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 cornucopia 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 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—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 baffled by how to replace eggs in your favorite recipes? Our list provides good substitutes, both 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
Tofu tips: While it can be a terrific substitution in “eggy dishes” (quiches or custards), tofu does not fluff up like eggs. Use plain tofu, not seasoned or baked.
For leavening, try this commercial product:
- Ener-G Egg Replacer (base of potato starch, tapioca flour)
- If you’re baked goods crumble, please consult these tips from Ener-G.
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
- If using fruit, make sure it’s compatible with the other flavors in the dessert.
- It is quite difficult to replicate airy baked goods, such as angel food cake. Instead, look for a recipe with a similar taste but fewer eggs or one that has been tested by real kitchen pros.
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
- In a food processor, combine almond flour, arrowroot powder, salt, and baking soda.
- Pulse until ingredients are well combined.
- Pulse in agave nectar and orange zest until the dough forms a ball.
- Remove dough from food processor and work in cranberries and pistachios with your hands.
- Form dough into 2 logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cool for 1 hour.
- Cut the logs into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal with a very sharp knife.
- Spread slices out on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F for 12-15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool, set, and become crispy.
Serves: 12 baby biscotti
* Celtic Sea Salt has a stronger taste than other salts. If you find your biscotti too salty for your liking, try reducing to a little less than a 1/4 tsp.
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.
Essential Oils to Rejuvenate Energy Levels
If you are feeling depleted, essential oil aromatherapy can be a gentle and safe way to rejuvenate your energy and invigorate your senses. Essential oils are typically blended into and applied with a thicker carrier oil (such as grapeseed, jojoba, almond, or other massage oil). With this method, you can massage the oil into your feet, behind your ears, or along pulse points on your arms and legs.
Essential oils also can be inhaled (“air therapy”) much the way one inhales the aroma of a good meal. Hold the bottle a few inches below your nose and breathe deeply. Another option is to use an aromatherapy diffuser. Try this method when you aren’t able to use massage. It’s also a great technique to use around the house, at your desk, or after a long drive.
These uses of essential oils are believed to stimulate the brain centers that are active in regulating hormones, including those that affect emotion and energy levels. The oils listed below are just a few that are recommended for boosting alertness, elevating mood, and restoring balance when you feel fatigued. Check with your wellness practitioner to see if these oils are right for you.
Energy-boosting oils can be blended or used individually. Remember, these oils are stimulating, so you would not want to use them within a few hours of going to sleep.
- Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) helps relieve anxiety and pent-up energy.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has a stimulating fragrance that can boost motivation when you feel sluggish.
- Lemon/Lime (Citrus limon/Citrus aurantifolia) are energizing, cleansing scents that can help dispel worry and clear emotional confusion.
- Peppermint/Spearmint (Mentha piperita/Mentha spicata) both can awaken mental activity and help relieve fatigue. Spearmint has a sweeter, less medicinal scent than peppermint.
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) helps calm anxiety and boost mental alertness.
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.