Healthy food inspiration for families is something Dr Chintal Patel is passionate about. Chintal, a General Practitioner, has had a love of food and cooking from a young age and now is passing on her knowledge to her own children and all families. She shares her knowledge and recipes helping you prepare healthy food that is easy and fun as well as delicious. Here Chintal shares her personal journey and explains why she has chosen to study Nutrition for Medics to take her knowledge even further and guide her patients in healthy eating.
What is healthy food? For me, health is more than just food and food is more than nutrition. Healthy eating is a way of life, eating is a social activity that binds families and brings them together. We try to have as many meals together as a family as possible and it is important that these are a screen-free protected time for conversation and enjoyment (with the occasional tantrum regarding certain vegetables!).
I grew up in an Indian household where food has always been the centre of family activities. At weekends, we would buy a variety of fresh fruit & vegetable and prepare it for use during the week. My parents worked full time so the weekends were when our ‘food prep’ happened. I remember spending many a Sunday peeling garlic, which my mum would then mince and freeze in batches for use in curries during the week. We also cooked together; we all had our roles in helping the head chef (Mum!). In fact, I learnt to cut, cook, and taste all by experience from an early age and was cooking independently from age 10. Sharing food with friends and family was the norm, which might explain why I am always sharing my food far and wide to this day!
For me cooking is a passion, I genuinely love preparing food, experimenting with ideas and trying new flavours. I believe food does not need to be expensive or complicated to be healthy and delicious. As a mum myself, it is important to me that my children grow up with the same enjoyment of food as I did. My children are my sous chefs and always eager to cook up a storm in the kitchen. The clean-up operation is next on my list to teach them!
For the past 12 years, I have worked as a General Practitioner in London. I work with families and children and I could see a need for family-friendly food that is easy to make and enjoyable to eat by the whole family. I often meet parents who struggle to encourage their children to eat nutritious meals or find it hard to find the time to make healthy meals at home. They would find themselves cooking separate meals for their children or using readymade meals. I want to empower these families to cook together and make quick, easy, cheap recipes at home that the whole family can enjoy. I should add, for me, all food is ‘healthy’. I don’t restrict any particular foods and we enjoy a chocolate brownie as a snack just as much as we do hummus and carrots. This is where the idea of ‘Dr Chintal’s Kitchen’ evolved.
I wanted to inspire and motivate families and children to eat well and cook family friendly meals together every day and to think about health and nutrition. So I decided to start writing down the recipes that I cooked every day and shared them online via my blog @drchintalskitchen. As a mum of two boys aged 9 and 6, I have first-hand experience of how children can sometimes be resistant to change or trying new foods. Over the years, I have learnt tactics and tricks to encourage them both to eat well and try new foods. I genuinely love creating recipes, using ingredients to expand my children’s tastes and encouraging them to form a healthy relationship with food from an early age. By sharing my recipes online and also running cookery workshops for families and children, I hope to continue to inspire families to cook together at home.
I am especially excited to work alongside the nutrition experts at Sano. I will be helping develop recipes to be used at the restaurant as well as supper clubs to share my passion for cooking. I hope you will be able to join us at one of the events or try my February special – ‘Spinach & Chickpea Curry’ available in store for the whole of February.
As a medical student, I was not taught about the importance of nutrition or even how it could help with the management of some chronic diseases. I often found myself giving recipe ideas to patients in clinic but was not always able to explain the science behind the advice I was giving. I taught myself a lot through personal study, however, I have always been conscious that this was a gap in my formal medical training.
I am, therefore, super excited to start the Nutrition for Medics course with Sano. I am looking forward to learning the science behind the theory, especially, practical tips on how to put this all into practice in a 10-minute consultation as an NHS General Practitioner.