Cassandra Bodzak is a meditation teacher and wellness mentor who’s also pretty nifty in the kitchen. Late in 2016, Cassandra released a beautiful book called Eat With Intention: Nourishing Food and Meditations for Mindful Eating, which combines food and meditation. This combination of themes sparked my interest, and when my pals at Quarto Publishing asked me if I’d like to review it, I thought it was worth sharing with you. I’ve also been lucky enough to have a quick e-interview with Cassandra, which you can find below the review!
I’m a cookbook collector and proudly own an abundance of brilliant titles. Each filled with glorious recipes that celebrate food in so many different ways – “healthy”, not so “healthy”, or just purely indulgent. There are so many amazing food stories to be shared, and I’m constantly inspired.
Eat With Intention celebrates food (with glorious recipes), but what interested me the most about this book was the way it asks you to really think about how you’re going to enjoy that food. Eat With Intention is as much about our thought processes around food as it is about the meal itself.
This focus on mindfulness and pleasure in eating is thanks to the book’s author Cassandra. After struggling for years with negative body image and restrictive eating – and family illness, which can affect us so deeply – Cassandra found meditation. She learned how to show kindness to herself; and she learned to enjoy food. This new understanding became a deep passion, and transformed her life. She’s gone on to become a meditation and lifestyle expert, and created Eat With Intention TV as well as penning this book.
The first few chapters of Eat With Intention are dedicated toward exploring the mindfulness aspect of eating. Cassandra shares with you a lot of her personal journey in the early pages. I loved this part of the book. Getting to know why someone is doing what they are doing connects you to the message they’re sharing. Reading more about Cassandra, I felt her authenticity and her passion.
After Cassandra has filled you in on her journey, the early chapters of Eat With Intention then turn to tips & tricks for developing your own mindfulness practice. There’s a journalling exercise and ideas for creating a more positive relationship with food. My favourite tip was Cassandra’s suggestion to make your kitchen a ‘sacred space’, a place you want to spend time in. With meditation being of core importance to its author, of course there’s lots of helpful guidance on this especially (including an overview of meditation basics which I also really liked).
Then, you come to the recipes! Eat With Intention includes over 70 plant-based recipes, divided by meal type (brekkies, salads, soups, juices, mains, desserts, etc.) The recipes are relatively uncomplicated and the focus is on using fresh produce, as well as incorporating lots of warming, healing spices. Think turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, coriander. Yum!
Now, unlike any other cookbook I own, each recipe in Eat With Intention is paired with its own unique meditation. Yes really! A targeted, bespoke mantra and practice you can try out each time you try out the recipe. If you’re new to meditation, maybe this is the gentle introduction you’ve been looking for. Go through the ritual of preparing your delicious meal, then sit down and practice the meditation before you dine.
Some of my favourite recipes in the which I’ve bookmarked to try are:
- “Crack Bars” (basically, epic granola bars!) – paired with the mantra, ‘I am taking care of myself‘.
- “Grandma’s Galumpkis” (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls) – paired with, ‘I handle all situations with grace and courage.’
- “Blueberry Basil Juice” – paired with, ‘I savour the sweetness in my life.’
Also pictured in the photo at the top of this article is the chia pudding from the book. It’s spiced with cardamom and paired with ‘My life is a reflection of how sweet I am to myself‘. Lovely!
Cassandra was kind enough to do a little interview with me once she heard I was reading her book. Read on to get to know the author a little better!
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Before you found your passion as a wellness coach & meditation teacher, what were you doing?
I never really intended to become a wellness coach and meditation teacher, I kind of fell into it by simply following what brought me joy. I was an actress in NYC, I had the blog since college and it was really just something I loved to do. I never put any pressure to make money on the blog. It started really growing when I went through my “dark night of the soul”, with everything in my life feeling like it was crashing down, sharing my recipes and wellness tips brought me joy. I leaned on meditation like my life depended on it and it changed my life. I simply wanted to share my journey and help others out of dark times and that’s really how it all began!
2. What and/or when was your “ah ha!” moment, when you knew that this is what you wanted to do? And what steps did you take to build your career?
I received a call from ABC asking me to try out for this show called The Taste. I will never forget when I was chosen for the show running back to greet my parents with tears running down my face. It was shortly after that moment that I really realized that I had a bigger purpose, I had a message to spread.
3. Obviously, food – and building a positive relationship with food – is something that’s very important to you. How has your own relationship with food grown and changed?
I believe that it’s more of the relationship with my body that has changed and influence how I relate to food. When I was in my teens and early 20s, I hated my body, I was trying everything to shrink it and therefore food was the enemy, all of it. I would obsess about calorie counting and eat the most basic meals for days on end.
4. What are some of your favourite parts of your new book Eat With Intention?
Ah, it’s so hard to say because I poured so much love into every part. It’s cheesy but I love it all equally. I love that the first part is a step by step manual for helping woman love their bodies and really tune into their natural intuition and the second part is a fun “oracle” like experience where each recipe has it’s own mantra and meditation so you can really allow your intuition to guide you whether you are asking what’s for dinner or what guidance do I need right now!
5. Where can we find out more about you and the work you do?
You find out more about me on www.CassandraBodzak.com, that’s the epicenter for all I do! If you’re curious about my online, mind-body-soul support community, you can go to Aprecity.com. And of course, stalk my life on social media at Instagram, Facebook or Twitter (@cassandrabodzak), or over on Youtube (@cassandrabodzakTV)
Thanks so much to Cassandra for sharing her thoughts with us, and for a beautiful, inspirational book!