Thai Cabbage Noodle Salad

cabbage salad-watermarked

Recently I made a cabbage salad, and it was terrible.

Really terrible. 

So, of course I had to make it again and get it right.

The problem in the first place was that while cabbage is great for summer, and summer people, it’s great because it is bitter. Ayurveda explains that bitter tasting foods combine the elements of space and air, which of course are cooling. These elements are also light, subtle, expansive – all qualities that help us maintain ease in the heat of August – and that is why I added so much of it. To cool down… 

But because bitter is so detoxifying, purifying, releasing, our bodies aren’t naturally drawn to that flavor. Instead, we are drawn to the taste that gives us strength and emotional ease, requisite qualities for our itinerant ancestors. What is that taste? You guessed it – sweet, of course. That is why we crave sweet tastes when we feel weak, physically or emotionally.

Interestingly, the deeper tissues in your body love sweet too, so Ayurveda has evolved formulas to combine the bitter taste with the sweet in order to drive the medicinal benefits of bitter into your deepest inner workings, where it can clean you out and power you up.

So after I took one bite of the salad, I was embarrassed. But on the second bite, I knew just what it needed: Something sweet.

thai dressing-watermarked

almond butter dressing

Rice noodles were added, and the fix is delicious. It’s a sweet, summer noodle salad with much less cabbage now. I did keep the name Thai Cabbage Salad as I was going for a new way to enjoy that fabulously heat reducing, pitta-balancing, heart-healthy crisp purple brassica, that turns so lusciously pink when “quick fermented” and marinated in vinegar.

Feel free to use what you have on hand. For instance, if you don’t have coconut vinegar then use rice. Just know that coconut vinegar has a sweetness to it so it needs to be replaced with another mild vinegar. The ever more popular Apple Cider Vinegar would be too strong.

If your market doesn’t sell Persian cucumbers, use your favorites. Persian cucumbers have a thinner and less bitter skin, and it’s not waxy like the “regular ol” cucumbers. With a lovely economy of seeds, Persians are crispy without being watery, too. I only use these nowadays, but if you can’t find them, use the larger cukes and remove the seedy middle.

You can also replace the almond butter with another favorite nut butter. Peanut butter would be standard in Thai cooking, but I prefer almond butter for health and taste. With only 2 tablespoons, it gives a mild sweetness. You can certainly add another spoonful or two if you want to accentuate that nutty taste. Add another spoon of the soba water too for consistency.

You might like to add more garlic if you like pungency. On that note, I didn’t add any red pepper – which all true Thai dishes would include. But this is a summer salad, and summer is a season to reduce heat, especially internal heat. If you are feeling the heat these days, skip it. It doesn’t need it. But if you are “down under,” bravely trying a mostly raw salad in winter, or if you are one who generally runs cool with a slower metabolism, then by all means feel free to add a dash or two of your best red pepper flakes.

Finally, a true Thai dressing would have ginger. Again, it didn’t need it for taste, but if you are Vata, certainly add ginger – fresh or ground – and lots of it. In fact, if you are Vata, don’t bother cooling the noodles. Just toss it all together with the noodles freshly drained and enjoy it warm.

It takes no time to prepare, but be sure to get your cabbage in the vinegar for a quick ferment at least 4 hours before serving. One final note: I love using cilantro lately as a salad leaf, so I just trim away the stems. It’s fast and easy and it makes a more beautiful salad.

thai cabbage salad
Thai Cabbage Salad

1 cup purple cabbage, sliced thin
1/4 cup coconut vinegar
1 package rice or buckwheat (soba) noodles
a few handfuls of your favorite summer lettuce, torn
4 small cucumbers, semi peeled (persian cucumbers are my favorite)
2 spring onions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, stems trimmed away
2 handfuls of sunflower seeds
black and white sesame seeds
a dash of pink salt
Optional: fresh cracked black pepper

Dressing

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons soba noodle water
1 teaspoon gluten free tamari
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lime

I run the purple cabbage through my spiralizer to slice it thin. Whatever way is best for you, slice it very thin. In the morning, or the night before, place the cabbage in a bowl and cover with vinegar. Set aside. If overnight, set in fridge.

