I am so excited to share this article on the blog because it infuses practical cooking tips with spirituality and mindfulness. It is written by my teacher, healer and friend Sharon Rosen. You can check out Sharon’s business, The Heart of Self-Care here.
Keep on the lookout for me to share some “Zero Based” recipes of my own. What is your favorite “concoction“?
When Zero Becomes Something Instead Of Nothing
You know how it goes — it’s time to start thinking about dinner and you didn’t have time to stop at the store. Or you’re cleaning out the fridge and finding some pretty scary things, not to mention feeling guilty about having to throw those once lovely, now listless asparagus spears in the garbage.
I was once a true offender in food lunacy. I couldn’t resist the allure of beautiful piles of red bell peppers, sweet bi-color corn and crisp arugula at the farmer’s market, or the firm translucent array of fish at my local shop. I’d be seduced into buying all of it, certain I’d be psyched for doing lots of cooking over the next few days, then find myself with limp, unappealing (or worse) veggies a few weeks later.
While stuff was sitting forgotten or neglected in the back of the fridge, I’d be on to the next round of shopping and craving fresh, new foods, giving me more scary things to sort through when it came time to make room for more. And on it went until my partner introduced me to the concept of Zero Based Eating, which I’d practiced from time to time but has now become a household mantra.
Subtraction Becomes Addition
A container of leftover brown rice. A carrot. An onion. A can of black beans. Doesn’t sound too promising, does it? But saute that carrot and onion in some light oil, season with cumin, garlic (or garlic powder), coriander and cayenne, then add the rice and beans and mix till heated through and all is well mixed, and you have Mexican Confetti Rice. (Or, as we say in our house, a Mexicoction.) If there’s a little bit of cheese you can melt on top or some salsa you can spoon over it, even better.
It takes some proverbial thinking outside the box — especially if it’s a box of macaroni and cheese or Hamburger Helper or something equally processed — but some of the best meals can be made with little bits of leftovers and forgotten pantry items.
If you stop to think about some of the most comforting and appealing meals you’ve had, I’ll bet they were also fairly simple and accessible — toast spread with peanut butter and a cup of tea, or leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables. (Did you even bother heating them up?)
We get a little kooky with food, especially at dinner time when we feel so rushed and yet want to create something substantial and nurturing. It seems quicker and easier to pick up a pizza or some other take out food, especially with all that is abundantly available.
But we pay the price for this “ease” in so many ways — with our pocketbooks, with our need to relieve ourselves of the packaging, with extra salt, sugar, fat and additives we don’t need, and with less of a real connection to what we are putting into our bodies. Zero Based Eating is good for your budget, good for the environment, good for your body, and good for your conscience.
Start Playing With Your Food
It can be just as easy to develop your own Zero Based mindset. Start planning to make extra rice or mashed potatoes to have around as a launching point. It’s good to have cans of beans and tomatoes on hand, and you can almost always scrounge up some onion, garlic and basic veggies like carrots or that little bit of asparagus that didn’t fit in the pan the first time around.
What are some of your favorite flavor profiles? The concoction, er, recipe above could also have been made with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil to create a Chinese inspired dish. When I’m wanting a lighter, more European flair I go with white wine, tarragon and maybe some Dijon mustard sweetened with a touch of honey.
Just a few weeks ago, tired and feeling like there was “nothing in the house for dinner,” I took a deep breath, took stock of what we had, and created a meal that would have been at home in our favorite local Italian restaurant. A couple of links of turkey sausage were unearthed from the freezer and sauteed with a bit of broccoli rabe, broccoli, carrot, onion, garlic and herbs.
Too lazy to even make pasta, I heated up some leftover mashed potatoes and spooned the mixture over that, creating the ultimate Zero Based comfort meal. It couldn’t have better if I’d planned it and made a special run to the supermarket. It just took looking at what I had with eyes of abundance rather than lack, and creating something wonderful out of a lot of little nothings.
Till next time, take good care…