(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Julia Child, famed TV chef and cooking teacher, knew that not all routes to becoming a gourmet involved time-consuming wine tastings, lengthy trips abroad or even costly excursions to acclaimed restaurants. The late gourmet - who StarChefs.com
, a Web magazine for professional chefs, called the person that "single-handedly changed the way we think about food in this country" - loudly and repeatedly heralded a mindful approach to eating that stressed slowly savoring every bite, a practice that she felt had slipped away in recent years.
Most experts agree that the initial essential steps to becoming a gourmet are, in fact, that simple. We must first slow down, break down and examine components of food as we eat them in order to truly taste them for what might be perhaps the first time. This kind of mindful eating performs double duty as a relaxation technique in today's busy world.
"Mindful eating draws substantially on the use of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness helps focus our attention and awareness on the present moment, which in turn, helps us disengage from habitual, unsatisfying and unskillful habits and behaviors," notes Megrette Fletcher, executive director of The Center for Mindful Eating
, a national information clearinghouse.
"Engaging in mindful eating meditation practices on a regular basis can help us discover a far more satisfying relationship to food and eating than we ever imagined or experienced before. A different kind of nourishment often emerges, the kind that offers satisfaction on a very deep emotional level.
Such techniques prove that food preparation can be easy, nutritious, economical, entertaining - and fast. The following fun exercise, for instance, take just 10 seconds each to read and not much longer to perform. Do them with your kidlets to enjoy family bonding time and to help develop mindfulness in each member.
While preparing dishes with the following everyday ingredients use the same time you've set aside to cook to try these easy techniques from "Dr. Andrew Weil's Mind-Body Tool Kit
" ($24.95). It is a multimedia package that includes a workbook, mind-training flashcards and audio CDs covering breathing work, meditation, guided imagery and sound therapy.
--- Raisin: "To understand what mindful eating is all about, try this simple exercise," writes Weil. "Eat a raisin. Don't just toss a handful into your mouth, but take the time to enjoy just one raisin. Hold it in your fingers, feeling its plump, wrinkly shape, admiring its dark brown hue. Ponder the raisin's journey from the vine to your plate. Finally, chew the raisin very slowly, focusing on its sweet, juicy flavor. This exercise should take about five minutes to complete."
--- Lemon: "Close your eyes and relax. Imagine a lemon - consider the color, smell and feel of it. Picture yourself holding a knife and cutting into the fruit. Bring the slice of freshly cut lemon near your lips. Sink your teeth into it and feel the lemon's juice and pulp flowing through your mouth. Chances are, simply imagining that you are eating the lemon will make you start to salivate."
In that guided imagery exercise your mind does all the work, however, mindfully paying attention to foods while you cook with them can spur intense gourmet results.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Consider turning extra culinary tools into useful modern art to decorate your kitchen. A "quilt" of potholders can be clipped together and hung up as wall art. Your various sizes of whisks can be decoratively displayed in a vase. Place varying sizes, colors and shapes of measuring spoons (for instance, heart shaped metal ones with sayings on them are sold in some gift shops and online and remain correctly sized and usable as measuring tools) on the area around a kitchen window.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.