Physical Therapy Doctor - July 2019

F O O D F O R A C L E A R M I N D WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM COOKING WITHOUT ALLIUMS

Can you imagine cooking without alliums (garlic), onions, chives, or leeks? In Buddhist temples in Korea, avoiding alliums is something that has been practiced for hundreds of years. Days are filled with prayer, meditation, and meals centered on vegetables and fermented foods — no meat, fish, or alliums. Monks and nuns who

sustain them through the winter. Soy sauce is traditionally fermented in large jars throughout the year and can be aged for 50 years or more to elicit the deep umami flavor that makes temple cuisine so flavorful. Each meal is intended to be fulfilling and nourishing, so residents can focus on their meditation and prayers.

live in these temples cook with intention, to keep a clear mind and a healthy body. As one nun explains, “The food creates the entire human being.”

Several different cultures and religions, including Buddhism and Ayurvedic medicine, have traditionally avoided alliums because the pungent properties in them are believed to distract the mind. Those following a low- FODMAP diet (a diet restricting foods not well absorbed by the small intestine) and those suffering from IBS also opt to cut alliums from their diet to improve digestion. It may be worth avoiding alliums for a day or two and noting how you feel. Maybe, like the nuns and monks in Korea, you’ll find yourself graced with a clear mind and a happy belly.

A typical temple meal might include rice, mushroom fritters, fried potatoes, kimchi,

fermented radishes, marinated tofu, and crispy greens. Despite missing the ingredients so many of us rely on for flavor, anyone who’s tried temple food attests to how aromatic and delicious it is. How is this achieved? They use fermented foods, carefully aged sauces, and fresh ingredients picked straight from the source. Many temples grow their own food and use what’s in season, preserving vegetables and fruits at the end of summer to

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