Hey there! It’s been a while. I mentioned last week that I would be taking a bit of a break to focus on packing & preparing for my move. Well, I packed up & moved out over the weekend & now I am settling into my new place. The first thing to get unpacked & reorganized was the kitchen, of course! My first homemade meal in the new digs? This lovely "Spring Detox Kitchari…"
"As Spring arrives, the warmer weather melts the winter freeze. The same thing is happening within you. After putting on your winter coat ~ adding warm layers, strengthening immunity, & tonifying to the bone ~ your system is now ready to lighten up. If this is done effectively, you have optimal health for Spring and Summer. If not, the system gets clogged, sluggish, rundown & worn out.The 21 Day Challenge to help you release winter’s accumulation & blossom into your best Spring yet."
That is why Ayurveda places great importance on detoxification in early Spring. And that is why I joined the guided DYI detox program. I felt wonderfully grounded & nourished during the winter cleanse, yet it didn’t take long before I was back to some old habits. When life gets overwhelming, often the first to go is a healthy, well balanced diet. But that is the time when we should be nourishing ourselves the most. otherwise we become even more depleted. I’ve got a lot of new goals & plans ahead for this year, & I have really been working on creating more healthful patterns with food for the body, as well as food for thought. I am going to need a lot of nourishment to keep me going strong. Turning to Ayurveda as my guide has helped to light the way on this more wholesome path. When I apply daily Ayurvedic practices to my routine, on top of a clean, whole foods, plant based diet free of caffeine, refined sugar, gluten & alcohol I just feel so much better.
Our cleanse began last Monday, & for the first week, we cut out all processed foods, gluten, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, & dairy & meat (which is easy for me as I don’t eat that anyway!). We focused on simple, light, seasonal foods & dishes such as salads, soups, steamed vegetables over rice pasta. In addition, we were given a new daily practice to add to our daily routine - taking nightly triphala, oil pulling, ghee tea, warm oil massage (abyanga), & daily yoga. While I was able to integrate most of the practices, I had a very difficult time with the dietary guidelines, mostly coffee to get me going & wine to unwind. With a such a jam packed week full of work, packing, & prepping for a move, & with kitchen goods & utensils packed away, I found myself either eating something I could grab & go from the store, or eating out. I did my best to stick with cleanse parameters, but lets face it, I cheated, a lot. By Sunday, I was so spent, so tired, & so ready to recommit myself to the cleanse.
Week 2 began Monday, & it is all about centering our meals around kitchari, everyday. I absolutely fell in love with kitchari during the winter cleanse & couldn’t wait to make it again with Spring vegetables. For those of you unfamiliar, kitchari consists of split mung & brown basmati rice, cooked gently with ghee, vegetable broth, Ayurvedic spices, & seasonal vegetables. Why cleanse with kitchari? Kitchari is an ideal food for healing, detoxifying, and restoring wellness. Ayurveda believes that all healing begins with the digestive tract, & kitchari gives it a much-needed rest from constantly processing different foods. The blend of rice and split mung beans provides essential nutrients & offers the body an array of amino acids, protein, fiber, & vegetables. The mixture of spices is believed to kindle the “digestive fire,” the Ayurvedic description for your innate digestive power, which can be weakened by poor food combinations.
I was actually so excited to get my kitchari on the stove, that I got up at 5:30 am on Monday morning to prepare it! I was inspired by all of the beautiful vegetables in my produce delivery from the previous week, & added zucchini, baby turnips, & tastoi to the mixture. Depending on my cravings, I’ll with top with cilantro pesto & sliced avocado, or fresh basil & micro greens as shown here.
"Spring Clean Kitchari with Zucchini, Baby Turnips & Tatsoi"
In a medium sauce pan, bring vegetable broth to a low boil.
Rinse rice & beans.
In a medium saucepan warm the ghee. Add the kitchari spice mixture & sauté for one to two minutes. Add rice & mung beans, coat with the ghee & spice mixture & sauté for another couple of minutes.
Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover & cook for 20 minutes, then add zucchini & turnips. Cook for an additional 20-25 minutes until beans & rice are creamy tender (approximately 45 minutes total). Add tatsoi & stir until wilted.
Season with liquid aminos or tamari & garnish with optional toppings. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon!
***I get my split mung beans & kitchari spice mix from Banyan Botanicals. You can also purchase a complete "Kitchari Kit." (These links contain affiliate codes)
I really do love kitchari! I find it so delicious & comforting. It has certainly become a staple around here. With that, I am off to return to unpacking, getting situated, before unwinding with tea & some evening yoga.
I really love my new place so, so much. It already feels like home. Many good things are ahead, I just know it!
