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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 ~
Summer is Pitta season. Pitta means heat. It’s hot. I presume you’ve noticed?
There are six foods I lean into during the summer that I want to share with you. These are good any time, any day in summer, and any time, any season for summer people (meaning people of pitta constitution).
In fact, these six are so fundamental to Ayurveda and its approach to “hot bodies” that it could be considered the ABCCCD’s of summer!
The Egyptians referred to aloe as the “plant of immortality” and placed it with the funerary gifts buried with the pharaohs. Not only the Egyptians, but the Chines, Greeks and Romans loved aloe, too. It is traditionally used to heal wounds, relieve itching and swelling, and is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
The leaves of Aloe Vera are made up of a clear, viscous gel that is 96% water. The other four percent contains 75 known substances including Vitamins A, B, C, E, calcium, amino acids for protein building, and enzymes used in digestion.
In addition to the skin, aloe helps heal other epitheliums in our body including the lining of the gut, the bronchial tubes and the genital tract. When taken internally, aloe vera aids the digestion and absorption of nutrients while clearing toxins out of the g.i. tract, helps control blood sugar, increases energy production, purifies the blood, reduces inflammation, promotes cardiovascular health, improves liver function, encourages cellular renewal, boosts the immune system, and cools your internal fires.
Please note: Pregnant women and children under five should not take aloe vera internally.
For skin health and digestive healing, you can take 1 tablespoon of Aloe juice in the morning.
For a very simple tonic, mix together 1/3 cup Aloe juice with 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon black cherry concentrate to make an Aloe drink which you can have as a morning wake-me-up, or about an hour before bed, as an evening tonic to help cool you down and ease you into sleep.
Scientific studies in Germany (1967) and Japan (1986) show burdock to have powerful antifungal and antibacterial actions. It is such a good blood purifier that Native Americans used it for venomous bites, and it is highly regarded for irritable skin conditions like eczema.
I purchase burdock root in the bulk section of my local fresh market.
You can put a handful of the root pieces in a teapot in the morning, pour boiling water up to the rim (4 cups), and stir in a small fist of hand crushed mint leaves. Optionally, you can add a few seeds of fennel. Let it cool to room temperature, and pour through a strainer into a glass. If it is too bitter, stir with a teaspoon of maple syrup.
You can also add burdock to soups and stews. Just toss it in early and cook long enough to soften.
Cilantro is called Coriander in most parts of the world, including India where Ayurveda originated thousands of years ago. In the U.S., Coriander just refers to the cilantro seed.
Cilantro/Coriander is a source of Vitamins B, C, & K, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, phyto-nutrients, and flavonoids. It helps with digestion, relieves intestinal gas, prevents nausea, and regulates appetite. Coriander is a mild diuretic, an anti-inflammatory, and contains anti-histamines, flavonoids and phenols that help with allergies.
Cilantro/Coriander promotes proper functioning of the liver and as a beneficial source of dietary fiber, it facilitates bowel movements, helps with diarrhea, and is shown to protect against urinary tract infections.
Researchers in Portugal found that oil extracted from coriander seeds can kill bacteria such as E. coli, which are related to food-borne diseases. This spice also has anti-fungal properties. Natural compounds in coriander leaves remove toxic heavy metals from the body without any side effects.
Cilantro is so good for you I add it to just about everything, and love making this Cilantro Pesto for pasta and salads. You can drink the juice, by blending handfuls of it stems and all with water, and you can apply a poultice of cilantro topically to help reduce, and cool, irritable skin rashes.
To make a poultice, wash a bunch of cilantro. pick out the brown or spoiled leaves and put the rest in a high-speed blender. Use stems and leaves. Add a half cup of water and blend on high until the cilantro is thoroughly liquefied. Strain, saving the liquid for your cilantro tonic. Apply the pulp to your skin, directly on the rash. Cover with a wrap so it holds.
For its chill factor and numerous other benefits, Coconut, grown in the hot tropics where it is practically always summer, is that perfect hot season food. Offering sweet, healthy hydration to restore moisture, minerals and electrolytes, coconut is so delicious and so perfect for humans it has even been used in I.V. drips.
When it comes to therapeutic summer foods, cucumber is at the top of my list of thirst-quenching, instant-cooling vegetables. As a diuretic, it is an effective reducer of heat and inflammation, and a good skin remedy. The moisture-promoting, juicy cucumber contains more than 90% water and is rich in minerals.
