Wow, twenty minutes on the phone with you has really piqued my curiosity. To be honest, the body of Ayurvedic teachings represents a gap in my yogic education. I've studied as much as is on the Anusara curriculum, and know that I've got--um, a wee bit of the pitta about me--but historically I haven't been particularly inspired to delve much further than that.
I guess I have some preconception that eating for my dosha would mean making sacrifices? Suspicious by nature, I'm afraid I'd have to give up salt, onions and garlic, and spicy foods. I love food and loathe sacrifice! I'm preemptively all pissed off just thinking about it.
I mean, fer chrissake, Celiac Disease has already forced me to give up gluten; how much sacrifice am I supposed to make, anyway? I know, wah, wah, wah, right? Poor me. The idea of dahl for breakfast, lunch and dinner honestly makes me blue, and fills me with ennui. Maybe it's that I haven't been able to imagine a result worth such a sacrifice?
Also, I like to at least pretend that I'm low maintenance. I have this idea that Ayurveda would entail having to tote around thermoses of strange teas and tinctures, which would kinda ruin my carefully cultivated feckless image.
Sometimes I think I'm an unlikely yogi. Not only did I not grow up eating kale for breakfast; I didn't eat it ever. There's a part of me that still longs to be the girl who can eat a slice of pizza and drink a Diet Doctor Pepper. As is so human, I too often balk at what's good for me.
That said, I have a history of autoimmune disease--Celiac Disease and Hashimoto Disease--and a long history of having to push back against the blues, too. The yoga is, of course, a powerful tool but I'm also learning just how pivotal a role nutrition plays.
I've genuinely surprised myself by becoming interested in raw foods, live foods. I'm even making green juice (sometimes). No amount of grumbly resistance diminishes their powerful effect: I feel it; it's real. I know that to be true.
Subsequently, I'm a lot more sensitive than I used to be, in a good way. I fall into meditation more easily, and it's more ecstatic. I'm generally happier and more productive in my daily life. I'm more inspired to commit myself to my dreams.
Mostly, greater sensitivity is a good thing, except--I don't want to become a hothouse yogi. As much as I embrace the heightened consciousness, I also value gritty resourcefulness. I don't want to pour all my time and energy into gathering up dewdrops to drink because I'm just too sensitive to drink a glass of tap-water--do you know what I mean?
I would have never expected that Ayurveda might mean live food or green juice. Your kind of Ayurveda sounds like something this Pitta might actually be interested in. Tell me more. I shall consider you my expert organic grapefruit, and squeeze as much juicy information from you as I can.
You've piqued my curiosity but--like everyone else--I'm overly scheduled, overly stimulated, overly stressed, juggling more than I want to be juggling, and searching for the courage to bite down on my life and not let go. How is Ayurveda gonna improve my life on a daily basis? What's in it for me? Give me a reason to care.
Curious but still tragically considering a gluten-free cookie at this very moment,
* * *
The conversation comes down to babies and bathwater. The Indians exported Ayurveda to the US along with yoga (the chief influx of the late 60’s –early 70’s). We imported the classical version and the cultural tendencies (dhal). For most of us post-modern yogi tantrikas this is as outdated as cassette tapes.
Plus, we Americans have our own cultural filters: think Me Generation and Rugged Individualism. What we imported was Ayurveda applied to individuals (what’s your dosha, baby).
Modern yogis tend to toss the baby with the bathwater.
Your questions rephrased might be something like: Is the 5000-year old time-tested–subtle- energy science-experiment worth investing in so that I can experience the next level of health integrity?
Yes. And… we look into the further reaching implications of our own health explorations and into how our choices reflect a connection or a disconnection to the larger universal rhythms. A deeper understanding of Ayurveda’s subtle body anatomy and physiology can offer our communities a huge uplevel in not only personal but also planetary health. Those are the babies. The dhal and the dogma are the bathwater.
So, let’s get back to upleveling health and pitta and dr. pepper.
Shifting health is less about taking out and more about putting in. We thrive on abundance and contract with scarcity and deprivation. Your spicy stuff is fine - your body looks fairly vata, while your mind is pitta. Vata digestion thrives with the warmth of spices to boost agni. The deeper issues are probably moving to a more alkaline diet and long term vision planning towards more space in life. Vata and Pitta both get deranged by lack of space (ether element)… which is a cultural imbalance. Vata sets the rhythm, the spanda. Excess busyness disables a deeper ojas (immune energy) from forming.
