Ginger Bomb Your Way Through Fall

Does the moon play only silver 
When it strums the galaxy 
Dying roses will they will their 
Perfumed rhapsodies to me 
-Joni Mitchell 

Here we are again. The days are getting short, nights epically long. Really, how is it dark at 6 PM? And how did we ever get used to this piercing cold last year? No joke, twice last week I attempted to go for a walk. Both times I made it about half a block and gave up, scurrying back home. It’s October! I worry I’m going to be riddled with bed sores and washing myself with a rag on a stick come December.

Sadly, our Indian summer came to a screeching halt when it was slammed by the pernicious winds of autumn. The air is crisp and dry, the winds so brutal, making the entire body constrict and draw inward. What to do?

In order to counteract the inevitable forces of Vata, one has to seek to balance with opposites. Treat dry with moist, cold with warmth and lots of hugs. To do this, I will be focusing on using ginger root as my defense against these dark, ominous days.

The beautiful rhizome ginger has an abundance of healing properties and is often thought of as “universal medicine.” Referred to as Ardrakam or Shuntha in Sanskrit, the energetics of ginger are pungent (think spicy) while at the same time sweet and warming. Ginger is the perfect antidote for Vata and Kapha dosha, but may be a bit heating for Pitta, so use with awareness.

Ginger has many actions, including:

  • Analgesic- reduces the sensation of pain
  • Antiemetic- helps with nausea
  • Aromatic- intoxicating, uplifting scent
  • Aphrodisiac- Let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on…
  • Carminative- relieves flatulence
  • Diaphoretic- induces sweating
  • Digestive- stimulates our digestive fire to help break down and assimilate with more ease
  • Expectorant- helps clear mucus (this word always makes me think of those little old ladies in church that store tissues up their sleeve)
  • Nervine- soothes fragile nerves
  • Sialagogue- increases the secretion of saliva
  • Stimulant- gets circulation flowing, perfect for winter

Behold, I present 3 recipes to pack some ginger into these frigid months. The vehicles to incorporate this root? A steaming mug of tea, a bath and cookies. How could one go wrong? Pure Vata management meets hedonism at its finest.

Simple Ginger Tea
Ingredients: 

  • 1 inch chunk of fresh ginger- sliced
  • ¼ Lemon
  • 1 tsp Raw Honey (optional)

Method:

  1. Place the sliced ginger in a small saucepan and add 3 cups of water.
  2. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, let cool to a palatable temperature.
  4. Before drinking add a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of raw honey.

This is a great beverage to have in the morning or 30 minutes before meals. It helps to get the gastric juice flowing, leading to stronger digestion. While technically a sugar, in Ayurveda, honey is perceived as a Kapha pacifying food that is scraping and heating. Due to these qualities, it is often recommended as a tool to help with weight-loss.

Like ginger, lemon is also classified as a digestive stimulant and is quite heating. To top that off, it is loaded with Vitamin C, infamous for bolstering the immune system. PS- Having strong digestion will inevitably lead to a potent immune system. 

Ginger Bath
Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Powdered Ginger
  • 1/3 cup Baking Soda
  • 1 Bad-ass bath tub- Claw foot, Double slipper, Japanese soaking….or whatever you can get your hands on.

Method:

  1. Draw a warm bath, add the ginger powder and baking soda.
  2. Soak away your anxiety with this powerful stress-relieving formula.

​The aromatics of the ginger will help open the lungs, increase circulation and stimulate warmth. A perfect remedy for a rainy afternoon. While you’re at it,  dim the lights (another great way to calm Vata) and play soothing music.

And finally, courtesy of my favorite food blog 101cookbooks.com, Triple Ginger Cookies! Vata dosha is pacified by foods that are sweet, sour or salty. Thus, some sweet cookies to accompany your tea and bath.

Triple Ginger Cookies

Feel free to use all-purpose flour if that is what you have on hand. Again, in regards to the ginger – mince it as if you were trying to turn it into a paste. Two sugar coating. In my most recent batch of these I used a big, flaked, smoked sea salt along with sugar to finish the cookies, so that is something to experiment with as well, but totally optional. I grind whole star anise in my spice grinder and then do a bit of sifting.

1/2+ cup large-grain sugar (i.e. turbinado)
2 cups spelt flour OR whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon star anise, finely ground
4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses (I use Wholesome Sweeteners brand)
2/3 cup fine grain natural cane sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 large egg, well beaten
1 cup crystallized ginger, then finely minced
2 lemons, zest only

Preheat the oven to 350F degree – racks in the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven. Line a couple baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat mat, place the large-grain sugar in a small bowl, and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, star anise, ground ginger, and salt.

Heat the butter in a skillet until it is just barely melted. Stir in the molasses, natural cane sugar, and fresh ginger. The mixture should be warm, but not hot at this point, if it is hot to touch let it cool a bit. Whisk in the egg. Now pour this over the flour mixture, add the crystallized ginger (make sure it isn’t too clumpy), and lemon zest. Stir until just combined.

I like these cookies tiny, barely bite-sized, so I scoop out the dough in exact, level tablespoons. I then tear those pieces of dough in two before rolling each 1/2 tablespoon of dough into a ball shape. From there, grab a small handful of the big sugar you set aside earlier and roll each ball between your palms to heavily coat the outside of each dough ball. Place dough a few inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until cookies puff up, darken a bit, get fragrant and crack.

Makes about 4 dozen or so.

And there you have it, 3 ways to stimulate digestion and circulate heat in an entirely doable, and delicious manner. Take that October!

How to Survive Eating Ice Cream

Your love
Is better than ice cream
Better than anything else that I’ve tried
– Sarah McLachlan

Alas, it’s that time of year again, Ice Cream Season! Hip hip! With summer comes the inevitable hankering for a massive waffle cone of Cherry Garcia . In Vermont the cremee stands are jam packed with people patiently (or not) waiting for maple soft-serve. Cool, decadent and delicious, who can pass that up? However, for many, eating ice cream can create sad and uncomfortable consequences. Gas, bloating, and all around digestive distress. Loads of side effects for one afternoon of hedonistic fun.

Before I provide you with an antidote to the heavy and cold qualities of ice cream, let’s geek out with some Ayurvedic theory.

