How To Increase Your Creativity in The Kitchen and Still Eat A Healthy Diet [Episode #808]
This week’s topic is: How To Increase Your Creativity in The Kitchen and Still Eat A Healthy Diet
This is of course in our Food Cornerstone. We like to rotate around our Solluna Cornerstones to ensure that we are nourishing ourselves in all aspects of our holistic nature-based lifestyle. And today’s show is for you if you are interested in being healthy, you want to take care of yourself, and you run into a rut from time to time.
Or, maybe in periods where you just feel bored with what you’re eating, or want to be creative, expand, or experiment, however, you’re not sure how to do it in the capacity of keeping your foods healthy and your meals healthy. Today we’re going to talk about some real tangible cooking tips and ideas for you to bring into your kitchen and lifestyle.
Have you been wondering about this very topic? If you want to know the answer to this question sent in by a Beauty just like you, listen now to find out!
I love eating healthy but find myself making the same go to meals over and over again. What are some tips for making things new and more creative in the kitchen without losing my standards for eating a healthy, holistic diet?
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Kimberly: 00:00 Namaste loves and welcome back to our Thursday Q&A show where our topic today is How To Increase Your Creativity in The Kitchen and Still Eat A Healthy Diet. So this is of course in our food cornerstone. We’d like to rotate around our Solluna Cornerstones to ensure that we are nourishing ourselves in all aspects of our lifestyle, our holistic nature-based lifestyle. And food, of course, is an important one. And today’s show is for you if you are of course interested in being healthy, you wanna take care of yourself, but you run into a rut from time to time or maybe in periods where you just feel bored with what you’re eating, or you want to be creative, you wanna expand, you wanna experiment, but you’re not sure how to do it in the capacity of keeping your foods healthy and your meals healthy. So today we’re gonna talk about some real tangible tips and ideas for you to bring into your kitchen, cooking into your lifestyle.
01:10 And I will say that everybody has a different capacity for variety. I’ve had clients who expect different foods, literally every single meal that I’ve ever prepared for them. And there are those of us who don’t mind eating a lot of the same foods in pretty heavy rotation. And that’s true for myself. It’s also true for my kids, although as we’ll get into in a few moments, there are ways to make it fresh, to make it feel new and exciting. Even though a lot of the, um, recipes or the actual foods are quite similar, the dishes are quite similar, we can spice it up. We can bring in that natural creative power which flows through us, and therefore can flow into everything that we do, the ways in which we dress ourselves in the morning, our interactions, the ways that we write emails, and the ways we, you know, decorate our bedroom or our office.
02:15 And definitely in the ways in which we cook goes on and on, of course, the ways in which we, um, play with our kids, the ways in which we are, you know, we play, have fun playfulness that we bring to our relationship with our partner, so on and so forth. So I’m very excited for today’s show because it’s very important that we continue to bring new dynamic energy across our life to keep on track. Otherwise, if we start to feel stagnant or bored or blocked, we tend to fall off the wagon more. We tend to have more treats, or we can eat out at restaurants more, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in excess can start to bring in less than ideal oils and ingredients and such.
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Question around the topic of: How To Increase Your Creativity in The Kitchen and Still Eat A Healthy Diet: I love eating healthy but find myself making the same go to meals over and over again. What are some tips for making things new and more creative in the kitchen without losing my standards for eating a healthy, holistic diet?
Okay, all that being said, let’s get into our question today from Janna who lives in Maryland. Hi Jana, thank you so much for being in the community. Thank you for writing in a question. I am very excited and thrilled that we are connected together, so thank you so much. And Jana writes, I love eating healthy, but I find myself making the same go-to meals over and over again. What are some of the tips for making things new and more creative in the kitchen without losing my standards for eating a healthy, holistic diet?
