What inspired/prompted you to start @chiefspicemama?
Growing up in India, spices were everywhere. They elevated our food and served as natural remedies for various ailments from a sore throat to a tummy upset. I didn’t think anything of it until I was a PhD student in Cancer Biology at Harvard University a couple of decades later and my lab started studying curcumin, the active compound in turmeric for its cancer-fighting properties! I was stunned and amused that turmeric, which is such an integral part of the Indian kitchen and farm-acy, was finally being recognised by modern science for it’s health-boosting magic. When I became a mother, I started offering my son spices in his baby purees at 7 months of age – turmeric with avocado and lentils, cinnamon with sweet potato, cumin with carrots and peas, and so on. Many of my mom friends in New York City were skeptical. “Is that allowed”?! “Can you really give babies spices”?! I started my blog www.spicespicebaby.com and my instagram account @chiefspicemama to debunk these myths and misunderstandings and to bring healing spices and their amazing health benefits to kids and families everywhere. I have just published my first cookbook and feel so blessed to be working at the intersection of science, spices, and food – an absolute dream come true for me.
What is something you have learned from another #foodiemom and applied to your own cooking/meal strategy/etc.?
Kayla Mangione is the beautiful mama behind @thefamilyfoodproject and I have learned so much from her about the power of plants and how to eat a more balanced, plant-based diet, which I believe to be super important for the health of our families and the planet! Kayla introduced me to the iron-rich powers of blackstrap molasses, for example, which we now offer baby in her oatmeal on a regular basis. I also love how Kayla takes meat-heavy classics like beef bolognese and substitutes in lentils or beans to make a plant-powered dish that is truly delicious and nourishing. I definitely find myself eating
What is a food or nutrition related goal that you have for 2018 for yourself or your family?
I would like my family and myself to eat more plants and less meat in 2018. Meat can be a healthy and important part of a balanced diet and we will continue to be responsible omnivores but I would like to experiment with plant-based dishes more. I also want to expand my 5 year old’s palate (even if I consider him a reasonably good eater already!) and my goal is to be patient and compassionate as I continuously expose him to new and nourishing foods (he still dislikes raw peppers, for instance). Along these lines, I would love to add in veggies for breakfast for the whole family on a regular basis – chocolate, zucchini oatmeal, anyone?! 🙂