We all know the new year is the ultimate symbol of a fresh start, and we have nothing against this annual reminder to recenter and reconnect with ourselves. But modern expectations of ‘new year, new me’ drive us further from ourselves, often hinge on shame, and divorce us from our ancient, grounded ways of being.
Food and the rituals that surround it are sources of liberation, not guilt, and often we have to look back in order to move forward. So we’re embracing the tried, true, and rooted ways of our ancestors. From passed-down recipes for nourishing daals to healing intergenerational trauma through cooking, we’ll be sharing the foods, traditions, and wisdoms that have carried generations into many new years.
We’ll be adding to this post over the course of January, so be sure to check back to learn more about the ways we heal.
First up, we met with Traditional Chinese Medicine chef and nutritionist Zoey Gong. Her outlook on healing embraces the past, present, and future, and encourages variety (both in food and in rituals) to ground yourself…
“Healing is to embrace whatever we have and learn to transform our suffering, mental or physical, into something better than what we experienced a moment ago. It is about understanding who we are, who our ancestors are.” Zoey Gong
Zoey graciously shared her recipe for Mushroom Stew infused with Traditional Chinese Medicinal herbs with black sesame buns. Pull out your Perfect Pot, grab some travel containers to give to friends, and let’s make this big, beautiful, nutritious meal.
Next, we sat down with vegan chef Priyanka Naik, who shared a classic old-school dish inspired by her Maharashtrian roots. For Priyanka, healing is rooted in time: taking time, exercising patience, and embracing the wisdom of those who came before her…
“Healing means taking the time to listen to your mind, body, and feelings and to better serve them…Healing is individual and should make one feel rejuvenated and healthy.” Priyanka Naik
To make Priyanka’s wagharni (yellow daal tadka), you’ll need some ayurvedic spices and a touch of bravery to temper them. Let’s get cooking.
Continuing with warm, comforting dishes, graphic designer and home cook Baggio Ardon showed us how to make sopa de chipilin, which uses the legume native to his home country of El Salvador. For Baggio, recipes that heal are deeply tied to his ancestry and identity. In the new year, he hopes to learn more recipes indenginous to his heritage…
“Health isn’t earned. There’s this idea that health is something you need to constantly work towards, not something you ever start with…Wellness is not new. It has always been there, has always been an option.” Baggio Ardon
To perfect Baggio’s sopa de chipilin, we recommend a trip to the farmers market for the freshest peppers and root veggies, which truly shine in this dish.
Next, Chiricahua Apache born for Diné creator, home-cook, and youth pride organizer Geronmino Louie talked to us about being present, something he finds particularly healing, along with the things he’s learned (and unlearned) over the years that inform how he cares for himself, his community, and the earth…
“I found that the best way to heal is to do simple tasks like talking, walking, praying, eating, and working. Understand that you’re still here, you're still only human with words, feelings, and thoughts. Recognizing my existence, all that I am, all that I can be, helps me heal.” Geronimo Louie
Geronimo shared a recipe for slow-stewed potatoes and squash, a steamy, soft mash that lets the natural flavors of the vegetables sing. Let’s make it!
Lastly, we met with writer, diviner, and model Kendra Austin during her January sabbatical in upstate New York. Growing up the byproduct of 1980’s diet culture and watching her foremothers suffer to make themselves smaller, Kendra has put in the work to unlearn this idea that wellness (and worth) are tied to outward presentations…
“Health is not connected to morality. Health is something to be grateful for, something to nurture to the best of your ability, but it is not something that makes one person better than the other. Wellbeing is gracious, in flux, a non-linear journey…it’s happening to you right now.” Kendra Austin
Occupied with finding new ways to soothe herself, Kendra is seeking foods that “feel like a weighted blanket.” Her fork-tender slow-roasted short ribs are sure to do just that. Let’s get cooking!