Friday, November 8, 2013

Cooking, Grounding in Cairo

Settling in means making a home-cooked meal. Fusion
wheat pasta cooked in tahini with curried courgettes
and green beans, topped with avocado and
flax, sesame and sunflower seeds and
spirulina flakes (only thing not locally found).

I was starting to sound a little like a broken record, among the many questions that I had for my friend Iman, who was leaving soon for India, about Cairo, about Maadi where I would be living, about the classes I would be taking over while she was gone and about life at large in Egypt, there was one question that kept on coming up: "So where is the nearest grocery store?"

I realize that I've been traveling for almost two and a half years. That's how long I've been without a home. It's been an amazing journey but moving so much can also be a challenge in terms of grounding oneself.

Food is a big factor in my ability to settle in anywhere, whether it's a weekend, a couple of weeks, or months in one place. I need to know where to eat; yes, good veg-friendly restaurants and coffee shops. But, more importantly, I need to know where to buy ingredients, fresh local or organic produce and other groceries that enable me to put a meal together.

On my first day, I wandered out and walked in Maadi, near where Iman lives, and found an organic shop just walking distance. This little discovery was like an exhale. It helped me relax a little in this whole new environment. Ok, Egypt is a different place, a whole new culture, but organic shops the world around, that's a universal movement, one very dear to me, one I am very at home with. It made me feel comfortable.

The shop, though, was just a small comfort with its very special organic-only selection. I knew at some point I would need to find a proper super market.

Then Iman and I got busy. We had some special workshops on offer the first weekend. Then classes to to turn over in the week, and a whole culture to orient me too. And before I knew it, Iman had gone, and I still had no clue where the nearest grocery store was.

Last Friday, a day after Iman's departure, one of the students drove me to the nearest and most complete market near to where I was living. A quick walk away, they even delivered my groceries to my door. Since then, I've been able to make my own meals when I've had time in between classes.

And tonight in particular, not being on the run; instead, having the time to be creative in the kitchen, having time to "play" with my food, has been the ultimate exercise in setting in. I felt that in this most ordinary act I had given myself the biggest gift, I was making myself at home by home cooking.

Not only is home-cooking, for me anyway, the best kind of food. But the act of cooking grounds me. It helps me tune into a place. Working with local ingredients, eating what grows in season, creating with the ingredients available is nourishing in so many ways to the mind, the heart and the body.

A Cairean Breakfast

It's my first day to be a tourist in Cairo and my tour guide and yoga student Sherif starts the day by taking me to a sweet cafe on the Nile in Zamalek where I have, aptly, the Cairean Breakfast (of champions)--had them remove the one meaty part of the dish, the salad is normally topped with an Egyptian beef prosciutto of sorts. In that respect, Egypt reminds me a little of the Philippines with its love for eating animal flesh, which needs to be placed on top of anything actually vegetable.  

The omelet comes with a fresh green salad, herby feta cheese, foul medammes (a local dish of cooked fava beans), seasoned chickpeas, and dainty falafel chunks served with slices of tomato. Never have I been served with such a variety of protein for breakfast! There was bread too on the side, a shot of juice, and a choice of tea or hot chocolate at the end. 

Left Bank is a fashionable restaurant right on the river. It has outdoor seating as well as a spacious indoor dining area. It's breakfast selection is vegetarian friendly and they can adjust when needed. 

A perfect start to my introduction to modern Egyptian history --not from western text books but from real Egyptians! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Perfect cup o' cappuccino

The photo above is the best cappuccino I've ever had. It was perfect, foam lasted forever. Wasn't too hot to begin with and stayed hot as I drank it. And the flavor! Oh the flavor...

It was as at a chic little cafe called 2Periodico in one of the side streets of Rome, near the Coloseum. Capuccino and was only 1.50 Euro. 

My friend Andrea is half Italian. And when he was touring me around Osaka just a couple of months ago, the "best" coffee hot spots outnumbered the tourist destinations. Most of the time, he favored places with Italian coffee. When I challenged him that Japanese coffee was also very good, he was adamant that Italian coffee was not only better but cheaply priced as well. I dismissed his attitude as Italian coffee snobbery, but I think he may be right...

