When I'm creating a gathering I love to nurture each person a little bit. And a big part of that is cooking food they can eat without having to worry about what's in it. Lot's of us have paleo or gluten free people in our life. It's easy to focus on what they can't eat and our feelings about that. If we're not careful it can build up into a feeling of rejection.
Much of the meal we create (veggies, salad, turkey, etc.) is gluten or grain free except the stuffing! So let's talk stuffing.
I used to feel so much stress about cooking holiday meals. And I don't have just one holiday season in my house. My husband and children are Muslim so we have two sets of holidays. That's a lot of holiday cooking.
I used to get migraines because I got so stressed out about having it all be right. And....whew. I was no fun. But most of all, I didn't let myself enjoy the process, even the kinks.
Because really when loved ones are gathered who cares what happens? It's not about it being perfect or even ideal. It's about sharing time and connection. It's about bringing into focus what we value most: each other.
Holidays can be about connection with our loved ones, and with strangers on the street. It's that time of recognizing we are all human and we all long for love and connection.
We feel more deeply a part of the whole of humanity and we dance with renewed hope for our lives. It can be so easy to get caught up in the details and forget what really matters.
This is an opportunity to bring intention to this holiday season.
I've got you covered for simple delightful meals. Keep your eye out for my most delightful Holiday Recipe Collection that will make your meals pop with color, flavor, and texture. And most of all with ease and connection.
I had this experience recently where I gave myself the smallest amount of self care, read: the amount I could do at home for free with the kids, and it transformed how I felt so quickly it took my breath away.
I took a bath. I soaked in fragrance and salt. I knew I needed something. I was feeling desperate. I was feeling like a parched cavernous human walking around ready to soak up any amount of nurturing I could find. It was a yucky desperate feeling. When I get this way I'm kinda crazy. While I'm out driving I search along the roadside for anyplace I could stop and grab some food, a quick fix to quench my soul's thirst.
My husband has been out of the country for 6 weeks so I've had ample opportunity to explore the ins and outs of this feeling. AGAIN.
Thankfully I've come to know this place in myself better. I don't take it so personally and I don't get totally consumed by it. AND I don't make it worse by indulging in the binge. It's not that it would be wrong for me to stop and eat some junk food. It's just that when I feel this desperate binging would spiral me downward. And that's just not kind to myself. I've done it that way enough times to know.
The only real success of my garden this summer was okra. Right now 4 or 5 of these giant tree like plants are laying horizontal against the grass criss crossing my two small terraced beds post storm.
I was delighted with the harvest which all told was at least ten of these 1 gallon buckets. And it could have been much more if I had planted them earlier and further apart.
Okra has been growing in my heart sneaking its way to the top of my summer food loves ever since my friend Laura sautéed it with greens and served it to me about 10 years ago on a summer evening at a picnic table in her Oakland back yard.
At first I was offended. Who eats okra and what if I hate it? This is the worst kind of scenario for a picky eater and people pleaser like myself. I sat down to eat and I tried it. Like all new foods it took a while for me to try on the taste.
My thoughts about the vicious circle got me thinking about why I live in a vicious circle at least some of the time. It certainly isn’t my mature self that lives in such misery.
And I am mature when it comes to food. Sometimes. In fact lots of times.
I am also my child self. I am demanding, compulsive, needy, and old-fashioned immature.
AND I am a sweet little child who wants to enjoy life and relax without thought of tomorrow or what I should do.
I am both. All of the above.
My inner child seeks comfort from food.
I know that food isn’t for comfort. It is for nourishment. I’m grown up and educated enough to know that unnecessary calories will only put my health at risk.
My inner child loves salty and crunchy. She LOOOOOOVES it! She wants it all the time at the peril of my sanity. She wants creamy too. And fatty. She’s not a cake kid, she’s a potato chips and pickles kid. She might eat herself to sickness on bacon or sour cream. She doesn’t believe there will be enough for her later so she makes sure she eats it all now! And when she’s feeling sad or lots of emotions she doesn’t know what to do with she eats MORE.
This week I’ve been thinking about the vicious cycles I get into around food.
My circle is something like this:
I look to food for comfort.
I overeat and or make a dissatisfying food choice.
I hate myself and the food I ate.
I feel shame and guilt for eating food that didn’t satisfy my body or comfort me.
I punish myself either by eating more food to stuff the feelings or by tormenting myself in my mind.
In response to the punishment I create a plan, something that will make me perfect in relationship to food.
I feel superior because I’ve come up with a plan and want everyone else to do it with me. Until I feel a strong emotion again that feel uncomfortable and suddenly I feel the strong need for comfort again which leads back to eating to stuff my emotions.
Over the years I've honed my cooking process. As I've come to know what I like, what my family likes and what to keep on hand most of the time it has become much easier for me to whip up a satisfying meal quickly and with fewer disasters.
It has been a long process, one fraught with many hangups, fears, bad tasting food, divergent food needs, and changing tastes. I offer here some of my hard earned gems. These are the pillars of my cooking process. These keep my family and myself in nourishment regularly. These are the foundation. They keep me grounded and support me even if the day sucked and I can't figure out what to make. They help me when I have to bring a potluck contribution and I haven't planned what to bring yet. They help me when I'm excited and want to try something new. They transform food from the garden, the farmer's market and the corner store alike.
Are you ready?
1. oil and salt right by the stove
I've been the person, you know the one, who judges others based on what they eat, how they prepare their food, or what's in their kitchen. I've been the one who walks into someone's home, the center of their vulnerability, and made comments about what oil they cook with our whether or not they should use plastic wrap on their food.
At the time I felt justified. I felt that way because I thought I knew something important and they needed to know too. If I'm being totally honest I wanted to feel superior. Isn't that what judgement is, our desire to feel superior? But judgement always feels terrible on both sides. The judge and the judged walk away feeling yucky. Eventually I got tired of feeling yucky
One of the biggest and most unnoticed factors that affect us in our kitchens are our feelings. Often we think its the decisions we make about food such as, should I buy the organic onions? or should I spend the extra money to get grass fed beef? Should I try to get my family to eat this meal I think they may not like?
We think these are the things that cause our mental anguish in the kitchen but I have a theory that these are just ways to distract ourselves from what we are really feeling.
Welcome! I'm Janelle. This is a place of inspiration about real everyday food life. I want to know how I can serve you!
Connect with me on Instagram @lucidolight or on twitter @ourdailykraut or find me on Facebook! Janelle Allyn Lucido Conate