The energetics of ice cream are the following:

Taste, or rasa = Sweet
Potency, or Virya (how it will affect the temperature of the body) = Cold
Post Digestive Effect, or Vipaka = Sweet

As a general rule, foods that have a sweet taste are thought to be primarily composed of the elements Earth and Water. These elements are building, they are what gives us substance and heft. It is recommended to consume all 6 tastes (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Pungent and Astringent) at each meal. These 6 tastes each contain two of the five elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether). By consuming all 6 tastes we are also making sure we are getting a bite of each elements in every spoonful.

Eating too much of any one taste can create an imbalance. For example, eating too much of the sweet flavor will increase Kapha dosha. Like the sweet taste, Kapha is also composed of the elements Earth and Water.
Consuming too much of the Earth and Water elements may lead to:

  • Allergies
  • Excess mucous (phlegm after eating anyone? )
  • Weight gain,
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inertia

Balance is key.

Due to its cold nature, ice cream will increase both Vata and Kapha. This is because both doshas lack the fire element. While this chilly dessert will pacify fiery Pitta, the production of ama, or toxins, is inevitable.

The reason why ice cream, or really any cold food for that matter, creates toxins is that it hampers the strength of the digestive fire. As a result, with a softer fire, food is not processed as efficiently, or sometimes at all. This will cause a thick sludge to build up and begin to clog the channels. Once the channels are blocked up, our health will be compromised and all hell breaks loose. 

Traditionally, in Indian, cold dairy plus sugar is perceived as a bad food combination.
However, if you are going to eat ice cream there are a few remedies to make this substance less inimical to your bod.

  1. Consume your cone during the Pitta time of day– roughly 12-2 PM (technically Pitta hours are from 10 AM-2PM, but if you are eating ice cream at 10 AM…well, this worries me) . Why these hours? This is the time when the sun is at its strongest, as is our digestive capacity. If you opt for ice cream during these hours, this allows for plenty of time to fully digest before hitting the hay.
  2. Have a ginger appetizer before you indulge. Take a small knob of ginger root and slice it into thin rounds. Add a squirt of lime juice and a pinch of salt. Consume 2-3 slices about 15 minutes prior to get your digestive fire blazing.
  3. Opt for ice cream flavors that have a bit of spice incorporated- such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, or even cayenne. There’s an ice cream shop in Great Barrington that sells a flavor called Mexican Chocolate. Delicious and loaded with cinnamon and cayenne, spicy and cooling at the same time.
  4. Cardamom: Cardamom is thought to be the VIP antidote to ice cream. Due to its mildly pungent and hot nature, it works to help balance both cold and sweet foods. When added to dairy products, cardamom helps to reduce the production of mucus. If you are one of those folks that feels slightly nauseous after consuming ice cream, consider cardamom your new best friend. Perhaps carry a tiny bag with you and sprinkle it on top of your next dish of ice cream.

*Bonus Tip- Cardamom can also be added to coffee to help neutralize the acidity.

Try one, try all 4 of these tricks and see how it goes next time you hit the freezer section. Your belly will surely thank you. 

Tired of Being a Crank? Hum to Boost your Spirits

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
-Maya Angelou

I must confess, getting out of bed these past few weeks has been grueling. When I hear the tolling of the Williston Federated Church bells each morning I inwardly cringe. Sigh. Hmmm…six rings, do I really have to get up?

I would love to blame it on the humidity, transitions, or that bomb American Flatbread brunch. However, I think it’s more likely that a bit of brain sludge, or tamas, has settled in. Perhaps the body’s intuitive wisdom opted to create a protective sheath during these times of transition. Whatever the case may be, it needs to leave- stat.

My latest tactic is Brahmari Pranayama, or Bumble Bee’s breath.

It is said that the humming alone can help open the lotus, conveniently stashed behind your breastbone, otherwise known as the heart. As Americans, or maybe human beings in general, we work pretty hard to keep our hearts closed off and protected. But that gets exhausting, take it from a true Scorpio cynic.

The vibrational sound Hum, or Ham, is actually the bija mantra for the element Ether. Putting this sound into practice can help create more internal spaciousness. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use some more space. I feel all cramped up, cranky and am a monster behind the wheel.

According to the  magical being Dr. Vasant Lad, “We strengthen our individual prakruti sound with brahmari”. I love this. I had no idea Prakruti, your own unique constitution, can even be altered.  By utilizing this practice one can possibly even fortify a more solid sense of self. 

Moving on.

What are some more intuitive benefits of this practice?
Brahmari helps:

  • Calm the mind
  • Allows one to feel more centered- Less vitriolic road rage
  • Expands consciousness- Yes, soon you will be reading people’s minds
  • Ailments of the throat- Adios strep
  • Relieves stress
  • Reduces Anger- Great for this Pitta time of year
  • Induces sleep- Who doesn’t love that?
  • Improves Thyroid functions- I assume sluggishness
  • Tones the Central Nervous System
  • Promotes Pratyahara- Gaining mastery over external influences, controlling the sense organs and going inward, Matrix style.

Dr Lad suggests that the humming sound also releases the following hormones:

  • Triptophane- the feel good dopey hormone that floods the system after post ginormous Thanksgiving dinner                                                                                                              
  • Serotonin- known to help with depression
  • Melatonin – helps with insomnia
  • Acetylchline- which allows for the relaxation of muscles. Who knows? Maybe brahmari will be happening in the labor units at the hospitals in a decade.

And the list goes on and on. One of my teachers had a client complaining of significant hearing loss. She was unable to use the phone or listen to music. He suggested doing Brahmari breath each morning. This woman was very dedicated to the practice and committed full force. So committed was she that she rigged up a system of two chairs to help hold her arms up when they got tired. Miracles of miracles, slowly her hearing began to return and she was able to use the phone unassisted. I love these success stories, they give me chills.

The hand positions are fun and reminds me of if you took the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkeys and mashed them into one. The fingers are meant to cover all the sense organs. The thumb covers the ears, or hearing. Peace fingers cloak your vision. Ring finger gently touches the nostrils (but does not close them off). Finally the pinkie fingers drape loosely over the mouth, the organ of taste and speech.

Ready? Why not give it a try?

