Cooking as a Mindfulness Practice with Stephanie Hurlburt 🧘🥕

"Cooking provides just the right amount of distraction to calm my mind"

Hey friend,

I am super excited to bring Stephanie Hurlburt here today.

In this interview, she talks about:

  • Her diet motivations 🧆

  • How cooking helps her being in the present moment 🧘

  • Her favorite veggie recipes for when she’s in a hurry 🏃

Let’s meet Stephanie! ☕

Thank you for inviting me!

For work, I'm an entrepreneur in the tech and art spaces.

I operate a small tech business with one other person that focuses on image compression and open-source standards and also sell art I make myself.

For fun, I love planning backpacking treks, cooking, and working around the house. I currently live in rural Pennsylvania.

Do you consider yourself a vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian?

I usually say I'm "mostly vegetarian," but technically would be a pescatarian.

I eat fish occasionally (sometimes rarely), and also love vegan meals, but most of my meals fall into the vegetarian category.

Right now the choice just feels right -- ethically and taste-wise. I don't enjoy the taste of most meat dishes or cooking with meat.

Ethically I don't have a formal thought-out philosophy about it like others do, it's more of an intuitive personal decision that also makes meat less appealing to me.

I love your cooking tweets! Do you cook most of your meals or is it most of a hobby?

I'm always happiest when I'm cooking most or all of my meals!

The feeling of having a few staple dishes ready to go in the fridge that are tasty and homemade is so comforting to me.

But it's also a hobby, I like trying new recipes and techniques and find the act of cooking and baking so therapeutic!

I struggle with meditation, and cooking provides just the right amount of distraction to calm my mind and let me focus on something else for a while.

I tend to grab ready-made meals when I'm in a big rush or when I'm feeling down, but even then trying to carve out *some* time for cooking can be important in getting me to slow down or feel better.

Do you feel that what you eat affects your mood?

Oh definitely!

One thing I've been thinking about lately is how I don't always want to feel energized and light.

For instance, sometimes it can be really important to feel heavy or sleepy or restful for periods.

So I try to eat intuitively and then focus on how that made me feel, and I try not to judge that feeling right away and trust my body and mind.

Kind of in the same vein as accepting all emotions for what they are, allowing myself to fully feel things like sadness or anger, and not trying to be happy all the time.

What is a recipe you make when you’re in a hurry?

Oh, lots of things!

One go-to is a quick pasta -- put the pasta to a bowl and grab a saute pan for literally any vegetables I have around and cook them while the pasta is cooking, and just make sure I have the right seasonings/mix of flavors in there.

For a vegan dish, I like to make sure I have enough garlic, toasted nuts, and lemon juice. And so many vegetables would be lovely along with that.

Another recent discovery is bean salads!

I love these two and often use them as starting points:

Beach bean salad with peppers and white beans

Chickpea salad with herbs, onion and lemon juice

They're so filling and quick to put together!

Kale or cabbage salads are also frequent meals because they also keep so well and I can constantly switch up ingredients.

I'll bring out a big bowl and add whatever vegetables and toppings I have in with kale or cabbage.

I might add to them 🥗:

  • thinly sliced onions

  • carrots

  • tomatoes

  • sliced almonds

  • croutons,

  • white wine vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of salt.

A toast with toppings is also really nice for quick snacks or meals. My favorites are probably avocado toast and toast with radishes:

For the radish toast, I like a creamy base (could be mayo, avocado, cream cheese), thinly sliced radishes, a bit of brightness (lemon juice, vinegar), olive oil, salt, and herbs/spices (red pepper, black pepper, parsley, etc).

What pantry items you can't live without?

I love having almond flour around! I find adding a bit to baked goods in place of some of the wheat flour helps them feel lighter and moister, and I also have been into trying out gluten-free recipes lately.

In general, I like having options for sweeteners and flours -- it makes me feel more creative and also feel like I can bake a wide variety of recipes whenever I'm in the mood.

Lately, I've been into trying to source staples like olive oil, rice, beans, maple syrup, coffee, etc., from small farms that produce quality ingredients, treat people well, and could use the business!

I always welcome suggestions on new small businesses to support. I've been purchasing more online since it's harder to get to a variety of grocery stores and farmer's markets where I'm at now.

Coffee and tea are must-have pantry items! I keep around coffee, a variety of bagged teas, matcha tea, and a turmeric tea blend, and love trying new tea recipes.

I also like stocking up on a variety of alternative milk!

And lastly, I tend to like to keep long-lasting vegetables around, like:

  • onions

  • potatoes

  • winter squash

It's nice to know that even if I haven't grocery shopped in a long time, I can still have fresh vegetables in my meals.


Last question, where can people go to follow what you’re up to?

👉 My main site is where I try to keep all my links!

👉 My Instagram is a relaxed place where I mostly post nature photography and other art projects.

👉 My personal Twitter is a bit more chaotic, and more like what you'd get just hanging out with me 1:1 as a friend.

I hope you felt good learning how we eat can make a positive impact on our well-being.

I loved the idea of cooking as a mindful practice!

Have you ever practiced Mindfulness when cooking? What did you like to learn more from Stephanie?

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Thank you for reading,

Stefanni 👋