Nettles: That Most Spring of Things

garlicky nettles

Dr Suhas, that great luminary of Ayurvedic healing, reminds us that eating our greens can be the best medicine, but he adds that greens should always be prepared with two things: garlic and lemon.

nettle leaf

Yes, nature’s medicine can be delicious.

nettles mandala

Thinking of all the lemony, garlicky greens we find in Italian, French, Greek, Chinese, African and just about every “heritage” cuisine, I am reminded again of how intuitively Ayurvedic wisdom is alive in every culture that grew up from a deep relationship with the land.

One of those classic heritage dishes is this  lemony-garlicky sauté of nettles – simple, delicious, and medicinal.

sauteed nettles-web

Why nettles? One thing wisdom elders and grandmothers knew was that the nettles growing wild in spring are delicious, potent medicine for so many of our spring concerns. As an astringent, diuretic, anthelmintic, antihistamine, decongestant, and detoxifier, nettles help your body manage the Kapha tendency of spring, especially sinus congestion, allergies, asthma.

Nettles are so good for you that my friend, the great medicine woman Shannon Thompson, recently said, “It’s easier to list the few thing nettles don’t help.”

nettles and berry blooms

Where? Nettles grow abundantly in wooded areas, by river beds, and around abandoned buildings… but if you can’t find them in your neighborhood, Traditional Medicinals makes a fine nettle tea and Frontier sells the leaves and roots in bulk. (I do not have an affiliate relationship with these companies. I do appreciate their integrity and products, and I want to help you access this natural medicine as best you can.)

Be sure to wear gloves when working with nettles. Once they are cooked, they are tender and harmless, but until then, they can really sting. And sting with a lasting vengeance. If that happens, put your hands in ice water. Then wash with soap. Use tape to extract the nettle thorns (which can be invisible). Apply a thick paste of baking soda (mixed with scant water) and allow to dry before washing off. Finally, eat your cooked nettles for the antihistamine.

sauteed nettles

Sautéed Nettles with Chewy Crunchy Garlic
Serves 2

a double handful of nettles, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ghee or refined coconut oil
1/2 lemon
pink salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
optional: extra virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes

Melt ghee or coconut oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and sauté for a few minutes, swirling the pan now and then to distribute the heat. As soon as the garlic begins to getting golden, add the nettles. Cook a minute or two, stir and gently turn. Cook another minute or two and remove from heat once the leaves begin to lightly brown.

Squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice over the nettles, then season with black pepper and pink salt to taste (it shouldn’t need much salt thanks to the lemon). As you serve the nettles, you may optionally drizzle with olive oil, or sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Another option to boost the health benefits is to stir a scant teaspoon of turmeric powder in with the sautéing garlic just before adding the nettles.

nettles with crunchy garlic

I mentioned Dr. Suhas. He and is wife, Dr. Manisha, are two of my great mentors. I offered Dr. Manisha’s book Eternal Beauty in this post, and offer you now Dr. Suhas’ new book,  The Art and Science of Vedic Counseling, co-written with another of my longtime mentors and friend Dr. David Frawley.

“The Art and Science of Vedic Counseling” is the best counseling guide available for students, teachers, and practitioners of Ayurveda, Yoga, and related healing arts. The book is an ever-cherished collection of knowledge, wisdom and a practical, clinical reference. I highly recommend the book to all who love Yoga & Ayurveda.”
~ Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Physician

If you would like to be entered to receive this book, please leave a comment below.

how to cook nettles
Do you suffer from spring allergies? If so, I highly recommend a daily dose of nettles – along with this great article from Banyan Botanicals on Ayurveda’s approach to allergies.

Do you have a favorite nettle recipe? Do you have memories of a grandmother harvesting greens in spring? How do you keep the traditions of nature’s medicine alive in your life, your family, our world? I would love to hear. Thank you & Namaste!

Do you have a favorite nettle recipe? Do you have memories of a grandmother harvesting greens in spring? How do you keep the traditions of nature’s medicine alive in your life, your family, our world? I would love to hear. Thank you & Namaste!

 

Detox Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh 4-web

Why do I call this Detox Tabbouleh? Unlike the traditional recipe, I don’t add bulgur or tomato, so it is free of those pesky foods that can be inflammatory. Like the traditional recipe though, I do add garlic, a really good olive oil and lots of lemon, because all three are known to help detoxify the body. Above all, this is full of greens, and greens clean.

Parsley & Cilantro are potent detoxifiers, providing necessary nutrients and daily fiber. Parsley also helps to clean your breath of garlic odor, so it is a perfect paring. And if you’ve joined me for any of my seasonal cleanses, you know my love of cilantro for its heavy metal scrubbing power.

Who is this for? Greens are good for everybody, helping Vata with necessary fiber for easier elimination, cooling inflammation and strengthening liver function to help Pitta keep cool, and providing the bitters that lighten up Kapha.

Tabbouleh-web

It tastes like an ancient Mesopotamian garden. I’d serve it to the poet Hafiz if he’d come over for dinner. Like his Gifts, our mother earth’s bounty is an eternal feast.

Detox Tabbouleh

1 bunch parsley
1 handful cilantro, optional
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic
3-4 fists of pine nuts
2 capfuls really fine extra virgin olive oil

Put the garlic in a food processor and mince. Add the parsley, cilantro, spring onions and process. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix. Toss in the pine nuts, drizzle in the olive oil and give it one more quick pulse. Taste, adjust flavors, and pulse again if you like your pine nuts broken down and integrated more.