Egyptian Quick Fix: Just Falafel

My new quick fix in Cairo: falafel. 

Just Falafel is a chain that provides clean, healthy options of the Middle Eastern veg simple street fare, the falafel. Inexpensive and with a huge selection of different cultural takes on the falafel (other than the original with pickles, there is a Greek, Mexican, Japanese option, to name a few). 

The meal comes with the option of chips or french fries and a drink. Pictured above is a tasty and healthy hibiscus iced  tea. 

First Egyptian Dish: Koshary

A warm and grounding food welcome to Cairo. This is my first taste of Koshary, a traditional Egyptian dish, usually simple fare made up of a combination of pasta, rice cooked with lentils, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans and carmelized onion--which I, of course, topped with a local hot sauce and garlic water. Yum, hearty and veg friendly! This local street food made fashionable was enjoyed at Cairo Kitchen in Maadi. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Not kidding: a cup of hot chocolate!

Lovely treat from Cafe Nena. My latest discovery here in Barcelona. A very hip and wonderfully veg-friendly cafe in Gracia--near Yoga con Gracia where my friend teaches a mysore program.

I was in the mood for hot chocolate...

 Friday morning was a cool and overcast on in Barcelona. I already had a cappuccino en route to practice. I was expecting a drinkable liquid of chocolatey goodness when they brought me a cup of literally gooey warm cocolate, best eaten with a spoon, perfect for dipping the cookie or churros. 

Sometimes you get so much more than what you ask for or expect. And thank goodness!

My First Raw Cake

I will always have a love affair with baked goods. But having never learned the principles of baking myself, the raw cake is a delight to make. This raw project is possible because of a number of kitchen  goddesses who I've watched make some amazing watched amazing raw deserts. 

The principles are easy. There's some sticky bits. Some dry bits. Sweetness is up to you. And there is no baking necessary.

So this creation is a gift for my friend Gara who is a very inspiring chef and whose raw treats often have me oohing and aahhing. Right now I am staying with her in Barcelona. Being in her kitchen inspires me and this is what I made when I was waiting for her to come back from work. Places and people, I find, can often inspire one's cooking creativity. When you feel the itch, definitely you must scratch it. Let the moment take you...

1. Wet ingredients, which make up the binding quality of the cake base. 
Blend dates (add figs possible also) with a little oats, this also has carrot, dried coconut meat finely milled, water, a little of juice (this one has some lemon concentrate and apple). Blend into sticky paste. 

2. Mix in dry ingredients. More dried coconut meal, oats, carrots. You can add nuts, seeds, raisins. The possibilities are endless. Mix until it gets all clumpy and sticks together. Note this is a normal blender-- so you don't need a high powered Vitamix to get this going. 

3. Place cake mixture in mold. Press in. Then take out. 

4. Make "frosting." In this case, I hand mushed avocados with carob powder, a little palm syrup, and raw cacao nibs for chocolatey crunchiness. Then apple generously over cake. 

 5. Top with strips of dried coconut meat and cacao nibs. Refrigerate till ready to serve. Tada! All done, very easy! Sweeten to taste. The dates make the base sweet already and you can choose the sweetness level of frosting.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ladureé in Osaka, a sweet spot for sharing

Rose, pistachio and Venezuelan dark chocolate macaroons.
In the background, a delicious rose and raspberry cake.   

Ok, soooo you might be looking at the brightly colored sweet treats in the photo right now as you quizzically wonder in befuddlement how this figures into healthy eating.  Judge me if you will, but right now, me eating healthy encompasses quality food which bring me joy and pleasure. Food nourishes us and also makes us happy. The last couple of months have been a wonderful reminder of the joy of eating! Having gotten that out of the way, now to Ladureé, where my friend Deva and I had our last get together in Osaka. 

