Berry + Peach Panzanella

tuscany

When I lived in Florence my favorite place to take visitors, after the galleries “dell’arte,” was rural Tuscany where we’d visit olive groves, stone villas, renaissance churches, hilltops where we’d look out and marvel at the blue of the landscape that looks just the way Da Vinci painted it, and finally an old farm for lunch where a bright Panzanella was specially prepared.

Panzanella was not something that had made its way out of Tuscany at that time. It was such a classic farmer’s dish that it wasn’t even in the restaurants in Italy. The only place you’d find it was on the farm, making it more than delicious – it was a deeply personal, historical, cultural experience of a land I thought I’d never leave.

mint raspberries-web

peaches and greens-web

It suits my nature to make a dish that uses what we have, before looking for what we don’t, but while I loved it once, this salad is just about everything I don’t eat any more – bread, tomatoes, raw onions, raw garlic. These are foods Ayurveda calls rajasic, meaning agitating to mind and body. Indeed, many find them inflammatory.

So when I had some Gluten-free bread leftover last week after an evening of entertaining at my friend Marcia’s, I remembered Panzanella and thought I’d toss it with the rest of what was lying around and see if I could come up with a sattvic version of this salad.

berries and peaches panzanella-web

You can use any bread, including gluten-free like this one. Mint is essential, and I added oregano to keep it Italian. But you could replace that with thyme, or tarragon, or even rosemary – whatever you have on hand.  Be generous with the herbs. The flavor contrast with the fruit is enlivening.

Also, please use a good olive oil. Nothing too bitter, nor too bland. The fruit is delicate enough to need a truly refined oil.

You can make this up to 24 hours ahead. The longer you keep it before serving the more marinated and delicious it all becomes, but also a bit soggy. So, it’s a trade-off – presentation or taste? It’s good both ways really. You can’t go wrong.

berry panzanella

Berry & Peach Panzanella
Serves 2-4

Stale Bread, torn into bite size pieces to make about 1-2 cups
1 carton Raspberries
a generous handful of Blackberries
1 ripe Peach
4-5 leaves of Dandelion, torn into small strips
6-8 Mint leaves
a small handful of Cilantro, optional
an even smaller handful of fresh Oregano
1/2 small Orange, juiced
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 t Champagne Vinegar (or Red Wine Vinegar)
1 T extra virgin Olive Oil
pink Salt
fresh cracked black Pepper, optional
Arugula

In a medium-sized salad bowl, place your bread pieces. Rinse your berries, pat dry, and add to the bowl. Cut the peach into small pieces on a cutting board, saving the juices, and pour all of it into the salad. Gently stir in the dandelion, mint, optionally the cilantro, and half the oregano, then toss with the juices of orange and lemon, the vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt, optionally a dash of black pepper.

Cover and allow to stand for at least half an hour before serving so the bread soaks up the juices. Refrigerate if it will stand any longer. Once you are ready to serve, lightly toss to see if the bread has absorbed enough of the juices. If the bread looks dry, carefully add a bit more orange juice (or lemon, vinegar or olive oil depending on your taste), adding just enough, and not too much or it will turn into a soggy mess.

Serve on a bed of arugula, and garnish with the remaining oregano. Alternatively, skip the arugula and enjoy it for breakfast or along with these heathy crepes for a holiday brunch.

berries and peaches panzanella-web

For original versions of Panzanella, Gourmet offers this authentic Italian version,  while the kitchn offers a very pretty, very American interpretation.

berry panzanella-covered-web

flowers-web

Orange tree
Oranges from Marcia’s Malibu garden
Happy Memorial Day weekend. In honor of the holiday and the opening of summer, I have a gift of what I call “sacred remembrance” for you. It’s a recording I did of some of my favorite verses from the Upanishads. Please leave a comment below by Monday night, and I will send it to you by email.

To all who serve and offer themselves to a greater cause, thank you. Namaste!

Citrus + Sunlight: Daily Wellness

lemon mint wellness tonic

Last week it was heat exhaustion. This week it’s home-from-school-sick-days. It seems whatever challenge the season offers, my answer is always the same: a very citrus-y water with fresh mint or ginger. It’s like drinking prana direct from the sun.

Sunny Wellness Tonic

1/2 lemon, juiced
1 small orange, clementine, or tangerine, juiced
1 glass of fresh, clean water
pink salt
fresh mint or a slice of ginger, peeled

Pour the citrus juices into a tall glass with water. Add a tiny pinch of pink salt. Crush the mint or ginger with a mortar and pestle or with the butt of a knife on your cutting board. Scrape the mint or ginger, and any juices, into your tonic and stir. Sip it at room temperature or gently warmed.

  1. Daily regime: Wake up to this every morning. Drink a full 8 ounce glass first thing on an empty stomach. It’s like waking up to liquid sunshine.
  2. Dehydration: Stir in another pinch of pink salt and sip continuously to avoid heat exhaustion, dehydration, or to help recover. Use mint, not ginger. Crushed cilantro or fresh aloe juice can also be added, especially with cases of overheating.
  3. Fighting colds: Warm it up and sip it hot, allowing the vapors to steam your nasal passages and help with decongestion. If it’s a cold you’ve got, these really potent lemon + ginger cold remedies are worth a try.

lemon wellness tonic

More:                                                      The original Lemony Ginger Tonic. Home-made Lemon Ginger Brew

Do you like these recipes? if so, please share these on Facebook, Twitter, your favorite social media, by email or word of mouth. Let’s nourish the world together.

Nettles: That Most Spring of Things

garlicky nettles

Dr Suhas, that great luminary of Ayurvedic healing, reminds us that eating our greens can be the best medicine, but he adds that greens should always be prepared with two things: garlic and lemon.

nettle leaf

Yes, nature’s medicine can be delicious.

nettles mandala

Thinking of all the lemony, garlicky greens we find in Italian, French, Greek, Chinese, African and just about every “heritage” cuisine, I am reminded again of how intuitively Ayurvedic wisdom is alive in every culture that grew up from a deep relationship with the land.

