A Few Healing Remedies

There was a recent discussion amongst Ayurvedic students regarding the flu shot. A number of them said that their preferred choice is not a shot, but a food: garlic. It inspired me to post a few of our own preferred Ayurvedic cold and flu formulas, some with garlic, some without, so you’d have a few of your own home remedies to choose from.

Honey Garlic

GARLIC

To be or not to be – that is the question for me when it comes to garlic. To include it or eschew it? Ayurveda likes it. Western Ayurvedis seem to love it. After all, Garlic is Kapha-reducing, immune-boosting, antiviral, antibacterial, and touted for its power to shorten the duration of a cold or flu.

But Yogis say no to garlic because it is rajasic-tamasic and, truthfully, you can notice how “sattvic” you feel when you have a complete meal balanced in all six tastes, with no garlic added. Apart from winter days when I feel one of us is getting sick, I avoid it. On the other hand, when a cold is coming on, there is nothing like garlic to snuff it.

Garlic Honey Cold Remedy

1/2 c honey
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled.

Put the cloves of garlic in a clean, glass jar and cover with the honey. Seal the lid and let sit for 3 days. Do not taste it or try it until at least 72 hours have passed. (I’m warning you. Enough said.) After three days you can eat it by the spoonful.

Since you don’t usually know when you will need it, and when the need arises you won’t want to wait three days (warning: wait!), it’s a good remedy to make up and store in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 1 year.

Check out Nouveau Raw’s version with great research from author Amie Sue ~ including the CDC’s ruling that children under the age of 1 should not be given honey.

Garlic Honey

I learned this next simplest of remedies ages ago from an Italian Nonna. More recently, in India, I was so sick I didn’t get up, barely even woke up, for over a week. I tried every remedy. Finally, I asked for a garlic clove, did this little trick, and instantly began to improve.

Garlic Sore Throat Remedy

1 unpeeled clove of garlic

Place the unpeeled clove in the back of your mouth, behind your molars, and close down on it. The juices of the garlic will trickle down your throat, killing bacteria. Keep it there for 20 minutes, or until the garlic peel is shredded. You will know when it needs to be removed.

I have to warn you again: this is anti-social behavior. Avoid taking if you must go out. Instead, try it at night before bed. And not to get personal, but if you share your bed, have your sleep mate take it, too!

Ginger

GINGER

While garlic is superior once the cold has begun, ginger reigns supreme when it comes to maintaining overall wellness in body and mind. Ayurveda has long used ginger to help relieve colds, fevers, headaches, as well as arthritis, digestive disorders, intestinal gas, menstrual cramps, nausea, anxiety, asthma, depression. It is showing benefits in tests for heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, sciatica, ulcerative colitis. Best of all, ginger is sattvic, meaning light, balanced, and peace-promoting, unlike garlic’s anti-social assault.

One simple way to keep a medicinal store of ginger handy is this Lemon Ginger Remedy. It, too, will keep in the refrigerator, but I make it fresh – enough to last a few days covered and sealed on the counter, so it’s never chilled and never taken cold. Come over to our house and you will see little bowls of this, and its variations, scattered about. I am always moving it to keep it in the line of sight: furtive missions to keep the family strong.

Ginger Lemon

Lemon Ginger Cold Remedy

2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled
1-2 T Raw Honey
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
Cinnamon

Chop the ginger into little match-sticks. Place in a small bowl with the raw honey. Put this bowl in a larger bowl filled with hot water and let stand a few minutes until the honey is runny. Remove the bowl and add the lemon juice and cinnamon. Give it a light stir to coat the ginger thoroughly.

Take small bites throughout the day if you are sick, or just before a meal to kindle your digestive fire.

honey

HONEY

Honey is outrageous. An utter miracle. “It has sweetness (madhura rasa) with added astringent as end taste (Kashaya anu rasa). It is heavy (guru guna), dry (ruksha) and cold (sheeta). Its effect on doshas is as follows: It aggravates vata, scrapes kapha and normalizes pitta and rakta. It promotes healing process.” ~ Ashtanga Hridaya

It is also a natural antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant that speeds up the healing process. Last winter I posted this honey based remedy to avoid or dispel winter colds. But another popular remedy is this Honey Ginger Tea, using the same ingredients as above but with hot water to liquefy mucus and help warm the cold.

Honey Ginger Tea

2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled
1-2 T Raw Honey
Juice of half a lemon
Cinnamon

Chop the ginger into chunks and put in a pot of two cups boiling water. Boil gently for about ten minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover and allow it to steep another 10 – 15 minutes. Once it is cooled enough that it wouldn’t burn you if you put a drip on your inner forearm, ladle yourself a cup, add the lemon juice, give it a shake of cinnamon, and stir in the honey. Drink daily in winter, or if you are sick, drink regularly throughout the day.

For a spicier version of this, try our Lemony Ginger Tea.

lemon

How about you? What do you do to stay healthy and strong in flu season? Do you have any natural recipes from “Nonna” that you rely on?

~

Wishing you warmth, health and happiness!

Namaste ~

Grief Tonic

angel childGrief is serious, and right now there is a lot, sadly too much, going around.

