Sweet Potatoes with a KICK

In transition from a girl to a woman to a wife and a mother, there are items over the past couple of years I’m especially grateful for. One is I do not have to cook Thanksgiving dinner. For every Thanksgiving dinner I do not prepare in my home, gratitude is intense. I am so fortunate to have my close family nearby. There my parents are, still nourishing their kids and the grandkids and their own parents on Thanksgiving Day. And when my time comes to prepare Thanksgiving, I hope to be able to do with half as much love as has been shown to me. Watching both my Grandparents and my parents cook has been the ultimate symbol of compassionate cooking, of putting others first. Being in the kitchen and cooking, or preparing food is an energetic exchange not to be rushed or begun with a flimsy foundation. Rather, a place where breath, patience and compassion combine with all the senses – taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing.

Offering nourishment to others is offering life to others and few other deeds could be more respected. Fresh foods of the recent harvest are easily transformed into a feast of a dish. Incorporating Ayurveda into Thanksgiving simply ensures you are eating fresh foods, adding lots of spices for flavor and creating moist, warm and soft foods of the fall harvests.

 

Sweet potatoes with A Kick! Great for winter, Serves 5-6

4 large sweet potatoes, washed well and cut into 2″ cubes. You can remove the skin if you’d like, I leave it on for extra nutrients (if potato is organic!)

EVOO
4-5 T ghee
Spices! Black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper! Cinnamon, Ginger and cardamom. Dash of salt.
¼ cup slivered almonds, soaked overnight and drained

Place ghee into the saucepan on med/low heat. Add 1/2 t of each pepper, 1/4 t ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. Add the almonds. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes in the saucepan. Turn down the heat so not to burn the spices.

Preheat oven to 375f. Place sweet potatoes into covered baking dish and drizzle with EVOO until lightly coated. Lightly salt and bake for 30 minutes or until easily penetrated with a fork .

Be sure Asafoetida, aka Hing, is in your spice cupboard

From NPR’s “The Salt” – Meet Hing: The Secret Weapon of Indian Cuisine by Carolyn Beans.
In response: It’s fantastic to learn how a single spice can have so many uses! Let’s relate this spice to Ayurveda! It’s a pungent herb more commonly used today for its carminative (gas relieving) properties. It stimulates movement in the body channels, particularly that of the colon. Samana vata is movement in the body governing assimilation of, well nutrients in this case. And apana vata governs downward movement – both are stimulated through Asafoetida. The spice is cleansing to the colon and stimulating for digestive power.
A little goes a long way!! At spice stands I’ve seen them mix hing with fennel. This makes it a little safer to keep the in cupboard. I keep my hing in a zipped baggie inside of an airtight jar. A reused baby food jar works well. The smell really could contaminate your whole house but try a 1/4t in your next rice dish, or vegetable soup. Many ways to incorporate, similarly in flavor to garlic and onions.  My favorite is adding a 1/4t hing to cooking beans or making it a part of vata reducing churna – perfect for fall.

Other notes of asafoetida’s ability to stimulate movement is in the blood, called an emmenagogue. Additionally, it’s a nervine which strengthen functional ability of the nervous system. Also an aphrodisiac but you wouldn’t guess that by the smell! Vajikaranas is the word for aphrodisiac. “Vaji” is horse, or stallion and these substances reinvigorate the body by reinvigorating the sexual organs. Asafoetida is used externally as well, creating a medicated paste or oil for abdominal pain, arthritic pain and painful joints.

Information for this posting comes from The Yoga of Herbs by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad.

Spring Cleanse

Ayurveda spring cleanse offers positive growth and improved digestion both mentally and physically. Patterns you can’t kick but are ready to may simply lack tools and self-support. Almost everyone can benefit from the spring digestion reset we gain during a cleanse.

