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. 

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!

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!  

Persian Cucumber Salad

persian cucumber saladSummer is finishing up with a fury here in San Diego, so I made a big heat-reducing salad to go with Friday’s picnic of Thai noodles and curry.  Inspiration came from Stephanie Weaver, of Recipe Renovator, who invited me for lunch last week and served, along with a colorful grated beet salad, a fresh green salad of zucchini, snap beans and cilantro. It was refreshing, and a delicious reminder of how lucky I am to have food blogger friends!

I hope you won’t be put off by the extra ingredients in this. It makes for a complete meal in itself, and once your potatoes are cooked, comes together rather quickly. Take your time, though, preparing the vegetables. Small, bite-sized pieces are the key to elegance and forkability.

potato

The value of slowing down to prepare your meals cannot be overstated. It becomes its own kind of meditation, a  hearth-loving version of Chop wood, carry water…  We might even call it, Chop food, boil water? 

Enjoy.

Persian Cucumber Salad
Serves 6-8 

10-12 purple majesty and fingerling potatoes (substitute with sweet potato for paleo)
2 quarts water
1 T rock salt (pink or grey salt)
4 medium sized persian cucumbers
2 large handfuls fresh green beans, ends removed
1 hefty handful arugula
1/2 head of romaine lettuce
1 bunch spring onions
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1 bunch dill
1 copious handful cilantro
4-5 leaves basil
1 lime
1 t apple cider vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large pot, combine salt, water, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the pot and drain. Let it sit in your colander for 5 minutes. Refrigerate.

Chop the rest of the vegetables into small bite-sized pieces, except the arugula which can be tossed in as is. Layer into a large salad bowl and stir in the quinoa. Once your potatoes are cool, slice, quarter, and add them to your salad. Juice the lime and sprinkle with the apple cider vinegar over your salad. Lightly toss. Finely chop the herbs and add. Finally, drizzle in your olive oil and gently fluff. Taste and adjust your oil-vinegar-lime balance. Season with salt and pepper.

summer salad
Made it again, sans quinoa, for our Yoga Teacher Training Graduation Celebration Sunday.

This is such good medicine that I’ll be featuring it in our upcoming Autumn Cleanse, which I want to offer you as a giveaway. Just comment below to be included, and we will randomly choose one person on Friday, in time for our free Introductory Call this Saturday.

Thanks to Vegenista Devi Melissa Martin for asking if the recipe is on my blog, inspring me to post it. Congratulations to Kelli and Bridget who will receive the Happy Belly and Hot Belly books offered in last week’s post

Namaste!

P.S.  Congratulations to Jenny Melford who receives the Autumn Cleanse! Thank you friends.

Sophia’s Sandwich Wraps

Guest post by Emma Frattasio, with photographs by Nayana Peterhans

photo credit: Nayana Peterhans
photo credit: Nayana Peterhans

Though we often notice the five elements (space, air, fire, earth & water)  in our surroundings, we seldom acknowledge their presence in our beings and the food we eat.  The Ayurvedic Doshas (Pitta, Kapha, Vata) that constitute us, largely reflect this notion. Certain Doshas or elements are more prevalent in us depending on the type of day;  luckily we can use food to help balance any of their manifestations. Often times the Doshas that pertain to us transcend physical and mental barriers. For example, Pitta, or fire people, tend to be  powerful by nature with corresponding muscular builds. Warm, sunny days like today can lead to imbalances in our fiery counterparts which increases the need for foods with cooling properties or high quantities of water (Kapha).

nature walk 2
photo credit: Nayana Peterhans

Here at Sophia Camp (a feminine leadership program), as an introduction to self discovery, we have learned about the Doshas/ five elements and how they act in nature, our phenotypes and our personalities. Today, at the Point Loma Native Plant Garden, we explored the local ecosystem and noticed the recurring theme of Pitta in San Diego wildlife. We studied the different botanicals and learned how native peoples exploited the various elements in their environment to survive southern California’s desert climate.