Within: ooh la la, very French.
Tea room Ladureé has been making macaroons in Paris since 1862, Deva told me when she spotted the sweet shop when she first arrived in Osaka. So, I trust them in this department. And before her flight back to Hong Kong, we navigated our way to their branch at the Isetan Department Store in Osaka City Station, Umeda. From the sweet-tooth-tempting facade you would not know that the tea house within is a stylish striped tent, dressed to the nines: chandeliers, European furniture, delicate roses cut short and delicately blooming in clear vases on each table where the buzz of the weekend shopping outside seemed to just fade away. 

Deva about to peruse the menu.
Nourishment comes in all different shapes, forms, sizes, ingredients and sweet content. There are millions of ways to nourish our bodies, there is food for all the senses. Two Sundays ago, that wholesome treat came in the form of tea, cake, macaroons--and for, Deva, champagne. All of which were refined, subtle, flavorful, much like the company of my friend with whom I enjoyed one last live conversation--for the meantime, anyway. 

Rose was the theme of the afternoon, a symbol for gratitude. The rose macaroons were unlike any macaroon I've tasted. And the rose cake was totally sublime. Most of all, I feel so grateful for the friend who reminded me to embrace the pleasure of nourishing oneself, that we all deserve treats and that if we must live in the world, we should also enjoy it. Thanks, Deva!

Eating “healthy” is about intuition + Tuscan Kale Chopped Salad by Deva Mecredy

Deva Mecredy shares her take on intuitive eating and, bonus for us, tuscan kale salad.

"Let yourself be the constantly evolving science experiment of what makes you feel alive, energetic, happy and healthy. Test, try, discard, delve deeper into what suits you in the moment." 

When asked about health and wellness, I think about what is the single most important tool that helps everyone live healthier and happier: intuition. Life and living well is so much more than just what we put in our bodies. It is also our attitude and approach that counts. In order to tune into what works for us as individuals, we have to begin to develop the intuition to hear what we NEED. Do you ever take a pause in your day, breathe in and ask yourself  “what do I need right now?” Do you allow the external influences, which inundate us constantly, to take a back seat and let what YOU have to say come to the forefront of your mind?

There are endless options out there these days when it comes to how we eat. We can choose to be vegan, vegetarian, raw, paleo, primal, fruitarian; eat according to our blood type, count calories, count macros; be sugar-free, lactose-free, gluten-free, grain-free etc… We are overwhelmed with as many diets, fads, regimes, beliefs, books, “experts”, instagram posts, facebook shares as there are iphones being purchased, telling us the answer of how we experience better health.  How many times has someone sworn that they have the answer to helping you lose weight, feel energetic, get healthy and enrich your soul?

So, how do we wade through the smorgasbord of information to decide how to best nourish ourselves? Having been through varying levels of health including a chronic immune illness, I have supported myself with different food choices throughout my life. I have been vegan, raw vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, sugar-free, sampled red meat when I had an iron deficiency, given up fats, introduced more fats (only the good kind), eaten copious amounts of protein with each meal, detoxed solely on vegetable juice, eaten according to ayurvedic principles, eaten anything I wanted whenever I wanted and even survived on coconuts for 3 days. My life has been full and varied. And, so has what my body has needed at different times in my life. Having chosen months of voluntary detox/cleansing when I was ill, attended a raw vegan culinary academy to better educate myself about plant-based nutrition and also regularly indulged in holidays in Europe based on my love of cheese and wine, I have come to realise health is an evolving concept. What works for you at one point in your life may not serve you later on.  What your body needs right now will be different to what it used to need and what it will need in the future.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t aim to eat in a way that best serves our bodies and minds. It depends on where we are are now and where we want to be that dictates our choices in regards to food.

Our bio individuality needs to be recognized when it comes to what we put in our bodies. Do you go to a tailor and ask them to make you a suit the exact same size as what you saw your friend wearing? No, you let the tailor take your measurements for something that is created exactly to fit your shape, size and height. Our food should be the same. Just because your friend found nirvana on a yoga mat while on a fast, another friend swears an animal product-free diet will cure your ailments or someone else tries to convince you eating meat with every single meal with no carbohydrates of any kind will help you drop 10 kilograms, it doesn’t mean that will work for you and where you are right now. Each person is unique - Experiment! Let yourself be the constantly evolving science experiment of what makes you feel alive, energetic, happy and healthy. Test, try, discard, delve deeper into what suits you in the moment.

