Pumpkin Strata

Savory Breakfast casserole

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.

Photo: Minimalist Baker
Photo: Minimalist Baker

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
6 eggs
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.

Embed from Getty Images

 

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.

The Summer Six: Cool Foods for a Cool Summer

Summer is Pitta season. Pitta means heat. It’s hot. I presume you’ve noticed?

There are six foods I lean into during the summer that I want to share with you. These are good any time, any day in summer, and any time, any season for summer people (meaning people of pitta constitution).

In fact, these six are so fundamental to Ayurveda and its approach to “hot bodies” that it could be considered the ABCCCD’s of summer!

aloe water photo by monique feil Aloe

The Egyptians referred to aloe as the “plant of immortality” and placed it with the funerary gifts buried with the pharaohs. Not only the Egyptians, but the Chines, Greeks and Romans loved aloe, too. It is traditionally used to heal wounds, relieve itching and swelling, and is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

The leaves of Aloe Vera are made up of a clear, viscous gel that is 96% water. The other four percent contains 75 known substances including Vitamins A, B, C, E, calcium, amino acids for protein building, and enzymes used in digestion.

In addition to the skin, aloe helps heal other epitheliums in our body including the lining of the gut, the bronchial tubes and the genital tract. When taken internally, aloe vera aids the digestion and absorption of nutrients while clearing toxins out of the g.i. tract, helps control blood sugar, increases energy production, purifies the blood, reduces inflammation, promotes cardiovascular health, improves liver function, encourages cellular renewal, boosts the immune system, and cools your internal fires.

Please note: Pregnant women and children under five should not take aloe vera internally.

  • For skin health and digestive healing, you can take 1 tablespoon of Aloe juice in the morning.

  • One of my favorite smoothies, this Green Goddess Morning Glory, features aloe as a key ingredient.

  • For a very simple tonic, mix together 1/3 cup Aloe juice with 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon black cherry concentrate to make an Aloe drink which you can have as a morning wake-me-up, or about an hour before bed, as an evening tonic to help cool you down and ease you into sleep.

burdock_1

Burdock

Scientific studies in Germany (1967) and Japan (1986) show burdock to have powerful antifungal and antibacterial actions. It is such a good blood purifier that Native Americans used it for venomous bites, and it is highly regarded for irritable skin conditions like eczema.

I purchase burdock root in the bulk section of my local fresh market.

  • You can put a handful of the root pieces in a teapot in the morning, pour boiling water up to the rim (4 cups), and stir in a small fist of hand crushed mint leaves. Optionally, you can add a few seeds of fennel. Let it cool to room temperature, and pour through a strainer into a glass. If it is too bitter, stir with a teaspoon of maple syrup.
  • You can also add burdock to soups and stews. Just toss it in early and cook long enough to soften.

cilantro detox juice

Cilantro

Cilantro is called Coriander in most parts of the world, including India where Ayurveda originated thousands of years ago. In the U.S., Coriander just refers to the cilantro seed.

Cilantro/Coriander is a source of Vitamins B, C, & K, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, phyto-nutrients, and flavonoids. It helps with digestion, relieves intestinal gas, prevents nausea, and regulates appetite. Coriander is a mild diuretic, an anti-inflammatory, and contains anti-histamines, flavonoids and phenols that help with allergies. 

Cilantro/Coriander promotes proper functioning of the liver and as a beneficial source of dietary fiber, it facilitates bowel movements, helps with diarrhea, and is shown to protect against urinary tract infections.

Researchers in Portugal found that oil extracted from coriander seeds can kill bacteria such as E. coli, which are related to food-borne diseases. This spice also has anti-fungal properties. Natural compounds in coriander leaves remove toxic heavy metals from the body without any side effects.

  • Cilantro is so good for you I add it to just about everything, and love making this Cilantro Pesto for pasta and salads. You can drink the juice, by blending handfuls of it stems and all with water, and you can apply a poultice of cilantro topically to help reduce, and cool, irritable skin rashes.

  • To make a poultice, wash a bunch of cilantro. pick out the brown or spoiled leaves and put the rest in a high-speed blender. Use stems and leaves. Add a half cup of water and blend on high until the cilantro is thoroughly liquefied. Strain, saving the liquid for your cilantro tonic. Apply the pulp to your skin, directly on the rash. Cover with a wrap so it holds.

coconut

Coconut

For its chill factor and numerous other benefits, Coconut, grown in the hot tropics where it is practically always summer, is that perfect hot season food. Offering sweet, healthy hydration to restore moisture, minerals and electrolytes, coconut is so delicious and so perfect for humans it has even been used in I.V. drips.

Cucumber Mint

Cucumber

When it comes to therapeutic summer foods, cucumber is at the top of my list of thirst-quenching, instant-cooling vegetables. As a diuretic, it is an effective reducer of heat and inflammation, and a good skin remedy.  The moisture-promoting, juicy cucumber contains more than 90% water and is rich in minerals.

According to Rebecca Wood, brilliant author of the equally brilliant, must-have resource, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, cucumber assists in cleansing and purifying blood, positively affects the heart and stomach, and contains erepsin, a digestive enzyme that is useful in breaking down protein, clearing the intestine of parasites (such as tapeworm) and cleaning the intestines. Cucumber increases kapha and brings pacification to vata and pitta.

  • Cucumber is so well appreciated for its cooling benefits, beauty experts have advocated the cucumber slice on the eyes treatment for centuries. Did you know your eyes are an expression of pitta in your body? So it makes sense to cool your eyes in the summer to bring down heat in you body, and cucumbers are one way of doing that.

