Citrus + Sunlight: Daily Wellness

lemon mint wellness tonic

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

Sunny Wellness Tonic

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

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

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

lemon wellness tonic

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

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

Nettles: That Most Spring of Things

garlicky nettles

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

nettle leaf

Yes, nature’s medicine can be delicious.

nettles mandala

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

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

sauteed nettles-web

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

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

nettles and berry blooms

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

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

sauteed nettles

Sautéed Nettles with Chewy Crunchy Garlic
Serves 2

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

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

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

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

nettles with crunchy garlic

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Creamy Dal Makhani

dal makhani

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

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

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

split urad dal-web

kidney beans-web

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

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

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

Creamy Dal Makhani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dal makhani

rice and beans-web

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

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

Love always. Sat Nam. Santé. Namaste! 

GF Crepes with Cinnamon Orange Honey

gf pancake (1)

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

ganges

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

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

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

rice lentil pancake-sm l

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

Gluten-free Crepes
Serves 4-6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

morgan and pancake copy

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

 

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

Namaste. 

 

Love + Links

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

Today is such
a day.

~Rumi

pure vege chocolate-cake

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

Four Faves

Pure Vege

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

journey kitchen pancakes

Journey Kitchen

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

Clarie Vidya - KitchariVidya Living

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

Vidya - Beet Bowl1

Banyan Botanicals Blog

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

~~~

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

what may I
give?”

“Just love,” He said.
“Just love.”

~St. Francis of Assisi

ayurvedanextdoor

Three More

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

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

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

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

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

pitta-dosha-ayurveda next door

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

~Mirabai

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

 

Detox Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh 4-web

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

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

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

Tabbouleh-web

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

Detox Tabbouleh

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

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

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

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

Tabbouleh 3-web

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

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

 

Jen’s Minestrone

Minestrone Soup (1)

There is nothing like cooking. Sure, there’s gardening, but it’s winter. There’s Yoga too, and walking on the beach, noodling with your dog, or giggling with a girlfriend. All of this can restore you to yourself. But there is nothing quite like cooking to really take you home.

So when we all went for a hike and a swim on New Year’s Day, and my sister Jen stayed home to prepare this minestrone soup, I watched her do something I love to do and saw in her doing, the beauty of that ritual.

