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.

Joani’s Ferments 2: Beet Kvass

beet kvass
Have you heard of the GAPS diet? To me, it is the ultimate Vata-reducing way of eating, and as with any Vata-reducing regime, one of the key elements is to eat lots of fermented vegetables.

Joani Culver who shared her recipe for ferments and your own homemade farmer’s cheese in this post says, “Ferments have healthy digestive enzymes, loads of dietary fiber and a terrific profile of probiotics to really amp your belly’s fire power.”

how to ferment anything

“In  the winter I love to have Beet Kvass in the fridge. Here’s how I make it: Get a 2 quart wide mouth jar with a 2 part lid (ring and suction cap). Fill the jar half full of cleaned (I peel my beets), cut into chunks beets, add ¼ cup whey (see the “ferments” post to make your ow whey) and 1-2 tablespoons sea salt. Fill up to the elbow of the jar with pure water…you need some air in there so don’t fill to the top. Set in a warm dark place for 3 days and then put in fridge. If it’s to your liking, enough body and zing, yeah…if not wrap it up and let it go another day or so.  Temperature will be the deciding factor as to how long it will take to get a good ferment.  Such a good liver tonic.

Drinking 2-4 oz per day as a tonic/aperitif before meals is a great way to start your meals. The fermentation process enhances the already strong nutritional profile of raw beets, increasing levels of food enzymes and B vitamins (especially folate) and inoculates the beets with beneficial bacteria which support immunity and digestive system health. It is a great liver tonic, too.”

beets-stamped

When I made this on my own at home, I used golden and red beets for sunny winter color, and I grated rather than chopped my beets. Even though this makes an aperitif, I wanted to add the beets to salads after they had fermented, and prefer my roots grated when not roasted. But of course you get to do it however you like. Just know that if you grate them, this may ferment faster, so be sure to check after a couple of  days 

beet kvass - stamped

Joani’s Beet Kvass
Makes 8-12 servings

Ingredients
2 qt Mason Jar with 2 part canning lids
3 large Beets (5-6 if small), cleaned but not scrubbed (we want some of that skin)
1/4 c Whey
1-2 T Sea Salt (Joani likes Celtic)
1 qt clean, filtered Water (must be free of chlorine: if you are not sure, boil your water first, allow to cool before adding)

Instructions
Chop your beets. Put them with whey, water and salt in the Mason Jar. Be sure add enough water to fill to “the elbow” – about half an inch from the top, then seal. Cover the jar in a dark dish towel and set in a warm corner of your kitchen. Test after three days. If you like the taste, refrigerate and use. by carefully starting to open the jar. If it fizzes loudly, like it might shower like all-shook-up champagne then let it sit another day and try again. When it is done, it may still fizz, but it will be a much softer and non-threatening sound.

Once it is done, pour yourself an aperitif, and store in the refrigerator. It can keep for months in the fridge, but hopefully you will enjoy stand use it up in weeks. If the taste is a bit salty or earthy for you, dilute it with sparkling water, or add it to half a glass of fresh pressed apple cider.

make your own cheese

According to Monica Ford of Real Food Devotee, you can skip the whey if you want to keep it dairy free. You will just need to let it sit longer. You do everything the same, leaving out the whey, then let it sit in a dark, warm place for 7-10 days. Monica writes more about why she loves beet kvass here

What does Ayurveda say about sour, you ask? Read about the medicinal value of all 6 tastes here. Do you make your own ferments? What is your favorite?

beets in a row

Ayurveda has always said that optimal health starts with optimal gut function. So here’s to your belly’s fire power! May it be always intelligent, indigenous, and inspired!

Namaste! 

Happy Hanukkah: Forest Feast’s Latkes

I love December. I love the lights and the darkness. I love the holidays, and I love Hanukkah. I also love latkes, and I love playing with healthy ways to enjoy this holy comfort food. So I turned to an expert: Erin of the Forest Feast, whose latkes are gorgeous, inventive and so good I could make them all winter long. Here are two favorites courtesy of her blog.

forest feast's hanukkah latkes

forest feast hannukah latkes

forest feast hannukah candles

Erin goes on to write, “Today is the first day of Hanukkah! It’s one of my favorite Jewish holidays because you get to light candles every night. Here’s a little round-up of favorite Forest Feast Hanukkah recipes: Cauliflower Potato Latkes, Sweet potato Latkes from The Forest Feast cookbookSufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) and DIY Citrus Menorah.”

