Toasted Turmeric Tofu Salad

Coronado_Beach

Summer is beautiful here: the beach, the clear but not too hot weather, the charm of a small town that, to some degree, resembles America as Betty Crocker might have lived it. It has an unspeakable draw.

Coronado Beach at Sunset

This week, that draw is stronger than ever. We watch as people pour in, like waves flowing to meet the ocean. They come from every place on the globe, coming this week for one thing above all: the 4th of July.

coronado fourth parade

coronado parade

Coronado 4th Parade

Yesterday, I was invited to be one of the Parade’s announcers/dj’s. It’s a surprise. But it’s also something more. I’ve lived here “under the radar,” so to speak, for 11 years. So it feels like a kind of coming out party.

No more feeling like the outsider. I belong. You belong. We all belong. We belong to our communities, to our world, to nature, to life. We belong to this breath, this moment, this 4th of July and this dream of unity.

coronado parade

coronado parade

In that spirit, I’ve been going through my days, my work and all the beautiful things one gets to love and do each day, filled with inspiration for a playlist: music across the generations, music that celebrates American ingenuity, music that makes us want to get up and dance.

A few high schoolers with exceptional musical talent quickly promised to stop by and perform. Favorite locals like Root 75, Cafe 1134, Seaside Papery, and Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge have loaded me up with prizes so we can run trivia contests. Of course, there are floats and bands, military brass and everyday heroes to announce, but there are often gaps… long gaps… between floats, so I am abuzz with ideas – and eager for more. If you have input for music, historical trivia, or engaging ways to entertain kids in a crowd (without losing the plot), I’d love to hear! 4thparade

coro parade

Meanwhile, in this time of such fullness, I am grateful for very simple, easy foods that provide energy and substance. This one in particular, is my go-to lately. I’ve been tossing it into salads, but you could put it with anything ~ from soup to saag, tacos and burritos to pasta. Put it in a bowl with a light dust of truffle salt or nutritional yeast, and it is a great snack all by itself.

roasted turmeric tofu salad

summer salad with roasted turmeric tofu

Roasted Turmeric Tofu is inspired by Lindsay who helped me make this Creamy Mollee last winter, and who, left to her own devices, did something I’d never have done – and made something unexpected, and uncommonly divine! Tossed with this sweet/bitter salad, you get the six tastes you need in a pitta-reducing, summer-balancing, savory symphony. Perfect for parties and picnics, and for everyone looking for something hearty and healthy.

You can thank Lindsay.

tofu turmeric

turmeric tofu

Summer Salad + Roasted Turmeric Tofu

Turmeric Tofu
Tofu, firm, but not extra firm
1 /2 t Turmeric
1/4 t Himalayan Salt
1 teaspoon ghee or olive oil

Salad
1 head Butter Lettuce, medium
1 head Radicchio, small
1 stalk Fennel
1 large or 2-3 small Beets, roasted or boiled
1/2 an Avocado
1/2 c Pumpkin seeds, raw

Dressing
1 t Tahini
1/2 t Lime juice
2-3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
pinch dried Mint
optional: Salt, Pepper to taste

To make the Turmeric Tofu ~

Roasted
Set your oven to broil. Transfer tofu to a baking pan and pour 1 teaspoon of its liquid over it. Discard the rest. Cut the tofu into bite-size cubes. Shower the tofu with turmeric, then sprinkle with salt. Marinate the tofu for 10 minutes.

Drizzle with melted ghee or olive oil, or a bit of both, and put in the oven. Roast for ten minutes until it browns. Remove from oven, turn cubes over and roast until this side browns. You don’t need to cook the tofu. You are only trying to roast the outer layers.

Pan-fried Alternatively, put the ghee/olive oil in a sauce pan and sauté the marinated tofu on a medium high flame a few minutes each side, until both sides are browned. You might need a bit more ghee/oil, but it is tastier this way, and quicker if you can get the heat right up, without burning the tofu or the oil.

Once it is browned, transfer tofu to a paper towel covered plate to absorb the excess oil. Allow to cool. At this point you have a delicious snack or “meaty” addition to vegetables and mains.

To make the Salad ~ 

Wash, pat dry and tear the butter lettuce into bite-size pieces. Do the same with the radicchio.  Slice the fennel bulb thin, and tear its fronds into bits.  Slice the beet/s and avocado into cubes.  Layer the vegetables in a medium-sized bowl and toss with the raw pumpkin seeds.

Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a small jar. Cap the lid and shake well. Pour over salad, toss. Add Turmeric Tofu and enjoy!

summer salad with turmeric tofu5

Happy 4th!
May your holiday be safe.
May we all celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of true and enduring happiness
with the nourishing knowing that in our heart of hearts, we are one.

coronado4thofjuly

Namaste! 

Power Foods: The Father’s Day 10

We spent Father’s day at the Hilltop Center for Spiritual Living because my husband was giving a talk on the power of fatherhood to save a life, his in particular.

father's day
my husband bhava with our wonderful friend steve gold

The morning began with a question to the children, “What is your father like?”

“My Dad is strong.” “My Dad makes me feel safe.” “My father is helpful.” “My father helps me solve problems.” “My father works hard so that we can have a home, and food, and go to school…” “My father is fun. He loves to play and tell jokes.”

Finally, after a long pause, the youngest child quietly said, “My father gives me lots of kisses.”

the golds
anne-emilie and steve gold sang of life and its magnificence

When I think of fathers, I think of Prana, Tejas, and Ojas, the vital essences that give life, light and love to all existence, and which any good father naturally seeks to develop in his children.

Prana, Tejas and Ojas give energy, radiance, and strength, respectively, to mind and body. These vital essences are the positive forces corresponding to the doshas Vata, Pitta, Kapha as the bio-energies that lead to imbalance. In other words, if Vata is an imbalance of air and space, then Prana is the power that the air element gives us to breathe, think, and move freely.  If Pitta is the dosha of fire, then Tejas is the positive force of fire that gives us light to see clearly, to move with direction, to act decisively, to digest food as well as information and experiences, to metabolize and to transform. Finally, if you think of Kapha as the dosha of water and earth, then Ojas is the vital essence that gives structure, steadiness, comfort, nourishment and ease.

