Your Food: Simple, Sane and Zen

Springtime holidays
Keep it simple and sane as you prepare to feast.

Let’s mix it up folks. All the Springtime holidays are upon us and admit it – food is on your mind. Soup, roast, sides, and of course dessert. If, like me, you find the meal prep daunting but love the cooking once you’re up to your elbows in it, I have some very good news. Cooking can be Zen. It can become a mindful way to meditate as you nurture yourself and your body’s needs. If you are cooking for others, bonus points for that gratifying feel good and the accolades at the end of said meal. So, cooking as meditation? How about if I spend today letting you in on a few key points that make cooking (no matter if you’re a step by step newbie or Nigella Lawson) a truly satisfying and invigorating experience.

Let’s begin. The clean kitchen. A Zen kitchen (or any Zen space) should be clean and clutter free. Now this is not only hygienically sound, but it makes the whole experience better. Cooking is an art. If you were painting, you would begin with a clean, fresh canvas. So too for your meal prep. Clean kitchen = creative, clean eats.

Next, let’s look at cooking as a spiritual act. Honest. Did you know, that in Zen monasteries, cooks were revered? Scout’s honor, they were highly esteemed. (Think on this for just a minute…. yeah, see, you get it.) Cooking can be a spiritual experience; of course, so can eating, and if you’ve ever savored an excellent dessert, you know what I mean.) Random factoid here peeps – in the instructions for the Zen Cook circa 13th Century Japan, the great Zen master said that “the cook must manifest big mind, joyful mind.” Basically, cooks are happy people.

Let’s talk about creative solitude. We all need a place where we can separate from the craziness of life, and create something in peace and quiet. Cooking is something you can experience alone and nobody can quash your creative funk as you whip up unique and yummy recipes. This leads right into sensory pleasures. Tactile, taste and scent – all at home in your kitchen. The aroma, the feel and texture and the taste of your ingredients are all sensual. They connect you to the natural world and can be invigorating. (Think onions, serrano chili peppers and garlic.)

creativity makes cooking a Zen-like experience.
“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.” -Mary Lou Cook

Before you go running off for your sensory feel good input in your kitchen, you are probably planning that menu in your head. All good peeps. Advice – follow the cycle of nature. Not only will you save a little dough (pun intended) but by using seasonal veg and fruit, you stay in touch with the natural rhythm of the world. Root veg for soups and roasted veggies in the cooler months, salads and fruity desserts in the warmer months. It’s starting to make sense to you now- am I right?

I hope this leaves you with some food for thought, and by now, you’re probably hungry. I leave you wonderful peeps with a deliciously Zen recipe for PBJ muffins adapted from

PB&J Muffins - yum!
Keep a napkin handy for warm, oozing, yummy jam – PBJ sandwich to the nines!

You will need:

  • 1 – 3/4 cup flour (regular or a mix of flours – I use a GF one)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (dark is better here, but either works)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond, hemp or soy milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (room temp.)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (I use Earth’s Balance Vegan Sticks)
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Your favorite  flavor of jam (better with jam then jelly – the fruit packs that extra punch)
  • Nonstick  spray or use paper muffin cups

How to:

Preheat oven to 400°.

Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.

  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder and salt.
  • Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla).
  • Make a well in center of dry ingredients and add wet ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
  • Fill each cup muffin cup half full.
  • Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of jam into each cup on top of batter.
  • Spoon remaining batter over jam, be sure to cover it completely to prevent the jam from bubbling out of the muffins.
  • Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center.
  • Let cool in pan 5 minutes.
  • Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.
  • Enjoy!

Stay Motivated and Caffeinated!😉☕