Baby steps

Baby Step #11 | SOLE Kitchen

This is the eleventh of a 12-part series titled “Baby Steps.” On the first of each month, I post 1 tiny step toward better health that you can take every day for that month – practically without trying. Soon, that tiny step will be part of your daily routine, and you won’t even remember you never did it before. The next month, add the next baby step. By the end of 2016, you’ll have accumulated 12 new healthy habits, and you’ll notice a difference – not day to day, perhaps, but definitely between any before and after photos you might take and any journal entries you might make. Check in during each month with a comment below and/or on Facebook – I’d love to hear about your progress!

If you’re new to the Baby Step series, you can catch up on the first 10 months by following the links below:

  1. starting your day with lemon water
  2. pausing to breathe
  3. eating your greens daily,
  4. turning off all screens at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime
  5. switching to sea salt in your kitchen.
  6. asking yourself, “Why is this happening for me (as opposed to to me)?”
  7. curing the sugar blues
  8. moving from “I have to” to “I get to”
  9. try on a new eating style
  10. developing an attitude of gratitude

If you’ve been following along all year, how’s that all going? What’s been easy? What’s been more difficult?

This month’s baby step brings up a topic near and dear to my heart.

If you’ve known me in person or followed me online for any length of time, you know by now that this month, I’m publishing a cookbook (and meal planning guide) called Fl!p Your K!tchen. (In fact, today, my countdown tells me it’s in 3 days!) A large part of my practice involves getting clients back into their kitchens cooking from scratch, and this book, along with a forthcoming repackaged online course, is going to be a huge help with that process.

Why did I decide to use that title? I’ve had people say that it brings to mind a physical kitchen renovation (sort of like flipping a house?). Others say it makes them think of the expressing “flipping off” (what my brother refers to as giving someone the #1 best friend wave). But no, what I mean by flipping your kitchen is really turning a lot of preconceived notions about cooking from scratch on their heads. (Actually, a friend points out, maybe in a way I am flipping these notions the bird?)

I am often asked, “What do YOU eat?” I love to answer, “SOLE food!” Of course, not SOUL food (although I do love good fried chicken, grits, greens, etc.)

SOLE food is that which is:

  • Seasonal. We try to eat food that is in season—and with hoop houses, that variety has increased, even in the winter in Michigan!
  • Organic (and/or sustainably grown). We want our food to be raised in a way that is most beneficial (or at a minimum, the least harmful) to the environment.
  • Local. We get about 80% of our food—vegetables, some fruit, milk, meat, poultry, and eggs—directly from local farms.
  • Ethical. We try to purchase food that is grown/picked/transported in such a way that all the human beings who touch it along the food chain earn enough to feed themselves and their families and have other basic needs of stable work, shelter, clean air, and water taken care of.

Fl!p Your K!tchen coverThis month (with apologies to the Doors), I invite you to take a baby step toward establishing your own “SOLE kitchen.” You don’t have to make the changes all at once—remember the idea is to take tiny steps that can become habits over time.

You may ask, “Why bother? Prepared food is cheap and plentiful and some of it is healthy!”

Well, you asked, so now we go into what my kids would refer to as “the hippie woowoo part of our program.”

To me, SOLE food is not only healthful for usit’s healthin and of itself, meaning that it vibrates in frequency with the Universe.  Why does that matter, or as my kids might ask, “Is that even a thing?”

I would suggest that it does matter. We have done so much over the past decades to lose our health, degrade our environment, and keep others down that we have fallen out of alignment with the Universe (or, if you prefer, Nature by any of her names). Just one glimpse at the news and it’s obvious that we are not living in a way that improves our health, preserves our environment, and lifts others up—economically, spiritually, intellectually, physically….

We eat, many of us well and three times a day: what better opportunity do we have to be mindful about this one act as a place in our lives where we can change our vibration to be a bit more in tune with the Universe?

What are some baby steps you can take this month?

  • Start eating more seasonally, beginning with produce—you can easily Google what plant crops are in season in your region. If you only shop at grocery stores, seek out those products, since they are more likely to be locally grown. Increasingly,  groceries label local produce. Of course, the easiest way to find what is truly local is to shop at a farmers’ market that requires food to be locally grown.
  • Start buying organic produce if you can afford it. If it feels beyond reach, Environmental Working Group annually posts a list called “The Dirty Dozen + The Clean Fifteen,” which helps you determine which produce retains the most pesticides and should be bought organic and which are less contaminated, in which case it’s okay to buy conventional if you need to compromise for the sake of your budget.
  • Start buying locally. Local Harvest has an excellent search function that allows you to find a variety of ways to buy directly from farmers in your area.
  • Start buying “ethically.” Equal Exchange certification can identify “ethical” foods in the grocery store, and if you have started with the first three (seasonal, organic, and local), there’s a good chance you’re already buying ethically. If you buy directly from a small farmer, don’t hesitate to pay what is asked—they need to make a living, too! If you buy from a larger enterprise, ask them about whom they hire and whether they take into consideration benefits and a living wage as well as encouraging employees to continue their education in the workings of the enterprise in order to eventually move up and/or out on their own. Many organizations are turning to inviting veterans and the formerly incarcerated to learn how to farm in order to give them a skill that can make their transition to civilian life more sustainable.

Simply reading labels and making a decision in support of SOLE food more often than not will bring a deep mindfulness to your food purchasing. Learning to cook these foods at home and sitting down for family meals will return bring more mindfulness to how you nourish yourself and others.

People are disbelieving when I say that cooking is my spiritual practice, but really, SOLE kitchen/Soul Kitchen…maybe it’s a case of “you say tomato, I say tomahto?”

And you’re welcome for the earworm ( Bonus points if you rewrite the lyrics to be for a SOLE kitchen, but I don’t expect you to be sleeping in it, really, I don’t.