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.

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.

Benefits of eating seasonally

paleoeffect_seasonal_guideThe wonder of nature is that once we start following its rotation and synchronize our activities to the different energetic periods of various cycles, our lives start flowing with effortless ease. Once we collaborate with nature it will grant us great boons.

Cravings

Cravings can be good and bad, rising when the brain and the body are in need of nourishment of some sort. Bad cravings rise when we have fallen out of alignment with our routines. Incorrect eating habits can leave the body undernourished even if we have eaten a lot. A hefty lunch, eaten in haste can create a strong craving soon after eating because the digestive process has not started properly, is slow or stopped all together.

Cravings for sugar in the afternoon are a response to brain’s emergency need for fuel. The energy from sugar is released in the mouth but only lasts for a short period of time. Then craving after craving follows, leading to confused digestive rhythms.

The brain is nourished by food, by feelings and by emotions. Once there is undernourishment or malnourishment a craving rises and can be uncontrollable. The brain can translate foods as emotional comfort and vice versa by taking positive, loving thoughts and emotions for nourishment. Once we nourish our brains routinely with the correct kind of food and impressions we make sure our emotional life is kept in balance as well. With a well-nourished brain we are able to stay alert, concentrate and focus more easily as well as using our memories and imagination in a positive and creative way. But a tired brain deprived of nourishment responds first by expressing a craving.

A good craving arises when we follow seasonal dietary guidelines and maintain a daily routine that keeps our digestion, absorption and elimination under control. Once we have a good daily rhythm we start craving things only when we are hungry and our stomach is ready to start processing another load. Amazingly we also crave foods that are exactly in season. It will become hard or unsatisfying to eat kale in October and November because it would highly aggravate vata. Instead, the craving for kale is natural in spring, which is in season to pacify kapha. Then we can enjoy it to our heart’s content.

The taste sensation can be completely different from one season to another. Following what nature wants us to do and listening to our bodies needs doesn’t have to be hard at all. In winter we naturally gravitate towards warm and heavy soups and in summer we crave light salads. We find great satisfaction in filling the desires of the palate with exactly what we find in nature.

Acidity

The amount of acidic food eaten has dramatically increased in Western diets. The first and foremost reason for this is because of the quantities of white sugar and flour we consume. Secondly, we eat meat that has been reared by feeding the wrong kind of food. The meat of a cow that has been grown in a pasture eating grass is much less acidic than its industrially grown and fed counterpart.

Also, fruits and vegetables are different as regards acidity and alkalinity. Our diets should contain one third acidic foods and two-thirds alkaline foods. Eating a seasonal diet satisfies this need. Spring and summer diets are alkaline and an autumn and winter diet is acidic. Once we rotate seasonal food items on our plates we naturally keep this balance under control.

Ideal weight

Each individual has his or her ideal weight. Different body types naturally vary in their perfect balance of weight and height. Kapha people naturally tend to be more robust with thicker skin than vata people. Vatas are usually leaner and have thinner skin. Pitta people fall in the middle of these two and tend towards a medium sized body frame.

Following seasonal dietary guidelines is highly beneficial because our bodies naturally maintain a weight that benefits a long life, with good stamina to fight disease. Even though we might put weight on during winter, changing our diets to highly detoxifying and weight-decreasing spring diets will help us to get rid of the excess effortlessly. The spring diet will trigger the body to burn fat for energy. With this maneouver the body will be able to digest all the carbohydrates it is offered over summer.

Detoxing

Our bodies fall under the influence of toxins through two routes: internal and external. The external sources of toxins come mainly from food (industrial), household and beauty chemicals, radiation, plus industrial and vehicle pollution. The internal sources of toxins are faulty digestion and metabolism. Even if we lived in the cleanest part of the world and used no chemicals for cleaning ourselves and our environment, we would still fall prey to toxins – those created by a faulty digestive process.

Our digestive power varies according to the time of day and of season. It also varies depending on our eating habits. Sometimes we eat at the wrong time, or eat a lot in the evening and go to bed without having fully digested our food. There are many times in life when it’s not possible to follow nature’s guidance, for example when sickness or travel put our systems under pressure and slow down or speed up digestion to an abnormal level. As a consequence, food either stays in the gut too long or too little a time.

