Yoga for Your Plate: Mindful Eating
The race is on: Cooking, cleaning, hosting, visiting, and tackling a holiday shopping list that is growing faster than last summer's weeds. Before you know it, the table is set and you're serving the holiday meal. This year, though, is going to be different--you're going to sit down and savor the abundance of flavors and the good company at your table.
The art of Mindful Eating, with its roots in Zen teachings, aims to reconnect you more deeply with the experience of eating and drinking. It's the process of deliberately paying attention to what is happening both within yourself and in your environment during mealtime. When you eat mindfully, you are in tune with where your food came from and with the aroma, taste, and texture of food. You become much more aware of your appetite - just how hungry are you? And, you become more sensitive to the feeling of fullness, so you'll be less likely to overeat. Mindful eating brings enjoyment back to mealtime.
5 Ways to Slow Down and Savor Your Holiday Meal
Pause & Connect. After you give thanks for your meal, but before you pick up your fork, take a moment to connect with your appetite. How hungry do you feel? Of all the glorious food on the table before you, what are you truly hungry for? What flavors will nourish you and replenish your energy? Try not to choose foods out of habit. Fill your plate first with the foods your body is saying it most needs. Then, embellish your plate with smaller amounts of those traditional holiday favorites.
Clear Digital Distractions. Although it's less likely at holiday time when family and friends gather from near and far, it's easy to forget to turn off the digital devices that are such a huge part of our lives. Sure, someone will complain about missing a "key play" in the big game, but what's more important? Everyone at your table should be in the moment for the main part of the meal and free of distraction.
Take Bites, Not Gulps. Instead of shoveling food into your mouth, take smaller bites and focus on chewing and tasting it. Digestion begins with the act of chewing. Salivary enzymes break down food the moment it enters your mouth. Your taste buds awaken to flavors as you chew. Pause between bites to set your utensils down and breathe.
Engage All the Senses. The taste of food is just one way to appreciate it. Throughout your meal, notice how food smells and how it looks on the plate. Notice the colors and the textures. Consider the nutrients that the food will provide for you. Appreciate every aspect of eating (and celebrating) the holiday meal.
Be a Nonjudgmental Diner. Being a nonjudgmental diner is about paying attention to your needs for nourishment and not the person's next to you. And if you feel yourself on the verge of overindulgence, make it a conscious choice. Choose your favorite holiday treat and bring a focused awareness to eating it. Almost certainly, you'll so enjoy and be satisfied by that first piece of pie, you won't feel the urge for seconds.
"Egg-cellent" Ways to Replace Eggs in Recipes
Are you interested on how to replace eggs in your favorite recipes? Our list provides good substitutes, homemade and store-bought, organized by the role of the egg in the recipe (binding, leavening, or adding moisture).
For an egg replacer that binds, add any of the following for each egg:
· 1 T (heaping) soy powder + 2 T water
· 1 T soy milk powder + 1 T cornstarch + 2 T water
· 2 T cornstarch
· 2 T potato starch
· 2 T arrowroot powder
· 2-3 T whole wheat flour
· 2-3 T tomato paste
· 2-3 T mashed potatoes
· 2-3 T mashed sweet potatoes
· 2-3 T instant potato flakes
· 1/4 cup tofu puréed with 1 T flour
For leavening, try this commercial product:
· Ener-G Egg Replacer (base of potato starch, tapioca flour)
For sweet, baked goods, try one of the following for each egg:
· 1 banana
· 1/4 c applesauce
· 1 T milled flax seed and 3 T water
The digestive system has an intricate relationship with all other systems in the body, including the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. If your digestive system cannot properly digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste products from the body, then it becomes very difficult to maintain optimal health. Even if you eat an ideal diet, if you experience a great deal of stress, have an underlying medical condition, or are taking medications that affect digestive processes, you can experience digestive difficulties and have problems absorbing nutrients.
Digestive enzymes are proteins that facilitate specific chemical reactions to break down food (e.g., carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) into smaller, absorbable components. Digestive Enzyme Supplements (DES) are a natural remedy for many conditions that have a root cause in the digestive system, including food sensitivity, allergies, behavioral disorders, and other health conditions that may be related to a nutrient deficiency.
Your health practitioner may suggest taking a plant-based DES with meals. These are usually derived from pineapple (bromelain) or papaya (papain). Another source of DES is derived from microbes and includes varieties of lipase, amylase, protease, and lactase, which all have unique effects in the digestive process.
The medical premise for a DES is to facilitate thorough digestion of food and to prevent foodstuffs from lingering in the gut where they can generate unfavorable bacteria and yeast (at the expense of healthy gut bacteria). Digestive enzyme supplements may also enhance the nutrition received from the foods you eat, which is good for the whole body. Research shows that taking a DES can promote bowel movement regularity, reduce or eliminate other gastric disturbances such as reflux or gas, and ease the symptoms of food intolerance (e.g., lactose).
Digestive enzymes can be used by adults and children alike, but consult your practitioner for proper dosage. Do not take digestive enzymes without the input of your doctor if you have active stomach or duodenal ulcers, inflammation of the bowels, bleeding disorders, or are scheduled for surgery.
Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum or Tulsi)
Holy basil (or Tulsi), with its astringent taste and powerful aroma, is not the sweet basil you use to season marinara sauce. And it is very different from the basil used in Thai cuisine. Cultivated in the Southeast Asian tropics, holy basil has long been considered sacred in India where it is still used in worship services. For centuries, holy basil has been used in Ayurvedic therapies to treat a wide range of ailments including respiratory conditions, skin conditions, inflammation, microbial conditions, infertility, and psychological distress.
Modern scientific research is now demonstrating its beneficial effects. Evidence suggests that Tulsi offers protective benefits against physical, environmental/chemical, metabolic, and psychological stress.
Researchers are interested in the active ingredients that can be derived from the flowers, stems, leaves, seeds, and roots and used for medicinal purposes. The active ingredients in Tulsi have been found to have "adaptogenic effects," which means Tulsi helps the body better manage the physiological response to stress. Studies also show it helps reduce inflammation and keep blood glucose levels in balance. There also is evidence to support using holy basil as an antimicrobial agent in hand sanitizer and mouthwash.
There are several methods of application for holy basil: Dried powder, a capsule containing the concentrated herb extract, tea, or tincture. A natural health physician may advise using a specific amount and a specific type of application based on individual health concerns or for preventive care. Because it is known to interact with other medications, consult with your physician before taking a Tulsi supplement. Unless under a physician's care, do not give holy basil to an infant.
Did you know….
If you could stretch out all of a human's blood vessels, they would be about 60,000 miles long. That's enough to go around the world twice.
Recipe of the month
Cranberry Orange Biscotti
Almost too good to be true ... vegan, gluten-free, cranberry orange biscotti are a delicious treat to enjoy with a cup of tea or your preferred after-dinner elixir. Even the kids will love them!
· 1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
· 1 T arrowroot powder
· 1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt
· 1/4 tsp baking soda
· 1/4 cup raw honey
· 2 tsp orange zest
· 1/4 cup dried cranberries
· 1/4 cup pistachios
1. In a food processor, combine almond flour, arrowroot powder, salt, and baking soda.
2. Pulse until ingredients are well combined.
3. Pulse in agave nectar and orange zest until the dough forms a ball.
4. Remove dough from food processor and work in cranberries and pistachios with your hands.
5. Form dough into 2 logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cool for 1 hour.
7. Cut the logs into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal with a very sharp knife.
8. Spread slices out on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F for 12-15 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool, set, and become crispy.
Serves: 12 biscotti