When cultivated, these positive forces give what Eknath Easwaran called “the splendour of the personality that expresses itself in love, courage, creativity, and a melting tenderness that draws all hearts.”

SatChitAnanda_DeepYoga

Prana, Tejas, Ojas, huh?

Prana is Energy

Prana is the energy that exudes from the animating intelligence within and underlying all that is alive. It is an intelligent energy that enlivens. In food, it is the energy that knows how to grow the plant, knows how to attract pollinators, knows how to evolve to expand its own kind, knows how to create, generate, regenerate, and populate. This intelligence corresponds to an intelligence within us that meets when we eat, so that what we eat becomes, by the intelligence of nature, exactly what we need for our bodies and minds to grow and be vibrant. When we eat fresh foods, still moist, plump and radiant from the harvest, we eat this intelligent energy. We eat Prana.

Fathers need to have a lot of prana to play with their children.

Tejas is Radiance

Tejas is the power of light to shine from your skin and eyes when you are healthy. It is the glow of health, the color of fruits and vegetables, the sun that is steady, steadfast, reliable, purposeful. Tejas gives warmth, courage and lustre.

Fathers need to have a lot of Tejas to reason, to be helpful, to problem-solve, to be brave, to protect, to lead.

Ojas is Strength

Ojas gives vigor, peace, patience, contentment, a steady mind in a strong body, well-lubricated joints, a healthy immune system, and longevity. Ojas is kisses.

Fathers need to have a lot of Ojas to hold and to hug, to carry their children, and to be that rock we rely on.

Father, Food and the Vital Essences

Loving your father forever means taking good care of him, and carrying on his tradition of playing, helping, protecting, and showering kisses. Here are ten vital essence boosting foods to take good care of dad – and you, his beloved child.

While we can’t make any promises, science is demonstrating what our own experience tells us: these power foods are anti-aging, immune-boosting, disease-eradicating, and delicious, so enjoy them abundantly!

9 Power Foods for Dad and You

1. Spinach

.
spinach sauté

Everyone knows that spinach is good for you – full of iron, vitamins, and dietary fiber – but did you know that spinach is high in protein, with anti-inflammatory actions? That it helps with blood sugar, blood pressure, and bone health? That it can lower the risks of asthma?

Be sure to cook your spinach at least 1 minute to disarm the oxalic acids that can increase Pitta, feeding inflammation, arthritis, and gout.

Recipes for Spinach

2. Wild Salmon

salmon + gf pasta
salmon + gf pasta

My Ayurvedic mentor insists that the number #1 superfood for anyone over 40 is wild caught salmon. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating wild salmon twice a week, writing that it is a “good source of protein, and unlike fatty meat products, it is not high in saturated fat.”

It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which benefit healthy people and those with, or at risk of, cardiovascular disease. Again, according to the AHA, “Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias… reduce triglyceride levels, slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lowers blood pressure.”

Farming salmon reduces the amount of heart, brain and joint healthy omegas, while accumulating cancer causing PCBs and dioxin, not to mention it is unkind to the fish and toxic to the environment. So, please, at least when it comes to salmon – always go wild!

3. Sweet Potatoes

sweet potato
baked sweet potato

High in the fiber necessary for proper elimination and detoxification, sweet potatoes are also rich in the antioxidant Vitamin A (beta carotene), making it a powerful anti-aging food that has also been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Sweet potatoes are an easy, hearty snack or meal.  Just pop them in the oven for an hour, and they come out creamy.

Recipes for Sweet Potato & Yams

4. Beans

beans2
white bean salad

Beans are good for you in so many ways, but no one tells the story better than the Mohr-Fry cousins who grow 29 varieties of organic beans in northern California. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this excellent video about what it takes to farm beans. It was made by our friend Adrian, producer of the Growing California Video Series, who attests to the authenticity of these devoted farmers. #loveyourlocalfarmer!

Recipes for Beans

5. Yogurt

.
rose lassi

Gut health = Immune Health. We all need to improve our inner environment with the right living foods. To that end, yogurt should be a daily habit. Try making it yourself – that way you can experiment with coconut, almond, rice and other delicious, non-dairy sources.

Whether your yogurt is from a cow, goat, grain or nut, always choose organic and make it plain. Fruit yogurt sold in stores has a lot of added sugar – and, according to Ayurveda, is a very bad combination, subverting your good efforts by sabotaging gut health.

Yogurt Recipes

6. Grapefruit

.
pink grapefruit

My father loved grapefruits. I am always amazed at how naturally he was drawn to the healthiest of foods, and grateful for his example. Grapefruit has the bitter taste that is so lacking and yet so essential in our diet. Bitter is purifying, detoxifying, making it a weight loss powerhouse. It curbs hunger, protects the heart, and studies are now demonstrating it has anti-cancer actions (of course, it is Kapha-reducing!)

Not to mention that grapefruit and its citrus family are high in vitamin c, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Look for the deep red ones for the highest levels of antioxidants. I find them milder, sweeter and juicier, too.

Toss grapefruit segments into your salads for a bite of juicy tang. It’s especially good with watercress, endive, radicchio, avocado and beets.

Recipes with Grapefruit

7. Apples 

Apples

An apple a day still keeps the doctor away – because not only are they full of dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals, apples help clean the liver, the key organ that accumulates pitta. When you have high pitta, you are prone to all kinds of inflammatory disease. Keep your liver healthy and you reduce pitta, resorting your vital tejas, which shows through clear eyes and lustrous skin.

