It’s about the joy! 

One of the challenges of creativity is knowing when you have to shift gears and change. Getting into a groove can be wonderfully productive… but then it can get stale. As a creative chef, author and educator in the food world, I’ve been passionate about food and health for decades, and my focus has been on translating the science to the plate. Lately I’ve noticed more and more people contracting around food, becoming nearly paralyzed by over-nutritionalizing (that may not be a word), increasingly obsessed about what they should or shouldn’t have. In other words, so far removed from the intrinsic nourishment and joy of food.

Including myself! I’m feeling jargon overload, frozen in the stats, contracted with the data. If I hear about one more phytonutrient, I’ll be searching for an escape hatch. You know what I mean?

Just for the heck of it, I looked up the phytonutrients in blueberries: 

  • Anthocyanins (malvidins, delphinidins, pelargonidins, cyanidins, peonidins)
  • Hydroxycinnamic acids (caffeic acids, ferulic acids, coumaric acids)
  • Hydroxybenzoic acids (gallic acids, procatchuic acids)
  • Flavonols (kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin)
  • Other phenol-related phytonutrients (pterostilbene, resveratrol)

A little more than we need to know, right?
I think it’s time to change the conversation in the food world. It’s time to get back to sensory perceptions! 

I confess, I’ve been thinking about this a lot since participating in the most wildly inspiring painting workshop a few weeks ago. Something wonderful happened in my creative process, reminiscent of times in my life when I felt free to explore and express, when I was open to the journey and that feeling of pure joy! I’m here, I’m alive, I’ve got all these colors in front of me — like a kid, unedited and unbridled. It was magic.

I came home with several pieces I’m excited about.  As you see, I’m really loving blues right now.  Northern California storm blues, and Aegean blues, mysterious, sad, and ecstatic blues. 

Storm Brewing. Mixed media on 36” x 36” wood panel. July 2017.

Storm Brewing. Mixed media on 36” x 36” wood panel. July 2017.

Santorini. Mixed Media Collage on Paper. July 2017.

Santorini. Mixed Media Collage on Paper. July 2017.

Back in my kitchen I found new freedom in my cooking, too. I found myself playing, taking chances with colors, textures and flavors, connecting with all my senses. No more being in my head about phytonutrients or fiber or resveratrol. Once your playground is full of gorgeous healthy components, it’s about the joy!

Are you with me?

There is an energetic feeling when you’re in the zone, creating in the kitchen, not thinking, just being. This is the same place any artist or creative person wants to get to. Taking a walk with your dog.  Meditation in motion. Direct experience. We talk about all the science behind the Mediterranean Diet, but it occurs to me that it’s the living of it that makes it so gloriously healthy. Food, not as a separate list or template, but woven into the texture of life, with fresh air, local ingredients, friends and family. I feel renewed  

Recipes for adventuring

There was something really magical about packing my lunch to go to my workshop every day. Like going to camp. I enjoyed making each lunch pretty, and having something healthy and special for my 45 minute break. Try these recipes on your next adventure.

Surprise! Cauliflower goes incognito here, as what looks like rice or couscous, surrounded by spices, fresh green herbs, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. It’s a great dish for people who are watching their carbs but who want a grain like taste and texture on which to munch.

What a delicious salad combo! I’ve included mint, parsley, quinoa, cumin, and coriander in the dish and added one additional surprise: red grapes. There’s something about chomping on a sweet grape that’s just joyous, don’t you think? 

I created this Spa in a Pitcher to inspire people to drink, because hydration is so vital to maintaining the body’s equilibrium, especially in hot weather. It sure works for me :) This tonic is like art floating in a chilled pitcher, with thin rounds of orange, lemon, and cucumber interspersed with sprigs of thyme and mint. To your health!

I GUESS WHAT I’M SAYING IS, MAKE ROOM FOR LIVING IN YOUR LIFE! SAVOR FOOD AND FAMILY AND FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS MOST. MOVE PAST THOSE RESTRICTIONS. ENJOY THE ADVENTURE!