Instructions for Bhramari Pranayama

  1. Find a comfortable seat that allows for an elongated spine.
  2. Gently close the lips- the teeth should not be touching
  3. Place your hands on your face:

Thumbs– Close off the ears
Index and Middle Fingers– Place gently over the eyes, do not apply pressure
Ring Fingers– Rest alongside the nostrils
Pinkie Fingers- Lay softly across the lips

  1. Take a deep inhale through the nostrils- drop the chin slightly towards the heart.
  2. Exhale slowly through the nostrils while creating a low-pitched humming sound. The sound is coming from the back of your throat- imagine a little honey bee buzzing around a sunflower.
  3. Repeat until you have completed a set – up to 10 rounds is good, don’t want to have to peel you from the rafters.
  4. Release the fingers, bring the head back to center and resume normal breath pattern.
  5. Pause to notice the imprint of Bhramari pranayama. 

Get cozy with your inner bee and see how this practice can positively change your life. 
Until next time.

CCF, the Miracle Tea of Ayurveda

Oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling
And I would still be on my feet
Oh, I would still be on my feet
– Joni Mitchell 

I know, I know, miracle is a pretty lofty word to be throwing around. But truly, this tea is kind of a life saver. A combination of three classical kitchen spices, cumin, coriander and fennel, together these seeds work to save your gut. I’ve been on the CCF wagon for the last few weeks and am delighted with the results. What inspired this new habit you ask? A phenomenal book called The Prime by Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary.

A few months back I was asked to write Ayurvedic book reviews for the website Everyday Ayurveda. The founder put out a call to contributors to ship their books to my home address and we would give them a shout out on EA. Coincidentally, Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary spotted the email and immediately shipped out her freshly published book, The Prime- Prepare and Repair your Body for Spontaneous Weight Loss.  Not only was I psyched to be getting free books in the mail, but this book actually looked legit (plus the author is stunning- just saying, she must be on to something).

An integrative neurologist and neuroscientist, Kulreet is a trail blazer in her field where she blends Ayurveda into her neurology practice. Similar to Dr. Akil Palansiamy’s tale in his book Paleovedic, Dr. Chaudhary grew up a 1st generation Indian-American. Until high school she ate a traditional Indian diet and followed a more simple existence. However, eventually she succumbed to the siren call of the western diet and lifestyle. Picking up the unsavory habits of processed food, technology and the “sleep is for the weak” mentality, her health began to take a dive. Achy joints, foggy thinking and malaise started to riddle her daily existence. The clincher was when she sought relief through migraine medication, pills she prescribes on the daily, and was shocked by the side effects of these drugs. A crisis of faith ensued. How can she, in good conscience, be giving out these drugs to her clients?

This is when Dr. Chaudhary rediscovered her roots and vitality through the indigenous medicine of her Motherland. Ayurveda allowed her to slowly regain her health. This was done through diet modification, slowing down, reintegrating meditation and healing the gut mucosa with tea, bone broth, fiber and other Ayurvedic herbs.

Inspired by her results, she started weaving Ayurveda into her neurology practice. Patients with ALS, MS, Parkinson’s and diabetic peripheral neuropathy all started seeing tangible results and relief from their haunting symptoms. In fact, her new protocol of addressing the root of disease through diet and lifestyle was so successful that her colleagues became concerned. They worried that with her effectively treating patients that she would ruin her “business”. This appalled her. Of course she wanted to cure the sick, isn’t that why one goes into medicine? So she wrote a book, to spread the love and encourage people to heal in their own home.

Thoroughly convinced by the validity of her evidence, I was eager to give this system a shot.  I, Miss Frugal, placed a rather substantial Amazon order (and yes, Chad, I know, Jet is better). The book is laid out in 4 stages. These stages are to be followed at a pace based on your current state of health, anywhere from 2-4 weeks a stage.

Stage 1 Includes:

  • Daily dry brushing, or garshana, which uses silk gloves
  • Sipping CCF tea throughout the day
  • Taking 1000 mg of Triphala each night
  • Flushing the system with extra fiber (psyllium husks and fiber) every other night

Tomorrow will wrap up my second week of stage 1. I’m moving back to New England, so I figure I will stick to stage one for a few more weeks, just to keep things simple. Anyway, I can say with authority that drinking CCF tea for these last 14 days has been a real game changer. My poop floats. Every. Single. Time. No joke. In Ayurveda, banana shaped floating poops are ideal. This means that nutrients have been properly assimilated and digested. Not to get too descriptive and vulgar, but I was usually more in the cow plop arena for my daily BM.

So what’s makes this CCF tea the miracle worker?

According to Dr. Chaudhary, the purpose of this tea is to

  • Heal the gut mucosa
  • Aid in the absorption of nutrients- Side note, most people are poor nutrient assimilators. How you absorb nutrients can be determined by the health of the nails and tongue. If the nails have vertical ridges this suggests sad assimilation. Similarly, if you notice that the edges of your tongue look bald or scalloped, this too points to low absorption.
  • Stimulates the lymphatic system- our lymph is basically like the garbage man of our body. Its job is to remove waste from the body. Unlike the venous system, the lymph does not have its own pump. The lymph needs a little cooperation from us. Lymphatic movement can be stimulated through massage, exercise and this tea!

Basically this tea helps to get things moving in and out of the body. The coriander is known to increase urine production, so be mindful of that if you are, say driving across the country or going to a Cub’s game.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but this tea should be consumed hot. The heat helps to scrub the body. Think about washing the dishes- if you use cold water is that effective? A cooler tea would actually cause a bit of blood constriction and inhibit the flow of the waste out.  What color are your toes after you submerge them in icy Lake Michigan water? Pale, right? A sign that the blood is not flowing as fluidly in this area. Cold creates constriction, heat opens up the vessels. The ultimate goal is to increase the blood circulation in the digestive system so that digestion becomes top notch and waste is sent south.

Let’s look at the merits of each of these herbs to further understand the magic of this tea.

Benefits of Cumin

  • Stimualtes agni (our digestive fire)
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Eliminates ama (toxins)
  • Relives Congestion
  • Contains antioxidants and iron
  • Soothes inflamed mucous membranes
  • Improves bowel function

Cumin pacifies both Vata and Kapha dosha. However, due to its slightly heating nature, Pitta may find that in excess, cumin will increase the fire element. However, the coriander and fennel work to balance the heat, so do not panic my Pitta pals.

