A new way to cook – and eat
It is a new trend in cooking growing in popularity around the world. Ayurvedic cooking derives from the belief that by adjusting our food habits and lifestyle, we alter our state of mind and in so doing, improve our quality of life.
Foods influence moods, say those who follow the ayurvedic way, and Wayne Featherstone is helping converts understand how this is so. The London-born chef has been travelling the world teaching the style of cooking that he himself adopted after experiencing first-hand the qualities and benefits of ayurvedic meals.
He believes in the saying “You are what you eat” and that different foods promote different moods. In his recently published cookbook Happy, Hyper Or Heavy he explains that Ayurveda speaks of these three moods.
Featherstone was in Barbados last week conducting a series of cooking classes.
He told EASY magazine his interest in this method was piqued in 1995 when he met the Art Of Living Foundation, an international organization focused on creating a violence-free and stress-free environment.
“I always used to love meat,” the ayurvedic chef told EASY during a brief break in a cooking class he was conducting at the PomMarine Hotel.
But an experience in Holland altered his outlook and choice of foods. A friend introduced him to a restaurant where no meat was served, “and then my interest was born for lighter types of food”.
“That is when I first understood that vegetarian food does not have to be boring.”
He has been sharing that message ever since. He helped friends to set up Soline restaurant in Lyons, France – considered the world’s gastronomical capital – a restaurant that remarkably has since become a hit with the French who, according to Featherstone, “eat almost every part of the animal”.
When he started practising meditation and yoga through the Art of Living Foundation, it led to an interest in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of natural and holistic medicine.
Featherstone began teaching ayurvedic cooking classes in 2006, travelling throughout Europe and the Middle East. Born in London of a Trinidadian mother and Guyanese father, he has come home to his Caribbean roots to spread his message.
He told EASY magazine “the newest trend in Europe is, not only should the flavour be good, but [how] it affects our state of mind; different foods have different effects. Flavour is king because if a meal is boring and not tasty, what is the fun in that? It has to be enjoyable also.
“One of the favourites – macaroni pie with the cheese, the gravy, the meat next to it – I love it, but the thing is, how do I feel after that? Heavy, I feel like sleeping.
“But now I have learnt the happy ways of Ayurveda. I have learnt how to balance it more.”
He observed that people were no longer satisfied with “the not-so-nutritious meals”.
“People want better quality in their life so instead of going to the supermarket, they choose the marketplace and search for organic products.
“This is the development I can also sense going on here in Barbados, and the beautiful thing I noticed here is that the connection to nature is just below the surface.
“We all remember grandma’s recipes – natural and effective; growing your own vegetables; using the herbs from your garden.”
“This is what Ayurveda is all about, to bring back these values of our relationship with nature, connecting to nature, connecting to our true self.”
In his cookbook, Featherstone categorizes foods to give readers examples of which foods fall into which mood group.
Coffee, chocolate cake, fried food and ketchup are among those contributing to the hyper or Rajasic mood.
Yesterday’s pizza, refined foods like white sugar and white flour can lead to a heavy or Tamasic mood, while for a happy or Satvic mood, fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, yogurt and all spices are recommended, except chilli. Colourfully illustrated recipes follow these listings as a practical guide to applying the theory.
Featherstone was impressed with the “really good response” he received in Barbados.
At PomMarine, cooking student Emelda Browne, who did the Art Of Living Course with the local Art Of Living Foundation, told EASY: “This is just a follow-through to see how you can enhance living by using your food and using things that are local to make it come alive and be good for us.
“As is said in the course, we kill the food, but this is live food which is supposed to be good for us.”
Sharon Carmichael took the course “because I wanted to find out more about eating in a balanced way and how to eat for your body type”.
“Before, I cooked in an international way because I love to cook but I am not too good at vegetarian cooking so I have learnt how to be more vegetarian in the way I approach cooking and how to balance the different types of vegetables and fruit and ingredients in such a way that it becomes more pleasing,” she said.