Why spring cleanse? Well, maybe a bit of Ayurvedic wisdom can shed some light. Winter is Vata dominant. It’s frozen and cold, windy antics of nature have dormancy happening as well. Really, depletion is the word. We hold onto all we can and hopefully all the good stuff we need from routines and relationships hold to ‘get through’ winter. And change is not resilient. Ayurveda says to choose the most stable time of year to cleanse, thus spring cleanses. Spring time is kapha dominant, so the vata has turned to cold, wet, sticky traits our body could be showing through allergies, congestion in face or chest, heaviness in the body and/or the mind. There could be less than desirable habits you feel are holding you back and you lack tools, motivation or drive to move them behind you. These are all signs of increase in kapha dosha. The kapha time is dominated by earth and water, much more resilient elements than the air and ether dominating fall and winter. Since change and growth require a stable establishment, naturally the spring kapha time is best for a big cleanse.

Think of a seedling, planted properly in dirt this spring. Ideal growing conditions include stable ground, fertile soil, ample moisture and sunlight. Also the temperature can’t be too cold. If the growing conditions accumulate too much wetness, low temperatures, lacking sunlight and the seedling continues to be relocated, it will never sprout. The proper conditions are necessary for growth and this exists in the human body and mind, too. Spring cleanse time is when we take rest, reset our body and mind’s growing conditions!

 

Gratitude to the darkness teaching me about light

Writing just to write and sharing because I can.

A need to cleanse is here – I bet you have felt the need to relieve something heavy.
Sure, hopefully it’s a little warmer. Around here in Cincinnati it’s said, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” Well, at least I say that. Last week was snow boots, scarf and gloves and this weekend is sandals, v-neck tops with short sleeves…and rain jackets. What was frozen last week is now wet, cold and heavy. We’re glimpsing into actual springtime. Ayurveda calls the spring characteristics kapha.

We are preparing for change, growth and evolution from the hibernated space of winter. The daffodils and tree buds clue us in on the outside. Early March marks garden time, for me this begins with leek seedlings in my office windowsill.

In my body, I feel the springtime. Or maybe I should say I feel the movement away from winter. In yoga talk this ‘movement away’ can be expressed with the term apana vayu, down and away and udana vayu, up and out. Vayu is movement.

My yoga practice has helped to bring growth. This has been challenging, rewarding and a bit painful in itself, and I don’t mean challenging postures. Yoga is simple and the practice brings awareness to the complications I create on my own accord. It’s brought the need to have heartfelt conversation with myself, where I am the passive listener lacking judgment.

I remember springtime healing my heart years ago, long before my first yoga class, or ever hearing the word ‘Ayurveda’. I had been stuck, with a stacking sense of gloom and inability to move. Grief had stricken my family and I felt isolated and lacking direction. But being outside in the warmth and simply witnessing Mother Nature’s natural sense to go from deadness to completely lush with bright green upward moving growth toward the sun. And it made me realize I too, could get out of my mental state and use my natural abilities to adapt, develop solid structure of which growth and movement upward could occur. I’d say that was the first time, the first spring that I employed the essence of Ayurveda I now teach to others.

Gratitude to the darkness teaching us about light.

 

So I’ve been blogging other places more than my own site

Here are some places you can read my writing and I’ve guest blogged more over the past year than my own site! I should be blogging about what’s like to be an Ayurvedist on a spiritual path, a new(ish) Mom, solid job gig while also sharing my passion to learn and teach with anyone who will listen. But ya know what, it’s time for bed. And I teach in the morning. Putting aside time for my japa mala meditation, some gentle asana, oatmeal and chai before teaching just feels right. So, time to go put my legs up the wall. goodnight <3 Namaste. Winter Care for the Yogi-Nasya Oil This is The Yoga Bar's blog (theyogabars.com)
http://www.yogadrunk.com/2015/11/winter-care-for-yogi-part-1-nasya-oil.html

Ayurveda is Coming to Thanksgiving!
Guest blog on KathrynTempleton.com
http://www.kathryntempleton.com/ayurveda-comes-to-thanksgiving/

