Make yourself a hot cuppa.
Let’s catch up around my kitchen table.
This is the story so far…
10 years ago, I had a Sunday night routine that I was embarrassed to share. You see, every Sunday, after my kids were in bed, I would clean out the fridge and get organized for the week. I prepared meals every weekend so that despite the exhausting weekly routine we could all eat at home in the evening.
Except that’s not how it turned out.
On Sunday nights, I would take the nourishing, delicious meals that I had prepared for my family the previous week and throw them away. We couldn’t even make the time to sit down and eat the meals I had prepared, because of how gruelling our schedule was. This wasn’t how I was raised, and I remember feeling helpless when I emptied the containers out week after week. I wanted to do better but I couldn’t see a way out.
I learned from a young age that the heart of
the family beats in the kitchen, around the dinner table.
My husband and I moved to Canada 17 years ago. In that time we have moved homes and jobs, relocated from one side of the country to another and back again, and the kids arrived. Good food slowly became more important.
I started writing Maple and Marigold in 2016 as a love letter. Maple represents Canada and our life here, and marigold with its significance in Indian culture represents my roots in India. I started sharing how spices, herbs, cooking techniques and healthy shortcuts add the flavour of India into my daily cooking in Canada.
My kitchen in Canada looks a lot different from my mother’s back home in India. Our spice palette aka the spice box aka masala dabba comprises of the same colours but our life is a whole lot different. That means I am constantly looking for ingredients and shortcuts that help me get amazing food to the table, faster, without sacrificing any of the flavour I remember from my mother’s cooking.
With some experimenting over the years, I’ve recreated traditional dishes like keema matar (ground meat curry) to become a regular weeknight dinner feature, found acorn squash to be an delicious replacement for kaddu, and discovered that turmeric makes an excellent addition to mashed potatoes.
Which brings me to spices.
I believe that food is more than fuel. Food can support our immune system, reduce inflammation and boost our mental health.
Traditional Indian wisdom has tons of advice about foods, herbs and spices in particular. Whole spices bring flavour, aroma and texture but that’s not all.
Certain foods and spices have nutritional qualities that can heal and protect. Turmeric and fennel seeds can be our first line of defense against colds and coughs. Ajwain (Bishop’s weed) is known to soothe a troubled digestive system. There are many more examples like these that can help support our immunity, remove inflammation and boost our mental and physical health. Generations of Indian grandmas have shared their knowledge and comfort with a cuppa haldi doodh (turmeric milk) at bedtime. It’s taken a while and I’m glad the science is finally catching up.
Food can nourish and heal but there’s more. Good food isn’t just about how it impacts our body. It must also be good for those who grow and raise it, for the community and the planet.
Over years of going behind-the-scenes at farms and grocery stores and talking with farmers and researchers to understand Canadian food, I have learned a lot. All the work, time and money that goes into production and distribution and then these shocking facts.
58% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted. A third of that food can be used to feed others.
This statistic took me back to my roots and has helped me focus on what we can do in our kitchen and homes.
In today’s fast paced world of takeout, drive-throughs and meal kits, it is becoming increasingly difficult to connect with what we eat.
I love the convenience of how easily we can feed ourselves a healthy, well-rounded diet, however food is more than just energy.
This journey has helped me understand not only the path our food takes from farm to kitchen table, but has also helped me see how we can, as a family, use our buying habits to vote for change.
Small sustainable steps can have a big impact over time. Many people doing their best within their means can make a difference.
Steps like using cauliflower and broccoli stems in everyday cooking, shopping our pantry to use and cook what we have, and finding out from the grocer why strawberries are available all-year long.
Spoiler Alert: it’s because we, the consumers, keep asking for them in the dead of winter.
I invite you to join this journey so that together we can take small steps towards an abundant, sustainable, enjoyable, REAL life.