According to Rebecca Wood, brilliant author of the equally brilliant, must-have resource, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, cucumber assists in cleansing and purifying blood, positively affects the heart and stomach, and contains erepsin, a digestive enzyme that is useful in breaking down protein, clearing the intestine of parasites (such as tapeworm) and cleaning the intestines. Cucumber increases kapha and brings pacification to vata and pitta.
Cucumber is so well appreciated for its cooling benefits, beauty experts have advocated the cucumber slice on the eyes treatment for centuries. Did you know your eyes are an expression of pitta in your body? So it makes sense to cool your eyes in the summer to bring down heat in you body, and cucumbers are one way of doing that.
Bring cucumber peels on summer activities with you so that if you or a loved one begins to overheat, you can place a cucumber peel on the back of the neck, at the temples, or over closed eyes. Back home, whip up this Cucumber Refresher or this refreshing Persian Cucumber Salad to relax and chill.
Dandelion root and its greens (the whole plant is medicinal) have been used as tonics and liver medicines in European folk medicine since the time of the ancient Greeks, and Hippocratic medicine, which we believe emerged from the Greeks interactions with Ayurvedic doctors and Yogis (thanks to Alexander the Great!).
In Ayurveda, Dandelion is used to treat various liver disorders such as jaundice, cirrhosis of the liver, and enlargement of the liver.Chronic disease of the metabolism and internal organs, especially gout and liver disease are some of the most consistent, long-standing indications for Dandelion and it is a fact that it is one of the best agents with which to intervene in chronic rheumatic disease’.
Try this Beauty Brew with dandelion, peppermint, nettles, rose, lemon balm, lavender and chamomile to cool and relax, while healing and rejuvenating skin.
My Ayurvedic Summer Cleanse is full of these cooling ingredients in delicious and effective pitta reducing recipes. We have just begun, and it is not too late to join us! It is only 5 days, and all by donation so everyone can participate. You get amazing support, daily emails and lots of loving, kind souls to keep you inspired and on track.
Enjoy summer, and let me know how I can help you to remember that nature is Love, loving you all the time.
NB: recently a post by our Sophia Campers was accidentally published here, when it was meant for here, http://sophiacamp.org I invite you to head over and read it, as it was written by our baiting Italian girls summarizing their five days at Camp learning Yoga and Ayurveda.
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.”
“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.”
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.
Joani’s Beet Kvass Makes 8-12 servings
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.
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?
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!
Ojas. Soma. Bhakti. How do we translate these words, or convey the experience, the deep knowing, that get up and dance urge, the sense of soaring wings lifting you to the sun, the feeling of sailing through light’s orchestral silence?
We think we know what they mean: Ojas. Soma. Bhakti. But we don’t really have words in English to properly translate. These are words not pointing to a concept or an analysis or even something that can be shared by the mind that reasons, but rather to experiences shared by what we might call “the heart” – the place where we are one and where we are all capable of feeling exquisite exaltations, a divine ecstasy; and in that feeling, in utter silence, way out beyond words or word-compiling, we know, we feel it together, we feel deeply connected, and darn it if it doesn’t just make you love everyone and everything because in this place, in this experience, everything is love and it all just sings with light and delight.
You could say that Ojas is the biology of love, that Soma is the principle of love in the world, and that Bhakti is the nectar of divine love in the heart.
But then, it just sounds like more distraction. Better, I think, to translate the words into a feeling, to offer an experience – a food experience, for example.
And that, dear friends, is this. A Coconut Cream you can have for dessert or serve with dessert, or enjoy for breakfast, or even make up as a tonic – a sleep tonic, an anti-anxiety tonic, or even a peace tonic. It’s so good my husband calls it “the Nectar of Love.”
A few notes first: I prefer fresh young coconuts, and now that I have a Coco Jack they are easy and quick to open. You can watch a demonstration here. Some markets will open your coconut for you, so please ask your local. If you do not have fresh coconuts, look for Let’s Do Organic Coconut Cream and follow the instructions, or look for Coconut Cream in a jar (not can) like this one from Tropical Traditions. Just know that the texture may not be as creamy.
Rose water can be purchased from the market, of course, but if you know your roses are organically grown, it is far more wonderful and delicious to make your own. Just boil up some water, then let it cool a minute or two. Meanwhile, put a handful of rose petals in a mug, add a few crystals of coconut sugar, and pour in half to a cup of water. Let it stand for at least fifteen minutes, swirling it every so often. Strain, and drink what you don’t use. Rose water is an excellent tonic.