Jen turned to Food52 for inspiration, adapting (and I believe improving) this recipe. It’s more feast than soup – hearty enough to satisfy, light enough to make a happy belly and start your new year healthy.

Jen skipped the pesto, serving it simply with chopped parsley, parmesan and pepitas (with a lot of help from Mama). It was perfect like that, but I add the recipe for pesto in case you want that extra flavor punch.

minestrone soup cu

Smoky Minestrone Soup, adapted from Food 52
Serves 6-8

3 T ghee
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
1 t chipotle powder
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 c purple cabbage, sliced and
4 c vegetable broth, preferably homemade
1 & 1/2 c of cooked “Orca” beans (or, 1  15 oz. can of organic cooked beans)
3 c tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped (or 1 28 oz. can of peeled tomatoes, with juice)
Pink salt or sea salt, & fresh cracked pepper
1 c spinach, chopped fine
2 c high quality, all-natural cheese tortellini, optional

Garnish:
Aged balsamic vinegar
Pine nuts
Pesto*
Grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat 3 tablespoons of the ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, garlic and leek. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until softened. Stir in chipotle and let sauté one minute before adding the chopped carrot, celery, zucchini, cabbage and stir around for a minute or two. Add the stock, the chickpeas, and then the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go. Add a few generous pinches of salt (be judicious if your stock is salted already), and a grind of two of pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. Add the spinach and tortellini and continue to cook over a simmer about 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Serve garnished with a spoonful of the pesto, a few drops of the aged balsamic, a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkling of pine nuts and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Be generous here – this is where the soup goes from wholesome to holy.

*Parsley or Basil Pesto

cup loosely packed basil or parsley
tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
cloves garlic, peeled
tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
tablespoon olive oil

Chop the basil or parsley by hand until it’s very fine, reducing it down to 1/4 cup.

Chop the garlic and mash the pine nuts until fine.  Incorporate the ingredients in a small bowl and stir in the olive oil. Use as a garnish for the minestrone.

* You can make this vegan by replacing the ghee with coconut oil, the pasta with a vegan one, and the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast.

minestrone soup

New Year Healthy: This soup is great for your New Year’s wellness plan. With a rich spectrum of vegetables, parsley, and beans, it is low in fat, but high in macro/micro nutrients and fiber. Parmesan cheese is a dry, aged cheese so while  adding body to the soup, it is low in fat, and high in digestive enzymes. Chipotle and garlic not only ramp up flavor, they are helpful for winter’s sometimes sluggish digestion. Carrots give the sweet taste that keeps us grounded in Vata season while celery adds the bitter taste that helps purify.

What are your new year plans for self care, self love and self nourishment? 

 

Entice with Spice: A Holiday Party

holiday table

Last week I catered a dinner for ten, as a fundraiser for our local Soroptimists supporting women and girls in education and business development. We called it “Entice with Spice” and this was our menu.

Entice with Spice

I am not a caterer, but it was the brainchild of Wendy McGuire, former owner of Ganosh Gourmet (ganosh = gnosh, ganache + ganesh because Wendy is truly multicultural in kitchen and in life). Wendy promised to help, and I put my trust in her, even as she trusted me to take the lead in offering a rich experience of spices.

appetizer table

We began with appetizers by the fireside and a chat about Ayurveda, focusing then on food and spicing for your body type, the medicinal value of spices, sampling the six tastes, and some of the best spices for each dosha. Intricately enticed, the guests moved to the dinner table where we served a sumptuously spiced meal to delight every sense.

appetizer tray

greens

endive bar

collageappetizer

Having just met Erin Gleeson at The Front Porch when she came in for a book signing and taste samplings (Thank you Sally!), I was inspired to borrow those same drinks and appetizers served. It lent perfect holiday color, while aligning with the “Indian Raj” theme that delighted our gin- and scotch-loving guests with twists on their usual.

gin fizz

pear

apricot canape

Here are the recipes:

Drinks (inspired by Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast)

Rosemary Gin Fizz

Hot Pear Toddies

Appetizers (also inspired by Erin Gleeson)

Endive Bar

Spicy Pecans and Pepitas

Apricot Goat Cheese Bites

Ginger Miso Soup

braised squash and cranberry arugula salad

digestive drink

Dinner

Ginger Miso Consommé

Fish Molee  with Spinach Saag and Sesame Speckled Basmati