When you are ready to prepare your salad, prepare the noodles according to the instructions on the package. Drain, reserving a bit of the water for you dressing. Put the noodles in a bowl with ice and set in your refrigerator to cool.

In your salad bowl, pour your cabbage with vinegar, and add the rest of the salad ingredients.

Make the dressing by gently warming the coconut oil with the garlic. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, stir in the almond butter. Allow that to warm thoroughly for a minute or two, then add the soba noodle water and whisk well. Take off the heat.  Stir in the tamari first and then the olive oil. Add more soba water to thin and get the consistency you need for a salad dressing. Pour over the salad and lightly toss. Finish by sprinkling the juice of one lime over the salad and again lightly tossing. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, and serve.

Yes, taste and adjust. My new motto for life.

tossing salad

The bright fuchsia and life-announcing green of this salad is so gorgeous. They were my favorite colors as a teenager so it was a perfect salad to celebrate the close of our week at camp, where all of us were reminded of our years as teens. At our Yoga and Ayurveda Camp for girls, we hope to make those years powerful, heart-centered and affirming by giving life mastery skills to our upcoming teens.

At the end of camp, the older girls posted to our Camp blog a photo essay, and later a “music video” of their week. But it was accidentally uploaded here on my food blog instead of here. I apologize for that confusion.

sophia camp

Update

While I was busy with Camp and visitors, I found myself deeply enjoying the beauty of summer. In addition to lots of fresh, cooling salads, I’ve also enjoyed taking this to summer parties and serving visiting friends a gluten-free adaptation of these for breakfast.

Meanwhile, I promised a summer of giveaways and now I have a great one for you: The Sublime Restaurant Cookbook. It’s from a Vegan restaurant in Fort Lauderdale where we stopped overnight last Spring to hop on a cruise to teach Yoga and Ayurveda to healthy food lovers. The cookbook is inspiring, and the recipes are mostly very user-friendly for home cooks. Just leave a comment below. We will pick randomly by week’s end.

How have you spent your summer? What’s been your favorite meal this season?

I am grateful to you for reading my blog. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. Thanks for being a health lover, which is really a life lover, which is exactly what our world needs right now. So thank you for the love in you that every day makes the world a better place.

Nadya’s Happy Belly Kale + Book

lacinato kale

Ah… it feels good to turn the corner on summer and find welcome moments to settle into these quiet, waning days. As I take time to be with today’s present and consider tomorrow’s possibility, I thought I’d share with you a bit of what’s stirring.

  1. My Autumn Ayurvedic Cleanse. Time for a reset? The Autumn Equinox is a perfect time to align with nature and restore for balance, wellness and peace. Learn more and register here.

  2. Our upcoming Yoga Therapy Training. This is perhaps my favorite of our Deep Yoga Trainings, because it is so intimate, connected, and empowering. The best part of all is cooking a healing lunch together on our final day.

  3. Bhakti Fest: Music, Yoga, Ayurvedis – it’s a bliss fest. I love visiting friends at Organic India + Bhakti Chai + Imlak’eshThe OM Collection + Ancient Organics whose Rose Lassi impressed me so much last year I blogged about it here. We just got back, and I have a great post for you for next week.

  4. Dr. Suhas’ new book The Hot Belly Diet: A 30-Day Ayurvedic Plan to Reset Your Metabolism, Lose Weight and Restore your Body’s Natural Balance to Heal Itself. I have a copy for one of my readers. Will it be you? I hope so. Suhas is an original! Details below.

  5. Nadya Andreeva’s book, Happy Belly: A Woman’s Guide to Feeling Vibrant, Light and Balanced: Nadya is a blossoming Ayurvedi, whose book Happy Belly is a resource for women to improve digestive health, prevent bloating and eliminate discomfort.

Nadya has generously offered us the recipe for her Happy Belly Kale Salad, as well as a free copy of her book for one lucky winner. Keep reading: details are also below.

kale salad

On her blog, Nadya celebrates the power of kale with a post, “What you don’t know about kale but should!” Writes Nadya, “I used to consider kale hard to digest for my belly but once I learned how to make it properly it is one of my favorite things. It’s a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals and tastes great in various dishes!”

