Breaking Bread When Your Heart is Broken

Sarah Britton's Life Changing Loaf
Sarah Britton’s Life Changing Loaf

Our little village, recently lampooned by James Corden, is enjoying rain today. In fact, we are more than enjoying it. We are all breathing a collective sigh of relief.

This happens every year around this time. We almost hold our breaths for rain. Never more so than this year – after all the fires across our state, after an especially hot summer, after three years of drought – rain is something we celebrate.

life altering loaf

I feel the same thing in my heart. Rainy and grey. Ever since I received a certain email three weeks ago, everything is upside down. The lights are out. I feel cold and soaked. Only there wasn’t a drought, it wasn’t too hot, the only fires were those of love, and this is a rain that doesn’t let up.

So what to do on a rainy, autumn Sunday when you have a broken heart, and you don’t feel like doing or eating anything, but you know you must?

Try out Sarah Britton’s Life-Changing Loaf, of course, and because your life is so altered, alter it according to the ingredients in your pantry, and then call it the Life-Altering Loaf, for times when nothing is what it seemed to be.

life-altering-loaf

The Life-Altering Loaf of Bread, adapted from Sarah Britton’s My New Roots

1 cup gram (also called mung bean flour) or chickpea flour
1 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup flax seeds
½ cup hazelnuts
1/4 c poppy seeds
2 T chia seeds
4 T psyllium seed husks (3 T if using psyllium husk powder)
1 t baking soda
1 t fennel seeds
1 t dried sage
1 t fine grain sea salt
1 T maple syrup
3 T melted coconut oil or ghee
1½ cups water
optional: 1/2 cup raisins

In a loaf pan combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix well until everything is completely soaked. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. It’s done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Allow it cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important).

Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Serve toasted with almond butter, cinnamon and honey for breakfast, your own homemade farmer’s cheese, yogurt or kraut with lunch, or slathered with a favorite nut butter and apple slices bananas for an after-school snack. It is also good with a rainy day soup like this one i wrote about in my very first post ever.

life-altering loaf of bread

If you want to know why this bread is good for you be sure to read Sarah’s post. She is a great writer, photographer, and recipe creator so her blog is very worth a visit. My version swaps out oats for bean flour for even more of a high protein, high fiber, gosh darn this is so good for you kind of comfort food.

My take on why it’s good for you? Because breaking bread is holy. It reminds me that all things break. Bread, hearts, relationships. But that ultimately  all things are shared. Even those breaks. Especially those breaks.

So I invite you to make this, and then break bread with a friend. More than anything I made this bread so I could share it with people I love. Because right now, as much as ever, I am getting by with a lot of help from my friends.

[Oh, and because life is so altered right now, I am switching things up. Instead of my annual Ayurvedic Autumn Cleanse, I am offering 10 on 10 – 10 recipes for your nourishing at-home Autumn Cleanse sent to you on October 10, for free.  That’s next Saturday, so if you sign up now you’ll give yourself time to prepare.]

Thank you always.
Love always.
Namaste! 

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.

~

Photo: Andrea Bemis, Dishing Up the Dirt

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

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

~

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

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

~

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

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

~

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

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

~

Mother's Day Recipes

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

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

Jai Ma! 

Spring in a Bowl: A Simple Six-piece Salad

Spring Salad

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

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

six ingredient salad

A Simple Six Ingredient Salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

spring salad

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

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

Spring Cleanse

April 18
Hello Life Lovers and Spring Blossoms,

This morning I put together this little video for you with two simple recipes for Spring ~

1. Ginger Lemon Honey Tea – to “melt the winter freeze,” i.e. to dissolve stagnation, burn toxins, stimulate circulation, and encourage a balanced flow of Prana.

2. Ginger Lemon Black Pepper Matchsticks – to light the fire of digestion, and inspire healthy metabolism.

Both these recipes are included in my 10 day Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse, along with lots of lovely, delicious nourishing recipes, tonics and self care practices to help you align with the season, and feel your best all the time.

It’s easy. I’ll guide you through it. You can do everything I offer, or pick and choose what suits you best – because nature is abundant, and you are nature, so anything you do will reward you abundantly.

You can learn all about my 10 day seasonally bountiful Spring Cleanse here.

Or, if you are ready to register, you can do that here.

I am so grateful that so many people who have done my cleanses in the past keep returning season after season. If you are one of my wonderful “returning cleansers,” I have a generous discount to thank you for joining us again. You can find that discounted registration link on our Facebook Group page (or email me).

Please leave a comment below to let me know if you have done my cleanse and how it’s made you feel, or to let me know what you are looking for in a Spring Cleanse. I read every comment and will reply.

Thank you & Namaste!

P.S. You can purchase Triphala here if you don’t find it at your local market.

~

April 22
Namaste!

