When I was a child, my granny didn’t only give us lunch boxes that satisfied our hunger or tasted nice. Though they really did, those were secondary considerations.
But the lunch boxes she gave us, were intended to build strong bodies and minds. She was giving us the best building materials to grow bodies and minds that could withstand everything life would throw at us. And the foundations she helped us lay, gave us lives that were mostly free of worrying about physical & mental problems.
With her inspiration and guidance, I carried her wisdom down to my children. To try give them the wholesome start to their lives that I was given. I put a lot of time into the food I made for them. Many hours of love. And with two healthy and tough children who barely missed a day of school, I finally felt like I had honoured my granny’s legacy.
After the children left home, my need to feed was left hanging. And as luck would have it, the opportunity arose for me to feed children other than my own.
This time at Golders Green Montessori school in London where my daughter was teaching. She could not believe the amount of illnesses and concentration issues her students were having. And after some investigation, blamed it squarely on the poor food that they were eating at school and home.
With no convincing what so ever, and an angel flapping up above, I was handed the job of in-house chef and began to inject some goodness into their bellies.
Fields of garlic, onions, ginger and other botanical heavyweights went in there, sometimes hidden within other more tasty stuffs. And slowly but surely, I began to pump some rosy colours into those cheeks.
Until there were gradual and noticeable changes in other areas too.
Physical activities, behaviour, attendance, and general atmosphere all seemed to improve.
It felt really audacious to blame all the wonderful results on healthy food. But after much analysis and inquiries with parents and teachers, there was nothing much else left to blame.
And almost all lines of inquiry ended up back at the children’s excitement for lunch time and how much they were enjoying their food. It seemed too easy.
The only downside, was parents complaining that their kids had started being picky with their food at home..
But it finally drove home (literally), the importance of food in our lives and especially the lives of our little ones.
Besides the physical benefit, we greatly underestimate the emotional effect that good wholesome food has on our minds and overall well-being. It is no wonder that we turn to it during times of worry.
We tend to forget that food is fourth in line after oxygen, water and sleep, and out of those top four, it is the only one that literally makes us who we physically are. This refuelling that we do on average 3 times a day, is more important than almost everything else we normally value most. The two reasons we don’t, is because it is the only one which we have some choice over, and its effects sometimes take a long time to become apparent. Which is why it is the most abused and ignored out of the top four. Poor decisions now don’t seem as bad as they actually turn out to be.
After that journey, it became clear to me that most people were not healthy, mainly because they had never been taught what healthy is from the beginning.
If schools are giving us the tools to lead our lives, why on earth are they not teaching us one of the most important parts of staying alive? And not only alive, but a life worth living.
This is the mountain my path has begun to lead me over. Showing children what healthy is, and how yummy, healthy can be, and making it second nature from the beginning.
Remember, healthy food is always cheaper than medical bills.
So where to start? There is only one place.
1 Free-range chicken
3 Carrots roughly chopped
3 Sticks of celery with leaves roughly chopped
2 Medium onions roughly chopped
5 Cloves garlic roughly chopped
2 Large bulbs fennel chopped
½ tsp freshly chopped lemongrass
½ tsp freshly chopped ginger
½ tsp fresh turmeric
½ cup of freshly chopped parsley
1 full cup love
1 tbsp fresh dill
3 tbsp of olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
Salt & pepper
Take a moment to fully embrace your intention.
The secret is in slow-cooking the chicken, to extract the goodness out of all the skin, bones, and connective tissues.
Rinse the chicken well and cut into at least four pieces. Place in a large pot and fill with water to cover the chicken.
Add the vegetables with the rest of the ingredients, mix and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for about two hours.
Taste regularly to appreciate and try identify all the flavours.
It will be ready when the vegetables are soft and the flesh is falling off the bones.
Pour contents into colander over a bowl to separate the liquid.
Transfer the bird to another bowl, remove the skin and start cutting/tearing it into small pieces.
Next combine the liquid and veggies back into the pot and blend to your desired chunkiness.
Add the chicken pieces along with the lemon juice and mix to combine evenly.