When my father died, I woke up every day with a pain that felt like my front body had been torn off. Even as I stood, went to work, engaged in daily life, I felt doubled over, gripped with that wrenching, twisting, searing pain. Life was hallucinatory: pretending to be fine while a screaming ache echoed through my hollow insides.

Recently science has been able to demonstrate that the physical pain of grief is real. According to Scientific American, circuits of the cortical pain network become activated when you experience such deep loss. “Grief – in its most basic form – represents an alarm reaction set off by a deficit signal in the behavioural system underlying attachment,” writes psychology professor John Archer of the University of Central Lancashire in his book The Nature of Grief.

While your entire neurobiological system is trying to adjust to radically altered circumstances, mapping possibilities for survival, naturally, you don’t feel like eating. But you have to.

Banana Tonic

When we were grieving, my sister and I ate bananas and yogurt. This Tonic is based on those two simple ingredients, plus a few everyday, enhancing foods. It is easy to fix up, and easy to sip, swallow and digest. It carries enough basic nutrition to keep you strong until you can stomach a proper meal, which itself should be cooked and highly digestible: hearty soups are best, or comfort foods like pb&j or rice pudding.

Sweet is the key taste, but NOT processed sugar. If you are doing the grocery shopping, focus on fresh fruits, dried dates and nuts, avocados, root vegetables, soups and grains that are easy to prepare, and foods high in protein, B vitamins and Omegas, like eggs or salmon.

Please resist the tendency to reach for pizza, pasta, frozen or microwaveable “convenience” foods, chips, cakes, cookies, muffins.  Wheat is genetically altered in a way that makes it hard to digest. Frozen and microwaved food is biologically altered, and hard to metabolize. Your system right now needs easy. It has enough to do just trying to “digest” life. Feed yourself real food, nature’s own convenience food – banana, avocado, apples, dates, pears, soft cheeses, nuts, grains.

Grief Tonic
1-2 servings

1 ripe banana
1 cup apple juice
1 cup yogurt, preferably non-dairy: coconut, almond, your favorite
2-3 dates
1 T maple syrup, or more to taste
1 shake cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg, freshly grated is best
dash turmeric, optional
5-6 grains of salt, sea or pink

Blend well and serve at room temperature. Do not serve cold. Grief is cold enough.

Bananas and Cream

In an 1843 letter to his second cousin, Reverend William Darwin Fox, Charles Darwin wrote, “Strong affections have always appeared to me, the most noble part of a man’s character and the absence of them an irreparable failure; you ought to console yourself with thinking that your grief is the necessary price for having been born with such feelings.”

angel and child

God Bless the Children, and all who suffer.
May you be embraced by a host of heavenly angels and carried to the light.
Our prayers are with you. 

Angel and child

Deep Sleep Tonic

deep sleep tonicThis is one of my basic staples ~ great for calming Vata, or any space-y, scattered, restless, anxious, busy, can’t settle down sort of energy. It is such a basic staple that for years I’ve had it on the Basics page. But people were always asking me for the recipe and not finding it there, so I’m posting it here for all to see, share and enjoy.

Rod Stryker of Para Yoga described it to us many years ago, tossing it out casually as something Pandit Rajmani Tigunait gave him after too much work, too much travel, and too much of an overwhelming need for the land of nod.

In translation and over time the recipe may have been modified, so I can’t promise you it is exact according to Ayurvedic tradition (which likes its exactitudes). What I do know is that it is resoundingly, deliciously potent, and seems to work for everyone.

Try taking it an hour before bed for a night of sweet dreams and deep slumber.

As this extraordinary, whole food, medicinal drink came without a name, we nicknamed it Ojas Rasayana. Here’s why:

Ojas is the Ayurveda word for deep nourishment, our underlying reserves of energy. Ojas gives patience, contentment, longevity,  stamina, endurance, strength, stability. In the Autumn, when Vata dominates, Ojas is available to us through seasonal foods like root vegetables, grains, ghee, nuts and seeds, dates, raisins and sweet Autumn fruits.

Rasayana is a grand word used in many contexts, including an entire branch of Ayurveda. Generally it means rejuvenative, and more modernly, anti-aging, stress-reducing. According to Ayurvedic Dr. Vaidya Mishra, “Rasayana is the designation given to special herbs, fruits and spices, or combinations of them, that are particularly renowned for the positive influence they have on overall health, vitality and longevity.”

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The ultimate nourishment, of course, is love, and a delicious tonic like this is a rich reminder that food is a nourishing love story.

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If you do not know what ghee is, where to find it or how to make it, check out this post with a video demonstrating how easy it is to make.

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Gentle Yoga is wonderful in the evening to prepare you for a deep sleep, or any time you want to unwind and come home to yourself. I offer you this gift of a 10 minute, simple practice that can be done any time, any where, and hope it brings you peace.

~

Namaste!

Photos and Illustrations: Getty Images

Please note:  If this tonic does not seem to work for you, it may be a sign of a deeper imbalance, which you might want to take to your health practitioner.

Pumpkin Smoothie

Pumpkin Smoothie
Speckled with spices for warming, grounding delight

I declared one of the days earlier this week a Day of Bed Rest, and spent my waking hours working with my computer in the comfort of pj’s, pillows and privacy; no clocks, no appointments, no deadlines, no rush. It is Autumn, after all, the season of Vata, giving us permission to shut it all off, dial it all down, turn it all in, stay home, build a fire, and, once in a while even, pass the whole day in bed!