While we detected characteristics of fire, we subsequently experienced rising temperatures within ourselves. Thankfully, we picnicked on a refreshing lunch of cabbage wraps, cucumber salad and coconut water to neutralize the augmented heat. This approach can easily be used in life: in cases of extremism we must always remember to take a deep breath and come back to our balance.

summer wrap

Sophia’s Summer Wraps

Ingredients:

1) Napa Cabbage
2) Carrots
3) Zucchini
4) Sprouts
5) Avocado
6) Provolone Cheese
7)  Mayo (we used Vegenaise)

Instructions:
Shred the carrots and the zucchini. Lay out the cabbage leaves. Place a piece of cheese on each leaf. Spread a dollop of mayo. Layer on a slice of avocado. Spoon the carrots and zucchini over that. Top with a pinch of sprouts. Carefully roll the leaf folding from the top to the bottom, be sure to roll tightly then close with a toothpick.

Editor’s Note: Collard Greens make a better wrap than Napa cabbage, as it shapes and holds better. Napa cabbage is best used as a sup rather than trying to make it like a burrito. 

sophia camp

Thank you Emma and Nayana for a great post. More than that, thank you for bringing your brilliance to our Sophia Camp this summer! We are better now because you you are in our lives. You have truly touched our hearts.  Namaste! 

Cannellini Hummus: A Spring Detox Staple

#hummus
We are just finishing up our 21 Day Spring Clean Challenge, and I thought you, along with some of my fellow “Cleansers,” might like a simple way to stay the course. This hummus is so easy and quick to prepare, yet makes a nourishing, hearty meal, even while detoxifying. In fact, it was my family’s lunch today served up with arugula, radicchio, zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes for dipping, along with gluten-free “superseed” crackers and olives. They loved it, never knowing they  were eating “Cleanse” foods. I hope you like it, too.

cannelini hummus poster 2

Cannellini Hummus

1.5 cups organic cannellini beans, cooked
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 T vegan mayonnaise (make your own)
1 t dijon mustard
1 t tahini
3 hearty shakes of aleppo pepper
pink salt to taste
1 t lemon juice, optional 

Put everything in your electric blender and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add a spoonful of fresh lemon juice if you think it needs more salt. Serve with fresh vegetables.

#cannelini hummus
Why change it up and make Hummus with Cannellini? What’s wrong with good old-fashioned Garbanzo?

It’s true, garbanzo beans do make delicious hummus. But, they can be difficult to digest. In many cases (think Vata)  they cause gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, even constipation. Any Cleanse, to be successful, should strengthen, and not confuse digestion. Mung beans, cooked in Kichari, are the ideal bean for that. In our 21 Day Cleanse, Kichari is a central component. Now that we are almost complete, though, this hummus is a nice variation on the theme.

If you want a simple cleanse you can do anytime, try making up some kichari with lightly steamed vegetables and feast on that for a day, or two, or three… You’ll find many recipes for kichari around my blog ~ here, and at the bottom of the “Basics” page here, for example.

I wish you extraordinary health and wellness so that you are able, in the most vibrant way possible, to taste all the joy, intelligence and love Mother Nature has to offer you.

Thank you for visiting this site, and for being so dedicated to life, light and love! Jai Ma!

What about you? Are you welcoming Spring with a bit of a clean-up, clean-out? What is your favorite way to invite in Spring, and enjoy the season’s energy of renewal?

 

Namaste!

 

 

 

Smooth Move Tonic

Not too long ago, my Ayurvedic mentor/doctor had me add a little something to my evening routine, and it has made all the difference.

#cleanyourcolon

It was all about, well, a delicate subject… proper elimination. The formula he gave me came in tablets from India, which would be hard for anyone to replicate at home. Fortunately, in her Ayurvedic Fat Fighters series on Doctor Oz, another western doctor with Ayurvedic expertise, Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, touts something she calls a “Triphala Treat,” which offers similar benefits.

