by Josh Racho
Thoughtful eating is very important to me. I have classes Monday to Friday 8 am to 5 pm with a one-hour lunch break that usually includes twenty minutes of travel time to and from my house. Wanting to get all my schoolwork done, eight hours of sleep a night and time at the yoga studio or gym everyday leaves very small windows of actual eating time. It’s for this exact reason that being present and truly enjoying the process of eating has become so important for me. Taking the time to enjoy your food is my favourite way to claim the day as my own and remain aware and mindful—even as a busy student with the stresses of schoolwork and exams always impending.
Being thoughtful when eating comes naturally if you choose foods that elicit a thoughtful response. This means your ramen noodles and Ragu brand sauces aren’t the most ideal for getting the most out of foods. Finding whole plant-based foods is the simplest way to allow you to naturally become present when eating. There is a raw beauty in most fruits and vegetables that simply do not exist in a processed, pre-packaged meal-type item. This happens to work out extremely well with a student budget too, but that’s a whole other story.
In order to achieve a mindful meal it’s all in the preparation and planning. I don’t have time to cook every night and certainly not multiple times a day. Every three nights I prepare a green smoothie and divide it into mason jars for the following mornings. In addition to this, each night I make some sort of overnight oats to satisfy my morning need for carbs. When I wake up I cut up all the raw vegetables I want for lunch that day so when I come home it is as simple as spreading some homemade hummus (prepared on the weekend) into a pita and building a delicious wrap. The hardest of the bunch is definitely dinner. I choose to take about two hours every Sunday to make a combination of a grains and beans—enough for three or four days—and some sort of main dish to go with it. The main dish varies from ratatouille—perfect to clear out fridge and use that Ragu if you must—to Thai or Indian curry dishes.
This routine takes stress out of cooking and eating. It leaves me a wonderfully colourful, flavour-packed set of meals to just be still with. Find your routine, build your plan and let eating bring you stillness.
See below an example of rice and lentils with raw vegetables and a maple-cashew sauce. (And, you thought it was far more complicated, right?) If you prepare the rice and lentils in advance cooked it’d only take five minutes to cut up the vegetables and you’d be ready to rock.