I am in Delhi, filming a series on Ayurvedic Seasonal Cleanses (they are that delicious!). While there, I put together two videos  for you with recipes and tips for Spring. This is my second one on the power of air to help us cleanse, with one very special formulation that encourages proper flow.

~

April 25
In my first two videos on Ayurvedic Spring Cleansing, we talked about the positive power of the fire and air elements. The third element, water, is the dominant element in Spring. Too much water element in you gives Kapha, the dosha, or bio-energy of stagnation that can lead to excess weight, spring allergies, brain fog, lethargy, and chronic illnesses from there. In Spring Cleansing we seek to reduce and balance the water element – but we also use the positive power of water to hydrate, lubricate, and moisten dry tissues to liberate toxic buildup and wash the body clean. There are two key ways we do this. Ghee is one, and above I show you how to make it. If you join our Spring Cleanse we will be doing both.  Love and joyful Spring blessings to you!

Kichari Burger

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

kich burrito Kichari Burrito

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

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

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

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

Part 1

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

Robyn Field’s Classic Kichari

Step 1 

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

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

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

Step 4
1 T ghee
1/2 t cumin seeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stir everything together. Season to taste.

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

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

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

Namaste! 

kichari vegan burger

Nickel Free + Curried Sweet Potato Soup

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

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

With Vandana Shiva

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

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

herbs marked

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

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

Staggering, isn’t it?

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

coconut curry sweet potato soup

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

Here is the list of foods one can eat ~

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

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

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

Joani’s Ferments 2: Beet Kvass

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

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

how to ferment anything

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

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

beets-stamped

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

beet kvass - stamped

Joani’s Beet Kvass
Makes 8-12 servings

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

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

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

make your own cheese

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

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

beets in a row

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

Namaste! 

Coconut Nectar + Rose, Saffron, Nutmeg, Lime

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

Ojas. Soma. Bhakti. How do we translate these words, or convey the experience, the deep knowing, that get up and dance urge, the sense of soaring wings lifting you to the sun, the feeling of sailing through light’s orchestral silence?

We think we know what they mean: Ojas. Soma. Bhakti. But we don’t really have words in English to properly translate. These are words not pointing to a concept or an analysis or even something that can be shared by the mind that reasons, but rather to experiences shared by what we might call “the heart” – the place where we are one and where we are all capable of feeling exquisite exaltations, a divine ecstasy; and in that feeling, in utter silence, way out beyond words or word-compiling, we know, we feel it together, we feel deeply connected, and darn it if it doesn’t just make you love everyone and everything because in this place, in this experience, everything is love and it all just sings with light and delight.

Coconut Bliss

You could say that Ojas is the biology of love, that Soma is the principle of love in the world, and that Bhakti is the nectar of divine love in the heart.

But then, it just sounds like more distraction. Better, I think, to translate the words into a feeling, to offer an experience – a food experience, for example.

And that, dear friends, is this. A Coconut Cream you can have for dessert or serve with dessert, or enjoy for breakfast, or even make up as a tonic – a sleep tonic, an anti-anxiety tonic, or even a peace tonic. It’s so good my husband calls it “the Nectar of Love.”

coconut cream

A few notes first: I prefer fresh young coconuts, and now that I have a Coco Jack they are easy and quick to open. You can watch a demonstration here. Some markets will open your coconut for you, so please ask your local. If you do not have fresh coconuts, look for Let’s Do Organic Coconut Cream and follow the instructions, or look for Coconut Cream in a jar (not can) like this one from Tropical Traditions. Just know that the texture may not be as creamy.

Rose water can be purchased from the market, of course, but if you know your roses are organically grown, it is far more wonderful and delicious to make your own. Just boil up some water, then let it cool a minute or two. Meanwhile, put a handful of rose petals in a mug, add a few crystals of coconut sugar, and pour in half to a cup of water. Let it stand for at least fifteen minutes, swirling it every so often. Strain, and drink what you don’t use. Rose water is an excellent tonic.

how to open a coconut + how to make rose tea

coconut manna stamped

The Nectar of Love: Coconut Cream + Rose, Saffron, Nutmeg, Lime
A Potion for Cultivating Bliss

1 c Coconut Water
1 c Coconut Meat
1 T Coconut Manna
1 t Coconut Oil
1-2 t Rose Water
1 Medjool Date
4-5 strands of Saffron
a pinch of Nutmeg, freshly grated
a light dusting of Cinnamon, Cardamom
1 Lime

Once you have your coconut water and meat, or your two cups of cream, put all the ingredients in a high speed blender and mix on high for a minute or two. Taste and adjust spices. If you would like it thinner so it is more of a tonic to sip, add purified water or more coconut water to desired consistency. Pour into your serving glass, and garnish with a slice of lime. It will serve 2-4, if you don’t tuck in first.

