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Archive for the ‘Guest Blogger’ Category

Nov
23
2011

 

Kaumudi Marathé is a journalist and chef from Maharashtra, India.  She founded Un-Curry, a cooking school and catering company in Southern California in 2007 to shatter the myth that all Indian food is curry.  Her California Indian style of cooking blends local, seasonal, fresh, organic ingredients with spices and techniques from her homeland.

Kelyacha Shira (Cardamom-Scented Bananas)

In Maharashtra, where I come from, this is a popular and nutritious snack for people who are fasting.  It is simple and quick! You can make it with different kinds of ripe, firm bananas or with sweet potatoes, which work great for Thanksgiving dinner.

With bananas, this tastes like an Indian Bananas Foster.  With sweet potatoes it is a great alternative to candied yams or marshmallow topped sweet potato mash! And it makes a deliciously indulgent dessert served with cardamom whipped cream.

Serves 4
Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

6-8 medium-ripe bananas (or 3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled)
4 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
1-2 cloves (optional)

up to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2-3 cardamoms, powdered
pinch of salt

1.  Slice bananas into 1-inch thick rounds.  (Or grate sweet potato with the large holes of a box grater.  Or slice it thinly.)

2.  Heat ghee in a skillet.  Add cloves and stir briefly.

3.  Add the bananas gently to avoid mashing them.  Cook covered, 30 seconds to 1 minute.  If using sweet potato, sauté it 2-3 minutes, then cook covered (5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally.

4.  After 1 minute for bananas (5-6 minutes for sweet potato), stir in the sugar, a little at a time.  Taste the dessert before adding in all the sugar. 

5.  Stir and continue cooking, 1-4 minutes more, till the sugar bubbles and slightly caramelizes.  The banana / sweet potato should be tender.

6.  Stir in cardamom.  Serve hot as a snack or for breakfast.  Serve cool for dessert.

© The Essential Marathi Cookbook
by Kaumudi Marathé, Penguin India, 2009
www.un-curry.com
Un-Curry on Facebook

 

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Apr
29
2011
A Vegetarian Journey
Author: Guest Blogger

This post is authored by Sheena Patel – founder of wellness boutique Savsani.  Sheena has taught classes in positive psychology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, yogic principals at Harvard Business School and stress management at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Savsani offers comprehensive wellness programs for individual and corporate clients.

Growing up in the United States, most kids eat hamburgers, hot dogs and meatballs without thinking twice.  My sister and I grew up the same way, but at home we ate mainly a vegetarian diet, as my mother cooked with lentils, grains, vegetables and fruits.  My sister soon became a full-fledged vegetarian because she couldn’t handle the thought of how the animals were killed in the slaughterhouses.  However, I continued to eat meat.

As a passionate foodie I couldn’t bear the thought of having limited options at restaurants or when I cooked.  Soon enough though I too became a vegetarian, but it was purely because of my burgeoning interest in yoga.  I switched to cooking only vegetarian meals in the kitchen – combining techniques my grandmother and mother taught me with many of my favorite global cuisines of the world:  French, Chinese, Italian and Mediterranean.

Through my study of yoga and Ayurveda, I began to realize by trial, error and experimentation that the food that you eat can have an enormous impact on your health and the way that you feel.  I’m so thankful that India not only gave us yoga, but also the philosophy that food is a science that affects the whole of the body, mind and spirit.

Now many of my yoga clients are blessed to have a seasonal cleanse where SavSani delivers food for them to enhance the state of their body, mind and sprit.  After going through many cleanses I’ve noticed that the clients have changed the way they think about food.  Many clients entertain the thought of switching to a strict vegetarian diet while others go ahead and make the full transition.  It’s an interesting journey that they all embark upon according to their own timing and according to what feels right for them.

At this stage of my life and according to my current body type I feel wonderful eating a purely vegetarian diet.  I eat what Ayurveda call a pure sattvic diet – vegetarian fare consisting of local organic produce that’s cooked fresh everyday.  The ingredients in this type of diet are vegetables, whole grains, raw honey or turbino, nuts, oils, seeds, mild cooking spices, and organic dairy.  I feel very lucky that I’m now able to go back to the diet that my grandmother was raised on and still thrives on to this very day.  Food is a way I connect with her and with SavSani that makes me feel more whole.

