Sprouts – Spring food par exellence

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Is there anything that takes my fancy more than sprouts in spring? No, there isn’t, or maybe, but I cannot figure it out now. I am so excited about the first sprouting year after year. It brings such joy and delight to see life expressing itself so vitally. The transformation that goes on in these tiny pulses is extraordinary. Firstly, from hard to chew they suddenly turn nice and soft. They also become very easy to digest, even if eaten uncooked. And the last thing, which is just amazing, is that they turn from acidic to alkaline. Pulses, in their dry form are an excellent item for winter season. We need more sustenance when it is cold, but when the spring comes, we need to detox. Nature provides us exactly what we need in many forms of spring food items and the one that stands out is sprouts.

Alkaline food scrapes mucous from the gut and enhances digestive activity. The taste of sprouts is astringent, which is exactly what you need to balance the sweet, sour and salty tastes you’ve had plenty in winter. Also pungent and bitter are in vogue now and these tastes you can easily find in your kitchen spice cupboard. All sorts of leafy greens also provide these flavours and enhance the digestibility of the bulk of your food.

I am very inspired to share with you a recipe that is by all ayurvedic parameters a proper plate of seasonal food. The sprouts I’ve used can be changed, any pulses that take your fancy really. I love mung beans because they are fleshy and succulent but also chick pea sprouts are great.

1 cup Mung bean sprouts

1 cup Green lentil sprouts

1 cup of boiled beans (chick peas, black, borlotti, kidney, giant or mixed)

1 ripe avocado (healthy fats)

1 clove garlic (helps with digestion)

(1/2 small onion/leek)

1 tsp Ghee (butyric acid, the best food for gut flora)

Olive oil (good fat if raw, organic and from a dark bottle)

1 pinch Asafoetida (takes away the gassy element of beans)

Cracked black pepper (helps with digestion)

Start by heating ghee in a pan with garlic, a pinch of asafetida and some cracked black pepper. Add the beans and toss around for a few seconds only. In a separate bowl mix the sprouts and avocado cut in pieces. If you like raw onion or leek you can add a small amount to give a bit of tanginess. Mix spiced beans in, add olive oil to taste and season.

P.s. If you are worried about the amount of fats in this dish, no reason to. These are all healthy forms of fat and will be used for metabolic functions.

Perfect seasonal food – home made baked beans

beansSpringtime is the time to treat our palates with bitter, pungent and astringent tastes. Pulses, spiced right, are perfect spring food because they are astringent.

Knowingly, they are also “airy”, which is also a good property of food in this period when the season makes us feel heavy and tired. Nature balances itself through opposites and you can play with this concept a lot when you cook. Just remind yourself of the season’s qualities and then cook with opposite quality food.

Spring is a strong period of growth. The waters of the soil start flowing in late winter bringing qualities of heaviness and coldness around but providing life giving material for nature to wake up. Structure, cohesion and bulk created by the nature bring about feelings of heaviness, stiffness and tiredness. To avoid the season’s disorders taking over your body and mind resort to food that has opposite qualities: light (e.g. pulses), stimulating and heating (spices and herbs). Cut down on heavy items i.e. reduce the use of fats and you can almost avoid dairy. Generally eat less, especially in the evenings.

Sage is an optimal kitchen herb for this season. Being bitter, pungent and astringent in tastes it perfectly fits in to balance seasonal disorders. It is one of the herbs of choice for respiratory disorders, which are very typical of this season. Read more details of sage’s health benefits in Anne Macintyre’ site.

Here’s an old Italian recipe I love Fagioli all’uccelletto, which usually is made with cannellini beans. In fact, this is the original baked beans recipe. So, instead of buying ready-made ones make them yourself, which is far far better.

This time I’ve used giant beans because I prefer them out of all white beans. In Italy this dish is usually offered as a side with meat or fish but it makes a perfect supper in spring. A couple of dry crackers instead of bread is a perfect accompaniment (bread should be cut down in spring).

Another addition to the traditional recipe is the use of asafoedita spice (hing), which greatly reduces the gassy element of pulses. Take it as a default always to cook pulses with this gas smelling herb that actually reduces gas. Don’t be put off by the smell, you’ll be grateful for the effects. Use sparingly!

Also, I’ve stopped using vegetable oils for cooking. I use ghee instead as it does not turn rancid when you heat it and it feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut. I add olive oil in the end to get the proper Italian flavor out.

