Chinese Cold Tea

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Pride comes before a fall 🙂 Having boasted about not catching a cold for about 3 years, it was time to show some humility. I caught a cold.. not a nagging, 2-week long one that others had. Mine was just 3-days of suffering in all.. Could it be due to the benefits of yoga & meditation.. when you fall sick, recovery is quicker. Still the cold did not feel pleasant, all stuffy and tired.. I couldn’t do much. With a teaching job, I also couldn’t speak so had to bluohang1orrow a mike. My friend made some awesome Chinese tea that I really loved. It has a mystery ingredient that helps relieve colds.

When she brought me the mystery fruit from her special market, I rightaway made a huge pot of tea and kept sipping all day at work. My throat felt better, it was like a soft massage to my throat. Hope you enjoy this too.

Ingredients
1 luohanguo
3 fresh dates(use dry dates if fresh not available)
4-5 almonds, peeled
2 cups water
Spice Mix
1 tbsp crushed fresh ginger

Method

• Soak almonds in hot water and peel. Set aside.
• Boil 2 cups water with dates, luohanguo, almonds, and fresh ginger
• Remove from heat.
• Sip all day long.
• Hint: since the herbs and spices sit soaking in water, the tea can get strong through the day. But its caffeine free. Dilute with some fresh water when drinking.

Did you like this Chinese cold tea. When you try it, I’d love to hear how it helped your throat.20151107_120240

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–charuyoga–

 

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Crunchy roasted cayenne chickpeas

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Crunchy roasted channa are my favourite. They are a great street food and you can find them at every corner market in delhi. But I got tired of looking for this Delhi street food classic in grocery stores.  Stores in Canada tend to carry excessively salty & overly spiced roasted channa in packages. So I decided to make my own and was truly surprised by how good home made roasted channa can be. Nothing out of a can, nothing overly oily, or spiced, just hints of spices for an amazing home made snack.

Ingredients
1 cup chickpeas, soaked, rinsed and cooked till soft
Spice Mix
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Method

• Wash dry chickpeas thoroughly and soak in fresh water overnight. Next morning, rinse thoroughly and cook till soft. I use a pressure cooker as a great time saver.
• Set aside to cool.
• Meanwhile heat oven to 350 degrees C.

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• Wipe down cooked chickpeas thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel..so no trace of outside moisture remains. This is very important to get them crunchy.
• Toss in olive oil and let bake for about 20 minutes, turning once.

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• You’ll know chickpeas are done, when they smell like toasted heaven and coloured light caramel.
• Bring out of oven, shake cayenne pepper & salt to coat all over.
• Serve up with your favourite beverage, madras coffee is a great complement.

Try it by itself, or in salad. I added them as a topping to ruby jewel beet salad I took for a 15 k hike for my friends who love this salad..

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Or sprinkle them in your pastas. like I did for today’s lunch..so many possibilities.

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Reach for them in the afternoon when your energy levels dip for a healthy & tasty accompaniment to caffeine. Be warned! highly addictive..I polished off the first batch single-handedly in no time.

Hope you get to try my snack! Let me know how it came out for you. Most importantly let me know if you had any leftovers 🙂

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–charuyoga–

Mung dal puree for Iqaluit hunters and gatherers

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‘You and I take vegetarian food for granted’, said my friend Connie.

She was sharing her experience while helping the native Inuit of Iqaluit. ‘They find the texture of lentils unfamiliar. Its not part of their culture. They are hunters and gatherers’, she said.

Connie is right. I’m fortunate I was raised in a country like India. Where Its super easy to prepare light, unprocessed, sustainable recipes. I could easily cook lentils 365 days of the year and not have to repeat a recipe. I really feel for new vegans. Especially those for whom a veg diet is not part of their food culture.

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To help the people of Iqaluit, Connie has been fund raising for months. Iqaluit is a northern city closer to Greenland than it is to Ontario where I live.

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With the funds raised, she bought them this industrial grade food processor to puree their lentils. She’s flown off to Iqualuit to hand this off. So their lentils will be more palatable to their hunter – gatherer state. Wow, look at the size of that..I’m surprised Connie can even hold it up!

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I promised to write her an easy puree lentil recipe that they could blend in their soup kitchen as they transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer.

Ingredients
½ cup yellow mung beans

1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 tbsp fresh garlic
½ cup tomatoes
¼ cup onions
Spice mix
1 tbsp curry leaves or kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp fresh lemon/lime juice
1 big brown cardamom
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp fresh cilantro
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
Pinch hing

Method
• Wash mung beans thoroughly. Soak in 1 cup water and cook till soft.
• Chop onions, garlic and ginger and tomatoes. Set aside.
• Heat coconut oil in pan. Apsara tip – I’m excited & grateful to have a chance to introduce the hunter-gatherer inuit to vegan food.. I’m not sure what oils they have locally available so will leave choice of oil to them and to you. Coconut oil in my humble opinion is great. I believe its best not to judge choice of oil anyone wishes to use., but only point out what is healthy and best for body.
• Add cumin seeds, hing and then quickly add onions, garlic and ginger. Saute till cooked and soft.
• Add tomatoes and spices and let cook till soft.
• Add cooked mung beans and ½ cup water. Let come to boil.
• Take off stove. Puree the entire soup. Stir in lemon juice and fresh cilantro leaves.
• Serve with your choice of flatbread- indian chapati, or pita bread or any bread 🙂

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Health benefits:
88eba384e7d9cefbMung beans are the healthiest beans going around. According to Ayurveda, indian system of health, the smaller the beans the easier to digest.