Kimberly: 05:57 So I love bringing this to the forefront because, you know, I’m just gonna be honest here. It can be a drag, always feeling like racking our brains and trying to come up with new things to make. And then, you know, there’s just a lot of time that we can spend and endlessly looking for new recipes. And, you know, I think it’s good to have a, a real structure, a base of certain things that you feel comfortable with that are go-tos and you generally have some stocked ingredients at home. You know, whether it’s lentil pasta or quinoa, you know, certain go-tos. But I also think that it’s important that we don’t feel that we have to always follow all these millions of recipes to a tea and order to express our creativity. It can be a lot more freeform than that. It can be a lot more simple than that.
06:58 So we’ll get into it. But I wanted to point out some relevant and interesting studies around this topic. So the first is that there is, um, a variety in food choices can help to promote, uh, dietary adherence and increased overall dietary quality. So this comes from the National Library of Medicine, and it found that the subjects that were studied, um, who were creative in the kitchen, and it, they defined it as exploring different ingredients, flavors, and, um, uh, cooking methods were more likely to adhere to a healthy eating pattern, thereby, thereby improving their dietary quality. So I think it’s, it’s natural to not always eat the same exact dish. And this can keep us, you know, feeling that freshness in our diet. We see this natural variety at the farmer’s market and what’s being grown season to season. We see that in nature. Nature does not always look exactly the same season to season.
08:07 I don’t say, I say always, not always, because being from the East coast, there was quite a difference between the seasons. But now living in Southern California and also in Hawaii, there isn’t so much of a difference. But there is still, you know, the flowering stages of certain flowering trees and fruiting of the fruit trees and so on and so forth. So there are these natural rhythms and the more variety that we eat is, you know, lends itself very, um, it lends itself to strength in our microbiome, which is something that I’ve talked about with Dr. B, the gut health doctor here on the podcast where he talks about how eating 35 plus different vegetables a week is one of the best ways to increase your gut health and to strengthen your microbiome. He compares it sort of to like, uh, no lifting weights or exercising your muscles.
09:06 The gut can be exercised and strengthened in its digestive power or what, uh, Ayurveda would call Agni by this variety, by this resilience that is, um, again, just reinforced in the gut through eating different foods. So it’s a very powerful practice to go into the market and, you know, have a general idea of what you want to get, but stay open to what looks really colorful and really beautiful and sparks different ideas. Oh, you know, I haven’t had those, I’m just making this up now. Jerusalem artichokes for a while, that would be delicious. Or oh my gosh, the, you know, hen of the woods mushrooms are in and they are amazing. So I’m going to have them right, you know, tonight, whatever, it’s <laugh>. So another, uh, study I wanted to point out, and this one comes from the journal, frontiers in, um, psychology found that wellbeing was enhanced with, um, cooking and generally, um, speaking, it also helped to spark different, um, cognitive stimulation, and there was potential health benefits from cooking and being in the kitchen, which does activate different centers in our brain.
10:33 We turn on different, you know, um, just energies when we’re smelling and when we’re, when we’re using different cooking methods. It’s a different type of activity, isn’t it, than something linear, like answering emails or filling out, you know, a, um, Excel spreadsheet. So it was that again, these, um, wellbeing, which of course is a, is a bit of a broad term, but it found that cooking was beneficial for our wellbeing in general, which I think is really, um, interesting that there’s actually been research performed around this. And so there’s also, uh, research and this one, you know, is something that definitely feels intuitive to us. And this is from the journal diabetes spectrum, which found that when we are cooking more and being creative in the kitchen, it lends itself to more mindfulness and more mindful eating practices. And of course this makes sense because we’re engaged in what we’re eating.
11:42 So this means it brings more awareness, we’re present to how it’s being cooked. We’ve put time and love and energy into it. It’s different than just taking, getting takeout and scarfing something down quick in the car, or, you know, buying a bag of something pre-made and then sort of noshing away on it while we’re emailing or, you know, writing something. And so we’re not really paying attention. This act of cooking and being in the kitchen brings us into the here and now. It brings us face to face-to-face with a vital form of self-care, which is very important and is part of our nourishment. So I love the saying that the most important ingredient in any dish is the chef, because we bring a certain energy, you know, there’s, there’s teachings around the chakras and energy centers and the Vedas and yogic philosophy that the hands and the fingers are an extension of the heart chakra, right?
