A little while ago I was asked by the the Dutch Buddhist magazine ‘Boeddhistisch Dagblad’ to become a regular contributor to their cooking section. This cooking section features recipes that contribute to a more sustainable and more animal friendly diet. Being the food enthusiast that I am, I didn’t have to think about it for long. Even though I’ve been integrating my cooking and my mindfulness practice for years now, I can’t say that I feel like I know what is the best way to do that. Yet I do feel very curious to keep experimenting and to share my discoveries. And that is exactly what I would like to do with my contributions: share my discoveries, my doubts and my changing views. I invite you all to become inspired and share with me what you’ve learned for yourself. I believe that together, we can make a difference to the way we eat and, consequently, the way we live our lives on this planet.
Actually starting to write my first piece, however, made me feel slightly nervous. How was I going to express my own views? Of course I wouldn’t have said yes if I hadn’t had many ideas. But where to start? After having thought about that question for weeks, I finally got my answer on exactly the same day that I had planned to start writing. Early in the morning I took a peek at the calendar in our kitchen, which contains a daily piece of an inspiration. Today’s page figured a small list of Dutch vegetables that are in season in April. A friend of mine calls such moments ‘winks’: small coincidences that makes you aware you going in the right direction.
This particular wink made me realise I wanted to cook something with early spring vegetables. But I also felt an urge to share about something that has to do with the very basics of mindful eating: the process of cooking itself. Over the past years I’ve come to see cooking as a mindfulness practice on its own, you could call it cooking meditation. I’ve started seeing it more and more as an enjoyable and relaxing element of the day, instead of something that I had to finished before I could start taking it easy and enjoy my evening. Furthermore, it turned into a moment to put my hands to use and give my head a rest. My head which, like that of many other people, is constantly challenged by so many kinds of input during the day. Just kneading dough with my full attention is particularly relaxing to me. Kneading dough, cooking with fresh seasonal vegetables… Suddenly I knew: I’m going to make a quiche!
So how do I practice cooking meditation? When I come home after a long day, I’m often tired and edgy because of my appetite. Because of that I tend to want to cook something very quickly, in order to be able to finally relax afterwards (oh and after having first quickly done the dishes too). A necessary evil. But actually I really like cooking. So I started experimenting how I could make my daily ritual more fun. My appetite was the first thing I addressed. Eating a healthy snack in the late afternoon helps me to be less edgy and less keen to speed up the cooking. I eat something that really fills my stomach, such as a banana, a sandwich, some nuts or a glass of vegetable juice.
Also, I take the time to take my shoes off first and change into something comfortable. I came to notice that I felt like taking it easy for 10 minutes first before I started cooking. So now I usually sit down with a cup of tea first, or I lie down with a blanket and do some relaxation exercises. This small investment of 10 minutes really pays off during the rest of the evening. When I walk to the kitchen after having done this, I already feel my body becoming more relaxed and my mind too. That way, I can enjoy the cooking much more and I feel calmer when I start eating. This enables me to enjoy the food better and be more aware of overeating. I’ve noticed that this makes me feel more energetic and fresh during the rest of the evening.
After these preparations outside of the kitchen, I start by collecting all the ingredients. This allows me to focus solely on the pots and pans later on, instead of running around gathering what I need. While I knead the crust, I focus on my body, feel my hands and the dough. In this recipe the kneading may certainly take a little longer than necessary ;)
This savoury pie is made with a simple crust that does not need to rise, but it does have to rest in the fridge for a little while and it needs to be pre-baked. Because of that, I adapted my ritual and started with the crust. When the dough had to rest, I took my time to rest as well. And while the dough was pre-baking in the oven, I cut the vegetables and prepared the filling.
Although I had made this crust before, the filling was an experiment. I was inspired by the person who wrote this blog before me to use nutritional yeast and aquafaba (the thick liquid from canned chickpeas) as replacements for cheese and egg. Consequently, I searched online for ways to make a vegan quiche with those. Which led to the below mentioned recipe with aquafaba, tofu and nutritional yeast mixed together.
I ate the quiche with a Waldorf salad with whitlove (witlof), apple. nuts and orange, and a mustard dressing. That way it makes a proper meal for four persons. The full recipe takes about 1 hour and 25 minutes to cook. You can reduce the cooking time by using vegan puff pastry dough (bladerdeeg), available in many organic supermarkets.
For the crust (10 minutes preparation, 20 minutes resting, 20 minutes pre-baking)
– 250 g wholemeal flour
– 0,5 tsp salt
– 60 ml olive oil
– 120 ml cold water
For the filling (20 minutes preparation + 35 minutes baking)
– a medium-sized red onion
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 200 g turnip-tops
– a large leek
– 250 g carrots
– 400 g firm (normal) tofu
– 0,5 cup aquafaba
– 0,25 cup nutritional yeast
– 1 T salty soy sauce
– 2 T corn flour (maizena in Dutch)
– 1 tsp paprika powder
– 1 tsp salt
– 0,5 tsp turmeric
– 0,5 tsp chili powder (optional)
Clean and dry a part of the kitchen counter and scatter some flour on it. Take a circular baking tray (26 or 28 cm) and grease it with some olive oil. Mix all the ingredients for the crust in a bowl. Knead until the dough is firm yet elastic. Put it on the kitchen counter and spread until it’s large enough.
Spread the dough out in the baking tray and make sure the sides are 2 to 3 cm high. Use a fork to pinch little holes in the bottom, about every 1,5 cm. Put the tray in the fridge for 20 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven (200°C). And rest.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes after that. In the meantime, cut all the vegetables and stirfry them in some olive oil for five minutes. Add the turnip-tops last, they need very little stirfrying.
Get a bowl or prepare your food processor. Add all the other ingredients for the filling. Only execute the next step when you have the prebaked crust and the vegetable mix ready! Thoroughly mix all the ingredients for the filling for at least two minutes, until it reaches a thick consistency. Quickly stir in the veggies (in a bowl if having used the food processor) and pour it on top of the prebaked crust. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until it is golden.
I myself was really amazed with the result! It looked like a real quiche and it tasted quite like it as well. My dinner companion and I enjoyed it tremendously and would certainly make it again. Only downside was that the quiche was rather soft, it only reached a more firm consistency after having cooled down for a while.