Ojas. Soma. Bhakti. How do we translate these words, or convey the experience, the deep knowing, that get up and dance urge, the sense of soaring wings lifting you to the sun, the feeling of sailing through light’s orchestral silence?
We think we know what they mean: Ojas. Soma. Bhakti. But we don’t really have words in English to properly translate. These are words not pointing to a concept or an analysis or even something that can be shared by the mind that reasons, but rather to experiences shared by what we might call “the heart” – the place where we are one and where we are all capable of feeling exquisite exaltations, a divine ecstasy; and in that feeling, in utter silence, way out beyond words or word-compiling, we know, we feel it together, we feel deeply connected, and darn it if it doesn’t just make you love everyone and everything because in this place, in this experience, everything is love and it all just sings with light and delight.
You could say that Ojas is the biology of love, that Soma is the principle of love in the world, and that Bhakti is the nectar of divine love in the heart.
But then, it just sounds like more distraction. Better, I think, to translate the words into a feeling, to offer an experience – a food experience, for example.
And that, dear friends, is this. A Coconut Cream you can have for dessert or serve with dessert, or enjoy for breakfast, or even make up as a tonic – a sleep tonic, an anti-anxiety tonic, or even a peace tonic. It’s so good my husband calls it “the Nectar of Love.”
A few notes first: I prefer fresh young coconuts, and now that I have a Coco Jack they are easy and quick to open. You can watch a demonstration here. Some markets will open your coconut for you, so please ask your local. If you do not have fresh coconuts, look for Let’s Do Organic Coconut Cream and follow the instructions, or look for Coconut Cream in a jar (not can) like this one from Tropical Traditions. Just know that the texture may not be as creamy.
Rose water can be purchased from the market, of course, but if you know your roses are organically grown, it is far more wonderful and delicious to make your own. Just boil up some water, then let it cool a minute or two. Meanwhile, put a handful of rose petals in a mug, add a few crystals of coconut sugar, and pour in half to a cup of water. Let it stand for at least fifteen minutes, swirling it every so often. Strain, and drink what you don’t use. Rose water is an excellent tonic.
The Nectar of Love: Coconut Cream + Rose, Saffron, Nutmeg, Lime A Potion for Cultivating Bliss
1 c Coconut Water
1 c Coconut Meat
1 T Coconut Manna
1 t Coconut Oil
1-2 t Rose Water
1 Medjool Date
4-5 strands of Saffron
a pinch of Nutmeg, freshly grated
a light dusting of Cinnamon, Cardamom
Once you have your coconut water and meat, or your two cups of cream, put all the ingredients in a high speed blender and mix on high for a minute or two. Taste and adjust spices. If you would like it thinner so it is more of a tonic to sip, add purified water or more coconut water to desired consistency. Pour into your serving glass, and garnish with a slice of lime. It will serve 2-4, if you don’t tuck in first.
For more of a dessert, let it rest in your refrigerator an hour or so where it will thicken up. My friend Wendy gifted us kumquats from her citrus garden, so I added those for winter color. First I cut them open by scoring top to bottom and then marinating them overnight in honey. I added the lime slices to that too, as it makes the rind edible and the honey runny.
It is best served within 12 hours of making, so if you have any left over, enjoy it for breakfast in the morning. It is great with blueberries, and probably also with raspberries, bananas, or peaches.
This will do the work of a Deep Sleep Tonic, and judging by the popularity of this post, it seems the medicinal benefits of love’s nectar is much needed in our world today. I prefer this Coconut Cream as it is more sattvic, but try them both to see which gives you more of the biology of love.
Bhakti is love for love’s sake.
Bhakti is of the form of Supreme Love towards God. And it is of the nature of Nectar. By attaining which, human beings become perfect, immortal and fully contented.
~ Narada Bhakti Sutras
Remember, God, to love us in a way
our souls can taste…
~St Teresa of Avila
How do you celebrate love?
If you are one who likes chocolate as the taste of love, you will find heavenly and easy recipes here, here, here, here and here. Does smearing chocolate on your skin sound like a way to celebrate? If so, check out natural skin care expert Morgan Andersen’s Chocolate Rose Mask over on our Sophia Camp website.
Then, because I love her work so much, I am going over to Madesmith, the only place where you can find Briar’s Cardamom + Jasmine Butter to purchase this delicious body balm and have it sent direct to a reader as my Valentine’s Day gift.
So there are two gifts. All you have to do is comment below so we know you are interested, and two names will be picked randomly. If you are picked, please note that we will need your address, and it will be shared with Briar or Madesmith so they can mail you your care love package. We will do that “behind the scenes,” of course.
Thank you. May you always know that you are Love and you are loved.
Ayurveda is brilliant for its herbal wisdom, such as the benefits of turmeric – but even more so, for its genius in combining. Making dishes, tonics or formulas to create a balanced, whole, all-six-tastes intelligence that super charges healing is a unique forte in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s one of the many reasons I love it, because it is a science of relationships!
That is why this ancient and popular Ayurvedic recipe for Golden Milk is so effective – Ayurveda knows that turmeric’s potency is enhanced when its bitter taste is balanced by the sweet taste. Bitters help the body detoxify, while sweet increases the bio-availability to carry the medicinal qualities of bitters well into your deeper tissues.
Can you hear the song? Mary Poppins was right – sweet does help the medicine go down, and be optimally effective.
Only when Ayurveda speaks of the sweet taste, it means foods that are naturally sweet, sometimes almost bland – like rice, wheat, potatoes, parsnips, milk, butter, but also delicious like bananas, berries, almonds, coconut.
Because it is so healthy, I add turmeric to ghee whenever I cook, and stir it into milk whenever making a tea or smoothie. In winter, on any given day, you will find in our kitchen a teapot full of steaming hot water colored deep yellow by generous slices of turmeric and ginger. But I would never have the tea on its own. There’s always some type of milk, usually coconut, and often a spoonful of ghee. For me, turmeric is just too light and drying without the heavy, unctuous, hydrating benefits of the sweet taste.
If you look at traditional India, you see this medicinal relationship embedded in the cuisine: curries, yellow rice and golden milk are common in Indian kitchens, where golden milk was made fresh and served piping hot the minute anyone complained of a sore, an ache or an illness.
Last week I served it with goat’s milk to a friend, but I personally prefer it with homemade almond or coconut milk. What is it about Ayurveda and milk? You can read about Ayurveda’s love of dairy here, which is perhaps not what you think… Anyway, I give you both ways to make it – and hope you enjoy it, for goodness’ sake!
Golden Milk Serves 2
2 c fresh Milk
2 t Turmeric powder, or a 2-inch coin of fresh Turmeric root, peeled
A dusting of fresh cracked Pepper, or a small pinch of ground Cardamom, or both
Put the ingredients in saucepan. Whisk the milk gently while bringing to a gentle boil. Serve and drink warm.
Warning: Wear an apron. Turmeric stains!
Dairy Free Golden Milk Serves 2
2 t Turmeric powder or a 2-inch coin of fresh turmeric root, peeled
2 c fresh Almond milk* or Coconut Milk
2 t raw Honey, optional
1 t Ghee or Coconut oil, optional
Add the ingredients to a blender on high speed and mix for a few minutes to heat the drink. Enjoy it warm.
For Vata: Blend in a date and skip the honey. Add a shake of ginger and a dash of cardamom For Pitta: Replace the honey with maple syrup For Kapha: Add generous shakes of ginger, black pepper and cinnamon
*How to Make Almond Milk Makes about 2 cups
1 c raw Almonds
4 c Water
2-3 Medjool dates, chopped
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Himalayan Pink Salt
In two cups of water, soak the almonds overnight, for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 2 days. Drain and rinse. Pour your almonds in a high speed blender and cover with two cups of water. Slowly turn your blender from low to the highest speed and blend for two minutes. By the time you are done, it should be foamy and very well blended, with the almonds broken up into a fine meal. Pulse a bit longer if needed to get it completely smooth.
