Category Archives: Conscious Kitchen

Creating Conscious Kitchens

Food is our basic sustenance next only to the air we breathe and the water we drink. Yet, in our cities, we are far removed from our source of food. A city-bred child, when asked the source of vegetables is more likely to name the local supermarket rather than think of a farm.

Being conscious of our food is the need of the hour.

Do we think about every meal we have? What does it do to our body and mind? What processing does it go through before it reaches us? Where does every item of our meal originate? How is it grown? By whom?

Food and nutrition
Food must be wholesome, as close to its raw form and as close to its original taste as possible. Only then will it retain vital enzymes and provide your body with the required nutrition. Let us move away from dissecting food into its components like vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates etc. and look at what the food does to our bodies. Does it vitalize us or make us sluggish? Does it provide energy or makes you want to go to sleep? Does your body need that food or are your habituated taste buds craving more of what they like?

Food and Carbon-miles
Let us ask where our food comes from. What distance has it travelled? How fresh is it when it reaches us? What impact is the food we eat having on our environment? Will the ‘convenience’ of vacuum-sealed food cause great ‘inconvenience’ (polluted air, water and land) in the long run?
Let us insist on locally produced, actually ‘fresh’ ingredients rather than things packaged and processed to look fresh. Let us try and give a boost to the local economy. Its time each of us also think how we can reduce our carbon-footprint. We can even start growing some of our daily food requirements ourselves and thereby strengthen our link with land.

Food and Processing
How much processing has our food undergone before it reaches our table? Which fossil fuels are utilized in the process? Does food retain its nutrients and enzymes after all the processing?
The less processed the food, the more intact its nutritional value and the beneficial enzymes in it that help us digest it better. The more raw food we incorporate in our diet, the lesser the pressure we put on our planet for various resources – less machinery to process, less fuel to cook, less time spent preparing meals and less pressure on our digestive system to break down complex foods.

Food and Chemicals
Do we know how our food is grown? What happens during their life cycle? What nourishment do the plants get?
Plants that are nourished with living substances will have more life-giving energy in them and will yield foods that in turn will nourish the people who eat them. Plants grown on inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, on the other hand, will yield fruits filled with the same chemicals.

Food Growers
Who grows our food? What is the relationship of the growers with their plants? What are their life circumstances? What is their motivation to grow our food? Do they view them as just a source of income?
We need to be conscious of our food providers – not just people who cook our food, but also people who grow the food being cooked. A person who has a dignified life will be able to provide for others better. If the farmer’s own food requirements are met from his own crops, then he will care more for his crops. If he can earn an ethical livelihood (through fair food prices), he will be less tempted to use shortcuts (chemicals, quick-yielding seeds, genetically modified plants etc.) in order to make his ends meet. Let us strive toward providing a dignified satisfied lifestyle to our food-growers.

Food and linkages with land
What do we give back to the land that gives us all our food? Are we nourishing and enriching it with life-giving substances? Or are we further exploiting it by recklessly spraying harmful chemicals, and killing all life it sustains? Let us learn to value the services of each of the players, however small, in the food chain. The microbes and worms that enrich the soil. The birds and animals that live in harmony with it and help protect our food from harmful insects. Bees and butterflies that pollinate, and help our food grow.

If you’re thinking about some of these aspects, you are creating Conscious Kitchens in your homes. This will help ensure safe and healthy food for you and your family as well as a healthy planet for all.

This note was prepared with dear friends Vanaja, shirish and Guru with whom we made a group caller ‘organic collective’

Integral Community Building with Food in Jaipur

One fine day I got a call from Gurpreet, who has founded ‘Uday’, a Waldorf inspired school in Jaipur, asking me if I can help her arrange a healthier meal for the participants of the  ‘Art of Parenting’ workshop organized by them.

She reminded of the food that we had cooked at the Jaipur Learning City Conference and was hoping that they can get some thing like that for their event.

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Steamed Veggies with coconut paste

I was glad to hear it and see that there are people in the city who value food which I also consider more in tune for our bodies and was willing to support her. I called up some friends and they were not able to offer this meal as it was a short notice, just one day before the event.

