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By Marlien Wright | 9 Jan, 2023

How did people effortlessly manage their weight and stay healthy in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s? I know how… it was a combination of unprocessed home cooked meals, no fast food, more daily movement, less refined flour and sugary foods, and less stress. 

The key to create an easy, budget-friendly and sustainable home-cooking practice for your best (gut) health lies within the small habitual shifts and home tasks we can embrace in a meaningful, and purposeful way.

I love Michael Pollan suggestion on returning to ‘slow’ home cooked meals (from scratch and with a emphasis on carefully sourced ingredients) to recover and return to our best health. In addition he makes this clever suggestion: if you crave fries, or cake etc; then cook it yourself from scratch. This will radically reduce your fast/ processed food intake, and that way you will keep it clean too. 

Below are 3 x habits to implement for creating healthy home cooked meals, stay within budget and time friendly:

  1. Redefining the work within our homes…

The first shift and habit is setting your intention for the week to serve yourself and your loved ones in a loving way. The service (work) we do in our kitchen is an endless practice to expand as a human and to fill others (and ourselves) with contentment and purpose. Put simply; ‘to feel good’, we must consistently ‘do good’.  But first, we should distinguish between work that causes stress, and those tasks that can seem like work, but at closer inspection are labors of love (or service) that can help us offload some stress and nourish us physiologically and emotionally.

For example, work that has deadlines, involves meetings, managing people, or simply being imprisoned by a computer, can easily become burdensome and stressful. Whereas work within our home environment should be approached as an opportunity to de-stress, as well as strengthen our connection with our loved ones, and our homely havens.

The Italian phrase “dolce far niente” directly translated means ‘the art, or sweetness of doing nothing’ but in fact refers to work that ‘feels like doing nothing’. Work that is dedicated to our health and homely happiness can be redefined to become a ‘sweet practice and joyful work’. We are wired for connection. Love and its labours lights us up and energizes us. I am proposing a fresh approach to the ‘work’ within our homes, and more specifically in this book, in our kitchen’s, to shift it from schlep – to a soothing-serenity practice that is an extension of love.  

You don’t need any special skills or tools to become an home cooking kitchen ninja, in fact, you are already fully equipped. All that is required is a spark of awareness & intentionality to harness a home cooking practice.

Pre-planning and purchasing ingredients are key. To begin planning your new kitchen practice, consider purchasing a notebook/ journal for your kitchen goals and scribblings, or install a blackboard or cork-board in your kitchen to lay down your kitchen’s weekly menu’s and ingredient lists, or even just noting down a podcast you want to listen to in the kitchen, or some inspiring quotes. Spending 1 hour a week planning your menu and ordering ingredients is very important, leaving it to ‘day to day purchasing and supper planning’ is bound to become chaotic and stressful.

3. Choose easy one pot/ one tray recipes: The key to our success in creating our own transformative home cooking (from scratch) kitchen practice is easy recipes that are nourishing and delicious. In addition to the recipes being simple, ordering a weekly veggie box can be really cost effective and helpful. this will enable you to eat seasonally, challenge you to incorporate a wider spectrum of vegetables into your week. This in and of itself is a huge win for your health as our gut garden’s (microbiome) needs a wide variety of vegetables in order to thrive – when it comes to gut health diversity is key!

The bee’s knee’s buckwheat salad.

Below I have set out a weekly nutritionally balanced supper menu to kick-off your therapeutic and health promoting kitchen practice, featuring simple and delicious recipes from my two cookbooks. They are ‘budget- and time saving’ friendly, as well as good-gut-health promoting. My kids like them too, so I guess we can go ahead and check the family friendly box too.

  • Mondays: Mushroom bolognaise served with a simple salad
  • Tuesday: Roasted veg-salad & steak
  • Wednesday: Carb-free bacon & Spinach tart (quiche) with a lentil or quinoa salad
  • Thursday: Retreat vegetable & bean chilli (vegan)
  • Friday Miso, Broccoli & Sesame Chicken & Brown rice
  • Saturday: Mandarin chicken & vegetable stir-fry
  • Sunday: Roast Chicken & vegetable tray

For fabulous plant-based meal options visit Kitchen Stories

Lunches can be big-batch vegetable soups or simple salads that are filling and can be made upfront such as the Lovely Lentil Salad, Quinoa Tabouleh and Happy Gut Salad – all from The Mandala Kitchen

Breakfast can be super simple too; Overnight oats served with berries or a egg and spinach scramble with avocado, and perhaps a slice of good sourdough – recipes available from my book The Yoga Kitchen.

All of the above meal options are one pot / pan/ tray wonders and requires at most 3-40min in your kitchen. With a bit of upfront planning and prepping on a Sunday to get ingredients, it should become quite effortless once you are in the habitual rhythm of this way of cooking.

Below the recipe for my The Bee’s Knee’s Buckwheat Salad featured in this post:

Buckwheat is a pseudo grain, and although it has the word wheat in it, it is in fact gluten free. In addition, it is also a rich source of plant-based protein. This salad is the bee’s knees and everyone who has a helping of it wants a second.

  • 1 cup of uncooked buckwheat
  • 1 ½ cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt for cooking water
  • 2 carrots, peeled, quartered, and then dice thinly
  • 2 spring onions, sliced finely
  • 10 Medjool dates, de-pipped and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small clove of garlic, grated finely
  • ¼ cup of finely chopped coriander
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Combine the water, 1 teaspoon of salt and buckwheat in a pot and bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow a further 12 minutes of cooking. Take it off the heat and let it sit with the lid on for 2 more minutes, then drain any excess water. 

Prep the carrots and spring onions and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the cooked, drained and slightly cooled buckwheat with the carrots, spring onions, coriander, grated garlic, cumin, olive oil, dates, vinegar, and salt to taste. Stir though well and allow to cool at room temperature and then serve.

I wish you many harmonious hours ahead in your kitchen, creating nourishing meals and meaningful moments with your loved ones.

Marlien 

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