Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: food (page 1 of 7)

Moms of Little League, Huddle Up

Ladies, come in close and chat. I’d like to toss this out there before the first at bat, so everyone knows I’m not reacting (or over-reacting, depending on the critic). If I mention this now, I’m not pointing a finger at anyone, I’m only tossing it out the wider public. (Also, this is not just for the ladies. I simply know that in 2/3 of American households, the women do the grocery shopping. Gents, you’re welcome to the conversation.)

Now, can we talk about the event showcase of the post-game snack?

First, the drinks. I just have to get this off my chest. We do not need to balance the electrolytes of an 8-year-old who spent 2 hours standing in right field on a chilly May evening. Can we please stop believing the marketing that Gatorade has ingeniously embedded in our psyche? These are not high performance athletes, they’re children. Water! Water is the choice of athletes, even the top tier ones. Water stations are by far more popular among the race routes I’ve encountered.  If you really feel the need to go crazy, maybe a juice box could suffice because at least it came from an actual fruit.

Please, my friends. Don’t be fooled by the commercials. Drinking the fake-sugar, fake-colored glorified kool-aid does not make a kid a better athlete, any more than dressing him in Under Armor amplifies his performance. If we’re going to drink the stuff or wear the stuff, let’s do so in the name of enjoyment and not be driven by this idea that we can buy stuff that makes us into who we want to be.

And also. (Yes, there’s more.) I’m all for a good celebration. Life is precious, so please commemorate the occasions. I don’t think we celebrate (truly celebrate) enough in our culture, mostly because we’re too busy to slow down and savor life’s beauty. So do things to remember significant events – please. This may mean cupcakes or champagne or slightly more expensive attire. Do it.

AND. When something happens twice a week, this is not a “special occasion.” This is a schedule. Your turn to supply the post-game snack is not a celebratory event. It’s a treat the little guys can enjoy, but doesn’t require confectionary genius. Personally, I think a Hostess cupcake goes overboard. Can we try a few orange slices? For those to crunched for time to do any slicing, a whole cutie works just fine. For those Pinterest moms who just need to make it their own, make some sort of edible joy out of peanut butter, celery, carrots, raisins, bananas or apples. Get as cutsie as you wish. But can we all aim for food that is grown, not made in a factory? You’ll spend the same $7 on fruit as you will on a package of snack-sized Doritos.

Ok, team. Here we go: another season. If we work together we can give our kids a delightful experience of chasing catching fly balls, hitting home runs, and celebrating hard work. But it doesn’t have to be a freaking birthday party after every single game, twice a week, for a month and a half. Let’s actually encourage their physical health by filling them with the nutrients they need to grow  instead of the sugar treats disguised as something more.

I feel better now. Love to all. See you at the ball field.


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From Seed

We’ve always had at least a small patch of dirt to grow our tomatoes, our peppers, maybe a green bean or two. Last year we added cucumbers because JJ was determined to make a good clausen pickle – and he got very close. We’ve experimented with greens and broccoli, here and there. So, we’re not garden newbies.

Our new-to-us, for-nearly-one-year house came with a massive garden space. The plot had already been dug a few years ago, though when we moved in, it remained vacant. Last year we had to rely on farmer’s markets for anything fresh, and it would be an understatement to say that JJ’s disappointment in BLT season was massive.

So, this year we’re upping our game. Not only are we filling that vacant spot in the backyard, we’re starting it ourselves. That’s right. We’re growing from seed. And not just any ol’ seed packet from 3 years ago. We ordered heirloom packets from Baker Creek. We don’t mess around, no, we don’t mess around, nuh-uh. We purchased a few starter pots and a grow light, because we lack a good western-facing window.

JJ's garden mapping. He even researched which plants grow best together.

JJ’s garden mapping. He even researched which plants grow best together.

We had the kids fill the little pots with the fluffy organic soil and I carefully doled out a few seeds per pot, and marked them with painters tape on the cup, because we lacked foresight to buy those little stick-things, and – let’s face it – the odds of those being removed and used as a weapon runs pretty high in this house.

And then, we waited. And waited. Finally our onions (yes, onions! He thought he was getting starts, but no) gave us tiny slivers of green poking through the dirt. And then the tomatoes! We moved from the hotpad-prepped table to the light table. We even have alarms going off each morning and evening to remind us to water and move the pots around.

This growing stuff is serious business. We’re leaving overnight and have a little bit of concern about our sprouts. We check them regularly, and every time we see a new little stem, we celebrate. Right now, it’s a tad unfathomable what it will be like to pick a tomato that came from a plant that started as this teeny-tiny seed. There’s a certain amount of miracle, not only in our ability to keep these things alive, but in their inherit ability to grow and produce and to feed.

JJ said last night, “and just think about next year, after we collect the seeds from our own harvest and save them, and then start them again next year.” I think it’s akin what grandparenting might be like – watching this thing you grew, produce again and again.  You’re not at all in control, yet, without you, this life would cease to exist as we know it. We’re not the source. We can’t even “make” anything grow. Yet we’re vital to the entire process.

Of course, someone else, somewhere else, is growing perfectly “fine” little cherry tomatoes and banana peppers. We could always just let them do it. We can continue to go to the store and buy our imported romas, twice the size of the normal (because we Americans like everything “bigger and better”) and be on our merry little way.  Leaving it to the professionals is always an option.

