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Root Veggie "Ojas" Soup

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A winter hero to warm up, root down, and replenish reserves

about 6 servings

This soup was inspired by a cooking class during my training at Kripalu. I added touches of Italian, French, and Spanish influences to show that Ayurvedic cooking can apply to any region of the world, as long as you look for qualities that balance the climate and/or your constitution.

3 tbsp olive oil

4 stalks celery

1 sweet onion or shallot (omit or decrease for pitta imbalance)

2 garlic cloves, smashed with back of knife to remove skins (omit or decrease for pitta imbalance)

1-2 “fingers” fresh turmeric**, peeled (or sub 1 tbsp ground turmeric)

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled

1 large tomato (I used Vermont hydroponic, could also sub small can of tomatoes)

Black pepper

1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 bay leaves

½ package of fresh thyme, about 2 bundles

3.5 lbs root veggies (carrots, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, celeriac aka celery root, parsnips, and butternut squash)

8 cups water

½ pound pasta (I used Tru Roots ancient grains elbows)


  1. Make sofrito, a slow and low flavor technique I learned from making Spanish paella: in a food processor, pulse celery, onion, garlic, fresh turmeric, and fresh ginger b/c ain’t nobody got time to chop all that.

  2. Slice tomato in half and grate using a box grater, saving the pulp.  Discard or compost the tomato skin (Ayurveda says that part of the tomato is inflammatory).

  3. Heat med/large dutch oven to medium heat, add olive oil, food processor veggies, tomato pulp, spices, and salt, stir and cook for about 5 minutes.  Turn heat down to low and cook as long as you can to develop a rich flavor base, until the mixture is a golden/amber hue but not burnt.  For a special event I cooked this for 90 minutes. The paella recipe I learned this from recommends 30-45 minutes. Think of this process as creating the ojas, the healing nectar of the soup.

  4. Add bay leaves, thyme, root veggies, and water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer until veggies are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

  5. While soup is cooking, make the pasta and the pesto (recipe below).  Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt generously (salty like the ocean!).  Cook pasta until tender and drain.

  6. Scoop about ½ cup pasta into bottom of a bowl.  Ladle about 1 ½ cups soup, then top with pesto and perhaps more olive oil. Serve with sourdough for a hearty meal.  

Quick and Dirty Instant Pot method:

  • Place all ingredients in steps 1-3 into instant pot and press “sauté”. Stir until veggies soften and become translucent, about 5 minutes, be careful not to burn (my IP gets so hot I must move quickly!).

  • Turn off sauté, add ingredients in step 4, seal lid and vent, and set Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 20 minutes.

  • Allow for natural pressure release (which could take 20-30 minutes), or at least 10 minutes. During this down time, make the pesto topper (recipe below) and pasta.

**Turmeric stains everything including countertops and nails, so wear gloves when prepping fresh turmeric and don’t chop on white surfaces :)

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Basil Pepita Pesto


½ cup Pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds, excellent for pitta!)

3 T Nutritional yeast

¼ cup olive oil

2 cups packed fresh basil

1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

Juice of ½ lemon plus some lemon zest

  • Optional step: roast pepita seeds at 300 degrees for 5 minutes and allow to cool before using.

  • In a food processor, pulse pepitas to a coarse dust.  Add nutritional yeast, salt, and basil and blend. With processor running, add lemon juice and olive oil until the mixture is smooth and bright green.  Top with some grated lemon zest for added vibrancy.

Pepita seeds are a good source of plant protein, and nutritional yeast is fortified with B12, so this is a great vegan condiment to have on hand.  This makes just about everything taste better!

Nutella Cookies

I used to eat Nutella by the spoon and can no longer keep it in the house. These are a healthy tribute to Nutella and are vegan/GF.

Cacao is high in minerals like magnesium and antioxidants, and the subject of many studies on boosting circulation and concentration.

I’ve found conflicting qualities of cacao related to Ayurveda. Cacao is both bitter and heating, and can possibly aggravate vata and pitta. But I actually think the heat is good for vata and bitter is good for both kapha and pitta. Bottom line: enjoy in moderation and observe how this superfood makes you feel in the body and the mind.

Nutella Cookies

Makes 9 small cookies (well 10 but I ate 1 as I was making them)

1 flax egg (*see note below)

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp fancy salt (I used Nantucket rose salt, you can also use coarse Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt)

1/4 cup raw cacao powder (you can buy cacao powder, or you can grind your own from cacao nibs in a coffee grinder)

3/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup oat flour

1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, crushed (I bought them from fastachi in Beacon Hill and then crushed them in the bag with the back of a knife)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium mixing bowl, make flax egg by mixing 1 tbsp ground flax seeds with 3 tbsp water, let sit for a couple minutes to thicken while you gather your other ingredients.

