My Cooking Story…
If you had suggested to me just 2 years ago that I would be writing a blog on healthy cooking I really would have laughed out loud. I absolutely hated cooking!!!
Always have done, since the age when I had to start cooking for myself and my little family I really couldn’t be doing with it at all. Which is probably a surprise to anyone who knows my lovely Mum who is such an amazing cook and always takes such joy in producing delicious meals for us to devour. But for me it was always a chore, I never had enough time, I wasn’t very good at it and I hate following cook books.
But I have always enjoyed eating!
And then my partner was diagnosed with Graves Disease. This is an autoimmune disease that attacks the Thyroid gland, causing the body’s metabolism to go into high gear, producing the pounding heart, sweating, trembling, and weight loss typically experienced by hyperthyroid people. Along with this comes impatience, anger, mood swings, etc. My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered with this or anyone who has had to look after a partner or loved one with this disease. My partner went from the gentle giant that I fell in love with to a very angry person (putting it mildly). I felt that he was hugely unsupported by the doctors who just wanted to prescribe pills and did not want to offer any other advice on how to manage his condition.
So I started to research, and found out quickly that cutting stimulants from the diet would really help, along with a healthy diet and gentle exercise. I couldn’t quite get him into my meditation classes, which is a shame as it would have helped him immensely. Around this time I was given a book on the health and healing benefits of green smoothies, I started to play around with smoothie recipes and so my learning journey began.
In the summer of 2011, I went to apprentice/study with my yoga teacher Godfrey Devereux in France. One of my duties was ‘chef assistant’ where I would basically assist the head chef in producing the delicious meals for the students staying at Windfire Yoga Retreat.
For some reason I really began to take an interest in the cooking. Perhaps it was because I was very much enjoying the food that we were making, or because we had the time to do it, or maybe because the way of cooking was wonderfully spontaneous, or perhaps because everyone loved the meals that we were making. I was lucky enough to have the chance to support some amazing chefs, but one of those chefs really took me under her wing. I think that she was getting just as much of a buzz out of teaching me as I was in learning.
The food cooked at the retreat is loosely based around the Macrobiotic way of eating, and so after reading a number of books on the subject it became clear to me that this sort of diet was incredibly good at supporting the body in healing itself. As a teacher of the Dynamic Yoga Method this really resonated with me. Within this type of yoga we are promoting total recalibration of the body through sensitive, gentle movements and postures – inviting the body to heal itself by recognising and giving authority to the intelligence within. It is probably the combination of sensitive, nourishing yoga practice along with healthy nurturing food that would always result in me feeling so amazing and relaxed after my times at the retreat.
One of the things that struck a chord in me was learning that eating whole grains (quinoa, millet, brown rice, etc) promoted calmness in the body and mind and so as soon as I returned home I began to use this way of cooking for my family in the hope that it could help my partner’s condition.
Oh if only it had been that easy – he really didn’t like it! I remember him telling me that he would not eat this budgey food when I returned home from the supermarket with some quinoa and a bag of adzuki beans! But I was not going to give up, if he didn’t like the taste I would just have to make it taste better. I started cooking macrobiotic style meals and included the things he liked too just incase the good stuff wasn’t what he liked. Sometimes I was almost cooking two separate meals to keep him happy and open to this new diet. As I became better and better at producing more delicious meals he began to eat a little more of the healthy stuff and less of the not so healthy. I even got him off sugar and caffeine for a while.
I read more books, went to a few workshops on healing eating and attended an introductory macrobiotic course with an inspirational and knowledgable teacher.
Anyway, the next summer when I arrived at Windfire Yoga Retreat, to my horror, I was told that I would be made head chef!!!! As you can imagine I was totally freaked out, I was used to cooking meals for 3 people, cooking for 36 hungry students was a whole different ball game. But I was told that I would be supported for as long as I needed and then given an apron.
And it turns out, being pushed way out of your comfort zone is actually an amazing thing. I flourished!
Not only was I cooking for all these people, but they were absolutely loving the food. It was such a pleasure to actually hear appreciation for what I was creating. This fuelled my eagerness to provide more delicious, varied and balanced meals.
And if I can do it – anyone can. I am untrained, uncertified, unqualified – I am self taught (with a little guidance and love from others) I am not a macrobiotic-ist, or a vegan, or a this or a that. I have never enjoyed being told what is right or wrong in someone else’s opinion. I like to take inspiration from anything that feels good for me. I do love the macrobiotic way of eating, my body feels good when I eat like this, but I also like raw food, green smoothies, my mum’s fish pie. Im rubbish at planning, I love spontaneity and trying new things. I listen to my tongue, I pay attention to my stomach, I am open to hearing, learning (and sharing) new ideas and theories. Every meal that I make is perfect, even the ones that don’t work because they are also the ones that are helping me to learn.
So here is my blog. I hope that you enjoy it, if I can inspire just a couple of people to enjoy cooking and eating more healthily then it has all been worth it.