The Nectar of Love: Coconut Cream + Rose, Saffron, Nutmeg, Lime A Potion for Cultivating Bliss
1 c Coconut Water
1 c Coconut Meat
1 T Coconut Manna
1 t Coconut Oil
1-2 t Rose Water
1 Medjool Date
4-5 strands of Saffron
a pinch of Nutmeg, freshly grated
a light dusting of Cinnamon, Cardamom
Once you have your coconut water and meat, or your two cups of cream, put all the ingredients in a high speed blender and mix on high for a minute or two. Taste and adjust spices. If you would like it thinner so it is more of a tonic to sip, add purified water or more coconut water to desired consistency. Pour into your serving glass, and garnish with a slice of lime. It will serve 2-4, if you don’t tuck in first.
For more of a dessert, let it rest in your refrigerator an hour or so where it will thicken up. My friend Wendy gifted us kumquats from her citrus garden, so I added those for winter color. First I cut them open by scoring top to bottom and then marinating them overnight in honey. I added the lime slices to that too, as it makes the rind edible and the honey runny.
It is best served within 12 hours of making, so if you have any left over, enjoy it for breakfast in the morning. It is great with blueberries, and probably also with raspberries, bananas, or peaches.
This will do the work of a Deep Sleep Tonic, and judging by the popularity of this post, it seems the medicinal benefits of love’s nectar is much needed in our world today. I prefer this Coconut Cream as it is more sattvic, but try them both to see which gives you more of the biology of love.
Bhakti is love for love’s sake.
Bhakti is of the form of Supreme Love towards God. And it is of the nature of Nectar. By attaining which, human beings become perfect, immortal and fully contented.
~ Narada Bhakti Sutras
Remember, God, to love us in a way
our souls can taste…
~St Teresa of Avila
How do you celebrate love?
If you are one who likes chocolate as the taste of love, you will find heavenly and easy recipes here, here, here, here and here. Does smearing chocolate on your skin sound like a way to celebrate? If so, check out natural skin care expert Morgan Andersen’s Chocolate Rose Mask over on our Sophia Camp website.
Then, because I love her work so much, I am going over to Madesmith, the only place where you can find Briar’s Cardamom + Jasmine Butter to purchase this delicious body balm and have it sent direct to a reader as my Valentine’s Day gift.
So there are two gifts. All you have to do is comment below so we know you are interested, and two names will be picked randomly. If you are picked, please note that we will need your address, and it will be shared with Briar or Madesmith so they can mail you your care love package. We will do that “behind the scenes,” of course.
Thank you. May you always know that you are Love and you are loved.
Ayurveda is brilliant for its herbal wisdom, such as the benefits of turmeric – but even more so, for its genius in combining. Making dishes, tonics or formulas to create a balanced, whole, all-six-tastes intelligence that super charges healing is a unique forte in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s one of the many reasons I love it, because it is a science of relationships!
That is why this ancient and popular Ayurvedic recipe for Golden Milk is so effective – Ayurveda knows that turmeric’s potency is enhanced when its bitter taste is balanced by the sweet taste. Bitters help the body detoxify, while sweet increases the bio-availability to carry the medicinal qualities of bitters well into your deeper tissues.
Can you hear the song? Mary Poppins was right – sweet does help the medicine go down, and be optimally effective.
Only when Ayurveda speaks of the sweet taste, it means foods that are naturally sweet, sometimes almost bland – like rice, wheat, potatoes, parsnips, milk, butter, but also delicious like bananas, berries, almonds, coconut.
Because it is so healthy, I add turmeric to ghee whenever I cook, and stir it into milk whenever making a tea or smoothie. In winter, on any given day, you will find in our kitchen a teapot full of steaming hot water colored deep yellow by generous slices of turmeric and ginger. But I would never have the tea on its own. There’s always some type of milk, usually coconut, and often a spoonful of ghee. For me, turmeric is just too light and drying without the heavy, unctuous, hydrating benefits of the sweet taste.
If you look at traditional India, you see this medicinal relationship embedded in the cuisine: curries, yellow rice and golden milk are common in Indian kitchens, where golden milk was made fresh and served piping hot the minute anyone complained of a sore, an ache or an illness.
Last week I served it with goat’s milk to a friend, but I personally prefer it with homemade almond or coconut milk. What is it about Ayurveda and milk? You can read about Ayurveda’s love of dairy here, which is perhaps not what you think… Anyway, I give you both ways to make it – and hope you enjoy it, for goodness’ sake!
Golden Milk Serves 2
2 c fresh Milk
2 t Turmeric powder, or a 2-inch coin of fresh Turmeric root, peeled
A dusting of fresh cracked Pepper, or a small pinch of ground Cardamom, or both
Put the ingredients in saucepan. Whisk the milk gently while bringing to a gentle boil. Serve and drink warm.