  • Bring cucumber peels on summer activities with you so that if you or a loved one begins to overheat, you can place a cucumber peel on the back of the neck, at the temples, or over closed eyes. Back home, whip up this Cucumber Refresher or this refreshing Persian Cucumber Salad to relax and chill.

Red Danedelion

Dandelion

Dandelion root and its greens (the whole plant is medicinal) have been used as tonics and liver medicines in European folk medicine since the time of the ancient Greeks, and Hippocratic medicine, which we believe emerged from the Greeks interactions with Ayurvedic doctors and Yogis (thanks to Alexander the Great!).

In Ayurveda, Dandelion is used to treat various liver disorders such as jaundice, cirrhosis of the liver, and enlargement of the liver. Chronic disease of the metabolism and internal organs, especially gout and liver disease are some of the most consistent, long-standing indications for Dandelion and it is a fact that it is one of the best agents with which to intervene in chronic rheumatic disease’.

  • Try this Beauty Brew with dandelion, peppermint, nettles, rose, lemon balm, lavender and chamomile to cool and relax, while healing and rejuvenating skin.

My Ayurvedic Summer Cleanse is full of these cooling ingredients in delicious and effective pitta reducing recipes. We have just begun, and it is not too late to join us! It is only 5 days, and all by donation so everyone can participate.  You get amazing support, daily emails and lots of loving, kind souls to keep you inspired and on track.

Enjoy summer, and let me know how I can help you to remember that nature is Love, loving you all the time.

Namaste!

NB: recently a post by our Sophia Campers was accidentally published here, when it was meant for here, http://sophiacamp.org I invite you to head over and read it, as it was written by our baiting Italian girls summarizing their five days at Camp learning Yoga and Ayurveda. 

Coconut Mango Lime Cobbler

Mango Coconut CobblerLately I’ve been shaking my head a lot. How is it that inspiration happens? How is it that the perfect thing presents itself right in front of you at just the right time? How, for instance, did Amy Chaplin‘s Vegan Peach Cobbler appear in my Instagram feed just when I was getting back into the kitchen to prep my Ayurvedic Summer Cleanse? I hadn’t even heard of her…

But it was divine that it did, because it set off a chain of creative reactions in our summer kitchen, and this adaptation is one result: a Coconut Lime Mango Cobbler that applies Ayurvedic principles while staying true to Amy’s genius.

By God’s grace, I whisper while shaking my head. By God’s grace there is an Amy Chaplin, a summer kitchen – a summer at all, with its fruits of berries, peaches, mango,there’s a fabulously wonderful family, and friends like Annemarie Brown who show up at just the right moment, bearing their own magnitude of gifts, and with whom to share mother nature’s Ojas, and life’s illuminating grace.

mango cobbler

mango lime coconut cobbler

I am not saying this will be in our summer cleanse, as we avoid sugar. But Ayurveda does say that maple syrup is okay for summer, good for Pitta dosha, and restorative when we overheat. In fact, some of Ayurveda’s most staple formulas call for jaggery, honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar as anupana, meaning as a carrier to help deliver the medicine.

I guess you could say then, that the very little bit of so-called healthy coconut sugar added to this cobbler carries the medicine of love, because nature’s gifts of mango, coconut, maple syrup, lime, the cardamom flower, how is that anything but love reaching out to you, saying yes to you, saying I am life, I surround you, and I am everywhere loving you. Have you seen the way mangoes just drop from the tree at the very moment you pass by?

vegan cobbler

healthy mango coconut cobbler

Coconut Lime Mango Cobbler
adapted from Amy Chaplin’s Peach Cobbler
Serves 8-10

Filling

3 medium sized mangos, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces
2 T maple syrup
3 T arrowroot powder
2 t vanilla extract
1 T lime juice
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t cardamom
pinch of pink salt

Topping

1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
1 t fresh lime juice
2 1/2 c coconut flour
3/4 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cardamom
1/2 c coconut sugar
1/4 t pink or sea salt
1/3 c melted extra virgin coconut oil
2 T maple syrup

In a small bowl, combine the almond milk and lime juice and set aside. It will separate, curdle, clot, or as Amy charmingly says, “clabber.”

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix all the filling ingredients together and stir until the arrow root is completely dissolved.  Pour this filling into an 8×11 baking dish and spread evenly.

In a medium bowl, sift together the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and cardamom. Add coconut sugar and salt and stir well. Melt the coconut oil, and work into the flour mixture until it is completely moistened. Stir in the clabbered almond milk and maple syrup. Crumble over the mango and bake for 25 minutes, until the fruit bubbles and the top lightly browns.

My family loved it for breakfast with fresh blueberries, bananas and greek yogurt. In the afternoon, it would be terrific with coconut cream. Drizzle with maple syrup if you like that extra it of sweetness, and be sure to use fresh mangoes to get that juicy, syrupy filling, that so delightfully balances the light crunch of the clabbered cobble. It is truly the taste of summer.

beauteous mango cobbler

cobbler breakfast for Mo

Please enjoy this succulent summer dessert ~ and then come join me for our 2015 Ayurvedic Summer Cleanse. It’s only 5 days, and is offered by donation this year – making it easier and more accessible for all people everywhere to be happy and free (or at least to join one of my seasonal Cleanses). All the details are here.

Continuing our summer giveaways, please leave a comment below and I will randomly pick one person to enroll in my summer cleanse, no donation required.  I love hearing from you – you are part of our circle of creativity, inspiration, grace – the divine synchronicity. So tell us, in what ways is summer loving you?

