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Soul Growth is very proud to have Melissa as our Food and Dietary Health Mentor.   She plans to add new recipe's and information to this site, so please come back and enjoy !   Melissa truly has the life-saving knowledge that so many of us need !   If you have questions for Melissa, or would like to request information about her or her services . . .
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Melissa Ward . . . from The Zen Kitchen, 2014

Are you interested in sticking around long enough to see what happens next . . . ?

Back in the Day
Or perhaps even contribute to make things better . . . ?

If so . . . read on.

                If not . . . it's time for some "Serious Personal Reflection" !

Melissa, Back in the Day    

Daily practices that figure into "Longevity" have been charted around the world . . .                                
                                                                                             And one of the primary commonalities is DIET.

Not diet . . . as in "Calorie Reduction", or having "No Fun" with meals.

Diet . . . as in daily rituals and habits that increase our well-being and nurture our brains and bodies, providing energy and exuberance for life.

The key factor in living long and feeling as good as you can is intimately linked to what you routinely ingest each day.  It’s worth a taking a look at yourself !   And ~ if you don’t like what you see ~ you will see obvious results pretty quickly - by making gradual changes to hone your diet towards longevity . . . which automatically increases your chances of feeling good - inside and out - everyday !

Discovering and maintaining a balance within your self is essential to longevity.  That balance varies a bit with each individual. Our needs change as we age, and it’s good to revise our program from time to time.

First off, a plant-based diet is essential to good health. Vegetables contain high levels of vitamins and minerals in addition to phytonutrients called glucosinolates, and those elements have a much higher "Activity level" than many of our foods.   This vital "Stuff" protects our bodies from a variety of cancers, and so many other ailments - primarily due to their abilities to detoxify the liver.

Fruits cleanse and nourish us with powerful antioxidants. These precious phytonutrients are bioflavinoids called anthocyanidins, which present as the vibrantly colorful pigments discovered in fruits such as berries, as they provide a welcome pleasure to our taste buds.

Proteins maintain and build muscle as well support a strong immune system. Healthy fats, especially raw fats such as avocado and raw virgin olive oil and coconut oil cleanse our fatty tissues, and provide much needed fuel to our brains and musculature.  Wild and grass fed sources of animal protein are best, of course. Free-range chickens that actually feed off the ground, and do not consume soy or grains, are producing the safest and best eggs.

Don’t be shy, ask your farmer.

Maintaining an alkaline-acid balance also greatly increases chances of staying well and fending off disease naturally due to the internal environment that occurs when ingesting enough alkaline foods on a regular basis to build up such a reserve.  An overly acidic body caused by any combination of stress, food and chemical sensitivities, improper digestion, and poor diet loses valuable essential minerals.  Each cell is affected - as chronic acidity depletes reserves, as cells become impaired and your immune system weakens . . . inflammation, illness, pain and fatigue increase. Consuming alkaline forming foods daily including supplements that remove excess acids, can restore the alkaline-acid balance and maintain good health.

The basics of eating well . . .

     ~  Source your food supply primarily from the farmer. 
Know where your food comes from.  Farmer’s market sell not only a variety of produce, they also sell eggs, dairy products, olives, olive oil, nuts, and many other essentials. 

                         It might seem to cost you a little more. 
                         Do it . . . and you will be able to stay healthy enough to be able to afford it.

                         If you choose to buy cheap, valueless food "To save money" . . .
                                   Well . . . just get a really good health insurance policy . . .
                                              You're gonna need it !

     ~  Eat simply, and eat seasonally.

     ~  Eat cooling foods such as raw foods when the weather is hot
                     And eat warm, cooked foods when the weather is cold . . . maintain an inner balance.

     ~  Drink a glass of warm water with the juice of a half lemon each morning upon rising. This pushes any leftover gunk from your liver and stimulates your colon to move.

     ~  Eat your last meal by six or seven o’clock if possible.

    ~  Stop eating each meal when you are "Two Thirds Full".  Much obesity comes from the fact that our bodies don't actually "Feel full" . . . until it's too late.

     ~  Your first meal shall be the largest, the second meal smaller, and the last meal a substantial snack.

    ~  Make water your primary beverage, sipping throughout the day instead of gulping a large amount to fill your quota. The body can only hydrate on a cellular level about a half of a cup of water per hour, so sip on!

                      So . . . In a Nutshell - an organic, raw nutshell -

     The basic elements of a healthy diet . . .

          Which promote a more fun and vibrant future ~ for your wisdom years . . .    

                      Are Simplicity . . . Balance . . . and Moderation. 

