Cooking with Intention

Intuitive chef and nutritionist Serena Poon on how to stay healthy at home and what to cook during the age of coronavirus.

By Miri Sadigh

 “Our immune system is our strongest defense during this time,” says leading culinary alchemist Serena Poon, who counts stars Kerry Washington, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jerry Bruckheimer as clients, among many others. While people are staying home due to the rise of COVID-19 cases, Poon offers advice on what to eat, in addition to nutrient- and mineral-rich foods. “I recommend warm, cooked meals during this quarantine period,” she says. “That’s not to say to avoid your salads, fruits and juices, but it does mean that making soups and stews, and steaming and roasting your food is a good guideline for home cooking.” 

She advises cooking with intention and thoughtfully preparing food. “In my practice of culinary alchemy, I teach people that the energy and the thoughts you put into your food preparation can directly affect the energetic vibration of the food as well as how your body receives it. So while you’re cooking, think about how the meal you are preparing will nourish you and your family and keep you healthy and your immune system strong.” 

These days, there’s also more time to food-prep than the usual day or two, which is good news. “During this social-distancing time at home, we have the opportunity to food-prep and to make the assembling of a meal or menu a lot more fun and creative—especially if you have kids who are now home all day,” she says. It’s also important to change it up. “Pick a different type of cuisine every other day or try new recipes that seem like a challenge. Use cooking and the kitchen as a therapeutic space in the home and let your creative energies flow. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around.” 

In addition to roasting vegetables ahead of time, she recommends soaking nuts, seeds, grains and legumes to “neutralize enzyme inhibitors so that you can more easily digest them and absorb all the nutrients they offer.” 

Poon, who is also a Reiki master, says that “food is medicine,” and is a big fan of superfoods, noting the importance of stocking up on them in any form (fresh, dehydrated, raw, powered) during this period. Additionally, she says, “Keep a fresh pot of immune-supportive teas on the stove, and if you have access to fresh produce, it’s a great time to make fresh juices that can last a few days.” 

She notes the importance of easing into “intention-setting” for your food. “You don’t need to go to culinary school to be a great chef, but you have to love what you’re doing with the food,” she says. “Food is love, food gives love, food can be made with love, and food heals.”