Monday, November 11, 2019

Eating From a Bowl | Clean Comfort Food Without the Plate

It seems more people are enjoying their food from bowls. How and why is this becoming the norm?

I know this because I’ve become a "bowl person"; I cannot remember the last time I’ve eaten from a plate.  

Since my visit to the doctor for my checkup, I have been fighting to lower my cholesterol and control my blood pressure by changing many things in my diet. As a result of eating more cleanly, many of my meals are prepared in a bowl: Breakfast is an exercise in color balance, artistry and including balanced nutrients, so I begin the day on Saturday and Sunday with a smoothie bowl. Lunch or dinner is complete with a warm, savory mix of vegetables and protein with a Buddha Bowl. Eating this way has helped me to stay on target with my wellness plan, provided me with the opportunity to explore various tastes and textures and has given me a new perspective on how food gets to our tables and into my bowl. Most of all, eating from a round vessel, brimming with satisfaction for the senses, gives me a feeling of deep and profound comfort.  

After I discovered that my cholesterol was high, it was a wake up call to spring into action to help keep my body healthy: I come from a history of high blood pressure and heart disease. My father suffered from both conditions and became the victim of many strokes that deteriorated his health and finally took his life. I always thought that I lived a healthy enough lifestyle that I would not become subject to such issues, but having a palate for extravagant, rich cuisine (code word: butter!) eventually caught up to me. I had my own frightening cardiac episode that landed me in the hospital and placed me on low-dose blood pressure medication. The follow up exam revealed high LDL cholesterol. That’s the bad cholesterol, by the way.  
“No meat, no dairy.”, my doctor mandated. 
What? I love ice cream. And cheese. And BUTTER! Nooooooo 
    But I want to live.
 Things could only become more complicated with a previously diagnosed heart murmur, so I figured I’d better get with the program. 

Turning to creating masterpieces within a bowl helped me to see that not being able to enjoy meat, dairy and gluten would mean I would have to seek other opportunities to explore new combinations of food, creating new tastes for my palate.  

After the initial disappointment of eliminating certain foods from your diet, you begin to learn that there are so many different ways to enjoy food, and you begin to feel better, physically, emotionally and spiritually. One thing I have discovered is how to prepare dishes from other cultures. For instance, many South Asian foods from India do not contain meat or dairy and are full of delicious, aromatic spices. Protein sources come from lentils, beans and eggs. A favorite recipe I love to prepare is Bhaat Baat, a hearty meal of mashed vegetables, rice, yams and soft boiled egg. You can find how I make it here on my blog. Aside from India, other tasty meals can be found on Mediterranean and African menus as well, low in cholesterol, gluten and dairy free with little or no meat, but containing beneficial protein. It is all about exploring the limitless possibilities of what is available.  

Once I’ve cooked up what I am hungry for, I place it all in a bowl.  
There is something about eating a meal from a bowl that brings feelings of comfort, pleasure and satisfaction. Apparently, I am not the only one who feels this way. Eating from the round, close area of a bowl seems to bring a sense of security, a nostalgic reach-back into our childhood, where things were simple and food served in a bowl was hot and substantial. As Annalise Griffin points out in her article, Bowled Over: The reason why food tastes better in bowl than on a plate, "There is an intimacy in eating from a bowl, that isn't just there when eating from a plate... You pick up a bowl and bring it closer to yourself, and you can really enjoy it and immerse yourself in to what's in front of you. In many ways I think it's one of the oldest ways to eat and at the same time, in this day and age, a lot of folks are looking for comfort and recognition of sustenance." In this turbulent time,  having a meal in a bowl seems to make  the world feel a bit better and more familiar. according to Wall Street Journal author Bee Wilson, Sales of bowls are rising as Americans prefer more casual, one-course meals that layer flavors. Tableware makers are reconfiguring place settings. Restaurants are overhauling their china cabinets and consumers are increasingly cradling their food while perched at kitchen islands, lounging on sofas or multitasking at a table. The bowl trend is also influenced by our new connections to Asian cuisine and cooking, which layers various ingredients to be tasted together at once, the article states. Additional eating establishments have caught on to the bowl trend because they’ve found that flavors are able to mingle together and that food stays warmer longer. Which is one of the reasons love preparing my food in a bowlHot food is always a source of pleasure and comfort for me. A meal is best served at a time when the aroma and flavors of the dish are at their peak as the food arrives immediately from the stove to be enjoyed.  

So, how do you make a bowl? What are the basic components of a healthy, clean Buddha Bowl?  

 1/2 green vegetables-kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens, mustards, Brussels sprouts, broccoli…or any other. Mix up flavors by sautéeing in red onion, chili oil and garlic 

¼ grains-you can prepare brown rice, quinoa, millet or buckwheat ahead in advance to cut down on preparation time.  

1/8 more veggies – I like to add carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, yellow squash…sprinkling these with oil and then roasting  these on a cookie sheet can be done the day before or in the morning while preparing for breakfast.  

1/8 – good fats – nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil; I like vegan butter stirred into my grains. Vegan butter can be from cashews, avocado, sunflowers or other seed.  

Protein is also added in the form of whole plant -based sources. Hummus or whole chickpeas, beans, lentils(Dahl) or vegan patties add heartiness to a bowl and keep 
More full for a longer time.  

Top all of this with additional seeds, fresh herbs, crunchy veggies and sauces (lemon juice, Lime juice, sriracha, the choice is yours!) for finishing flavors. I love Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning to give my bowl that extra special kick and a beautiful, finished appearance.  

Smoothie Bowls are made with — well— smoothies! Blend your favorite smoothie and top it with fresh fruit, nuts, clean granola, and seeds. When you  add various powders, you can create unique colors to your blend or puff to the topping. Either way, these “Superfood” powders provide another source of protein and adaptogens that our bodies need.  