12:38 So we look down at our chest and where our heart is out emanating from the center of our chest are chakra, and that energy then flows out into our hands. That’s why it feels really nice to have a healing touch when you’re not feeling well, just putting your hand on someone’s back or their shoulder can feel really comforting or a nurse doing that to a patient or doctor. And also when we cook with love and intention, it can flow out through our hands. As a reiki practitioner, I’ll say that there’s a tremendous amount of energy that flows through our hands and through our feet. And when I was learning about reiki in India and Thailand, you just can feel it, you can feel that there is a lot coming through the hands. So bringing this intentional, beautiful energy into cooking has a lot of benefit.
13:40 I think it, it, it makes us feel good beyond just mindfulness, which, you know, I like that term. Oh, right. But it still reminds me of being very heady. It brings us into our intuition. It brings us into our feeling body. I think it brings us more into our hearts. And so there is, um, a more research, and of course we’ll link to all of this in the show notes that culinary education programs can positively influence individuals dietary behaviors and overall diet quality. And this is because I think when we are learning to educate ourselves around cooking and food, we honor it more, right? It’s not just something we take for granted. Like we ordered the takeout, we ordered at the restaurant and it plops down in front of us. We learn how to prepare, we learn how to work with different ingredients, and we learn how to really respect food in a different way. I didn’t start preparing food until a bit later, until I was about, you know, a teenager or so. And up until then, you know, our auntie lived with us and she did most
Kimberly: 14:50 Of the cooking in the house. And I remember just being really, um, excited when she would make, you know, she made all these delicious dishes and everything, but I didn’t really understand the process. I would smell it, be doing homework or playing, and then I would feel, smell it. I know some people grow up from a very young age cooking with their, you know, their Italian grandmother or whatever. And then later I was just sort of trying to cook and make foods for myself that were quick and low in calories because I was still trying to count, you know, I was trying to count calories and, and manage my weight as a teenager. And then later, as a young adult, I started to wake up to the power of food prep, really, when I moved to New York City after backpacking, and it became a real community practice to sit around after yoga class and make food together.
15:49 Dharma’s kale salad was the staple, which is one of our staple community recipes for sure. You can check it out on our website or in some of my books. And it was so life-changing to really connect to food for me. And it really started me on a deep path of self connection and self, um, introspection and, and self care. And of course, the path has expanded far beyond food, which is why we have all our cornerstones here, including body emotional wellbeing and spiritual growth. But food was a way, a very physical, tangible way where I started to stoke this fire back to life of, again, self connection, loving myself, connecting with myself, and finding self-worth, you know, and knowing that I am worthy of, um, being cared for and loving myself, and that it really does, um, matter. It really does matter. And I, and I matter <laugh>.
How To Increase Your Creativity in The Kitchen and Still Eat A Healthy Diet: Experiment with New Ingredients and Colors
16:58 Um, so that’s some interesting research I wanted to bring up. And now let’s talk about how do we actually really incorporate creativity in, so I wanna be upfront and distinguish creativity from complexity. So being creative does not mean you need to follow very long, very complicated dishes. It doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours and hours in the kitchen. On the contrary, my creativity, um, what works for me is being able to create bright, fresh, delicious, healthy dishes in a short amount of time. And so a lot of this comes down to the ingredients you use. So you can bring in creativity by experimenting with new ingredients, as I mentioned. I think it’s important to go to the farmer’s market if it’s available or the market, and with your eyes, with your senses, see what you’re drawn to. And this includes embracing new colors, different sorts of vegetables, walking the aisles and being inspired, whether it’s a new sort of grain or bean or, you know, the herb aisle spices and say, oh, you know, I’ve heard of cumin.
