Expanding Light: Feast of Retreat

I recently returned from a week studying with the eminent, brilliant and surprisingly droll James Kelleher at the Expanding Light Retreat Center in the Sierras.

Serenity

Jyotish in the Sierras

Ananda means bliss, and that it was. Even the meals. Despite being cafeteria style, everything was delicious and divinely digestible. It was perfect autumn comfort: warming, nourishing, strengthening, reassuring.

veg meatballs

Lunch in the Sierras

I didn’t have my camera, nor did the chefs have anything written down, but I had to share these with you – so please forgive the images, they are from my phone. Hopefully you get a sense of it. Forgive too, please, the recipes. The chefs never had amounts – and if they did, it would have been enough to feed an army – the expanding light brigade, of course!

I think you can make sense of it. If not, please leave questions in the comments below, and together we can share our successes.

veggie tofu roast

Ananda Menu

Chef Jake

Chef Jake’s Veggie Roast with Braised Tofu

Brussel Sprouts
Whole Garlic
Onions thick slice
Carrots
Yams
Peas
Safflower Oil
Tamari or soy sauce
Chives
Basil
Onion Granules
Garlic Granules
Black Pepper
Oregano
Tofu
Ghee or coconut oil
Tamari soy sauce

Chop your larger vegetables coarsely. Mix the safflower oil and everything else that follows until well blended. Toss with the vegetables and pour into a casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 for half an hour. Uncover and bake another half hour.

Meanwhile, as soon as you’ve put the veggies in the oven, slice the tofu into 1” thick pieces. Melt ghee or coconut oil in a sauté pan. Sauté the tofu pieces 3 minutes on each side. Put the tofu in a bowl with tamari or soy sauce and cover. Leave covered half an hour. Add to the roast the last ten minutes it is in the oven before serving.

Zucchini Boats

zucchini boat

Zucchini Boats

Zucchini
Baby Bello Mushrooms
Onion, finely chopped
Garlic, minced
Ghee or olive oil
Pink Salt and Fresh Pepper
Udi’s Gluten-free bread
Walnuts
Eggs (Vegans could use flax and/or psyllium)
Option: bbq sauce, parmesan cheese, mozzarella, nutritional yeast

Slice your zucchini the long way. Scoop out the zucchini. Save the insides. Put your mushrooms in a processor and grind them into little bits. Sauté onions in ghee or olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Simmer for a moment then stir in the zucchini and mushrooms. Meanwhile, break up pieces of Udi’s bread and process with walnuts until finely ground. Drain the vegetable mixture and mix with bread and walnuts. Scoop this mixture into the zucchini slices and place on a baking tray. Chef told me that if he were making this at home, we would drizzle barbecue sauce, or cheese over the top before baking at 375F. Give it about 20 minutes. Pull it out of the oven when the top is a sizzling golden brown. They served it with garlicky mash potatoes, braised chard and the gravy below.

veggie gravy

Veggie Gravy

onion, chopped
safflower oil
garlic, chopped
veggie broth
nutritional yeast
option: for darker color and richer taste: gf tamari

Sauté onions in safflower oil. Once translucent add the garlic, stir and sauté a minute or so. minutes. Add vegetable broth. Puree, bring to a boil, stir in the nutritional yeast and tamari to taste.

Veggie Meatballs

walnut meatballs

Walnut Meatballs

Zucchini filling, left over from making the Zucchini boats
Walnuts, chopped
Egg, just enough to bind
Nutritional Yeast or Mozzarella Cheese, optional

Mix it all together. Shape into balls. Sauté in ghee, or bake until golden on the outside and cook all the way through. Serve with what the Chef called “a classic southern Italian sauce with onions, garlic, tomatoes, lots of basil and oregano, cooked long and slow.”

Met Scott while I was there, who said he knew me from my blog. He works in their kitchen, which I was visiting at that moment to write up the recipes for this blog, which is one more example of the grace of the place.

sunset sierras

Expanding Light is part of Ananda Village, a spiritual community started by Swami Kriyananda, devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda. So everywhere you are there, you are under the gaze of that great Guru, which is itself another name for Jupiter in Sanskrit. Whether it is by the light of the guru, or the ananda of divine embrace, or enjoying a meal prepared by sweet, pure hearted devotees, it is all love. I wish you that eternally.

Nickel Free + Curried Sweet Potato Soup

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

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

With Vandana Shiva

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

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

herbs marked

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

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

Staggering, isn’t it?

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

coconut curry sweet potato soup

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

Here is the list of foods one can eat ~

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

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

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

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! 