Warning: Wear an apron. Turmeric stains!
Dairy Free Golden Milk Serves 2
2 t Turmeric powder or a 2-inch coin of fresh turmeric root, peeled
2 c fresh Almond milk* or Coconut Milk
2 t raw Honey, optional
1 t Ghee or Coconut oil, optional
Add the ingredients to a blender on high speed and mix for a few minutes to heat the drink. Enjoy it warm.
For Vata: Blend in a date and skip the honey. Add a shake of ginger and a dash of cardamom For Pitta: Replace the honey with maple syrup For Kapha: Add generous shakes of ginger, black pepper and cinnamon
*How to Make Almond Milk Makes about 2 cups
1 c raw Almonds
4 c Water
2-3 Medjool dates, chopped
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Himalayan Pink Salt
In two cups of water, soak the almonds overnight, for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 2 days. Drain and rinse. Pour your almonds in a high speed blender and cover with two cups of water. Slowly turn your blender from low to the highest speed and blend for two minutes. By the time you are done, it should be foamy and very well blended, with the almonds broken up into a fine meal. Pulse a bit longer if needed to get it completely smooth.
Place a nut bag or a generous strip of cheese cloth into a strainer and put the strainer over a large bowl, or a 1 quart Pyrex. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer. Lift the nut bag or cheese cloth and twist to squeeze all the liquid into the bowl.
Pour this liquid back into your blender and add the dates, vanilla and salt. Blend again on high speed until no bits of dates remain. Drink immediately, or store in an airtight jar up to two days in your refrigerator.
Turmeric is said to balance all doshas, be cleansing to the blood and lymph, helping to dissolve tumors and blood clots, improving circulation, promoting healthy menstruation, strengthening muscles, healing soft tissue injury, decongesting the liver, aiding in the digestion of sugar, fats, and oils, and supporting those with diabetes and hypoglycemia. (NCBI: Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin)
Since turmeric is such a hard worker, I leave you with a little food for thought ~
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.
Find the fun… and snap, the job’s a game!
And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake A lark, a spree, It’s very clear to see!”
Beloved friends, I hope you are resting and enjoying this final day of 2014. The Chinese year of the horse has been quite a gallop, hasn’t it? Yet when we look back, there is so much to be thankful for. Most of all, that we have each other – a conscious, loving community of soulful, heart-centered people nourishing the world with mindfulness, presence, love.
I personally have felt so supported this year. That was diagnosed years ago as a severe deficiency, as an underlying cause of all that was imbalanced in my body, and in my life. Given that both Yoga and Ayurveda tells us that all problem arise from “the mind,” I set about to change that. So today I really want to pause and give thanks to all who support me, and who support the ways I love and grow and thrive – by every now and then having a read, showing up in a class, attending a workshop or Retreat, dropping me a line, showering us with smiles, or sharing a simple meal. I am so fortunate to live the beauty I love, to paraphrase Rumi, and it is due mostly to you, our community of beloved friends and divine souls.
So, today I give thanks for you.
Here is my gift. A little bite of sweet, tart, rich, light up the new year deliciousness. You can make it right now in ten minutes if you have a bar of dark chocolate (who doesn’t after the holidays?) and a basket of fresh raspberries in your pantry. You can actually make it with any fruit, but red is best for the color, and raspberries give it just the right pop.
As for the chocolate, I used what remained of a Scharffenberger 70% bittersweet dark chocolate baking bar. You can use anything, just keep it dark – for beauty, for taste, for balance, and for all those anti-aging antioxidants.
Chocolate Raspberry Tart Serves 8-10
5-6 ounces dark Chocolate (there’s a good list of some of the best here)
1 T Coconut Oil
1 basket fresh Raspberries, rinsed and pat dry
Cinnamon, Cardamom dustings
Break up the chocolate and very gently melt it over a low flame watching it carefully and stirring constantly, or use a double boiler to be safe. You want to be sure you are only melting the chocolate – not cooking it, and certainly not burning it.
Warm a tart pan (see this great article on the different between a tart and a pie and the dishes that help us make the best of each), and coat with the coconut oil. Pour in your melted chocolate and spread evenly across the pan. Lightly set your raspberries on the chocolate with their points facing up. Completely cover with berries, then refrigerate to set (I sealed it with a plate to not crush the berries).
Remove from the refrigerator at least ten minutes before serving so the chocolate softens enough to be able to cut and serve without breaking. Once plated, dust with cardamom, cinnamon. A dollop of yogurt is good with this and makes a beautiful contrast in dark and light. I also served it with the pear coulis below, which can be added to sparkling water for a delightful new year’s sparkle.
