Sunday 19 November 2017

Set your creative spirit free

Aine McAteer

I wasn't planning on moving back to Ireland. I came for a holiday in August to see my parents on a round-trip ticket. I was due to head back to my life in LA in mid-September. I wasn't planning on becoming a dog owner either -- yet here we are, Ruby and I, madly in love.

I certainly wasn't planning on finding myself rambling the country roads of Ireland, picking nettles and dandelions to stew or brew for dinner or tea. And yet here I am.

But then, as John Lennon reminded us, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

Many moons ago when my fascination with all things food and health-related was just beginning, I recall feeling that I needed to spread my wings, explore the big wide world and gain as much experience as I could. I saw myself returning to my homeland one day to share what I'd learned.

Perhaps this was all a plan I set in motion on some sub-conscious level way back then.

Even though I continue to make my plans, from experience I've learned to be very open to the fact that life may just have another road to take me down.

I remember explaining to my mother why I needed to leave my job in the Bank of Ireland and get a one-way ticket to God knows where, telling her that I didn't want to read about the sand beneath my feet, I wanted to feel it.

What has transpired between that day and now has been a mighty roller-coaster ride, but, through it all, I've always felt that a bigger hand is moving my life. I've had an innate sense of trust that whether or not it is clear to me, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

My life has taken many twists and turns, but through it all there's been a common thread: food! The kitchen -- anybody's kitchen -- has become my home; a place where I feel connected and in control. It's the place where I let my creative spirit out to play, and the place where I get to both influence my health and support others on their journey to wellbeing.

I have gone into the kitchens of people who thought they had no food and managed to surprise them with some culinary delights.

I have cooked in celebrity kitchens, in mansions with kitchens so grand that even the coffee maker answered me back, and I have taught cooking to a gentleman in New York whose kitchen was so small we both couldn't fit in it at the same time.

This, my friends, is a brief introduction to me and a little explanation as to why I'm here, bringing you tips and words of wisdom, gleaned from many years of travelling and exploring the wonderful world of food and health. It's a world where, after more than 35 years, I still feel like a novice. Every day when I go into the kitchen I go in with an open mind and a sense of excitement, wondering what I'm going to conjure up.

I can't say I'm one of those super- organised chefs who has it all planned out -- most of the time I'm just winging it. Recipe books never make it into my kitchen, they sit by my bedside and I read them as I would a novel -- they give me ideas and inspiration from which I create my own delights.

I'm hoping that I can inspire you to be creative. I have witnessed the power of food to transform lives and restore health, vitality and wellbeing. My commitment is to share this knowledge so we can make this world a healthier place, one delicious meal at a time.

I thought I'd start by introducing you to some dishes that have become staples in our house since my arrival home. My dear parents are now the beneficiaries of my creations, as I'm constantly creating and testing recipes for my cookbooks and my weekly blog on I'm always inspired by what's available, in season and, preferably, organically grown, and these days I'm really enjoying picking wild edibles on my country strolls with my dog Ruby.


Irish Independent

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