Happy Hanukkah: Forest Feast’s Latkes

I love December. I love the lights and the darkness. I love the holidays, and I love Hanukkah. I also love latkes, and I love playing with healthy ways to enjoy this holy comfort food. So I turned to an expert: Erin of the Forest Feast, whose latkes are gorgeous, inventive and so good I could make them all winter long. Here are two favorites courtesy of her blog.

forest feast's hanukkah latkes

forest feast hannukah latkes

forest feast hannukah candles

Erin goes on to write, “Today is the first day of Hanukkah! It’s one of my favorite Jewish holidays because you get to light candles every night. Here’s a little round-up of favorite Forest Feast Hanukkah recipes: Cauliflower Potato Latkes, Sweet potato Latkes from The Forest Feast cookbookSufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) and DIY Citrus Menorah.”

All Photos by Erin Gleeson for The Forest Feast. Thanks, Erin!  

May the eternal flame of peace always shine bright and
may you always light the world with the love in your heart!
Om Shanti! Om Shalom!

Do you like Latkes? What’s your favorite way to make them?

Deep Sleep Tonic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Namaste!

Photos and Illustrations: Getty Images

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

How to Make Ghee

Ayughritam   Ghee is Life

What is Ghee?

The marvelous people at Ancient Organics tell us ~  “In India, ghee has always been a sacred and celebrated symbol of auspiciousness, nourishment and healing; especially in the daily rituals of cooking and worship.”

Ghee is a premium cooking oil celebrated for its taste, nutritional benefits, and medicinal qualities. Ayurveda, the ancient medical science of India, recognizes ghee as an essential part of a balanced diet, and considers it to be the best fat one can eat. Ghee is the very essence of butter; the end result of a long, slow, careful clarification process that removes all the moisture, milk solids and impurities. The absence of milk solids and water in ghee make it completely shelf stable. Ghee has one of the highest flash points (485ºF) which make this oil the best choice for high temperature cooking.”

Making it is simple, but if you’d rather purchase, contact Ancient Organics and see if they can ship to you.

Thanks to my extraordinary husband, Bhavaji who made the video and really is my every day bucket of ghee.

Namaste! 

5 for Fall

Full Moon at Sunrise this Morning

My list of Five Best Practices for Fall

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

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

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

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

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

Viparita Karani Mudra

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

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How do you relax and renew?

Help inspire all of us by leaving a comment below.

October Nights: San Diego Yesterday Evening

Rest & Nourish for Autumn

During the delightful season of Autumn, according to Ayurveda, strength, energy and vibrant health are maintained by increasing the elements of Fire and Water in ourselves to counter the increase of the Air element in the Fall environment. We increase this “fire” by eating warm, cooked meals, seasoned with sweet, pungent spices, and including sour tastes as well.

But wait, before we go any further, please remember your Dosha and the role it plays in all seasons. For a refresher, see my Post “What’s Your Dosha, Baby?

Sour taste is the best to warm Vata as it combines fire and water, the two primary elements that balance Vata.  Fermented foods give the sour taste. Examples are capers, olives, pickles, miso, tempeh, tamari, sauer kraut and other cultured vegetables, kefir, sour cream, crème fraiche, yogurt, buttermilk, aged cheeses especially from goat or sheep’s milk, and wine. Cheese and wine, however, are high in histamines so avoid them if you are intolerant or have seasonal allergies.

The pungent taste, composed of fire and air, is more drying and  therefore  should  be  used  in  moderation. For Vata conditions, use “sweet spices” as the sweetness balances the drying quality of the “fire” in the spice.  Excellent Autumn spices include ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, Himalayan salt (in small amounts), cumin, coriander, fenugreek, ajwan. Ginger is the ideal spice for Vata. It is gentle on the belly, yet gives a powerful boost to the digestive fires.

