Friday, November 17, 2006

Hidden messages in food


Molly Peppo

By MOLLY PEPPO

The way we eat directly influences our mood, behavior and well-being.

The movie "Like Water for Chocolate" is a story that intertwines elements of food, passion, love and deception. It is the story of a young girl, Tita, who longs for her lover, Pedro—their union is forbidden. Her mother believes the role of a youngest daughter is to take care of her parents. When Pedro marries Tita's oldest sister, Rosaura, in order to be close to Tita, her passions and feelings are imbedded in her cooking, which causes the people who taste it to experience what she feels.

"Like Water for Chocolate" became the largest-grossing foreign film ever released in the United States. It expresses the power of food in culture, love and family.

In American culture, one of the most eagerly anticipated meals of the year is Thanksgiving dinner. Idahoans have a chance to be especially proud of potatoes at this time of year. There are several ways to ensure that this meal leaves you feeling good.

First, approach the meal and its preparation with care and integrity. In Zen monasteries, the job of tenzo, or cook, is one of the most venerated, usually given to a senior monk. It's believed that if a person's mind is not equable, if it's anxious or disturbed, these vibrations seep into the food and have an adverse effect on sensitive individuals.

Prepare your food and meals with love and kindness. Calm your mind before you start working with the food and set an intention for the meal. This intention could be harmony, laughter, love or calm. Weave this feeling into your food and see what happens.

Next, choose high-quality organic ingredients. Organic ingredients are often much higher in vitamins and minerals than commercially produced foods, and are free of neurotoxins and carcinogens. You will eat less and feel more energized.

Food delivers the light and energy of the sun, moon, and earth into our bodies. Choose foods for your Thanksgiving dinner that deliver this energy in its most unadulterated form. Paint your table with vibrant fall colors: golden yams, bright red cranberries, and deep orange butternut squash or pumpkin pie. These fruits and vegetables are rich in minerals, vitamins A and C, and high in fiber. Prepare food free of butter and cream if possible, but use liberal amounts of organic cold-pressed olive oil, sea salt, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and honey. Your food should be accented with warm fall spices, sea salt and oils to bring out the flavors, not drowned and choked in butter, cream and canola oil.

With some simple planning, Thanksgiving dinner, rather than producing heartburn, indigestion and food coma, can be an opportunity to fill up with minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. It can be infused with energy and can replenish our bodies, minds and sore muscles after the first day on the ski slopes.

These suggestions, combined with good company, family, friends and some fresh powder for opening day, will let all the true flavors of Thanksgiving to emerge.

Molly Peppo is completing a master's degree in nutrition. Her interests include individualizing the diet to optimize energy levels, digestion, physical functioning, and working with nutrition to calm anxiety, lift depression and alleviate behavioral disorders in children. She can be contacted at mollypeppo@mac.com




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