Posts filed under Ayurveda

Spark Up Your Life (or is it time for a cleanse?)

No matter how much we work on staying at my optimal health, living in a big city and career obligations catch up with my body and mind.  That is what brought me to my first cleanse many years ago. I was feeling overwhelmed, overweight and overextended. As a yogi I can’t praise enough the practice of regular cleansing in the year to observe, pamper and thank my body.  

After studying and trying many ways to cleanse, this is what I know as a Yoga Health Coach, a good cleanse has to address both internal and external toxins. It has to deal with the toxins we eat, drink, breath and put on our bodies AND also with the internal toxicity created by the body as it performs its normal everyday functions.

I believe that cleansing isn’t about starving yourself or skipping meals.  Ayurveda offers a straightforward approach to detoxing and to me the most efficient and with long lasting results because Ayurveda encourages your body to do it’s thing.   

So how do you know if it’s time for you to try a cleanse?

YOU’RE FEELING SPENT, TIRED AND WANT MORE ENERGY

If you’re feeling lethargic and drained and don’t have the energy to live your daily life with vibrancy, your diet could be the culprit. A cleanse clears your system of any foods that are squashing your energy (the biggest culprits are usually sugar, dairy and caffeine) and gives your digestive system a reset.

YOU’RE CARRYING EXTRA WEIGHT, FEELING BLOATED OR PUFFY

If you want to lose weight in a way that nourishes your body and gets you on the right track for changing your habits for the long term, a cleanse can be a great place to start. By cutting out the foods that triggers weight gain and learning to find healthy replacements, you’ll be setting yourself up for sustainable weight loss.

YOU WANT TO CLEAN UP A SLUGGISH DIGESTION

If you often feel constipated, bloated, gassy, or have stomach aches and indigestion, it may be time to clean up your gut with a cleanse. A healthy digestion is one of the cornerstones of Ayurveda and an indication that you’re living optimally a cleanse can ignite your digestive fire.

YOU WANT CLEARER, GLOWING SKIN

Your skin is a mirror of the internal state of your body. If you’re having breakouts or other skin issues, it can be a sign that something on the inside isn’t right. Skin issues are often a result of inflammation in the body, so removing anti-inflammatory foods on a cleanse can result in your skin clearing up and having a healthy glow.

YOU’RE FEELING ADDICTED TO CERTAIN FOODS

We all know the feeling of being attached to foods – needing that coffee, glass of wine, cheese or chocolate. If you’re relying on certain things like caffeine and sugar to get through the day, a cleanse can help you reset, and begin to crave things that truly nourish you.

YOU WANT TO KICK-START A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE AND NEW HABITS FOR THE LONG TERM

Sometimes, being disciplined for a short period of time can help you find the middle way. If you want to create a lifestyle that is healthy, but you don’t even know where to start, a cleanse might be a great option. You’ll learn new healthy ideas, and reset your days to be more health-supportive.

WHEN SHOULD YOU NOT DO A CLEANSE?

If you’re feeling weak and run down, or your body is underweight, cleansing may not be the best choice for you.

Posted on March 27, 2018 and filed under cleaning, Ayurveda.

Caterpillar Soup or how a messy transition could be the path to a better you

Through yoga, we’re not transforming into something we aspire to, we’re transforming into the very thing that we are innately: our best Self.
— Rod Stryker

Did you know that when a caterpillar begins her transformation into a butterfly, she doesn’t just grow antennas and wings?  No, no, the caterpillar actually fully dissolves in some sort of cocoon-soup and it’s from this DNA-broth that the caterpillar’s cells will re-arrange into a butterfly.  

There is a clear message here, my friend, when things dissolve into a hot mess and it's hard to tell how things will re-arrange themselves, it's because a new, brighter, beginning is around the corner.

How many times have your life look like a hot butterfly soup?

I've had a few of those moments when everything around me had to liquefy to begin the metamorphosis of my better self.   One of those moments was when I moved to New York City.  I had to leave behind my very comfortable "young professional" lifestyle in the ever gorgeous Savannah, GA and listened to my soul call  towards a "soul-full hustler" lifestyle in NYC.  That was a rough lesson in what leisure is and  what disposable income means.  Through the few years of adjustment, when my mind was in agony and doubt, my surroundings and my heart opened in ways that I couldn't have imagined. How did I manage? Yoga helped, meditation helped, new friendships helped,  self-help books helped, it all helped!  

