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The definition of a food philosophy

A food philosophy is a set of principles, usually individual but not limited to, which guides our food choices and eating styles.


It can be dictated by health conditions, ideological beliefs about environmental sustainability and farming methods, eating styles, or simply an awareness of what is beneficial for optimal health and healing.

My food philosophy is driven by my commitment to cleanliness, purity, minimalism, honesty, and authenticity.

In my culinary practice, I aim to maximize flavor and nutritional intake using strictly unprocessed foods. The aim is to eliminate artificial ingredients and seasoning substitutes used to imitate the natural flavors of foods.

I believe that what is nourishing should be just as flavourful as regular processed food. The goal is to maximize a few essential ingredients to create delicious food that is both satiating and boosts essential daily nutrient intake.

The values that underpin my nutritional cooking practice are:

 • Cooking with fresh raw ingredients

When we eat meals cooked using fresh ingredients, we take shelf-stabilizing ingredients out of the equation and that’s a good thing.

I like to know what I’m consuming and how it was prepared. That’s why I find cooking from scratch so rewarding. I admit it’s not always easy, especially when you work a full day, but here’s why I do it…

I like to know what’s in it and what’s really in it for me in terms of overall health benefits. More importantly, and here’s the thing I’m passionate about every day – I love knowing exactly what the healing qualities are that certain foods and ingredients have plus how I can leverage that to alleviate symptoms of health conditions.

• To heal and possibly cure symptoms of illness

Yes, all fresh foods have general health benefits. But, I like to know in what way their specific vitamins, minerals, and other compounds can help heal or alleviate symptoms of illness.

I let this guide me in how I choose my foods, how I cook with them, and how often I eat them during the day.

This was my starting point for uncovering exactly what my food philosophy was to be about. And it’s still the basis for all my meal planning and recipe development.

• Using naturally grown and harvested ingredients

Most of the time, I never use anything fake because I like to know what I’m consuming and how it was created. The closest ingredient to ‘fake’ I use is tomato paste out of a tube. And that’s just for the sake of convenience.

Like most people, I work a full day, so cooking from scratch 100% of the time is a challenge sometimes.

I also advocate a zero-food-waste philosophy. So, I’d rather use a tablespoon of tubed tomato paste than let fresh tomatoes go rotten because I’ve had a busy week.

My point is we do what we can within our circumstances.

Over and above that, I stress the importance of flexibility. Stress and eating do not belong in the same sentence or equation. You shouldn’t have to stress about decaying vegetables and the money wasted on them. So go easy on yourself and do the best you can.

Grow fresh food if you’ve got the resources – garden or city apartment balcony. Then buy fresh and organic when you can afford it. Maximize your available budget and cook with what fresh foods you can afford.

• To maximise nutritional intake

Also, learn to make the most out of your available ingredients and ‘squeeze’ as much nutrition as possible from them. Do this until you are ready to purchase more fresh and organic ones. Build something positive from a small, but very solid foundation.

All the time, I hear how expensive it is to eat organic. Yes, sometimes I also gawk at the prices of fruits and veggies at upmarket food stores. But the truth is, there are now too many blog and social media posts that tout how to grow your food that there’s no excuse for not eating organic or fresh anymore.

Learning to grow and maximize the cooking potential of a single ingredient can do wonders for your sense of abundance not only in food and health. I promise this point of view will positively influence other aspects of your life too. You will see the difference.

• Only using natural flavors

As per the blog and company name, I’m all about cravings and swapping them out for healthier ingredients. I try not to use fake flavors in many of my recipes as much as possible.

I go for natural flavors derived from whole foods or plant-based ingredients and it’s been a driving force behind my food philosophy.

• Nutritious food should be easy to assemble and cook

Understanding what you’re eating makes it easier to put together.

It’s true that when you relate to your foods and ingredients it makes it less ‘foreign’ to cook with.

You’re not alone in this. It’s easy to be seduced by glamorous, ‘healthy’ food images online or on a restaurant menu. But if you don’t understand what they are good for, it’s going to be hard to shop for them, let alone cook with them.

Everyone can’t go to nutrition school or do an expensive course just to find out what’s in all those gorgeous-looking foods. And more so, how to make them at home so they look as delicious as they do on social media.
Let’s be honest, and perhaps I speak for myself, it’s these beautiful, healthy food images that entice you and me to want to eat them to be healthier.

