Watermelon Sparkle

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Have you been feeling the heat? On those days when hot, hot, hot becomes a threat, try this refreshing, quenching, hydrating, nourishing, cooling, delightful “cocktail.” With its pretty pink sparkle, it’s also perfect for picnics or summer celebrations!

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My Mum texted yesterday to tell me she’s just finished up the remains left over from a family gathering we had last weekend. “Still delicious!” she wrote. So whip it up ahead of time, and keep it in the fridge. That way you will have it when you need it most. Apparently it will keep for a couple of days.

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You could also skip the sparkling water and just drink it as a smoothie.
watermelon smoothie

Watermelon Sparkle

Watermelon, 2.5 cups cubed
Cucumber, 1 inch peeled
Water, 1/4 cup
1 Lime, juiced
Mint, 5-6 fresh leaves
Cardamom, 1 pinch
Pink Salt, the teeniest tiniest pinch (optional)
Sparkling Water

Put all ingredients, except the sparkling water, in a blender and puree until completely liquified. Fill a glass halfway with this watermelon smoothie. Top up with sparkling water, garnish with a mint leaf, and enjoy.

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What’s your favorite way to keep cool in summer?

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Soup for Sophia

What do you serve for lunch at The Sophia Conference?

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After a huge morning of friendship, inspiration, art, poetry, yoga, contemplation, dance, music, beauty, laughter, sisterly sharing and divine feminine wisdom that is so whole-person, whole-earth, whole-span-of-existence, deep-down nourishing that you feel perfectly filled up in that satisfying, down-to-the-bones sort of way…

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How do you create a feast to follow Anne-Emilie Gold Cultivating the Voice of the Sacred Feminine

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Or Shannon Thompson of Shakti Rising leading women back to their “sacral truths,” remaining in that raw place long enough to heal the wounds of competition and betrayal, so we can join together as sisters, promising to honor, respect, protect, defend… and speak truth to one another.

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Sharing and releasing, laughing, loving and learning can be hungry work! How then create a bounty to warm and nourish beautiful bellies, and match the grace of the day?

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Last year’s Tuscan White Bean Soup was hearty, and especially suitable for the stormy day we had. But while that is a vegetarian soup, and utterly delicious, it is not vegan nor gluten-free. We had an alternative soup on hand, but were surprised by how many chose the alternative, and saddened to have a divide in our culinary experience when united is the very purpose of the day.

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So this year our Ayurvedic lunch would be vegan and gluten-free. Inspired by recipes found throughout this blog, and prepared with enormous, enormous help from Paige Sapp and Liscia DiGiacomo who poured great love and devotion into “all this yumminess,” and Georgia Ferrell whose detailed, attentive and fluid orchestration was priceless, we managed to serve a feast of replenishment. Hopefully, it inspired more divine realizations, authentic voicing, truth-telling and sacred connections.

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So what did we serve? Lunch centered around a Curried Vegetable Ragout, something my mother, appropriately for this occasion, calls Thanksgiving Harvest Stew. We made it Vegan by replacing the ghee with coconut oil, leaving out the Korma sauce (contains milk) and instead doubling up on the spices, adding chopped tomatoes and an additional cup of Coconut Milk (which we had fresh, as we were also making Coconut Yogurt and had coconuts galore).

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We also left out the yellow pepper and festive cranberries, adding instead heaps of zucchini, spinach, bok choy and chard, and garnishing it with toasted pepitas for a healthy crunch.

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We served it with hearty breads, gluten-free crackers, a variety of  Seasonal Salads,  Rosemary Roasted Vegetables, this Coconut Yogurt, a vegan Raita made with Coconut Yogurt, this Cilantro Pesto and a gorgeous bowl of Yam Puree.

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For dessert, it was a Fruit Compote with fresh Coconut Creme, organic, fair trade Chocolate of every shade, and Carolyn Kull’s I Am Awakening Raw Key Lime Pie, a recipe everyone wanted.

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Altogether it was a symphony of flavors, a rising harmony with a light, clean resolve. Much like the Sophia Conference itself: integrating, uplifting, energizing, satisfying.

I think food should be like that: a complement, a support, a reflection, a symphony even. For food, after all, is a love story.

I hope you will love this ~

Soup for Sophia

4 tbsp coconut oil
1 T curry powder
1  t ginger powder
1 t garam masala
1/4 t ground red pepper, preferably something rich like ancho or aleppo
1  yellow onion, chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic
1 potato, chopped into small pieces
4 carrots, diced into bite-size coins
2 celery stalks, diced
1 head cauliflower, broken into small pieces
1 lb. french beans, cut in thirds
1 zucchini, chopped into bite size pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch kale, torn into pieces
1 bunch collards, chard or bok choy, torn
1 bunch spinach
optional vegetables: broccolini, yellow crookneck squash, snap peas
2 heirloom tomatoes,  chopped and seeded
1 can organic coconut milk
salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or pecan pieces, toasted
optional: gluten free tamari, to taste

Clean and prepare all the vegetables. Melt oil in a large pot over medium low heat. Add spices and sauté for one minute. Stir in onion and cook until transparent. Add the garlic and stir.  Add the potato and sauté until its edges begin moving towards translucence. Stir in carrots and celery, and sauté another few minutes. Add cauliflower, french beans and zucchini. Stir thoroughly to coat all the vegetables.

Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low for five to ten minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, then add the greens. After 3-5 minutes mix in the coconut milk. Allow to simmer a few minutes so the flavors and juices merge. Season to taste.

Garnish with nuts or seeds, and serve warm with your favorite bread or crackers.

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Immense gratitude to Tara Eby of In-Sight Photography for these images that really helped capture the soul of Sophia. If you are interested in learning more about “Sophia” activities, or can help us move towards non-profit status, you are invited to visit  Sophia.

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Since “everyone” wanted the I Am Awakening Key Lime Pie recipe, I am giving away a copy of Cafe Gratitude’s I AM Gratitude Recipe Book  as a Sophia Gift. Please comment below. Let us know your favorite recipe for cultivating the divine feminine.  I’ll pick at random from commentors early next week.

P.S. Congratulations to Amy Steckdaub for winning the book. Fully deserved as you give us so much of your time and love in service to The Sophia Conference.

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Namaste!

 

Beauty Brew

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

Skin-Sational Tisane

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

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

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

What do you do to feel beautiful?

Summer Beans & Greens

Mint

I find it peaceful to write and so was relieved to finally have the time to write on Ayurveda & the Summer Season and get it published to my Blog. It is full of tips for maintaining balance in what is turning it out to be an especially hot season. You can find it here on the Seasons page.

Meanwhile, I had a great lunch yesterday that I also want to share, by way of a little explanation:

In both Spring and Summer I focus on beans and greens. The difference is that in the Spring meals are hot and spicy, whereas in Summer we enjoy cooling vegetables and fresh seasonings that aid digestion without heating the body ~ things like mint, cilantro, dill and fennel.

Cilantro

So, with a few tweaks, this recipe for Tofu with Snap Peas from Whole Living magazine (more and more a great resource for vegetarian meals) is ideal for summer. I simply replaced the red pepper with fresh, chopped mint from the garden, sprinkled the whole dish with the juice of one lime and garnished with a copious dose of chopped cilantro. I also replaced the sugar with maple syrup.

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Cilantro is so incredibly cleansing, balancing and cooling that we add it to almost everything in our home. We are fortunate because we were just given a generous handful of cilantro seeds, aka Coriander, for our garden. We use a lot of coriander in our cooking, grinding the seeds from whole, so we are familiar with these beautiful balloon-shaped gems. Still, holding this gift in my hands, I couldn’t help but marvel at the intelligence, the deliciousness, the potency and the medicine within.

Coriander Seeds

We have a perfect spot for them – a place where we were growing sunflowers, until someone thought they were weeds and yanked the newborns right out. It was the next day before I noticed they were gone. I cried on the spot. It was as if something had been ripped out of me and tossed away. Considered useless, ugly, a waste.

Preparing to Plant

Silly, I know, but I had nurtured the sunflower plants from seeds, soaking them first, transferring them to the ground, watching over and cultivating them carefully, protecting them from our neighborhood’s stalking ravens, researching their power to purify soil, and then writing a whole blog about it…

The Sunflower Seeds, before their demise

But Coriander seeds blossoming into Cilantro will fill the gaping emptiness and restore our garden to whole. And then one day, before summer is over, we’ll be able to make Tofu and Snap Peas with our own home-grown Cilantro.

Our Food Garden

Nature’s exquisite cycle of renewal is the reminder I need today, that we, too, are nature and our powers of regeneration are every bit as great.

Hope you are enjoying your summer.

Namaste ~ 

Summer

SUMMER

Have you ever wondered why it is hotter in August than June when the sun was closer  and the days were longest?

There is a simple principle in Ayurveda that states: “Heat accumulates.”

Wherever there is fire, and water or matter close enough to absorb its energy, heat will accumulate. Summertime is nature’s most poetic expression of that dynamic. After the Summer Equinox, when the sun gets as close to our part of the world as it will get in any given year, its fiery rays are absorbed by the earth and our oceans, holding its warmth, and continuing to accumulate heat incrementally over the course of these dog days.

It’s the same dynamic that makes the day warmest mid-afternoon despite the sun being strongest at noon when it is most directly above. The dynamic plays out everywhere in nature, and wherever it appears it is called, in Ayurveda, Pitta.

Because Pitta, or excess heat, burns, causing depletion and deterioration, Ayurveda intelligently suggests that we calm and cool ourselves in the summer.  The best way we can do this is to decelerate. This is certainly the time, as age-old tradition has it, for holidays and shorter work weeks. It is the season, too, to really stop and smell the roses. Not only will that help you slow to nature’s pace, but roses, as well as lavender, jasmine, sunflower and most summer flowers, are cooling to mind and body.