Braised Squash and Cranberry Arugula Salad with a Citrus Dressing

Digestive Tonic (fresh mint and lemon infused bitters)

Dessert

Chocolate Pâté

Nutmeg Lassi

Plates of Indian Treats

chocolate pate

dessert table

I think they liked it. They were kind enough to write.

“Wow, we’re still basking in the warm glow of what surely ranks up there as one of the most interesting, beautiful, original and downright DELICIOUS evenings ever! Thank you both so very much for including us – it was perfect in every single way!”

“It was wonderful!!! We fully enjoyed the evening and our guests have been raving about what fun it all was. The next day I babysat two of our granddaughters came over for the day and they loved seeing the party things. Thank you again for donating this lovely experience for Soroptimists.”

Our beautiful hostess

Big thanks to our hostess Gail for her generous gift to Soroptimists, and a big thanks to Coronado Soroptimists for all you do to support our communities, and for the Ruby Award that gave launch to our Sophia Camp.

I send out immense gratitude to Wendy who offered her kitchen when our house burned just as the three days of prep began, and whose patience, expertise and heart really made this the magical night that it was.

Thank you Shannon Jones for these gorgeous photographs. Thank you Sally for the invitation to meet Erin, and for all the ways you inspire me, and thanks to all of you who bring beauty, nourishment and love to our world. To me, beauty, friendship and delight is the best medicine of all.

Forest Feast


If you would like Erin’s Forest Feast Recipebook, please leave a comment below. I will pick a name randomly and send it out next week. How do you celebrate this season of light? 

Happy Holy Days. I wish you all love, joy and peace. 

 

Expanding Light: Feast of Retreat

I recently returned from a week studying with the eminent, brilliant and surprisingly droll James Kelleher at the Expanding Light Retreat Center in the Sierras.

Serenity

Jyotish in the Sierras

Ananda means bliss, and that it was. Even the meals. Despite being cafeteria style, everything was delicious and divinely digestible. It was perfect autumn comfort: warming, nourishing, strengthening, reassuring.

veg meatballs

Lunch in the Sierras

I didn’t have my camera, nor did the chefs have anything written down, but I had to share these with you – so please forgive the images, they are from my phone. Hopefully you get a sense of it. Forgive too, please, the recipes. The chefs never had amounts – and if they did, it would have been enough to feed an army – the expanding light brigade, of course!

I think you can make sense of it. If not, please leave questions in the comments below, and together we can share our successes.

veggie tofu roast

Ananda Menu

Chef Jake

Chef Jake’s Veggie Roast with Braised Tofu

Brussel Sprouts
Whole Garlic
Onions thick slice
Carrots
Yams
Peas
Safflower Oil
Tamari or soy sauce
Chives
Basil
Onion Granules
Garlic Granules
Black Pepper
Oregano
Tofu
Ghee or coconut oil
Tamari soy sauce

Chop your larger vegetables coarsely. Mix the safflower oil and everything else that follows until well blended. Toss with the vegetables and pour into a casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 for half an hour. Uncover and bake another half hour.

Meanwhile, as soon as you’ve put the veggies in the oven, slice the tofu into 1” thick pieces. Melt ghee or coconut oil in a sauté pan. Sauté the tofu pieces 3 minutes on each side. Put the tofu in a bowl with tamari or soy sauce and cover. Leave covered half an hour. Add to the roast the last ten minutes it is in the oven before serving.

Zucchini Boats

zucchini boat

Zucchini Boats

Zucchini
Baby Bello Mushrooms
Onion, finely chopped
Garlic, minced
Ghee or olive oil
Pink Salt and Fresh Pepper
Udi’s Gluten-free bread
Walnuts
Eggs (Vegans could use flax and/or psyllium)
Option: bbq sauce, parmesan cheese, mozzarella, nutritional yeast

Slice your zucchini the long way. Scoop out the zucchini. Save the insides. Put your mushrooms in a processor and grind them into little bits. Sauté onions in ghee or olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Simmer for a moment then stir in the zucchini and mushrooms. Meanwhile, break up pieces of Udi’s bread and process with walnuts until finely ground. Drain the vegetable mixture and mix with bread and walnuts. Scoop this mixture into the zucchini slices and place on a baking tray. Chef told me that if he were making this at home, we would drizzle barbecue sauce, or cheese over the top before baking at 375F. Give it about 20 minutes. Pull it out of the oven when the top is a sizzling golden brown. They served it with garlicky mash potatoes, braised chard and the gravy below.

veggie gravy

Veggie Gravy

onion, chopped
safflower oil
garlic, chopped
veggie broth
nutritional yeast
option: for darker color and richer taste: gf tamari