Sometimes social media can put people off doing things at home. It’s easier to order that dish readymade, all pretty and perfect right?

• Cooking skills and knowledge should be easy to access

I’m here to tell you though, culinary nutrition and cooking unprocessed are not about perfection and beauty. It’s about food quality and nutritional knowledge that you can make relevant to YOU.

Nutritional cooking – culinary nutrition – is about learning the very basics of food science, nutrition science, and (the fun bit) cooking techniques and skills. And you can get all that knowledge by reading the right online resources – like this one! – and knowing how to use that information to target the right foods that have health benefits for you.

Like I said before, stress – bad for your overall health – should not be in the equation.

Eating and cooking for optimal health has to be fun. That’s what I was looking for when I developed my food philosophy. Healthy eating and cooking from scratch have to put a smile on your face – as they did mine – because it is so satisfying and empowering. You just need to find ways of making it easy and accessible.

Keep following this blog and let me tell you how.

• To implement healthy food swops

Use natural ingredients that mimic the taste of your favorite ‘regular’ food – without worrying about sacrificing your health.

The inspiration for this blog was the topic of ‘cravings‘. And specifically how to eat healthily and not compromise ailments while enjoying your favorite comfort foods and snacks.

The only way to do that is with craving swaps. Out there, in the zeitgeist, there are more and more healthful alternatives available, whether through prepackaged organic products or recipe sharing. It’s wonderful how things are evolving.

Sigh… I wish that such information and knowledge sharing were available when I was growing up and as a young working adult. But, I’ve learned that it’s never too late to change habits. What’s worked for me and my food principles is to start with what you truly love – even if it’s comfort food. Even if you feel too guilty to admit it to yourself or others, trust that it’s a great springboard into nutritional cooking. There’s a healthy swap for almost everything now, so get excited!

• Making the right swops

You can swap most junk foods and ingredients with plant-based alternatives. And you don’t have to eat oatmeal every day so you can be healthy. With so much food scientific research coming to the fore regarding natural foods, the recipe ideas for breakfasts are now so varied and enticing, you’ll find it so easy to start eating more healthily.

With eating naturally, you’ll find converting to healthy eating no longer requires a diet plan. You see, eating for nutrition in a natural, conscious, and knowledgeable manner makes the ritual of eating guilt-free and more pleasurable.

Swapping out with healthful ingredients is a way to eat what you want, when you want, as many times as you like without the guilt. As you know, guilt is stress and a straight path to disease. You don’t want that.

Cravings swaps are one of the key components of my food philosophy. Download my Ultimate list of Craving Swops and start getting inspired.

To be innovative with minimal ingredients

Culinary innovation is a key factor in developing your food philosophy. It was in mine.

As you become more innovative with whole, unprocessed foods and flavors, you gain a deep understanding of their nutritional role and cooking potential.

There is no stronger motivation to push you to cook creatively than when you are limited in what you have to cook with. Say hello to a limited food budget! It’s a good thing.

When you cook with a few or even just one ingredient, it forces you to get innovative. Now, couple that with increased knowledge of food and nutrition. It’s a pretty powerful and exciting combo.

Consider the overall health benefits of certain foods for the general population of the country in which you live. Culture, economics, and geographical context are a good foundation for understanding where your food comes from and how it fits into your past and present eating habits.

• The ability to satisfy cravings

I still get cravings for the cultural foods that I grew up eating. But, I learned – as with my recent food cravings – to find ways of innovating those dishes to align more with my needs in terms of healing.

For example, instead of cooking with hydrogenated vegetable oils and shelf-stabilizing spices, I swapped them out with ghee and freshly roasted spice seeds I made in my kitchen. These ingredients are high in beneficial essential fatty acids that help with skin inflammation.

And better yet, while getting reacquainted with childhood dishes, encouraged me to create variations on them by taking them in a more plant-based direction. For instance, I swapped the red meat in a Biryani with lentil meatballs and basmati rice for quinoa or turmeric-colored cauliflower rice. These are the equivalent of red meat protein, but better for blood pressure and it adds anti-inflammatory benefits to the dish as well.

These types of ingredient swops are nothing new, but they add culinary innovation to my cooking repertoire. Cooking healthy should be as easy as this.

Take advantage of the readily available knowledge and let it inspire you in a way that benefits your health.