Pear Coulis Sparkler Serves 3-4
1-2 T Lemon juice, depending on how juicy your pear was
Puree the pear with the lemon juice in your blender. You might need to add a teaspoon of water just to get it to puree, but try not to add too much water, nor to over blend. If you do it will turn brown which is less pretty, although every bit as delicious.
Add 2-3 spoons of pear coulis to a glass of sparkling water – or omit the lemon, and add to champagne.
I wish you and your loved ones every joy this coming year.
Let’s remember: we have everything it takes, and we are the ones to light the world with love.
Happy New Year!
Did you know that spices can have up to 50 times more antioxidants than your favorite fruit, making them powerhouses when it comes to anti-aging?
Most of us think of spices as a food flavoring. Ayurveda considers them as medicine. One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, for example, found that spices can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, a potent aid in warding off premature aging, heart disease, and diabetes.
Think of it as Spice Therapy. It’s one of the genius gifts of Ayurveda: Optimizing health in a pinch!
To keep you healthy, happy and whole, here are my top five spices for Autumn ~
My love for Tulsi causes me to write today. Tulsi has been my tea of choice this week. When I woke up Monday morning feeling a sore throat coming on, it was to Tulsi I turned. When I inadvertently inhaled gas on Tuesday (from a restaurant’s open patio fire extinguished by the wind, which then scooped up the gas and swept it right into our lungs), Tulsi relieved the ensuing headache. When a reaction to new carpeting caused a slight asthma flare up, I sat down to a cup of Tulsi.
I am talking like Tulsi is a person! In fact, Tulsi is a living being, a plant known as Holy Basil. Similar to the basil that so deliciously flavors Italian dishes, this basil is warm, slightly sweet and a bit peppery. It’s becoming a bit of a celebrity in the arena of women’s health as it reduces cortisol, that tricky hormone that when chronically elevated can cause aging, weight gain, sleeplessness, irritability, depression, and the list goes on.
Organic India has built a successful global company on Tulsi and their organic teas are prolific these days. Look for them in your local healthy markets. Or, you can order online: Banyan Botanicals is now selling the divine Pukka teas with a Tulsi sampler, also selling Tulsi in an easy liquid extract and powdered.
You know that people the world over turn to Ginger for stomach upset, but do you know why? According to my Ayurvedic mentor Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, Ginger stimulates Agni, the inner fires that burn away toxins and any cause of upset.
Warming, calming, balancing, Ginger also helps reduce anxiety, inflammation, asthma, congestion, cough, cramps. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and analgesic.
One inch of fresh ginger in a cup of boiling water is the ideal accompaniment to your meals this season. You can also use 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger powder, which is in fact the better option if you are Pitta Dosha.
Light, dry and warm, cinnamon is one of the best digestive spices there is. No wonder it is added to so many sweet dishes!
Probably my favorite spice in any season, Cardamom is medicine for all three doshas (doshas are bio-energies you can learn about here). It decongests Kapha, regulates Vata and calms Pitta. Add it to coffee and it reduces the negative impacts of caffeine. Add it to any dessert and it helps reduce blood sugar.
According to Vedic guru Dr. David Frawley, cardamom can help with nausea, vomiting, bloating, flatulence and acidity. According to Dosha Guru, “science is investigating its antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, kidney and urinary disorders, gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic, and sedative” actions.
For all these reasons I love cardamom, but mostly I love those peppery little seeds as they tumble out of their ochre-lined, green pods. I love the way it is added to breakfast every morning in India so you start your day fragrantly. I love it in Chai, Chayvanprash and Rose Petal Lassi, and I love the way it smells in a home-made, seasonal Abhyanga oil. Cardamom is like a favorite perfume to me: redolent of all that is rich, tender and so dear.
Remember when Grandma made you a cup of hot milk to help you sleep at night? Did she add Nutmeg? Nutmeg helps cut the heaviness of milk which is one way it helps you sleep – so you are not kept awake by a noisy, roiling digestive engine. More importantly, nutmeg has been found to have direct benefits to sleep by its calming, sedative effects, which is one reason it is such an key ingredient in this deep sleep tonic.
In the Autumn, when days are shorter and cooler, brewing a cup of tea is a simple way to enjoy the benefits of the spices in your pantry, while warming you to the core, and encouraging that necessary daily pause.
Autumn Wellness Tea Serves 2
1 T Tulsi, powdered
1″ fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped, or 1/2 t Ginger powder
1 stick Cinnamon or 1/2 t Cinnamon powder
2 pods Cardamom crushed, or 1/2 t Cardamom powder
1/8 t Nutmeg, freshly grated powder
2 cups water
Steep spices in gently boiling water for ten minutes. Strain and serve.