Whatever the reason for the accumulation of toxins, it is good to do a detox every so often. The good news is that by following an ayurvedic daily and seasonal routine of diet, the body does this naturally. The morning is dedicated to clearing slow and cold mucous collected during the night as well as to turning on the enzymes. They burn off undigested material from the stomach and gut, which are potential causes of toxins. Also, the body is set to burn fat for energy. This is really important because the toxins lodge in the fatty tissue and when we burn fat, we burn toxins.

Identically, spring season is the part of the year when the body is willing to dispel toxins. The power of detoxing is strong if we treat our bodies accordingly. The spring diet is full of detoxifying alkaline food items like leafy greens: high in chlorophyll, they scrape and clean the gut and nourish the good bacteria to do their work. Also, springtime is the period when we should increase the use of spices and herbs in our kitchen as they easily manipulate the digestive and metabolic powers. Digestive spices such as turmeric, pepper, ginger, parsley, rosemary and chilli are all very familiar to us.

Ideally there would be no need to go on a specific detox if we just followed the daily and seasonal routines for the most part in our lives. Then the body will burn the fat that contains toxins and keep our digestive power strong so that any other toxins that enter the system are dealt with efficiently and eliminated without causing havoc.

Budget

One of the great benefits of a seasonal diet is that it is cheap. Being in season, these food items are cheaper than those grown artificially in the wrong season or brought to the supermarket from a great distance. We can perhaps grow food ourselves in our gardens or terraces, or go to gather nature’s resources straight from the source. Mushrooms, berries and wild herbs like dandelion are all there to be collected in abundance, given the right season. They can be made into preserves or dried and enjoyed at a later stage.

The benefits of the daily and seasonal routines are multiple. Once the wheel starts turning and we find synergy between nature and our individual tendencies and behavioural patterns, the effort to stay healthy and strong is minimal.

Following nature’s way is to follow our true purpose of living. Once we find it, the path opens up clearly in front of us and choices that take us in the right direction become natural. We start naturally rejecting what is harmful and gracefully lean towards the healthier options in life.

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.

Asafetida – the spice of the season

asafetidaThe latin name for Asafetida, or hing in Sanskrit, is Ferula fetida. “Fetida” implies smell. Indeed, the powdered spice is very pungent and almost rotten in smell and can be felt from a distance. It is like someone had passed gas. Ironically, this herb actually relieves gas. It is our spice of choice for the seasons of autumn and winter because during these times we tend to create more gas in our bodies.

Ayurvedically, gas is related to the bodily humour of vata. Vata dosha is made of ether and air. These elements give vata its behavioural patterns. Vata creates space and fills it with air. This might be going on just now in your own digestive tract causing discomfort of some degree, especially if you are a vata type, in other words, if your body type is “airy”, light and delicate. I am referring to now because, at this moment, we have moved into vata season. That means that vata energy is dominant in the nature. Nature makes us feel light and airy. Even the sturdiest and most grounded people might be feeling the effects. Problems like light sleep, irregular digestion and joint pains are very common.

When vata energy goes out of balance it starts easily creating upward movement in the body. Air can get trapped in the gut and create bloating. Anxiety is another good example. The sensation is like something was pushing from below, forcing the breath to move to the upper parts of the lungs and become faster and shallower.

Asafetida is a fabulous spice to counteract the upward moving vata. It has an amazing capacity to restore the correct movement, improve the intestinal transit and help elimination. This herb is a wonderful aid for vata kind of constipation (due to dryness) and by suppressing vata it can relieve all kind of symptoms of vata like pain and other nerve related problems.

As mentioned above, the herb is very strong. It is to be used with care. You can use it in your food: a pinch is enough. In fact, it is highly recommended to be used with beans and lentils. Pulses are astringent in quality and can easily cause gas. Asafetida helps to digest them better and this way they become safe to take, even in autumn and winter.