If you feel overwhelmed with where to begin or what to try, I believe there is one principle that works for everyone at any time. Whole foods are the best foods. Food is meant to be grown, raised, fed, watered, sourced in/from nature, not in a lab with added chemical ingredients we can’t pronounce let alone digest easily. Food should be natural, in its whole state. As unprocessed as possible is a good rule of thumb.

When you go to the supermarket, read the label and look for items that ONLY have REAL foods that you recognise. Head to the fruit and vegetable section. Imagine what you would like to make, such as guacamole. Purchase avocado, lime, onions, tomatoes and cilantro (you should have olive oil and sea salt at home). Food doesn’t need a thousand ingredients. Keeping it simple actually works! You may have to read the labels of three jars of pickles to find the one that does not contain additives. That is worth the 60 seconds it will take you. In order to develop intuition about how your body reacts to what you eat, you need to know what goes in your food. The best way to start is in your own kitchen.

This is the simple first steps of being in tune with food  to connect with how it makes you feel. The more natural, the more it serves you. Does it energise you? Does it make you feel positive and alive? Does it help you live your life?

So, start your day with a green vegetable juice, find a local farmer’s market, sit and luxuriate over a glass of wine, play your music REALLY loud as you begin to use your kitchen again, sit in silence, take time out, love your friends: DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! Follow the intuitive voice that leads you to live your life well! And if in doubt… have some kale!

Tuscan Kale Chopped Salad
Serves 4
¼ spring onion, finely sliced
 1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup orange juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp orange zest
½ cup freshly parmesan cheese, micro planed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 slices whole grain or sourdough bread, torn into bite-size chunks
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ clove garlic, minced
Pinch of sea salt
1 bunch lacinato Green Vitamin kale
1 granny smith apple
1 cup of cooked chickpeas
1 cup haricot verts, blanched
1/3 cup dried cranberries
½ cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

Combine lemon juice, orange juice, lemon zest, orange zest and olive oil in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Add Parmesan, spring onion, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Toss bread with olive oil, garlic and sea salt. Place under the grill for 5-7 minutes until bread is crispy on one side. Turn over and grill until outside of bread is crispy on both sides. Take caution, not to burn the bread.

De-stem the kale by tearing the leaves off the large middle stem into pieces. Place kale in a large salad bowl. Add half the dressing to the kale and massage with hands until kale starts to soften. Cut apple in half, core and slice apple into thin wedges, add to kale. Add chickpeas, haricot verts, cranberries and pecans.  Add remaining dressing, one tablespoon at a time, and toss to combine. Serve.

Deva Mecredy is a certified raw food chef, authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher and whole foods advocate. She is founder of DPM Asia Limited, a health and Wellness Company and Co-Founder of Crabtree & Mecredy Consulting, a US/HK based culinary and spirits firm.

Foodie Friend Deva Mecredy & Intuitive Eating

My dear friend Deva treating me to a fine buddhist
monk's meal in Mount Koya.
I have the same amount of trays on my side of the room. 

I've been incredibly blessed over the last summer and now fall, my path littered with kitchen devis (goddesses) nourishing me with food and their soothing company.

Recently, my friend, Deva Mecredy, raw food chef and food consultant, came to visit me here in Osaka. She came with a extraordinarily plump yoga mat bag that was stuffed with superfood powders like macca, raw cacao, chia, cacao nibs, a portable blender and a healthy love for food.

I met Deva in India nearly three years ago, where she introduced me to my now favorite Indian breakfast hole-in-the-wall, Sri Durga Bhavan in Mysore. Over breakfast we would share our unravelling through the deep ashtanga practice. I also visited her in her home in Hong Kong two summers ago, arriving from New York half-dead from jet lag and half-hearted from a breakup. This young lady with an old soul nursed me back to emotional health with home prepared raw food, the best vegetarian dim sum in Hong Kong and of course the most nourishing sustenance: love and friendship.