Benefits of Coriander

  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves gas
  • Promotes urination
  • Helps with many pitta disorders- especially those of the urinary or digestive variety
  • Increases digestion and absorption
  • Treats intestinal disorders
  • Soothes indigestion
  • Decreases spasms
  • Reduces inflammation- even shown to help with Rheumatoid arthritis

Benefits of Fennel

  • One of the best herbs for strengthen agni without aggravating pitta
  • Stops cramping
  • Increases mental alertness
  • Promotes breast milk flow
  • Helps with IBS
  • Relaxes the digestive tract
  • Alleviates gas and indigestion
  • Increase the burning of fat
  • Appetite suppressant
  • Moves lymph

Good stuff, right? No more gas, a stronger digestion, increased fat burning, less toxins…And without further ado,  the recipe

CCF (Miracle- Poop Floating) Tea

Ingredients:

  • ½ tsp Cumin Seeds
  • ½ tsp Coriander Seeds
  • ½ tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 4-5 Cups of Water

Method:

  1. Heat the water in a stainless steel pot over a high flame
  2. Add the seeds- I ordered 1 pound bags off of AmazonStarwest Botanicals and Frontier are both great companies, organic and fresh.
  3. Allow the tea to boil for 5-10 minutes, depending on the preferred strength
  4. Strain the seeds
  5. Place in an insulated thermos and sip throughout the day- try and consume by 6 pm so you don’t have to piddle in the middle of the night

If you get into the habit of making this tea daily, here are some of my sloth ideas for ease. Procure a 7 day pill organizer- scoop ½ a tsp of each seed into the compartments so you are set for a week. Genius.

My other brainstorm is combining equal parts in greater quantities into a glass jar. Perhaps ½ cup of Cumin, Coriander and Fennel, shake to fully integrate. Each morning simply add 1 ½ tsp of the premixed blend to your water.

Sip this miracle tea and truly reap the health benefits. Floating poop, increased assimilation and a general overall glow and luster. Go get em tiger!

Lime Coconut Vegan Truffles

Tasting dark chocolate, a ripe apricot, a luscious elixir- savor the expanding joy in your body.
Nature is offering herself to you.
How astonishing to realize this world can taste so good.
When sipping some ambrosia, raise your glass, close your eyes, toast the universe.
The Sun and Moon and Earth danced together to bring you this delight.
Receive the nectar on your tongue as a kiss of the divine.

-Lorin Roche, The Radiance Sutras #49

Impress your pals with these phenomenal vegan goods. The heart of the truffle is crafted from raw walnuts, medjool dates and cocoa powder. In this variation I added lime and coconut to the mix. Feel free to substitute the lime for any other citrus zest, or dried fruit for that matter.

Both coconut and dates are praised in Ayurveda for being ojas superfoods. Ojas is the extraordinarily fine substance that courses through our body. It’s our radiance, our vigor.

Ojas is Responsible For:

  • Immunity
  • Glowing Skin
  • Top Notch Digestion
  • Physical Strength
  • Spiritual Inclination
  • Solid Sleep
  • Stable Moods

Ojas is the refined substance that occurs after digestion. Once all 7 tissues, or dhatus, are fed and nourished, the end products is glorious ojas. The classical Ayurvedic texts state that it takes 27-30 days to build ojas. Yes, masticating and digesting a carrot may take less than 24 hours, but to get to the goods takes time. Knowing that it takes almost a month to create ojas, it is critical to protect and nourish our ojas supply, as the quantity that courses through the body could fit in our cupped hand. But how do I know if I have done a stellar job protecting my ojas levels?

Your Ojas is Amazing if…

  • You bound out of bed each morning saying “Let’s Rock!” (Dr. Sunil Joshi)
  • Your skin positively glows sans Mineral Fusion’s sparkly primer
  • The tongue is pink and the mouth tastes clean- save for the occasional roasted garlic binge
  • You feel light and limber- despite pants size, hell it’s only a number
  • Your mind does not feel like a TV running non-stop with no remote in sight
  • You rarely have to take a sick day, you know, for actually being sick (wink)
  • Your feel grounded  with both feet planted firmly on the earth
  • Natural enthusiasm radiates from you- the world is your oyster
  • You smile and laugh

What Depletes Ojas?

  • Stress
  • Extreme Exercise
  • Constant Activity
  • Not Sleeping Enough
  • Not taking time for Self-Care
  • Poor Diet
  • Excessive Sexual Activity
  • Traumatic Events
  • Grief

What Builds Ojas?

  • Love, Love and more Love 
  • Laughter
  • Following your heart’s desire, whatever “Lights you up”
  • Volunteering- Selfless service
  • Nature
  • Yoga/Pranayama/Meditation
  • Whole, Fresh, Organic Foods- preferably home cooked
  • Nature- go visit the Botanic Gardens!
  • Snuggles with pets or family
  • Ample sleep, 8 hours is ideal

A quick note on chocolate: Be sure to get high quality, fairly traded organic chocolate. Not only do we want the farmers to be treated ethically and not sprayed with pesticides as they are harvesting, nor do we want small children harvesting the beans in lieu of going to school. I can’t speak for you, but I would love to see these farmers to be reasonably paid for their efforts. After all, they are harvesting the nectar of the Gods, pure ambrosia.

In addition, chocolate has an affinity with the breast tissue, so if you are electing to eat non-organic, you increase your chance of exposure to unnecessary and inimical pesticides and chemicals. These toxins are often found living in the fatty breast tissues. Fat is ultimately the number one storage bin for environmental pollutants and toxins. Thus, buy Fair Trade Organic, please. Peaceful chocolate bites.

Now that the educational bit is out of the way, let’s craft some ojas infused Vegan truffles.

​Lime Coconut Vegan Truffles

Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 14-16 Truffles
Ingredients:

1 Cup Raw Walnuts
1 Cup Medjool Dates, pitted
¼ Cup of Organic, Fair Trade Cocoa Powder
½ cup shredded, unsweetened, untoasted, Coconut
Zest of 1 Organic Lime
¼ tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
10 oz. 70%+ Organic, Fair Trade Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces

Optional Toppings-
Lime Zest
Flakes of Pink Salt
Coconut/Cocoa powder blend (1/3 cup shredded coconut to 1 Tablespoon Cocoa powder)

Preparation:

