...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality... PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to Create a Peaceful Mind.
They say in life that you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. So it goes in the kitchen. Many people are amazed to find that stepping into the kitchen is actually a relaxing, almost meditative experience. There’s a flow that takes place, an engagement of the mind that leaves us feeling refreshed and connected, as though all our senses were taken on an adventurous sojourn. Food and cooking demand that you be in the present, a place where yesterday’s follies and tomorrow’s peccadillos hold no sway. But to be fully present, it helps to learn a few tricks of the trade as a way of turning your kitchen into an inviting space filled with culinary gifts that feed the soul.
‘Tis the season to be snacking! From Thanksgiving (or even Halloween) through Valentine’s Day, the holidays present an extended string of festive gatherings that center around food and drinks. While living it up with friends, family, and colleagues can be fun, it can also be a bit stressful—especially if travel, hectic schedules, extra spending, and rich, sugary foods are on the menu.
“When there’s stress involved, our choices can become more reactive, rather than coming from a grounded place and connected to the self,” says Sankari Wegman, an Ayurvedic consultant at The Raj who also teaches Ayurvedic cooking classes. Moreover, Wegman tells us, it’s particularly easy to feel stressed during Vata season, which falls in autumn. “Vata by nature is light and airy, and it gets thrown out of balance when there’s any kind of irregularity.”
Below, Wegman offers ten easy Ayurvedic lifestyle and diet tips to help combat holiday stress—whether you’re the host, the chef, or dining solo this season.
This happens to me pretty much every day at around 3 o’clock, providing that I’m working from home. I get up from my desk, put on the teapot, throw a bunch of things in the blender, whirl it all together, and end up with a cozy and satisfying latte-ish drink that gets me through to dinner time. I don’t drink caffeine anymore, because I’ve always been very sensitive to it, and found that avoiding it altogether really helps with even energy levels (I may have made a few exceptions in Italy :)). But this little ritual takes me back to the days when 3 o’clock meant a cup of really good tea or a matcha. There’s really nothing better.
I end up making a different drink every time, based on my mood and the ingredients I have on hand, but the general formula is the same. There’s always something for creaminess, something for flavor, something for an energy boost… So I thought I’d give a ‘no-recipe’ recipe here, as well as a few of my favorite combinations. Midday super-latte making is a really fun routine to add to your day if you’re around a blender, and it’s good for your in a number of ways: it gets you out of the busyness of the day and nudges you to take a break, it’s creative, and the beverage you’ll end up with will likely be good-for-you, warming and tasty.
Don’t be scared off by home-made gnocchi, they are easier than you may think and the process is one worth learning. I feel it is a right of passage everyone should take. To make your own pasta, knowing it has been made with real, whole foods is not only satisfying but the knowledge that you can make delicious easy gluten-free pasta using nutrient dense ingredients is pretty special too!
The dough or uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for easy suppers when you don’t have time. If you don’t have a gnocchi rolling board you can use the end of a fork to give the gnocchi a quick curl to create the same characteristic effect.
The best walnut pesto I ever had the pleasure of making was in Italy when the fresh mid-autumn walnuts were in season. Over time, walnuts become bitter so it is best to source freshly shelled walnuts when possible. It will make all the difference to this pesto.
I’ve rediscovered the frittata! You know those periods when life overwhelms? When you just need somebody to tell you what to eat? Something in your back pocket to reach for? For me, the frittata is IT. My Soup Sister, Julie Burford, reminded me of this by recently bringing me two gorgeous, tasty ones! What an amazing gift. Granted, I’ve made frittatas MANY times… but it hasn’t always been my go-to dish. I’d kind of forgotten. Now it’s back!
Sometimes, I get in a cooking groove, a rhythm, and I sort of forget some old chestnuts. Like a favorite shirt that ends up in the back of the closet until one day you spy it and think, Where have you been??? And wear it 2 weeks straight.
Last night I dreamed I was applying to universities and had been rejected from every single one. However, hidden underneath the pile of rejection letters, I found a small envelope offering me a free ride to a school in the Caribbean, even though I hadn’t even applied. In my dream, when I went to visit the tropical island that was home to the university, I inhaled the scent of plumeria and heard the gentle sea breeze rustling the palm fronds, and I realized that sometimes what we least expect far surpasses what we plan for.
Life can get hectic, especially in autumn — a time of new school assignments, demanding projects at work, and the beginning of the holiday season. When your schedule is slammed, it can be hard to find time to prepare healthy, balanced Ayurvedic meals. Ironically, this is likely when you need them most! Delicious, well-spiced, cooked meals help to balance the doshas and create harmony in your mind and body.
While you can’t always prepare a full, Ayurvedic spread, there are some helpful, time-saving hacks that can help you — and your family — to eat well on the go. We’ve shared a few tips below, drawing inspiration from Ayurvedic chef, writer, and artist Miriam Kasin Hospodar, author of Heaven’s Banquet: The Maharishi Ayurveda Cookbook.
Hot soup has always been my ultimate comfort food, and I know I will be needing lots of it in the months to come. Vietnamese pho is king when it comes to soups that warm you from the core, and I’ve been experimenting with vegetarian pho recipes during the past couple of weeks.The main component of any pho, but especially vegetarian pho, is the broth. This pho broth is first and foremost based on toasted spices – star anise, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, peppercorn, and clove – each bringing its individual character to the flavor profile. I’m not normally the biggest fan of cinnamon in savory dishes, but in this broth it balances with tamari, brown rice vinegar and chili to create a fragrant and deeply nourishing broth.
Here's a favorite from the archives! Who can resist those gorgeous squashes stacked in groceries and farmers markets this month? And they are SO good for you. Don't miss my soup hack for an easy and delicious Curried Butternut Squash Soup. Isn't it nice when life can a little easier?