When Deva's involved you know there's going to be some good eating. This is inevitable. Once she was settled in, she was scouring the blogosphere for best sushi places in Osaka.

Here we were together again. Hell bent on nourishing our friendship and each other over loving treats: sushi, salads, some home cooking by Deva, super food smoothies and the more than occasional sinful custard creme filled pastry that is so popular hereabouts.

Now, I've been strict with myself about diet over the last couple of years, really focusing on wholesome food. But my food odyssey took a turn at the end of July, when I arrived in Barcelona. And since then I've been in the "Eat" portion of my "Eat Pray Love" journey. I've decided to indulge certain loves, of grain, good grain if it's available; chocolate; beer on Fridays. Being in Japan has also inspired a pause in my vegetarianism to allow for the myriad of fish products that are in most dishes. One can avoid meat, no problem. Fish and seafood is a lot tricker in Japan.

But more importantly, Japanese food is renowned the world over. And it would be criminal of me (I being my own victim) to miss out on the opportunity to eat amazing and quite healthy quality Japanese food in Japan--not to mention the opportunity to be with people in a new place, food always being a great vehicle for meetings and celebrations.

And with Deva I had an accomplice. At Osaka, we had a pretty good setting. Osaka is "the" food capital of Japan. They even have a word for the kind of eating they do here: "kuidaore," which literally means eat till you drop. We didn't go to such extreme lengths, Deva and I. But there was definitely sushi, fine dining, the most delicate Parisian macaroons, and to simply get it out of the way, fast food fries coupled with chocolate ice-cream sundae--hey that's what felt right for at the time, it was an emotional response we both agreed, but certainly were more aware of it thanks to us answering the call. What's great about eating with Deva is there is no restriction. The key idea was to eat when we were hungry, to answer the cravings, and to nourish ourselves.

This is Deva's debut article online. I feel like a proud mama! Eating intuitively, I love it!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nature's Throat Coat: Cayenne Pepper, Garlic, Ginger and Honey

I usually think I'm as tough as nails, so I'm always surprised at how I feel with a bit of a sore throat. With just the slightest bit of uncomfortable soreness, I pretty much feel like a big fat baby. For me, this initial stage, ripe with the possibility of coming down with something, is the worst. Feeling your throat like that, each swallow--even if it's just discomfort--is a reminder of your weakened immune system, and usually, for me anyway, a signal of some personal neglect. In my case, I've gotten into the recent habit of sleeping late again. I returned to Manila a week ago now, but I'm still on India time.

Been recently watching a lot of documentaries on health, diet, and self-healing, so I woke up determined to be proactive with this sore throat, the natural way! I also don't fancy feeling my throbbing throat all day long.

In terms of natural remedies, what's worked for me before is chewing on raw garlic cloves and taking a homemade syrup made of pounded garlic and ginger in wild honey. But neither really soothes the soreness. So, I decided to look online for ways to soothe a sore throat, the top result in google (one of my most favorite things in the world) is cayenne pepper.

It was a hot solution: a teaspoon of cayenne in warm water to be gargled and sipped a little. I won't lie: the sensation is intense! Each time my tongue made contact I wondered if it was worth it. For a second or two, my tongue would burn, but by the time I tipped my head back to gurgle, I felt relatively ok. Half way through the 8 ounces of warm water, my throat actually felt better. 

Said to only really relieve the symptom but not kick the actual problem, thus the threat of cold, cough or flu, I decided to pair the cayenne with my usual remedies. I bit into a clove of raw garlic (after the cayenne, not so intense, actually), which is a natural antibiotic and can fight both bacterial and viral infections. Then prepared a mixture of finely pounded garlic, ginger and honey, which I'll take throughout the day. 

This may seem like strange medicine to many, but have you looked at the labels of the typical over the counter drugs? I'd rather take something that's alive, that's been in use and has worked for thousands of years, that I know for sure isn't a synthetic derivative of something that is also used to make car batteries. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Light and Fluffy Indian Breakfast

Idli, sambar and coconut chutney. Simply delicious.