By the time my self-made lifestyle wings had emerged, I was a new man.  A more confident, kinder and more resourceful man emerged from that cocoon.

That's the thing with transformation, if we aren't practicing awareness, we'll miss the gorgeous colors of our new wings.  

I've learned to to recognize the signs and results of self evolution, to look with loving eyes those moments when things fall apart, and  to remember that when things fall apart is because they need a new foundation.  I’ve learned to LOVE these butterfly moments and, almost enjoy the effort it takes to unfold my new wings after each transformation. Yes, I'm saying almost because it feels like hell every time.

[ On a side note for those searching souls that want to quit it all and start anew:  Was my drastic lifestyle change useful in my Spiritual Evolution?  YES!  Was it necessary?  NO. There are less dramatic and less painful ways to grow new wings. If your caterpillar is feeling antsy, reach out for help.]  

*this content was inspired by a newsletter I sent in September 2015...a good example of how change is part of everything

Posted on May 30, 2017 and filed under inspiration, Spirituality, Ayurveda, Yoga, wellness, design.

Kitchari your way into nourishment

Growing up in Panama, often enough my family will serve this soupy-mixture of beans and rice we call "guacho."  So when I was introduced via Ayurveda (Science of Longevity) to Kitchari, its texture was a homecoming to my senses and a blessing to my digestive system.  There are tons of Kitchari version available out there for Kitchari, but I've arrived at a version that works for me not only because it's easy to prepared but it has the consistency and flavors that I like.

Kitchari is basic to the Ayurvedic way of life, it's a balancing dish dating back thousands of years. Like many comfort foods, Kitchari is basically a one-pot dish, you make a big batch and eat several times.  The skillful use of spices and vegetables can produce balancing effects for your body and therein your mind and spirit.  Again, there many variations as there are reasons for each of them, I'm sharing my version.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup white Quinoa (you can substitute for basmati rice)
1 cup mung dal (split yellow) or red lentils (split)- peeled/split is important to save time.
6 cups (approx.) water
1/2 to 1 inch ginger root, chopped or grated (do not use ginger powder)
 Salt (1/4 tsp. or so, you can always add more later) 
2 tsp. ghee (you can substitute with coconut oil or olive oil)
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder

Because this makes a large pot from where I make several meals,  I don't mix vegetables in but as an option I add cooked vegetable later before eating the Kitchari, so that I can vary the flavors accordingly.   
 

Directions:

1- Wash quinoa and mung split beans (or red split lentils) and then soak overnight (at least 8 hours). Drain soak water and rinse thoroughly right before using.  Do not skip this step, it is supper important to prevent gas.

2- In a medium/largish non-stick saucepan warm the ghee. Add the ginger and sauté for one to two minutes. Add the rest of the spices mixing well till the whole kitchen smells gloriously.  Add quinoa and mung beans and sauté for another minute. Then add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.

3- Once the kitchari has come to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until it is tender (approx. 30 minutes).    Remember this is the cooking time for peeled/split mung beans (or red lentils), if you are cooking whole beans do your research!

(Add more water if needed. Typically, kitchari is the consistency of a vegetable stew as opposed to a broth. A thinner consistency is preferable if your digestion is weak. You will notice that kitchari will thicken when it cools and you may need more water than you originally thought.)

You can garnish with fresh cilantro and add salt to taste (optional) if needed.  You can prepare your favorite vegetables and either mix in or top your kitchari with them before serving your meal.

Makes about 4 servings

Posted on March 10, 2017 and filed under Ayurveda, cooking, wellness.

Sip Your Way Into Digestive Comfort with CCF Tea

“CCF” stands for cumin, coriander, and fennel; three spices commonly used in ayurvedic remedies and cooking for their medicinal benefits. They combine in CCF tea as a perfectly balanced threesome that’s appropriate for all body types (which we call tridoshic in ayurveda; good for vata, pitta, or kapha).