18:15 I never used it before. I’m gonna pick some up today and just get some new ideas out there, right? So it can be very simple. Instead of using carrots and chopping up, um, oh, I’ll give you an example today. So we made a bean salad and usually I put in cucumbers. The kids love the cucumbers, but we were out of cucumbers, and so we chopped up cabbage instead. And the usual carrots, there’s always carrots in my house, and it was really different and delicious. I, I added a bit extra lemon and, you know, I served it for everyone for lunch today with quinoa, and I made the quinoa rainbow colored. My kids really love rice. They’ve gotten a little bit resistant, but when there’s only quinoa, they have to eat the quinoa <laugh>. So it was, you know, exciting to have some new ingredients. It sounds really small and simple, but these small simple changes keep the meals feeling really fresh.
19:17 Or if you’re, you know, intuitively called to something a little bit heartier working in the Tempe or seeing, oh, I’ve these portobello mushrooms, I can imagine how, you know, sort of dense and delicious that’s going to taste. So it’s really important to, um, play with new ingredients and to make sure that you keep everything rotating. As I mentioned, there’s benefits for your health, for your microbiome as well. And there’s definitely, you know, emotional and mental benefits and just being excited again about food on a regular basis. So I did mention colors, and I wanna mention that again because vi feeling vibrant and full of vitality, just like in nature, there’s beautiful colors and creativity is, you know, there’s a visual aspect to that. And we see that in the way you may design your room. I’m looking around my office right now, and there’s a lot of softer tones and, you know, beautiful greens and some, some pinks, and it feels really soothing in here to me.
20:29 And when I cook and when I choose fruits and vegetables, the gr the colors really just scream life force to me. They just shout it that it feels like this energy that I wanna put into my body, it helps to activate your own energy, your own creative power. It, there’s more light coming through you when you ingest light. And when I say ingest light, I mean that in the purest sense. The fruit and the vegetables are this, you know, primary foods that are holding the sun energy through chlorophyll and photosynthesis, and then it’s consumed by humans, or it’s consumed by animals who humans then consume. So there’s this purity of going to the primary source of the, the light, so to speak. And of course, getting sunlight on your body, you can get vitamin D and other nutrients. So it is amazing to add color to your meals, to feel that beauty, to see that beauty, whether it’s adding in some purple cabbage or, you know, stuffing some red peppers with millet or olives and olive tamponade or whatever it is.
How To Increase Your Creativity in The Kitchen and Still Eat A Healthy Diet: Mindful cooking
21:44 Colors are amazing to play with. And then we talked about mindful cooking, and I don’t really love the word all the time because it makes you feel like heady and up in the head. So what I prefer to say instead is present cooking. And so what it means is we pay attention to the colors and the textures and the smells. We try to move stressful thoughts and being weighed down out, you know, out of our minds just so we can really focus on the here and now, what’s in front of us. And we put energy and effort into the cooking, even the most simple of meals. If we, you know, ma put our efforts forward to make it as beautiful and with as much love as possible, it really does have more nourishment and it, it really does taste different. This is truth, anecdotal truth, you’ll experience this for yourself if you tune in.
How To Increase Your Creativity in The Kitchen and Still Eat A Healthy Diet: Mix and Match
22:45 So I really like to cook when I am, you know, not feeling off, I’m not feeling overly tired or stagnant in any way, or blocked or annoyed, right? Because that comes across in the food. It’s really important to let go before you cook, take a breath, do a little meditation, get outside, take a walk, and then you’re coming with a full capacity of your energy and your creativity. So the next part is to mix and match different cooking techniques. So if you’ve gotten into a real, you know, lull where you’re just sauteing every single thing you could try throwing things in the oven, baking or roasting. Instead, you could roast some veggies. I like to make casserole sometimes I use a lot of big pots for one pot meals. So I definitely do that in heavy rotation. And then I mix and match the cooking.