One of those classic heritage dishes is this  lemony-garlicky sauté of nettles – simple, delicious, and medicinal.

sauteed nettles-web

Why nettles? One thing wisdom elders and grandmothers knew was that the nettles growing wild in spring are delicious, potent medicine for so many of our spring concerns. As an astringent, diuretic, anthelmintic, antihistamine, decongestant, and detoxifier, nettles help your body manage the Kapha tendency of spring, especially sinus congestion, allergies, asthma.

Nettles are so good for you that my friend, the great medicine woman Shannon Thompson, recently said, “It’s easier to list the few thing nettles don’t help.”

nettles and berry blooms

Where? Nettles grow abundantly in wooded areas, by river beds, and around abandoned buildings… but if you can’t find them in your neighborhood, Traditional Medicinals makes a fine nettle tea and Frontier sells the leaves and roots in bulk. (I do not have an affiliate relationship with these companies. I do appreciate their integrity and products, and I want to help you access this natural medicine as best you can.)

Be sure to wear gloves when working with nettles. Once they are cooked, they are tender and harmless, but until then, they can really sting. And sting with a lasting vengeance. If that happens, put your hands in ice water. Then wash with soap. Use tape to extract the nettle thorns (which can be invisible). Apply a thick paste of baking soda (mixed with scant water) and allow to dry before washing off. Finally, eat your cooked nettles for the antihistamine.

sauteed nettles

Sautéed Nettles with Chewy Crunchy Garlic
Serves 2

a double handful of nettles, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ghee or refined coconut oil
1/2 lemon
pink salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
optional: extra virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes

Melt ghee or coconut oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and sauté for a few minutes, swirling the pan now and then to distribute the heat. As soon as the garlic begins to getting golden, add the nettles. Cook a minute or two, stir and gently turn. Cook another minute or two and remove from heat once the leaves begin to lightly brown.

Squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice over the nettles, then season with black pepper and pink salt to taste (it shouldn’t need much salt thanks to the lemon). As you serve the nettles, you may optionally drizzle with olive oil, or sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Another option to boost the health benefits is to stir a scant teaspoon of turmeric powder in with the sautéing garlic just before adding the nettles.

nettles with crunchy garlic

I mentioned Dr. Suhas. He and is wife, Dr. Manisha, are two of my great mentors. I offered Dr. Manisha’s book Eternal Beauty in this post, and offer you now Dr. Suhas’ new book,  The Art and Science of Vedic Counseling, co-written with another of my longtime mentors and friend Dr. David Frawley.

“The Art and Science of Vedic Counseling” is the best counseling guide available for students, teachers, and practitioners of Ayurveda, Yoga, and related healing arts. The book is an ever-cherished collection of knowledge, wisdom and a practical, clinical reference. I highly recommend the book to all who love Yoga & Ayurveda.”
~ Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Physician

If you would like to be entered to receive this book, please leave a comment below.

how to cook nettles
Do you suffer from spring allergies? If so, I highly recommend a daily dose of nettles – along with this great article from Banyan Botanicals on Ayurveda’s approach to allergies.

Do you have a favorite nettle recipe? Do you have memories of a grandmother harvesting greens in spring? How do you keep the traditions of nature’s medicine alive in your life, your family, our world? I would love to hear. Thank you & Namaste!

Do you have a favorite nettle recipe? Do you have memories of a grandmother harvesting greens in spring? How do you keep the traditions of nature’s medicine alive in your life, your family, our world? I would love to hear. Thank you & Namaste!

 

Creamy Dal Makhani

dal makhani

Finishing up my “favorites from India trilogy” is Dal Makhani, a sumptuous stew of lentils and kidney beans traditionally served at weddings. Given its depth of flavor and richness, you might expect it to be difficult to make. But really it’s as simple as cooking up the beans, making a sauce, and deciding how you want to finish it – milk, ghee, or a Vegan twist on the original, coconut cream.

The recipe comes from our Chef Altah Shah of Raga on the Ganges. I’ve dramatically simplified it for you, without, I hope, sacrificing any of its richness because I really don’t want you to miss out on this Punjabi treasure.

For those of you pressed for time, I’ve given quantities for pre-cooked beans. Of course we should all cook from scratch, but lately I have been hearing so many friends tell me they and their families are eating frozen and microwaved “foods” due to time shortages. This breaks my heart and makes me want to run over and prepare weekly meals! I can only hope to make delicious, savory, satisfying meals easier, tempting busy people with wedding feast recipes to be enjoyed as everyday delights.

split urad dal-web

kidney beans-web

You can find urad dal at Indian/Asian grocers. Typically whole dal is used, but I was only able to find split urad dal. If you can’t find urad dal at all, replace it with mung or adzuki beans. If you are new to cooking beans,  the kitchn has a great how to article.

If you use precooked beans, look for adzuki in place of the dal. Use 3 cups adzuki with 1 cup kidney bean. Drain and warm them in a saucepan, stir in the sauce and finish with your choice of cream.

When I make this, I use coconut cream instead of milk, since Ayurveda warns that mixing beans and dairy can cause gas, bloating, indigestion. Typically, though, it is milk or cream that is used. The milk makes it creamy without altering its flavor. The coconut has its own distinct taste, of course and makes it sweeter.

