The holidays! Probably my favorite time of year …A time of nostalgia, twinkly lights and hope … also a time of lots of good eats! Even in times such as these, where change is both inevitable and unpredictable, but positivity also feels scarce … SAVORING the things I love is a much needed and powerful reminder of the inherent value of things.
My mindfulness practice has carried me through challenging times before. And it is mindfulness (and gratitude!) that led me to my love of food and cooking which have also brought me such solace and joy when other parts of my world felt dark. More than 20 years ago I compiled a book of recipes, what I called “my most-requested, most-made or most-yummy,” that had special meaning to me at the time. Some of these recipes remain tried-and-true (like Daddy Knows Good Chicken Soup soup), and other recipes (like the one below) are new additions to my evolving gastronomic repertoire. Through cooking I rediscover again and again a delight of color and taste and sound. I get to use intentional attention of these facets of the present moment to get my mind off of or around things. It is an adventure in creativity and beginner’s mind. Cooking with family and friends brings so much joy and fun to my life, and ranks high among the activities I know I can do to brighten my spirits or bring positivity to my day.
My needs and likes as a “chef” have changed over time, too — no more a young adult first learning to bake or baste, but now a seasoned pescatarian mama with less time and less energy but more kitchen gadgets and more mouths to feed. But what hasn’t changed is my willingness to try new things and my excitement to share my kitchen creations with others. The taking joy in the journey of a meal, from grocery cart to dining table. The pleasure I experience when others are savoring my creations. So at some point during the holidays I invite you to make a holiday meal a mindfulness experience— attending to the process, tuning in to the multisensory experiences of preparing and enjoying your meals as they unfold. Sharing what you’ve made with loved ones who are close, and observing what arises for them and you as you break bread together in celebration of the magic of this time of year. And from my table to yours, Happy Happy Holidays, and enjoy.
Simple Winter White Bean Soup
Extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp
1 sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium Yukon gold or white potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprig of fresh rosemary
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil to medium heat, and add the onions and celery until mostly tender, then add garlic until fragrant. Add the beans, potatoes, carrots, thyme and salt, along with the broth and water. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer for approximately one hour. Add salt/pepper or more broth/water as needed or to taste. Garnish with fresh rosemary, and serve with crusty bread.
*Much thanks to Lizzie Shutt for sharing a similar version of this recipe with me 🙂
I encourage you to take the time to savor in your day-to-day life too, whether you practice mindfulness regularly or not. Use this mnemonic to help you:
Slow Down — intentionally move more slowly through your day when you can, allowing for the opportunity to notice more of what you encounter.
Attend — bring your awareness and attention to whatever you are doing or observing. Use your senses to explore the experience fully.
Value — acknowledge the extraordinary in the experience and how your being present for it brings value to your life.
Open — allow for a sense of openness and willingness to see things from a new perspective or vantage point.
Reflect — once the experience has passed or ended, take an opportunity to call to mind what you experienced and see if you notice similar emotions arise.
With love and blessings,
Dr. Nikki and the Sacred Treehouse Faculty
Nicole Davis is a licensed clinical psychologist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Davis has received extensive training in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, and maintains her own personal practice in these as well. At Sacred Treehouse, she facilitates group mindfulness courses, including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, and other mindfulness-based seminars and workshops. She also offers meditation & yoga classes at Sacred Treehouse.