I hope summer is loving you good. And let me know what you think of the Cobbler.

Namaste!

Coconut Nectar + Rose, Saffron, Nutmeg, Lime

nectar of love: Coconut cream with rose, saffron, nutmeg

Ojas. Soma. Bhakti. How do we translate these words, or convey the experience, the deep knowing, that get up and dance urge, the sense of soaring wings lifting you to the sun, the feeling of sailing through light’s orchestral silence?

We think we know what they mean: Ojas. Soma. Bhakti. But we don’t really have words in English to properly translate. These are words not pointing to a concept or an analysis or even something that can be shared by the mind that reasons, but rather to experiences shared by what we might call “the heart” – the place where we are one and where we are all capable of feeling exquisite exaltations, a divine ecstasy; and in that feeling, in utter silence, way out beyond words or word-compiling, we know, we feel it together, we feel deeply connected, and darn it if it doesn’t just make you love everyone and everything because in this place, in this experience, everything is love and it all just sings with light and delight.

Coconut Bliss

You could say that Ojas is the biology of love, that Soma is the principle of love in the world, and that Bhakti is the nectar of divine love in the heart.

But then, it just sounds like more distraction. Better, I think, to translate the words into a feeling, to offer an experience – a food experience, for example.

And that, dear friends, is this. A Coconut Cream you can have for dessert or serve with dessert, or enjoy for breakfast, or even make up as a tonic – a sleep tonic, an anti-anxiety tonic, or even a peace tonic. It’s so good my husband calls it “the Nectar of Love.”

coconut cream

A few notes first: I prefer fresh young coconuts, and now that I have a Coco Jack they are easy and quick to open. You can watch a demonstration here. Some markets will open your coconut for you, so please ask your local. If you do not have fresh coconuts, look for Let’s Do Organic Coconut Cream and follow the instructions, or look for Coconut Cream in a jar (not can) like this one from Tropical Traditions. Just know that the texture may not be as creamy.

Rose water can be purchased from the market, of course, but if you know your roses are organically grown, it is far more wonderful and delicious to make your own. Just boil up some water, then let it cool a minute or two. Meanwhile, put a handful of rose petals in a mug, add a few crystals of coconut sugar, and pour in half to a cup of water. Let it stand for at least fifteen minutes, swirling it every so often. Strain, and drink what you don’t use. Rose water is an excellent tonic.

how to open a coconut + how to make rose tea

coconut manna stamped

The Nectar of Love: Coconut Cream + Rose, Saffron, Nutmeg, Lime
A Potion for Cultivating Bliss

1 c Coconut Water
1 c Coconut Meat
1 T Coconut Manna
1 t Coconut Oil
1-2 t Rose Water
1 Medjool Date
4-5 strands of Saffron
a pinch of Nutmeg, freshly grated
a light dusting of Cinnamon, Cardamom
1 Lime

Once you have your coconut water and meat, or your two cups of cream, put all the ingredients in a high speed blender and mix on high for a minute or two. Taste and adjust spices. If you would like it thinner so it is more of a tonic to sip, add purified water or more coconut water to desired consistency. Pour into your serving glass, and garnish with a slice of lime. It will serve 2-4, if you don’t tuck in first.

For more of a dessert, let it rest in your refrigerator an hour or so where it will thicken up. My friend Wendy gifted us kumquats from her citrus garden, so I added those for winter color. First I cut them open by scoring top to bottom and then marinating them overnight in honey. I added the lime slices to that too, as it makes the rind edible and the honey runny.

It is best served within 12 hours of making, so if you have any left over, enjoy it for breakfast in the morning. It is great with blueberries, and probably also with raspberries, bananas, or peaches.

This will do the work of a Deep Sleep Tonic, and judging by the popularity of this post, it seems the medicinal benefits of love’s nectar is much needed in our world today. I prefer this Coconut Cream as it is more sattvic, but try them both to see which gives you more of the biology of love.

Recipe for Coconut Cream with Blueberries

Bhakti is love for love’s sake.

~Swami Sivananda

Bhakti is of the form of Supreme Love towards God. And it is of the nature of Nectar. By attaining which, human beings become perfect, immortal and fully contented.

~ Narada Bhakti Sutras 

Remember, God, to love us in a way
our souls can taste…

~St Teresa of Avila

rose petals: how to make rose tea

How do you celebrate love?

If you are one who likes chocolate as the taste of love, you will find heavenly and easy recipes here, here, herehere and here. Does smearing chocolate on your skin sound like a way to celebrate? If so, check out natural skin care expert Morgan Andersen’s Chocolate Rose Mask over on our Sophia Camp website.

Today I am celebrating by sharing the gifts of nature’s beauty from Briar Winters at Marble & Milkweed. Briar has agreed to send to one of our readers a divine care package of her Rose & Cardamom Bathing Salts plus her Fleurs + Cacao Tea for sipping while you soak.

rose salts + tea

Then, because I love her work so much, I am going over to Madesmith, the only place where you can find Briar’s Cardamom + Jasmine Butter to purchase this delicious body balm and have it sent direct to a reader as my Valentine’s Day gift.

cardamom jasmine butter

So there are two gifts. All you have to do is comment below so we know you are interested, and two names will be picked randomly. If you are picked, please note that we will need your address, and it will be shared with Briar or Madesmith so they can mail you your care love package. We will do that “behind the scenes,” of course.

Thank you. May you always know that you are Love and you are loved.
Namaste!  

Spices: 5 Favorites for Fall

tulsi loves you

Did you know that spices can have up to 50 times more antioxidants than your favorite fruit, making them powerhouses when it comes to anti-aging?