Luxuriating in the spaciousness of life without time, I surrendered ~ and found myself nourished by time off, time away, time to myself.

For lunch that day, I indulged in an Autumn-balancing, Vata-reducing, grounding, warming, deeply restorative and utterly gorgeous, golden Pumpkin Smoothie.

Image
Autumn’s Golden Color

It made me think that Autumn is gold for a reason: the bounty of this season is so rich!

It is a simplified and Ayurvedafied recipe inspired by Oh She Glows and suggested by a very wonderful and deep Yogi Pamela Hunt Cloyd. Try making this yourself and see if it doesn’t just make you feel golden.

Pumpkin Smoothie

2 T Chia Seeds
1 c Pumpkin Puree (easy to make or in a box from Pacific)
1 Banana
1 c Almond Milk (make your own or sugar free from your favorite food supplier)
1/2 c Almond Meal (you can also make your own by soaking, rinsing then grinding your almonds)
1/2 c Coconut Milk
1 coin Ginger, peeled (or 1/2 t Ginger Powder)
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 t Cinnamon
1/4 t Nutmeg
1 Pinch Clove, optional
2 Dates, optional
maple syrup to taste, optional

Soak the Chia Seeds in 1/4 cup water overnight, or at least for one hour. Put all your ingredients in your power blender and blend until very smooth and very creamy. Add chopped Dates for more sweet body, or maple syrup to flesh out and unite the flavors.

Then slip into your silky sumptuous self and sip slowly.

Image
Beauty and Nourishment for my Beloved

~

What a reminder that Food is Love!

Lisa’s adorable daughter enjoying her Pumpkin Smoothie!

Enjoy!

 Namaste ~

Beauty Brew

tataharperskincare

Ayurveda promotes Beauty from the Inside. This tisane, or herbal tea, from Tata Harper Skincare, is Pitta-reducing, hormone-balancing, and great for your skin.

Skin-Sational Tisane

2 tbs lemon balm
1 tbs lavender flowers
1 tbs peppermint
1 tbs chamomile flowers
1 tbs rose petals
1 tbs nettle
1 tbs alfalfa
1 tbs rose hips
2 tsp dandelion leaves
2 tsp raspberry leaves
1/2 tsp ginger root

Begin by combining all herbs in a medium-size bowl and stir to blend. You can store the tea in a tightly sealed tin, jar, plastic tub or bag away from light in a cool, dry place. It is best if used within 6 months.

To make a cup of this fabulous tea bring one cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of tea. Cover and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain before drinking. Add honey, cream, or lemon if desired.

What do you do to feel beautiful?

Rose Fennel Tea

If Sattva means light, clarity, peace, balance, harmony, then wouldn’t you say summer is the most Sattvic of the seasons? Fruit has ripened, flowers are blooming, the sun is strong, its light is clear, life seems to slow, nature is at ease, days linger.

Beauty is summer’s prime pacifier: tonifying, refreshing, relieving

If you listen closely, you can almost hear summer’s Sattva: underneath the urban drone, rural buzz, summer sounds of freedom, there is a certain quietude. A quiet that almost reaches out beyond this world to a place where summer never has to end…

Rose Fennel Tea is naturally sweet and sattvic
To taste Sattva, I invite you to try this soft, sweet, harmony-loving tea. You can make it ahead of time and serve it at room temperature, or add cool coconut milk to make an Ayurveda version of “Iced Tea.”
Mint releases heat, while fennel offers balancing, sweet relief.
The ingredients are simple: Fennel, Rose, Mint. Fennel is sweet and cooling. Rose is soothing and astringent. Mint is light and refreshing. Together they create a gentle medicine to balance summer’s heat, with a delicate, subtle taste that makes you want to slow down, sink in, taste and listen deeply.
Rose Water

Rose Water adds elegance.  You can make your own or find it bottled and sold at Asian or Persian markets.

To make one serving: Boil one cup water. Stir in 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, cover and reduce heat. Allow this to simmer for a few minutes, then turn off the heat. After it has cooled, toss in 4-5 mint leaves, and give it a stir. Allow to steep 5-10 minutes. Pour through a tea strainer into mug or serving glass. Add 1 teaspoon rose water, and optionally coconut milk to taste.

Generally, though, I make enough for two servings, and simplify by pouring the boiling water over the fennel seeds in a teapot to let it brew, adding the mint and rose water as it cools. In that case, it is 1 tablespoon of fennel, 6-8 mint leaves, 2 teaspoons of Rose Water.

Rose Fennel Tea  Happiness

I served this last Sunday to Rod Stryker, author of The Four Desires. Rod is a pure expression of Sattva, who has described life mastery as a harnessing of nature’s elegance. I’ll drink (a Rose Fennel Tea) to that!

~

Are You Too Sweet? 4 Ways to Reduce Blood Sugar

RePosted from Cooking Up the Cure: Fighting Cancer with Food

Elevated blood sugar levels are associated with a number of disease, including inflammation, poor immune function, tumor proliferation, diabetes, headaches and chronic fatigue. Thankfully, there are many foods that help lower your blood sugar. Here are four key ways to maintain good levels.