Despite its simplicity, CCF tea is well-revered in ayurveda.  In Ayurveda your digestive fire defines how well is your body is operating and this tea is known to troubleshoot any issue with that fire.  Each of the three spices in CCF tea re-balance the digestive fire whether it’s too high, too low, or, well, in a funk.  These are the qualities of the three spices:

Cumin: When it comes to digestion, cumin is a wonder spice. It digests toxins, helps to absorb nutrients, and increases the digestive fire and metabolism.

Coriander: Coriander cools any kind of excess heat in the body including burning sensations and anger. It also cools and strengthens the urinary tract and cleanses the body’s subtle channels.

Fennel: This licorice-like seed is one of the best spices for re-balancing the digestive fire and metabolism. It’s great for relieving acidity, bloating, abdominal pains, and gas. Fennel is calming but at the same time promotes mental alertness.

Anytime I feel a little off in my digestion, I prepared this tea and sip it through the day.  This how to prepare it.

  • In a jar mix equal amounts each of cumin, coriander, and fennel whole seeds. Do not try to substitute with the powder version- gross.  I just keep one jar with CCF seeds at home and one at the office. You can crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle to release their volatile oils or just toss them in whole.
  • Bring one cups of water to a boil and then add one tea spoon of the mixture.  Let it steep for at least 8 minutes.  (you can make a bigger batch,  pour it into a thermos, seeds and all and sip the tea throughout the day, straining as you go - this is how I was recommended to do it anyway, but I prefer one cup at a time)

Next time you need a quick natural way for digestion troubles, try this fire starter/fire quencher and let me know how it goes.  Enjoy!

 

Posted on February 24, 2017 and filed under Ayurveda, cooking, wellness.

Vegetable Wedges with Creamy Cashew "Mayo"

This is one my easiest go-to recipes when I want a nutritive, healthy and rich-tasting meal.  I don't think I have to tell you how much your body will love you for eating veggies and the sauce I am calling "mayo" is made with cashew nuts which list among its benefits obtaining a healthy heart, healthy hair, healthy nervous system and it even prevents cancer.  The most important part is that the mixture of  sweet flavors of  beets & carrots with the zesty of the "mayo" makes this dish incredibly satisfying.

These are the ingredients

  • 5 medium carrots, each cut into thick wedges

  • 2 large beets, cut into similar sized wedges with the tops discarded

  • 2 hands full of raw cashews (or 3 heaping tablespoons cashew butter if you don't have a food processor)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint (or 1 tablespoons dried)

  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper

This is what you do

  1. Steam the carrot and beet wedges in a steaming basket until tender (roughly 15-20 minutes depending on size and water temperature).  Keep an eye on the evaporating water.

  2. Drain and place in a bowl to cool.

  3. In a food processor begin to create the "mayo" sauce by adding the cashews with a little bit of olive oil and pulse your processor till you begin to cream the cashews.  Add more cashews and olive oil till you create a mayonnaise consistency.

  4. Then mix together these creamy mixture withe the water and red peeper and half the mint. Season with salt and black pepper.

  5. Pour over the carrot and beet wedges and add additional fresh mint to garnish, and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

Serves four (or two hungry yogis).  Enjoy

Posted on January 23, 2017 and filed under Ayurveda, cooking, cleaning, wellness.

Basic Broccoli & Arugula Soup

I see every dinner as an opportunity to give my body a break, a daily "detox" if you may.  After all, the human body is designed to eat it's biggest meal in the middle of the day so having a light dinner is a nice thing to do for the body's operating system (if you don't think that breaking this biological rule affects your body, you are either in denial or you are a mutant - I am cool with either scenario).

This basic broccoli soup is a bit more sassy by staring it with a sofrito and adding the always peppery arugula. 

This is what you need (for two servings)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced (or shallot if you can't do garlic like me)

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 2/3 Lb)

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon each coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup arugula 

1/2 lemon

This is what you do

1- Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat.

2- Add the garlic and onion and sauté for just a minute or two or till you smell and hear the happy sounds of the sofrito

3- Add the broccoli and cook for four minutes or until bright green.