Most of us think of spices as a food flavoring. Ayurveda considers them as medicine. One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, for example, found that spices can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, a potent aid in warding off premature aging, heart disease, and diabetes.

Think of it as Spice Therapy. It’s one of the genius gifts of Ayurveda: Optimizing health in a pinch!

To keep you healthy, happy and whole, here are my top five spices for Autumn ~

1. Tulsi

My love for Tulsi causes me to write today. Tulsi has been my tea of choice this week. When I woke up Monday morning feeling a sore throat coming on, it was to Tulsi I turned. When I inadvertently inhaled gas on Tuesday (from a restaurant’s open patio fire extinguished by the wind, which then scooped up the gas and swept it right into our lungs), Tulsi relieved the ensuing headache. When a reaction to new carpeting caused a slight asthma flare up, I sat down to a cup of Tulsi.

I am talking like Tulsi is a person! In fact, Tulsi is a living being, a plant known as Holy Basil. Similar to the basil that so deliciously flavors Italian dishes, this basil is warm, slightly sweet and a bit peppery. It’s becoming a bit of a celebrity in the arena of women’s health as it reduces cortisol, that tricky hormone that when chronically elevated can cause aging, weight gain, sleeplessness, irritability, depression, and the list goes on.

Organic India has built a successful global company on Tulsi and their organic teas are prolific these days. Look for them in your local healthy markets. Or, you can order online:  Banyan Botanicals is now selling the divine Pukka teas with a Tulsi sampler, also selling Tulsi in an easy liquid extract and powdered.

2. Ginger

You know that people the world over turn to Ginger for stomach upset, but do you know why? According to my Ayurvedic mentor Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, Ginger stimulates Agni, the inner fires that burn away toxins and any cause of upset.

Warming, calming, balancing, Ginger also helps reduce anxiety, inflammation, asthma, congestion, cough, cramps. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and analgesic.

One inch of fresh ginger in a cup of boiling water is the ideal accompaniment to your meals this season. You can also use 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger powder, which is in fact the better option if you are Pitta Dosha.

3. Cinnamon

Light, dry and warm, cinnamon is one of the best digestive spices there is. No wonder it is added to so many sweet dishes!

According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, “Cinnamon may help reduce chronic inflammation, which is linked to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Meningitis.” It is also known to lower glucose and cholesterol, helpful again for heart disease and diabetes.

4. Cardamom

Probably my favorite spice in any season, Cardamom is medicine for all three doshas (doshas are bio-energies you can learn about here). It decongests Kapha, regulates Vata and calms Pitta. Add it to coffee and it reduces the negative impacts of caffeine. Add it to any dessert and it helps reduce blood sugar.

According to Vedic guru Dr. David Frawley, cardamom can help with nausea, vomiting, bloating, flatulence and acidity. According to Dosha Guru, “science is investigating its antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, kidney and urinary disorders, gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic, and sedative” actions.

For all these reasons I love cardamom, but mostly I love those peppery little seeds as they tumble out of their ochre-lined, green pods. I love the way it is added to breakfast every morning in India so you start your day fragrantly. I love it in Chai, Chayvanprash and Rose Petal Lassi, and I love the way it smells in a home-made, seasonal Abhyanga oil. Cardamom is like a favorite perfume to me: redolent of all that is rich, tender and so dear.

5. Nutmeg

Remember when Grandma made you a cup of hot milk to help you sleep at night? Did she add Nutmeg? Nutmeg helps cut the heaviness of milk which is one way it helps you sleep – so you are not kept awake by a noisy, roiling digestive engine. More importantly, nutmeg has been found to have direct benefits to sleep by its calming, sedative effects, which is one reason it is such an key ingredient in this deep sleep tonic.

Nutmeg is a nervine, and can be useful in treating skin, liver and bladder problems. According to Dr. Vasant Lad, nutmeg is a tonic for the brain and heart. Just don’t take too much.

Cinnamon Cardamom
Cinnamon Cardamom

In the Autumn, when days are shorter and cooler, brewing a cup of tea is a simple way to enjoy the benefits of the spices in your pantry, while warming you to the core, and encouraging that necessary daily pause.

Autumn Wellness Tea
Serves 2

1 T Tulsi, powdered
1″ fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped, or 1/2 t Ginger powder
1 stick Cinnamon or 1/2 t Cinnamon powder
2 pods Cardamom crushed, or 1/2 t Cardamom powder
1/8 t Nutmeg, freshly grated powder
2 cups water

Steep spices in gently boiling water for ten minutes. Strain and serve.

This tea is great as is, but you can also add almond milk for a richer cup. For a deeply nourishing tonic, blend 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk with 2 dates. Add 1/2 cup of the hot spice tea. Stir, drink warm and watch your Vata melt into a puddle of Ojas.

teaPhoto: Art Flow | Getty Images

In addition to the Tulsi, you can order organic spices from Banyan Botanicals.

What are your favorite autumn flavors, spices, and ways to renew? What I really want to know is how are you taking care of you this month? 

Namaste! 

Gluten free, Sugar free, No Bake Apple Pecan Pie

no bake apple pie
Two years ago at our Yoga Therapy Training, I served a gluten free, dairy free, no sugar added, homemade apple pie. The recipe was requested. It has taken me these years, but at long last, here, finally, it is.