Serve alone, or with soups, salads, toast, or crackers. It is also great spooned over heartier dishes.

*Note: If you are Pitta, you can reduce the amounts of garlic and spiring onion, or eliminate altogether. 

Tabbouleh 3-web

Speaking of getting healthy for the new year, my Winter Cleanse launches this Saturday. It’s a hearty cleanse – gentle enough that you can keep up with your daily routines, but solid enough that you will feel better, and delicious enough to keep you building momentum. All for only $10 for 10 recipes, meal plans + Ayurvedic wisdom and email inspiration.

I will give away a winter cleanse to a commenter below (picked randomly, always). So tell me, how do you nourish and purify in winter?

 

Super Seed Crackers

#homemade crackers

After meeting Mimi Kirk last summer, I was inspired to try making flaxseed crackers. I don’t have a dehydrator though, so after hours and hours of trying to jerry-rig an alternative, I gave up and turned on the oven. What turned out was a surprise.

great

#flaxseed crackers

When I’ve shared these, friends have raved. Family asks for more. My husband, who has more self-restraint than anyone I know, gobbles them up. The recipe is now part of our Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse, but so many others have asked for it, I felt I needed to share it here. Something about the roasting of the seeds makes these oily, crispy, salty in the most magical way. They are great with everything ~ dipshummus, soups, salads, and can be scored into large pieces for a flatbread, or a crunchy pizza with your favorite toppings. But they are so good on their own that, in our house at least, they’re usually gone before anything can be added.

#crackers

#seed crackers with dill

Ayurvedic doctor, chef, educator and molecular biologist Dr. Jay Apte once told us, “For good skin, eat the edible skin of your fruits and vegetables. For energy, eat seeds.” Seeds pack the energy, and the intelligence, of the plant to come.

“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in ’em,” said Captain Jim. “When I ponder on them seeds I don’t find it nowise hard to believe that we’ve got souls that’ll live in other worlds. You couldn’t hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn’t seen the miracle, could you?”
~
 L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

#fenugreek

I love seeds. I love that you can soak and snack, or soak and sprout, or soak and grow. In fact, we almost always have something soaking, especially in Spring time. Last week I forgot about the fenugreek seeds I was soaking to eat as sprouts, so I tossed them, waterlogged and mushy, in the garden where their green shoots have already pushed up through the earth.

I love seeds so much I want to share them with you, so please let us know how you like these crackers, and be sure to comment if you want me to send you some seeds. I’ll pick three winners and mail you a packet of the seeds you need to make this recipe.

Super Seed Crackers

Makes
about 40 crackers

Ingredients

1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c sesame seeds
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
1/4 c flax seeds
1/2 c chia seeds
1 1/2 c water
1/4 c dulse
2-3 T sun-dried tomatoes, pureed or very finely chopped, optional
1 T tamari
1 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
olive oil
himalayan pink salt
handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped
optional: red pepper flakes

Instructions
Begin by soaking: Let the sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds soak together in a bowl with 1 cup of water for 6-8 hours. The flax and chia can soak together in 1/2 cup of water and only need 20 minutes.

Once soaked, set your oven to 275F. Rinse your seeds and pat dry. Add them to a medium size mixing bowl together with the dulse, sun-dried tomatoes, tamari, lemon juice, garlic, onion powder, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a standard baking tray. Pour the seed mixture onto the tray. Take off your rings, oil your hands with olive oil and, using your hands, spread the mixture out to the edges of the baking tray. It should be uniformly thin, about an 1/8 of an inch, without any tears or holes. Lightly sprinkle with olive oil. Score the crackers, tracing squares or rectangles with a sharp knife.

Place the tray in the middle of the oven and bake one hour, or until it is golden around the edges. Pull it out of the oven, carefully turn it over, peeling off the parchment paper (which you can re-place on the baking sheet or discard at this point) and place it back on the baking tray bottom side up. Drizzle this side very lightly with olive oil and dust with salt. Put it back in the oven for another hour. Once this side is golden, turn the oven off. Leave it in the oven until the oven cools, an hour or two, or even overnight. Be sure it is dappled with a golden hue or it will need to cook a bit longer. Sometimes, after the hour of baking each side, I’ll turn the oven up to 350 F, turning the oven off as soon as it reaches that temperature. It gives it that final bit of roasting that really brings the flavors out.

Once it is done and you pull it out of the oven, let it rest and cool before breaking into crackers. Optionally, chop a handful of fresh dill and toss over the crackers while still warm.

#superseed #crackers

I wish you delight in all things this Spring – especially in the love of Mother Nature who gives so much: beauty, bounty, delicious nourishing food. Namaste! 

 ~

Post Script: Congratulations to Kathleen, Stephanie and Linda who will be receiving packs of super seeds! Thank you all for your comments and your commitment to life!

Cannellini Hummus: A Spring Detox Staple

#hummus
We are just finishing up our 21 Day Spring Clean Challenge, and I thought you, along with some of my fellow “Cleansers,” might like a simple way to stay the course. This hummus is so easy and quick to prepare, yet makes a nourishing, hearty meal, even while detoxifying. In fact, it was my family’s lunch today served up with arugula, radicchio, zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes for dipping, along with gluten-free “superseed” crackers and olives. They loved it, never knowing they  were eating “Cleanse” foods. I hope you like it, too.

cannelini hummus poster 2

Cannellini Hummus

1.5 cups organic cannellini beans, cooked
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 T vegan mayonnaise (make your own)
1 t dijon mustard
1 t tahini
3 hearty shakes of aleppo pepper
pink salt to taste
1 t lemon juice, optional 

Put everything in your electric blender and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add a spoonful of fresh lemon juice if you think it needs more salt. Serve with fresh vegetables.

