When my husband and I had Covid over the holidays, my son whipped up a pot of soup and left it on the porch for us. Of course, you can't have soup without some homemade sourdough bread, left by my daughter. An offering of homemade applesauce was delivered by my dear friend and neighbor. While the food was delicious, it was the Love that made it so much more. The compassion of our friends and family became the medicine that helped us heal.
Much like our compassionate friends and family, fruits, grains and vegetables also deliver healing and can help ease our suffering. Foods act as antihistamines, aphrodisiacs or analgesics. They can thin the blood or clot the blood. They can relieve depression or calm the nerves. Food is a literal apothecary, here for our delight and wellbeing!
Take for instance the eggplant. This gorgeous vegetable delights our eyes with its rich purple color while its analgesic properties relieve pain in our body and it tastes way better than ibuprofen! Foods are here to heal and bring us life.
In Ayurvedic medicine, there is the concept of "Prana''. Loosely translated as "Life Force", Prana is what differentiates something that is alive from something that is not. If you take a previously frozen green bean and place it side by side with a green bean that has just been picked off the plant, there is an undeniable difference. The fresh green bean still has the life force, or Prana, of the plant vividly pulsating through it. When we consume fresh, whole foods, we are literally taking in the life force of Nature! When we prepare food with Love and Compassion, our Prana is infused into the meal. And that Prana is compounded exponentially when we gather around the table to share the meal in community.
Whether we are cooking for ourselves or for others, the act of nourishment is truly a sacred event and should not be left to a greasy bag of "dead" food handed out of a window by someone who did not really care to be making it, to be consumed while driving, texting, working or watching television. Nourishing ourselves is the very first step in healing ourselves.
Does this mean we must all become chefs in order to nourish ourselves and our loved ones? Of course not! We simply need to set the intention to nourish, then choose ingredients with the highest Prana, i.e. fresh, local, whole foods, as close to the source as is available to us. Simply prepared and consumed with gratitude, our meals become one of the greatest acts of self care and compassion that we can possibly receive or share.
Here’s proof that lovingly preparing your meals doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming: check out my recipe for easy Instant Pot Eggplant!