This post is by contributing writer Lori Hernandez of Third Day Farms.
I remember when cooking was something I dreaded, something I grudgingly forced myself to do everyday.
It seemed like all I did all day long was prepare food, cook food, serve food, clean up food, wash dishes used for preparing food…over and over and OVER.
Oh man…I KNOW some of you out there feel the same way!
It felt thankless, exhausting, and discouraging.
More often than not, I found myself slipping into despair and frustration, feeling resentment toward my family, with their constant demands and insatiable appetites.
It was a miserable way to live.
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Something had to change…
I knew something needed to change, so I started checking out cookbooks from the library, in hopes that improving my cooking skills would help streamline the massive amounts of time I was spending in the kitchen.
Buried deep in one of those cookbooks, I stumbled upon this quote:
“If woman could see the sparks of light going forth from her fingertips when she is cooking and the substance of light that goes into the food she handles, she would be amazed to see how much of herself she charges into the meals that she prepares for her family and friends.
It is one of the most important and least understood activities of life-that the radiation and feeling that go into the preparation of food affect everyone who partakes of it, and this activity should be unhurried, peaceful and happy.
It would be better that an individual did not eat at all than to eat food that has been prepared under a feeling of anger, resentment, depression or an outward pressure, because the substance of the lifestream performing the service flows into that food and is eaten and actually becomes part of the energy of the receiver.
That is why the advanced spiritual teachers of the East never eat food prepared by anyone other than their own chelas. Conversely, if the one preparing the food is the only one in the household who is spiritually advanced and an active charge of happiness, purity and peace pours forth into the food from him, this pours forth into the other members and blesses them.
I might say that there are more ways than one of allowing the Spirit of God to enter the flesh of man.”
-Maha Chohan, Electrons
To be completely honest, my first thought was, “What’s all this mumbo jumbo about ‘sparks of light,’ ‘radiation,’ ‘lifestream,’ and ‘energy?’ Do people really believe in this stuff?!?”
I scoffed…but the words wouldn’t leave my head.
I could not shake the truth in the words. I could not disregard them. I felt convicted.
This was the change I needed.
The Power of Food Memories
Food, emotions and memory are deeply intertwined.
If I were ask you about some of the best memories or moments in your life, I would bet many of them are connected to food and how it made you feel. When I think of my grandmothers, both of whom have passed away, the most vivid memories are of them are all related to food. Them cooking for me, eating meals with them, or the special treats they gave me. These are very positive memories and I cherish them.
Gosh, I feel all warm and fuzzy right now thinking of them…the tastes, the smells…they all come flooding back.
This quote made me consider what kind of memories and emotions my children would associate with me and my cooking.
Would they remember a mother who was angry, frustrated and resentful? How would the memories of that food taste in their mouths? Would their associations with food and cooking forever be tainted by my negative attitude?
Transformation of Thinking
I decided then and there that I would change my mindset. We can actually change brain pattern by flexing our “brain power” and repeating specific thoughts, the same way you can build muscle in the body by repeating certain motions.
I made a large copy of the quote and taped it on my kitchen cupboards. Several times a day, I would read it. While I was cooking and preparing food, I would whisper the words to myself, driving out any negative thoughts and filling my mind with thoughts of love and thankfulness instead.
I imagined my love for my family traveling down through my fingers and into the food I was touching, praying that the food I prepared would bless them (and yes, it felt really weird at first!).
Instead of rushing to prepare and cook food, I slowed down. Waaaaay down. Working hard to rearrange my life so that cooking would not be hurried. Prepping as much as possible the night before or stretching ingredients into several meals. I did everything I could to make it peaceful. I turned on music that made me happy.
Sometimes, I even forced myself to smile while cooking.
The transformation was slow but steady. I actually began to enjoy cooking! Instead of feeling irritated and annoyed, I saw cooking as a way to bless my family. A way to keep them healthy and happy.
I was filled with gratitude that I had the opportunity to show love to my family in such a tangible way.
Now, I don’t want you to think that everything is all rainbows and butterflies every day at our house! There are still days when I feel tired or discouraged and just don’t want to cook.
Days when I say to myself, “What? They need to be fed AGAIN!”
Days when I get frustrated that I spent an hour cooking and my kids say, “Ewww! I don’t want to eat that!” (I bet that never happens at your house, right? Ha!).
Days when the dishes pile up and I get overwhelmed.
Days when we break down and order pizza.
I give myself lots of grace – some days are just hard and it’s ok to acknowledge that. Thankfully, I don’t feel that old resentment, frustration and anger that used to weigh me down.
“Food Is God’s Love Made Edible”
A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a silent prayer retreat (and yes, as an introverted mother with boisterous household, the retreat was AH-mazing. I highly recommend it!). It was a lovely time of renewal as spending hours in silence (silence!!! Can you even imagine it?!?). Praying about my roles in life and asking God how to live with intention.
When the noon meal was served, the silence was broken for about 1 minute as our leader prayed for the meal and closed with the words:
“Food is God’s love made edible.”
Yes. This. Amen. I tried to hide the tear that slid down my face.
As we ate the simple meal in silence, I actually could feel God’s love filling me, just as the food was filling my stomach. As the quote says, “…there are more ways than one of allowing the Spirit of God to enter the flesh of man.” Truly there is something sacred and beautiful about eating food that is lovingly and deliberately prepared by hands of people with servant’s hearts.
I went home filled with peace and contentment, inspired to do the same for my family – prepare food lovingly and deliberately, so that their hearts and stomachs would be filled at the same time.
The Secret Ingredient…LOVE
Last summer, our family went to a potluck with a group of friends. I can’t remember exactly what dish I brought to contribute. However, I do remember one of our friends coming up to me, eating my food and saying, “This is so delicious. You know, I know what your secret ingredient is.”
“What?” I replied feeling confused. “What are you talking about?”
“It’s love” he said with a smile on his face. “That’s the secret ingredient.”
I laughed him off and joked about it. Yet his statement has stuck with me, silly as it may seem.
He was right.
The secret ingredient WAS love. I was excited and looking forward to gathering with my friends. Pouring that energy and happiness into the food I prepared. Praying that the food I made would bless my friends.
Is it actually possible that food prepared with love tastes better? Call me crazy, but I say yes.
Spreading the Love – Cooking with Kids
I challenge you to ponder the words from the quote and put them into practice. There will be countless opportunities for us to choose between preparing food with resentment and grumbling…or with joy and love.
Maybe you are struggling with negativity in the kitchen. Feeling like cooking is taking over your life and preventing you from spending time with your kids. Perhaps the Kids Cook Real Foods e-Course could be a solution for you.
Not only will you be teaching your children valuable life skills, but you will also be shaping their attitudes and memories about food for the rest of their lives. You will be creating long-lasting positive memories for them, as you work together in a peaceful, unhurried and happy way.
Slow down. Be conscious of the thoughts and feeling you put into your work in the kitchen.
Love will shine through and bless all who receive it. What a gift for our loved ones!