Creamy Dal Makhani

Beans
1 c urad dal (black gram)
1/3 c kidney beans
5 c water (or veg broth or a combination of the two)
3-4 garlic cloves or 1 T garlic powder
1 T finely chopped ginger
1 t turmeric
1 pinch hing (asafotida) or hingvastak which can be purchased from Banyan Botanicals

Sauce
4 T ghee or coconut oil
1 t cumin seeds
1/2 t fenugreek seeds (optional)
1 large onion, chopped
1 T ginger, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 scant t smoked paprika
1 t garam masala powder
2 t pink salt
1 T ghee or olive oil
Coconut cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, sour cream or milk

Soak dal and kidney beans for 24 hours in plenty of water. Drain and rinse. Bring to a gentle simmer with enough water to cover, along with the ginger, garlic, turmeric and cook until beans are soft. Stir in hingvastak.

To make the sauce, heat ghee or oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add cumin seeds and sauté, gently swirling the pan now and then to keep them from burning. As soon as they begin to brown, stir in the fenugreek, onion, ginger, and garlic, and sauté until golden.

Add the red pepper flakes, and sauté another minute. Next stir in the tomatoes and turn up the heat to high. Cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp, stirring often to keep the bottom from browning.

Stir in the paprika, garam masala, and salt, then pour this sauce in with the cooked beans.  Simmer on low heat until the mixture is creamy and well blended. Turn off the heat. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in one final spoonful of ghee or olive oil, and a hearty scoop of coconut cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, sour cream, or milk, and serve.

It is a perfect meal with basmati rice (in the final photo below) and greens like palak paneer, or simply with a warm flatbread like chapati or naan.

dal makhani

rice and beans-web

The Ayurvedic literature gives the benefits of urad dal as: unctuous, promoting positive kapha and pitta, increasing bulk of feces (meaning “high in fiber”), laxative, grounding, warming, strengthening, reducing Vata, sweet in taste, and good for reproductive tissue.

What is your favorite Indian food? Are there any you would like me to write up? Let me know so I can help you help everyone stay healthy, happy and whole.

Love always. Sat Nam. Santé. Namaste! 

GF Crepes with Cinnamon Orange Honey

gf pancake (1)

Traveling through India inspires me to share with you something we’ve been enjoying. Dosas, rotis, chapatis and rice flour “pancakes” have been favorites with our group this year, and are easy to make at home for a healthy and delicious breakfast.

ganges

Based on the simple flatbread called chapati, this egg-free recipe can be modified to your tastes. Make the batter a bit thicker by adding less water and you have pancakes. Make it thinner and you have a more delicate crepe.

There is no milk in the dough, just ghee for cooking. If you want to make it completely dairy free, replace the ghee with coconut oil. For a more savory version, swap the cinnamon and cardamom for fenugreek, dill, garlic or fennel.

Mung dal is yellow in color and also known as split mung bean. Look for it at Indian or Asian markets, or save yourself time and go to my favorite source, the online store Banyan Botanicals

rice lentil pancake-sm l

It’s quick to make, just read through the recipe before you begin as there is a bit of prep you need to do the day before serving.

Gluten-free Crepes
Serves 4-6

1 c rice
1/2 c mung dal
water for soaking
2 c water for batter
pinch pink salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cardamom
2 T ghee

Cinnamon Orange Honey
1 orange
1/4 c raw local honey
1/2 t cinnamon

To Make the Crepes
Combine the rice and dal in a large bowl. Cover with 3 inches of water and soak 8-10 hours. Drain. Transfer to a blender or food processor, and purée with the two cups of water and salt until smooth. Transfer back to the bowl, cover with a towel, and let stand six to 12 hours at room temperature, or until the batter is fermented and slightly bubbly on the surface. Stir in the spices and mix well.

Preheat your oven to its lowest setting. Melt 1 T ghee in a large skillet or iron griddle over medium heat. Let it get hot, then ladle the batter onto the skillet. Allow it to cook about three minutes or until it is golden on the underside. Gently and cook another minute or so until both sides are golden. Slide onto a baking tray and set in the oven to keep warm while you make up the rest. Add more ghee as needed.

To Make the Cinnamon Orange Honey
Juice the orange and pour the liquid into a small bowl. Add the honey and cinnamon and whisk together until well blended. Pour over the crepes for a perfect March breakfast.

Ideas for Serving
Pair it with half a grapefruit for a citrusy wake up in the morning, or lather it with almond butter. Serve it with your lunch or dip it into hummus or plain yogurt for a snack. For a lovely dessert, slice bananas over it while it cooks, fold it in half and drizzle with honey or maple syrup. It is also good on its own and excellent for soaking up the last drops of juices, sauces and soups.

The leftover batter can be refrigerated and used within 4-5 days.

morgan and pancake copy

parmarth niketan ashram rishikesh
Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh
moon over rishikesh-sml
Moon over the Himalayan foothills at sunrise today

 

I am posting photos of this exquisite trip here and here if you would like to taste a bit of the nectar. Meanwhile, I wish you all light, love and peace.

Namaste. 

 

Love + Links

On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open
and the love starts.

Today is such
a day.

~Rumi

pure vege chocolate-cake

It’s Valentine’s Day and I want to share Love by sharing with you some of my favorite Ayurvedic blogs, and some favorite poetry.

Four Faves

Pure Vege

As a bhakti-yogini, Pure Vege’s author Lakshmi says her “work lies within the realm of consciousness…” allowing her “to live a simple, sustainable life and make responsible choices. Cooking healthy and wholesome is an exercise of love and goodness… an essential yoga-practice.”  Her recipes run from the Yogic/Ayurvedic basics to the multi-layered, multi-spiced, multi-flavored meals of India. Always, she maintains an elegant simplicity that celebrates the beauty of nature, and as you see from her “eggless chocolate cake” above, her photographs are mouth-watering.

journey kitchen pancakes

Journey Kitchen

A food photographer and stylist by profession, Umme Kulsum is also a food writer through her blog, Journey Kitchen. She explains, “My food is influenced by my Indian roots, Middle Eastern upbringing and interest in food from around the world. My non-Indian friends call me an Indian cook with modern touches while most Indians would call my food some kind of ‘fusion’ but I just see myself as an Indian cook who does what our ancestors have always been doing – take influences from the people, produce and life around us.”

