I awoke January 1, 2017 still tired, feeling the lingering effects of a nasty cold and flu that I got hit with exactly 3 days earlier, in the white cold of snowy Whistler, Canada; where we were hunkered down in a cabin with dear friends and our children. The highlight of the last night for me had been sending the kids off to bed at 9 p.m. with sparkling apple juice amidst the sparkling ice. No champagne, no dessert, I didn’t make it past 10 p.m. and didn’t have a choice. I was in the thick of an icky feeling winter flu. A part of me rallied against it. I wanted to be more festive, I wanted to talk, to enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner, but the inner quieter part of myself was more real.
That voice said, “You’ve been pushing too hard, you just need to slow down.”
I never seem to make enough granola. In our home it disappears in a few days. As I was digging through my most coveted recipes on this blog, I found this one from the sweet, seaside town of Sayulita, Mexico, where now almost nine years ago we ran one of our amazing Yoga.Ecology.Surf retreats at a secluded retreat centre called Haramara, It was a perfect post 2010 Winter Olympic respite. From the snow to the surf.
We practiced in the gorgeous circular shalas overlooking the tropical Pacific Ocean, surfed easy waves and filled our bellies with happy food.
I looked forward in particular to breakfast every day, and ate copious amounts of this light, yet filling and flavourful granola. This granola is a speciality of Luis, who was the smiling chef at Harmara that season and is made with amaranth, one of the ancient grains of the planet. First recorded as being consumed by the Aztecs, amaranth’s iron content exceeds that of whole-grain wheat, it is high in lysine, a beneficial protein, its fibre content has been proven to fight cancer and heart disease.
Amaranth also contains minimal gluten, making this a tasty and nutritionally beneficial way to start your day, espcially if you have a sensitivity to gluten or celiac disease.
Luis graciously parted with his recipe. Here is my adaptation of the original.
6 cups popped amaranth
1/6 cup steel cut oats
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup almonds sliced
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup flax seeds
1 cup grated dry coconut
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil
pinch of himalayan sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon and cardamom or 1/2 tsp lavender and cardamom
Melt the coconut oil until it is liquid.
Mix together all ingredients except raisins.
Toast in oven (160 – 180 degrees C), mix occasionally until golden, this will take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes depending on your oven, so do watch it carefully.
Add raisins. Let cool and enjoy.
You can store granola in an airtight jar for a few weeks in a cool, dry place.
Ask for “popped” amaranth, you may have to look for it in a latin foods specialty market. If you can find any online sources, let me know.
Let’s get real. Life is amazing, beautiful and so over-stimulating.
How can we stay healthy, vital, happy and find BALANCE, when all we are trying to do is tick off the boxes on our daily to-do lists? Are you tired of ricocheting from one extreme in your life to another? Do you want to take your health and attitude from a place of being “just ok” to feeling amazing, nourished and revitalized from the inside out? It’s time for a RADICAL RESET. Blissology founder Eoin Finn and his wife Insiya Rasiwala-Finn know the travails of navigating through both the bliss and the challenges of life all too well. Over years of yoga and life practice they’ve discovered that there are essential daily rituals we need to do every day in order to feel inspired, whole, balanced and happy. Join Eoin and Insiya in Bali, Indonesia for the Radical Reset Blissology Detox Retreat in April 2015. The retreat will include the 5 Blissology Essential Daily Practices for health and vitality; delicious, plant-based, organic cuisine, most of it grown locally at Desa Seni, an eco village retreat center in beautiful Bali where we will host this retreat; 2 detox yoga classes daily, meditation, a Blissology gratitude journal as well as 1 traditional healing Balinese massage. Expect to feel nourished, supported and loved as you transition into a place of feeling amazing, joyful and vital and radiant. We cannot wait for you to join us. NAMASTE, Eoin + Insiya Finn Dates: April 18 – 25, 2015 Location: At Desa Seni, an eco-village retreat centre in Canggu, Bali. Retreat Includes:
- All organic, vegan and vegetarian meals + detox juices, fresh coconut water and herbal teas.
- 2 daily yoga classes: Morning invigorating and evening restorative Blissology Flows.
- A Gratitude Journal
- 1 Traditional Balinese Healing Massage
- Balinese Cleansing Ceremony
- 7 nights accommodation at eco luxe retreat centre Desa Seni, Bali
- Airport pick up from and drop off.
- Accommodation ranges from triple share to single Javanese bungalows.
From$1,845 US (*Early Bird Triple Room Share) email retreats (at) blissology.com for more information *The retreat does not include travel to and from Bali.
