I have been pulling together a new website, and prepping for a new course called Radiant You: AgelessBeauty and Balance (details coming), and all I’ve been wanting for lunch each day is this hearty Lentil soup ~ which is great because it is part of a One Day Detox we will be doing at the start of the Radiant You program, and it’s great to be able to speak to its power not only to detox, but also to seduce.
Detox Lentil Soup Makes 2-4 servings
1 cup Lentils
1 cup Red Quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup Onion, chopped
1-2 clove Garlic (or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder), minced
1-2 teaspoons Ghee (alternatively: coconut, safflower or peanut oil)
1 scant teaspoon Garam Masala (or 1 pinch each: turmeric, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and/or clove)
1 Carrot, quartered and chopped
1 stalk Celery, cut into small pieces
1 cup Kale, stalks removed, leaves torn into small bits
2 cups Vegetable Broth (I like Pacific Foods Low Sodium)
Hingvastak, or Hing/Asafotida, optional Coconut or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, or Tamari (gluten-free) to taste
Rinse lentils and drain. Melt ghee over medium heat. Sprinkle in spices and sauté one minute. Add onion and cook a few minutes until it softens. Stir in lentils until thoroughly coated. Add carrot, celery, kale and cook a moment. Turn heat to high and add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low.
Cook 20-25 minutes. Stir in Hingvastak, optionally. Ladle the quinoa into bowls and pour the soup over. Season with Amino Acids or Tamari to taste.
Even if you don’t join us for the One Day Detox, along with four weeks of Radiant You, I hope you will enjoy this wintery soup. Please let me know.
At first look, this Breakfast Smoothie is a blush-colored beauty! But at first taste, it is a bit of a surprise: the kind of surprise that yanks you by the collar, drags you from bed, alerts all five senses, concentrates the mind, and shouts, “Wake up!”
When you go back to check, Really?, the second taste gives you a shudder. The kind of shudder that shakes off sleep, powers up the daylight, revs up your juices, sends that blush of beauty to your face, and stirs all the cells in your body to declare “Yes, I am Alive!”
After that, it is delicious.
If this is a helpful way to start your day, here is how to make it. I adapted it from Whole Living, who add fresh ginger ~ a pungent and, therefore, great for Spring, but too much for me. I replaced it with cinnamon ~ also pungent, but gentler ~ and added Honey. Otherwise, the grapefruit was overwhelming.
Spring Detox Smoothie
1/2 Grapefruit, peeled
1 cup Strawberries
1 t Honey
1 dash Cinnamon
Put the fruit in a VitaMix or powerful blender. Add 1 cup water and liquefy. Add honey and cinnamon. Blend another 10 seconds, and pour into glasses. Makes 2 servings.
I served this to guests when they arrived at my recent Spring Detox Cooking Class at Casa De Luz because the grapefruit offers a light, bright, energizing way to get more of the bitter taste in your diet, which in turn will give you a healthier, happier Spring.
Would you like a free lunch at Casa De Luz? It is our hip, new, North Park, Vegan, communal Eatery and they are giving a nourishing soup, salad and main course for free to one person who comments below about your love for Smoothies, Juicing or Casa De Luz. I’ll pick a name from the comments on Sunday, and announce it here. So please let us know what you do to stay healthy in Spring and come back to visit Sunday.
Springtime in San Diego reminds me of Ireland with its moody rains scattering showers in sudden bursts over canyons that for only about a month each year, here at least, are soft, baby green instead of desert dry. Visible patches of blue, white and gray race through the sky now, dappling the earth in patches of rain-kissed side light.
People here ask one another, “Are you enjoying the rain?” Overall, it is rare and always much needed, so when it comes, Yes, thank you, we enjoy it very much. In fact, we run right out and get ourselves soaked in the glory of holy Spring!
Yesterday was a day like that, so after our soak we got out the soup pots for dinner. We agree with Domenica Marchetti, author of Glorious Soups, “Too many cooks associate soup with (winter) weather, and that’s a shame because soup is a wonderful way to showcase the ingredients of spring, especially the young, delicately flavored vegetables that are now turning up at farmers markets, and the flowery herbs that complement them so well.”