#triphalatreat

Dr. Kulreet’s Triphala Treat is just 1 t ground flax seed, 1 t psyllium husks, 1/2 t triphala powder.  If you stir this into almond milk warmed with cardamom, and a little honey if needed, you will have a sweet natural laxative tonic that is also rejuvenative, detoxifying, dosha-balancing, and sleep-inducing. In fact, the Charaka Samhita, one of the great treatises on Ayurveda, states, “One who fully knows how to use Triphala can rectify any imbalance.”

You can purchase Triphala powder from many healthy food stores where it is usually  sold in tablet form, which can be ground into powder. I prefer Banyan Botanicals, because their products pass the highest standards for integrity, safety, sustainability. Plus, Banyan sells Ayurvedic herbs in powder form, according to tradition.

Smooth Move Tonic

This tonic is to be enjoyed in the evening as a “bedtime treat.” In fact, if you are already making this Deep Sleep Tonic in the evening, just add the Triphala Treat directly to your blender and keep it running for a minute or two to will gently warm your tonic, without having to heat it on the stove. It saves a lot on cleanup.

The tonic is generally tri-doshic, but Pitta seems to find it most helpful. Pitta is heat with water. Hot water rises and evaporates. The earth element pulls that heat down, and in the case of this recipe, down and out. Addressing the third stage of digestion ~ elimination, it’s a tonic that helps you wake up feeling lighter, balanced, regular, free.

#coloncleanse
I’d love to do an informal survey to find out how beneficial this is on a broad scale, so if you try it and like the results, let us know with a simple “yes” in the comment section below. If you know your dosha, add that too. Knowledge is power. Together we can make our lives, and in that the world, a healthier place for all.

Thank you!

Banana Coconut “Half Domes”

These are the dog days. Here in Yosemite it is 100 degrees: Hot, Dry, and Dusty.

Visiting Half Dome

Our rustic, little cabin provides shade but little relief beyond that. It is designed for winter: to keep the heat in. It is a star splashed midnight before it finally cools enough to sleep.

At dinner time we come home from our daily hikes, almost boiling over ourselves. We can’t cook. We can’t add heat to heat.

Even our bananas had heat exhaustion

Coconut water is our refuge. Banana Coconut Ice is our delight.

Coconut Banana Ice

Here’s how I make it:

Mash 3 bananas in a blender if you have it. We don’t, so I use a potato masher. The kids enjoy using their hands. Pour in one, to one and a half, cup/s coconut milk. Add a small pinch of pink salt and 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Stir well.

Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray, evenly distributing. You can put wooden stirrers, broken in half. or a toothpick, into the middle of each cube, standing straight up, to make them like popsicles. Put in the freezer for 2-3 hours, minimum.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

We didn’t have “popsicle sticks,” so we put them in a bowl and named them, after Yosemite’s famous monolith, “Little Half Domes.”

For refreshing elegance, you could serve them in a bowl with fresh berries, garnished with mint. For an elegant refreshment, add two to three cubes to soda water and garnish with mint.

Yosemite Falls

Despite the heat, it is all worthwhile as Yosemite is one of the greatest reminders that nature is majestic, eternal, infinite and insistent ~ and you are an integral part of this wonder. As the Yogis say, “Tat Tvam Asi,” meaning You Are That!

Wish You Were Here

Namaste !

Six for Summer

Summer is Pitta Season, when we want to be careful not to overheat. Offering you a few good ways to keep cool, here is my list of Six Best Practices for Summer.

Edward Madden & Percy Wenrich, 1912, Public Domain

1. Easy does it ~  Cooling walks by water or  under the moon light, sitting in the shade of a tree, enjoying nature’s beauty, soft music and pleasant fragrances are all balancing for Pitta.

2. Hydrate ~ In the summer, energy dips can be a sign of dehydration. Staying fresh means replacing electrolytes and minerals with fruit, flower or vegetable infused waters, such as this Rose Fennel Tea, Joseph Immel’s Rosewater Lemonade, and the Cucumber Cooler that I posted after last summer’s heat wave.