When we continue to outsource, we don’t have to rearrange our lives. We don’t have to water and weed and pluck. And, for sure, you’re able to steer clear of the heartache of a bad season, a diseased favorite purple pepper, or the frustrations of a bug infestation. We can absolutely bypass the work of growth by buying it ready made. This is always an option.

So why do it?  And, as with gardening, so with life. Marriage, children, starting – or even working – a business. Why toil, strain and love?

I. Don’t. Know.

Except to say that in the process of growing something else, we reap a new kind of nourishment, one reserved for those who dig in wholeheartedly. This cannot be described with words, only by eating a tomato fresh from your garden. Or watching your child hit his first home run. Or standing beside your spouse as she accepts her Citizen of the Year award. Or hearing from a customer how you made her wedding the most beautiful day of her life. Or delivering yet another healthy baby. Or finding a donor to fund a cause that will change lives. Or helping someone find a home that will keep their family safe and warm, a respite from the world. Or helping a child write their first “book.”

There’s no reason to put in the hard work, other than the fact that hard work – whether it be with plants or people – blossoms and feeds you. It’s beautiful.

Obviously, I’m not mandating that every single person in the world must buy packets of seeds and set watering timers. This is simply our most recent peek into blessings of putting in the hard work. It helps me to answer the “why.” Why we don’t watch a ton of TV. Why we opt to bake bread instead of letting McDonalds fry it for us. Why we rearrange schedules so we can be with friends. Why we move to a small town for a lesser-paying job in exchange for nearby family.

We do hard things because they are good. Perhaps even better than easy things. Hard things give us a new sense of life and the enjoyment of it. There’s a certain beauty at discovering the connection between your soul and the rest of the universe. With a little love and attention, we can be a part of the process of creation, not just the consumption.

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)

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Empty Branches

Last weekend, because I’m not proficient with ceiling fan instillation, I was relegated to working in the flower beds. The Lamb’s Ear and the hostas waved dry and empty stalks. The decorative grass was seedy and eating our front porch. A few other things, no longer recognizable, were completely dried up. The place was a mess of dead leaves.

In the hour I spent hacking and chopping and trimming and scooping, I gave a lot of thought to the the autumnal processes. Plants, after living the glory of full bloom, offer new seeds to disperse into the world and then, generally, spend the next several weeks in hospice. The classy ones, like the oak trees and burning bushes, use brilliant hues to say their goodbyes while others simply shrivel up and the next thing you know, you have empty branches.

Nature pretty much self-directs this process. Trees aren’t shocked when they end up naked; in fact, so goes the cycle of life. In order to have new life, we must rid the old growth. The simple truth remains: nothing new will grow where the old hangs on past its season.

This past week I participated with my yogis in what we call an “Ayurvedic Reset.” There are several components, most notably the mono-diet of kitchari. I ate it for lunch and dinner all week; kitchari is considered the “child’s pose of food”, a gentle place to find your breath again.

Quite honestly, I enjoy kitchari… about once a week or so. The last batch I made ended up tasting quite awful to me. Part of me wanted to join in for the fish tacos and call my near-week’s abstinence “close enough.” So many other things sound more delicious. Like tacos. Or, by the end of a reset week, maybe even leather shoes. Or chalk dust. Honestly, I love food so much that restricting me to one type is nothing short of torture.

So why participate in such practices? Life is short, eat the brownie used to be the motto of my college years. Which is true. I’ve decided never to turn down a plate of my grandmother’s noodles for similar reasons.

If you get into certain spiritual circles, fasting often comes up. You can’t swing a cat without hearing “every time I get hungry I just pray.” And that is nice. Well done. I’m glad people find that element of the fasting practice helpful. I do not.

But here’s what I’ve learned: by limiting my diet, I practice how not to limit my joy. 

Food brings me joy! It’s a love language. I believe Shauna Neiquist will back me up on this. And, as you would have it, Rob Bell. He spoke to me personally on this. Well, through his Robcast, recorded weeks prior… but I heard it while in the want-to-quit middle of my reset and it resonated deeply. He said we tend to mis-believe our joy is limited to only the food, drink, habit or sensation we’re craving.

And I thought back to my flower beds. Each branch sprouts only one leaf at a time.

A healthy tree will bloom over and over, enjoying new seasons with something different on its fingertips. What if the same is true for our souls? We can practice enjoying something, and then set it aside so to allow room for something else just as joy-worthy to sit down for a spell.

So perhaps we take a cue from the trees and realize we need to let a few things go? Just for a time, a season, a purpose – let them fall. Because when we do, we will likely find something new is able to grow.

I want new things to grow in my life, but I don’t get to have that without a regular cycle of letting things go. “Clearing space” is a mantra I keep close.  This can mean getting rid of stuff that was once vibrant. But nothing blooms year-around (at least not in these parts) without manufactured conditions; hibernation is key for a plant to offer something again in the spring.

And so it goes for our souls. It’s time to let go of the things which have passed their season. Perhaps not forever, but for now. If you want something new to grow in the future, it might be time to put things into right places. And maybe, right now isn’t the time for new growth. Right now is the time to get settled in for the long winter’s peace. Some things, including you, are allowed to go dormant for a season.

As the trees show us, letting go can be quite beautiful.

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