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 as 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 end 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 about spices, herbs, cooking techniques and healthy shortcuts that 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 masala dabba comprises of the same colours but the flavour is a whole lot different. 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 how food is more than a sum total of its parts.
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. Generations of grandmas in India have shared their knowledge and comfort with a cuppa haldi doodh (turmeric milk) at bedtime. There are tons more examples of food that can help support our immunity, remove inflammation and boost our mental and physical health. And It’s taken a while but science is finally catching up.
Food can nourish and heal but there’s more. In 2020, I completed a Food & Mood program from Deakin University in Australia on how deeply connected our gut and brain were, and how what we ate fed our body and our brain. Food doesn’t just impact our physical health, it supports our mental wellbeing too.
And that’s not enough. Good food tastes good and is good for us, but it must be also good for the planet.
Over years of going behind-the-scenes at farms and grocery stores and talking with farmers and researchers, I have learned a lot. All the resources, 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. Food is more than sum total of its parts.
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.