Kiran Singh, Passion for Food, is a single mom, multi-award winner, and life coach who is passionate about inspiring others to be the designers of their lives.
We recently asked Kiran about balancing cooking passions with eco-friendly living, and how to transition to a minimal-waste lifestyle. Here’s what we shared:
Can you tell us the story behind Passion for Food? What inspired you to start your business and site?
Passion for Food is about healthy, seasonal cooking. It started in 2014 with an attempt to teach my daughter Khushi (Award Winner and Editor of www.khushikkaur.co.uk) to cook – which resulted in her being a Junior Bake Off contestant in 2015. On www.passionforfood.co’s website, you can see delicious and healthy recipes, must-have kitchen and cooking gadgets, my favorite products, “guides to,” interviews and more! Passion For Food is all about … well simply … My Passion for Food!
Why has it been important to you to balance your passion for cooking with eco-friendly living?
I tend to buy mostly organic food; everything from fruit and vegetables to meat and eggs, etc. I’ve got this lovely local Green Grocers who sells locally produced fruit and vegs. I also visit the local Farmer’s Market now and then, which I truly enjoy. Morrisons, where I buy food almost daily, does also have its own Organic and Framers Market range – so there is something for every budget!
As my Dad was a farmer, he used to bring home organically grown fruit and vegetables every day. I still remember when me and my brother had holidays from school, we’ll always spend them at the farm. Walking in to the glass house where the tomatoes were growing – the fragrance of tomatoes still lingers – so every time I buy tomatoes, I will pick them up and smell them – and that fragrance do take me back to those days. Like they say; Food are Memories.
What ways have you found to be more eco-friendly in the kitchen?
Here are my top tips for being more eco-friendly in the kitchen:
- Cover your pans while cooking. Covering your pans can reduce cooking time and also your energy bill by a staggering 75 percent.
- Shop for local produce. When you buy fresh food at your local farmer’s market, you help reduce fuel waste and emissions from long-distance shipping. You also ensure fresher food at your table and help support your local community.
- Buy organic food. Buy organic food products whenever you can. Organic foods are grown without the help of pesticides that harm the environment.
- Say no to plastic bags. Take your shopping bag whenever you step out. Don’t bring home goods in plastic bags.
- Reduce waste. Buy goods in bulk to avoid the packaging material that comes when you buy single items. Buy items that come with recyclable packaging, and opt for cloth napkins over paper ones. All these methods will help reduce waste in your kitchen.
- Save water. People tend to run water while scouring pans and pots. Use salt to scour cast-iron pans so that they scrub easily. Keep your tap turned off while doing dishes and run your dishwasher only when it’s full. Use natural cleaners such as lemon juice, white vinegar, club soda and baking soda instead of chemical cleaners.
- Cook in batches. Bake several full batches of baked goods when you turn on your oven. Ovens use up a lot of energy; don’t turn it on to make just one dish.
- Reheat extra food. Reheating food uses up lesser energy than cooking food does. Make large quantities of pasta sauce, casseroles, soups, potatoes and rice and freeze what you don’t need immediately, to be used later.
- Use gadgets that are eco-friendly. Use a bread maker instead of the oven if you want just a loaf of bread. Use tiered steamers to cook several pans of vegetables. Both your work time and your energy costs are cut to a fraction.
- Remember to turn off the gas. Turn off the gas when the water starts boiling in your pasta, potato or rice pans. Cover the pan and let the food cook on residual heat. You’ll save a great deal of gas by using this method.
- Grow your own herbs. We all spend a lot of money buying the vegetables and herbs we need daily. If you have some amount of space in your yard or even windowsill, you can grow your own herbs and vegetables. Cooking with your own veggies and herbs means fresher food, no pesticides, and peace of mind.
- Cut your food into small pieces. If you cut your vegetables and meat into smaller pieces before cooking them, you’ll find that cooking takes a lot less time. You’ll save on time and energy bills and manage to feed your hungry family a lot faster this way.
What advice can you offer readers on transitioning to a minimal-waste lifestyle?
I love and live by the concept; ‘LESS IS MORE’.
- It’s not about complicating your life, it’s about simplifying it.
- It helps you focus on what matters the most.
- Bring your own totes to the grocery store – some home made – instead of using plastic bags
- Started buying more in bulk
- When shopping vegetables – try to find the ones without the stickers (which = waste)
- You don’t need all those different cleaning supplies for your house, many of them are actually toxic for you. Make your own cleaning products!
- Use organic make-up, skincare and hair-care products
- Plan your meals
- The whole “Minimal-Waste Lifestyle” is complicated at first until you figure out a system that works for you
- Take time to de-clutter your home and life regularly
- When you’re holding stuff you don’t need, you’re keeping them from other people. You’re keeping them from being useful to other people.
This whole movement of “Minimal-Waste Lifestyle”is built upon the following five main R’s of living: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot:
- Refuse what you do not need
- Reduce what you do need
- Reuse what you consume
- Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse
- and Rot (compost) the rest.
Who or what inspires you in the kitchen or when you’re eating?
I absolutely love Nigel Slater and his home cooking, so I tend to watch his videos on YouTube to get in the “cooking” mode. Having been born and brought up in Norway, of Indian origin, living in London for nine years AND loving French and Italian cuisine – my cooking is inspired by all of these cultures plus more; from Norwegian Fiskeboller with Curry Sauce to Boeuf Bourguignon with Masala Mash.
When eating, I am currently working on implementing a new habit; the French way of eating. In life’s hustle and bustle, we just get too busy and forget to live in the moment. My Mum used to say something that kind of stuck with me; “What’s the point of working and earning money if you can’t sit down and enjoy the meal you’re eating? You work to earn money to then buy food to keep you alive, and if you’re not going to enjoy that then why earn money?” This reminds me so much about the way French people approach food, cooking and eating; it is seen as a pleasure rather than just giving the body what it needs to get through the day. They sit down and enjoy their meal – for hours! Which simply means; no gadgets whatsoever! Delicious food, great company, lovely ambiance and inspiring conversations.
What’s your approach to meal planning and cooking?
I do plan my meals upfront and really enjoy it – it also makes life less stressful. Khushi and I will sit down every Sunday and plan our meals together, everything from breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks. Once everything is planned, I’ll either order the food online or I will go to our local Morrisons every morning and buy the ingredients then. My Mum used to work in a bakery and she used to bring home a variety of freshly baked breads and buns daily, so I am a little spoilt there; I do buy freshly baked breads, baguettes, crusty rolls etc daily.