I know. It feels like we are starting to over-do the pumpkin theme.
And yet, if you have pumpkin purée remaining from your Thanksgiving provisions then you have to try this pumpkin strata for breakfast or weekend brunch.
Inspired by my Mum whose own Strata has always been a brunch favorite, and by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks whose Spinach Strata is a great take on that old fave, and also by the Minimalist Baker whose photo above of Pumpkin French Toast was shared with me recently by Shannon Jones.
A gratitude shout out, too, to Morgan Anderson who recently suggested “We should tell people how good pumpkin is for them. They don’t have to skip the pie.” It is tri-doshic, after all, so everyone gets the benefits.
Mom and I sort of made this up when we had a brunch to serve and not a whole lot of time to prepare, meaning it’s easy and quick. For best texture and greatest ease, make it the night before and just pop it in the oven an hour before your guests arrive. It’s a lovely color, with a moist, tender texture. Honestly, everyone seemed to love it. My favorite words of gratitude were from my uber-talented sister-in-law who said, “You know I can’t eat sugar, so I never get to have pumpkin for Thanksgiving. Thanks for making something I can have, and something so good!”
Filling a need, while inspiring the palate – that’s a dharma I am grateful for!
Pumpkin Strata Serves 10-12
1/2 c shallots or yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 cups pumpkin purée
2 c whole milk
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t sage
1/4 t celery seed
1 good shake pumpkin spice optionally, 1/2 to a full teaspoon curry powder
himalayan salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 T ghee
7-8 cups stale bread, cubed or sliced
1 c cheddar, grated
handful of pumpkin seeds
1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
Set your oven to 350F. Put your onion and garlic in an electric blender and chop. Add pumpkin, milk, eggs, herbs and mix well. In a casserole dish, evenly distribute your cubed bread and cheddar. Pour the egg mixture over. Top with pumpkin seeds, and parmesan cheese and bake for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through the middle and sizzling golden on top.
Thanks to Getty Images for photos of pumpkins. Thank you to all the photographers and artists in my life who keep inspiring us to look, to see, to be inquisitive ~ and thanks to you for taking the time to read, comment, try the recipes and inspire with your own sacred, sumptuous life.
I would love to hear what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?
I wish you a blessed holiday and holy days always.
It has been one of the great, quiet privileges of my life to be at the bedside of friends and family as they pass. This week, going back and forth from teaching a mastery intensive on breath to a dark hospice room where our beloved was taking her last breaths, gave a profound opportunity to consider her life and all that she has meant to us, while considering the breath itself: What is it to breathe? What causes the breath? What is it that departs as the breath gently winds down? In these moments, time slows completely, opening space to simply watch. It becomes a contemplation, watching her breathing in, breathing out, so ephemeral, so eternal… Even as that breath lengthens, softens, stalls, sputters, there is a sacred power. An intelligence. A knowing. Something unthreading. Something setting free. Continue reading “Comfort Food : Curried Spinach Nibbles”→
Last week we returned from a Holistic Health Cruise where a variety of presenters discussed a diversity of topics. But when asked, all seemed to agree on one thing: With all the popular diets these days, Paleo, Vegan, Atkins, South Beach, Raw, one’s head could really spin. So what do they all have in common? Avoid processed, refined, packaged, and focus on organic, seasonal, whole, “you could have gathered it yourself” foods. Once again, we return to Ayurveda, where individual differences are appreciated and the only absolute is to source from nature.
So, along comes the divine Drisana Carey with this Primal Pumpkin Bread that had us all begging for the recipe. Before I could even ask, she was generous enough to drop the book containing the recipe at my doorstep.
It is called “primal” because the recipe aligns with the principles of Mark Sisson’s Primal Diet, a mature approach to eating like our ancestors, yet thoughtfully considering the stresses and environmental toxins of our modern lifestyles. On his website, where he touts the immense health benefits of pumpkin, Sisson offers an alternative recipe for Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie which actually looks like a great improvement on the usual in terms of both health and taste.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, this Primal Pumpkin Bread, with all its protein and clean energy, would be a great meal to begin the holiday. After all, it is so real, so whole, so natural, so delicious, you could say it’s the very taste of thanks-giving!
It would also make a great holiday dessert ~ with all the potassium, magnesium, healthy fats and antioxidants to help balance the season’s excesses.