Spicy beans with cherry tomatoes and sage / Fagioli all’uccelletto

1 can of giant/cannellini beans (or dried if you have time)

15 cherry tomatoes

1 clove of garlic

3/4 tbsp ghee

Fresh sage

Pinch of chilli

Pinch of cracked black pepper

Pinch of asafoetida

Himalayan rock salt to taste

Cook the canned beans for 5 – 10 min in water with 5 leaves of fresh sage. If you are using dried beans then cooking takes longer and you need to have soaked the beans overnight first. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Add ghee into a pan with crushed garlic and fresh sage. Fry on a low fire to savour the fat. Add tomatoes cut side down and put the lid on the pan. Make sure the heat is low. You want to cook the tomatoes, keep the juice and avoid burning. Add the beans once they have cooked and soft, evaporate excess liquids, add salt, pepper and asafoetida. When you serve, pour a thread of olive oil on top.

Enjoy!

Just chew

chewAwareness in action is what makes life tasteful. If we only cultivated this ability a bit more we would live our lives much happier and healthier. Awareness means to stay in the present, enjoy the moment in all its flavours. When awareness is lost we either worry about future or delve in the past. Or, we’re multitasking, like watching TV whilst eating.

What’s wrong with multitasking? It messes up with your concentration. Things are best done with, yes, full awareness, especially eating. What’s wrong about TV dinners is that the television takes priority. It takes priority from what should be one of the most important things in our lives. Instead, we have started considering eating as something secondary, something we can do whilst carrying out work by the computer, on the go, whilst driving.

The idea that food is a commodity of second order has had tremendous consequences on our health. Obesity, late onset diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers are directly related to faulty eating habits. If we only sat down and ate with awareness we would experience a drastic drop in the occurrences of these conditions.

So why is it bad to concentrate on something else whilst eating? It is because our brains, when engaged in eating prevent us from sending food down without proper chewing. The process of chewing becomes much longer and this has amazing benefits in terms of digestion.

When our minds are on the TV screen the food is able to pass down to the stomach only after two bites. Incompletely chewed food is very hard to digest and causes bloating, gas, acidity and other digestive issues. But, if we chew properly the stomach and the enzymes in it are able to process the well-chewed bulk easily. Why? Because of the mechanical break down and mixing of saliva. Saliva has enzymes that are necessary to digest carbohydrates. Most digestive problems with bread and wheat products are due to not chewing properly and not mixing enough saliva in them. Gluten is a hard to digest protein and if it has been let to bypass the first phase of digestion i.e. chewing it becomes even harder, if not impossible to digest.

To prove I’m right about chewing and eating with awareness, try eating with your eyes closed. This way the brain is directed to survey the full eating process. You’ll notice that it is virtually impossible to send food down without it being well chewed. You will also notice that you eat less. Proper chewing makes you feel satisfied faster. Also, when the brain monitors how much volume and nutrients go down it will turn your appetite off when you’ve had enough. Even if you had the tastiest food on your plate you just don’t have the taste sensation anymore to enjoy it. Try this trick and see what the right consistency of the food should be and what is the ideal portion size for you.

Every process that starts well is easy. When the foundations are laid well you need less effort for the rest. So it is with digestion as well. If you chew properly you should be able to avoid overeating, make sure you absorb all the nutrients and eliminate the waste in a satisfying manner. Once this is happening you notice not only that you are physically healthier but also, you enjoy higher levels of concentration and awareness.

To book for a health consultation for individual diet and lifestyle program click here.

How you eat your food can resolve your gluten intolerance

wheatIn my practice I often, in fact more and more, meet people who have very negative thoughts about gluten. Some of them have real problems with it. Although I am actually of the opinion that gluten should or at least can be in our diet I do respect the fact that many of us have problems in digesting it and that some people really have serious issues like celiac disease.

Faulty digestion is usually the problem behind gluten intolerance. Digestive problems can originate from faulty eating habits or psychological issues. If our digestive system worked properly and we ate gluten in a reasonable manner we should be able to digest it. No bloating, no gas, nor digestive complains should arise.

Most of the times the digestive problems are due to how we consume our food. The way we eat is often more important than what we eat. Gluten intolerance is usually a consequence of years of bad eating habits. The food itself might have been nominally healthy but the way it has been consumed has deteriorated the gut environment and caused a reactive intestinal lining where hard to digest items are not processed to satisfaction.

The good news is that once gluten intolerance is spotted it doesn’t necessarily mean that gluten is to be totally avoided henceforth. The thing to do is to clear the GI-tract from toxic sludge and enhance digestive capacity and the bacterial balance. Sooner or later it should be possible to re-introduce gluten in the diet without any digestive complaints.

Personally I would still advice anyone to stay away from white wheat flour. It provides empty calories i.e. doesn’t have much of a nutritional content and is highly glutinous. Still, an occasional intake of this shouldn’t be a problem once the digestive fire is burning strongly and steadily.

To find our how you can enhance your digestion come for a consultation. Book here.

6 dangerous toxins in your skin products

toxic_beauty_image_grande_grandeIt is the Organic Beauty week by Soil Association. We are proud to inform you that all the products we offer for beauty in our shop are as organic as you can get.