  1. Place walnuts and pitted dates into the bowl of a food processor equip with the S-blade. Whirl until the walnuts and dates become a homogenous clump. The texture will be similar to playdoh.
  2. Add the cocoa powder, coconut, lime zest and salt- process until all the ingredients are integrated.
  3. Carefully remove the blade from the food processor bowl. Place parchment paper on a plate or baking sheet. Roll the dough into walnut size balls and store  on the parchment paper.
  4.  Next, if desired, roll the truffles in the coconut/cocoa powder concoction. In a small bowl combine 1/3 cup shredded coconut with 1 tablespoon Cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. Roll the truffles in this mixture until evenly coated. Again, optional, but I like the texture variation. Refrigerate while you melt your chocolate.
  5. Craft a double boiler. Bring a medium size saucepan of water to a gentle boil. Place the dark chocolate chunks into a smaller saucepan that can comfortably fit on top of the medium pot. Allow the chocolate to slowly melt, stirring with a metal teaspoon. The purpose of melting the chocolate in this manner is it allows it to melt gently, without scorching, and it is a tempering shortcut, but yields a shiny, crisp shell of chocolate.
  6. Once melted, one at a time roll your truffle nugget in the chocolate until thoroughly coated. The teaspoon makes this extraordinarily easy. Simply tip the pot towards you so the chocolate pools. Return to the parchment paper.
  7. To kick these up a notch aesthetically, add a sprinkling of lime zest, coconut and pink salt before the chocolate hardens.
  8. Refrigerate, remove from fridge a half an hour before serving.

Enjoy!
Rejoice in your senses as you nibble, while savoring this thought- The Sun and Moon and Earth danced together to bring you this delight. Receive the nectar on your tongue as a kiss of the divine.

Kitchari, meet pesto. Pesto, meet Kitchari

Let life happen to you.
Believe me: life is in the right, always.
-Rainer Maria Rilke 

 Baby, it’s cleanse time! In the Ayurveda world, it is full on kitchari season. Twice a year, especially in the Spring and Fall,  it is ideal to give the body a rest and reset by performing a 3-10 day kitchari cleanse.

For those in the dark, kitchari is basically like the Indian version of chicken noodle soup. It’s similar to a risotto, composed of equal parts split mung dahl and basmati rice. These two are cooked to make a soupy porridge and sprinkled with a medley of spices that aid in digestion and assimilation.

This lovely golden substance (colored by turmeric) is consumed as part of a mono-diet. By eating a simple mono-diet, this gives the body a reprieve. The digestive system and liver are not overtaxed with complicated food combinations, thereby allowing time and energy to devote to restoring the body. Mending tissues, eliminating toxins and creating a sense of clarity are just a few of the benefits.

For me, self-study, swadhyaya, is the most fascinating part. If you have ever done a cleanse or a restrictive diet, you may have had this experience. It is truly interesting to see what cravings and aversions come up. For me it is always nut butter, always (squirrel). However, like with anything, once you get over the hump of day three, the cravings subside and the addictive tendencies fall away. This experience only works to strengthen what the Yogis call tapas, or discipline. And let’s face it, who can’t benefit from creating more discipline in their life?

As you can imagine, a mono-diet gets a bit boring. Yesterday, while scanning the fridge for additional veggies to throw in the pot, I felt a pang of guilt as I spotted the wilting basil I had purchased a few days prior to the cleanse. Kripalu always has this delicious cilantro chutney at their Buddha bar, so I decided to rig up a nice Pitta pacifying variety, no sugar, no jalapenos, and you know, poetic license.

Here’s an Ayur rundown of the top ingredients- coconut, basil, coriander seeds and spinach.

Coconut- A Gift of the Gods
With a sweet taste and a sweet post digestive effect, coconut is truly a balm for the warming times of year. Coconut has a cooling potency, making it top choice for those with a lot of fire in their constitution.

Despite its cooling nature, coconut can be used on Vatas because it has a substantial amount of saturated fat and is predominantly sweet.

The Actions of Coconut Include:

  • Refrigerant- funny word when applied to food and not an ice box, but it basically means cooling. Think about all the folks in the Philippines that consume a diet primarily made up of coconut, they are thriving and straight up glowing rather than constantly griping about the heat.
  • Diuretic- flushes out water retention
  • Demulcent- relives inflammation and irritation, both traits brought to you by Pitta
  • Emollient- You may have encountered this word on a bottle of Alba lotion, emollient means that it softens the skin. Coconut oil is a great choice for topical massage, but ingesting coconut oils can also bestow silkiness to the skin from the inside out. We become our food, right?

Coriander
Coriander seeds are astringent, bitter, pungent, and sweet. That’s pretty amazing, the only two tastes that are lacking, sour and salty, can easily be remedied by a squirt of lime juice and a dash of pink salt. 

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

Coriander has a cooling potency, which is often the case when bitter and astringent are part of the mix. These tastes tend to constrict, in turn creating a cooling affect. Think about how your fingers shrink in the cold and blood does not seem to be circulating.

The post digestive effect is sweet, which works to pacify Pitta and Vata.

The dosha karma suggests that it reduces all three, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Fun fact, this bad boy helps with parasites, just in case you like to roam around on farms barefoot.

Therapeutic Benefits of Coriander:

  • Carminative- helps decrease flatulence
  • Diuretic- Great for inflammation of the kidney and urinary issues
  • Nausea- great to chew on the tilt o whirl
  • Allergies- just in time for spring, Hari Om
  • Kindles digestive fire
  • Improves Digestion
  • Stimulates the Liver- I assume this is why it is good for Pittas, because let’s face it, Pittas can always use a bit of a bile flush to the old liver

Spinach
Pungent, bitter, sweet and astringent, like coriander, spinach nails 4 out of 6 tastes. Remember it is ideal to experience all six tastes in each meal (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent).  Spinach is pacifying to Kapha dosha but can increase Pitta and Vata in excess.

It exacerbates Vata because it has a cooling potency and revs up Pitta if you consume as much as Popeye, because it does have a slightly pungent post digestive effect.

Benefits of Spinach-

  • Alterative- works to restore the body to a natural state of health
  • Refrigerant- Cooling
  • Demulcent- again, helps with inflammation and irritation
  • Laxative- who can argue with this? Admit it, everyone feels better if they are pooping regularly
  • Soothes mucus membranes
  • Cleanse the blood
  • Rich in minerals and vitamins- can help to alleviate signs of anemia

Contraindications of Spinach-
Yes, they do exist. Do not eat spinach if you are showing signs of liver disease, gall bladder or kidneys stones or arthritis. Spinach can be quite difficult to digest and has a significant amount of calcium which can exacerbate stone conditions.

Ghee is the crowning gem of Ayurveda, it works to kindle agni and pacifies all the doshas. Boom.

Pink Peppercorns are amazing, if you haven’t tried them they are citrusy and aesthetically pleasing.

