Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Is food relaxing?

What is your relationship with food? Is it merely a substance that keeps you energized, or a delicious comfort that you make every attempt to enjoy? Is it a wasteful dread, or something you look forward to? Over the past few weeks, I've thought more about how spoiled I am to have practically every food that I want at my fingertips. I can go to the store, and create a Vietnamese dish within an hour, exotic ingredients included. How fascinating.

Lately, I've attempted to reduce my stress. Not that my life is anywhere close to unmanageable, rather ever-changing. It requires a sporadic recharge, and I haven't mastered how to do that. A few changes that have affected my stress-levels-- work has increased (great problem to have), I'm trying to be well-balanced for those around me (husband, daughter, friends, family), and the largest factor, I am pregnant and expecting my son in February (two-under-two). Side note: being pregnant doesn't offer any help in terms of being rational, energized, and not-emotional. These are all very minor but to someone who hasn't mastered handling stress, (is that any of us?) it can be a bit overwhelming when things fall through the cracks.

I've also processed how to relieve stress. What is key to approaching stress, handling it, and moving forward? Anybody, Bueller? I've considered several outlets-- reading, watching movies, spending time with friends, quiet time/journaling-- all good things but difficult to maintain on a regular basis. What is something I do on a regular basis that brings joy and comfort? I eat.

I did some research to find the percentage of people who eat for comfort and was disappointed with the results; 15% of people eat pizza for comfort, 67% of people eat fattening comfort food when feeling depressed, and my favorites... 35% of people reach for potato chips when sad while 32% for ice cream.  I can't relate to these statistics. While I enjoy my share of junk food, it's not something I crave or reach for in times of distress. Is there anyone out there who simply enjoys, dare I say healthy food in general, as opposed to guilty pleasures?

This brings me to my own relationship with food. I'm fascinated by food. I'm someone who cooks up to twelve meals for clients in one day only to find myself cooking a separate meal for my family that same evening. I like to experiment with flavors and ingredients. It's an outlet, it's a time when I am alone in my thoughts creating things, it's relaxing. So when I have to go to the store four times per week, I don't do so begrudgingly, rather embrace the experience. Julia from 'Julie & Julia' put it so eloquently, "I must be the only American I know who thinks shopping for food is just as enjoyable, if not more, than buying a dress". Amen, sister.

So maybe that's what I should do. I should prioritize flavors, technique, and reading cookbooks to begin my journey of managing stress, for stress is only as unmanageable as I make it. After all, I have the world at my fingertips for inspiration.

I'm aware that cooking as a relaxing hobby is questionable and at times a rarity so I wonder-- what do YOU do to relax? What can you incorporate in your day, be it five minutes or two hours, that recharges you? If you don't know the answer to that question, I highly recommend you test some options out and find something. I'm also curious so feel free to comment below if you have an answer! In the meantime, you can crunch on this--a quick snack that is packed with flavor, crunch, and relaxation.


Bold Popcorn


Ingredients


1/3 cup popcorn kernels
2 tbs oil/fat-- equal ratio of coconut oil and ghee is always a crowd-pleaser
Seasoning salt (I use Lawry's)
2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp taco seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground black pepper

Steps

Add oil and three popcorn kernels to a 3-quart pot over medium heat. Once those kernels pop, add the remaining kernels to the pot and cover immediately.
Once there are more than 2 seconds in-between pops and the batch is popped, add the popcorn to a slightly larger bowl.
Add seasoning ingredients, and toss away!
Bon appetit!



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