Roses + Chocolate for Ma

#anti-aging browniesMother
Lola Ridge

Your love was like moonlight
turning harsh things to beauty,
so that little wry souls
reflecting each other obliquely
as in cracked mirrors . . .
beheld in your luminous spirit
their own reflection,
transfigured as in a shining stream,
and loved you for what they are not.

You are less an image in my mind
than a luster
I see you in gleams
pale as star-light on a gray wall . . .
evanescent as the reflection of a white swan
shimmering in broken water.

#paleobrownies

#paleobrownie

Getting Close
Victoria Redel

Because my mother loved pocketbooks
I come alive at the opening click or close of a metal clasp.

And sometimes, unexpectedly, a faux crocodile handle makes me weep.

Breathy clearing of throat, a smooth arm, heels on pavement, she lingers, sound tattoos.

I go to the thrift store to feel for bobby pins caught in the pocket seam
of a camel hair coat.

I hinge a satin handbag in the crease of my arm. I buy a little change purse with its
curled and fitted snap.

My mother bought this for me. This was my mother’s.

I buy and then I buy and then, another day, I buy something else.

In Paris she had a dog, Bijou, and when they fled Paris in 1942 they left the dog behind.

When my mother died on February 9, 1983, she left me.

Now, thirty years later and I am exactly her age.

I tell my husband I will probably die by the end of today and all day he says, Are you
getting close, Sweetheart? And late in the afternoon, he asks if he should buy enough filet of sole for two.

From a blue velvet clutch I take out a mirror and behold my lips in the small rectangle.

Put on something nice.
Let him splurge and take you out for dinner, my mother whispers

on the glass.

wow

instagram #brownies

What I Learned From My Mother
by Julia Kasdorf

I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

no bake brownies

Rosy Raw Brownies
Recipe Ayurvedically adapted from Julie Morris, who has a video demonstrating it here

Makes
1 dozen

Ingredients
1 cup walnuts
1 cup medjool dates, pitted (about 8)
1/2 cup raw cacao
1 teaspoon rose water
pinch pink salt
dash cinnamon
dash cardamom
Optional: 1 T cacao nibs, rose petals (dried or fresh), cinnamon

*
Method

Using an electric blender, grind your walnuts to a powder. Add the dates one at a time, blending well before adding the next. Mix in the cacao, then the rose water, finally the spices.

The mixture should be moist. If you pick it up between two fingers and it easily falls apart, add another bit of rose water. Be careful of two things: you don’t want to over-water, and you don’t want to over-blend or the oils are released and it becomes more like fudge than brownie.

Spread the mixture into a small baking pan. Press down with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Press evenly and firmly so the brownie will set. Optionally, you can press cacao nibs gently into the top, dust with cinnamon, or sprinkle with rose petals. The nibs give it a burst of bitter crunch, and the rose petals make it as beautiful as your Mom.

anti-aging brownies

Mother’s Day
David Young

        —for my children

I see her doing something simple, paying bills,
or leafing through a magazine or book,
and wish that I could say, and she could hear,

that now I start to understand her love
for all of us, the fullness of it.

It burns there in the past, beyond my reach,
a modest lamp.

roses

To mothers everywhere, thank you for the gripping power and delicate tending of your unflinching devotion.
Your love makes the world go round.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Jai Ma!

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! 

To Eat the Sun: Pêches Aux Nuages

Peches Aux Nuages: Peaches on a Cloud

After our Zen Mountain Retreat earlier this month, Jen Carpenter, a recent graduate of the Deep Yoga Mastery of Life Yoga Teacher Training, continued with her own Retreat in the Sierras. When she returned she shared with us this beautiful experience of awakening:

On the second morning of solitude, I received— totally out of the blue— the vision I’d been crying out for on my meditation rock all along the previous day.

When I awoke it was still cold. The sun had yet to cross the high ridge to the east. but the voice of the guru within me urged me to go to the lake for an early morning swim.

It’s a voice entirely my own, but strong and wise, a voice that knows what it knows from the heart of my heart.

I trust it. I follow the path down to the lake.

I take a deep breath and slip into the cold water. As I swim the sun crests the pass and illuminates the basin, first inch by inch, then in wild insouciant steps of ever more light towards me. I am bathed in it. I stand up tall, grounded in dark-wet underwater earth, the air around me clear and bright.

There it is, in plain sight: my reflection in the lake, my shadow. Surrounded by bright white light. As the clear water drops from my body into the lake around me, the angle of the morning sun refracts just so. And there it is: rainbows, millions of them, dancing in halos of light from my shadow, my heart center sending out ripples of color like a gigantic prism. The ripples grow from my body and expand out into the lake.

