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The NOW of Cooking

The NOW of Cooking

I usually have a list when I grocery shop. Most people do. It’s a logical way to keep the pantry stocked. But after I have everything in the cart that is on the list, I actually park the cart (which can become a problem if I forget where I parked it.) and walk the perimeter of the store. There are fewer boxes and better looking food on the outer edges and I can allow my eyes, ears, nose and hands to do the shopping.

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Walking Meditation in the Grocery StoreAs I walk, I pay attention to what thoughts ramble through my head. That chocolate doughnut looks good. Mom gave me doughnuts when I was little. I dunked them in milk. But I feel awful when I eat a lot of sugar. Should I? A lot of empty calories. Probably not.

This is food fear and food addiction talking. There’s no escaping their banter in my head, but if I watch the thoughts and eventually notice how humorous the endless arguments they sport are, the disagreeing gets quieter.

Believing the food fear voice is very unhelpful. Food fear talks to me about micronutrients, heart disease, toxins, weight gain and gets duped by promises on packaging. If I believe that the protein powder will make me more muscular or the bread will make my gut irritated, it just might. Food fear is parental and uses words like should and ought. Food fear is always worried about the future, never in the present.

The food addiction voice seems friendly at first. This chatty Cathy uses phrases laced with emotion. Oh look! M&Ms now come in blue. I used to get M&Ms as a treat when I was a kid. Dad bought them. I’ve had such an exhausting week. I got to have some fun in my life. And so on. Food addiction voice tends to rely on the past and speak more like a child using phrases like oh c’mon, can’t hurt, remember when and I deserve.

The NOW of Cooking - Walking Meditation in the Grocery Store

Truly sustainable food – food that my body needs to function well – doesn’t trigger the fear and addiction thoughts as much. Simple whole foods from nature don’t need fear or justification to get you to buy them. They’re too cool for that. An apple is just an apple. Natural beauty. No advertising required.

Have you ever been walking in the grocery store or farmer’s market and a food silently calls your name? It could be the look, the smell, or even the touch of the food. Wow. Pears. They look gorgeous. When a real food “catches my eye” during a moment of still mind, I know my body is making a request.

I eat a largely vegetarian diet but I do not shun animal protein. Most of the time, I stroll past the meat counter in the grocery store. But once in awhile, maybe once every 4-6 weeks, a steak will stop me dead in my tracks. Why does it look so good to me on that day and not on the other days? I’m not sure. But I know my body is speaking to me. Might be a demand for protein or iron. Doesn’t matter. It is the right food for me at that moment. I’ve had the steak experience with a piece of bright pink salmon, a pebbly avocado, slender almonds, a big brainy-looking snow white cauliflower even. I’ve felt instant attraction to a ruby grapefruit and a translucent piece of halibut. The food wants me. My body wants the food.

And it mostly happens after I have parked my cart somewhere and I am taking my walking meditation in the grocery store. First I watch the food fear and food addiction thoughts, smiling at how insistent and impotent those thoughts truly are. Letting them come. And go. And then, when the mind is quieter, I see who is out there that wants to jump in the cart with me (if we can find it).

Pears are really sashaying their curvy hips at me right now, so here’s a pear recipe that gives them center stage. Try both. The parked cart. The pears.

The NOW of Cooking - Walking Meditation in the Grocery Store


  • ½ cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
  • 2 bosc pears
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon kuzu or arrowroot


  • ½ cup mascarpone
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Combine juice, mirin and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Stir constantly, until crystals dissolve completely, about 2 minutes.

Halve and core the pears. Add fruit to pan, face down, turn heat to a very low simmer, cover and poach until tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove fruit from pan, set aside. Keep the poaching liquid in the pan.

Combine starch with water in a small bowl. Bring poaching liquid to a simmer. Stir starch mixture into poaching liquid, stirring constantly. As soon as mixture thickens and clears, remove from heat.

Mix together mascarpone, sour cream, sweetener and vanilla in a small bowl. To serve, place some sauce and ½ pear on a small plate or in a bowl and put a dollop of mascarpone cream in the hollow of each pear.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Makes 4 servings

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