At that time there was Yash, staying at our newly created space, Ahimsagram – a space for learning and living sustainably while also working on peace building and consent based organisation  systems . He is from Swaraj Unviersity and is here with me to do his mentorship around healthy food with me. I asked him if he was keen and if we both can take up this cooking for about 20 people. He said yes and I agreed to us providing food to the workshop.

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Yash from Swaraj, Operations Leader for Kitchen at Ahimsagram

We also had Hema from Bangalore with us and the three of us prepared a meal, took it to the school on a cab, served the food, had a chat with the participants of the workshop and attended the session.

The workshop was facilitated by Mani Sir, who has inspired lot of people all over the country into taking up Waldorf teaching.

He was also talking on the impact of food on children and how food needs to be simple and with less chemicals and stimulants. I was glad to see that we had a common ground.

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Hema Making  Mangalorian Polikoddal

It felt like being a community with a shared dream where we are there to support each other and create integral growth for the community. I am enjoying the growing community bonds in the Jaipur which are making us create a sustainable and resilient eco system. Gurpreet is also the Operations Leader for the Learning Unlearning group under the Jaipur Mera Shehar Network and we are creating an organisation/community of those who want to look at alternate forms of learning. You can contact her if you want o join the group or know about Uday at udaywaldorf@gmail.com

We made –

  • Avial inspired mix veg – Steamed Veggies with Coconut Paste and some spices.
  • Salad with roasted Peanut powder
  • Rice and Jowar Rotis
  • Pulikoddal- A Mangolarian dish made by Hema was a dal with torai and coconut in it.
  • Cold fruit dessert or diary and sugar & dairy free fruit ice cream, with dates, cashew and Mango.

The food was much appreciated and it was amazing team work between me, Yash and Hema to pull through this big meal and take it out there.

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Jowar roti made on Tawa – a gift from Lyla and Vijay ji

The Jowar Roti was made on a thick tawa offered as gift from my friend Lyla’s Father Vijay ji. He has a factory and got us a thick tawa of cast iron made especially for Ahimsagram. I am loving it how there are so many people in the city who come together to create  a space. It is the magic of this Tawa which allows the thick miller rotis and dosas to get cooked well without getting burnt.

I was inspired to see so many people there wanting to know more about such food or wanting such food at the doorsteps. I would want to put my energy into sharing about food with the larger community. I am also hoping that the Food and Farm Group in the Jaipur Mera Shehar network can take it up.

If you want to join a group of people who are keen on looking at food in life serving ways then connect with the Jaipur Food and Farm Group.

Appreciate Gurpreet’s commitment to taking care of her guest in giving them the best that she could reach out for in Jaipur.

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Shammi & Yash talking to the workshop participants about their Food Journeys…

Since then I have been getting calls from some of the people from the workshop for recipes and request for sharing more on the food. Look forward to more collaborative emerging in the city over our food needs so we can one day call it a ‘Safe Food City’.

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Welcome to Ecovillage Design Eduaction (EDE) Course in Azores, Portugal!

Dear friends, I have been part of the planning and hosting team of this four week long EDE which is scheduled from 15th August, 2015 in Azores Islands in Portugal. We have been working pretty intensely for the last six months to make this magical event happen. Of course some of us have been more active and some are around creating support and holding each other.

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I Plan to share NVC, Conflict Transformation, Gift Culture and Creative and Mindful Enterprises, amongst other things. We are also planning to offer largely raw food there and some friends there are already growing food to prepare for those of you who will join us. I see all this detail and care from the team as an offering of pure love.

I cant say I will be there for sure as I am still struggling to get my visa for Europe and I imagine some times that the people who are in power seem to living with a sense of fear. Having chosen to live a life without ‘sufficient’ money has its costs and comes in the way of my moving freely in this world. I am accepting the cost for the moment as so many of us at times are not able to do what we want to and there could be some learning for me in it, even though its a painful experience. I am saying all this to let you know that I am not sure that I will make it there. However whether I make it there or not I want to tell my friends in India and Abroad, that I have worked with this team very closely and have experienced deep authenticity and integrity in them apart from their skills and knowledge to empower you to confidently embark on a journey of creating you own dream eco village.