Pitta is like battery acid. You add acidic foods (caffeine, alcohol, sugar, chocolate, processed foods) to battery acid you get more battery acid. Battery acid is a chemical energy that burns and erodes. It’s inflaming your mind channels (crankiness), burning out your tarpaka kapha (blues), and eroding your immune system (Hashimotos). Pittas need an alkalizing green diet even more than Vatas and Kaphas.
Want to try an experiment? Have greens (leafy greens, parsley, seaweeds, etc.) in your meals 3 times a day for 3 days. Juices, smoothies, soups, salads, stir-fries etc.). Go to bed by 9:30, meditate for at least 10 minutes before or even sitting in bed. See how you feel. Then, for 3 days use caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, dr. pepper and sugar three times a day (omit the greens). Go to bed whenever you want. See how you feel. Fill me in.
Here are some simple equations to test:
Acid = less bliss?
Acid = health issues?
(more rapid aging, genetic tendencies, and Pitta Auto Immune issues)
More dark leafy greens & green juices = detoxification of acidity?
Anusara Yoga & greens & meditation & early bed time= ecstatic health for Pittas?
Test it out. Notice what equations lead to bliss…which lead to suffering. Apply the 51% rule. Do whatever leads to long-term bliss at least 51% of the time. Otherwise, you’ll piss off your inner rebel, and she’ll sabotage the whole uplevel.
Your growth edge is to learn from Nature’s subtle energies and how they work within your own nature. The more you live in accord, the more Ojas, or deep energy, immunity …much needed leadership capacity you develop. Live out of accord, you block the subtle energy channels and suffer in both general and specific mind-body disorders.
Greens, juices and superfoods are the key for yogis to dive into Living Ayurveda due to the high nutrient and high prana synnery. Dhal and kitchari is the way for yogis to get turned off by dead ayurveda (low nutrient low prana).
Yogis who understand Living Ayurveda are fewer and further between than cardamom seeds in a pot of Indian rice. The gorgeousness of the situation is that the Living Foods Vaidyas got there the yogic way…. by dropping dogma, culture and perceiving the living truth at the evolving edge. If we can turn hip yogis onto Living Foods Ayurveda we can make a huge difference in the health of our communities and our ecosystems. Think dandelion greens and other gems in your yard.
Our American communities are seated in a brief dark hour of food/energy ignorance. Industrialization and corporate greed dramatically changed the definition of food to what is for sale in a grocery store or restaurant. Imagine – you start eating the dandelion greens in your yard – your readers read your blog and maybe some of them stop dumping Roundup on their grass so they can eat their dandelions too. You benefit, they benefit, the earth benefits. That is Ayurveda, baby.
( a.k.a the juicy grapefruit)
Still locked into the gravitational pull of the book.
Since making the switch, I no longer turn off the alarm when it rings before 6am. I still groan but instead of turning it off, I stagger into the kitchen, put the kettle on for tea (not coffee), and go to work. No fucking around on Facebook, no emails--just bookish fury.
Not only have I not cheated once--I'm stealing time from the rest of my day to work on it. I've made the snow days work for me, and so have had the boon of extra time.
It's pretty much just book, book, book.
Oh, and this--did you know that if you slice overly ripe bananas into coins, freeze them, then whirl them around in the food processor they turn into something pretty closely resembling soft-serve ice cream? I mean, it's not Turtle Mountain Mint Chip Ice-cream but it's quite good. Particularly if you happen to have a cache of raw chocolate ganache in the fridge, and add a good couple of heaping tablespoons.
Am I the only one who finds this newly discovered hidden banana super power intriguing?
Sometimes I worry about turning into one of those yoga people who solely subsists upon organic kale picked by the spare light of a new moon. I can't help myself, though--I'm gaga for this green lemonade. It's so good, and so, so much better than any version I've purchased, including the one I payed over $11.00 for last week.
This will make enough juice for two enormous glasses but I am a girl to whom size matters. I have never ordered a small cup of anything. My standard question to any barista is, "How big can you do? What's the largest size you have?"
As opposed to my beloved but forsworn coffee, this green lemonade packs a powerful prana rush that has zero crash effect on the way down. In fact, there doesn't seem to be a down.
Share it with your sweetie, if you can convince him or her to taste it, or keep tightly sealed for the next day. Use all organic, if you can.
Make sure to eat a candy bar later to maintain a healthy balance.
Recently, I mentioned that, since I almost never strictly follow a recipe, it's hard to duplicate a fantastic dish.
The last couple of Thanksgivings, I've found myself absent-mindedly trying to remember, "what was it, again, that I put in the sweet potatoes that made them so good last year?" Since we seem to have happily settled into being the Thanksgiving house, I thought I'd make some notes here, where I can find them next year. If you guys find them useful, so much the better.