Fall Rejuvenation workshop – a gentle seasonal cleanse

Establish a foundation of Ayurvedic education through understanding the role of self-care, seasonal change, ama (toxin) reduction and conduct your own gentle cleanse at home. With Ayurveda, a gentle fall cleanse utilizes relation techniques, daily self-care rituals and a kitchari mono-diet. Enjoy dishes of split moong dahl, basmati rice and freshly cooked veggie with cleansing spices that regulate digestion and abate toxins in the body. The fall rejuvenation is removing toxins and helping to establish daily practices of self-care. Fall is a gentle period of cleansing where the body and mind is creating vitality, called ojas which is our vital life source. Building vitality is important as we prepare for the depleting time of winter. Seasonal cleanse allows an individual time and space to clear out excess dosha, often the inflammation of summertime pitta, so we don’t burn out in the winter months. A seasonal cleanse, to some extent, is ideal for most all individuals as fasting is not a part of a seasonal cleanse rather creating dining practices of nourishing and easy to digest meals of kitchari. A tea mixture of coriander, cumin and fennel is sipped through the day along with room temperature water.

There is a level of cleanse for everybody and meant to be enjoyed at a level ideal for YOU. Let Ayurveda meet you where you are, right now. No forcing, nothing stressful as bringing Ayurveda into your life is a gradual process meant to build upon itself as your experience into this science and lifestyle gentle builds over time.

Sept 13, noon-3PM at The Yoga Bar in Newport. 701 Park Avenue, Newport, KY 41071. register in advance theyogabar.net for $39. View the event here.

low res 4 part image fall rejuv 2014 2 pic

 

Holiday baking – Chyawanprash Cookies

Chyawanprash cookie recipes straight from Himalayan Institute!  HI fresh bakes these cookies for their cafe in Honesdale, PA. Since I’m not spending time at the institute this winter I’m bringing a little bit of HI home for the holidays by baking chyawanprash cookies for students and family members. Maybe you are still trying to pronounce “chyawanprash” (try CHA-WON-PROSH) but once you figure it out you’ll be saying it over and over!

A Traditional Ayurvedic tonic for antioxidant support, stress reduction & rejuvenation

Chyawanprash is complex herbal formula that has a jam like consistency and a history of use as a tonic and strong rejuvenator for more than 2,000 years. The combination of the 36 selected herbs and fruits along with 4 food ingredients in this nutritionally rich tonic has traditionally been used to enhance general health, increase mental and physical energy, and support the body’s natural resistance to disease. The principle herb in Chyawanprash, Amla fruit (Amalaki) is one of the worlds most concentrated sources of naturally occurring Vitamin C, and works synergistically with the other carefully selected ingredients to create a powerful and effective rejuvenating tonic and antioxidant. Regular consumption of Chyawanprash is believed to rejuvenate and fortify both the mind and body and is beneficial to people of all ages and constitutions.

Benefits of Chyawanprash:

  • Considered to be the “multi-vitamin/mineral” of classical Ayurveda
  • Traditionally used for centuries to increase immune support and recovery time from illness while reducing stress
  • Only fresh Amla berry is used not dried powdered fruit
  • Each batch lot has been lab tested & analyzed for purity
  • Contains no preservatives, and is completely natural with no synthetic additives or ingredients
  • Prepared according to traditional methods at a state of the art production facility which is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified
  • Contains 5 of the 6 tastes Ayurveda says creates a balanced diet through use of all the tastes – astringent, pungent, bitter, sour, sweet and salt is the 6th taste but is not in chyawanprash as we have plenty of salt in most diets today.

Chyawanprash is based on a 2,000 year old formula, as described in an ancient Ayurvedic text. The synergy of 36 selected herbs and fruits in this nutritive tonic has traditionally been used to enhance general health, increase energy, and support the body’s natural resistance to disease. The principle active herb, Amla fgruit (Amalaki) which is one of the world’s most concentrated sources of Vitamin C, works with other ingredients to create a powerful and effective antioxidant. Regular ingestion of Chyawanprash is believed to rejuvenate and fortify both the mind and body and is beneficial to people of all ages.

Again, big thanks to the staff at HI for sharing this recipe.  I followed the recipe to a “T” except I used whole wheat flour instead of white.

