This week we invited The Mindful Foodie, aka Lesh Karan, to talk about living and eating, and how she does it, well, mindfully.
Lesh is a freelance medical and health writer, with qualifications in pharmacy and medical science. She's also studying to be a Health Coach. We love her because whilst she has a background in Western science (so she 'gets' that world), her true passion lies in whole foods, holistic health and natural well being, all the while being mindful of the ethical and environmental considerations of the way we live and eat... and she makes stock out of chicken feet...
Sustainable Living & Chicken Feet Stock, by The Mindful Foodie
The word “sustainable” means different things to different people. To me, it means living on this planet while reducing my impact on Earth’s resources as much as possible (a low carbon footprint, if you will) — without losing my sanity.
Sometimes the word “mindful” is used interchangeably with sustainable. Eating mindfully, from a sustainability angle, is being conscious of where your food comes from, how it was grown or produced.
But eating mindfully can also mean eating slowly without any other distractions (like eating in front of the computer, or whilst watching TV, or reading, or eating while driving), so you can savour the taste of food and feel satiated and nourished.
In this modern world, being 100% sustainable (where you have absolutely no negative impact on Earth’s resources) and mindful is challenging and (almost) impossible. Unless you go down the route of no impact man.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean we can’t reduce our impact on the planet to a significant degree. Anything we can do will help. Start with small steps, and make small changes progressively. Trying to change old habits all at once can be overwhelming and, I find, is bound to fail because it gets frustrating. So go slow and steady.
From a food perspective, here are some of my best tips for eating sustainably and mindfully:
• Eating mostly vegetarian foods — I occasionally eat a little bit of fish and organic chicken
• Rarely wasting food — this is because I sat down and roughly worked out how much hubby and I need each week
• Shopping at farmers' markets for local, organic and seasonal produce
• Never eating in front of the TV
— this gives you a chance to concentrate on the food you're eating, the way every mouthful smells, tastes and feels. You get to appreciate food a whole lot more by eating in this way.
My thoughts on…
— Local versus imported foods:
Because of the Australian climate, some yummy, healthy stuff is hard to get locally, like dates, coconut and chocolate, although I’ve just discovered an Australian chocolate, which I must try! Where I have found a local product, I usually switch to it, such as this organic Tasmanian quinoa. If I do buy imported products, I like to check out the ethos of the company before I support it.
I find seafood quite a complex area. So I rely heavily on the advice from the guys at Good Fish Bad Fish. Fish sustainability depends on so many things – the way seafood is caught, what region it’s from and what season it is, just to name a few. So what may be sustainable in USA may not be the case in Australia, and vice versa.
In the Western world, we could all do with eating a lot less meat. We certainly don’t need it everyday (or every week). If we do choose to eat meat, my belief is that meat should come from “happy” animals raised in their natural habitat, and that we should be open to eating all parts of the animal, so nothing goes to waste...
Like this stock recipe, which uses chicken feet. It’s the best ingredient to make chicken stock with, I hear.
Chicken stock recipe
Photo by Lesh Karan
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 3 dried bay leaves
• a handful of fresh herbs, like thyme, rosemary and sage
• 2 celery stalks, leaves and all, washed and roughly chopped
• 2 carrots, washed and roughly chopped
• 1 brown onion, quartered
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled
• sea salt and pepper, to taste
Put all ingredients in a stockpot and add about 3.5 litres (14 cups) of water. Bring to a boil and turn down to heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3–4 hours. Strain using a fine mesh sieve. You should end up with about 10–12 cups stock, Freeze in 2–3 cup portions. Awesome for making soups!
Lesh Karan is a writer and the creator of The Mindful Foodie — a website that empowers people to nourish their life with real food & mindful living. Lesh’s belief is that what we eat, think and do has an overall impact on our health and wellbeing. Most of her recipes are allergy-friendly and vegetarian. And she shares weekly inspirations, too. Check out her blog for a special reader's promo.