Mindfulness And Staple Food Fun

Today’s Mini Goal: Pick one small part of my day and do it mindfully.  I read an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh in this month’s Oprah Magazine and found myself totally in awe of his thoughts about our simple, daily actions.  We can infuse whatever we do — walking (or perhaps running), drinking tea, listening to someone — with an awareness and a caring.  Beautiful.

I really admire bloggers who seem to have a set pattern of meal-planning and eating, like Meghann or Caitlin, for example.  I tend to try very hard to emulate this and have realized that the organization actually just ends up giving me a sense of anxiety — I do typically eat three meals a day, but my snacks and desserts will vary a lot.  I really like Janetha‘s five meal a day thing.  But again, sometimes I want to have three evening snacks and no dinner, or an extra dessert.  Or a brunch.  Or two big mid-day snacks instead of lunch.  I have tried really hard to orient myself around the meal-snack-meal-snack-meal-dessert pattern, but I just end up frustrating myself.  I think I’ve learned it’s best to listen to my body at this point.

So tonight I had no dinner!  I was in the mood for a giant snack around four and I went with it (huge juicy grapefruit, frozen yogurt, an hour or so later pb pretzels, trail mix, coconut).  Super random, but no harm done.  If it works, I’ll take it, I guess.  Do you tend to have a set pattern for your eats, just eat when you’re hungry, or graze throughout the day?

Part of me feels like there’s hardly a point in wasting thought space over this; people all over the world have learned to give their bodies what the need when they need it.  I think the simple fact that we have so many foods in America — the healthy, the unhealthy, the processed, the natural, the outright bizarre — has created a mindset of overabundance.  I just want to eat whole, healthy foods without thinking about it, but because of our cultural relationship with food, I find this hard.  Not only is there food available everywhere (although, sadly, not everyone has access to it when they need it — this is another paradox of the system that I don’t understand), but we have an odd attitude toward food: I think food should definitely be an artful, social thing, but it is not a love object.  There is a fine line here.  Gena wrote a really wonderful post about this a while back.  In fact, you should most definitely go read her post from today. It’s one of the most eloquent, unique, and empowering bits of food-writing I’ve ever read.  Thoughts?

I’m thinking just working on my mindfulness overall will help me understand (and have compassion, not anger towards) my relationship with food, meals, and cooking.


I was not in the mood to run today.  The weather was ragingly nasty (think slush, snow, rain, puddles, and cold all at the same time), so I knew it wasn’t going to happen outside.  I fell asleep after work, and by the time I awoke it was evening, and I hate going to the gym in the evening.  But just as I was trying to talk myself out of it, a friend texted me asking if we could make cookies!  Perfect — I could ask if she wanted to go to the gym first.  Thankfully, she did, and my workout was saved.  I mean come on, once a friend shows up at your door, you’re not going to say, “oh, I changed my mind.”

I meant to do some strength training before my run, I really did, but I hardly had any time before my treadmill time-slot (grrrr — for a rant about this, see this post).  I did a few pull-ups and ab leg-raise thingies.  I’m so technical, I know.

Run (inspired by Janetha’s workout from this post):

Warm up:

10 minutes @ 6.0 mph


2x (1 minute @ 5.5, 1 minute @6.0, 1 minute @6.5, 1 minute @ 7.0, 1 minute @ 7.5, 1 minute @ 8.0, 1 minute @ 8.5, 3 minutes @ 6.0)

The first two minutes of the set (@ 5.5 and 6) were done at a five percent incline.  I was going to do the set three times through, but I was drained.  This was absolutely killer!  My face was plum red afterwards, which never happens.

Cool down:

20 minutes @ 6.0

Total: 5.0 miles, 47-ish minutes.


My camera battery died during the day so I didn’t end up taking any pictures until this evening.  I thought I would do a fun little round up of my dietary staples, why I eat them, and what they do for my body!