  2. Add coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup, spices, salt, and baking powder. Mix well with a fork.

  3. Add cacao powder, almond meal, and oat flour and mix well. Fold in hazelnuts.

  4. Scoop out a tablespoon per cookie onto a baking sheet, then gently press down with a fork to flatten a little. I use a cast iron baking tray that never sticks, if you fear sticking, grease your sheet with some coconut oil or line with parchment paper.

  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Option: fold in a tbsp of mini dark chocolate chips for decadent melty-ness.  

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New Years Blood Cleansing Pitta Juice

Beautiful in color, sweet and delicious, with blood cleansing beets….this felt like the perfect way to start 2019.

Balancing pitta (linked to the fire element in the body) is important for healthy complexion, metabolism, hormones, and emotions like patience and compassion.

I made this more Ayurvedic compared to popular smoothies by omitting ice, dairy, nut milk or nut butter, and complicated extras like protein powder. When it comes to digestion, more is not better. Keep it simple!

This contains 5 of the 6 tastes (besides salt, which I’ll get later in the form of miso soup!), helping to nourish the entire body. Bitter and astringent are often lacking this time of year as we are all maxed on sweet and salty.

Sweet: apple

Sour: lemon

Pungent: ginger

Bitter: beets, beet greens, celery

Astringent: pomegranate, beet greens, celery

Serves 2

Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate *

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 small red beet, rinsed well, peeled and chopped

1/2 apple, chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

juice of 1/4 lemon

2 beet leaves, rinsed well

room temp water (about 2 cups)

Place pom seeds, celery, beet, apple, ginger, and lemon in blender and blend on low to mix. Add water, increase speed, and add the beet leaves one at a time, making sure the color is still vibrant as hell.

*Tip for prepping pomegranate:

  1. slice in half

  2. fill a large bowl with cool water

  3. remove seeds from flesh under water, discard flesh

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Miso To-Go

Cubed tofu (my fave is The Bridge, sold at WF)
Chopped scallions
1 heaping tbsp miso paste
Side of seaweed crisps, or chopped greens like baby spinach or bok choy

Place all ingredients except seaweed in glass jar or soup thermos. When it’s time for lunch, add hot water and mix well with fork to incorporate the miso paste. Add seaweed crisps and stir again.

This new soup thermos by Japanese-American company Top Drawer makes all my portable Ayurveda dreams come true so I can avoid a microwave and still have a warm, nourishing, homemade meal. 2 minutes. F*ck yes!

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Yogi Breaky

Brookline farmers market score.

Brookline farmers market score.

The classics recommend doing yoga on an empty stomach, but if you need something very light and digestible before class, or before any morning workout, this is a super fast Ayurvedic recipe to elevate your apple-a-day.

Ingredients:

1 large farmers market apple or pear, chopped

2 cloves

1 stick cinnamon, or sprinkle of cinnamon and/or cardamom

1 cup water

Method:

In a small saucepan, bring water and spices to boil. Add apple, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Pour apple cooking liquid into a teacup to sip “spiced cider tea” on the side.

Cozy things all day everyday.

Cozy things all day everyday.

Other ideas:

  • Serve atop oatmeal for “healthy apple crisp”

  • Double/triple recipe and blend with a hand blender to have quick applesauce; serve as is, or add maple syrup, ghee, and rose or herb salt for flavor explosion

Ayurvedic application: a “tridoshic” recipe win

  • Cooking fruit is great for balancing the cold, crispness of vata season, or for people with a delicate vata digestion.

  • Sweet fruits cool and take the edge off pitta people.

  • The warm, light quality of this dish won’t weigh down kapha.

This delicious no waste water idea is from Divya Alter’s cookbook What to Eat for How you Feel.

Squishy Squashy Cheezy Pasta with Greens

Cheesy pasta with basil.  Side of zucchini ribbons, and kale with Ayurvedic spice blend.

Cheesy pasta with basil. Side of zucchini ribbons, and kale with Ayurvedic spice blend.

Cheese sauce:

1/2 cup cubed squash, like kabocha squash, butternut, or honeynut

1/2 cup nuts (cashews, walnuts, or pepitas for nut allergy)

1 cup cloudy pasta water

juice of 1/2 small lemon

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt

1 tsp miso paste (optional)

pasta of your choice (I used chickpea elbows)

1 bunch swiss chard, kale, or baby spinach

herbs like fresh basil or thyme (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Toss squash with ghee or olive oil, a little salt, and roast for 25 minutes or until tender.

  2. While squash is roasting, bring big pot of salted water to boil. Cook for 8 minutes or according to instructions.

  3. Heat small pan with 1 tsp ghee or olive oil. Add greens and sauté until bright green and wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and turn off burner.

  4. In blender or food processor, mix sauce ingredients until smooth, add extra water as needed, slowly. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

  5. Drain pasta and put back in the pot. Add squash sauce and mix. Divide into bowls, top with olive oil, good salt, herbs, and greens.