4- Add the water, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover. Cook for eight minutes or until the broccoli is just tender.

5 Pour the soup into a blender and puree with the arugula until quite smooth.  Be very careful when blending, you don’t want the steam to blow the lid off and make sure you have the lid on!

I like serving soup with a little lemon juice.  Enjoy.

Freedom Scones (back with a vengeance)

** I originally published this recipe Six Years Ago!  I can't believe it has been that long.  I love the freedom scones then and I love them now.   With all the turmoil going around, I feel its a good time to bring them back to my holiday baking repertoire.

I called these decadent biscuit-like treasures, freedom scones, because all the ingredients break the prison of lethargy that other sweets tend to build around my day.  I find that a cup of hot herbal tea is the perfect companion to them (yes, I always have more than one, if you try them you will know why).

I adapted this recipe from Jenny Nelson' Clean Eat, but quite frankly the scones are so good, it makes me feel a bit dirty eating them, and preparing them is a fun mess, totally worth it.  These guys are vegetarian, vegan and delicious.

These are the ingredients that you need

3/4 cup coconut oil + 1 teaspoon for greasing the baking sheet...don't try to substitute this with other natural oil,  coconut is the one that make this work, also measured the oil in liquid form (~77 F)

1/4 cup water

1 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of dates, pitted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup gluten free all purpose flour +1 tablespoon gluten free flour (for dusting)

Pinch sea salt

2 oz organic dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (you could skip this, I guess, but WHY?)

1/2 cup raw, organic walnuts, coarsely chopped (I have used other nuts, but the bitter taste of walnuts make them my favorite)

This is what you do

Preheat oven to 350 F (you can place the jar with coconut oil near the oven and that helps melt the oil)

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mash the dates until you have a thick paste and set aside.  Add melted coconut oil to date paste with vanilla and water.  Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Dough should hold together. It may stay a bit runny, when this happens, I place the dough in the refrigerator for five minutes to make it easier to handle.

Form the dough into a round and place on a lightly floured (leftover dash of gluten free flour from above) surface and cut in half. Roll each half into another round. Cut one of the rounds in half and then cut each half into thirds and repeat with the second round so you have 12 wedges - it is OK if wedges are messy, it will taste just as good.
Lightly grease a baking or cookie sheet with the coconut oil and place the wedges in the oven for 14-16 minutes (rotating the pan after 8 minutes).    Let them cool as the chocolate will be too hot to enjoy - trust me on this one.

Namaste

Sweet Potato Wedges, the new fountain of youth?

Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene (their bright orange color is a dead giveaway). Your body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, a nutrient that helps to continually generate new, healthy skin cells as per the National Library of Medicine.   I enjoy them in many forms, but there is something about cold weather and a hot ovens that makes this recipe one of my favorite.

Ingredients: 4 small sweet potatoes peeled and cut into wedges, 5 springs of fresh oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, 1 Tbsp lemon juice 

  1. Heat oven to 450 F.  On a Baking sheet combine sweet potatoes, oregano, salt and half oil.
  2. Roast for 40 minutes.  FLIPPING at 20 min (or they'll burn).
  3. Roast pumpkin seeds in a large frying pan on your stove top, add lemon juice and reminding oil.  Medium Heat. Stir well till aromas tell you it's time.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes wedges to your pan and toss well.

Enjoy!

Twofer: Roasted Beets and Sautéed Beet Greens

With autumn upon us, I can't think of a more grounding meal than beets.  These earth-tasting beauties grow way into the cooler months so they'll be available all winter and, let’s face it, their red color is a welcome break from all the orange and yellow foods I tend to eat around this time of the year.   

Buying a bunch of beets in the market isn't only trés chic, but it also offers you the opportunity to get a twofer!  Beets and their greens offer not only two great dishes for the table, but two sets of nutritional attributes as well.   Beets, easily enjoyed roasted, boiled or shaved,  are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium and manganese (great pooping aids- yes, I said pooping).  Then in the greens, vitamins A and K, especially, offer a plethora of benefits for the whole body, from your brain to your blood to your eyes. In the kitchen, beet greens can be enjoyed sautéed, as a salad or in your green smoothie.