Turning up fresh in our garden just now are asparagus, chard, basil and spring onions, so in honor of the day’s rain we turned to Ireland for inspiration ~ creating a Barley Asparagus Soup that my husband called “probably the best soup you’ve made yet.”
While this soup recalls Ireland to me, in the Springtime we could find a version of this soup in almost any kitchen in Europe. The Germans, Irish and Portuguese love Barley, while the French and Spanish are champions of the asparagus. In Spain, spears will be white, fat and creamy, while in France they are green and skinny. The Italians love them, too, especially in Risotto. The British serve them with hollandaise sauce, whereas those creators of the hollandaise, the Dutch, make an Asparagus Tart with ricotta, parmesan and tarragon that is calling me to Amsterdam.
Europeans know innately, that Mother Nature’s loving intelligence offers elegant solutions to her seasons, so that in the Spring, when the Water element is dominant (rain, cloud, swollen rivers), these ingredients ~ barley, asparagus, chard, garlic, spring onions, and the many varieties of Spring greens, are naturally detoxifying foods, helping us to warm up and lighten up after the heaviness of winter.
Ireland is a place where Spring reaches its maximum expression, so many of the foods you would find in the Irish Kitchen are Spring balancing, and Kapha-reducing. That means the balance of the Six Tastes are weighted towards Pungent, Astringent, Bitter.
The primary Astringent and Bitter tastes come from the Asparagus. Pungent is the garlic, onion, basil. We always need something sweet in our meal, as that gives substance. But in Springtime we want a lighter “sweet.” In this Soup the Sweet Taste comes from the grain, but Barley is light and slightly astringent, therefore drying, ideal in a wet season (or a “wet” constitution).
While we want to reduce the Salty and Sour tastes in this Water dominant season, the Salty taste brings out flavor and initiates digestion, while Sour feeds the digestive fire, so we don’t want to eliminate these tastes altogether. A bit of seaweed and a dash of Shoyu finsih it off with perfect balance.
Seaweed is an excellent salt substitute because its secondary, bitter taste helps detoxify, while its gelatinous action which helps ease toxins from their place of hiding to encourage their elimination. Shoyu Sauce is a healthy, low sodium Japanese Soy Sauce which can be replaced with Tamari, or Bragg’s Amino Acid, although Shoyu is the best for a salty-sour seasoning that both enriches and defines the flavors of this soup.
“The soups of spring … wake up the palate and celebrate new life. Their delicate flavors are a reflection, in a bowl, of the rebirth taking place around us in nature, and so require only minimal tampering,” says Marchetti, reminding us that Spring’s bounty is also, mostly, effortless.
Barley Asparagus Soup
2 T Ghee
2 t Masala (see below)
1/2 Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, optional
3/4 c. Barley
2 c. Vegetable Broth
4 c. Water
1 large bunch Asparagus Spears, chopped into bite-size pieces with hard ends removed
3-4 Leaves of Chard, shredded
1/2 t Seaweed (Dulse, Wakame, or Kombu)
1 T Shoyu (or Tamari, Bragg’s Amino Acids)
3-4 sprigs Basil
Optional: 2-3 Spring Onions, chopped
Melt the ghee in a large saucepan on medium low heat. Stir in the onions and allow to gently cook until they yellow. Add the masala and garlic and sauté for one minute. Rinse the barley, and stir into the onion and spice, coating well. Add the vegetable broth, turn up the heat to bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, bring to a boil, simmer for 40 minutes. Stir in Asparagus, Chard, seaweed, and gently simmer for another 10 minutes. Instead of Salt and pepper, adjust seasoning with Shoyu and red pepper flakes. In serving bowls, garnish with Basil and Spring Onions, optionally.
My Spring Masala
1 T Ginger
1 T Cinnamon
1 T Basil, dried
1 t Red Pepper Flakes
1 t Turmeric
1 t Fenugreek Seeds
1 t Clove Buds
Grind the seeds, clove buds, red pepper and dried basil in a mortar and pestle or a spice or coffee grinder. Add the Ginger, Cinnamon and Turmeric powders and mix well.
