If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body to Awaken Your Spiritby Hale Sofia Schatz
With so much processed food in the marketplace, obesity in adults and children/i>
If the Buddha came to dinner at your home, what would you serve? Fast food? A frozen meal quickly reheated in the microwave? Chances are you'd feed your honored guest a delicious meal prepared with love and care. But the next time you have dinner, what will you eat?
With so much processed food in the marketplace, obesity in adults and children dramatically on the rise, and digestive problems increasingly more common, it's clear that we're facing a serious food crisis in this country. The answer, however, isn't just to go on a diet. Reducing the intake of refined and processed foods and increasing whole foods certainly can improve one's health. But we need more. We need to feed ourselves with a sense of purpose, self-respect, love, and passion for our lives. We need to nourish our spirits.
Nourishment isn't a fad diet . . . it's a lifelong journey, and Halé Sofia Schatz is the ideal guide. Gentle, wise, and humorous, she shows us the way to the heart of nourishment--our own inner wisdom that knows exactly how to feed our whole self. A perfect blend of inspiration and practical suggestions, If the Buddha Came to Dinner includes guidelines for selecting vital foods, ideas for keeping your energy balanced throughout the day, a cleanse program, and over 60 recipes to awaken your palate.
Open this book and nurture yourself as never before. You'll be fed in a whole new way.
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Read an Excerpt
What Is Nourishment?
When we are nourished, we know who we are. We know how we feel. We understand our priorities. We have a clearer understanding of our deep purpose in life. We have the freedom to act in a way that honors our truest self. When we are nourished, we move through life with graceful strength rather than helplessly reacting to the winds and storms that may blow our way. If you can listen and respond to the inner messages of your spirit, then you're in a state of nourishment. On the one hand, nourishment is food, yet food alone will never be enough to nourish us. Supermarket shelves are overflowing, but in this country we are starving for more. We are hungry for the nourishing foods and activities that feed our bodies, hearts, minds, and spirits as one integrated being.
From the time I was a young girl, I have been aware of nourishment as a daily practice. I spent the first eight years of my life in Istanbul. My memories of Turkey all have to do with the smells, sounds, sights, and tastes of food. From the time I was a toddler I practically lived in the kitchen, where my mother, grandmother, and aunts could keep an eye on me. From my seat, I would watch the elaborate and ancient dance of women preparing food to feed their family, which was directed by my grandmother, my nene, who most definitely was in charge of the kitchen.
Every morning we would go to the outdoor market to buy the fresh produce, fish, and meat for that day. The day's meals depended on what the earth had yielded. We bought bread from the local ovens, piping hot. When I was old enough, it was my job to get the bread. I loved this daily chore, walking home with the fresh loaf under my arm, warming my whole body. I always broke off the crusty end and ate it during the five-minute walk home. Under the tutelage of my grandmother, mother, and favorite aunt, I learned how to use all my senses to select the freshest vegetables and fruits it in the market. I came to understand that the best, ripest produce carries a certain vibration -- in its color and texture you can feet that it had been picked within hours. When I bit into the peach that we bought from the nearby orchard, the flavor and nectar burst in my mouth. I could taste the sun, rain, and earth in that piece of fruit. I could feel its life force.
Those happy hours in the kitchen were my first encounter with the hearth of nourishment. I loved the regular rhythms of marketing, cooking, and leisurely eating our meals together every evening with our cousins and other relatives who always dropped by. These rhythms connected me to my family and to my community. I intuitively understood that food's nourishing capacity far exceeded basic physical survival. Food had the power to bring a family together, to connect me to the earth and our planet's cycles, to nurture all my senses.
When we begin to properly nourish our bodies, an amazing transformation takes place: We begin to discover ways for nourishing all parts of ourselves. This is transformational nourishment, the process of transforming habitual, constricting patterns and behaviors into nourishing practices that encourage growth and development. Is it really possible that food can help us live fuller, more aware lives? The answer is yes! Healthy foods alone won't enlighten you. In fact, they, too, can become an obsession. The key to transformational nourishment is awareness.
Transformational nourishment isn't a quick-fix food program; it's a set of tools for living an aware life. There are myriad paths for learning self-awareness, from religious traditions and faiths to yoga, meditation, and other spiritual disciplines. In general, however, the connection between food and spiritual development has not been widely explored. Most food models available today tend to focus only on the physical or emotional levels, such as dieting and eating disorders. Transformational nourishment's unique approach turns food and eating into a daily practice for becoming physically, emotionally, and spiritually aware.
The natural human inclination is to continually grow, change, and create. Even as you read this sentence, great biochemical changes are occurring within your body. Millions of cells are being created and dying, and we aren't close to being aware of it. Growth is a constant for all levels of life, from the cellular to the cosmic. So, too, as humans, our natural state is one of growth and change. But sometimes we get stuck. In our culture, we particularly run into problems because we are living more sedentary lives, and we eat the sweet, sticky, salty, highly refined foodstuffs that perpetuate a sedentary existence. These foods also tend to trap us in places where we feel safe, secure, and resistant to change.
When we are clear about our intention of how we want to develop, the foods that propel us forward usually are the ones that we don't crave. I've been a nourishment consultant for over twenty-five years and I've never seen a client who has addictive patterns with vegetables or lean proteins, such as tofu, fish, and organic meat. It may seem simple, but just by shifting your food consumption to more vital essence foods (vegetables, fruit, grains, lean proteins), you will feel more empowered and in touch with a deeper part of yourself.