Clarie Vidya - KitchariVidya Living

Another great talent, Claira Ragozzino devotes her beautiful blog entirely to Ayurveda and Yogic living. “Vidya actually means clarity, knowledge, and inner wisdom,” she writes. “And I believe, like wisdom, wellness starts from within. Vidya Living is where I share, teach and inspire holistic wellness fusing the ancient practices of Ayurveda and Yoga with modern plant-based nutrition.” It all looks so clean, hearty, warm and romantic.

Vidya - Beet Bowl1

Banyan Botanicals Blog

Claire took this photo for Banyan Botanicals, the Ayurvedic formulary now blogging with posts from seasoned practitioners across the field. Because Banyan sells Ayurvedic herbs and products the articles are more medical and precise than you usually find in more personal and flavor-focused food blogs. But it is still a blog – with a pull up a chair and a have a cuppa welcoming feel.

~~~

God came to my house and asked for charity.
And I fell on my knees and
cried, “Beloved,

what may I
give?”

“Just love,” He said.
“Just love.”

~St. Francis of Assisi

ayurvedanextdoor

Three More

I’ve mentioned her in my favorites list before, and I still love Kate Schwabacher who writes with authority, even as she shares her learning and growing.

I’ll always love Vegenista for its beauty, creativity and deep commitment to principles, but especially because Melissa writes with such a pure heart. She gives and she gives.

Finally, Ayurveda Next Door has captured my attention with a dedication to values, fresh articles and thoughtful community building.

Founder Jennifer Eddinger is an “Ayurveda convert, living and breathing the Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle since her first consultation in 1999.” Jennifer subsequently took it upon herself to organize an online directory of Ayurveda, listing practitioners, suppliers and schools to provide greater access to all.

It’s a complex undertaking, but Jennifer and her team are masterful. Reading between their lines, you also can feel they are really good souls. The two photos above and one below are from their blog.

pitta-dosha-ayurveda next door

Don’t forget love,
It will bring you all the madness you need
to unfurl yourself across the universe.

~Mirabai

Namaste my fellow food, beauty, heart and cosmic life lovers!
Happy Love Day always.

 

MA’s Chocolate Tart + Dosha Bars Giveaway

Melissa Ambrosini Chocolate Orange Tart

Nowadays we make friends in such new and interesting ways – over the ethers of email, blogs, social media. I call them “my blog friends” and at least for me, it’s not until I actually get to be with this person in person that I realize I have never actually met them in person. 

Such is the way with Melissa Ambrosini (love that her initials are MA). Melissa is the divine beauty who writes and blogs and generally loves the world from her bright perch over Sydney’s seafront. After years of connecting via Skype and following each other’s travels on Instagram, Melissa just called to say that she’s coming to visit. I love that odd feeling that combines looking forward to seeing a great friend with the anticipation of meeting someone new. (Robyn Field, you’re next!)

In honor of friendship, which is the divine love I am celebrating this Valentine’s Day, Melissa has given me permission to share her Chocolate & Orange Tart. I hope you love it. I know you will love her.

Melissa’s Chocolate & Orange Tart

For the base:

2 ½ c shredded coconut
½ t vanilla bean powder (I used vanilla extract and it worked just fine)
½ t cinnamon
4 T coconut oil
1 egg
Pinch of salt
½ t liquid stevia (if you don’t like stevia, try 1 tablespoon maple syrup)

For the filling:

Zest and juice of 2 oranges
1/4 t liquid stevia (or to taste)
3 eggs (free range and organic)
6 T coconut oil
3 T cacao powder
2 T cacao butter, melted

Blend all base ingredients in food processor. Line the base of a pie pan with non-stick paper. Press base mixture into the pan and up the sides about 1 cm high. Press and pack firm. Bake in an oven on 140 degrees until golden brown, then remove from oven to cool down.

To make the filling, whisk eggs in a saucepan. Add coconut oil and place on a gentle heat until oil is melted into eggs while stirring constantly to avoid the eggs clumping. Once melted, add orange juice, orange zest (reserve a generous pinch for garnish), cacao and stevia. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to get silky. Avoid it getting too thick as the oil will separate.

Take off heat. Press the mixture through a strainer into the cooled base, leaving only zest in the strainer. Shake the pan until the filling covers the whole base evenly. Place in fridge to set (approximately 2 hours). Serve with grated orange zest on top.

Note: You can make these into little tartlets if you prefer.

Melissa Ambrosini's Gut Healthy Brownie

This recipe, along with the gut-healthy chocolate brownie  pictured above, and made with the genius of a sweet potato, are two of many gorgeous recipes in Melissa’s Glow Kitchen Recipe eBook.

As you’ll see from her recipes, Melissa chooses high protein, clean foods, influenced by the seven principles of Body Ecology (a system that seems to me to come straight from Ayurveda, especially Ayurvedic principles for Vata Dosha). If you are Vegan, I have many healthy, nutritious, belly-loving and mouth watering, chocolate recipes for you here.

Dosha Bars

By the way, Love came to me last month in a box of Dosha Bars – delicious, unsweetened fruit and seed snacks made of ingredients that balance the three doshas. To share that love we’ve teamed up to offer 3 winners a sample kit with 3 Dosha Bars (each kit includes one of each flavor–Cherry Chakra to balance Vata, Blueberry Balance for Pitta balancing and Apple Cran Awakening to balance Kapha) AND a 12-pack of Dosha Bars (including 4 of each flavor) for one lucky lover! If you like to stay healthy in the midst of a busy life, please check out their website to learn about this young, Ayurvedic team and let’s show them some love for all their generosity.

We’ll pick randomly from the comments. So please let us know, what are you celebrating this Valentine’s Day? How is love showing up in your life? I love stories of love, so do share.

I hope Love fills you with its gifts this weekend and always. Namaste!

 

 

Detox Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh 4-web