#cannelini hummus
Why change it up and make Hummus with Cannellini? What’s wrong with good old-fashioned Garbanzo?

It’s true, garbanzo beans do make delicious hummus. But, they can be difficult to digest. In many cases (think Vata)  they cause gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, even constipation. Any Cleanse, to be successful, should strengthen, and not confuse digestion. Mung beans, cooked in Kichari, are the ideal bean for that. In our 21 Day Cleanse, Kichari is a central component. Now that we are almost complete, though, this hummus is a nice variation on the theme.

If you want a simple cleanse you can do anytime, try making up some kichari with lightly steamed vegetables and feast on that for a day, or two, or three… You’ll find many recipes for kichari around my blog ~ here, and at the bottom of the “Basics” page here, for example.

I wish you extraordinary health and wellness so that you are able, in the most vibrant way possible, to taste all the joy, intelligence and love Mother Nature has to offer you.

Thank you for visiting this site, and for being so dedicated to life, light and love! Jai Ma!

What about you? Are you welcoming Spring with a bit of a clean-up, clean-out? What is your favorite way to invite in Spring, and enjoy the season’s energy of renewal?

 

Namaste!

 

 

 

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!

Vegan Artichoke Dip

#Artichoke #healthydips

At our recent Ayurvedic Nutrition & Cooking Class (“The Amazing Basics”), we whipped up this Spinach Artichoke Dip to snack on while we prepared a fabulous whole food feast.

It started like this:

Photo: Katariina Fagering, Gypsy Soul Cafe
Photo: Katariina Fagering, Gypsy Love Cafe
Ayurvedic Cooking: Vedawise.com
Photo: Katariina Fagering, Gypsy Love Cafe

VedaWse Cooking Class

It was an intuitive, spontaneous creation, so there wasn’t a recipe for it in the Class Handouts. Turns out, though, it was one of the highlights of the day, and requests for the recipe having been coming in, so I wanted to share it with you here.

arti

It’s an easy recipe if you use artichokes from a jar, as we did that day. Of course, that is a real cheat, a high offense to Ayurvedic principles that insist on “fresh, fresh, fresh!” So the next time I made it with artichokes from a friend’s garden, which is amazing. To think you are eating a flower.

healthy healing artichoke dip

If you want to make this from a garden-fresh artichoke, Mark Bittman shows you how to prepare it. Once prepped, let your hearts sit for an hour in a marinade of equal parts lemon juice and raw apple cider vinegar, 1 clove garlic minced, and a dash of pink salt.

IMG_8674

Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Click here for print version

1 c. Cashews, soaked (4 hours)
1 c. Marinated Artichoke Hearts
2-3 T Marinade
1 handful blanched Spinach
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Lemon, juiced
1 t Gluten-free Tamari
1 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Red Pepper Flakes or Cayenne Powder, to Taste
Optional: 1 t Nutritional Yeast for a cheesy flavor and a bit of Vitamin B12
Options: Fresh Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Himalayan Salt, fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Cook your spinach for 1 minute, then quickly put it into a bowl of ice water.

Fresh Spinach

IMG_8358

Drain the cashews, rinse well, and mix together with the garlic, artichokes and marinade in your blender.  Squeeze the spinach dry, and add it to the mixture with the lemon and tamari. Process until it is a creamy consistency. Drizzle in the EVOO. Optionally, sprinkle in the nutritional yeast. Pulse three times for 1-2 seconds each.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Artichoke Dip

Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with red pepper. Serve with carrots, broccoli, spring onion, red, or orange pepper slices, and gluten-free crackers. Your heart, your liver, your kidneys, your friends, and your family will love you ~ because food, when it is natural, fresh, seasonal, and balanced with all six tastes, is always a love story!

#Artichoke #partydips

~
A big thank you to all our Chefs for creating a sumptuous meal that day. Your commitment to food’s loving nourishment is epic!

ayu class 2

Spring Green & Clean: Detox Protein Smoothie

sprong smoothie
In Ayurveda, Spring is the season of purification. For me, there is no better place to witness the lessons of Spring, and to learn about ourselves as dynamic and integral aspects of nature than in our own humble garden.

IMG_8059Perhaps the greatest joy of Spring is watching the seeds bud. Seeing those two flaps rise up out of the soil, open out to the sun, and days later reveal the head of a new unique plant is my version of a thrill.

IMG_8055Fenugreek is Kapha-reducing, thus beneficial for spring, especially spring allergies. Its leaves are great in Saag; the seeds are ground for spices and medicine in Ayurveda.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

We have lavender everywhere. It is calming to Pitta, and blooms just in time to ease us into Pitta’s summer season.

ruth garden

When my niece was here she helped us clean out and plant our Spring beds, including the installation of a  drip irrigation system.

IMG_7962

After hours of hearty toil in the garden, we came in and “irrigated” ourselves with this purifying Spring Green Smoothie.

Detox Protein Smoothie
Serves 2

1 Apple, cored and chopped
1 T VitaMineral Greens (or Spirulina/Chlorella powder)
1 c Apple cider (or unfiltered juice)
1 handful raw sunflower seeds
1 t Coconut Oil
1 t Raw Honey
dash of Turmeric, Cardamom

Blend ingredients together for a couple of minutes until the consistency is smooth. Drink at room temperature. Enjoy!

ruth juicing

Isn’t Spring a joyful reminder of Mother’s Earth’s loving nature?