Use every part of your fresh beets and get two delicious side dishes.

Here is a favorite of mine: Roasted Beets and Sautéed Beet Greens:


Ingredients:

One bunch of beets with greens¼ cup olive oil2 Tbsp. chopped onionsSea salt and pepper to tasteOptional: 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and/or ghee

 

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.Wash beets thoroughly, leaving skins on. (It’s easier to peel the beets once they’ve been roasted.) Remove the greens and rinse, removing any large stems and set aside.Place beets in a small baking dish or roasting pan, toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cover and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, mixing them half way or as needed. Check for tenderness. Serve with balsamic vinegar or butter and salt and pepper.For the greens: heat remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook for three minute. Till you hear the onion whisper to you, you know. Tear the beet greens into 2 to 3 inch pieces, and add to skillet, stirring until wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Vegetables - Celebration of Earth

I have been cooking variations on this basic recipe for over twenty years.  And after all these years, I still get excited just thinking about it, which tells me it's a keeper.  I call it Celebration of Earth but you can call it Roasted Root Vegetables if you want, I guess.

I find it to be a perfect recipe for Autumn transition months like September and October when your body asks to be grounded.  This is so easy and delicious though that I keep using seasonal root vegetables all the way through Winter and Spring. Your gastrointestinal track will be very grateful with you too!

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.  Serves 10

4 small turnips, peeled, halves, sliced

4 medium parsnips, peeled, sliced

2 lbs of Brussels sprouts, brown ends cut off

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered, sliced

2 medium red beets, peeled, quartered, sliced

1/2 cup of olive oil + 1/2 Table spoon of lemon juice + salt to taste

1 handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1- In a large bowl, combine vegetables, oils, salt and lemon juice.

2- Spread evenly onto two backing sheets (I cover min with parchment paper)

3- Roast till brown.  It takes about 45 to 50 minutes *stirring every 15 minutes or you'll end up with burn vegetables*

4- Let it cool and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.  I suppose you can transfer to a bowl for a nice presentation, but I bring the trays directly onto the table (oven to table style!)

    

Posted on August 29, 2016 and filed under Ayurveda, cooking, inspiration.

All Natural Fascial Cleanser

This DIY all-skin-type facial cleanser recipe is an extra gentle cleanser that will whisk away everyday impurities without stripping your skin of essential moisture.  The essential oils in it also work to sooth and soften your complexion.   Healthy looking skin at a fraction of the cost your typical department store formulas.

Through my years in the chemical industry, I worked with various surfactants (soaps) so based on what I know and my experience I recommend liquid castile soap.  To make sure it is right for your skin sensitivity, use unscented/baby formula.  Castile soap is known for its gentle cleansing and emollient qualities.  Most commercially available soaps, cosmetic and otherwise, are made with sulfates with the addition of alcohols or acids, which make them really efficient at eliminating dirt, but also at stripping away organic compounds, including the mantle on your face, which, if you’re like me, you intend to keep. 

To complement the cleansing properties of castile soap,  aromatherapist recommend combining therapeutic grade essential oils with your cleanser.  For its soothing and cleansing properties I use lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil.  If you have specific needs, you can consult with experts to target your condition.

I normally use about 8 ounces of soap in each recipe. This gives a nice full bottle of facial cleanser that will last several months.  With each 8 ounce bottle, I add between 35-40 drops of essential oil. This is a less than 1% dilution.

In a 10 oz amber glass dropper bottle add

*As with any soap, you’ll want to avoid getting it in your eyes. Liquid castile soap can sting and burn if it does get in the eyes.

Younger Looking Skin: the best Natural Tips to detox your skin

Our skin is a reflection of our inner physical and mental state.  What I've learned from all my years of yoga practice and my work in the chemical industry is that skin care requires way more than expensive potions and lotions.  In other words, your skin tells the story of your alignment with nature and this alignment is the key to radiant skin.  

