Do you know that even in ancient times the place for food preparation was considered to be the most important part of a house or community? It sometimes seems to me that due to our busy schedules we have forgotten that the kitchen is the place where we should be at peace and feel calm and grateful for the food we are preparing.
I’m not passing any judgment here but if you are upset or nervous because you need to cook, don’t cook. You don’t want to pass that kind of energy to the meal you will serve to your family and yourself.
I get it that finding time to enjoy cooking (and cleaning dishes afterwards) can be a taxing task, but I have one trick. Your kitchen should be the place where you feel at ease, you are content and calm, and most importantly, you feel connected to it. If your current kitchen setup doesn’t make you feel this way, change it! And it doesn’t need to be expensive at all; most of the things in my kitchen are from opportunity stores with second-hand stuff.
The setup I have in my kitchen may not work for you, but I’ll share some things that I consider essential in my kitchen and that make it a place where I love to spend time.
Looking for plant-based recipes? Just like how to make chocolate at home, check out my recipe blog posts.
I love ferments! When you come to think about the process of turning regular ingredients like cabbage or lemons into their fermented versions, it just reminds you how amazing nature and its ways are. It took me a lot of time to master the art of making ferments at home and if you are an enthusiast who wants to give ferments a try, check out my online cooking classes where I talk about ferments and teach you how to make them at home.
Another important part of my kitchen are spices. I just can’t imagine cooking without spices (if you are new to spices, check out my blog on how to use herbs and spices in everyday cooking). There is one part of my pantry shelf where there is no sunlight at all and this is a perfect spot for all my spices, oils and liquid sweeteners. I’m not sure about all the different spices and flavours I have there, but that’s not even important.
What really matters to me is to feel the connection with my kitchen and the ingredients I have there. That’s why I don’t put any labels on my spice jars. It forces my brain and senses to stay awake, and instead of blindly following labels, I rely on the colour, fragrance, and taste of spices. Try it but don’t get frustrated if you find it difficult. It was difficult for me too but very soon your senses will get sharper and you’ll feel this connection of fulfilment and gratitude with the food you prepare.
Besides spices I also always have salt and pepper on tap right next to where I cook. I keep repeating this, but salt and pepper are our building blocks of flavour because they make other ingredients shine by bringing out their flavours. I have a variety of salt in my pantry – pink, Himalayan salt, black salt, charcoal salt – and they all have a different combo of minerals and goodness in them.
Oils are another must-have in my pantry and I usually use olive and coconut oil when I cook and sesame seed oil for sauces and dressings because it adds a wonderful flavour to food. I often get questions about which oil to use in cooking, so I wrote a blog about oils and how to use them in cooking. Happy reading.
The thought I’d like to leave with you is that cooking at home is investment in your health. When you prepare your own food, you are the one in control. You know the quality of the ingredients you use, the amount of salt, oil, sugar, and so on, and you have the opportunity to make a conscious decision about what you want to serve to your body.
I sometimes like to compare yoga and cooking to further explain what a positive attitude and wholefood can do to you. A lot of my friends and beautiful souls who visit us at the retreats said that the first change they felt after starting doing yoga regularly was that they became more aware of their bodies, their muscles, their breathing patterns… They learnt to listen to their bodies, and something similar happens when you surrender to the glory of wholefood. You are more aware of what your body really craves for and what kind of nourishment it needs.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on wholefood and kitchen stuff. Share your wholefood stories with me, let me know what kind of setup you have in your kitchen, what your favourite spot in the kitchen is… I want to know everything!
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With love from my kitchen to yours,
Chef Cynthia Louise xx
Chef Cynthia Louise is an Internationally acclaimed MasterChef, speaker, author, restaurant consultant, teacher and television presenter in wholefood, dairy-free cooking. She also has the worlds first online cooking classes focused on dairy-free plant-based whole foods with recipes that people are raving about and changing people's health, one delicious bite at a time. Chef Cynthia loves nothing more than educating people about the simplicity and vitality of a plant-based, whole foods lifestyle. Each dish is like art on a plate and her flavour combinations nourish the soul and get everyone talking.