From meal planning to tantric cooking

I have shifted. The process that started a couple of years ago is embodied now. How do I know? Because my way of doing food has changed again. It struck me this week after another efficiency cooking session unfolded very differently than it used to. My cooking first evolved from “Masculine” to “Feminine” meal planning and now has become tantric. What does all of that mean?

The Masculine way of meal planning is all about being in control: You decide what you want and then you make it happen. You think about what dishes you enjoy, recipes you would like to try out, what you think is good for you… and create your shopping list in function of that plan. You plan, you shop and you cook according to the plan.

Back in the early 2000’s, when I was just getting started with nutrition in the context of my eating disorder, that was the way I did food. I loved going over recipe books and magazines, gathering inspiration, collecting and marking all those combinations that I wanted to try. To a large extent, specific recipes and food rules informed my menu plan, shopping list and cooking. I have always been quite adventurous and soon started to experiment with my own creations as well. However, I always knew beforehand what I was going to make and usually shopped only after I had made up my mind.

The more I learned to truly nourish myself, not from a place of fear and control, but from love and trust, the more I exchanged rigid recipes and rules for a simple and flexible framework of quality and balance. In 2011 my way of shopping food shifted and so did my cooking and meal planning. Instead of going to the supermarket or bio shop, I started to buy local, seasonal and organic food in bulk from a farmers’ cooperative. That could mean 3 kg of carrots or 1.5 kg of spinach at once. I focused on combining those quality ingredients into simple, yet nourishing and balanced meals both for me and my partner. Efficiency cooking was born.

That is the Feminine way of meal planning: You surrender and let yourself be guided by what nature offers. You shop what appeals to you from what is currently in season and then you see what goodies you can make with it. You shop, you plan and you cook according to that plan.

For a very long time I have been functioning like this. Now things are shifting again. The Tantric path I have been on since 2017 is transforming the way I do food.

Living on my own again, I switched to a pre-determined seasonal vegetable basket, asking for adjustments only if I really do not fancy something or know that my body does not like it. However, in general, I am even less in control than I used to be when it comes to choosing what I buy. As a consequence, oftentimes I have no clue what I am going to make the moment I start cooking. I simply start the process, trusting that clarity will come along the way. It always does.

This week, looking at the sweet potatoes and pattisson squash my mind tells me that they are the only suitable ingredients for soup (and we always make soup, don’t we ;)). However, my gut says no, it wants to taste them in their pure state. I sense the desire to experience the sweet potatoes in a mashed way and get the vision (or is it the taste?) of a delicious stoemp together with the bok choi cabbage and the chicken meat of the broth I made the day before. While cutting all those leeks, I then suddenly remember this creamy leek soup with minced meat in it that I loved as a child, but did not allow myself to eat anymore when the eating disorder began, because of all that saturated fat and meat in it that I feared and objected for various reasons… I happen to have freshly made chicken broth and coconut cream on hand and also cooked rice, so all it takes is taking a package of minced beef out of the freezer and mixing it all together into the most orgasmic, deeply soul and body nourishing meal. So I eventually do get my soup, but in a way my mind would have never imagined. The pattisson squash ends up being combined with kale and split peas into another hearty stew. Nothing got wasted. Every element found its place in a beautiful creation. I realize that my cooking has become tantric.

Tantric cooking means that there is no plan. You shop and you cook. That’s all. You shop as you would in the Feminine way and then you simply start the process of cooking, being fully aware of and present to your senses, trusting and following the impulses that come up in the moment. Just like in Tantra massage. When you start it, you do not know where it is going to take you. Anything is possible within the agreed framework. What needs to express has room to express. When it comes to cooking, my framework is “conscious, regenerative (at the very least sustainable), nourishing, balanced and zero-food-waste”. Within that framework, there is full freedom. Since the way we do food is the way we do Life, this development is a reflection and a logical consequence of the deeper transformation I have been going through. It has become embodied. How wonderful.

Where are you currently at when it comes to the way you do food? What does it tell you about the way you do Life?

P.S. Of course there is nothing “wrong” with using recipes. I still also sometimes use them as inspiration or for specific things especially in baking (even though I almost always end up changing something…). You always first need to acquire the technique before you can do “freestyle”. So no judgement here, just fostering awareness :).

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