A mother’s healthy cooking manual

On World Environment Day, here’s a mother sharing her curations, yielding to a mindful lifestyle, holding on to the flavours of sustainability and quality
Sara Ganesh Pandy
Sara Ganesh Pandy

CHENNAI: As a 10-year-old, my favourite pastime was playing games on the Internet, particularly cooking-related games. Well, my favourite was replicating the recipes from Sarah’s Cooking Class. Since these games were generated out of codes, the process and the finished dish did not quite resemble the ones from my kitchen; there needed to be more human touch.

Sarah made an impression on my cooking experiments. Years later, I come across her namesake, Sara Ganesh Pandy from Coimbatore, influencing Instagrammers with her cooking choices. I could see resemblances in their cooking procedures, mixing techniques, use of utensils and ingredients.

A self-taught cook, child sleep consultant, pregnancy fitness educator, professional makeup artist and hairstylist and owner of a clothing brand called Paavay — she wears multiple hats. In an interview with CE, Sara, whose cooking reels are going viral, talks about her food preparation, the process and the vision behind them.

Rewind and replay

Sara has been practicing cooking everything at home for the last three years. “Whether it’s butter, vanilla extract, or sauces, I prefer making them from scratch. There’s something satisfying about creating these essentials with my own hands,” she expresses. As a health-conscious mom, Sara firmly believes that our food choices profoundly impact our well-being. When we prepare meals using fresh, whole ingredients, we nourish our bodies and minds. “This mindful approach enhances nutrition and fosters a deeper connection with what we consume,” she adds.

The first and the best step to take towards cultivating healthy cooking habits, Sara suggests, is avoiding packed ingredients. “Till the 90s, flours and masalas were hand-ground, ensuring freshness and quality. Doing so maintains control over what goes into our dishes, and avoids preservatives and additives commonly found in packaged products,” she points out. Additionally, educating oneself on artificial colours and flavours is crucial, and one should opt for natural ingredients. The taste and overall eating experience become more authentic with organic products. “It’s all about finding balance without compromising flavour,” she says.

Sara prioritises quality and sustainability as sourcing the right ingredients enhances and balances the flavours of a dish. Vegetables from her kitchen garden, milk from a local farm, turmeric, rice, wheat, and ragi from her friends’ farms find their way into her kitchen. “My family and I embrace homemade meals, even replicating hotel-style dishes at home, promoting healthier eating habits,” she says.

Balancing kitchen and kids

Sara ensures that her toddlers enjoy meals guilt-free, and nutrient-rich, making their plates exciting and wholesome. She emphasises the importance of mindful eating and planning nutritious meals for children. “We must be vigilant about the ingredients. Planning nutritious meals ensures better health and peace of mind, rather than allowing them to eat indiscriminately,” she shares.

Even when travelling, Sara makes sure that her family follows their eating principles. She carries a few basics along, purchases ingredients from shops near their stay, and cooks for them. “As a non-vegetarian, options like steak make for a quick and satisfying meal. Pair them with simple salads or some pancakes, it’s a matter of few minutes. The key lies in efficient time management: 20 minutes for cooking and 10 minutes for clean-up,” she explains, adding that cooking is not about following recipes but an art infused with love and creativity. It is a canvas for flavours.

Displaying her ‘artwork’ on social media, Sara says that the platform allows us to learn, equip ourselves, and stay motivated. Through her videos, she helps beginners to create wholesome, delicious meals that resonate with their senses and the responses are “overwhelmingly positive.” Sara says, “People often comment on our family dynamics, calling me a “good wife” and my husband a “lucky husband.” Our close-knit, nuclear family resonates with many viewers. Interestingly, the playful comment “adopt me” pops up frequently, suggesting that our family seems inviting.”

A journey that began following her maternal instincts to simply provide her kids with healthy food, Sara has garnered close to two million followers on Instagram and strives to be her own role model by living out the values that matter to her — resilience, kindness, and creativity.

Follow @saraganeshofficial on Instagram

Homemade paneer

Boil some milk.

Add a few drops of lemon extracts and strain the liquid.

Your homemade preservatives-free paneer is ready.

Craving for ice cream?

Always freeze some fruits when you have time.

Take the frozen fruit out and blend it with some coconut milk, honey and a bit of vanilla extract.

Chocolate lovers can mix some cocoa powder and blend it.

Ice cream is ready in minutes.

Healthy homemade alternative for Nutella

ingredients

Hazelnuts: 2 cups

Cocoa powder: 1/4 cup

Honey: 1/3 cup

Coconut oil: 2 tbsp, Pinch of salt

Vanilla extract (optional): 1 tsp

Method

In a pan, roast the hazelnuts until light brown and remove the skin.

Once cooled down, grind it completely in a blender.

Add all the mentioned ingredients and blend for another minute.

Add coconut oil to the blended mixture, stir it and store it in the fridge for a month

Use the spread over bread/chapati/dosa or even as a dip for cut fruits.

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