Unfortunately, when I first came to write it up last month I couldn’t find the recipe. Fortunately, that meant I had to try it a few times before it came right again, and that meant a lot of apple pies this autumn. Yes, we are blessed!

raw-gf-apple-pie

The saying An apple a day… is truer than everApples support your liver to help your body process and releases toxins in our air, water, food – more important now than ever. Apples help clear your colon, also more important than ever – as everyone, even mother earth, needs extra support now in eliminating waste.

Apples are good for your bloodeyes, skin. Apples are cool, so they are Pitta-reducing and anti-inflammatory. They are sweet, so they are Vata-reducing and tonifying – especially when sliced, tossed in fresh lemon juice, and sprinkled with cinnamon, as in this recipe. They are also light enough to be good for Kapha, reducing blood sugar and helping you feel full with less, thanks to so much fabulous fiber.

That makes apples tridoshic, meaning they love everyone, so everyone gets to enjoy this super food, super “free”, super pie!

sweetie apple

Be sure you use your favorite apple. Since they aren’t going to be cooked, they will taste in the pie the way they taste in your hand when you eat straight from the fruit basket. I used “Sweetie” apples, but anything fresh, crunchy and sweet will be good.

For the decoration, I wanted some red so used a Fuji, but a crispy green apple would give a lovely color, too.

apple pecan pie

I added a bit of almond butter to make it an extra high protein, high fiber, high nutritional meal I could have for breakfast, or for the kids as a midday snack. The almond butter makes the filling a bit more caramel-y, but if you feel that is too nutty for you, leave it out. It’s still great.

Also, if you are allergic to nuts you can skip the pecans and just make a crust of dates. Yes, just dates. Or, if it’s safe for you, add a tablespoon of coconut oil, and/or toasted sunflower seeds,

If you want it fully raw, skip the pecan toasting. I’ve done it that way and it works, too. But toasting draws the divine essence from pecans, giving golden, nutty grounding to the crisp, sunburst of the apple.

glutenfree apple pie

Easy, No Bake Apple Pecan Pie

Pie Crust:

2 c Pecans
10 Medjool Dates, pits removed
1 T Coconut Oil
A hearty pinch of Himalayan Salt
A pinch of Cinnamon
A dash Nutmeg

Pie Filling:

6 Apples
6 Medjool Dates, seeds removed
1 Lemon, juiced
2 T Almond Butter, optional
1 T Raw Honey, also optional
1 hefty pinch of Himalayan Salt
1 hearty dash of Cinnamon
1 light dusting of Cardamom, optional
1/4 c Chia Seeds

To make the crust:

Toast the pecans until they are very lightly brown. Put them aside. In your electric blender, macerate the dates. Add the coconut oil and spices and mix. Toss in the pecans and pulse lightly three times, just enough to break up and integrate with the dates, but careful not to turn this into pecan butter.

Press the crust into a pie dish (mine is 9.5″). Cover with a plate facing up so the slight bowl of the plate presses into the crust and so that the crust is entirely covered. Place in your refrigerator if you have a few hours before filling, or into your freezer if you don’t.

To make the filling: 

Again, start with the dates. Blend on high speed until they are completely mashed. Juice your lemon and set aside 1 tablespoon for later. Add the lemon juice, almond butter honey and spices to the dates and blend well. Slice your apples and add. Blend until the mixture starts resembling a very chunky apple sauce. Add the chia seeds. Pulse a few times to blend thoroughly. Pour this mixture onto the pie crust. Spread evenly. Cover (I turn the plate that was sitting on the crust over and use to cover) and place in your fridge. Allow to set at least four hours.

apple pie

Garnish: 

This doesn’t need a topping, but if you like the apple rose on top, just core an apple and slice very, very thin. To keep the slices from browning as you slice, put each slice as you cut into a bowl with that remaining lemon juice. Once all the pieces are cut and in the bowl, sprinkle a dash or two of cinnamon and toss. The set each piece, one by one, in an overlapping circle around the outer edge. Continue making smaller circles towards the middle until the pie is covered. Then set a pecan or a few thin slices of lemon rind in the very center.

This is so simple and so quick: apart from the 4 hours in the refrigerator to let the chia seeds do their work, you can make this start-to-finish in 15 minutes.

apple pie

I guess you could call this a trick on a treat, because it seems like dessert, yet it’s delightfully good for you. Let me know if you try it, and any variations you enjoy.

being silly at the bay: napping after a yoga therapy training picnic
being silly at the bay :: protecting from the sun :: napping after a yoga therapy training picnic

What sort of tricks or treats are you doing this hallowed e’en?

How to Make a Dosa

I am really excited about this. Today I’ve done something I never thought I would. I have to share it because now I know you can do it, too.

It started about a month ago at Bhakti Fest, where we always have lunch at the Dosa Dosa food truck because they make the world’s best Kichari. They also make the world’s most divine Dosas, and I asked them to show you how. Thankfully, they agreed.

Wah and his father Matamandir, the creative dynamos at Dosa Dosa, were gracious to allow us to interrupt their hot and busy service of feeding hungry Yogis and Kirtan Wallahs. But since we didn’t get their top-secret recipe, I thought I’d do a little research and post some links to go with the video.

Wah-DosaDosa

I never intended, myself, to make a Dosa. Never. In some unconscious place inside of me, surely I thought, you have to be Indian to make a Dosa. You have to be South Indian, for that matter. You even have to be a South Indian grandmother who spent her life practicing Ayurveda’s everyday ways, or her granddaughter well-trained by such a wisdom-keeper.

While editing the video, my husband commented that no one is going to do this at home – no one has that griddle or those instruments, he said – we should just direct readers to Dosa Dosa‘s 5 new food trucks in San Francisco.