1. Avoid refined carbs and sweets, including commercially produced whole wheat bread, orange juice, fake butter, and soy milk. Check your labels!

2. Follow the Good Carb Formula, choosing whole grain foods that offer at least 1g. of fiber per 10g. of carb.

3. Avoid eating carbs alone, especially on an empty stomach! Add a protein or healthy fat ~ something like almond butter, coconut oil, sardines, light meat tuna, etc. ~ to balance blood sugar levels.

4. Eat more of these:

Stephen Swain Photography
  • Apples with Peel
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Avocados
  • Barley
  • Blueberries
  • Chamomile tea
  • Chard
  • Cherries
  • Cinnamon
  • Flax-seed Meal
  • Garlic
  • Goji Berries
  • Green tea
  • Leeks
  • Lemon & Lemon Rind
  • Parsley
  • Nuts
  • Oat Bran
  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Raspberries
  • Seeds
  • Sweet potato
  • Yams

Namaste! 

Spring Detox Smoothie

Energizing, Awakening, Detoxifying

At first look, this Breakfast Smoothie is a blush-colored beauty! But at first taste, it is a bit of a surprise: the kind of surprise that yanks you by the collar, drags you from bed, alerts all five senses, concentrates the mind, and shouts, “Wake up!”

When you go back to check, Really?, the second taste gives you a shudder. The kind of shudder that shakes off sleep, powers up the daylight, revs up your juices, sends that blush of beauty to your face, and stirs all the cells in your body to declare “Yes, I am Alive!”

After that, it is delicious.

If this is a helpful way to start your day, here is how to make it. I adapted it from Whole Living, who add fresh ginger ~ a pungent and, therefore, great for Spring, but too much for me. I replaced it with cinnamon ~ also pungent, but gentler ~ and added Honey. Otherwise, the grapefruit was overwhelming.

Gorgeous Ingredients

Spring Detox Smoothie

1/2 Grapefruit, peeled
1 cup Strawberries
1/2 Apple
1 t Honey
1 dash Cinnamon

Put the fruit in a VitaMix or powerful blender. Add 1 cup water and liquefy. Add honey and cinnamon. Blend another 10 seconds, and pour into glasses. Makes 2 servings.

from Whole Living

I served this to guests when they arrived at my recent Spring Detox Cooking Class at Casa De Luz because the grapefruit offers a light, bright, energizing way to  get more of the bitter taste in your diet, which in turn will give you a healthier, happier Spring.

Would you like a free lunch at Casa De Luz? It is our hip, new, North Park, Vegan, communal Eatery and they are giving a nourishing soup, salad and main course for free to one person who comments below about your love for Smoothies, Juicing or Casa De Luz. I’ll pick a name from the comments on Sunday, and announce it here. So please let us know what you do to stay healthy in Spring and come back to visit Sunday.

Namaste! 

Winter Wellness Formula

Are there children in your home, or colleagues at your office coughing, wheezing, sniffling and sneezing? Or maybe it is you?

It seems like everywhere I turn someone is sick. Whether it is because a son or daughter is home from school, or a client is unable to make an appointment, the same question keeps coming in ~ Laura, what can I do?

Despite the most beautiful winter anywhere on earth, we still get sick, and when that happens this is what I do, and what I recommend for you ~

Honey Cough Syrup

Honey Cough Syrup

Put three to four spoons of honey into a small bowl and set that in a larger bowl filled with hot water. As the honey softens, remove the bowl from the water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground clove, a shake of ground ginger and a shake of cayenne powder. Squeeze in about a tablespoon of lemon juice and stir well. Store in an airtight container. Take half a spoonful every hour, or to coat your throat whenever it feels dry, itchy, or sore.  You can also stir it into very warm water with the juice of the rest of that lemon to make a tea, which is especially good for coughs or heavy mucus.

This is delicious, natural, botanical medicine that your children, colleagues, clients will love. It’s also more proof that Nature is the perfect Mother: healing, comforting, loving in so many delightful ways.

Surfing Sunday before getting sick on Wednesday

Please note that the CDC warns that honey should not be fed to infants for risks of botulism. Honey also should not be heated or cooked. It “denatures” above 100 degrees. This from Wikipedia: “Excessive heat can have detrimental effects on the nutritional value of honey. Heating up to 37 °C (99 °F) causes loss of nearly 200 components, some of which are antibacterial. Heating up to 40 °C (104 °F) destroys invertase, an important enzyme. At 50 °C (122 °F), the honey sugars caramelize. Generally, any large temperature fluctuation causes decay.”

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May you be well ~ Namaste!

5 for Fall

Full Moon at Sunrise this Morning

My list of Five Best Practices for Fall

1. Rest & Nest ~ Do less. Breathe deep. Turn inward. Come evening, let yourself go gently into the night: Gaze at the Moon. Gaze at a candle. Gaze at the darkness. Dive into the quiet. Enjoy the stillness.

2. Hydrate ~ Start your day with lemon and water. Drink warm ginger tea with your meals. Sip  Spicy Tea throughout the day.