Pink Himalayan Salt is a mineral salt and is better for Kapha and Pittas because it does not contain as much of the water element as sea salt (both Kapha and Pitta contain water in their elemental makeup). This salt is not as heating and contains more minerals than sea salt.

Kitchari accessorizing time- After all, Green is really the new Black.

Basil Kitchari Kick-up Recipe

Ingredients-

  • 3 Handfuls of Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 3 Handfuls of Baby Spinach
  • ½ Cup of finely shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup of Ghee or Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp Pink Peppercorns
  • 1 Tsp Whole Coriander (dry toasted in a skillet if that’s your thing)
  • ¼ tsp Pink Himalayan salt
  • ½ Lime, Zest and Juice

Preparation-

  1. Place the basil and spinach leaves in a blender or food processor fitted with the s-blade. Pulse until the greens begin to breakdown enough to fit more ingredients.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and whirl until it becomes the desired texture.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  4. Add 1-2 Tablespoons to your next bowl of Kitchari to vary the flavor and monotony.

Damn, kitchari never looked so good. Happy Cleanse Season!
​FYI,  Beethoven’s Silencio is a great piece to accompany your cleanse. 

D.I.Y. Rishi Ginger Turmeric Tea

I learned that every mortal will taste death.
But only some will taste life.
-Rumi

This weekend I had the honor of assisting Hilary Garivaltis, the founder of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, as she led a group of fellow Chicagoans through a simple Ayurvedic cleanse. Being a huge fan of the kitchen, I eagerly offered to help with the cooking. Post kitchari and coconut kheer, I found myself with some extra knobs of ginger and turmeric and one Meyer lemon. I figured I didn’t want to schlep this stuff back on the train, so ventured to see what happens when these three things are boiled together.

Behold, a delicious, golden, earthy tea. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the results and have consumed it every day since. A sweet Nepalese man commented that this tea tastes exactly like Rishi’s Ginger Turmeric blend. It delighted him to realize that he could save cash and simply craft his own brew.

This blend is ideal to go along with a cleanse, as it collectively stimulates the digestive fire, brings down inflammation and pumps up the immune system. Before I give you the recipe, let’s dive into some of the Ayurvedic theory and benefits behind each ingredient.

Ginger (Sunthi)

Ginger is an incredibly powerful rhizome. For those that are not garden or herb nerds, a rhizome is a continuously growing horizontal underground stem that puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals. Thank you Wikipedia. Ginger packs a powerful punch and is one of the best ways to kindle the digestive fire.

Fresh ginger is pungent to the taste buds (rasa), has a sweet post-digestive effect (vipaka) and a heating potency (virya).
Despite being heating, it is actually a tri-doshic spice/herb. The spicy and heating nature of ginger works to decrease Vata and Kapha. Due to its sweet post-digestive effect, it does not aggravate fiery pitta constitution. That being said, please be mindful if you tend to run a little hot and notice if you become more sharp.  Anything with a heating virya will inevitably turn up the body’s thermostat bit by bit.

Ginger Can Offer Relief for-

  • Flatulence- just in time for Cinco de Mayo, ole!
  • Indigestion- ginger cranks up the digestive fire, allowing relief from digestive discomforts
  • Nausea- many pregnant women find ginger to be their new bff for morning sickness
  • Inflammation- goodbye tennis elbow
  • Pain- ginger is an analgesic, a fancy word for pain relieving
  • Headaches- the spicy quality of ginger can help shed brain fog and clear the mind.
  • Colds & congestion-  the hot/spicy nature of ginger can aid in liquefying mucus

Turmeric (Haridra)

Turmeric has become a rockstar as of late. Touted for its copious amounts of curcumin, the bright yellow compound that can dye clothes and your fingers. Turmeric has been getting lots of fanfare for its anti-inflammatory properties. Like ginger, turmeric is also a rhizome. 

Turmeric has the tastes of pungent, bitter and astringent. Astringent is the taste that basically leeches water from your mouth. Think about what happens when you eat an unripe banana or drink strong, unsweetened black tea, that sensation you experience is astringency.  

The vipaka, or post-digestive effect, is also pungent (remember that ginger was sweet).Finally, the virya, or potency is heating. Because it contains all three tastes that pacify Kapha dosha- bitter, pungent and astringent, turmeric is a  perfect choice for Kapha. However, the three tastes that balance Kapha increase Vata (Vata prefers Sweet, Sour & Salty, don’t we all?). The pungency and heating nature can also exacerbate Pitta dosha.

Benefits of Turmeric-

  • Kicks up digestion, boosts agni
  • Can kill worms or parasites- you know, if your child has a habit of swishing gravel around in their mouth
  • Alleviates constipation
  • Beautiful for the complexion, hello Cover Girl!
  • Natural Antibiotic
  • Improves circulation- adios cold hands and feet (unless they are cold due to impending nuptials, turmeric can’t help you there…at least I don’t think it can, better check the classics)
  • Decongestant

Lemon (Limpaka)

As you may have guessed, lemon’s rasa is sour. The post digestive effect is also sour. Like turmeric, lemons posses a heating virya. The heating nature of lemons decreases Vata and Kapha, while in excess, may aggravate Pitta (limes are a great substitute for Pitta).

The actions of lemon include-

  • Laxative
  • Relives thirst
  • Expectorant- gets the phlegm up and out
  • Stimulates digestive secretion (both the lemon peel and the juice)
  • Stomachic- improves the appetite, remember this come Thanksgiving

When life hands you lemons, make kick-ass tea. Let’s do this-

 Ingredients-

  • 3 inches of Turmeric Root- peeled and thinly sliced
  • Golf ball sized Ginger- peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 Organic Meyer lemon- rind removed with a peeler and cut in half
  • 5 cups Water

Method-

  1. Combine sliced turmeric, ginger and lemon peel in a medium saucepan
  2. Add water
  3. Over a Med-Hi flame, allow water to come to a boil then drop to a simmer for 5 minutes
  4. Remove from heat, allow to cool to a palatable temperature before adding the juice of the lemon. Feel free to toss the whole lemon in there once the juice has been extracted
  5. Sip throughout the day with your turmeric stained pinkie finger up

Might I also recommend listening to this heartbreakingly beautiful song below as you drink? Crying is also good when on a cleanse, just saying. Listen, you won’t be sorry. 

Cheers!