• To have an eating style that has staying power

Knowing that I can create flavor with healthy ingredients is a strong motivation to sustain this way of cooking and stay on a path of wellness and ‘cleanliness on the inside’.

As a younger adult, I loved trying all kinds of eating plans. They looked like a straight path to either losing weight or achieving a perfect ‘glow’ from the inside.

I tried so many but never completed one. I either got bored or ran out of funds while trying to keep up with buying ‘healthy’ (read: expensive) ingredients. Things were quite different not too long ago. Few people knew about growing your foods, urban homesteading, or cooking for nutrition. It was all ‘diet-this-diet-that’.

Perhaps that’s still out there. But I think eating for well-being has now become a more individualized and conscious pursuit.

And coupled with climate change, we know that the only way to a healthy body is to think consciously about what we’re putting into it, ie. what we’re eating and preparing it.

Getting to know basic foods again and learning their healing benefits, plus how we can prepare them in exciting ways, is the only ‘diet’ that has longevity. It’s the eating style that has rewards beyond a physically healthy body.

• To be responsible for my optimal health

The only person who knows what is right for you… is YOU.

The prevention or healing and maintenance of health challenges are ultimately your responsibility.

This last point summed up the end game of my food philosophy. When I developed it, I realized I needed a food strategy that built optimal health and was easy enough to keep me accountable for my physical and mental health. And nutritional cooking as opposed to dieting ticked all those boxes.

This way of cooking and eating makes me feel like my food and health are not in someone else’s hands – though I have enormous respect for healthcare practitioners. I read Mind over Medicine by Dr. Lissa Rankin a few years ago and I still reference it when researching food and nutrition. It’s worth a read when you need inspiration or reassurance of how much our mental health walks hand-in-hand with our physical health.

Cooking from scratch and eating mindfully – knowing why and how you made your food choices – truly is life-transforming.

A food philosophy and the values built around it can be made effortless. It just requires a bit of enthusiasm and a passion for optimal health, minus the need for perfection.

So how do you develop your food philosophy?

Considering what you like and dislike will always be dictated by your or your family’s lifestyle and health goals, and tastes.

A great place to start would be:
  1. Look at your buying patterns, ie. your shopping lists and what you generally crave to eat.
  2. Make a list of dishes you are already cooking from scratch as these are the ones you don’t fear to make and have confidence with
  3. Take inventory of your pantry and fridge and list which foods you consume frequently and which go to waste.
  4. Observe what foods and ingredients you won’t compromise on, ie. what you like to eat and what is easy to shop for and affordable.
  5. Make a list of health conditions or ailments which symptoms you would like to treat using foods.
Using your answers to the above, reduce them to a few key points. They should highlight the following things:

A. What foods do you frequently consume, even if they are unhealthy?

B. Your main health concerns

C. Your buying patterns (shopping lists and food waste)

Now use these three key points to build your food philosophy around.

Here is an example:

A. If the foods you are consuming are 50% healthy, you can create your new eating philosophy around:

  1. converting the other 50% to healthy foods
  2. making healthier craving swops
  3. learning healthy cooking skills to increase your intake of more nutritional meals

B. To meet health condition expectations, you could:

  1. Aim to include more of certain foods that have healing qualities that relate to your health condition, for example, gut healthy foods, if you have ‘leaky’ gut syndrome

C. To reduce waste and improve your food budget spend, you could:

  1. Replace the wasted foods with ones you love to eat or new healthier swops (which you’ll learn to love with your healthy cooking skills!)

It’s just a brief example, but you get the idea. Your version will be more detailed and tailored to your needs and tastes.

Remember that it will also be affected by existential ideas that are highly personal to you. We don’t live in a bubble and the world is a smaller place than it used to be. We are all influenced and informed by each other’s ideas about food and health. Let it inspire you rather than pressure you into how you’re supposed to eat and live.

Conclusion

If you liked this blog post, you’ll love my Introduction to Nutritional Cooking.

It’s an epic post, but it gives you an all-rounded guide to the concept of culinary nutrition which is cooking with nutrition in mind.

I guarantee it will inspire you. If you are seeking healthier habits it will assist you in developing your food philosophy. Or if you just want an eating style optimized for maximum nutritional intake, this is the blog post you want to read!

Let me know in the comments section if these articles helped you, I value your feedback.

And to inspire you further, download my FREE Ultimate Guide to Nutritional Pantry Essentials.

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