Ingredients:
1 Cup Butter (2 sticks)
3 tsp. Aluminum-Free Baking soda
2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Salt
2 Eggs
1/4 Tsp. Ginger root powder
1 Jar of Chyawaprash 5 Cup Organic White flour
Small amount of natural sugar for dressing
Directions: *Pre-heat oven at 350
1. In mixer or large bowel, cream together butter & brown sugar then add eggs (one at a time). Blend well then add chyawanprash (this does take some effort and gets messy). Helpful to use a spoon and a small knife to scrape it off.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the wet ingredients until blended well. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop dough and lightly roll in natural sugar and place on a lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, the cookies will be lightly amber color when ready.

chyawanprash cookies

 

Lets Make Ghee Together Today!

Let’s make ghee today!

25 minute ghee making with Lisa Snowden, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist

25 minute ghee making with Lisa Snowden, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist

25 minute ghee making with Lisa Snowden.

YOU NEED:

-4 sticks (1 lb) of quality, unsalted organic butter, yielding 2 cups ghee.
-Cheesecloth
-Metal mesh strainer
-clear glass cup (drinking glass) Or modify the recipe with ease. Today I’m using 6 sticks of butter to yield 3 cups of ghee.

Set a timer for 25 minutes.
Get the clock going!
Place butter into a med.-large heavy pot on MED heat. Use a pot without a non-stick coating. No lid is ever necessary during ghee making as you want to remove all the water from the butter via evaporation. Keep stirring until the butter has completely melted.

At 20 minutes left on the timer, the butter is melted. Turn heat toward LOW, almost to LOW. We want to cook the butter just until it gently boils.  We begin to hear a sizzle from the bottom of the pan.  Don’t let it burn; Use a metal spatula to scrape and stir.

At 17 minutes left, the butter is foaming, sizzling and we are moments away from the gentle boil. Keep an eye on it, stirring and scraping often. Just don’t let it burn.

By 13 minutes left the butter is gently boiling, heat on LOW. See my 5 second video on Instagram demonstrating.

 

Mantra This cooking period is lovely to offer vibrational intention into the food items, and the yoga and Ayurveda tradition calls this mantra.

image and mantra article credit to yogainternational.com

image and mantra article credit to yogainternational.com

The vibrational sounds sets an intention into the food, in this case to nourish our bodies, minds and essentially assist in keeping us on our best path in life. If you are a mantra newbie, perhaps reciting “AUM” is essential – Universal Sound. The, “maha mrityunjay mantra is ancient with deep significance to the constant healing needs of the world and those within. Here is a link to Yoga International article by Rolf Solvik, President and Spiritual Director of the Himalayan Institute. He explains the great significance of this ancient vibrational recitation of Sanskrit syllables.  Within the article, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait has an audio feature explaining how to recite this mantra.

Rolf says, “Along with the Gayatri mantra it [maha mrityunjaya mantra] holds the highest place among the many mantras used for contemplation and meditation.” Regardless of how you choose to pay respect for the food and its nourishment to your body, we have these practices to draw ourselves closer to the source of that which nourishes.  The cows, the farmers and the humbling notion we all need to take a moment to think beyond ourselves.

Back to Ghee making! You’ve been stirring and mantra-lovin’!

Now we have 5 minutes left on the timer and this butter is now a golden-brown, and smelling of hot butter-like fresh popcorn!  White curds are separating (very good!) and we want to keep an eye on the ghee because when the curds turn from white to light brown then we’ll remove this from the heat and allow cooling. TIP* Remember I said we are removing all the water via evaporation? Take a clear glass and turn it over, upside down overtop of the ghee.  Place the brim just overtop of the ghee and wait for the glass to collect evaporation.  If you are collecting evaporation, the ghee is not finished.

 

Is your 25-minute timer complete, but your ghee is not?   No worries! Don’t let it burn- keep the heat on low.  Since this varies from one stovetop to the next, look for the ghee to gently simmer. Stir occasionally, and gently. When ghee is complete, we need to place the 2 layers of cheesecloth into mesh metal strainer.  Run the ghee through the cheesecloth and mesh strainer. Sometimes I use just the strainer without cheesecloth and that is fine for day to day cooking while other times I want the ghee incredibly smooth, so I include cheesecloth, too).

