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.

Do Your Meals Include This…?

During a recent family visit, we reminisced about how my mom would make a heart-shaped meatloaf and individual heart-shaped Jell-O desserts for our Valentine’s Day dinner when we were kids.

While the meal was tasty, what made it the most memorable was the best ingredient of all: love.

When food is prepared with love, it embodies an energetic quality that nourishes us on a much deeper level than food hastily prepared without much care or consideration for those consuming it.

Think about some of your most memorable meals. Were they infused with love?

Cooking for One
Some of my clients declare they don’t like to cook for themselves.

Why bother going to all the trouble? They either pop a frozen dinner into the microwave, order take-out, or dine on cheese and crackers.

When they start cooking for themselves to improve their physical health, they are surprised to discover how their homemade meals also elevate their mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

They hadn’t anticipated how profoundly nourishing it is to slow down and devote time, energy and care toward thoughtfully planning, preparing and consuming their meals.

An Act of Self-Love
Cooking for yourself is an act of self-love. It shows you’re worth the effort.

I love the ritual of selecting ingredients at my local farmers’ market to prepare meals for myself.

While I enjoy cooking for others, I find the experience of crafting my own meals to be very meditative, grounding, therapeutic, pleasurable, empowering, rewarding, and nourishing on every level.

If you currently view cooking for yourself or others as a burden, I encourage you to start adding love into the mix. It truly is the most powerful ingredient you can infuse your food with.

P.S. "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients." –Julia Child

What I'm Tuning Into [Favorite Podcasts]

I’m a podcast junkie. 

I listen to them while I cook, clean, walk, drive and ride the bus. They make washing dishes, folding laundry and sitting in traffic so much more enjoyable.

I love how podcasts enrich my life. They fill my mind with new ideas and different perspectives, inspire me to take a different path, help me better understand myself, make me laugh, cry and ponder, and nourish my soul.

I listen to a variety of podcasts from Fresh Air and Freakonomics to Dear Sugar. Here are a few of my favs in the realms of health and well-being that you may enjoy as well:

Psychology of Eating
Breakthrough coaching sessions with Marc David, one of my teachers and the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Covers topics from cravings and emotional eating to chronic dieting and body image.

Tara Brach
Weekly dharma talks and guided meditations by Tara Brach, a well-known, warm, wise and witty meditation teacher, author and psychologist.

The Splendid Table
An enlightening and entertaining show on all things food, from culture and politics to history and cooking tips. I also enjoy The Sporkful, America’s Test Kitchen Radio and Bon Appetit Foodcast.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Tips on how to make and break habits, and live an overall happier life, from New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin and her sidekick sister. 

On Being
Krista Tippett asks big questions on the meaning of life in her provocative conversations with a range of thought leaders from artists, authors and activists to philosophers, researchers and scientists.

10% Happier
Newsman and author Dan Harris talks with smart people about mindfulness and meditation for fidgety skeptics.

Perhaps one or some of these podcasts will resonate with you, too, and provide some good company on your next summer road trip.

Happy Listening!