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Charlene's Journal

Charlene is a journey of mindful health and self-care

A Mindfully-Cooked Meal
Posted on 02/02/2014 @ 4:17 PM

Here’s a way to add even more depth and subtle layers of pleasure to eating a meal. And this foodie is all for that! It is by mindfully preparing the meal. While preparing a basic stir-fry recipe, I decided to apply the same recommendation that Am I Hungry? ( offers for eating a meal…to do so with intention and attention.

I took a moment to really see the incredible bounty before me…the lovely vibrant colors, and textures gathered together from so many different parts of the country and even the world, right here on my kitchen counter:

• the pale, smooth texture of the chicken breasts
• the fun shape and vibrant orange of the carrots with their beautiful wispy green tops (like cartoon hair)
• the interesting way that celery grows in umbels (I picked that word up somewhere along the way)
• the lively green and red of the bell peppers (which reminded me of the day my mother surprised me with the gardening detail that a red pepper is simply a ripened green one)
• the somewhat unattractive yet much loved onion (what would we do without them?)
• the onion’s similar smaller companion, garlic
• water chestnuts (one of the things I love about stir-fries is the opportunity to bite down on water chestnuts…they are so cool, aren’t they?)
• the lovely greens of broccoli, pea pods, and spinach
• soy sauce (I love to say, “soy sauce” 3 times really fast)
• fresh ginger, now that’s an interesting shape and texture, and oh so fragrant
• chicken stock, red pepper flakes, cornstarch and rice…(I’m so glad someone took the time to grow, prepare and package those for me)

As I reached for the knife to chop these wonderful ingredients, I reminisced about the day my mother gave me this set of knives as a gift. We had shared many hours cooking together throughout my childhood and it was an acknowledgment of my growth as a teenager and home cook. It is worn now with years of sharpening, but treasured more than ever!

I listened to the various sounds as I chopped, the crack then thump as my knife slid through the carrots, the crackling of the celery fibers, the sound of moisture as I slice the onion, and the sharp thud as I smashed the garlic clove.

I noticed and paid attention to the many fragrances, the earthy smell of rice as I poured it into the water (which triggers childhood memories of terrain vehicle rides through geometrical rice paddies on my uncle and aunt’s land in Arkansas), the candy-like aroma of carrots, the scent of peppers that stimulate my attention and perk me up, the onion that can’t be trusted (will it make me cry?), that fresh-from-the-garden smell of pea pods, and ginger…oh my!

Then I noticed the mosaic of shapes and sizes of prepared vegetables, carrot and water chestnut coins, rectangular pieces of peppers and onions, the unique shape of celery cut on the diagonal, flowerets of broccoli, and the slight crescents of pea pods.

I continued the sensory experience as it cooked…the sizzling of the ingredients in the hot oiled pan, the blending of aromas, the relaxing and softening of the hard vegetables, the brightening of broccoli, the just-right crispness of the pea pods, the very slight wilting of the spinach, the magical thickening of the sauce by the cornstarch.

As I placed servings on plates for my husband and me, I cherished the half-hour journey that I’d been on…sights, sounds, smells, textures, memories and joy. And I hadn’t even taken my first mindful bite!

Michelle May M.D.

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Charlene's Journal

My Perfect Weight

Emotional Stages of Saying Goodbye to Dieting

Entering a New and Wonderful Relationship

Perfectly Imperfect

Dieting Continued to Get Harder; Mindful Eating Continues to Become More Natural

100% Commitment, 100% Forgiveness

Stress, the Great Seducer

A Mindfully-Cooked Meal

How long does it take for mindful eating to become a habit?

I Love Taking My Power Back!

My Emotional Eating Experience

Creative Hopelessness

The Godfather Ate My Cake!

Our Relationship to Food is Not a Problem to Be Solved; It is a Process to be Lived

How Does Your “Little Voice” Speak to You?

Where Do I Want to Eat?

Sit. Feast on Your Life

What do you wish you’d known about dieting?

“The problem is that my behavior with food is irrational!"

The Gentle Politeness of Our Bodies

All Emotions Fit

Noticing the shift

Practicing Am I Hungry? Concepts in Other Areas of My Life

Coming to My Senses: My One-Year Anniversary with Am I Hungry?

A Note of Compassion to All Dieters, Including Myself

Follow Your Heart But Don’t Check Your Brain at the Door

Mindful Movement

Regret Over Guilt

Practicing Mindfulness

A Mindful Walk

Choosing Ease over Easy

Our 23rd Wedding Anniversary

Done with Dieting. Forever.

Fear of Hunger

Acceptance, compassion, and encouragement

Flying on autopilot

"Several “Hungry” Days Didn’t Stress Me Out!"

What Else Am I Bringing to the Table?

What do I want to eat?

Speed Bump with a Bonus

No Bad Foods, Really?

From Tunnel Vision to Total Vision

A Mindful Choice for Quality

From Redirection to Connection

Like Riding a Bike!

New Year's "Resolutions"

Merry Mindful Christmas

Curiosity is key

Fullness as an illusionary hug

Letting go of overeating and restrictive eating

Wait for it...

Thanksgiving for Thanksgiving

Hunger is the Best Seasoning

Old habits die hard

Happy Birthday to me!

Coming Home!

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