Soothing Pitta with a Summer Treat: Pistachio Truffles

Pistachio Truffle Creativity is a fascinating process, isn’t it? While it’s not an epic but a trifle, this sweet little truffle, like so many creative delights, evolved from waves of inspiration, flowing from many different people, places, cultures. Upon reflection, it’s a wonder it evolved at all.

First, I found something entirely new at our local corner grocer: pistachio cream It is delicious, but too sugary, so I thought, “I can make this, but better and healthier,” and I went and bought Pistachios.

Then we had visitors from India who brought these Pistachio Rolls, called Kaju Pista, which are like a Pistachio/Cashew Marzipan: photo They were delightful, but also too sugary. So I thought, “I can make this, but better and healthier,” and I went and stocked Rose Water.

Then I met this woman, a Raw Foodie I will tell you about in my next post: Mimi Kirk And she inspired me to go (mostly) raw for one month as a Pitta-reducing Summer Cleanse, which I will share with you also in my next post.

Then Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks posted photographs and a recipe for this gorgeous “Tartine” which I made for the boys as a summer snack:

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But we didn’t have avocado so it was super messy, as the Macadamia mixture had nothing to bind it to the bread. So I thought, “How could this fresh burst of nutty, nourishing flavor be delivered in a hand-held edible that would support both the exotic tastes and our need for high-powered, healthy eating?”

Then I got out the Blender. #Raw #Paleo #Vegan Truffles You could think of these as energy bars. They are packed with protein, purifying greens, and cooling ingredients to calm late summer’s Pitta. There’s no sugar, no grains, no dairy, so they’re okay for Vegans, Raw foodies, Paleos and Veggies. You can make these raw as I did, or enhance the flavor by toasting your pistachios first.

Pistachio Truffles

1/2 c Pistachios
1 t Rose Water
1 t Coconut Oil
1 T Coconut Manna
2-3 Medjool Dates
1 t Chlorella (for color and energy), or any powdered greens
1 t Maple syrup, optional
a few granules Pink Salt

Blend the ingredients together in a high-powered blender until smooth and thick. At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture for up to 24 hours. It is a bit easier to shape when the mixture is cool. Put on plastic gloves or use saran wrap to separate the mixture into 1 inch pieces and roll into balls.

You can roll them in raw cacao or coconut flakes, or for something really delightful, fill them and/or roll them in Heidi Swanson’s Orange Macadamia Nut, to which I added basil leaves instead of squash blossom, lavender flowers and a pinch of Pink Salt.

#raw Green Pistachio Truffles
Before rolling in coating

Here is why they are really, really good for you as well as really, really delicious: Chlorella, is an energizing, purifying green food that keeps your body and mind clean and supple. Rose and coconut are cooling according to Ayurveda, which means they not only help you beat the heat in summer, but will help reduce inflammation in your tissues – which is important because that reduces pain and stiffness, and because inflammation is the underlying source of the major chronic killer diseases in western countries.

Besides, Pistachios are high in protein and fiber which tonifies and strengthens. Dates give you the sweet taste to soften Pitta emotions, which can get pretty intense and inflamed. Lavender, orange, basil, mint, and their flowers (pictured in the photos) draw in nature’s color, aroma and florals, which is also soothing for Pitta who benefits greatly by “stopping to smell the roses.” #Raw Pitta-reducing Pistachio Truffles

These Truffles are on our Menu for this weekend’s Summer Cooking Class where we will enjoy Summer Kitchari, and a host of no-cook, cooling foods for strength, vitality and comfort especially when things get hot.

Next, I’ll be posting on Raw Pasta, another great summer meal, with a Raw Cookbook giveaway (I have 5 books to give and will mail anywhere in the world). I will also be announcing a short Summer Cleanse, so stay tuned. We have lots of summer goodies coming along.

You are the reason Mother Nature evolved to nourish and delight. She loves you – and her food is her love offering. If you love summer’s bounty, please add a comment in the area below and let us know what you love best. We’d love to hear.

Wishing you sweet, soothing summer days. Namaste!