According to a Banya Botanical's article by Prema Patel, MD, "a key principle for good skin health is to flush out toxins and impurities that enter your body, either through your skin or your diet." Every time you expose yourself to toxic substances and a toxic environment you are accumulating toxins in your skin.  According to Dr. Patel if you have a lot of accumulated ama (Ayurveda's way of describing toxic build-up), your skin will reflect this and you should consider ways to cleanse your body, mind and spirit.  Off course the best way to keep your skin radiant is to avoid these toxins, but lots of these toxins are unavoidable unless you are living...well, these days I don't know where that would be.   Here are some practical tips for addressing the toxic build-up and stagnation that can lead to unhealthy skin:

  • Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Ask any Dermatologist or Ayurveda practitioner they will agree. Not only does water drinking help wash out impurities, but also keeps the cells vibrant and optimally functioning.

  • Eat plenty of fresh green vegetables (i.e., leafy greens!). According the Global Healing Center, leafy greens support a healthy liver, which plays a crucial role in your digestive system. The liver function helps clean the blood in your body so that toxins don't come out through the skin. Also green vegetables have a high level of antioxidant value and according the Best Health Magazine, antioxidants counter the effect of aging!

  • Make sure you are pooping. Healthy skin is always dependent on a healthy digestive track. Having regular bowel movement is not something that is usually associated with your skin, but it should be. To have great skin you need to have proper elimination, if toxins are not going out via your long intestine, your skin will show it . A cup of hot water on an empty stomach first thing every morning is a great way to get the bowels moving.

If you have a lot of accumulated toxic build-up, be patient with above tips, build these habits overtime and consider a gentle cleansing program.  Let me know if you are interested in joining a cleanse or learning more about it.

Panama Blend (traveling green smoothie)

One of my favorite things about green smoothies is that they are the easiest way to diversity your intake of nutrients for breakfast.  This is even more relevant when traveling, when your body's wisdom craves the surrounding flora.  If there is a blender available, I don't waste the opportunity to visit the local markets (and yards) and feast on the regional chlorophyll. 

I was recently traveling through my homeland of Panama, where the local cuisine isn't rich in greens so I took it as challenge to find ingredients for what turned out to be a fabulous green smoothie.  So hoping that it will inspire you in your next "green" travelings, here is the recipe:

Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 4 cups of spinach (not a lot of local greens available in the market, but watercress and spinach grow easily in most tropical regions)
  • 1 banana (tons of fruits available, but I opted to keep it simple)
  • a handful of local spearmint + wild cilantro (these I found in my mom's backyard...wild herbs taste so WILD, you can taste the Prana or life force on these local beauties)
  • 1/2 an avocado (this is a gingo luxury! but I deserve it)
  • 1/2 tsp of minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric (no local turmeric roots available but I was craving some astringent flavors, local stores carry tons of spices so if fresh ingredients aren't available, improvise)
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt (local sea salt made this a fun ingredient to add)
  • 1 Tbs of local eucalyptus honey (yummm!!!)
  • 1/2 cup of water 
  1.  Add all ingredients to a blender.  Blend!  I don't like cold smoothies but you can add either a frozen banana or ice instead of water.  Enjoy.

Red Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onions

I know Summer isn't a traditional season to be thinking about hot soup, but I happen to work in an office that is kept at sub-zero temperatures for the same reason that offices across American suffer from the same Tundra conditions: insanity!  Soups are a low sugar/high fiber way to satisfy hunger and keep you warm.  One of my all-year-round go-to soups is lentil soup.

Lentils are high in protein and high in fibers.  According to an article in Medical News Today, "many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of foods like lentils decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight."  Lentils can be found in red, brown and green varieties.   I love them all, but I find that split red lentils are quick and easy to prepare when compared to other beans so this soup recipe is non only  accessible, fast, inexpensive and a high -quality protein source, but it's also warming, satisfying and easy to freeze - a huge time saver for those of us with busy schedules and lack of cooking inspiration.  

Serves 4-6

  • 1 tablespoons of coconut oil (I use Olive Oil in colder month, but an Ayurveda trick is to use coconut oil for cooling)

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced

  • 1 celery stick, diced

  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced

  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder

  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder

  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder

  • 2 yellow beets, peeled and diced

  • 6 cups of water or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth (MSG-free, gluten-free) version

  • 1¼ cups split red lentils which you have soaked overnight, drained and rinse thoroughly.

