According to Travel Weekly, “Over the last 10 years, the role food plays in the world of travel has evolved from cast extra to starring role.” Eric Wolf, founder of the World Food Travel Association in Portland, Oregon, estimates that food tourism has grown into a $150 billion industry annually.
The Michelin Red Guide is the oldest and most respected fine dining guide in the world. Their 1,2 and 3 starred rankings are only given out to the finest dining establishments in the world. If you are awarded the revered 3 Star rating then it means the food is of such high quality that you should consider traveling to that country just to eat at that restaurant!
Last night I had a luscious dinner at my girlfriend’s home. Although, I’m relatively certain eating at a Michelin 3-star restaurant is a near orgasmic foodie experience worthy of the price of airfare, the single-item dinner with my girlfriend should at least get an honorable mention. Together we planned and prepared a simple, single-dish meal in her kitchen. And it appears we are jumping on a trend with our one-bowl creation, since according to 4 Seasons Magazine in a recent article on culinary trends, “Single-dish restaurants are on the rise” and gaining ground in cities around the world. Who knew? We just saved ourselves the price of a ticket and created an experience that would be hard to duplicate at any 3-star rated restaurant in the world. The food was exquisite, but there was so much more that made this meal a memorable event.
We sipped a wonderful Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc as we worked side-by-side talking, laughing, chopping, dicing and bringing together all the required mouthwatering ingredients. It was a perfect compliment to this light, summer fare. Those moments of food preparation togetherness were fun and bonding as we teamed up to create a scrumptious whole wheat couscous spinach and feta recipe. (I’ll share the recipe with you later in the post.)
High Quality Simple Meals
What I found remarkable about this shared experience was the joy and high energy that resulted from our connectedness in the kitchen. We shared in all parts of the culinary experience, from preparation of the meal to the after-dinner clean up. Simply stated, we were present and fully conscious with the tasks required for this simple recipe. The ease and low stress of dine-in simplicity,along with the level of attention to each other, made for an exceptional evening for both of us. And we didn’t sacrifice a bit of the taste or quality of the food. Eckhart Tolle reminds in his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, “In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever.”
This conscious, alert attention is a key to living a purposeful, happy and simple life. Alert attention builds intimacy in relationships no matter what the shared experience.
Conscious alertness in eating has many benefits as well. First of all, with conscious eating you’ll take time to plan higher quality more nutritious meals. You’ll also eat less and recognize your fullness sooner if you are conscious of each bite.
Conscious alertness in eating has many other benefits in addition to shared intimacy. First, with conscious eating, you’ll take time to plan a higher quality, more nutritious meal. You’ll also eat less and recognize your fullness sooner if you are conscious of each bite. Add a few more bullets here – ie: you’ll taste the food more and enjoy the meal, it helps with digestion, etc. Americans are probably the most unconscious eaters on the planet, as evidenced by our poor food choices and over-consumption. This has led to the good old USA becoming the fattest country in the world. Obesity in adults and children is at near epidemic levels. According to the 2010 CDC statistics more than:
- 58 million adults are overweight
- 40 million adults are Obese
- 3 million adults are morbidly Obese
- 26% of children are overweight.
Simple Food Planning
Conscious food planning, preparation and eating are a simple life shift that make a huge difference in health and lead to a happier life. Food planning and preparation can and should be a part of your spiritual growth and in practice of mindfulness in your daily life. Very often we arrive home tired and take the mindless route of eating quick and and easy processed food just to feel full. Unconsciousness food choices lead to mindless overeating.
The simple eating solution starts with planing your healthy meals a week ahead. Why not practice connectedness in planning your meals and Invite input from everyone in the family to add to your grocery shopping list? Once you go to the store be sure to stick with the list and bring home what you planned.
But when you do feel hungry, here’s a simple, healthy, and delicious single-recipe that you can prepare in less than 30 minutes.
1 box whole grain pearl or regular couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup of kalamata olives
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup of garbonzo beans
1/2 cup of roasted red bell peppers
1 chopped clove of garlic
1 cup of baby spinach
1/2 cup of toasted almond slivers
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
6-8 fresh basil leaves chopped
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.
In medium saucepan, combine 1-1/4 cups water and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Bring to boil; stir in 1 cup of whole grain couscous. Cover; remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Then stir in remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 2-4.
Challenges for happier and healthy meals.
Why not have more joy in the kitchen by preparing meals as a family or with your spouse or partner? Why not consider eating a single-dish meal that is full of nutrition and flavor. You’ll be surprised how satisfied you will feel with a nutritious single dish meal like whole grain couscous with spinach and feta. And you won’t have to buy a plane ticket for the culinary experience of a lifetime!
What are some ways you’ve experienced simple, conscious food planning with your family and friends? How have you created a mindful event around healthy eating? Please share your experiences or recipes in the comments.
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