Someone once asked Sister Caroline Sullivan the question: “Do you treat an onion the same way you treat a soul?” She quickly, enthusiastically, replied with a resounding “yes.” Sullivan is on a
passionate mission to assist people in seeing eating as spiritual, resulting in a greater reverence for all of life.
“I believe if we could reverence food and animals with respect, we would start treating people differently,” explains Caroline. “I truly believe this act can bring about peace and change the tides of global warming. It’s all about balance and giving more than you take.”
Caroline, a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa, brings these values to the plate through her work at The Bridge-Between Retreat Center located south east of Green Bay, Wisconsin, a restored turn of the century farm and educational center she founded that stimulates people of all faiths and backgrounds to reflect on their connection to our food system and all of creation.
How can we, in our 24/7 caffeine-pulsating world, get back to the simple basics of eating with intent? How do we rekindle an appreciation for the abundance in our lives? Caroline offers some
tips you can serve up at dinner tonight:
• Dial Up the Awareness
“It is easy to eat a sandwich and never truly taste it,” Caroline comments. “Choose your ingredients carefully. Tenderly cut the lettuce and cheese and be aware of the flavor. Sit down and eat off a plate.” Be forewarned: being conscious of daily meals will spill over into the rest of your life. “When people start eating with awareness, they can’t help but live life differently. They are more conscious, more reflective and more gentle with both themselves and the world
• Eat Around the Pits
Slow down when you eat cherry pie at The Bridge-Between Retreat Center: it’s tradition to leave in the pits. “Not only does this increase the cherry flavor, it forces people to take their time and
eat carefully and consciously,” explains Sullivan. “There are pits in cherry pie just as there are pits in life. Eating slowly helps us make that important connection.”
• Choose Well, Eat Less
“Eating organically doesn’t need to cost more if you eat with intention and awareness,” advises Caroline. “If you truly taste the flavors, you will be fuller. Healthy food feeds both the mind and
• Indulge with Intention
Indulging with intention is different than being greedy. “If life gifts you with a dinner of sticky ribs, then by all means jump in, enjoy and get sticky,” Caroline advises with a smile. “Indulging with intent is a wonderful image for all of life: Either dig in and make a difference or don’t bother.”
• Waste Not
Caroline credits her upbringing in Scotland and England after World War II with gifting her with tenacity to not waste food. “We lived on ration books till 1956, and that’s how I learned the art of doing a lot with a little and making sure no food went to waste,” reminisces Caroline. “I pick everything from the garden and always find a purpose for it, be it for sale, the table, the soup pot or the compost pile.”
The summer season of fresh produce gifts us all with ample opportunity to practice eating with intention. Here’s Caroline’s favorite simple way to relish her daily greens:
Swiss Chard & Beet Top Delight
Cut the stems off a bunch of clean, raw Swiss chard and beet tops. “I like Ruby Red Swiss Chard for the pretty color, “offers Caroline.
Place about six leaves on top of each other, mixing the Swiss chard and beet tops together. Tightly roll up the leaves like a cigar.
Slice very thinly. You will end up with long, thin strands resembling spaghetti.
Put green strands in a bowl and work in olive oil, and salt with your hands. Taste. Adjust seasoning: “This tastes amazing and is best when it is fresh. So try to make enough for just that meal,” suggests Caroline. If you do happen to have leftovers, mix them in a food
processor with, yogurt, garlic and salt for an easy, creamy dressing. These greens also make a nice green bed for potato salad.
The stems can be sautéed with a little olive oil and salt. Serve separately as they have a totally different, yet complimentary, flavor to the greens. Any leftovers toss into a pot of soup. “Life’s banquet table awaits our presence. Let us brake bread and share what we’ve been given,” sums up Caroline.