“The Pilates Method of body conditioning reawakens and stimulates brain cells, stimulating further the functioning of the mind.” —Joseph Pilates
Do you hit the mat without any idea of what’s in store for your core? Probably not. Nor should you pull up to the plate without any idea of what’s on it or why.
Joseph Pilates was not a yogi but he was mindful of physical form and the food that nourishes it. And you should be, too. Starting with…snacks. They can be mindful or mindless. Which are yours?
Sometimes snacks outnumber real meals and sometimes they even replace old-fashioned ones entirely. If they aren’t high quality this can be as dangerous as coming to your mat with no mindful game plan.
What makes for a mindful snack?
One that the nutritionist in you has put some thought into: It is preferably meatless, moderate in calories, sodium and fat, and moderate or high in must-have nutrients like vitamin D and calcium (low-fat cheese and broccoli), fiber (fresh fruit and nuts). Add a few immune-enhancing antioxidants like lutein and lycopene (think tomatoes), beta-carotene (think carrots and melon) and polyphenols (think green tea) to make it mindfully optimal. Here are a few snacks/mini meals that fit the bill.
Nut butters spread on wholegrain crackers (see recipe) or toasted whole-wheat bagel halves. Be mindful and mix it up. Try the more nutritious almond, cashew or macadamia nut butters instead of the usual peanut. Or stir toasted sesame seeds into your organic peanut butter for extra vitamin E and crunch.
Sea vegetable salad Low in calories, very high in minerals and fiber. You can make it up in advance and keep chilled in the fridge. Cook any sea vegetable, such as hiziki, arame, or dulse. Cool and toss with shredded carrots and radish, crushed garlic and salsa. You can even spoon it into a wide-mouthed thermos and take to practice in your bag.
A different kid of deviled eggs Mix mashed hard-boiled yolks (preferably organic) with flax oil and plain yogurt, a dash of red pepper, chopped fresh basil and scallions. Sprinkle with dill seeds for crunch. Foil wrap and carry in a thermal lunch bag.
Popcorn sprayed lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese and poppy or chia seeds. Fiber, protein, minimal calories.
Pita bread halves toasted in a skillet and spread with hummus and lightly mashed fresh steamed peas, cauliflower and spinach leaves. Wrap in foil if you’re lunchboxing it.
Salad with out-of-the-box greens Try dandelion, beet greens, arugula or basil. (You get half your vitamin A requirement from an ounce of basil!) Dress lightly with an avocado oil (as nutritious as olive and equally sensuous) and some lime juice or rice vinegar.
Nutritional Highball Juice a few handfuls of dark fresh greens with an apple, some parsley and cucumber. Add a little lemon juice plus yogurt for protein. No juicer? Combine four of your fave natural fruit juices in the blender with some fresh, chopped herbs like rosemary, oregano, or savory. Pour over green tea ice cubes.
Seasonal berries Nix the bag of chips and tote along a box of in-season blueberries, raspberries or strawberries to eat on-the-go while keeping calories low and tripling your intake of immune-boosting antioxidants.
The next time you have 30 mindful minutes on your hands before or after class, get into the kitchen and bake a batch of these crunchy, high-fiber crackers.
MAGIC CIRCLES (CRACKERS)
1–1/4 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup sesame seed
¼ cup flaxseeds
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons olive oil, or a combination of olive and flax or sesame oils
Water, as needed
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Lightly grease two cookie sheets.
3. Combine all ingredients except for the water. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing well with your hands.
4. Dust wax or parchment paper with cornmeal and roll out the dough.
5. Cut dough into “Magic Circles” using the rim of an upside-down water glass.
6. Place Circles on cookie sheets and bake for 15–20 minutes until done. Halfway through switch the trays.