Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Body Is a Temple, or Is the Temple My Mind?

Paris Park © Claudia Meyer

I've often heard it said in various religious contexts that the body is a temple.  Many Buddhists seem to come back with the more ascetic Buddhist beliefs that the body is nothing and that the temple is the mind.  I can't disagree, but unless your body is in halfway decent condition, you won't be able to pursue religious or spiritual activities.  As a result, I think that both the body and the mind are part of the "temple", and it's equally important to nourish both.  Also, I think cooking can be a spiritual activity if you cook something that is good for you.

These realizations have led me to understand that I need to give up heavily processed foods.  Many of them don't have much nutritional value and are filled with chemicals.  I recently lost about 15 pounds by giving up processed foods, but it wasn't easy.  I had to constantly remind myself, and I did it by going cold turkey.

There are a few things that happen when you eat fewer processed foods:
  • You consume less sodium.
  • You consume more vitamins and minerals.
  • You rarely eat out of boredom because in order to eat, you must cook or prepare the food.
  • You begin to crave healthier options.
  • If you go back to processed foods, they don't taste nearly as good as you imagined.

My worst vice of all foods was Cheez-It crackers.  My favorite variety was the Tabasco flavor.  Cheez-It crackers are addictive and hard to give up, but I was concerned because they have a lot of preservatives and I don't have much faith that the product is healthy.  So I ventured onto Google to search for a recipe to make baked cheese snack crackers, similar to Cheez-Its, at home.  Thankfully, I found The Thin Chef's recipe and adapted it to my purposes.  My version is nice and spicy, but leave out the cayenne if you want something less spicy.  Here is my recipe:

Lola's Homemade Cheese Snack Crackers à la Cheez-It
makes about 3 cups of crackers

1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons salted butter, cold and cut into pieces
7 ounces of grated sharp cheddar cheese
a pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepperman All-Purpose Seasoning Blend (Organic)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
a dash of paprika
a few tablespoons of water

  1. Combine all ingredients, except water, and process with a food processor until you have small crumbs.  Add a little bit of water and continue to process.
  2. Transfer dough to a bowl and form into a circle.  I floured my hands to avoid sticking.  If the dough is still too crumbly, add a little more water.  The final circle of dough should be very moist and easily stay together. 
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes, then place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  The dough should be very cold, as this will make cutting and transferring to a pan easier.
  4. Remove dough from freezer, unwrap.  Place it between two sheets of wax paper and use a rolling pin to get the dough to about 1/8 inch thick.  Mine ultimately ended up a little thicker, which gives the finished crackers a softer and flakier texture, which I love.  If you want crispier crackers, definitely try to get the dough down to 1/8 inch thick.
  5. Remove one sheet of wax paper and use a pizza cutter to cut dough into 1/2 inch squares.
  6. Use a spatula to transfer the squares to an ungreased glass pan and bake at 350º F for about 22-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of your dough.
  7. When crackers are crispy and golden, remove from oven and allow to cool.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  8. Try variations on the flavors by adding different spices and liquids.  My next adventure is going to be chili garlic lime pseudo Cheez-Its that I will make with smoked Gouda cheese.

Yum!  Sorry, but I did not take pictures yet.  The crackers are a beautiful golden orange, are salty and spicy and crunchy and flaky.  They are more delicious than store bought and definitely healthier.  I won't make these frequently because they are high in salt and fat, but they are a great source of calcium.  I will eat these in moderation.  Yay!  Another person made these.  The Loerzels made crackers and wrote about their adventures here.  Please go visit!

Ultimately, I've decided that moderation is the key to happiness and that both my body and mind are temples.  Now that I've given up processed Cheez-Its, my body is going to be even more of a temple.  What's your favorite recipe to nourish both the mind and the body?

Posted as part of Best Posts of the WeekPink Saturday, Saturday SwaggerShow and Share Day, Tootsie's Woot Woot Wednesdays and Weekend Wander.


Rob-bear said...

An interesting recipe, at which I'll look more closely.
And yes, the body as a temple of the divine is an interesting image — the fullness of which many do not appreciate.
Thanks for your note.

Michele said...

i love your photo and appreciate your reflections. we do need to treat our bodies better. happy pink saturday. xo

Miss Footloose said...

Having lived in different foreign countries most of my adult life I have learned to cook from scratch and did it also when I lived in the US.

I agree with you totally about the processed food issue. Cooking or preparing fresh food is more work sometimes but it is absolutely worth it in terms of flavor and nutrition. I eat nuts and (dried)fruit for snacks. Easy.

No doubt your crackers are delicious. I have a very similar recipe. Making them with whole wheat flour makes them more nutritious, and I use whole wheat flour in almost everything. Pumpkin bread, banana bread, pancakes, waffles -- it works and tastes great.

Good luck with your temple ;)

Pearl said...

What a lovely post! As a regular yoga practictioner and part-time meditation enthusiast, my temple is much better off now than it was just a few years ago.

As for processed foods, my mother wouldn't heard of such a thing, and so the only time I crave these things are when I'm hungover, which surprisingly doesn't happen as often as it used to. :-)


Arti said...

The body is indeed a temple as per Hinduism too as God resides in each one of us... That is why it is of utmost importance that we keep this Temple clean, its Gods Home...
Lovely post, have a fabulous weekend:)

Marie Loerzel said...

I like the whole idea of making crackers but I really don't think I have the patience because my 4 kids would want to "help" me make them.

Sebab said...

Taking care of the body first and it will take care of the mind eventually! Good concept.
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Ani said...

Wow, thank you all for your interesting and helpful comments. I love them.

@Rob-Bear, Michele- Isn't that the truth? I think if people did appreciate it, we wouldn't have a lot of the problems that we have.

@Pearl, Sailor- I think it's something we always have to be mindful of.

@ Miss Footloose- That is great advice! I will use wheat flour when I make the garlic cilantro lime ones. My lime tree is starting to develop a lot of limes, so as soon as they're ready....

@The Loerzels- Lol. I don't have any "helpers", except my mother, who is very childlike. I made these while she was napping.

@Arti- The body as the temple of God is an interesting concept. I was just reading an article about the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. In my mind, they are pretty compatible. I often attend the local Hindu temple with a friend of mine. But the article was saying that some forms of Buddhism are really more agnostic and don't have a concept of God being within a person or even existing. I would say Mahayana Buddhism is a little more similar to Hinduism. These different views are interesting to explore.

Marie Loerzel said...

Sweet jesus I wish my kids napped!

Colin Patrick Photography said...

Good work and congratulations on making a wise lifestyle change. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes are all linked to the Western Diet. I have been an active athlete for quite sometime and grew up in a house that did not allow sweets, regularly. I have always watched what I ate and have conscious about my consumption choices. America is heading in the wrong direction and it is up to us to promote and talk about the benefits of eating pure.

I have recently adopted a system of eating and living called the Paleo Diet.

Please keep spreading the word concerning healthy diets and I wish you the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Many Buddhists seem to come back with the more ascetic Buddhist beliefs that the body is nothing and that the temple is the mind.

I am not sure what Buddhists you're referring to. The general teaching regarding mind/body is the Five Aggregates. Neither the mind nor the body is the definitive "source". They exist as a collection of aggregates that exist solely in relation to one another and cannot stand on their own.

That said, Zen priests will tell you that if you discipline the body first, it will discipline the mind (not the other way around):