I wish you all that joy nature wants for you.

Namaste!

~

Related articles

Rounds, Roots and Shoots: A Vernal Salad

potato saladA quick post to share what I am looking forward to once our Spring Cleanse is complete: Baby New Potato & Asparagus Salad with Marcona Almonds and Micro Greens. It’s crunchy, salty, moist, hearty yet light and fresh, and sweet in an Ayurvedic way. As any meal should, it inspires all the senses, incorporates all six tastes and harmonizes the best of a local harvest.

potato salad

Baby New Potato & Asparagus Salad with Marcona Almonds & Micro Greens

Salad
8-10 Baby New Potatoes
10-12 very fresh Asparagus Stalks
1 Zucchini
3-4 Spring Onions
1/2 c chopped Dill
1 c Marcona Almonds (Trader Joe’s sells them roasted with Rosemary)
1/2 c Microgreens

Dressing
1 clove Garlic
1 t Dijon
1 T Mayo (can be Vegan)
2-3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lemon juiced
1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
a dusting of Red Pepper (my favorite is a gift from my sister: Aleppo Chile Pepper from The Spice House)
Black pepper, to taste
Himalayan Salt, to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook about 15-20 minutes, until a fork easily slides through the middle. Meanwhile, if you have a double cooker or a steamer, put that on top of the boiling potatoes and blanch the asparagus for a 3-4 minutes only. Otherwise you can drop them into boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Rinse the asparagus immediately with cold water and place in a bowl of ice water. When the potatoes are done, drain and put them in a bowl of ice water too.

Slice the zucchini thin and cut the rounds into quarters, so they are mini bite-size. Slice the spring onions all the way up into the green. Add the zucchini, spring onions, almonds and dill to a salad bowl and set aside.

Mix up the dressing by mincing the garlic. I always make my dressings in a jar because with a lid on tight, you can really give it a good shake and prove to the world that even oil and vinegar can sometimes mix. So put your garlic into a small jar with the juice of half the lemon and the rest of the ingredients. Shake until it is creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Drain and dry the potatoes and asparagus and cut into small bite size pieces. Toss together with the zucchini, spring onions and dill. Give the dressing a good vigorous blend and pour onto the salad. Taste and adjust. I found mine needed the juice of the entire lemon.

Serve on a bed of lettuce with a carefree sprinkling of microgreens.

Options: Chopped, hard-boiled egg; avocado slices; sun-dried tomatoes for that bit of sour; sunflower seeds for added crunch; garden-fresh snap peas for even more sweet green; basil, cilantro, or mint for more savory zing. This salad is really happy company to just about any of Spring’s edible delights so let your garden or your local farmer inspire your whims.

bhava scarfing potato salad

My husband likes it, and I hope you like it, too!

spring salad

 

What you are looking forward to now that Spring is here?

Namaste!

A Few Ideas for Breakfast

Great CU
Buckwheat Cakes

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).

Image
Almond Butter & Mango

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.

Image
A Paleo friend celebrates Super Bowl Sunday with bacon roses | Photo: Marriott

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!

Buckwheat Cakes
Buckwheat Cakes with Yogurt and Honey

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.

Buckwheat Cakes
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.

BUCKWHEAT CAKE RECIPE
adapted from Martha Schulman’s Buckwheat Crepes

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
Water

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

IMG_5070

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.

Salutations and Santé!

~

Melissa Bechter of Vegenista recently joined me for my Ayurvedic Winter Cleanse and shared with me this photograph of the Paleo Pancakes she made on our "Integration Weekend." Thanks, Melissa!
Melissa Bechter of Vegenista recently joined me for my Ayurvedic Winter Cleanse and shared with me this photograph of the Paleo Pancakes she made on our “Integration Weekend.” Thanks, Melissa!

A Few Healing Remedies

There was a recent discussion amongst Ayurvedic students regarding the flu shot. A number of them said that their preferred choice is not a shot, but a food: garlic. It inspired me to post a few of our own preferred Ayurvedic cold and flu formulas, some with garlic, some without, so you’d have a few of your own home remedies to choose from.

Honey Garlic

GARLIC

To be or not to be – that is the question for me when it comes to garlic. To include it or eschew it? Ayurveda likes it. Western Ayurvedis seem to love it. After all, Garlic is Kapha-reducing, immune-boosting, antiviral, antibacterial, and touted for its power to shorten the duration of a cold or flu.

But Yogis say no to garlic because it is rajasic-tamasic and, truthfully, you can notice how “sattvic” you feel when you have a complete meal balanced in all six tastes, with no garlic added. Apart from winter days when I feel one of us is getting sick, I avoid it. On the other hand, when a cold is coming on, there is nothing like garlic to snuff it.

Garlic Honey Cold Remedy

1/2 c honey
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled.

Put the cloves of garlic in a clean, glass jar and cover with the honey. Seal the lid and let sit for 3 days. Do not taste it or try it until at least 72 hours have passed. (I’m warning you. Enough said.) After three days you can eat it by the spoonful.

Since you don’t usually know when you will need it, and when the need arises you won’t want to wait three days (warning: wait!), it’s a good remedy to make up and store in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 1 year.

Check out Nouveau Raw’s version with great research from author Amie Sue ~ including the CDC’s ruling that children under the age of 1 should not be given honey.