Why do I call this Detox Tabbouleh? Unlike the traditional recipe, I don’t add bulgur or tomato, so it is free of those pesky foods that can be inflammatory. Like the traditional recipe though, I do add garlic, a really good olive oil and lots of lemon, because all three are known to help detoxify the body. Above all, this is full of greens, and greens clean.

Parsley & Cilantro are potent detoxifiers, providing necessary nutrients and daily fiber. Parsley also helps to clean your breath of garlic odor, so it is a perfect paring. And if you’ve joined me for any of my seasonal cleanses, you know my love of cilantro for its heavy metal scrubbing power.

Who is this for? Greens are good for everybody, helping Vata with necessary fiber for easier elimination, cooling inflammation and strengthening liver function to help Pitta keep cool, and providing the bitters that lighten up Kapha.

Tabbouleh-web

It tastes like an ancient Mesopotamian garden. I’d serve it to the poet Hafiz if he’d come over for dinner. Like his Gifts, our mother earth’s bounty is an eternal feast.

Detox Tabbouleh

1 bunch parsley
1 handful cilantro, optional
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic
3-4 fists of pine nuts
2 capfuls really fine extra virgin olive oil

Put the garlic in a food processor and mince. Add the parsley, cilantro, spring onions and process. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix. Toss in the pine nuts, drizzle in the olive oil and give it one more quick pulse. Taste, adjust flavors, and pulse again if you like your pine nuts broken down and integrated more.

Serve alone, or with soups, salads, toast, or crackers. It is also great spooned over heartier dishes.

*Note: If you are Pitta, you can reduce the amounts of garlic and spiring onion, or eliminate altogether. 

Tabbouleh 3-web

Speaking of getting healthy for the new year, my Winter Cleanse launches this Saturday. It’s a hearty cleanse – gentle enough that you can keep up with your daily routines, but solid enough that you will feel better, and delicious enough to keep you building momentum. All for only $10 for 10 recipes, meal plans + Ayurvedic wisdom and email inspiration.

I will give away a winter cleanse to a commenter below (picked randomly, always). So tell me, how do you nourish and purify in winter?

 

Chocolate Brahmi Bark

chocolate brahmi bark

There’s something I like to make every so often that has been, for me, a private, intimate, close-to-my heart endeavor.

It’s something I make for special occasions. Or so I think. Probably I make up excuses to make it for special occasions at times when what I really need is to make something sweet (tender) and holy – times when I need to honor the moon, or the earth, or the medicine of herbs, or deep quietude, or nature’s gentle flow, or simply to be alone with my ancient treasures of dusty cacao, exotic herbs, silk road spices, and sweet oils.

Chocolate Brahmi Bark

chocolate brahmi bark

I make this with a still as yet, little known herb.  While Ayurvedic herbs are prolific these days – Tulsi in the teas, Triphala in tablet form in health food stores, Ashwagandha now in many doctor’s formulas – my beloved Brahmi remains a great, rare treasure. Described as a “food of the gods” for its heavenly gifts, it is one of my favorites and “working with it” always gives me a secret delight.

The whole process of making this, as quick and simple as it is, feels ancient and sumptuous. I feel called back to a timeless time: stirring the powders into the oils stirs up the merry voices of mothers, aunts, and grandmothers who once shared their stories and delights around the stirring of daily medicines and meals. It helps restore me to myself, and to the whole that we are, all of us alive together in this one world.  It’s a prayer of sorts: something you don’t really talk about, yet is deep and connecting.

It’s holy work, and it’s good medicine.

chocolate nut brahmi bark

chocolate nut bark

brahmi-bark

Brahmi Bark

4 T coconut oil
2 hearty shakes of cinnamon
1 dash of cardamom
1 pinch of pink salt
1 t vanilla extract
4 T maple syrup
4 T raw cacao
1/4 – 1/2 t Brahmi powder (I purchase mine online here)
Your choice of: chopped nuts, minced dates, lightly toasted seeds  – my favorites are macadamia, medjool, and pumpkin

In a shallow pan, melt the coconut oil. Add the spices, vanilla and maple syrup and blend. Bring to a very light simmer and reduce heat. Stir to release steam. After a few minutes, mix in the cacao and blend well. Keep stirring and releasing steam, careful to keep it just under a boil.

If you are adding nuts, push a bit of the mixture to the side, add the nuts to a clear, dry spot and allow to brown a bit (or toast in a separate pan).

Add the Brahmi – careful not to add too much. More is not necessarily better. Ayurvedic herbs are potent, so a little goes a long way. Start with 1/4 teaspoon, mix well and taste. If you can’t taste it add a little bit more going to 1/2 teaspoon at the most. If you add too much, it will ruin the taste of the chocolate, and when that happens even your body doesn’t like it – it will reject the medicine, and the whole thing becomes a distasteful waste.  Medicine is an alchemy. It deserves our respect.

In a small baking dish, lay a piece of parchment paper. Whisk your chocolate mixture one more time in the pan. When it is thoroughly, thoroughly blended, pour into the baking dish and allow it to flow to the edges until it is evenly spread. Place the dish in your refrigerator and let cool.

After an hour or so (sometimes even 2-3), it will harden. Remove from the fridge. Lift the parchment paper out of the baking tray. Carefully break the bark into pieces. It will break according to its own design, so just give it a nudge and allow it to break as it will.  Place each piece onto small pieces of parchment, stack and place back in your fridge until ready to be served.

Enjoy with a rose fennel tea, or a lovely light lassi. The point is, enjoy.

Brahmi chocolate

brahmi bark with cacao

Brahmi is a brain tonic. It strengthens cognitive function, memory, focus, concentration. It is said to coat the nerves, so it calms even while it strengthens. It makes you smarter, increasing your capacity to meet the demands of your day with patience and clarity. For its impact on the mind and mood, I think of it as the “happy herb.”