Disclaimer: As with any physical activity, please consult with your primary care physician before practicing.

© 2011 SavSani
www.savsani.com
sheena@savsani.com

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Mar
30
2011
Who Is Your Guru in Life?
Author: Guest Blogger

This post is authored by Sheena Patel – founder of wellness boutique Savsani.  Sheena has taught classes in positive psychology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, yogic principals at Harvard Business School and stress management at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Savsani offers comprehensive wellness programs for individual and corporate clients.

A Guru is a spiritual teacher – a master – whose identification with the self is one and the same.  A Guru is one who guides students past their own limitations and helps them to reach their goal.  In yoga we understand that as humans we have a rare potential to transform ourselves pursuant to an extraordinary vision.  To put this vision to use in our lifetime is our highest duty, and it is something that our Guru can help us with.  So who is your Guru – your guide, or role model in life?

My Guru is my grandmother, Mani Savsani.  I feel lucky to be able to walk in her shoes by listening to her life experiences – especially her hardships, which she talks about as though they were a walk in the park (and even smiles about).

My grandmother faced many hardships.  She was held up at gunpoint during the Ugandan expulsion of Asian and British residents during Idi Amin’s rule.  She handed over all of the family’s business and properties and left for England without speaking a word of English.  Also, her husband, my grandfather, passed away as they moved west –  leaving her to raise the family without a dollar in her pocket.  No matter what life dealt her, she has always remained true to herself and has never let her spirit die.

Her spirit dictates equality towards all, a sense of truth and wise action.  It is her spirit that has brought me to found the wellness company Savsani.  Every time I teach a yoga session or give a lecture on stress management, I dedicate the class to the simple smile of my grandmother.  I see the smiles of my students as a reflection of my grandmother’s smile.

Ever since I can remember, she has been my guide.  I am always watching, listening and learning from her.  Being able to pull pure inspiration on how she leads her life is empowering and gives me direction.

Everyone nowadays talks about the power of intention, but at times it’s uncertain how one’s intention or vision can manifest itself.  A “power of intention” can lead someone to align themselves with their role model.  This can be their father, their coworker, their teacher or anyone capable of providing guidance.

I often do a simple exercise to continue to realign myself with my Guru by asking myself three questions:  1) why is Mani Savsani a role model in my life? 2) What aspects about Mani Savsani do I strive to embody?  3) How is it that Mani Savsani has a constant smile on her face regardless of the circumstances of the environment that she’s in?  For me it’s a short meditation to get me realigned and to have my Guru show me direction, often times in the middle of darkness.  This alignment automatically creates solutions and a path no matter what I’m going through in my life.

So after following the “power of my intention” to connect with my Guru, I’ve found the true vision for my life which is to have everyone that I come across feel the same smile that I feel when I’m in the presence of my grandmother.  Year after year through one person followed by another the SavSani spirit will live on forever.

© 2011 SavSani

www.savsani.com

sheena@savsani.com

 

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Feb
25
2011
Fun & Simple Music Games
Author: Guest Blogger

 

Image: Audio CD Cover –  Elizabeth Mitchell, Smithsonian Folkways Recording Artist

This post is authored by Kavita Bafana, Co-Founder and Director at Little Ustaads.  Little Ustaads offers play-based musical education classes for children ages 0-5 in the New York/New Jersey area and in Mumbai.  The curriculum is designed to encourage children and parents to discover and appreciate the world of Indian classical music through rhythmic tunes, rich vocals, mini instruments and vibrant visuals.

Here are 2 simple games to teach some basic concepts of Indian Classical Music.

Learn the Hindustani Sargam

To teach the Hindustani sargam to children, it is best to make it visual and fun.  We can do this by building a make-believe tower with our fists. Place one fist on top of the other and then take the bottom fist and put it on top.  Keep taking the bottom fist and moving it on top of the other.  Do this 7 times to represent the seven notes.  The sargam consists of the building blocks that make up all of Indian Classical Music; hence we make a visual tower with our fists.  This can be done individually or by holding your child’s hands.