Think pink, when it comes to the liver, not aggravated fiery red, and remember Michael Pollan’s advice, “When it comes to snacks, ask yourself if you are hungry enough for an apple, and if the answer is yes, then eat an apple.”

Recipes for Apples

8. Seeds

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multi-seed crackers

Rather than nuts, snack on seeds. Ayurveda considers seeds to be lighter, more astringent than nuts and therefore more clarifying, cleansing, detoxifying, while providing all the energy and intelligence of the plant it is to become. Also excellent sources of protein, essentials fats, dietary fiber, as well as selenium,  zinc, and iron.

Raw, soaked, blended, toasted, lightly salted, seeds can be enjoyed in all varieties of ways. You can add hemp seeds to anything you might have for breakfast. Sprinkle them over yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, toast, eggs, or add them to a morning smoothie. Flax seeds can be ground and stirred into soups, salads, hot cereals, or a warm evening tonic. We toast up pumpkin seeds to add crunch to our soups and stews. Pureed into a pesto, sunflower seeds are the perfect texture. Or, toss together a few of your favorite seeds, add raisins, chopped dates, goji berries, dried cherries, and you have a great snack to keep your energy up and the weight down.

Recipes with Seeds

9. Garlic

Honey Garlic
with honey, garlic is a potent medicine

Dr. Marc Zimmerman, an orthopedic surgeon steeped in the traditions of natural medicine and nutrition, knows that ancient Yogis eschewed garlic. “However,”  he says, “the world we live in now is so different, so full of toxins, so compromising to the immune system. I just don’t see how we can avoid the health benefits of garlic in this day and age.” While it may be controversial as a Yogi and an Ayurvedi, garlic is undoubtedly a powerhouse when it comes to disrupting illness and disease.

Cooking makes garlic less pungent, less what we call tamasic, while retaining all these benefits:

Garlic and its allium family vegetables have important anti-cancer properties, with a high intake of garlic (roughly translated as taken daily) has been found to lower risk of virtually all cancer types, except prostate and breast cancer.

Garlic has cardiovascular benefits, having been shown clearly to lower blood triglycerides and total cholesterol, Equally impressive about garlic is its ability to lower blood pressure.

Garlic has been shown to protect from inflammatory and oxidative stress, while its antibacterial and antiviral properties are perhaps its most legendary feature. This allium vegetable and its constituents have been studied not only for their benefits in controlling infection by bacteria and viruses, but also infection from other microbes including yeasts/fungi and worms.

Recipes that include fresh Garlic

10. Cilantro

cilantro pesto
cilantro pesto

Some people say that it tests like soap. That’s because the brain recognizes a molecule in cilantro that is not the same, but is similar to a molecule in soap. And this is a helpful way to think of the benefits of cilantro ~ a high powered, industrial-strength  detergent for your tissues. Cilantro has been shown to help rid the worst kind of toxins, those heavy metals that accumulate from environmental pollution.

If you think cilantro tastes like soap, add small amounts to your favorite foods at first. Once your brain has a few samples to go by, it will create a new “file” for cilantro, one that associates with good tastes and a clean, lively feeling. Your brain will be glad to comply, given that it too will benefit from less toxins, and soon you will be loving cilantro like the rest of us!

Recipes with Cilantro

~

When the ingredients are whole, pure and minimal, you boost your prana, tejas and ojas with meals that are satisfying. Health, then, feels like a joyful indulgence – a true celebration of life, light and love!

fathers day
fathers day

I hope you all had a Happy Father’s Day, and that you continue to keep your father, or his memory, strong.
Keep yourself strong, too, so his Prana, Tejas, Ojas can shine through you.

~

If you would like to experience last Sunday’s magic, the magnificence of Bhava and Steve singing and teaching together, please join us in October for our weekend Mastery of Joy Retreat in the mountains near Idylwild.

All life, light and love to you!
Namaste! 

Comfort Food : Curried Spinach Nibbles

spinach-souffle It has been one of the great, quiet privileges of my life to be at the bedside of friends and family as they pass. This week, going back and forth from teaching a mastery intensive on breath to a dark hospice room where our beloved was taking her last breaths, gave a profound opportunity to consider her life and all that she has meant to us, while considering the breath itself: What is it to breathe? What causes the breath? What is it that departs as the breath gently winds down? spinachsouffle In these moments, time slows completely, opening space to simply watch. It becomes a contemplation, watching her breathing in, breathing out, so ephemeral, so eternal… Even as that breath lengthens, softens, stalls, sputters, there is a sacred power. An intelligence. A knowing. Something unthreading. Something setting free. Continue reading “Comfort Food : Curried Spinach Nibbles”

Chocolate Pasta

#chocolate pastaIn a recent class we taught on Ayurveda for families, we made a “chocolate butter” (as in peanut or almond butter) demonstrating one of many examples of healthy snacks for children. With some of that chocolate butter remaining, Valentine’s Day approaching, and the inspiration of children still in my heart, I thought I’d get playful and try out the chocolate butter as a sauce for pasta.

#Valentine's Day Pasta

Thus emerged this Chocolate Pasta, a delight both easy and quick to make. I think it took all of ten minutes.

The sauce is made with cacao, so has all the health benefits of dark chocolate. If you are making this for adults, use cacao nibs. It gives an accent of bitter that really works. But if you are making this for children, cacao powder will better integrate the flavors.

#chocolate pasta

You could serve this as a side, or add your choice of protein and make it a one dish meal. I added fresh green peas as my protein, mixing them in at the very end so they would hold their fresh aliveness.

chocolate #pasta

#chocolatepasta

Once served, you can dress it up however you like. I added chives, but chopped spring onion would be great for that burst of pungency. I also like toasted or roasted sunflower seeds, but you could garnish with toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, or pepitas. It needs that nutty bite. Best of all, I sprinkled cacao nibs over each serving. It ‘s more than a theme note, its gives the pasta a rich contrast in color, texture and taste.

