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Plant-Based Table - Chef AJ’s Yummy Sauce

I am not a doctor, nurse or dietician. I am dedicated to educating myself and others about nutrition and wellness. This column is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.

Everything starts with a conversation. If you’re like me, you may be talking to yourself but nonetheless… a conversation. These days we’re more likely to have that kind of interaction via email, text orsocial media. Log into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and we can instantly know everybody’s business. No question that technology helps us to connect across time and space, share special events and feel closer to those far away - but is it helping us to communicate WITH each other? I’m not so sure.

Wekeep up with the latest posts, events and milestones. We comment, reply, argue and commiserate – that’s sort of like a conversation – but aren’t we talking AT people rather than engaging in discourse? It’s far too easy to speak our mind and then disconnect when the topic becomes uncomfortable, boring or seemingly unimportant –a bit harder to do that face to face. More importantly, there’s something that conversation requires which is lost in our frenzy of technology.

LISTENING. A conversation isn’t just words. It’s inflection, expression and the pregnant pauses in between. A smile, shoulder squeeze or “I’ve been there” groan are the vital signs that let us know we are heard and understood.

What does this have to do with me, or plant foods, or anything? A lot. I dragged myself into the social media age to support a new career focus. To that end it’s been amazing. Without a computer, I wouldn’t have had access to classes or certifications. Technology lets me share ideas, strategies and inspiration with clients and colleagues all over the globe (did you know there are lots of vegans in Australia?) Plus, it is nice to be able to keep up with friends, family and community events (who knew!) This super-accessible connectivity pushed me outside my comfort zone and challenged me to grow in all sorts of ways. Good stuff.

BUT the thing I learned whichabsolutely, fundamentally changed me, wasn’t high-tech at all. It was LISTENING. I had no idea that this was a skill and not just something we all did naturally. Or that anything so simple could be so impactful. Not just for my clients but for myself. I am suddenly connected with people in a whole new way.Mindfulness is a popular wellness watchword these days, and that’s kind of what we’re talking about here. What does it take to actively listen and why can it be so difficult? NO distractions, absolute focus. Be there, in the moment, completely. Yup, in our crazy non-stop, over-scheduled, text-a-minute world, that’s a tough one! Am I always an active listener with everyone I meet, everyday? No, of course not… but I’m working on it. Listeningis an integral part of wellness for us all as individuals and as a community.And it’s a skill that most of us need to practice.Listening transforms talking into a conversation. Conversations forge connections, build relationships and inspire change. Conversations are the start of everything.

Good News! You don’t need complete focus to make this quick and easy recipe!

Chef AJ’s Yummy Sauce

Chefs AJ's  Yummy Sauce

15 oz can cannellini beans, drained 1/4 cup lemon juice AND zest 2 Tbsp Stoneground Mustard 1 clove Garlic 2-3 Dates, pitted

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Delicious over warm veggies! Consider adding this sauce to your Thanksgiving table -it pairs well with lively conversation.

Claire Brown

Plant-Based Cooking/Lifestyle Coach

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