I will give you here a list of all the nasties our products don’t have. Each one of these is already a pretty mad thing to have in a product you put on your body. Think about having a variety of them in one product and you have a cocktail for…? I won’t say it but do keep away from this stuff.

Six dangerous toxins in your skin care products:

Propylene glycol is used as a skin sensitizer. It causes scaling, hives, burning, itching and blistering. It allows other chemicals to get further into the skin increasing the level of toxins found in the blood. Propylene glycol can be found in body washes, shampoos, hair sprays, toothpastes, baby lotions, colognes, shaving creams, and liquid hand soaps. It is toxic to the immune system.

Parabens are used to stop microbial growth and to extend the shelf life of the product. They will cause skin rashes, and other allergic reactions. They are extremely toxic and an immune system destroyer. Parabens are found in deodorants, perspirants and moisturizers. Paraben is known as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

Glycerin is found in numerous skin products, especially soaps. It is considered toxic orally in large doses. It can cause hemolysis, hemoglobinuria and renal failure. Glycerin is found in facial cleansers, conditioners, body soaps, hand soaps, bubble baths, bath oils, and after shaves.

Triethanolamine is another immune toxicant found in many products especially skin moisturizers. It is a possible carcinogen, a respiratory toxicant, skin or sense organ toxicant. It is used in facial moisturizers, mascara, styling gel, and tanning oil.

Sodium Laurul Sulfate (SLS) is one of the most common chemicals found in human hygiene products. SLS is a foaming agent used for scrubbing garage floors and cleaning drains. Steam from SLS has been known to cause lung damage and throat cancer. It is easily absorbed by the skin. SLS is found in hand soaps, facial cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos, toothpaste, and anti-aging cream.

Mineral oil is a petroleum by-product; it clogs pores and stops the skin’s ability to get rid of toxins. It causes acne, and other disorders, as well as premature aging. It is found in lip gloss, concealers, foundations, and facial cleansers.

 

 

Raw Coconut chutney

Coconut chutneyIt’s late summer and to celebrate it here’s the last of my seasons recipes. This brings me back to the days I was studying in India. We always dined at my teacher’s house and ate heavenly. Here’s one recipe from Nani, the grandmother. She shared her recipes gladly and we were eager to learn. Here’s one of them. It’s the good old coconut chutney. Obviously you can have it as a condiment for your meal but in India we often had it as a main with chapatis, freshly made and dripping with home made ghee. Here in London I like to use buckwheat flour to make the flatbread. You can find the recipe in my previous blog post of “Buckwheat flatbread with spinach and ricotta filling”.

Ideally you would use a fresh coconut but I just use the dry grated one and soak it in coconut milk (or cream if I want to be decadent). Mix all ingredients together and let soak for a few hours before enjoying. As for quantities of ingredients, all I can say, play it by ear or by your palate.

Grated coconut soaked in raw coconut milk/cream

Finely chopped fresh green chillies

Salt

Chopped fresh coriander

Curry leaves

Cumin seeds

Garlic

Come and buy come ingredients from our shop like the organic coconut flakes and milk. We also now stock 100% raw coconut milky Rhythm.

 

Hungry after your meals?

Hungry again

Have you ever thought why you feel hungry in the morning after having enjoyed a heavy meal in the evening? Or, have you ever wondered why you feel peckish only after an hour of your lunch?You would think that your body was satisfied for a little while but you still are craving for food. There is a simple explanation to this: you have not absorbed what you have eaten.

If you do not absorb you do not get the nourishment and energy you need. And then, you start craving more food, even if you still have food sitting in your stomach.

This is one of the most common reasons people have digestive and weight management problems. And of course, why we have cravings as well. When we eat at the wrong time or consume too much food at one sitting our digestive process is likely to slow down or stop all together.

Imagine yourself having a heavy meal and going to sleep before it’s been digested. At night the body should concentrate on other things other than digestion and having new food in the stomach confuses the body clock. Because of this the food can stay in your stomach for a long time and be only partially absorbed to your system. For this you might still get a taste of your evening meal in your mouth in the morning. And, because you haven’t absorbed you will feel hungry and crave for sugar and carbohydrates especially.

The same can happen after lunch. If you have eaten too much, too quickly, concentrating on anything else other than eating your digestive process will be in danger. Consequently your food just sits in your tummy causing gas and/or bloating. Nothing is absorbed and when that happens you get afternoon cravings. Sugar and carbohydrates become suddenly very attractive and hard to resist. This is because the brain uses them for energy and they can release it very fast.

For you to avoid these scenarios make sure you eat with awareness, slow down, chew well, take a break to eat, do not wash your meals down with a drink and make sure you are not eating bland food. Make is tasty; you need to satisfy your taste buds as well.