If you follow my instagram feed, you may notice that I often post pictures of some of my cold-pressed juice and smoothie concoctions. What you may also know about me is that I study Ayurveda, the ancient philosophy of healing from India, which offers practical advice on every aspect of our lives, but specifically how we can be well so that we can live fulfilled, happy lives.
What does this have to do with green smoothies? Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that green smoothies and green juices and juice cleanses are trendy and seen as the ultimate hip and skinny card everywhere from LA to Mumbai. Now, you may, by their very virtue of being green, consider green smoothies to be healthy. And I don’t blame you. I would. After all, they are jam-packed with fibrous green veggies, fresh fruit and immune boosting, antioxidant super foods. And all in a delicious blend of drinkable goodness. How on earth could your body not want to down that?
Well, according to Ayurveda, green smoothies may actually be impairing your health, not enhancing it. Here are a couple of things you may want to consider before you down your next green drink.
1. While your green smoothie may be full of nutrients, your body may not be able to absorb them.
This is partly dependent on the “quality” of the ingredients as well as the strength of your internal digestive fire or agni. Green smoothies tend to be served and drunk cold – many recipes call for chilled water, frozen fruit and ice, so they are cold in quality. Also, fibrous vegetables such as celery or broccoli as well as leafy greens such as kale and spinach can be dry and rough on the digestive system – they require more moistness to be digested – think about how delicious kale sautéed in olive or coconut oil is and how different it feels in your belly vs eating a piece of raw, fresh from the fridge kale. Further, fruit is sweet, and sweet things according to Ayurveda especially when cold, can also dampen our Agni or digestive fire. over time, if you have a weak digestive system to begin with, drinking cold, sweet green smoothies will impair your digestion and you will feel an increase of the cold, dry vata quality or dosha, which as it promotes a sense of unevenness or variability, can lead to a feeling of gas, bloating;as well as dryness of the skin, hair, brittleness of the nails and cracking of the joints.
2. Too much raw food can decrease your vitality or OJAS:
Many raw food enthusiasts can attest to the vitalising, energetic effects of eating only raw foods. It’s almost euphoric and to be honest, when I tried to “go raw” for some time, I felt some of that clarity and lightness. But over time, this can deplete not just our fat tissues but also deeper tissues that provide structure and stability to our bodies and minds from the inside out. In Ayurveda, we call this rooted sense of vitality Ojas. We’re talking literally about the marrow in our bones, our reproductive/ sexual tissue and our nerves. And we definitely don’t want to deplete our Ojas. We want to nourish it.
3. Green smoothies confuse our digestive system:
Our Agni likes simplicity, especially in a complicated world. Ayurvedic cleanses suggest that we go on a mono-diet of a simple rice/lentil soupy stew called khichadi. Meanwhile green smoothies are often chock full of various ingredients and fortified with super foods. Dense, heavy foods are hard for our bodies to make sense of. While the blending action does help with “pre-digestion” it is not the same as cooking fresh vegetables together in a light soup with warming spices, where they actually have time to meld their disparate qualities together and offer a more cohesive, nourishing meal for our bodies.
So, have I turned you off from green smoothies? That is not my intention! I love a green smoothie now and then, especially in the summer and also as a way to get in a dose of greens into my toddler.
Here are some Ayurvedic inspired tips to make your next green smoothie delicious, nutritious and digestible so that your unique body and mind feels alive, vital and grounded. I’ve also shared a recipe for my current favourite summer green smoothie.
Makeover your Green Smoothie:
1. Warm it up:
Keep ingredients at room temperature, or even use warm water, or a slightly warmed nut milk or whatever liquid you are using as a base.
2. Use fresh produce,
or as close to fresh ingredients as possible. (And ideally, of course, organic).
3. Spice it up:
Add lemon, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, cardamom or cinnamon, all of which are warming in their quality and will help to “heat” up the other ingredients and so make them more digestible.
4. Minimize the sugar:
Use less fruit so you avoid the added dampening effects of the sweet taste. You’ll be surprised at how little sweet you need, when the ingredients are simple and delicious. FYI, raw honey is considered to have a “warming effect” according to ayurveda and if you do need a little bit of sweetness, this is the sweet I would recommend. I also like vanilla bean, and cinnamon both of which add a sweet flavour.
5. Keep it simple.
Use just a few veggies, maybe one type of fruit, and instead of filling up on the super foods, choose one and see how your body feels with it. Also notice how much more flavourful and interesting things taste when you don’t combine too much.
6. Get fatty:
Use a good fats for digestibility and slow absorption of the nutrients. Cold pressed coconut oil and avocado are nice options.
