Guest post by Emma Frattasio, with photographs by 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).
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.
Sophia’s Summer Wraps
1) Napa Cabbage
6) Provolone Cheese
7) Mayo (we used Vegenaise)
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.
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!
I didn’t know Bhava when he had the cancer. We met one year after his recovery. When we met, I fell head over heels, swoosh, in love.
Every day since, that love is affirmed, strengthened, deepened. I am grateful for a decade now of oceanic bliss, and a vibrant aliveness that grows and expands, even with another birthday just celebrated and time flowing by.
It could be said that this entire site is something of a paean to that love, exemplifying one aspect of a shared life: the foods we love, and the way we love them. Everything that shows up here was made first, lovingly, for him, and sometimes by him, or with him.
So I thought, in honor of his book, his recent birthday, his vibrant aliveness, and the healing that is in Mother Nature’s foods, I’d write a little about our food habits and what we do, as often as we can, to keep the cancer far, far away. It’s a good practice for all of us. I invite you to share it with anyone who could use the guidance and Bhava’s inspiration.
8 Healthy Food Habits to Keep Cancer Away
1. Eat Fresh
You want high energy? Eat high energy foods. Eat foods that “eat the sun,” foods that are locally grown, recently picked, farm to table, lightly cooked or raw.
Bhava and I eat something raw daily. How much depends on the season. But in every season, the food you eat should be as alive as possible. Simply put, make it fresh.
2. Eat Organic
If you have cancer, EVERYTHING YOU EAT has to be organic. No toxins. No microwave. No exceptions.
3. Eat Vegetables
If Mother Earth loves you and food is her way of showing you, vegetables are her super heroes. They have the power to save you, even from your worst habits!
Did you know, as an example, that apart from being startlingly beautiful, artichokes have three unique cancer-dissolving molecules? Try adding a handful of artichoke hearts to your meals, or enjoy this vegan spinach artichoke dip for a healthy snack.
We eat vegetables of every color, shape and size every day, and we eat them chopped, juiced, blended, raw, steamed, lightly sautéed, or baked. We are not shy when it comes to vegetables, nor should you be. Be bold. Try every kind, every which way. Let it be an adventure. Ask your local grower for tips on preparing vegetables you are not familiar with. Allow a relationship to blossom.
4. Eat Brassicas
There is a saying that “Cancer hates cabbage.” In fact, cancer hates the entire cabbage family, calledthe Brassicas, whose kin include broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale, bok choy, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and watercress.
Numerous scientific studies are finding that Brassicas help fight cancer due to their relatively high content of glucosinolates, which have shown anticarcinogenic properties. In our house, our daily cornucopia of vegetables will always include broccoli, cauliflower, kale or collards. We also enjoy watercress and mustard greens in the Spring.
5. Eat (Blue) Green
Power up your vegetable nutrition by treating yourself to a daily dose of algae. My favorite is spirulina, a fresh water, blue-green algae similar in makeup to the sea vegetables of Japanese cuisine: dulse, kelp, nori, kombu, arame, wakame, and chlorella.
We make a morning fresh pressed Juice or Smoothie four to five days a week, always with a heaping spoonful of spirulina, sometimes with chlorella too, or with the VitaMineralGreens blend of land and sea greens because they give us sample jars every time we go to BhaktiFest, and because it is true quality.
Detoxifying, rejuvenating, immune supporting and liver loving, blue green algaes are a must. Be sure to source well : clean, non-toxic, organically cultivated.
6. Eat Berries
The antioxidants in berries help fight cancers. Bhava has blueberries and strawberries with every breakfast, and I always toss a handful into our Smoothies. Lately, my favorite berry for a Smoothie is the Himalayan Goji. For a sweet treat, add blueberries, raspberries and Goji berries to a Fig Smoothie.
7. Eat Turmeric
Oh Turmeric, how do I love thee? Let me count thy ways….
I believe so fervently in turmeric that once, a few years ago, when there was a false suspicion that Bhava’s cancer had returned, a voice inside me silently shouted, “But that’s impossible. Not with all the turmeric he takes!” Turns out that voice was right.
Again, don’t be shy. Add it to everything ~ smoothies, sautés, home-made ghee, almond milk. If you are overly generous, its astringent aftertaste will overpower. But with measure, it goes with anything.
8. Eat, Don’t Eat
Occasional Fasting is good for you. It gives your digestive system a rest, promoting proper metabolism, deep tissue cleanse and proper elimination. It’s a bit like tidying up your room weekly, or taking the garbage out. Once in a while, we just need to do it. My husband called this his Organic Chemotherapy: Regular 24-hour fasts were central to his healing.
