How to start bringing more awareness into your relationship with food

First of all: what does it mean EATING WITH INTENTION? In a few words, it’s related to the idea of being truly aware of the entire process of eating and don’t only mindless getting some fuel for your body.

You have probably noticed that the ideas of mindful eating and eating with intention are named pretty much everywhere lately. I absolutely love this kind of approach, but as soon as they became trends, it also started to be difficult to have a clear idea of how to apply them in the best way in your everyday life.

During the last years, I had the chance to apply the mindfulness-based approach to myself and I have found it pretty useful, both for general life issues and for the food-related ones. But I have tried to get a bigger view of it. When I talk with my clients about this kind of approach, I often refer to it in terms like “eating with intention”, “being present”, “being conscious of your relationship with food” – I use what I have learned during my holistic studies (I hold a diploma as massage therapist, and I have started practicing yoga in 2009), paired with science, to improve their relationship with food and with themselves.

Today, I’d like to drive your attention to the idea of bringing more awareness to the entire process of eating. First, let’s change that eating with nourishing – makes much more sense in relation to what we are talking about! Then, you may want to ask me: what’s included in that process?

  • your relationship with food
  • your relationship with yourself (your health, well-being, mind, and body)
  • what you choose to eat
  • your approach to grocery shopping
  • your approach to cooking
  • how you prepare your food
  • what you choose to put on your table
  • how you eat
  • your approach to the different meals
  • your relationship with dieting or ideal perfection guidelines or detox, etc…
  • your idea of healthy eating
  • how stress or a busy life affect your relationship with food
  • eating well seen as a form of self-respect
  • any food-related issue

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Let’s get practical with an example.

WHY WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED YOU COOK AND EAT AN ENTIRE CAKE ALL BY YOURSELF?

Eating well is a form of SELF-RESPECT. But ALSO understand the real reason why when you’re stressed you cook and eat an entire cake all by yourself is a form of self-respect. I could stay here every day telling you that eating an entire cake all at once is not healthy, how much sugar there is inside it, what happens in your body, etc… BUT if you don’t start to be more AWARE, things will remain the same.

I have always been the kind of person who puts all her energy and focus on what she does and I truly don’t think that this will ever change. But I have learned how to manage it better and how to take care of myself since I have seen on myself how much is difficult to stop before burning out. Now, I am definitely more aware of my body and its needs. BUT I also accept that sometimes I won’t be 100% connected with my body and that’s fine. I know that I’M TRYING TO DO MY BEST.

Something changes inside you when you decide to RESPECT yourself and your body.

ONE SIMPLE CHANGE that can help you on this pathway: start to bring more AWARENESS into your everyday activities. When we start to be more PRESENT, many things suddenly become much more clear. For example:

  • you stop making everything so hard for you
  • you want to know the real reason why when you’re stressed you cook and eat an entire cake all by yourself
  • you want to understand better why you are choosing to eat a specific food over another one

When you cook, eat, pack your lunch for the office, decide what to prepare for dinner, go for grocery shopping… really BE THERE. Connect with your food – really taste, smell, savour and appreciate it.

… remember: to get the best results, keep your mind open and allow changes to happen!


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My own soupe à l’oignon

Recently, I have been more focused on sharing tips and quick recipes on my social media pages, especially on Instagram, rather than publishing new stuff on these pages. I have also been busy writing some content for a lovely collaboration that started at the begin of the year. It’s with an Italian food blogger, Gaia from The Green Pantry – we are talking about how to rebalance and reconnect with your body using the idea of January as a fresh start. It’s all written in Italian, but if you love food pics, have a look at Gaia’s Instagram feed!

So I was supposed to share this recipe a while ago, but I’m only writing it now – hope you’ll like it as much as my better half does. I prepare this version of the traditional French onion soup from time to time and he loves it. Whenever I prepare this soup, I use a different cheese on top – we like to go to the farmer’s market and check out new cheese or buy what we feel on that day, so the recipe ends up being slightly different every time!

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My own soupe à l’oignon

Ingredients
(x 2)

2 medium-sized white onions
cashew or hazelnut drink
1/3 tsp cumin seeds
1/3 tsp fennel seeds
a pinch of black pepper
a pinch of grated nutmeg
extra virgin olive oil

* cheese to use on top: I usually put 2 slices to cover all the cocotte. I add 2 slices as soon as the cocotte is ready for the oven, and 2 extra slices when it’s almost ready. During the years, I have used different kinds of cheese for this recipe, and I invite you to do the same – get to know better your taste buds! Last time, I have decided to go for brie made with raw milk and it turned out great.

* bread, obviously, to dip into the warm soup! A slice of sourdough bread makes the perfect pair with this recipe.

Preparation

Peel the onions and cut them into thin slices. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pot over a medium heat, then add the chopped onions and the spices (cumin, fennel, and black pepper freshly crushed in a mortar + grated nutmeg). Stir until the onions turn golden. Pour the warm nut drink all over the vegetables (use approx. 150 ml) and leave to cook for approx. 10-15 minutes. What you aim for is a creamy result – there should be some liquid left but not too much (add a little bit more of liquid if needed).

Place the soup into the heatproof cocottes or baking dish, add a few slices of cheese to cover the top of your soup and place in the oven at 180°C for 10-15 minutes or until it starts to turn golden. Remove the soup from the oven, add some more cheese on top and put it back to roast for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, toast some bread and serve it with the soup once it’s ready.

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Holiday Gift Guide

For your wellness enthusiast friend, for your loved ones, for yourself. My holiday gift guide that will hopefully make everybody happy.