Fall… that invigorating time, filled with crisp air, glowing woodlands, and a feeling of the world settling down for a long winter siesta…. And how many of you have already flirted with colds during this change of seasons, hmmm?
Time to focus on boosting your immune system!
“A” is for vitamin A, a superstar because of its major importance in:
It’s best to obtain vitamin A through your diet, not supplements. Why? Because it’s a fat soluble vitamin, meaning that it’s best absorbed along with some healthy fat, such as olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, or ghee (clarified butter).
Looking for food sources? Vitamin A is conveniently found in anything orange and anything green, such as all winter squashes, carrots, kale, and collard greens.
Nothing warms and nourishes quite like a hot bowl of delicious soup on a cold fall day. Ayurveda loves soups. They are easy to make, they are nutritious and easy to digest, and they are perfect for the light evening meal recommended by ayurvedic experts (vaidyas). Because they are so easy to digest, soups are ideal for children. Made with fresh organic fall vegetables, grains, pasta, beans, dhals, herbs and traditional ayurvedic spices, soups make great ayurvedic dietary anchors. Enjoy your soup with freshly-made chapatis (flatbreads) on the side, and it will be a meal you’ll want to return to.
Soups are also fast. You can have a finished soup ready to serve in 30 minutes. Here are a couple of easy ayurvedic soup recipes. Remember, whenever possible, favor fresh, organic and non-GMO foods.
My favorite season is coming up, and that’s soup season! My neighbor and Soup Sister Julie Burford and all the folks on the block are getting revved up, and I can already see the steam coming out of the kitchens. The first stage of soup making is broth making, so we’re all busy making Magic Mineral Broth (see below) and bone broths and freezing them in quart jars, ready to incorporate them into big colorful vats of nourishing, comforting, savory soups!I celebrate the beginning of the season of soup.
I feel like the happy soup chef in Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice (here in a video with Carole King singing the verses, so adorable).
I nearly ran out of gas this morning. The orange light glared at me from the dashboard with its menacing, ominous glow. There’s a gas station just a couple blocks from my house, but I’d left my purse at a friend’s home, and there wasn’t enough fuel in my car to retrieve it. So, I ransacked my bedroom looking for cash, but apparently I’d already spent my “in case of emergency” stash. Then, I overcooked my eggs and tripped on the dog’s food.
Although there are myriad causes for feeling out-of-sorts, it can be valuable to ask yourself: “Am I stressed?” Often when I feel like the world is imploding around me and nothing seems to be going right, the root cause is stress. Once I acknowledge that my life doesn’t actually suck; I’m just feeling overwhelmed, I can find a way to change my state. It might feel unproductive to take time away from your busy day, but when I’m in a good mood and feeling relaxed, I’m both more joyful and more productive. Spending time outdoors seems to help me the most, but I’ve also found that exercising, cleaning the house, or meeting a friend for a meal can get me out of my head. In many ways, it’s like hitting the “restart” button on the computer.
I grew up with home-pickling and fermenting as the norm. Food in the Soviet Union was not only scarce, but also highly seasonal, so if you didn’t take care to preserve some tomatoes or cucumbers for the winter, you wouldn’t be able to taste any until the next summer. My mom made sure to stock our cool basement with jars of pickles, tomatoes, and fruit preserves every summer, as did pretty much every woman around. Other common fermentation projects included kombucha (or the ‘tea mushroom’ as we call it) way before it was cool, kefir, and of course sauerkraut.
As James Hamblin points out in his recent cracker-jack article in The Atlantic, “New Nutrition Study Changes Nothing: Why the science of healthy eating appears confusing—but isn’t,” the term “neophilia” was coined by J. D. Salinger in 1965 to refer to our obsession with novelty. And while a degree of curiosity about what’s new is no doubt healthy, like so many things these days we seem to have taken our obsession too far — certainly with food and nutrition.
As Hamblin shares, editors and publishers aren’t interested in nutrition articles that don’t have sensational headlines, preferring to focus on narratives that upend conventional wisdom. The thought seems to be, if new research doesn’t change or challenge the way readers think about the world, why is a story worth publishing?
Most of my clients are surprised to hear that I menu plan every single week. That's right. Even as a pro chef and nutritionist if I want to eat the way that best nourishes my mind and body I follow the same advice I give my clients. In my CALMTM approach to health and healing we discuss the importance of creating a meal plan, a shopping list, and carving out time to cook. The basic principles in every meal plan include: real food, plant-centric, seasonality, a rainbow of color, local (as possible), and variety. Notice, there are no measurements of calories, no over analyzing micro and macro nutrients. Keep to these simple principles and the benefits will come back to you in flavor and health insurance.
Grains — Vegetarian Powerhouses
DisclaimerThe sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.
This is the first ever guest post on my blog! Lately, some people in my close circle have been writing posts that touch me on a really deep level, and I want you to see them, too. It’s that feeling of OMG! Did this piece ever nail it on the head! It’s like a good book. You just want to tell your friends.
This post is from my dear friend Marti Wolfson, MS, who has appeared on my blog several times — most recently in Foods to take when you travel (when she was starving on an airplane at 26 weeks pregnant) and last fall in Soup Session with the extraordinary Marti Wolfson, when we had SUCH a good time chopping and cooking up Spicy Thai Carrot, Corn & Tomato Bisque soup (the video is great!).
A culinary nutritionist who developed the CALM™ (Culinary and Lifestyle Medicine) approach to health and healing, Marti is brilliant, graceful, and wise beyond her years. And she’s about to become a mother! (Everyone send good energy.) She calls me FGA (Fairy God Aunt). We’ve known each other for 13 years, and have cultivated a lovely relationship even though we live 3,000 miles apart. I am so grateful for Marti!