Love + Links

On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open
and the love starts.

Today is such
a day.

~Rumi

pure vege chocolate-cake

It’s Valentine’s Day and I want to share Love by sharing with you some of my favorite Ayurvedic blogs, and some favorite poetry.

Four Faves

Pure Vege

As a bhakti-yogini, Pure Vege’s author Lakshmi says her “work lies within the realm of consciousness…” allowing her “to live a simple, sustainable life and make responsible choices. Cooking healthy and wholesome is an exercise of love and goodness… an essential yoga-practice.”  Her recipes run from the Yogic/Ayurvedic basics to the multi-layered, multi-spiced, multi-flavored meals of India. Always, she maintains an elegant simplicity that celebrates the beauty of nature, and as you see from her “eggless chocolate cake” above, her photographs are mouth-watering.

journey kitchen pancakes

Journey Kitchen

A food photographer and stylist by profession, Umme Kulsum is also a food writer through her blog, Journey Kitchen. She explains, “My food is influenced by my Indian roots, Middle Eastern upbringing and interest in food from around the world. My non-Indian friends call me an Indian cook with modern touches while most Indians would call my food some kind of ‘fusion’ but I just see myself as an Indian cook who does what our ancestors have always been doing – take influences from the people, produce and life around us.”

Clarie Vidya - KitchariVidya Living

Another great talent, Claira Ragozzino devotes her beautiful blog entirely to Ayurveda and Yogic living. “Vidya actually means clarity, knowledge, and inner wisdom,” she writes. “And I believe, like wisdom, wellness starts from within. Vidya Living is where I share, teach and inspire holistic wellness fusing the ancient practices of Ayurveda and Yoga with modern plant-based nutrition.” It all looks so clean, hearty, warm and romantic.