Superfood Powders
Beet Powder 
Matcha green tea powder 
Maca powder 
Chia seeds 

To thicken a smoothie for a bowl,  you can blend in chickpeas another great protein source. Edible flowers like chamomile, violets, roses, baby pansies and nasturtiums  all provide an extra pop of color and beauty to your creation.  Just make sure they are free of pesticides and are organically grown. For more on edible flowers, visit Erin Baker's website

Bowl food was thought to be a passing fancy in 2018, an Instagram fad that would soon be a thing of the past. But alas, this trend doesn't seem to be going away, in fact, it is slowly becoming a new way America eats. Warm and savory or chilled and fruity, the bowl eating culture is gaining momentum, and seems to be the new normal for our trying times. 

Do you like to eat bowl food? What delicious combinations have you invented? Share in the comments below!


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Summer Hygge: Slowing Down to Savor

Hygge is a Danish term which reflects a lifestyle of coziness, comfort and closeness with family and friends. Although the term is commonly associated with a cold-weather lifestyle, the art of hygge can be practiced and enjoyed in all seasons. Here are some tips for enjoying a comfortable summer by embracing the art of Hygge!

Enjoy the summer where comfort and JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) are the priority!

- Disconnect and Unplug - When we are able to put away our devices and experience connecting with our surroundings, our humanity returns. We are more able to create definitive moments with others through conversation, forming meaningful relationships based not on how many "likes" one has, but finding what we have in common. Try to avoid photographing every single moment of the day, and simply embrace whatever happens, keeping the event in your memory only. Even if it is for a couple of hours, putting away the phone gives you the freedom of being disconnected from the noise of social media and the stresses of today's world.

- Connect with Nature - what better time to get outside than when the weather is warm and there is plenty of sunshine and daylight? Enjoy going for walks, or schedule time to be outside instead of the gym for your workouts. A great opportunity to take in the local plant life awaits at botanical gardens, where you can quietly walk through beautiful gardens and mini-forests, or just find a bench to sit and ponder among the green trees and babbling ponds.

- Have an Outdoor Movie Night - All you need are a few blankets, pillows and a backyard projector. This projector is Amazon's Choice for the under $100 category. Use a white sheet on the wall for a movie screen, or go state of the art with this pop-up movie screen from Home Depot. Don't forget to include the snacks! Make popcorn with an air-popper and give everyone a choice of seasonings; provide cool beverages and additional snack favorites in fun treat boxes for that movie theatre feel!

-Get Away or Just Stay - Vacations do not have to be elaborate or expensive. Camping with the family is a fun way to get away from the house while enjoying the great outdoors. Or simply make home the ultimate destination! After the seasonal deep clean, give the house a sprucing up to create a BnB atmosphere by setting out fresh flowers throughout. Adorn the house with candles and string lights to create an elegant ambiance, and invite friends and family over for an elegant farm to table dinner in the yard. Arrange a stack of white towels in the bathroom and white linens on the beds, and enjoy a luxurious breakfast in bed on a tray with fresh fruit, croissants and coffee...five star style right at home!

-Make Cool Things to Sip - Pouring an ice cold beverage to enjoy is one of my favorite parts of summer, along with creating a signature drink to serve to guests when entertaining. I also love to make sun tea by setting out our big glass dispenser in the morning and bringing in the naturally brewed tea to bottle in the afternoon. Harney and Sons has so many flavors to choose from; from full-bodied black tea to their light and flavorful iced tea bags. Sun tea is so delicious that it needs no sugar, only ice and a straw!

- Do Some Gardening - You do not have to plant endless crops of vegetables to savor the joy of gardening. Start simple by choosing some of your favorite things to grow in a container garden or easy-to-make raised beds. Paint a few rocks, or make a ribbon garland out of old rags or fabric to decorate. Or if you are in for a summer DIY, refurbish an old piece of furniture to make a potting bench. You can get instructions on my YouTube channel by clicking here. Each and every day, you will see the beautiful transformation of the things you have planted only to be rewarded with a harvest as the summer ends.

- Make Ice Cream - Nothing says summer more than the cool, soothing taste of ice cream that makes the heat bearable. While there are myriad of flavors available in the store and in parlours, making your own can be a lot of fun and way more delicious!

- Spend an Evening with the Arts - Whether getting dressed up for a night on the town, or just creating a playlist of your favorite summer tunes, experiencing artistic creativity provides peace and inspiration. Visit a museum, or go to a concert, ballet or theatrical performance. Music festivals are everywhere this season where you can grab a blanket and enjoy an evening under the stars. Or create your own art; experiment with watercolor or sidewalk chalk, or string beads to make your own beautiful jewelry. The sky is the limit when it comes to exploring our creative side!

Visit the Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles!

-Visit the Beach - The beautiful waves, the warm sand and encountering marine life screams SUMMER! Make it a point to go during off-hours to avoid the crowds, and remember to take sunscreen.

-Read - If there was ever a time to catch up on that book you started last winter, summer provides plenty opportunity. Let the day slowly pass with a glass of iced tea under a tree, by the water or in a hammock and get acquainted with new characters and far-away lands.

-Nap...A Lot - Beat the heat indoors while keeping cool, taking the time to snooze beneath the fan or in an air-conditioned room. Indulge in one long nap or check out for a few naps during the day. Spending an hour or two during the day in quiet brings peace and relaxation to mind and body.

-Enjoy Friends and Family - Whatever you do, take the time to be grateful for all of your good fortunes and spend time with friends and family. Hygge is truly about enjoying the beautiful, simple things in life, and stopping to appreciate all that each season has to offer.

What do you do to slow down and savor during the Summer months? Share your ideas below!

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