8 Great Breakfast Recipes

Now that summer is here, some of you have been asking what to eat for breakfast. I am not sure things need to change as much as we like them to here in our everything-at-your-fingertips world. A bowl of porridge is, after all, a very good meal, and good enough for most of the world.

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But for those of you feeling underwhelmed or overheated by your morning choices, here’s some inspiration from foodies around the blog world. All of these recipes are Pitta-balancing, meaning they reduce internal heat. They are listed in order of best to… well, least best – but too utterly gorgeous to pass up.

These last recipes are “least best” because they include either sugar, or cooked honey, or wheat, which we best avoid. But substitutes can be made: coconut sugar or maple syrup for the first two, a gluten-free, almond meal, or coconut flour for wheat. (NB: Traditional Ayurveda will say that wheat is a grain and grains are good for Pitta. But it is usually dear Pitta who has wheat intolerance, allergies, or sensitivity.)

We should begin the way we mean to go on, and that most definitely applies to breakfast. So, I hope these recipes inspire, delight, beautify, energize and set you off on a summer day exactly as summer should be lived – with grace, ease and joy.

coconut porridge
Coconut Porridge from The Wholesome Home

Being under Ayurveda’s influence, we begin, of course, with a porridge. But this is no ordinary porridge: this is no-grain Coconut Porridge from The Wholesome Home.

Whole Living's Cardamom_Quinoa Porridge
Whole Living’s Cardamom Quinoa Porridge

From Whole Living comes another nice twist on the classic: Cardamom Quinoa Porridge with Pear.

blueberry muffins
Blueberry Muffins from The Wholesome Home

For Pitta folks and summer lovers, breakfast can seem fussy. After all, who wants to be in the kitchen when you could be at the beach? These Grain-free Blueberry Muffins, also from The Wholesome Home, pack up tidy for a carefree breakfast picnic under the sun.

Banana & Almond Meal Pancakes from Roost
Banana & Almond Meal Pancakes from Roost

For those with an appetite, these Banana Almond Pancakes from Roost offer a fortifying fill of protein, fiber and fruit.

Veggie Tacos with Cauliflower Tortillas
Vegetables and Cauliflower Tortillas from Roost

For those with a savory palate, grain-free Vegetable Tortillas, also from Roost, would be divine, and seasonal if you replace Spring Asparagus with Summer’s fresh Kale, Zucchini, or colorful Squash.

What Katie Ate's Buckwheat Pancakes
What Katie Ate’s Buckwheat Pancakes

In these Buckwheat Pancakes with Spinach, Ricotta and Pine Nuts from What Katie Ate, I’d skip the Sour Cream: seems like the Ricotta would be enough for a creamy base.

Tartelette's GF Waffles
Tartelette’s GF Waffles

Anything from Helene Dujardin at Tartelette is good as well as gorgeous. These Gluten-free Blueberry Waffles could be made with almond meal or coconut flour instead of potato flour for an even healthier Sunday start.

La Tartine Gourmande
La Tartine Gourmande’s Tartes aux Mirabelles

And, this is what I mean by “least best,” but oh so tempting… Gluten-free Tartes aux Mirabelles, an Italian Plum Tart, from La Tartine Gourmande.

Karen Mordechai Sunday Suppers's Breakfast Picnic
Karen Mordechai Sunday Suppers’ Breakfast Picnic

Finally, some photographic inspiration from the innovative Karen Mordechai at Sunday Suppers.

Karen Mordechai Sunday Suppers's Breakfast Picnic
Karen Mordechai’s Breakfast Picnic Blackberry Jam

Wishing you a joyful, and delicious, summer.

Namaste!

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.

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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 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.

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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!

Refreshing Red & Green Salad

Short, frequent travels have kept me on the road and on the go, but also deliciously on point, all the more present to life, nature, family, friends, love, beauty, creativity, art, and grateful for all those things that really, truly matter.

Big Luscious Union!

Just one of those many joys I am grateful for this season is Katariina, her husband Larry, their exuberant family, exotic life, inspiring friends and Big, Luscious Wedding in the Texas Hill Country over Memorial Day.