Good Evening Everyone, how are you all spending your last hours of winter? While we transition to a new season, "Wellness Wednesdays" will take a short hiatus. I will kick off the spring series when I begin my Ayurvedic Spring Detox this weekend. This evening, I have a wonderful “farewell winter” salad, a mix of heart roasted winter vegetables atop a bed of spring spinach, topped with a fragrant pomegranate vinaigrette.
As the "Vernal Equinox" nears, springtime is on the horizon, at 9:57 am (PST) tomorrow to be exact! While I enjoy the cool & quiet “winter” months (what little bit of winter we experience here in So. Cal), I am really looking forward to spring. Spring is a time of renewal & blossoming, a perfect time to “renew your good intentions for the year & blossom into your true self.” It’s also a time to clean out the fridge to make space for lighter, crisper spring produce! I did just that the other day, as I make way for all of the zucchini, peas, & spring greens that are on my CSA list for the week. Gathered in the crisper was a bunch of winter carrots, kohlrabi & beets, & spring onions & spinach. As I prepare to start incorporating more green juices & raw foods back into my regular diet, I decided to make my last batch of winter roasted veggies, but served atop raw greens, instead of a grain to keep it light. The star of the show? Kohlrabi!
Kohlrabi is one of the most unique & perplexing vegetables that I have encountered thus far. This vibrant vegetable is very low calorie, high in vitamin C & fiber, & is a good source of vitamin B6 and potassium, too. It’s also fairly high in minerals, including copper & manganese. It can take a bit of preparation to peel & chop, but raw kohlrabi is crisp, mild & refreshing. One of my favorite ways to eat it is just peeled & cut into thick matchsticks, sprinkled with a bit of sea salt, & dipped into hummus! (BTW this mung bean hummus is divine!). But with two extra large heads in the fridge, I was looking for new ways of enjoying it. I found this article on Huff Po, which recommended this recipe & was hit with inspiration abound! It turns out there are so many things you can do with kohlrabi - who knew? You can shred it, mash it, stuff it, puree it, batter & fry it, roast it, you name it.
As I love the sweet & caramelized flavor of roasted vegetables, but typically reserve roasting for winter, I decided for one last roasting hurrah.
"Roasted Kohlrabi, Chioggia Beet & Carrot Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette"
Roasted Vegetables ~
1 large purple kohlrabi, cut into wedges
2 large carrots, cut in 1/2 crosswise, then quartered
3 small chioggia beets, cut into small wedges
5 purple spring onions, trimmed & halved
1 Tbsp. avocado oil
1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
Pink sea salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. Cut vegetables in desired shapes & sizes, then toss with avocado oil, sea salt & pepper. Roast for 35 minutes. 3. At the 20 minute mark, sprinkle fresh thyme over vegetables (this keeps it from burning to a crisp!)
Pomegranate Vinaigrette ~
1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar (Trader Joe’s)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. pink sea salt & 1/4 freshly ground black pepper
In a small mason jar, shake together the oil, vinegar, mustard, teaspoon salt, & pepper.
Place roasted vegetables atop the greens & garnish with chopped almonds, dried pomegranate seeds, & an extra drizzle of dressing.
***After photographing this salad, I realized what a beautiful addition some raw vegan “Sun Cheese” that I learned at my dear friend Katie’s cooking class. So I made a batch (it’s simple soaked sunflower seeds, garlic flavored olive oil, sea salt & lemon juice), & my oh my! Extra decadent & delicious!
Such a beautiful salad to serve on a platter to a hungry crowd, or served in a bowl for a hungry girl!
I loved all the flavors & textures in this salad, the sweet & caramelized veggies, crisp greens, crunchy almonds, & tart & tangy dressing all married together beautifully. Such a wonderful way to honor the season’s transition.
How do you like to celebrate the arrival of spring? As I mentioned, it is a time of renewal & blossoming, & a perfect time to “renew your good intentions for the year & blossom into your true self.” The month of March has brought many changes into my life, some unexpected, some planned. I changed my last name (took my Grandma’s maiden name), found a wonderful but more budget friendly apartment & am moving again next week, & it is looking like there are going to be some big changes in my career. As doors close, new ones tend to open, & I am ready. I am gearing up to begin a major spring cleanse, & starting my Deep Yoga Teacher Training program at the end of April. Certainly a time of transition, growth & intention.
Hi again! Top o’ St. Patrick’s Day Weekend to you! While many are celebrating their “Irish Luck” at the pub with Guinness, I am at home sipping a very un-festive glass Pinot Noir & absorbing all that I took in at today’s TEDx Encinitas conference (more on that later!). To celebrate this Irish holiday, I have an oldie but goodie to, well, re-share, with you. A few months ago while doing some “mass post tagging,” I accidentally did some “mass post deleting.” Unfortunately, here on Tumblr, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Luckily I was able to retrieve a google cached version if it, & the other recipes I so stupidly wiped & will be able to repost. Below is the original post in all it’s glory!