VDay Chocolate Pasta

I think it worked, but would love to know what you think.

Chocolate Pasta
Serves 3-4

2 quarts water
1 cube veg broth
1 T sesame oil
1 fistful soba noodles
1-2 cups seasonal greens, shredded
1/2 t ginger powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t red pepper (the slightly milder aleppo is my preference)
gf tamari
toasted or roasted sunflower seeds
sesame seeds
chives or spring onions, chopped
red pepper flakes, optional

Chocolate Sauce
2 T Almond Butter
3 T raw cacao (powder or nibs)
1 small pear, cored and chopped
1 T Raw Honey (or 2 Medjool Dates)
pinch pink salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch cardamom

Start with the chocolate sauce. Put all the ingredients together in an electric blender and mix until well integrated and smooth. If you are using cacao nibs rather than powder be sure to mix until the nibs break down, but don’t worry if some remain solid. It will give a nice texture to the sauce when added to the pasta.

Meanwhile, boil 2 quarts of water in a saucepan. Chop up your greens and set aside. When the water comes to a boil, add the cube of vegetable broth. Stir until it dissolves, then spoon in the sesame oil. Stir in the ginger and garlic powders and red pepper. Add the soba noodles and your greens. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Gently spoon in the chocolate sauce, stirring lightly so you don’t break the pasta. Season with tamari. Taste, and a pinch of pink salt, if needed.

Chocolate Pasta VDay

Since there are at least six good reasons to celebrate with chocolate, for dessert we have many choices ~ there is this amazing Chocolate Pâté, this extraordinary Flourless Chocolate Cake, or this Chocolate Pudding, all to remind us to celebrate love not just today, but every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lunch for Sophia

What do you serve when you have 75 Yogis over for lunch? I’ve found that the easiest way to address all the likely eating styles is to make it whole food, plant based: vegan and gluten-free. Of course, I have to add Ayurvedic, nourishing, and delicious ~ and I want eye-opening, mouth-watering, belly-tapping delicious.

So, at the Sophia Conference this past weekend, this was our menu:

1. Soup for Sophia: Prepared with love in our “Dancing Plums” kitchen with talented friends, personal chef Georgia Ferrell and Yoga teacher Paige Sapp. The recipe is here.

Sophia Lunch #AyurvedicSoup
Tara Gita: In-Sight Photography

2. Pumpkin Quinoa Salad: A rich, hearty salad from Wendy McGuire’s Ganosh Gourmet.

#Pumpkin Quinoa Salad

3. Edible Flowers & Vibrant Greens: Also from from Wendy McGuire’s Ganosh Gourmet.

#Edible Flower Salad
Tara Gita: In-Sight Photography

4. Incredible Desserts: Bourbon-vanilla brownie bites, Carrot cake with bourbon-vanilla-flecked cream cheese frosting, Chocolate-nut bars all prepared with nourishing beauty by author and gluten-free chef Stephanie Weaver of Recipe RenovatorRaw Key Lime Pie made by Carolyn Sanders Kull from Cafe Gratitude’sI Am Grateful recipe-book.

SWDesserts

#vegan carrot cake
Tara Gita: In-Sight Photography
#raw #vegan #chcololate crispies
Tara Gita: In-Sight Photography

#keylimepie #raw #vegan

5. Peace Tea: A unique and sweet blend handcrafted by Katie Parham and Nicole Plaisted of San Diego Herb Co.

#sandiegoherbco
Tara Gita: In-Sight Photography

Everything was incredibly wonderful, and brought forth with so much beauty and grace. Thanks to everyone who contributed. You live in my heart with oceans of gratitude.

WHAT IS THE SOPHIA CONFERENCE?

I thought Lori Naylor described it perfectly ~

“My experience of the Sophia Conference was simply magical. Thank you for this gift of love, devotion, and Divine Sisterhood. It represents the ways of our grandmothers and the generations of women before them; to gather together in love, nurturing and nourishing each other so they can return to their families, friends, and communities filled up, to give again. It is women tending to women so they can tend to others. We have lost this practice in our culture and the Sophia Conference was a reminder that tending to one another is a spiritual practice we cannot afford to lose. Our daughters depend on us to maintain this tradition and continue to pass it from generation to generation.”

#GoldMusic

#celebration

#Hemalayaa

#Hugs

tara

Thank you Tara for so many wonderful photos. Thank you sweet sisters who attended this year or past! Thank you sacred sisters and brothers everywhere who seek to nourish this world with your love and your light.

Namaste!

Primal Pumpkin Coconut Bread

give thanks #thanksgiving bread
Last week we returned from a Holistic Health Cruise where a variety of presenters discussed a diversity of topics. But when asked, all seemed to agree on one thing: With all the popular diets these days, Paleo, Vegan, Atkins, South Beach, Raw, one’s head could really spin. So what do they all have in common? Avoid processed, refined, packaged, and focus on organic, seasonal, whole, “you could have gathered it yourself” foods. Once again, we return to Ayurveda, where individual differences are appreciated and the only absolute is to source from nature.

#pumpkin bread

So, along comes the divine Drisana Carey with this Primal Pumpkin Bread that had us all begging for the recipe. Before I could even ask,  she was generous enough to drop the book containing the recipe at my doorstep.

It is called “primal” because the recipe aligns with the principles of Mark Sisson’s  Primal Diet, a mature approach to eating like our ancestors, yet thoughtfully considering the stresses and environmental toxins of our modern lifestyles. On his website, where he touts the immense health benefits of pumpkin, Sisson offers an alternative recipe for Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie which actually looks like a great improvement on the usual in terms of both health and taste. 

#thanksgiving pumpkin bread

Speaking of Thanksgiving, this Primal Pumpkin Bread, with all its protein and clean energy, would be a great meal to begin the holiday. After all, it is so real, so whole, so natural, so delicious, you could say it’s the very taste of thanks-giving!