Vidya - Beet Bowl1

Banyan Botanicals Blog

Claire took this photo for Banyan Botanicals, the Ayurvedic formulary now blogging with posts from seasoned practitioners across the field. Because Banyan sells Ayurvedic herbs and products the articles are more medical and precise than you usually find in more personal and flavor-focused food blogs. But it is still a blog – with a pull up a chair and a have a cuppa welcoming feel.

~~~

God came to my house and asked for charity.
And I fell on my knees and
cried, “Beloved,

what may I
give?”

“Just love,” He said.
“Just love.”

~St. Francis of Assisi

ayurvedanextdoor

Three More

I’ve mentioned her in my favorites list before, and I still love Kate Schwabacher who writes with authority, even as she shares her learning and growing.

I’ll always love Vegenista for its beauty, creativity and deep commitment to principles, but especially because Melissa writes with such a pure heart. She gives and she gives.

Finally, Ayurveda Next Door has captured my attention with a dedication to values, fresh articles and thoughtful community building.

Founder Jennifer Eddinger is an “Ayurveda convert, living and breathing the Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle since her first consultation in 1999.” Jennifer subsequently took it upon herself to organize an online directory of Ayurveda, listing practitioners, suppliers and schools to provide greater access to all.

It’s a complex undertaking, but Jennifer and her team are masterful. Reading between their lines, you also can feel they are really good souls. The two photos above and one below are from their blog.

pitta-dosha-ayurveda next door

Don’t forget love,
It will bring you all the madness you need
to unfurl yourself across the universe.

~Mirabai

Namaste my fellow food, beauty, heart and cosmic life lovers!
Happy Love Day always.

 

Chocolate Pasta

#chocolate pastaIn a recent class we taught on Ayurveda for families, we made a “chocolate butter” (as in peanut or almond butter) demonstrating one of many examples of healthy snacks for children. With some of that chocolate butter remaining, Valentine’s Day approaching, and the inspiration of children still in my heart, I thought I’d get playful and try out the chocolate butter as a sauce for pasta.

#Valentine's Day Pasta

Thus emerged this Chocolate Pasta, a delight both easy and quick to make. I think it took all of ten minutes.

The sauce is made with cacao, so has all the health benefits of dark chocolate. If you are making this for adults, use cacao nibs. It gives an accent of bitter that really works. But if you are making this for children, cacao powder will better integrate the flavors.

#chocolate pasta

You could serve this as a side, or add your choice of protein and make it a one dish meal. I added fresh green peas as my protein, mixing them in at the very end so they would hold their fresh aliveness.

chocolate #pasta

#chocolatepasta

Once served, you can dress it up however you like. I added chives, but chopped spring onion would be great for that burst of pungency. I also like toasted or roasted sunflower seeds, but you could garnish with toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, or pepitas. It needs that nutty bite. Best of all, I sprinkled cacao nibs over each serving. It ‘s more than a theme note, its gives the pasta a rich contrast in color, texture and taste.

VDay Chocolate Pasta

I think it worked, but would love to know what you think.

Chocolate Pasta
Serves 3-4

2 quarts water
1 cube veg broth
1 T sesame oil
1 fistful soba noodles
1-2 cups seasonal greens, shredded
1/2 t ginger powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t red pepper (the slightly milder aleppo is my preference)
gf tamari
toasted or roasted sunflower seeds
sesame seeds
chives or spring onions, chopped
red pepper flakes, optional

Chocolate Sauce
2 T Almond Butter
3 T raw cacao (powder or nibs)
1 small pear, cored and chopped
1 T Raw Honey (or 2 Medjool Dates)
pinch pink salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch cardamom

Start with the chocolate sauce. Put all the ingredients together in an electric blender and mix until well integrated and smooth. If you are using cacao nibs rather than powder be sure to mix until the nibs break down, but don’t worry if some remain solid. It will give a nice texture to the sauce when added to the pasta.

Meanwhile, boil 2 quarts of water in a saucepan. Chop up your greens and set aside. When the water comes to a boil, add the cube of vegetable broth. Stir until it dissolves, then spoon in the sesame oil. Stir in the ginger and garlic powders and red pepper. Add the soba noodles and your greens. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Gently spoon in the chocolate sauce, stirring lightly so you don’t break the pasta. Season with tamari. Taste, and a pinch of pink salt, if needed.

Chocolate Pasta VDay

Since there are at least six good reasons to celebrate with chocolate, for dessert we have many choices ~ there is this amazing Chocolate Pâté, this extraordinary Flourless Chocolate Cake, or this Chocolate Pudding, all to remind us to celebrate love not just today, but every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Spring Detox Challenge begins April 22nd

Isn’t it a joy awakening to Spring, sensing all of nature come alive ~ and feeling yourself one with that renewal? Our upcoming Spring Clean 21 Day Challenge captures that joy, because we are doing it now, as Spring unfolds, and we are doing it together.

If you know you are ready to blossom and begin, register here.

What is an Ayurvedic Detox program?

Ayurveda is powerful because it is an age-old, tried-and-tested health science that mastered the art of deep tissue cleanse that simultaneously nourishes, so you maintain energy, peace of mind and immune strength.