Sauté onions in safflower oil. Once translucent add the garlic, stir and sauté a minute or so. minutes. Add vegetable broth. Puree, bring to a boil, stir in the nutritional yeast and tamari to taste.

Veggie Meatballs

walnut meatballs

Walnut Meatballs

Zucchini filling, left over from making the Zucchini boats
Walnuts, chopped
Egg, just enough to bind
Nutritional Yeast or Mozzarella Cheese, optional

Mix it all together. Shape into balls. Sauté in ghee, or bake until golden on the outside and cook all the way through. Serve with what the Chef called “a classic southern Italian sauce with onions, garlic, tomatoes, lots of basil and oregano, cooked long and slow.”

Met Scott while I was there, who said he knew me from my blog. He works in their kitchen, which I was visiting at that moment to write up the recipes for this blog, which is one more example of the grace of the place.

sunset sierras

Expanding Light is part of Ananda Village, a spiritual community started by Swami Kriyananda, devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda. So everywhere you are there, you are under the gaze of that great Guru, which is itself another name for Jupiter in Sanskrit. Whether it is by the light of the guru, or the ananda of divine embrace, or enjoying a meal prepared by sweet, pure hearted devotees, it is all love. I wish you that eternally.

Chocolate Brahmi Bark

chocolate brahmi bark

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

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

Chocolate Brahmi Bark

chocolate brahmi bark

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

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

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

chocolate nut brahmi bark

chocolate nut bark

brahmi-bark

Brahmi Bark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brahmi chocolate

brahmi bark with cacao

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

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

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

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

Chocolate crumbs

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

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

Thai Cabbage Noodle Salad

cabbage salad-watermarked

Recently I made a cabbage salad, and it was terrible.

Really terrible. 

So, of course I had to make it again and get it right.

The problem in the first place was that while cabbage is great for summer, and summer people, it’s great because it is bitter. Ayurveda explains that bitter tasting foods combine the elements of space and air, which of course are cooling. These elements are also light, subtle, expansive – all qualities that help us maintain ease in the heat of August – and that is why I added so much of it. To cool down… 

But because bitter is so detoxifying, purifying, releasing, our bodies aren’t naturally drawn to that flavor. Instead, we are drawn to the taste that gives us strength and emotional ease, requisite qualities for our itinerant ancestors. What is that taste? You guessed it – sweet, of course. That is why we crave sweet tastes when we feel weak, physically or emotionally.

Interestingly, the deeper tissues in your body love sweet too, so Ayurveda has evolved formulas to combine the bitter taste with the sweet in order to drive the medicinal benefits of bitter into your deepest inner workings, where it can clean you out and power you up.

So after I took one bite of the salad, I was embarrassed. But on the second bite, I knew just what it needed: Something sweet.

thai dressing-watermarked

almond butter dressing

Rice noodles were added, and the fix is delicious. It’s a sweet, summer noodle salad with much less cabbage now. I did keep the name Thai Cabbage Salad as I was going for a new way to enjoy that fabulously heat reducing, pitta-balancing, heart-healthy crisp purple brassica, that turns so lusciously pink when “quick fermented” and marinated in vinegar.

Feel free to use what you have on hand. For instance, if you don’t have coconut vinegar then use rice. Just know that coconut vinegar has a sweetness to it so it needs to be replaced with another mild vinegar. The ever more popular Apple Cider Vinegar would be too strong.

If your market doesn’t sell Persian cucumbers, use your favorites. Persian cucumbers have a thinner and less bitter skin, and it’s not waxy like the “regular ol” cucumbers. With a lovely economy of seeds, Persians are crispy without being watery, too. I only use these nowadays, but if you can’t find them, use the larger cukes and remove the seedy middle.

You can also replace the almond butter with another favorite nut butter. Peanut butter would be standard in Thai cooking, but I prefer almond butter for health and taste. With only 2 tablespoons, it gives a mild sweetness. You can certainly add another spoonful or two if you want to accentuate that nutty taste. Add another spoon of the soba water too for consistency.