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Look at Timbit in the kitchen. that’s a quiet cat. First time I’ve seen him stay so quiet. no take that back, he’s quite a zen cat 🙂 look at him watching my yoga class..10952295_10204735306214695_1929285923377642519_n

Though the Iqualuit inspired this post, dear reader, anyone who is a new vegan or even a seasoned vegan can easily try my recipe. You will be sure to fall in love with it. Its foolproof and delicious beyond description.

–charuyoga–

Many layers of indian vegetarian cooking and my food handler certificate

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‘Ooh, What’s that appetising smell’?, asked my coworker as she walked into the staff lobby at lunchtime. ‘I knew its your lunch rightaway. What do you have? OMG its so, so fragrant’, she said as she peered into my Tupperware.

That’s a pretty awesome segway into today’s women’s day post. My coworker is not alone in loving Indian food. Everyone just loves the special spices that go into Indian food. When its lovingly home cooked, it takes food up a notch. Once you’ve eaten a home cooked Indian meal, life will never be the same again 🙂 There is a lot of magic happening. I’ll try to break it down just a wee bit in my post today.

The main ingredient is
rasa (Sanskrit: रस lit. ‘juice’ or ‘essence’)

Rasa is juice that appeals to every sense. Really, really top notch Indian vegetarian food takes it one step further. Beyond juice, it uses colour artistically. It layers foods in interesting combinations, never repeating the same flavour twice in a meal. My lunch today that my coworker was raving about WAS juicy.

I made garlic cabbage tomato curry, ginger black eyed beans with mustard seeds and shredded coconut. I served it with basmati rice pulao sautéed with green beans and this very special spice.. gives it a smoky flavour. Hint, you can see it in the pix above, in the pulao 🙂 If you guess right, I have a giveaway. If you live in the Greater Toronto area, I’m giving away a complementary yoga class. Check the side bar for locations. And If you live outside, I will mail you a treat.

I received this lovely surprise in the mail. My food handler certificate has arrived. I passed the exam and am now certified.

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Don’t you like the wording on the letter. I’ve been cooking now for over 30 years.

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I guess the signs are clear now. Its time to share my knowledge with everyone. I’ve been doing that though my catering to friends and coworkers who simply can’t get enough of the tasty vegetarian/vegan meals I bring them. I’ve been blogging about my recipes. Often they are unique as I take ancient secret recipes. Add a modern healthy twist to them. I’ve been asked to teach cooking lessons to american friends. Will do that next. I’m really excited about my food handler certificate. Can’t wait to share my knowledge with you all. Tell, me what would you like to hear more of from me.

–charuyoga–

Cure that cold with Golden Milk

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Wait! Milk for a cold. Isn’t that a no no for my sinuses, Asked a friend.. Not with this special recipe. Its cold and wintry and an onset of flu symptoms seems to be everywhere. One friend was cured of a cold with this recipe and another asked for a cure. High time I shared my secret 🙂

My grandfather, a village doctor swore by this recipe. Even without a cold, he would get my mom to serve him golden milk every night. The secret to his healthy long life I’m guessing. Meanwhile we thought he just loved milk.

In India, traditionally, turmeric milk has been used for colds, congestion, headache, and sore throats.

Back to the original friend’s question- Why black pepper and milk with turmeric?
Turmeric has a component called curcumin which is fat soluble. Meaning -it dissolves in fat.

With No fat, curcumin has a really hard time going further than the stomach, into the small intestine where ultimately it gets absorbed into the blood stream where it has the highest benefits.

Same logic for curry –where turmeric is the main ingredient. Ever loved the bright golden colours of indian food, that’s right it comes from turmeric. But the best way to absorb it even in curry is when its dissolved in fat. Now you can pardon your local indian restaurant for serving you greasy golden food 🙂

Ok, what about black pepper? Next spice, Black pepper and its main component piperine. Its similar to capsaicin in chili peppers. Adding black pepper to turmeric dissolved in milk increases curcumin’s bioavailabilty by 1000 times. Now there’s an interesting statistic to make you want to try this combo of turmeric black pepper in other places & recipes.

1 cup milk (I used almond milk) Spice Mix
½ tsp turmeric powder
Pinch black pepper, less than ¼ tsp

Method
• Boil milk with turmeric and black pepper powder
• When milk begins to bubble remove from stove
• Drink hot or warm. Can’t handle spiced milk –just add some honey to sweeten.