Uncoffee To Go

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  • 1 packet chaga mushroom elixir (I use this)

  • 1 tbsp dandy blend herbal coffee supplement

  • 1 tsp maca powder (like this)

  • 2 cups water

  • optionals: nut milk, cardamom, or bullet style (with tsp ghee or coconut oil)

While water is boiling, place all ingredients into stainless steel thermos. Take water off heat, let sit a couple minutes. Add to thermos, shake and pour.

Chaga: medicinal mushroom good for gut and immune health

Dandy blend: dandelion root used for herbal energy

Maca: Peruvian superfood for endurance/stamina/sex health

Miso Soup with Shiitakes

Warm, umami, filling, nourishing. All six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent.

Warm, umami, filling, nourishing. All six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent.

Miso soup is comforting, mega umami, fast and kind of impressive to make at home. It’s a complete meal, though you could serve with scallion/sesame white rice on the side if you are extra hungry.

In the book Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health, Finnish mushroom expert Tero Isokauppila writes about these benefits of shiitakes:

  • improves complexion

  • supports liver

  • lowers cholesterol

  • used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to enhance “chi” and prevent aging

  • contains 7/9 essential amino acids (protein building blocks)

  • contains amylase and cellulase which aid in digestion

  • good source of magnesium and potassium

  • its an immunomodulator (“contains the polysaccharide lentinan which activates white blood cells to fight infection”)

  • has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties

Mushrooms are earthy, and in Ayurveda can be heavy and dulling to some people (especially kapha types), but I find mushrooms to be deeply grounding and calming this time of year.

This recipe contains all six tastes:

  • sweet: sesame seeds, tofu, and mushrooms (sweet taste in Eastern medicine also refers to the grounding or nourishing qualities of certain foods)

  • sour: fermented miso paste

  • salty: Himalayan pink salt, the best salt for high blood pressure (in small quantities)

  • pungent: green onion, miso paste

  • bitter: greens, sesame seeds

  • astringent: greens

I make some version of this on the weekly. See variations below. Let me know if you attempt this and any questions. XO

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Ingredients (serves 2):

2 tbsp ghee or olive oil

2 big handfuls shiitake mushrooms, sliced or torn

Himalayan pink salt (a pinch)

2 handfuls chopped greens (like kale, chard, collards, or spinach)

1/2 block tofu (I love Bridge tofu from CT found at WF)

4 cups water

2 tbsp miso paste (I used South River chickpea miso, can also use sweet white miso)

1 tbsp dulse flakes (optional, it’s Maine seaweed and provides minerals and a little salty taste), can sub seaweed crisps

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 green onion, green part only, sliced very thin

1 handful basil, chopped or torn

  1. In a med pot, heat up ghee and fry shiitakes until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Stir every few minutes and season with salt.

  2. While mushrooms are cooking, slice the tofu into chunks the size of iphone 4. Press tofu between paper towels to dry out. Chop into little bites and push off to a corner of your cutting board.

  3. Chop greens (remove tough stem if using kale or collards) and push to another corner. Chop scallions and basil.

  4. When mushrooms are golden, scoop out of the pot into a bowl and set aside.

  5. Add water to the same pot without cleaning it, bring to boil then throw in greens. Reduce to simmer for 2-4 minutes until bright green. Add tofu and cook 2 more minutes.

  6. Turn off heat. In a cup (I used a 2 cup glass pyrex measuring cup) ladle about 1/2 cup of the broth and add miso paste. Mix completely with a fork or whisk. Add mixture back to the pot along with sesame seeds, dulse flakes, scallions and basil.

    Note: Do not boil miso, it kills the good enzymes, which is why it has to be mixed off heat and poured back :)

Variations:

  • add roasted cubed pumpkin or sweet potato in place of mushrooms

  • soy free: add soft boiled eggs instead of tofu, replace soy miso with chickpea miso or barley miso

  • rotate greens for micronutrient variety

To Go Instant Miso Soup:

  • In a mason jar, add chopped tofu, sauteed shiitakes, greens that wilt fast (like baby spinach), chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, and 1 tbsp miso paste. Cover and refrigerate at work. At lunch, add hot water to mason jar, mix miso paste with fork, and enjoy hot soup without a microwave.

Slice tofu then press between paper towels

Slice tofu then press between paper towels

Two cups of shrooms cook down quite a bit. Brown them!

Two cups of shrooms cook down quite a bit. Brown them!

One pot meals rule. This was done in 20 minutes!

One pot meals rule. This was done in 20 minutes!

 

Hummus: 3 methods

Lunch board with hummus, veggies, fresh sourdough, and all the toppings

Lunch board with hummus, veggies, fresh sourdough, and all the toppings

 

1. Instant Pot No Soak 

 

2. Instant Pot Pre-Soak

 

3. Traditional Simmer with Pre-Soak

 

 

Pic from Minimalist Baker, recipe  here

Pic from Minimalist Baker, recipe here

Homemade hummus is a luxury.  It's smooth, warm, and mega flavor party in your mouth.  It makes an impressive appetizer for entertaining, and can be a bed for cool toppings like tabbouleh as in Minimalist Baker's Shawarma Dip (a big hit at the NBA draft party I went to earlier this summer). 

