Hunger can be such a tricky thing. Do you ever hear someone say, "Oh my gosh, I forgot to eat..."? I will tell you one thing, you will never hear that from me. I am a very routine person. I like predictability and I like to have the day set up and planned. Knowing in general what I am going to eat for the day is something that goes into my planning. And shifts or changes in the plan can sometimes send me in a loop. I guess it is just the way I am wired. Like I said, I will never be the one who actually forgets to eat.
Reading that paragraph honestly brings a tinge of guilt knowing how much I think about eating when there are people out there that have no idea when their next meal will be. It really is sad when put into perspective, so I apologize for sounding in reality quite selfish.
We all have our vices. Some people have issues with alcohol, some with shopping, others with drugs and addiction, gambling, the list goes on. We have habits and patterns that we turn to in times of stress, pain and even in times of boredom. Typically, we are searching to fill some sort of void but it continues to go unfulfilled as the things we reach for in these times are not always the most positive.
I have always had my own issues with food. In times of stress, I have been known to turn to food. I know that this does nothing in the way of easing the pain or lessening the stress but it is my habit that I continue to work to break. I have also always loved to cook and be in the kitchen so my habit becomes all the more difficult to confront and work past.
I think that food can become a major boredom filler for so many of us as well. We are not always as in tune with our bodies and our own hunger as we could be. We don't always listen for what it is our bodies are telling us. We know that the laundry needs to be done, and cruising through the kitchen seems to be the perfect way to avoid it. It's time to study, but that piece of chocolate cake sounds like a better plan right now. The problem is that eating out of boredom or even avoidance is simply not satisfying. It is mindless and does not do much to truly fuel us.
Certainly we all know this, so how do we stop the cycle? How do we decide if we are hungry or if we are just trying to avoid real life? If the answer was perfectly clear, I surely wouldn't be writing about it right now, right?
I have been experimenting recently with how to work with this pattern of eating just to eat. The one simple thing that has worked the most is to SIT DOWN. Most of my mindless eating happens standing up. I am typically either digging through the fridge or standing at the counter. So the best way for me was to change the setting. I started making myself sit down when I was eating something no matter what it was. I could not eat until I was sitting. This forced me to take the time to put whatever it was I was going to eat on a plate or a napkin and set it in front of me before I even held it to my mouth. Typically, I would have had three mouthfuls before I even got a chance to grab a napkin. So this started to shift things.
What did I notice? First, I noticed how often I graze mindlessly through the kitchen. I saw that the times I was eating out of boredom or avoidance were much more often than I was aware. Also, the shift in moving to sit down forced me to actually start thinking more about my hunger level. I began asking myself if I was really hungry or if I really wanted to eat this right now. When I did sit down, I had more focus and was more mindful of what and how much I was eating and I actually tasted the food I put into my mouth!
This is an ongoing experiment that is starting to become a practice each and every day. I have found that this seems to work best for me to stop the cycle of just eating to eat. I want to eat to be nourished and energized. I want to eat to enjoy.I also want to be grateful for the fact that I even have the choices and that I know where my next meal is coming from. What I don't want? I don't want to eat just for the sake of eating or to eat because I am avoiding certain feelings or emotions. So I will sit. That is what I will do.
I have a serious peanut butter addiction. The great thing about this is that I am starting to find ways to add it to savory recipes. I feel like so many of my recipe creations with peanut butter were sweet so the shift has been nice. This Thai Peanut Quinoa Stir Fry will not disappoint!
I confessed not long ago that quinoa was one of those foods that I never used in recipes because I had basically assumed it would be something just too complicated and time consuming. News flash: it's not. I have found it even easier and quicker to make than rice so when I am in a pinch, I now turn to quinoa. And, if I am really pressed for time, I have found pre-cooked quinoa and even brown rice in the frozen section of the grocery. Let's face it, we have all been there!
I made this Stir Fry two ways the quick and convenient way and the no shortcuts version. All in all, I found that this recipe can be ready in a flash and still fill up hungry bellies in no time at all. The no shortcuts version also is really not much more time consuming, but it will certainly save some cash.
On a night when the drive thru sounds so tempting because a healthy meal seems hours away, here a few things to help you steer clear:
- Buy the prepared veggies in the produce section. At Whole Foods, I got a decent sized container of pre-washed and pre-chopped cabbage. It included a medley of cabbages and it was Organic. It only put me back $2.95.
- Frozen veggies. Sure fresh is ideal, but when you are choosing between a greasy pizza and frozen veggies, well, you do the math. I used frozen broccoli and mukimame (shelled edamame). Again, cut down on cutting, chopping, washing and prep time.
- As I mentioned before, you can find frozen quinoa. I found plain quinoa frozen with no oil, salt or seasoning at Whole Foods as well. These thaw so quickly that you really don't even need to microwave them!
- Skip the meat! This recipe has plenty of protein with the edamame, peanut butter and quinoa. Skipping the meat allows for a one pan meal. There are so many benefits for cutting down on meat so getting the family to do it every now and then has it perks. We all have heard of Meatless Mondays so maybe make this on a Monday night for the win!
Shortcuts or not, this colorful, veggie packed meal is unbelievable. I may be a bit biased, of course! Adding the cilantro is key as well. If there's one thing not to omit, it's the cilantro. Other than that, the veggies can be adapted to your tastes or what you have in the fridge. I know peanut allergies are certainly something some of you deal with, so almond butter or sunflower seed butter could be great substitutes. I also think cashew butter could be delicious as well. So if you are contemplating the drive thru tonight, maybe give this one a try instead!
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 cups broccoli florets fresh or frozen
- 4-5 green onions chopped
- 3 cups chopped cabbage can do a medley with carrots
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 1/3 cup chopped Cilantro
- 1/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
- 2 T liquid aminos soy sauce or Tamari
- 1 T rice vinegar
- 1 garlic clove minced
- Juice of one orange
- 1/2 T sesame oil
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- Sea salt and crushed pepper to taste
- Whisk all ingredients for sauce together. If it seems a bit too thick, add more orange juice or soy sauce/liquid aminos.
- In a skillet or wok, heat about 1 tsp of sesame or coconut oil.
- Add broccoli and onions and stir fry until broccoli is tender.
- Add cabbage and edamame and stir fry until cabbage becomes slightly translucent and tender.
- Lower heat to low and then begin to add the sauce. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in cooked quinoa and stir to coat with sauce.
- Just before serving, add about half of the cilantro and stir.
- Garnish with extra cilantro when serving.
Toss on some crushed peanuts for garnish.