The cast of characters:

We have: trail mix, spinach, yogurt, oats, dark chocolate, apple, and peanut butter.  These are the staples I have on hand tonight; there are several more things that I’d include, ideally: carrots, sweet potato, dried mango, salmon, milk, black beans, and tofu, for example.  But let’s focus on the yumminess pictured above now.

1. Trail Mix:

I usually keep a few mixes on hand because they are easy to grab for an afternoon snack, add to meals to increase their bulk, or take on the go.  I look for pre-made mixes that consist of simple ingredients (nuts, fruit, spices), or I make my own with a bit of dry cereal, nuts, animal crackers, chocolate, and dried fruit.  Trail mixes usually provide a nice dose of fat, protein, and fiber.  They never fail to keep me full, and they can instantly boost any meal’s flavor factor.  Try adding to oatmeal, salads, or yogurt!

2. Peanut butter:

I definitely consider good old PB to be a power food.  I love the fat, carbs, and protein combination that it offers, and the taste is inexplicably delightful.  With everything.  I like mine with oatmeal or cereal, toast, frozen yogurt, or chocolate.  Oddly enough, I don’t really find peanuts (a legume, by the way) all that appealing. But give me a jar of peanut butter and a spoon and, well, we might be soul mates.  PB is full of vitamins, like B and E, and the monounsaturated fat in it is good for your heart.

3. Apples:

I usually get a giant bag of apple’s from the farmer’s market every week (sometimes twice a week, if need be).  Apples obviously provide fiber, but they also have antioxidants and may help prevent some cancers.  I love their textures — sometimes crunchy, sometimes melty, sometimes peely.  Always perfect.  I eat them plain as snacks, with oatmeal, or pb and cinnamon.  They are excellent in baked goods.  I encourage you to branch out in your apple repertoire — there are so many delicious varieties!  My favorites, at the moment, include gala, fuji, cameo, mutsu, and suncrisp.

4. Spinach:

Dark leafy greens are excellent for you.  Spinach has iron, calcium, magnesium, and loads of other good-for-you-nutrients, without packing a calorie punch.  I find spinach to be the tastiest green, although I also love rainbow chard and baby bok choy.  Spinach is also an easily disguisable veggie — you can add it to smoothies, soups, sandwiches,and many other things and hardly know it’s there.  I love the bulk it can give a meal, and I use it as a salad base quite frequently.  Make sure you wash it carefully.

5. Oats:

Oats are easily my favorite whole grain.  Fiber, protein, carbs?  Check.  Oatmeal is my go-to breakfast and never fulls to keep my full and energetic.  I like mixing it with cinnamon, apples or banana, and peanut butter.  It’s also wonderful in cookies, crisps, and, I have heard, savory dishes.  It works well in raw desserts and there are limitless breakfast possibilities with this powerful little grain.

6. Yogurt:

I’ve been doing a little dairy free experiment lately (minus the fro yo I had this afternoon :)), but normally I love yogurt.  I usually go for Greek varieties or Stonyfield, which doesn’t have the fake ingredients that many yogurts do.  It has a lot of protein, which makes it a great breakfast component or afternoon snack.  It’s also got calcium and, if you go for 1 or 2%, the perfect little bit of fat.  I eat it plain, with nuts, fruit, cereal, or granola, and even use it in cooked recipes.  My favorite flavor is either pomegranate or raspberry!

7. Dark chocolate:

One of my favorite simple desserts.  Dark chocolate has antioxidants, and I’ve heard it’s also good for your heart.  I find that a few squares of the good stuff will satisfy my perfectly.  Pictured above is Green and Black’s, a smooth, reliable brand.  I like their Maya Gold and 70% varieties.  Dark chocolate mixes well into hot cocoa, hot grains, yogurt, or pairs well with citrus fruits.  It is also powerfully associated with ideas of love, the heart, and companionship; I think it’s good for the soul.

What are your staple foods and why do you enjoy them?

Okay, happy Friday everyone!  I hope it is a most excellent beginning-of-the-weekend for you!