The creamy frosting makes it especially moist, creamy and teasingly wonderful. You could make it Vegan like the one topping these Lemon Cupcakes, or replace it with something like this Vegan Cinnamon Frosting. And while I love baking up pumpkins, you can also make it quick and easy with a box of pumpkin puree.
Primal Pumpkin Coconut Cake
1/4 cup ghee or coconut oil, melted
6 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup maple syrup (Drisana substitutes half the maple syrup for molasses “to add iron and potassium”)
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup dark chocoloate chips
Melt the ghee/coconut oil in a small saucepan and set aside. Grease a bread pan, or muffin tins. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Crack the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer or into a large mixing bowl. Beat with your mixer or wire whisk. Add in vanilla, maple syrup, pumpkin, and mix until thoroughly combined. Sift coconut flour, ghee or oil, spices, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add the dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat, or whisk, until there are no lumps. Stir in the coconut flakes, chopped apple, pecans and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into your baking dish or muffin tins. Bake for about 30 minutes for bread, or 15 minutes for muffins – in any case it is done when a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove it form the oven and turn onto a wire rack to cool, then generously cover with the Cream Cheese Frosting.
Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup organic whipped cream cheese (Tofutti for Vegans, or make it yourself)
2 tablespoons cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Beat cream cheese, honey and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Spread on cooled cake.
Drisana brought this delicious cake over to join in celebrating Haunani, who is having a baby in December. Remember Haunani from this post? She is a divine, light-filled, love-drenched soul. We are grateful for her presence in our lives and wish her, husband Tad and their soon-to-emerge baby, perfect health, every happiness, infinite love. We are also grateful to Drisana and Mark Sisson for this gluten-free, nutrient-rich, potent pumpkin pleasure.
What are you grateful for this holiday harvest season?
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have a client who loves Quinoa and spinach for breakfast. It sounds good to me, especially with a light touch of cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and ghee or coconut oil. She adds a splash of GF Tamari. Some days I might add raisins, too.
I like Rice Pudding for breakfast and would definitely add raisins to that. Rice pudding is also a happy home for cooked dates, apples, bananas, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, and coconut flakes. I think of rice that way: a happy home for most things.
But what I’ve been having for breakfast lately I’ll say with a whisper, for fear that some of my Ayurveda friends would not approve (“Hot hot, hot,” they repeat, like the Nanny to Eloise).
It’s a wake-me-up-with-a-smile plate of sunny mango slathered with earthy almond butter, and a few bite size pieces of grape juice-sweetened ginger. I’m going Paleo, my friends….
Or at least I am enjoying how strikingly the latest craze, the Paleo Diet is such a briliant modern repackaging of the ancient wisdom we call Ayurveda: Eat what you can get your hands on ~ your own hands if you were left out in a jungle, or forest, or open savannah long enough to have to find your own food. In other words, eat food. Real food. Food of every shape, color and size. A wide variety, but mostly plants. Your body will take care of the rest.
I am not really going Paleo, of course, although I do appreciate its dynamic approach to reducing junk and focusing on high quality. I even like its focus on protein, although its emphasis on animal flesh isn’t for me.
Our 15 year old offers a history lesson: animals weren’t always easy to kill. Many were dangerous and just as likely to kill you. Paleolithic people had to hunt long and hard for their meaty animals, and when they did bring one home after their equivalent of a long day at the office, it was split amongst a tribe of say 10-20 people.
Yes, those were the days when he-men were devoted to the public good: sharing dinner with friends, stoking the communal fires, stewarding and safeguarding the community at large, carrying the heavy load for the womenfolk, teaching the children and contributing to the health and care of all.
I digress. It is easy to get lost in this Paleo wonderland.
So, our Paleo comrades probably did not eat bacon at every meal even if our modern-day Paleo friends would like to. In fact, one scientist suggests that our paleolithic ancestors were far more likely to subsist on tubers and termites!
For us, the simple everyday rule to healthy eating is this: whole food, plant based. The focus on unprocessed is where we celebrate our shared similarities!
Anyway, if you are a Neanderthal, or a HIT (High Intensity Trainer), and you want to really go Paleo, how about making up these quick buckwheat cakes? Topped with a cage-free, organic egg, pesto, a bit of cheddar, or honey and yogurt (non-dairy, of course), it makes a hearty meal for any caveman.
Less fluffy than pancakes, and thicker than crepes, these “cakes” are delicious with Almond Butter, Yogurt and Honey, Maple Syrup, pesto and melted cheese. Really, anything that needs a base. They might even be wonderful drizzled with chocolate. Let your creativity play and let us know what you discover.
