Everyone lacks an abundance of something, and it’s usually one of three things: time, money, or love. When you lack something to the point that you feel that absence every single day, be it as your rush to make your 8am meetings or when you go to grab pasta sauce from the grocery store and spend way too many minutes doing a price analysis on the different jars, it starts to collapse your worldview a bit. Life feels small and limited when you feel pressed for time, squeezed by money, or evaded by love.
I wish I could tell you this is a blog post about how to find love through food, as that would be my personal fairytale. But alas, I have to narrow my focus to the two scenarios in which I’ve found myself: poor and/or stressed, yet still needing to eat mindfully.
If you read my introductory post about mindful eating, you’ll remember that I’ve had a complicated relationship with food (very unique female problem, I know). After coming to terms with the fact that I needed to focus more on loving myself if I wanted to stop overeating, it became so much easier to pick meals for myself that were both nourishing and delicious.
But being mindful about what you’re putting into your body is not the only challenge. Enter our friends Time & Money, who are here to crash your dinner party (Love might come too, but that’s a topic for a different post).
From years of being super poor (ie. college loans + living in SF), I’ve perfected the art of the $30-per-week grocery run. From recent months in this new job, working 45 hours a week, maintaining a once a week blog posting schedule and having a social life, I’ve begun to learn the art of the 20-minute meal.
In this week’s post, I share three recipes that are cheap, quick to make, and mindful in the way that they both satisfy and nourish the body. Note that a central theme throughout all of my meals is veggies. If your meal doesn't include a vegetable, it’s just a plate of food. Diving into a few recipies below...
Eating Mindfully at Breakfast
This might be the cleverest possible recipe that I’ve ever come up with on my own. It’s loosely based on an Earthbar smoothie I once had with bananas, blueberries, and almond butter. I was obsessed, but for $10 are you kidding me - all of the ingredients are there on the board! I will make it myself, I said.
I’ve been drinking this smoothie for about four years since.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie
Peanut or almond butter
How to make:
Put ingredients in your blender in descending order (banana, then kale, etc.)
Blend (you may have to shake the blender jar a few times or add some water for a smoother consistency).
Drink and return to happy childhood days while chuckling at how clever and grown up you are to be drinking kale.
Eating Mindfully at Lunch
When I think about appropriately nourishing my body, it’s making sure that I eat a lot of pizza and a lot of pasta. Sometimes that comes in the form of rich, gluten-laden trips to The Italian Homemade Company, but more often, it comes in the form of substituting starches for something more friendly to the glycemic index. And then covering it with parmesan.
Portobello mushroom caps
How to make it:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Remove stems and “gills” from the mushroom caps. Stems are too chewy and the gills turn your pizza a repulsive black/brown color. Use a spoon to carve out the gills.
Pop them in the over for 5 minutes to soften a bit.
Take them out.
Dollop a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce in the bowl of the cap, cover with mozzarella, lay your pepperoni, sprinkle your olives, and dust with parmesan.
Pop them back into the over for about 20 minutes or until cheese is all gold and melty.
Take them out again and allow to cool a bit.
Eat them with your hands like big kid bagel bites or use a folk and knife if that's more your vibe.
Eating Mindfully at Dinner
Chinese takeout was something I used to lust after as a kid. You grow up with the media depicting New York City as this awesome place where people are always busy, stylish, and ordering Chinese takeout to their apartments. Growing up in the boonies of a small town in Washington state, ordering takeout was never an option. By the time I got to “the big city” in college, I was afraid of carbs. So no takeout for me.
This all changed when I began to discover the wonder that is cauliflower rice - yep, it’s just cauliflower chopped down to look like rice! And when cooked in sesame oil, soy sauce, & sriracha, it gets that perfect MSG/umami flavor you’ve come to know and love in pork fried rice.
Cauliflower Pork Fried Rice
Toasted sesame seeds
How to make it:
Dice your turkey bacon, set aside.
Heat a teensy drizzle of sesame oil in a large pan. A little goes a long way.
Pour half a package of cauliflower rice into the pan & stir to coat with oil.
Drizzle rice with soy sauce for moisture. Continue to taste & add to mixture throughout, until you’ve achieved desired level of umami.
Once softened a bit (3-4m), scramble the egg into the rice.
Once scrambled, stir a handful of frozen peas into the rice.
Once unfrozen, add your turkey bacon & cook until warmed through.
Drizzle rice with sriracha & continue to mix.
Pour your fried rice into a bowl & top with sesame seeds (& maybe more sriracha)!
Go Forth & Eat Mindfully
Now you’re armed with three quick, cheap new recipes that you can deploy at any point in the week (even when it feels like you might not make next month's rent or your to-do list is too scary to even look at).
None of the ingredients above will cost you more than $6 at the grocery story, and if one does, it will last you many, many moons. Get in the habit of going to the grocery store once a week (I like Sundays, even though Trader Joe’s is hell) or once every few days on your way home from work.
You're never too busy or poor to savor the experience of purchasing, preparing, and feeding yourself nutrient-dense foods that (hopefully) taste wonderful. There are few joys more simple and central to the human experience.
If you’re interested in some of my other quick, cheap & easy recipes, check out my post Healthy Food to Make When You're A Poor College Student. Enjoy those iPhone 4 images. If you like this kind of content and want to see more of it, please leave a comment below so that I know to keep going with this!