This is a delicious salad, and for those of you who like me, found this summer to be especially hot, you might find this helps your interior self cool down and flow with ease into balance.

Nadya’s Happy Belly Kale Salad
by Nadya Andreeva, author of The Happy Belly
Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 handfuls of kale
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or sunflower seeds
  • 1 diced and sauteed onion
  • 1 large grated carrot
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • a handful of goji berries (optional)

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, or until the desired consistency is reached

Method

Add all the ingredients for the dressing except the water to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Stir until combined before adding a tablespoon of water at a time until you get the right consistency.  Remember you still want it to maintain a fairly thick consistency to keep the salad nice and creamy.  I recommend adding roughly 2 tablespoons. Add the kale to a mixing bowl removing any large stalks and pour the dressing over.  Then using your hands (by far the best way to break down the kale) rub the dressing into it, squeezing it so it breaks down and becomes easier to eat. Massaging kale helps to break it down and make it easier to digest.

Chop the avocado into bite size pieces and add to the salad along with sauteed onions, cooked quinoa, goji berries, pine nuts or sunflower seeds, and grated carrot.  Toss the whole thing and enjoy!

My note: This is more delicious than you can imagine, and only took ten minutes to pull together. I did pour hot water on the gojis and let them soak 5 minutes before draining and tossing in. As for quantity – I’d say it serves closer to 3-4. 

kale quinoa salad

What makes your belly hot or happy? Let us know below, and we will put your name in the hat to win a signed copy of Dr. Suhas’s Hot Belly or Nadya’s Happy Belly. Let me know which you prefer.

~

Thank you Nadya. Thank you Suhas. Thank you dear friends. Namaste! 

Power Foods: The Father’s Day 10

We spent Father’s day at the Hilltop Center for Spiritual Living because my husband was giving a talk on the power of fatherhood to save a life, his in particular.

father's day
my husband bhava with our wonderful friend steve gold

The morning began with a question to the children, “What is your father like?”

“My Dad is strong.” “My Dad makes me feel safe.” “My father is helpful.” “My father helps me solve problems.” “My father works hard so that we can have a home, and food, and go to school…” “My father is fun. He loves to play and tell jokes.”

Finally, after a long pause, the youngest child quietly said, “My father gives me lots of kisses.”

the golds
anne-emilie and steve gold sang of life and its magnificence

When I think of fathers, I think of Prana, Tejas, and Ojas, the vital essences that give life, light and love to all existence, and which any good father naturally seeks to develop in his children.

Prana, Tejas and Ojas give energy, radiance, and strength, respectively, to mind and body. These vital essences are the positive forces corresponding to the doshas Vata, Pitta, Kapha as the bio-energies that lead to imbalance. In other words, if Vata is an imbalance of air and space, then Prana is the power that the air element gives us to breathe, think, and move freely.  If Pitta is the dosha of fire, then Tejas is the positive force of fire that gives us light to see clearly, to move with direction, to act decisively, to digest food as well as information and experiences, to metabolize and to transform. Finally, if you think of Kapha as the dosha of water and earth, then Ojas is the vital essence that gives structure, steadiness, comfort, nourishment and ease.

When cultivated, these positive forces give what Eknath Easwaran called “the splendour of the personality that expresses itself in love, courage, creativity, and a melting tenderness that draws all hearts.”

SatChitAnanda_DeepYoga

Prana, Tejas, Ojas, huh?

Prana is Energy

Prana is the energy that exudes from the animating intelligence within and underlying all that is alive. It is an intelligent energy that enlivens. In food, it is the energy that knows how to grow the plant, knows how to attract pollinators, knows how to evolve to expand its own kind, knows how to create, generate, regenerate, and populate. This intelligence corresponds to an intelligence within us that meets when we eat, so that what we eat becomes, by the intelligence of nature, exactly what we need for our bodies and minds to grow and be vibrant. When we eat fresh foods, still moist, plump and radiant from the harvest, we eat this intelligent energy. We eat Prana.

Fathers need to have a lot of prana to play with their children.

Tejas is Radiance

Tejas is the power of light to shine from your skin and eyes when you are healthy. It is the glow of health, the color of fruits and vegetables, the sun that is steady, steadfast, reliable, purposeful. Tejas gives warmth, courage and lustre.

