Kitchen Sadhana

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I LOVE the words "Kitchen Sadhana”. Sadhana literally means spiritual practice. Kitchen Sadhana invites you to have a discipline, a practice around how you keep your kitchen, and how you use it to create your body (and the other bodies you feed). The goal is simple- make your kitchen functional and your foods intentional, aligning with who you want to become. The energies that you bring into your kitchen, from your ingredients to your attitude, give rise to the energies and attitudes you experience from what you eat.

What to Do:

Schedule two hours every week or biweekly to prepare foods for the week and align your kitchen to feed your soul.

Why You Want To:

Every week or fortnight, as a practice, spend a special chunk of time in your kitchen—roughly two hours—doing things that make it easier to prepare foods quickly and more easily during the every- day kind of days in between.

How to Start:

Get out your calendar and mark off two hours during the morning of a day off. Purge your kitchen of stuff you don’t use anymore, and clean your cupboards.

Having special time set aside each week or fortnight to update, overhaul, and cocreate with plants, making them into foods, can indeed become a sacred practice. The goal is simple—make your kitchen functional and your foods intentional, aligning with who you want to become.

Where the Priests Were the Cooks

Once upon a time the priestly Brahmin caste prepared the food for the king and his family. The priests were the cooks, as well as the spiritual, ethical, and political advisors. The idea here was to have the energy of awake mindfulness—of God, the divine, and enlight- enment—infused into the food, coupled with the alchemy of pre- paring food with attention to season and constitution for the king’s health.

And so it can be in your kitchen. The energies you bring into your kitchen, from your ingredients to your attitude, give rise to the energies and attitudes you experience from what you eat.

Sadhana means spiritual practice. Any practice, or something you do repetitively with the goal of connecting with the highest, is sad- hana. For this reason, Kitchen Sadhana becomes a natural, effortless part of a life connected to dharma.

If you spend a chunk of time in the kitchen twice a month, taking care of specific activities that make future meal preparation faster, you’ll save a ton of time and eat better. These activities can include things like purging your cabinets, restocking your grains, beans, seeds, or spices, making batches of living foods (such as sauerkraut, green powder, granola). We can take these activities and turn them into sadhana or a practice with a spirit-revitalizing goal.

Sadhana is a means where bondage becomes liberation,” says yoga historian N. Bhattacharyya. If kitchen work sounds like bondage to you, it just may become a gateway. B.K.S. Iyengar reminds us that sadhana has everything to do with abhyasa and kriya:

Sadhana is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. Abhyasa is repeated practice performed with observation and reflection. Kriya, or action, also implies perfect execution with study and investigation. Therefore, sadhana, abhyasa, and kriya all mean one and the same thing. A sadhaka, or practi- tioner, is one who skillfully applies . . . mind and intelligence in practice toward a spiritual goal.

The consequences are drastic. Without Kitchen Sadhana you fall into food ruts, messy cupboards, convenience foods, and a less interconnected body. This practice disciplines you to set up your food-body for the week. Kitchen Sadhana can be as easy as taking a two-hour chunk of time to go through your cupboards to see what you’ve got, get out your recipe books or open a recipe website, fill out your Weekly Meal Planner, and write your grocery list.

Kitchen Sadhana Pays Big Dividends:

  • You save time.

  • You eat better.

  • You save money.

  • Your kitchen becomes seasonal.

  • Your kitchen becomes more useful.

  •  You’ll become more relaxed and easeful as you eradicate the stress out of feeding yourself (and your family) well on a day-to-day basis.

You become healthier because you’re designing your body through your kitchen practices.

Two hours of Kitchen Sadhana every other week enables me to put together delicious homemade nutrient-dense meals in less than 20 minutes. This comes in super useful if you are in the over- scheduled/under-nurtured category. Other signs that you need this habit may include some of the following: you’re packing a few extra pounds, you need better nutrition, you’re holding stress, you don’t feel nurtured, you enter your kitchen ravished and just grab something quick, you don’t have healthy food at the ready, and your kitchen doesn’t feel sacred or well-used.

