Quiet Contemplation

For the past two days I’ve been following a simple diet of mung beans and basmati rice. It’s an Ayurvedic way of fasting that’s much easier than a typical juice fast. I’ve also been drinking a glass of water with the juice of half a lemon in it at night and in the morning. It’s believed that lemon water cleanses and stimulates the liver and kidneys (I first read about its benefits in this book). Following a mono-diet has really given me a sense of compassion, especially when I think about how many people all around the world are lucky if they even get three bowls of rice and beans every day.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Yesterday morning I went to yoga while I still had some energy. On my way home I stopped at the library to browse and found two great books.

There is so much good stuff packed into this one little book! Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk from Vietnam. He was born in 1926 and is a peace activist. Interesting tidbit: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was influenced by him and nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. Thich Nhat Hanh shares a few strategies that we could all use to reduce stress in our everyday lives.

  • Smile! It costs nothing and it brings everyone around us happiness. If you feel like you’ve lost your smile, remember that it’s not gone. Imagine that someone or something is keeping it for you.  “A smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy.”
  • Exercise conscious breathing. I love mantras (words that are used to calm and focus the mind). I use them in the car when I’m driving, while I’m pushing a cart at Target, or while I’m at work. This one is so calming and happy: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.” Try it…instant happiness!
  • Use mealtimes to share happy thoughts with your loved ones. Refrain from gossip or negative topics while eating (well, ever. but I’m still working on that one so I can at least curb it during dinner)
  • When driving use red lights or stop signs as a reminder to be mindful. Smile at it and take a deep breath. Happiness is always available in the present moment (this is going to be a challenge, but so worth it).
Since I’m on my own little detox, why not? Kimberly’s a nutritionist for celebrities (including Hillary Duff, Drew Barrymore and Fergie) and she has a lot of great suggestions. Here’s a link to her glowing green smoothie, which she recommends as breakfast everyday. Here’s a few key points from her book:
  • The strongest animals on earth are vegetarian: gorillas, elephants, hippos, wild horses, buffalo. Humans are most similar to gorillas. We have flexible fingers (for pulling fruit from trees), flattened teeth for grinding (gorillas have sharp teeth up front for tearing plants and cracking open fruit shells) and long intestines (because plants digest quickly there’s transit time to digest minerals and nutrients. In contrast, tigers have short intestines because meat should be broken down and expelled quickly. Meat just kinda sits in our intestines rotting. Ewww…)
  • Fruit digests quickly and is best eaten on an empty stomach (I’ve read this before in Skinny Bitch). While you’re at it, skip the seedless fruit. It’s been genetically modified bland and tasteless. Fruit should have seeds, that’s the way nature intended.
  • She also advocates pairing certain foods together at meals. I’ve never considered this before but she suggests eating leafy greens and raw veggies at lunch and dinner. Basically she says to pick either a starch or protein with your veggies but don’t combine starches with protein. So for example, if you are going to eat fish or (organic, local) chicken then pair it with a salad or steamed veggies. If you are eating rice or pasta then eat it with veggies.
Well since it’s been two days of rice and beans for me, I’ve decided to slowly add in other nutritious stuff tomorrow starting with either raw fruit of fresh juice. I’ll be trying out some of Kimberly’s recipes and suggestions. This also seems like a good kickstart to #21 of my 30 before 30 list: eat vegan for a week.
Earlier today I wanted some fresh air, so here are a few pics from around town in Philadelphia.
St. Mark’s Church on Locust Street

Pretty in pink

Live music in Rittenhouse Square

Do you have any tips for daily mindfulness? What are your thoughts on fruit and digestion? Does it matter when fruit’s eaten? Have you tried combining certain foods?



Filed under Around town: Philadelphia, Books, Yoga

4 responses to “Quiet Contemplation

  1. tru


    I have been pondering how to make this comment, since I really don’t want to be a jerk.

    I’m very concerned about the use of the term “genetically modified” to describe seedless fruits. Genetic modification is the introduction of foreign genes into an organism’s DNA (a fish’s genes into tomato to give it better cold tolerance or a bacteria’s genes into cotton to give it pesticidal properties).

    In all sincerity, seedless grapes (or oranges) are no more genetically modified than the basmati rice you used on your recent detox or the apple you used in the juice with which you broke your fast.

    Seedless fruits are the product of selective breeding or other manipulation of their reproductive habits, as is almost every plant product you eat. For example, basmati rice is just one strain out of literally hundreds. At one point, a farmer noticed that certain rice grains had characteristics that s/he wanted to preserve, and thus saved the seed and crossed it with other similar seed (or a seed containing other desirable characteristics). The result of that breeding brings us basmati rice (and a more recentl example: texmati).

    Apples are another example of using fairly ancient methods of getting what we want. Apples do not tend to breed true – essentially the “children” do not take on many of the traits we find desirable in their “parents”. (totally negating “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”) Thus, most apple orchards (including organic) clone the trees (by cutting a branch and letting it root) and graft the clones onto hardy rootstock that is not even the same variety as the fruit it will bear.

    Seedless fruits came from this same method – intensive breeding and hybridization is what creates a fruit that bears no seed, not genetic modification. Cloning keeps those plants bearing fruit.

    Now, I’m not saying that selective breeding and hybridization are intrinsically good, (because, really, let’s talk about a tomato bred for shipping tolerance and grocery store shelf life to one bred to taste good right out of your garden!) – nor do I think genetic modification is intrinsically bad – but to conflate the two concepts muddies the issue and if you are, truly, opposed to genetic modification (or just the way it’s used presently to exploit, oppress and maximize profits), then it behooves you to be accurate in your statements. Otherwise, your argument gets lost in the confusion of definitions and emotionalism that proponents of GM can use to discredit the anti-GM movement.

    I really hope this came across as gently as I meant it to. I can tell you have a really big heart and I love reading your blog. Food sovereignty and social justice around food are really important to me. Please forgive me if I came across as pedantic rather than compassionately passionate.

    If you are interested in further information regarding food sovereignty I would recommend reading Raj Patel’s “Stuffed and Starved” or watching the documentary “The World According to Monsanto”


    • No worries! I love hearing back from readers, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I am not an expert in food, farming or anything else. It’s a learning process for me and I welcome information. GM is definitely something I would like to learn more about (and maybe should research). I do know that I don’t like the way foods are touted as “natural” when they’re really not, and I hate the way a lot of the fruit at the grocery store is waxy and flavorless. I love books, so I’ll check out your recommendation.

  2. Thich Nhat Hanh’s book sounds wonderful! I’m adding it to my Amazon wish list! Thanks for posting some of those suggestions, too. I love the breathe in/breathe out tip. 🙂

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