I was hiking through the Malibu hills with my friend Liz a couple weeks ago, and we were chatting about life, passions, and the pursuit of happiness and she said something that stuck with me.
Food isn’t just about the enjoyment we find by making it or just the basic requirement to nourish and fuel our bodies (hopefully with good things). Food is really a vehicle in which we use to enjoy time with the people that we love.
It’s amazing that our innate human selves crave the time to be with other people while we eat. It’s something I grew up with and it’s something that makes me feel comforted and my heart feel so full. Beyond the everyday eating, food really does bring people together. I think of the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. – they are all centered on some kind of traditional spread. We just celebrated my grandfather’s 90th birthday, where over 30 people came together from multiple states to be there for the momentous occasion. And as wonderful as the meal is that you all may share together, it’s really the time you spent with those people that is what really makes those events memorable and meaningful. I genuinely love this time spent with my family, even more than my grandmother’s Huckleberry pie. (Which if you know me, it is in my top 5 favorite things!)
Exhibit A: the pie
Memorable bite, delicious, but replaceable
Exhibit B: the fam
Precious moments, laughs, 4 generations of loveI can also really relate to this in a very different way, having lived on my own for almost a year while my fiancé was deployed in Cuba. Being the foodie and health nut that I am, I enjoyed all the food things that I love, I shopped for what I wanted, I prepped on the weekends so my week nights were easier, and I experimented with different recipes I hadn’t made before, just because I could. It was a fun adventure, living on my own and having the freedom to cook for myself, but I now realize there was always something missing. I would sit down to eat, sometimes in front of my computer or book that I was reading, finish the meal, clean up after the meal, and repeat. I was always distracted because sitting in silence was never something I wanted. And really, unless occasionally I had a visitor or went somewhere for dinner, for the normal day to day, there wasn’t any human-to-human interaction during my mealtimes. And I missed that. It felt empty.
And after all the time alone in the last year, I have become so appreciative of the simple thing to sit down to have dinner with someone I love, almost every day, and to have those conversations and laughs- about the current day, about life, or about tomorrow (aka. the future). And what’s really special, is sometimes being able to enjoy the process of making dinner with my fiancé before we sit down to eat it together. There’s usually a few laughs and knowing me, at least one spill.
One of our favorite things to make is what we call “crock pot taco chicken”. It’s probably the easiest thing I’ve ever made and it’s totally no-fail. Every meal doesn’t have to be fancy, as long as you fill your body with good ingredients.
Organic chicken breast/tenders/thighs (whatever you’ve got!) + 1 jar of your favorite salsa (we like some kind of organic salsa verde or roasted tomatillo) = throw it in a pot and let it cook on Low for 6 hours
That’s it! Then, we like to jazz up our taco bowls or burritos with some fixings:
- Organic brown rice or quinoa
- Organic pinto or black beans
- Cheese (or omit if you’d like/dairy free)
- Sour cream (or use Kite Hill chive spread if you’re dairy free – YUM!)
- Wrap it up in a tortilla (Siete Foods is my fav gluten-free variety)
- A drizzle of hot sauce (if you like a kick)
It’s fun because I can have mine however I want and my fiancé can have his however he wants, and we both end up happy and satisfied. (And we always end up with leftovers, which makes great Tupperware lunches that I can bring to work.) And best of all, we can quickly assemble our bowls/tacos/burritos and get to what’s most important, which is being able to enjoy the time we have to sit down and eat together and enjoy each other’s company during the process.
Happy taco-ing! & I hope you find a little extra time to spend the time with those you love.