Mindfulness is about paying attention. Regarding food, it’s about our conscious awareness of the experience of eating, both outside and inside the body. We pay attention to the smells, textures, flavors, temperature, and even sounds of our food. We notice the physical expression of the body. Where do we feel hungry? What does being full feel like? How would you describe an empty tummy?
What better time to practice mindful eating than on Thanksgiving? It’s a fun way to connect with the friends and family you’ll likely be seeing in a new way! Incorporating this kind of mindfulness approach into your kitchen is actually quite simple, and involving your children, from preparation and even cleaning, can improve everyone’s relationship with food. Whether or not your children are old enough to appreciate a well-stocked kitchen, or the joy of creating a fantastic meal for friends to appreciate together, children enjoy the creativity of preparing a meal, time with parents/family and friends, and learning. So how can we turn preparation, “cooking”, and cleaning into something fun?
Let’s start with a classic Thanksgiving recipe that children can participate in and enjoy: Cranberry sauce! Not all kids like cranberries, and some people may have allergies to walnuts, so feel free to replace this with something that best fits your family. What’s important is sharing in the process.
8 oz Cranberries
1⁄2 cup Dates
1⁄2 cup Walnuts
1⁄2 cup Onion
- Put all ingredients in the food processor. This will give you a traditionally chunky cranberry sauce. If you would prefer a smoother texture, put in blender afterwards.
When the sauce is ready, take time with everyone to taste it mindfully. Allow the sauce to sit in your mouth. Try to characterize it with all your sense: the smell, the taste, the feeling. What does it look like? Does it have a sound? Can you isolate the individual ingredients? Try to get a sense for what each individual ingredient adds, but also how all the ingredients together create a whole. Be slow, and enjoy!
You have 30 minutes before your dish is ready, so take this time to encourage teamwork to clean up your space. Assign simple jobs, with the reward of your tasty creation waiting just around the corner. Celebrate small victories with positive reinforcement, like putting away utensils, cleaning out measuring cups, wiping down counter tops.