Start by skipping dinner on Mondays. Once you feel comfortable with that, consider skipping breakfast on Tuesday. By lunchtime you will have completed a 24-hour fast. Or, simply reduce your portions. Eat less. Give your body a chance to catch up, a pause to heal.
I like to focus on the positive. When you choose to eat as nature intended, you enjoy rich flavors, colors, aromas, textures, and an aliveness that excites. But since we are talking about cancer, a life-threatening disease, it is important not to mince words. Here is what not to eat: red meat, pork and poultry, dairy, sugar, processed foods. We know they feed cancer. Best to avoid altogether.
Forever? Maybe not. But until you are recovered, absolutely. A whole food, plant-based diet is essential if you want to reverse chronic disease.
If you need convincing, read the science… Or dive into Warrior Pose, my husband’s true story of overcoming the worst odds: a broken back, a broken spirit, and suddenly “terminal” cancer. I have three copies of this highly acclaimed book to giveaway. Just comment below and you will be added to the drawing. We draw randomly and anonymously, and will pick names from the proverbial hat on Tuesday. Please leave an email address or a way to contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be made public. We love and respect you too much for that.
Wishing you golden health, vibrant aliveness, deep love, and the
clarity to remember: You matter. Live accordingly.
Congratulation to Warrior Pose book winners Chris, Emma and Anne. We wish all of you could have won, but it is available at Amazon for a bit less than retail, and at libraries across the country.
Mimi is a very youthful, vibrant, free-spirited, energetic, dynamic, beautiful 75 year-old on a mission to tell the world that you can age without getting old. In her two books, the first was Live RAW, she narrates her own story of reversing “age-related diseases,” and gives her formula for living well, along with recipes for living food and generative meals.
Mimi generously gave me permission to give you this recipe below for a summer pasta she served at her book launch and later demonstrated during her talk on “living raw.”
Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Pesto Puttanesca
3 large Zucchini, peeled optionally (I like to striate the peel for color)
1 c Basil Leaves
1/2 c Walnuts (due to a family allergy to walnuts, I use sunflower seeds)
2 T EVOO
1 large clove Garlic
1/2 c Parsley Leaves
1/8 t dried Chili flakes
Fresh ground Black Pepper
2 T Capers, crushed in garlic press
1 T Capers, whole
1/2 c Olives, raw if possible
1/4 slice Lemon for juice
Parsley for garnish
Peel Zucchini, if desired. Run through a spiralizer if you have one, or use a potato peeler for more of a “fettuccini” noodle. Place zucchini strips in a large bowl and massage with a little lemon and olive oil. Let rest for 10-15 minutes while you make the pesto. The massage agin to soften. Pour off any liquid.
Place the Basil, Nuts (or Seeds), Salt and Pepper in a food processor and pulse. Drizzle in Olive Oil while the blender is running. Stop, scrape the sides and taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Add more olive oil to make the pesto creamy. Smooth, thick, and pourable is what you are looking for. Add chili flakes and stir. Remove pesto from the processor ad a squeeze of lemon. Toss the pesto with the Zucchini pasta, capers and olives. Serve with a garnish of parsley.
Summer is a great time to clean up with a five day raw diet. If you are ready to cool, soothe and purify, I invite you to join us for my new Ayurvedic Summer Cleanse.
Also, if you would like to learn Ayurveda, and you are or could be in San Diego in late September, I invite you to join my husband and me for a weekend Immersion into Ayurveda.
And one more thing ~ Mimi also gave me permission to give away her new book to 5 fabulous Food: A Love Story followers. If you would like a book, please enter a comment below. Names will be randomly chosen on Monday, and mailed to you next week.
Thank you, thanks to Mimi, thanks to all the teachers of true health and wellness, and thanks to the principle of love that is in all of nature’s true foods.
Post Script: Thank you, everyone, for your enthusiastic comments. It is touching and so inspiring to see so many people dedicated to healthy living and a healthy world. Thank you for that dedication! Winners have been chosen: Congratulations to Jamie, Tommy, Mary, Samuel and “Anonymous!”
It was an intuitive, spontaneous creation, so there wasn’t a recipe for it in the Class Handouts. Turns out, though, it was one of the highlights of the day, and requests for the recipe having been coming in, so I wanted to share it with you here.
It’s an easy recipe if you use artichokes from a jar, as we did that day. Of course, that is a real cheat, a high offense to Ayurvedic principles that insist on “fresh, fresh, fresh!” So the next time I made it with artichokes from a friend’s garden, which is amazing. To think you are eating a flower.
