March Mindfulness: Springtime Nutrition
As I continue to think about preparing for spring after the last blog post about spring cleaning, I’m also making an intention to be cognizant of my other lifestyle practices and how they are impacted by new seasons as well. Over the years, I’ve found answers on how to live in harmony with the seasons through Ayurveda and seasonal eating. Ayurveda is the sanskrit word for “The Science of Life”, and within this science, I find many helpful guidelines for living in tune with the seasons.
The weather is warming up, storms and bouts of rain are increasingly frequent, and everything is starting to bloom. Nature is in flux. One of the ways I too am allowing myself to adjust to spring, is with a focus on preparing my meals and consuming in a way that helps to optimize health.
Seasonal eating is simply eating local fresh fruits and vegetables that grow and are harvested in your current season. Modernity has given us the ability to enjoy seasonal goods year-round because of preservation and new farming techniques. However, seasonal eating is preferable when you strive to live in alignment with nature and in many other ways as well.
Crops eaten in-season have optimal flavor and nutrients because they are allowed to ripen naturally and fully and do not have to be preserved and transported as much as out-of-season crops. Seasonal eating also benefits local farmers and businesses since you’re eating fresh and sourcing locally. We are blessed here in Louisville Kentucky to have many farmers markets, making it easy to support our local farmers and get produce that is typically picked just the day before, if not the day you bring it home with you.
Even if you don’t have a farmers market that you can depend on for your fresh fruits and vegetables of the season, you can still shift your focus to buying what is in season (and preferably locally grown) in your neighborhood grocery store. Do you need some help getting started?
Growing guide is a seasonal food guide that tells you what is in season for your chosen location and time period.
You can find your local Community Supported Agriculture Program here to find local farmers and farmers markets.
How Mindful Preparation can Help
In addition to being intentional about what food we eat, I have also found that being intentional in my preparation of certain foods can impact the taste and overall eating experience. For instance, when I make kale for a salad, I’ve learned that when I massage it and take care to work the leaves, it tastes less bitter and acidic while still having its distinct flavor. Quite frankly, I didn’t even like fresh raw kale until I tried this.
I also notice a difference in my garlic when I chop it rather than using a press or pre-chopped garlic—freshly chopped garlic produces a different flavor that permeates and combines with other ingredients when I let it brown in a skillet before adding anything else. Fruits and vegetables are more flavor and nutrient-rich when you leave on as much skin/peel as possible in the preparation process.
To implement mindfulness into food preparation, I try to remember to also use this as a time to practice gratitude. I’m sure I am not alone in finding that many meals are thrown together quickly, particularly when I’m just making something for myself or am very focused on accomplishing what is on my task list for the day. However, when I do take the time to slow down and be mindful in the process, the reward is a calm sense of being and happiness through a greater appreciation of the food itself , how it will nourish me, and everything that had to take place to bring it to my plate.
Eating and cooking can become so routine that we can forget to enjoy it, savor it, and appreciate it. Food sustains us—being attentive to meals and food prep can increase our happiness and satisfaction physically, when we eat it and it tastes good, and mentally, by being proud of the results of our effort. These pleasant feelings can also aid in the digestive process, in turn leading to more vibrant health and well being.