I have been cooking a lot lately. Like with all recipes, it’s one part distraction, two-thirds therapy and a whole lotta play. It started the week of the February storms that swept along the east coast. I was excited for the interruption the weather would bring and the extra accumulation that provided excellent raw material for the design and construction of a frozen lawn ornament.

Even when play is the activity, such as with cooking, for me the activity has to be practical. A means to an end and, I have to eat.  And, through trial and error with my new family, I’m learning that cooking what pleases me is best (for everybody).  Let me explain. In a family with a variety of tastes, making food thinking-hoping-praying they’ll like it only to be disappointed is, well, disappointing.  And sometimes, a waste of money. I find my attachment to pleasing others gets in the way.  When I cook for me, others can partake if they’d like. If they don’t, or do and don’t like it, it’s completely fine. Well, mostly fine. And in practicing being completely fine, my mood stays even, not riding the ocean waves that comes with trying to please those I care about.  They don’t have to deal with an upset cook in the house. This awakening, plus finding a good teacher, has made all the difference.  In this balance I’m enjoying cooking again.

My on-line cooking inspiration has been Heidi Swanson. What I love about her is that she isn’t a professional cook-that she uses whole foods and ingredients I mostly have in my cupboard.  When I don’t follow her, I like that “you can add x instead of y”.  Interesting stories precede her recipes, and she also includes beautiful photos (she is professional photographer).  It’s a cooking journal.In the above photos, starting at the top left to right: Poached Eggs in White Wine (I didn’t have white wine, so I substituted wine by making a garlic and onion broth). Next, crushing fennel seeds thanks to an Ikea bottle opener, I MacGuyvered my own mortar and pestle for über thin and appropriately named Thinnest Oatmeal Cookies. Not pictured here, I also made the Multigrain Waffles – even our resident 10-year-old, who prefers boxed mixes to homemade didn’t protest (or detect) the array of flours I used, and some were different than Heidi’s recipe.  I used oat, spelt and rice flour and a bit of almond meal.  Also not pictured, I made the Glissade Chocolate Pudding. It is simple and sooo yummy. The secret: use full fat canned coconut milk. OMG. You won’t be disappointed.

The photo above is dish I’ve made twice. Quinoa has so many great health benefits, but big whoopee if it doesn’t taste good. Her recipe is Double Broccoli and Quinoa, and includes making a broccoli pesto. Due to a time crunch, I didn’t make the pesto, but it’s not difficult, so I encourage that you do it.  Instead, I steamed broccoli and added garlic, extra olive oil with red pepper flakes to make the chili olive oil. I used feta of the sheep’s milk variety, and it was salty and delicious. For round two, I added steamed potato, sweet potato, and it was just as yummy.

Be sure to try the Kale and Rice Bowl and the Great Chocolate Chip Cookies from David Lebovitz’s Great Book of Chocolate. For taste, you can’t go wrong with David Lebovitz.  For anyone thinking what is a health practitioner doing touting cookies along with kale?  Unless you eat at McDonald’s or other fast food places on a weekly basis, I’m unlikely to tell you how to eat. My experience has been that nourishment and diet is very individual. The most important factor with food is that you be present with what you eat, and observe how you feel. My approach is very straight-forward, but presence is missing with most people I work with.  When you get really aware to what you’re ingesting, you will feel what works for you and what doesn’t. Also, when we delight in what we do, and please our senses whether it be sight, sound, taste or smell, we become present, and our task becomes joyful. That is good medicine.