1/2 cup Almond Milk
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Buckwheat Flour
1/3 cup Almond Flour/Meal
3 tablespoons melted ghee, or your favorite high heat Oil
Place the milk, eggs and salt in a blender or a bowl. Blend, or whip with a fork to mix thoroughly. Add the flours, then add the oil, and mix well.
Place a 7 to 8-inch pan over medium heat. Brush with ghee or oil. When the pan is hot, remove from the heat and ladle in about 3 tablespoons batter. Tilt or swirl the pan to distribute the batter evenly, and return to the heat. Cook until you can easily loosen the edges with a spatula. Turn and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Turn onto a plate. Continue until all of the batter is used.
Yield: About 5-6 pancakes
For me, my Almond butter slathered Mangos keeps me happy, daydreaming about the days when were were all swinging through the forest happily gathering mangoes, bananas, and all variety of exotic fruit, as if it were an Eden of delight made just for us. Meanwhile, I give thanks to a modern world where every kind of delicious fruit is just a short walk away, and a modern belly that has had the intelligence to adapt, so I’m not stuck eating tubers and termites!
How do you keep mornings inspired? What do you eat for breakfast? What do you do to maintain strength and energy? I am curious and would love to hear about your creativity and routines.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I made a 3 minute video, which you will see below, to show you how I make Coconut Yogurt. It is very simple, and a lovely meditative process, but if you’ve never done it before, it really helps to have someone show you how.
In a blender, thoroughly mix the water of 1 coconut with the meat of 4 coconuts. Pour into a clean bowl and stir in the powder of 1 probiotic tablet. Cover and put in a dehydrator at 110F, or place in a warm, dark place like the top of your toaster set to warm, and leave for a couple of hours. Taste every now and then. Once it is sour, seal well and place in the refrigerator.
After 24 hours, it will be fabulous. Nothing compares.
With pistachio, cardamom and honey, it makes a great breakfast, or snack, in late Autumn/Winter, the Vata seasons.
Please let us know if you try it, how you make it, and how you like it!
If you do enjoy making your own Yogurt, check out StoneSoup.com for more Yogurt recipes. Author Jules Clancy shares beautiful photos, like the one above, and across her website a variety of sumptuous recipes for a beautiful, healthy life.
After our Zen Mountain Retreat earlier this month, Jen Carpenter, a recent graduate of the Deep Yoga Mastery of Life Yoga Teacher Training, continued with her own Retreat in the Sierras. When she returned she shared with us this beautiful experience of awakening:
On the second morning of solitude, I received— totally out of the blue— the vision I’d been crying out for on my meditation rock all along the previous day.
When I awoke it was still cold. The sun had yet to cross the high ridge to the east. but the voice of the guru within me urged me to go to the lake for an early morning swim.
It’s a voice entirely my own, but strong and wise, a voice that knows what it knows from the heart of my heart.
I trust it. I follow the path down to the lake.
I take a deep breath and slip into the cold water. As I swim the sun crests the pass and illuminates the basin, first inch by inch, then in wild insouciant steps of ever more light towards me. I am bathed in it. I stand up tall, grounded in dark-wet underwater earth, the air around me clear and bright.
There it is, in plain sight: my reflection in the lake, my shadow. Surrounded by bright white light. As the clear water drops from my body into the lake around me, the angle of the morning sun refracts just so. And there it is: rainbows, millions of them, dancing in halos of light from my shadow, my heart center sending out ripples of color like a gigantic prism. The ripples grow from my body and expand out into the lake.
I am a small body. The world is a great cold lake. And yet, and yet—
I can stand tall and reflect, radiate and expand like a brilliant rainbow the white light of dawn— endlessly, because it is the light of god (for I am but a lantern)— and with the whole of my being I devote myself to this vision and this promise: let me be a clear vessel for your light— a perfect prism. Let my heart be a lighthouse by which all other hearts may find their way home, safe and sound in your love.
I can’t put in words how beautiful this vision was, how it made my whole heart cry out with the ecstasy of remembering, like a buried treasure found at the bottom of a cold lake, or a bright strong fire at the center of a dark forest— I can’t say there would be even a point to it, but I write to remember this vision always, to carry it within that heart of hearts that knows, and to awaken that same truth in each being who listens for we are all that—
And I know who I am. And I know what my place is in this world. And I know where to go from here. And I will walk this path with courage, and joy, and loving-kindness, and the utmost gratitude.