1.  Have the children first build building blocks (one fist on top of the other and repeat) and say “lets build blocks with our hands.”
2.  Once the child has gotten the hang of building with their fists, then build a pretend tower of putting your fists on top of each other 7 seven times – to represent 7 building blocks of Indian music.  The idea is to associate one fist with one note.
3.  Then say the seven building blocks of our sargam with each hand starting with sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha and ni.

Peek-a-Boo Basuri

To teach a child what a basuri sounds like, play a game they know – Peek-a-Boo – with a twist.

1.  Play a short piece of basuri music and cover your face with a small piece of cloth.
2.  Then suddenly stop the music and say “peek-a-boo!”
3.  Then repeat this a few times.  The child will be waiting to hear the basuri music and listening hard for the music to stop.  They will naturally absorb what a basuri sounds like!

© 2010 Little Ustaads

www.littleustaads.com
newyork@littleustaads.com
773-744-1662

Little Ustaads currently runs programs in NY, NJ and Mumbai, and is seeking partners in other parts of the world. Please contact them if you are interested in setting up a Little Ustaads Franchise or Partnership.

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Feb
23
2011

This post is authored by Kavita Bafana, Co-Founder and Director at Little UstaadsLittle Ustaads offers play-based musical education classes for children ages 0-5 in the New York/New Jersey area and in Mumbai. The curriculum is designed to encourage children and parents to discover and appreciate the world of Indian classical music through rhythmic tunes, rich vocals, mini instruments and vibrant visuals.

1. Prarthna

Description: A genre of Indian classical music

Developmental Benefits: Children learn about Indian culture and values through song

2.  Sargam

Description: Understanding and identifying Indian notation and pitch – sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni are the 7 building blocks that make up all of Indian classical music.

Developmental Benefits: Helps build word associations; easy short sounds for children to sing along with and to learn pitch and sequencing.

3.  Aroha vs Avoha

Description: Aroha is singing the Sargam from bottom to top – ascending –  (Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni and Sa), while Avoha is singing the Sargam from top to bottom – decending – (Sa, Ni , Dha, Pa, Ma, Ga, Re and Sa).

Developmental Benefits: Teaches sequencing, builds listening skills and introduces pitch.

4.  Raga

Description: A series of 5 or more musical notes (Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni) upon which a melody is made. Particular ragas are associated with different times of the day, or with seasons.

Developmental Benefits: Allows children to listen, distinguish and respond to different sounds, rhythms and pitches.  Sharpens listening skills while teaching children to vizualize music.

5.  Taal

Description: Rhythm and Beats

Developmental Benefits: Emphasizes understanding of basic counting skills.  Builds hand-eye coordination.

6.  Laya

Description: Speed or Tempo

Developmental Benefits: Helps children understand slow versus fast and builds coordination while listening to different speeds.

7.  Vilampit vs. Madhya vs. Drut

Description: Vilampit is the slowest tempo, Madhya is a mid-range tempo and Drut is fast tempo.

Developmental Benefits: Helps children understand slow versus fast and builds coordination while listening to different speeds.

8.  Tabla

Description: Indian percussion instrument consisting of a pair of hand drums.

Developmental Benefits: Develops an understanding of the difference between beating, blowing and strumming instruments to make music.  Sharpens children’s listening skills.

9.  Bansuri

Description: A woodwind instrument that has seven holes and is played by being blown into.

Developmental Benefits: Develops an understanding of the difference between beating, blowing and strumming instruments to make music.  Sharpens children’s listening skills.

10.  Sitar

Description: A string instrument that has a long neck and lots of strings.

Developmental Benefits: Develops an understanding of the difference between beating, blowing and strumming instruments to make music.  Sharpens children’s listening skills.

© 2010 Little Ustaads

www.littleustaads.com
newyork@littleustaads.com
773-744-1662

Little Ustaads currently runs programs in NY, NJ and Mumbai, and is seeking partners in other parts of the world. Please contact them if you are interested in setting up a Little Ustaads Franchise or Partnership.

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Feb
21
2011

This post is authored by Kavita Bafana, Co-Founder and Director at Little UstaadsLittle Ustaads offers play-based musical education classes for children ages 0-5 in the New York/New Jersey area and in Mumbai.  The curriculum is designed to encourage children and parents to discover and appreciate the world of Indian classical music through rhythmic tunes, rich vocals, mini instruments and vibrant visuals.

