11 food commandments for the mindful you

I started cooking after marriage, and it has been almost nine years in the making. Every year, I try to cook healthier food, however, there’s a big scope of improvement here. In the coming year, that is, 2020, I want to eat healthy, not just cook healthy. That is my most-needed food commandment. Feeding the family has been a priority, but I need to take care of my diet first, as only then can I do the rest of my tasks well.

Coming to the topic, I really want to inspire you to think wisely before taking in any food trends. We are what we eat; let’s not go overboard with that ice-cream tub or those tid-bit packets. Here are some food ideas you can ponder on.

1. Drink well

Be it water, cinnamon water, apple cider vinegar water or just a shot glass of lemon water, our main source of oxygen comes from water. And I’m taking about water stored in earthen or steel tumblers, not the plastic bottles stored in the fridge. Also, you want to sit and sip your water.

2. Include raw food

Whether it is your breakfast or lunch, make sure you have some raw food in form of salad, vegetable juice, sprouts, etc, in your day diet. This will round up your overall diet with oxidants, nutrients, and fibre—all must-have to deal with your gut health.

3. Soak/Ferment before you sleep

It’s always a better idea to soak your legumes/pulses in the night to have them cook in the morning. This will act like an add-on to the goodness of your food. Furthermore, my mother always suggests me to soak nuts and dried fruits. Be it almonds, walnuts, raisins—soak ahead in time. A handful of nuts are enough for your health. Whenever I tend to have a lack of iron on some days, I have half a cup of strained jaggery water and feel more strength in my overall emotional and physical health. Before going to bed, you can set your curd too. Homemade curd, especially set in glass containers, is better for you, instead of those plastic tubs of store-made ones.

4. Mind the condiments

Herbs like mint and coriander leaves, spices like black pepper and cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, lemon and tamarind—all these things add more flavours to your food and make it healthier too. Don’t just treat them as something to garnish with. These will keep vitamin C and other nutrients in check that will help you fight infections.

5. Make junk food at home

One of the food rules I follow is to make my favourite junk food at home. Whether it is Pani Puri, noodles, pizzas, or masala Dosa, at home, I can assure the ingredients are properly washed and safe to eat. The sodium, grains, etc. can be checked at home unlike the street stalls.

6. Invest on good quality food

Be it your chocolate, dates, noodles, artisanal bread, sauces, seeds or basic, organic food—never compromise with the quality. Buy something that has no preservatives or chemicals, and that will again benefit your health when compared to commercially available food items.

7. Share your food

When you feed your helper at home and your neighbours, you are seldom left with leftovers in the fridge. And this will encourage you to eat fresh. Don’t wait for the food to go stale to distribute it. I see that some people to respect the food that they make, store every bit of it in the fridge and have it till it changes colour. And when it is not at all edible, they plan to throw it or give it to the poor. My mom highly discourages it. When you’re done eating, try to distribute the food within two-three hours, so that your next meal is freshly made.

8. Less oil, sodium, sugar!

Some people like to sprinkle black salt or normal table salt on their salads, curd dishes, and whatnot. Instead, add salt while you cook the food. Try substitutes like lemon juice or natural vinegars. Same rule goes for oil and sugar. Cook with less oil; you can add a few teaspoons of water to cook faster. Lastly, go easy on sugar. This will keep you alert and make you a mindful eater.

9. Switch grains

Relying on only wheat flour the entire week is a dull idea for sure. Explore more grains. Bring in jowar, bajra, rice varieties and more. Your piping hot and soft wheat phulkas are full of gluten, so why not go gluten-free for a day? Plus, if you eat these, your kids will start appreciating these too. For example, Bajra roti is not easy to chew, but with time, you start enjoying these hard rotis. And when your kid sees this, he or she will learn to appreciate it too.

10. Check on the pantry and fridge

My mother always says there’s no point in eating spoiled. Keep a tab on what might go bad in the next few days and consume it at the earliest, be it your veggies or flours. You can’t be keeping it for days altogether. Everything in the kitchen has an expiry date.