Save in an airtight container to use with your Spring sautés, soups, pastas, and bean dishes, to help the body “melt winter’s accumulation.”
I offer this nourishing creation to Irish friends Liz Ellicott of Wicklow, Irene Keogh Scott of Dublin and our great, great grandfather, Festus King of Connemara.
“Finally, Spring soups are best enjoyed soon after they’re made. Their color and flavor dissipate the longer they sit. Much like the season they honor, their beauty is fleeting. But that, of course, is part of the appeal of spring soups.” Domenica Marchetti herself makes an Italian puréed version of this soup, and if she cooks like she writes, it must be divine. We’ll try it next time it rains.
What do you like to have on a rainy Spring day? What do you like to do to capture the fleeting beauty of Spring?
According to Ayurveda, good health is dependent upon our capacity to fully metabolize the nutritional, emotional and sensory information that we ingest. When our digestive energies, known as Agni (fire), are robust, we create healthy tissues, eliminate waste products efficiently and produce a subtle essence called ojas. Ojas, which is like our inner sap, is the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and immunity. On the other hand, if our agnis are weakened, digestion is incomplete, creating an accumulation of toxic residue known as Ama.
When Ama accumulates, allergies, congestion, headaches, fatigue, chronic pain, low energy, brain fog, moodiness are some of the indications. Have you ever felt this way?
Now is the time to feel better.
This is the time of year when it is most important to clear Ama from the system. As Spring begins, the warmer weather melts the winter freeze. The same thing is happening within you. After putting on your winter coat ~ adding warm layers, strengthening immunity, and tonifying to the bone ~ your system is now ready to lighten up. If this is done effectively, you have optimal health for Spring and Summer. If not, the system gets clogged, sluggish, rundown and worn out.
That is why Ayurveda places great importance on detoxification in early Spring. And that is why I am offering an easy, do it yourself, in the comfort of your own home, detox program called Spring Clean: The 21 Day Challenge to help you release winter’s accumulation and blossom into your best Spring yet.
What would your life look like if you had boundless energy, acrobatic mental acuity, inspiring creativity, radiant skin, that youthful glow that describes fantastic health in mind and body?
Ayurveda is said to be the oldest, most comprehensive system of medicine in the world, which means it has had thousands of years and thousands of patients for trial and error. As such it has evolved time-tested, effective protocols for cleansing, repairing and restoring the body to its best function.
What is an Ayurvedic Detox program?
Your “Spring Clean” includes 21 days of guided, gentle, nourishing detoxification in three phases:
1) Preparing the Way ~ Week One prepares your body for detoxification, beginning the process gently by introducing Detox Tea, Ayurvedic Herbal Formula, certain natural foods and daily practices to open the channels of elimination safely.
2) Guided Detoxification ~ Week Two involves simple meals that offer a deep tissue cleanse while simultaneously nourishing the body so you don’t have to go hungry.
3) Integration ~ Completing a Detoxification is as important as the detoxification itself. In Week Three, we will reintroduce every day foods, incorporating the best meals, digestive tonics, and practices to maintain that “clean” all Spring.
2) A phone to engage with your support team (missed calls will be recorded and can be listened to at any time).
3) A grocery list will be supplied.
What have others said?