I wish I could tell you where to get these large, light and fluffy idli--but the place has no sign and it's rather difficult explaining how to get there, not knowing any of the street names. This non-descript food stall is located along a smaller street, almost an alley way. I guess that's how "Secret Breakfast" in Lakshmipuram earned it's moniker amongst Gokulam yoga practitioners. It's not so much a secret as it being difficult to get there if you're a first timer. It's so yummy, it's one of the 10 places I can for sure find my way to in Mysore on a scooter. 

This simple stall has the nicest idli. Very crunchy masala vadas. And on a good day, they also have a nice beet root chutney!

Taste for Tumeric

Today's tumeric-filled meal!

Love affair with Indian-spice tumeric rekindled. Not so much because I'm in India--though it's very fitting, but because I've been doing a lot of research recently in holistic healing. Curcumin, an active ingredient to tumeric, has come up as being a promising natural way of treating cancer, alzheimer's disease and diabetes. Tumeric too has other properties that make it anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. No wonder Ayurveda (The Science of Life) has been using tumeric as a healing agent for thousands of years!

Since then (yesterday!) tumeric has been splashed indiscriminately into practically every thing I've cooked, which would explain the yellow tinge to the food picture above. I also forgot what a nice flavor tumeric gives to food. So glad that it's back in my health food radar!

Rice (cannot claim this one)
Organic brown rice
Moong dal

Rice Topping
Amaranth leaves
Tumeric, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds
sea salt, nut oil

Amaranth leaves

Tumeric, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds
sea salt, sesame oil, Bragg's Aminos

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Love of Raw Porridge

A staple for J and myself last summer in the Philippines.
I mentioned last blog article my love of porridge. This raw concoction pictured above became a staple last summer both in hot, tropical Philippines and Pickering, North Yorkshire in England.

I have a pretty healthy appetite and as much as I love the light raw porridges I've had in healing centers like Bahay Kalipay, this particular recipe is made for those who prefer some heartiness with their health food. A sustaining breakfast, I often didn't even start to get hungry until 2pm after a bowl of this stuff.

It's also pretty easy to whip up, so long as you have the ingredients on hand, the patience and time to soak the ingredients. A very good blender is also a must. In England, we were using a Vitamix, though in the Philippines, we were using an ordinary blender--I did worry that it started to sound like it was laboring through the job towards the end of our month there.

To prepare, I basically soaked the grains, nuts/seeds, and dates in drinking water. I would soak the almonds separately, then take the skin off. The chia I soaked in either almond milk or soya milk.

Oats with water and chia in soya milk (save half for topping) should be a good base, liquidy enough to get things going. Then blended it all in stages, so that I would have different textures. For example, I would put only half of the oats in at first. Then a quarter towards the end. The last quarter I'd mix in post blending. Then viola! Raw and hearty, full of fiber and energy.

It worked out that I would put all these things on to soak when I woke up, then practiced yogasana. An hour or so later, I would blend until the desired texture. I often top it with chia in soya milk. Then top that with some of the dry ingredients.

Buckwheat groats - soak this on it's own, as it can get very sticky, and rinse before adding

Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds

Chia seeds

Additionals: (blending optional)
Hemp hearts
Cacao nibs
Goji berries

For Sweetening or extra flavor:
Honey, agave and/peanut butter (love a touch of PB in the mix!)
In the Philippines, we have this great stuff: coco nectar! raw and diabetic-friendly

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

love affair with porridge continues...

Porridge: a hearty morning repast!

Breakfast, my favorite meal time! The last 3 months have been full on in Mysore, India. With focus primarily on yogasana practice. To support that practice, a good sustaining breakfast in on order. As much as I love Indian breakfasts, it doesn't have the sustaining power of a good power porridge made at home.

Depending on where you are from, you might have certain ideas about porridge. In Asia, porridge is often a made out of rice and is a savory affair, often made with chicken stock. In Chinese cuisine, this is often referred to as congee. Around the world, there are cold porridges and warm porridges. Porridges made of different variety of oats and grains. Made plain or mixed with dry or fresh ingredients.  