All Photos by Erin Gleeson for The Forest Feast. Thanks, Erin!  

May the eternal flame of peace always shine bright and
may you always light the world with the love in your heart!
Om Shanti! Om Shalom!

Do you like Latkes? What’s your favorite way to make them?

Make it Yourself: Creamy Cheese + Ferments

ferment-your-own-vegetablesAt our Yoga Therapy Training this Autumn we were so fortunate to have Joani Culver join us. Not only is she lovely, inspiring, strong, smart and beautiful inside and out, she is also a nutritional consultant who brought her own home-made “ferments” for us to snack on every weekend. Finally, on our final Training day, everyone was asking for the recipe and she was kind enough to show us how she makes her ferments at home.

ferments

Joani agreed to let me share that with you here – and since she is so wise, I asked her a few more questions when asking for her recipe.

Joani: What is your philosophy / approach to health?

My basic philosophy for health is that there is no one diet/way of eating that fits everyone. My approach is to support clients to develop a “flexible” eating and living program that meets their unique, personal, constitutional and daily health needs. Using assessment tools, Ayurvedic questionnaires, muscle testing, the science of modern nutrition, and common sense, we find the appropriate food choices within these dietary directions to improve health and consciousness.

My approach to health is a North to South process… the process begins with digestion. We can have the most local, sustainable, organic, nutrient-dense food on the planet and if our digestive system isn’t working properly, we will not benefit fully from the bounty we are consuming.

What is your inspiration? 

Food as medicine inspires me. People who want to change their diets and heal themselves inspire me. The possibility that we look within ourselves, our neighbors and our community for our health and well being inspires me. There is a movement which has emerged to eat local, sustainable foods; to seek out local farms and farmers and support them. To grow food on our patio’s, in our yards, and in our neighbors’ yard, that’s inspiring! To grow any part of our food, be it herbs, veggies, fruit, chicken or duck eggs, etc., is very powerful. You know the love and healthy energy that went into your food. That creates wellbeing and great health.

learn to ferment

Why are you so fervent about ferments?

Microbial cultures, found in ferments, are essential to life’s process, such as digestion and immunity. We are in a symbiotic relationship with these single-cell like forms. Eating fermented foods is an incredibly healthy practice, directly supplying your digestive tract with living cultures essential to breaking down food and assimilating nutrients. Fermented foods and beverages help to kick start our digestive process as well as contribute enzymes, vitamin C, B12, folic acid and natural antibiotics. They help break down fats in the liver and promote the growth of healthy, valuable and needed bacteria throughout the intestine as well as maintain a healthy level of acidification which is needed for digestion. That’s crazy that the kraut can do all that.

What is your favorite ferment recipe? 

My favorite easy ferment recipe is any veggie I have in the house or garden or that is in season. Cauliflower, carrots and garlic are an easy fast ferment. All you need is a wide mouth mason jar with 2 piece lid, 2 tablespoons whey, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, pure water, a dark warm (72F) area, and about three days to ferment.

Stuff the veggies into the jar and bring liquid up to the elbow, leaving room for the fermentation process to breathe. Make sure all veggies are covered in liquid. If you are making your own whey, use organic whole yogurt… we like Strauss.

Oh and one more thing, it is so fun to experiment with condiments and fermenting them. Fermented Ketchup is a great way to get ferments into the diet of children, as is mustard and other condiments.

  1. Any last bits of wisdom, or advice? 
  • Remember your health is on your plate.
  • Read The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. He is the king of ferments and has quite a story to tell.

Thank you Joani! 

fermenting and cheese-making

make your own cheese

how to make cheese

How to Make your own Whey + Get the most delicious Farmer’s Cheese as a bonus!