That evening Jen came to my Yoga class. I told her who much I loved her writing and appreciated her sharing this experience with us. I then asked her what she ate after that experience: what she had for breakfast that day. She looked at me perplexed.
“In other words,” I asked, “What would be the ideal thing to eat after an experience like this? How do youfeed that light?”
Without hesitation she said, “Peaches!”
I lived a bit of eternity in France where summers in the Aquitaine were especially timeless. In that early evening blue-y green light of the gloaming, we’d pick our meals from the fields. Not much later, just as the sun loosed its last ray, we’d sit to dine au jardin.
By the time dessert would come it was usually something fresh, something sweet-sour, something home-made of course, something grown from that soil of time immemorial, something that had been daily collecting and preserving sunlight, something that in its own miraculous way had metamorphosed sunlight into pure ambrosial sweetness.
These were desserts that told a story of summer. They had depth, natural elegance, integrity.
So when Jen mentioned that Peaches are the food that most makes her feel like she is eating the radiance of the sun, it recalled sweetly lit memories of fresh peaches tasting like bursting rays of sunshine and French creams soft and soothing like the gentle moon. It inspired me to create this little velvety concoction: Pêches Aux Nuages, or peaches floating on clouds of almond delight.
This recipe calls for a few ingredients that you may not have already in your pantry. First, Irish Moss is carried at People’s ~ where Jen works, by the way. If you know what that is, you’ll know where it is. If not, you can order it here. Second, there may be no greater love than Mother Nature’s gift of the Coconut and Coconut Manna is the treasure of that love in a jar. But if you can’t find Coconut Manna (yes, it has to be Manna), fresh coconut meat would be a great substitute, with even more of that fresh, vibrant life force. But as it is wetter, you’ll likely want to reduce the amount of Almond Milk/Coconut Oil to compensate.
Finally, lecithin is an emulsifier binding the liquids and oils. It also protects cells from oxidation, nourishes nerve tissue, provides a feast of B vitamins and breaks down stored fats in the body, so it is wonderful for you ~ however, it is often genetically modified. Be sure your purchase clearly states “Non-GMO” on the label. If you can’t find it, skip it. The “cloud” will still be delicious. Same goes for the Irish Moss. The taste will be the same without it, the cloud just won’t set. Instead, you’ll have Peaches on a River. Which is very French. You can call it, “Pêches aux Coulis.”
To serve this, I use an ice cream scoop to create a billowing cumulus on the plate. The peaches are then beautiful arrayed around the clouds and also set inside the curls so they peek through just like the rays of the sun.
When your heart cries out with the ecstasy of remembering, or with the longing to remember, this is that taste of Heaven ~ resplendent, prismatic nourishment.
I look forward to having Jen over to try this ~ although she is already so full of light, she might break open, become the sun and illuminate the whole world.
The tag line on Jen’s Blog reads, “married to amazement,” and her writing is beautiful indeed because she is so heartfully and amazingly awe-drenched. If you would like more of her, head on over to her Singing Bowls Blog.
Meanwhile, please let us know, by writing in the Comment box below, what you eat when you want to feed your light. I look forward to hearing what captures your imagination. What a rainbow of delights your contributions will be!
In honor of the light within you, in honor of the Love that surrounds you, in awe of the eternal river of life that runs through ~
We started a “Juice Reboot” this week, inspired by the upbeat documentary with the downbeat name, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. My husband, who gets an idea and then award-winningly executes it before anyone can say, “What a force of nature!,” bought a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer almost before the film was over.
Health pioneer Jack LaLanne was passionate about juicing. He felt it directly fed your “River of Life” ~ cleansing, purifying, and nourishing your bloodstream to fertilize the body with abundant nutrients. I love his website where there is much information on the value of juicing, along with recipes. But I love it mainly for his signature sign-off: “You are the most important person on this earth, be kind to that person!”
The Juicer comes with a booklet full of recipes, but you can really add any fruit or vegetable. We add all our favorites and enjoying making it up as we go along ~ careful, though, not to mix fruits and vegetables, unless it is apples and pears which go with everything. We toss in a bit of lemon or lime juice, too, with ginger, cardamom, fennel or coriander to aid digestion and get five out of the six tastes (no salt), making the juice not only delicious but sweetly satisfying.
Juice fasts are raw, and the action on the body is cooling. With that, and the tastes being predominantly astringent, bitter and sweet, a raw juice fast is ideal for summer.
