The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

Soft Belly

Soft Belly

In June of 2012 I attended the Center’s Food As Medicine conference in Bethesda, MD. At the time, I was unfamiliar with the Center, so I was not sure what to expect. This conference started unlike so many other conferences I have attended. Instead of jumping right in because there would be lots of ground to cover in a short period of time, Dr. Jim Gordon began with a relaxation breathing exercise called “soft belly,” a slow, deep breathing meditation that allows the belly to rise when breathing in and fall when breathing out.The sole focus should be on the image of a soft, relaxed belly. He instructed us to say to ourselves “soft” as we inhaled and “belly” as we exhaled. We started every day of the conference in this fashion. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical at first, as I wondered what breathing had to do with food and when were we going to get to the good stuff. But by day three of the conference I found myself ready to start the day relaxed; I was looking forward to “soft belly!”
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Culinary Medicinals

Culinary Medicinals

Did you know that anything and everything you put in your body either helps or harms? Surely it is all about balance, but statistically speaking we have a pretty sick nation. Consider this a slight wake up call…

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Spicy Sweet Potato Coconut Soup

Spicy Sweet Potato Coconut Soup

This recipe is spicy-sweet, ridiculously nutrient dense, and is easy but takes time, so it’s a great soup if you are hanging around the house for a half-day. It entails making a base of sautéed vegetables and spice, then cooking and blending the base with sweet potatoes, and stirring in a blended cream of coconut, cashews and fresh ginger. Yum – sweet and spicy and creamy and healthy.

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Heart-y Beet and Barley Salad

Heart-y Beet and Barley Salad

It’s February….the month of the heart! When I think about words used to describe the heart, things like hardworking, vulnerable, steady, and loving are a few that come to mind. When I think of caregivers many of those same words apply. I came up with this dish in recognition of the vibrant pulse that beats within each of us. Fresh ingredients in this salad join forces to give maximum flavor plus provide abundant amounts of cholesterol lowering fiber, heart healthy fats, anti-oxidant phyto-nutrients, and cardio-protective vitamins and minerals. Enjoy!

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Top 5 Nutrition Takeaways

Top 5 Nutrition Takeaways

Not long ago I retired after nearly 10 years as manager of the Center’s Food As Medicine professional nutrition training program. I’ve been asking myself — what are my most enduring takeaways?
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Seared Red Lentil Rice Cakes With Cilantro Pesto

Seared Red Lentil Rice Cakes With Cilantro Pesto

In effort to create a vegetarian dish for the Meatless Monday campaign I wanted to shake things up from the usual black bean burger and create something more colorful to the eye and equally nutritious. Lentils and rice are an everyday combination in Asia and the Middle East and a healthy one at that since legumes and rice offer up a more complete protein when consumed together. The cilantro in both the “burger” and the pesto supports the liver, not to mention its antioxidant, anticancer and antimicrobial benefits.
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Cinnamon Oranges

Cinnamon Oranges

Cinnamon oranges. Aren’t those words together scintillating?

On a freezing cold night in January I joined 30 friends at Marrakech near Dupont Circle in Washington, DC for a 5-course feast. Platter after platter of savory dishes were presented in succession, the flavors all much the same. And then–unexpectedly–the most marvelous thing happened. The waiters brought for dessert thick orange slices dusted with cinnamon, arrayed on the plate like shimmering orange flowers, glowing in the mysterious, darkened room. The smell of cinnamon aroused our senses before we even tasted. And when we tasted our eyes opened wide with amazement–these were some of the most delicious things we’d ever had! By far our favorite dish of the evening. And it quickly dawned on me that this was also the most amazingly easy dessert to create, ever! And that it would be the perfect thing to share with you.

Enjoy!

Cozy Roasted Vegetable Soup

Cozy Roasted Vegetable Soup

Root veggies, especially when roasted, are a real comfort food, and this is the kind of soup that’s a real reviver during chilly months. Chinese medicine associates root vegetables with lung health; other peer-reviewed studies have found squash such as the nutty Kabocha squash here are immune boosters filled with gut cleansing fiber. Soups like this just welcome a spice blast, and we’ve obliged this one with cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, and thyme. Downing a bowl is like lighting your internal fireplace to keep winter’s chill at bay.

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Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish

Have you been looking for a fresh cranberry relish recipe, that makes the perfect accompaniment to holiday meals?

This is it.

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Roasted Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Caraway

Roasted Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Caraway

Conquering this recipe reminded me of Charlie Brown’s travails with Lucy and that football. There would be Lucy, pleading with Charlie to take one more shot at kicking the football and promising she wasn’t going to mess with him anymore—and always pulling away the ball at the last moment. The Brussels sprouts in this recipe played Lucy to my Charlie. They teased me with their offerings of wellness—especially a compound shown to keep DNA from fragmenting during cell reproduction—but they kept refusing to play nice with every taste companion I threw their way. I was about to walk away for good when an email arrived from a friend who knew about my frustrations. She sent along a picture of a beautiful Brussels sprout stalk in her garden, with the small sprouts dotting the stalk, along with a caption that said, “Please give us another chance! We’ll be good!’ So I said, “Okay. One. Last. Chance.” And whaddya know? I finally achieved success. Roasting was the key, creating a golden-brown, sweet-tasting, crunchy treat.

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