You might like to add more garlic if you like pungency. On that note, I didn’t add any red pepper – which all true Thai dishes would include. But this is a summer salad, and summer is a season to reduce heat, especially internal heat. If you are feeling the heat these days, skip it. It doesn’t need it. But if you are “down under,” bravely trying a mostly raw salad in winter, or if you are one who generally runs cool with a slower metabolism, then by all means feel free to add a dash or two of your best red pepper flakes.

Finally, a true Thai dressing would have ginger. Again, it didn’t need it for taste, but if you are Vata, certainly add ginger – fresh or ground – and lots of it. In fact, if you are Vata, don’t bother cooling the noodles. Just toss it all together with the noodles freshly drained and enjoy it warm.

It takes no time to prepare, but be sure to get your cabbage in the vinegar for a quick ferment at least 4 hours before serving. One final note: I love using cilantro lately as a salad leaf, so I just trim away the stems. It’s fast and easy and it makes a more beautiful salad.

thai cabbage salad
Thai Cabbage Salad

1 cup purple cabbage, sliced thin
1/4 cup coconut vinegar
1 package rice or buckwheat (soba) noodles
a few handfuls of your favorite summer lettuce, torn
4 small cucumbers, semi peeled (persian cucumbers are my favorite)
2 spring onions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, stems trimmed away
2 handfuls of sunflower seeds
black and white sesame seeds
a dash of pink salt
Optional: fresh cracked black pepper

Dressing

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons soba noodle water
1 teaspoon gluten free tamari
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lime

I run the purple cabbage through my spiralizer to slice it thin. Whatever way is best for you, slice it very thin. In the morning, or the night before, place the cabbage in a bowl and cover with vinegar. Set aside. If overnight, set in fridge.

When you are ready to prepare your salad, prepare the noodles according to the instructions on the package. Drain, reserving a bit of the water for you dressing. Put the noodles in a bowl with ice and set in your refrigerator to cool.

In your salad bowl, pour your cabbage with vinegar, and add the rest of the salad ingredients.

Make the dressing by gently warming the coconut oil with the garlic. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, stir in the almond butter. Allow that to warm thoroughly for a minute or two, then add the soba noodle water and whisk well. Take off the heat.  Stir in the tamari first and then the olive oil. Add more soba water to thin and get the consistency you need for a salad dressing. Pour over the salad and lightly toss. Finish by sprinkling the juice of one lime over the salad and again lightly tossing. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, and serve.

Yes, taste and adjust. My new motto for life.

tossing salad

The bright fuchsia and life-announcing green of this salad is so gorgeous. They were my favorite colors as a teenager so it was a perfect salad to celebrate the close of our week at camp, where all of us were reminded of our years as teens. At our Yoga and Ayurveda Camp for girls, we hope to make those years powerful, heart-centered and affirming by giving life mastery skills to our upcoming teens.

At the end of camp, the older girls posted to our Camp blog a photo essay, and later a “music video” of their week. But it was accidentally uploaded here on my food blog instead of here. I apologize for that confusion.

sophia camp

Update

While I was busy with Camp and visitors, I found myself deeply enjoying the beauty of summer. In addition to lots of fresh, cooling salads, I’ve also enjoyed taking this to summer parties and serving visiting friends a gluten-free adaptation of these for breakfast.

Meanwhile, I promised a summer of giveaways and now I have a great one for you: The Sublime Restaurant Cookbook. It’s from a Vegan restaurant in Fort Lauderdale where we stopped overnight last Spring to hop on a cruise to teach Yoga and Ayurveda to healthy food lovers. The cookbook is inspiring, and the recipes are mostly very user-friendly for home cooks. Just leave a comment below. We will pick randomly by week’s end.

How have you spent your summer? What’s been your favorite meal this season?

I am grateful to you for reading my blog. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. Thanks for being a health lover, which is really a life lover, which is exactly what our world needs right now. So thank you for the love in you that every day makes the world a better place.

The Summer Six: Cool Foods for a Cool Summer

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!

aloe water photo by monique feil Aloe

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.

  • One of my favorite smoothies, this Green Goddess Morning Glory, features aloe as a key ingredient.

  • 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.

burdock_1

Burdock

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 detox juice

Cilantro

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.