We do all the obligatory traditionals: turkey, stuffing (gluten-free and phenomenal), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy. The only thing that changes much, from year to year, are the green vegetables.
I'm currently enamored of brussels sprouts. We didn't have them often as a child but when we did, I think my mom may have...microwaved them; I know they hit the table unseasoned. Don't blame her. It was a generation raised serving vegetables out of a can. My mom has come a long way; not too long ago, she called to ask me how she should prepare the brussels sprouts from her garden. This is what I told her, sans bacon, because it's not good for my dad's heart.
These are the easiest thing in the world to make, and are completely addictive. They regularly convert people who think they don't like brussels sprouts.
Vegetarians should stop reading here, or just skip the bacon, like my dad.
1 Stalk Brussels Sprouts (Buy them on the stalk if you can. Otherwise, look for the smallest ones you can find. They're less bitter.)
1 lb Bacon ( I use Niman Ranch)
2 or 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Cut bacon bite sized and, over low heat, render it all the way down. It will take some time. (If you're making these for a holiday, this part can be done the day before.)
3. Halve brussels sprouts.
4. Place them on a roasting tray or cookie sheet. Generously toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Use your hands to make sure they're evenly coated.
5. Roast for 25-35 minutes. Turn in pan once during roasting. They're done when the cut sides have crisped and caramelized.
6. Remove from oven, and add bacon.
7. Toss to incorporate. (If you've rendered the bacon the day before, and it's cold from the refrigerator, put the whole tray back into the oven for 90 seconds or so to warm and crisp the bacon.)
8. Pop into mouth, like candy. Don't burn your fingers. Try and remember to save some for your guests.
My attempts at gravy have historically been hit or miss, and mostly miss. I've always dreaded making gravy; it's such a chaotic last-minute event. It's all fumbles with the scorching roasting pan, and vain attempts to separate fat from drippings--a loathsome, messy chore--in the midst of trying to get everything to the table before it gets cold.
I have made one or two noteworthy inedible gravies.
This year I smartened up, and checked out Elana's plan. I used her recipe as a leaping off point. This just become an instant classic in my holiday oeuvre:
2 Organic turkey legs
Crimini Mushrooms (The equivalent of one package's worth. I usually prefer to select them by hand, loose.)
2 Garlic Cloves
2 or 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
4 or 5 Cups Turkey Stock
1 Tablespoon Fresh Sage Leaves
Fresh Chives (small handful)
Fresh Thyme (leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs)
Fresh Rosemary (leaves from 1 sprig)
Drizzle of Cream (optional)
1. Send husband to store for organic turkey legs.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. Peel and quarter onions.
4. In the same tray, drizzle olive oil over the turkey legs, onions and mushrooms.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Roast and roast while you do other things. You almost can't let it go too long. I left it in for close to two hours.
7. Remove from oven. Place onions and mushrooms into Vitamix, or a good blender. Discard turkey legs, or use them for something else, if all the flavor isn't cooked out of them.
8. Deglaze roasting pan with turkey stock.
9. Add deglazing liquid, herbs, and about 3 cups of stock to Vitamix.
10. Blend. Taste for seasoning. add salt and pepper.
11. Slowly add stock until gravy is of desired consistency.
12. Optionally, if you're not afraid of a little saturated fat, finish with a drizzle of organic cream.
Gluten, or gluten-free, this was hands down the best gravy I've ever made. In addition to being gluten-free, it's also entirely stress-free: I made it first thing in the morning, while still in puttering pajama mode. The onions and mushrooms thicken it, so there's no messing with flour, corn starch, arrowroot, or any of the traditional thickening agents. In fact, it was almost a little too thick for He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Online. Next year, I'll use more stock but, as God as my witness, I shall never again make last minute gravy!
This is my best effort, to date, at sweet potatoes. Definitely make them the day before:
Sweet Potatoes (I fed 12 people and 1 bag wasn't nearly enough. With 3 bags we had plenty of leftovers. 2 bags would have probably been ample.)
Good Bourbon (a couple of shot's worth)
Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice (a glug or two.)
Zest of 1 Orange, or 2 or 3 Clementines (which was what I happened to have in the house.)
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
Butter (to taste)
Salt & Pepepr
Baby Marshmallows (optional)
1. Peel and roughly chop sweet potatoes.
2. Roast at 400°until fork tender. Mashed sweet potatoes can be too wet and goopy. Roasting them, instead of boiling, helps. Don't allow them to char, as you would if making roasted root vegetables, or they won't mash well.