For more of a dessert, let it rest in your refrigerator an hour or so where it will thicken up. My friend Wendy gifted us kumquats from her citrus garden, so I added those for winter color. First I cut them open by scoring top to bottom and then marinating them overnight in honey. I added the lime slices to that too, as it makes the rind edible and the honey runny.

It is best served within 12 hours of making, so if you have any left over, enjoy it for breakfast in the morning. It is great with blueberries, and probably also with raspberries, bananas, or peaches.

This will do the work of a Deep Sleep Tonic, and judging by the popularity of this post, it seems the medicinal benefits of love’s nectar is much needed in our world today. I prefer this Coconut Cream as it is more sattvic, but try them both to see which gives you more of the biology of love.

Recipe for Coconut Cream with Blueberries

Bhakti is love for love’s sake.

~Swami Sivananda

Bhakti is of the form of Supreme Love towards God. And it is of the nature of Nectar. By attaining which, human beings become perfect, immortal and fully contented.

~ Narada Bhakti Sutras 

Remember, God, to love us in a way
our souls can taste…

~St Teresa of Avila

rose petals: how to make rose tea

How do you celebrate love?

If you are one who likes chocolate as the taste of love, you will find heavenly and easy recipes here, here, herehere and here. Does smearing chocolate on your skin sound like a way to celebrate? If so, check out natural skin care expert Morgan Andersen’s Chocolate Rose Mask over on our Sophia Camp website.

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

rose salts + tea

Then, because I love her work so much, I am going over to Madesmith, the only place where you can find Briar’s Cardamom + Jasmine Butter to purchase this delicious body balm and have it sent direct to a reader as my Valentine’s Day gift.

cardamom jasmine butter

So there are two gifts. All you have to do is comment below so we know you are interested, and two names will be picked randomly. If you are picked, please note that we will need your address, and it will be shared with Briar or Madesmith so they can mail you your care love package. We will do that “behind the scenes,” of course.

Thank you. May you always know that you are Love and you are loved.
Namaste!  

Golden Milk: Sunshine in a Cup

Turmeric Root

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

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

Golden Milk made with fresh Turmeric root

Ayurveda is brilliant for its herbal wisdom, such as the benefits of turmeric – but even more so, for its genius in combining. Making dishes, tonics or formulas to create a balanced, whole, all-six-tastes intelligence that super charges healing is a unique forte in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s one of the many reasons I love it, because it is a science of relationships!

That is why this ancient and popular Ayurvedic recipe for Golden Milk is so effective – Ayurveda knows that turmeric’s potency is enhanced when its bitter taste is balanced by the sweet taste. Bitters help the body detoxify, while sweet increases the bio-availability to carry the medicinal qualities of bitters well into your deeper tissues.

gold milk

Can you hear the song? Mary Poppins was right – sweet does help the medicine go down, and be optimally effective.

Only when Ayurveda speaks of the sweet taste, it means foods that are naturally sweet, sometimes almost bland – like rice, wheat, potatoes, parsnips, milk, butter, but also delicious like bananas, berries, almonds, coconut.

Because it is so healthy, I add turmeric to ghee whenever I cook, and stir it into milk whenever making a tea or smoothie. In winter, on any given day, you will find in our kitchen a teapot full of steaming hot water colored deep yellow by generous slices of turmeric and ginger. But I would never have the tea on its own. There’s always some type of milk, usually coconut, and often a spoonful of ghee. For me, turmeric is just too light and drying without the heavy, unctuous, hydrating benefits of the sweet taste.

turmeric milk

If you look at traditional India, you see this medicinal relationship embedded in the cuisine: curries, yellow rice and golden milk are common in Indian kitchens, where golden milk was made fresh and served piping hot the minute anyone complained of a sore, an ache or an illness.

Last week I served it with goat’s milk to a friend, but I personally prefer it with homemade almond or coconut milk. What is it about Ayurveda and milk? You can read about Ayurveda’s love of dairy here, which is perhaps not what you think… Anyway, I give you both ways to make it – and hope you enjoy it, for goodness’ sake!

golden milk-turmeric and boiled full fat milk

Golden Milk
Serves 2

2 c fresh Milk
2 t Turmeric powder, or a 2-inch coin of fresh Turmeric root, peeled
A dusting of fresh cracked Pepper, or a small pinch of ground Cardamom, or both

Put the ingredients in saucepan. Whisk the milk gently while bringing to a gentle boil. Serve and drink warm.

Warning: Wear an apron. Turmeric stains! 

Dairy Free Golden Milk
Serves 2

2 t Turmeric powder or a 2-inch coin of fresh turmeric root, peeled
2 c fresh Almond milk* or Coconut Milk
2 t raw Honey, optional
1 t Ghee or Coconut oil, optional

Add the ingredients to a blender on high speed and mix for a few minutes to heat the drink. Enjoy it warm.

