When The Leader visited with local chef Karuna Diedericks two years ago, she had started a cooking and consulting business to build upon a personal chef service she had offered since 2011. It was centered on Ayurvedic principles — Ayurveda being the traditional medicine of India dating back 5,000 years. Now she is fine tuning her vision and taking the endeavor full time, partnering with ISKCON of Houston to offer cooking classes at their eight acre property in Acres Homes.
An Ayurvedic practitioner who earned her degree from the California College of Ayurveda in 2007, Diedericks said that the impetus for shifting gears was part necessity and part passion.
“I was also doing education and sales for ten different vitamin and skin care lines with Whole Foods and other health food stores, but when Amazon bought Whole Foods there was no need for a middle man and my job became obsolete,” she said. “I also felt my calling was to help people transition to a plant based diet because I’m always getting asked about it. I wanted to help people find their natural balance in other areas of their lives as well. Ayurveda is about physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.”
Diedericks decided to move away from chef work and hired a business coach to help her drill down on her plans to be a coach and mentor for those seeking guidance leading a healthy lifestyle, as well as with stress management and other needs. She has been doing online consultations for some time and feels the format works well with people’s busy schedules. However, for the cooking component she needed a kitchen.
She was looking for a place where she could cook, teach and also make teaching videos when a friend connected her with ISKCON, who was seeking someone to offer classes. A plant-based cooking school, called Karuna’s Ayurvedic Kitchen, was born.
“It was the perfect coming together,” said Diedericks. “They liked my idea.”
The Farm, an ISKCON property off Wheatley, has three cows, a garden area and an outdoor stage for events. Diedericks liked The Farm’s location adjacent to Oak Forest because her daughter Sundari attended Oak Forest Elementary school and she has lived in the neighborhood for ten years.
There is a house at The Farm with a kitchen where Diedericks will offer her classes. “Eventually the house will be converted into a retreat,” said Diedericks.
Although she currently buys organic produce from Sprouts, there are plans to coordinate with ISKCON’s farming projects so that Karuna’s Ayurvedic Kitchen can be farm to table.
“We would teach according to the growing seasons,” she said. “It will take a little while.”
The food Diedericks will teach people to prepare will combine whole foods in a way that’s tasty – and quick to prepare.
“I want them to come home from a long day’s work and have something easy to make,” she said.
The dishes are inspired by traditional Indian meals with plenty of vegetables, protein based soups and dahls. There will be chutney and pesto and alternative grains like quinoa and millet.
“It will be vegan and gluten free as far as I can,” said Diedericks, who added there will be some cakes and some dairy offerings, courtesy of ISKCON’s Brahman cows.
“People are unique and different,” she said. “It’s about finding out what’s best for their bodies.”
While Karuna’s Ayurvedic Kitchen will start out with just Karuna, Diedericks plans to bring other teachers on as well. Hands-on class size will range from 12 to 16 people, although if Diedericks is doing a cooking demo the groups could be much larger.
For more information on Diedericks’ activities visit www.findyournaturalbalance.com, Karuna’s Ayurvedic Kitchen or The Ayurvedic Balance on Facebook.