3. Moon Salutations ~ Harness your Lunar Power with Chandra Namaskar, a cooling, slowing, feminine flow.

4. Shitali Breath ~ Switch on your inner cooling system with this powerful Pranayama: Push the tip of your tongue out of your mouth, roll the sides of your tongue towards the center and inhale. Retract your tongue, close your mouth, exhale through your nostrils and enjoy the cool sensation.

5. Sweet Tastes ~ Foods that are especially cooling for Pitta are watermelon, cucumber, mint, coconut, zucchini, fennel, cilantro, avocado, aloe and fresh summer greens. Type “Pitta,” or “summer” into the search box on the right to find a variety of cooling recipes.

6. Aloe Vera ~  Aloe Vera is like ice stored in a plant. Not only does it improve skin tone, reducing redness, acne, signs of aging, it also purifies the blood, strengthens the liver and reduces inflammation.

We’d love to hear how you stay cool and healthy when the temperatures rise.

What are your favorite summer recipes or remedies?

4 Ways to Manage Peri-Menopause with Food

Flaxseeds

Heard of perimenopausal rage? So many women have been asking me lately for help with this issue that when I saw this article from Kate Geagan, author of Go Green: Get Lean, I had to repost it. Her suggestions are not only helpful for Hot Mamas, they are important health habits for all.

4 Ways to Manage Perimenopause through Diet

Kate Geagan, MS RD
Kate Geagan

by Kate Geagan, MS, RD

I remember when my mother hit menopause, she started sporting a button that said, “I’m out of estrogen and I have a gun.” She was, needless to say, joking, but our entire family tiptoed on eggshells until the button came off. While women across the globe know that “The Change” lies somewhere in their future, replete with varying degrees of physical and emotional shifts, most women are shocked to learn that there’s actually another stage many of us hit before then: perimenopause.

If menopause is defined by a single event (a woman’s last period), perimenopause is a bit less “pinpoint -able” as it refers instead to the time before menopause (anywhere from 2 to 10 years) during which the ovaries begin reducing hormone production. The result is fluctuating levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can set off emotional changes ranging from mild to mentally unhinged. This latter symptom in particular, which Dr. Oz recently talked about as “perimenopausal rage,” is described by many women as a propensity toward unexpected, heightened anger or a vulnerability to more volatile emotional outbursts, even when the moment before you were cool as a cucumber.

While your health-care provider is your best ally to help you manage your hormones, here are a few dietary strategies that may help keep you from feeling the need to reach for a button of your own.

Eliminate Key “Hot Spot” Triggers

Think of Hippocrate’s advice: “First, do no harm.” Sugar, caffeine and alcohol are three compounds in the diet that can exaggerate any hormonal symptoms, igniting a cocktail of emotions when stress is added.  If your blood sugar is sky high after a donut, or your body’s “fight or flight” stress response is over-activated from a mega-jolt of caffeine, you may be creating a perfect storm for that emotional rollercoaster. And while alcohol may seem to settle your nerves in the moment, overdoing it can have lingering effects on your edginess the next day. Eliminate these three things in your diet and you can often see a difference almost immediately.

Omega-3-rich Foods

Happy brain chemistry is dependent on getting adequate amounts of omega-3s in the diet, as research has linked adequate omega-3s in the diet with better moods and lower rates of depression. The brain particularly loves DHA, a key omega-3 fat in the brain which comprises 50% by weight of some brain cells. Enjoy at least two servings of fatty fish each week like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, barramundi or bluefish weekly to naturally include some of nature’s richest sources of omega-3s. Snack on one ounce of walnuts, which packs a day’s worth of omega-3s in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Or drizzle two tablespoons of ground flaxseed or one tablespoon cold pressed flax oil on your morning bowl of oatmeal for an added boost. If you absolutely don’t like fish, consider taking a USP certified fish oil supplement (the USP certification will ensure good manufacturing practices). Of course, be sure to check with your health-care provider before adding any new supplements to your regimen.