How To Increase Your Creativity in The Kitchen and Still Eat A Healthy Diet: Global Cuisines
Kimberly: 23:44 Techniques, and I also mix and match the spices and the herbs. So it’s really nice to throw that in there and, um, just to get a little bit more variety. Also blending. So let’s say you, you eat a lot of chunky soups, you could try blending a soup and just to, you know, mix and match and keep things really fresh, different textures, different, um, you know, just different sensory impact coming in. And then also it’s a wonderful practice to be inspired by global cuisines. So I really love the Blue Zones cookbooks by Dan Buettner. He is a one that’s around the world, and then he has an American one. And I find great inspiration and flipping through, and even if I don’t follow the recipes exactly, just being reinspired, like, oh yeah, <laugh>, I forgot about Split Peas. Oh yeah, that, you know, soft, organic, non GMO tofu works really well like that.
24:49 Or, you know, just new ideas. You also don’t have to buy books. You could go through the different global cuisine aisles at the supermarket, the market where you shop, and you may be reminded like, oh yeah, the rice noodles, I can make a stir fry and throw in lots of different snap peas and try this or that.
How To Increase Your Creativity in The Kitchen and Still Eat A Healthy Diet: Batch Cooking
Again, simple and, um, exciting because it’s a, you know, different cultural influence, different ideas pouring through, and it is important to, um, do a little bit of meal planning and batch cooking. And this can also help with creativity. I don’t like to plan too far ahead, but I’ll show, you know, I’ll explain how this plays out a lot in our family is, you know, similarly to how I grew up, there’s always rice made. You know, I’m, I’m half Filipino, and rice was a real staple. It is still a staple in our family, as is quinoa and some sort of cooked, you know, grain like object like that.
25:54 So because it’s cooked in a pinch, I can make a quick veggie stir fry, you know, quinoa and lentil soup or, um, you know, kind of a presad or kanji, like, kind of like a, a little, you know, porridge sort of meal for the kids. And then I can focus on new things like adding in currents or goji berries or, you know, playing with, you know, some minced ginger, whatever it is. And it doesn’t feel as much of a drag for me when there’s at least some of it that’s precooked, right? It’s more just like, yeah, heat up the coconut oil, throw it in, the rice is already made. If it’s like, ugh, starting from scratch, every single meal, it starts to feel like a lot. So there’s a couple things that you can
Kimberly: 26:42 Do that will make it feel easier and also to keep you in that beautiful flow. So along those lines, it’s nice to keep staples at home and you can play with them in different ways. So for instance, I have my gluten-free lasagna and the other day I made something like a, it was a lasagna, it was a little bit different where I had, you know, a lot of mushrooms in it and spinach and I presented, it just looked a little bit different. I put the cheese and chunks on the vegan, cheese on chopped on the top and chunks. So it felt a little bit different for my kids. I was able to whip it up really quickly because we had those ingredients. So, you know, in a pinch if you have cartons of beans or canned beans or you know, lots of different spices and you can just sort of see what you’re drawn to, that’s another big part of creativity is not feeling squashed.
27:36 Like you have to do it a certain way or it has to look a certain way, but rather there’s this flow of going with what is happening, what you are feeling energetically. And it’s a really beautiful practice to work things that way. So I hope this gave you some inspiration around creativity in the kitchen. And remember as a base for mastering a couple recipes that you really love, that you can then just mix and match the spices and the veggies and so on and so forth. We have hundreds, hundreds of recipes over at mysolluna.com. There are so many different ideas that are very simple, will spark hopefully your creativity. You can take that as a base and run with it, make it your own, add to it, shift things, you know, really tailor it to suit your own preferences. So while you’re over there, you can also check out our thousands of articles and blogs, podcasts, other podcasts I think you would enjoy and meditations and more.
28:41 Let me know how you do. Please, you know, reach out to me on social at underscore Kimberly Snyder, share some of your food creations or write in here. Let me know what some of your favorite foods are to make, how you keep them feeling fresh. Any new ideas you wanna share with us about staying healthy and also exercising your innate creative power. I’d love to hear from you. We’ll be back here Monday for our next interview show. So until then, I wish you all the best, all the blessings, all the love, and see you back here soon. Aloha.