Fathers need to have a lot of Tejas to reason, to be helpful, to problem-solve, to be brave, to protect, to lead.

Ojas is Strength

Ojas gives vigor, peace, patience, contentment, a steady mind in a strong body, well-lubricated joints, a healthy immune system, and longevity. Ojas is kisses.

Fathers need to have a lot of Ojas to hold and to hug, to carry their children, and to be that rock we rely on.

Father, Food and the Vital Essences

Loving your father forever means taking good care of him, and carrying on his tradition of playing, helping, protecting, and showering kisses. Here are ten vital essence boosting foods to take good care of dad – and you, his beloved child.

While we can’t make any promises, science is demonstrating what our own experience tells us: these power foods are anti-aging, immune-boosting, disease-eradicating, and delicious, so enjoy them abundantly!

9 Power Foods for Dad and You

1. Spinach

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spinach sauté

Everyone knows that spinach is good for you – full of iron, vitamins, and dietary fiber – but did you know that spinach is high in protein, with anti-inflammatory actions? That it helps with blood sugar, blood pressure, and bone health? That it can lower the risks of asthma?

Be sure to cook your spinach at least 1 minute to disarm the oxalic acids that can increase Pitta, feeding inflammation, arthritis, and gout.

Recipes for Spinach

2. Wild Salmon

salmon + gf pasta
salmon + gf pasta

My Ayurvedic mentor insists that the number #1 superfood for anyone over 40 is wild caught salmon. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating wild salmon twice a week, writing that it is a “good source of protein, and unlike fatty meat products, it is not high in saturated fat.”

It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which benefit healthy people and those with, or at risk of, cardiovascular disease. Again, according to the AHA, “Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias… reduce triglyceride levels, slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lowers blood pressure.”

Farming salmon reduces the amount of heart, brain and joint healthy omegas, while accumulating cancer causing PCBs and dioxin, not to mention it is unkind to the fish and toxic to the environment. So, please, at least when it comes to salmon – always go wild!

3. Sweet Potatoes

sweet potato
baked sweet potato

High in the fiber necessary for proper elimination and detoxification, sweet potatoes are also rich in the antioxidant Vitamin A (beta carotene), making it a powerful anti-aging food that has also been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Sweet potatoes are an easy, hearty snack or meal.  Just pop them in the oven for an hour, and they come out creamy.

Recipes for Sweet Potato & Yams

4. Beans

beans2
white bean salad

Beans are good for you in so many ways, but no one tells the story better than the Mohr-Fry cousins who grow 29 varieties of organic beans in northern California. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this excellent video about what it takes to farm beans. It was made by our friend Adrian, producer of the Growing California Video Series, who attests to the authenticity of these devoted farmers. #loveyourlocalfarmer!

Recipes for Beans

5. Yogurt

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rose lassi

Gut health = Immune Health. We all need to improve our inner environment with the right living foods. To that end, yogurt should be a daily habit. Try making it yourself – that way you can experiment with coconut, almond, rice and other delicious, non-dairy sources.

Whether your yogurt is from a cow, goat, grain or nut, always choose organic and make it plain. Fruit yogurt sold in stores has a lot of added sugar – and, according to Ayurveda, is a very bad combination, subverting your good efforts by sabotaging gut health.

Yogurt Recipes

6. Grapefruit

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pink grapefruit

My father loved grapefruits. I am always amazed at how naturally he was drawn to the healthiest of foods, and grateful for his example. Grapefruit has the bitter taste that is so lacking and yet so essential in our diet. Bitter is purifying, detoxifying, making it a weight loss powerhouse. It curbs hunger, protects the heart, and studies are now demonstrating it has anti-cancer actions (of course, it is Kapha-reducing!)

Not to mention that grapefruit and its citrus family are high in vitamin c, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Look for the deep red ones for the highest levels of antioxidants. I find them milder, sweeter and juicier, too.

Toss grapefruit segments into your salads for a bite of juicy tang. It’s especially good with watercress, endive, radicchio, avocado and beets.