coconut

Coconut

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.

Cucumber Mint

Cucumber

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.

Red Danedelion

Dandelion

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.

Namaste!

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. 

Coconut Mango Lime Cobbler

Mango Coconut CobblerLately I’ve been shaking my head a lot. How is it that inspiration happens? How is it that the perfect thing presents itself right in front of you at just the right time? How, for instance, did Amy Chaplin‘s Vegan Peach Cobbler appear in my Instagram feed just when I was getting back into the kitchen to prep my Ayurvedic Summer Cleanse? I hadn’t even heard of her…

But it was divine that it did, because it set off a chain of creative reactions in our summer kitchen, and this adaptation is one result: a Coconut Lime Mango Cobbler that applies Ayurvedic principles while staying true to Amy’s genius.

By God’s grace, I whisper while shaking my head. By God’s grace there is an Amy Chaplin, a summer kitchen – a summer at all, with its fruits of berries, peaches, mango,there’s a fabulously wonderful family, and friends like Annemarie Brown who show up at just the right moment, bearing their own magnitude of gifts, and with whom to share mother nature’s Ojas, and life’s illuminating grace.

mango cobbler

mango lime coconut cobbler

I am not saying this will be in our summer cleanse, as we avoid sugar. But Ayurveda does say that maple syrup is okay for summer, good for Pitta dosha, and restorative when we overheat. In fact, some of Ayurveda’s most staple formulas call for jaggery, honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar as anupana, meaning as a carrier to help deliver the medicine.

I guess you could say then, that the very little bit of so-called healthy coconut sugar added to this cobbler carries the medicine of love, because nature’s gifts of mango, coconut, maple syrup, lime, the cardamom flower, how is that anything but love reaching out to you, saying yes to you, saying I am life, I surround you, and I am everywhere loving you. Have you seen the way mangoes just drop from the tree at the very moment you pass by?

vegan cobbler

healthy mango coconut cobbler

Coconut Lime Mango Cobbler
adapted from Amy Chaplin’s Peach Cobbler
Serves 8-10

Filling

3 medium sized mangos, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces
2 T maple syrup
3 T arrowroot powder
2 t vanilla extract
1 T lime juice
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t cardamom
pinch of pink salt

Topping

1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
1 t fresh lime juice
2 1/2 c coconut flour
3/4 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cardamom
1/2 c coconut sugar
1/4 t pink or sea salt
1/3 c melted extra virgin coconut oil
2 T maple syrup

In a small bowl, combine the almond milk and lime juice and set aside. It will separate, curdle, clot, or as Amy charmingly says, “clabber.”

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix all the filling ingredients together and stir until the arrow root is completely dissolved.  Pour this filling into an 8×11 baking dish and spread evenly.

In a medium bowl, sift together the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and cardamom. Add coconut sugar and salt and stir well. Melt the coconut oil, and work into the flour mixture until it is completely moistened. Stir in the clabbered almond milk and maple syrup. Crumble over the mango and bake for 25 minutes, until the fruit bubbles and the top lightly browns.

My family loved it for breakfast with fresh blueberries, bananas and greek yogurt. In the afternoon, it would be terrific with coconut cream. Drizzle with maple syrup if you like that extra it of sweetness, and be sure to use fresh mangoes to get that juicy, syrupy filling, that so delightfully balances the light crunch of the clabbered cobble. It is truly the taste of summer.

beauteous mango cobbler

cobbler breakfast for Mo

Please enjoy this succulent summer dessert ~ and then come join me for our 2015 Ayurvedic Summer Cleanse. It’s only 5 days, and is offered by donation this year – making it easier and more accessible for all people everywhere to be happy and free (or at least to join one of my seasonal Cleanses). All the details are here.

Continuing our summer giveaways, please leave a comment below and I will randomly pick one person to enroll in my summer cleanse, no donation required.  I love hearing from you – you are part of our circle of creativity, inspiration, grace – the divine synchronicity. So tell us, in what ways is summer loving you?

I hope summer is loving you good. And let me know what you think of the Cobbler.

Namaste!

Vegan Sushi

summer vegan sushi
Summer is definitely here. The children are out of school, the weather is heating up, we are outdoors every day, and our little island is overrun with tourists- reminding us how lucky we are to live here in this blessed village by the sea.