Summer in the Kitchen

At the end of a hot day who wants to cook?

Trust your own feelings and eat raw, or light, or outdoors, or even all three! Look for foods that are tonifying, refreshing and cooling. Focus on the sweet, astringent and bitter tastes, like cucumbers, summer squash, peas, avocado, corn, leafy greens and green beans, to balance Pitta.

Great meals for summer include beans (sweet and astringent) and greens (astringent and bitter), like this Tofu with Snap Peas and Scallions from Whole Living, that is ideal except for the red pepper flakes (good for Spring), which you can replace with fresh chopped mint. Try squeezing half a lime over the final and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro for more summer flavor.

Due to the tendency to sweat this season, nature provides foods high in mineral content to replace elecrolytes, regulate body temperature and maintain energy. Cucumbers, Potatoes, Bananas, Almonds are all rich in minerals, especially potassium ~ good for balancing that extra dash of Himalayan salt that will satisfy cravings this time of year.

A few particulars to help you keep cool all summer ~

Lime ~ The health benefits of lime make a long list. Not only are they a delicious thirst-quencher with more Vitamin C than a lemon and twice the amount of juice, but adding lime to your water increases the absorbability of nutrients by up to five times. The citric acid in lime revs up the digestive fires, while its heavy mineral content creates an alkaline reaction in the system which can relieve heat-related issues such as inflammation, peptic ulcer, dehydration headache and skin eruptions.

Mint ~ This pretty little leaf reminds me of Rilke’s Ninth Duino Elegy“Why, if this interval of being can be spent serenely in the form of a laurel, slightly darker than all other green, with tiny waves on the edges of every leaf (like the smile of a breeze)…” Every bit as poetically inspiring as laurel, Mint is an excellent herb for Pitta as it dilates and cools. Sprinkle on meals, infuse in drinking water, blend into tonics and smoothies, or simply chew on the leaves for breath-refreshing relief on a summer day.

Fennel  ~ One of the great spices for Pitta, fennel aids digestion without increasing “heat” in the body. Add to foods anytime you cook, and chew on its seeds after a meal to boost metabolism.

Cilantro ~ A Tridoshic wonder in that it balances all mind-body types, Cilantro is especially wonderful for Pitta. You might try my Summer’s Garden Soup, a cool soup for dinner based on cilantro, cucumbers and avocado. Try to get some Cilantro every day.

Coconut Water ~ In our summer kitchen, we have come to absolutely rely on coconut water for sweet, soothing relief. Ayurveda considers that sweat and blood are similar. Therefore, while sweating is beneficial for regulating body temperature, we need to immediately replace the lost nutrients. Coconut water is nature’s closest substitute to blood plasma, and therefore quickly absorbed for high-speed restoration. It is, simply, genius.

Himalayan Salt ~ With some 88 vital minerals, Himalayan salt, also called rock salt, restores much of what we lose when we sweat. Its potassium load balances its sodium so that, when taken in moderation, it can be a safe alternative to table salt.

A word of caution ~ Alcohol is heating, and therefore can be dehydrating.  Avoid red wine, whiskey, brandy and rum as they are especially heating.

And one final note ~ A dab of sandalwood on the middle of your forehead is cooling, as are mineral baths at room temperature, and coconut oil massaged into the scalp and onto the feet before bedtime. If you have children who are challenged in falling asleep at night, make them a cup of warm milk boiled with nutmeg before going to bed. Once in bed, place an ice pack at the top of their head and gently rub their feet while whispering sweet lullabies. Your voice is cool comfort to a child. Of course, a child who falls asleep easily is cool comfort and an Ayurvedic blessing for the parents! 

WHAT’S IN SEASON

In Summer, nature’s edible delights are tonifying, balancing and refreshing. Mostly sweet and astringent, tastes that cool body and mind, this season’s harvest includes Avocado, Bell peppers, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Green Beans, Heirloom Tomatoes, Zucchini, Leafy Greens like Romaine, Napa Cabbage, Bok Choy and Red Lettuce; also Blackberries, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Grapes, Honeydew Melon, Mangoes, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums, Raspberries, Strawberries, Watermelon and Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Mint, Oregano, Rosemary.

In July, a small family box from our local CSA Suzie’s Farm contained:
Cucumber,  Romanian Sweet Pepper, Lettuce, Summer Squash, Beans, Basil, Tomato, Leeks, Radish. And with so much summer squash on hand, those intelligent folks at Suzie’s posted a great recipe for Summer Squash Soup on their blog.

There are more great ideas for maintaining balance all summer from the wise ones at Blue Lotus Ayurveda. However, if you are feeling severely overheated or depleted, please seek a personal Ayurvedic consultation, or medical advice. Over-heating can be serious.

By keeping your cool, you can really enjoy your summer, which is after all, designed for your enjoyment. Let us know how we can support your cool. 

We wish you a blissful season.