“I am so impressed by this program. It is so holistic, so nourishing, so educational. I learned so much and truly feel that it has the capacity to change anyone’s life. Just amazing!” ~ Marcia Kimpton
“This has been so wonderful. It has really worked well for me. I’ve lost weight, my skin looks better, reduced the fine lines, and I’ve enjoyed the group. I feel so well supported. There’s a wealth of information. It’s all been so helpful. Namaste!” ~ Nancy Marks
I’m a changed man… Thank you so much for being there, Laura. I learned a LOT of valuable information, and as a single guy, this makes food simple for me–without sacrificing taste. 🙂 I look forward to my next yoga class with you. Hugs to Bhava for his great gifts to the world, also. I love you guys. ~ Boyd Martin
“I feel lighter, clearer, better. By the second week, people were commenting on how good my skin looked. By the third, I had lost 7 pounds, an unexpected benefit. It has been easy. I always felt full and nourished. Definitely recommend it!” – Gail
“Your Detox Workshop was absolutely amazing and so relevant. I don’t say this lightly but you are truly the most amazing teacher I’ve had the pleasure of taking a class with. Thank you for your instruction, insight and pure spirit…Happy Spring!” ~ Amanda DeWitt
“thank you for encouraging us to take on 21 blissful days… a couple of things i found interesting in the last 3 weeks were an increased ability to meditate and a sense of increased focus on tasks. i’m fortunate to live in a place where i can choose a healthy lifestyle, and really become attuned with these finer points of good living. your challenge was met with open arms. we both look forward to… live it in greater fullness. *thank you* for proposing this and being the inspiring teacher that you are!” ~ Scott Davis
“Who knew that Ayurvedic cooking could result in such piquant dishes, perfectly balanced in taste and nutrition? Laura Plumb did, and thanks to her… I can now cook healthy and delicious meals!” ~ Anne-Marie Welsh
You can imagine great health. I invite you to join us and seize the season. Make it yours. Let it be your best Spring yet.
Imagine sunflowers floating on rafts on a pond. Then imagine that there are many ponds ~ sunflower rafts as far as your eye can see.
Then imagine these sunflowers are growing on rafts in ponds that surround the Chernobyl nuclear site in the Ukraine. Odd? Beautiful? Gesture of Peace?
If you attended my Spring Ayurveda Nutrition & Cooking Class, you’ll know about Mother Nature’s remarkable ability to cleanse, purify, renew and restore her own earth body ~ and our human bodies, too. My last post, “21 Day Challenge,” was dedicated to those gifts of the Earth that emerge in Springtime to naturally and very efficiently help us detoxify body and mind.
But as talk these days turns to Japan’s nuclear problems and the prevailing westerlies carrying waste on the wind and radioactivity with the rain, I think even more about this self-regulating, self-restorative, self-renewing intelligence of nature, and specifically about something my brother-in-law, Daniel Goldfarb, a soil restoration expert, told us recently about sunflowers.
In Chernobyl, floating rafts of sunflowers are being used to clean up water contaminated as a result of the 1986 disaster at their Nuclear Plant. Sunflowers remove up to 95% of the radioactivity below ground by pulling contaminants out of the water and up into their root system. This technique, known as phytoremediation, got its roots, so to speak, there in Chernobyl, where the sunflowers outperformed all expectations.
So, as an experiment, I sprouted sunflower seeds, tossed them liberally onto our garden, watered, mulched and waited.
In the meantime, we are eating copious amounts of sunflower seeds and sprouts ourselves, because, I wondered, if they remove radioactive toxins from the body of the earth, could they do the same for our human bodies?
I began researching this, looking at the western and the Ayurvedic literature, and along the way came across this recipe for a Sunflower Seed & Cilantro Pesto that harnesses not only sunflower power, but also cilantro for its super scour muscularity in eviscerating heavy metals and toxic waste.
Surprisingly, for something so green, so clean, so good for you ~ this is outrageously delicious.
In making this “Pesto” myself, I wanted to increase the fire element since greens and nuts can be hard to digest. To that end, I added ginger, asafoetida and a dash of cayenne.
I also wanted to be sure that the organs of elimination were well lubricated so toxins would definitely be removed and not just swished around the body, exchanging places and causing more damage. The original recipe had plenty of flaxseed oil to help with that but, unless you are Vegan, I suggest adding a spoonful of ghee because it both enkindles the digestive fire AND is mighty efficient at loosening toxins and carrying them away.
If you tried it at my house last week, you tried a batch with three times too much flaxseed oil. Ech! Try making this yourself with the correct proportions, as below. Or, come back over and I will make you a fresh batch. I want everyone to have some. It is Spring’s divine joy in every bite, so healing and so promising!