Inspired by Chef Joann, the all-star caterer for our Sophia Camp Benefit Fundraisers, I thought I’d try a Vegan version of sushi, and now this is one of my favorite summer lunches. It works well for picnics as it is an easy pack, and it’s been a favorite at parties. You can make it with anything, even almond butter and banana, so it’s a child pleaser too, especially if you involve them in choosing their own ingredients and rolling their own rolls.

Picnic Meals-Vegan Sushi

Vegan Sushi-Collard Rolls

Vegan Sushi Roll

You can do so much with this. You could julienne a cucumber, slice an avocado, grate zucchini, add vibrancy with red or yellow pepper, replace the chard with any fresh, favorite green, spoon in some hummus, stack some rice – really it is all according to your own taste, creativity and local, seasonal availability.

Vegan Sushi
makes 4 servings

4 Collard Leaves
2 Carrots
2 Chard leaves
1 small handful of Sun Sprouts
Bamboo skewers

Optional, any or all: 
2-3 Basil leaves
1 small handful Cilantro
a pinch of Dill

Aioli
2 T Vegan Mayonnaise
1 t Dijon Mustard
1 clove Garlic, finely minced, or 1/2 t garlic powder
1 t fresh Lemon juice
Sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes
Pink Salt & fresh cracked Black Pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and red pepper flakes until it is well mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Grate the carrots. Stack chard leaves and roll them up tight. Slice the leaves widthwise into narrow pieces to create long thin strips. Slice through the length to make smaller strips. Do the same with the basil and then finely chop the Cilantro.

Lay the carrots, chard and sprouts out in tight rows lengthwise on your collard leaf. Add another tight, thin row of herbs. Fold one side of your collard in and begin to roll. Pull your vegetables in close as you roll to keep it tight. Once it is rolled, take a very sharp knife and cut them into “sushi rolls.” Gently pierce the collard with your skewer and drive it through the roll to hold it all together. The skewer then becomes your utensil for serving and dipping. Serve with the aioli, and enjoy with a refreshing rose fennel tea.

Vegan Sushi

vegan sushi-collard rolls

Since summer is Pitta season, raw food is generally okay at lunchtime when our digestive fires are strongest. My digestion still needs help, though, with raw food in any season, thus the mustard, lemon, garlic, and red pepper as digestive aids. Here are some suggestions to tailor this meal according to your own digestive strength ~

Vata: Lightly sauté the carrot and greens with minced ginger and a dash of Tamari to soften. Replace red pepper with a sprinkle of powdered ginger in the aioli.
Pitta: Omit the garlic and red pepper in the aioli. Try fennel powder instead, adding small amounts at first and increasing to taste.
Kapha: Use both fresh and powdered garlic and be generous with the red and black pepper. You might enjoy ginger tea with your meal, or chew on a stick of ginger soaked in lemon just prior to lunch.

raw vegan sushi-aioli dipping sauce

I loved your comments on my last post on rice. You shared so much of your heart, and often your family history. Since it is such fun to hear from you and to give, I’ve decided to make this the summer of giveaways. This time it is a book – Chef AJ’s Unprocessed with over 100 healthy and gluten-free recipes. Just comment below and let us know what you are loving for summer meals, and we will randomly pick a name to receive it.

Thank you & Namaste!

Eat Rice: An Imperial Dish

imperial rice

In my early twenties I had a friend whose motto was “Eat Rice.” After having lived and travelled through Asia, he was convinced that rice is not only the key to physical and emotional wellbeing, but that rice-eating societies are more peaceful. His theory was: Eat rice for peace.

Later, he opened a Thai restaurant in SoHo, in New York City. Its name, Kin Khao, means “eat rice.”  It was a fabulously successful restaurant; so much so, that he opened two more Asian restaurants, Kelley & Ping and Bop, each more successful than the last – and all with rice, and rice culture, at their base.

healing rice

Two summers ago, while visiting my friend Phoebe at her family’s home on Lake Como, one of the children woke up one morning feeling under the weather. Suddenly, from the women there was a chorus of “Mangia bianco!” Or was it “Manga in bianco”? Either way, this young girl, knowingly repeated, “Devo mangiare in bianco.”

Now, I had the good fortune to live in Italy and learn the language at one immensely beautiful time in my life. But I didn’t know what they were talking about. Phoebe explained, “The Italians believe that when you are sick, you should only consume foods that are white, as in rice, chicken, white fish, an apple, plain crackers or bread.”

This article (in Italian) explains it in detail, with an accompanying photo that cites: Riso, classico esempio di piatto per la dieta in bianco; or “Rice, a classic example of a meal according to the white diet.”