Yet, another cabbage made it’s way into my CSA share last week, but this time I didn’t fret. After a few successful & yummy cabbage dishes under my belt I was ready to tackle more. The featured dish? “Irish Colcannon” with a vegan twist…
While there are many variations of this rustic dish, colcannon is traditional Irish fare made from mashed potatoes & cabbage, or kale. It is often doctored up with chives, sour cream, butter, leeks, bacon, or ham. I would’ve preferred to use kale as my green, I decided to save the kale for juicing & make use of the savoy cabbage. Instead of the typical russet potato, I used a variety of Yukon gold, red & purple potatoes to add a bit of color & variation to the dish. Besides, I do not have a potato ricer, & russets are a challenge to mash with a fork. To substitute the bacon, I used Torfurky Italian Sausage, as I love the flavor & bursts of sun-dried tomatoes speckled through out.
Chop potatoes into 1″ cubes & bring them to a boil in salted water. You can peel your potatoes if you prefer, but I kept the skins on to boost flavor, texture, & nutritional value.
Add vegan margarine & garlic to the bottom of a dutch oven. Cook until the margarine is melted and the garlic is fragrant, then add cabbage & toss well to coat. Add sausage & liquid aminos & cook over medium heat until cabbage is cooked down & tender.
Once potatoes become fork tender, drain well, then add to the warm cabbage & sausage mixture. Mash with a large fork or potato ricer.
Mix in the nutritional yeast, herbs, & warmed almond milk. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Creamy, buttery potatoes, tender cabbage, zesty vegan sausage make this a delightful & comforting dish to savor on St. Paddy’s Day.
As they say in Ireland, ”May your pockets be heavy & your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning & night.” Cheers!
Oh & sorry for the radio silence around here! Busy as usual, & got a bit off schedule & then my dog broke my computer! I know, I know, sounds a bit like “dog ate my homework” & we all know how well that excuse was received. But really, it was already on the fritz, & then she knocked it off of the couch on to the hardwood floor while it was open & on. Needless to say, it was toast. It took me a week or so to come to terms with the fact (& make room in my budget) that I needed to replace it. I finally brought myself to do it, so happy extravagant birthday to me. I have to say, though, it is amazing & I love it. So stay tuned for more regular scheduled blog-casting, coming soon!
We’ve come to that time of year where we’re no longer in the dead of winter, but not yet in the bloom of spring. We’re at the crux of transition. The ice is melting in some parts of the world. The days are once again getting longer, the leaves are returning to the trees, & the flowers are beginning to bloom. Here in San Diego we were hit with a pretty large rainstorm this past weekend, & it seemed as if the roses in my garden opened overnight. This is the first rose to fully bloom. So beautiful!
In Ayurveda these signs indicate the passage from "Vata" season (which governs fall & early winter), into "Kapha" season (which governs late winter & spring. As we embark on this seasonal transition, it’s a wonderful time to adjust our diet & lifestyle patterns to ensure we stay well & in harmony with our environment. Therefore, it is time for us to begin shifting towards more “kapha dosha pacifying practices” that will keep us warm, dynamic, & joyful.
For today’s wellness post, I am sharing the wisdom of yoga teacher & Ayurvedic consultant, Kate Schwabacher, on how to make a smooth & mindful transition.
In Ayurveda, ‘Ritu Sandhi’ is the Seasonal Juncture (which in southern California we begin to experience in late February/early March): the time between winter and spring. In this juncture we start to transition our habits from winter palliation to spring awakening!
Here are a couple points to keep in mind for the month of February:
~ Savor the last of winter’s hearty produce for soon it’ll be spring’s naturally cleansing fare of sprouts & greens. So this month enjoy the last of the foods you’ll be saying so long to next month: Avocados, Pumpkins, Winter Squash, Tomatoes, Bananas, Dates, Figs, Oranges, & Nuts & Seeds.
~ If you’re prone to springtime ailments like allergies, water retention & lethargy start to avoid the most aggravating foods for spring: dairy, red meat, nuts, sweeteners (other than honey) & excessively salty foods.
~ Start to integrate more spring in your step as the sun starts to come up earlier! Wake up early (before sunrise) & start your day with some vigorous exercise to clear your mind & refresh your body for the day ahead!
~ Try something new! While routine is great for calming the nervous system in the winter, routine can bog us down in the spring. Try a new yoga or exercise class, cooking a new recipe, hiking up a mountain for a new view on the world, or making a new friend. Get out & see what this beautiful world has to offer!