Place a nut bag or a generous strip of cheese cloth into a strainer and put the strainer over a large bowl, or a 1 quart Pyrex. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer. Lift the nut bag or cheese cloth and twist to squeeze all the liquid into the bowl.
Pour this liquid back into your blender and add the dates, vanilla and salt. Blend again on high speed until no bits of dates remain. Drink immediately, or store in an airtight jar up to two days in your refrigerator.
Turmeric is said to balance all doshas, be cleansing to the blood and lymph, helping to dissolve tumors and blood clots, improving circulation, promoting healthy menstruation, strengthening muscles, healing soft tissue injury, decongesting the liver, aiding in the digestion of sugar, fats, and oils, and supporting those with diabetes and hypoglycemia. (NCBI: Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin)
Since turmeric is such a hard worker, I leave you with a little food for thought ~
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.
Find the fun… and snap, the job’s a game!
And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake A lark, a spree, It’s very clear to see!”
January used to be the hardest month. Back to school, back to work, back to cold, intense urban environments. Now January is this: Warm soups on lovely days. Writing. Researching. Planning. Walks on the beach. Morning prayers with the sunrise. Sitting by the fire in the evening. Meals with my beloved.
January. Slow. Mindful. Deep. Days of hope. Days of white: snow, skies, interior scapes. Days of spiced tea and hot soups.
This simple winter soup has been our favorite so far. Made with three basic ingredients: split mung bean, carrots and chard, it’s easy, the way January should be.
It’s easy to make, easy to digest, and easy to love.
Be sure your mung beans are split, otherwise it will require soaking and a longer cooking time, and frankly it just never tastes as good. You can find them at any good Asian or Indian store, or you can order them online here.
A Wintry Dal Serves 4
1 T ghee (be generous)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T vata spice mixture (see below)
1 t ginger powder
1 t curry powder
1 c SPLIT mung bean, rinsed and drained
4 c vegetable broth
2 bay leaves 4 small to medium sized carrots, cut into bite-size pieces 1 bunch chard, rinsed and loosely chopped 1 c water
1 T white miso
Seasoning: gf tamari or shoyu, extra virgin olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper
Optional: scallions, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cilantro, sage leaves
Melt your ghee over a medium flame. Sweat the onions, then add the garlic and give it a swirl. Add your spices and swirl again, now for about a minute. Stir in the mung beans. Turn the heat to high, and slowly pour in the vegetable broth. Add the bay leaves. Bring it to a boil, cover and reduce heat.
Allow it to gently boil for about 25 minutes. Add the carrots. Stir and check your liquid levels. It might need another cup of water. If so, add now.
Cook for another 15 minutes and add the chard. Let it sit on top of the soup to steam. Cook until it wilts, about 5-10 more minutes. Stir the chard into the soup. Taste to check if the beans are cooked through. They will be soft if they are done.
When the beans are done, turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the miso, and mix in well.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Season with tamari or shoyu, and a generous splash of olive oil. Sprinkle with cilantro, chopped scallions, roasted seeds, and, optionally, a toasted sage leaf.
How well do you know your dals? When I was home visiting my mother recently she shared with me this article from the Chicago Tribune which is a great feast of delicious information about legumes, and how best to prepare. It’s worth a read for any travel, culture or culinary lover.
This New Year, I have a brand new, wonderful, online course called New Year New You. It’s full of goodies and powerful tools to help you live your very best life, and shine your gorgeous light. So check it out and see if it resonates with you. If so, sign up quick. We begin this weekend.
If you comment below letting me know you are interested, you will be eligible for a 10% discount (even if you’ve already registered!). I’ll pick randomly tomorrow afternoon.
Again, I wish you a Happy New Year. May it be nourishing and bright.
Beloved friends, I hope you are resting and enjoying this final day of 2014. The Chinese year of the horse has been quite a gallop, hasn’t it? Yet when we look back, there is so much to be thankful for. Most of all, that we have each other – a conscious, loving community of soulful, heart-centered people nourishing the world with mindfulness, presence, love.
I personally have felt so supported this year. That was diagnosed years ago as a severe deficiency, as an underlying cause of all that was imbalanced in my body, and in my life. Given that both Yoga and Ayurveda tells us that all problem arise from “the mind,” I set about to change that. So today I really want to pause and give thanks to all who support me, and who support the ways I love and grow and thrive – by every now and then having a read, showing up in a class, attending a workshop or Retreat, dropping me a line, showering us with smiles, or sharing a simple meal. I am so fortunate to live the beauty I love, to paraphrase Rumi, and it is due mostly to you, our community of beloved friends and divine souls.
So, today I give thanks for you.
Here is my gift. A little bite of sweet, tart, rich, light up the new year deliciousness. You can make it right now in ten minutes if you have a bar of dark chocolate (who doesn’t after the holidays?) and a basket of fresh raspberries in your pantry. You can actually make it with any fruit, but red is best for the color, and raspberries give it just the right pop.
As for the chocolate, I used what remained of a Scharffenberger 70% bittersweet dark chocolate baking bar. You can use anything, just keep it dark – for beauty, for taste, for balance, and for all those anti-aging antioxidants.
Chocolate Raspberry Tart Serves 8-10
5-6 ounces dark Chocolate (there’s a good list of some of the best here)
1 T Coconut Oil
1 basket fresh Raspberries, rinsed and pat dry
Cinnamon, Cardamom dustings
Break up the chocolate and very gently melt it over a low flame watching it carefully and stirring constantly, or use a double boiler to be safe. You want to be sure you are only melting the chocolate – not cooking it, and certainly not burning it.
Warm a tart pan (see this great article on the different between a tart and a pie and the dishes that help us make the best of each), and coat with the coconut oil. Pour in your melted chocolate and spread evenly across the pan. Lightly set your raspberries on the chocolate with their points facing up. Completely cover with berries, then refrigerate to set (I sealed it with a plate to not crush the berries).
Remove from the refrigerator at least ten minutes before serving so the chocolate softens enough to be able to cut and serve without breaking. Once plated, dust with cardamom, cinnamon. A dollop of yogurt is good with this and makes a beautiful contrast in dark and light. I also served it with the pear coulis below, which can be added to sparkling water for a delightful new year’s sparkle.
Pear Coulis Sparkler Serves 3-4
1-2 T Lemon juice, depending on how juicy your pear was
Puree the pear with the lemon juice in your blender. You might need to add a teaspoon of water just to get it to puree, but try not to add too much water, nor to over blend. If you do it will turn brown which is less pretty, although every bit as delicious.
Add 2-3 spoons of pear coulis to a glass of sparkling water – or omit the lemon, and add to champagne.
I wish you and your loved ones every joy this coming year.
Let’s remember: we have everything it takes, and we are the ones to light the world with love.
Happy New Year!
I offer you a collection of holiday gifts curated just for you – mostly things you can make in your kitchen, or download from your computer, or have someone else wrap and mail, so you can free yourself from the tyranny of last-minute shopping, crowds and traffic. The holidays should be a time of ease… and love, song, joy, merriment, sacred celebration and divine remembrance. I wish you all of that.
Music: Every Yoga class I teach finishes with people coming up afterwards asking about the music. The most requested are always from these three favorites: my husband Bhava, Jim Beckwith, and Steve Gold. Steve has a free download for you here.
Food: Tidings of peace come in a gift box of Tizi’s Teas. Her Immuno Chai with Tulsi, Pippali, Ashwagandha, dandelion, rose, licorice, vanilla and peppermint has been my warm companion these dark, delicious December days.
To me, nothing says love like an oversized jar of Ghee. Then there’s my new potential love interest, Aloha, who’s running a Free Trial (if you are willing to pay for shipping) of their greens-on-the-go which might be just the right nudge for the new year.
Clothing: I believe in “local” and supporting your local Yoga Studio when it comes to clothing. They usually have organic, sustainably sourced clothing with affirming messages. We are happy that our local will soon be carrying the ultra eco Satva Living. Yoga Journal has a give-away of Satva’s comfy Yoga gear right here right now.
We are also hoping Kevala’s cool give-back tees will soon be coming to our studio. Kevala supports 50 non-profits with their sales, and are so generous they offered us to share with you a special 15% discount, with free shipping, which you can claim here with this code: 15present.