It would also make a great holiday dessert ~ with all the potassium, magnesium, healthy fats and antioxidants to help balance the season’s excesses.

best1

The creamy frosting makes it especially moist, creamy and teasingly wonderful. You could make it Vegan like the one topping these Lemon Cupcakes, or replace it with something like this Vegan Cinnamon Frosting. And while I love baking up pumpkins, you can also make it quick and easy with a box of pumpkin puree. 

#pumpkin puree

Primal Pumpkin Coconut Cake

1/4 cup ghee or coconut oil, melted
6 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup maple syrup (Drisana substitutes half the maple syrup for molasses “to add iron and potassium”)
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup dark chocoloate chips

Melt the ghee/coconut oil in a small saucepan and set aside. Grease a bread pan, or muffin tins. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Crack the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer or into a large mixing bowl. Beat with your mixer or wire whisk. Add in vanilla, maple syrup, pumpkin, and mix until thoroughly combined. Sift coconut flour, ghee or oil, spices, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add the dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat, or whisk, until there are no lumps. Stir in the coconut flakes, chopped apple, pecans and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into your baking dish or muffin tins. Bake for about 30 minutes for bread, or 15 minutes for muffins – in any case it is done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove it form the oven and turn onto a wire rack to cool, then generously cover with the Cream Cheese Frosting.

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup organic whipped cream cheese (Tofutti for Vegans, or make it yourself)
2 tablespoons cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese, honey and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Spread on cooled cake.

also best

Drisana brought this delicious cake over to join in celebrating Haunani, who is having a baby in December. Remember Haunani from this post? She is a divine, light-filled, love-drenched soul. We are grateful for her presence in our lives and wish her, husband Tad and their soon-to-emerge baby, perfect health, every happiness, infinite love. We are also grateful to Drisana and Mark Sisson for this gluten-free, nutrient-rich, potent pumpkin pleasure.

What are you grateful for this holiday harvest season?

Namaste!

*

Arugula Pesto Summer Salad

Arugula Pesto Summer Salad_VedaWise

Are you part of an Edible Community? Our local Edible asked me to write up a summer recipe based on Yoga & Ayurvedic principles. What an honor! I love the Edible Communities and their values: “We connect consumers with family farmers, growers, chefs, and food artisans of all kinds. We believe that every person has the right to affordable, fresh, healthful food on a daily basis and that knowing where our food comes from is a powerful thing.” Amen.

Here is what they got ~

In Ayurveda, the Science of Life, eating for the season is a natural, nourishing choice. With summer beginning now, it’s time to cool and refresh, purify and energize with the best of Mother Nature’s summer foods. This sumptuous Arugula Pesto salad offers the sweet, astringent and bitter tastes that balance the heat of the season. It’s a feast of nutrients, protein and fiber to nourish and delight you.

Arugula pesto salad

Arugula Pesto Summer Salad

2 c Arugula
1 c Basil
1 clove Garlic
13 lemon juice
2 handfuls raw Pistachios
2-3 T Olive Oil
1 pinch Salt
1 med sized Zucchini, julienned
Your Choice: Penne Pasta cooked, Sprouted Tofu sliced, Paneer or Burrata, pieced
Optional: Nyon Olives (those wrinkly black ones from Provence).

In an electric blender, mix 1 cup arugula with the basil, garlic, lemon and 1 handful of the pistachios until everything is well and finely chopped. Add salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil.

In a medium sized bowl, toss the zucchini with the rest of the arugula and pistachios. Add your choice of pasta, tofu, paneer or burrata, olives optionally, and a generous drizzle of Olive Oil. Stir in the Pesto and serve, or chill in the fridge for up to one day.

Arugula Summer Salad_VedaWise

I invite you to connect to your Edible Community and enjoy each season with fresh, local produce and indigenous foodies.

Wishing you a beautiful, delicious summer!
Namaste ~

Spring Green & Clean: Detox Protein Smoothie

sprong smoothie
In Ayurveda, Spring is the season of purification. For me, there is no better place to witness the lessons of Spring, and to learn about ourselves as dynamic and integral aspects of nature than in our own humble garden.

IMG_8059Perhaps the greatest joy of Spring is watching the seeds bud. Seeing those two flaps rise up out of the soil, open out to the sun, and days later reveal the head of a new unique plant is my version of a thrill.

IMG_8055Fenugreek is Kapha-reducing, thus beneficial for spring, especially spring allergies. Its leaves are great in Saag; the seeds are ground for spices and medicine in Ayurveda.

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We have lavender everywhere. It is calming to Pitta, and blooms just in time to ease us into Pitta’s summer season.

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When my niece was here she helped us clean out and plant our Spring beds, including the installation of a  drip irrigation system.

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After hours of hearty toil in the garden, we came in and “irrigated” ourselves with this purifying Spring Green Smoothie.

Detox Protein Smoothie
Serves 2

1 Apple, cored and chopped
1 T VitaMineral Greens (or Spirulina/Chlorella powder)
1 c Apple cider (or unfiltered juice)
1 handful raw sunflower seeds
1 t Coconut Oil
1 t Raw Honey
dash of Turmeric, Cardamom

Blend ingredients together for a couple of minutes until the consistency is smooth. Drink at room temperature. Enjoy!

ruth juicing

Isn’t Spring a joyful reminder of Mother’s Earth’s loving nature?

I wish you all that joy nature wants for you.

Namaste!

~

Related articles

Hangover Remedy

Clover
Shamrocks, aka Clover

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Sunday this year, it occurred to me that some of you might appreciate a remedy for recovery come Monday.

This healing tonic matches the color of the day, and points to the Ayurvedic call in this season for a Cleanse. It’s laced with shamrocks, too, for fun – but also to add brightness in color and flavor.

The Shamrocks, also known more commonly as Clover, are optional. But if you are like us and have it growing all over your garden this Spring, toss in a handful to augment the magical, “luck of the Irish” benefits. Then you could call this hangover remedy, a “Shamrock Shake,” and continue your holiday celebrations, even while you recover. It is kid-friendly, too!