Garlic Honey

I learned this next simplest of remedies ages ago from an Italian Nonna. More recently, in India, I was so sick I didn’t get up, barely even woke up, for over a week. I tried every remedy. Finally, I asked for a garlic clove, did this little trick, and instantly began to improve.

Garlic Sore Throat Remedy

1 unpeeled clove of garlic

Place the unpeeled clove in the back of your mouth, behind your molars, and close down on it. The juices of the garlic will trickle down your throat, killing bacteria. Keep it there for 20 minutes, or until the garlic peel is shredded. You will know when it needs to be removed.

I have to warn you again: this is anti-social behavior. Avoid taking if you must go out. Instead, try it at night before bed. And not to get personal, but if you share your bed, have your sleep mate take it, too!

Ginger

GINGER

While garlic is superior once the cold has begun, ginger reigns supreme when it comes to maintaining overall wellness in body and mind. Ayurveda has long used ginger to help relieve colds, fevers, headaches, as well as arthritis, digestive disorders, intestinal gas, menstrual cramps, nausea, anxiety, asthma, depression. It is showing benefits in tests for heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, sciatica, ulcerative colitis. Best of all, ginger is sattvic, meaning light, balanced, and peace-promoting, unlike garlic’s anti-social assault.

One simple way to keep a medicinal store of ginger handy is this Lemon Ginger Remedy. It, too, will keep in the refrigerator, but I make it fresh – enough to last a few days covered and sealed on the counter, so it’s never chilled and never taken cold. Come over to our house and you will see little bowls of this, and its variations, scattered about. I am always moving it to keep it in the line of sight: furtive missions to keep the family strong.

Ginger Lemon

Lemon Ginger Cold Remedy

2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled
1-2 T Raw Honey
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
Cinnamon

Chop the ginger into little match-sticks. Place in a small bowl with the raw honey. Put this bowl in a larger bowl filled with hot water and let stand a few minutes until the honey is runny. Remove the bowl and add the lemon juice and cinnamon. Give it a light stir to coat the ginger thoroughly.

Take small bites throughout the day if you are sick, or just before a meal to kindle your digestive fire.

honey

HONEY

Honey is outrageous. An utter miracle. “It has sweetness (madhura rasa) with added astringent as end taste (Kashaya anu rasa). It is heavy (guru guna), dry (ruksha) and cold (sheeta). Its effect on doshas is as follows: It aggravates vata, scrapes kapha and normalizes pitta and rakta. It promotes healing process.” ~ Ashtanga Hridaya

It is also a natural antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant that speeds up the healing process. Last winter I posted this honey based remedy to avoid or dispel winter colds. But another popular remedy is this Honey Ginger Tea, using the same ingredients as above but with hot water to liquefy mucus and help warm the cold.

Honey Ginger Tea

2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled
1-2 T Raw Honey
Juice of half a lemon
Cinnamon

Chop the ginger into chunks and put in a pot of two cups boiling water. Boil gently for about ten minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover and allow it to steep another 10 – 15 minutes. Once it is cooled enough that it wouldn’t burn you if you put a drip on your inner forearm, ladle yourself a cup, add the lemon juice, give it a shake of cinnamon, and stir in the honey. Drink daily in winter, or if you are sick, drink regularly throughout the day.

For a spicier version of this, try our Lemony Ginger Tea.

lemon

How about you? What do you do to stay healthy and strong in flu season? Do you have any natural recipes from “Nonna” that you rely on?

~

Wishing you warmth, health and happiness!

Namaste ~

Detox Dal: Healing Lentil Soup

LentilSoup_1

I have been pulling together a new website, and prepping for a new course called Radiant You: Ageless Beauty and Balance (details coming), and all I’ve been wanting for lunch each day is this hearty Lentil soup ~ which is great because it is part of a One Day Detox we will be doing at the start of the Radiant You program, and it’s great to be able to speak to its power not only to detox, but also to seduce.

Detox Lentil Soup
Makes 2-4 servings

1 cup Lentils
1 cup Red Quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup Onion, chopped
1-2 clove Garlic (or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder), minced
1-2 teaspoons Ghee (alternatively: coconut, safflower or peanut oil)
1 scant teaspoon Garam Masala (or 1 pinch each: turmeric, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and/or clove)
1 Carrot, quartered and chopped
1 stalk Celery, cut into small pieces
1 cup Kale, stalks removed, leaves torn into small bits
2 cups Vegetable Broth (I like Pacific Foods Low Sodium)
Hingvastak, or Hing/Asafotida, optional
Coconut or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, or Tamari (gluten-free) to taste

Rinse lentils and drain. Melt ghee over medium heat. Sprinkle in spices and sauté one minute. Add onion and cook a few minutes until it softens. Stir in lentils until thoroughly coated. Add carrot, celery, kale and cook a moment. Turn heat to high and add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low.

Cook 20-25 minutes. Stir in Hingvastak, optionally. Ladle the quinoa into bowls and pour the soup over. Season with Amino Acids or Tamari to taste.

IMG_4801

Even if you don’t join us for the One Day Detox, along with four weeks of Radiant You, I hope you will enjoy this wintery soup. Please let me know.

Namaste!

Birthday Kale

Birthday Lunch
Yesterday was Bhava’s birthday. He chose True Food Kitchen for lunch. It’s a place we’d wanted to explore since it opened earlier this summer, but its location at Fashion Valley, San Diego’s largest Shopping Mall, put it just a bit outside our comfort zone. So we put on our Yoga and stretched….

And were so glad we did!