In a blind taste test (with many design flaws including lack of standardization, full disclosure!), my man enjoyed hummus #2 the best.  My fave was the OG #3 but they were all so good I'll probably keep making #1 or #2 since it was fast.  Soaking beans takes zero extra hands on time, you just need to have the beans ahead of time.

I added kombu seaweed to the beans which is said to help them digest better due to the minerals/enzymes in the seaweed.  I'm obsessed with sea veggies because I love all things Asian, plus they have sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and other trace minerals that we need for healthy bones and electrolyte balance.  You can find kombu in the Asian section of Whole Foods or on Amazon here.  

Other ways to enjoy homemade hummus:

  • on sandwiches with thin cukes, sprouts, and avocado
  • open face toast with tomatoes, evoo and good salt
  • on salads 
  • as a creamy dressing base by adding lemon, more tahini, water and salt to taste, shake in a jar
  • on Swedish crisp bread
  • with par-cooked carrots
  • on tender lettuce boats
  • seaweed chips
  • on steamed broccoli with olive oil, lemon zest and nutritional yeast

I hope you enjoy this cooking science experiment, feel empowered to make your own and ditch the can!

 

1. Instant Pot No Soak

Pros: 

Fast

Hands off

Cons: 

Texture a little sticky, needed more tahini/water/lemon

 

2. Instant Pot Pre-Soak

Pros: 

Fast

Hands off

Delicious

Smooth

Cons:

Need to plan and soak beans overnight (8-12 hours)

 

3. Traditional Simmer with Pre-Soak

Pros: 

Traditional method makes me feel super old school and un-rushed, and I like that

Tastes delicious and good texture

Probably the most healthy for digestion since the beans are soaked and boiled slow

Cons:

Requires planning and several hours.  But it becomes a "pro" when you make it a good weekend project while you clean and do laundry.  

 

You will need:

1 cup organic dried chickpeas

1 sheet kombu (dried seaweed)

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup tahini

2 tbsp evoo (extra virgin olive oil, I like a good organic California type)

3/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt

1/2 cup reserved chickpea liquid

1 clove garlic (optional)

 

Method 1: Full on Instant Pot No Soak

1. Rinse/drain chickpeas in a mesh strainer and add to instant pot with 4 cups water and 1 sheet kombu.  Close lid and make sure vent is set to "sealed" position. 

2. Set to manual high pressure, 35 minutes.

3. When time is done, allow full natural pressure release (takes about 25 minutes).  If you are short on time, allow natural pressure release for 15 minutes and then do a quick pressure release.  

4. save 1/2 cup chickpea liquid, discard kombu seaweed and drain beans.

5. In food processor, pulse beans into paste.  With blade running, add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt.  Lastly, add chickpea liquid slowly until you reach a texture you like (might need more or less liquid).  Taste and adjust seasoning.

6. serve warm, make a center indent with a spoon and pour in a puddle of evoo.  Serve with sliced cukes, warm sourdough bread, seaweed crisps, par-boiled carrots, or tender lettuce cups.  

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Method 2: Pre-Soak beans then finish in Instant Pot

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1. Rinse/drain dried chickpeas then place in large bowl and fill with cold water.  Cover with tea towel 8-12 hours or overnight.

2. Rinse/drain and follow instructions for method 1, but decrease instant pot time to 25 minutes.  

 

 

 

 

 

Method 3: Original Gangster Traditional "I Have All Day Long and Like To Do Things Slowly" Soak and Simmer 

Traditional method in my Le Creuset dutch oven, any big pot works 

Traditional method in my Le Creuset dutch oven, any big pot works 

1. Rinse/drain dried chickpeas then place in large bowl and fill with cold water.  Cover with tea towel 8-12 hours or overnight.

2. Rinse/drain and place in large pot, cover with several inches of cold water, add kombu seaweed to the pot.

3. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook until beans are tender and can easily be mashed with a fork (took me over 2 hours).  Skim off any foam.

4. Follow instructions for hummus in Method 1 :)

 

 

Where does Ayurveda fit in?

Fresh food has more prana or life force.  Canned or packaged food lacks prana and increases tamas, which can lead to heaviness or dullness in the body, skin, and the mind.  Eating foods with high prana like fresh fruits and vegetables and homemade food infuses your body and mind with more vitality and creativity.  

Vata: if you have a vata constitution, you have erratic digestion, tend towards gas with beans, or tend to feel anxious or overwhelmed, definitely eat this warm.  Serve with fresh sourdough bread or as a topping for steamed veggies (think warm and cooked, not cold and raw).

