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October 24, 2016

'I’m broccoli-ed out': a note from my husband

How to keep a mindful kitchen but still spice it up this fall

Food Health
10242016_mindful_eating2_CM Photo courtesy/Christie Mandia

Roasted vegetables with a side of turkey burger, with spinach and feta.

Mindful eating was truly my entrée into mindfulness as a wider concept. The idea of really thinking about what you eat. Pausing before eating to ask, “Where did this food come from? How did it get here? Do I want to put this in my one body? Is this food worthy of me?”

When you start to ask yourself these kinds of questions about food, your perspective on eating will change. Suddenly, a snack out of a vending machine or from a local gas station may become unappealing and you will most likely be more grateful to local farmers for their seasonal harvest.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make for your health is mindlessly putting things in your body, food or otherwise. Obviously, you will always have times when you splurge on treats but mindful eating is about being more aware. Sure, have pizza on the boardwalk or a pina colada on the beach (after all quality of life is to be considered when examining full person health) but balance is key. Notice what you eat and ask yourself it is moving you in the direction of illness or health; every action does.

I try to live by the 80/20 Rule where I am healthy 80 percent of the time (weekdays) and treat myself 20 percent (weekends). I have gotten in a routine cooking pattern; fish on Mondays, turkey on Tuesdays, chicken on Wednesdays, and either leftovers or eggs on Thursday, and order sushi Friday. I usually serve with spinach, broccoli, asparagus, salad, or grilled peppers. That is what my grocery list looks like week in and week out.

I must admit, I was getting sick of having the same meals myself, so I couldn’t help but laugh one night at dinner one night recently when my husband gently said, “Did I ever tell you that I don’t really like broccoli? In fact, I’m broccoli-ed out,” he said as he pushed it around the plate like a science project. He went on, “Also I think I will probably die if I ever have to eat this fish again.”

I was choking the fish down myself. It was one of those moments where we were laughing, finishing our meals like it was a punishment, wondering about all of the people who just eat whatever they want and don’t care. We imagined what they might be eating at this very moment while we are eating wild caught cod with broccoli.

I must admit, in an effort to be healthy and controlled, the meals got bland and my cooking became uninspired. This led to series of splurges where we enjoyed everything from bread basket(s) at Parc to pizza delivery from Santucci’s.

But eventually, we got disgusted enough with ourselves that we decided it was time to stop the bleeding. “We have to go back to our routine,” we agreed. But at my husband’s suggestion, it was “time to mix it up.”

I was thinking of fun spins I could put on the food that I typically make and started thinking seasonally. The proteins will have to stay the same but I can switch up my sides using fresh vegetables. What is in season? Apples, carrots, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, sweet potato, squash, etc.

After a quick trip to the new Whole Foods in Fairmount, (OMG!) where I picked up my ingredients, I decided that I was going to roast the vegetables on a sheet tray, rather than steam or sautee them like I typically do on the stovetop.

Photo courtesy/Christine Mandia

Carrots, white onion and Brussels sprouts, lightly tossed with olive oil.

I cut carrots, white onion, and Brussels sprouts and lightly tossed them with olive oil and a little bit of salt and pepper before putting them in a 400-degree oven for 40 min (or until browned).

Photo courtesy/Christie Mandia

Chopped turkey bacon browned on the stovetop, glazed with pure maple syrup.

Once they were in the oven, I chopped turkey bacon on the stovetop and browned until the edges were crispy and most pieces were cooked through (8-10 min over high heat). Next, I did a spin around the pan of pure maple syrup and used a whisk to deglaze the pan (that gets the good bits from the bottom of the pan to form into more of a glaze) Then I transferred the turkey bacon and glaze to the sheet tray by pouring the entire mixture over the vegetables. (I take the whole sheet out of the oven to do this to ensure even distribution) Put back in the oven and continue cooking for the full 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and brown.

Photo courtesy/Christie Mandia

Fresh out of the oven; roasted and slightly candied.

Like this! Fresh out of the oven; roasted and slightly candied, yum!

While I was making the side, my husband was grilling up turkey burgers with spinach and feta (which we also bought at Whole Foods) to round out our meal (see photo at top of story.)

How’s that for mixing it up? We loved our seasonal dinner and don’t plan on going back to that summer cod for a while. Other ideas that I am going to try are a crockpot turkey chili, chicken with baked apples and loaded sweet potatoes. Enjoy and happy fall! I hope you like the dish as much as we did.

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I will continue to keep you posted on my health journey. Please feel free to share below or tweet me @christiemandia.

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