Off the Mat, On the Menu: Integrating our practice and our diets

by Frances Sheridan Goulart

Novelist E. M. Forster once observed, “The body says what words cannot.” And that body, when properly trained, often speaks louder than words. As Joseph Pilates promised, “In ten sessions [of Pilates], you will see the difference and in thirty, you will have a whole new body.”

What is the key to this transformation? I believe it is integration. One of Pilates’ nine principles, integration is the ability to see and use the body as a comprehensive whole, engaging all of the body’s network of muscles simultaneously.

Similarly, integrating the ingredients of your diet can gradually (but surely) produce a whole new body from the inside. Just as you can rethink the focus when you perform a movement on the mat, you can rethink the focus when going to the market and when coming to the table. If your goal is to build a long, lean, disease-resistant body to last a lifetime (and whose isn’t?), your focus should be on the creation of a powerhouse diet.

Integration starts with selection. “Don’t put anything in your mouth that doesn’t build health,” counseled ’70s heath guru Adele Davis. Every time we open our mouths we need to ask, “Is this slice of orange, this latté or this buffalo wing making me more or less healthy?

And it continues at the store. Our focus every time we shop (and make sure you shop the store’s outer perimeters, where the healthier foods like fresh produce, dairy and other perishables, can be found) should be on that whole, new body. Load up your shopping basket with fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, limit the frozen and/or prepared, ready-to-eat foods. And let the new Mediterranean Diet–influenced Food Guide Pyramid, which advocates more fruits, vegetables and whole grains with moderate amounts of healthy oils like olive and flaxseed and less meat, be your guide.

What, no bacon? Give the saturated fat, calories and cholesterol a rest and experiment with chewy, high-fiber substitutes like seitan (wheat gluten), which has as much protein as a steak, or tofu and tempeh, which are both bean-based and contain fiber, antioxidants and only a fraction of the calories in a burger or hotdog. It’s easy to integrate meatless meats into your meals by simply substituting them for the animal protein in your favorite entrées.

Read on for a seitan-based recipe that is great as a main course, side dish or even a party snack.

Barbecued Seitan
Makes 4–6 servings

Marinade:
½ cup low sodium soy sauce or Braggs Amino Acids Seasoning
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup sake or other dry wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup cold water
Black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Plus:
1 pound seitan strips
6 Portobello mushroom caps
1 large, red bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed and sliced into strips

  1. Whisk all marinade ingredients together and pour into small saucepan. Heat for 5–6 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Cool.
  2. Pour over seitan and mushroom caps.
  3. Marinade for 1 hour (or longer).
  4. Drain marinade. Sear seitan over high heat until caramelized around edges.
  5. Top with chopped green onion and toasted sesame seeds.
  6. Serve over any steamed whole grain such as brown rice, quinoa or kasha if used as an entrée.
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One Response to Off the Mat, On the Menu: Integrating our practice and our diets

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    Off the Mat, On the Menu: Integrating our practice and our diets | The Soap Box

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