This tea is great as is, but you can also add almond milk for a richer cup. For a deeply nourishing tonic, blend 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk with 2 dates. Add 1/2 cup of the hot spice tea. Stir, drink warm and watch your Vata melt into a puddle of Ojas.
This is one of many beautiful, colorful, vibrant, nature loves you recipe sheets you receive as part of our upcoming Ayurvedic Summer Cleanse. From August 9-15, this 5 day Cleanse with 1 day Prep at the front and 1 day Transition at the end gives you recipes for all 7 days, plus Yoga practices, a meditation, group calls and daily motivation, plus a facebook forum to share, connect, inspire.
If you can’t wait, head on over to Kate’s 3 day Cleanse going on now. Then come back and join us in August. Invite your friends, too. We have room for plenty and it’s always more fun with your loved ones.
I love this Summer Cleanse so much I want everyone to have it. In fact, I love it so much and love you so much that I am going to give it to three of you for free. Just leave a comment below letting us know what you love about summer, and we will pick a winner in a random, double-blind drawing.
Are you ready for mind-blasting freedom, clarity and vibrance? Let’s join together and heal the world!
Loving life, loving summer, loving you ~ Namaste!
Congratulations to Kate, Nicole and Nathalie who will receive the Summer Cleanse as a gift!
Since returning from India, it’s all I want. In fact, I think it’s the reason none of us got sick. 16 people. No one got sick. One wore herself down, needed a day of rest, but that’s not the same as getting sick. Not India sick. GingerLemonHoney Tea. Mother Nature’s gold. We drank it every day. And now it is all I want. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
Spring is the season of green, when Mother Earth knows it’s time to internally cleanse and so offers us an abundance of purifying greens in all textures and flavors. There are mustard greens, garlic greens, savoy greens, fenugreek, chicory, sorrel, spinach, chard, kale, water cress, purslane, every kind of brassica, and opportunities to forage for wild edibles right in your own local canyons and forests where you might find medicinals such as leeks, nettles and dandelions.
Sour, pungent, astringent and bitter, in varying degrees, are the tastes of Spring. Pungent greens increase digestion and circulation, aiding the body in warming up and “melting off” the cold freeze, or stagnation, of winter. Sour also aids digestion, elimination and circulation. Astringent dries and tones. Bitter is perhaps the least popular, but most important of Spring’s tastes. Made up of the elements of air and apace, foods with the bitter taste help the body detoxify, purify, lighten up, loosen up and open up the inner channels for optimal flow. Bitter tasting herbs help you eliminate waste, fight colds, reduce allergies and lose weight.
Traditional cultures instinctively knew the benefits of Spring’s bitter-tasting bounty, cultivating wonderful, easy, nourishing, home-cooked savory pies and tartes out of a variety of these free, foraged greens. From France, Italy, Greece, and my own back yard, here are 7 delicious ways to go green this Spring ~
6. Sign up for my annual Spring Cleanse, an easy, at-home, three-week, guided course to nourish your body to release toxins, old material, and stagnation, to restore youthful vitality, mental clarity and luminous radiance.
7. Drink Dandelion Tea. You can make it yourself with the roots and shoots of the plant harvested from any organic lawn or garden. To make it easy though, you could try Traditional Medicinals‘ newly launched dandelion teas which they sent to me to try, and which they will send to one of you as a free gift.
“Dandelion has become increasingly popular recently for its ability to support the body’s natural detoxification process,” says the company literature. “With the trend only growing, Traditional Medicinals herbalists formulated two new dandelion teas that will be hitting store shelves this spring – EveryDay Detox Dandelion and Dandelion Leaf & Root.
EveryDay Detox Dandelion* – inspired by a classic European herbal formula, is a blend of dandelion, licorice, fennel, and peppermint help stimulate the liver while providing support to the kidneys.
Dandelion Leaf & Root* – From roots to shoots, this enjoyably mild and sweet tea includes supports kidney function and healthy digestion.”
I love licorice, fennel and peppermint in tea, so I loved the first tea. I did not find any of the ascribed sweet in the second. “Leaf & Root” tastes pretty bitter to me. Then again, bitter is good. It’s the taste of detoxification, after all ~ and the taste that quickly cuts sugar cravings.
Rather than drink it as a tea, I brewed a strong half cup of the Dandelion Leaf & Root and added it to a sautée of spinach and kale, pictured below. With ginger, cardamom, a dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg, a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice and the dandelion infusion, these greens are a potent, and deliciously, detoxifying agent. Just home from India, it’s my daily nourishment.