3. Abhyanga ~ Give yourself a vigorous full-body, organic oil massage every morning before you shower. (Yes, oil BEFORE shower!). Massage your feet at night with warm oil and cover with cotton socks before bed.

4. Mineral Baths ~ Soak in a warm bath with Epsom Salts. Add lavender or your favorite essential oil. Do this often. Ahhhhhhh.

5. Yogic Power Nap ~ Lie down in Supported Viparita Karani Mudra (photo below) for 15-20 minutes, three times a week. Let time melt away. Feel the peace of relaxation. Allow your body and mind to be deeply nourished and restored.

Viparita Karani Mudra

Autumn is the Harvest Season. This is the time to rest in your abundant nature and enjoy the bounty of each breath. It takes trust. It takes courage. It takes love. But it is worth it to give yourself the gift of you.

~

How do you relax and renew?

Help inspire all of us by leaving a comment below.

October Nights: San Diego Yesterday Evening

A Spicy Autumn Tea

Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves

How do you keep your energy from falling like the leaves this Autumn? Warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom will stabilize your health and boost your immune. You can add spices to anything ~ to breakfast, lunch and dinner, to salads, meats, milks, desserts and drinks.

Consider this Spice Tea Recipe and sage advice from our friend, Haunani Chong Drake  ~

During the change of the seasons, Vata, the energy of movement, is predominant. It’s important to avoid excesses at this time and to nurture moderation and stress-free living to keep the immune system functioning at its peak performance.

General food guidelines to follow at this time of the year include:
1) Eat foods that are sweet (whole grains, not cookies), sour & salty (rock salt, not potato chips)
2) Limit the intake of spicy, raw, cold, and light foods, i.e. cold salads, sushi, and cold bean salads.
3) Enjoy warm, cooked foods, a variety of proteins, and healthy fats.

Consider sipping on the following Vata Balancing Tea throughout the day to help make the transition of the seasons easier on the mind and body.

Cinnamon

Ingredients
Serving size: 1 cup
1 cup Water
1/4 tsp fresh Ginger, grated
1/4 tsp ground Cardamom
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ajwain*
Optional: Sucanat or Rice syrup, to taste

*Ajwain is available at most natural or Asian food stores, but can be replaced with a lesser amount of Oregano if you can’t find it locally. 

Directions
Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add spices. Cover and steep, or use a coffee/tea press, for 3-5 minutes. Sweeten to taste & serve.

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Haunani Chong

To learn more about Haunani, who is also a Yoga Teacher and Hawaiian Ha Healer, please visit her Blog, Haunani Chong, Transformational Leader in Integrative Medicine, where she has also posted Recipes for Pitta and Kapha balancing Teas. 

Wishing you a bountiful, balanced Autumn ~

Namaste!

I invite you to celebrate Urban Food & Gourmet’s Grand Opening with Ayurvedic Herbal Treats and Freedom Pies

Amanda DeWitt @ the newly opened Urban Food & Gourmet

Have you heard of Urban Food & Gourmet?

It is a new South Park Shop & Deli for California Creatives, Modern Peace Warriors, Radiant Lighthouses like you. Dedicated to tickling your palate, feeding your fires, sweetly singing your body electric and levitating your heart, it is run by the amazingly talented Amanda DeWitt who has poured her heart into this sumptuous place.

Offering unique, healthy, often artisanal and organic, delightful food, Amanda is devoted to Gluten-free “Grab and Go” items to keep life effortless for Urban Angels with appetites.

Last May Amanda invited me to contribute to this creative venture, so I’ve spent the summer concocting nourishing delights from my own kitchen. We call the collection Dancing Plums, because, yes, sugar plum fairies come to life and dance their dreams into being in the form of sweet, herbal, I-Love-You edibles.

Maha Shakti Detox Protein Shake Powder is a whole meal in a glass

Expanding on Amanda’s Circle of foodly Compassion, Dancing Plums’ creations are, or offer alternatives that are, gluten, dairy and sugar free, but which are mostly devoted to the Ayurvedic traditions.

There is the Maha Shakti Detox Protein Powder in Chocolate or Vanilla, with Grass-fed, Organic Whey or Organic Vegan Protein and loads of good-for-you herbs, Omega’s, greens, vitamins and minerals; my Rejuve Jam, based on recipes for the All-Star Ayurvedic Health Tonic Chyavanprash and inspired by my 97 year old grandmother who taught me to make jam from the berries we’d pick in the morning; the maha-comforting, mega-healing Kichari in an easy-to-make, take-home “Kit” of Organic Split Mung Beans and Organic Brown Basmati Rice; Seasonal Masalas to give you the essential spices medical authorities now list as Super Foods; and Brahmi Bark, a chocolate “Smart Bar” for mind-enhancing restoration in one sweet bite.

Rejuve Jam trips the inner light fantastic

Tomorrow is the Grand Opening of Urban Food & Gourmet and these are the details ~

Noon to 8pm, Saturday, September 10th, Urban Food & Gourmet at 1947 Fern St, 92102. I will be there from about 1 to 3 pm, but there will be great people and extraordinary food all afternoon and evening.

When I get there I’ll have samples of my various “Dancing Plums Ayurvedic Specialties,”  including a couple of Moksha Pies (Moksha, you will remember, means Freedom and these are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, bake-free and mind-liberatingly extraordinary pies). So it would be utterly delicious to see you there.