Pitta: if you are a pitta constitution, you have strong digestion, you tend towards inflammed or red skin rashes, and your mind is sharp and sometimes critical, balance your internal heat with things that cool, like bitter greens and veggies.  Serve hummus on sliced cukes, roasted beets, baby spinach, or red leaf lettuce boats. 

Kapha: if you are a kapha consitution, feel congested, have extra weight, sluggish digestion, or feel foggy or dull, balance with light, dry and pungent.  Seaweed crisps, bitter greens, steamed broccoli, or steamed collard wraps are best for you.  

 

 Enjoy!

Namaste,

Lauren

 

 

 

10 Ayurvedic Travel Hacks

A kit I packed for my man for his trip to London.  

A kit I packed for my man for his trip to London.  

 

Traveling is stressful on the body and mind.  The anxiety around packing and planning, weather delays, traffic to the airport, getting through security taking off your damn shoes, traveling across time zones and interfering with natural circadian rhythm.  Ultra endurance coach Chris Hauth says it takes 1 day for every new hour of time zone for the body to adjust.  Ain't nobody got time for that!!

According to Ayurveda, the OG of holistic medicine, travel falls into the category of vata.  Vata is the energy that governs all movement, whether that’s in the mind, the body, or our environment.  Vata has a spectrum of balanced and imbalanced. 

  • In the mind it ranges from brilliant creative thoughts to paralyzing anxiety.  
  • In the body, vata makes us run like a well oiled machine through the cellular intelligence of peristalsis, neuromuscular movement, respiration, and normal sinus rhythm of our heartbeat.  Imbalanced vata in the body can lead to digestive problems, neurological issues, respiratory distress and cardiac arrhythmias. 
  • In our environment vata moves as the wind, from a cool refreshing breeze, to a turbulent hurricane. 
  • Vata season runs from fall to winter, when it's cool and crisp.  

 

 

 

When you sit on a plane you are flying at about 600 miles/hour.  That movement alone is thought to accelerate and derange normal functioning in our body which can weaken our immune system.  By learning how to balance vata, you can enhance your metabolism, immune health and overall vitality.  Here are some modern travel hacks, influenced by ancient wisdom, to reduce stress efficiently so you can roll up to your destination with energy.

    

1. Drink plenty of hot water.  Traveling is so dehydrating and can cause constipation, headaches and dry skin.  I picture sad shriveled cells.  Pack a stainless steel thermos to fill up at a coffee shop once you get through security.  Hot water has a cleansing effect on the body, like doing dishes with hot water.  Avoid cold, iced, or bubbly drinks which can exacerbate "travel belly".  

  • Tip: pack ginger tea.  Ginger boosts digestion, metabolism, dissolves congestion and strengthens the immune system. 

 

2. Eat warm soupy food.  Soup is hands down the easiest food to digest.  Cold, dry and raw food can cause uncomfortable gas and bloating.  This is tough because travel/convenience food is typically dry and raw: nuts, dried fruit, chips, and granola bars.  Here are 3 ideas:

  • Choose oatmeal at Starbucks or a coffee shop.  If you top with dried fruit and nuts, allow time for them to soak before eating.  Soaking helps soften for best digestion and assimilation.  

 

  • BYOSS: bring your own super seeds. Pack a small jar with 2 tbsp chia seeds (omega 3s), 1 tbsp cacao powder (magnesium), dash of cinnamon and cardamom powder (calming sweet spices).  Order a steamed soy milk, which is typically already sweetened, stir in your baller bag of super seeds and let soak for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

  

  • Pack cup of soup.  Light as a feather, cheap as hell, this packs easy.  I love Dr. McDougall's vegan brand, found at Whole Foods or Amazon, or this miso ramen from Trader Joe's.  I mean, Trader Joe's for the win guys.  Add the hot water from your thermos or ask politely for some on the plane. 
Cheap as hell, packs light, can't beat it.  

Cheap as hell, packs light, can't beat it.  

Sitting at Logan Airport, chilling because I got my breaky hack.  FYI this needs a good stir and 5 minute soak.  

Sitting at Logan Airport, chilling because I got my breaky hack.  FYI this needs a good stir and 5 minute soak.  

Just add hot water.  Bring your stainless steel thermos and fill up at Starbucks or on the plane.   

Just add hot water.  Bring your stainless steel thermos and fill up at Starbucks or on the plane.   

 

3. Nourish the ears.  Vata plays a role in both sound and touch, so listen to something soothing.  Create a playlist on Spotify and download to your phone before you board.  My fave jazz guys are Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery, or I'll listen to any of my yoga playlists (you can friend me and listen).

 

4. Eat as light as possible.  This will depend on the length of your flight and the advice from your healthcare provider.  Preflight have a grounding cooked meal like a big bowl of oatmeal, quinoa porridge, or soup.  If your flight is 1-4 hours, try to fast on the plane.  Fasting between meals stimulates agni, or digestive fire.  For longer flights, refer to tip #2 for easily digestible foods, and experiment with waiting 3-4 hours between meals.  Drink plenty of hot water or tea in between.  

