negativity to creep into our greater vision – it’ll never become anything more than a vision. Personally, I have not participated in the news for almost six years now. In fact, I don’t even own a television. In realizing the bigger picture, I have been able to pull back from the miasma, and identify a greater truth that is to be found outside of the consensus reality. The further from negativity you get, the more beautiful your life becomes.

Free spirit

  I stay in youth-mode. Liberated, open, independent, playful, light-hearted and free-spirited. I let my imagination run wild. The world is my playground.

With a child-like curiosity and deep love for learning, I believe progress starts with restlessness and discontent. I am okay with feeling uncomfortable.  

I am engaged in newness and experimentation. In youth-mode I am limitless.

Happiness is a Skill, The Dangers of Impoverished Thinking and Coconut Muscle Mylk

bikeCall it what you will, bliss, contentment, excitement, enthusiasm, well-being, enchantment — happiness is a skill, a skill that needs to be trained and practiced daily.  My mind and body training includes a daily ritual (beginning around 5:30 am) of gratitude prayer, stoic philosophy studies, meditation practice, workout training (running, hiking, biking, swimming and high intensity interval training) and learning something new every single day.

Self- experiment for the day – to pay very careful, non-judgmental attention to the contents of my consciousness in the present moment. To watch my mind – to bring my soul into harmony with itself, and not let my purpose be out of tune. Seneca wisdom Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) Why all this mind watching? Because it’s a over-crowded zoo in there.

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Through the Lens of Thought
What lens are you using? The way we see and think about things is the most powerful force that shapes our lives. Any impoverished thoughts that are brought into our perception are like poison for the brain. This would be thinking that is deprived of richness or strength; thoughts that are limited or depleted.  Yeah, these thoughts have to go.   Inspired by the wisdom of  Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

Lolas

Biking Plantation Run & Coconut Muscle Mylk from COMO Parrot Cay

Rode the sweet four-mile palm-covered path to the fresh coconut plantation on Parrot Cay. Yes they grow their own and serve it up for breakfast daily.

Coconut Muscle Milk

This delicious drink speeds muscle recovery by reducing inflammation and replenishing electrolytes and nutrients with 1 banana, 1/2 cup young coconut water, 3 slices of coconut meat, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of almond milk, handful of flax seeds, 3 dates and a few cocoa beans. Blend and replenish.

Mastering Your Mind with Charlie Bradford. Part 1

enlightenment

I started this blog to connect with brilliant thinkers and doers like yourself with the intention of making new friends from all around the world. It’s been less than a month and I am excited to say, that it’s working. I am inspired by what I am reading and learning from so many of you.

I recently discovered, thinker, writer and modern day philosopher,  Charlie Bradford, author of Ensouling Potential. If you haven’t read Charlie’s work, I highly recommend you do. He is an authentic and insightful explorer of life and the bigger questions about our existence. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieBrad4ord

Charlie was kind enough to allow me to ask him a series of questions. Here, he reflects on my first one.

MJ: Charlie, how long have you been thinking about tapping into a higher awareness and mastering the mind? How did you become such a deep thinker?

CB: Well, It all started for me when I was in my late teens. I had been reading a lot of great material on simplicity, minimalism, Zen, meditation, the power of the mind, which opened me up to a new world that I was eager to dive into. I grew up with video games, movies, and homework. Before I knew it, I was reading about the infinite potentials of the mind. I’m on-board, where do I sign!? I loved this new sphere of knowledge that I had dived into. Even prior to my teen years, I was very much inclined to read Buddhist philosophy, but lacked the mental facility to fully appreciate what I was reading. But none the less, it planted a seed in my young mind that would eventually lead me to the importance of simplicity, self-control, and mind-mastery.

Seeking Some Enlightenment

So I made it my personal mission to investigate all kinds of knowledge, wisdom, philosophies, books – old and new, exoteric, and esoteric, anything that would enlighten me to the true potentials that lie within each and every one us, and more importantly; how to actualize that potential. I began exploring the importance of Mind, Body, and Spirit, as well as the fundamental principles of Nature. I renounced almost all of my possessions, gave away my television, my video games, changed my diet, my attitude, and started doing my own homework. I had cleared the pathway so that I could receive Truth in my quest for it.

Training the Mind to Relax in the Face of Uncertainty

I’ve always loved exploring deep questions. It’s not about answering them. It’s more-so about getting the mind comfortable with uncertainty. The mind is constantly trying to make sense of everything. So by enquiring in profound matters such as, Why are we here? What is Life? What is Death? What is the Ultimate Plan? Where are we all going? We begin to train the mind to relax in the face of uncertainty. This is similar to the use of Zen Koans, phrases used to stray the mind from its ordinary processing. I’m amazed at the level of insight you can receive simply by concentrating upon a single question! I’ve become compelled to entertain all kinds of questions, especially during meditation, or out in nature where I can let my mind unfold. There were many key points along my path that led me to this conclusion: We are far more than we could ever know within the scope of one life time.

For the next three Mondays I will post more questions for Charlie, but if you have any, please free to ask them here.

Creating Passionate Value for All – Should vs Must from Elle Luna

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Today’s inspiration, artist and designer, Elle Luna, and her 100 Day Project. The idea is simple. Choose one action that feels like passion for you and do it for 100 days.

Need ideas? set out to meet 100 new people, take 100 cool photos,  volunteer for 100 hours,

whip up 100 new recipes, do 100 jumping jacks – whatever floats your boat.

My 100 days will be to intentionally and deliberatly set out to create one thing of

true value each day to share with others –

while not looking for anything in return.

It might be as simple as a smile, a hug, a kiss, a love letter, a text, a meal,

whatever inspires me that morning.

Now that’s intentional fun.

Read more from Elle Luna

The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion

However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” – Stanley Kubrick

Monday Motivation and The Art of Taking Action

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I’m challenging myself to shut off the autopilot switch on this brain of mine and and move forward with deliberate and intentional steps today. This can’t be done if I’m always “future-ing” – constantly thinking about my fears and concerns about the future, sinking into the trance of troubles to come and not focused on what must get done in order to get where I want to be.

It seems so simple, but it’s not that easy. Why? Mel Robbins does a great job of explaining how to activate your energy with the intentional force required to change what you are doing on autopilot to do something new. We need to do the hard stuff we don’t want to do, so we can be everything we are suppose to be. Watch Mel Robbins 

I’ve been enjoying Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes channel on YouTube. His short summary  of Greg Krech’s book The Art of Taking Action (25 years of self-mastery Japanese psychology) is excellent. This is definitely on my must read list. 
The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology

Going after something you really want? Listen and take action on those ideas, those impulses that float into your brain and than immediately jump on them. In her Ted Talk, Mel explains that you will be even more successful in the long run if you do something (no matter how small) within 5 (five) seconds of having an impulse or idea. The action of making that idea happen is what will get you closer to your goal. So go ahead, write that email, craft that tweet, go for that fun, prepare that meal, make that call, send the text. Just do it. Now.