Exchanging Vows

Katariina is an inspiring artist with a winsome zest for color and a quirky take on life. Her aesthetic is celebratory, human, welcoming, almost chaotically full, yet balanced and heart-warming, above all. She helps you see the world in a way that makes you  love it all the more.

Beautiful Bridesmaids

Over the past year, I have enjoyed Katariina’s Gypsy Love Cafe, and felt like her Blog utterly leapt to life in her Big Texas Wedding with all its whimsy, eclectic beauty and bohemian joy.

Wild West Gentlemen Groomsmen

The Wedding was held at the Vista West Ranch in Dripping Springs, with the ceremony outdoors in a circle of Oaks. The reception was in the Barn, “rustic chic” and full of charm. Katariina spent the day decorating it with help from her friends, and a truckload of furniture, paintings, curtains, vases and knick-knacks brought from their home in Houston!

The Barn

In the photo above you can see the room on the top floor where they put me ~ a simple, delightful, little “room with a view” ~ a warm, safe, up near the night’s star-studded sky, isn’t it a wonderful world kind of view.

Reception

I fell in love with this Hill Country, where heat is thick, cicadas are loud, green valleys roll on and on, merging into blue hills, merging into purple sky, easing into sunset. It is a place of steady beauty, where stars quietly fill a night sky ~ quiet but throbbing with memory and light so strong, there is no need to shout.

Surrounded by Ancient Oaks

It is as if everything there has existed since before memory, ageless time carving each living thing into its truest potency, everything more fully defined, knowing itself and its purpose, even in silence undeniable presence. If it is color, it is vibrant. If it is a bug, it’s big. If it is an Oak, it is more elegant, deep, dappled than any. If it is night, stars are everywhere glowing like street-lamps, dripping honey and gold.

Katariina & Dianne

But Texas is Texas where meat and potatoes are the fare, and even with the enchantment of Hill Country, this body doesn’t run on red meat, and potatoes aren’t enough vegetable to keep the channels running free and clear.

Spring Salad with Fennel Frond

So, after three days of potato salad, I came home and fixed me up a salad. A “Refreshing Salad” that has enough of the sweet taste to be grounding and restoring after travel and flights, and enough bitter, astringent tastes to clean out a weekend of very off-routine fun.

Home-grown Red Lettuce and Oregano

This was late May, so it was an ideal late Spring Salad with its fiery radishes, strong bitters like radicchio and arugula, the cleansing lift of grapefruit, and light, digestible protein from the beans and peas. Even though it is now summer, it remains a great meal for the season, as raw foods are always cooling, and greens are like air-conditioning to an over-heated system.

Snap Peas, Fava Beans, Red Lettuce and Beets

It was designed to counter and balance all that Texas culture. Yet it has a beefy beauty all its own, packed with juicy life potency, every color and shape unique, each living thing intelligent and purposeful. What joy to return home to a meal of such living vibrancy ~ edible intelligence that, in the way that Texas Hill Country feels, has existed since time immemorial.

With Arugula & Sprouted Sunflower Seeds

Don’t let its complexity fool you. It is a delightful and easy salad to make! I buy the fava beans and beets from Melissa’s, so that is already prepared. It is wonderfully delicious with a simple lemon juice and EVOO dressing, or with an Avocado Dressing which I’ll be posting next.

The Avocado Dressing adds a creamy, sweet finish

I used red lettuce from our garden, but when collecting items from the market, I choose baby greens, which is what I wrote in the recipe below. I also prefer Sprouted Sunflower Seeds, not the whole green sprout but the seeds, soaked and just barely shooting a sprout. Please let me know what you think of it, and what you like to add to fit your tastes and needs.

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Memories of East Texas are sweet. Thank you, Katariina and Larry. Wishing you a Big, Beefy, Luscious, Loving, Ageless, Infinite, Vibrant, Joyful, Bodacious Adventure together!

Setting Up
Decorating the Barn
Decorating the Altar
Awaiting the Circle of Friends
Finn

Hope you all enjoy the salad and have an awesome Summer!