This would be an awesome gift ~ and if you purchase in December you immediately get three bonus items: Melissa Ambrosini‘s Meditation for Manifestation, my Ayurvedic mentor Dr. Suhas‘ interview with Tami Simon on Agni: Ayuveda’s secret to good health, and Bhava speaking with Dr. Emmett Miller on The Power to Heal. All wonderful to enjoy as the holidays give us time to pause, rest and deepen into love.
Note: I am suggesting these ideas because I love them – and usually the person/s and purpose behind them. I believe in them. I do have an affiliate with Amazon, where you will find the books, but haven’t yet figured out how to create the links, so for now it’s irrelevant. As for Bhava and his gifts, I have… well, conjugal relations. I admit. I am in love. There is, in that, clear benefit.
What are your favorite holiday treats? What does the season man to you?
Leave a comment below and I will pick three names to send each a box of Tizi’s unique and delightful Chai in celebration of your New Year.
~ Congratulations to Marcelle, Tara and Sharyn who will receive Tizi’s Chai, and to Jennifer who gets the brownies.
At our Yoga Therapy Training this Autumn we were so fortunate to have Joani Culver join us. Not only is she lovely, inspiring, strong, smart and beautiful inside and out, she is also a nutritional consultant who brought her own home-made “ferments” for us to snack on every weekend. Finally, on our final Training day, everyone was asking for the recipe and she was kind enough to show us how she makes her ferments at home.
Joani agreed to let me share that with you here – and since she is so wise, I asked her a few more questions when asking for her recipe.
Joani: What is your philosophy / approach to health?
My basic philosophy for health is that there is no one diet/way of eating that fits everyone. My approach is to support clients to develop a “flexible” eating and living program that meets their unique, personal, constitutional and daily health needs. Using assessment tools, Ayurvedic questionnaires, muscle testing, the science of modern nutrition, and common sense, we find the appropriate food choices within these dietary directions to improve health and consciousness.
My approach to health is a North to South process… the process begins with digestion. We can have the most local, sustainable, organic, nutrient-dense food on the planet and if our digestive system isn’t working properly, we will not benefit fully from the bounty we are consuming.
What is your inspiration?
Food as medicine inspires me. People who want to change their diets and heal themselves inspire me. The possibility that we look within ourselves, our neighbors and our community for our health and well being inspires me. There is a movement which has emerged to eat local, sustainable foods; to seek out local farms and farmers and support them. To grow food on our patio’s, in our yards, and in our neighbors’ yard, that’s inspiring! To grow any part of our food, be it herbs, veggies, fruit, chicken or duck eggs, etc., is very powerful. You know the love and healthy energy that went into your food. That creates wellbeing and great health.
Why are you so fervent about ferments?
Microbial cultures, found in ferments, are essential to life’s process, such as digestion and immunity. We are in a symbiotic relationship with these single-cell like forms. Eating fermented foods is an incredibly healthy practice, directly supplying your digestive tract with living cultures essential to breaking down food and assimilating nutrients. Fermented foods and beverages help to kick start our digestive process as well as contribute enzymes, vitamin C, B12, folic acid and natural antibiotics. They help break down fats in the liver and promote the growth of healthy, valuable and needed bacteria throughout the intestine as well as maintain a healthy level of acidification which is needed for digestion. That’s crazy that the kraut can do all that.
What is your favorite ferment recipe?
My favorite easy ferment recipe is any veggie I have in the house or garden or that is in season. Cauliflower, carrots and garlic are an easy fast ferment. All you need is a wide mouth mason jar with 2 piece lid, 2 tablespoons whey, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, pure water, a dark warm (72F) area, and about three days to ferment.
Stuff the veggies into the jar and bring liquid up to the elbow, leaving room for the fermentation process to breathe. Make sure all veggies are covered in liquid. If you are making your own whey, use organic whole yogurt… we like Strauss.
Oh and one more thing, it is so fun to experiment with condiments and fermenting them. Fermented Ketchup is a great way to get ferments into the diet of children, as is mustard and other condiments.
Any last bits of wisdom, or advice?
Remember your health is on your plate.
Read The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. He is the king of ferments and has quite a story to tell.
Thank you Joani!
How to Make your own Whey + Get the most delicious Farmer’s Cheese as a bonus!
1 large tub of organic full fat Yogurt
1 strainer – the conical “chinois” is easiest but any will do.
1 large Bowl
Line your strainer with a large piece of cheese cloth – enough to leave lots of excess flaps hanging over the sides – and set the strainer inside the bowl. Pour all the yogurt into the strainer and allow to sit for 2-3 hours. The lift the flaps of the cheese cloth, draw the corners together and twist. Tie the ends tight around the remaining yogurt. Remove the strainer, and find a way to hang the cheese cloth above the bowl to allow it to continue to drip. I usually hang it from a kitchen pantry knob. After another few hours, or overnight, you my dear muffet will have – curds and whey!
The liquid in the bowl is your whey. That is what you will use for you “ferments.” What remains in the cheese cloth is a farmer’s, or farmhouse, cheese, which, with a bit of liquidy whey and broken up a bit with a fork, is cottage cheese. Left longer to “dry out” it becomes like a cream cheese, only it’s creamier and so much yummier. It is full of probiotics so it’s divinely good for you, too. You can spread it on crackers or toast for a sandwich, or press into a block – between two plates with a couple more stacked on top – and after a few more hours you have paneer which you can cube and toss in with your saag, palak, curry or any sauté. Really, I’d love to know if you try this – I wonder if your’d ever go back to store-bought after making it yourself.
Stay tuned for Joani’s fabulous fermented Beet Kvass coming up soon!
Pumpkin is like a mother: embracing, enhancing, enveloping. Whatever you give to pumpkin she highlights, holds, affirms.
Have you ever noticed, for instance, the way pumpkin embraces ginger, softens into cinnamon, rises up for nutmeg. She is tasteful with clove, grounding for cayenne, elegantly delightful with the green herbs of basil, sage, tarragon and thyme.
It is the added sugar, wheat and heavy creams that weigh down dear pumpkin, diminishing its power to lift you up. Fortunately, pumpkin is so forgiving that forgoing sugar, grain and dairy does not have to mean forgoing flavor.
How like a mother ~ forgiving and so giving!
Personally, I think food tastes better when you can actually taste each ingredient. So it was a delight yesterday when the boys followed each bite with a chant of “Mmmm, this is so good!” But I was certain after our house painter swallowed it down with eyes of delight, gently offering me his plate afterwards with a serious, “Best I ever had, Señora.”
If it is good for someone who doesn’t owe me a compliment and isn’t used to our food ways, then I think it must be good for all. I know it is good to all, so when you serve up this pie for the holidays you can be sure you are loving your loved ones as mother nature loves you. And that is lot to be thankful for.
For this, I roasted two small pumpkins at 475F for about an hour, or until a knife ran through the middle with ease. But Pacific makes a good organic purée in a box you could use if you have less time, or want to make it in a jiff.
Healthy Pumpkin Pie
2 c Hazelnuts, toasted
4 medjool Dates
hefty pinch pink Salt
1/2 t Vanilla
Pulse all the ingredients in your electric blender until you have a chunky pulp. Press into a pie pan, spread evenly and refrigerate.
Pie Filling 1 c Cashews, soaked 2-4 hours
2 medium Pumpkins (or 4 cups Pumpkin purée)
1 T Coconut Oil
1 t Cinnamon
1/2 t Nutmeg
1/4 t Ginger
1/4 t Clove
1/2 t pink Salt
optional: generous splash Cardamom
2 T Chia Seeds (more if you like it firmer)
Optional: 1-2 T Raw Honey
Set your oven to 475F. Pierce your pumpkins and bake 30 minutes or until a knife cuts through easily.
Allow to cool. Slice open and remove the seeds. Peel the pulp from the skin and place in your electric blender. Add dates and purée. Drain the cashews and add along with the coconut oil and spices to your purée. Blend thoroughly. Taste and adjust your seasonings. I like lots of cinnamon and nutmeg so might have added more. Add honey according to your taste.