If you want to make this from a garden-fresh artichoke, Mark Bittman shows you how to prepare it. Once prepped, let your hearts sit for an hour in a marinade of equal parts lemon juice and raw apple cider vinegar, 1 clove garlic minced, and a dash of pink salt.
Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip Click here for print version
1 c. Cashews, soaked (4 hours)
1 c. Marinated Artichoke Hearts
2-3 T Marinade
1 handful blanched Spinach
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Lemon, juiced
1 t Gluten-free Tamari
1 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Red Pepper Flakes or Cayenne Powder, to Taste
Optional: 1 t Nutritional Yeast for a cheesy flavor and a bit of Vitamin B12 Options: Fresh Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Himalayan Salt, fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Cook your spinach for 1 minute, then quickly put it into a bowl of ice water.
Drain the cashews, rinse well, and mix together with the garlic, artichokes and marinade in your blender. Squeeze the spinach dry, and add it to the mixture with the lemon and tamari. Process until it is a creamy consistency. Drizzle in the EVOO. Optionally, sprinkle in the nutritional yeast. Pulse three times for 1-2 seconds each.
Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with red pepper. Serve with carrots, broccoli, spring onion, red, or orange pepper slices, and gluten-free crackers. Your heart, your liver, your kidneys, your friends, and your family will love you ~ because food, when it is natural, fresh, seasonal, and balanced with all six tastes, is always a love story!
A big thank you to all our Chefs for creating a sumptuous meal that day. Your commitment to food’s loving nourishment is epic!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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)!
Cardamom Cookies Recipe adapted fromRandySpicocchi
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.
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.
What warms your heart when life’s seasons turn cold?
This past weekend we taught the first of three Intensives in our long-awaited ~ at least long-awaited by us ~ 100-hour Vedic Yoga Therapy Training. I say “long-awaited” because Yoga-as-therapy is what we do. Both my husband and I enjoy a deeply passionate life thanks to Yoga. But more than that, we survived because of Yoga. So you’d think a “Yoga Survivors” training of sorts is where we’d begin.
We have had the intention of doing this from the very start. Ten years on, we are just getting to it now. But that’s okay. Because along the way, healing continues to occur. So much so that by this weekend, teaching was natural and spontaneous. It flowed. Amazing people showed up. Amazing things happened. There were flashes of insight, deep connections, rippling waves of relief and release. We laughed. We cried. We touched, moved, breathed, and we were touched, moved and inspired by our students and their courage.
Something happens that could never have been planned and it becomes a whole lot larger than the sum of its parts. We feel ourselves more as witness than teacher, aware of the unfolding of a perfection we cannot name, willing players in service to a healing force invisible but, at times like these, immensely tangible.
It is quiet work, and very deeply rewarding.
So what do you eat on a weekend devoted to the Healing Arts when you work from 7 am to 5pm and have a house full of students?
Kichari is the most healing of foods, not to mention whole-body delicious. It is warm, rich, hearty and grounding: delightfully balancing in Fall. It is so healing, in fact, that it becomes Ayurveda’s Autumn Fast for those wanting a seasonal Detox.
I simply cannot say enough about it: Kichari is cleansing. Kichari is tonifying. Kichari is nurturing. Kichari is gentle to sensitive tummies. Kichari is loving, warm assurance on cold, rainy days like today. Kichari is a family favorite. Kichari is so important to Ayurveda that it is featured all over this Blog. Kichari might even be called the star of Food: A Love Story.
This past Sunday, I made it first by melting ghee and sautéing a spoonful of Autumn Masala, a spice mixture from my “Dancing Plums” collection which is basically ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, ajwan, and sesame seed. Towards the end, I grated one carrot and half a zucchini, tossing them into the pot for the last ten minutes of cooking. Just before serving, I went to the garden and cut a few stalks of oregano, placing them, flowers and all, on top of the kichari once ladled into bowls.
I put it all together in ten minutes before everyone arrived, and kept it warm in our slow cooker. But it can be made any morning before work and kept until lunchtime in a thermos. You can even cook it in a thermos. Just toss in the ingredients, add boiling water, stir and seal. Let it stew at least four hours and by lunchtime you will have a home-cooked, healthy, hot meal.
Again, there are a number of recipes for Kichari here on this Blog. You will find two on the Basics page, another one here and a great video demonstration, by the totally adorable Kate Lumsden making Kichari in her kitchen.
In Ayurveda there is a saying, “Food is sensory. Digestion is Divine.” Both a sumptuous symphony of sensory delights and divinely digestible, this healing dish is a sacred blessing.
To all healers everywhere and all who are healing, I send Love and a great, big Thank You!