Chinois StrainerIngredients
1 large tub of organic full fat Yogurt
1 strainer – the conical “chinois” is easiest but any will do.
Cheese Cloth
1 large Bowl

Instructions
Line your strainer with a large piece of cheese cloth – enough to leave lots of excess flaps hanging over the sides – and set the strainer inside the bowl. Pour all the yogurt into the strainer and allow to sit for 2-3 hours. The lift the flaps of the cheese cloth, draw the corners together and twist. Tie the ends tight around the remaining yogurt. Remove the strainer, and find a way to hang the cheese cloth above the bowl to allow it to continue to drip. I usually hang it from a kitchen pantry knob. After another few hours, or overnight, you my dear muffet will have – curds and whey!

The liquid in the bowl is your whey. That is what you will use for you “ferments.” What remains in the cheese cloth is a farmer’s, or farmhouse, cheese, which, with a bit of liquidy whey and broken up a bit with a fork, is cottage cheese. Left longer to “dry out” it becomes like a cream cheese, only it’s creamier and so much yummier. It is full of probiotics so it’s divinely good for you, too. You can spread it on crackers or toast for a sandwich, or press into a block – between two plates with a couple more stacked on top – and after a few more hours you have paneer which you can cube and toss in with your saag, palak, curry or any sauté. Really, I’d love to know if you try this – I wonder if your’d ever go back to store-bought after making it yourself.

how to make your own cheese

Stay tuned for Joani’s fabulous fermented Beet Kvass coming up soon! 

how to ferment

What are your favorite fermented foods?

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! 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

On Sunday, Celeste came over for a class we called “Learn to Love the Kitchen.” Given she had just been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I wanted to include something really delicious and easy to make so she wouldn’t feel it’s a diagnosis of labor and deprivation.

Sunday with Celeste
Sunday with Celeste

Celeste arrived after a morning of writing. Not very purposeful writing, and not even very useful, but full of flow and ease, and a healing making right with the world kind of sweetness.

You see, I was taught to write in a stream of consciousness: “Don’t think, just write.” “Put pen in hand and begin.” “Let it flow.” “Be uncensored.” “Afterwards,” they would say, “you can go back and edit.”

This way of writing has been like therapy for me. It helps keep me alive to the river of life. It restores my faith that all is flowing towards some ocean, symbolic in Yoga for expanded consciousness, the cosmic mind, our oneness.

It’s one reason I put this quote from Norman MacLean on my personal website ~ “But when I am alone in the half light of the canyon all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and memories… Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”

Nutella Mousse

“Under the rocks are the words…” he goes on. And it feels that way to me. Writing helps dislodge the rocks, underneath which are buried the words. There, a river runs through, and everything fades to a being with my soul and the memories…

Hazelnut Mousse

Sometimes I think I write for my life. To unfurl the coiled and sometimes twisted emotion, energy, experience and restore balance, perspective, peace.

At least that is how it began. Now I write to cultivate a divine essence, or a relationship with that. It’s a relationship that includes food, Nature,  you, even my own spirit ~ elated as it is to now be so free.

Homemade, healthy Nutella

In his novel, A River Runs Through, MacLean writes: “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy.” 

Which makes me think not only of writing, and blogging, but of the kitchen, and all that we do to maintain health. Maybe our work is our art, and even our diagnoses can be seen not as labor and deprivation, but as acts of art leading us towards grace.

Nutella Pie_4
The art of our labor came for Celeste and for me, in this Flourless Chocolate Cake, which I affectionately call, “Nutella Pie.” It is simple, with only about 5 main ingredients. It is also messy. MacLean promises all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation… and that must include chocolate cake, don’t you think?

