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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am also looking forward to sharing some of the Indian specialties we’ve enjoyed here, starting with these delightful Koftas.
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
1 c Cabbage
1 Red Pepper
1 c Broccoli and/or Cauliflower
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)
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!
1. Rest & Nest ~ Do less. Breathe deep. Turn inward. Come evening, let yourself go gently into the night: Gaze at the Moon. Gaze at a candle. Gaze at the darkness. Dive into the quiet. Enjoy the stillness.
2. Hydrate ~ Start your day with lemon and water. Drink warm ginger tea with your meals. Sip Spicy Tea throughout the day.
3. Abhyanga~ Give yourself a vigorous full-body, organic oil massage every morning before you shower. (Yes, oil BEFORE shower!). Massage your feet at night with warm oil and cover with cotton socks before bed.
4. Mineral Baths ~ Soak in a warm bath with Epsom Salts. Add lavender or your favorite essential oil. Do this often. Ahhhhhhh.
5. Yogic Power Nap ~ Lie down in Supported Viparita Karani Mudra (photo below) for 15-20 minutes, three times a week. Let time melt away. Feel the peace of relaxation. Allow your body and mind to be deeply nourished and restored.
Autumn is the Harvest Season. This is the time to rest in your abundant nature and enjoy the bounty of each breath. It takes trust. It takes courage. It takes love. But it is worth it to give yourself the gift of you.
How do you relax and renew?
Help inspire all of us by leaving a comment below.
A client recently mentioned that she wants to do another cleanse. Grew up on junk food was the reason she gave. Makes sense, I thought. Every now and then a deep clearing of the digestive tract is good practice, especially since many of us eat more than we need and often not as well as we wish.
For this, I have just the thing: an Intestinal Cleanse adapted from Jeremy Safron’s delightful little book, The Raw Truth. But, first, I am concerned about something. Does our present culture encourage a certain yo-yo approach to eating? Binges, extreme fasts, indulge, detox..?
The best way we take care of ourselves is by sustaining good habits with regularity and consistency. Healthy, whole food not only nourishes us, but also detoxifies and cleanses our bodies. Digestive enzymes, soluble and insoluble fiber, protein, good flora, vitamins and minerals are all in vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes. All these bits and pieces that scientists try to pry out of food or synthesize in a lab, and that superstores sell as the next sexy thing, are already in nature’s pure whole food.
Before I commit to a cleanse I like to ask myself ~ Is an Intestinal Cleanse a healthy way to love myself? Is it needed? Is now the time to do it? Or, am I using it as a subtle form of punishment? A quiet act of self-flagellation?
Because women do use food, and diets, to hurt themselves. I certainly have ~ and would not want, in any way whatsoever, to encourage this.
Still, there are times when an intestinal cleanse is a good idea. Ayurveda suggests we do it annually each Spring. For such times, this apple-based drink is sweet and easy.
One final warning ~ Psyllium is habit-forming and should not be taken daily. It dries out the colon, increasing your need for it and creating a vicious cycle. Therefore, use it only when necessary and repeat this kind of intestinal cleanse once every three months at the most.
For safe bowel regularity, try Triphala. It works by strengthening the colon, optimizing its function, and is not drying so can be taken daily. Still, it is always best to seek the advice of an Ayurvedic Practitioner.
The wisdom in your body knows what to do with the intelligence in nature’s food. Trying to outsmart the body with one cleanse or dietary regime after another doesn’t work. Over-fussing with digestion, elimination and metabolism turns the body-wisdom off.
So eat what appeals to your body-wisdom. Eat when you are hungry. Eat warm foods in the morning and evening. Make lunch your biggest meal when the fire to digest is naturally ablaze. Eat what’s in season and align yourself with the beauty of nature, time, the earth’s spin, the cosmic churn. This will, in turn, create peace, harmony, abundance and ease in your life.
Food is more than just what you put in your mouth. It is the relationship you have with yourself, with life, with the world.
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!
Every year, at some point between Christmas and New Year’s Day, there comes a morning when you wake up and the first thing you hear is, “Enough!”
It is only a voice in your head, of course, but it is powerful, insistent, and every bone in your body knows it’s right.
Enough! Enough with the excess. Enough with the crowds. Enough with the parties, the merriment, the recaps and resolutions. Enough with the sugar. Enough with the cream. Enough with the foods you said “enough” to last year. Enough with it all!
The new year is dawning. It’s time to pull it together. Time to get healthy and pure.
When this day comes, when you vow to reduce, when simple is more than enough, our Deep Detox Drink is a great way to get started. It stands on its own as a potent detoxifier, and gives a robust kick-start to any cleansing or dietary regime.
Here is how to make it:
Squeeze one half a lemon into a blender or shaker with 1/2 cup water, one heaping tablespoon of Spirulina, 1/2 cup Aloe Vera juice, three shakes of Turmeric, a dash of black pepper and a spoonful of honey, or more to taste. Give it a good shake and drink on an empty stomach.
You can drink this before breakfast, to replace a meal, or in regular intervals as a juice fast for up to three days. The efficacy of this drink comes from the power of bitter-tasting ingredients to reduce mass, purify tissues, and eliminate toxins. If you are pregnant, this is not for you. If you are weak, frail, have a chronic illness, or feel mentally ungrounded or unstable, please consult a health professional first.
Ayurveda has much to say on the subject of physical and mental detoxification. One of the leaders in the field, Maharishi Ayurveda, has more suggestions for you to consider on their website.