Nickel Free + Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Morgan holding bowlHello my loves, I was working on this post when I very suddenly had the very good news that my trip to India was on. So now I sit in a cafe on the Ganges, sipping a masala chai, feeling so blessed to be here, and particularly enlivened by a day spent in the company of the most revered (as they say in India) Dr. Vandana Shiva.

This quantum physicist turned ecological warrior has been declared  an environmental hero by TIME magazine. She is powerful and brilliant, yet grounded, kind, and feminine as she passionately, clearly speaks of her mission to restore the world to its natural wholeness and integrity, starting literally from the ground up.

With Vandana Shiva

She is undoubtedly a Durga, informed by the Swaraj and Ahimsa concepts of Gandhi and Indian Vedic culture. It’s as if she is the Divine Mother herself, rising up to protect our earth, our water, our children, our individual health, our global health. “Life itself, in all its systems, is part of an inseparable whole,” she reminds us quoting Chief Seattle, Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

Today Dr. Shiva spoke of seeds, soil and food. Everything she said resonated, resounded even. In particular and relevant to this post, since being told by my dermatologist that I may have a nickel allergy and therefore to avoid most of the foods that are my usual staple including leafy greens, many vegetables, most of my favorite fruits, as well as seeds, legumes, nuts and grains, I have been thinking quietly about how upside down it is to turn the earth inside out, digging up the ground of our own dear mother to extract metals. Treasure perhaps, useful of course, but ultimately, is it ours to take? Is it worth upsetting the integrity of life itself? Is the short term worth more than the long term?  When we see the damage we are causing on a global scale, is this what we want to give our children and grandchildren?

herbs marked

Over and over, Dr. Vandana spoke of the health risks that are exponentially growing – autism, alzheimers, cancers – because of our food, and the toxins used to grow the genetically modified seeds it is grown from.

I know we need nickel, oil, energy, etc. Of course, it’s impractical to think we would turn back the clocks.  Yet, the numbers speak for themselves – 1 in 10,000 children had autism 30 years ago. Now it’s 1 in 68 according to the CDC.  At these rates, MIT Researchers warn that half of all American children will be autistic by 2025.

Staggering, isn’t it?

I guess what I love most about Dr. Vandana is that she asks us to remember that all life has the right to life, even the plants, soil, seeds, rivers, earth. 

coconut curry sweet potato soup

On a more practical front, the original purpose of this post was to share with you a list of foods to avoid if you have nickel allergy, as well as a list of helpful sites and references I’ve searched out as there is little on the web about it. Finally, since thankfully I can have sweet potato and coconut, I offer you a divine recipe for a hearty, warm lunch or dinner meal.

Here is the list of foods one can eat ~

Blueberries, Coconut, Citrus, White Rice, Eggs, White Fish (have to be careful it isn’t full of mercury or fukushima nuclear waste – choose north atlantic fish), Dairy (only cheese + yogurt for me. if it is not fermented i can’t tolerate it) Zucchini, Cucumber, Sauer Kraut, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Beets, Cilantro, Ginger, Turmeric, Garlic (cooked, never raw), Coffee (add coconut cream and 1 t coconut oil for anti-inflammatory benefits), Blackstrap Molasses, Maple Syrup, Honey, Dijon Mustard, Mayonnaise – ONLY if it does not have soybean or safflower oil. (Sir Kensington, sold at Whole Foods, is the only brand I’ve found, but homemade is most delicious, and fresh!)
curried coconut sweet potato soup
Also, here is what I’ve learned regarding supplements, but please know I am not writing as a doctor and none of this is a prescription for anyone. I am only sharing what I am doing and what seems helpful. Please seek the advice of your (conscious) healthcare provider if you are concerned about food allergies.
*
~ The “experts” say that taking Vitamin C and Iron with meals is helpful. MSM is also said to be beneficial so I take EmerGenC with MSM every morning before breakfast. I also take Zinc tablets to keep the immune system strong.
*
~ Quercetin supplements were suggested and I have noticed it helps. I take 2 a day.
*
~ Zeolite is also known to be a good chelator. I took 1-2  tablets daily for a month.
*
~ Cilantro and Chlorella chelate heavy metals so ideally you will have a teaspoon of every day. I know people say Chlorella should be taken 30 minutes ahead of cilantro. If anyone has that proof, please post the links or send it along. Until then, I believe the body is smarter than that, and will be happy with the two together, or whenever I can remember!
sweet potato soup stamped
Sweet Potato Soup
2 orange Sweet Potatoes
1 T Ghee (or coconut oil)
1 Onion, chopped 2” piece fresh Ginger, thinly sliced and peeled
1 T Curry powder
2 cups Coconut Milk
3 cups Vegetable Broth (low sodium)
juice of half a Lemon
1/2 t pink (himalayan) salt, or to taste
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
 *
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Pierce your sweets a few times with a fork. Place them in a baking pan and then set on a rack in the middle of your oven. Roast until you can pierce with a fork, about 30-40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
 *
Melt the ghee in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger, and stir until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the curry and sauté for 1 minute. Pour in the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
 *
Remove the skins from the sweet potatoes and cut into bite size chunks. Add to the soup and cook a few minutes to reheat them. Add the coconut milk, and stir well. At this point, you can blend with an immersion blender or in your electric blender. You can also just mash the potatoes a bit with the back of a spoon and enjoy it as a chunky stew. Turn off the heat. Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice to taste and season.
*
Ladle into bowls and drizzle lightly with toasted sesame oil. Garnish with cilantro and a wedge of lime. Dill, basil, chives and thyme each seemed they’d have something to offer this soup, and since I had friends over when I made it, I decided to play with flavors. I chopped up all the herbs and put them out each in their own little bowl so everyone could garnish to their heart’s desire. It’s a delightful color and taste combination.
creamy curried sweet potato soup