STORE in airtight container away from moisture to prevent spoilage.  Use clean, dry spoons when serving ghee. Does not need to be stored in refrigerator and ghee is said to improve with age.

Use the glass trick for help finalizing the ghee creation process!

Use the glass trick for help finalizing the ghee creation process!

Don’t be afraid to mess up this ghee-making process once or twice before feeling comfortable. At the beginning, I would begin smelling the ghee I made after a few weeks.  I was a little nervous I left moisture in there and spoilage was in the future.  This is why the glass trick is so helpful.  You KNOW when the water moisture is out. Enjoy and have fun bringing Yoga & Ayurveda into your household!
Namaste

Ayurveda Yoga Life with Lisa Snowden

Ayurveda Yoga Life with Lisa Snowden

 

 

 

 

Follow Lisa Snowden on her urban, travel filled-life where her goal is to, “Feel at home – Everywhere I go.” Using Ayurveda and yoga lessons, she keeps herself cool and grounded with the right tools. Her Ayurveda Yoga Life lessons will help you keep grounded, too, despite the busy, dare we say AIRY Nature of our lives in the world we live in.   Calendar of Upcoming Teachings – coming soon. Responses and comments are welcome via Lisa’s Ayurveda Yoga Life page on Facebook.
Lisa on Instagram

25 minute ghee making with Lisa Snowden, Ayurvedic yoga Specialist

25 minute ghee making with Lisa Snowden, Ayurvedic yoga Specialist

Recreational yoga reading does a mind good

Recreational reading is an indulgence in itself so offering time for the body to rest, and mind to expedition in the teaching of B.K.S. Iyengar is quite the luxury. Within the first fifty page, I connect to his words pertaining to the “real” goal of a yoga instructor is to teach the students expansion, and then extension.  It feels in asana we spend years “extending” and after time and time of practice the space to really expand occurs and we begin to experience the freedom.  Space creates freedom.

Despite the yoga upbringing in my early adult years favored Ashtanga, my desire for a teaching training program led me to Marianne Wells, an Iyengar teacher from Minnesota offering teacher training immersions in Costa Rica. There, in her training, I began to find the  deeper, and much more vast than I had imagined history and distinct lineages of yoga available to us.

Years later, textbooks on Ayurveda and trainings have surrounded me for some time, and I’ve put off learning Spanish (with commitment!) and painting that hallway in my home just isn’t going to happen this summer. Despite numerous other projects sit by the wayside, including my garden this year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed absorbing more content than I’ve previously interpreted from a master of asana and yoga teachings, B.K.S. Iyengar in his book, “Light on Life”.  Pick it up on paperback or digital. He is an example of great ability to take ancient science of yoga and establish comprehension for the modern yogi.

An indulgent read from a wise master of yoga

An indulgent read from a wise master of yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ayurveda and the importance of spring cleanse for body and mind

According to Ayurveda, spring is the season for growth. Mother Natures wakes up from her slumber and SPROUTS!  Energy moves upward and spring is considered the “king of seasons”!

In many parts of the country, spring means snow melting.  We make this transition from cold, icy winter ice and snow to hot summer through the sticky, wet transition of snow melting.  Similarly, accumulated kapha dosha can show as liquefaction in the body, causing allergies, spring colds and runny noses.

Spring cleanse is a method for cleansing and purifying the body of excess doshas and accumulated toxins.  A gentle cleanse is nourishing and has a dramatic effect even if introducing techniques of Ayurveda into a person’s life. Subtle cleanse consists of mind-body care techniques and optional 3-5 days of kitchari mono-diet.  The Ayurvedic goal for spring cleanse is simply to create easy digest for body, and mind.

Offering the body rest and rejuvenation during this seasonal change prepares our physical and mental self for positive growth in spring.  Learn about living your life in balance by becoming familiar with Ayurvedic techniques suitable for you and helping you achieve your full potential.