ariven rice

Then, last month my husband and I were teaching at Shakti Fest. I love to meet people there and learn about their reasons for attending. It usually reveals the passion of their heart, and causes a sweet soul exchange. This year, I visited with an Indian sage named Nandhi who surprised me with his vision for a more compassionate world.

Did you know that once cows are past child-bearing years they are no longer “useful” for their milk and often then tossed on the streets in India? (I don’t know what we do with them here. I shudder to think.)

Nandhi and a sustainable farming engineer friend of his have begun a collective in India,  where they gather these olds cows and allow them to roam free on the pasture. Not only is it a great humanitarian act, it is beneficial to the farm, as cow dung is one of the best fertilizers there is!

rishikesh cow

Nandhi’s project is called Ariven. The “Ariven Vision” creates, assists and collaborates to build global sanctuaries for retired animals, cows and oxen in particular. Each sanctuary grows biodynamic organic ‘intelligent’ vegetarian food while sharing its produce with the hungry. Their goal is to emulate this full-cycle sustainability for farms, while feeding hungry people worldwide. And it all has to do with rice!

Ariven’s crop is Imperial Rice. According to their website, “Around 1,500 years ago, during the rule of the Chera and Chola dynasties of Southern India, Imperial Rice was considered a royal food exclusive only to the royal family. And now it is available to all.”

So, maybe rice really is a way to peace.

rice and yogurt

rice bowl with asparagus

Rice is, of course partners well with any vegetable, and all legumes. Combining rice, beans and greens is a great fortifying/detoxifying dish, as all ancient people knew. But rice on its own or with a bit of yogurt makes a light, satisfying, anytime meal. You can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and especially any time you are focused on healing, or just want to give your digestive system a rest.

Healing Rice

Rice, 1 cup
Yogurt, half a cup
Black Pepper, fresh cracked to taste
Mint, a handful, torn

Optional: a handful of sesame seeds

Make the rice according to directions on the packet. Once it is done, spoon your serving into a bowl. Stir in the yogurt, crack some fresh pepper over it, add sesame  seeds optionally, and sprinkle with fresh mint. Tuck in and enjoy slowly.

rice bowl - healing foods

“White food” is usually not bursting with flavors. Instead it is calming. It satisfies the body’s need for nurturance, while going easy on digestion. Rice, in particular, has loads of B vitamins, along with magnesium, manganese, and selenium, so it is calming not just to taste but it’s calming to the mind, nervous system, an upset belly, and maybe, just maybe, an entire organism, even a community, a society, a world?

Rice is considered by Ayurveda to be excellent for Pitta Dosha, as it is cooling (remineralizing). It is also great for Vata Dosha as it is considered one of the prime sweet tastes, and therefore grounding, tonifiying, stabilizing.

People have been eating rice for thousands of years. It is a healing, healthy, nourishing grain. Even Paleo people ate rice, which has been demonstrated by archaeologists who have discovered tools for grinding and cooking. I have rice about once a week. I like it as a light, digestible source of energy – which is one of the reasons it is so good when you are sick.

Curious about rice as a healing food? Dr. Linda Kennedy’s Top 10 Health Benefits of Rice is a quick overview. Confused about rice? Wondering about White v. Brown? Here Ryan Andrews, RD explains.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 11.06.49 PM

eat rice

I have 2 bags of Ariven Imperial Rice, and will mail one each to two commenters randomly picked from below. So tell me, do you like rice? If so, why? What is your favorite rice dish?

Since every purchase of Ariven Imperial Rice supports the Ariven Community, an NPO with a vision for global sanctuaries for retired work animals and sustainable farming globally, I wish I could send one bag to each of you. But if you do believe in rice, peace and a world united by sustainable living practices, I invite you to write Ariven and ask for a sample. Or, join us at Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree this September to pick up a free bag at their booth and learn for yourself about the Ariven vision. It is a beautiful dream of a world where nourishment, bounty and peace prevail, for all.

Eat Rice? Make peace. Jai Ma!

Mother’s Nourishment: Recipes and Relief

Joshua Tree
Photo: Juliet Charvet for National Geographic

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

What is Shakti?

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Andrea Bemis, Dishing Up the Dirt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mother's Day Recipes

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

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

Jai Ma!