By Elke Probkevitz
Food is such a central part of the human experience. It not only sustains and nourishes us, but it is also comforting and soothing, helping us celebrate life as well as get through stress and sorrow. While food can be a consolation, we need to be mindful of what we eat and not rely on empty calories to get us through difficult or joyful times. Emotional eating can be a positive experience if used wisely.
Multitasking. Working parents that are getting their kids out the door as well as rushing off to work have little time to prepare healthy meals for themselves. So many distractions can make you forget to take care of yourself, and once you are famished you tend to make bad choices. Food from vending machines, a snack-size bag of something you know you shouldn’t have, frozen treats on a stick—these, my friends, do not a meal make. Once you get home after work, kids, schedules, extracurriculars . . . a busy parent doesn’t always have the time to consider what the healthiest meal to serve her family is. Many times nutrition takes a back seat to what is easiest and fastest to get to the table.
Stress. One of the biggest triggers for emotional eating is stress. Stress eating becomes a problem when you have a dysfunctional relationship with food. If you eat compulsively and it affects your health negatively, then it is a problem. Life comes with a lot of stress, but if you equip yourself with healthy options and choices, you are less likely to make bad choices when you are under stress.
Positive emotional eating. Although being emotional is not the best condition for eating healthfully, food can be therapeutic if utilized properly. Comforting foods, like a hot bowl of soup or cup of cocoa or tea, can ease stress or soothe a bad mood. Comfort foods that we grew up with can bring to mind loving memories of childhood and make you feel like you’re being embraced by a warm hug. Eating emotionally does not have to be harmful. The key is to be conscious of your choices while in an emotional state so that eating creates positive effects. It will not be beneficial if after your meal you feel worse about yourself for your choices.
Cooking for calm. There is something soothing about the process of cooking itself if you are open to it. Measuring and preparing ingredients requires focus on the task of creating something and distracts you from the stress of the day. You are forced to make a connection with the raw ingredients and nurture them from their potential to something satisfying and delicious. You must center yourself and focus on the dangerous knives and fire at hand to give birth to a finished meal. We can disengage from our bad day or bad moment and feel productive, creating nourishing food with delicious flavors, no matter how extravagant or humble. v
Cauliflower Soup With Sausage And Greens
2 lb. cauliflower florets (about 1 medium head)
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. smoked paprika
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for roasting
1 cup chicken stock
1 Spanish onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. red-pepper flakes
8 cups chicken stock
½ lb. turkey kielbasa
1 bunch mustard greens, shredded (or other greens, like kale or spinach)
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
½ lemon, juiced
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss cauliflower with cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to taste, and olive oil. Spread onto a baking sheet in a single layer and roast in oven for 30 minutes. Remove florets and set aside. Pour 1 cup chicken stock onto pan and scrape up any brown bits. Pour remaining stock in large bowl.
Sauté onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat in pot until tender and beginning to brown. Add garlic and pepper flakes and sauté 30 seconds. Add cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Remove from heat and purée with immersion blender or in food processor.
Return soup to low heat. Add sausage, greens, and parsley and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.