Your “Spring Clean” Ayurvedic Detox includes 21 days of guided, gentle, nourishing detoxification in three phases:

1) Preparing the Way ~ Week One prepares your body for detoxification, beginning the process gently by introducing Detox Tea, Ayurvedic Herbal Formula, certain natural foods and daily practices to open the channels of elimination safely.

2) Guided Detoxification ~ Week Two involves simple meals that offer a deep tissue cleanse while simultaneously nourishing the body so you don’t have to go hungry.

3) Integration ~ Completing a detoxification is as important as the detoxification itself. In Week Three, we will reintroduce every day foods, incorporating the best meals, digestive tonics, and practices to maintain that “clean” all Spring.

Why is this one special? 

Most detox programs focus on nutrition only, and often a rather focused aspect of nutrition. Some cleanses target the liver, others the lymph, etc. This program is holistic and wholesome, addressing the whole of you – your whole body, as well as your mind, your life, your spirit. The foods, meals, herbs, and tonics on this program are gentle, nourishing and tasty, so that your detoxification won’t leave you exhausted, depleted, or unable to function – because who needs that? Our purpose is to help you live your life as best and as fully as you can.

The program also includes therapeutic Yoga, Abhyanga, Pranayama, empowerment tools, informative emails, and, if you choose, a personal consultation to tailor your Cleanse to your specific mind-body type and circumstances.

Also, I have priced it very affordably, so everyone has an opportunity to feel their very best.

Beginning April 22nd 

When you register you will receive Materials to guide you and prepare you. Then on April 22nd you will receive, by email, the program overview with a schedule, a day-to-day plan, grocery list, recipes for meals, snacks, tonics, teas, and gentle detoxification exercise, along with a recording to guide you.

You will meet your fellow “Challengers” in a closed, private online group where you will receive support and encouragement, as well as tips, recipes and more inspiration to stay the course and turn to optimal wellness.

What do you need? 

1) An email address to receive the program.
2) A computer to listen to the recorded guidance and to join our online forum to engage with your support team.
3) A few minutes at the market to pick up the sumptuous items for your Det0x. A grocery list will be provided.

How does it work? 

Beginning April 22nd I will “drop” a recording into your email box with all the information you need. There will be two more recordings that will come to you via email weekly. You will also get regular email updates and encouragement. In addition, if you choose, you will have a 30 minute Ayurvedic Consultation with me during this period so that we can tailor this Cleanse to truly meet your needs.

You can do all of this in the comfort of your own home, on your own time, listening to the weekly recordings at your own leisure. All materials are all emailed to you at the beginning of each week.

We all know that success comes more easily when we join forces with friends and others who share the same goals. So you can also choose to join our online forum, where you will connect with your “support team” ~ the other participants who will help keep your motivation strong ~ share your progress and insights, ask questions, discuss your experience.

What’s the Schedule? 

Sunday, April 22nd, 8 am PST ~ You will receive a recorded call that introduces the principles and practicalites of the program, connects you to the group,  and reminds  you of your inner, infinite power that will help you sustain this commitment. All calls will be recorded and available for review in your own time.

Sunday, April 29th, 8 am PST ~ Second recorded call to prepare you for the second week, the core of our program. Q&A to be sure you know the how’s and wherefore’s and a powerful meditation to lock in your power of commitment.

Tuesday, May 6th, 8 am PST ~ Final recorded call on the detox dynamics of Spring, ensuring correct integration of every day Spring foods and congratulating you on your success!

Daily ~ Regular Emails with directions, tips and encouragement will accompany you on this program and you will be paired with support you can reach out to if you choose.

How do I join? 

There are four ways you can receive this program:

1) You can elect the Spring Clean Challenge and receive all of the above ~ recipes, meal plans, tonics, teas, program schedule,  day-to-day plan and detox exercises, phone calls, emails and group support; PLUS, a 30 minute phone Consultation to address your particular Ayurvedic needs and tailor the program accordingly; PLUS, a Care Package of the Core Detox Provisions, VALUED AT $100 (key ingredients are not easily found at local stores). We call this the Shiva Challenge. It gives the highest level of support and ease, and it is all available for only $247 (plus shipping). Participants at this Level also receive a $100 gift Certificate to our Mastery of Life Retreat in September. 

2) Or, You can elect the Spring Clean Challenge, PLUS, the Core Detox Care Package. We call this the Vishnu Challenge and it is only $197.

3) You can elect the Spring Clean Challenge, PLUS the Ayurvedic Consultation.We call this the Hanuman Challenge and it is only $147.

4) Or, you can select the Spring Clean Challenge with all of the above, including recorded calls, emails and group support. This is best for you if you know your Dosha, have studied some Ayurveda or work with a practitioner, and are a good self-motivator. This is the Ganesha Level and is only $97.