I am celebrating that EDE and this particular course also values inputs on conflict transformation process, consent decision making and Nonviolent Communication(NVC) which are dear to me too. I believe that when we create a community we need to even have systems in place to create a ‘power with’ systems of communicating and organising ourselves. If we believe that the divine is everywhere and in all then we need to have systems where we can deeply listen, value and harvest the wisdom from each person in the community. This makes this EDE even more exciting and inspiring for me.

Besides we are also trying to support those who find it challenging to organise finances to be there. Infact we are hoping and trying support some people for their travel. We are trusting that there will be abundance to support all of you who want to be there.

You can see the details of the course in the www.edeazores.org and the invite below. Wishing joy, abundance and blessings to the hosting team and those who will be there.

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The Circles and other stuff at Embercombe!

Every morning, after the breakfast,  the Embercombe community gets together near the Dining Yurt for a connecting circle. Some one makes a fire and people huddle close to each other as people are sitting in their thick jackets and caps to keep themselves warm. There is a silence as vapours come out of the mouth when people breathe a, some people are quietly watching the fire as we hear the crackling sounds of the fire and  see smoke coming out to add to the mist. As we sit in silence for some time and I notice my breathing slows down, one person begins to speak whats alive in them and there starts the circle of check in. Everyone has the space to speak and when the circle is over then people begin to talk about the jobs for the day and move on with their respective engagements. I enjoyed this slow getting into the day with the spaciousness to connect to ourselves.

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The kitchen as active each day with Yara making breads and others making lunch with Alexendra.  

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They make their own breads of all kind, spelt, wheat, etc. Yara also made an amazing Lasagne with Pumpkin slices instead of refined four. They make sure their is options for the vegans also. Alexandra who is the incharge of the kitchen makes space for volunteers to do their own experimentation. The kitchen also has a great sense of co-responsibility where people just come to help each other.

Mick, Roman and others are making mud building and more construction is going on.

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Some are working on the permaculture garden, some are repairing a tractor, Fiona is taking care of the Ponies or being with the kids. Every day there are visitors from some place or the other.

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Narmia is hosting a basket making workshop for the last few days, She is now planning to go to Scotland to learn how to make coffins with willow, which was a traditional practice in some parts.

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They have friends weekends where people come from other cities for a day to get a break from their city life and to connect with the land.

They also have a CSA basket and Dan, who is on the food growing team is passionate about his work.  There are many people who make this community happen and I am glad that there is a space where people in the region can come and connect with land and simple living. 

Once a week home schoolers come to spend the time there and connect with the community. I also shared  two days of NVC with them and made  some deep connections.I also shared Restorative Circles there for three days and we set up a Restorative System there. I enjoyed the communities desire to look at interpersonal relationships and their desire to work with decision making processes there. I am grateful to be having the opportunity to connect with the Embercombe Community in Devon, UK. I am hoping to visit them again some time…

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Why do I crave for my chocolate?

I was at a Conscious Kitchen workshop on organised with Gillie and Raphael at Topsham in UK recently. We had made a nice meal with salads and veggie stews, mung bean pan cakes and much more.

Thats how the town looks as its on an EstuaryWe also had time for a conversation on food where we were looking at food with a need based consciousness. Trying to understand what we eat and why we eat. What all needs are met by food. As we began to explore people were surprised that food was a way to meet so many needs, ranging from health, community, creativity, contribution to other peoples lives, self care and care for others, comfort, love, connection, meaning and purpose, etc.

Conversations: what all needs does food meet for me...

In one of the conversations some one asked me – Why can’t I stop having my chocolate? I was asking her why does she want to have the chocolate at the first place? She said when she is bored and she wants some thing exciting she is attracted to a chocolate. I tried to encourage her to look at the need behind her wanting and see how beautiful the need was. It just came from my mouth – I think you are wanting to live and enjoy life, to celebrate it. As I said it there was a lot of energy on my face and I myself was excited with the idea of some one wanting to celebrate life. She heard it and some thing struck her. She acknowledged that she was looking for a life energy.  She kind of had a moment of wonder and then a gentle smile came on her face as her eyes became moist. That was enough for her that day and her expression had changed. There was lightness in her energy and she was wanting to go deeper into the idea of looking at her deeper needs through the window of food.  I was reminded of how Marshall says that needs are like a divine life energy. We also acknowledged that she was concerned  about her choice of eating a chocolate as she wants health and some kind of power in her world. But this time the energy was different as there was also a celebration in her to have the dream for life. I would say even behind the blame for her craving there was a need for feeling empowered and thats another beautiful life energy. 

