A Bowlful of Moroccan Memories

I just spent a very memorable few weeks road tripping around Morocco.

It’s truly a beautiful country from its undulating sand dunes in the Sahara, striking mountains and dramatic gorges studded with Berber villages, and coastlines dotted with sardine fishing boats...

...to its endless groves of olive, pomegranate and orange trees, lush valleys lined with date palms and deep-red kasbahs, and imperial cities with their ancient medinas and ornate riads.

Sunset Camel trek in the sahara desert

Sunset Camel trek in the sahara desert

Local Food Scene
One of my favorite things about traveling is learning about the local food scene, from what’s growing in the fields to what’s cooking in the kitchen. I love talking to locals about what they eat and how they make it (and they love to tell me!).

In Morocco, I was really struck by the simplicity of their breakfast (compared to, say, a green smoothie loaded with a dozen different ingredients).

Numerous Moroccans shared that their typical morning meal consists of tearing pieces off a flat, round, crusty loaf of wheat bread then dipping them in olive oil. This is accompanied by the country’s most beloved beverage, mint tea.

They might also eat bissara, a hearty yet simple soup made with dried fava beans or sometimes green split peas. It’s often topped with a heavy drizzle of olive oil and spices, like cumin, paprika or cayenne.

Bissara was one of my favorite Moroccan dishes. I bought it from a street vendor for around 50 cents. It was deeply nourishing and satisfying.

My first bowl of bissara made by a street vendor in fez.

My first bowl of bissara made by a street vendor in fez.

Soup for Breakfast
I love the idea of a belly-warming soup for breakfast, especially on cold mornings (which occur pretty much year-round in San Francisco!).

While not common in the U.S., many countries eat soup for breakfast, from miso soup in Japan and pho in Vietnam to mohinga in Myanmar.

Eating soup for breakfast is actually something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. I’ve perused recipes, but nothing tempted my early morning taste buds—until now.

Super Simple, Super Healthy
What I love about bissara is that it’s super simple (and dirt cheap) to make—the recipes my Moroccan friends shared contained only three or four ingredients. Plus, it’s packed with healthy protein, fat and fiber, which will keep you going all morning long.

Now that I’ve recovered from my jetlag, I’m going to cook up a big pot this weekend.

I’ve found a variety of bissara (or bessara) recipes online, some more elaborate than others. I’m planning to start with this one. It includes more seasoning than the basic recipes I learned in Morocco, however, I’m a fan of bold flavors.

Not only will bissara be a hearty, healthy start to my day, it will also be a delicious reminder of my time spent in Morocco.

Are Your Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach? Try This...

When I was a kid, my dad frequently told me that my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

This would often happen after Sunday mass at the pancake house when I would faithfully order Pigs in a Blanket—three sausages each wrapped in a fluffy buttermilk pancake topped with powdered sugar, a dollop of butter and a massive flood of syrup. 
    
Dad was right; I could never finish the entire plate. But, man, would I ever try!

These days, I still struggle sometimes with “eyes-bigger-than-my-stomach syndrome.”

While it’s no longer pancakes that tempt me, I can easily overload my plate or return for seconds and thirds when it comes to salmon, broccoli, beans or almond butter. Although these foods might be healthier, eating any food past the point of comfort is an unpleasant experience. 

Stomach Voting Rights
There are many reasons why we overeat, and I have numerous strategies for not doing so. A very simple one is giving your stomach a vote—and truly listening to what it has to say—before taking more food.

I’ve discovered that my mind can be a greedy beast. Wired for survival, it will pretty much always vote “Yes, give me more food!”  

However, if I pause and literally ask my stomach if it wants more, 99.9 percent of the time, it votes “NO.” My stomach doesn’t mess around; it doesn’t play mind games. It knows when it’s had enough. 

Simple, But Not Always Easy
Although simple in theory, this strategy is not always easy to execute.

It requires a willingness to disrupt deeply conditioned behaviors—like eating on autopilot and disembodying from the experience.

It necessitates stopping in the heat of the moment, checking in with your stomach, and truly honoring what it says.

Trust that with commitment and consistency, this practice will become easier over time and the reward of feeling better in your body will be worth your efforts. 

Of course, there will be moments when your mind completely overrules your stomach. No biggie. Drop any self-judgment while remembering that this is not about having a perfect relationship with food and your body, but a more attuned, trusting and peaceful one.

How to Make Up for Eating Too Much Halloween Candy

With bowls and bags of Halloween candy scattered around the office and home, it’s easy to eat way more sugar than you typically would.

For many people, eating episodes like this are considered a “food sin” and often lead to a make-up mentality that sounds something like this:

To make up for this, I will…

  • skip breakfast and lunch tomorrow.
  • work out extra hard all week.
  • not eat sugar for the next 30 days.
  • go on a detox diet for a week.

This penance approach frequently results in a vicious cycle of restricting and overeating. It’s ineffective, exhausting and demoralizing—and terribly unenjoyable.

The key to escaping this cycle is to stop believing you have to make up for your eating decisions—and stop making a fix-it plan.

Instead, when you feel like you’ve committed a “food transgression,” just go on with your life. Instead of feeling guilty and shifting into make-up mentality, resume doing what you always do.

And listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs.

For example, you may wake up and find your appetite is smaller than usual. So eat a smaller breakfast. Or, you may find you’re hungry for your usual breakfast. So have that.

Don't deny or punish your body because you feel you ate too much the day before. Doing so always backfires. 

By avoiding the make-up mentality, you’ll experience a greater sense of ease and peace with food and your body.