Load Up on Legumes

Beans and lentils are superfoods which offer several benefits to women going through either perimenopause or menopause. Why? The combo of high fiber and protein help to keep blood sugar stable longer after meals and snacks, providing a nice buffer against those “mood swings within minutes” that many perimenopausal women describe. They also score high points for being low in calories, which helps women in their 40s and 50s maintain a healthy body weight during what is typically a time of creeping weight gain (metabolism can slow as women lose lean muscle mass if they are not involved in strength training). Legumes are also rich in B-complex vitamins, including folate and B6, which serve as cofactors for enzymes involved with estrogen metabolism. Aim to include at least one cup per day (a half-cup provides about 7 grams of protein): Enjoy a cup of pasta fagioli or lentil soup with a green salad for lunch, simmer a pot of three-bean chili this weekend, or savor French, green or red lentils (they’re tinier and more delicate) as your next side dish along grilled fish or chicken.

Think About Adding Some Soy

Should you start stocking up on soy products to help you stay cool as things heat up? Possibly, depending on your personal family history. Some evidence suggests that soy might help thanks to the phytoestrogens that soybeans contain. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant compounds that can mimic the body’s own estrogen by binding to certain estrogen receptors, potentially helping your body ease through the loss of your own source of estrogen. Though they are about 1000 times weaker than regular estrogen, there is some evidence to suggests that including 2-3 servings of soy food daily may help reduce the severity of hot flashes, protect against bone loss and heart disease, and reduce your risk of breast cancer (a half-cup of roasted soy nuts or edamame as a snack, or a half-cup of tofu in your stir fry all count as one serving). For that, it may be worth a try to see if you start feeling better after a month or two of adding soy to your diet. However, there have also been some studies which have found no added benefit, and adding soy may be contraindicated if you have a personal or family history of estrogen-sensitive cancers like breast cancer, so be sure to talk with your doctor first.

~~~

If you are going through “The Change,” I hope this helps you. If this would help someone you know, please forward it. Women are the preservers of life. Anything we do to support any woman anywhere, creates a better world for all.

Namaste!

An Apple Today


A client recently mentioned that she wants to do another cleanse. Grew up on junk food was the reason she gave. Makes sense, I thought. Every now and then a deep clearing of the digestive tract is good practice, especially since many of us eat more than we need and often not as well as we wish.

For this, I have just the thing: an Intestinal Cleanse adapted from Jeremy Safron’s delightful little book, The Raw Truth. But, first, I am concerned about something. Does our present culture encourage a certain yo-yo approach to eating? Binges, extreme fasts, indulge, detox..?

The best way we take care of ourselves is by sustaining good habits with regularity and consistency. Healthy, whole food not only nourishes us, but also detoxifies and cleanses our bodies. Digestive enzymes, soluble and insoluble fiber, protein, good flora, vitamins and minerals are all in vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes. All these bits and pieces that scientists try to pry out of food or synthesize in a lab, and that superstores sell as the next sexy thing, are already in nature’s pure whole food.

Before I commit to a cleanse I like to ask myself ~ Is an Intestinal Cleanse a healthy way to love myself? Is it needed? Is now the time to do it? Or, am I using it as a subtle form of punishment? A quiet act of self-flagellation?

Because women do use food, and diets, to hurt themselves. I certainly have ~ and would not want, in any way whatsoever, to encourage this.

Still, there are times when an intestinal cleanse is a good idea. Ayurveda suggests we do it annually each Spring. For such times, this apple-based drink is sweet and easy.

Click for Print Version

One final warning ~ Psyllium is habit-forming and should not be taken daily. It dries out the colon, increasing your need for it and creating a vicious cycle.  Therefore, use it only when necessary and repeat this kind of intestinal cleanse once every three months at the most.