Add Chia Seeds, pulse lightly, just enough to mix in the seeds. Pour into the crust, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, dress it up with a shower of cinnamon, a border of hazelnuts, a maze of honey, or a waltz of raspberries. Serve with a dollop of honey or maple syrup infused yogurt.
Sometimes I invite a guest blogger to write for my blog, and once in a while I interview someone for a post. But one thing I’ve never done is reblog. I do share – all over social media. I share like crazy. I love to celebrate any individual’s wisdom, creativity, and commitment to health ~ and to support conscious community wherever possible. I’ve just never picked up an entire article and shared it here on my blog.
Until now. Here’s why: When people ask me how I eat, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, what? My answer has long been, “Ayurvedically.” By that I mean, responding to our changing needs according to age, season, circumstance, on a case by case basis. Overall, though, my focus is: no sugar, no processed, high protein, high fiber, healthy fats, whole food, plant based.
Along comes Dr. Hyman with a name for it – and in turn an entire community of people who also eat this way. Overnight, I went from being a loner to a belonger and I want to share that affirmation, and science, with you.
Why I am a Pegan – or Paleo-Vegan – and Why You Should Be Too!
by Dr. Mark Hyman
As a doctor, it is my job to figure out the best way to keep my patients healthy. We now know that food is medicine, perhaps the most powerful drug on the planet with the power to cause or cure most disease. If food is more than just calories, if food is information that controls every aspect of our biology and health, then I better know what to advise people to prevent, treat and even reverse chronic disease.
So the fundamental question of our time, given that the cost of chronic disease caused mostly by what we eat will cost our global economy $47 trillion over the next 20 years and cause over 50 million preventable deaths a year is this:
What should I eat to feel good, lose weight and get and stay healthy?
On the one hand, Lebron James is eating Paleo and the number one tennis player in the world cut out gluten and dairy and went from not winning at all to winning everything in just one year. But on the other hand, Rick Rockhold completed five Iron Man marathons in seven days on a vegan diet.
The Problem with Nutrition Research
Looking at the research it is easy to get confused. Vegan diet studies show they help with weight loss, reverse diabetes and lower cholesterol. Paleo diets seem to do the same thing. So should you be shunning animal foods and eating only beans, grains and veggies or should you eat meat and fat without guilt and give up all grains and beans?
Essentially, each camp adheres to their diet with near religious fervor. And each can point to studies validating their point of view. We call this cherry picking. After reading dozens of studies on vegan and paleo diets, even I could get confused. But I don’t because I read BETWEEN the lines not just the headlines. I read the methods and analyze the actual data to learn what the studies actually demonstrate.
The problem with nutrition research is that most of it relies on large studies of populations and their dietary patterns obtained mostly through dietary questionnaires or 24-hour dietary recall. The first study linking saturated fats to heart disease by Ancel Keys1 (and on which 50 years of dietary policy to eat low fat was based) looked at about 30 men from Crete and their previous day’s diet and linked that to the fact they had fewer heart attacks than people from countries that ate more saturated fat. Skimpy evidence at best! In fact, most of the “evidence” that fat in general and saturated fat in particular is bad for us is being rigorously challenged by better and more specific research.
These type of studies are further complicated because it is very hard to tease out the factors that matter. For example, when Asians move from Asia to the US, they eat more meat and have more heart disease and cancer, but they also consume far more sugar. So it is the meat or is it the sugar? Hard to know. These types of population studies also cannot prove cause and effect, only show correlation. Yet, the media and consumers take it as gospel. We thought dietary cholesterol was bad3 and were told to avoid egg yolks4 at all costs. Turns out they are good for you and have no impact on cholesterol.
Many experimental studies on vegan or paleo diets, which should give more direct evidence of cause and effect often have only small numbers of people in the study, making it hard to draw firm conclusions. Even worse is that the diets they use for comparison (the control group) are not ideal alternative diets. Comparing a vegan diet of chips and Coke, bagels and pasta to a paleo diet of healthy veggies and grass fed meat won’t be very helpful, nor would comparing a paleo diet of feedlot meat, bologna and no fresh veggies to a whole foods, low glycemic vegan diet.
Also, eating a low fat versus a high fat vegan diet has very different health benefits5. The Eco-Atkins or high fat, high protein, low carb, low glycemic vegan diet performs better for weight loss and cholesterol lowering than a low fat vegan diet that avoids nuts, seeds and avocados.
RD Laing said that “scientists can’t see the way they see, with their way of seeing.”
Why You Should be a Pegan!
So what’s an eater to do?
I vote for being a Pegan or Paleo-Vegan, which is what I have chosen for myself and recommend for most of my patients. Keep in mind that most of us need to personalize the approach depending on our health conditions, preferences and needs.
What is a Pegan? Well since I just made it up, I guess it’s up to me to define.
Let’s focus first on what is in common between paleo and vegan (healthy vegan), because there is more that intelligent eating has in common than there are differences. They both focus on real, whole, fresh food that is sustainably raised.
Here are the characteristics of a healthy diet everyone agrees on:
Very low glycemic load – low in sugar, flour and refined carbohydrates of all kinds.
High in vegetables and fruits. The deeper the colors, the more variety, the better. This provides a high phytonutrient content protective against most diseases. (Although the paleo camp recommends lower glycemic fruit such as berries.)
Low in pesticides, antibiotics and hormones and probably no or low GMO foods.
No chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG, artificial sweeteners and other “Franken Chemicals” that you would never have in your pantry.
Higher in good quality fats – omega 3 fats for all. And most camps advise good quality fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Although some, such as Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish still advise very low fat diets for heart disease reversal.
Adequate protein for appetite control and muscle synthesis, especially in the elderly.
Ideally organic, local and fresh foods should be the majority of your diet.
If animal products are consumed they should be sustainably raised or grass fed.
If you are eating fish you should choose low mercury6 and low toxin containing fish such as sardines, herring and anchovies or other small fish and avoid tuna, swordfish and Chilean sea bass because of the high mercury load.
The thing I love the most about Ayurveda is that it respects individual differences, which is why I always want to hear from you. What do you find is the best way of eating for your optimal health and enjoyment? What nourishes you?
Did you know that spices can have up to 50 times more antioxidants than your favorite fruit, making them powerhouses when it comes to anti-aging?
Most of us think of spices as a food flavoring. Ayurveda considers them as medicine. One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, for example, found that spices can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, a potent aid in warding off premature aging, heart disease, and diabetes.
Think of it as Spice Therapy. It’s one of the genius gifts of Ayurveda: Optimizing health in a pinch!
To keep you healthy, happy and whole, here are my top five spices for Autumn ~
My love for Tulsi causes me to write today. Tulsi has been my tea of choice this week. When I woke up Monday morning feeling a sore throat coming on, it was to Tulsi I turned. When I inadvertently inhaled gas on Tuesday (from a restaurant’s open patio fire extinguished by the wind, which then scooped up the gas and swept it right into our lungs), Tulsi relieved the ensuing headache. When a reaction to new carpeting caused a slight asthma flare up, I sat down to a cup of Tulsi.
I am talking like Tulsi is a person! In fact, Tulsi is a living being, a plant known as Holy Basil. Similar to the basil that so deliciously flavors Italian dishes, this basil is warm, slightly sweet and a bit peppery. It’s becoming a bit of a celebrity in the arena of women’s health as it reduces cortisol, that tricky hormone that when chronically elevated can cause aging, weight gain, sleeplessness, irritability, depression, and the list goes on.
Organic India has built a successful global company on Tulsi and their organic teas are prolific these days. Look for them in your local healthy markets. Or, you can order online: Banyan Botanicals is now selling the divine Pukka teas with a Tulsi sampler, also selling Tulsi in an easy liquid extract and powdered.
You know that people the world over turn to Ginger for stomach upset, but do you know why? According to my Ayurvedic mentor Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, Ginger stimulates Agni, the inner fires that burn away toxins and any cause of upset.