 

5. Have a Red Eye Sleep Plan.  No hack can truly replace sleep.  Use a yogic approach and withdraw your senses to coax yourself to sleep.

  • Put the tech down and rest your eyes on a real book.  Not only is this better for your natural sleep hormones, it's also super romantic and intriguing these days to see someone with a real book, right?  

  • Sip a natural sedative like reishi, in these portable packets.

  • When you're ready to sleep, cover your eyes with a mask and put in ear plugs.

  • Drape a sign around your neck that says "Do Not Disturb." JUST KIDDING hehe.  

 

6. Take triphala.  Triphala is an Ayurvedic herb blend that means "3 fruits."  It includes amalaki fruit, a powerful antioxidant that is used to reverse aging and promote longevity.  It also rejuvenates the lower intestine, preventing travel belly.  Consult with your doctor, but this is generally safe to take every night you are on vacation.  I use Banyan Botanicals, here.  

 

7. Save the booze for your arrival.  Alcohol is mega dehydrating, sleep disturbing, and has a "reducing" or depleting effect on the body including reproductive, nervous, and immune systems.  Save it for your arrival when you can celebrate your destination. 

 

8. Oil up.  Vata rules the sense of touch.  We can feel irritable and ungrounded when traveling, but oil acts like a protective barrier to the nervous system. 

  • Self oil massage, called abhyanga (AB-ee-anga), is a luxurious act of self love.  Before you fly, massage coconut oil into your whole body.  Even better for dry skin types is this sesame herbal blend.  Rinse off in the shower and gently pat dry.  Armored up! 
  • You can also do your abhyanga once you arrive to your hotel.  Oil your skin lovingly (or at least your feet), then rinse off in a steamy shower.  The effect of this combo in unreal, as if you had a deep tissue massage and steam room, in 10 minutes.    

 

  • Tip: Choose natural.  Our skin absorbs what we feed it into the bloodstream, so natural oils, toners and lip balms beat chemical products.  Think about how skin absorbs things like a nicotine, pain, or birth control patch, so feed it what you might feed your belly.  

 

9. Calm the mind.  Take advantage of having too much time on your hands to experiment with breath work, known as pranayama.  Prana means life force or vitality, so this practice can leave you feeling both relaxed and full of life.  

  • Alternate nostril breathing (hands free version): balances the nervous system and can be done anywhere, discretely.  I do this as the plane takes off, an anxious time for me!

    • Close your eyes and deepen your breath.  As you inhale, visualize breath traveling up the left side of your body, across the bridge of your nose.  As you exhale, watch the breath travel down the right side of your body.  Inhale, watch your breath travel up the right side, across the bridge of your nose, exhale breath down the left side.  Repeat for 1-20 minutes.

  • If you've never taken a conscious breath, 1 minute is an accomplishment!  Bonus if you can stick to 1 minute every day of your trip.    

 

10. Schedule rest/oration.  Sometimes our itinerary is so full it can feel exhausting.  Even if you don't typically nap, a quick rest midday could refill your cup and fuel more adventure.  Vata time of day is between 2am-6am and again at 2pm-6pm, the latter being a time energy levels often dip and we seek out coffee and sugar.  Consider that a perfect time for a nap, legs up the wall pose, meditation, or savasana on the floor.  This might reduce that run down feeling of needing a vacation after your vacation.  

 

Don't get overwhelmed attempting all of these suggestions at once.  Pick 1 or 2 that speak to you and become aware of how your body responds.  

If you want more vata balancing tips, sign up here for my workshop "Fall into Ayurveda" at Coolidge Yoga Brookline, October 7th.  We will dive deep into what foods to favor this fall, how to start a 3-5 day seasonal cleanse (with a family style kitchari), and finish with a yoga practice to embody balanced vata.  

 

Happy travels and Namaste!

XO

Lauren

 

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These recommendations come from my training as an Ayurvedic Health Counselor.  Before implementing any diet or lifestyle chances, consult your healthcare provider. 




 

 

Ripe Tomato Toast and How to Buy Bread

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Bread gets a really bad rap now, and I can see why.  It's so different than what our grandparents ate, or what you get from a Parisian boulangerie.  Why is it that people who visit Paris eat a sh*t ton of bread and feel fine?  For sure there are a lot of variables: the walking, the slow mindful meals (you will NEVER find a Parisian walking and eating or eating and driving!), the freshness.....but it's the short natural ingredients list as well.  

 

 

 

Here's how to buy and eat bread:

1. Read the label. 

The bread that sits on a store shelf for months at a time contains low quality oils and other confusing ingredients to stabilize the product.  There are sometimes LOADS of ingredients in that bread (check out the flour tortillas below).  If it can sit on the shelf that long, what kind of impact is it having in our body?  If the microbes on the shelf aren't into it, neither are your gut microbes! 

