A Sadhana is simply a daily spiritual practice designed to allow yourself to turn inward and perceive life as it truly is. Spiritual doesn’t have to mean religious. Spiritual is more about nourishing your inner being.
Sadhana comes from Ayurveda, which is the traditional health care system that has been practiced in India for thousands of years. It is an ancient wisdom and the sister science of yoga.
Kitchen Sadhana is the practice of conscious food preparation. It is the approach towards optimizing health and well-being through creating a sacred practice in the kitchen that leads to a healthy diet and food awareness. It is a focus on preparing high vibe food in a conscious way.
I first became aware of the concept of Kitchen Sadhana in Maya Tiwari’s Ayurvedic book “The Path of Practice” It involves trying to prepare as much of your food from scratch as possible and being present and mindful in the process. Although I don’t do everything from scratch, I am slowly learning to replace more and more pre-prepared ingredients with making my own. It is about progress, not perfection!
Cooking at Home – A Declining Trend
Many people today see cooking as a chore – it is something that is necessary, but not enjoyable. You may take short cuts by buying prepackaged foods that can be cooked quickly in a microwave oven. Or you may indulge in take-out frequently. Uber Eats has averaged a 73% increase year over year and delivery of food kits has exploded. Overall though, our spending on food, proportional to our income, has actually declined since 1960. The average share of per capita income spent on food in 1960 was over 17%. In 2013 it was 9.9%.
Part of the reason for this can be contributed to the fact that many households have two people working. This makes it difficult to take the time to shop for fresh ingredients and cook meals from scratch everyday. I get it. I have also always had a full-time professional job that has sometimes required long work weeks and travel, and raising three boys at the same time adds more to the mix. There were many nights where I rushed home from work and hit up a drive thru on the way to a hockey or soccer game.
However, one of my biggest regrets as a parent and for myself, was that I didn’t view my time in the kitchen as akin to a spiritual practice. To connect to the foods that I was buying and to the process of making something that was nourishing for my families’ body and soul. To plan and prep food so that we had nourishing food prepared with love, even on our busiest nights.
Taking the Time to Connect to Food
Today, I approach my time in the kitchen differently. To start with, I ensure that I have a bounty of healthy and nutritious ingredients on hand to work with. I source food locally through farmers markets, community supported agriculture, local farms, an organic food delivery service and conscious supermarkets. I also try to grow some of my own food – although this is a work in progress. Kitchen sprouts and herbs are an easy place to start. I try to understand where my food is coming from and how it was grown. This makes it easier to connect with nature and align myself with the healing power of Mother Nature.
In addition to carefully choosing ingredients, another part of kitchen sadhana is bringing the right energy into the kitchen. One of the things that I do is check my energy before I cook anything. On days where I do not feel like cooking, someone else does the cooking. Or we have leftovers, or food that was prepared on the weekend. It is easy to have a hearty homemade soup and a sandwich in a pinch. When I do cook, I want to enjoy the process and prepare the food with positive energy. Remember how good the food tasted when your grandmother prepared it with Love? That is the kind of energy that we want to imbibe our food with.
How to Practice Kitchen Sadhana
Schedule a couple of hours every week to prepare foods for the week and align your kitchen to feed your soul. I do this on Sunday afternoons.
It is important to have a kitchen that is clean and well organized. Use natural cleaners. Clean out the fridge every week, purge cupboards once a month, restock spices. Feel free to put on some nice music and light a candle. Environment is everything.
Traditionally, you should prepare food fresh every day. However, that is just not practical for most of us in modern times. So, what is the next best thing? I take part of the weekend for planning and meal prep so that I can enjoy my kitchen experience when I am relaxed and have more time. It also makes me content to know that I will have nourishing food to go to during the week when I am busier. I try to be present with the tasks of creating food – the grinding, mixing, stirring, fermenting, sprouting and cooking. Being in the kitchen is a time to be creative and meditative. Practice doing things by hand as much as possible. Leave the gadgets behind.
Some of the things that I prep on the weekends? Starting sprouts, soaking beans and nuts, making granola, spice blends, yogurt (plant-based), hummus, flours, soups, veg stock and fermented foods. We bake bread on the weekends as well and this is most certainly therapeutic.
I take joy in the fresh ingredients and cookware that I love. I try to use cookware and utensils made of natural materials so that I feel grounded during the process – Cast iron, wood, stone and clay.
Dishes can be simple if you make them with good quality ingredients and use a variety of herbs and spices. You can create magic in the kitchen when you prepare food with care, love and respect. Honour the ritual of preparing food. You might just find that you aren’t just nourishing your body – you are nourishing your soul.
Check out our post on Plant Based Pantry Staples for more inspiration on how to organize your pantry in support of your Kitchen Sadhana. You may also like to consider making your own plant-based milks and we provide a guide in our Plant Based Milks – Back to Basics post. If you’d like to make your own hummus . . . warning – you may not want to go back to store-bought, try out our Creamy Roasted Garlic Hummus.