Namaste ~ 

Late Summer Salsa

From Jenny’s Garden

Tomorrow Bhava and I will be teaching at the Karma Yoga for a Cause Fundraiser to benefit Shakti Rising. It is such an honor to be invited to present our teachings on Yoga and the Divine Feminine and to Chant the Body Sacred at this event. Shakti’s recovery programs help so many women hurt by trauma and abuse learn to restore their spirit, reclaim their power, remember the light within, and become leaders of emerging women-centered services and societies that benefit all.

All people everywhere ~ men, women, adults, children ~ benefit when women learn to love themselves. And to love one another, too, so today I am sending out love to Jenny Barrett, the creator and Maha Shakti Power Generator behind this event.

The “Shakti Butterfly”

Last Sunday we met up with Jenny and other friends at the San Diego Botanic Gardens to see where we would be teaching and  run through the day’s program. As we were leaving, Jenny gave us each a few vegetables picked that morning from her home garden. I received a small tomato, a long green pepper and the cutest little orange pepper that looked like a baby bell but bit like a sharp-toothed hoary dragon!

Of course, I went home and made Salsa which was especially handy as I had kichari preparing in the Slow Cooker, something I like to wrap with a teaspoon of yogurt and a few arugula leaves in flour tortillas to make burritos for the children.

It was fun to forage for the ingredients for this Salsa, using only what was on hand, and eating with the season by preparing foods that had been (mostly) picked that day. It was also simple to make.

First, I picked and shredded Cilantro from our garden…

Chopped an apple from the Japanese farmer who sells crunchy Fujis at our local Market…

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Sliced and diced a cucumber brought to us from Suzie’s Farm….

Minced the peppers, removing their seeds…

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Then I ran for a fire extinguisher as this was the hottest little pepper north of the Tijuana River!

Finally, I cut up the tomato and stirred it all together in a bowl with a squeeze of lime, a pinch of Himalayan salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Thanks to the surprisingly potent pungency of the baby orange pepper, this Salsa was exceptionally spicy, so I renamed it “Salsa Chutney.”  Like a chutney, it compliments almost any dish, but only a small amount is needed.

It is the peppery pungency of Salsa that helps digest beans and rice, and any heavy meal that might include meat, fish, grains, dairy. Heat, including the heating action of a pungent taste, draws circulation to the abdomen which increases the digestive power.

Refreshing ingredients like apple, cucumber, and cilantro balance the heat of the peppers, keeping blood, muscle, bone, neurological and immune tissue cool, strong and intact.

In late Summer, we need to release the heat that has accumulated in our tissues over the three months of warm weather, because too much heat applied to anything will burn, deplete and ultimately destroy. For that reason, Mother Nature, in her loving wisdom, gives us apples, plums, gooseberries, grapes, nectarines, sweet melons, sweetcorn, zucchini, celeriac, green beans, green leafy vegetables and other cooling foods to restore balance.

It is really important to pay attention now and eat seasonally. Autumn sees nature wither and die back, bringing with it challenges to our health, so it is crucial to be here now, so to speak, with your meals. Late September’s Harvest is the key to readying you now for a healthy Autumn.

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Late Summer Salsa Chutney Recipe

1 small Tomato
1/2 Cucumber
1 Pepper of your choice: bell, jalapeño, serrano…
1 Apple
1 bunch Cilantro
1 Lime
Olive Oil
Himalayan Salt

Chop the vegetables and apple into small bit-size pieces. Stir together in a bowl. Season with lime juice, salt, even a bit of Sambal if your peppers are not as hot as Jenny’s. Drizzle with oil and serve.

CookingwithSorrel.com

Karma Yoga for a Cause will be catered by Sorrel and Fall Weiss whose gorgeous, natural foods are captured and celebrated on their website, cookingwithsorrel.com.

And so with extraordinary teachers, inspiring events, friends from all over and the beguiling sisters Sorrel and Fally catering, we know we are all going to be very well nourished! I hope you can join us.

Even if you can’t, wherever you are, I wish you a beautiful late Summer Sunday.