                                                                                                               A Votre Santé !

                                                                                                            Melissa Ward                             

                                                                                                               Mentor of The Zen Kitchen

#1  ~  GET OUT IN THAT . . .
Melissa Ward, 2014

To eat well . . . you’ve got to GET OUT IN THAT KITCHEN !    Unless you can afford a private chef 24/7, which most of us cannot. Through my years of teaching healthy cooking to students both privately in classes, the single-most thing stopping them is actually dealing with the food. It’s not that hard to go shopping and bring home some nice fruits and vegetables and other supplies. It’s what you do next that determines whether you’ll actually make something out of it and eat, or shove it in the refrigerator to wilt and rot and be thrown out in a week or two.

When I have a class I ask the students to bring their favorite knife and a cutting board. Seeing what serves in this capacity is always revealing. More often than not the knife is a serrated paring knife, or a dull chef’s knife that was a gift, or else acquired without much thought as to how it would function in the long run. Once a knife becomes dull, most people don’t know what to do with it and it gets thrown to the back of a drawer. And the owners avoid cutting anything, opting for grab and go.

Today, I’m going to give you an idea of the basic tools one might choose to have in order to prepare healthy, whole foods in your kitchen.

       For starters, it’s best to clear off the counter to provide ready workspace at any given moment. 

      Open your drawers and cabinets and remove anything you haven’t used at least four times a year.

      Look at all of your gear carefully and ask yourself if you really need these items. I remember as a child we had an electric knife that came out once a year to carve the Thanksgiving turkey. Why waste space with these obsolete toys?

THE BASICS that anyone would need to have a well-stocked kitchen would be:

      ~ Several high quality knives. Yes, great knives cost more than you think, and you are making a lifetime investment when you buy a good knife, assuming you take good care of it. Start out with a good chef’s knife or Santoku if you want to ease into it. A 6” or 7” chef knife and a paring knife, along with a bird beak paring and a serrated knife are all you’ll need, unless you want to move into boning knives, which is another subject altogether. Locate a good knife sharpener nearby or learn how to sharpen them yourselves from a professional. So you’ve got a great knife or two, and

       ~ you want to have a good peeler. Get one that is hardened steel with a swivel blade.

      ~ You’ll also want a colander, and tea strainer, a couple of pairs of tongs, the long ones, and a couple of cutting boards, wood, bamboo, or white poly board. 

      ~ A variety of small, medium and large bowls for prepping and mixing, fish bone tweezers, a set of measuring cups, glass for liquids and metal for dry, measuring spoons, and several whisks of various sizes will provide a foundation for being organized as you cook.

      ~ At least a dozen white flour sack dish cloths are essential for using when washing and drying produce and when blanching vegetables. Other necessary tools include a large strainer with a handle.

     ~ For pots and pans, you’ll want the best quality you can buy without buying into something non-essential. Pots that have brushed aluminum outside (on the non-cooking surfaces) are fine and less expensive than the fancy coatings that are really for the decorative kitchen. Heavy bottomed, these pans conduct heat well and use less energy, as well as cook faster. The cooking surfaces should be stainless steel.  Avoid buying sets that are frequently sold in department stores. Assess what you want to be cooking on a regular basis and only purchase cookware to suit those requirements. One fry pan with lid, stick-free (although the non-toxic variety is very expensive and still a bit questionable), a quart saucepan, a three quart stock pot, a full-sized stock pot, and a wok pan if you have space to store it.  Pyrex glass baking dishes are indispensable, so have three in various sizes. Two sheet pans with an edge and of course, oven mitts to protect your hands.

      ~ A pair of kitchen shears is also on this list. Not the heavy duty ones to shear bone, but a smaller lighter pair to spare your knives when opening packages. They are also great for clipping herbs and cutting vegetable.

      ~ A couple of long-handled ladles are good for soups and broths.

      ~ A basic food processor can help make your cooking tasks easier and faster once you learn how to use it properly.

Be sure to buy as everything in as professional level equipment as possible, so it will perform well and last long.

Pure water to rinse your produce and to use in cooking is the best way to guarantee you don’t take in toxic elements that may lurk in tap water. Good quality, under-the-sink water purification filters work well for this purpose. You may then have on demand a steady stream of clean water to use for drinking and cooking purposes.

With a simple, yet comprehensive collection of tools and equipment, an uncluttered kitchen where you have a clean, open counter-top space to work . . . as well as an organized sense of connection to the tools you want to use, you can approach healthy cooking with the clear mind and clear heart of a Zen Master !

 'Til  next time,










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