Warming, calming, balancing, Ginger also helps reduce anxiety, inflammation, asthma, congestion, cough, cramps. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and analgesic.
One inch of fresh ginger in a cup of boiling water is the ideal accompaniment to your meals this season. You can also use 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger powder, which is in fact the better option if you are Pitta Dosha.
Light, dry and warm, cinnamon is one of the best digestive spices there is. No wonder it is added to so many sweet dishes!
Probably my favorite spice in any season, Cardamom is medicine for all three doshas (doshas are bio-energies you can learn about here). It decongests Kapha, regulates Vata and calms Pitta. Add it to coffee and it reduces the negative impacts of caffeine. Add it to any dessert and it helps reduce blood sugar.
According to Vedic guru Dr. David Frawley, cardamom can help with nausea, vomiting, bloating, flatulence and acidity. According to Dosha Guru, “science is investigating its antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, kidney and urinary disorders, gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic, and sedative” actions.
For all these reasons I love cardamom, but mostly I love those peppery little seeds as they tumble out of their ochre-lined, green pods. I love the way it is added to breakfast every morning in India so you start your day fragrantly. I love it in Chai, Chayvanprash and Rose Petal Lassi, and I love the way it smells in a home-made, seasonal Abhyanga oil. Cardamom is like a favorite perfume to me: redolent of all that is rich, tender and so dear.
Remember when Grandma made you a cup of hot milk to help you sleep at night? Did she add Nutmeg? Nutmeg helps cut the heaviness of milk which is one way it helps you sleep – so you are not kept awake by a noisy, roiling digestive engine. More importantly, nutmeg has been found to have direct benefits to sleep by its calming, sedative effects, which is one reason it is such an key ingredient in this deep sleep tonic.
In the Autumn, when days are shorter and cooler, brewing a cup of tea is a simple way to enjoy the benefits of the spices in your pantry, while warming you to the core, and encouraging that necessary daily pause.
Autumn Wellness Tea Serves 2
1 T Tulsi, powdered
1″ fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped, or 1/2 t Ginger powder
1 stick Cinnamon or 1/2 t Cinnamon powder
2 pods Cardamom crushed, or 1/2 t Cardamom powder
1/8 t Nutmeg, freshly grated powder
2 cups water
Steep spices in gently boiling water for ten minutes. Strain and serve.
This tea is great as is, but you can also add almond milk for a richer cup. For a deeply nourishing tonic, blend 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk with 2 dates. Add 1/2 cup of the hot spice tea. Stir, drink warm and watch your Vata melt into a puddle of Ojas.
Two years ago at our Yoga Therapy Training, I served a gluten free, dairy free, no sugar added, homemade apple pie. The recipe was requested. It has taken me these years, but at long last, here, finally, it is.
Unfortunately, when I first came to write it up last month I couldn’t find the recipe. Fortunately, that meant I had to try it a few times before it came right again, and thatmeant a lot of apple pies this autumn. Yes, we are blessed!
Apples are good for your blood, eyes, skin. Apples are cool, so they are Pitta-reducing and anti-inflammatory. They are sweet, so they are Vata-reducing and tonifying – especially when sliced, tossed in fresh lemon juice, and sprinkled with cinnamon, as in this recipe. They are also light enough to be good for Kapha, reducing blood sugar and helping you feel full with less, thanks to so much fabulous fiber.
That makes apples tridoshic, meaning they love everyone, so everyone gets to enjoy this super food, super “free”, super pie!
Be sure you use your favorite apple. Since they aren’t going to be cooked, they will taste in the pie the way they taste in your hand when you eat straight from the fruit basket. I used “Sweetie” apples, but anything fresh, crunchy and sweet will be good.
For the decoration, I wanted some red so used a Fuji, but a crispy green apple would give a lovely color, too.
I added a bit of almond butter to make it an extra high protein, high fiber, high nutritional meal I could have for breakfast, or for the kids as a midday snack. The almond butter makes the filling a bit more caramel-y, but if you feel that is too nutty for you, leave it out. It’s still great.
Also, if you are allergic to nuts you can skip the pecans and just make a crust of dates. Yes, just dates. Or, if it’s safe for you, add a tablespoon of coconut oil, and/or toasted sunflower seeds,
If you want it fully raw, skip the pecan toasting. I’ve done it that way and it works, too. But toasting draws the divine essence from pecans, giving golden, nutty grounding to the crisp, sunburst of the apple.
Easy, No Bake Apple Pecan Pie
2 c Pecans
10 Medjool Dates, pits removed
1 T Coconut Oil
A hearty pinch of Himalayan Salt
A pinch of Cinnamon
A dash Nutmeg
6 Medjool Dates, seeds removed
1 Lemon, juiced
2 T Almond Butter, optional
1 T Raw Honey, also optional
1 hefty pinch of Himalayan Salt
1 hearty dash of Cinnamon
1 light dusting of Cardamom, optional
1/4 c Chia Seeds
To make the crust:
Toast the pecans until they are very lightly brown. Put them aside. In your electric blender, macerate the dates. Add the coconut oil and spices and mix. Toss in the pecans and pulse lightly three times, just enough to break up and integrate with the dates, but careful not to turn this into pecan butter.
Press the crust into a pie dish (mine is 9.5″). Cover with a plate facing up so the slight bowl of the plate presses into the crust and so that the crust is entirely covered. Place in your refrigerator if you have a few hours before filling, or into your freezer if you don’t.
To make the filling:
Again, start with the dates. Blend on high speed until they are completely mashed. Juice your lemon and set aside 1 tablespoon for later. Add the lemon juice, almond butter honey and spices to the dates and blend well. Slice your apples and add. Blend until the mixture starts resembling a very chunky apple sauce. Add the chia seeds. Pulse a few times to blend thoroughly. Pour this mixture onto the pie crust. Spread evenly. Cover (I turn the plate that was sitting on the crust over and use to cover) and place in your fridge. Allow to set at least four hours.
This doesn’t need a topping, but if you like the apple rose on top, just core an apple and slice very, very thin. To keep the slices from browning as you slice, put each slice as you cut into a bowl with that remaining lemon juice. Once all the pieces are cut and in the bowl, sprinkle a dash or two of cinnamon and toss. The set each piece, one by one, in an overlapping circle around the outer edge. Continue making smaller circles towards the middle until the pie is covered. Then set a pecan or a few thin slices of lemon rind in the very center.
This is so simple and so quick: apart from the 4 hours in the refrigerator to let the chia seeds do their work, you can make this start-to-finish in 15 minutes.
I guess you could call this a trick on a treat, because it seems like dessert, yet it’s delightfully good for you. Let me know if you try it, and any variations you enjoy.
What sort of tricks or treats are you doing this hallowede’en?
I am really excited about this. Today I’ve done something I never thought I would. I have to share it because now I know you can do it, too.
It started about a month ago at Bhakti Fest, where we always have lunch at theDosa Dosa food truck because they make the world’s best Kichari. They also make the world’s most divine Dosas, and I asked them to show you how. Thankfully, they agreed.
Wah and his father Matamandir, the creative dynamos at Dosa Dosa, were gracious to allow us to interrupt their hot and busy service of feeding hungry Yogis and Kirtan Wallahs. But since we didn’t get their top-secret recipe, I thought I’d do a little research and post some links to go with the video.
I never intended, myself, to make a Dosa. Never. In some unconscious place inside of me, surely I thought, you have to be Indian to make a Dosa. You have to be South Indian, for that matter. You even have to be a South Indian grandmother who spent her life practicing Ayurveda’s everyday ways, or her granddaughter well-trained by such a wisdom-keeper.
While editing the video, my husband commented that no one is going to do this at home – no one has that griddle or those instruments, he said – we should just direct readers to Dosa Dosa‘s 5 new food trucks in San Francisco.
Yes, but I don’t do that on this blog. I don’t set you up, elicit mouth-watering expectations, promote the promise of truth, beauty, love on a plate, only to let you down, hungering for an external, elusive, distant deliciousness, when all of that is already inside of you – you are already delicious. Within you is the power to create untold treasures of beauty and delight, and this realm of your own possibility is as close as your kitchen, as quick as you can roast a sweet potato!
