Coconut cacao sweet potato (yam) recipe

Garnet "yam". Photo by Sattvic Planet.

Garnet “yam”. Photo by Sattvic Planet.

 

Chocolate for breakfast?! Well, almost, but not quite. Many people often confuse cacao and chocolate, the former being the primary ingredient for the latter. However, in addition to cacao, chocolate often contains milk from conventional dairies that we should probably be avoiding, sugar which we already eat way too much of in our diets, and other unnecessary ingredients depending on which chocolate you buy. When eaten alone cacao can be equally as delicious as a bar of chocolate, without the negative effects on your health.

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Eating for the Equinox (chicken crockpot recipe)

pastured chicken

Photo by everychickdeservesamother.com

 

The Autumn Equinox has come and gone and since then you have probably begun to notice seasonal changes. The days are shorter, the weather cooler, the leaves are falling, and the food available at your local market is changing from foods like berries, melons and snap peas to apples, squash, and parsnips. According to Ayurvedic principles, now would be a good time to adjust your diet to match our changing environment. This can be easy to ignore when we have access to foods like strawberries in January at the grocery store, but seasonal eating makes a little more sense when you start shopping for locally produced food as much as reasonable.

Warm, greasy and heavy

According to Ayurveda, as we transition from the season of Pitta to the season of Vata, we can also transition from the foods of Pitta to those of Vata. Sour and salty replaces the tastes of bitter and astringent, while the taste of sweet continues until later in winter during the Kapha season. Isn’t it interesting that salty and sour are the tastes you would experience while eating the cabbage you fermented during the summer to eat as sauerkraut during the fall, while sweet and sour would be most noticeably tasted with the fall apple harvest? Beyond the tastes of food, the qualities transition from cool and dry to warm and greasy (oily), while the quality of heavy continues until later in winter during the Kapha season. A good example of a heavy, warm and greasy food might be a dense winter squash roasted in the oven and then drizzled with a generous amount of ghee or coconut oil for moisture.

Meat in Ayurveda?

You may find it odd that a website with an Ayurvedic theme would have a recipe for chicken, but the ancient texts never forbid the consumption of meat, and in some cases encourage it for the recovery from disease. The Hindu religion is known to be vegetarian, and is also very common in India, so since India is the home of Ayurveda it is easy to see how the connection between vegetarianism and Ayurveda could be made. However, vegetarianism may be required to practice the Hindu religion, but that does not mean it is required to practice Ayurveda. Another fact to consider is that many parts of India are low in latitude and as a result have a much warmer climate. I’m not sure if you’ve ever noticed this, but my appetite decreases when I’m in a hot and humid environment, which would make vegetarianism much easier closer to the equator. If you don’t believe me then try being a raw food vegan in northern Canada and let me know how that works for you. I’m not promoting eating meat; I’m promoting diets that are appropriate for your geography and your season. Simply put, those of us in the north have less access to fresh produce, and more need for nourishment during a cold winter. I’m not talking about eating meat for pleasure as most Americans do, I’m talking about eating what your body needs, which I’m willing to bet is far less than what we are currently witnessing around the country. Eating based on bodily needs will require people to be aware of their bodies, and to learn how to properly cook nutritious meals. I often say that PETA would be far more successful if they encouraged people to eat less meat rather than none, and that is because even though most people are probably eating much more than they need, telling them to quit completely can not only cause a defensive reaction, but it may also be inappropriate advice for their location and time of year.

 

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Photo by sattvicplanet.net

 

 

Crockpot time

The size of my crockpot is 5.5 quarts, or 5.2 liters, and I find that a 5.5 pound, or 2.5 kg bird can easily fit. This recipe is very simple, but that is the point, to realize that cooking high quality meals is a convenient and healthy way to live. Here is the recipe:

4-5 pound chicken

1 onion

2-4 bulbs of garlic

½ T oregano

½ T thyme

½ T rosemary

½ T black pepper powder

½ T pink salt

1 T dried parsley

1 T dried basil

3-4 cups water

Dice the garlic and allow to sit for 10 minutes to maximize the nutritional benefits. Place the bird and the water into the crockpot. Dice the onion and add it to the crockpot along with garlic and all the spices. Sprinkle the spices under, on top of, and all around the bird. I like to set my crockpot to 10 hours on a low setting. You can flip the bird after about 6 hours if you like. The final result is more like a stew than an oven roast, but you can try a shorter duration or less water if you prefer that effect. Serve with roasted squash or root vegetables and some steamed dark leafy greens. Don’t forget to save the bones for a bone broth!