In honor of the love present everywhere in nature and in support of the love blazing in your heart ~ Namaste!

I invite you to celebrate Urban Food & Gourmet’s Grand Opening with Ayurvedic Herbal Treats and Freedom Pies

Amanda DeWitt @ the newly opened Urban Food & Gourmet

Have you heard of Urban Food & Gourmet?

It is a new South Park Shop & Deli for California Creatives, Modern Peace Warriors, Radiant Lighthouses like you. Dedicated to tickling your palate, feeding your fires, sweetly singing your body electric and levitating your heart, it is run by the amazingly talented Amanda DeWitt who has poured her heart into this sumptuous place.

Offering unique, healthy, often artisanal and organic, delightful food, Amanda is devoted to Gluten-free “Grab and Go” items to keep life effortless for Urban Angels with appetites.

Last May Amanda invited me to contribute to this creative venture, so I’ve spent the summer concocting nourishing delights from my own kitchen. We call the collection Dancing Plums, because, yes, sugar plum fairies come to life and dance their dreams into being in the form of sweet, herbal, I-Love-You edibles.

Maha Shakti Detox Protein Shake Powder is a whole meal in a glass

Expanding on Amanda’s Circle of foodly Compassion, Dancing Plums’ creations are, or offer alternatives that are, gluten, dairy and sugar free, but which are mostly devoted to the Ayurvedic traditions.

There is the Maha Shakti Detox Protein Powder in Chocolate or Vanilla, with Grass-fed, Organic Whey or Organic Vegan Protein and loads of good-for-you herbs, Omega’s, greens, vitamins and minerals; my Rejuve Jam, based on recipes for the All-Star Ayurvedic Health Tonic Chyavanprash and inspired by my 97 year old grandmother who taught me to make jam from the berries we’d pick in the morning; the maha-comforting, mega-healing Kichari in an easy-to-make, take-home “Kit” of Organic Split Mung Beans and Organic Brown Basmati Rice; Seasonal Masalas to give you the essential spices medical authorities now list as Super Foods; and Brahmi Bark, a chocolate “Smart Bar” for mind-enhancing restoration in one sweet bite.

Rejuve Jam trips the inner light fantastic

Tomorrow is the Grand Opening of Urban Food & Gourmet and these are the details ~

Noon to 8pm, Saturday, September 10th, Urban Food & Gourmet at 1947 Fern St, 92102. I will be there from about 1 to 3 pm, but there will be great people and extraordinary food all afternoon and evening.

When I get there I’ll have samples of my various “Dancing Plums Ayurvedic Specialties,”  including a couple of Moksha Pies (Moksha, you will remember, means Freedom and these are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, bake-free and mind-liberatingly extraordinary pies). So it would be utterly delicious to see you there.

To give folks a taste of the Maha Shakti Detox Protein formula, I’ll be mixing it into a Date Shake, which tastes like Heaven. Or Love. Or Heaven in Love with You.

Here is the recipe ~

Date Shake
2 Servings

4 Dates
1 Banana
1 tablespoon Maha Shakti Powder
1 cup Coconut Milk (Apple Cider is also good)

Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Add more Coconut Milk or dilute with Coconut Water if you like a thinner blend. Drink slowly and savor.

It makes a great breakfast, dessert or after-school snack. Thankfully it has a huge nutritional impact because some days it’s the only thing I fancy.

With Amanda in front of the Dancing Plums shelves at Urban Food & Gourmet ~

I like this article on Amanda and her motivation for opening this store. It really is a gift to our community ~ as are you! Let us know if there are other ways we can help nourish that shiny light of yours. 

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 ~ 

In Praise of MA

Lemon Polenta Cake, photo: nigellalawson.com

I am dreaming of being with my mother today. We would sit amongst the “darling buds of May” in her garden, the one designed and created by my sister Julia, who would be there, too, with her children. My extraordinary 96-year-old grandmother, the matriarch of our large, vibrant family, “Nana the Great” to all our children, would also sit with us, commenting on the vibrant color of a prairie cone flower perhaps, or the unique blossom of a native species that is my sister’s specialty and my mother’s pride.

