Exploring Culinary Heritage: Food, Family, and Memories
Have you ever pondered how your childhood experiences shape your relationship with food today? In this week's blog post, I'll take you on a personal journey through my own experience, which began in the vibrant landscapes of Brazil. Growing up, I had the privilege of being immersed in holistic healing practices and the age-old wisdom of Ayurveda from an early age. These formative experiences have significantly influenced my perspective on wellness and paved the way for what I now embrace as my "crunchy lifestyle."
My heritage is a beautiful blend of Italian and Indian traditions, each with a profound appreciation for the gifts nature bestows upon us. Both cultures share a deep love for flavors, the art of cooking, and the act of nourishing our loved ones as an expression of affection.
Influences from Nonna: Nurturing Body and Soul
One of the most influential figures in my life was my great-grandmother, Anna, affectionately known as Nonna. She graced our family with her presence for a remarkable 98 years, and her life was a testament to health and vitality. Nonna's wisdom extended to nurturing not just the body but also the mind and spirit through a diet based on wholesome foods, holistic healing, unwavering positivity, and deep faith. She embodied strength in myriad ways and left an indelible mark as a role model who imparted invaluable lessons on leading a fulfilling and wholesome life.
My most cherished childhood memories involve learning how to eat and cook under Nonna's guidance. She was a fervent lover of animals and nature, but today we focus on the tale of food. In our backyard, we cultivated herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees, nourished by Brazil's rich soil and tropical climate. I'll never forget the earthy scent of our garden and the joy of planting seeds, eagerly waiting for them to sprout and then using the bountiful harvest in her delectable recipes. We created the creamiest and most aromatic tomato sauces, shaped gnocchi into delightful forms, and enjoyed a variety of homemade pastas, often causing a mess in the kitchen. Nonna taught me discipline, dedication, and the art of presentation, using toothbrushes and toothpicks to ensure our sacred cooking space was spotless. Her salads were simple yet divine, featuring freshly picked greens, herbs, and veggies, dressed with high-quality olive oil, lime, salt, and pepper. Occasionally, she would indulge my sweet tooth when I begged for something sweet. These moments were more than culinary experiences; they were our bonding time, a chance to share stories, learn about my heritage, and embrace treasured values.
Returning home from school, my snacks always comprised veggies and fruits – carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, and bananas. I'd yearn for candy and packaged snacks like some other kids, but Nonna would sit me down and explain the importance of nourishing my body with wholesome foods.
Influences from My Grandmother: Balancing Childhood Cravings
Nonna's daughter, my grandmother—whose name was also Wanda, just like mine—was a striking contrast. Whenever she picked me up from school, I knew it was time to savor some of the most decadent desserts imaginable. While her love language involved showering me with sugary delights (a practice I'd advise against, as associating sugar with rewards can lead to unhealthy habits), it wasn't the ideal approach for my well-being.
As a child, it was hard to resist the cravings for sweets, but I learned the impact of those indulgent treats from the way I felt when I got home. My stomach hurt, sometimes I had a headache, and I'd be too hyper to fall asleep. That's when my Nonna, who lived with us, would take the opportunity to teach me why these foods weren't being kind to my body. As I grew older and became more aware, I realized that these foods were making me ill. That realization led me to seek the right diet for my body.
Balancing Act - The Importance of Healthy Choices
Growing up, I was blessed with two influential women in my life, each offering a distinct approach to food. As a result, I developed a sweet tooth, but I also retained the wisdom of a balanced diet. Visiting friends' houses for playdates, I'd enthusiastically devour salads, fruits, and veggies, earning the affection of parents who admired my choices. I understood from a young age what I should eat, yet, like any child, I'd occasionally succumb to sweets and processed snacks if they were within reach. My bonds with both Nonna and my grandmother were profoundly strong, and each showered me with love in their unique way.
The Bigger Message: Encouraging Healthy Traditions
So, why share this story just after Halloween and as the holidays approach? My intention is not to dampen your holiday spirits or discourage the delightful tradition of baking cookies and pies with your loved ones. Instead, it's because I have my own cherished memories of sweets, as well as the benefits of healthy eating. My aim is to encourage parents and grandparents to find a harmonious balance this holiday season.
Finding a Harmonious Balance Between Tradition and Health
We're all aware of the detrimental effects of refined sugar and its impact on health. Rather than waiting for New Year's resolutions to embark on a healthier path, let's teach our children and motivate our family members to explore healthier alternatives to enrich our traditional holiday meals.
Here are a few examples:
- Chocolate: I love chocolate, and as I delved into the health benefits of dark chocolate, I became more discerning about the ingredients to embrace. This inspired me to introduce functional dark chocolate to our marketplace, offering options that prioritize both taste and well-being.
- Snacks: While I enjoy popcorn, I understand the concerns about excessive sodium, unhealthy vegetable oil, and risks of GMO corn. To support our quest for health, I've added popped lily seeds to our marketplace. Crafted by an Ayurvedic Chef, these seeds contain nourishing ingredients that facilitate the body's healing process.
Our mission-driven marketplace, Crunchy Mama Box, curates resources and products with your well-being in mind. Our aim is to help you strike a balance between cherished traditions and nourishing your body and mind with what genuinely sustains you.
Discover Healthier Alternatives
When we become more mindful of what we put in our bodies, we take a significant step towards a healthier and more conscious way of living. I invite you to explore the recipe section on our platform, where we continually share easy and nutritious recipes full of flavor. Create lasting memories with your family and empower them to make better food choices.
Find ingredient swaps that resonate with your journey.
Here are some of my preferred sugar alternatives, kinder to your body (though remember to use them in moderation; if you have diabetes, consult your physician for suitable options): dates, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and raw honey.
Delicious Desserts for a Healthier You
Our recipes offer a diverse collection of ever-evolving, wholesome recipes that cater to health-conscious foodies. I enjoy preparing these delicious and easy recipes, particularly with my family.
Discover an array of delightful desserts that don't rely on refined sugar and are a gift to your health. Savor the pleasure of Almond Butter Banana Cookies, relish the decadence of Raw Chocolate Almond Butter Cups, immerse yourself in the goodness of Pecan Pie, indulge in the temptation of Healthy Edible Cookie Dough, and revel in the delight of Coconut Date Cookies.
Let's Embrace a Healthier Lifestyle This Holiday Season
As we approach the holiday season, let's not wait for New Year's resolutions to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Together, let's inspire our loved ones to uncover healthier alternatives that seamlessly complement our cherished traditions. It's about discovering a harmonious equilibrium between the flavors that evoke treasured childhood memories and nurturing our bodies and minds.
Share Your Stories and Recipe Requests!
What are your favorite childhood food memories? Share your stories by commenting on this blog post. And if you have recipes you'd like us to modify for you, send them our way, and we'll do our best to help you make the swap!
At Crunchy Mama Box we offer health & wellness resources to help you and your family on your journey to living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. If you are looking for a safe place to vent, find love and support, join our private Facebook group Crunchy Mama Strong.
Lots of Crunchy Love,