At least I had to offer you a dish. Something you can make that would be enough exotic goodness for you to taste the truth that real food is love, and love’s food is bhakti.
The Potato Pea Masala that fills the Dosa, giving its full name Masala Dosa, seemed like something those of us not schooled since birth in Dosa tradition would be able to master. We could enjoy it with Naan, I reasoned. Which we could buy at the local Indian market… Or we could mix and match cultures, roll it into a tortilla, and call it a Mexican Masala!
I never intended, even as I experimented with my own version of a Masala, ever that I would make a Dosa. We’d just have to make a trip to San Francisco for that, and look forward to having Dosas again at ShaktiFest in May.
With experimentation, one thing led to another and, spurred on by the challenge of being told “no one will do it…” the next thing you know, I made a Dosa! Now I am making Dosas for breakfast, Dosas for lunch, Dosas for dinner, Dosas for anyone, any time, all the time. I love Dosas!
The photos above and below are my first and second attempts. I am learning as I go, inspired by this Dosa recipe, which looks fastidious because she takes you through step by step, but is actually very easy. You just mix together rice and lentil flour (look for besan, also called gram, at Indian or Asian markets), let it sit overnight, stir in a pinch of salt in the morning, and pour it on the skillet. In no time you will have your very own Dosa, on which you can sprinkle cinnamon for a high protein breakfast and any time snack, or fill with the Masala for a hearty, healthy meal.
I swapped sweet potato for the filling, making it healthier, and added fenugreek powder to the Dosa batter. I wanted to add fresh peas, but it is not the season so I slow cooked split peas and added that instead. It lended an earthy taste which balances beautifully with the fresh crunch of the coconut chutney.
To make this user-friendly it’s all written it out below, but certainly follow the links if you want to see more examples of how-to. Be sure that you read through before you start. You want to blend the Dosa flours the day before so they can ferment overnight, and you want your Masala and Chutney ready to fill the Dosas which cook up quick, and are best enjoyed piping hot.
If you are short on time or access to ingredients, the graciously talented Puja over at IndiaPhile has a Dosa recipe using semolina, which can be substituted with a good gf flour. Her Coconut Chutney is the inspiration for this one, and she has a couple of short, helpful videos showing you how to pour the Dosa batter for success.
SWEET POTATO MASALA Serves 4
1 sweet potato
1/4 c peas, cooked
1 T ghee 5-6 cashews
1/2 onion, diced
1/8 t mustard seeds
1/4 t cumin seeds
1 t curry powder
1/2 piece thai chile (these are very small, so not too spicy), chopped
1/4 t ginger, grated
1 pinch turmeric
1 pinch asafoetida (or hingvastak; alternative: coriander powder)
1 T cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Preheat your oven to 475F. Puncture a few fork holes in your sweet potato and bake for 45 minutes, or until a fork inserts easily through the center. When it is done, allow it to cool, then cube into small bites.
Melt the ghee on in a medium flame. Brown the cashews and set aside. In the same pan, with the same oil, add the mustard seeds and cook about 1 minute util the pop. You have to listen closely. Stir in the cumin, curry and onions. Sauté until the onions are golden and soft. Mix in the chili, ginger, turmeric and asafoetida (or coriander). Add the sweet potato. Mash it a bit with the back of a spatula, or large wooden spoon. Stir in the peas and cashews and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro leaves, turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
3/4 c coconut flakes
1/4 c cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic
1/2 thai chile (with seeds for heat, without for a mild version)
1/2 t curry powder
1 t freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup water Optional: dash of pink salt, or to taste
Put everything into an electric blender and mix until it becomes a creamy consistency. Add more water if needed. Taste and season accordingly.
DOSA Serves: 4-8
1 1/2 c rice flour
¾ cup dal/besan/gram flour
2 1/2 c water
1 scant t fenugreek powder pinch pink salt
2-3 T ghee
Stir the flours together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and mix well. Be sure to smooth out any lumps. The consistency will be thick but very watery. Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature overnight for 10 hours or more. Once the batter is fermented, stir in the fenugreek powder and salt and mix well.
Melt 1 T ghee in a large skillet or iron griddle over medium heat. While the ghee heats up, whisk the batter one more time so it is well mixed and quickly ladle it up. Pour into your skillet in a circular motion. When one side of dosa is browned, gently slide your spatula around the edges of the Dosa to loosen it. Flip it and cook the other side. Spoon the Masala filling into the middle, add a spoonful of the coconut chutney and a dollop of yogurt optionally. Fold the Dosa and serve hot.
The leftover Dosa batter can be refrigerated and used within 4-5 days.
My first attempt fell apart. I learned not to swirl the pan. On the second attempt, when it started to break apart I filled the cracks with drops of batter. It worked. Another lesson. Be brave. It’s as wonderful in pieces as it is whole. Aren’t we all?
Once you try it, you’ll know why so many Bhakti lovers line up for buttery Kichari and crispy Dosas.
When Dosa Dosa founderMatamandir asked me about my blog and I told him that it’s Ayurvedically inspired with the emphasis on inspired because more than anything I hope to share the nourishing bounty of mother’s love through food, you know how he responded?
“Yes. Never be pedantic. It’s not about following rules. Just cook with love. Then your food will be nourishing and healing. Above all, cook with love. You will taste the difference.”
Above all, cook with love…
Dosa Dosa is opening 5 food trucks in San Francisco, giving us all another excuse for a road trip. You can find them and their locations here: Website, Facebook, Twitter.
I thank Morgan Willis and Miles Demars-Rote of Wellness Gangsters for filming! With immense gratitude to all – Wah, Matamandir, Miles, Anna, Morgan, Bhava, and everyone at Bhakti Fest!
I leave you with a taste of Bhakti ~
Do you love Dosas? Do you have tips for us make them better? Please share so we can all learn and grow and continue to be delighted and healed by earth’s love and heaven’s manna.
Ah… it feels good to turn the corner on summer and find welcome moments to settle into these quiet, waning days. As I take time to be with today’s present and consider tomorrow’s possibility, I thought I’d share with you a bit of what’s stirring.
My Autumn Ayurvedic Cleanse. Time for a reset? The Autumn Equinox is a perfect time to align with nature and restore for balance, wellness and peace. Learn more and register here.
Nadya has generously offered us the recipe for her Happy Belly Kale Salad, as well as a free copy of her book for one lucky winner. Keep reading: details are also below.
On her blog, Nadya celebrates the power of kale with a post, “What you don’t know about kale but should!” Writes Nadya, “I used to consider kale hard to digest for my belly but once I learned how to make it properly it is one of my favorite things. It’s a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals and tastes great in various dishes!”
This is a delicious salad, and for those of you who like me, found this summer to be especially hot, you might find this helps your interior self cool down and flow with ease into balance.
1-2 tablespoons water, or until the desired consistency is reached
Add all the ingredients for the dressing except the water to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir until combined before adding a tablespoon of water at a time until you get the right consistency. Remember you still want it to maintain a fairly thick consistency to keep the salad nice and creamy. I recommend adding roughly 2 tablespoons. Add the kale to a mixing bowl removing any large stalks and pour the dressing over. Then using your hands (by far the best way to break down the kale) rub the dressing into it, squeezing it so it breaks down and becomes easier to eat. Massaging kale helps to break it down and make it easier to digest.
Chop the avocado into bite size pieces and add to the salad along with sauteed onions, cooked quinoa, goji berries, pine nuts or sunflower seeds, and grated carrot. Toss the whole thing and enjoy!
My note: This is more delicious than you can imagine, and only took ten minutes to pull together. I did pour hot water on the gojis and let them soak 5 minutes before draining and tossing in. As for quantity – I’d say it serves closer to 3-4.
What makes your belly hot or happy? Let us know below, and we will put your name in the hat to win a signed copy of Dr. Suhas’s Hot Belly or Nadya’s Happy Belly. Let me know which you prefer.
Thank you Nadya. Thank you Suhas. Thank you dear friends. Namaste!
