Engaging your senses!

 

Do you use your 5 senses when you eat? Sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch?

We should take the opportunity to stop, breathe and celebrate. We  forget how easy it is to get caught up in our everyday life and rush food down our mouths, eating mindlessly. Who sits down and looks at the food in detail and savours the aroma? If you pause to eat more mindfully, you will taste every spice, ingredient, texture and flavour.  We forget to glorify the little things that make our lives rich on a day-to-day basis, to celebrate the food we have in our hands.

Food can evoke negative emotions and positive emotions. When we are feeling negative and disconnected in the world, this is when over-eating plays a part a big part in our lives. However, when you are positive and full of life, this is when you enjoy the burst of flavours and feel the sensation of spice inside your mouth. You can change your relationship with food, and it starts with appreciation and choosing to be present. Slow down and engage all of your senses the next time you shop, cook or eat a meal, and the result will be a transcendent, extraordinary experience!

The first step in engaging your senses is taking time to experience the moment. Once you find the space to breathe and be present, you’ll be amazed at the joy your food has to offer you. When you engage all your senses, the brain releases feel-good chemicals, which elevate your mood and evoke feelings of trust, enjoyment and relaxation. The result is that you’ll enjoy your food in a new and exciting way.

Take in what you see. “We eat with our eyes first,” yet we rarely take the time to truly experience this. What you see will likely evoke emotion, and you may even associate what you see with flavours your love or hate. This is a great time to consider where your food came from and how it was grown, and if you’re eating a meal, you can reflect on the work that went into preparing it. Appreciating the beauty of food and its journey to your plate.

Touch, feel & smell. Do you feel your food? Even with your tongue? You smell your food before you eat it? Ever really paused to think about the sensuality of the experience? Explore the texture and immerse yourself in the tactile sensations you experience in the kitchen, from holding a knife to peeling garlic, chopping an onion or juicing a lemon. Get your hands dirty and play with your food, then slow down enough to really enjoy the experience. As you eat, think about the way a food feels in your mouth, which will, in turn, slow down your eating and engage you in the flavour of the meal.

Listen to, while you savour each bite. Challenge yourself to take a bite and taste your food before you even started chewing it. Chew mindfully; challenge yourself to chew your food at least 10 times and pay attention to each chomp and the way the flavour and texture of your food changes. By savouring each bite, you can enjoy less food – and still, feel satisfied.

Relish the aroma. There’s something so inviting about the smell of your home when you cook, as well as the aromas at your favourite restaurant. Scents evoke memories and emotions, which you can use to your advantage. How a food smells is directly related to your perception of how that food tastes.  Seasoning your food with beautifully fragrant herbs and spices can enhance the aroma and, therefore, taste. Take a moment before each bite to inhale and enjoy the way your food smells, which in turn gets you excited to mindfully eat it.

The soundtrack to your life. Though our sense of hearing seems abstract to our relationship with food, it isn’t. When you take an active approach to listen to the world around you, it can deepen your overall experience of life, including your relationship with food. Listen to the sounds created when you cut into a potato, or the sizzle as you sauté some vegetables in a pan. Be attentive to the sound of chewing your food, and delight in the melody of voices as you share a healthy meal with friends and family.

You may give this a go once in a while or incorporate a few of these tips on a daily basis, but either way, the act of engaging yourself in all that your food is offering will allow you to celebrate your plate in a way that takes the emphasis off deprivation.

Meet Davinder Ojalla – The Lightworker Coach, she’s a dear friend of mine and I would like to share her blog with you to help with this exercise. It’s so simple but yet effective and it’s called ‘The Raisin Exercise – Mindfulness Meditation’

Davinder’s Raisin Exercise can help us ignite a healthy love for food. This exercise is a great way to help with diets and health and it’s an holistic approach to our personal evolution and potential. Next time you eat one of my dishes or cook one of my recipes, I would love you to use your 5 senses and engage with the food. Tell me about the journey you’ve experienced!

 

 

National Spinach Day

I bet you didn’t know that spinach had a special day? Well it does, and it’s called National Spinach Day and it’s on the 26th March. Spinach is my favourite leafy green. It’s a nutrional power house that has lots of health benefits and can be used in loads of dishes. In Indian cooking, spinach is often the star of the show, with a bunch of recipes and dishes that put this humble green leaf at the heart of the meal.

Why We Love Spinach

  • Native to central and southwestern Asia, it’s thought to have originated in ancient Persia. Arab traders carried spinach into India, and then it was introduced into China where it was known as “Persian vegetable.”
  • Catherine de Medici loved spinach so much that it was served at every meal. To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as “Florentine” reflecting Catherine’s birth in Florence.
  • Spinach is a true superfood. It’s packed with nutrients but low in calories. Dark, leafy greens like spinach are important for skin, hair, and bone health and they also provide protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Eating spinach can improve blood glucose control in people with diabetes, lowering the risk of cancer, improve bone health.
  • Spinach has been used by various cultures throughout history, notably in Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern, and South-East-Asian cuisines. It can be incorporated quite easily into any diet, as it is cheap and easy to prepare.
  • Spinach contains an antioxident known as alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase sensitivity, and prevent oxidative, stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

One of my favourite ways to eat spinach is saag aloo. Here’s my recipe…

 

Saag Aloo Recipe

Ingredients:
serves 4-6

 

3 tbs of olive oil ( Please note – if you are being extra healthy- you can replace the oil with water- this will just help the masala to cook down)

4 large floury potatoes (peeled and cubed) OR 1 Sweet Potato
2 bags of freshly prepared spinach
2 tomatoes washed and roughly chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped (optional)
1 heaped tsp fresh garlic purée,
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1-2 green chillies
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
a large pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander cumin powder
1 tbs finely chopped fenugreek leave or kasuri methi
2 tbs fresh coriander
2 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Method:
Heat the oil in a large pan. When it is hot enough, add the mustard seeds and let them pop and crackle.
When they have popped, add the cumin seeds and the asafoetida, fry for a second before adding the onions if you are using. If you are not using onions then you can increase the amount of asafoetida.
Stir-fry until the onions turn translucent and then add the ginger, garlic and green chilli and saute for a minute or two without without colouring the garlic.
Add the fresh coriander and methi (fenugreek) leaves and saute until the leaves have wilted.
Add the tomatoes and cook until all nice and pulpy and some of the moisture has evaporated. Add salt and sugar.
Add the powdered spices and a splash of water and stir in the cubed potato. Stir everything through and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes.
In the mean time, prepare the spinach by chopping it very finely.
When the potatoes are just over half-way cooked, add the chopped spinach and give it a stir. Cook until the potatoes are tender.
Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning (salt) and then add the lemon juice.
To serve, sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with dal or kadhi, rice and chapati.