Strawberry Coconut Magical Pooping Bars

Water absorbed, cooked and out like a ripe banana.
– Dr. Sunil Joshi

Hell yeah, another amazing food find. This is a riff on a Paleo “dessert” recipe I found on the web a year ago, and finally got around to making last week. These treats have a trace amount of sugar, only the fructose from the strawberries, but have tons of added benefits.

Basically, anything with coconut is automatically okay in my book.
Coconut oil has come a long way over the past decade. No longer viewed as a diabolical saturated fat, rather, coconut oil has wowed the public and is now praised as a “superfood”.

Studies have found that Coconut oil-

  • Contains an astounding amount of beneficial fatty acids- including medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which have been proven to help the noggin, namely in issues such as Alzheimers and epilepsy.
  • The MCTs in coconut oil are said to improve 24 hour energy expenditure by 5%, potentially leading to substantial weight loss over the long term.
  •  The fatty acids found  in coconut oil are helpful in  killing inimical pathogens, and may even prevent infections. I’m not saying to ditch the malaria shot when you travel overseas, but perhaps coconut oil can be your backup.
  • Thanks to it’s bang up number of fatty acids, coconut oil can significantly reduce the appetite, thus affecting overall body weight and weight management over time.

Lightening Fast Ayurvedic Standpoint-

Coconut oil is cooling, great for those with fiery constitutions.
Great oil choice in the summer, externally and internally.
Oil is always a good thing, inside and out, so get your lube on.
These treats will help create an impressive bowel movement, whether you are looking for that or not. Senna, step aside. 

Behold, The Strawberry Coconut Magical Pooping Bars-


Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of coconut oil
  • ½ cup of coconut butter
  • 2 T of powdered, freeze dried strawberries
  • 2 T shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 2T of grated raw chocolate- Optional (I love Not Your Sugar Mama’s Pure & Simple)

Preparation:

DIY Strawberry Powder-

Place a handful of freeze dried strawberries in a food processor. Process until a fine powder is created, measure out 2 Tablespoons.
You can definitely add more than 2 T to the bites, I ended up adding dried strawberries slices on top, which made it taste like that Astronaut Ice Cream  you beg your parents to purchase at the Museum of Science and Industry.

DIY Coconut Butter-

Generally a small bag of dried, unsweetened coconut is enough to create ½ cup of coconut butter. Place the shredded coconut in the food processor, fitted with the s blade. Process for a few minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Eventually you will have a creamy, intoxicatingly delicious butter.

Preparation:

  1. In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the coconut oil and coconut butter. Once melted and homogenized, remove from heat.
  2. Add the strawberry powder. Gently whisk the strawberry powder into the coconut oil/butter mixture. Sprinkle in the 2 T of shredded coconut and integrate.
  3. Transfer this pale pink magic to a glass measuring cup with a spout. Options- Pour into a silicone ice cube molds and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or until firm. Or, simply pour into a glass storage container, electing a size that fits the thickness you want. You will have a little over a cup of strawberry coconut mix.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding the grated chocolate on top.
  5. Remove the strawberry coconut bites from the molds, or leave in their glass container, and store in the fridge.

I’m not entirely sure if it is necessary to keep these treats refrigerated. Coconut oil and butter are both okay left on the shelf. I feel these would be great travel foods, in lieu of smooth move tea. 

Cheers to monumental poops!

Use Your Voice- Udyana Vayu

If you can walk you can dance.
If you can talk you can sing.
-African Proverb

Singing therapy, my latest kick. Can striving to be like Maria Callas create a change in the matrix of your life? I say yes, absolutely.

It is my personal opinion that the majority of us walk around with a constricted throat and chest due to holding back. Reigning in our utsaha or enthusiasm and passion for life.

Examples:
1. What if someone sees me telling my stuffed moose how adorable he is and pegs me as a wacko?

2. Damn, the waiter brought me chicken enchiladas and I have been a vegetarian since 15. Sigh, I’ll just eat them so as not to offend the server. 

3. Hmmm, that remark stung and made me regress back to a 5 year old crying in the elementary school bathroom. Eh, I’m just going to take it and avoid eye contact for the remainder of the day.

So often I hear, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. But is it? I firmly believe that it is against our nature to be crass, cutting and hurtful. We are built on a foundation of love and are here to love all, exclude none. After all, love begets love, right? Reap what you sow.

Thus, let’s unlock that blocked energy and open the throat up to speak one’s truth. But first- time to geek out with some Ayurveda theory, hold tight, this gets good.

These past few weeks I had the honor of assisting the Kripalu School of Ayurveda as they dove deeper into Vata management with Dr. Sunhil Joshi. For those who have never seen or read the teachings of this passionate Vaidya, please google him. Simply not to be missed, a real gem in the Ayurveda world.

At one point during the week Dr. Joshi marveled at the magical ability of some to sing for hours without fatigue. Sadly, he explained, most of us are “bathroom singers” and do not have the natural capability to serenade the masses.

Joshi proclaimed with a wag of his index finger People that can sing are coherent and in touch with the universe, it is effortless!

This statement was followed by an examination of the importance of something called udana vayu, (Yes Mom, it sounds like Born on the Bayou). Udana gives us the ability to bring out something from the inside to the outside. It basically allows us to speak our truth rather than keeping it under lock and key in our chest.

In the wild, wild, West it is commonly held that speaking begins with the form and shape of the tongue. However, Ayurveda reckons that the inability to speak is not directly due to the tongue, rather it is due to inhibited or weakened udana.

The Vedic concept of speech is that udana vayu moves from manipura chakra in the navel to anahata chakra at the heart and then to vishuddhi chakra in the throat, where expression can occur. – Dr. Vasant Lad. Pg 114, Blue Text (Yes, that’s officially the new title of Volume 2- Textbook of Ayurveda-A Complete Guide to Clinical Assessment)

You may have heard of the five winds, or five vayus, that govern Vata dosha. For those not familiar with Vata dosha, Vata is the biological humor comprised of the elements ether and air. It’s responsible for all movement and communication throughout the body. Vata is King Tut, and without properly functioning and harmonized Vata, all goes hay-wire. No joke, we go bonkers.

Vata is divided into 5 vayus, or subdoshas: prana, udana, samana, apana and vyana. Oye, so much Sanskrit.

Each of these vayus has a governing element, primary site, function and direction. Basically, they each have a job and a home, living the dream. Today I am going to be primarily focusing on udana vayu. However, I think it’s pertinent that you have a smidge of background on prana vayu, as udana and prana are bffs, if they get upset with each other then you are in trouble. Udana and prana work in tandem, when udana gets disturbed, prana gets disturbed.