Want to try some dandelion tea? Please let us know in the comment section below. There is a limited supply, so we’ll pick names (blindly and randomly, of course!) by week’s end and let you know. If you comment anonymously, it’s fine. But please know we won’t be able to contact you, and won’t have your shipping address to send you your teas.
Meanwhile, I invite you to try Traditional Medicinals’ Plant Personality Quiz. It’s fun, remarkably accurate, and another reminder that nature is a mirror, a beautiful biosphere, and that you are an integral part of it.
To your pure, whole being ~ May it be alive in a most vibrant (human) vehicle this Spring, with the energy, clarity, and wakefulness needed in order to know the beauty, magnificence and star-bedazzled interconnnectedness of all that is.Namaste!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How are you handling this arctic blast? Are you staying warm? Is it a challenge or a welcome break for you? I would love to hear – unusual weather has a tendency to draw us closer, so please let us know how you are doing.
Meanwhile, I want to share with you something to help you stay warm and well. But first a little background: In November, we taught on a Holistic Health Cruise, after which I posted this Immunity Spice Recipe as a thank you to those who attended my talk on Ayurveda & the Power of the Six Tastes to Heal. Thing is, I posted it in a semi-private place since it was a gift to them… But it got out and around, and now people are looking for it here on this blog and writing me when they can’t find it. So, especially given the weather around the country, and the fact that winter is cold season anyway, I felt it should get a posting here. I apologize if it is redundant for you, but maybe you’ll appreciate the reminder? I hope wherever you are, you are staying warm, sheltered, safe, and at peace.
This Immunity Spice Mix is warming and purifying, with primarily the pungent, astringent and bitter tastes, considered so medicinal in Ayurveda. Try to have a teaspoon, as tea or cooked into your foods, every day.
The spices can be sautéed with ghee or coconut oil before cooking in vegetables, rice, or grains.
You could also add it to boiling water to make a tea ~ As a morning tea, it will rev up your system, encouraging circulation. As a tea to accompany meals, add a splash of lemon juice and a touch of honey and sip warm to strengthen digestion.
I like it as an afternoon tea, with boiled almond milk, a dash of cardamom, maybe a spot of honey, too. You could even add it to your smoothies with a date or two.
Remember: The sweet taste lubricates and tonifies which is important to balance Winter’s Vata. It also helps your body absorb the nutrients of the other tastes, so ghee, milk, dates are all part of the medicine.
A note of caution – this could be stimulative. It’s best to avoid taking near bedtime.
Immunity Spice Mix
6 parts ground turmeric
3 parts ground cumin
3 parts ground coriander
6 parts ground fennel
1 part powdered, dry ginger
1 part ground black pepper
1/2 part ground cinnamon
Mix spices together thoroughly. Store in an airtight container. Use within one month.
For Vata Dosha, add a dash of Himalayan pink salt, and a sprinkle of sesame seed.
For Pitta Dosha, replace the cumin with mint or cilantro. Optionally, use cardamom powder instead of black pepper.
For Kapha Dosha, it is perfect all year round. You could even add 1/4 part clove or cayenne.
So here’s how spacey I can be: I put a sweet potato in the oven on Monday, thinking I’d have it later in the day with ghee and a sprinkle of Autumn spices. After an hour, its sweet aroma called me from my office. “Done!” it was signaling. I went and turned the oven off.
On Tuesday night, 3 hours away on a road trip with my mother, just before falling asleep, I remembered that little packet of Ojas, still sitting all by its lonesome in that now cold oven. Uh!
What happened? Too embarrassed to tell my husband, I let it remain there until I got home late the following night, whereupon I gently drew it from those dark cavernous racks, slid it into a safe, cozy place in the fridge, and then in the morning, knowing I had to use it or lose it, popped it in the blender and made a breakfast smoothie.
Being morning, following a full week of teaching and traveling, I knew it would offer the grounding I needed, but also wanted warming spices to rev up the morning fires. So I added a bit of fresh ginger, splashes of cinnamon, dashes of cardamom, and a sprinkle of fresh grated nutmeg. That, along with fresh Almond Milk, made for the gentlest, Autumn-welcoming, home-coming breakfast I can remember. Ever.
But then, as I mentioned, my memory is not that reliable… especially in Autumn. You see, in Ayurveda, Autumn is what we call the “Vata” season. Vata relates to the air element, which is windy and can make us restless, scattered, spacey. To balance the light, mobile, dry, cool qualities of Vata, we want to favor foods that are substantial, nourishing, wet and warm (either by lightly cooking and/or spicing). It’s almost like we are looking for foods we can sink into, foods we know will love and take care of us, foods we can trust.