If you want to get to grips with your own digestion book for a consultation here.

Cooling summer drink

Ingredients for cooling summer drinkSweet bitter and astringent are the tastes that pacify pitta energy, the one governing in the warmest third of the year. The summer heat is best pacified by what the nature provides in harvest at the moment and the tastes mentioned earlier are present in this produce. A great cooling summer fruit is pomegranate. Add some of its seeds to your salads and squeeze some fresh fruit out of it. We here in the shop also have pomegranate juice and a pomegranate molasses, all great additions to your summer kitchen. A great cooling summer juice to cool you down is

1 part pomegranate juice

1 part aloe vera juice

1 part cucumber

Fresh mint

Mix together in a mixer and enjoy, preferably room temperature or without ice. Anything cold slows down your digestion and creates sluggishness and mucous in your digestive system. Also, cold drinks do not quench your thirst well but are likely to increase mucous, which easily creates when you have e.g. an unnamed black fizzy drink. Highly sugary drinks generally are not good to drink for thirst so between an occasional juice like the above, drink plenty of warm or room temperature water and enjoy the sun!

Hanging out with Rebecca in Portobello

rebeccaI enjoy working in Kensal Rise for many reasons one being its closeness to such cool places like Portobello. Having found out that the co-founder of the yoga teacher training school Yoga London lives just there is a great excuse for me to detach from the usual work surrounding and get some inspiration.

Rebecca Ffrench has been in an incredibly successful journey with Yoga London and has created, with her co-founder, a business of wellbeing and positive energy. I myself give a module on ayurveda in this teacher-training course of viniyasa style. Having been there since the beginning I have come to greatly admire Rebecca for her achievements and am happy that now she lives around the corner and we can share a cuppa down Portobello.

Nowadays, Rebecca does not do much teaching in the school but has moved into marketing and managing of her business including creating a retreat and training space in nothing less than Equador. They have already organised one teacher training this year in this wonderful eco-resort, rustic and close to nature, perfect for a yoga enthusiast who wants to get in touch with the real things. Rebecca is clearly very happy about finding this resort so I recommend everyone to have a look at the highlights in here. I think you’ll start feeling the same.

Life – Light – Love

Anu

P.s. If you feel inspired to sign into the Equador course or retreat do mention you got the pointer from me. 😉

A little heart to heart

SAMSUNG CSCLike every parent I connect with my little one through play and laughter, closeness and conversation. The connection you make through touch is the most powerful and there are different ways to make it even more so.  When the time is right, I create a bit more awareness than usual in the play and take it to the heart level, where the spirit dwells.

I try to do my morning yoga routine before she wakes up. Usually this is fine but sometimes she wakes up and walks up to the lounge where I’ve set up my mat and all the useful paraphernalia. She has always had a weird understanding of not disturbing me in my practice so I usually can carry out my routine until my meditation. Then she just comes and lies on my lap and even falls asleep whilst I work on my mind.

I also find her sometimes walking around our home with my prayer beads chanting yam yam yam yam. She sometimes hears me doing this as I work on my heart or anahata chakra during my morning routine. Yam is the bija mantra for this particular chakra. She sometimes again sits on my lap and I place my hand on her heart and go on chanting.

When I put her to bed I give her a massage, which not only nourishes her skin (with eczema) but calms and grounds her quickly so she can get a good sleep. After having massaged the legs, back , arms and tummy I concentrate on her ears and finally on the heart. In a few seconds she usually falls asleep. It is magical.

The palm of your hand is an energy point, or marma, which is associated with your heart. When you walk hand in hand you are actually walking heart to heart. When you massage another human being with your hands you are actually touching them with your heart. The power of touch by hand whether it is by holding or massaging goes into much deeper levels of your being or your shared space of existence. It is amazing to give your child a heart powered sensory experience creating a calming, grounding and replenishing moment of rest. An evening massage routine is especially recommended for children with problems of overcharged nervous systems and the ones being over exposed to media. Or even, like in our case today, if you’ve had a busy day playing in the park running around randomly eating all sorts of picnic foods and being absolutely exhausted when getting home.

My daughter resting there on my lap while meditating or chanting is one of the most wonderful things in my experience of motherhood. Your hands are a tool to connect on a spiritual level, in your core being. Through them you can communicate peace and love, creating a magical space of energy, devotion and compassion. Your heart is in your hand, always.

P.s. A heart massage is also one of the best ways of healing from having lost a loved one or after breaking up a relationship. You can do this to yourself as an easy remedy to bring some comfort and grounding in a period of heartache.

For heart massage: use warm oil and massage first clockwise to stimulate the area and then anti-clockwise to calm down. At the end just hold the hand on the heart for a few minutes and then place a warm towel or a hot water bottle on top.