Prana is governed by ether and dwells in the head and brain. Its main role is to bring information and energy downward and inward. Prana is connected with all our higher cerebral functions. Prana is responsible for inhalation, so when you can huff the helium from hijacked birthday balloons to sound like “ALVIN!”…thank prana vayu.

Prana is responsible for some pretty heavy hitting stuff, such as the movement of:

  • Mind
  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Emotions
  • Sensations
  • Perception

Go Prana!

Udana, ruled by air, sets up base camp in the belly and moves upward through Kapha territory- namely the belly, diaphragm and chest. Alas, udana helps sweep the kapha house clean.  The directional pull of udana is upward and out. It is important to note that fire is the only element that moves upwards, thus it can be argued that there is some tejas (fire) commingling with the air element of udana.

Udana is responsible for our:

  • Strength (or Bala if you want to impress people with your mad Sanskrit skills)
  • Stimulating our memory
  • Speech and expression- A person cannot speak without exhalation
  • Maintaining normal skin color and complexion due to oxygenation.
  • Bringing anything unwanted up and out of the body, such as Co2, burps, sighs, phlegm, whistles…

Because udana aids in keeping the Kapha territory  clear of clutter, if it is suppressed or gets congested, typical symptoms of vitiated Kapha will rear their head. Udana helps a person rise like the phoenix from depression, confusion and attachment. 

Not sure if your udana vayu is weak? Here are some signs:

  • Difficulty with speech
  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Stuttering or muttering like Mike Teavee from J. Depp’s version of Charlie and Chocolate Factory
  • Lack of memory
  • Dearth of creativity
  • No sense of goals or direction– Hello Lauren from the ages of 17-33!

Woah, that was a lot of heavy Ayur theory. Time for the remedy.

How to Boost Udana Vayu:
1. Sing. May I suggest the NYC recording of Jesus Christ Superstar to get you going? The range of Judas is shocking. Imitate and play with the varying registers. You can actually modify the quality and sound of your voice in as little as a few months. It’s a real thing, I have at least three friends that can testify to the miracle of JCS voice training. 

2. Brahmari Breath- Bubble bee breath- see link for instructions

3. Journal and begin to log your ideas and truth to find out what actually lies beneath. Perhaps there is an inner poet dying to go to a Poetry Slam downtown. Why not?

4. Yoga postures- Shoulder Stand, Cobra pose, camel pose will all work to bring udana up.

5. Buff up your acting skills. Join a local community production, hit the theater or start imitating foreign accents- my favorite is Dylan Moran.

Dr. Lad lovingly states that “If udana is weak, indulging in actions such as jogging or jumping is like beating a tired horse.”
Lesson? Sit yo arse down, dust off the old guitar and warm up the vocal cords- one black beetle bled only black blood, the other black beetle bled blue… Can you feel a bubble of excitement in your throat? That’s udana bursting to get up and out. Sing  your heart out…literally. The world is dying to hear what you have to say, step up to the mic. 

Over and out.


Teff, the Breakfast of World Class Runners

At 1 a.m. we go for gold
At 1 a.m. when we we lost control
At 1 a.m., oh yeah
God d*mn, god d*mn

We don’t want to go home
– Matt & Kim 

Recently I discovered, and fell madly in love with this tiny little grain called Teff. Don’t dismiss this grain due to its size, or because it’s a grain (honestly, the grain aversion trend needs to end). A staple in Ethiopia, teff is loaded with iron. It has been suggested that due to the mass consumption of teff, and iron, that Ethiopians are some of the best long-distance runners on the planet.

Also known as Eragrostis and lovegrass, Teff ranges in color from reddish-chestnut, to the more classic ivory hue. This grain makes a terrific stand-in for cornmeal. Add teff to pie crusts, cookies or simply make into a polenta-like substance and throw on a griddle with some ghee. 

Popeye loves his spinach, but I surmise that when he is having a hankering for a sweeter breakfast, he would gladly glug down a bowl of teff porridge. This dish melds teff, with three different dried fruits- figs, prunes and apricots. Iron, fiber and flavor, oh my.

Prunes- love or hate them, we all know they help you poop. Fiber plus a bit more iron? Why not? Plus they turn silky, melt in your mouth smooth once cooked.

Turkish Figs- always remind me of sneaking Fig Newtons as a wee one. Pillow soft, super sweet, and full of crunchy seeds, figs are divine. Turkish figs also contain iron and a decent amount of fiber.

Turkish Apricots- add an aromatic/floral note to the pot. Yet again, more iron, Vitamin A and deliciousness.

Ghee- kindle your digestive fire, oleate internally (good for the brain) and add a bit of fat to create a buffer from the naturally occurring sugars found in the dried fruit.

Cinnamon- boosts digestion and assimilation, while aiding in elimination. Due to its heating potency, cinnamon works  to strengthen the old ticker and warm the kidneys. Say adios to cold hands and feet.
Cinnamon may be used to balance, or reduce, the more kaphic/heavy qualities of a meal, such as the inherent sweetness found in many grains.

Ginger- similar to cinnamon, helps with the digestion and assimilation of nutrients.  Ginger sends toxins and wastes moving out of the body.  

Cardamom– a carminative (prevents gas), this delicious spice helps decrease the amount of air in the stomach, thereby making digestion more efficient. Less burps, makes for happier coworkers, pets and/or lovers.

Teff Porridge of Champions 
Serves: 1
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 cup Water
1/3 cup Teff
Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt
2 each: Unsulfured Turkish Figs, prunes and Turkish apricots- chopped
1/4  tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground Ginger
Pinch of ground Cardamom
1 Tablespoon of Ghee (or brown butter)

In a small saucepan, bring the cup of water and Himalayan salt to a boil.
Slowly stir in the Teff*.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. The consistency should be that of a thick porridge.
Turn off the heat and leave covered, allowing the cereal to rest for about five minutes.
Dish up, and sprinkle with some additional cinnamon.
Savor while facing East, towards the rising sun,  add fire to fire. 

*Bonus tip- toast teff in a dry skillet prior to adding to the water. This adds a level of sophistication and complexity to this earthy grain. Totally optional.

Hope this herculean, iron boosting breakfast gives you the jump-start you need in the morning. While you’re at it, listen to the song below.
Get it.