Integrity Food

When buying your chicken I highly recommend a locally sourced, pasture raised product. This will require you to search beyond the deceptive “all natural” and “cage free” feel good options available at the grocery store. Did you know a cage free bird might never see the sun, breathe clean fresh air, or have enough room to run around? An organic, pasture raised bird may cost 2-5 times as much as a conventional bird, but don’t you think it is worth it? A pastured bird might be more nutritious if they are eating insects as they were meant to. I find it odd when the label says “vegetarian fed” since chickens are known to eat insects, but they obviously don’t have that opportunity in an indoor facility. My last chicken had a slightly wild taste to it versus the typical bland and neutral flavor we are all accustomed to. A pastured bird should be less likely to get sick since it is not breathing dirty air in a confined space and is therefore also less likely to need antibiotics. Wouldn’t you rather eat a healthy chicken than a sick one? I actually get at least 10 servings from a bird, so when you look at the per meal price it is not bad compared to what you would pay at a farm to table restaurant. Besides the nutrition, taste and health, I think raising animals on pasture is much more humane, and a great way to support your local family farmers.

 

Related articles:

The “Integrity Food” Revolution

The Season of Sweet

Confessions of an Ayurvedic Counselor: Part 2, Meat

 

 

 

Make kale chips and save money (recipe)

Brassicas comp 17.indd

Who doesn’t like chips?

You’ve probably noticed the explosion of chip varieties over the past few years at the grocery store. Not long ago your only options were in the form of potatoes or corn, but we now have access to sweet potato, beet, bean, and rice chips. One of the most recent additions to the chip aisle are the kale chips. I was checking out one of the new products recently and had mixed reactions to what I was seeing. I was happy to discover the product was made using all organic ingredients, and there is no doubt that kale should be a healthy ingredient in most people’s diet. In my earlier post, Bitter is better, eating wilder foods, I shared Jo Robinson’s suggestion that everybody should definitely eat more cruciferous vegetables from the brassicaceae family. Examples of these plants include brussels sprout, broccoli, rutabaga, and kale. The part I struggled with the most while examining this new product was the price. The chips looked voluminous, but they were being sold in tiny servings of around 2 ounces for around $9. Out of curiosity I pulled out my smartphone calculator and did the math; these healthy, tasty treats sold for approximately $67 per pound! I then walked down to the produce section and saw locally grown organic kale being sold for about $2.50 per bunch. If each bunch is around 1.5 ounce after dehydration then I could buy a pound of kale chip ingredients for $27, not including all the flavorings. The price obviously drops even further if you are growing the kale in your backyard.

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Wastelandia

The price was obviously a major deterrent for me, but the packaging was also slightly disturbing. To protect these delicate little treats from being crushed into kale dust they are served in rigid plastic containers. I don’t know, as an Environmental Scientist maybe I’m the only person who sees the folly here. I notice things like that, and I understand why we have reason to be concerned about our wasteful society. Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch yet? Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that each of us eat many pounds of food each day, and plastic has become such an integral part of our industrial food system that he have now reached the point where we package mere ounces of food in large plastic containers. If we are packaging food by the ounce, and we eat pounds of food per day, and there are 7 billion of us, and our population is projected to grow to at least 9 billion… Well, you get the picture. The picture looks like a giant patch of plastic waste floating in the North Pacific Ocean.

Ignorance is bliss

Sorry if I’ve depressed you, but now is the time where I introduce some good news and empower you to make right the wrongs of the world. They weren’t lying when they said that ignorance is bliss, but I’d much rather be aware even if it can be a downer sometimes, especially since there are an abundance of solutions available. Now, who wants to learn how to make some healthy, tasty, organic, cruciferous, affordable, low waste snacks??