11. Shop local

When I visit the grocery bus in my condominium, I always end up picking more seasonal fruits and vegetables. I get ideas right there (plus some old and new recipes) and I might also feel like experimenting. Your mobile screens won’t offer you that. Finally, when I shop for my grocery, I almost always end up picking the fresh produce. When shopping online, you have no choice but to eat what gets delivered to your doorstep.

My Food Wishes for 2018


I was going to write the title of this piece, my food resolutions, but going by history, I hardly follow what I resolve to do every New Year; so here are my food wishes that are close to my heart. I have been thinking about them a lot, of late. Hope I continue to follow my gut in the kitchen and don’t get bogged down by situations that seem daunting no matter what. For me, cooking is a healing therapy. It might sound cheesy or even a joke; but, believe me, right now, I have nothing to hope for. It’s just me, my kitchen stove, my kneading bowl and a few equipment that I use three times a day, just to see some optimism throughout the day. When you live in a city that hardly inspires you, have no job in hand, and feel unaccomplished, let your kitchen be your companion in thick and thin.

  1. Swearing by my granny’s kitchen rules

She will clean her kitchen and keep it spotless, especially before going to sleep in the night. Her kitchen is locked when not in use, and the stove top shines. She doesn’t even waste food; but for her, respecting food doesn’t mean eating a dish that was cooked two days back. You see, some people keep refrigerating food thinking it will be the same forever. Not this lady. She doesn’t even use the fridge. My Nani ma (mother’s mum), was a revelation when I got to spend some time with her a few days back. As a grown up, it was a different experience; I kept watching her in the kitchen. For example, she never leaves her dough for next day; there will be stale rotis in the box. Stale rotis, according to her, are way more nutritious than stale dough. So, basically, I don’t need to look at any international chef or a celebrated author to tell me what to do in the kitchen. Nani Ma is enough.

  1. Bring in the pulses

All right, so up until now, I thought cooking is all about veggies. If there are no vegetables in the kitchen, I can’t cook anything. Well, I did a bit of research (just looked at my pantry, to be precise), and found that I absolutely forget most of the pulses. Only three to four of them go in use. So, here’s a food wish I truly want to work on. Why leave the pulses behind?

  1. Use less oil

Whether it is cold pressed oil or unrefined oil, the truth (according to my recent readings) is that too much oil is anyway not good for you. So, I want to make sure I keep changing my oil every day; and that, I use less oil. If the vegetable is sticking on the pan, I should add water; but I anyhow should avoid using spoonfuls of oil just to make the dish look rich in flavour/colour or texture.

  1. Try skipping wheat, once in a while

Nani swears by Bajra; and hence, I have realised that it’s high time I give wheat a break, at least a few times a week. Up until now, I only cared for rice, but now, I want to explore more. Jowar, Ragi, and other ancient grains, bring it on!

  1. Make your own goodies

All right, so if possible, try making your own sauces, butters and jams. That’s something I have been telling myself a lot, lately. From pizza sauce to peanut butter, there’s a little improvement that I have made towards this. But, there’s still a long way ahead. Also, if one makes something at home, he or she will make sure it’s finished. Your store-bought bottles will never achieve the same stature. No? Also, I have learnt how to bake bread. So, if I keep my lazy self alert, I can actually bake bread and cookies, instead of avoiding the ready-to-eat ones altogether.

  1. Record more recipes

It takes determination to ask rigid family ladies their food recipes; yes, I experience it all the time. Either they think that their recipes are worthless or they are too busy to share the actual recipe with you. But, if you actually crack the task, you can get a hell lot of unique and great recipes that will be otherwise forgotten. So, whenever I taste something flavoursome, something that’s extra ordinary–be it a basic chutney or pickle–I make sure I ask that person how to make it, without letting shame or impatience come my way.

  1. Seek authentic world recipes

Let’s accept it, cooking wasn’t easy as it is now. We have a huge database of recipes before our screens all the time. Each day, colourful photos hit our social media feeds. All you need to do is cook the recipe. But, I need to draw a line here. Instead of knowing the trendy dishes like mug cake or kale smoothie, I need to try authentic recipes from various cuisines and enjoy cooking a few of them. This gives me a boost, as I get to cook something that’s a part of an other land. Second, it forces me to be creative. And third, I believe that it is a way of respect, which only the original recipe that is years old, deserves.

What are food wishes for the year 2018?