When I started eliminating foods, I kept my meals pretty basic, and I got extremely bored of the super simple, not-so-exciting meals I was eating. At the time, I hadn’t the faintest idea how to cook vegetables beyond the steam bags I was buying regularly at the Big Y. I decided that I would embark on a little project to get to know some of the vegetables I had never cooked before. So each time I went to the supermarket, I would try one or two new vegetables to bring back to my kitchen and experiment with for the week. The key here is that I would always buy a couple of each vegetable so I could try different things, fail occasionally, and figure out what I liked best. It was in that little yellow kitchen in my tiny off-campus apartment that I accidentally stumbled upon the act of sacred cooking, and I have never looked back.
Making your kitchen a sacred space is a key part of eating with intention. In fact it was one of the first videos I made for season 1 of Eat with Intention TV because it’s such an important element to a more loving, intentional relationship with food. Your kitchen is where it all begins: it’s where you can create the food that can heal, nourish, and energize. So how do you get into the swing of sacred cooking?
For starters, you want to make your kitchen a positive place for you. Your kitchen doesn’t need to look like a feature in Martha Stewart Living, but if you have messy cabinets or cluttered counters that give you anxiety, then you might need to do some cleaning. What matters most is that when you walk into your kitchen, you are filled with a sense of joy. For me, this means clean counters, cute measuring cups, and a bright white kitchen flooded with daylight. For years, I couldn’t swing the big white kitchen with lots of windows, but I still made my tiny kitchen feel more desirable by keeping it clean and tidy, having fresh flowers on the windowsill, and really appreciating the light that did come in.
The key is to work with what you have! It can be something as simple as buying pretty colored oven mitts and dish towels to extend some of your personality to your kitchen. If your kitchen feels overstocked, cluttered, or off-balance, try a full cabinet and fridge clean-out. After you finish, you will feel lighter in every sense, and it will encourage you to get in the kitchen and make delicious food. By infusing the whole preparation process with love, you will inevitably infuse your food with love. When I cook, I create an experience by giving my full, undivided attention to the process. I set the mood by playing Kundalini mantras or a fun, upbeat playlist, depending on my mood and the day. I get all the ingredients I want to play with, as well as some other unexpected ingredients (in case the inspiration to use them strikes).
I prepare my brightly colored mixing bowls, my decorative whale-motif measuring cups, and my gold anchor spoons, all of which bring their own special fun and energy to the process. And then I just dive in and stay really present with each step. You will never find me talking on the phone, because I refuse to prepare food on autopilot. I promise that if you do this, meal preparation becomes its own meditation. When you’re chopping vegetables, be with the vegetable, stay present for the chopping, and give yourself over to this process. When sautéing, stay there with the spatula in your pan. If other thoughts or worries pop up, just redirect your focus back to the pan, back to the cooking. It’s an entirely new way of preparing food, but it will bring a whole new level of deliciousness to your meals and inner peace. Just the other day, when my assistant was fumbling around my kitchen looking for a snack, I offered her a new dairy-free, soy-free Greek “yogurt” that I was testing with gluten-free granola. She accepted and I watched her peel back the top on the yogurt and stir in the granola. I stopped her.
“You don’t have to eat it out of the container like that. Grab one of the pretty bowls from the cabinet and put the yogurt and granola in there. I also have some nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, and berries in the fridge if you want to get creative with it. Make yourself a nice little bowl.” Can you imagine the difference in the experience of eating that same yogurt and granola snack? Eating yogurt sprinkled with granola out of a tiny plastic container is a mediocre food experience at best, even if you eat it with a lot of love and mindfulness.
Take the little extra effort to put it all in a nice bowl and bring some love and care into making it look beautiful and delicious
—it feels like a different meal to sit down and enjoy. You will feel more nourished and satisfied later. This is why I believe Instagram has done a great service, in some ways, for food. Many people feel unsatisfied with healthy options and uninspired by clean meals because they slop them together without love and care for the presentation. The smoothie bowl trend is the perfect example of this. What once was a greenish-brown liquid to consume before your morning workout has been transformed to a gorgeous bowl with granola, superfood sprinkles, berries, and bananas
—all working harmoniously in an eye-catching design. I love this dressed-up version of the smoothie! The presentation of your food matters, even if you’re making a quick breakfast for one. Take the extra 30 seconds to make it beautiful. I upload a lot of my dishes on Instagram because people love to see what I’m eating; however, I can honestly tell you that meals prepared for myself after a long day of work are the most special to me, and they look just as photogenic as the pictures I post. When you put effort into plating your food, you create an intention of reverence and respect for the food you ingest. It takes you out of the pattern of unconsciously shoveling food into your mouth and brings you back to the present and the sacredness of fueling yourself.