A gorgeous urn of lemon water greets you at the entrance
A decorative nod to grass-fed, ethical farming principles promised by the kitchen
The Bar
Fruits and vegetables are clearly the priority

Our adorable server was the picture of health and grounded contentment, and it turns out, has her own healthy food blog, Food At Peace, suggesting she walks the talk. After being outsiders for so long, it was affirming, connecting, refreshing to be amongst the like-minded, the TRUE/TH seekers, especially in the midst of such a “maya-polis” (Dr. Svoboda‘s term) as Fashion Valley!

The perfect server, Lauren Mahlberg

Bhava ordered “Andy’s Favorite ‘TLT,'” a sandwich combination of Tempeh, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado and Vegenaise that is so good, it must silence objecting meat lovers.

Andy’s Favorite TLT

We always share our dishes, usually ordering one appetizer or salad and only one entree, because in American restaurants two entrees are just too big, and because “the starters” can really show a Kitchen’s artistry and commitment, or not.

Tuscan Kale Salad

So I ordered the Tuscan Kale Salad which is such a burst of flavor, it really is like eating metabolized, packaged-for-human-consumption, sunlight. It is so special it seems to have created enough of a buzz that Dr. Weil, the “Andy” whose favorite ‘TLT’ Bhava enjoyed, also the founding partner in this restaurant based on his Optimum Health principles, has posted a video of himself making it. I thought you’d love it so included the recipe here below.

Sautéed sweet potato from Bhava’s plate gave it the perfect Six Taste balance.

Because it was his birthday and a gift from the kitchen, we tried the flourless chocolate cake for dessert. It  is a delightful demonstration of how much better a dish can be when sourced from the True.

72% Cacao flourless chocolate cake
Tuscan Kale Salad
Serves 4-6
 
Ingredients
4-6 cups kale, loosely packed, sliced leaves of Italian black (Lacinato, “dinosaur,” cavolo nero) midribs removed
juice of 1 lemon
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, mashed
salt & pepper, to taste
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
2/3 cup grated Pecorino Toscano cheese, or other flavorful grating cheese such as Asiago or Parmesan
1/2 cup freshly made bread crumbs from lightly toasted bread (I toasted sesame seeds instead to make it gluten-free)
 *
Instructions
  1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a generous pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flakes.
  2. Pour over kale in serving bowl and toss well.
  3. Add 2/3 of the cheese and toss again.
  4. Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes. Add bread crumbs, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.

Food as Medicine
Kale is among the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables. One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192 percent of DV for vitamin A, and 88 percent for vitamin C.

My note
Kale is excellent for Pitta. Greens in general are cooling, detoxifying and disease-defying. Because summer is Pitta, Kale in all its glorious forms is a great food for the season. However, if you are Pitta yourself, reduce or even eliminate the garlic and hot pepper in this recipe. If you are Kapha, this is ideal as is. If you are Vata, serve it atop a bowl of hot brown rice, allowing the warmth to lightly steam and wilt the kale. 

This recipe is courtesy of Dr. Weil’s True Food Kitchen restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona and is posted here on his website.

The patio set off by the welcoming garden

Also want to let you know about my Autumn Ayurveda: Nutrition & Cooking Class coming up in September. Details here.

To your True Health. Namaste! 

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.

Click for Print Version

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 ~ 

To Russia, with Love: Shchi Cabbage Soup

I thought I’d start Six Tasting the World with an Ayurvedically aligned meal from France, or Italy, or Switzerland even, given that we begin in winter. I dreamt of “visiting” (in my kitchen, of course) places that call to us with their beauty, joie de vivre, and extraordinary cuisine. But Ayurvedic client Sofia Koutsenko’s recent consult reminded me that Russia is a surprisingly wonderful source for winter wellness cooking.

Russian Winter, by Nikolai Anokhin

Russia?

Winter is long in Russia. Fortitude and intuitive wisdom are necessary for survival. An innate, one could say Ayurvedic, knowing of what foods, in what combination, has kept Russians strong for centuries despite those dark, bitter winters. How could anyone, for example, have survived that savage siege of Leningrad during a WWII that was, for them, particularly brutal, but for a deep endurance?

The Kremlin, by Apollinaris Vasnetsov

How do they do it? With help from warm, rich soups, and recipes that focus on Cabbage, Beets, Carrots, Onions and soured creams or vegetables.

Patriarch’s Ponds by Mikhail Shankov, 2008

In winter anywhere we need to keep our inner fires blazing, our immune system strong, our tissues supple and our spirits alive. So I went to Russia for winter inspiration and found the classic Shchi, served at every table from peasant to Prince since time immemorial.  This soup is so popular that even at royal banquets serving up to 100 courses, a meal was not considered complete without Shchi.

Maslanitsa by Boris Kustodiev

Food historian Darra Goldstein calls shchi  “the most Russian of soups.” Traditionally, winter versions of this soup are made only with fermented cabbage, Goldstein writes, “harkening back to the days before mass production, when the soup could not be prepared until the sauerkraut, put up in the early fall, had fermented.” Summer versions forgo the fermented in favor of fresh. But Goldstein’s recipe combines fresh and fermented cabbage to produce a light soup with rich flavors, which I adapted to make Vegetarian. It is utterly divine!

cabbage soup with yogurt dill

Of course, in Russia where a warm pot of Shchi has been on the hearth since the time before Abraham*, there are many ways to flavor your pot. Goldstein, and many of the recipes I found, call for sauerkraut to be added to the soup and cooked with the cabbage. I chose, instead, to add the sauerkraut after ladling the soup into bowls in order not to cook away the benefits of all that good fermentation.