To give folks a taste of the Maha Shakti Detox Protein formula, I’ll be mixing it into a Date Shake, which tastes like Heaven. Or Love. Or Heaven in Love with You.

Here is the recipe ~

Date Shake
2 Servings

4 Dates
1 Banana
1 tablespoon Maha Shakti Powder
1 cup Coconut Milk (Apple Cider is also good)

Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Add more Coconut Milk or dilute with Coconut Water if you like a thinner blend. Drink slowly and savor.

It makes a great breakfast, dessert or after-school snack. Thankfully it has a huge nutritional impact because some days it’s the only thing I fancy.

With Amanda in front of the Dancing Plums shelves at Urban Food & Gourmet ~

I like this article on Amanda and her motivation for opening this store. It really is a gift to our community ~ as are you! Let us know if there are other ways we can help nourish that shiny light of yours. 

Namaste! 

Summer is for Juicing

Breakfast

We started a “Juice Reboot” this week, inspired by the upbeat documentary with the downbeat name, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  My husband, who gets an idea and then award-winningly executes it before anyone can say, “What a force of nature!,” bought a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer almost before the film was over.

Health pioneer Jack LaLanne was passionate about juicing. He felt it directly fed your “River of Life” ~ cleansing, purifying, and nourishing your bloodstream to fertilize the body with abundant nutrients. I love his website where there is much information on the value of juicing, along with recipes. But I love it mainly for his signature sign-off: “You are the most important person on this earth, be kind to that person!”

Lunch
Lunch

The Juicer comes with a booklet full of recipes, but you can really add any fruit or vegetable. We add  all our favorites and enjoying making it up as we go along ~ careful, though, not to mix fruits and vegetables, unless it is apples and pears which go with everything. We toss in a bit of lemon or lime juice, too, with ginger, cardamom, fennel or coriander to aid digestion and get five out of the six tastes (no salt), making the juice not only delicious but sweetly satisfying.

Juice fasts are raw, and the action on the body is cooling. With that, and the tastes being predominantly astringent, bitter and sweet, a raw juice fast is ideal for summer.

Juicing Green
Dinner

It is amazing how much cleansing the body needs, even when your lifestyle is healthy, and, mostly, pure. We are on Day Four now, and as promised, “over the hump.” We’ve moved through the headaches, brain fog and fatigue ~ frankly, with a certain ease. We knew those were signs of purification, and a reminder that it is now August, the timeless month, when all intelligent people throw off their watches and ease into the eternal flow.  

On top of that, our Mastery of Life Yoga Teacher Training student Megan Herzing happened to write us earlier this week without knowing it was the first day of our Juicing. Her email opened with a quote from her friend Adam, “Fasting is a way of letting your body know that your soul is in charge.” It was all the reminder we needed.

~

Raspberry Mango Coconut Lassi, from Cardamom Kitchen

We will have a Sumptuous Banquet of Elegantly Sweet, Deliciously Cooling Summer Smoothies and Rockin’ Raw Juices this Sunday at our Ayurvedic Nutrition & Summer Cooking Class, including a recipe from Cardamom Kitchen for Raspberry Mango Coconut Lassi, modified to use dates instead of sugar.

There are just a couple of places left. I invite you to join us. Just email me if you want to come.

Namaste!

Cucumber Cool

It was that perfect summer day: sunny, clear and hot enough to urge you to the beach, windy enough to get you offshore fast on a Hobie Cat soaring across breezy waters toward the promise of endless horizon.

The sailboat had been waiting on the beach along with a large, extended family who had come from everywhere it seemed to celebrate on this gorgeous summer Saturday. We were celebrating not just the birth of the nation collectively, but privately and more importantly, the birth of our tribe’s matriarch, known affectionately as Mom, or Nana ~ or, frankly, Wonder Woman.

After sailing, there’s a winding shoreline to wander, a rustic harbor to explore by kayak, sandcastles to build, swimming with a sister or brother, splashing with a niece, even visits with friends who stop by to say hello. With all this joy and play and beauty and delight and after all what is summer for if not this, it is mid-afternoon before you suddenly realize it would have been a good idea to wear a hat, or sunscreen, or, at least, to have paused a little longer in the shade.

The only solution for cooling off at this point is to jump back in the water, which is chilly, or go out again for a sail. But both options hold you under the broil of the sun, and you’re beginning to wonder if that rising smell of roasting flesh is coming from a nearby barbecue or your own burning shoulders!

So you head home early and prepare for the Great Family Homecoming by mixing up an icy pitcher of Cucumber Cooler. A tonic to refresh and relieve, this drink props you back up after too much play, or heat, or effort has you buckled at the knees, and reassuringly reminds you that Mother Nature, with her cool, sweet summer bounty, has already anticipated all your needs.

Cucumber Cooler
Serves 2 

1/2 medium Cucumber, seeded and peeled
1 Lime, juiced
5 Mint leaves
1 pinch Himalayan salt
1 cup water
1-2 ice cubes

Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix on high until it is completely puréed. Pour into glasses, garnish with a mint leaf and serve.

