About Maple + Marigold

Big flavour. Deep connections. Cross-cultural conversations.

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.

Good Food, Healthy Planet book

New cookbook to help people choose low-waste, good-for-us food.

Good Food, Healthy Planet

Your Kitchen Companion to Simple, Practical, Sustainable Cooking  

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. 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; 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 people and families cook more at home, reduce what they throw and build an abundant, sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle. With ease.

Interconnected + Inclusive

Delicious +
Diverse

Culture +
Community

People +
Planet

Happy +
Healthy

Flavour +
Function

My Backstory

Years ago, I had a Sunday night routine that I am 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.

This is a photo of Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, a Food Writer, Climate Advocate, and Mom of two in Toronto. She is photographed sitting on a park bench writing in a journal. She's looking at the camera and smiling.
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Diana Muresan

I believe the heart of the family beats in the kitchen, often around the kitchen counter.

My husband and I moved to Canada in 2003 and since then we have both moved homes and jobs a number of times, relocated from one end of the country to another and back again. Slowly the kids arrived and good food 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 may comprise of the same colours but the flavours are different. With some testing and tweaking 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. And we are more than machines.

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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.

In Canada, 58% of food produced is lost or wasted! A third of this 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 eaters, 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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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.

This is a photo of Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, a Food Writer, Climate Advocate, and Mom of two in Toronto. She is photographed in a park. She is walking towards the viewer carrying a basket of fresh vegetables.
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Diana Muresan

About Puneeta

author, speaker, climate 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 believes sustainability is far easier than we have been led to believe and that eating good food can (and must!) be uncomplicated and accessible.

Find her on various media and public platforms such as CTV's The Social, Breakfast Television, CBC Life, CHCH TV, 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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