You are likely to find that this cleanse is good for your budget – you might even save money over the course of the three weeks as your foods are basic and you will be primarily eating at home. (I will give options for those occasions when eating out is necessary). Please note that unless you purchase the Provisions, you are responsible for the items on the grocery list. 

Ready to register? 

Please click here for registration.

What have others said about this program?

” Your 21 day cleanse has changed my life and my health and I want to thank you for all your guidance, love and support. You are truly an amazing spirit. My outlook on food has changed from a meat based diet to one that is now filled with nourishing healthy foods.  As much as I was counting the days left for the 21 day cleanse to end, I am now thinking about the next one.” ~ Rick

“Laura – I really enjoyed the detox program… More energy, less angst and frustration.. Improved and more discriminatory palate. Allergies reduced, and I lost 6 pounds in my first ten days. Would definitely recommend it to a friend. Thanks again for all of the guidance and support, your caring and concern for others comes through in person, over the phone, in recordings, in emails and blog postings!” ~ Marcelle

“It has been great. I always felt full, never hungry and no I feel lighter, clearer, better. By the second week, people were commenting on how good my skin looked. By the third, I had lost 7 pounds, an unexpected benefit.”  ~ Gail

“I loved the Spring Detox with you.  It was gentle, well guided, nicely documented and very inspirational for keeping up with the program well beyond those 21 days.  The meals were nutritious and tasty and even my picky eater hubby enjoyed them and lost a few inches around his belly.  So much wisdom shining through that information that you gave us. I would recommend your program to anybody in a heart-beat, in fact I believe anybody would profit from it.  My husband and I will definitely do it again.” ~ Nicole

“Really good, and really happy. I don’t want to return to my old ways. Excited, too, that I am down a dress size just in time for a big event.” ~ Pamela

“I’m a changed man… Thank you so much for being there, Laura. I learned a LOT of valuable information, and as a single guy, this makes food simple for me–without sacrificing taste. 🙂  I was looking for a bit of a lifestyle change, and there was so much in the program that was sensible, sustainable, and simple in this way of eating and taking care of the body.  I’ve adopted much of what I’ve learned as daily routine, and have changed my core diet to embrace this way of living. This… has brought me up to a new level of functioning in my life, increased my vibrancy, and opened my heart and mind to the true possibilities of life. Thank you again, Laura.  You are doing a great service.” – Boyd

“I am so impressed by this program. It is so holistic, so nourishing, so educational. I learned so much and truly feel that it has the capacity to change anyone’s life. Just amazing!” ~ Marcia

“Beautiful, beautiful. Thanks Laura for doing this. What a mothering soul you have!”

“Thank you for a wonderful call and bringing together such an extraordinary group for this Spring cleanse. I am excited to be a part of this community.” ~ Clea

“This was a wonderful healing cleanse. I liked that I didn’t have to starve as I had struggled with body image as a young woman and completely shut my body down at one point. So I never diet anymore and never weigh myself. I just like that it was filled with healthy food and I was really good on the kitchari days. I also stayed off of coffee for almost 3 weeks. Since then I’ve tried it but haven’t liked it as much. I esp. enjoyed the oil bath in the mornings. It felt like an I love my body the way it is offering!  Something new for me. Thanks, Laura.” ~ Dani

“Your Detox workshop was absolutely amazing and so relevant. I don’t say this lightly but you are truly the most amazing teacher I’ve had the pleasure of taking a class with. Thank you for your instruction, insight and pure spirit…Happy Spring!” ~ Amanda

“thank you for encouraging us to take on 21 blissful days… a couple of things i found interesting in the last 3 weeks were an increased ability to meditate and a sense of increased focus on tasks. i’m fortunate to live in a place where i can choose a healthy lifestyle, and really become attuned with these finer points of good living. your challenge was met with open arms. we both look forward to… live it in greater fullness. *thank you* for proposing this and being the inspiring teacher that you are!” ~ Scott

“Who knew that Ayurvedic cooking could result in such piquant dishes, perfectly balanced in taste and nutrition? Laura Plumb did, and thanks to her… I can now cook healthy and delicious meals!” ~ Anne-Marie
~
I invite you to join us and seize this season for your best health.
Registration here.
Namaste ~ 

Dressing Up with Cardamom

What do you feel like eating these days? After all the cake, cookies, bread, rich foods and sweet drinks? I don’t know about you, but in between the holiday celebrations I want plain and simple: simple to make, simple to eat and, frankly, simple to digest.

So the other day I made this ~

Cheese Melt with Garden Greens & Yogurt Cardamom Dressing

The next day I made this ~

Kichari with our own Garden Greens & Yogurt Cardamom Dressing

And the next day I was so in love with this dressing, I ate it straight from the jar…

Dipped with bread or rolled up greens, it makes a tasty snack

This dressing is divine ~ utterly perfect when you want to eat plain and simple, yet unique and magical enough to accompany any New Year’s Eve dinner.  So here is the most wonderful dressing you will ever make, just in time to celebrate the most wonderful person you are and the most wonderful year you are about to begin.

Freshly ground Cardamom

