Remember when you were a child, and you got so wrapped up in playing, imagining or creating that you didn’t want to stop when it was time to eat? Do you remember leaving your meal half-finished to run off and continue playing? Children innately understand that food is secondary to what is most nutritious and primary in life: fun and play.
As adults we seem to have lost our instinct to prioritize play. In our busy world, with its emphasis on work and responsibility, to be healthy and balanced we must work on more than just our bodies; we must feed our hearts, minds and spirits.
Have you noticed that when your body, mind and spirit are engaged in a creative project or happy relationship, your reliance on food seems to decrease?
Likewise, when you are unsatisfied with your relationships, your job or other areas of your life, you may depend on food to cheer, soothe or numb you. When your life is out of balance, no amount of food can feed you where you truly need nourishment.
The food that we eat is very important for health and balance, but what really feeds us—a full and fulfilling life—doesn’t come on a plate. What is fun for you? What makes you light up? What excites you? Make time for it this week. Even if you don’t have much time for fun, try approaching a “serious” activity with an attitude of play. This can greatly reduce stress and anxiety and bring more pleasure to your day. Take your focus off food, try adding more fun into your life and watch the magic unfold.
Food Focus: Sea Vegetables
In traditional Chinese healing, sea vegetables, or seaweeds, correspond to the winter season and to the kidneys, adrenal glands, bladder and reproductive organs. The strengthening, balancing and cleansing properties of sea vegetables are known to help these organs as well as the hair, skin and nails. Sea vegetables provide a variety of minerals and vitamins, including calcium, iron and iodine, and can help balance hormone and thyroid levels in the body.
Eating too many processed foods or foods grown in mineral-depleted soil can result in a lack of minerals in the body, leading to cravings for salty or sugary foods. Adding sea vegetables to your diet can help balance your energy levels and alleviate cravings.
Recipe of the Month
Mighty Miso Soup
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 4-5 servings
4-5 cups spring water
1-2 inch strip of wakame (an edible brown seaweed used, typically in dried form, in Chinese and Japanese cooking), rinsed and soaked 5 minutes in 1 cup of water, until softened
1-2 cups thinly sliced vegetables of your choice (see notes)
2-3 teaspoons barley miso
2 scallions, finely chopped
1. Chop soaked wakame.
2. Discard soaking water or use on houseplants for a boost of minerals.
3. Place water and wakame in a soup pot and bring to a boil.
4. Add root and ground vegetables first and simmer gently for 5 minutes or until tender.
5. Add leafy vegetables and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
6. Remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from pot and dissolve miso into it. Return it to the pot.
7. Reduce heat to very low; do not boil or simmer miso broth.
8. Allow soup to cook 2-3 minutes.
9. Garnish with scallions and serve.
Any combination of vegetables can be used in miso soup. Here are some classic combinations:
- onion-daikon: cleansing
- onion-carrot-shiitake mushroom-kale: mildly sweet
- leek-corn-broccoli: great in summertime
- onion-winter squash-cabbage: great in wintertime
- Add cooked grains at the start of making the soup. They will become nice and soft.
- Add a tablespoon of uncooked quinoa or millet at the beginning and let it cook with vegetables for 20 minutes.
- Add cubed tofu toward the end.
- Add bean sprouts toward the end.
- Season with 1/2 teaspoon ginger juice for an interesting twist.
- If using dry shiitake mushrooms, let them soak for 20 minutes, slice and add at the beginning.