The Benefits ~

Electrolyte drinks containing sodium and potassium salts replenish the body’s water and electrolyte levels after dehydration. With an impressive amount of water (about 96%) that is naturally distilled, making it superior to ordinary water, and loaded with potassium, cucumbers are an important ingredient for summer rehydration.

Himalayan Crystal Salt delivers a healthy form of pure, unadulterated sodium with an amazing array of important trace minerals and elements including calcium, magnesium and potassium that regulate body fluids and replenish your supply of electrolytes whenever you sweat heavily.

Have you ever rested with slices of cucumber over your eyes?  It has been found that the  caffeic acid in this vegetable helps to prevent water retention, making cucumbers a great snack for weight loss, diabetes management, or to be applied topically to reduce puffy and swollen eyes.

In fact, cucumbers contain a number of important temperature-regulating minerals, including sulfur, silicone and silica which strengthen the body’s connective tissues, muscles, tendons, hair, ligaments, nails, cartilage, and bone – vital for healthy skin.

Speaking of skin, in Ayurveda there is a saying that if you want healthy skin, eat the skin of your fruits and vegetables. In addition to the youthful, glow-producing trace minerals inside the cucumber, its skin carries a high percentage of vitamin A and vitamin C.

With its high alkalinity, cucumbers are one of the ultimate Pitta-reducing foods ~ decreasing inflammation, high blood pressure, sore throat and acne; its peel can be used to relieve sunburn and mild skin irritations, similar to aloe vera; and studies have shown that when eaten regularly, cucumbers regulate uric acid, helping to prevent certain kidney or bladder stones and rheumatoid diseases like arthritis.

Perhaps best of all, since most cancers thrive in acidic environments, cucumber’s high alkalinity is being studied for its potential in avoiding cancer.

Cucumber Water

The other thing I like to do on warm summer days is to simply fill a pitcher with water, add 8-10 slices of cucumber, 5-6 slices of lime, 2-3 sprigs of mint, a dash of Himalayan Salt and a tiny pinch of Succanat (pure evaporated cane sugar). If you leave it overnight in the refrigerator the water becomes infused with the perfume of cucumber and mint, and tastes like everything the body has ever wanted.

Creamy, crunchy, juicy, wrapped in deep green and bursting with goodness, Cucumber is definitely summer cool.

They are also great fun to grow ~ and cukes from your own garden retain the taste of your terroir, while teaching great life lessons on mortality and immortality, attachment and non-attachment ~ as versed 5,000 years ago in the Maha Mrytunjaya Mantra.

Wishing you good health and a cool, refreshing, sweet summer.

Namaste! 

For Fathers I Am Grateful

I am Grateful Live Coconut Cream Pie

In our household, the World’s Best Dad Award goes to my husband whose devotion to his son proves that dads can do just about anything. He loves coconut, so we are making him this Live Coconut Cream Pie for tonight’s Father’s Day Dinner. It is heavenly and raw with a pure, healthy goodness to show Dad just how much we love him.

As a Summer Opener, Father’s Day comes just as the weather is heating up. At this time, Mother Nature lovingly, knowingly, provides the refreshment we need. Her seasonal harvest, including cucumbers, summer squash, melons, berries and herbs like dill, mint and cilantro, is balancing and cooling.

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.

Coconut Meat and Water make this Pie Perfect

This recipe comes from Cafe Gratitude’s I Am Grateful Recipe book by Terces Engelhart, which I so gratefully received from a friend. If there is one raw food recipe book to have, for me it is this one. Along with great recipes it is filled with techniques, inspiration, and a fabulous Resource list at the back.

With only a few dates to sweeten and a bit of spice, this Live Coconut Cream Pie is almost all coconut, making it a great reason to eat dessert and celebrate Dad all summer long!

LIVE COCONUT CREAM PIE

For The Crust

2 1/2 cups coconut flakes
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
Heaping 1/4 cup well packed, finely chopped dates

For The Filling

1 1/4 cups coconut milk
3/4 cup coconut meat
Heaping 3/4 cup well-packed, finely chopped dates
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 pinches of salt
3 tablespoons lecithin
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons raw coconut butter (I used a mix of coconut oil and coconut manna)

I added a dash of Cardamom too, to aid digestion deliciously.  

Garnish

3/4 cup dry coconut flakes

I toasted half the flakes and once cool, mixed in with the raw flakes so it created a lovely dapple of gold, caramel and snow white sprinkle over the pie. It is not technically raw, unless you toast at a very low heat, very slowly, but worth it to me for the color and crunch. 

To Make the Crust

Put coconut flakes, salt, and vanilla in your food processor and process, adding small amounts of dates until it gets sticky. Press crust into a greed (with coconut butter/oil) 9-inch pie pan.

To Make the Filling

Blend coconut milk, meat, date, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add lecithin and coconut butter and blend until well incorporated. Pour into prepared crust. Set in fridge/freezer until set (about an hour). Top with thin layer of coconut flakes.

I Am Grateful’s Live Coconut Cream Pie

We made this pie yesterday for the South Park Old House Street Fair, where it was gobbled up before you could say, “Look at the detail on that charming Craftsman Bungalow!”