For safe bowel regularity, try Triphala. It works by strengthening the colon, optimizing its function, and is not drying so can be taken daily. Still, it is always best to seek the advice of an Ayurvedic Practitioner.


The wisdom in your body knows what to do with the intelligence in nature’s food.  Trying to outsmart the body with one cleanse or dietary regime after another doesn’t work. Over-fussing with digestion, elimination and metabolism turns the body-wisdom off.

So eat what appeals to your body-wisdom. Eat when you are hungry. Eat warm foods in the morning and evening. Make lunch your biggest meal when the fire to digest is naturally ablaze. Eat what’s in season and align yourself with the beauty of nature, time, the earth’s spin, the cosmic churn. This will, in turn, create peace, harmony, abundance and ease in your life.

Food is more than just what you put in your mouth. It is the relationship you have with yourself, with life, with the world.

What kind of relationship do you want to have?

I invite you to make it sacred.

Namaste!

Green Goddess Mornings

Green Goddess Mornings

Have you ever wondered what to eat in the morning? Ever felt tired of the “same old?” Dry cereal and cold milk lost its Mojo for you?

Personally, I never had much taste or enthusiasm for breakfast as a daily habit. Sure, breakfast as event is an inspiring way to begin any day. “Daddy’s Pancakes” on a Saturday, Brunch with extended family on a Sunday, fresh croissant at a place like the Darshan Bakery in Encinitas, bagels at the beach with friends ~ these are breakfasts to get up for.

But everyday breakfast, the one the pundits all say we absolutely must have, that leaves me wanting to go back to bed. And shouldn’t breakfast be just the opposite? Shouldn’t it give you fire, energy, pizzazz? Shouldn’t breakfast start your day the way you intend to live it?

Because I think breakfast should absolutely be one more great reason to get up in the morning, I make it sparkle, I make it fun, I make it lavishly green, I make it portable (why stop when the day has just begun?), and I make it right after Yoga practice while I am still dancing, singing, lovingly greeting the day. These, I call “Green Goddess Mornings.”

Tara: Green Goddess of Compassion

“What do you have for breakfast?” a client asked today, gently requesting I post the recipe here. Of course, with Green Goddess Mornings, nothing is ever the same. If it were, it wouldn’t be a Green Goddess Morning, would it?

Here, however, is an example of what breakfast could look like on any given day ~

GREEN GODDESS MORNING GLORY
2 Servings

1/2 cup Sparkling water (doesn’t have to be fizzy: “flat” water is fine)
1/2 cup Pomegranate or Hibiscus Juice
1/2 cup Aloe Vera Juice
Fresh juice of 1 Lemon
2 heaping tablespoons of Spirulina
2 Kale leaves, spine removed (beet leaves, brocoli florets, celery are also great)
1/2 of a Banana
1 heaping tablespoon Coconut Oil (or Walnut Oil)
1 heaping tablespoon ground Flaxseed (I like Bob’s as they are able to preserve vital nutrients often lost in the grinding process)
1 tablespoon Honey
1 dash each of Cinnamon and Turmeric (some days I also add a dash of either Cardamom, Cayenne, or Ginger)

Put everything together in a Juicer or Blender and give it a good mix. Pour into your favorite, most beautiful, most inspiring glasses ~ because you deserve it, and serve.

Green Goddess Morning Glory Shake

For its deep color and coconut speckles, it is gorgeous. As a meal, though, its rich green has been known to frighten! If it looks scary to you, adjust the measure of honey, thank it for its green Goddess potency, and it will be delicious.

I suggest, too, that before drinking, you tell your Green Goddess Shake exactly what kind of day you would like to have. Who knows? All great and true Goddesses have infinite power. Maybe she can restore the breakfast Mojo!

Green Goddess Mornings

I chose the painting above, Goddess of the Forest, by visionary artist Teressena, as it looks like the dawning of the day ~ Divine Mother bringing us the sun. Currently, Teressena, who uses images from her meditations, is working on a series of Goddess paintings that delve deeper in the universal consciousness of the divine feminine and the mysteries of the sacred. A reproduction of her Goddess on canvas can be purchased here, or here  for a reproduction on paper. 

Namaste!