Traditionally, it’s added to stress-relieving  formulas, as well as rejuvenative tonics. I love it for its Sattva – light, uplifitng, elevating actions. Sometimes I imagine a sage took his best meditative experience from his mind and placed it in the Brahmi plant as a gift for all of us to experience.

I guess in some way that is what happened, right? After all, the intelligence that created our world created Brahmi, and that divine mind is in its leaves for all of us to taste a bit of heaven.

Speaking of Ayurvedic herbs, I am leading a small group on a trip to India to experience one full week of Ayurveda – daily treatments including warm oil massage, lessons in herbs, delicious healing meals, Yoga, walking meditations, jungle hikes – followed by a tour of some of the most important shines, temples, ashrams, sacred mountains and beautiful ancient villages. It will be a sumptuous, healing, heart-expanding trip. I invite you to join us – or at least check it out and dream with us.

Chocolate crumbs

I’ll send a few ounces of Brahmi powder to three of you. Just leave a comment below (names randomly picked).

To heavenly tastes, holy stirrings, healing adventures, and your good health ~
Namaste!

Mother’s Nourishment: Recipes and Relief

Joshua Tree
Photo: Juliet Charvet for National Geographic

My husband and I are heading now to Joshua Tree for the annual spring time Yoga festival lovingly known as Shakti Fest. It is Bhakti Fest for lovers of Shakti, and it is raining out there. In southern California rain is a godsend, so we will open to receive those showers, that grace from heaven, and we will sing and dance and do Yoga in the rain.

What is Shakti?

Simply, it is a word that means power. In Yoga, we understand it as the power of life, the power of creation, the power of creative intelligence, the power of beauty, the power of love. Shakti in the yogic lexicon means the divine feminine aspect of consciousness that is the womb of all potentially, the cause of all existence, the beauty that inspires us to come fully alive, the generative and regenerative powers that heal, renew, transform, and the love that holds it all together.

In that vein, I wanted to share with you some of the things that have inspired me this week vis-à-vis mothers, divine mother, and divine love.

Photo: Dillon TIsdel for Oh Holy Basil
Photo: Dillon Tisdel for Oh Holy Basil

Dillon Tisdel at Oh Holy Basil wrote a lovely little essay about the joys of being a mother for mother’s day last weekend and included a recipe for gorgeous Raspberry Lemon Spelt (vegan) Scones.

~

Photo: Andrea Bemis, Dishing Up the Dirt

Photo by Andrea Bemis, Dishing Up the Dirt
Both Photos by Andrea Bemis, Dishing Up the Dirt

Andrea Bemis of Dishing up the Dirt writes about life on the farm in the Pacifc Northwest. It is a charming blog, and her Mother’s Day post with recipes for a Spring brunch lived up to her usual charm.

~

carrot-cake-pancake-0669
Photo: Richa Hingle, Vegan Richa

Richa Hingle of Vegan Richa is just about to bring to the world a beautiful recipe book on The Indian Kitchen dedicated to whole food, plant-based living. Her Mother’s Day post was exotic, colorful and spicy.

~

Spring Pastel Cherry Tree, Getty Images
Spring Pastel Cherry Tree, Getty Images

My friend Dawna Matthews wrote a beautiful article called Mothering Ourselves – Self Care for Moms for the mega wonderful Green-Mom website, because mothers are the source and the gateway for wellness in the family, so you have to love and nurture yourself, Mama’s.

~

Dr. Sarita Shrestha in Nepal
Dr. Sarita Shrestha in Nepal

A giant in the world of Ayurveda is the Nepali OB/Gyn Dr. Sarita Shrestha, whose clinics in the rural villages of Nepal offer medical support to those who otherwise would go without. Known as the “compassionate Mother of Ayurveda” Dr. Shrestha is now actively in the mountains serving her people to heal, renew, and rebuild. If you would like to help, please see my friend Madhavi Rathod’s fundraising page for Dr. Shrestha’s Nepal Earthquake Relief.

~

Mother's Day Recipes

Finally, to my own mother and grandmother, whose love is boundless – I am eternally grateful for your example and your “Shakti.” These are the people to whom we should build shrines, for they quietly go about the world pouring love, kindness, forgiveness, encouragement, and hope.

Thank you to all of you who mother the world with your love!

Jai Ma! 

Spring in a Bowl: A Simple Six-piece Salad

Spring Salad

There are so many reasons to love coming home after a long trip away. There’s the smell of home, something distinct and only yours. There’s looking into the eyes of the ones you love, listening to their stories and hearing their voices more clear and dear than ever. Being able to see their gestures and the habits that make them so unique, none of which can be conveyed by a phone call. There’s being able to touch the things so familiar, yet so everyday you forgot while you were gone that this is the architecture of your life, and while it may be plain, it is good, and it is where you find your belonging. And then of course there’s those simple, but oh my god I am so grateful things like being able to brush your teeth with tap water without thinking, to sleep on your own pillow, and to eat something raw…

So while I probably should be sharing a healthy meal from India’s seemingly infinite pantry, or a special culinary exotica from my travels east and west, my greatest joy today is the simple joy of Spring as it blooms in my little corner of the world right here, right now, offering these raw, fresh delights.

six ingredient salad

A Simple Six Ingredient Salad

Salad
Arugula, 1 hefty handful
Microgreens (kale, cilantro, radish sprouts), 2 handfuls
Fresh Garden Peas, 1 handful of fresh pods
Cherry Tomatoes, 1 handful
Spring Onion, 1-2 bulbs
Sunflower Seeds, 1-2 handfuls

Creamy Curried Lemony Dill Dressing
Tofu, 1/2 a block (about a cup)
Garlic, 1 clove (more if you are Kapha)
Lemon, juiced
Dill, 1/2 to 1 scant teaspoon
Curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon (more if you like spice)
Olive Oil, about 1 teaspoon
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, to taste

Method
Rinse and pat dry your greens. Add to a salad bowl. Pinch your pea pods to open them, then loosen each pea with your finger to release them into your salad bowl. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, and the spring onion into thin rounds. Add the tomatoes and onions to your salad.