But first a little about Cardamom:

Cardamom has this special “Prabhav” which is a word that sort of means magic. It is a way of defining herbs and spices that have a special potency, or a very unique intelligence that our own terrific human intelligence can’t easily explain or categorize. In the case of Cardamom, it has this particular way of strengthening digestion, while helping to increase moisture throughout the body. If you think about it, that means that Cardamom simultaneously kindles your fire while watering your system. Since water usually extinguishes fire, that seems like magic to me.

Plus, it is so medicinal while tasting so incredibly other-worldy. Because it is warm and moist, cardamom is excellent for Vata, meaning any place, season, time or person in which the Air element is dominant, a condition which shows up as windy, cold, dry, erratic or scattered. Cardamom warms, grounds, hydrates, soothes and improves digestion ~ especially helpful after the holidays, no?

Ground Cardamom gives this Dressing its Prabhav

It’s best to purchase Cardamom in pods, not only because these tiny flowers of ginger are gorgeous but because once ground, flavor escapes quickly. When ready to use, peel open the pods, shake out the seeds and grind. Use a mortar and pestle ~ the seeds submit easily. A spice mill or coffee grinder will do just fine, as well.

Once you make this Dressing you can keep it in a tightly covered jar in the fridge or a week, although it is delicious on everything, so it is not likely to last. And remember that to be Ayurvedic, salad follows the main course, of course!  

Click on Recipe for a Print Version

~

Finally, I want to thank you for journeying with me through the Ayurvedic kitchen this year. In 2012, I plan to travel the world, so to speak, exploring diverse culinary traditions and adapting recipes according to Ayurvedic wisdom to enhance wellness. The working title is Six Tasting the World. Let me know what you think.

I hope you will join me on this great adventure, starting in January by first establishing the basics. Meanwhile, I wish you a safe, happy, and fulfilling New Year celebration.

See you in the New Year.  Namaste! 

Food Therapy: Healing Kichari

Healing Touch

This past weekend we taught the first of three Intensives in our long-awaited ~ at least long-awaited by us ~ 100-hour Vedic Yoga Therapy Training. I say “long-awaited” because Yoga-as-therapy is what we do. Both my husband and I enjoy a deeply passionate life thanks to Yoga. But more than that, we survived because of Yoga. So you’d think a “Yoga Survivors” training of sorts is where we’d begin.

Garden Practice

We have had the intention of doing this from the very start. Ten years on, we are just getting to it now. But that’s okay. Because along the way, healing continues to occur. So much so that by this weekend, teaching was natural and spontaneous. It flowed. Amazing people showed up. Amazing things happened. There were flashes of insight, deep connections, rippling waves of relief and release. We laughed. We cried. We touched, moved, breathed, and we were touched, moved and inspired by our students and their courage.

Soul Brothers

Something happens that could never have been planned and it becomes a whole lot larger than the sum of its parts. We feel ourselves more as witness than teacher, aware of the unfolding of a perfection we cannot name, willing players in service to a healing force invisible but, at times like these, immensely tangible.

It is quiet work, and very deeply rewarding.

Twisting into Bliss

So what do you eat on a weekend devoted to the Healing Arts when you work from 7 am to 5pm and have a house full of students?

Why, Kichari, of course.

Kichari with Oregano Flowers

Kichari is the most healing of foods, not to mention whole-body delicious. It is warm, rich, hearty and grounding: delightfully balancing in Fall. It is so healing, in fact, that it becomes Ayurveda’s Autumn Fast for those wanting a seasonal Detox.

I simply cannot say enough about it: Kichari is cleansing. Kichari is tonifying. Kichari is nurturing. Kichari is gentle to sensitive tummies. Kichari is loving, warm assurance on cold, rainy days like today. Kichari is a family favorite. Kichari is so important to Ayurveda that it is featured all over this Blog. Kichari might even be called the star of Food: A Love Story.

Yum!

This past Sunday, I made it first by melting ghee and sautéing a spoonful of Autumn Masala, a spice mixture from my “Dancing Plums” collection which is basically ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, ajwan, and sesame seed.  Towards the end, I grated one carrot and half a zucchini, tossing them into the pot for the last ten minutes of cooking. Just before serving, I went to the garden and cut a few stalks of oregano, placing them, flowers and all, on top of the kichari once ladled into bowls.

I put it all together in ten minutes before everyone arrived, and kept it warm in our slow cooker. But it can be made any morning before work and kept until lunchtime in a thermos. You can even cook it in a thermos. Just toss in the ingredients, add boiling water, stir and seal. Let it stew at least four hours and by lunchtime you will have a home-cooked, healthy, hot meal.

Nourishing, Wholesome Delight

Again, there are a number of recipes for Kichari here on this Blog. You will find two on the Basics page, another one here and a great video demonstration, by the totally adorable Kate Lumsden making Kichari in her kitchen.

In Ayurveda there is a saying, “Food is sensory. Digestion is Divine.” Both a sumptuous symphony of sensory delights and divinely digestible, this healing dish is a sacred blessing.

Vedic Healers in Training

To all healers everywhere and all who are healing, I send Love and a great, big Thank You!  

Namaste ~