The morning began with a question to the children, “What is your father like?”
“My Dad is strong.” “My Dad makes me feel safe.” “My father is helpful.” “My father helps me solve problems.” “My father works hard so that we can have a home, and food, and go to school…” “My father is fun. He loves to play and tell jokes.”
Finally, after a long pause, the youngest child quietly said, “My father gives me lots of kisses.”
When I think of fathers, I think of Prana, Tejas, and Ojas, the vital essences that give life, light and love to all existence, and which any good father naturally seeks to develop in his children.
Prana, Tejas and Ojas give energy, radiance, and strength, respectively, to mind and body. These vital essences are the positive forces corresponding to the doshas Vata, Pitta, Kapha as the bio-energies that lead to imbalance. In other words, if Vata is an imbalance of air and space, then Prana is the power that the air element gives us to breathe, think, and move freely. If Pitta is the dosha of fire, then Tejas is the positive force of fire that gives us light to see clearly, to move with direction, to act decisively, to digest food as well as information and experiences, to metabolize and to transform. Finally, if you think of Kapha as the dosha of water and earth, then Ojas is the vital essence that gives structure, steadiness, comfort, nourishment and ease.
When cultivated, these positive forces give what Eknath Easwaran called “the splendour of the personality that expresses itself in love, courage, creativity, and a melting tenderness that draws all hearts.”
Prana, Tejas, Ojas, huh?
Prana is Energy
Prana is the energy that exudes from the animating intelligence within and underlying all that is alive. It is an intelligent energy that enlivens. In food, it is the energy that knows how to grow the plant, knows how to attract pollinators, knows how to evolve to expand its own kind, knows how to create, generate, regenerate, and populate. This intelligence corresponds to an intelligence within us that meets when we eat, so that what we eat becomes, by the intelligence of nature, exactly what we need for our bodies and minds to grow and be vibrant. When we eat fresh foods, still moist, plump and radiant from the harvest, we eat this intelligent energy. We eat Prana.
Fathers need to have a lot of prana to play with their children.
Tejas is Radiance
Tejas is the power of light to shine from your skin and eyes when you are healthy. It is the glow of health, the color of fruits and vegetables, the sun that is steady, steadfast, reliable, purposeful. Tejas gives warmth, courage and lustre.
Fathers need to have a lot of Tejas to reason, to be helpful, to problem-solve, to be brave, to protect, to lead.
Ojas is Strength
Ojas gives vigor, peace, patience, contentment, a steady mind in a strong body, well-lubricated joints, a healthy immune system, and longevity. Ojas is kisses.
Fathers need to have a lot of Ojas to hold and to hug, to carry their children, and to be that rock we rely on.
Father, Food and the Vital Essences
Loving your father forever means taking good care of him, and carrying on his tradition of playing, helping, protecting, and showering kisses. Here are ten vital essence boosting foods to take good care of dad – and you, his beloved child.
While we can’t make any promises, science is demonstrating what our own experience tells us: these power foods are anti-aging, immune-boosting, disease-eradicating, and delicious, so enjoy them abundantly!
9 Power Foods for Dad and You
Everyone knows that spinach is good for you – full of iron, vitamins, and dietary fiber – but did you know that spinach is high in protein, with anti-inflammatory actions? That it helps with blood sugar, blood pressure, and bone health? That it can lower the risks of asthma?
Be sure to cook your spinach at least 1 minute to disarm the oxalic acids that can increase Pitta, feeding inflammation, arthritis, and gout.
My Ayurvedic mentor insists that the number #1 superfood for anyone over 40 is wild caught salmon. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating wild salmon twice a week, writing that it is a “good source of protein, and unlike fatty meat products, it is not high in saturated fat.”
It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which benefit healthy people and those with, or at risk of, cardiovascular disease. Again, according to the AHA, “Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias… reduce triglyceride levels, slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lowers blood pressure.”
Farming salmon reduces the amount of heart, brain and joint healthy omegas, while accumulating cancer causing PCBs and dioxin, not to mention it is unkind to the fish and toxic to the environment. So, please, at least when it comes to salmon – always go wild!
3. Sweet Potatoes
High in the fiber necessary for proper elimination and detoxification, sweet potatoes are also rich in the antioxidant Vitamin A (beta carotene), making it a powerful anti-aging food that has also been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Sweet potatoes are an easy, hearty snack or meal. Just pop them in the oven for an hour, and they come out creamy.
Beans are good for you in so many ways, but no one tells the story better than the Mohr-Fry cousins who grow 29 varieties of organic beans in northern California. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this excellent video about what it takes to farm beans. It was made by our friend Adrian, producer of the Growing California Video Series, who attests to the authenticity of these devoted farmers. #loveyourlocalfarmer!
Gut health = Immune Health. We all need to improve our inner environment with the right living foods. To that end, yogurt should be a daily habit. Try making it yourself – that way you can experiment with coconut, almond, rice and other delicious, non-dairy sources.
Whether your yogurt is from a cow, goat, grain or nut, always choose organic and make it plain. Fruit yogurt sold in stores has a lot of added sugar – and, according to Ayurveda, is a very bad combination, subverting your good efforts by sabotaging gut health.
My father loved grapefruits. I am always amazed at how naturally he was drawn to the healthiest of foods, and grateful for his example. Grapefruit has the bitter taste that is so lacking and yet so essential in our diet. Bitter is purifying, detoxifying, making it a weight loss powerhouse. It curbs hunger, protects the heart, and studies are now demonstrating it has anti-cancer actions (of course, it is Kapha-reducing!)
Not to mention that grapefruit and its citrus family are high in vitamin c, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Look for the deep red ones for the highest levels of antioxidants. I find them milder, sweeter and juicier, too.
Toss grapefruit segments into your salads for a bite of juicy tang. It’s especially good with watercress, endive, radicchio, avocado and beets.
An apple a day still keeps the doctor away – because not only are they full of dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals, apples help clean the liver, the key organ that accumulates pitta. When you have high pitta, you are prone to all kinds of inflammatory disease. Keep your liver healthy and you reduce pitta, resorting your vital tejas, which shows through clear eyes and lustrous skin.
Think pink, when it comes to the liver, not aggravated fiery red, and remember Michael Pollan’s advice, “When it comes to snacks, ask yourself if you are hungry enough for an apple, and if the answer is yes, then eat an apple.”
Rather than nuts, snack on seeds. Ayurveda considers seeds to be lighter, more astringent than nuts and therefore more clarifying, cleansing, detoxifying, while providing all the energy and intelligence of the plant it is to become. Also excellent sources of protein, essentials fats, dietary fiber, as well as selenium, zinc, and iron.
Raw, soaked, blended, toasted, lightly salted, seeds can be enjoyed in all varieties of ways. You can add hemp seeds to anything you might have for breakfast. Sprinkle them over yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, toast, eggs, or add them to a morning smoothie. Flax seeds can be ground and stirred into soups, salads, hot cereals, or a warm evening tonic. We toast up pumpkin seeds to add crunch to our soups and stews. Pureed into a pesto, sunflower seeds are the perfect texture. Or, toss together a few of your favorite seeds, add raisins, chopped dates, goji berries, dried cherries, and you have a great snack to keep your energy up and the weight down.
Dr. Marc Zimmerman, an orthopedic surgeon steeped in the traditions of natural medicine and nutrition, knows that ancient Yogis eschewed garlic. “However,” he says, “the world we live in now is so different, so full of toxins, so compromising to the immune system. I just don’t see how we can avoid the health benefits of garlic in this day and age.” While it may be controversial as a Yogi and an Ayurvedi, garlic is undoubtedly a powerhouse when it comes to disrupting illness and disease.
Cooking makes garlic less pungent, less what we call tamasic, while retaining all these benefits:
Garlic and its allium family vegetables have important anti-cancer properties, with a high intake of garlic (roughly translated as taken daily) has been found to lower risk of virtually all cancer types, except prostate and breast cancer.
Garlic has cardiovascular benefits, having been shown clearly to lower blood triglycerides and total cholesterol, Equally impressive about garlic is its ability to lower blood pressure.
