I answer to a lot of different names. I think most people do. I am “Deborah” or “Deb,” “Dr. Bernstein” or “dr deb,” “The Weather Goddess” or “The Weather Bitch,” “Deb the Potter” or “dr deb, potter.” Sometimes, I get “debs pots” or “deb spots.” My favorite is probably “Momma.” Followed closely by “Aunt Deborah,” “Aunt Deb,” or “Aunt Debbie.” When I was in college, a friend’s grandmother referred to me as, “That Little Hippie Girl.”
In some ways, really, I am still the little hippie girl, sitting on the floor at Brandeis in the round room in Pearlman Hall, meditating with one of the Morries and trying to figure out what it means to be “present.” We sat in circles and held hands and listened to each other’s life stories with “awareness.” We rolled oranges around on our faces and tried to “experience” the fruit. Went outside in the Massachusetts winter to try to feel what it was truly like to “be” a rock.
It took a couple of decades before I figured out that my beloved teachers were teaching mindfulness. This realization coincided with the rising popularity of yoga in the culture and of mindfulness in psychology. Psychologists began to do research and discovered that the practice of mindful awareness is an effective tool to treat many types of physical and mental difficulties, and to promote happiness and well-being.
In case you’re not familiar, here is Jon Kabat Zinn’s definition of mindfulness: “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” The key part of this, for me, is intentionality, the choosing of one’s focus of attention. So that means when I am working on the wheel, I am paying attention to the clay and the birthing of a form. When I cook, I am tuning in to the sensory experience-looking, listening, and feeling what I am creating. For example, when I bake, I can usually tell if the cookies or granola are done by smell. Did you know that if you pay attention, sometimes you can tell when food is done cooking (or needs to be stirred or flipped) by listening?
When I eat mindfully, I center myself in the experience of smelling, looking, feeling, and tasting my food. There is so much richness in color and texture! Different parts of the mouth experience different taste sensations. The sensory aspects of eating provide a wonderful opportunity for the cultivation of awareness.
I also often open my consciousness to the origin of food. Was it grown locally; who was part of the harvesting? Did it grow in the earth or was it produced in a factory? If animals were involved, were they treated well? And I pay attention to how the food makes me feel. Does it give me good, pure energy to fuel my body? Or does it give me a stomachache or a headache? Do I feel light yet satisfied or heavy and sluggish?
It was the process of mindful eating that lead me to become interested in experimenting recently with something new for breakfast. One of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Britton published an intriguing recipe on her gorgeous blog, My New Roots. It is a whole grain bread called The Life Changing Loaf of Bread. I tweaked the recipe and it has become my breakfast ritual. I love the oaty, toasty taste and the substantial texture. Bob likes it, too. I usually have one slice with melted cheese and the other toasted, with coconut almond butter or natural peanut butter. It is dense and heavy in a good way, slightly sweet and moist. I feel nourished and well fueled after I eat it (following my 5-7 mile run most days), and I’m not hungry for many hours.
I wanted to post my breakfast bread here on the blog, so I decided to try to get in touch with Sarah and ask for her permission to use the recipe. Even though I tweaked it, she deserves credit, and I wanted to get her blessing. She was very gracious and generous. She told me that people refer to her bread as “LCLOB.” It has a substantial following!!! Go ahead, google it. I’ll wait.
My copycat version of the LCLOB, like me, has quite a few names. Try Sarah’s version and try mine. Let me know how they turn out and what you call them.
Life Altering Loaf
Life Affirming Loaf
Loaf of Life Modification
Bread of Much Fiber
I encourage you to practice mindfulness when you bake and eat this bread. And I will point out that it is vegan and gluten free if made with gf oats. Unlike other bread doughs, this one is delicious raw, in which case it is called Overnight Oats with Grains, Seeds and Dried Fruit.
2 cups rolled oats, I use Bob’s thick cut
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup chopped walnuts or almonds
¼ cup flax meal
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup millet
¼ cup raisins or chopped dates
1 ¾ cups water
salt and sweetener to taste (I use agave or cane sugar)
Let stand 20 minutes, then stir again. Now, let stand overnight.
In the morning, stir once more and preheat the oven to 325°. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan really well. Dump the oat mixture into the loaf and pack it down. Get it really compressed and even.
Bake for 30 minutes. Check to see if it’s firm. If it’s not, bake it a bit more until it is. Then run a knife around the edge and turn it out onto a board. Being careful about burning yourself and about breaking the loaf, turn it over and slide it back into the oven, directly onto the rack. Bake for another 15 minutes until all the surfaces are dry and a little toasty.