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Kale Chip Recipe

1 bunch of kale

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1/8 teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt

black pepper grinder

Cut kale leaves into large pieces and remove the stems. Place kale in a large glass oven dish and be careful not to overlap the pieces. Drizzle one large spoon of olive oil over the kale. It would be ideal if you have some kind of refillable squeeze sprayer. Simply spray a few times until most of the kale has been lightly coated. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the kale; it is surprising how far even a little salt and oil can go, so try not to use too much. Season with a couple rotations on the pepper grinder if desired. Place the uncovered dish in a 350 degree preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes. They are not finished if still soft, tough and moist, but will be overdone if they become brown/black or excessively crispy. After they are cool and dehydrated store them in a glass container in the fridge or in the pantry. I like to double or triple the recipe and fill all the shelves of my oven for maximum efficiency. Like any recipe your results will vary based on many different factors, so if the first batch isn’t perfect then you will have to adjust the temp, time, or quantity of seasoning. Of course you don’t need to be limited to salt and pepper, as there are an infinite number of spice possibilities available. In fact, many of the new kale chip companies do offer some good ideas for flavor, and seem to be offering a high quality product. I think their intentions are great, and hesitate to criticize, but the reality is that there is a better way of adding kale to your diet, and that way is much cheaper, and much less wasteful.

That’s all for now,

CIAO

 

Related articles:

Rejuvenating Green Smoothie

Minimize it, don’t criticize it

 

Rejuvenating Green Smoothie

Cook, or blend...

Don’t worry, no broccoli was used in this recipe.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

After posting articles the past two weeks focused on meat and dairy I think it is time we change directions and try something different. By now you are probably thinking that I’m as carnivorous as a wolf, but nothing could be further from the truth. I love eating fruits and vegetables and strongly encourage people to include as much fresh and organic produce in their diet as possible, especially the dark leafy greens, and cruciferous plants from the brassicaceae family. True, I do advocate for the consumption of animal products, but in the past I have also recommended that meat: should only cover a quarter of your plate, does not need to be included with every meal, and probably doesn’t need to be eaten every day for most people. With the help of this smoothie recipe, today is going to be one of those days where we can take a break from the meat.

Raw vegan

Raw vegan food diets have become more popular recently among the health conscious, and while I don’t regularly eat this way, in some situations I really enjoy this kind of meal. I normally advocate heavy, warm, moist/oily meals that are easy to digest and useful for providing a sustained energy throughout the day. However, it is not always necessary to eat this way, and sometimes the opposite is appropriate. For example, perhaps when it is later in the day and you don’t want to eat a large meal before bedtime, or if you have been feeling heavy and need a light meal to balance.

The recipe

1 cup water

1 cup blueberries (preferably “you-pick”)

1 banana

2 spoons RAW honey

1-2 inches of ginger root

1-2 inches of turmeric root

3 Tbsp sunflower seeds

1 cup water

½ lime juice

½ bunch cilantro

1-2 large kale leaves

Add each ingredient one at a time in the order listed above. As always, I recommend making variations based on your preference and need. Some possible alternatives include:

2-3 medjool dates instead of honey (the deglet noor can be used, but are firm and more difficult to blend)

1 pear instead of banana

parsley instead of cilantro

1-2 Tbsp nettle powder, or fresh if it grows near you!

6 out of 6 tastes

According to Ayurveda there are 6 tastes in food: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. More or less of foods with these tastes can then be eaten depending on the person and their situation. Personalized taste proportions can be chosen based on: a person’s body type, health status, the season, the geographic location, age, etc. In other words, everything has an effect on us, and properly selected foods can be used as medicine to balance these factors and ensure we achieve optimal performance. This smoothie has all six tastes and therefore should be good for everyone in most situations. The honey is sweet, the lime is sour, the sunflower seeds are salty if you buy them roasted and salted (I don’t), the kale is bitter, the turmeric is astringent, and the ginger is pungent.

Ayurvedic smoothie guidance

Without getting into too many of the details, from an Ayurvedic perspective it is best to avoid some common smoothie practices such as adding ice, using excessive amounts of sweet fruit, adding yogurt, and eating them daily. In Ayurveda a diet that is primarily composed of raw vegan food is typically avoided, but I guess that is a difference in philosophy. I’m not trying to start a food fight here, so all differences aside, you definitely can’t go wrong eating one of these delicious green smoothies on occasion!

