It seems like writing about mindful eating is in these days. It has been the subject of a few discussions between my husband and I in the last few months. He almost inhales his food, it’s gone before I’m done chewing the second mouthful. He finds it comical that I chew every bite about 30 times. Yes I actually do. He grabs a sandwich or whatever he can lay his hands on when he’s hungry. The thought of eating something that doesn’t taste good and is likely not healthy makes me squeamish.
And then he sent me this NY Times article to read. And this was in my Facebook stream. It was a sign. I’m always right of course, but this time, there was proof! And I just had to jump on the bandwagon.
For me, I think mindful eating started with wine tasting. It was because of all the attention paid to what wine I was drinking, where the grapes came from, how the wine looked and tasted, how old was the wine, what style was it made in? All this even before the first, careful, gurgling sip. The wine foreplay? And then of course, it continued with how did the wine taste after certain foods? How did the food taste after the wine?
Though I had always cared about how food tasted like, it’s been a couple of years since it mattered to me where the ingredients came from and how they were grown.
I started enjoying the layers of flavor of everything I ate and with it had a new appreciation for crispy food. There was a turning point where desserts went from just sweet to: a hint of honey, the deep sweet of molasses, the secret, je ne sais quoi flavor of jaggery, the bittersweet of really dark chocolate to disgustingly sweet cakes.
Ever since I started avoiding white rice, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the nuttiness of brown basmati, the texture of Bhutanese red rice that almost confronts you with texture, the good feeling in your tummy when you eat Thai purple rice and the heavenly plumpness of boiled Doddabaira Nellu (red rice from my home state of Karnataka). On an aside, I was shocked to find out that there are more than 40,000 varieties worldwide. And I can only get 5 in my local grocery store. It’s a shame isn’t it? Anyway, I digress.
Both articles mentioned earlier have already shared some great tips on how to eat more mindfully. What can I add to the NY Times? These three tips are what helped me the most.
- Cook your meal with texture in mind. Steaming or sautéing vegetables, remove them while they are still crisp. Use whole wheat in your breads. Switch up rice with quinoa and give your mouth a surprise.
- Wine tasting helped me be more mindful. Consider this your excuse to do more ‘tasting’. Responsibly please.
- Eat a meal alone once in a while. It forces you to focus on the meal. And no, you’re not a loser if you do eat alone. I, in fact, have a lot of respect for those who take themselves out to dinner.
And an easy weeknight recipe that will delight the senses and help you practice!
Thai Red Curry
- 1 cup mixed vegetables cut to bite size pieces (I love broccoli, beans, bell pepper or anything with some crunch)
- 1/2 lb or stir fry meat or tofu (I used chestnuts as an experiment and they were fantastic and talk about texture!)
- 2 thin slices of ginger cut into ‘matchsticks’
- 1 small onion or shallot, sliced
- A handful of chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
- 1 15 Oz can of coconut milk (first pressing preffered)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan on medium heat. Saute the ginger and shallots for 2 minutes or till the shallots are lightly browned. Add the thai red curry paste (have a lid handy when you do) and stir for 30 seconds. Add the meat/tofu and brown slightly before including the vegetables. Stirfry everything for 3 minutes before adding the coconut milk and cilantro. Cover and cook for another 3 minutes or till meat and vegetables are done. Add salt to taste.
Serve with Thai purple rice or Bhutanese red rice. I used my favorite Indian red rice.
A quick Thai Red Curry made with chestnuts and vegetables
My favorite rice - Doddabaira Nellu from South India
Cheers! And now if I could only get excited about doing the dishes.