Learning to become a healthy, creative and intuitive cook has been an imperative part of my own healing journey. There is nothing more satisfying than preparing meals with love and knowing the food is playing a crucial role in your own healing and wellbeing.
Preparing healthy meals from scratch does not need to be complicated and can be extremely enjoyable and rewarding. Not to mention taste sensational.
Your body will LOVE YOU for it too!
Here are some tips I have compiled to help you become a healthy, creative and intuitive cook!
1. Get friendly with your local organic grocer and farmers market and learn to appreciate where your food comes from. Buy closer to the source by shopping at your local farmers market. Opt for organic and bio dynamic over conventional produce which is typically grown in nutrient devoid soils with pesticides and laden with hormones and antibiotics.
2. Preparation is key, stock up on healthy whole foods. If you have junk food in your pantry, you are likely to want to eat it. It is in our primal nature to gravitate towards calorie dense, sugar and fat laden foods.
Compile a healthy shopping list:
~ Healthy oils to cook with or drizzle on food such an organic, extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil and organic, grass-fed ghee and butter.
~ Good quality unrefined salt such as Celtic or Himalayan salt and Herbamare seasoning
~ Buy up big on fresh, organic vegetables and fruits in all the colours of the rainbow. Enjoy a mixture or raw and cooked vegetables and fruits. Some heat sensitive micronutrients are only available when the food is raw. Other nutrients are more bioavailable in cooked food.
~ Fresh herbs such as turmeric, ginger, coriander, parsley, basil, dill and rosemary add instant flavour, colour and nutrition to meals.
~Garlic, garlic, garlic!! This superfood is amazing for you and tastes sensational. Onion is another wonderful flavour enhancer whether you use raw red onion in salads or stir fry, caramelise red or white onion as part of a meal. Onions and garlic are rich in sulfur which aids in detoxification, so don’t hold back! Garlic is also a potent antimicrobial, for those on a candida diet or parasite cleanse this is a must.
~ Stock up on quality nuts, seeds, legumes and grains of your liking. I use activated sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds currently. Look out for organic quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, almonds, macadamia, walnuts and brazil nuts. A few companies are producing activated nuts and seeds now by soaking and dehydrating them to make them more digestible. The soaking process tricks the nuts, seeds, legumes or grains into releasing phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors residing in their outer shell, that they use as protective mechanisms until the right conditions are present to sprout. Phytic acid binds to important minerals in the gut, chelating them out of the body before they can be absorbed, and enzyme inhibitors disrupt protein digestion by interfering with protein digesting enzymes.
~ If you eat meat buy organic, free range, grass fed meat, poultry, eggs and wild, low mercury seafood. Try kangaroo, a wild, nutritious and sustainable meat. Experiment with steaming, poaching, roasting, slow cooking and grilling.
~ Stock up on an array of dried single and mixed herbs and spices. My favourites are cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, cumin, dill, basil and rosemary and curry powder. There are also some great curry pastes available without any nasties, checkout your local health food store.
~ Condiments and baking aids such as Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut aminos, organic mustard, aluminum free bi-carb soda and vanilla powder.
~ Have flours on hand for baking, coating and thickening such as coconut flour, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, plantain flour and rice flour.
~ Natural sweeteners such as stevia leaf, raw honey, coconut sugar and maple syrup
~ Have some raw, organic sauerkraut on hand to add to your meals for a unique flavour, texture and a hit of probiotics.
3. Learn how to master the basic cooking techniques. Do you know how to steam, poach, boil, stir fry, braise, stew, bake, grill, roast, saute, caramelise, blend, grind, process, grate, shred. Having these skills make it a bit less daunting when faced with a bunch of ingredients and intuitively choosing what to do with them. You can find plenty of instructions on the internet. Or ask a family member or friend to teach you.
5. Google, cookbooks and magazines are your friend. Research healthy recipes on the internet, books and magazines. Using key words such as paleo, raw, primal, gluten free, dairy free, low carb, vegetarian, vegan when searching the internet will really help you find appropriate recipes. For example you want to make a healthy Apple pie. Type into google ‘paleo apple pie’ and you will get some delicious recipes made with almond meal, eggs, apples, cinnamon, coconut oil and ghee for example. If you type in ‘raw apple pie’ you will get recipes using nuts, dates, coconut syrup, honey, apples and lemon.
After testing out many recipes you will become more confident, practice makes perfect.
6. Make a conscious effort to breath, relax and be completely present when preparing food.
7. Set some intentions for the meal you are about to prepare. This food is going to nourish me, heal me, support me emotionally, physically and spiritually. Let your infinite love flow into the meal you are preparing.
8. Mix up different foods, textures, flavours and colours. Try a funky salad with organic greens, activated almonds, sauerkraut, poached fish, toasted nori, hemp seeds, red cabbage, cucumber and an olive oil, tahini and turmeric dressing.
9. Taste the food whilst you cook to suss it out (I do this probably too much!)
10. Don’t be afraid to experiment, let your creativity run wild! They don’t always work out, but you learn from your mistakes, and it is fun.
11. Don’t shy away from using your clean hands when appropriate in the cooking process, this really connect you to the food you are preparing.
12. Get creative with plating your food up. Top meals with pretty garnishes such as herbs, sprouts, toasted coconut, a drizzle of tahini, turmeric and olive oil dressing. Make a rainbow of colours!
13. Dont be afraid of fat! Fat not only makes food taste amazing but is contains essential fatty acids crucial for optimal health and fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K. It also aids in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and minerals from other nutrient sources it accompanies in a meal. I always make sure I have a quality fat source with my meal. Fat is essential for our survival and is important in triggering the hormones that generate a feeling of satiety after consuming a meal. Try adding avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, tahini to a meal or sourcing wild fish, organic grass fed lamb and beef and organic, free range eggs.
14. Have fun! Don’t take the cooking process too seriously, it is ok if things do not go to plan. Quite often things do not go to plan for me but I go with it. Perfection doesn’t exist, so learn to flow with the process.
15. If you haven’t already, discover the world of raw desserts! Trust me, you will never feel the need to go back to conventional sweets made of boring refined flour, sugar and milk EVER!
16. Trust what your body is telling you nourish it with, tune into your intuition. When you feel the hunger rising, what does your body tell you it needs. This will vary from day to day and season to season. In winter your body may crave more warming, cooked, unctuous foods, soup, stews, animal proteins and roasts. In summer your body may crave more raw foods, fruits and smoothies.
I hope these tips will serve you well and help guide you towards unleashing your inner healthy, creative and intuitive cooking goddess! Or god!
Let go of your inhibitions, put your apron on and get into the kitchen people! Be prepared to experience increased vitality, energy, and well being when you tune in and prepare nourishing meals with LOVE!