Why is Indian classical music important for Indian children growing up in the West?

Surrounded by Western influences, we face a difficult task of raising children that will accept, appreciate and embrace our Indian culture.  As determined parents, we may try many things like consistently speaking a native language, dancing to Bollywood tunes or serving children traditional foods.  These and other activities are beneficial, but we still lack the ability to speak to them at their level and to make them feel that they are part of a larger community – that all the things they are doing at home are not just unique to them, but rather are followed by many other children like themselves.  Indian classical music can be an amazing medium to captivate and connect our children to each other and their rich background right from birth.

I was fortunate to have parents that introduced me to the wonders of Indian classical music through Kathak, a North Indian classical dance.  I learned language, culture and values that are core to our rich Indian traditions.  Growing up in New York, the opportunity to excel in Indian classical dance allowed me to connect to my Indian community and be unique among my Western classmates.  This hobby has shaped me into who I am today and I am excited to pass it along to my children.

After having twins, I wanted them to have the same upbringing I was lucky to have, but I found my options limited.  With the prevalence of Western children’s music and Indian classical training beginning at age 6, I wanted to immerse them in sound patterns and melodies that children do not experience at school or at home –  such as the sitar or raag bilawal – as early as possible.  Fortunately, I was able to work with a friend on this need and we created a curriculum for children designed to teach Indian classical music through play and dance.  I saw my twins build their Hindi vocabulary, develop familiarity with unique Indian instruments and train their ears to actively listen.  As they have grown up, I can see the benefits:  this early and sustained exposure has piqued their interest in pursuing different aspects of this art—primarily playing tabla and singing and dancing.

Another benefit of pursuing Indian classical music for children is to train ourselves as parents.  For those of us that have not been exposed to Indian classical music, we have the opportunity to learn what is a raag, what is a sargam and how to count teen taal.  For those of us that have been immersed in the art, it provides a time to focus on transferring that experience to our children.  In our busy schedule as parents or grandparents, we need organized time where we are completely there with our children, and Indian classical music can be a medium to provide that focused time to bond, learn and communicate.

For me, it is not a question of whether Indian classical music is better than Western classical music.  It is about speaking to children in a language they understand—music— while reaping the multiple other benefits to immerse them in their rich heritage.

© 2010 Little Ustaads
www.littleustaads.com
newyork@littleustaads.com
773-744-1662

Little Ustaads currently runs programs in NY, NJ and Mumbai, and is seeking  partners in other parts of the world.  Please contact them if you are interested in setting up a Little Ustaads Franchise or Partnership.

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Feb
18
2011
Yoga With Your Kids
Author: Guest Blogger

This post is authored by Sheena Patel – founder of wellness boutique Savsani.  Sheena has taught classes in positive psychology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, yogic principals at Harvard Business School and stress management at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Savsani offers comprehensive wellness programs for individual and corporate clients.

Become a yoga role model for your next generation!  This article will give you some tips on how to help your kids get into the yoga spirit.

People are interesting creatures.  Next time you are around another parent, observe how they talk to their child.  Is the child paying attention to the parent?  You may notice the child looking away in the opposite direction, or playing with her hair, but odds are that she is not paying attention. You may find yourself in the same position with your little ones when you are trying to lecture them on something that they just might not be listening to.  So what do you do?

Children of course don’t like to listen and and as they get older, it only gets worse.  The best way to encourage good habits is for parents to set an example.  Children are not likely to forget something they see in action.  As Indians we are truly blessed with the wealth of knowledge on how to live a fulfilling and successful life through techniques from the Vedas.  So why not implement those techniques and become profound role models for our little ones?

You can start by practicing the asanas that SavSani had recommended in last month’s article Resolution Yoga :: One Asana a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.  Just pull out your mat first thing in the morning and start practicing.  Make it a routine for yourself and encourage your little one to join in – he or she will surely be intrigued.

As you make yoga part of your routine, your little one will recognize the importance of this daily ritual.  You probably won’t even need to say anything – they will soon be trying to copy and practice by your side.  But beware!  Soon enough they might be practicing a better cobra or bridge than you as their bodies haven’t yet been infused with stress and tension.

