I wrote previously about the holiness of sharing a meal. On an individual level, there is holiness, too, in the way that we nourish and care for our bodies in the manner that we eat. By bringing an awareness to the act of nourishment, we can imbue this daily act with holiness – cultivating a gratitude for every cell of the body as we offer the food we need to maintain a healthy home for the spirit.
We can also cultivate gratitude for the food that we have to eat. I don’t believe it’s a healthy philosophy to “finish everything on your plate.” But if we take moments of thoughtful awareness throughout the process of nourishing ourselves, we can cultivate gratitude for our food and eliminate a mindset of wastefulness.
This may take any form that works for you. Bonus if you involve the kiddos, teaching cultivation of gratitude early. I like these ideas:
- Meal planning and mindful shopping. Taking time to consider in advance what and how you will eat can help to avoid buying or preparing more than you need. Before you start planning, pause for a moment of gratitude for your body, the people around you that you have the privilege to feed, the earth which provides the nourishment for the body…or whatever comes in that moment.
- Eating more fresh foods. There is a tendency in our culture to think in terms of scarcity. We buy things in bulk and store it away, where it gets lost in the back of the cupboard. Take some time for spring cleaning – clear out those things you don’t/won’t use, and donate to a good cause (another awesome kid-friendly activity). Then sit down for regular meal planning, and buy just the food that you need. Focusing on fresh foods as you do this has so many benefits: it increases the nutritional content of the food; it helps to establish a connection with the earth, the source of the nourishment for our bodies; it helps us to cultivate gratitude for what we have, as we must buy food in smaller quantities and keep an awareness of what we have to use food more efficiently.
- Growing your own food. This is such a rewarding practice! Keeping even a small garden or pot on the kitchen counter for culinary herbs can be an excellent means of cultivating awareness and gratitude for what the earth will offer us – without asking anything in return.
- Offering gratitude before meals. Take a few moments before each time that you eat. Focus on gratitude for your body, for the earth, for your food…and whatever else comes to mind.
- Using the whole food. Another unfortunate habit that is quite common in our culture is to take only the “best” parts of the food, and throw way the rest. Often, there is no reason that the whole plant or food cannot be used, other than habit. Especially when using fresh foods, there is no reason not to make use of the whole plant. Many parts of whole plants that are commonly discarded are actually great to eat. The base of foods like celery, lettuce, or other greens can be replanted and will grow again. And if all else fails, old or inedible plant parts can be added to compost to return to the earth and become food for plants.
The cultivation of gratitude is a never-ending process, but one that is well worth the effort. This recipe for Beet Green Pesto was motivated by a big bunch of greens attached to the beets in my fridge. The forest-green leaves and pink-purple veins are so beautiful, and inspired this meditation on gratitude – it made my heart happy to be able to use them.
This recipe is quick, simple, and so, so delicious! I use the whole stalk, which gives the pesto a wonderful little bitterness that gives fire to the digestion. As a bonus, it turned my pasta a lovely purple color.
- In a food processor (I use my Ninja), add:
- 1 bunch beet greens (I used the stalk also)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- splash lime juice
- splash balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Blend until smooth.
Cultivate gratitude and enjoy!