In Ayurveda, processed food creates ama, or toxic accumulation and inflammation that can lead to disease.  An ideal bread has 4-6 ingredients: flour, water, salt, sourdough, and sometimes seeds or dried fruit.  That's it!  Sourdough, according to Kripalu faculty Dr. John Douillard, "gobbles up the gluten" making it easier to digest.  Be a conscious consumer and don't fall into this trap:  

Typical laundry list of ingredients in whole grain "healthy" whole grain bread including the very low quality soybean oil.  

Typical laundry list of ingredients in whole grain "healthy" whole grain bread including the very low quality soybean oil.  

Get down with real: 

Iggy's "Francese" Sourdough from Cambridge, MA, at Whole Foods

Iggy's "Francese" Sourdough from Cambridge, MA, at Whole Foods

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2. Shop local. 

Every little town, like my hometown of Mattapoisett, MA, has a bakery (Shipyard Galley) that makes their own bread.  Support small business and your belly at the same time!

3. Choose sourdough or sprouted bread. 

All grains and beans have anti-nutrients called phytates that allow the seeds to lie dormant, so traditional slow processes like soaking, sprouting and fermenting grains break down the phytic acids, lowers gluten, lowers glycemic index, and makes them easier to digest (Douillard).  Because sprouted grains break down phytic acids, they are able to retain more nutrients including include folate, iron, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and protein (Godman).  Ezekiel sesame bread is my favorite sprouted bread. 

Tip: Sprouted bread is often kept in the frozen food section because it's fresh AF, does not contain preservatives and will go bad on the shelf (so put it in your freezer as well).  

4. Eat bread during bread season. 

Yes even bread has a season, it's not something to consume all day everyday all year long.  Many people with food sensitivities are told to eliminate gluten from their diet, but that might not be necessary, and completely eliminating a food group can have side effects as well.  Wheat enhances the microbiome.  Eliminating wheat entirely if you don't have celiac eliminates the good bugs for your body. 

In Ayurveda, fall and winter are the appropriate times to eat wheat.  Wheat has nourishing, grounding, sticky, sweet and cooling properties.  It helps build our tissues and ground our mind.  Our agni (digestive fire) is strongest in the winter and can break it down much better than spring or summer. 

Dr. Douillard's research in his book, Eat Wheat, points out that we produce more amylase, the digestive enzyme that helps break down gluten, in the fall and winter.  This matches history, when bread was harvested in fall to get people through the winter.  Spring is the worst season for eating gluten and can exacerbate cold and allergy season and the heaviness that comes with seasonal depression.  This spring try a kitchari cleanse and see if that helps your symptoms of a low immune system, congestion and lethargy.

5. Make it a rotation. 

There are so many healthy grains out there to mix in the rotation.  One thing I loved about living at Kripalu for 10 days at a time was the morning breakfast grain.  Every morning there was something new to try: amaranth, millet, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, and barley.  Try a breakfast bowl with quinoa or barley in the heat of summer, or oats as it gets chilly.

Other grains include basmati, short grain, brown, wild, black and purple rice.  Buckwheat and millet are heating and drying and best for the cool dampness of spring.  White rice is always the easiest to digest, especially when sick.  If you notice you habitually eat sandwiches for lunch, try a grain bowl with a funky grain.  

 

5. Taco night tips: 

Instead of the flour or corn tortillas in the bread aisle, look in the refrigerated section.  In my Whole Foods, this is by the fresh salsa and hummus. 

Here is where you find the handmade, real deal corn tortillas with 3 ingredients: corn, water, and salt.  I love this brand, Mi Tierra Tortillas, shown in the pic with the huge red arrow (I hope you find my tech skills comical). 

Sometimes you gotta go on a scavenger hunt at the grocery.  I like to shop with my man when we divide and conquer! 

A mega list in flour tortillas :(

A mega list in flour tortillas :(

Contains: corn, water, lime :)

Contains: corn, water, lime :)

And now for the food!!! 

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Ripe Tomato Toast:

  • Real sourdough bread (like Iggy's of Cambridge, MA)
  • Vegan mayo (like Sir Kesington's fabinaise), or homemade mayo
  • Organic heirloom tomatoes, 1/4 inch slices, save any juice
  • Pink salt
  • Organic olive oil
  • Fresh basil, chopped thin

1. Chop basil by rolling leaves up like a cigarette and slicing into thin strips. 

2. Toast bread and spread with vegan mayo. 

3. Top with tomato slices, pink salt, basil, drizzle of olive oil, and any last drips of tomato water.  

Note: if tomatoes are too acidic for you, try these options:

  • option 1: cut tomato in half, grate the pulp using a box grater, holding the skin.  Once you grate the whole inside of the tomato, discard the skin. Mix in salt, olive oil and chopped basil.  This is how to make Spanish "Pan Con Tomate".  
  • option 2: ditch the tomato and use a ripe avocado instead. 