Shamrock ShakeShamrock Shake Hangover Remedy
Serves 2

1 Banana
6-8 leave Kale, with stems
10 Brazil Nuts
1/3 c Aloe Vera Juice
1 c Almond Milk
1 T VitaMineral Greens (optional)
1 t Coconut Oil
1 t Turmeric
A few pickings of fresh Shamrock (White Clover), leaves and flowers (optional)

Toss it all in a blender and mix until it is very thoroughly blended. Drink at room temperature. Best on an empty stomach.

Shamrock Shake

Clover is a natural alterative, or blood purifier, used by traditional poeple across North America and Europe. It is “rich in minerals and vitamins that help with decongestion and (which) stimulate the liver and digestion. While most alteratives contain bitter compounds, Clover is unique because it is sweet and tasty,” writes acclaimed herbalist Rosemary Gladstar.

Clover makes a great tea. So if you want to skip the Guinness, but still celebrate, you could enjoy instead an old-fashioned cup of “Shamrock Brew:” Simply boil up a few cups of water, add clover leaves and flowers, reduce to a low simmer, and steep for ten minutes.

Speaking of green, my annual Spring Cleanse begins next weekend. If you would like to join us to greenify your body and mind, please visit my website to register or learn more. If you can’t wait to get started, you’ll find a Spring Green Detox Tonic I wrote up for Elephant Journal here.

May your days be happy and green!

Namaste!

Related articles:
Clover’s Medicinal Uses, Live and Feel Well

Clover and Ayurveda, Tattva’s Herbs
White & Red Clover Species, Montana Plant Life

Vegetable Kofta

It is our last few moments in Rishikesh. Bhava and I are packed and ready to go. Dehradun. Delhi. Newark. San Diego. 36 hours of travel.

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It is worth it. To sit by the Ganges, Hike in the Himalayas. Listen to sages. Be in the presence of enlightened ones. Meet international Yogis, adepts and Sadhaks. Soak in the bhav’ with my Bhava.

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We were up early this morning, enjoying our final hours with “Ma Ganga” ~ Meditating in the predawn by the huge window in our room that overlooks this storied river; listening to her soothing yet powerful flow, while stirred by the punctuating cries of pilgrims heading to pay homage to Shiva at Neelkanth Temple, on the eve of Shivaratri. Then to the Ghat for Puja, flowers for Ma Ganga, and Sadhana with our fellow Deep Yogis.

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We just had an early lunch at the Green Hotel before our beloved friend Madhav heads over to fetch us for the airport.

What did we have for our last meal? Why Palak Paneer, of course, along with Vegetable Kofta, a kind of Vegan Meatballs in a curry sauce, without meat,  wheat, eggs ~ just pure delight. It’s the ultimate comfort food. Something I need lots of now, as departing this heavenly realm is never easy for me.

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With this last hour, we could go back to the river, but at this point, that feels maudlin. It is hard enough to leave. Just thinking about it, my heart starts to crack. Instead, we look forward, thinking about all that we have to return to  ~ our precious family, our friends, students, fellow Yogis, even our own holy waters – the Pacific.

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I am also looking forward to sharing some of the Indian specialties we’ve enjoyed here, starting with these delightful Koftas.

Kofta

While it includes a few “exotic” ingredients, the spices are usually carried by Whole Foods or  your local spice shop. Otherwise, order in small quantities online from a reputable purveyor. Having said that, it does require one special ingredient: Gram flour. Also known as Besam, it is simply ground chickpea and is used in cooking, in natural home remedies for skincare, and in Ayurvedic treatments all over India.

Apart from having a high protein content, when mixed with an equal proportion of water, gram flour can be used as an egg-replacer in vegan cooking. You can find it at any Asian or Indian market, but in the meantime bread crumbs will work.

Vegetable Kofta Curry

Koftas

1 c Cabbage
1 Carrot
1 Red Pepper
1 c Broccoli and/or Cauliflower
2 Bananas
1 Onion, chopped fine
2 T Gram flour (or bread crumbs)
1 t Garam Masala
1 t Ginger Paste
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 t lemon juice
Himalayan salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 T Peanut Oil (an alternative could be coconut)

Curry

1 c Tomato purée
1/2 Onion chopped
1 t Chili paste
1/2 t Ginger paste
1/2 t Garlic Paste
1 t Cumin seeds
2 t Coconut powder (flour)
1 t Fenugreek seeds (or powder)
1 t Turmeric
1 t Coriander
1 t Cayenne
2-3 Green chillies, sliced fine (or 1 t cayenne powder)
1 c Water
2 T Oil (ghee, Coconut Oil, Safflower Oil, etc.)
1/4 c Cilantro, chopped

Grate the vegetables for the Kofta and mix together in a bowl with the rest of the Kofta ingredients. Wet your hands with water and with your hands divide into 10-12 small portions and roll into round balls. Fry the koftas in hot oil until they brown all over (I will try baking these instead), and put to the side.

To make the curry sauce, heat the oil in a pan and toast the fenugreek seeds for about 1 minute. Add the cumin seeds and onion. Sauté until it turns a golden brown.

Stir in the ginger paste, coconut powder, spices and salt. After about 1 minute, add in the tomato purée and the water and bring to a boil.

Add the koftas made earlier and cook for 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with paratha or roti.

This recipe is a westernized  amalgam of two very different recipes from Cooking with Sapana  and Sindhi Rasoi to whom I am so grateful. If you make these before I get home, please let me know how you like them, and what adaptions you make.

~

Meanwhile, how about coming with us to India next year? It is not only magical, it is life-changing. And the food is endless delight!
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Be home soon! Namaste! 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

On Sunday, Celeste came over for a class we called “Learn to Love the Kitchen.” Given she had just been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I wanted to include something really delicious and easy to make so she wouldn’t feel it’s a diagnosis of labor and deprivation.