It is amazing how much cleansing the body needs, even when your lifestyle is healthy, and, mostly, pure. We are on Day Four now, and as promised, “over the hump.” We’ve moved through the headaches, brain fog and fatigue ~ frankly, with a certain ease. We knew those were signs of purification, and a reminder that it is now August, the timeless month, when all intelligent people throw off their watches and ease into the eternal flow.
On top of that, our Mastery of Life Yoga Teacher Training student Megan Herzing happened to write us earlier this week without knowing it was the first day of our Juicing. Her email opened with a quote from her friend Adam, “Fasting is a way of letting your body know that your soul is in charge.” It was all the reminder we needed.
We will have a Sumptuous Banquet of Elegantly Sweet, Deliciously Cooling Summer Smoothies and Rockin’ Raw Juices this Sunday at our Ayurvedic Nutrition & Summer Cooking Class, including a recipe from Cardamom Kitchen for Raspberry Mango Coconut Lassi, modified to use dates instead of sugar.
There are just a couple of places left. I invite you to join us. Just email me if you want to come.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Uh oh. Woke up with a headache, the threat of a sore throat, eyes glued shut. Bones ached as I went to stand. A hot shower didn’t melt the congestion, and the fog ’round the brain just got thicker.
Stumbling in the dark trying to get dressed, I couldn’t sense the time. Whatever time it is, I thought, it is absolutely time for one thing ~ a wake me up, shake this off, Vitamin C Blast!
Fortunately, once in the kitchen, I found lemons in the fruit basket, a bag of fresh cranberries in the refrigerator, and the usual dried cranberries we keep around for breakfast cereal or afternoon snacks. I put a pot of water on the stove and popped the cranberries in. They cooked over medium heat with a few spices until the skin of the fresh berries burst. Mmm… it smelled so good.
Once it was ready, I stirred in the the juice of one lemon, then ladled the cider into mugs, adding a drizzle of Maple Syrup. It didn’t need much syrup. It was already fairly sweet and I didn’t want to overwhelm the winter-grey-banishing alacrity of its sour taste.
This home-made cranberry concoction was delicious and energizing. More importantly, it completely eradicated all aforementioned symptoms of impending winter flu. The fog has cleared. Eyes wide open can now experience this bright full-color of this Red Blast day.
Try it yourself and let me know what you think ~
RED BLAST CRANBERRY CIDER
2 handfuls of fresh/dried cranberries
2 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
5-6 dried clove buds
Sprinkle of cardamom
Put all the ingredients except the maple syrup into a pot and warm over medium heat. Bring it to a light boil, stir, and turn the heat to low. Allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and ladle into mugs, adding just enough syrup to cut slightly the mouth-puckering tart.
Cranberries are a beautiful and warm reminder of Thanksgiving and all that we have to be thankful for any time of the year. They are a great winter fruit, providing potent bursts of color, tart flavor and health-boosting intensity.
Cranberries and pomegranate are special food medicines in Ayurveda because of their unique “sour power” combined with astringent strength. According to Ayurveda’s great resource, the Charaka Samhita, these two sour foods “focus dispersed energy, bringing the spirit back to the heart.”
John Joseph Immel of Joyful Belly adds that cranberries are “valuable digestive tonics because 1) sourness aids digestion, 2) its cool quality soothes inflammation, and 3) astringency restores tone to distended tissues.”
In addition to its reputation as a useful agent for bladder infection, the tannins in cranberry make them beneficial in the case of diarrhea. Like most red fruits, cranberries strengthen the circulatory system, reduce heat in the blood and liver, are high in Vitamin C and other antioxidants, and promote good cholesterol. They have twice the polyphenols of red grapes, making them great combative forces against clotting, cancer, and the plaque that causes tooth decay.
Cranberries are also known to reduce the severity of asthma attacks, with chemical compounds similar to those in anti-asthma medications. Finally, new research suggests that cranberries help protect the brain from neurological damage.
As King George III, known for his own royal brand of neurological damage, famously repeated, “What? What?” With all that going for it, I think I’ll have another glass.
At my upcoming class on Ayurvedic Cooking for Winter Wellness, I will talk more specifically about the Six Tastes, including Sour and Astringent, and their impact on health. If you can’t make this class, the next one, “Spring Detox Cooking Class,” will be April 3rd.
Have you ever wondered what to eat in the morning? Ever felt tired of the “same old?” Dry cereal and cold milk lost its Mojo for you?