 If nickel allergy affects you, you will find more information and research with these links ~

*  this chart of nickel and nickel-free foods is the one my doctor gave me as a printout.
*  these are more extensive lists of foods: nickel in foods and the nickel allergy diet. the lists are somewhat conflicting because it often depends on where the food is grown and what is in the air, water, soil.
* these articles seem to be the most referenced: melisa.org and journal of indian medicine.
* these blogs are helpful: nickel allergy mom and starting a low nickel diet.
* finally, a bit more science on the subject.
*
Remember too, that with a nickel allergy you can’t have anything out of a can – no sparkling water, no coconut water, nothing! And always ask for bottled sparkling water when you go out, because tap water can contain nickel.
 *
Have you heard of nickel allergy? Do you have any kind of food allergy or intolerance? If so, how do you manage it best? I’d love to hear your experiences.
*
As always, let life love you. Enjoy whole foods as an expression of life’s love for you.
Eat whole. Be whole.
Namaste! 

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! 

Coconut Nectar + Rose, Saffron, Nutmeg, Lime

nectar of love: Coconut cream with rose, saffron, nutmeg

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.

Coconut Bliss

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.”

coconut cream

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.

how to open a coconut + how to make rose tea

coconut manna stamped

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
1 Lime

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.

Recipe for Coconut Cream with Blueberries

Bhakti is love for love’s sake.

~Swami Sivananda

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

rose petals: how to make rose tea

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, herehere 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.

Today I am celebrating by sharing the gifts of nature’s beauty from Briar Winters at Marble & Milkweed. Briar has agreed to send to one of our readers a divine care package of her Rose & Cardamom Bathing Salts plus her Fleurs + Cacao Tea for sipping while you soak.

rose salts + tea

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.

cardamom jasmine butter

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.
Namaste!  

Golden Milk: Sunshine in a Cup

Turmeric Root

Remember Mary Poppins? Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

There have been a lot of recipes for Turmeric Tea swirling around lately. It’s great to see Ayurvedic wisdom going mainstream, and to see people getting relief from various kinds of aches and pains, as well as colds, congestion, sore throats, skin problems, not to mention turmeric’s reputation for reducing tumors, diabetes, inflammation and Alzheimer’s.

Golden Milk made with fresh Turmeric root

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.

gold milk

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.

turmeric milk

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-turmeric and boiled full fat milk

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.

golden dreams - turmeric and almond milk

 

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!”

~ Mary Poppins

cuppa gold

May all your days be golden ~
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! 

The Holiday List

scrub bestI 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.

Homemades: To me this is what the season is about. Here are a few things you can make with ingredients you probably have on hand or can easily find: Rose Face Cleanser, Almond Face Moisturizer, Turmeric Body ScrubSoothing Foot Scrub, Anti-aging Natural Sunscreen.cardamom rose truffles

Food is always a gift of love and these Ferments in reusable mason jars would be unique, or Farmhouse Cheese wrapped in butcher paper and string. Cardamom Cookies are pretty in parchment tied with a red ribbon, while the Cardamom Truffles pictured here are elegant, and these Pecan Cranberry Bars are festive.