The Coconut Cream Pie was hosted by the Urban Gourmet folks who were there to let locals know about their imminent opening at 30th and Fern. I’ll have some of my “Dancing Plums” specialty foods there ~ things like Organic Split Mung Beans, Ayurvedic Herbal Jam, Detox Protein Shake Mix and weekly Raw Pies. I’ll let you know when it opens as I am sure we will celebrate with more Live Coconut Cream Pie.

Dancing Plums is named in memory of my father George L. Plumb

Once Dancing Plums is launched, I look forward to posting with many more simple ideas for keeping cool, strong, and elegantly at ease all summer long. I am also looking forward to my next Ayurvedic Nutrition and Cooking Class for August 7th. Lots of bubbly ideas and new inventions for that! Details are on our website.

Meanwhile, I wish you a bountiful summer of nourishing food, love and lazy days.

Namaste! 

Tapioca Tribute

 Apricots add a Springtime flavor to our Tapioca Treat

Yesterday I made a Tapioca Treat for my Father’s birthday, which I have to share with you because it is one of those “too good to be true” desserts.

I can’t say my father loved it. It has been a long time since we’ve celebrated with him in person. He would have been 75 this year. But he has been gone almost 20, so now it is a celebration of the heart, an internal tribute to a life that gave life, a personal thanksgiving for his everyday example of nobility in action.

In addition to the endless love, encouragement and opportunities my father showered on us, his five children, he was, for me, a great “spiritual” teacher. He didn’t love the formalities of religion: he was young when his mother died and the Priest who said the Funeral Mass read from the script of another bereaved family, using all the wrong names and describing a very different mother.

That early loss and betrayal preceded the break-up of his family and long, lonely, later-forgotten teen years. Yet, my father was Sattvic ~ wise, clear-minded, generous, curious, fair, smart, philosophical, broad-minded, brave, kind, a safe refuge, and a lot of fun. I often say to myself, not harshly but compassionately, that I haven’t, and may never, live up to the promise of being George L. Plumb’s eldest. But I do my best to pass on the best he gave to us.

Dad

When we were little, he loved gathering us all into the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon 
to make Tapioca and I wanted to remember that with my stepson. So in his honor, I made a special dessert and shared it with my own family, as a flavor of a man they will never meet.

This is a perfect treat for my father’s April birthday not only for its tastes of love reviving connections long lost,  but also because Tapioca is “Kapha-reducing” ~ exactly the action we want from our meals in Springtime. In the Spring, we look to significantly reduce dairy, sugar and heavy grains, while increasing the fibrous foods that make us lighter and warming spices that boost metabolic fires. This Tapioca Recipe is just that. It combines all the digestive benefits of Lassi, with fiber and heart-loving betacarotene from Apricots, and the low-calorie, high-energy boost of Tapioca ~ without any sugar added. I hope you enjoy it!

Tapioca Pearls

Apricot Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca Pearls, 1/3 cup
Water, 2 cups
Dried Apricots, 10-12
Ghee, 1 Teaspoon (Coconut Oil for Vegan)
Cinnamon, 1/2 Teaspoon
Ginger, 1/8 teaspoon
Clove, 2 Shakes
Cardamom, 2 Shakes
Nutmeg, Dash
Asafoetida, Dash
Rock Salt, Pinch
Honey, 2 Tablespoons
Plain Yogurt, 1 cup

Boil 1 and 1/3 cups of water and add the tapioca pearls. Stir, reduce heat, cover. After ten minutes, check. It is done when the pearls have dissolved and it looks like melted glue.

Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a saucepan on medium low heat. Add the spices and saute one minute. Toss in the apricots and stir to coat throughly. Turn up the heat and add the remaining water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer about ten minutes, until the tapioca is done.

Put the apricots with the water, now more of a juice, into a blender. Mix until the apricots are minced. Add the yogurt and the tapioca and blend lightly. If the mixture is cooled to a temperature that does not burn to the touch, add the honey and blend one final time. Otherwise, you can drizzle the honey over it once served. It should be the consistency of pudding with a light peach color.

You can also just stir it all together if you don’t have a blender. That is how I made it for my Ayurveda Spring Detox Cooking Class. Just be sure, if you do it that way, that you give the apricots a good fine chop before you stew them.

Garnish with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg, a mint or basil leaf, chopped glazed pecans or pine nuts, a touch of orange zest for color and zing. Or, just grab a spoon and dig in. Yum!

Apricot Tapioca Pudding

Not too long ago, referring to my father, my college roommate said, “We all want our own George.”  He knew how to lift you up, make you laugh, nourish your mind, feed your soul. He would impart wisdom in easy gestures, subtle ways.

Even in making a straightforward dish like Apricot Tapioca Pudding, for example, I wonder at the world: its diversity, flavors, inventiveness, and above all, the potency of Mother Nature to create such delicious, substantial, cleansing foods. For the thought spirals that go from tapioca pearls to cosmic chemistry, while vividly appreciating the simple sensuous tastes of Spring’s profusion, I have my Dad to thank.

I just wish I did more of that while he was here. Thanking, that is. He knew all along what it has taken me decades to painstakingly learn; that is, how to live a Sattvic life, and feed the body according to the seasons.  For that example, and so much more, I am deeply grateful.

My first Yoga Teacher

Thank you, Dad!