I used to feel overwhelmed shopping in supermarkets. This is not to exaggerate; the experience of staring at aisles full of choices often meant I would leave without buying anything to avoid the impending sense of anxiety. I was sure there was a right choice to make, yet there seemed no obvious clues as to how to gauge this.
So, one reason I got into the ‘health-shop’ scene was, in fact, that when I first started using them it was a marginal-thing and they were similarly small; so the choices were less. I also learnt what was in season from seeing what was in these shops, as well as asking stupid-questions at market stalls. This helped me a lot to decide, I must admit that growing up using regular-supermarkets, I didn’t have much idea what was in season or what was even healthy.
But, ‘natural’ , unprocessed-foods, and ones seasonal and grown as local as possible, seemed to make sense to me on further consideration. I now had some markers in order to make considered choices. This felt good, there was no longer such a sense of alienation from my food and the act of nourishing my body. Shopping in huge warehouses, brightly lit, full of so much packaged-stuff everywhere; it never felt like it related, moreover, was appropriate, to the task in hand which was nutrition.
All this had such a large influence on me. The degree to which I now felt confident to look after myself, know how to feed myself properly, led to a huge turning point in my life where I felt that I could help myself to thrive in my body, instead of feeling encumbered by it. Because, up to 20 yrs old, as a philosophy undergraduate, I spent all my time reading or in the pub with a cigarette and a pint.
But, obviously, this didn’t lead to me feeling in good shape, nor feeling good more generally. I suspected the low to medium level anxiety I felt all the time may also have something to do with my bad diet. So, more than just in part, my attempts with food felt important and worth really taking the time to experiment with. I started to really focus on it in the same way I had previously with learning academically. It had got serious now, I really knew I needed to change.
Indeed, I did start to feel better on a basic health food diet. Back then, there was no ‘vegan’ really, it was more ‘macrobiotics’ that people were into. I listened, read, and learned. By the time I finished with university, I was so involved with this scene that I went to work in a workers-cooperative consisting of a shop and cafe. From here it was a small step into yoga which kind of goes with the territory.
In this way, then, it was actually food and diet that got me into yoga, not the other way around, which is usually the way it happens. I felt so much better eating well that it then also made me want to do something with my body. Interestingly, it also made me want to do something concentrated and lucid with my mind, when I worked with the body. I hadn’t felt this before, when I was young, and very involved with conventional team-sports. The diet itself actually made me want to be more aware, more connected to myself and my reality.
So, this is a small-exert of a longer journey that I have with food and diet. I will share more in the proceeding posts, as well as my recipes. However, just to put your minds at ease now regarding these, I ended up working professionally as a chef, hence the recipes should work and at least taste okay I hope!
Vegan Pesto with Tempeh, potatoes and Broccoli
- 200g (handful) new potatoes
- 100 grams (1/2 packet tempeh
- 100g (medium head) broccoli
- 50g/1/4 cup cashew nuts (soaked 2hrs)
- 4 Tbs olive oil
- 25g (handful) basil
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Chop the potatoes in quarters and tempeh into 1” chunks. Separate the broccoli into florets and chop stalks.
- Toss the tempeh with a tablespoon of the oil and bake for 30 mins until crisp
- Place a pan of water on the stove. Bring to a boil, then, either using a steamer, of sieve that fits, steam the potatoes until tender (about 15 mins)
- Remove potatoes to your mixing bowl, and do the same with the broccoli (about mins). Add to your bowl .
- Finally, to make the pesto, drain the cashew nuts and add, along with the rest of the ingredients, to a food processor or jug of a hand-held blender. Blend 30 seconds until smooth.
- Toss the salad items in the bowl with the pesto. Garnish with cheese or vegan cheese if required..