Autumn is a season of abundance: rich in colors, flavors, events & loved ones gathering. With changes in the weather and the dawn of winter, this is a good time of year to focus on self care. Healthy choices allow us to remain positive and well. But healthy needn't mean deprivation or struggle. Through mindful eating we can choose seasonal foods that promote wellbeing and fully enjoy the depth of their flavors. If this is your first time practicing mindful eating, you're likely to discover that you've never enjoyed food so thoroughly before.
Below are three snack recipes, with corresponding meditations and nutritional information to feed your body, mind and spirit.
Each delicious dish is:
• Seasonal: ingredients can be found fresh and local, in much of the U.S.
(to check what's available near you, visit the seasonal food map)
• Fast: Prep-time under 20 minutes
• Free of common allergens: wheat & dairy
1. Give-Thanks Granola
Ten minutes to warm the kitchen, indulge in seasonal aromas & evoke the holiday spirit with this healthy granola recipe. You'll have tasty breakfast cereal on hand all week and a delicious snack for work, hikes or after-school. Tip: a little granola goes a long way. 1 portion = 1/4 cup.
2 cups oats
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup pecans
1 dash nutmeg
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup maple syrup
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Mix oats, cherries, pumpkin seeds & pecans in a large bowl.
3. Mix canola oil & syrup in a separate small bowl.
4. Mix liquid into dry mixture- stir until all dry ingredients are coated.
5. Sprinkle spices over your mixture and stir thoroughly.
6. Spread your mixture evenly onto greased baking pan.
7. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture starts to brown. Stir granola with spatula and return to oven for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
8. Let cool completely.
Enjoy with sliced apples!
Why it's good for you:
Whole oats are great way to start your day. Studies show that whole grains like these improve cardiovascular and digestive health and prevent type 2 diabetes. Pumpkin seeds are high in fiber, healthy fats, protein & vitamin E. Pecans contain healthy fats that promote heart health. (People who regularly eat nuts are less likely to have heart attacks or die from heart disease than those who rarely eat them.) Dried cherries add a delicious tart-sweet taste; look for ones that have no added sugar.
Are you giving-thanks? A meditation of gratitude:
Take a bite of granola and begin to identify each different flavor present. Pause. Notice the variety of textures you're enjoying. Can you taste the nutmeg? What emotions does this spice evoke? Let these feelings travel in and out of consciousness easily. Chew slowly. Where did these ingredients come from? Realize how many people, plants and elements made this delicious medley possible. Allow yourself to be humbled, by the beauty of this interaction. Consider how you are connected to the whole cosmos through this food. Thank yourself for choosing a healthful snack that nourishes your body.
2. Acorn Squash Bake
An easy, healthy, sweet-craving quencher! Acorn squash takes about an hour to bake, but the prep takes only a few moments. Pop this in the oven after preparing dinner, set the timer, and right on queue- this hearty, warming sweet will oust your late-night chocolate binge.
1 winter squash
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut acorn squash in ½ lengthwise.
3. Remove the seeds with a spoon.
4. Place squash, flesh side up, on a baking pan.
5. Add an inch of water to the bottom of the pan, to keep the squash moist.
5. Mix oil, cinnamon and sugar. Place the mixture in each squash half.
5. Bake for 1 hour or until supple and slightly browned.
Why it's good for you:
Winter squash is high in vitamins A and C and is full of healthy anti-oxidants.
Are you really enjoying this sweet treat? A Savoring Meditation:
Take your time. Start by looking at the squash and appreciate its vibrant color. Then, smell the squash. Take small bites. How does this dessert feel on your tongue and in your mouth? What flavors do you discover as you eat? If you pay attention, the dish will unfold for you, in layers of sweet, savory, buttery... Try not to be distracted from the joy available as you taste this squash. If your thoughts are elsewhere, you'll miss the pleasure and may crave another sweet afterward.
3. Citrus Salad with Ginger Lime Dressing, courtesy of Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RD
Fresh & enlivening, this salad is a great side or snack to awaken the senses. Colorful citrus fruits with a splash of zesty dressing help to boost your mood and energy level. These strong flavor compliments become even more sensational when enjoyed mindfully.
Juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root, peeled before grating
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Zest from 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon very finely grated peel)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Cara Cara oranges, cut into segments
2 navel oranges, cut into segments
1 pink grapefruit, cut into segments
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1. Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a small mixing bowl and whisk well.
2. To make beautiful Cara Cara segments, use a sharp knife to cut the top (stem side) and bottom off the fruit. Set the fruit on its bottom and use your knife to cut away the rest of the peel, working from the top to bottom and rotating the fruit as you go until all of the peel has been removed. You want to remove all of the white pith as well. Cut out the segments, leaving behind the membrane that separates the segments.
3. Place the segments in a medium mixing bowl.
4. Drain off any juice from the segments, and then add the mint and dressing.
5. Use a spoon to mix gently.
6. Serve immediately.
Recipe copyright (c) Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RD
Why it's good for you:
It's a colorful and delicious way to eat your fruits. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, among other health benefits.
Refresh your day. A cleansing meditation:
Consider the colorful salad in front of you. Thoughtfully and artfully arrange your bowl, napkin, and utensils in front of you. Let it be pleasing to you aesthetically. You are also eating with your eyes. Take a deep breath in and out, before picking up your fork.
Breathing in, I invite calm into my meal.
Breathing out, I release worrisome and obsessive thoughts.
Allow the stresses of your day to subside for the few minutes it will take to fully enjoy this refreshing salad. Invite your awareness to the present moment. As you take slow and small bites, consider the unique textures of these fruits. Maybe you smile as seeds roll around in your mouth. Feel the sensation of mint and ginger awakening your senses, cleansing your mouth and nose. Enjoy the spicy, sweet and buttery dressing -- notice how it slides over the fruit. Picture your fears and anxieties sliding just as freely out of your conscious. You are greater than your worries and to-do lists. In each moment, you contribute to a vibrant whole.
Mindful eating can be applied to any food. When first starting to practice, meals may take longer. Don't let this worry you. Instead, choose a reasonable goal (1 meal per day, or 1 meal per week) to eat mindfully and block out a generous amount of time to do so. As you continue to practice, mindful eating will become easier and more efficient.
There are many scientific studies documenting the benefits of mindful eating including weight loss, stress reduction, improved focus & clarity. For more free meditations and information, visit the Savor Community.
Follow Lilian Cheung, D.Sc., R.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SAVOR_the_book