Sunday with Celeste
Sunday with Celeste

Celeste arrived after a morning of writing. Not very purposeful writing, and not even very useful, but full of flow and ease, and a healing making right with the world kind of sweetness.

You see, I was taught to write in a stream of consciousness: “Don’t think, just write.” “Put pen in hand and begin.” “Let it flow.” “Be uncensored.” “Afterwards,” they would say, “you can go back and edit.”

This way of writing has been like therapy for me. It helps keep me alive to the river of life. It restores my faith that all is flowing towards some ocean, symbolic in Yoga for expanded consciousness, the cosmic mind, our oneness.

It’s one reason I put this quote from Norman MacLean on my personal website ~ “But when I am alone in the half light of the canyon all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and memories… Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”

Nutella Mousse

“Under the rocks are the words…” he goes on. And it feels that way to me. Writing helps dislodge the rocks, underneath which are buried the words. There, a river runs through, and everything fades to a being with my soul and the memories…

Hazelnut Mousse

Sometimes I think I write for my life. To unfurl the coiled and sometimes twisted emotion, energy, experience and restore balance, perspective, peace.

At least that is how it began. Now I write to cultivate a divine essence, or a relationship with that. It’s a relationship that includes food, Nature,  you, even my own spirit ~ elated as it is to now be so free.

Homemade, healthy Nutella

In his novel, A River Runs Through, MacLean writes: “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy.” 

Which makes me think not only of writing, and blogging, but of the kitchen, and all that we do to maintain health. Maybe our work is our art, and even our diagnoses can be seen not as labor and deprivation, but as acts of art leading us towards grace.

Nutella Pie_4
The art of our labor came for Celeste and for me, in this Flourless Chocolate Cake, which I affectionately call, “Nutella Pie.” It is simple, with only about 5 main ingredients. It is also messy. MacLean promises all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation… and that must include chocolate cake, don’t you think?

This little delight is made with hazelnuts, almond milk, dates, eggs, and some spices. It is not made with sugar, flour, dairy, or any junk. I ran the nutritional data on it and it seems to have about 150 calories per slice, plus a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber and good-for-you love. I served it with a Coconut Cream Coulis and strawberries, but raspberries would be pretty, too.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Hazelnuts, 1 cup
Dates, 6 large, pitted and chopped
Almond Milk, 1 cup
Vanilla Extract, 1 Tablespoon
Coconut Oil, 1 Tablespoon
Eggs, 3 large
Pink Salt, a pinch or two
Raw Cacao, 1/4 cup scant
Cinnamon, 1 big shake
Cardamom, pinch
Maple Syrup, 1-2 Tablespoons, (optional)

Set your oven to 335F. Pit and chop the Dates, then soak them in pure water for at least ten minutes. Toast the Hazelnuts lightly (about 3-4 minutes in a toaster). Put the nuts in a Vitamix or electric blender and grind until it is a powder. Drain the dates and add to the hazelnuts, along with the Almond Milk, Vanilla and Coconut Oil. Blend until it is creamy. You might have to stop, stir, and blend a few times to get it to really come together.

In a small bowl whip the eggs with the salt. Add to the hazelnut mixture and blend some more. Once that is creamy, add the cacao, spices, and maple syrup.

Grease a 9″ round pan, or muffin tins,with a dab of coconut oil. Pour in the mixture and smooth with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for 2o-25 minutes for the cake/pie, or 15-20 minutes for the minis.

Serve warm or at room temperature with plain yogurt or this Coconut Coulis.

Coconut Coulis

Coconut Milk, 1 can
Raw Honey, 1 Tablespoon

Chill the Coconut Milk for at least one hour. Spoon it into a bowl and blend with the Honey. Whip it until it gets a bit fluffy and thickens. Drizzle over your Chocolate Cake. It is also wonderful with fresh fruit.

Nutella Pie_1

“Study after study shows that cocoa flavanols can disarm cell damaging free radicals, preserve cell membranes, protect DNA, prevent the formation of artery clogging plaque, improve blood flow to the heart, lower high blood pressure, and prevent blood clots that can cause a heart attack or stroke. ~ Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD

I hope you enjoy this delicious reminder that food is a love story, and that Mother Earth is always loving you!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Namaste ~

Cardamom Cookies

Cardamom Cookie

The ever sunny, always giving, Randy-Skippy-Arjuna (RSA) Spicocchi brought these over for dessert recently. We had what we call our “India Dinner,” an evening we host one month before departing for India where we teach at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh. We prepare a multi-course Indian meal together with our fellow travellers (photos here), so they can meet each other and learn about the adventure ahead. These divine little treats, laced as they are with India’s own peppery and exotic Cardamom, were the perfect sweet complement.

You may have noticed I don’t write often of sweets or treats. There are two reasons for that. The first is personal: I am Kapha enough that dessert, bread, pasta and the like, had to be struck from the plate long ago. The second reason is well explained here.

Cardamom Cookie Stack

On the other hand, every now and then we are asked to provide a dessert, or want to show our love with a treat. Some people find the stresses of the day melt away a little more easily with a morsel of something warm, soft and sweet, and, with chronic stress being arguably more dangerous to your well-being, melt away I say. Plus, some of you have asked for more baking… and, they are gorgeous, aren’t they?

Cardamom Cookie 1

I had an Acupunturist once tell me that when it comes to diet, it is important to break the rules now and then. His theory was that the digestive system needs to be challenged occasionally, and he pointed to Fergus the Forager as proof. Given that I had a bad “frites” habit at the time, I was happy to adopt that professional justification.

I could justify it Ayurvedically, too. After all, digestion is a fire. The dosha, or bio-energy, of fire is Pitta. Pitta is muscular, competitive, success-oriented. It loves a good challenge. Pitta naturally distinguishes between good and bad, right and wrong, healthy or not. Discernment is a positive quality of Pitta. Whether it is your vision, your mind, or your digestion, if you have positive Pitta, it discerns.