I am a small body. The world is a great cold lake. And yet, and yet—

I can stand tall and reflect, radiate and expand like a brilliant rainbow the white light of dawn— endlessly, because it is the light of god (for I am but a lantern)— and with the whole of my being I devote myself to this vision and this promise: let me be a clear vessel for your light— a perfect prism. Let my heart be a lighthouse by which all other hearts may find their way home, safe and sound in your love.

Jen’s Photograph of that Dawn

I can’t put in words how beautiful this vision was, how it made my whole heart cry out with the ecstasy of remembering, like a buried  treasure found at the bottom of a cold lake, or a bright strong fire at the center of a dark forest— I can’t say there would be even a point to it, but I write to remember this vision always, to carry it within that heart of hearts that knows, and to awaken that same truth in each being who listens for we are all that—

And I know who I am. And I know what my place is in this world. And I know where to go from here. And I will walk this path with courage, and joy, and loving-kindness, and the utmost gratitude.

~

That evening Jen came to my Yoga class. I told her who much I loved her writing and appreciated her sharing this experience with us.  I then asked her what she ate after that experience: what she had for breakfast that day. She looked at me perplexed.

“In other words,” I asked, “What would be the ideal thing to eat after an experience like this?  How do you feed that light?”

Without hesitation she said, “Peaches!”

Peaches Feeding on Light

I lived a bit of eternity in France where summers in the Aquitaine were especially timeless. In that early evening blue-y green light of the gloaming, we’d pick our meals from the fields. Not much later, just as the sun loosed its last ray, we’d sit to dine au jardin.

By the time dessert would come it was usually something fresh, something sweet-sour, something home-made of course, something grown from that soil of time immemorial, something that had been daily collecting and preserving sunlight, something that in its own miraculous way had metamorphosed sunlight into pure ambrosial sweetness.

These were desserts that told a story of summer. They had depth, natural elegance, integrity.

So when Jen mentioned that Peaches are the food that most makes her feel like she is eating the radiance of the sun,  it recalled sweetly lit memories of fresh peaches tasting like bursting rays of sunshine and French creams soft and soothing like the gentle moon. It inspired me to create this little velvety concoction: Pêches Aux Nuages, or peaches floating on clouds of almond delight.

Pêches Aux Nuages: Sunlit Peaches on an Almond Cloud

This recipe calls for a few ingredients that you may not have already in your pantry. First, Irish Moss is carried at People’s ~ where Jen works, by the way. If you know what that is, you’ll know where it is. If not, you can order it here. Second, there may be no greater love than Mother Nature’s gift of the Coconut and Coconut Manna is the treasure of that love in a jar. But if you can’t find Coconut Manna (yes, it has to be Manna), fresh coconut meat would be a great substitute, with even more of that fresh, vibrant life force. But as it is wetter, you’ll likely want to reduce the amount of Almond Milk/Coconut Oil to compensate.

Finally, lecithin is an emulsifier binding the liquids and oils. It also protects cells from oxidation, nourishes nerve tissue, provides a feast of B vitamins and breaks down stored fats in the body, so it is wonderful for you ~ however, it is often genetically modified. Be sure your purchase clearly states “Non-GMO” on the label. If you can’t find it, skip it. The “cloud” will still be delicious. Same goes for the Irish Moss. The taste will be the same without it, the cloud just won’t set. Instead, you’ll have Peaches on a River. Which is very French. You can call it, “Pêches aux Coulis.”

To serve this, I use an ice cream scoop to create a billowing cumulus on the plate. The peaches are then beautiful arrayed around the clouds and also set inside the curls so they peek through just like the rays of the sun.

Click on Recipe for Print Version

When your heart cries out with the ecstasy of remembering, or with the longing to remember, this is that taste of Heaven ~ resplendent, prismatic nourishment.

I look forward to having Jen over to try this ~ although she is already so full of light, she might break open, become the sun and illuminate the whole world.

The tag line on Jen’s Blog reads, “married to amazement,” and her writing is beautiful indeed because she is so heartfully and amazingly awe-drenched. If you would like more of her, head on over to her Singing Bowls Blog.

Singing Bowls invites you to the Heart

Meanwhile, please let us know, by writing in the Comment box below, what you eat when you want to feed your light. I look forward to hearing what captures your imagination. What a rainbow of delights your contributions will be!

In honor of the light within you, in honor of the Love that surrounds you, in awe of the eternal river of life that runs through ~

Namaste!

Summer Beans & Greens

Mint

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

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

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

Cilantro

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

~

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

Coriander Seeds

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

Preparing to Plant

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

The Sunflower Seeds, before their demise

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

Our Food Garden

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

Hope you are enjoying your summer.

Namaste ~