Here are some tips on mindful cooking for both people who live to cook and those who just cook to live. If you already enjoy cooking, you can use these tips to make your experience even more joyful. And if you’re not that interested in making your own food, who knows, maybe these tips will inspire you to give it one more try. So, let’s find out what would happen if we approached cooking in a more mindful way.
Cooking, as we know, means picking ingredients and preparing them to put together a dish. The main difference between cooking and deciding to eat a pre-cooked meal (whether frozen or takeaway from a restaurant, for example) lies in the notion of it being a conscious choice.
Cooking means consciously deciding what to eat, and not just consuming what is given to us. So, by cooking, we take control of our health by consciously meeting both our needs and our wants.
Of course, it can be fun to be simply served a meal without having to decide what to cook or eat. However, as in every aspect of our lives, it’s a question of balance. And to find this balance, we need to be involved in the process. So, let’s cook mindfully!
The ingredients we have access to can radically change our relationship with food. This is very easy to prove: imagine you’re at home, you’re hungry and you don’t have much time to eat. You have no choice but to make a meal with the ingredients you have in your fridge and cupboards. If you find a microwavable pasta meal, there is a high chance that you will automatically pick that, warm it up, and eat it. It’s pretty obvious.
However, if all you have are 2 eggs, some lettuce and a yogurt, you will have decisions to make.
How will you prepare the eggs? Scrambled, sunny side up, boiled? As for the lettuce, will you use some dressing or only a bit of oil? Will you sweeten your yogurt? Immediately, there are decisions to be made. And these decisions will allow you to make conscious choices and therefore take charge of your health, even when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.
To cook mindfully, the first step is to grocery shop in a mindful manner. Yes! It’s simple: If you only buy noodles, then noodles is what you will end up cooking and eating. So it’s very important that you change the way you buy your ingredients by respecting the following points:
Taking your time to do your shopping properly will open doors to more nutritious and varied meals. All you need is to make good choices while respecting your taste and wants, and be willing to try new things.
This is how you can go from being a passive consumer to being an active participant in the way you eat!
So, you now understand why choosing your ingredients is important. Well, the way you cook them is just as important! But, why exactly? Well, other than finding pleasure in cooking the food we eat, there are many other benefits to cooking mindfully. Here are a few:
So, it’s time to cook! I suggest that you try to make cooking a time of experimentation and discovery. There’s no need to prepare really elaborate meals! Simply cooking while being present will change the whole experience.
Of course, not every day will necessarily lend itself to experimenting, so pick a day when you have time and you feel like relaxing while cooking.
To enjoy the experience even more, why not meditate a bit just before cooking? It doesn’t need to be a long session, a three-minute pause will do. If you use Meditopia, make sure to pick a meditation that matches your current mood.
Now, it’s time to head to the kitchen. First, choose the ingredients that you need. Take them in your hands, one by one, while paying attention to the way each of them feels. It doesn’t matter if it’s a vegetable or a box: be conscious of the texture that you feel in your hands. Bring all the fragrant ingredients up to your nose, and take time to capture the different aromas and soak them in.
Set all the ingredients down in front of you. Choose each utensil carefully, ensuring to deactivate the “auto pilot” mode of your brain. If an ingredient needs to be cut, do it slowly, while really observing the blade do its job. If you need to mix some ingredients together, do it with curiosity: watch how the different textures intertwine with each other, how new colors appear. Allow yourself to be absorbed by each of your movements.
Each time you find your mind being pulled away from what you are doing, stop. Take a deep breath in and exhale, then go back to cooking. Don’t hesitate to play with the textures: take a handful of rice and let the grains fall between your fingers, feel the softness of the tomato skin against the back of your hand… Test the flavors: taste your food while you’re cooking and add ingredients that would make sense: a new spice or a little bit more oil maybe? Go with your gut and trust yourself.
Finally, if your dish needs to be cooked, continue the experience by observing the bubbles that form in the pan, and notice the smells that rise up from it… Try to stay mindful and present during the whole experience.
Once it’s ready, it’s time to eat! Take the time to really savor the dish you have prepared with all your love, at least for the first bite.
See, it’s easy to turn a daily task into a moment of sensory discovery, of joy and relaxation! Do you feel like trying? Have you ever practiced cooking mindfully? If you have, let us know what you thought of it in the comments!
Translator: Stella Debiaggi