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I wonder then, dear reader, professor of all things healthy, connoisseur of true food and enduring nourishment, if we could say that the small intestine ~ that most Pitta of organs, responsible for the second stage of digestion, the stage where the essential is separated from the non-essential ~ actually needs a break from perfection once in a while to test its clarity, strength and power, and keep it in good working order?

What if, too, that is the principle behind all metabolism, including your mental and emotional metabolism, the heart and soul’s capacity to digest information, experience, life itself? Could cultivating your inner fires of passion, devotion, discipline, clarity, discernment really help you release the non-essential, preserve the essence, heal and grow in wisdom and compassion? I offer my husband as a thought-experiment.

Cardamom Dough

How’s that for justification?

In truth, this cookie is pretty healthy. We use a GF flour, coconut palm sugar which has a low glycemic index, good-for-you ghee instead of butter, Himalayan salt with 88 trace minerals, and, of course, Cardamom which is a Pitta support, helping metabolize sugar, and reducing those levels in the blood where it can be so dangerous.

GF flour

So when cookie cravings arise, try these. My husband saw them and pronounced them the prettiest cookies ever. After tasting one, two, and then three, he also declared them to be the very best cookies ever. From my very own world expert on cookies, that felt good to hear.

One more plus ~ I made them in less than ten minutes (plus cooking time)!

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Cardamom Cookies
Recipe adapted from Randy Spicocchi

Organic GF Flour, 2 1/4 cups
Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon
Pink (Himalayan) Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
Ghee, 1/2 cup room temperature
Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, 1 1/2 cups
Ground Cardamom, 3 teaspoons
Organic, Free-range Eggs, 2
Vanilla Extract, 2 teaspoons

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
 In a large bowl, cream together ghee and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cardamom, eggs and vanilla extract until well combined.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually incorporate the flour mixture until the dough comes together and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet.
 Randy likes to sprinkle a combination of cardamom and the palm sugar over the top “for added sweetness.” I like it for the dusting of contrasting color.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are set and very light golden around the edges.
 Allow to cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Baking Cardamom Cookies

Cardamom is mother nature’s answer to our occasional need for a sweet splurge. Isn’t she amazing to always anticipate our needs? Next time you need a little extra comfort, I hope you will enjoy these Cardamom Cookies and savor Mother’s Love.

Cardamom

What warms your heart when life’s seasons turn cold?

~

P.S. Have you seen my new website, with information about my upcoming Winter Cleanse?

Thank you & Namaste!



			
		

Top Ten Tips for Radiant Health in the New Year

Ayurveda has a unique term, Dinacharya, that means daily habits, or daily rituals. It is unique because it refers to small, personal things we do each day not just to be healthy, but to align ourselves with nature and universal rhythms in ways that bring balance, peace, ease and optimal wellness. Here is a basic dinacharya that will help you stay strong in 2013.

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Download PDF: TOP TEN FOR 2013

~

Happy New Year! 

2012 in Review

Thank you dear friends for joining me in growing a healthier, happier world by following my blog dedicated to remembering that Mother Earth’s natural gifts of food, beauty and medicine are her way of loving you. Isn’t that comforting to know?

Below is the annual review with highlights from the year. Thank you for your participation, and comments which you know I love and greatly appreciate. Let me know how this blog can serve you and please stay in touch.

May 2013 feed you with every happiness, and all love!

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 58,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Cardamom Rice Pudding

rice pud'“As many of you know, last week, a crazy frankenstorm named Sandy hit the East Coast of the U.S. leaving millions without power, thousands evacuated from/lost their homes, several lost their lives, and it wreaked chaos and havoc across the northeastern seaboard, and affected people as far west as the Appalachians,” wrote Jenn Oliver of JennCuisine and Barb Kiebel of Creative Culinary on their blogs earlier this week.

In response to the devastation, Jenn and Barb had a great idea. “Food brings people together in good times and bad, and food can bring us together this time, to help those in need. We decided to create this event to bring the food blogging community together, so that we can join hands, and meals, and support for the victims of Sandy.”

So they asked food bloggers “that you post a comfort dish on your blog and share this need with your readers” and to post today, November 8th, with “something that you would make for someone in need, to help them feel at home. But more importantly, let’s encourage everyone to donate to relief efforts.”

rice pudding

I wanted to do this right away. We are so far from our friends and family back East and feel so helpless as we watch them valiantly respond. If only we could invite them in, give them shelter, warm food, loving support and quiet refuge. We can’t do that in person. We can’t serve up comfort food live. But we can do something more important…  we can support them with our donations to and let them know how much we care.

Basmati Rice

As I thought about it, I knew I wanted to create something that would be satisfyingly comforting. Not just comfort food that fills you up, making you feel full but also regretful, but comfort food that comforts and nourishes.

Cardamom

I also wanted it to be something that you could make with ingredients you’re likely to have at home, so that whatever storms you are facing in your life, you can stay in, get cozy and make up a warm bowl of nurturing comfort. After all, food is a love story, and comfort food should be like a mother’s loving embrace.

So in honor of all the heroes and survivors, I offer a warm bowl of Rice Pudding, and invite the rest of us to make whatever contributions possible to help our Eastern neighbors.

Click for Print Version

This Rice Pudding makes a delicious breakfast, snack or dessert. It is especially Vata-reducing – great for children, anyone recuperating, and anyone needing a pick-me-up. I hope you will try it and let me know what you think.

Riso Pudding Cropped

There is still time to post your own favorite comfort food to your blog and help with Support for Sandy. Go to Jenn Cuisine for details. And there is always time to make a donation to the Red Cross to support those in the path of Hurricane Sandy, many of whom remain without power, even now as another huge storm hits.

To all those who suffer anywhere, our hearts are with you!

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!