About Maple + Marigold

Creating positive change in the kitchen and at home by reconnecting people with food so they can better nourish themselves and their families.

Maple + Marigold started back in 2016 as a love letter. Maple represents Canada, my current home in Toronto and our lives today. Marigold refers to India, the colourful land of my youth and the traditions I learned in my childhood.

Today, I welcome you to walk along with me on my journey as we together tackle two of world’s biggest problems – our personal health (with emphasis on the well-documented connection between food and mood) and the health and prosperity of the planet. Come into my kitchen where I use real food that's inspired by the strategies of Eating with Benefits™, whole spices, fresh herbs along with cooking techniques that add the aroma and flavour of India into my daily life in Canada.

While I love whole, real foods, I also love shortcuts that allow me to spend my time outdoors on adventures with my kiddos. I’d rather be out walking in my backyard or through my neighbourhood with a hot cuppa in my reusable mug than standing at my kitchen counter.

Better Food Movement

A Community that inspires you to...

cook more at home

reduce what you throw away

explore delicious, real-life meal ideas

nourish yourself and your loved ones

Redefining Good Food

I believe food is so much more than fuel. Good food fills us up and tastes good, and is good for us, yes but our life is about more than just us. The path ahead is clear – for good food to be truly *good* it must also be good for the planet. I learned at an early age in my childhood to use what we have and reduce what is thrown away, and you’ll see these principles in my cooking and videos.

You’ll learn quickly that I waste very little in my kitchen. 58% of the food grown and produced in Canada is thrown away, so I try very hard not to add to that scary statistic. That means I look for ways to reduce our food waste and often share those experiments with you, especially on Instagram. And when my kiddos eat what I cook with broccoli stems, carrot tops, and unpeeled potatoes, I know my small step made a big difference.

I’m on a mission to help families like mine cook more at home, reduce what they throw and build an abundant, sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle.

interconnected
+ inclusive
delicious
+ diverse
culture
+ community
people
+ planet
happy
+ healthy
flavor
+ function
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma | Maple and Marigold | Writer, Food Advocate On-Air Personality
Puneeta Chhitwal Varma

My Backstory

More than 10 years ago, I had a Sunday night routine that I was embarrassed to share. You see, every Sunday, after my kids were in bed, I would clean out the fridge and get organized for the week. I prepared meals every weekend so that despite the exhausting weekly routine, we could all eat at home in the evening.

Except that’s not how it turned out.

Instead, I would take the nourishing, delicious meals that I had prepared for my family the previous week and throw them away. We couldn’t even make the time to sit down and eat the meals I had prepared because of how gruelling our schedule was. This wasn’t how I was raised, and I remember feeling helpless as I emptied the containers out week after week. I wanted to do better but I couldn’t see a way out.

I believe the heart of the family beats in the kitchen, around the dinner table.

My husband and I moved to Canada 17 years ago. In this time we have moved homes and jobs, relocated from one end of the country to another and back again. As the kids arrived, good food slowly became more important.

I started writing Maple and Marigold in 2016 as a love letter. Maple represents Canada and our life here, and marigold with its significance in Indian culture represents my roots in India. I started sharing about spices, herbs, cooking techniques and healthy shortcuts that add the flavour of India into my daily cooking in Canada.

My kitchen in Canada looks a lot different from my mother’s back home in India. Our spice palette aka masala dabba comprises of the same colours but the flavour is a whole lot different. With some experimenting over the years, I’ve recreated traditional dishes like keema matar (ground meat curry) to become a regular weeknight dinner feature, found acorn squash to be an delicious replacement for kaddu, and discovered that turmeric makes an excellent addition to mashed potatoes.

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Food is more than fuel. Food can support our immune system, reduce inflammation and boost our mental health.

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Traditional Indian wisdom has tons of advice about foods, herbs and spices in particular. Whole spices bring flavour, aroma and texture but that’s not all.

Certain foods and spices have nutritional qualities that can heal and protect. Turmeric and fennel seeds protect against colds and coughs. Ajwain (Bishop’s weed) is known to soothe a troubled digestive system, and more. Generations of grandmas in India have shared their knowledge and offered comfort with a cup of haldi doodh (turmeric milk) at bedtime. Food helps support our immunity, remove inflammation and boosts our mental and physical health. And It’s taken a while but science is finally catching up.

In 2020, I completed a Food & Mood program from Deakin University in Australia on how deeply connected our gut and brain were, and how what we ate fed our body and our brain. There’s tons of scientific evidence on how food impacts our physical health and it supports our mental well being too.

And that’s not enough. Good food tastes good and is good for us, but it must be also good for the planet. Eating good food is about more than how what we eat impacts us.

Over years of going behind-the-scenes at farms and grocery stores and talking with farmers and researchers, I have learned a lot. All the resources, time and money that goes into production and distribution of food…..and we end up with these shocking facts.

58% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted! A third of that food can be used to feed others.

In today’s fast paced world of takeout, drive-throughs and meal kits, it is becoming increasingly difficult to connect with what we eat. I love the convenience of how easily we can feed ourselves a healthy, well-rounded diet, however food is more than just energy. Food is more than sum total of its parts, and small sustainable steps over time have a big impact.

Many people doing their best within their means can change the world. 

Baby steps like using cauliflower and broccoli stems in everyday cooking, shopping our pantry to use and cook what we have, and finding out from the grocer why strawberries are available all-year long.

Spoiler Alert: it’s because we, the consumers, keep asking for them in the dead of winter.

Join me as we help each other cook more, use what we have, reduce what we throw away and nourish ourselves and our family.

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Take action to improve the collective good.

Pledge to use what you have, reuse what you can, reduce what you throw away, and repurpose the rest.

People who cook with me say...

I absolutely love this hour of cooking. The professional approach and presentation of the teaching is superb. Engaging, fun & excellent for anyone. Every step, ingredient, spice, how to reduce waste, how to use items from your pantry etc. is all explained in great detail.

At the end of the session you leave with not only your master dish, but with more knowledge about making sustainable changes and better food choices. I highly recommend this club.

Geeta G.
Millennial Lifestyle

I am really enjoying the Sunday Cooking Club with Puneeta at Maple and Marigold. She makes it so easy to follow along and make these fantastic foods with minimal effort.

Bonus.. these foods are also mood enhancers. The whole class is a mood enhancer. I was afraid of cooking with sweet potatoes and voila.. the cook along helped me get over my irrational fears and I created something delicious.

Priyanka S.

The Sunday Cooking Club with Puneeta was such a joy to attend. It felt amazing to prep some healthy and delicious food for the week and to use flavours and ingredients that are out of my usual rotation.

Puneeta is a wealth of information and an absolute joy. I love her approach to making cooking easy but still yummy!

Sara S.

I just adored your Sunday cooking class. You have a real talent for keeping things interesting in the kitchen! The daal came out delicious and I am so pleased with my leftovers for dinner this evening.

I felt energized by the grounding exercise at the start of the class and extremely proud of myself for the meal I created with what I had in my kitchen!

Jennifer S.

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma<br/><small>Photo by Tanvi Madkaiker</small>
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Tanvi Madkaiker

About Puneeta

author, educator, food advocate

Puneeta teaches earth-friendly and delicious solutions that work for real life. She’s on a mission to help a million people change how they cook and eat, and create positive habits in their kitchen and home. Puneeta has been featured extensively on TV and on prominent national and international media platforms such as CBC Life, CHCH TV, CTV, The Social, Global News, Martha Stewart, BBC World News and CBC Radio.

Email us for inquiries about media, speaking, partnerships, or anything else. 

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