BhavaBooks: Of course I have to mention my husband Bhava’s book Warrior Pose, available for just $1.99 on Kindle til the end of the month. I also want to mention one of my teacher’s new books – Dr Suhas’ Hot Belly Diet which, much more than a diet book, is a great introduction to Ayurveda.

A couple of dear friends, deep, heart-centered women, have recently written books, too: Siobhan Wilcox wrote the Thrive Now Blueprint: Self-Care & Success Strategies for Parents of Special Needs Children which is a great book for all people everywhere who love children and want to see them grow strong into a loving, affirming world; and Kathy Eldon whose life is a magnificent adventure and everyday act of courage, chronicled in her memoir In the Heart of Life.

steve goldMusic: 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 BhavaJim 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.

alison miksch, getty
alison miksch, getty

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.

Kevin Donuhue, Kevala
Kevin Donuhue, Kevala

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.

Self-care: You probably know I am devoted to Floracopeia. I love their purity, their consciousness, and their Seva. I also love their sets.pratima love oil

More recently, I have fallen in love with Dr. Pratima’s Love Oil. Her Ashwagandha, Amla and Rose Rejuvenating Face Cream is pretty exciting, and this would be the ultimate pamper.

The gift of true presence: We have guided audio recordings to take with you wherever you go: Bhava’s Meditation, our Yoga Nidra for deep relaxation, and Yoga practices for home or travel are all available here.

courageNew Year New You: Start the year with love and support. Start the year exactly as you intend to live it. Start the year with my new New Year New You Program and get 21 days of guided Yoga + Ayurveda + Healthy Eating with daily affirmations and meditations.

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.

Giving: We love so many, but here is where our attention is these days: Give Back Yoga, Warriors for HealingGanga Action Parivar, Shakti Rising, Elephants, Trees, Seeds & Soil.

***

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.

Christmas Dinner

  ***
Also on the Blog:

 A Vegetarian Christmas Dinner: Menu + Recipes
Christmas Cookies
Christmas Chocolate
Christmas Culinary Delights

Christmas Fruit

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. 

Wishing you happy holidays – holy days –  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?

Pumpkin Love: Poetry in a Pie

healthy thanksgiving pumpkin pie

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.

No wonder pumpkin pie feels like a warm hug.

pumpkin pie

Pumpkin is a power food when it comes to weight loss, heart health, anti-aging, and immune strength. Low in calories, pumpkin is full of fiber and rich with the antioxidants, the chemistry of youth, that help your body forgive and forget the occasional food trespass.

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!

gf paleo pumpkin pie

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. 

grain free dairy free sugar free pumpkin pie

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

Pie Crust

2 c Hazelnuts, toasted
4 medjool Dates
hefty pinch pink Salt
1/2 t Vanilla
dash Cinnamon

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)
6 Dates
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.

healthy pumpkin pie

Know your dosha

If you are Vata: You might prefer it with another 2-3 dates.
If you are Pitta: Replace the honey with real maple syrup.
If you are Kapha: Increase the amount of ginger, cinnamon and clove.

If there are leftovers, this is delicious for breakfast. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gluten free, Sugar free, No Bake Apple Pecan Pie

no bake apple pie
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 that meant a lot of apple pies this autumn. Yes, we are blessed!

raw-gf-apple-pie

The saying An apple a day… is truer than everApples support your liver to help your body process and releases toxins in our air, water, food – more important now than ever. Apples help clear your colon, also more important than ever – as everyone, even mother earth, needs extra support now in eliminating waste.

Apples are good for your bloodeyes, 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!

sweetie apple

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.

apple pecan pie

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.

glutenfree apple pie

Easy, No Bake Apple Pecan Pie

Pie Crust:

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

Pie Filling:

6 Apples
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.

apple pie

Garnish: 

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.

apple pie

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.

being silly at the bay: napping after a yoga therapy training picnic
being silly at the bay :: protecting from the sun :: napping after a yoga therapy training picnic

What sort of tricks or treats are you doing this hallowed e’en?

How to Make a Dosa

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 the Dosa 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.

Wah-DosaDosa

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.

How to Make a Dosa

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 youyou 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

coconut cilantro chutney

SweetPotatoMasala

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.

how-to-make-a-dosa1

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.

Sweet Potato Masala Dosa

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.

chutney dosa

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.

COCONUT CHUTNEY

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.

skillet sp masala

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.

how-to-make-a-dosa

When Dosa Dosa founder Matamandir 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: WebsiteFacebookTwitter.

wah at dosa dosa food truck

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.