Giving kids the gift of yoga is one of the best gifts that you can give them.  Not only will it stay with them for the rest of their lives, but it will also be something that they can remember you by.  Being on the mat side by side is truly a beautiful connection you can have with them in that special quite place where your energy is purely positive.

So this February continue to practice the asanas that were given to you in January, but this time make sure that you have a little friend or two by your side to keep you company and perhaps even practice with you.  Happy yoga-ing!

Disclaimer: As with any physical activity, please consult with your primary care physician before practicing.

© 2011 SavSani
www.savsani.com
sheena@savsani.com

Image via Google Images

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Jan
20
2011

 

This post is authored by Sheena Patel – founder of wellness boutique Savsani.  Sheena has taught classes in positive psychology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, yogic principals at Harvard Business School and stress management at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Savsani offers comprehensive wellness programs for individual and corporate clients.

What’s your resolution this year?

Often times, people start off the New Year hoping for drastic change, yet feel stressed in trying to accomplish their goals.  However, by picking simple, good habits you’ll have the courage to move forward and succeed.

On average it takes about three weeks to fully incorporate good habits into your existing routine – so 21 days is the magic number.  If you do not practice yoga already, starting with one simple asana (body posture) every day can bring a happier and healthier you!  Below are recommended asanas for each workday to get you started.  Believing in yourself while moving through each posture, breathing deeply and allowing to connect with yourself for a few minutes each morning is sure to give you a boost every day.

MondayJanu Sirsasana (known as the “head to knee forward bend”)

To practice this pose, start in a relaxed seated position with legs extended.  Pull your right foot on the inner left thigh. Reach forward with both of your hands – bringing your head towards your knee.  Hold for about 30 seconds then move to the opposite side, repeating this posture twice on each side.

This posture helps to clam you, stretches the back sides (back of the back, back of the Legs), massages the kidneys and livers, improves digestion and lowers high blood pressure.

TuesdayTrikonasana (known as the “triangle pose”)

To practice this pose, stand straight, with your feet wider than the width of your shoulder blades.  Stretch to the left, raising your right hand and drawing your left hand towards your knee –  further towards your ankle.  Hold for about 30 seconds then move to the opposite side, repeating this posture three times on each side.

This posture helps you stretch the thighs, knees and ankles, improves digestion and has a calming effect.

WednesdayBhujangasana (known as the “cobra” pose)

To practice this pose, lie on your front side and relax your entire body.  Place your left palm underneath your shoulder-blades, and raise your head up.  Then, pushing against the floor with your other palm, slowly raise your torso higher off the ground, pushing as high as you feel comfortable with.  Hold for about 10 seconds, repeating this posture three times.  NOTE: the image is an advanced variation.

This posture helps to strengthen the spine, chest and lungs, improves digestion and helps relive anxiety.

ThursdayTadasana (known as the “mountain” pose)

To practice this pose, place your feet slightly apart so that your toes are parallel.  Rock back and forth until you feel that your weight is balanced evenly on the feet.  Let the rest of your body relax and your eyes soften to a glare in front of you.  Hold for 60 seconds in a steady position.  NOTE: this image is a variation with an added prayer position.

This posture helps to improve posture, reduce flat feet and strengthens the abdomen and buttocks.

FridayArdha Matsyendrasana (known as the “half spinal twist”)

To practice this pose, extend your legs in front of you.  Bend the right leg and place your right foot on the left side of your left knee.  Draw your left elbow on the right side of your right knee and twist towards the right placing your right palm on the floor behind you.  Hold is for about 20 seconds then move to the other side, repeating this posture twice on each side.  NOTE: this image is an advanced variation.

This posture helps to strengthen the shoulders, hips and back, gives a stretch to the full spine and helps to relieve backache and fatigue.

Disclaimer:  As with any physical activity, please consult with your primary care physician before practicing.

© 2011 SavSani
www.savsani.com
sheena@savsani.com

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Nov
19
2010
A Recipe For Wellness
Author: Guest Blogger

This post is authored by Dr. Jay Apte – renowned Ayurvedic physician and expert.  Dr. Apte is the founder of the Ayurveda Institute of America, AyurFoods and Herbal Care (one of the first companies to develop, manufacture and market genuine Ayurvedic food supplements in the United States).  She has also established a Health & Nature Wellness Center (in Northern California) and started schools in Houston, TX, Foster City, CA and Los Angeles, CA.  Dr. Apte is a past president of the CAAM and is on the NAMA board of directors.

