“This does not look like food” was my first thought.
I was expecting it to be ‘vegan’ (this was a yoga retreat after all) without really knowing what that would leave once all the animal products had been removed. Something that did not look like food was the answer. It looked... odd.
More colourful than my usual dinner table for a start. And whilst it smelt familiar to a curry-lover it looked different to what came in tin foil containers from the local takeaways.
Truthfully, I could have turned on my heels and happily ran away to just such a takeaway.
Except I was about two hours down a dirt road from any where that would have one. And besides, sorting out my poorly tummy was part of the reason I was here in the first place.
I’ve always loved food but by this point in my life, food had started to stop loving me.
I was on a triple dose of medication to treat reflux and I munched my way through endless ant-acids every day. And I struggled terribly with IBS, which if you’ve had it, you don’t need to know how horrible it is. If you’ve not had it, you don’t want to know how horrible it is!
I stopped eating dairy and gluten and this was helping, but it just about wiped out anything I knew how to cook.
And completely wiped out the things I loved to eat!
I was (literally) hungry to learn how to cook and eat differently and in a way that didn’t make my body sick.
So I filled my plate, then I filled my belly.
By the end of the retreat I found I had also filled my soul.
I drove home feeling so good that I vowed to return and learn how to cook like my hosts and teachers.
“It’s easy” said Pete, the retreat chef, when I did come back. “You just bang it all in a pan and cook it until it’s ready”.
But he let me do my karma yoga (the bit of yoga that looks like ‘work’ but is more like ‘devotion through action') in the kitchen with him where I could take notes.
Atmavidya, the retreat teacher, was just as bemused by my desire to learn ‘recipes’ - “I just look at what’s growing in the garden and gather up what looks tasty”.
I eventually persuaded them that a little cookbook is useful to those of use wanting a more wholesome or sattvic diet.
This is that little cookbook.
As I finished writing it, I realised that Pete showed me the most important ingredient from the start by making it karma yoga.
Growing, preparing, and eating food is a form or worship.
The meals at the retreat were served as prasad - a gift.
Cooking is an act of love, and love is the most important ingredient.
Love what you eat and you are loving yourself.
Learning new things to cook and eat was a big part of my healing from chronic indigestion and fatigue.
30+ recipes for breakfasts, salads, soups, mains, treats and the only smoothie you may ever need.
I've chosen simple recipes free from wheat, dairy, meat, fish, eggs, peanuts and sugar.
Finding sweet treats I could enjoy was absolutely essential to succeeding with my new approach to food. Thankfully, my girlfriend took on the challenge and this is my favourite thing she makes.
It's a great alternative to a '4th rock from the sun' bar.
Click here for a free download of this recipe.