Above all, do it with love.

Namaste! 

Power Foods: The Father’s Day 10

We spent Father’s day at the Hilltop Center for Spiritual Living because my husband was giving a talk on the power of fatherhood to save a life, his in particular.

father's day
my husband bhava with our wonderful friend steve gold

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.”

the golds
anne-emilie and steve gold sang of life and its magnificence

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.”

SatChitAnanda_DeepYoga

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

1. Spinach

.
spinach sauté

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.

Recipes for Spinach

2. Wild Salmon

salmon + gf pasta
salmon + gf pasta

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

sweet potato
baked sweet potato

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.

Recipes for Sweet Potato & Yams

4. Beans

beans2
white bean salad

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!

Recipes for Beans

5. Yogurt

.
rose lassi

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.

Yogurt Recipes

6. Grapefruit

.
pink grapefruit

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.

Recipes with Grapefruit

7. Apples 

Apples

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.”

Recipes for Apples

8. Seeds

.
multi-seed crackers

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.

Recipes with Seeds

9. Garlic

Honey Garlic
with honey, garlic is a potent medicine

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.

Recipes that include fresh Garlic

10. Cilantro

cilantro pesto
cilantro pesto

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!

Recipes with Cilantro

~

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!

fathers day
fathers day

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.

All life, light and love to you!
Namaste! 

Cannellini Hummus: A Spring Detox Staple

#hummus
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.

cannelini hummus poster 2

Cannellini Hummus

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.

#cannelini hummus
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?

 

Namaste!

 

 

 

Ginger Brew

#india Since returning from India, it’s all I want. rishi In fact, I think it’s the reason none of us got sick. #dipa 16 people. No one got sick. #deepyoga One wore herself down, needed a day of rest, but that’s not the same as getting sick. Not India sick. #Ganges Ginger Lemon Honey Tea. Mother Nature’s gold. We drank it every day. And now it is all I want. #IYF2014 Since coming home, though, I’m replacing hot water with sparkling. I don’t know why. It’s just what I crave. It seems to help with the jet lag. It also helps with fatigue, ache-y bones, travel sickness, nausea. It is so vata-reducing this drink, it takes straight aim at any imbalances that result from irregularity, hyper mobility, or dryness – all of which describe a trip across the world. monkey So here’s what I’m doing now. It’s a little like the Lemony Ginger Tonic I posted a few years back, but this one is easier to make, and a lot more fun to drink. First, because it is not a cold remedy, so you don’t make it when you are sick but when you are happy, alive with deep, rich memories. Second, it is so fizzy, it will make you dance. It’s elegant enough to serve as a “virgin” cocktail, while its color and sparkle make it a great wake-up spritz for breakfast or brunch. #Lemon #Ginger #Brew Ginger Lemon Honey Sparkle 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled 1 lemon, juiced 1-2 very generous spoons of raw honey sparkling water Optional: 2 slices of pink grapefruit, peeled, for extra detox zing Put the ginger, lemon juice (and grapefruit optionally) with a bit of water in your high speed blender, and mix on high to really macerate the ginger. Add the honey and blend some more. This time you can mix on low but mix it long enough to really integrate the textures. Fill three-quarters of a glass with sparkling water. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the ginger-lemon-honey blend. Enjoy while it is still fizzy. #gingerbrew Let me know what you think. It is also great for a Spring detox, and can be used as a cold remedy – but then you’d want to heat it up instead, with non-fizzy water. That’s how we had it in India. Every day. And – did I mention? – no one got sick. ginger lemon sparkle

To your best health. May you enjoy of all of Mother Nature’s true gifts.

~

Thanks to Jamie Rollins for photos 4 and 6. More photos from our adventure are here.

Thank you for reading and committing yourself to good health. Every individual is an integral part of the whole and thus makes an important contribution to our integrated wholeness.

Namaste!  

Smooth Move Tonic

Not too long ago, my Ayurvedic mentor/doctor had me add a little something to my evening routine, and it has made all the difference.

#cleanyourcolon

It was all about, well, a delicate subject… proper elimination. The formula he gave me came in tablets from India, which would be hard for anyone to replicate at home. Fortunately, in her Ayurvedic Fat Fighters series on Doctor Oz, another western doctor with Ayurvedic expertise, Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, touts something she calls a “Triphala Treat,” which offers similar benefits.