I added Purple Cabbage for the nutrients

So here is a soup from Russia with love, a soup I made with Sofia in mind and in honor of all the great Russian authors I’ve loved over time ~ Chekhov, Tolstoy, Pasternak, Dostoevsky, and the brave, delightfully inventive Mikhail Bulgakov, whose novel Master and Margarita inspired me to make a soup worthy of such a masterpiece.

Bulgakov’s Home, now a Museum in Moscow

Please let me know what you think of it ~ And share with us, please, the nurturing ways you feed your soul in winter.

Приятного аппетита!

Click for Print Version

With a side of Kasha, Russians declare Shchi their “soul food.” Imagine serving yourself a bowl of Shchi and a cup of steaming tea poured from your Samovar, then nestling up with a good book beside an Art Nouveau window overlooking snow-covered onion domes, orthodox cathedrals, linden trees and cobbled streets, allowing winter’s gifts to feed your soul.

Russian Samovar

I imagine Sofia might take her soup and curl up with her beloved Pushkin ~ a book of that great Russian’s poetry, yes ~ and her eponymous Jack Russell terrier.

Pushkin
I wish I could share it with my friend Lalla, an artist who left her family and homeland when Russians who left were never allowed back. She stole away to attend the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris where she painted an image of Abraham that hangs now in my office. I think of her every day when I look at the depth, the pain, the courage, and the wisdom in those timeless eyes of Abraham.  I miss her and I miss our days in cold, wet, interminably wintry London where good friendship, a bowl of soup, and a cup of tea was all we needed to keep warm and bright. With her courage, fortitude and deep soul, she is the best of what it means to be Russian to the core.
Lalla
Thank you, Lalla for making our lives more beautiful.
 ~

Darra Goldstein has looked at Russian history from the point of view of food, kitchens and the women who, in her words, “were the acknowledged saviors of Leningrad.”  In addition to her historical nonfiction, Goldstein has written four cookbooks ~ The Taste of Russia, The Georgian Feast, TheWinter Vegetarian and Baking Boot Camp ~ and a cornucopia of incredibly savory articles. You might enjoy her article, “Theatre of the Gastronomic Absurd”, which tells of a particularly beguiling, and blood-thirsty, hostess.

The Taste of Russia’s cover art by Boris Kustodiev

~

*Raskolnikov came out of the shed on to the river bank, sat down on a heap of logs by the shed and began gazing at the wide deserted river. From the high bank a broad landscape opened before him, the sound of singing floated faintly audible from the other bank. In the vast steppe, bathed in sunshine, he could just see, like black specks, the nomads’ tents. There there was freedom, there other men were living, utterly unlike those here; there time itself seemed to stand still, as though the age of Abraham and his flocks had not passed. Raskolnikov sat gazing, his thoughts passed into day-dreams, into contemplation; he thought of nothing, but a vague restlessness excited and troubled him.   All at once… a light of infinite happiness came… he had risen again and he knew it and felt it in all his being…  But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended.  
Fyodor Dostoevsky,  Crime and Punishment

Tapioca Tribute

 Apricots add a Springtime flavor to our Tapioca Treat

Yesterday I made a Tapioca Treat for my Father’s birthday, which I have to share with you because it is one of those “too good to be true” desserts.

I can’t say my father loved it. It has been a long time since we’ve celebrated with him in person. He would have been 75 this year. But he has been gone almost 20, so now it is a celebration of the heart, an internal tribute to a life that gave life, a personal thanksgiving for his everyday example of nobility in action.

In addition to the endless love, encouragement and opportunities my father showered on us, his five children, he was, for me, a great “spiritual” teacher. He didn’t love the formalities of religion: he was young when his mother died and the Priest who said the Funeral Mass read from the script of another bereaved family, using all the wrong names and describing a very different mother.

That early loss and betrayal preceded the break-up of his family and long, lonely, later-forgotten teen years. Yet, my father was Sattvic ~ wise, clear-minded, generous, curious, fair, smart, philosophical, broad-minded, brave, kind, a safe refuge, and a lot of fun. I often say to myself, not harshly but compassionately, that I haven’t, and may never, live up to the promise of being George L. Plumb’s eldest. But I do my best to pass on the best he gave to us.

Dad

When we were little, he loved gathering us all into the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon 
to make Tapioca and I wanted to remember that with my stepson. So in his honor, I made a special dessert and shared it with my own family, as a flavor of a man they will never meet.

This is a perfect treat for my father’s April birthday not only for its tastes of love reviving connections long lost,  but also because Tapioca is “Kapha-reducing” ~ exactly the action we want from our meals in Springtime. In the Spring, we look to significantly reduce dairy, sugar and heavy grains, while increasing the fibrous foods that make us lighter and warming spices that boost metabolic fires. This Tapioca Recipe is just that. It combines all the digestive benefits of Lassi, with fiber and heart-loving betacarotene from Apricots, and the low-calorie, high-energy boost of Tapioca ~ without any sugar added. I hope you enjoy it!

Tapioca Pearls

Apricot Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca Pearls, 1/3 cup
Water, 2 cups
Dried Apricots, 10-12
Ghee, 1 Teaspoon (Coconut Oil for Vegan)
Cinnamon, 1/2 Teaspoon
Ginger, 1/8 teaspoon
Clove, 2 Shakes
Cardamom, 2 Shakes
Nutmeg, Dash
Asafoetida, Dash
Rock Salt, Pinch
Honey, 2 Tablespoons
Plain Yogurt, 1 cup

Boil 1 and 1/3 cups of water and add the tapioca pearls. Stir, reduce heat, cover. After ten minutes, check. It is done when the pearls have dissolved and it looks like melted glue.

Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a saucepan on medium low heat. Add the spices and saute one minute. Toss in the apricots and stir to coat throughly. Turn up the heat and add the remaining water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer about ten minutes, until the tapioca is done.

Put the apricots with the water, now more of a juice, into a blender. Mix until the apricots are minced. Add the yogurt and the tapioca and blend lightly. If the mixture is cooled to a temperature that does not burn to the touch, add the honey and blend one final time. Otherwise, you can drizzle the honey over it once served. It should be the consistency of pudding with a light peach color.

You can also just stir it all together if you don’t have a blender. That is how I made it for my Ayurveda Spring Detox Cooking Class. Just be sure, if you do it that way, that you give the apricots a good fine chop before you stew them.

Garnish with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg, a mint or basil leaf, chopped glazed pecans or pine nuts, a touch of orange zest for color and zing. Or, just grab a spoon and dig in. Yum!

Apricot Tapioca Pudding

Not too long ago, referring to my father, my college roommate said, “We all want our own George.”  He knew how to lift you up, make you laugh, nourish your mind, feed your soul. He would impart wisdom in easy gestures, subtle ways.

Even in making a straightforward dish like Apricot Tapioca Pudding, for example, I wonder at the world: its diversity, flavors, inventiveness, and above all, the potency of Mother Nature to create such delicious, substantial, cleansing foods. For the thought spirals that go from tapioca pearls to cosmic chemistry, while vividly appreciating the simple sensuous tastes of Spring’s profusion, I have my Dad to thank.

I just wish I did more of that while he was here. Thanking, that is. He knew all along what it has taken me decades to painstakingly learn; that is, how to live a Sattvic life, and feed the body according to the seasons.  For that example, and so much more, I am deeply grateful.

My first Yoga Teacher

Thank you, Dad!

Spring: Season of Fiery Spice & Wild Greens

Spring is a time for healing and growth, bringing life to its fullest blossom while sloughing off accumulations that weigh and slow us down. This, therefore, is the prime season for detoxification, when we want to do what nature is doing: melt the freeze of winter and prepare for the liberation of Summer.

The key to healthy detoxification is Agni! Agni is the Sanskrit word for fire. It is generally used to describe our digestive fire, which resides in our solar plexus. Agni’s job is to help us digest and assimilate the nutrients in our food, and to support the cleansing organs, including the skin, liver, and kidneys, to move the waste out of our body.  Agni is like a little potbelly stove at the center of our “house” (or body). Our digestion, as well as our immunity, vitality, and clarity of mind, depend on it.

You can strengthen your Agni in four simple ways: aerobic exercise, a targeted Hatha Yoga practice, healthy whole foods, and detoxifying herbs.

To stoke your digestive fire, sip ginger tea with your meals and add zesty warming spices that help to break down foods and eliminate waste. In the Spring, Ayurvedic spices such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon, clove, basil, oregano, pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, asafetida (hing), fenugreek and chilies offer flavor, aroma, healing wisdom and most of all, fire to your foods.

Hot peppers “melt” Winter’s “freeze.”

What to Eat

Edible wild greens of Late Winter and early Spring are especially detoxifying. Bitter and pungent tasting, they include dandelion greens, purslane, ramps, sorrel, lamb’s quarters, chickweed, chicory, garlic mustard, shepherd’s purse, escarole, fiddleheads, wild prickly lettuce, mache, nettles, frisee, sour grass, and onion grass. Sample some of these Spring greens, freshly picked and still moist, and you might be surprised by its peppery, pungent blast.

Green Vegetables: Loaded with fiber, leafy greens like mustard greens, spinach and kale act like industrial scrub brushes to aide your body in its housecleaning and repair.

Dark leafy greens: Full of chlorophyll, a detox agent, chlorophyll will help release toxins from your body, while stimulating cellular intelligence and improving your energy.

Beans: Packed with protein, a side of legumes, like dhal or hummus, add savory satisfaction as a substitute for the heavier, harder to digest, and often pesticide-laden meat, fish and eggs.

Good quality fats (including avocados, extra virgin olive oil, ghee and coconut): Enjoyed in moderation high quality fats are stored in the body as energy, not fat, and help you lose weight in the long run. Remember, it is not fat, but sugar that makes us fat.

Zesty warming spices: Strengthen digestive fire with the help of pungent spices that help to break down foods, and eliminate waste. In the Spring, Ayurvedic spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, black pepper, cayenne, ginger, asafetida (hing), cloves and fenugreek offer flavor, aroma, digestive muscle and purification.

Farmer’s Market Sprouted Beans & Sunflower Greens
What’s in Season

Artichokes, asparagus, avocadoes, beets, broccoli, grapefruit, kumquats, meyer lemons, blood oranges, tangelos, mandarins, grapefruit, carrots, chard, dates, fava beans, fennel, green garlic, kale, leeks, lettuces, mustard greens, new potatoes, nettles, English peas, Snap peas, pea shoots, pea tendrils, radicchio, radishes, rapini, spring onions, shallot shoots, sorrel, bean sprouts, strawberries, watercress.

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For delicious Spring detoxification, try this Cilantro Pesto.
For a more detailed Spring Clean Regime, how about joining our Spring Clean 21 Day Challenge?

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Namaste!