7. Become besties with your digestive system:
Get to know it intimately. Is it strong and fiery, or variable, or is it slow and consistent? If you have a fiery, fast digestion, chances are that you will be able to digest a green smoothie pretty easily. If your digestion however is slower, or more variable, you may need to amp up the warming herbs and also make a lighter, simpler concoction. Also, alternating warming, herbal teas, or just warm water, when you sip a smoothie, even in the summer may be a good thing for you to do to balance your system out more.
8. Consider the when and the where:
Everything in Ayurveda is connected to our larger environment. For example, would drinking a cool smoothie be better for you in the heat of the summer or on a wintry cold day? In the tropics or in rainy Ireland? Early in the morning, or later in the day, when the sun is stronger? You probably figured out the answer. Yes, summer in the tropics and later in the morning is probably the best time and place to drink a cool, green smoothie and to have more raw vegetables in our diet.
I have had to work hard to cultivate a stronger digestive fire or agni, which is why I pay such stringent attention to what and how I drink and eat. It’s pretty much essential for me to stay healthy.
On that note, here is my current favourite summer smoothie. I’ve also offered variations so you can switch it up. It is a delicious blend of mostly greens with some lemon / lime to help with digestion, ginger, and pear which is such a lovely summer fruit. You could also substitute with green apple, or other seasonal fruit of your choice. I chose spirulina as an additional “superfood” as it has amazing detoxifying and antioxidant benefits and is a good, easily absorbable source of iron. I also love how a little bit in a smoothie adds a nice ocean seaweed-y taste. Feel free to vary this recipe by cutting out the avocado if you find it to be too thick, using water instead of coconut water and even adding cinnamon or fresh mint leaves. Mostly, enjoy it, taste it and see how it feels in your belly.
Wave Rider: An Ayurvedic Summer Green Smoothie.
- 1 organic pear (or green apple, or even a delicious summer nectarine): sliced or diced
- 1 organic lime or lemon: peeled / squeeze in the juice
- 1/2 organic avocado: sliced or diced
- 6 – 8 organic spinach or 4 – 5 kale leaves
- 1 to 2 tsp spirulina 1 cup water or coconut water: in Canada, i use the Cocos Pure cans as i like their clean taste.
- 1 tsp cold pressed organic coconut oil
- 1/4″ grated organic ginger or ginger chunk (if you need a little more heat, add a bit more to taste)
- Optional: a pinch of cardamom powder and some bee pollen to sprinkle on top before drinking.
Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Add some more water if it is a bit too thick. Taste for sweetness, if needed, add a tiny bit of honey and enjoy this deliciousness a little later in the morning, when the sun is high. Namaste + Happy Summer and I hope you’ve had a wonderful start to the week. Insiya
ps. I found 2 great posts on the blogosphere discussing the same topic with a similar viewpoint and i wanted to share them. Check them out especially the first one as they provide some valuable background info.
From Mudita Institute in Byron Bay, Australia:
From Daily Ayurveda
I first met Andrea Sergeant, the bubbly force behind holistic nutrition and lifestyle company Healthy Delicious in Sayulita, Mexico, almost six years ago. At the time, she was trying to decide what she wanted to focus on in her life and knew it somehow related to health, inspiring others and yoga. A half-decade later, she is embodying her life mission.
I was honoured when she reached out to feature me on her blog. You can read my interview here and glean her site for great tips and recipes on living a balanced, healthy and delicious life. Thanks Andrea.
From the Yogue archives. This is a favourite and perfect here in the tropics where are living for the next few months. Even if you are in colder climes, the ginger will warm this brew up and depending on your Ayurvedic constitution, you may add a little more or less. Please do use organic ingredients!
4 stalks celery diced
1 apple sliced
1 lemon, zest and all cut into chunks
1/2 ” ginger or more to taste
1/2 bunch cilantro chopped coarsely
Juice the veggies and fruit beginning with the ginger and alternating the cilantro leaves (which have a tendency to clog up the juicer) with the apple slices. Drink it fresh. Serves one.
Enjoy + namaste.
The World Health Organization announced yesterday that cell phones can possibly cause cancer. Whether you’re rolling your eyes, or sitting upright in disbelief, you are probably paying attention. Yes, this is important to our health, especially given that currently, worldwide, there are 5 billion cell phones in service, this amongst a global population of a little over 6 billion.
According to Ayurvedic teachings, Fall is a time of increased Vata, or the wind / air element that exists in all of us. Think about the wind blowing off leaves from the trees around and the dryness in the air (even in the Pacific Northwest) and you’ll feel a sense of the Vata force. To protect yourself against Vata’s tendency towards speed, lightness (also dryness), coldness and with it nervous and anxious emotions, try to slow down, dress warmly and eat simple, whole foods to warm your organs, particularly your kidneys and lungs.