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  • Writer's pictureElisa Juarez

Live Well, Eat Well

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

By Elisa Juarez

The art of living and eating well is one of my favorite topics, and the theme for Spoonful of Salsa. Each season brings its own materials to the table of design and delight, and what we do with those is our art. Living well is perhaps the highest art, and one that we all can learn to master. It requires conscious attention and intention more than any particular skill set. Thankfully it does not require a large bank account, but you’ll need a heart and mind that are open to gratitude and simple abundance. Where do you find ideas and inspiration for your life? I have mentioned several authors and spiritual teachers who demonstrate the art of living well; they are my inspiration (e.g., Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance; Dr. Christiane Northrup, Mary Anne Radmacher, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, to name a few). They have shown me how to find the sacred in the ordinary and savor simple gifts and pleasures. Learning something new each day increases my well-being and expands my mind and heart. Have you noticed that stretching your body helps release tension and build flexibility? It’s the same with your mind. Be willing to stretch your thinking and experiment with new ideas for designing your home, your cooking, and your life. Cooking and eating well is fundamental to living well. If you think or say, “I don’t cook,” I challenge you to change that. Start by changing the thought to: “I haven’t gotten into cooking yet, but since I like to eat, I am open to it.” Seriously, we all need to eat, and if we want to live well, we need to look at our relationship to food. We may need to stretch our palate by trying new foods and recipes. Variety is the spice of life, and we need it in our eating as much as anything! It starts with loving ourselves enough to treat our bodies with the respect they deserve. Choosing and preparing whole, fresh, clean, nutritious food is one of the most basic and essential practices for a healthy, happy life. Nowadays there is so much information available about nutrition and wellness, there is no excuse for putting garbage into our bodies. Simplify your meal prep by stocking your pantry with good staples and keeping a shopping list on the frig for your fresh and refrigerated foods. Cooking with a crockpot will also save you time, energy, and money! The prep can be done the night before, then you fill the pot with fresh veggies, meat, and spices in the morning and let it cook on low all day. Easy-peasy! You'll come home to a house that smells amazing and a meal that is ready to eat! If you’re cooking for just one or two, you can share the extra, eat it through the week, or freeze some for another time. Recipes abound on the blog, Pinterest, and other websites as well as traditional cookbooks. Since everything starts in the mind, living and eating well stem from our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, our world, and what it means to “live well.” Take a few minutes to jot down what “living well” looks and feels like for you. Does that description match your actual life? Why or why not? We can change what we eat every day of the week, but if we hold on to beliefs that do not support our health and well-being, we will still find ourselves falling short of “the good life.” Our lives reflect our beliefs and attitudes, so that is the starting point for creating a life of wellness, joy, and vitality. This morning I read this quote in my daily devotional: “I believe we have the freedom to be happy, to be well and to be prosperous….We live in a universe the nature of which is so extravagantly abundant and so abundantly extravagant”(Ernest Holmes). Do you believe that? If you really did, how would your life reflect that? Changing our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs can take time and discipline, but it is well worth the investment. While you are working on that, take a closer look at what you are putting into your grocery cart. In this fast-food, microwave culture we have gotten into some poor habits, cutting corners where we need to be sowing seeds of wellness. In order to live well, we need to understand the connection between the quality of our food and the quality of our lives. One step toward eating more fresh, organic, whole foods is to follow the “Dirty Dozen” shopping list from Environmental Working Group: They provide a list of the produce that carry the most pesticides (the "dirty" ones) and those that are the “cleanest.” Avoiding these toxins is so important that it is well worth spending a little more, and also buying a bottle of veggie wash to clean all of your produce. (You can find this in the produce section of the grocery store.) Toxins such as pesticides and herbicides can lead to cancer, hormone imbalances, and many other diseases. Although organic produce and dairy products may cost more than some of the cheaper alternatives, you’ll find that the more fresh, whole foods you have in your cart, as opposed to packaged and processed foods, the lower your grocery bill will be. Cheap food is just that – cheap. It offers nothing of value to your body and may induce harm. Foods like brown rice, quinoa, fruits, vegetables, and cage-free eggs are not expensive, and provide excellent nutritional value. If this is not your standard fare, try switching out one or two processed/packaged foods each week for a healthy alternative. Pay more attention to the labels; the longer the ingredient list, the more questionable it is. My mom used to tell me, “If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, you probably shouldn’t be eating it!” Know your ingredients and go for the foods with no preservatives and additives. Be willing to try something new each week, expand your menu, and take steps toward a healthier, happier YOU. Treat your body like the sacred temple that it is. Living well stems from loving yourself and your life, finding joy and beauty in the simple things, and practicing gratitude. Tis the season for simply abundant cooking, eating, and living! An investment of time, attention, and energy in the kitchen will pay high dividends in your health and well-being. YOU are worth it!! Live Well, ej

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