Most aromatic compounds in spices are lipophilic, which means they tend to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats far better than in water.  Sautéing in ghee or oil, therefore, not only enhances fragrance, but also extracts flavor and healing properties to the oil, which can then be dispersed throughout the food efficiently. The oil in the food then carries the potency of the spices to the deeper tissues of your body for optimal efficacy.

Remember spices are like medicine. When used properly they can nurture, restore, and heal body and mind.

Heating your spices and cooking your food in moderate amounts of ghee or oil increases the Ojas, or “water” element in the body that gives longevity, endurance, immune strength, and a reparative, rejuvenative action that combats stress.

Nourishing Ojas is also gained from foods that are sweet in taste, including root vegetables, fruits such as apples, pears, figs, dates, grapes and raisins, all grains, dairy products including cheese (paneer, cottage cheese are light and easy to digest), cream and yogurt, nuts and seeds.

Cooking your food is essential this season to warm the body. It is also like giving a little rest to your digestive fire ~ all of which is a great reminder that Autumn is a time to turn within, to warm and to rest.

Observe nature and learn from her. These days she is conserving her energy. How can you follow her example: root in, enjoy stillness, and quietly move through life with a gentle stability that conserves energy?

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Photos: Getty Images

Channa Masala

Chick Peas in Masala Sauce

My husband Bhava and I are going to India in February/March to teach at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh. A group of wonderful, heart-centered Yogis are coming with us for a twelve-day Retreat, including 4 days of Ayurvedic treatments on the banks of Ma Ganga.

It is such an honor to take people “home” to the source of our practice, to meet wise sages and saintly swamis, to bathe in the healing waters of the Ganges, and to dwell for a time in the pure possibility of such enduring peace.

For this opportunity we feel humbled, blessed and deeply grateful.  Jai Guru!

This past weekend, we hosted a dinner for those who will be traveling with us. We wanted to give them an idea of what to expect and help them to prepare, both physically and emotionally. With my most fabulous husband’s help, I prepared our favorite dishes from a typical meal they might enjoy in India.

Fortunately, the dinner was appreciated. Two of our guests even said that they would become vegetarian if they could eat like this everyday. I am not sure if they knew just how that motivates me! Since I stopped eating meat at age 16, I promised I would never proselytize, but who does not see the reason in Paul McCartney’s statement ~

“If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”
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So, when a flurry of requests erupted at the end of the evening, of course ~ despite an impossibly full week ~ I enthusiastically said, “Yes, I’ll post the recipes.” I love cooking, I love blogging, but mostly, I love it when people taste and feel the love that is in their food. So, yes!

We enjoyed a number of dishes, in the Indian Style. Of them, Channa Masala is the simplest and quickest to prepare. Since we are soon to depart, rather than typing it out, I encourage you to try this great recipe,  similar to the one we made, from my favorite Ayurveda recipe book,  Eat, Taste, Heal.

eat taste heal
You can use any Korma and Garam Masala spice mixtures. If you can’t find Korma, use Curry powder. If you can’t find Garam Masala, just make it by mixing cinnamon, coriander, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper: a little more of the first three, a little less of the last three.

You can serve Channa Masala with rice, or with Chappatti or Naan. If you can’t find these Indian breads at your local market try an Italian flat bread. Garlic was the favorite with our guests!

I hope you enjoy this protein-packed meal.

To your Good Health ~ Namaste!

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I invite you to join me, Friday January 28th, from 6-9 pm, for a class on “Stoking the Fires: Ayurvedic Cooking in the Winter Season” to learn to prepare at home fresh Garam Masala and Korma Powder used in these recipes.

Sadhvi Bhagawati with Children at the Ashram
Sadhvi Bhagawati with Children

For a great close-up on what to expect in India, please read our beloved friend Sadhvi Bhagawati’s article, “India: Let It Inside You.”

Linda McCartney

Paul McCartney’s wife Linda was an original food pioneer who turned her passion into a food brand. Her family has maintained her company and a website where you can find her recipes for wholesome cooking. With so many delicious recipes like these available today, you might succeed in convincing your friends, too!