Put the tofu and garlic into a small electric bender and blend until the tofu is creamy and the garlic is completely mashed. Cut your lemon in half and squeeze in the juice. Add the dill and curry powder and mix well. Drizzle in the olive oil and just lightly pulse a few times. Crack the pepper in and just light stir with a spatula. Taste and adjust lemon, spices, and add, maybe maybe, a pinch of salt. Use the spatula to pour the dressing over the salad. The consistency will be thick, but once tossed, the greens, tomatoes, and peas will add their moisture to give it a beautiful balance between creamy and crunchy, soft and snappy, soothing and fresh.

Garnish with a generous helping of sunflower seeds, and a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Because we are Spring Cleansing, I also tossed into the salad a handful of fresh cilantro. I love treating mint, cilantro, parsley as if they are more than garnish, but leaves with their own rightful place in the salad.

Salads are usually eaten after the main meal in Ayurveda, much like in Italy and France. We’ve been enjoying it following a bowl of kichari, lentils or spring saag. I hope you enjoy it with whatever gives you the most Spring in your heart.

spring salad

How are you celebrating Spring? What are your favorite foods and flavors these days? I’d love to hear, and to celebrate you with a gift of Spring from my friend Tiziana Boccaletti who makes the most delightful self-care elixirs in her AromaVedic apothecary. This Spring she has rose, calendula, chamomile… Because I love her, I love her artistry with florals, and I love you, I am offering to send one directly to you, or one of the commenters below, in time for Mother’s Day.

May you be eternally blessed by the light of the sun, and the bounty of our beautiful mother earth. Namaste! 

Kichari Burger

winter kichari I am often asked how to make Ayurvedic meals appealing to the whole family. First, I am very fortunate that my family enjoys eating well, and by that I mean eating whole, healthy foods. But it is true that our Ayurvedic staple, kichari (click the link if you are not sure what that is), hasn’t always been popular with the younger ones.

kich burrito Kichari Burrito

Early on, I would spoon kichari into a wrap with salsa, a bit of yogurt and cilantro, and we’d call it a burrito. That worked, although I can’t say it was our most popular family fare.

Recently, in the midst of juggling a few things, I found myself wanting to prepare a special meal for a sick friend who was staying with us. We’d had kichari the evening before, and since I didn’t have time to make anything new, decided instead to spruce up what we had left.

This was the result – a Kichari burger that has now become a family favorite.
kichari slider stamped

To make it, you start with your favorite kichari recipe. I have lots around this site – a basic, all purpose kichari recipe here, a more elaborate one on that same page, an autumn kichari here, a winter kichari here, a summer kichari here, and for good measure below I offer you one more – because I want to share the amazing grace that is Robyn Field, and to share her favorite kichari as it is such a classic.

Part 1

If you already have a favorite kichari recipe, skip to part 2. 

Robyn Field’s Classic Kichari

Step 1 

3 & 1/3 c water
1/3 c split mung bean
1/3 c red lentils
1/3 c basmati rice
1 t turmeric
12 curry leaves
1 t crushed fresh ginger

Step 2
1/2 t cumin seeds
1/2 t coriander seeds
5 peppercorns

Step 3
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 kale leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 t rock salt

Step 4
1 T ghee
1/2 t cumin seeds

Step 5
1/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 lemon
1/4 lime

Method
1. Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add mung beans, lentils, rice, turmeric, curry leaves and fresh ginger. Once it returns to a boil reduce heat and simmer.

  1. Grind seeds in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Add 1 teaspoon of the mix to the kichari.

  2. Add carrots zucchini, kale and salt. Cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and the mixture resembles a thick porridge. Stir occasionally. Add more water if needed.

  3. Heat ghee in a skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ground spices then immediately add a bit of the kichari to prevent it from burning and stir well. Add the spice fry to the pot of kichari and stir.

  4. Serve with lemon and lime juice, garnished with cilantro. Variation: Add fresh chili peppers and ginger in step 4 for a spicier version. 

kichari burger Part 2 Kichari “Burgers”
You could also call these sliders, and serve them at parties, or over salad for an elegant lunch. You pick the shape, and ultimately what to call them – because a rose may be a rose by any other name, but when it comes to feeding children (and fussy grown-ups), what’s in a name may make all the difference.

Ingredients
2 c your favorite kichari
1-2 T psyllium (husks or ground, either)
1 T nutritional yeast, optional
1 T ghee garlic powder to taste
optional: 1 egg

Method
Stir the psyllium and optionally the nutritional yeast with the kichari in a mixing bowl and mix well, ideally with your own clean hands. If you eat eggs, beat one egg and lightly stir it in. It will give your burger and better hold, and a crispier, golden edge. But strictly speaking, Ayurveda does not like us to mix our proteins

Melt the ghee in a saucepan on medium high. Sprinkle in the garlic powder according to your own taste, swirl the pan. Take a small handful of kichari mixture, pat it into a ball, then press to flatten. Place in your saucepan and cook until it browns. Turn it over and cover now while it browns on the second side.

Since there is no egg and the kichari is cooked, it is not essential you “cook it all the way through,” but I cover it to be sure it heats all the way through. vegan burger Raita Dipping Sauce
1/2 c yogurt (make your own)
1/2 small cucumber (persian are best), chopped small
3-4 spring onions, chopped 1 bunch of chives, chopped
1 bunch dill, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro or parsley, or a bit of both, chopped
Pink salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Stir everything together. Season to taste.

I served these on a slice of roasted beet and roasted sweet potato, ladled with the dipping sauce, and a side of curried mayo (1 t curry powder to 3 T vegan mayo) for vibrant color and flavor.