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste

  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme - optional

 

  1. Important- The night before (or at least two hours before if using split lentils),  soak the lentils at room temperature.  Then drain and thoroughly rinse them.  This will remove gas causing enzymes from lentils -yes even the split ones.  There is science to back this up but trust the Ayurveda wisdom on this one.

  2.  Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. When it dances, add the diced yellow onion, carrot, celery, turmeric, cumin, ginger and coriander powder.

  3. Cook until the onion soften and the mixture becomes aromatic, ~3 to 5 minutes. Sofrito style for those Caribbean brothers and sisters.

  4. Add water or vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the red lentils and reduce the heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking at a simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the vegetables are tender.  Stir and monitor every five minutes so lentils don’t stick to the bottom of your pan.

  5. Prepare the caramelized onions while the soup cooks. If using thyme, remove the leaves from stems till you accumulate enough thyme leaves.

  6. Heat a medium-sized skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and heat until the oil dances. Add the onion, cook for 3 minutes and reduce to low temperature.  Add thyme..

  7.  Keep the heat low so the onions begin to brown, stirring often so onion won’t stick.

  8.  If the onions start sticking to the pan, add a bit of water. Continue cooking for 15 minutes or until the onions are caramelized and golden brown. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

  9. Fill bowls with soup and top with a tablespoon of onions and serve, or simply stir the onions into the soup.

Fruits on the Bottom Chia Seed Pudding

I have been up-ing my game in my Ayurveda understanding and its applications.  Simplified, Ayurveda is a science of life and wellness.  One of the Ayurvedic wellness habits is to eat a healthy and easy to digest breakfast –though this isn’t exclusive to Ayurveda. 

My preferred breakfast is a green smoothie, but it is always good to have a few options in the week.  Recently I was re-introduced to chia puddings and realized how convenient it can be on those mornings I know I won’t have time to prepared a smoothie.

Very healthy, chia seed pudding is packed with protein, Omega-3, antioxidants and calcium.  You can get more benefits of this mighty seed by visiting this nice post by Marry Spencer via Health & Fitness Shops.  

It can be made under 5 minutes. I basically prepared it the night before so it is ready to eat or to go the next morning.

 This is my Fruit in the Bottom Chia Seed Pudding recipe:

 Ingredients - for one or two servings

·        1 cup almond milk

·        1/4 cup Chia Seeds

·        1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

·       1/4 cup (or less) honey or stevia syrop (I should add that I don't like the taste of stevia at all but it's sweet)

·        1/3 cup of fruits (I prefer mangoes or strawberries)

 

Instructions

1.     For Blended/Smooth Version: Place all ingredients in blender minus fruits and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth.

or

1.     For Whole Chia Seed Version: Blend all ingredients except chia seeds & fruits in a blender until smooth (including any added flavors, fruits or chocolate). Whisk in chia seeds.

2.      Place fruits at the bottom of a jar or glass container, then pour chia mixture and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to let it gel.

 

Posted on March 25, 2016 and filed under Ayurveda, cooking, inspiration, wellness.

Turmeric Tea: healthy and delicious

Turmeric is an ancient root used for its healing properties for centuries. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma Longa plant. To manufacture it, the roots of the plant are boiled, dried and then ground into a powder. Traditionally used in Chinese and Indian medicine (from killing fungus to curing cancer), the powerful anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities of turmeric have made it a precious commodity for ages! 

I also happen to love it's flavor.  Bitter, warm and sweet, Turmeric evokes oranges and ginger on a Galician landscape.  I have been using it in all my cooking for some time, but this tea inspired by Ayurvedic traditions is a great evening companion of late.

 

Turmeric tea

1 cup of Almond milk

1 tablespoon of turmeric

1 tablespoon of raw honey

1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil

Pour almond milk into a saucepan and warm for 2 minutes, add coconut oil, raw honey and turmeric powder. Continue to warm for another 2 minutes.  Stir well and pour into cup or glass. 


Posted on March 2, 2016 and filed under cooking, Yoga, wellness, yoga mat, Ayurveda.