For Vata: Blend in a date and skip the honey. Add a shake of ginger and a dash of cardamom 
For Pitta: Replace the honey with maple syrup
For Kapha: Add generous shakes of ginger, black pepper and cinnamon

*How to Make Almond Milk
Makes about 2 cups

1 c raw Almonds
4 c Water
2-3 Medjool dates, chopped
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Himalayan Pink Salt

In two cups of water, soak the almonds overnight, for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 2 days. Drain and rinse. Pour your almonds in a high speed blender and cover with two cups of water. Slowly turn your blender from low to the highest speed and blend for two minutes. By the time you are done, it should be foamy and very well blended, with the almonds broken up into a fine meal. Pulse a bit longer if needed to get it completely smooth.

Place a nut bag or a generous strip of cheese cloth into a strainer and put the strainer over a large bowl, or a 1 quart Pyrex. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer. Lift the nut bag or cheese cloth and twist to squeeze all the liquid into the bowl.

Pour this liquid back into your blender and add the dates, vanilla and salt. Blend again on high speed until no bits of dates remain. Drink immediately, or store in an airtight jar up to two days in your refrigerator.

golden dreams - turmeric and almond milk

 

Turmeric is said to balance all doshas, be cleansing to the blood and lymph, helping to dissolve tumors and blood clots, improving circulation, promoting healthy menstruation, strengthening muscles, healing soft tissue injury, decongesting the liver, aiding in the digestion of sugar, fats, and oils, and supporting those with diabetes and hypoglycemia. (NCBI: Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin)

Since turmeric is such a hard worker, I leave you with a little food for thought ~

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.
Find the fun… and snap, the job’s a game!

And every task you undertake
becomes a piece of cake
A lark, a spree,
It’s very clear to see!”

~ Mary Poppins

cuppa gold

May all your days be golden ~
Namaste! 

Detox Dal: A Simple Winter Soup

winter detox soupJanuary used to be the hardest month. Back to school, back to work, back to cold, intense urban environments. Now January is this: Warm soups on lovely days. Writing. Researching. Planning. Walks on the beach. Morning prayers with the sunrise. Sitting by the fire in the evening. Meals with my beloved.

January. Slow. Mindful. Deep. Days of hope. Days of white: snow, skies, interior scapes. Days of spiced tea and hot soups.

Detox Dal Soup

This simple winter soup has been our favorite so far. Made with three basic ingredients: split mung bean, carrots and chard, it’s easy, the way January should be.

It’s easy to make, easy to digest, and easy to love.

split mung beans

detox dal on the stove

Be sure your mung beans are split, otherwise it will require soaking and a longer cooking time, and frankly it just never tastes as good. You can find them at any good Asian or Indian store, or you can order them online here.

A Wintry Dal
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 T ghee (be generous)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T vata spice mixture (see below)
1 t ginger powder
1 t curry powder
1 c SPLIT mung bean, rinsed and drained
4 c vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
4 small to medium sized carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
1 bunch chard, rinsed and loosely chopped
1 c water
1 T white miso

Seasoning: gf tamari or shoyu, extra virgin olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper
Optional: scallions, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cilantro, sage leaves

Instructions

Melt your ghee over a medium flame. Sweat the onions, then add the garlic and give it a swirl. Add your spices and swirl again, now for about a minute. Stir in the mung beans. Turn the heat to high, and slowly pour in the vegetable broth. Add the bay leaves. Bring it to a boil, cover and reduce heat.

Allow it to gently boil for about 25 minutes. Add the carrots. Stir and check your liquid levels. It might need another cup of water. If so, add now.

Cook for another 15 minutes and add the chard. Let it sit on top of the soup to steam. Cook until it wilts, about 5-10 more minutes. Stir the chard into the soup. Taste to check if the beans are cooked through. They will be soft if they are done.

When the beans are done, turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the miso, and mix in well.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Season with tamari or shoyu, and a generous splash of olive oil. Sprinkle with cilantro, chopped scallions, roasted seeds, and, optionally, a toasted sage leaf.

Enjoy!

Vata Spices
click to print

How well do you know your dals? When I was home visiting my mother recently she shared with me this article from the Chicago Tribune which is a great feast of delicious information about legumes, and how best to prepare. It’s worth a read for any travel, culture or culinary lover.

detox dal

This New Year, I have a brand new, wonderful, online course called New Year New You. It’s full of goodies and powerful tools to help you live your very best life, and shine your gorgeous light. So check it out and see if it resonates with you. If so, sign up quick. We begin this weekend.

If you comment below letting me know you are interested, you will be eligible for a 10% discount (even if you’ve already registered!). I’ll pick randomly tomorrow afternoon.

Again, I wish you a Happy New Year. May it be nourishing and bright.

Namaste!