This is how I make it now ~
PLEASE NOTE: I now add 1 teaspoon chlorella to this recipe, because cilantro can mobilize more toxins then it can carry out of the body, and Chlorella is a potent intestinal toxin-absorbing agent necessary for efficient elimination.
The original recipe is a more scientifically named Coriander Chelation Pesto, and comes from the sweet souls at Essential Oils for Healing. This is how they describe its benefits ~
Delicious Chelation Pesto Recipe Removes Heavy Metals and Fallout Radiation from your Body
The main ingredient, Cilantro (aka: fresh coriander/Chinese parsley), is probably the most powerful natural chelating agent around. Besides being a renown culinary herb in Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican cuisines, Cilantro has a long 7000 year history as a medicinal herb. Both the fresh greenery & seeds are also resources of powerfully healing essential oils. Cilantro contains chemical compounds that bind to the heavy metals, loosening them from the tissues, blood and organs. Cilantro’s chemical compounds then aid transport of these harmful substances out of the body through channels of elimination.
This recipe combines cilantro with other ingredients that have a synergistic effect. They cleanse the tissues by increasing the urinary excretion of mercury, lead and aluminum.
This great recipe is not only easy-to-make, but delicious on toast, baked potatoes and pasta.
Two teaspoons of this pesto daily for three weeks is purportedly enough to substantially clear these toxic metals from the body. It is recommended to repeat this cleanse as a preventative measure at least once a year for three weeks.
I like it generously spread on raw Flaxseed Crackers, which you can make at home. Eat, Taste, Heal has a great recipe, only I find it easier to pick up a box of Savory Flackers. Let me know what you think.
We had our annual Spring Detox Workshop on Sunday, the day of the Spring Equinox, which is always a joyful way to begin the season. It is like a celebration of emergence ~ from the darkness of winter, from the deep interior, from the cave of the heart ~ into a world of light, to a communal dance in a human garden of blossoming radiance.
After circulating, stretching, compressing and twisting the body for two hours we settled into a deep restorative Yoga Nidra to extend the detoxification to mind and heart. By the end, thirty of us committed to keeping our minds pure by keeping the television off, and to keeping the heart alive by spending more time in nature.
We also committed to the annual Spring Detox 21 Day Challenge, which I have posted here. It is a simple plan for eating clean, natural, seasonal foods that help the body eliminate winter’s accumulation. We love company so if you would like to join us, please do. Just click the “Like” button below, or email me to let us know you are in.
Lately, with all the health-store, take-home boxes of Detox, many people tell me they are following a plan they bought. While I am sure that is helpful, I want to remind you that it can be easier. Spring is the time for internal cleansing. Nature knows that, and so provides at this time all the foods that best support detoxification. If you eat the harvest from your own, your neighbor’s, or your local farmer’s garden, you will naturally have a comfortable, nourishing cleanse.
It is hard to make money off that simple, potent truth, so it is not advertised. But liberating ourselves from commercially driven habits makes this Detox all the more empowering, and helps cleanse the mind and our beliefs, which is the beginning point for all true, enduring health.
So, let your food be your medicine. Allow nature to take care of you. After all, you are nature. Eating according to nature’s seasonal bounty stimulates the natural intelligence in you to adapt, heal, nourish, cleanse, revitalize and really come alive in this season of joy.
The 21 Day Challenge
Before you begin ~ it is always best to consult with an Ayurvedic professional to tailor your diet to your particular constitution. If you have a chronic illness, are very thin, or feel depleted, please consult your health-care professional before beginning any cleanse.
Drink warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning and throughout the day to increase cellular detoxification.
Eat fresh nourishing foods, including whole grains, beans and vegetables lightly cooked with small amounts of healthy oils such as olive oil, safflower oil, or ghee.
To stoke your digestive fire, sip ginger tea with your meals and spice your food with warm pungent herbs such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, basil, oregano, pepper, and chilies.
