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It took me a long time to just lean into looking at what I love doing as a form of mindfulness. A quick glance at my bookshelf reveals an almost obsessive interest in self-improvement, spirituality, mindfulness, and meditation. In my intense search for finding the thing that was going to work for me, I found myself fixated on everything I wasn’t doing yet—I was trying too hard.

It’s easy to get lost in making a salad if you let yourself. The prep of washing and sorting lettuce leaves is about as meditative as it gets. Unfortunately, a lot of food media today doesn’t focus on the benefits of spending time preparing good food; it’s all about hacks, shortcuts, and how to get something onto the table with as little effort as possible.

My salads aren’t difficult or time-consuming, but they are designed to be made with intention. What I’m suggesting here isn’t exactly salads as self-care, but also, it is. I’m not saying you’ll have a spiritual experience, but I do hope you’ll be able to focus on each task and let the weight of the day and any other little things in your mind go.

Take a deep breath before you start chopping. Take another look at the spectacular colorful veins of that Swiss chard before you tear it apart. More than anything, acknowledge that you’re making an effort for yourself and maybe someone else and feel good about that.

Excerpted from Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession, by Jess Damuck, published by Abrams. Text © 2022 by Jess Damuck.

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