 

A word on Tomatoes

Both Ayurveda and Tom Brady advise against eating tomatoes in excess because they are a "nightshade" which can cause inflammation, acidity, and excess heat.  I have personally cut down eating nightshades (like peppers, potatoes, eggplant) in excess, especially out of season.  You will not find me swindled by pale "fresh" tomatoes in winter. 

But these vegetables also have amazing health benefits including potassium, calcium, vitamins K, C, E, Bs, iron, antioxidants.  Plus I have Italian roots, and in late New England summer, there is nothing, NOTHING like a fresh vine ripe tomato.  So as with all things, listen to your body, eat a variety of foods, eat without multitasking, and enjoy life.  Namaste!  

 

Grain Bowl Template

Summer Build A Bowl

Pick a grain: jasmine rice, brown rice, quinoa, barley

Pick a steamed veg: spinach, kale, chard, collards, zucchini, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, peas, fennel, broccoli, cabbage, celery, mushrooms

Add some substance: chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, sprouted beans, sauteed tofu, avocado

Pick fresh topping: fresh sprouts, watercress, mache, chopped basil, parsley or cilantro

Mo toppings: crushed pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast

Whisk a dressing:

simple: olive oil and lemon with some pink salt and pepper

tahini: tahini, lime, tamari (GF soy sauce), sesame oil

sweet: add maple syrup to either dressing

miso: yellow miso paste, liquid coconut oil, lemon juice, tamari, apple cider vinegar, water to taste

Pitta Guac

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Salsa can be tough in the summer for some due to the raw onions, hot peppers and tomatoes.  If you notice you get heartburn or skin inflammation after a boatload of salsa, make this guac instead and serve with sweet potato chips, which provide sweet and cooling properties, perfect for the pitta in you.  

2 ripe avocados 

1 lime

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp organic dulse flakes (sea vegetable flakes)

himalayan pink salt, to taste

 

Mash avos in a bowl with a fork, leaving some chunks for texture.  Add lime, cilantro, dulse flakes, and pink salt.  The dulse flakes are naturally a bit salty so you can use less salt than normal.  

Coconut Milke "Recipe"

1 cup shredded coconut

4 cups water

 

Blend coconut with water in a high speed blender until smooth, about 30 seconds or so.  Strain through a mesh strainer with the back of a spoon.  All done!!  

CCF Tea

In a small mason jar, combine equal parts cumin, coriander and fennel.  Shake to combine.  Boil a pot of water without a lid, when water comes to boil, turn off heat and add seeds.  In a small pot, use about 1 tablespoon.  Steep for a few minutes and either strain the seeds out using a mesh strainer, or pour right into your cup, crunching a few seeds.  Sip slowly throughout the day to stimulate digestive fire.  

Summer tip: coriander and fennel are both cooling to the body, so use those in high amounts and less cumin.

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Summer Breaky Bowl

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(serves 1, double for your partner or guest)

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup coconut milk

1-2 tbsp wild blueberry jam, best quality you can find, or a handful of blueberries

1/8 tsp cardamom powder

1 tbsp ground up pumpkin seeds (can mash in plastic bag or food process a bigger batch to use as condiment for salads/soups/breaky)

1/4 cup raw walnuts or almonds 

Make quinoa on the stove or in a pressure cooker**, or use leftover and warm up in a pot.  Scoop 1 cup cooked quinoa in a bowl, add coconut milk to the hot quinoa so the bowl is warm.  Top with jam, cardamom, pumpkin seeds and nuts.  

 

**TIP: I'm obsessed with my instant pot!! You can not F up quinoa or any other grain for that matter in an instant pot.   For this method, rinse 1 cup quinoa and add to the pot with 1 1/4 cups water, seal the lid and set for manual high pressure for 5 minutes.  DONE.  Makes about 2-3 cups cooked quinoa.  

 

 

Cantaloupe 1/2 + 1/2

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Serves 1, 1 'loupe per person

1 ripe cantaloupe

pinch cardamom

Halve cantaloupe and scoop out seeds.  Scoop 1/2 flesh into blender and add cardamom, blend until smooth.  Sip alongside the other half, scooping right out of it's natural bowl.  

This is a perfect treat in the heat of summer.  Ripe melon has naturally sweet cooling properties that offset the fire element in the pitta dosha.  

 

When to drink:

When it’s hot AF

When you overdid last night and need a very light breakfast to boost digestion 

After a run to rehydrate

On an empty stomach!  Melons do not combine well with other foods.  Drink this and then wait an hour to eat a meal.  All the books on Ayurveda warn against eating or drinking melon right after a meal as fruit ferments when mixed, especially melon, which can cause discomfort.  I always eat fruit first thing in the morning, or during the long stretch between lunch and dinner, closer to dinner, to hold me over and "eat my water".    

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