Check out your local Farmer’s Market to see what is in season now. This is a great time to explore the immense variety of Spring vegetables and learn delicious ways they can be prepared.
While at the Market, load up on everything green as Spring Greens are the most detoxifying of foods. Greens are bitter, astringent and, those that ripen in Spring are often fiery, pungent. They are easy and quick to cook and colorfully complement a bowl of beans for a slimming, yet strengthening, protein-packed, power lunch.
Include grains with your meals but lighten up with cereals like barley, millet (as in couscous), buckwheat groats, rye and quinoa. Barley is an excellent cleanser of the digestive system and urinary tract. Buckwheat is considered a “light grain,” but is actually a fruit, with more protein than any of the other “grains.”
A piece of fruit, warmed or at room temperature, makes a great snack. The citrus fruits now in season have enough sour taste to stoke the metabolic fires, while their bitter peel are loaded with anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory zest. You can grate the rind and whisk it into salad dressings or sprinkle over cooked greens.
Be sure to eat fruit on its own – one type at a time, an hour away from meals. Otherwise it ferments in the gut, jamming digestion and increasing the toxic load. On the other hand, cooked fruit, such as a Spiced Citrus Compote that marries the fruits of Spring, is easy on digestion, and even stimulates elimination in the morning. Cooking fresh fruit into your grains for breakfast, with a dash of cinnamon or cardamom, is a powerful, and delicious, way to start the day.
Avoid meat, sugar, fried, processed, canned, frozen and microwaved foods. Reduce your intake of dairy products and heavy grains such as wheat, oats, rice. These foods decrease the metabolic fire, slow digestion and clog the circulatory channels.
Aloe Juice: Aloe encourages elimination so drink half a glass first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. It is a great Spring tonic for its deep tissue cleanse, liver support and cellular rejuvenation.
Tulsi: For congestion, heaviness, brain fog and the like, drink a cup of warm Tulsi Tea every day. I love Organic India not only for the quality of their teas, but also for the integrity and charitable nature of the company.
Dandelion: For liver detoxification drink Detox Tea in the evenings. I love this tea for its copious amounts of dandelion root and other bitter herbs that somehow still tastes sweet, not to mention comforting.
Triphala: Triphala reduces Ama in the body restoring balance and optimal physiology. Because it strengthens the colon it is often used to encourage regularity. Take 2 tablets in the evening before bed. If there is Ama, Triphala can give detox reactions, in which case, reduce to one tablet only for a week and then resume the two daily.
21 Day Challenge Meal Suggestions
These are just ideas, not a fixed menu. Be playful. Work with what you find at the market. Get creative with color, texture, tastes and spices. Dance in the kitchen. Love your food. It tastes better that way.
A porridge made of a light grain such as quinoa, buckwheat or barley. I love Bob’s Red Mill for warm breakfast cereals. This recipe on their website for Barley Hash looks great and has all the perfect ingredients for a Spring season start to the day.
Home-made Chapati with wheat and barley flour, topped with honey and cinnamon.
1/2 cup of granola with warm milk.
A Feast of Seasonal Greens, like asparagus, artichokes, mustard greens, avocado, and sprouts of every kind, with seasonal color like radishes.
A gorgeous medley of steamed, stewed or sautéed vegetables with tofu or paneer and a light grain such as quinoa.
A plate of Beans and Greens, such as Pinto Beans with Kale.
Barley Soup, Miso Soup, Green Vegetable Soup, Lentil and Spinach Soup, Whole Bean Chile, Kichari
Puffed rice, rice cakes with honey and cinnamon, collard greens rolled with hummus & red pepper, a piece of fresh fruit, sprouted bread toasted with honey and cinnamon, a small handful of seeds (sunflower or pumpkin), popcorn.
Evening: “Detox” or Tulsi Tea.
While Spring Cleaning, focus on what is positive in your life. Raise yourself up, feed your mind, elevate your spirit with inspiring activities, and allow yourself to enjoy the changes. Don’t forget you have amazing power. Allow yourself to rise up and blossom this Springtime. Radiate your Beauty. Let yourself shine!