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The Kitchen Table by Erin Henninger

posted by Michelle Bell | March 15, 2017

I love food. My husband can attest to this. He has witnessed the look in my eyes when we pass Chipotle or when I’m sitting in front of a giant bowl of Panang Thai Curry. I believe I owe this passion to my father.

My father is Puerto Rican and I grew up eating the most delicious meals made from scratch. From his example, I learned to love the kitchen, the smells, the colors, the heat and the energy created in this space. It is electrifying.

The kitchen table has the ability to bring together the whole family, who may spend most of the day apart, but all gather to this sacred space and celebrate. We indulge ourselves in food that not only fills our stomach, but has the ability to nourish our whole being. We nourish ourselves so we can look, think, feel, act and be our BEST selves. We want to live full, rich lives that are not only long but active, strong and disease-free.

That’s one reason you are a part of the Carlisle Family YMCA, isn’t it? Exercising and becoming fit is a huge part of the life you want to attain. Want to go even further? I challenge you to look at your plate too. This is where your health begins. It’s the most exciting part, if you ask me. Even our “father of medicine,” Hippocrates once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” The gut is not only where food goes as part of digestion; it also sends signals to your brain about the food you’re eating. What you’re consuming is a constant conversation in your body. Modern medicine now understands the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think. They call your gut the “second brain.”

But what does it look like to start this journey towards better health? It could look different to every one of you. Whether it’s purchasing your food from a local CSA farmer and eating seasonally, branching out to try new foods from the grocery store, altering your all-time favorite recipes into healthier versions or adding more nutrient-dense foods into your diet while scaling down on the lesser healthy ones. The options are endless! Just remember: Your journey towards better health is your own! It will not look like your neighbor’s, cousin’s or gym partner’s. You know yourself better than anyone else and you are totally capable of eating your way to a long, healthy, disease-free life.

Looking for a few new recipes to add to your collect? Try out my favorites below:

Vegan Kale Caesar Salad from Oh She Glows

Vegetable Lasagna with Tofu Ricotta Cheese from Vegan Richa

This recipe can be doubled or tripled to serve more people. It is also easily adaptable to your personal preferences such as using whole wheat or gluten free noodles, adding in more veggies (my personal suggestion), or using dairy cheese instead of non-dairy cheese. *I recommend adding about 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the tofu ricotta cheese along with a few dashes of nutmeg and a tablespoon or two of Tahini.

Puerto Rican Rice and Beans from Kitchen Gidget

For a healthier grain option, choose brown rice. My personal favorite is brown Jasmine or brown Basmati rice.

Panang Chicken Curry from Saveur

My husband and I usually substitute any of our favorite vegetables instead of chicken, such as Bok Choi, fresh green beans, bamboo shoots, carrots, onions, and green bell peppers. Don’t skip the cilantro! This is a very adaptable recipe. We don’t usually have kaffir lime leaves on hand so we just omit it from the recipe. For a little nuttier flavor, top each bowl with a splash of sesame oil.

-by Erin Henninger, Welcome Center Supervisor ​