I was having what we call in our house “a Vata moment,” and that sweet potato was just what I needed to restore balance. Amazingly, given how long it had sat, it was as good as if it had just been baked. That’s a food you can trust.
So here’s the recipe. If you omit the water, you’ll have something like a Sweet Potato Pudding, a great healthy dessert or snack. But I made it into a Smoothie because I needed something drinkable. That’s just the way mornings are for me.
Sweet Potato Chai Smoothie (or, Sweet Potato Pudding) Makes enough for 2
1 small Sweet Potato (or half a large one)
1 cup Almond Milk
1/2″ inch coin Ginger, peeled
1 generous shake of cinnamon
A more reserved shake each of Nutmeg, Clove, Cardamom
1 t Raw Honey
1/4 cup Purified Water
Option: 1/8 t orange zest
Pierce your sweet potato and bake at 400° F for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool. Put it in your blender with everything, except the water, and mix on high until it is smooth. At this point, you’ll have something like a pudding. You could spoon this into dessert bowls and enjoy it like a sweet snack, or for a Smoothie, add water until you get the consistency you desire. Pour and serve, with a spoon!
This is so good you won’t believe it is good for you: tonifying, balancing, grounding, it is both Vata and Pitta pacifying. For Kapha, add more water, more ginger and clove, and maybe even a good shake of cayenne.
Given how healing and hormone-balancing sweet potatoes are, this is another truly delicious example of Mother Nature loving you. To Mother’s nature in you, Namaste!
Have you been feeling the heat? On those days when hot, hot, hot becomes a threat, try this refreshing, quenching, hydrating, nourishing, cooling, delightful “cocktail.” With its pretty pink sparkle, it’s also perfect for picnics or summer celebrations!
My Mum texted yesterday to tell me she’s just finished up the remains left over from a family gathering we had last weekend. “Still delicious!” she wrote. So whip it up ahead of time, and keep it in the fridge. That way you will have it when you need it most. Apparently it will keep for a couple of days.
You could also skip the sparkling water and just drink it as a smoothie.
Watermelon, 2.5 cups cubed
Cucumber, 1 inch peeled
Water, 1/4 cup
1 Lime, juiced
Mint, 5-6 fresh leaves
Cardamom, 1 pinch
Pink Salt, the teeniest tiniest pinch (optional)
Put all ingredients, except the sparkling water, in a blender and puree until completely liquified. Fill a glass halfway with this watermelon smoothie. Top up with sparkling water, garnish with a mint leaf, and enjoy.
With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Sunday this year, it occurred to me that some of you might appreciate a remedy for recovery come Monday.
This healing tonic matches the color of the day, and points to the Ayurvedic call in this season for a Cleanse. It’s laced with shamrocks, too, for fun – but also to add brightness in color and flavor.
The Shamrocks, also known more commonly as Clover, are optional. But if you are like us and have it growing all over your garden this Spring, toss in a handful to augment the magical, “luck of the Irish” benefits. Then you could call this hangover remedy, a “Shamrock Shake,” and continue your holiday celebrations, even while you recover. It is kid-friendly, too!
Shamrock Shake Hangover Remedy Serves 2
6-8 leave Kale, with stems
10 Brazil Nuts
1/3 c Aloe Vera Juice
1 c Almond Milk
1 T VitaMineral Greens (optional)
1 t Coconut Oil
1 t Turmeric
A few pickings of fresh Shamrock (White Clover), leaves and flowers (optional)
Toss it all in a blender and mix until it is very thoroughly blended. Drink at room temperature. Best on an empty stomach.
Clover is a natural alterative, or blood purifier, used by traditional poeple across North America and Europe. It is “rich in minerals and vitamins that help with decongestion and (which) stimulate the liver and digestion. While most alteratives contain bitter compounds, Clover is unique because it is sweet and tasty,” writes acclaimed herbalist Rosemary Gladstar.
Clover makes a great tea. So if you want to skip the Guinness, but still celebrate, you could enjoy instead an old-fashioned cup of “Shamrock Brew:” Simply boil up a few cups of water, add clover leaves and flowers, reduce to a low simmer, and steep for ten minutes.
Speaking of green, my annual Spring Cleanse begins next weekend. If you would like to join us to greenify your body and mind, please visit my website to register or learn more. If you can’t wait to get started, you’ll find a Spring Green Detox Tonic I wrote up for Elephant Journal here.