3. Remove from roasting pan and transfer to a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Add butter to taste. Begin to mash.
4. Add enough bourbon to give it some bite. (Keep tasting)
5. Add the orange juice and vanilla.
6. Season with salt, lots and lots of pepper, and the zest.
7. Mash through and incorporate.
8. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
9. The next day, allow ample time ( a few hours) to come to room temperature.
10. Bake at 375° for about an hour.
11. Instruct one of your juvenile kitchen servants helpers to artistically arrange marshmallows over the top. (These sweet potatoes don't actually need marshmallows, and I mostly eat around them, but it makes the kiddies happy, and it looks pretty. What can I say? I've got a little trailer happily co-existing alongside the princess in me.)
12. Broil under lowest setting around 90 seconds or so. Keep a close eye. The marshmallows will scorch in the blink of an eye.
If I were worth my salt as a blogger I'd have beautiful photographs of all this for you.
My number one priority this morning is brewing black tea potent enough to resurrect the dead, and drinking pots and pots of it.
I'll probably get dressed.
On Friday night I (naturally) went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I always go with a friend and her three kids. I've even taught them how to put M&Ms in the popcorn. I shall be forlorn when there are no more movies left to look forward to, and only a box set of DVDs for comfort.
This weekend was the husband's birthday. We usually have a huge party but this year we kept it simple. Our good friends, the same ones with whom I have the Harry Potter tradition, had us over for a beautiful dinner. I volunteered to make the cake.
I have Celiac Disease, and so am gluten-free. I love to cook, and I love to eat. Learning how to do it all gluten-free was initially an adjustment. I remember wandering the aisles of Whole Foods with an empty wagon, immediately after being diagnosed, wondering what the hell I was going to eat.
I often spot newly diagnosed celiacs standing in front of the gluten-free bread section, looking shell shocked. I can never resist putting a loaf of Udi's bread in their hand, and kindly saying, "Have you tried this one? It's really good."
Living gluten-free, now, is mostly second nature. For the most part, I steer toward foods that are naturally gluten-free. They're always healthier, and usually tastier, than the multitude of processed "gluten-free" products on grocery shelves.
I cook by instinct: by touch, by eye, by taste, and by nose. Cooking is wildly sensual. If I'm making something new, I may refer to a recipe, but I'm more the type of cook who adds a bit of this, and a touch of that. This makes it challenging, when something comes out really great, to replicate it, and is not at all helpful when friends request a recipe.
Probably because I loathe rigidity, and hate being told what to do, I've never been a baker. Baking, with its sifting, and measuring, and leveling of tablespoons, requires too much precision to hold my interest. I'm all for precision when it comes to the instruction of asana, but find it onerous in the kitchen.
Gluten-free baking is even worse. Many recipes require complicated mixtures of things like: rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca, potato starch, and xanthan gum. I mean, what the fuck heck is xanthan gum, anyway? I'd lay odds that I have the best stocked pantry in Fairfield County and, even so, am invariably missing at least one ingredient. I take one look at a recipe like that and am utterly daunted.
When we found out I have Celiac, the husband resolutely said, "I guess we're going gluten-free." He doesn't like to appear in my online adventures, but I think it's okay if I say he was incredibly supportive. For three years now, he's been encouraging me to delve into gluten-free baking. For three years I've had nothing but an aversion to the idea. It just looks like such a pain in the ass.
Then I came across this woman's site. She's incredible. She makes all kinds of scrumptious looking things using almond flour, and coconut flour. These flours are healthier, low glycemic, have more protein and taste good. Her recipes are simple, with only a short list of uncomplicated, unprocessed ingredients.
I'm a huge fan.
So, this weekend I tried my hand at an orange birthday cake. This recipe is unlike any I've ever seen and requires boiling valencia oranges for an hour and half, which then go into the food processor, peel and all. I iced it with an orange frosting that was to die for. We're talking bowl and a spoon kind of good.
This seems to be an either love it or hate it cake. The orange peel makes it sort of sophisticated, I think; it wasn't a huge crowd pleaser with the kids. I, however, loved it. The husband loved it. Our friend who made dinner loved it.
His wife, who has an aversion to very moist cakes, gagged on it. That was a first. Nobody's ever physically gagged on anything I've made before, but I've long known about her cake aversion so I don't take it personally.
My tea has gone cold, and a slice of orange cake wouldn't make a half-bad breakfast.
I'll have to tell you some other time about shucking my first oysters.
I'm thinking about writing some gluten-free posts on this site from time to time: what do you think?