Further reading

Here are a few related articles I’ve written for the the herbivores, omnivores and carnivores that are interested in reading more:

Bitter is better, eating wilder foods

Confessions of an Ayurvedic Counselor: Part 2, Meat

The “Integrity Food” Revolution

 

 

The NEW definition of comfort food (with boiled spicy milk recipe)

pastureperfect

Comfort Food Defined

Today I propose that we begin to adopt a new definition of comfort food. The phrase comfort food has a few definitions and frequently refers to food that reminds us of home, or that has sentimental appeal. Eating comfort food can also be one of the ways we deal with stressful or emotionally difficult situations. I don’t think the definition needs to change entirely, but I do think we should at least add another layer to the meaning of the word. Comfort food should include having the awareness that what you are eating is:

  1. High quality; properly raised, grown and prepared
  2. Appropriate for your body
  3. Improving your health

Don’t panic, it’s organic!

Have you seen the bumper sticker “Don’t panic, it’s organic”? It perfectly summarizes my new definition of comfort food. The most important trait of the new definition of comfort food should be the quality and source of your food. Last week in my post The “Integrity Food” Revolution I discussed the importance of only purchasing animal products from farms that use pasture based management, and avoiding confinement based industrial agriculture. If a burger is your favorite comfort food that reminds you of dad cooking on the grill when you were young then wouldn’t it be comforting to know that the meat you are eating came from a cow that grazed freely on a pasture of green grass while breathing in fresh air and absorbing the warmth of the sun? I never order meat at a restaurant that doesn’t reveal their sources. I find that it is much more comforting to know that the food I am eating is nutrient dense, and will nourish my body because it came from an animal that was healthy rather than an animal that needed antibiotics just to stay alive. Besides animal products, when I am eating fruit, vegetables, grains and seeds I find it to be very comforting to know that the food is free of harmful chemicals, and that while the plants were growing the surrounding environment wasn’t polluted with herbicides and pesticides.

Is it appropriate?

An example of this situation might be a person who knows they are lactose intolerant, but loves ice cream, and turns to a pint of their favorite artisanal ice cream after work every time they have a stressful day. I’m not saying that having a treat on a bad day is a terrible idea, but if you know that ice cream will bring you digestive problems then perhaps it is time to adjust your strategy. Continuing with the example of ice cream, another scenario might be a person who chooses ice cream as their comfort food after a bad day even though it is January in Minnesota. Though it is not the worst thing you could do to your body, it is still inappropriate to be eating foods that are so clearly out of synch with the season.

Will it improve your health?

Comfort foods are not always used in response to negative situations. For my last birthday I had the pleasure of celebrating with a homemade cake that was prepared using the highest of quality ingredients. With each bite I actually felt as if I was becoming stronger, AND it was incredibly delicious, thanks Jenny! Compare this to the birthday party in my office last week. I thought it was very kind and thoughtful that somebody brought a cake to the office for my coworker’s birthday, but I couldn’t ignore all the sugar, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors shown on the ingredients list. Come on people, we’re not getting any younger, and when is this more obvious than on your birthday? We need all the help we can get, and a cake like that isn’t helping.

Boiled spicy milk

This simple recipe is a favorite of mine before bedtime, especially during a cold winter night.

1 pint whole milk (organic, grass fed, raw, local…)

1 spoon ghee, for further details see How to make Ghee and move beyond the low fat era

¼-1 tsp powdered: turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger

Alternative spices include: cardamom, coriander, fennel, or licorice.

Alternative to ghee: coconut oil

Melt the ghee in a small pot and add the spices. Heat the spices for a few minutes on low heat and be careful not to burn. Add milk to the pot  and use medium-low heat. Stir often to avoid burning, and boil the milk until the froth nearly spills over. Simmer for another five minutes.

Dairy in Ayurveda

In the US macaroni and cheese is a common comfort food for many people, and it is easy to understand why. However, in Ayurveda most dairy is considered to be heavy and difficult to digest. Since food and digestion are at the very core of Ayurveda it is important to understand how to properly prepare and consume dairy products to ensure maximum nutritional benefits and to avoid the negative effects of poor digestion. One common method of preparation that improves the digestion of dairy is to choose fermented products such as cultured butter, ghee, and yogurt. Another strategy is to use digestion enhancing spices such as those mentioned in the spiced milk recipe above. Personally, I do eat dairy, but in minimal quantities compared to the average American. The one exception to this is ghee, which has most of the aggravating proteins and sugars removed leaving only a dairy fat. Unlike many dairy products, ghee is considered to actually enhance digestion. Unless you are hyper aware of how the animals were raised, and how the product was produced it is probably easier and healthier to avoid dairy. For those who have strong digestion and know how to find and prepare high quality dairy products I think dairy can be consumed in small quantities. As for the mac and cheese, there’ not much I can say to help other than to have a side of steamed greens, and maybe add some cracked black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

