Unconventional mascarpone risotto with oven roasted vegetables and beet greens

Risotto

Two nights ago I roasted vegetables for supper. I had to deal with a load of them left from my weekly delivery. What was left over, I pureed with the intention to prepare a nice wintery soup for the following day at work. But as it happened, in the fury of preparing for the day, I fell short of time. In the evening I took the pure out and noticed I had a bunch of wilting beet greens that badly needed cooking. I remembered an amazing risotto I had once eaten in a restaurant in Queen’s Park with pumpkin and spinach and came with an idea. I’ll mix the roasted veggie pure in the risotto and add the beet greens to balance the sweetness.

I haven’t cooked risotto for a long time because of the white rice. I don’t keep white items in my cupboard anymore. Table salt, white sugar, flour and rice are what they now call anti-nutrients. I didn’t have brown Arborio rice so I had to use plain brown rice. For risotto enthusiast this might be a big transgression but I thought I’d break the rules and try and, oh boy, did it work! The sweet and earthy flavours of the rice, roasted root vegetables and mascarpone combined with the bitterness of greens made such a great combination that I could not help but to share this with you. So, here it goes:

P.s. I warn you, this is not a conventional way of cooking the risotto because the rice is different. I also won’t be able to give you an exact recipe because I worked with my gut feelings. I can only guess these were the measures:

200ml brown rice

Water

1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

Ghee

1 large onion

1dl white wine

2 tbsp mascarpone cheese

200ml roasted vegetable pure’

(I used: potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and garlic)

Bunch of beet greens

parmesan cheese

salt

pepper

Olive oil

Cook the rice in water with bouillon powder until tender. Pure’ roasted vegetables with some warm water in a blender. Chop the beet greens and fry them gently in a small amount of ghee until soft and season with salt. Finely chop the onion and, in a separate pan, fry in ghee until golden and tender. Add the rice and wine and let cook for a few minutes. Add mascarpone and let it melt in the rice. Add vegetable pure and mix well. Mix beet greens in and season with salt and pepper. Add a little grated parmesan cheese but not to overpower the taste of other ingredients. When serving garnish with olive oil.

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!

Oh So London visit

We had lovely Lucy McGuire from Oh So London website visiting us. The visit was followed  by a lovely article on us in this website which you can read here.

During her visit she made this little video clip of me talking about spiritual healing. Come in and watch it here.

Nutritional confusion

Dieting confusionI recently sat down with Angie Greaves from Magic Radio and Feeling Fab website to have a proper chat about nutrition. She finally said it in a nutshell: “There is a total nutritional confusion”. I couldn’t agree more. We are so bombarded by the media with all sorts of facts about the good and the bad of our diets that no-one really knows what is right and what is wrong any more.

Let me tell you what is wrong first of all: there is no one piece of advice that is good for everyone. We have to come to an understanding that every one of us in the universe is a uniquely built being and responds differently to every variety of food, food supplements, activities and stressors from the environment. A jog might be beneficial for people with good stamina but not for someone who hasn’t been jogging for a long time. An apple a day might keep the doctor away from someone who doesn’t get an acid attack right after eating it. Different sorts of vitamins of might benefit you or not. It depends how you digest what you take in.

I have a number of clients coming for a health consultation who tell me that there is nothing wrong with their diets and that what they eat is said to be healthy and with a high nutritional content. Still they complain they can’t lose weight, they feel tired or have problems of different sorts, ranging from digestive issues and skin complaints to headaches and sleeplessness, to name a few.

Here lies another core problem behind our dietary confusion. We don’t know anymore how to consume our food. It isn’t enough to know the nutritional contents of your smoothie. If you have it at the wrong time of the day, combined it with the wrong foods and perhaps eaten on the go, you are not likely to get many benefits from it. On the contrary, bloating, gas, cramps and unexplained pains become an unwelcome but familiar presence in your life. When you know all the simple things about correct eating you will be able to enjoy proper tasty food, not have uncontrollable cravings and have your body return to its ideal weight without too much effort.

And what lies behind it? That’s the Feeling Fab that Angie is talking about. When we feel good and relaxed our bodies are able to heal themselves. Most importantly, our minds are able to make decisions on our health that are conducive to stability, wellbeing and happiness. What this means, is that it is all in our minds. And believe it or not, your diet has much to do with your mindset.

Life – Light – Love

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.

Bloated?

bloatedstomachBurp, burp, burp…bloated and heavy I am. I just can’t get my food to digest. It is sitting in my stomach. Actually, it is lying on the bottom of my stomach whilst I lie in bed and can’t get to sleep. I’ve eaten a heavy meal and I know tomorrow morning I’m going to wake up with puffy eyes and ravished by hunger.

