On the Soul of Cooking and How to Love Yourself

 

lanai-view-w-rb-72dpi-crpd

View from my Lanai, Kaneohe, Hawaii

 

The availability of fresh food, the results of processed foods, malnutrition, overweight, diabetes, mental health, eating in a hurry and even the state of the planet are all connected and the daily choices we make create the difference.

The other day, while taking a meal that I had cooked, to a friend, I was listening to The Body Show on Hawaii Public Radio. The guest, Dr. David Hunnicutt explained that people who cook less than half an hour daily are much more likely to suffer from overweight, diabetes, etc. than people who cook an hour or more daily, that the key for health is to eat foods as whole as possible. He emphasized that this does not mean that one has to eat raw foods only (see below), that if we eat primarily processed foods we do not get what we need to nourish our body. That’s why we go for snacks not long after we have eaten. Processed food does not deliver what we need.

If ingredients are listed the food is most likely processed too much and the body cannot utilize the ingredients. This is the reason why many of us eat more than our body can handle while we never get what we really need. What we can’t digest turns into toxins and eventually is stored in the body as poor quality fat.

We are constantly more or less in a state of malnutrition while we crave more and more of that which makes us sick. It is a state of disconnection.

kokua-coop

Local organic produce at Kokua Coop, Honolulu.

How can we get to a state of connectedness with our self and feel what is good for us? Ideally, growing at least some of your own food is the best, second is to buy whole foods, local, organic, primarily vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts etc. (animal products or not is another discussion). Preparing the produce, washing, cutting, learning what spices are good to use, which ones are better than others for the season or your particular state of health or sickness, gets you in touch with the food as with your self.

To learn more about the produce available empowers you. When you shop at the farmers market you can learn how a particular farm grows their produce, what does the farmer look like, healthy, bright eyed, a ready smile? Why are most carrots orange, but recently we see more purple, yellow or white ones? How is it digestible for me? Do red beets taste different the golden ones? The more you know, the better your choices, and the more you handle the food with your hands the better it gets.

Christy cleaning Olena.jpg

Yoga teacher and massage therapist Christy Dawn Souza cleans Olena (turmeric) we just harvested in my garden

Cooking your food is possibly one of the most soulful activities that is available to us. It is like going to church, making music, dancing or meditating. We all eat, most of us at least. Cooking is a way to develop self-love as well as love for others, to cultivate friendships. In these days of deep-seated self-hatred this is an opportunity that we cannot miss out on.

During the 50’s and 60’s it became chic to avoid or speed up the drudgery of cooking, canned food, TV dinners, fast, fast, fast became de-rigueur. I remember it clearly and our popular consciousness developed a dislike for cooking, a brilliant move by the food industry and the ad agencies. Fortunately, this is, ever so slowly, changing. For the upscale gourmet crowd the trend is to seek sensational foods, unusual combinations and presentations, another form of disconnect. Fortunately too, there is a small trend that an authoritarian and sexist culture in the kitchen does not necessarily produce the best food. Unfortunately this hasn’t spread very widely yet. Having worked my self in restaurants for many years, I know that the food I cook with attention and a peaceful heart has a much greater value than when it comes from a kitchen were underpaid workers and yelling chefs fight and go at each other with meat cleavers, which I have experienced

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Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

Why organic? Large-scale industrial agriculture is destroying the soil, bees, etc. Even the UN recognizes that small-scale organic farming is the way to go. Do you really want to put all the pesticides, herbicides into your body?

Organic is so expensive – Medical bills and the destruction of the environment come at a much higher cost.

Studies on happiness and a long life. People who are the happiest and live the longest (Some areas in Okinawa, some people in Sardinia and other places) all have a few things in common, a mostly plant based diet, lots of beans, little meat: they live a vertical lifestyle, get up and down off the floor about 30 times a day (can you get up off the floor without using your hands), climb stairs, live together multigenerational and when they exercise they do something that is fun.

On cravings and intuition. It is important to discern between cravings and intuition. Cravings take you out of balance while intuition gives you truths. Mostly we give in to cravings while we ignore intuition. Be honest and you’ll know.

How to overcome cravings? By eating well, whole foods prepared in the right combinations, with the proper spices eaten in peace and regularly. If your body gets what it needs, cravings and addictions eventually fall by the wayside and you can easily walk by the chips, the extra piece of cake, the food that is just fat, salt and sugar, and you feel better and better and stop violating your vibrant self.

       Oh, you can’t cook? Can you read? You can also come to one of my cooking classes or get some private instruction. I even re-organize your kitchen for the most enjoyable cooking experience.

Cooking for your self does call for a little planning, but most of all it can be one of the best things you can do for your self, your family, friends or even strangers.

Since January 2009 I have studied Yoga and Ayurveda with Myra Lewin and have cooked for her yoga teacher trainings and retreats.

My next small cooking class will be on November 5th, 2016

Sources:

Freedom in Your Relationship with Food: An Everyday Guide, Myra Lewin,
This book is a great entry to ayurvedic cooking and how to establish new habits.
http://www.halepule.com/store/p53/Freedom_in_Your_Relationship_with_Food%3A_An_Everyday_Guide.html
Simple Ayurvedic Recipes, Myra Lewin,
Myra’s second book on Ayurvedic cooking is full of recipes, divided by grains, legumes, vegetables, side dishes and illness recovery foods, with a preface for each section on how to specifically approach cooking beans, etc.
http://www.halepule.com/store/p51/Simple_Ayurvedic_Recipes_%28paperback%29.html
Raw Foods: An Ayurvedic Perspective, Valencia Porter, M.D., M.P.H., FACN
This article includes how different doshas can or can’t handle raw foods: http://www.chopra.com/articles/raw-foods-an-ayurvedic-perspective
Ayurveda Life: Raw Food vs. Ayurveda, Cate Stillman
http://www.prana.com/life/2014/11/17/ayurveda-life-raw-food-vs-ayurveda/
ASPECTS OF AYURVEDA 1- GENERAL – DOSHAS – MILK AND GHEE, dIETER RUNGE
https://dieterrunge.wordpress.com/yogaayurveda/aspects-of-ayurveda-1-general-doshas-milk-and-ghee/
FOOD AND TAKING CARE OF YOUR SELF, AN AYURVEDIC PERSPECTIVE, DIETER RUNGE
https://dieterrunge.wordpress.com/yogaayurveda/food-and-taking-care-of-your-self-an-ayurvedic-perspective/

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