How to Make a Dosa

Yes, but I don’t do that on this blog. I don’t set you up, elicit mouth-watering expectations, promote the promise of truth, beauty, love on a plate, only to let you down, hungering for an external, elusive, distant deliciousness, when all of that is already inside of youyou are already delicious. Within you is the power to create untold treasures of beauty and delight, and this realm of your own possibility is as close as your kitchen, as quick as you can roast a sweet potato!

At least I had to offer you a dish. Something you can make that would be enough exotic goodness for you to taste the truth that real food is love, and love’s food is bhakti

coconut cilantro chutney

SweetPotatoMasala

The Potato Pea Masala that fills the Dosa, giving its full name Masala Dosa, seemed like something those of us not schooled since birth in Dosa tradition would be able to master. We could enjoy it with Naan, I reasoned. Which we could buy at the local Indian market… Or we could mix and match cultures, roll it into a tortilla, and call it a Mexican Masala!

I never intended, even as I experimented with my own version of a Masala, ever that I would make a Dosa. We’d just have to make a trip to San Francisco for that, and look forward to having Dosas again at ShaktiFest in May.

how-to-make-a-dosa1

With experimentation, one thing led to another and, spurred on by the challenge of being told “no one will do it…” the next thing you know, I made a Dosa! Now I am making Dosas for breakfast, Dosas for lunch, Dosas for dinner, Dosas for anyone, any time, all the time. I love Dosas!

The photos above and below are my first and second attempts. I am learning as I go, inspired by this Dosa recipe, which looks fastidious because she takes you through step by step, but is actually very easy. You just mix together rice and lentil flour (look for besan, also called gram, at Indian or Asian markets), let it sit overnight, stir in a pinch of salt in the morning, and pour it on the skillet. In no time you will have your very own Dosa, on which you can sprinkle cinnamon for a high protein breakfast and any time snack, or fill with the Masala for a hearty, healthy meal.

Sweet Potato Masala Dosa

I swapped sweet potato for the filling, making it healthier, and added fenugreek powder to the Dosa batter. I wanted to add fresh peas, but it is not the season so I slow cooked split peas and added that instead. It lended an earthy taste which balances beautifully with the fresh crunch of the coconut chutney.

To make this user-friendly it’s all written it out below, but certainly follow the links if you want to see more examples of how-to. Be sure that you read through before you start. You want to blend the Dosa flours the day before so they can ferment overnight, and you want your Masala and Chutney ready to fill the Dosas which cook up quick, and are best enjoyed piping hot.

chutney dosa

If you are short on time or access to ingredients, the graciously talented Puja over at IndiaPhile has a Dosa recipe using semolina, which can be substituted with a good gf flour. Her Coconut Chutney is the inspiration for this one, and she has a couple of short, helpful videos showing you how to pour the Dosa batter for success.

SWEET POTATO MASALA
Serves 4

1 sweet potato
1/4 c peas, cooked
1 T ghee 5-6 cashews
1/2 onion, diced
1/8 t mustard seeds
1/4 t cumin seeds
1 t curry powder
1/2 piece thai chile (these are very small, so not too spicy), chopped
1/4 t ginger, grated
1 pinch turmeric
1 pinch asafoetida (or hingvastak; alternative: coriander powder)
1 T cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 475F. Puncture a few fork holes in your sweet potato and bake for 45 minutes, or until a fork inserts easily through the center. When it is done, allow it to cool, then cube into small bites.

Melt the ghee on in a medium flame. Brown the cashews and set aside. In the same pan, with the same oil, add the mustard seeds and cook about 1 minute util the pop. You have to listen closely. Stir in the cumin, curry and onions. Sauté until the onions are golden and soft. Mix in the chili, ginger, turmeric and asafoetida (or coriander). Add the sweet potato. Mash it a bit with the back of a spatula, or large wooden spoon. Stir in the peas and cashews and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro leaves, turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

COCONUT CHUTNEY

3/4 c coconut flakes
1/4 c cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic
1/2 thai chile (with seeds for heat, without for a mild version)
1/2 t curry powder
1 t freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup water Optional: dash of pink salt, or to taste

Put everything into an electric blender and mix until it becomes a creamy consistency. Add more water if needed. Taste and season accordingly.

DOSA
Serves: 4-8

1 1/2 c rice flour
¾ cup dal/besan/gram flour
2 1/2 c water
1 scant t fenugreek powder pinch pink salt
2-3 T ghee

Stir the flours together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and mix well. Be sure to smooth out any lumps. The consistency will be thick but very watery. Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature overnight for 10 hours or more. Once the batter is fermented, stir in the fenugreek powder and salt and mix well.

Melt 1 T ghee in a large skillet or iron griddle over medium heat. While the ghee heats up, whisk the batter one more time so it is well mixed and quickly ladle it up. Pour into your skillet in a circular motion. When one side of dosa is browned, gently slide your spatula around the edges of the Dosa to loosen it. Flip it and cook the other side. Spoon the Masala filling into the middle, add a spoonful of the coconut chutney and a dollop of yogurt optionally. Fold the Dosa and serve hot.

The leftover Dosa batter can be refrigerated and used within 4-5 days.

skillet sp masala

My first attempt fell apart. I learned not to swirl the pan. On the second attempt, when it started to break apart I filled the cracks with drops of batter. It worked. Another lesson. Be brave. It’s as wonderful in pieces as it is whole. Aren’t we all?

Once you try it, you’ll know why so many Bhakti lovers line up for buttery Kichari and crispy Dosas.

how-to-make-a-dosa

When Dosa Dosa founder Matamandir asked me about my blog and I told him that it’s Ayurvedically inspired with the emphasis on inspired because more than anything I hope to share the nourishing bounty of mother’s love through food, you know how he responded?