Me? I like to mix and match. The only rule I really adhere to about food is that it tastes good and that it's good for you. So, my porridges have become more fusion, a fusion of what exactly, I'm not entirely sure. Last year, I was all about the raw blended porridge. Will fish out pics and post soon!

Because I'm nuts (which I also like to add into it) about porridge, I actually brought a bag each of some newly discovered breakfast grains: pin-eye oats and creamy buckwheat, which I mixed often with ordinary oats, raisins, other dried fruit. I also brought some special ingredients in my luggage: hemp hearts and goji berries. Most things I was able to source locally in India though: dried raisins, figs, and dates. Fresh fruit, even spirulina from Auroville is easy to find in Mysore. Sometimes, I go crazy and put just about every ingredient in there. 

Here are two kinds of easy-to-make staples that kept me happy and healthy during the past Mysore yoga season, amidst the serious demands of yogasana practice, yoga philosophy classes, self-study, and hanging out with friends and loved ones, most I see only once a year:

Half cooked/Half raw
Cooked pinhead oats
dried raisins
dried figs
chopped fresh bananas
chia seed rehydrated in soy milk
and soy milk.

This is a quick one, no cooking actually,
and what I was quickly making in between
my own practice and assisting in the shala.
It was light enough so I felt quite spry but also
felt quite sustained--I was assisting
for nearly 2 and a half hours.

Fresh chopped bananas,
ready prepared muesli
raw cashews
spirulina crunchy flakes
all on top of milk curd (yogurt)

Rawdyssey continues, Oh Mama Maia

Apologies...It's been a while since I've updated the food blog. So immersed I have been in crazy, beautiful, colorful Mama India (I will post on India soon!), that I didn't even post this continuation of my "rawdessy" in Palawan Island, Philippines. Here it is...

Edible greens steps away from the kitchen. The garden has kang-kong,
kamote tops, and alugbati as well as a herb garden at the center.
December 2012: 

I am at Maia Eco Village to be with friends during a time of shift and also to go on a personal retreat. For three weeks, I live in --mostly, barring a 3 short trips into town-- sacred simplicity. We live on solar power, create nearly zero waste by composting and thorough waste management, and eat mostly raw food.

The eco village is the heart-child of Pi Villarza, healer and inner dance facilitator, who pairs the healing modality with coconut diet or raw food. His vision for Maia as an intentional, self-sufficient coconut/raw-food community is still in the works with coconut tree planting and permaculture gardens underway.

Buko, or coconut, a staple food in Maia.
Some of those on retreat choose to be just on buko or coconut. The water and the meat can be very sustaining.

I choose to eat raw as well as have coconuts. Though I feel strongly that a hundred percent raw food diet is probably not for me, not with my active lifestyle and dynamic yoga practice. I feel that eating mostly raw for three weeks is still a very positive experience. Eating from the garden, I feel connected with the food in a very special way--such a different relationship we have from our food nowadays. We are so far from the source, from the land, from the people growing your food, more so if we are eating processed food.
Fresh picks from the garden.

I find that raw food preparation, which has the reputation of being overly complex once a Vitamex or a dehydrator is involved, very easy once I get into it, especially with the freshest seasonal veg and a few herbs and sauces to work with. It's all wash, chop, season. Finito! 

In all honesty, what helps, really, is having my friend Imee there. Trained in raw food preparation and also running her own raw food line in Manila, Imee showed me some simple things to make, which becomes my staple during my time in Maia.

Nick Brown, the local perma-culturist,
 showing off his find today: jackfruit.

Yoga, Inner Dance and Permaculture, Energy work and Healing Retreats are on-going. Contact Bahay Kalipay for more details.

Here are some photos of the raw dishes Imee whipped up:
Papaya Salad-Papaya picked from the tree right outside the kitchen at Orange. 

Kang Kong (Water Spinach) and Kamote Tops Salad.

This meal I made! Left: Sprouted mong--bean bought in town but sprouted in Maia,
with tomato and cigarillas (star bean). Right: Coconut meat noodle with sesame oil and soy dressing.