Plus win a signed copy of ‘The Doctor’s Kitchen: supercharge your health with 100 delicious everyday recipes‘
Rupy Aujla is a straight talking NHS doctor on a mission to show that food is the ultimate medicine. We’re minded to agree, which is why we met up with him to talk about The Doctor’s Kitchen project, his latest recipe book, and why he thinks we should start taking culinary medicine seriously.
How did The Doctor’s Kitchen start?
I started The Doctor’s Kitchen to inspire my patients about the beauty of food and the medicinal effects of eating well. I wanted to bring a reliable, evidence based approach to healthy eating and start the conversation about how we can use food in medicine.
What do you think lies behind the growing interest in food nutrition?
Overall I think people are becoming more inquisitive and I welcome that. We live in an era of information accessibility and the democratisation of healthcare is upon us! Most people recognize that food is very important but they lack the knowledge or motivation to make the first steps. Having a GP literally showing them how to cook is quite revolutionary and motivational for a lot of my patients.
Tell us about your new recipe book…
I describe it as a culinary journey through food in medicine where I try to inspire people about the incredible health benefits of nutrition using an evidence-based approach. I’m trying to shake off the stigma of healthy eating being expensive or pretentious and making it inclusive for everyone. It’s accompanied by 100 delicious recipes that span cultures and have the science woven into the dishes. I also tackle common fad diets using a balanced open minded approach and science as my guiding principle.
I’ve tried to make it as inclusive as possible. Whether you’re a novice cook or somebody who likes experimenting in the kitchen, the book will certainly appeal. I have a section on cooking staples such as wild rice or greens from scratch and the methods that are proven to retain most nutrition. I also like to experiment with making marinades, pastes and chutneys so there’s a whole section on that. As well as quick meals and slow cooking favourites.
How do you juggle responsibilities as a NHS doctor with The Doctor’s Kitchen?
It can be tough but I’ve learnt to deal with one task at a time and try not to think of the whole to do list which can get overwhelming. I’ve started using google calendar to schedule and that has helped immensely. I try to meditate daily (although that doesn’t always happen). I forgive myself for not hitting targets. I learnt how to reduce my stress over the years by concentrating on my breath during the day and I try to leave time to unwind. Burnout is something I have experienced in the past and I’m very mindful of it.
How important is convenience in your cooking?
Very important! I don’t always have time to create amazing instagramable pictures in the mornings! So efficient cooking and kitchen hacks are essential and these are some tips that I’ve learnt along the way and shared in my cookbook.
How important for you is understanding how and where your food was made?
Exceptionally important, especially when it comes to animal products. I think over the years we’ve lost touch and therefore respect of exactly where our food comes from. Life has been sacrificed to nourish our bodies and it’s a very humbling reality that we’ve lost sight of since we don’t butcher or milk the cows ourselves anymore!
I think if we were mindful of that we would care a lot more about where and how our food is produced and probably eat less animal products but certainly of a higher quality. This is why I’m so supportive of what Farmdrop are championing in the UK.
Where are your future plans for the Doctor’s Kitchen?
I’m in the process of starting culinary medicine in the UK, where we teach doctors the foundations of nutrition and how to cook. I also want to change the way medicine is taught to include a large proportion of the curriculum on nutrition, because I believe we need to teach our medical students the future of medicine revolves around food.