(~*~)

 

Fermentation Nation (sauerkraut recipe)

By now many of you have heard of the resurgence of fermented foods in America. Fermented foods never really left our lives; they are present in many common items we buy at the grocery store such as beer, bread, and yogurt. However, after declining for several decades the practice of homemade fermented foods has received widespread attention lately thanks to separate appearances on the NPR program Science Friday by popular food based author Michael Pollan, and fermentation revivalist Sandor Katz. The history of fermented foods is really very interesting if you think about it. One of the reasons our ancestors fermented foods was to preserve them from spoilage. The acidic environment created by the bacteria growing in the food acts as a preservative that protects food from decay by microorganisms such as mold. Of course with the invention of the modern refrigerator, we have less need than before to protect our foods from decay. This is evident in the gradual fading away of this type of knowledge from the American consciousness. However, because of people like Michael Pollan and Sandor Katz, this knowledge has not yet gone extinct, and renewed interest in the practice of homemade ferments is exactly why Katz is called the fermentation revivalist. Just because we have refrigeration doesn’t mean we should abandon the practice of fermentation; there are other benefits available besides preservation. In addition to protecting your food from decay the bacteria partially break down the food in a process similar to cooking. Think of fermenting the same way you think of cooking, it is a technique used to make food easier to digest. This biological process increases nutrient bioavailability, and reduces anti nutrient factors. Eating fermented foods is also thought to replenish the community of beneficial microorganisms present in your intestines.

If you are new to do-it-yourself fermented foods then an easy and delicious way to begin is with a simple sauerkraut recipe. My teacher Todd Caldecott introduced me to fermented food preparation through his book Food as Medicine and I will be sharing his sauerkraut recipe below. I’ve really been enjoying this sauerkraut recently because not only does it taste great, but as I mentioned in my post Bitter is better, eat wilder foods the brassicaceae family of which cabbage belongs should definitely be represented in your diet. The important thing to remember about sauerkraut recipes, and really any recipe, is that it doesn’t need to be followed exactly. Following a recipe is a great idea the first time you make something but it can definitely be modified to your preference on your subsequent attempts. Remember, nearly any fruit or vegetable can go into your sauerkraut. Other possibilities include grated carrots, beets, parsnips, or daikon. I have also enjoyed using chopped cauliflower, garlic, thin sliced cucumbers, and even pieces of apple. Spices can also be added or removed as desired. Here it is:

1 small cabbage head

1 small onion or scallion

1 Tbsp salt

½  tsp dill seed

½  tsp coriander seed

½  tsp black pepper powder

½  tsp caraway seed

Create surface area by chopping or grating the cabbage and onion. In a large bowl mix the cabbage, onions and spices and then squeeze, smash, crush, and/or bruise the cabbage for around 5 minutes. Stuff the ingredients in layers into a reused glass jar, or a canning jar. With each layer pack and crush the cabbage as much as possible. By now there should be enough water released from the cabbage, but if you need more then top off the jar so that all cabbage is completely submerged. Mold will not grow on submerged vegetables, so a weight can be used to prevent the cabbage from floating on the surface. You could use a sterilized rock from your yard, or whatever you want, but I haven’t been using any weights. Put the lid on, but be aware that much gas will be produced during the fermentation. Most people recommend unscrewing the lid daily to release the gas, but I find that you can also leave the lid on loosely. I like to wait 3 weeks before eating, but earlier is also possible depending on your preference. After 3 weeks I pour off the excess water and refrigerate to slow down the fermentation process.

We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat”, which basically refers to the fact that the food we eat goes through a transformative process and eventually becomes our bodily tissues, but in Ayurveda people say “you are what you digest”. Just because you eat something doesn’t mean that you will efficiently digest it, and if you don’t digest it then it can’t be transformed into your tissues, or used for energy.  Adding fermented foods to your diet is an easy way to improve your digestion and ensure that you are extracting as many nutrients as possible from your meal. One last comment, people often mistakenly associate the food poisoning that results from improperly canned food as a possibility during the fermenting process, but Katz reassures us that there are no documented cases of food poisoning deaths from fermenting. In fact, fermented foods are actually safer than fresh foods because they have been naturally preserved, so don’t be afraid, the bacteria are our friends, go ahead and give it a try.

