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Recipes for Success
Supercharge Your Life author says diet affects “far more than just the way we look.”

by Bill Donahue
 
The food with which we fuel our bodies has the potential to influence much more than just our waistlines. Lee Holmes, a holistic nutritionist, chef, and author of the recently published Supercharge Your Life, believes a diet of wholesome, well-cooked food can have a transformative effect on someone’s life—from their health, to their enjoyment of the natural world, to their connections with friends, family, and community. 
 
She also believes in the necessity of making cooking at home a joyful experience.
 
“Embracing a supercharged life and eating real food cooked at home is about far more than just the way we look,” she says. “When we eat in a healthy, balanced way, our cells function optimally. Our body is operating at its peak, we can think clearly, and our immune system is robust and able to defend itself naturally from a range of minor illnesses that would otherwise slow us down.”
 
Supercharge Your Life includes more than 350 pages of must-have recipes, masterful kitchen tips, and gorgeous photography. If Holmes’ purpose was to get readers excited about eating and cooking, she seems to have hit the bull’s-eye.
 
“Eating is the central practice in our lives,” she says. “The way we interact with food and value it has the ability to affect our lives—and our futures, too. … Food is the cornerstone of life, and while some of us may eat just to merely survive, [cooking] food shouldn’t be a mundane and repetitive ritual.”
 
When we reached out to Ms. Holmes, she was kind enough to offer her perspective on and what it means to lead “a supercharged life.” She also provided a recipe to whet the appetite. 

Q&A 
Why is cooking at home important in regard to maintaining a healthy weight?
Embracing a supercharged life and eating real food cooked at home is about far more than just the way we look. When we eat in a healthy, balanced way our cells function optimally. Our body is operating at its peak, we can think clearly, we’re full of energy, and our immune system is robust and able to defend us naturally from a range of minor illnesses that would otherwise slow us down.
 
Weight can be regulated when you cook from home, as restaurant and takeaway food is designed to keep you coming back and can often be high in sugar and fat. When you cook at home you can control yourself and know what you’re eating. You’re the boss!
 
Cooking at home with good ingredients will give you more clarity in your thinking, and emotions are much less likely to be unstable. Also, eating a diet rich in vegetables and fresh foods means you can have the energy to fulfil your potential and pursue your life’s work, whether that’s parenting, a career, study, or simple daily tasks that add up to make your big-picture story.
 
When it comes to cooking and eating at home, my approach is simple and commonsense.  Basically, an everyday act of consuming food should never bring you a feeling of captivity or worry, especially about your weight. In a supercharged life, real food is to be enjoyed and savored and a place where you walk to the unforced rhythms that come with a commonsense attitude towards food and a balanced approach to eating. Having a balanced approach to food and eating will bring whole body balance, and this can be achieved with just a few simple steps. Some of the philosophies I follow are;
 
* Eat mostly plants. Despite the vast differences in doctrine between the mainstream and alternative nutrition experts, the one thing we can all agree on is that eating plant foods is really good. I like to ensure that plant foods—such as nuts, seeds, fruits, grains, vegetables, herbs, and spices—make up the majority of my diet, with the greatest emphasis on seasonal vegetables and especially greens. I still enjoy animal products but in smaller quantities.
 
* Avoid processed and inflammatory foods where you can. Industrially produced foods that your ancestors wouldn’t comprehend are best eaten in small amounts. Any ingredient with a number or a name that doesn’t register as “food” when you read it probably isn’t food. Stick to things that are foods, in as natural a state as possible.
 
* Balance out your eating. If you’ve been out of your normal routine while at work or on holidays and found you’ve overindulged in a specific food, spend the next few days nourishing yourself back to balance with the foods you’ve been missing.
 
* Look after your gut. Feed, weed, seed, lead—this is the engine room of your health.
 
* Take an Ayurvedic approach. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine teaches us that we attain health and balance when we eat a practical balance of different types of foods from the taste categories of bitter, sweet, sour, salty, astringent, and pungent. Having a varied diet of different tastes, eating seasonally, and ensuring the right balance of cooked and cold foods helps the nervous system recognize nourishment. You can work out your ideal Ayurvedic eating plan by determining your dosha, which will help you eat in a commonsense way for your unique body type.
 
