It’s 6pm and you’re standing in the kitchen. Your brain is still racing from the hectic work day and your stomach is rumbling. Before you reach for the take-out app or the microwave, stop. There is nothing wrong with the occasional takeaway but if you’re leaning on convenience foods more often than not, let us guide you to a more mindful and enjoyable way to nourish your body.
Cooking and eating on autopilot
We’re all guilty of occasionally viewing meals as something that interrupts our day. You rush from your desk, then make dinner in between answering e-mails and checking your agenda for the following day. Then, when it’s time to eat, it’s tempting to dine with your smartphone close by to catch up on social media, or to finish up things you couldn’t get done at work earlier.
Cook with soul instead
The essence of cooking soulfully is slowing down and taking the time to prepare a delicious and healthy meal. One that will keep your systems running yet still sate and delight you. This is best done by choosing local, seasonal ingredients that are filled with nutrients—like lots of vegetables and/or lean proteins. Is it already feeling a bit daunting? Put down the take-out menu, because we’ve collected an extensive set of easy, healthy and tasty recipes to help you on your way. And remember: It takes time to develop cooking skills and learn from your kitchen successes and mishaps—it’s a process.
Meditate while working your kitchen magic
At Rituals, we’re very aware of the benefits of meditation. But if you think you need to set aside 20 minutes to sit on a pillow and chant a mantra, think again! You can meditate anywhere, including the kitchen. All meditation means, essentially, is to shut out distractions and live in the moment, and cooking is a great way to do this. Let the day’s hectic activities slowly fade from your memory and simply be present. You’ll notice your mind wandering to more restful places, your muscles feeling relaxed and guess what—that’s meditation.
Elevate a daily chore to a soulful ritual
Cooking shouldn’t just be something you do every day to keep you from fainting from hunger. In fact, it can be a treat for all the senses. Rather than going through the motions on autopilot and hurrying towards the end result, take a minute to experience the sights, smells and textures involved in meal preparation. Doesn’t the garlic and onion smell heavenly when it hits the warm olive oil? Listen to that sizzle when you turn the chicken breast over in the pan. Being mindful of these small moments of pleasure adds so much to your daily routine, and is a big part of the soulful kitchen.
From soulful cooking to soulful eating
Once you’ve followed our advice on how to cook with soul, the fun really starts—you get to eat the fruits of your labour! Soulful eating has a lot in common with soulful cooking. They both require you to slow down and reflect on what you’re doing, and they both honour body and soul. Unlike cooking, however, eating is a more passive activity, meaning it’s possible to do many other things at the same time.
But please, don’t do that.
TV off, mind-body connection on
When you sit down to eat, choose your spot carefully. Avoid plopping down on the couch in front of the TV or your laptop. Studies show that when you watch TV while eating, it interrupts the connection between your stomach and brain, meaning your digestive system can’t signal your brain that it’s full. This can cause overeating and weight gain. Instead, sit down at a table and focus on the food. If you find yourself in need of some visual or aural stimulation, light a candle or play some soft music in the background—this will add, not detract, from the overall experience.
Soulful eating with all your senses
Soulful eating is a feast for all the senses. Take slow, deliberate bites and let the flavours you created dance on your tongue. Take time to smell the individual ingredients and how they mingle to form a delicious bouquet. Look at your precise knife cuts and how you cooked your broccoli just right, achieving that beautiful green hue. Realise and appreciate that you’re responsible for all of this, and you’re honouring both body and soul with this daily ritual.
The soulful kitchen is, hands down, the best way to approach how we fuel ourselves. Next time you’re feeling hungry and harried, pause, reflect, and make the choice to master the art of soulful cooking and eating.