Personally, I never had much taste or enthusiasm for breakfast as a daily habit. Sure, breakfast as event is an inspiring way to begin any day. “Daddy’s Pancakes” on a Saturday, Brunch with extended family on a Sunday, fresh croissant at a place like the Darshan Bakery in Encinitas, bagels at the beach with friends ~ these are breakfasts to get up for.
But everyday breakfast, the one the pundits all say we absolutely must have, that leaves me wanting to go back to bed. And shouldn’t breakfast be just the opposite? Shouldn’t it give you fire, energy, pizzazz? Shouldn’t breakfast start your day the way you intend to live it?
Because I think breakfast should absolutely be one more great reason to get up in the morning, I make it sparkle, I make it fun, I make it lavishly green, I make it portable (why stop when the day has just begun?), and I make it right after Yoga practice while I am still dancing, singing, lovingly greeting the day. These, I call “Green Goddess Mornings.”
“What do you have for breakfast?” a client asked today, gently requesting I post the recipe here. Of course, with Green Goddess Mornings, nothing is ever the same. If it were, it wouldn’t be a Green Goddess Morning, would it?
Here, however, is an example of what breakfast could look like on any given day ~
GREEN GODDESS MORNING GLORY
1/2 cup Sparkling water (doesn’t have to be fizzy: “flat” water is fine)
1/2 cup Pomegranate or Hibiscus Juice
1/2 cup Aloe Vera Juice
Fresh juice of 1 Lemon
2 heaping tablespoons of Spirulina
2 Kale leaves, spine removed (beet leaves, brocoli florets, celery are also great)
1/2 of a Banana
1 heaping tablespoon Coconut Oil (or Walnut Oil)
1 heaping tablespoon ground Flaxseed (I like Bob’s as they are able to preserve vital nutrients often lost in the grinding process)
1 tablespoon Honey
1 dash each of Cinnamon and Turmeric (some days I also add a dash of either Cardamom, Cayenne, or Ginger)
Put everything together in a Juicer or Blender and give it a good mix. Pour into your favorite, most beautiful, most inspiring glasses ~ because you deserve it, and serve.
For its deep color and coconut speckles, it is gorgeous. As a meal, though, its rich green has been known to frighten! If it looks scary to you, adjust the measure of honey, thank it for its green Goddess potency, and it will be delicious.
I suggest, too, that before drinking, you tell your Green Goddess Shake exactly what kind of day you would like to have. Who knows? All great and true Goddesses have infinite power. Maybe she can restore the breakfast Mojo!
I chose the painting above, Goddess of the Forest, by visionary artist Teressena, as it looks like the dawning of the day ~ Divine Mother bringing us the sun. Currently, Teressena, who uses images from her meditations, is working on a series of Goddess paintings that delve deeper in the universal consciousness of the divine feminine and the mysteries of the sacred. A reproduction of her Goddess on canvas can be purchased here, or here for a reproduction on paper.
When we arrived at a recent Holiday party with our Brioche Chestnut & Fig Stuffing adapted from the New York Times Well Recipes, a friend asked, “What is Brioche?”
Brioche is a flaky, buttery bread that is so light it could almost be a cake. While our recipe called for a loaf, brioche is more often baked in muffin tins where it rises to form happy, little puffed crowns, as in the photograph on the right from the cover of Sarabeth’s Bakery, a gorgeous cookbook from Sarabeth Levine.
Brioche is great for dipping, so it is a delight with coffee for breakfast or with afternoon tea. For an indulgent European breakfast, it is delicious with hazelnut chocolate spread, which has the added benefit of boosting brain power. For an Ayurvedic spin, spread your brioche with Chyavanprash, an immune-boosting, rejuvenating tonic disguised as an herbal jam and packed with vitamins and minerals to fortify your morning.
For our breakfast this morning, we made the best of our leftover brioche. Since the Stuffing we made yesterday needed only half the loaf and we also had to buy 6 eggs to get 2 for that recipe, we were left with the perfect ingredients for the world’s most succulent French Toast.
This recipe was inspired by my father who loved making Saturday breakfast while children of every age crawled all over him. Try it and see if people don’t come running to you.
Dorie Greenspan promises it doesn’t have to be difficult to make lighter-than-air, delectable, Marie Antoniette-worthy brioche, if you want to try your hand and make your own Greenspan’s new book, Around My French Table, has the recipe and many more savories suitable for vegetarians.