No time for What?

Those who spent time with me during my Paris years know how passionate I am about eating and cooking. I thank my ancestors for this, which combined with aesthetics, is such a beautiful combination.

My last years in Paris I was working part time, and when I wasn’t working about 75% of my waking time I was at markets, supermarkets, specialty food stores, picking up my local co-op order and in the kitchen cooking. The cold and grey Parisian weather was also an incentive, making me want to spent time in my warmly lit cosy kitchen and the fire on. On non-work days, I would spend an average of 4-5 hours in the kitchen, and on work days an average of 2. Much of my social life was inside my apartment, where my friends would come visit me and eat.

As soon as I moved back to the Dominican Republic, my relationship with food started to change. The past few months I’ve been traveling and living in a camper, so spending time in the kitchen was not a thing. Also, I must admit that not having grandiose organic markets and a variety of fresh local produce brings down the incentive as well. Do I cook at home? Pretty much all the time. I might eat outside of my home about 3 meals a week (out of 21 total meals). One of them will be at a restaurant, which is usually the most disappointing experience, the second one will be at my own restaurant which is a lot better, and the last one will be a delicious home cooked meal by a loved one. Wish I had more of these to be honest.

So I do cook a lot, but with a different intention. It’s not a creative voyage through the senses like it would be in the past, it’s a need to feed and heal myself kind of situation. I feed myself very healthily, but also very simply. I don’t invest time in making food look pretty, which is why I don’t share images of what I cook. My food used to look so pretty I would share it all the time.

Yesterday I realised that I should probably be sharing anyway, since eating healthy home-cooked food is so easy and fast to prepare. It’s that concept that I want to share. It doesn’t matter if the image it doesn’t make people drool, although drooling is a sign that you want to prepare that dish cause it looks so good. But the point is: reality. A lot of us are hustling, doing what we need to do outside of the kitchen, and the time to feed ourselves is limited. Which is fine, but if you feel identified with what I just said and eat out at restaurants to kill time, I would highly recommend that you reevaluate the idea of making most of your meals at home. Why? Mainly, because you know what you are putting into the food.

At restaurants, we don’t know what goes in the food, and it’s usually a lot of condiments including sugar and unhealthy oils. Also, whoever prepares that food is transferring their energy into that meal-and who absorbs that energy? The eater.

Some cooks might have a lovely energy, and you might realise how much better food tastes and especially feels in your body when someone has prepared it with love and intention. Usually, this is not the scenario in a restaurant, since it’s a business and cooks are usually in a rush and stressed.

So the classic excuse is “I don’t have time” to cook at home. Guys, it is SO easy and quick to prepare a healthy and fresh meal at home. If you aren’t used to food that isn’t highly condimented, don’t worry-the body adapts. The less ingredients you use, the better your body will absorb them, as long as you combine them effectively for absorption. I won’t get into detail about nutrient absorption on this post but usually including a vegetable source of fat (like nuts or seeds) helps.

My shopping tip for maximizing your time finding ingredients is: shop to stock your pantry once a month (or as often as you need to) with shelf-stable items instead of buying them little by little every time you go grocery shopping. This basically includes whole grains, dried herbs, spices, nuts and seeds. Once your pantry is stocked, all you have to do is get your fresh produce every few days, and thats it!

I will share my own food staples I consume in Dominican Republic. These change according to where I geographically find myself, since eating mostly local, fresh and organic is key.

In my pantry, I like to always keep:

GRAINS: quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, brown rice & GF pasta in case of emergency

BEANS: green lentils, coral lentils, split peas, chickpeas, black beans

SEEDS: flaxseed, chia, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini

NUTS: cashew nuts, coconut flakes, walnuts, almonds (and almond butter)

SPICES: turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, garlic powder, & onion powder

HERBS: rosemary, basil, laurel, mint, thyme, kelp & coriander seed

SEA SALT: make sure you are consuming salt that actually comes from the sea. Table salt can be very toxic. Himalayan salt is also fine-I like to cook with sea salt and season with himalayan

OTHER CONDIMENTS: coconut oil (refined for cooking & virgin for consuming raw), olive oil, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, apple cider vinegar, honey

You can prepare SO MANY MEALS with all these ingredients in stock + your daily fresh produce, its pretty unbelievable. When you rotate your meals, you are offering your body a wide spectrum of nutrients, so it’s important to always switch up your fresh produce and even your pantry items and not buy the same things each time. When I travel I bring some things back that I know I can’t find at home. 