In India, and also outside, hing is often used by those who avoid onion and garlic in their foods as they are too rajasic, or too stimulating for the mind. Hing gives the food that pungency it might miss without those vegetables. Those who want to go on a sattvic diet might want to introduce this spice in their everyday kitchen. I, personally, use hing together with onion and garlic because I can’t really think a life without them.

I have just prepared a new batch of hinguashtaka powder, a mixture of eight herbs with asafetida. If you have problems with digestion and elimination you can order some from me. It tastes disgusting but it works wonders.

Five things to remember when doing a detox

detoxFive things to remember when doing a detox

  1. Check out your mindset
    • Before you go on a detox you should understand clearly your motivation. For example, if you are doing a detox with weight loss in mind, because you feel criticized, you are very likely to fail because the reason for your detox comes from the outside. Make sure you are 100% committed to your detox for reasons of better health and clarity of mind. Never go on a detox under pressure
  2. Choose detox according to your needs
    • Everyone is an individual and the kind of detox to go on is to be chosen accordingly. The first thing to understand is whether fasting is needed. Certain body types should not fast, even when detoxing. It is perfectly possible without depriving oneself of food. For example, maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper detox is a very harsh fasting detox and should not be taken on by people with strong, fast or erratic digestive systems and especially not in autumn and winter. Seasons are also to be taken into account.  Juicing is ok in summer but not in winter. When you start your detox is of great importance
  3. Relaxation
    • Your body is the strongest healer and cleanser. It does not do that if it is under stress. Toxins lodge in the fatty tissue. Under stress the first thing the body wants to do is to withhold fat
  4. Do a no 2 every day
    • It is important to eliminate every day, preferably in the morning. If you do not eliminate toxins will start creating inside of you. And that is exactly what you are trying to avoid
  5. Stay positive and motivated
    • If you are struggling with your detox you are under stress. If the occasional feeling of hunger does not bother you too much and you can concentrate on doing things instead of thinking of food you are in a good place. If you are not obsessively pacing around the fridge thinking whether you should open it or not you should consider changing tactics
  6. Sip hot water
    • Sips of hot water make the enzymes thrive. Enzymes are responsible for digestion and metabolism. You want them to work to their best ability to break down the mucous and toxins in your body. Avoid cold water in large quantities at one go. It will slow down the enzyme function and increase mucous

Detox usually requires some strength of mind because you will have to say no to a number of things you might have been used to indulge in. During a cleansing program your mind should stay alert and positive with increased levels of energy. If you start feeling tired, faint, can’t sleep, have mood swings and almost uncontrollable cravings you are not in the right path of clearing out toxins. In the worst case you might even be getting more toxic. If nothing moves inside of you and your mind is feeling negative you have chosen the wrong detox and/or time.

 

Tabbouleh a la Anu

SAMSUNG CSCTabbouleh is nice ‘n easy summer food and it is full of garden herbs, which are in season now. I’ve come to have unusual cravings for Mint. Mint is the herb of choice of this season as it is cooling in quality and a great digestive aid. I am going to share with you a recipe I just can’t get enough of. It is nothing new, the good old tabbouleh, variations of which are copious. Here below you can find another one of them, from my kitchen.

I have to admit, this plate formed in my kitchen because I was very hungry and needed food quick. I usually prefer to make everything from scratch and, by all means, why not this one as well. But I was hit by a lightning bolt in the Lebanese corner shop near by. I think their tabbouleh, made almost in its entirety of parsley and mint with a small addition of chopped tomatoes and onions, is too acidic for me, so, I thought I’ll cook some more bulghur to it. Here’s what else went into it. I can’t remember the doses as I use measures usually for baking only. Play it by ear and have a look at the image if it helps.

1 pack of ready-made plain parsley and mint tabbouleh

(There usually is a bit of raw tomatoes, onion, lemon already)

Bulghur wheat

Sultanas

Pine nuts

Cucumber

Olive oil

Salt

Cracked black pepper

 

Cook the bulghur until it is al dente, add with tabbouleh in a bowl and mix together with a handful of sultanas, roasted pine nuts and half a cucumber cut to small dices. Add olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

I keep enjoying it with houmous and/or goats yoghurt. So good, so tasty and great picnic food by the way!

 

 

 

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. 😉