Back to our roots - foods from childhood that bring joy

Growing up my parents ran an ice cream parlor in Trinidad. Despite being quite young, the flavour of the coconut ice-cream sticks with me to this day. When we moved to Georgia, it shook us in a way we didn’t expect, everything that seemed normal to us was now foreign to others. We would have curry for dinner and our mom would pack it for our school lunch. I could never forget the first time I took my lunch to school and the shock on my classmates faces, watching me eating cold curry and rice. If it was during Ramadan, she’d almost always pack dates as a snack, which they unfortunately told me looked like I was eating cockroaches. Stuck between this delicious food and the desire to fit in, we slowly began distancing ourselves from them, opting for whatever everyone else ate in our lunches.

When we were at home, nothing could beat cracking a fresh coconut and eating it with ripe mango. It took many years, chronic illnesses, and lots of self-discovery to realize the profound impact these foods had on my physical and emotional well-being. In fact, according to a journal article published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, there is a strong link between healthy food choices and feelings of happiness and well-being. While it’s slightly ironic that my path to wellness was also a path back to myself, I’m excited to share some of these foods with you.

One food that holds a special place in my heart is dates. Not only are they a delicious, naturally sweet treat, but they are also packed with nutrients and have a number of health benefits. Dates are a good source of fiber, which can help support healthy digestion and weight management. They are also rich in antioxidants, which can help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. Did you know that they are also great for people who are breastfeeding? They help to increase prolactin, the hormone that tells your body to produce milk.

Coconut is probably one of my all-time favorite foods. What I love is how versatile it is. You can make both sweet and savory dishes. You can make drinks. You can even use the fibers to make other things. We had it most often as coconut bake (a bread made with coconut, ice cream, in curry, or just to drink. Out side of taste, it is also a rich source of healthy fats, including medium chain fatty acids, which have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including improved brain function and weight management.

You’ve never really enjoyed a a mango until you’ve eaten it ripe, peeling back the skin with your teeth. Sounds messy, but trust me, you’ll have nor regrets. We had it on its own, in ice-cream, or as mango chow (a mixture of mango, chilis, and spices). Not only is it delicious and refreshing, but it is also a great source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and folate. In addition to its nutritional benefits, mango has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great food choice for supporting overall health and well-being.

I could not exclude curry. Now this is pretty broad because there are so many types of curry. As I’ve gotten older I’ve really enjoyed discovering more about different types of current from around the world. It’s safe to say that I love all curries. Integral to any curry for me is the blend of aromatic spices and herbs, such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander, which are known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. What I also love about it, is that you can curry almost anything, which makes it easy to tailor to your dietary needs.

All in all, these cultural foods from my childhood not only bring back some seriously warm and fuzzy memories, but they're also really good for you. From the nutritious dates and coconut, to the vitamin-rich mango and the anti-inflammatory curry, these foods have played a huge role in supporting my physical and emotional well-being.

It comes as no surprise, that these same ingredients are incorporated into Gwell bites. Check them out and let us know what you think!

Topic: The Nostalgia and Health Benefits of Childhood Cultural Foods: A Reflection on the Importance of Cuisine in Identity and Wellness

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