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.