Raphaels designing of the salad...

I was once again convinced that  that no matter we do their is a desire to meet a beautiful need behind our actions. Its for us to see how we choose our strategy and which need we want to hold more dearly, which one we want to let go at that moment.  No matter what our choices we can try to enjoy the beauty of the need. 

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Compassionate Living Retreat : 16 to 20th Jan, 2015, Swaraj University, Udaipur

How would it look like to live in a community where people try to express their feelings very honestly while holding care and empathy for the others, where all the voices in the community matter, where empathy is available in abundance, where we feel fully safe to share our vulnerabilities, and where beauty of the need is seen and felt behind every action.

We invite those who hold this dream and want to try to make it happen, to come to our Compassionate Living Retreat at Swaraj University, Udaipur. It is largely based on the works on Nonviolent Communication (NVC) of Marshall Rosenberg. NVC is a way of being that supports our connection to ‘life energy’ believed to be present in all beings. It encourages us to find resources both internal and external, enough to take care of each person’s needs to live in peace, harmony and joy.

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About the workshop:
It will be a living and learning retreat, where our time will be divided by spending some on structured learning and then applying it in our day to day life while we are with each other for the five days. We could also be working in the kitchen garden, cooking our meals, cleaning the place and having lighter moments together.

It’s an opportunity to live as a community, where we will also practice different modalities of decision making and conflict transformation available to us. If everyone consents we will also set up a Restorative System within our retreat community, whereby people can call Restorative Circles to bring up any conflicts that happen during our time there. We will also at times use Sociocracy to make decisions where all voices collaborate to create decisions. And as Dominic Barter says “The closer I am to conflict, the safer I am”, we would, considering the naturalness in a conflict, create support and be containers for holding conflicts…. read more

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Filed under Community Building, Conflict Transformation, Conscious Kitchen, Gift Culture, Natural Farming, Nonviolent Communication(NVC), Restorative Circles, Sociocracy, Sustainable Living

Celebrating Conscious Eating – with Shammi in Totnes, UK.

Cook (and share!) a healthy Indian meal and learn how to make food choices compassionately, in ways inspired by Non-violent Communication (NVC)

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Shammi is an Indian film maker, change agent, organic grower, food aficionado and teacher of NVC. He will show us how to cook a simple and low-budget but delicious Indian meal with healthy ingredients: local and seasonal veggies, no animal product, etc.

You can join either at 5 pm to participate in the prepping and cooking or at 6.30 pm for the last stages of cooking. We will start eating at about 7 pm. Please book – see below!
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Shammi has experience in running organic community kitchens and is interested in the links between our emotional states and our food choices. He will guide us into a conversation on making food choices in a compassionate way – away from right-and-wrong or guilt-and-shame paradigms and towards a need-based approach that is gentle and caring to ourselves and those around us.

This playshop is offered in the spirit of the gift culture. Contributions welcome to cover the costs and to support Shammi in bringing his gifts to our communities.
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YOU MUST BOOK with Annie on a.l@zen.co.uk, 01803 762992 or 07929 962653.

Further info: Shammi’s public Facebook page (‘Kathadesh – a Land of Stories’) on http://goo.gl/1VaGMn; his blog onwww.courageouscommunication.wordpress.com as well ashttp://goo.gl/ZI6GOQ and http://goo.gl/tR4USH; a community space he co-created in Chandigarh: www.parshada.tumblr.com

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NVC cafe : Serving Vegan and Non Veg food under one roof!

While I stayed with L’aura Joy at Auroville in 2011 with the intention to deepen my learning of NVC with her, we also did an experimental café – ‘En-Joy café’ or also called NVC café where we served all kinds of diverse foods to meet the different tastes of the larger community. From vegan to non-veg
Here is a short film made from the footage of the café. I am grateful to Gyan Shahane who took out the time to edit the film for us.
See http://youtu.be/icNiMz7heGk

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