Hi and welcome to my blog “Gingery Chef”. My name is Mila, I live in London (UK) and I am many things: a chef,a recipe creator , a wife, and a mum of 3 healthy boys who eat like crazy and keep me very busy! Like most mums, I sometimes feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day. However, I have learnt that it is possible to create healthy and delicious food for my family, without spending hours in the kitchen. And more than that, I want to show you that plant-based foods can look beautiful on your plate too! It is so important to me that food should look exciting, as well as being nourishing. I’m truly happy and grateful to be able to share my passion for cooking, healthy eating and recipes with you here today. Please enjoy!
My Family’s Journey
So, how did I get here? My journey towards being Gingery Chef really started with the birth of my second son, Maxie. It is a story of love, some difficulty, and a very happy ending: Five years ago, we were so excited to meet the new addition to our family. When he arrived, Maxie was fine at first but we soon realised that, like many children these days, he had a list of things he was allergic to. I wondered how we would cope. On top of this, he had severe eczema, which was a nightmare for all of us. It used to upset me so much when his skin was cracked and bloody, which often lead to him getting infections. Like old friends, his wounds and trips to the doctor would go hand by hand. So, Maxie was on antibiotics at least twice a year, and what upset me the most was that the doctors never recommended switching, or even just correcting, his diet. All they could offer was very strong steroid creams, which I considered to be unhealthy for his whole-body system. Then I read an article about a story that was similar to mine. A man with severe eczema had excluded gluten and dairy from his diet, and since then his skin had no longer been affected. This story might have a happy ending after all. I decided to take Maxie for a complete allergy test, and, as I expected, he was sensitive to many things: including gluten and dairy. I started to gradually switch Maxie’s diet, substituting all dairy products for plant-based milks and cheeses. I made pancakes with Buckwheat flour and rice milk instead of wheat and milk. I thought that if I used maple syrup as a sweetener, everything would be alright. To be 100% honest, the transition wasn’t as quick and easy as I had hoped. Maxie was not happy with having coconut yoghurt instead of his favourite Actimel. He definitely was not happy eating buckwheat pancakes, which tasted very different from before. I was getting quite worried: he was always grumpy and had refused to eat for days, until I woke up one morning and realised what the problem was: It was unfair to ask him to change alone. I realized that this diet change should apply to all of the family, and so I switched all of us to a Gluten, Dairy and Refined Sugar Free Diet, to support him together. I truly believe I made a right decision, because since then we have never had a single problem with Maxie’s skin, and the rest of us feel fantastic too.
In my experience, I’ve learned that it is hard for kids to stay on a 100% clean diet. You can imagine all the treats at kids’ birthday parties, or holidays where they see other kids eating ice creams and pizza. It is a battle sometimes. Avoiding temptations all the time and banning food is not realistic. My main aim was to educate my family’s taste buds and give them an experience of eating healthily from the very beginning. So, if you are thinking of making a change, or just want to try out some healthy food that looks great, my advice would be this. Try to keep a balance and don’t go too fanatical about anything. Let them try, let them be in charge, and eventually they will get there because you have dropped a seed. Just wait and you will see a beautiful tree growing.
My Culinary Journey
I grew up and spent my early years in a beautiful, sunny City called Tashkent in Uzbekistan. I remember that every time I visited the market, the rich, exotic smells and amazing variety of colours used to fascinate me. When I was just 8 years old my parents would send me to the ‘Farhat Bazar’ food market well known for its middle eastern produce. I spent literally hours and hours, choosing the best vegetables and grains. My mum would laugh as she told all of her friends that I was so good at choosing rice and negotiating the price that they should use me to do their shopping too! I would stare at huge piles of rice and other grains, all different colours and shapes and my mind would wonder. Strange though it sounds, it was like I could see their inner beauty, like they were trying to talk to me. Growing up in such an inspiring environment, I was a happy and healthy child. I was never really a meat eater and I really loved vegetables and fruits. From the very beginning of my childhood I told my parents that I wanted to become a chef when I grow up. From that time, my parents were really supportive. My dad taught me to cook, starting from the basics, through to quite advanced dishes. I was lucky that my dad shared his knowledge with me and showed me that cooking can be fun! My love of working with fresh ingredients and creating beautiful food continued throughout my life, until one day I realised that it was my life. I decided to become a professional. I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy in 2013, where I obtained my Grand Diploma by training as a Cuisine and Patisserie Chef. The journey I went through was unforgettable, as I gained in confidence and sharpened my cooking techniques, but for me, I realised that my career had come full circle. I have the technique now, but this is nothing without a relationship to food. I think back to the wonderful markets in Tashkent and realise that with fresh produce and a little care, we can all nourish our families in a positive and loving way.