While transformational nourishment is a subtle, nonlinear process, it's helpful to break it down into its multiple parts so you can see how the physical, emotional, and spiritual interconnect. As you start to eat clean food, the body responds by eliminating what isn't necessary. Depending on the individual, many types of physical changes can manifest over time -- from greater energy and clarity of mind to improved digestion, weight loss, disappearance of allergies, and a strengthened immune system. At the same time, a similar process has been triggered on the emotional and spiritual levels. Negative emotional and behavioral patterns may also reveal themselves as "toxic." Maybe your self-perceptions, relationships, or how you've been living your life no longer support the person you are today, or the person you genuinely wish to become. When the body and emotions are unbalanced, we can't hear the voice that is our spirit, the deeper consciousness that we know to be true. With the body and emotions in a balanced, receptive state, the spiritual part of ourselves is more accessible.
To make lasting changes, you need both awareness and action. just as something is dying, something new is being born. To make room for your new self, you have to prune the old patterns. Letting go is risky business because the old patterns, the old shell, seem so secure. The choice is yours. You can exert a lot of energy trying to resist your growth, or you can respond to the messages from your spirit.
Shiitake Mushroom Soup
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-12 minutes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
10 fresh shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups boiling water
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed limejuice
1/2 teaspoons crumbled wakame, dulse, or kelp sea vegetable
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup arugula or bok choy, coarsely chopped
1 finely chopped scallion
1. In a medium soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat Add the onion, mushroom caps, and salt and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft.
2. Add the boiling water to the onion and mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat and season with lime juice, sea vegetable, and pepper, adjusting as necessary. Garnish individual bowls with arugula or bok choy and scallions just before serving.
Asian Spring Rolls
Yield: 1 roll
Suggested Serving: 3 rolls per person
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Seasons: Spring/Summer/Fall 1
1 large (8-inch) spring roll rice wrapper (see note)
1/2 sheet of nori sea vegetable
1 arugula leaf, or 2 sprigs watercress
small amount of sprouts (sunflower, radish, broccoli, etc.)
2½-inch piece of scallion
4-5 fresh mint leaves
2-3 thin slices of ripe avocado
1. Place the rice wrapper under hot water from your kitchen sink until pliable, about 5-10 seconds. Remove immediately. Gently shake off any excess water and set onto a dry, flat surface.
2. Place the half sheet of nori on the bottom part of the rice wrapper (the part nearest you). Add the remaining ingredients on top of the nori, starting with the arugula and sprouts, leaving a 1-inch space around the edges. Be careful not to overstuff the roll, as the wrapper will teae if it is too full.
3. Start rolling from the bottom, folding in the sides as you roll. The rice wrapper is sticky when it's wet, so it will adhere to itself. The rolls are best served the same day. If storing in the refrigerator, cover them well with plastic wrap or a damp cloth so that they don't dry out.
Try filling the roll with feta cheese, vermicelli, or any combination of fresh vegetables and herbs that are in season.
Rice wrappers are available at Asian markets or whole foods stores.
Asian Spring Roll Dipping Sauces
Yield: 1/4 cup
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
These lively dressings are fantastic dipping sauces for the Asian Spring Rolls (see page 235). They're also great for green salads, steamed vegetables, or to dress up canned tuna or salmon.
Miso Wasabi Sauce
1 tablespoon light or mellow miso
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon wasabi mustard
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well until the mixture is smooth. Add more water for a thinner consistency.
This recipe is not appropriate for the cleanse.
Spicy Ginger Miso Sauce
1 teaspoon light or mellow miso
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon wasabi mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
pinch of crushed red pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well until the mixture is smooth.
Soul-Satisfying Fish Stew
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
2-3 small leeks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2-3 carrots, matchstick sliced
6 shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
2-3 large potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons tamari or Bragg
1 tablespoon wakame or dulse granules
1 pound white fish fillets: haddock, sole, cod, or tilapia, rinsed
4 stalks bok choy, chopped
3 tablespoons arrowroot (optional)
4 scallions or a handful of arugula, chopped
1. Trim the roots of the leeks. Slice off and discard the tough green leaves from the tops of the leeks. Wash the remaining white and light green portions thoroughly in cold water. Make sure to rinse in between the layers, removing any sand. Shake dry and slice thinly.
2. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the leeks and ginger for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots, shiitakes, potatoes, tamari, wakame or dulse, and enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
3. Add the fish fillets and simmer, covered, for another 10-15 minutes. Mix in the bok choy.
4. Dissolve the arrowroot in 3 tablespoons cold water. Add to the stew and stir for 1 minute until the stew thickens. Remove from the heat and garnish individual bowls with scallions or arugula. Serve immediately.
Copyright © 2004 Halé Sofia Schatz
Meet the Author
Halé Sofia Schatz, nourishment educator and consultant, has cultivated the vital correlation between nourishment, health, and spiritual awareness for over 30 years. Halé presents her nourishment training programs in academic, corporate, and public settings. She lives in the Boston area with her family. For more information about Halé's work, please visit www.halesofiaschatz.com. Shira Shaiman is a freelance writer. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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