What’s gone wrong?

Firstly, you need to digest your food before you go to bed. Your body should concentrate on metabolising the food it has absorbed during the day and not digesting new food. Result: bad sleep and possibly violent dreams.

If you eat a heavy meal then lie down, the chances that your digestion slows down dramatically – or even stops – are great. This means that the amount you absorb is nowhere near the amount that you have eaten. Therefore you’ll wake up in the morning crying for food. And piling up new food on undigested food creates digestive toxins, sluggishness, bad breath, smelly gas and a variety of digestive issues. Result: myriad of health issues depending on your individual susceptibilities and tendencies.

A great way to understand if you have digested your previous meal is to have a half a glass of hot water. Wait for a few minutes and if you burp, you have not digested yet. At this point, stay up a little longer and have a sip of Jagermeister. 🙂

 

 

Nature vs Nurture

Nature-vs-NurtureNature vs nurture

What is it that makes us behave in a certain way? Why do certain things keep repeating in our lives that we feel we don’t have any control of? Does it sometimes seem like you want to say, “I am like this, just accept me as I am”? Or do you stop, think and intuitively feel that there is something you can do about it yourself?

Everyone is born with a make up that allows their bodies and minds to express themselves and to behave in their own unique way. This will never change. Some tend to be creative, some achieving and some caring. And all these features mix as well. You can be creative and caring or you could be achieving and creative. The important thing is to recognise what is your own personal nature and what are your special features.

When we are born – in fact, even when we are in the womb – we are exposed to a myriad of sensory stimuli, teachings and attractions. We start creating a world of patterns of behaviour, ways to react to situations and ultimately, are conditioned by what we are exposed to. Subconsciously our brains will learn ways of acting and reacting. Sometimes these reactive patterns can be so damaging that they interfere with our health. For example, IBS or backaches are often caused by a learned response to stress by the mind.

Our health is greatly dependent on our understanding of how we have developed between these two ends of a spectrum – nature and nurture. That said, these two do not have to be mutually exclusive, but something that evolves in synchrony and creates conditions for optimal physical wellbeing and mental happiness.

The most important thing is to understand what we are truly like. Sometimes you just have to accept you are not going to have arms like Madonna, because your body has a tendency to build up fat in the arms and upper body. Or, you have to cut down on chilli and coffee because your nervous system can’t cope with it and your hormones are all over the place.

Nurturing our bodies in line with our nature is the key to health and wellbeing; nature has an incredible urge to repair and rejuvenate. The very existence of everything is determined by an innate impulse to create life, longevity and enjoyment of the journey through the different stages of our existence. All we need to do is tune in. Aligning ourselves with the rhythms of nature, mainly the cycles of the day and seasons, has tremendous effects on how our bodies behave. By tuning in we gain self-awareness and re-educate our bodies to cope with stress, whether it is physical, mental or emotional.

 

Good autumn everyone!


I often feel that a whole new cycle of life is starting in autumn. This year especially has been quite something as the weather changed so quickly, at least here in London. Within a week we were the air had a completely different feel to it!

I also feel a new cycle starting because many of us are relaxed and energetic from the sun and holidays. We are full of ideas and enthusiasm for work and life in general. I find myself being most creative at this season and (TA DAA!) here is the first blog post I’m writing for our renewed website.

My intention is to share with you some great knowledge that ayurveda has to offer in order to stay healthy and happy. I intend to get some yogic magic along as well since those two are sister sciences and complement each other perfectly. There will be beauty tips and a recipe or two occasionally and ideas for improving everyday life. I am a keen cook and always eager to try what I can create using seasonal ingredients in my kitchen. I would be very happy to see you joining in creating some lively conversations around health, beauty, diet, lifestyle and spirituality.

Tip of the day

Autumn is the period when our bodies particularly tend to dryness because of the increase of vata energy. Dryness can be felt especially on the skin and mucous membranes. When the latter dries excessively they get irritated and start producing mucous. Therefore it is essential that we increase the intake of warm water and good oils (internally and externally) in this period to make sure our bodies do not get out of balance and resist illness properly. The skin and mucous membranes form the first line of defense in us and they need to be in good shape to stop bacteria, viruses and other pollutants entering our systems.

Here’s some simple advice on what to do:

  • Take a sip of hot water every 10 minutes
  • Oil your body with warm sesame oil at least a few times a week. Don’t forget to massage inside your nose as well!
  • After cleaning your face spray toner abundantly and then massage with face oil (check out our beautiful face oils by Pukka, ila and John Masters)
  • Cook only with ghee or coconut oil. Use vegetable oils only raw i.e. add only after cooking
  • Increase the intake of seeds and nuts
  • Have a massage regularly

Photo by Paul Bica