With my cousin Marc, “Nana the Great” and my mother

We would tell my mother what a great mother, friend, example, inspiration she has been and continues to be. How soothing her comforting wisdom is even now. She’d say “No, no, it is you children who have given me so much…” because that is the way she is. But we’d keep trying to let her know with our words, our hand-holding, our little gifts, our kitchen labor, our watchful presence, that she has meant everything to us. If we tried to enumerate the details of that everything, we’d get teary, so we stick to the generals and deeply breathe in the joy of being together after too long apart.

Expecting her fifth child

Since my mother, and my Aunt, were artists and great cooks, I consider at length just what I’d prepare for Mother’s Day. I’d want it to delight her as well as express the depth of gratitude I feel, but it needs to be simple so that we are free to enjoy our time together, unconstrained by cooking complexities.

Millet Muffins, photo by vsimon

Britta from Suzie’s Farm gave me a great idea this week: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free Millet Muffins for Mother’s Day Breakfast. I’d add a dash of cardamom to the batter, and serve them hot from the oven with a warm blackberry preserve.

Nikki’s Healthy Cookies, photo: 101cookbooks.com

For a healthy and heavenly snack, “Nikki’s butter-less, flour-less, egg-less, and potentially sugar-less Cookies” at Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks.com look scrumptious. No doubt the children would love them, and they would be great in the afternoon with a cup of Earl Grey.

My mother visited me when I lived in Florence, Italy and numerous times while I was in London, so I like the idea of the Lemon Polenta Cake, pictured up top. Coming from Nigella Lawson, it is a twist on British and Italian standards, so would elicit many sweet memories. It, too, is gluten-free and with Earth Balance instead of butter, could also be dairy-free.

David Lebovitz’ French Jam Tart

Or, since my mother is so healthy, we could go all out. Of course, she is absolutely worth it, so maybe I’d splurge and make a French Jam Tart, remembering the days we walked all over Paris trying to find one Museum that was open and finally surrendered for warm pastry and tea. We found then that the treasure of Paris is really there: in the cafes and patisseries, on the streets, and in the parks. “In the everyday; just like life,” we might have said.

~

Every day is Mother’s Day on this Blog, since it is a site entirely devoted to celebrating the wise and loving gifts of Mother Earth. But on this one day of the year, our official Mother’s Day, I celebrate my own mother whose mothering simply astounds me.

Mom

Thank you, Mom, for your endless and selfless gifts! I am so blessed to have your love, devotion, wisdom, forgiveness and support. You, and the brother and sisters you gave me, sustain and encourage my life in countless ways. I send you waves and waves of love today and every day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

~

Amy & Kathy Eldon

On this important day, I would like to invite you to watch a short video on Extraordinary Moms, hosted by Julia Roberts and created by my extraordinary friends Amy & Kathy Eldon, who, like my mother and your mother, are themselves extraordinary mothers. For every 20 times this XO MOMS Video is viewed, Humanity International will provide a mosquito net to a mother, and family in need, in Ghana to prevent Malaria.

~

Buche de Noel

Our Christmas Dessert

Morgan and I love to bake, so yesterday he invited friends over and we had a holiday-treats-baking-party.

Morgan is creative, adventurous and very clever. Ask him what he wants to be when he grows up and he will tell you, as he has been telling people most of his 13 years, “An Inventor!” If you show interest, he will tell you, too, of the details, features and purpose of the numerous, extraordinary designs he is already imagineering.

This year he led his Robotics team to the Regional Championships where they demonstrated a “Nanobot” designed to eliminate cancer. With organizations like Dean Kamen’s First our children have terrific opportunities to imagine and engineer solutions that will make us all  safer, happier, and healthier. We are dedicated to that, so we do what we can to keep his curiosity and creativity engaged.

