Every year for the past four years, I have hosted a vision board party with my friends. While I am busy cooking a meal with loving energy in the kitchen, we chat as they prepare their vision board with new hopes and wishes of love, health, travel and success. At times, I get so busy hosting that I delay preparing my vision board. So this year, I’ve decided to share my vision with you–my passion for healthy communities and my purpose of sharing the ancestral wisdom of wellness for a healthy Africa with new kitchen traditions.
As I have traveled across the African continent speaking with students, meeting with health professionals and visiting farms, and preparing traditional dishes from West to East Africa, I thought about how ripe the time is for me and all of us to create and envision a healthy kitchen that nourishes Africa.
My cooking classes through NativSol Kitchen are mostly attended by women who bring their mothers and children. And from them, I realized how “we are the ones we have been waiting for” to heal ourselves and our communities. We, as women, have been essential in the spiritual uplifting of our families and communities.
And so, we have a rightful place of taking back our power in the kitchen to continue to uplift ourselves or we relinquish our power to people who don’t have our best interest at heart. I say this thinking of the many reports of food recalls and billboards promoting junk food as a quick fix to stress and depression. That’s not love and we can do better.
I have seen it first hand: African Diasporans in America have become prey to the “convenience culture” resulting in, to no surprise, the booming rates of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease. Even I have fallen prey to fast-food drive throughs to feed my family and ready-to-eat meals while working at the desk for 8 or more hours at times. But as Africa changes, welcoming development and opportunity, so will the kitchens transform. But in what way?
I wish to share 8 kitchen traditions with you, because I truly believe the kitchen is the sacred place providing the healing power and freedom that will make us better equipped to enjoy the fruits of a wealthy Africa.
1.Nourish and (re) new
Food should be seen as energy that nourishes the body and soul. Think about how it grew, how it was prepared and reflect on food providing more than a full belly. but good nutrition – vitamins, minerals and fiber—for the body and soul.
Remember the last time you ate junk food and wanted to sleep or be inactive, whereas eating colorful fresh fruits and vegetables made your body feel recharged to get up and go? That’s what it means to be renewed!
2. Authentically and African
Food should be whole and alive, not “fake” and dead. Or my typical expression: “Not fried, dyed and laid to the side” unless that’s what you want to be too! Do we want “fake” people in our lives? So why do we eat fake food—filled with artificial color, flavors, perspectives wrapped in package like a coffin?
Let’s be true to our food and culture as we want people to be with us.
Some habits are hard to break. So to create new traditions, try a quick litmus test of asking the question: Will it heal me or kill me?
Perhaps it’s time to create new traditions of the life you want: A life with the career you dream of, the ability to travel easily around the world, a healthy pregnancy and to see your children grow. Then healthy eating habits must be a new tradition.
Ask any one mother and she may share how her intuition grew after having a baby. Women are innately intuitive. However, in the everyday hectic cycle of life, we may forget.
We instinctively know what’s good for our body; that’s what it means to follow your gut—it’s your primal brain and the source of creation.
Creating a new set of values that are based on your beliefs, be it self-worth, sustainability, health, patience, or creativity, to navigate the course of your health and life.
Shifting from a value system of pure economics—focusing on low cost and convenience—is powerful to having the life your deserve.
6. Spirituality and sustainable
The spirit of our mothers and fathers who transformed the kitchen as a sacred place preparing meals reflects the magical creation like the act of planting a seed. We have a symbiotic relationship with the world like a child to a parent.
Sustaining that relationship is key for our future and our children—that’s agape love at best.
7. Oneness and organic
Giving reverence to the Creator through mindful eating with grace before meal or making a ‘spirit/ancestor’s plate’ speaks to abundance, optimism, appreciation, recognition of the source of all life.
In the hustle and bustle of life, we can easily forget our power source and give our power to man, when God has the ultimate control. Also, equally important, is eating food that is organic, free of pesticide and toxins, that burden our bodies creating more imbalance in our health.
8. Love and local
Cooking and eating with love versus fear is a powerful intention that transfers the energy of the cook into food as energy that our body receives, and how our families receive the food as nourishment.
Sourcing our food locally is part supporting the local economy and preserving our heritage foods which promotes our African identity.
What about you? What African traditions have you ingrained into your diet and kitchen? Which ones did we miss? Share them below.