“Yes. Never be pedantic. It’s not about following rules. Just cook with love. Then your food will be nourishing and healing. Above all, cook with love. You will taste the difference.”

Above all, cook with love… 

Dosa Dosa is opening 5 food trucks in San Francisco, giving us all another excuse for a road trip. You can find them and their locations here: WebsiteFacebookTwitter.

wah at dosa dosa food truck

I thank Morgan Willis and Miles Demars-Rote of Wellness Gangsters for filming! With immense gratitude to all – Wah, Matamandir, Miles, Anna, Morgan, Bhava, and everyone at Bhakti Fest! 
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I leave you with a taste of Bhakti ~

Do you love Dosas? Do you have tips for us make them better? Please share so we can all learn and grow and continue to be delighted and healed by earth’s love and heaven’s manna.

Above all, do it with love.

Namaste! 

Persian Cucumber Salad

persian cucumber saladSummer is finishing up with a fury here in San Diego, so I made a big heat-reducing salad to go with Friday’s picnic of Thai noodles and curry.  Inspiration came from Stephanie Weaver, of Recipe Renovator, who invited me for lunch last week and served, along with a colorful grated beet salad, a fresh green salad of zucchini, snap beans and cilantro. It was refreshing, and a delicious reminder of how lucky I am to have food blogger friends!

I hope you won’t be put off by the extra ingredients in this. It makes for a complete meal in itself, and once your potatoes are cooked, comes together rather quickly. Take your time, though, preparing the vegetables. Small, bite-sized pieces are the key to elegance and forkability.

potato

The value of slowing down to prepare your meals cannot be overstated. It becomes its own kind of meditation, a  hearth-loving version of Chop wood, carry water…  We might even call it, Chop food, boil water? 

Enjoy.

Persian Cucumber Salad
Serves 6-8 

10-12 purple majesty and fingerling potatoes (substitute with sweet potato for paleo)
2 quarts water
1 T rock salt (pink or grey salt)
4 medium sized persian cucumbers
2 large handfuls fresh green beans, ends removed
1 hefty handful arugula
1/2 head of romaine lettuce
1 bunch spring onions
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1 bunch dill
1 copious handful cilantro
4-5 leaves basil
1 lime
1 t apple cider vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large pot, combine salt, water, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the pot and drain. Let it sit in your colander for 5 minutes. Refrigerate.

Chop the rest of the vegetables into small bite-sized pieces, except the arugula which can be tossed in as is. Layer into a large salad bowl and stir in the quinoa. Once your potatoes are cool, slice, quarter, and add them to your salad. Juice the lime and sprinkle with the apple cider vinegar over your salad. Lightly toss. Finely chop the herbs and add. Finally, drizzle in your olive oil and gently fluff. Taste and adjust your oil-vinegar-lime balance. Season with salt and pepper.

summer salad
Made it again, sans quinoa, for our Yoga Teacher Training Graduation Celebration Sunday.

This is such good medicine that I’ll be featuring it in our upcoming Autumn Cleanse, which I want to offer you as a giveaway. Just comment below to be included, and we will randomly choose one person on Friday, in time for our free Introductory Call this Saturday.

Thanks to Vegenista Devi Melissa Martin for asking if the recipe is on my blog, inspring me to post it. Congratulations to Kelli and Bridget who will receive the Happy Belly and Hot Belly books offered in last week’s post

Namaste!

P.S.  Congratulations to Jenny Melford who receives the Autumn Cleanse! Thank you friends.

Beauty Brew

tataharperskincare

Ayurveda promotes Beauty from the Inside. This tisane, or herbal tea, from Tata Harper Skincare, is Pitta-reducing, hormone-balancing, and great for your skin.

Skin-Sational Tisane

2 tbs lemon balm
1 tbs lavender flowers
1 tbs peppermint
1 tbs chamomile flowers
1 tbs rose petals
1 tbs nettle
1 tbs alfalfa
1 tbs rose hips
2 tsp dandelion leaves
2 tsp raspberry leaves
1/2 tsp ginger root

Begin by combining all herbs in a medium-size bowl and stir to blend. You can store the tea in a tightly sealed tin, jar, plastic tub or bag away from light in a cool, dry place. It is best if used within 6 months.

To make a cup of this fabulous tea bring one cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of tea. Cover and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain before drinking. Add honey, cream, or lemon if desired.

What do you do to feel beautiful?

How to Make Ghee

Ayughritam   Ghee is Life

What is Ghee?

The marvelous people at Ancient Organics tell us ~  “In India, ghee has always been a sacred and celebrated symbol of auspiciousness, nourishment and healing; especially in the daily rituals of cooking and worship.”

Ghee is a premium cooking oil celebrated for its taste, nutritional benefits, and medicinal qualities. Ayurveda, the ancient medical science of India, recognizes ghee as an essential part of a balanced diet, and considers it to be the best fat one can eat. Ghee is the very essence of butter; the end result of a long, slow, careful clarification process that removes all the moisture, milk solids and impurities. The absence of milk solids and water in ghee make it completely shelf stable. Ghee has one of the highest flash points (485ºF) which make this oil the best choice for high temperature cooking.”

Making it is simple, but if you’d rather purchase, contact Ancient Organics and see if they can ship to you.

Thanks to my extraordinary husband, Bhavaji who made the video and really is my every day bucket of ghee.

Namaste! 