When you make your own food, you get good at adjusting recipes for your body, and soon you’re cooking from scratch without recipes at all. You crave your own food. Eating out for more than a few consecutive meals or eating prepared foods lessens your power. Your mind isn’t as clear. Your body isn’t as strong. Your home isn’t as nurturing. Why? Because your senses, hands, and intuition are attuned to what you need and subtly energize your staples.

Historically, humans selected and prepared their own food within family systems. If you’re the household cook, you know how everyone else in the household likes their food. You know who likes cardamom more than cinnamon, who uses more salt or pepper, who needs more greens than grains. When your kitchen syncs with the seasons, climate, and plants that grow in your hood, you enter a deeper level of flow and ease.

Kitchen Sadhana demands that you not only own your kitchen, but that you revitalize the space biweekly. You get a spell of time to align how you feed yourself with how you want to be. Do you want to be lighter? Heavier? Warmer? Cooler? More nutrified? Clearer? More cozy? You take these gunas, these attributes, and realign your food stores and kitchen atmosphere to feed your body with more accuracy.

The purpose of my kitchen is to nourish my body efficiently and with love. My kitchen evolves with me. Without Kitchen Sadhana, foods sneak onto your shelves that aren’t in alignment with who you want to become. Purge and pass on.

The point is to ask yourself what needs to happen in your kitchen for the space to better serve your collective needs and help you align your diet with your goals—and then take action.

Start with a Purge

The very first Kitchen Sadhana session is a purge. Invite Buddhi, the enlightened version of yourself, to the party. Buddhi is your higher self—the part that has two-way communication between the self and the whole. The part that loves meditation, and gets the concept of Easeful Living.

Buddhi demands connection to being, and you know that requires clear space—sukha. Your Buddhi can make sukha happen in your kitchen with about 20 minutes and three brown cardboard boxes.

Kitchen Sadhana Happens When You Invite Buddhi into the Kitchen

Let your Buddhi scour your kitchen. One box is for stuff to give away to someone in need or the thrift store. The other is stuff you might want later, but you’re not interested in now.

The key here is that you have to let your higher mind do the work. Your outdated patterns will try to sabotage you, coming up with powerful reasons to hold onto the box of graham crackers or kitchen tools you’ve never used. Remember, this is sadhana—a discipline. Buddhi gets face time and calls the shots.

Buddhi knows what goes where. You’re done with this. You’ll need this later. When the two boxes are full, tape them shut. Label them “food and kitchen items for the thrift store” and “stuff I will review and give away in six months.” Put the latter in your garage, put the former in your car.

Nice work. You created some sukha that enables the natural flow of ease. You’ll be inspired to keep going. Finish your session by making a list of the activities that you’ll do in two weeks dur- ing Kitchen Sadhana. This is a practice. Schedule it in and make it a recurring bimonthly event. It’s not a one shot deal. You’re deep- ening your connection with the spirit of the kitchen—the spirit of food preparation. This is how your food and your body become sacred.

Batch-Tasking with Buddhi

Once your kitchen is clear and highly functional, you’ll want to use your Kitchen Sadhana task list to batch-task food preparation. There are two ways to look at Kitchen Sadhana:

  1. Kitchen tasks

  2. Homemade staples

Kitchen tasks are the realm of cleaning, organizing, and stock- ing. Check off the kitchen tasks you need to do.

Kitchen Tasks

• Clean the kitchen drawers and cupboards

• Fill in your Weekly Meal Planner

• Make a grocery list

• Clean the fridge (recruit help)

• Restock your kitchen staples

• Purge and restock your kitchen for the current season

• Refresh your spices (every 6–12 months)

• Harvest your garden

• Install a compost bin

• Turn the compost

Homemade Staples List

Homemade staples are foods you only need to make once a week (like salad dressing), once a month (like granola). Here are the staples I make, in order from weekly to annually.