Now a days, “health” is defined as the “absence of disease.”  Well,  that is not correct.  Health comes first before the disease.  Ayurveda agrees.  As a matter of fact, preserving the health of the healthy person is Ayurveda’s first goal.

Ayurveda defines health or wellness as the balance at Body-Mind-Spirit level.
*  Experiencing zest of energy, having a good metabolism and getting sound sleep at night are signs of physical balance.
*  Experiencing peace of mind and feeling happy and enthusiastic are signs of mental balance.
*  Having faith and a positive attitude is an (intellectual) spiritual balance.

With such a balanced state, you will enjoy life, your immune system will be strong and you will be disease free.

Let me give you an analogy.  Think about your car.  You take good care of it.  You fill the expensive gas, change the oil every 3-4 months and do the other maintenance work – so it will keep on running smoothly.  And it will take you wherever you want to go.

Similarly you have to take good care of your body – fill it with the right foods instead of junk or processed foods, give it a rest every night for 6-8 hours instead of staying up late, do oil massages periodically, do yearly Panchakarma to detox and cleanse the body, exercise and meditate regularly to keep it fit.  Then your body will also help you go where you want to go in life and achieve what you want to achieve.

You may change the car every 4 years or even every year.  If it breaks down, you may fix it, but it will not run exactly the same as before.  Unfortunately you can’t change your body in a lifetime – you get it only once.  Even if you fix it by treating the diseases or doing the surgeries, or changing the parts, it will not run as smoothly as before.  So you should take utmost care of it?

You probably won’t be able to concentrate at work with severe low back pain or insomnia?  You likely won’t enjoy gourmet food with digestive problems or eating disorders.   You won’t be able to hike and bike if you have chronic fatigue or pain.  Then why not put your health first?

Here is the recipe for wellness:

Serves: 1                      Calories per serving: 0

*  3 meals/day
*  20-30 minutes of morning meditation and Pranayama (breathing exercise)
*  1 hour of exercise/yoga
*  6-8 hours of sound sleep
*  Following the daily routine

Directions:  Combine all the ingredients and savor your health.

In old days the grandparents used to pay attention to everybody’s health.  I remember my grandmother who was the center of our family.  If we had a stomachache, she used to give us a pinch of Ajwan (a digestant spice) and in an hour, the stomachache would disappear.  For cold or congestion, she had a glass of ginger tea or turmeric tea ready.  If somebody complained of a headache, she would put a ginger paste on the forehead.  These home remedies were very effective.  Unfortunately these days, grandparents have disappeared, so it is parents’ responsibility to make some time for the healthy routine.  They have an added responsibility.  They have to adhere to healthy habits themselves, because they know the kids don’t do what they tell them to do, but kids do absord their parents’ habits.  After all, actions speak louder than words.

In our Wellness Center, we bring this ancient wisdom back into our modern life and help our clients to follow the healthy routine.  We offer Ayurvedic consultations, yoga classes, meditation classes, cooking classes and educational seminars to educate people about healthy habits.   Remember, ”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

© 2010 Dr. Jay Apte
www.hnwellness.com

(image by Google images)

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Nov
17
2010
Let Food Be Your Medicine!
Author: Guest Blogger

This post is authored by Dr. Jay Apte – renowned Ayurvedic physician and expert.  Dr. Apte is the founder of the Ayurveda Institute of America, AyurFoods and Herbal Care (one of the first companies to develop, manufacture and market genuine Ayurvedic food supplements in the United States).  She has also established a Health & Nature Wellness Center (in Northern California) and started schools in Houston, TX, Foster City, CA and Los Angeles, CA.  Dr. Apte is a past president of the CAAM and is on the NAMA board of directors.

Tap into Ayurveda and see how your food can be your medicine!

Many diet fads (such as low/no fat diet, Atkin’s Diet, South Beach Diet, etc., come and go, but an Ayurvedic Prakriti (Body Constitution) – specific diet will always stay and be the right answer for your health and wellness.