As Kate mentioned, we are going to start seeing a change in the produce offered at the farmers’ markets & in our CSA boxes, so it is time to make the most out of the last of winter’s bounty. It is this time of year that an abundance of beets come flowing my way, & I challenge myself to come up with new ways to enjoy them. As I’ve been making a habit of preparing a seasonal kitchari each week inspired by my CSA delivery, I decided to once again, add beets to the mix, but this time, rather than roasting them separately & adding them in to the final dish, I cooked the beets along with the bean & rice mixture to create a beautiful jeweled dish! For an extra boost of nutrition, I utilized the beet greens as well, which are delicate, surprisingly sweet & mild, & very nutritious, as they are high in vitamins & minerals: A, C, K and fiber, iron and potassium. For this recipe I also used a spilt mung dahl & a prepared kitchari spice mix that I purchased through Banyan Botanicals. I really liked the texture of the spilt mung, versus the whole variety that I had cooked with previously, & the kitchari spice blend was lovely. To make life easier, you can purchase an entire "Kitchari Kit"here - complete with rice, mung dahl, kitchari spice & a recipe. How convenient!
1 cup brown basmati rice
1⁄2 cup split mung dal
3 teaspoons kitchari spice mix
2 tablespoons ghee, or coconut oil
6 cups water
2 cups chopped beets, peeled & cut into small dice
1 bunch beet greens, thoroughly washed & chopped
Wash rice & mung dal & soak overnight. Drain soak water.
In a medium saucepan warm the ghee or coconut oil. Add the kitchari spice mixture & sauté for one to two minutes. Add rice & mung beans & sauté for another couple of minutes.
Add 6 cups of water & bring to a boil. Once the kitchari has come to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover & cook until it is tender (approx. 30-45 minutes). Add the beets halfway through cooking, & add the greens in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Add Himalayan salt to taste & garnish with fresh cilantro & shredded coconut.
While enjoyed this variation of “ruby red” kitchari, I’ve definitely have had my fill of beet this season, & tubers & root veggies too. I am really craving lighter vegetables & raw greens. I cannot wait to make spring kitchari with basil, asparagus & peas! Keep your eyes peeled for that.
What winter produce will you miss? What are you most excited for in spring? Bring on the new season! I am ready.
Welcome back to Mindful Mondays! I took a few days off from blogging to relax & enjoy my birthday. One of my many birthday/new moon intentions - be consistent with my meditation practice. My long term goal is to teach mindfulness after all, so I need to get solid with it! It’s so, so worth it, for more reasons than one.
In brainstorming a post for today, I came across this article on MIND.BODY.GREEN & thought it would be perfect to share. Boy can I relate to “monkey-mind!”I just completed an 8-week MBSR program last Wednesday & was introduced to all of the practices mentioned below. Our last meeting was bittersweet. I became so attached to my fellow mindful seekers! There really is something special about this mindfulness stuff & something so powerful in the act of meditation - it really does change your brain.
How Meditation Changes Your Brain
Do you struggle, like me, with monkey-mind? Is your brain also a little unsettled, restless, capricious, whimsical, fanciful, inconstant, confused, indecisive, or uncontrollable? That’s the definition of “monkey mind” I’ve been given!
If you need more motivation to take up this transformative practice, neuroscience research has shown that meditation & mindfulness training can cause neuroplastic changes to the gray matter of your brain.
A group of Harvard neuroscientists interested in mindfulness meditation have reported that brain structures change after only eight weeks of meditation practice.
“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness & physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive & psychological benefits that persist throughout the day.”
To test their idea the neuroscientists enrolled 16 people in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course. The course promised to improve participants’ mindfulness & well-being, & reduce their levels of stress.
Everyone received audio recordings containing 45-minute guided mindfulness exercises (body scan, yoga, & sitting meditation) that they were instructed to practice daily at home. And to facilitate the integration of mindfulness into daily life, they were also taught to practice mindfulness informally in everyday activities such as eating, walking, washing the dishes, taking a shower, & so on. On average, the meditation group participants spent an average of 27 minutes a day practicing some form of mindfulness.
Magnetic resonance images (MRI scans) of everyone’s brains were taken before & after they completed the meditation training, & a control group of people who didn’t do any mindfulness training also had their brains scanned.
After completing the mindfulness course, all participants reported significant improvement in measures of mindfulness, such as “acting with awareness” & “non-judging.”
What was startling was that the MRI scans showed that mindfulness groups increased gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, & the cerebellum. Brain regions involved in learning & memory, emotion regulation, sense of self, & perspective taking!