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 00:48:41

    i wish i was more like you, my eating times are SO regimented, like down to the minute! i know that i’ll become more flexible as i get further along in recovery, but still. hmmm, my food staples are similar to yours! well i just exed out greek yogurt, but DEFINITELY apples..i buy at least one huge bag of apples a week. i’m not exaggerating about the size, the apple farm stand knows us by name and gives us a huge discount because we buy in bulk lol. definitely oats, oat bran in particular. egg whites, and VEGGIES! lots of veggies. and quorn products, and tofu. yup!


  2. Sarah
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 01:05:56

    Like Stef, I too wish I could be more like you. I’m really strict about when and what I eat, mostly because I’m afraid of slipping into bad habits if I don’t keep to a rigid structure. I need to try being a little more spontaneous…and listen to my body, rather than telling it ‘you WILL have this at THIS time and you WILL like it!’ ha I’m like a dictator towards my appetite.

    Mindfulness is something I’m still striving for…

    Sarah x


  3. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 03:27:26

    I used to be more schedule oriented but with a child, schedules go out the window. Kids dont care if you want to shower, sleep, eat or not. They need what they need when they need it and you just have to figure it out and go with the flow. So I eat about the same times each day but defintiely with a lot of wiggle room built in.

    I read Gena’s post too and it was lovely.

    Your staples…mine would be fresh produce, coffee, nuts, dates, chocolate/cocoa powder. With those ingredients I could make anything and live for years 🙂


  4. Gena
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 07:29:17

    I guess I’d consider myself an intuitive eater, but the truth is that I’m naturally drawn to conventional eating patterns: breakfast, lunch, dinner! It works for me.

    And thanks about my post. I am so happy that it meant something to you. Yes, deciding where food falls in the spectrum of love object———>abstract nutrient is a toughie, but I do think there’s a great middle ground to be explored.


  5. Christy
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 08:50:10

    Great post about being mindful! I used to be very scheduled in my eating. I kind of base my eating on my workouts and the time I go to workout.

    My food staples: hummus, pita, veggies, fruit, yogurt! Yum! 🙂


  6. EE
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 09:14:51

    I am all over the place. My motto is kind of “I do what I want.” If you can’t tell, I sort of love winging it and being the captain of my own ship. And mixing metaphors.

    In the fall, I often make myself stop and just stand under a tree at night and mindfully listen to the leaves. No, I don’t do drugs. 😉


  7. Kate
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 13:22:05

    dark chocolate and ginger sounds like a winning combo. my staples are cereal, dark chocolate, yogurt, spinach, eggs and hummus. the rest of food changes slightly but those things are always in the house. i usually have veggies burgers and some frozen fruit in the freezer too.


  8. Diana (Soap & Chocolate)
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 17:00:47

    I think I’m in the middle – I often graze, but always at the same times, so it’s pretty much a schedule I guess! On typical work days I pretty well know my routine and can predict when I’ll get hungry, so I just plan for it and have appropriate food/snacks on hand. Works for me!


  9. Andrea@CeleryInTheCity
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 18:56:35

    I’m taking a nutrition course online as an elective, and we discussed how Americans/how we eat. I feel like in other countries..food is decadent, they eat GREAT quality cheese..but a nibble of it, and then are satisfied. I also sometimes think…we’re programmed to be like ‘lunch, it’s time to eat, must eat’..even if we’re not hungry!

    I definitely have staple foods..I usually buy the same things over and over and just try new ways to serve them to myself. If i get in a rut..I hit the grocery store and explore!


  10. pen
    Feb 27, 2010 @ 11:58:15

    Given my predisposition to going overboard with control, I am apprehensive to set a regimen of meals. So, usually, I eat when I’m hungry. There are some externally imposed restrictions, like I’m usually in court 8-noon and 2-5, so lunch has to happen between noon and 2 but other than that, I go with hunger (or sometimes emotional) cues.

    My staple foods are nanners and PB. Yum.


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