I always need to be connected somehow with the gifts that I’m making, feel that there is a reason why I’m choosing that option, and from a general point of view, I don’t feel that need to buy just because I need to. So, here there’s my brief wellness-inspired list – put on some Christmas songs, prepare a cup of hot chocolate (spiced, like this one) and have a look at some of my favourite gift options! Chiara x

BOOKS

Green Kitchen Travels – packed with interesting recipes from all over the world (vegetarian/vegan)

Green Kitchen At Home – for the everyday healthy cooking (vegetarian/vegan)

Veggie Hotels – for anyone passionate about veggie food and travel

Tartine Book n°3 – a must-have for anyone interested in sourdough bread and baking

The Cultured Club: Fabulous Funky Fermentation Recipes – recipes and techniques for the fermentation enthusiast or the newbie

Grown & Gathered – learn more about growing, cooking and connecting with the food that you put on your table

 

 

HOME AND SELF-CARE

Manduka yoga mats, towels, props, and clothing – great quality and a particular attention to the environment

SuperBee Wax Wraps – reusable beeswax wraps

Grown & Gathered shop – reusable bags for your grocery shopping and storage bags

Kinvara Skincare – selected ingredients and combinations to nourish your skin

Samaya Ayurveda Skincare – ayurvedic-inspired formulations to take great care of your skin

Brookfield Farm and The Bearded Candle Makers – natural candles

Velona’s Jungle b&b – why don’t give the gift of a stay in the heart of Florence? A b&b with a particular attention to the design of their rooms, the history and nature around the city – but also with an attention to the environment and veggie-friendly.

And last, but not for importance: give the gift of an Ashtanga Yoga course to a newbie or give the gift of a package of classes at their favourite shala to your loved ones who are already practising. For those of you in Dublin, check out: Ashtanga Yoga Ireland and Ashtanga Yoga Dublin.

 

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Velona’s Jungle b&b

 

 

 


 

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Pumpkin Seeds Granola and Thick Mango Lassi

One of my favourite options for a plan-ahead breakfast: you can soak the chia seeds overnight in the fridge, and make the granola in advance. In the morning, you will just have to mix the ingredients in the blender and prepare your bowl. You can even prepare this in the morning, pack everything in a jar, and use it as breakfast to go.

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I definitely have a deep love for granola, and this recipe allowed me to pair it with another thing that I usually enjoy ’till the last drop: a mango lassi. Perfect as snack or breakfast, this bowl is packed with nutrients. If you have never tried to make a mango lassi before, have a look at my basic recipe for it. The one presented here is a thicker version, different in taste, but still delicious.

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Let’s see which are some of the benefits of mango:

1) RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Mangoes contain plenty of antioxidants like vitamin C, carotenoids, and other phenolic compounds. They may help your body in fighting oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

2) GOOD FOR YOUR HEART
Mangoes are rich in folate, a nutrient that has been studied in relation to cardiovascular diseases, showing that has benefits for our heart health. They are also rich in fibre that helps to manage cholesterol levels and overall health.

3) HELPFUL FOR IRON ABSORPTION
The high content of vitamin C makes mangoes a good pair for foods rich in non-heme iron (less easy to be absorbed than heme iron).

4) GOOD FOR YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Due to their high content of vitamin C and carotenoids, mangoes are a good choice to boost your immune system.

5) GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN
Due to their characteristic content of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals (especially vitamin A, C, E, B6, K – folate, potassium, copper, magnesium, iron) mangoes are helpful for keeping a healthy and younger skin.

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Thick Mango Lassi

Ingredients:

(serves 2)
1 ripe mango
4 tbsp unsweetened plain yogurt (regular or plant-based)
½ medium-sized banana
2 tbsp chia seeds
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 green cardamom pods (it’s better to crush the seeds in a mortar before adding them to the blender)
1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp of turmeric
a pinch of black pepper

In a cup, mix the chia seeds and the yogurt – leave to rest for 10 minutes. Then combine all the ingredients in a blender, and mix until you get a smooth paste.

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Pumpkin Seeds Granola

Ingredients:

(serves 4-5)
100 g rolled oats (choose the gluten-free option if needed)
4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
80 g almonds, chopped
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp coconut oil, melted (measured solid)
approx. 2 tbsp lukewarm water

In a bowl, combine oats, spices, coconut oil and some lukewarm water. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients. It can be useful to use a baking tray with baking paper or reusable baking sheets. Spread the granola on the baking tray making an even layer. Place in the preheated oven at 180°C for approx. 5 min. (mix once).

Take the baking tray out from the oven, add the chopped almonds and pumpkin seeds. Mix well with a spoon. Place in the oven at the same temperature for 5 min. (mix twice).

Allow to cool completely before serving or putting in a container.

Place the lassi in a bowl and top it with some granola. If I’m serving this for breakfast, I like to place a bowl with some extra granola on the table so everyone can add more to their bowl if needed.



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Pumpkin and Almond Cookies

Cookies with a different twist:  pumpkins have a high content of fibre, potassium, and vitamin C, all nutrients that are good for our heart health. They are also a well-known source of beta-carotene, that is a powerful antioxidant.

Continue reading “Pumpkin and Almond Cookies”

Energy Balls with Pumpkin, Nuts, and Chocolate

These energy balls with a mixture of pumpkin, nuts, oats, chocolate and spices are honestly the best energy balls that I have ever had. They are like little bites of a deliciously decadent chocolate cake.

Continue reading “Energy Balls with Pumpkin, Nuts, and Chocolate”