How to make Spicy Oil and take another step beyond the low fat era

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fat…

...low fat

…low fat

In an earlier post I explained How to make Ghee and move beyond the low fat era, and in addition to providing a recipe I gave a brief description of why we need to end what I call the low fat era. As you all know, during the past few decades we were told repeatedly that a low fat diet was essential for a healthy low fat body, yet according to the CDC 36% of Americans are obese. Either the low fat diet hasn’t worked, or there are other reasons for obesity in America, I suspect both. The message we received seems to be that if you eat fat then you become fat. This has not been the case in my experience, in fact it seems that the more fat I add to my diet the leaner I become. A majority of my meals are prepared by sautéing food in some type of oil such as ghee, sunflower, sesame, or occasionally lard. I also regularly add olive or coconut oil to my meals even when sautéing isn’t necessary, for example, in my post Best oatmeal recipe ever, for dinner I recommend adding ghee or coconut oil to the oatmeal. When I purchase dairy products, which is not very often, I always choose the whole fat option. When I eat meat, which is not every day, I never trim the fat. Listen people, I understand that my personal experience doesn’t count as a valid scientific study. Could other factors such as genetics, exercise, lifestyle, and body constitution account for my lean physique? Absolutely. I’m not trying to declare a universal law here, I’m simply trying to demonstrate that eating fat does not always equate to being fat. Now, let’s move on to the recipe…

This recipe produces one pint of spicy oil. I store my oil in a canning jar and leave it on my counter top for easy access. Any time I need a convenient way of adding some flavor to my sauté, I add 1-2 spoons of spicy oil to my cast iron skillet. This is a great way to make eggs.

2 cups refined sunflower oil

2 tablespoons mustard seed

1 tablespoons cumin seed

2 tablespoons turmeric powder

2 teaspoons hing (also known as asafoetida)

Heat the oil on medium for approximately 20 minutes. Add a few mustard seeds starting around 10 minutes and wait for popping. If the seeds pop in 16 seconds you need to heat longer, if they pop in about 8 seconds that is a good temperature, but anything less than 4 seconds and your oil is probably too hot, so add seeds often and monitor closely. Your spices will burn if the oil is too hot, and it is best to avoid overheating oils, see below for more on choice of oils. Once you have reached optimum temperature turn off the heat and quickly pour in the mustard seeds and cover. I say to cover because there will be a reaction, but covering prevents the moisture that is released from escaping. An alternative to covering would be to use a pot tall enough to prevent an overflow from the reaction. After the popping is complete quickly add the cumin seeds and cover if necessary. After a few minutes add the turmeric and hing. Wait for the oil to cool, stir, and then pour the oil and spice mixture into a sturdy jar.

It is important to be aware of the smoking point of the oil you use. I like Spectrum oils because they tell you the temperature range appropriate for each oil. Normally I choose unrefined oils for improved taste and nutrition, but for the higher temperatures required of spicy oil you must choose a refined oil to avoid the smoke point. I have been using refined sunflower oil with good results, though I have learned that sunflower oxidizes rapidly, along with many other popular oils including canola, hemp and flax to name a few, so in the future I am open to trying different oils. Hing will definitely be the most difficult ingredient to find, but if you are having difficulties try an Indian store, Asian market, or herb shop. For the gluten free people, be warned that hing is often mixed with wheat flour to counter its sticky qualities. I found a rare variety that is mixed with fenugreek powder instead of wheat at an herb shop in Seattle. You could skip the hing if it is too much of a hassle.

The concept of using food as medicine is a defining component of Ayurveda, but diet alone is simply not enough. In Ayurveda there is great emphasis placed on digestion because your food cannot be your medicine if your body is not efficiently processing it. One way that digestion can be improved is through the use of spices such as those found in this spicy oil recipe. Go ahead and try this recipe, it is an essential ingredient in my kitchen because it enhances digestion, improves taste, is convenient, and nourishing. Take another step beyond the low fat era, enjoy!