As far as freshies go:

GREENS: green is life, so anything organic that I can find: arugula, kales, watercress, mustard greens, basil, all kinds of mints, green onions, verdolaga

VEG: cucumbers, zuchini, beetroot, radishes, nabo, pumpkin, yuca, batata, ñame, yautía, green plantain, ginger, turmeric

FRUIT: papaya, pineapple, banana, watermelon, guanabana, mango, jackfruit, breadfruit, passionfruit, bitter orange, lime, dates

COCONUT WATER & MEAT

I consume animal products at home very rarely. I like to buy a frozen wild salmon from full circle, but I think they stopped importing it locally. If I ever eat beef, it’s local grass-fed beef. Be abundant with your fruits and vegetables.

Health tip: include any form of greens in every meal.

FREEZING

I like to keep prepped and chopped root vegetables in the fridge so when I’m lazy all I have to do is pop them in some sea salted boiling water. I also prep and chop coconut meat and fruit so I can blend quickly into smoothies, combining them with other fruit and veg that isn’t frozen for best results. If I will suddenly be away from home for a few days or more, I prep whatever is in my fridge and freeze it. You can even do this with fresh greens since you can blend them into a smoothie anyway.

Here’s an example of my recent meals (past 2 days):

1 liter morning smoothie made with: papaya, watermelon, cucumber, lime, passionfruit, banana, kale, chia seeds and camu camu (a high content vitamin C superberry). This took me about 5 minutes to put together: I cut the lime and passionfruit open, peeled the banana and cucumber, grabbed a spoon of seeds and camu camu and grabbed my already chopped papaya, watermelon and rinsed kale. Blend and voilá, satisfied for a few hours (it was a lot of produce).

Frozen yuca and beets that I popped into boiling water with salt. Sauteed onions, fresh arugula, roasted sunflower seeds topped with turmeric powder and coconut oil. Without counting the boiling time (because i was being productive doing something else), it took me about 10 minutes to prep the rest. Boom, delicious hearty and effortless lunch.

Chopped cabbage, radish and pineapple with lime, ACV, sea salt and olive oil sprinkled with black sesame seeds. Yummm

I added pineapple to that salad because what came afterwards was beef. I usually don’t eat much animals at home but I hadn’t had red meat in a while and my body was calling for it. So bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, helps the body digest protein.

I cooked my chunk of meat on a covered pot (haven’t figured out how to use this oven yet) over some coconut oil, sea salt and rosemary on top. Low heat for about 10 minutes. On the side, chopped garlic and bok choy, sauteed with sea salt. Topped all that with roasted sunflower seeds.

An afternoon pick me up that took like 3 minutes to make: home made almond milk that I defrosted, 1 banana, 1 date and into the blender. After smooth, added 1 teaspoon of cacao nibs and blend slightly, so the nibs are crunchable.

I generally avoid processed foods, but sometimes I do have a little GF pasta. I prepped everything while the pasta boiled: thinly sliced raw zuchini and a sauce made from almond milk, tahini, almond butter, turmeric & sea salt. Once the pasta was ready, I combined the sauce and the zuchini and that’s it. Easier than this, impossible.

I just moved into a new place this month and came back from a trip recently, so my fridge and pantry are pretty much empty. Still I had frozen some things and was able to buy some essentials to feed myself properly.

I usually never make the same dish twice, since the kitchen is where I mostly take advantage of my creativity, experimenting every time. Cooking is fun.

One of my favorite part of cooking? Foraging fresh ingredients from the earth. I am blessed to be able to grow produce organically where I collect some of my ingredients right before I use them. The fresher your ingredients are, the more of their life they will share with you. If you don’t have an outdoor space for a garden, you can plant some herbs in pots and keep them indoors, bringing more life into your home. Also, look around your environment. If you live in the Dominican Republic, there’s moringa trees growing all around you. That’s a superboost of vitamins and minerals right ithere. Mother earth has our backs.

Hoping that this post inspires you to nourish yourself well.

Love,

Bianca

Using Format