* Choose quality over quantity. This is especially true with animal products. Overall, try to invest in better-quality food that’s chemical-free or organic. Shop at local farmers’ markets rather than supermarkets, if possible. With animal products, look for organic or 100 percent grass fed and grass finished. It’s better to enjoy smaller amounts of quality food than gorging on takeaway food that’s cheap and of lower quality.
 
* Practice mindful eating. Do what the French do and make an occasion of your meal, even if it’s just morning or afternoon tea. Unplug, turn off the TV, sit at the table, use proper dinnerware, eat with friends and family, and give thanks. Tune in to all your senses and pay attention to enjoying and savoring each glorious mouthful.
 
* Live by the 80:20 rule. Sticking to your nutritional values 80 percent of the time will allow you a healthy margin where you can say yes to the chocolate cake at your friends’ birthday parties, or enjoy a big slab of pizza as you travel through Naples. 
 
* Enjoy your food. Think of pleasure and fulfillment when it comes to food and enjoy the heart of the home: the kitchen.
 
Considering the books title, how does healthful cooking at home affect, or “supercharge,” other aspects of an individual’s life?
Cooking at home supercharges your life, and it’s fun! Food ties through every part of our lives, and when we perceive a broader appreciation of food and its power, we can lighten up a little—connecting food with purpose and joy once again.
 
I love that food has the ability to create community and value hospitality. Woven throughout the book are my keystones for living a “whole” life and the way food impacts each and every area of our lives. When it comes to home and family, in cultures throughout the ages, the kitchen has been regarded as the heart of the home and family. Now in our fast-paced modern society, food has become an almost inconvenient necessity rather than something that draws people together. Cooking at home means mealtimes around the table, whether with [roommates], family, fur babies, or just you, and this is where nourishment, both physical and emotional, begins.
Embracing self-leadership, when it comes to the quality of the food you prepare, has an impact on you and your household’s health and wellbeing that radiates out into the world.
 
Friends and community [are] also connected to food. Celebrations and socializing revolve around food and drinks. Think about when you meet a friend for coffee, get after-work drinks, or [go to] birthday parties. Food binds communities together, strengthens friendships, and gives us a sense of belonging. Cooking a meal is a practical way of showing love, care, and support to friends in need. If you make good food, that means they will keep on coming back.
 
We all know that food comes at a cost and our ability to pursue careers, follow our passions, and be creative and succeed is reliant upon our health. This is directly linked to the lifestyles we lead and foods we choose to consume. Good home-cooked food energizes you, can allow you better focus, and will offer you a better chance to wind down. … Homemade food also helps you to cope with stress.  Your body will feel better and you will feel better about yourself.
 
When it comes to money, your finances and food, your dollar is your vote for the world you want to live in. Every purchase we make has a backstory. Your purchases can deplete the earth’s soil and push farmers into debt or, alternatively, work with nature, provide fair income for farmers, and contribute to a healthier society. It’s a virtuous circle.
 
I love the way that nature provides food for us that has the exact nourishing properties we need to help us thrive. The spiritual beliefs of many traditional societies include a deep sense of awe for the provisions of nature. Having a spiritual gratitude practice around food can help reframe the way you eat and think about food. Being more mindful is not only good for your digestion, [but] it’s also good for your mood and mind. Cooking at home can bring you a greater sense of fulfilment not only in the stomach but also in the soul.
 
Cooking from home and your emotions are intertwined. Our motherly instinct and desire to nourish others is an in-built instinct. Hospitality is a language of the heart, and has always existed as a way to serve and show love to those most important to us.
 
The food we create has the power to set the mood for romance, with aphrodisiac foods like oysters a way to ignite the flames of passion. Sitting down to a candlelit meal is a special way to show how much you value someone you love, and provides opportunity for deep conversation that cuts through surface-level banter and moves right through to the heart, improving your soul connection and forging a deeper sense of unity.
 
For people who don’t necessarily enjoy cooking at home because of time or lack of interest, can you provide one or two nuggets of wisdom to make the process more enjoyable?
Have three to four killer dishes that blow the socks of your family and friends and perfect them for a great reaction every time. Replicate your favorite going out meals at home, nachos or a great Indian like chicken biryani. There’s a good recipe in the book. Shift your perspective of cooking as an inconvenience or a chore, with simple recipes it’s easy to eat healthy and turn everyday base ingredients into something for the whole family to enjoy and savor.

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, April 2019.  
 
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