 

Best oatmeal recipe ever, for dinner

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After trying this recipe you will never again consider buying those little packets of oatmeal, but before I share my recipe with you let me explain the dinner reference in the title. For the past 3 months I have avoided sweet breakfasts and have been preparing savory breakfasts instead. The basic idea behind this change in my lifestyle is that we typically eat too much sugar in our daily diets, see my post Our Paleolithic ancestors rarely ate sugar, should we do the same? for more details. In addition to the obvious long term problems with sugar such as diabetes and obesity, in the short term sugar is a fast burning fuel that can cause your energy level to rise and fall like a roller coaster. Your body will process a savory breakfast consisting of vegetables, fats, and proteins much more slowly and the result will be an energy level that should be steady for many hours. This steady energy level will help you perform when you need it most, during those first few hours of work, and it should allow you to last until lunchtime without snacking. Yes I know, there is a lot of debate about whether snacking is good for you, but for now I will make a very general statement and say it should be avoided. Snacking will be covered more thoroughly in a future post. I give credit for this change in my lifestyle to my newest mentor, Todd Caldecott. For a very thorough explanation of the savory breakfast concept visit Todd’s blog at the website for his book Food as Medicine. I took the savory breakfast concept one step further and developed my own theory, it would be best for me to eat sweet foods later in the day because maintaining a steady energy level is less important for me at the end of the day. Simply put, if I get sleepy then I will just go to bed. The heavy slow burning foods can be eaten in the morning to power me through the day, and the quickly processed foods can be eaten in the evening so that I go to bed without feeling full. In other words, if I’m going to eat eggs, kale and turnips for breakfast then why not reverse the entire day and have some oatmeal for dinner? The reality is that I only occasionally eat oatmeal for dinner when I am short on time or groceries, but for the past 3 months I have regularly eaten a savory breakfast, and the results have been good. For the savory breakfast concept we are defining even grains and starches as sweet, so I haven’t been eating foods like oats and potatoes for breakfast. As you’re about to see the recipe isn’t as sweet as I may have led you to expect.

TRY THIS TONIGHT!!!

½-1 C oatmeal

1-2 C water

4-6 apricots cut into quarters or sixths

1-2 large spoons of ghee (see my post How to make ghee and move beyond the low fat era)

1 large spoon of agave (optional)

**Revision, see why I removed agave from this recipe here   

1 tsp coriander seed powder

Variation:

½-1 C oatmeal

1-2 C water

small handful of raisins

1-2 large spoons of coconut oil

1 large spoon of maple syrup (optional)

1 tsp cardamom powder

Simmer the oats and apricots in hot water for 5-10 minutes until the water is absorbed. Add ghee, agave and coriander to a bowl. Mix everything together in the bowl and enjoy your breakfast for dinner.

Raw honey is an important ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine, and I could have substituted honey for the agave or maple syrup. As you might expect from any 5000 year old system of medicine there are going to be a few rules that seem eccentric to us. In Ayurveda there are a few food combination and preparation rules regarding honey such as always buy raw honey and never heat the honey. Also, honey should not be eaten with ghee in equal parts. We can save this conversation for a later date, but for now the idea is that different combinations and preparations for food can change their qualities and the effects they have on your body.

Try this recipe, or maybe even try a week of savory breakfast, I’d like to hear what kind of results you have in the comment section below.

How to make ghee and move beyond the low fat era

For many decades we have been hearing of the need to eat a low fat diet for good health from food manufacturers, government, and weight loss experts. The paradigm appears to be shifting with increasing evidence that dietary fat is not to be blamed for America’s health problems. Regardless of the origins of this low fat theory and the final outcome of this fifty-year experiment, I think the term low fat is overly simplistic and confusing to many people. First consider that the three primary macronutrients are fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Certainly we don’t believe that one of the three macronutrients should be removed from our diets, do we? Second, there are obviously many different types of fats with some being better than others. Much of what makes a type of fat good for cooking or eating depends on the fat’s chemical structure, how it is processed, and how it is cooked. Some of the better fats are those that are relatively stable, those that are extracted from their source using minimal processing, and those that are able to withstand a higher temperature during cooking. In Ayurveda coconut and sesame oil are very popular oils used for cooking, externally on the skin, or as carriers of medicinal herbs.

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