The Mindful Kitchen, by Heidi Barr: Autumn 2021 Issue

Raise your hand if you have ever been impatient when it comes to seeing results. 

Everyone raises their hands, including me. 

Humans seem wired to strive, to grow, to seek improvement. (Even if we’re not actually wired for this, that’s what our culture teaches us to do. Unpacking that is a column for another day…) When it comes to growth, or perhaps we can say “positive evolution toward wellbeing”, so often the desire is to just get there already. Make the desired changes and be done with it. Yet every human is a unique, continually unfolding, work of art — YOU are a continually unfolding work of art — a life continually coming more fully into itself.  That positive evolution of maintaining optimal wellbeing is a lifelong project. It can feel like the road is entirely uphill and bumpy, but taking one step after another (no matter how small) keeps you moving toward the good stuff. 

You are living a life in progress, and life unfolds one step at a time. 

Note: Cultivating patience and the capacity for sitting with negative emotions makes this more bearable. 

Unsolicited advice isn’t always the most helpful when it comes to creating positive change in your life, but on occasion, having some ideas on how to keep on keepin’ on can be useful. 

1. Practice gratitude: You’ve heard this before, many times. The thing is, it works. Think of something small you’re grateful for right now, and then extend gratitude to yourself for taking the time to reflect. Repeat frequently.

2. Keep moving: Do at least one movement every day that feels good. This can be any activity that gets you up and going, whatever ‘up and going’ looks like for your life situation and ability level. No formal workout routines required.

3. Eat plants: This may seem obvious, but eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential, so it’s worth repeating, even if I’m preaching to the choir. As Michael Pollan said, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Good advice, that. Pick one new plant to try this week. 

4. Stand (or sit) mindfully: Pay attention to your posture. Roll your shoulders back and down. Take a few deep breaths and notice how your body connects to whatever’s supporting it right now. Remember you’re a living, breathing, human animal. 

5. Love the world. This one’s not so simple, right? There’s a lot not to love about the world. Yet, there’s work to be done, and acting from love —of self, of neighbor, of stranger— allows love to take on a body and take another step toward a more beautiful world. 

Practice steps one through five and see how things unfold.

When it comes to eating more plants……

Black Bean Taco Salad


1 can of black beans (or any bean of your choice) 

½ cup cooked quinoa

3-4 cups of greens (chopped lettuce, kale, or chard work well) 

1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced

1 tomato, diced (or use cherry tomatoes, halved) 

1 small zucchini, diced

1 avocado, sliced

½ cup cheddar cheese

Cilantro, chopped


¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup olive oil

2 TB white wine vinegar 

Juice of one whole lime

Garlic salt (to taste) 


Drain and rinse black beans and place in a small saucepan.  Add a few tablespoons of taco seasoning or cumin and chili powder, along with a few tablespoons of water. Heat to desired temperature. 

Prepare quinoa per package instructions.

Place greens in two bowls, and add other ingredients as desired. 

Shake the salad ingredients in a small lidded jar and drizzle on assembled salad. 

Author of 12 Tiny Things, Cold Spring Hallelujah, and Woodland Manitou, Heidi Barr lives in Minnesota with her husband and daughter where they tend a large organic vegetable garden, explore nature and do their best to live simply. She works as a wellness coach, holds a Master’s degree in Faith and Health Ministries, and is the Managing Editor of Wayfarer Magazine. As a mother, spouse, nature lover, and writer, she is committed to cultivating ways of being that are life-giving and sustainable for people, communities, and the planet. Her next poetry collection, Slouching Toward Radiance, is due out in April 2022. Learn more at

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