Recipes with Grapefruit

7. Apples 

Apples

An apple a day still keeps the doctor away – because not only are they full of dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals, apples help clean the liver, the key organ that accumulates pitta. When you have high pitta, you are prone to all kinds of inflammatory disease. Keep your liver healthy and you reduce pitta, resorting your vital tejas, which shows through clear eyes and lustrous skin.

Think pink, when it comes to the liver, not aggravated fiery red, and remember Michael Pollan’s advice, “When it comes to snacks, ask yourself if you are hungry enough for an apple, and if the answer is yes, then eat an apple.”

Recipes for Apples

8. Seeds

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multi-seed crackers

Rather than nuts, snack on seeds. Ayurveda considers seeds to be lighter, more astringent than nuts and therefore more clarifying, cleansing, detoxifying, while providing all the energy and intelligence of the plant it is to become. Also excellent sources of protein, essentials fats, dietary fiber, as well as selenium,  zinc, and iron.

Raw, soaked, blended, toasted, lightly salted, seeds can be enjoyed in all varieties of ways. You can add hemp seeds to anything you might have for breakfast. Sprinkle them over yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, toast, eggs, or add them to a morning smoothie. Flax seeds can be ground and stirred into soups, salads, hot cereals, or a warm evening tonic. We toast up pumpkin seeds to add crunch to our soups and stews. Pureed into a pesto, sunflower seeds are the perfect texture. Or, toss together a few of your favorite seeds, add raisins, chopped dates, goji berries, dried cherries, and you have a great snack to keep your energy up and the weight down.

Recipes with Seeds

9. Garlic

Honey Garlic
with honey, garlic is a potent medicine

Dr. Marc Zimmerman, an orthopedic surgeon steeped in the traditions of natural medicine and nutrition, knows that ancient Yogis eschewed garlic. “However,”  he says, “the world we live in now is so different, so full of toxins, so compromising to the immune system. I just don’t see how we can avoid the health benefits of garlic in this day and age.” While it may be controversial as a Yogi and an Ayurvedi, garlic is undoubtedly a powerhouse when it comes to disrupting illness and disease.

Cooking makes garlic less pungent, less what we call tamasic, while retaining all these benefits:

Garlic and its allium family vegetables have important anti-cancer properties, with a high intake of garlic (roughly translated as taken daily) has been found to lower risk of virtually all cancer types, except prostate and breast cancer.

Garlic has cardiovascular benefits, having been shown clearly to lower blood triglycerides and total cholesterol, Equally impressive about garlic is its ability to lower blood pressure.

Garlic has been shown to protect from inflammatory and oxidative stress, while its antibacterial and antiviral properties are perhaps its most legendary feature. This allium vegetable and its constituents have been studied not only for their benefits in controlling infection by bacteria and viruses, but also infection from other microbes including yeasts/fungi and worms.

Recipes that include fresh Garlic

10. Cilantro

cilantro pesto
cilantro pesto

Some people say that it tests like soap. That’s because the brain recognizes a molecule in cilantro that is not the same, but is similar to a molecule in soap. And this is a helpful way to think of the benefits of cilantro ~ a high powered, industrial-strength  detergent for your tissues. Cilantro has been shown to help rid the worst kind of toxins, those heavy metals that accumulate from environmental pollution.

If you think cilantro tastes like soap, add small amounts to your favorite foods at first. Once your brain has a few samples to go by, it will create a new “file” for cilantro, one that associates with good tastes and a clean, lively feeling. Your brain will be glad to comply, given that it too will benefit from less toxins, and soon you will be loving cilantro like the rest of us!

Recipes with Cilantro

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When the ingredients are whole, pure and minimal, you boost your prana, tejas and ojas with meals that are satisfying. Health, then, feels like a joyful indulgence – a true celebration of life, light and love!

fathers day
fathers day

I hope you all had a Happy Father’s Day, and that you continue to keep your father, or his memory, strong.
Keep yourself strong, too, so his Prana, Tejas, Ojas can shine through you.

~

If you would like to experience last Sunday’s magic, the magnificence of Bhava and Steve singing and teaching together, please join us in October for our weekend Mastery of Joy Retreat in the mountains near Idylwild.

All life, light and love to you!
Namaste!