Yesterday, that meant setting an Invention Challenge in the kitchen. The mission was to create  a new recipe, without looking anything up, for a divine Chocolate Peppermint Brownie that would make the boys say, “We HAVE to make this again!” But it had to be made without flour, milk, eggs, sugar, or anything we couldn’t pronounce, or anything that comes in a can, box or freezer ~ and it had to be so good we could devour it in one sitting, but so healthy that we would still feel great after we did.

Demonstrating their great technical prowess, the boys created a success, although what we made didn’t exactly come out like a brownie. It had more of a pudding consistency, but it wasn’t that, either. Morgan’s friend suggested we call it a “Prownie” as a merging of the two, which led to a whole chorus of linguistic possibilities, but ultimately we decided to call it a Buche de Noel.

We had two reasons. First, once it is served on the plate, it does look like a Yule log. Second, while it accidentally tastes much like the traditional French Christmas dessert it is named for, we think that most people won’t know what a Buche de Noel is supposed to taste like, so they won’t arrive at ours with preconceived expectations that might otherwise divert them from enjoying ours as much as it deserves.

There may be a third reason:  is it possible that it tastes even more divinely delicious with a name, itself, so divine? The beat of the “B,” the bass of the “Ooo,” the soothing “Shhh” that sounds like a sled whirring through snow.  Sleigh bells ring, Are you listening?

We called it a “Buche de Noel”

AN AYURVEDIC CHRISTMAS: BUCHE DE NOEL

This recipe makes a tremendously satisfying treat. Read on for the health benefits of its two main ingredients, almonds and peppermint.

2 cups Almonds, blanched and skinned
8 Dates
1/2 cup Almond Milk
2 tbsp. Maple Syrup
2 tsp. Peppermint Oil or Extract
3 shakes Cinnamon
1 shake Nutmeg
Pinch of Sea Salt
1/4 cup Coconut Flakes
1/4 cup dried cherries
Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cacao Baking Bar, broken into small pieces
1 tsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or Ghee, if you are not Vegan)

Begin by soaking the cherries in fresh water. Place the coconut flakes on a toaster tray and toast for one minute. Watch carefully, as coconut can burn easily. Put the remaining ingredients except chocolate and “butter” in a juicer or food processor and blend, blend, blend. You may have to stop and start a few times, scraping the sides often, until you get a smoth consistency.

Melt the “butter” in a medium size pot over a very low heat. Pour in the almond mixture, add the chocolate pieces and stir. Keep stirring until the chocolate is melted and  thoroughly integrated into the mixture.

Transfer to a serving pan and spread the mixture evenly across the dish. Dry the cherries and sprinkle them with the toasted coconut over the top.  You can also add a crushed candy cane to decorate the “buche,” if you are not too strict about the no sugar rule. Allow it sit for one hour before serving.

“Buche”

Health Benefits

If you are planning on making treats this holiday season but don’t want the sugar blues, consider a little deconstruction, and focus on the basics. Many of the traditional Christmas aromas and flavors, like clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts and peppermint are also considered medicine in Ayurveda.

Almonds, for instance, are highly regarded in Ayurveda for their nutritional value and their Vata pacifying benefits. They are demulcent, expectorant, and a great tonic. Almonds are good for coughs, wasting diseases of the  lungs and kidneys, muscle tension and pain. They lubricate the skin and the microcirculatory channels, supporting all the tissues of the body, and strengthening the immune system. Almonds provide several essential nutrients and are 20% protein. From an ounce of almonds (about 24 nuts) you get about 5.6 grams of protein. They are also rich in Vitamin E and magnesium and contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Peppermint

Peppermint has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. It is an excellent stomach digestive, soothing for colds, flu and fevers, relieving for sinus allergies. Stimulating to the mind, it enhances concentration, calms the nerves, develops emotional endurance and is extremely effective for taking the edge off tension headaches. No wonder it is so omnipresent this time of year!

Mother Nature wants to nourish you. Her food is medicine to help you to be your best. Allow her to support you this season, so you can feel the love that is the essence of all life, and the true reason to celebrate these holidays.

The The Yoga Journal Online has a tidy overview of Ayurvedic Healing Foods, including the almonds, dates and ghee we used in this recipe.

Happy Holidays!