#triphalatreat

Dr. Kulreet’s Triphala Treat is just 1 t ground flax seed, 1 t psyllium husks, 1/2 t triphala powder.  If you stir this into almond milk warmed with cardamom, and a little honey if needed, you will have a sweet natural laxative tonic that is also rejuvenative, detoxifying, dosha-balancing, and sleep-inducing. In fact, the Charaka Samhita, one of the great treatises on Ayurveda, states, “One who fully knows how to use Triphala can rectify any imbalance.”

You can purchase Triphala powder from many healthy food stores where it is usually  sold in tablet form, which can be ground into powder. I prefer Banyan Botanicals, because their products pass the highest standards for integrity, safety, sustainability. Plus, Banyan sells Ayurvedic herbs in powder form, according to tradition.

Smooth Move Tonic

This tonic is to be enjoyed in the evening as a “bedtime treat.” In fact, if you are already making this Deep Sleep Tonic in the evening, just add the Triphala Treat directly to your blender and keep it running for a minute or two to will gently warm your tonic, without having to heat it on the stove. It saves a lot on cleanup.

The tonic is generally tri-doshic, but Pitta seems to find it most helpful. Pitta is heat with water. Hot water rises and evaporates. The earth element pulls that heat down, and in the case of this recipe, down and out. Addressing the third stage of digestion ~ elimination, it’s a tonic that helps you wake up feeling lighter, balanced, regular, free.

#coloncleanse
I’d love to do an informal survey to find out how beneficial this is on a broad scale, so if you try it and like the results, let us know with a simple “yes” in the comment section below. If you know your dosha, add that too. Knowledge is power. Together we can make our lives, and in that the world, a healthier place for all.

Thank you!

Chocolate Pasta

#chocolate pastaIn a recent class we taught on Ayurveda for families, we made a “chocolate butter” (as in peanut or almond butter) demonstrating one of many examples of healthy snacks for children. With some of that chocolate butter remaining, Valentine’s Day approaching, and the inspiration of children still in my heart, I thought I’d get playful and try out the chocolate butter as a sauce for pasta.

#Valentine's Day Pasta

Thus emerged this Chocolate Pasta, a delight both easy and quick to make. I think it took all of ten minutes.

The sauce is made with cacao, so has all the health benefits of dark chocolate. If you are making this for adults, use cacao nibs. It gives an accent of bitter that really works. But if you are making this for children, cacao powder will better integrate the flavors.

#chocolate pasta

You could serve this as a side, or add your choice of protein and make it a one dish meal. I added fresh green peas as my protein, mixing them in at the very end so they would hold their fresh aliveness.

chocolate #pasta

#chocolatepasta

Once served, you can dress it up however you like. I added chives, but chopped spring onion would be great for that burst of pungency. I also like toasted or roasted sunflower seeds, but you could garnish with toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, or pepitas. It needs that nutty bite. Best of all, I sprinkled cacao nibs over each serving. It ‘s more than a theme note, its gives the pasta a rich contrast in color, texture and taste.

VDay Chocolate Pasta

I think it worked, but would love to know what you think.

Chocolate Pasta
Serves 3-4

2 quarts water
1 cube veg broth
1 T sesame oil
1 fistful soba noodles
1-2 cups seasonal greens, shredded
1/2 t ginger powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t red pepper (the slightly milder aleppo is my preference)
gf tamari
toasted or roasted sunflower seeds
sesame seeds
chives or spring onions, chopped
red pepper flakes, optional

Chocolate Sauce
2 T Almond Butter
3 T raw cacao (powder or nibs)
1 small pear, cored and chopped
1 T Raw Honey (or 2 Medjool Dates)
pinch pink salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch cardamom

Start with the chocolate sauce. Put all the ingredients together in an electric blender and mix until well integrated and smooth. If you are using cacao nibs rather than powder be sure to mix until the nibs break down, but don’t worry if some remain solid. It will give a nice texture to the sauce when added to the pasta.

Meanwhile, boil 2 quarts of water in a saucepan. Chop up your greens and set aside. When the water comes to a boil, add the cube of vegetable broth. Stir until it dissolves, then spoon in the sesame oil. Stir in the ginger and garlic powders and red pepper. Add the soba noodles and your greens. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Gently spoon in the chocolate sauce, stirring lightly so you don’t break the pasta. Season with tamari. Taste, and a pinch of pink salt, if needed.

Chocolate Pasta VDay

Since there are at least six good reasons to celebrate with chocolate, for dessert we have many choices ~ there is this amazing Chocolate Pâté, this extraordinary Flourless Chocolate Cake, or this Chocolate Pudding, all to remind us to celebrate love not just today, but every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!