Lebanese Summer Salad

When the world seems like it’s coming apart, friendship and food can be inspiring comfort ~ and our Summer Ayurveda Class on Sunday was just that.

We sipped Watermelon Smoothies while talking about Ayurveda, Nutrition, Doshas, Summer needs and Summer foods, moved to Cucumber Soup as an Interlude, then whipped up a round-the-world fiesta, with salads and dishes from Asia, Lebanon, Mexico and India, for our Sunday lunch.

What united these foods from so many regions?

It was all made by such beautiful, loving women…

And you could taste the ancient wisdom embedded in all of these dishes with flavors as old as nature herself.

There is a thread of oneness that runs through it all…

Lemons, limes, cilantro and seeds, vibrant color and texture, and the tastes of sweet, bitter, astringent are shared in summer dishes from around the world ~ just as liberté, égalité, fraternité are human ideals recurrent in all sustainable world cultures. It is reassuring to remember and something to celebrate when we gather.

One of the beauties helping us celebrate was the Lebanese Salad which, on most summer days when you are not circumnavigating the globe in the comfort of your own kitchen, would be a meal, a world, unto itself.

We used the softest, creamiest goat’s cheese, and a raw, sprouted chickpea hummus that made it feel as if you were tasting sunlight streaking through Lebanon’s ancient Cedar Forests.

LEBANESE SALAD
Serves: 2, generously

1 carton organic mesclun greens
1 cube of Feta Cheese
1 ear raw corn, kernels removed
1/2 cup hummus
1 cup sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Fresh Mint
Sumac, thyme, oregano, pine nuts

Combine mesclun leaves, corn, snap peas, cherry tomatoes and feta into a large salad bowl. Toss well. Add the herbs, juice from one large lemon and the olive oil. Toss again. Divide the salad between two bowls and scoop 1/4 cup of hummus on top of each salad.

The next day I tossed the salad over warm Thai noodles. Lebanon & Thailand? What do they have in common? Warm, wise, beautiful people!

Besides, the flavors of the salad had grown into each other and, because the weather had turned cold, it was perfect with the sweet comfort of warm noodles.

Thank you all who attended Sunday’s class. You are all so wise, intelligent, healthy, knowledgable and lovely to be with. Even you “troublemakers” ~

Urban Food & Gourmet, at the corner of Fern and 30th, opens this week. They will be carrying my Ayurvedic line of specialty foods: Maha Shakti Detox (Vegan) Protein Powder, Rejuvenating Jam (my twist on Chyavanprash), Organic Split Mung Beans, Seasonal Masalas,  Brahmi Bark (a Brain Tonic Chocolate Bar) and eventually Moksha Pies – Moksha means free and these pies are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, bake-free, and utterly liberating in every way.

I will have these products online soon! Will let you know.

With love ~

Namaste!

Channa Masala

Chick Peas in Masala Sauce

My husband Bhava and I are going to India in February/March to teach at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh. A group of wonderful, heart-centered Yogis are coming with us for a twelve-day Retreat, including 4 days of Ayurvedic treatments on the banks of Ma Ganga.

It is such an honor to take people “home” to the source of our practice, to meet wise sages and saintly swamis, to bathe in the healing waters of the Ganges, and to dwell for a time in the pure possibility of such enduring peace.

For this opportunity we feel humbled, blessed and deeply grateful.  Jai Guru!

This past weekend, we hosted a dinner for those who will be traveling with us. We wanted to give them an idea of what to expect and help them to prepare, both physically and emotionally. With my most fabulous husband’s help, I prepared our favorite dishes from a typical meal they might enjoy in India.

Fortunately, the dinner was appreciated. Two of our guests even said that they would become vegetarian if they could eat like this everyday. I am not sure if they knew just how that motivates me! Since I stopped eating meat at age 16, I promised I would never proselytize, but who does not see the reason in Paul McCartney’s statement ~

“If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”
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So, when a flurry of requests erupted at the end of the evening, of course ~ despite an impossibly full week ~ I enthusiastically said, “Yes, I’ll post the recipes.” I love cooking, I love blogging, but mostly, I love it when people taste and feel the love that is in their food. So, yes!

We enjoyed a number of dishes, in the Indian Style. Of them, Channa Masala is the simplest and quickest to prepare. Since we are soon to depart, rather than typing it out, I encourage you to try this great recipe,  similar to the one we made, from my favorite Ayurveda recipe book,  Eat, Taste, Heal.

eat taste heal
You can use any Korma and Garam Masala spice mixtures. If you can’t find Korma, use Curry powder. If you can’t find Garam Masala, just make it by mixing cinnamon, coriander, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper: a little more of the first three, a little less of the last three.

You can serve Channa Masala with rice, or with Chappatti or Naan. If you can’t find these Indian breads at your local market try an Italian flat bread. Garlic was the favorite with our guests!

I hope you enjoy this protein-packed meal.

To your Good Health ~ Namaste!

~

I invite you to join me, Friday January 28th, from 6-9 pm, for a class on “Stoking the Fires: Ayurvedic Cooking in the Winter Season” to learn to prepare at home fresh Garam Masala and Korma Powder used in these recipes.

Sadhvi Bhagawati with Children at the Ashram
Sadhvi Bhagawati with Children

For a great close-up on what to expect in India, please read our beloved friend Sadhvi Bhagawati’s article, “India: Let It Inside You.”

Linda McCartney

Paul McCartney’s wife Linda was an original food pioneer who turned her passion into a food brand. Her family has maintained her company and a website where you can find her recipes for wholesome cooking. With so many delicious recipes like these available today, you might succeed in convincing your friends, too!