  • Roasted vegetables

  • Boiled vegetables (in salty water)

  • Stock for soups and dishes

  • Sprouted nuts and seeds

  • Salad dressings and sauces

  • Granola

  • Soaked chia for porridge (keeps in fridge for a week)

  • Cookies or raw chocolate balls

  • Pickled vegetables or sauerkraut

  • Hummus or bean dips

  • Raw crackers

  • Fruit rollups for the kid

  • Green powders and superfood blends

  •  Herbal teas

    My Kitchen Sadhana in Action

    I prefer weekends. You may prefer another time. Like all habits, get in a groove and stick to it until you find a better habit. I keep a fridge list of what is next on my Kitchen Sadhana of the week. The list has specific to-do’s. Here’s an example.

    •  Roast vegetables

    • Boil vegetables

    • Make lemon miso salad dressing

    • Check miso in basement

    • Harvest basil

    • Make pesto

    • Wash compost bin

    Here is an example for another session I had recently:

    • Make buckwheat granola

    • Make honey-mustard vinaigrette

    • Pick my weeds in the dehydrator

    • I like to have cooked vegetables around to make a soup or salad out of in a few minutes. Often, I walk in hungry for lunch or dinner and want to whip up a vegetable-based meal. I’ll roast sweet pota- toes, potatoes, beets, and sometimes cauliflower, onions, broccoli, or asparagus. The roots I’ll throw in the oven whole. The others I’ll toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The oven is hot, around 425 degrees. I’ll turn on the oven and put a pot of salty water on the stove at the same time. The prep on this part is 10 minutes max. The payoff for the next few days saves time and stress, and leads to better meals. I’ve found that many living foods, which are high in enzymes and great for optimal digestion, absorption, and elimination, are easier to prepare in batches and stay fresh. Sauerkraut, sprouted buckwheat granola, soaked chia, and homemade dried green powders are staples I use sometimes daily. Making staples in batches saves tons of time in the kitchen and makes meal prep fast. Living foods are packed with enzymes, nutrients, and prana. Enzymes and prana decrease with leftovers and traditional canning meth- ods. With fermenting and dehydrating, enzymes and prana remain intact.

Raw buckwheat granola is one of my breakfast staples, as I pre- fer to start the day raw. First, I have a wild or domesticated green smoothie. After that is digested (20 minutes) I often move on to chia porridge with a handful of buckwheat granola on top. Like many raw foods, buckwheat granola doesn’t take much hands-on time to prepare a month’s supply, but it does require a variety of very quick steps spread out over time.

When “Make buckwheat granola” is on my Kitchen Sadhana list, that weekend I start a few days ahead of the session with one-minute tasks.

A few days before, I’ll soak my buckwheat in a big bowl of water. This takes about one minute to do, then it sits overnight. In the morning I drain the buckwheat and spread it on a big cookie sheet. I cover it with a light dishtowel and find unused counter space in my kitchen to let the buckwheat babies grow. Every morning and night for a day or two, I will lift the towel and very gently fluff the buckwheat babies. I don’t rinse. Just fluff.

The night before my Kitchen Sadhana session, I’ll soak my raisins and dates in one bowl and my almonds in another. So far, I’ve invested about five minutes of time total.

On Kitchen Sadhana day I’m ready. On the list is to make buckwheat granola and honey mustard vinaigrette, and roast vegetables to keep in fridge.

I’ll start with the granola. The time to combine the ingredients in the blender and spread it on dehydrator trays and clean up is 10 to 15 minutes. Now I have enough homemade granola for a month. I make a salad vinaigrette (five minutes). Harvest and wash whatever weeds I can find in my yard or hood. This Spring I hit the jackpot with dandelion. I love these in my smoothies and are great for liver detoxifying. I’ll dehydrate them also to make into a green powder.

This is the nature of Kitchen Sadhana. Once you have your routines dialed in, you access long-term benefits. You save buckets of time, connect your body to your food, maybe even to your ecosystem, and eat higher-quality nutrients for less money.

If you want to prepare the most nurturing nutrition for your body, is there a way to make it more organized, efficient, sacred, or enjoyable? Take a moment and write a list of ideas. Invite the sadhana aspect into the practice. You’ll love how putting in some enlightened elbow grease once a week will enable you to waltz into your kitchen for great, quick-prep meals every day. You’ll be more relaxed and aware of what your body wants.

(I want to give credit for the bulk of this article that I pulled from the “Body Thrive Book” by my mentor, Cate Stillman)