Garlic has been shown to protect from inflammatory and oxidative stress, while its antibacterial and antiviral properties are perhaps its most legendary feature. This allium vegetable and its constituents have been studied not only for their benefits in controlling infection by bacteria and viruses, but also infection from other microbes including yeasts/fungi and worms.
Some people say that it tests like soap. That’s because the brain recognizes a molecule in cilantro that is not the same, but is similar to a molecule in soap. And this is a helpful way to think of the benefits of cilantro ~ a high powered, industrial-strength detergent for your tissues. Cilantro has been shown to help rid the worst kind of toxins, those heavy metals that accumulate from environmental pollution.
If you think cilantro tastes like soap, add small amounts to your favorite foods at first. Once your brain has a few samples to go by, it will create a new “file” for cilantro, one that associates with good tastes and a clean, lively feeling. Your brain will be glad to comply, given that it too will benefit from less toxins, and soon you will be loving cilantro like the rest of us!
When the ingredients are whole, pure and minimal, you boost your prana, tejas and ojas with meals that are satisfying. Health, then, feels like a joyful indulgence – a true celebration of life, light and love!
I hope you all had a Happy Father’s Day, and that you continue to keep your father, or his memory, strong.
Keep yourself strong, too, so his Prana, Tejas, Ojas can shine through you.
If you would like to experience last Sunday’s magic, the magnificence of Bhava and Steve singing and teaching together, please join us in October for our weekend Mastery of Joy Retreat in the mountains near Idylwild.
It has been one of the great, quiet privileges of my life to be at the bedside of friends and family as they pass. This week, going back and forth from teaching a mastery intensive on breath to a dark hospice room where our beloved was taking her last breaths, gave a profound opportunity to consider her life and all that she has meant to us, while considering the breath itself: What is it to breathe? What causes the breath? What is it that departs as the breath gently winds down? In these moments, time slows completely, opening space to simply watch. It becomes a contemplation, watching her breathing in, breathing out, so ephemeral, so eternal… Even as that breath lengthens, softens, stalls, sputters, there is a sacred power. An intelligence. A knowing. Something unthreading. Something setting free. Continue reading “Comfort Food : Curried Spinach Nibbles”→
After meeting Mimi Kirk last summer, I was inspired to try making flaxseed crackers. I don’t have a dehydrator though, so after hours and hours of trying to jerry-rig an alternative, I gave up and turned on the oven. What turned out was a surprise.
When I’ve shared these, friends have raved. Family asks for more. My husband, who has more self-restraint than anyone I know, gobbles them up. The recipe is now part of our Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse, but so many others have asked for it, I felt I needed to share it here. Something about the roasting of the seeds makes these oily, crispy, salty in the most magical way. They are great with everything ~ dips , hummus, soups, salads, and can be scored into large pieces for a flatbread, or a crunchy pizza with your favorite toppings. But they are so good on their own that, in our house at least, they’re usually gone before anything can be added.
Ayurvedic doctor, chef, educator and molecular biologist Dr. Jay Apte once told us, “For good skin, eat the edible skin of your fruits and vegetables. For energy, eat seeds.” Seeds pack the energy, and the intelligence, of the plant to come.
“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in ’em,” said Captain Jim. “When I ponder on them seeds I don’t find it nowise hard to believe that we’ve got souls that’ll live in other worlds. You couldn’t hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn’t seen the miracle, could you?”
~L.M. Montgomery,Anne’s House of Dreams
I love seeds. I love that you can soak and snack, or soak and sprout, or soak and grow. In fact, we almost always have something soaking, especially in Spring time. Last week I forgot about the fenugreek seeds I was soaking to eat as sprouts, so I tossed them, waterlogged and mushy, in the garden where their green shoots have already pushed up through the earth.
I love seeds so much I want to share them with you, so please let us know how you like these crackers, and be sure to comment if you want me to send you some seeds. I’ll pick three winners and mail you a packet of the seeds you need to make this recipe.
Super Seed Crackers
Makes about 40 crackers
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c sesame seeds
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
1/4 c flax seeds
1/2 c chia seeds
1 1/2 c water
1/4 c dulse
2-3 T sun-dried tomatoes, pureed or very finely chopped, optional
1 T tamari
1 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
himalayan pink salt
handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped optional: red pepper flakes
Begin by soaking: Let the sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds soak together in a bowl with 1 cup of water for 6-8 hours. The flax and chia can soak together in 1/2 cup of water and only need 20 minutes.
Once soaked, set your oven to 275F. Rinse your seeds and pat dry. Add them to a medium size mixing bowl together with the dulse, sun-dried tomatoes, tamari, lemon juice, garlic, onion powder, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a standard baking tray. Pour the seed mixture onto the tray. Take off your rings, oil your hands with olive oil and, using your hands, spread the mixture out to the edges of the baking tray. It should be uniformly thin, about an 1/8 of an inch, without any tears or holes. Lightly sprinkle with olive oil. Score the crackers, tracing squares or rectangles with a sharp knife.
Place the tray in the middle of the oven and bake one hour, or until it is golden around the edges. Pull it out of the oven, carefully turn it over, peeling off the parchment paper (which you can re-place on the baking sheet or discard at this point) and place it back on the baking tray bottom side up. Drizzle this side very lightly with olive oil and dust with salt. Put it back in the oven for another hour. Once this side is golden, turn the oven off. Leave it in the oven until the oven cools, an hour or two, or even overnight. Be sure it is dappled with a golden hue or it will need to cook a bit longer. Sometimes, after the hour of baking each side, I’ll turn the oven up to 350 F, turning the oven off as soon as it reaches that temperature. It gives it that final bit of roasting that really brings the flavors out.
Once it is done and you pull it out of the oven, let it rest and cool before breaking into crackers. Optionally, chop a handful of fresh dill and toss over the crackers while still warm.
I wish you delight in all things this Spring – especially in the love of Mother Nature who gives so much: beauty, bounty, delicious nourishing food. Namaste!
Post Script: Congratulations to Kathleen, Stephanie and Linda who will be receiving packs of super seeds! Thank you all for your comments and your commitment to life!
We are just finishing up our 21 Day Spring Clean Challenge, and I thought you, along with some of my fellow “Cleansers,” might like a simple way to stay the course. This hummus is so easy and quick to prepare, yet makes a nourishing, hearty meal, even while detoxifying. In fact, it was my family’s lunch today served up with arugula, radicchio, zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes for dipping, along with gluten-free “superseed” crackers and olives. They loved it, never knowing they were eating “Cleanse” foods. I hope you like it, too.
1.5 cups organic cannellini beans, cooked
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 T vegan mayonnaise (make your own)
1 t dijon mustard
1 t tahini
3 hearty shakes of aleppo pepper
pink salt to taste 1 t lemon juice, optional
Put everything in your electric blender and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add a spoonful of fresh lemon juice if you think it needs more salt. Serve with fresh vegetables.
Why change it up and make Hummus with Cannellini? What’s wrong with good old-fashioned Garbanzo?
It’s true, garbanzo beans do make delicious hummus. But, they can be difficult to digest. In many cases (think Vata) they cause gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, even constipation. Any Cleanse, to be successful, should strengthen, and not confuse digestion. Mung beans, cooked in Kichari, are the ideal bean for that. In our 21 Day Cleanse, Kichari is a central component. Now that we are almost complete, though, this hummus is a nice variation on the theme.
If you want a simple cleanse you can do anytime, try making up some kichari with lightly steamed vegetables and feast on that for a day, or two, or three… You’ll find many recipes for kichari around my blog ~ here, and at the bottom of the “Basics” page here, for example.
I wish you extraordinary health and wellness so that you are able, in the most vibrant way possible, to taste all the joy, intelligence and love Mother Nature has to offer you.
Thank you for visiting this site, and for being so dedicated to life, light and love! Jai Ma!
What about you? Are you welcoming Spring with a bit of a clean-up, clean-out? What is your favorite way to invite in Spring, and enjoy the season’s energy of renewal?