Ayurveda looks at the qualities in the foods rather than counting the calories.  For example, foods loaded with cheese, cream and sugar are “heavy” in nature, while popcorn and dry toast are considered “light.”  Salad greens are “cold” while ginger, garlic, a glass of wine or salts are “hot” in potency.  A stew is moist and baked chicken is dry.  Which foods are right?  Everything is right or wrong, depending on your prakriti (Body Constitution).

The key is to balance your predominant dosha/s (qualities which make up your prakriti) with the right qualities of foods.  If your body constitution is Kapha-predominant (heavy and cold in nature), then light and warm foods are your answer.  Some slices of toast and a glass of ginger tea is a perfect breakfast choice.  A grilled vegetable or chicken sandwiches as lunch and then rice, dhal soup and baked veggies as dinner will help to alleviate allergies, colds and congestive headaches.  You will start to lose weight and feel more energetic.

If your personality is hot and angry (Pitha-predominant), cool foods will be your right choice.  That means more leafy greens and sweet fruits, mild spices and low salt.   Salads, grains, fruits and vegetables with mild spices such as cumin, coriander, fennel, cardamom, basil or mint or cilantro will help you keep balance and keep heart burn, acid reflux, skin problems and irritability at bay.

If you are like a busy bee – constantly buzzing around, feeling restless and listless and dry all over, with symptoms such as dry skin, dry lips, constipation, etc. (Vata-predominant), warm and moist foods will be your soul food.  A bowl of oatmeal cereal will be an ideal breakfast, and a bowl of hot soup and stew or gumbo is a good lunch.  Dinner can be rice and dal soup and steamed veggies.  Such moist and warm foods will balance the dry, light and cold qualities of Vata and also help prevent and treat anxiety, worry, constipation and aches and pains in the body.

Ayurveda also recommends other rituals about eating:

1.  Eat freshly prepared, home cooked foods.  Fresh foods are rich in Prana – the life energy.  Pranic foods are healing.  When you cook, you put in your positive energy – making the food Sattvic.  Sattva is clarity, purity, light.  Sattvic foods heal the Body and lighten the Mind.

2.  Eat seasonal vegetables and fruits.  Mother Nature provides right qualities in fruits and vegetables in the right season.  Cool salad greens are in abundance during hot summers.  Heavy and sweet squashes and pumpkins make their appearance in bitter cold winters.  Make a trip to the farmer’s market to buy your seasonal fruits and veggies.

3.  Eat three meals a day and zip your lips in between.  Fruit is OK in between, but not a bag of chips or cookies.  It takes 5-6 hours to digest food.  Small, frequent meals cause indigestion, which may produce a toxin called AmaAma becomes the cause of many diseases.

4.  Pay attention to your digestive fire:  Agni.   Agni digests the food.  If it is weak, the food stays undigested.  If it is too strong, it burns the food.  Your tongue is the mirror image of your digestive system.  Watch your tongue in the mirror every morning.  If it looks pink, you have a good digestive fire.  If it has thick white coating, your agni may be low.  You may have to pay better attention to foods you eat.

5.  Eat mindfully and with proper frame of mind.  Savor the food and enjoy the taste and texture.  Eat in a happy mood.  If you are angry while eating, you are swallowing the anger.  If sad, you are ingesting the sadness.  So eat with the proper frame of Mind.

6.  Feed somebody before you eat.  Share your food with the person who is with you.  If you are alone, feed your pet, water the house plant or throw a few bird seeds in your backyard.  It is like feeding the other Soul.

7.  Bless your food before eating.  The grains, the veggies and/or the animals are offering their life to become your food.  Respect them.  Also think about the hunger in the world.  Do not waste the food.

8.  Chew each bite 32 times.  Why?  Because you have 32 teeth.  Chewing improves digestion and absorption and does not spike the blood sugar too high too quickly.

In conclusion, eating is more than filling a bag.  It is the ritual for your health.  Know your doshas and create balance with the right foods.  Ayurvedic text has rightfully described the importance of food in the following verse:

 “If you are eating right foods, why do you need medicine?  If you are not, what is medicine going to do?”

© 2010 Dr. Jay Apte
www.hnwellness.com

(image by NCTFN)

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