raita and chutney In the Springtime, Kichari is an essential part of a detoxifying cleanse. I invite you to join me for my upcoming 10 day Spring Cleanse with a 10 day meal plan, nourishing cleansing recipes, as well as Ayurvedic self-care and guidance, coaching, daily motivational emails, group phone-ins and group online support starting April 20th. For one of you lucky commenters, we will (randomly) pick someone to give the Cleanse for free.

So tell us, how do you use your creativity to keep your family eating well? I look forward to hearing.

Namaste! 

kichari vegan burger

Joani’s Ferments 2: Beet Kvass

beet kvass
Have you heard of the GAPS diet? To me, it is the ultimate Vata-reducing way of eating, and as with any Vata-reducing regime, one of the key elements is to eat lots of fermented vegetables.

Joani Culver who shared her recipe for ferments and your own homemade farmer’s cheese in this post says, “Ferments have healthy digestive enzymes, loads of dietary fiber and a terrific profile of probiotics to really amp your belly’s fire power.”

how to ferment anything

“In  the winter I love to have Beet Kvass in the fridge. Here’s how I make it: Get a 2 quart wide mouth jar with a 2 part lid (ring and suction cap). Fill the jar half full of cleaned (I peel my beets), cut into chunks beets, add ¼ cup whey (see the “ferments” post to make your ow whey) and 1-2 tablespoons sea salt. Fill up to the elbow of the jar with pure water…you need some air in there so don’t fill to the top. Set in a warm dark place for 3 days and then put in fridge. If it’s to your liking, enough body and zing, yeah…if not wrap it up and let it go another day or so.  Temperature will be the deciding factor as to how long it will take to get a good ferment.  Such a good liver tonic.

Drinking 2-4 oz per day as a tonic/aperitif before meals is a great way to start your meals. The fermentation process enhances the already strong nutritional profile of raw beets, increasing levels of food enzymes and B vitamins (especially folate) and inoculates the beets with beneficial bacteria which support immunity and digestive system health. It is a great liver tonic, too.”

beets-stamped

When I made this on my own at home, I used golden and red beets for sunny winter color, and I grated rather than chopped my beets. Even though this makes an aperitif, I wanted to add the beets to salads after they had fermented, and prefer my roots grated when not roasted. But of course you get to do it however you like. Just know that if you grate them, this may ferment faster, so be sure to check after a couple of  days 

beet kvass - stamped

Joani’s Beet Kvass
Makes 8-12 servings

Ingredients
2 qt Mason Jar with 2 part canning lids
3 large Beets (5-6 if small), cleaned but not scrubbed (we want some of that skin)
1/4 c Whey
1-2 T Sea Salt (Joani likes Celtic)
1 qt clean, filtered Water (must be free of chlorine: if you are not sure, boil your water first, allow to cool before adding)

Instructions
Chop your beets. Put them with whey, water and salt in the Mason Jar. Be sure add enough water to fill to “the elbow” – about half an inch from the top, then seal. Cover the jar in a dark dish towel and set in a warm corner of your kitchen. Test after three days. If you like the taste, refrigerate and use. by carefully starting to open the jar. If it fizzes loudly, like it might shower like all-shook-up champagne then let it sit another day and try again. When it is done, it may still fizz, but it will be a much softer and non-threatening sound.

Once it is done, pour yourself an aperitif, and store in the refrigerator. It can keep for months in the fridge, but hopefully you will enjoy stand use it up in weeks. If the taste is a bit salty or earthy for you, dilute it with sparkling water, or add it to half a glass of fresh pressed apple cider.

make your own cheese

According to Monica Ford of Real Food Devotee, you can skip the whey if you want to keep it dairy free. You will just need to let it sit longer. You do everything the same, leaving out the whey, then let it sit in a dark, warm place for 7-10 days. Monica writes more about why she loves beet kvass here

What does Ayurveda say about sour, you ask? Read about the medicinal value of all 6 tastes here. Do you make your own ferments? What is your favorite?

beets in a row

Ayurveda has always said that optimal health starts with optimal gut function. So here’s to your belly’s fire power! May it be always intelligent, indigenous, and inspired!

Namaste! 

Detox Dal: A Simple Winter Soup

winter detox soupJanuary 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.

Detox Dal Soup

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.

split mung beans

detox dal on the stove

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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.

Enjoy!

Vata Spices
click to print

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.

detox dal

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.

Namaste! 

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

raspberry chocolate dessert

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.

chocolate tart with raspberries and pear coulis

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 berry tart

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

sfb-hbbbitter
a scharffenberger baking bar

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.

red berry chocolate tart

Pear Coulis Sparkler
Serves 3-4

1 Pear
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.

pear coulis bubbly

raspberry pear bubbly

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!

Thank you always! 

Make it Yourself: Creamy Cheese + Ferments

ferment-your-own-vegetablesAt 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.

ferments

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.

learn to ferment

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.

  1. 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! 

fermenting and cheese-making

make your own cheese

how to make cheese

How to Make your own Whey + Get the most delicious Farmer’s Cheese as a bonus!

Chinois StrainerIngredients
1 large tub of organic full fat Yogurt
1 strainer – the conical “chinois” is easiest but any will do.
Cheese Cloth
1 large Bowl

Instructions
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.

how to make your own cheese

Stay tuned for Joani’s fabulous fermented Beet Kvass coming up soon! 

how to ferment

What are your favorite fermented foods?