Within the last year or so, I’ve become a huge fan of making fruit salads. It all started when urbndervish came home with this one-meal-a-day idea. I was admittedly skeptical in the beginning. Especially since I felt comfortable with how our diet regimen evolved up to that point. We initially ate three meals a day but after a class on spiritual purification highlighted the importance of fasting and meal frequency- we reflected and realized that eating three meals was more food than we needed to consume in a 24-hour period. It made a lot of sense to “down-size” to two daily meals because sometimes we didn’t even have a much of an appetite for dinner at the end of the day. On a typical weekday morning, we would have a bowl of granola with soymilk (warm, not cold) and peanut butter. Peanut butter? Yes, peanut butter. You mean on bread? No, by the spoonful. Are you crazy? Maybe. Then our dinner would be some combination of a protein (beans or soy), veggies, and whole grains.
Other shifts in our diet took place gradually over a period of about three years. We drifted from a lot of product-consumption to produce-consumption; broke my “sweet-tooth” habit of having dessert after dinner every night; bought as much food in bulk (without packaging and wrapping) as possible; and incorporating more seasonal fresh fruits and raw veggies into our diet. On another level, we cut down how often we would dine out at restaurants and tried to be content with simple, homemade foods- realizing that food is a means but not the end. Fortunately, these changes helped us to transition to how we would eat in Yemen so smoothly, as our diet here is very similar (minus the soy, of course).
Why was eating one-meal a day thing so difficult for me in the beginning? Well, on weekends, we would have some “throw down” brunches like whole grain pancakes, tofu scramble, roasted rosemary potatoes, “tofishy” fillets with vegan tartar sauce, banana French toast…you get the picture? And I sooo looked forward to those weekend mornings where we weren’t too busy, so I could enjoy the process of cooking and then sit with my family sharing what I cooked- as an offering of love and healing. That’s what I consider “soul food” to be. Not just food that entertains your palate and is addictively satiating- but a meal that allows you to embrace the true taste of food, not its oppressed over-cooked, over-seasoned state; so you can taste the ne’mah (bounty) that it is from the Most High.
Additionally, “soul food” should feel good to your body- leaving you satiated but not “bogged-down”, “backed-up” or lethargic. The food should give you energy, not take your energy, and all of this is not only connected to the foods you eat, how you prepare them, etc. but also the intention you have when preparing the food, the intention the farmer had when he or she planted and sowed that food, etc. The intention you receive food with also has an impact on how it satisfies you or tastes or how you enjoy it. If you eat a meal amongst a buffet of choices just because you experience this feeling called hunger and your tummy is growling, then the way you experience eating will be markedly different from one who connects this food to its Creator, is thankful to the Creator and the hands that the Creator used to bring it to you, and you know that this food is a means by which this distracting (though necessary) experience of hunger can be lifted, and your mind, body, and soul can be refueled to do the real work to be done in life. Food will enter our body and exit our body- fact remains that your purpose still needs to be lived whether you loved a meal, liked a meal, or would’ve preferred another meal. Don’t give food something that it doesn’t have- POWER. The power to control your feelings, your emotions, how you treat people, how you treat your waiter or waitress, your gratitude or ingratitude to its preparers, etc. Unless a meal leaves a horribly disgusting taste in your mouth or causes you to become ill, don’t let it ruin your day or your dinner date. Back to the fruit salad…
I had difficulty expressing what my hang-ups were about not having that weekend brunch together because the emotions surrounding my preparing the meal and consuming the meal with my family were so intertwined with the food, as if the food gave me all of those warm feelings in it of itself. Urbndervish told me “Well, we can have those same foods for dinner sometimes” and I reluctantly said “Yeah…but…it’s not the same”. So, he assured me that we can have our fruits for the day at that time and I decided I would try eating one-meal-a-day with him, as he was experimenting with the idea initially.
On our first weekend of eating one meal a day, I channeled my “throw-down” brunch energy into “throw-down” fruit salad energy and this really helped me to transition. I would chop fresh fruits, sprinkle coconut, cinnamon, almonds or walnuts, etc. and found that I enjoyed it just as much and I felt lighter after consuming it, which made me look all the more forward to the heartiness of our evening meal. This also made getting in our fruits for the day easier, so for dinner we could just focus on a big green salad, our protein, veggies, and grains. Most of the time, I’m so satisfied with this meal that I don’t even want dessert.
Whether you enjoy a fruit salad before a meal or as your meal, keep in mind that all fruits don’t combine well (no matter how cute or artistic it looks when you prepare it!). As a rule of thumb- acidic fruits (like oranges, grapefruits, etc.) should be eaten alone. Or you can try different combinations at see what works for you. If you don’t mind that some combinations may leave you feeling bloated or gassy, than do it up! Also, it’s also recommended to not eat fruits too close to a cooked meal or immediately following a cooked meal, but again it’s your call. Don’t let too many rules about how to eat detract you from eating the healthy foods you should be eating. To your health!