This little delight is made with hazelnuts, almond milk, dates, eggs, and some spices. It is not made with sugar, flour, dairy, or any junk. I ran the nutritional data on it and it seems to have about 150 calories per slice, plus a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber and good-for-you love. I served it with a Coconut Cream Coulis and strawberries, but raspberries would be pretty, too.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Hazelnuts, 1 cup
Dates, 6 large, pitted and chopped
Almond Milk, 1 cup
Vanilla Extract, 1 Tablespoon
Coconut Oil, 1 Tablespoon
Eggs, 3 large
Pink Salt, a pinch or two
Raw Cacao, 1/4 cup scant
Cinnamon, 1 big shake
Cardamom, pinch
Maple Syrup, 1-2 Tablespoons, (optional)

Set your oven to 335F. Pit and chop the Dates, then soak them in pure water for at least ten minutes. Toast the Hazelnuts lightly (about 3-4 minutes in a toaster). Put the nuts in a Vitamix or electric blender and grind until it is a powder. Drain the dates and add to the hazelnuts, along with the Almond Milk, Vanilla and Coconut Oil. Blend until it is creamy. You might have to stop, stir, and blend a few times to get it to really come together.

In a small bowl whip the eggs with the salt. Add to the hazelnut mixture and blend some more. Once that is creamy, add the cacao, spices, and maple syrup.

Grease a 9″ round pan, or muffin tins,with a dab of coconut oil. Pour in the mixture and smooth with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for 2o-25 minutes for the cake/pie, or 15-20 minutes for the minis.

Serve warm or at room temperature with plain yogurt or this Coconut Coulis.

Coconut Coulis

Coconut Milk, 1 can
Raw Honey, 1 Tablespoon

Chill the Coconut Milk for at least one hour. Spoon it into a bowl and blend with the Honey. Whip it until it gets a bit fluffy and thickens. Drizzle over your Chocolate Cake. It is also wonderful with fresh fruit.

Nutella Pie_1

“Study after study shows that cocoa flavanols can disarm cell damaging free radicals, preserve cell membranes, protect DNA, prevent the formation of artery clogging plaque, improve blood flow to the heart, lower high blood pressure, and prevent blood clots that can cause a heart attack or stroke. ~ Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD

I hope you enjoy this delicious reminder that food is a love story, and that Mother Earth is always loving you!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Namaste ~

Deep Sleep Tonic

deep sleep tonicThis is one of my basic staples ~ great for calming Vata, or any space-y, scattered, restless, anxious, busy, can’t settle down sort of energy. It is such a basic staple that for years I’ve had it on the Basics page. But people were always asking me for the recipe and not finding it there, so I’m posting it here for all to see, share and enjoy.

Rod Stryker of Para Yoga described it to us many years ago, tossing it out casually as something Pandit Rajmani Tigunait gave him after too much work, too much travel, and too much of an overwhelming need for the land of nod.

In translation and over time the recipe may have been modified, so I can’t promise you it is exact according to Ayurvedic tradition (which likes its exactitudes). What I do know is that it is resoundingly, deliciously potent, and seems to work for everyone.

Try taking it an hour before bed for a night of sweet dreams and deep slumber.

As this extraordinary, whole food, medicinal drink came without a name, we nicknamed it Ojas Rasayana. Here’s why:

Ojas is the Ayurveda word for deep nourishment, our underlying reserves of energy. Ojas gives patience, contentment, longevity,  stamina, endurance, strength, stability. In the Autumn, when Vata dominates, Ojas is available to us through seasonal foods like root vegetables, grains, ghee, nuts and seeds, dates, raisins and sweet Autumn fruits.

Rasayana is a grand word used in many contexts, including an entire branch of Ayurveda. Generally it means rejuvenative, and more modernly, anti-aging, stress-reducing. According to Ayurvedic Dr. Vaidya Mishra, “Rasayana is the designation given to special herbs, fruits and spices, or combinations of them, that are particularly renowned for the positive influence they have on overall health, vitality and longevity.”

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The ultimate nourishment, of course, is love, and a delicious tonic like this is a rich reminder that food is a nourishing love story.

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If you do not know what ghee is, where to find it or how to make it, check out this post with a video demonstrating how easy it is to make.

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Gentle Yoga is wonderful in the evening to prepare you for a deep sleep, or any time you want to unwind and come home to yourself. I offer you this gift of a 10 minute, simple practice that can be done any time, any where, and hope it brings you peace.

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Namaste!

Photos and Illustrations: Getty Images

Please note:  If this tonic does not seem to work for you, it may be a sign of a deeper imbalance, which you might want to take to your health practitioner.

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!