Health Benefits of golden milk

  • Boost immune system so you can stay healthy during the cold winter months cooped up indoors. Turmeric milk’s powerful antioxidant properties help promote heart health, memory, and boost the immune system. It has the potential to deliver more antioxidants then even vitamins E and C.
  • Reduce arthritic pain. Clinically proven to ease arthritic pain and promote increased flexibility in many studies. It’s comparable to large doses of ibuprofen (800 mg daily) without side-effects while actually delivering other health benefits.
  • Stop colds and reduce future occurrence
  • Fight insomnia. My grandfather’s nightly warm beverage of turmeric milk may have been the reason he slept so well at night.
  • Help your digestive tract – the root of good or bad health. It helps ease and heal inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Slow and help reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s disease as symptoms develop. It also helps eliminate cognitive decline normally attributed to “old age.
  • Get glowing skin. Turmeric milk helps fights free radicals that damage skin and make it lose its glow and elasticity. Turmeric face masks are a great way to get external skin glow, but turmeric milk can help in internal absorption.
  • Meat eaters rejoice.. It reduces carcinogenic heterocyclic amines that are formed when meat is cooked by up to 40 percent.

Next time you reach for that turmeric supplement. Stop.. read its ingredients. Does it have the necessary fat to dissolve the curcumin in turmeric, if not, make turmeric paste by dissolving the capsule in 1 tsp coconut oil & then take it.

Last word : turmeric has been used in India’s Ayurvedic remedies for 2,500 years. “We’ve shown that [curcumin] has well over 100 mechanisms of damaging cancer cells, particularly colon cancer cells,” said Professor Will Stewart.

All these benefits add up to a great anti-aging agent, with direct results showing up in your skin after daily use over an extended period of time. Now you know the secret of my youth and that of millions of indian women 🙂 who use turmeric in their daily cooking.

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Here’s my backyard. February arrived with a dramatic snowfall! Doesn’t it make you want to just cuddle indoors with a blanket and sip warm beverages. Now, you know how to. So go on, make yourself a nice warm glass of turmeric milk next time you feel under the weather with this wintry snow all around. As you get better, do write to me.

another turmeric recipe for you to try
http://charuyoga.com/2012/09/16/black-eyed-bean-stew/

–charuyoga–

Black eyed peas with lettuce salad

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Want to know my secret! How to move your digestion & improve elimination.

Just back from a yoga retreat vacation. Best way to beat Canadian winter blues is to head south to the atlantic. Nothing like sun, sand and yoga with awesome vegetarian food to warm you up. While at the ashram I had a chance to cook a meal for about 300 guests. Yes!!! That’s right.. never cooked this size before, but managed to with a little bit of help.. recipes from that meal later.

For now, I want to share my secret. If you are like me and have a slightly sluggish abdominal tract where things take forever (say about 24 hours) before they make their way out, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve even had a man comment ‘you look like you are pregnant’. thanks!! just what a girl needs to hear 🙂

All yoga practices ultimately engage the movement of prana—the innate life force. One of the main breaths of yoga is apana vayu—of equal importance in the practice of hatha yoga. apana, which is most active in the pelvis and lower abdomen, governs the eliminative functions (excretion, urination, menstruation) and the downward and outward flow of energy in the body. When this energy of apana is stuck, you end up with  that sense of unease, discomfort, nausea even sometimes.. Just because food is sitting away and taking its time to move downwards.

So how can you help Apana? I’ll share yoga poses next time. For now think foods that have some fibre. Lettuce was my answer. I’ve always avoided cold salads, warm foods help my body constitution. But I tried eating lettuce every single meal at the yoga retreat and cut back on some of the delicious freshly baked bread. That was soo hard to do. But so well worth the results. Flatter abs, (still some work ahead of me 🙂 fluid movement of food in my body..

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Here’s my recipe for a delicious lettuce salad, exciting, never boring.

1 ½ cups shredded washed, rinsed and
shredded romaine lettuce
¼ cup washed, peeled and cubed carrots
2 tbsp black eyed beans
Spice Mix
1 tbsp crushed fresh ginger
1 hot green thai chili pepper
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp curry leaves
1 tsp coconut oil
½ tsp urad dal
1 tbsp raisins
¼ tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

Method

* Boil black eyed peas in water till soft. Drain and set aside.

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* Mix shredded lettuce and cubed carrots in salad bowl. Add drained black eyed peas to bowl.
* Heat coconut oil in pan. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter, add the rest of the spice mix & stir till golden brown.

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* Pour the spice mix into the salad bowl.
* Add salt to taste and mix in lemon juice.
* Stir everything together.

Wasn’t that easy? Enjoy this delicious and pretty salad. I’m sure your stomach will thank you for the lovely and light feeling you carry through the day.. with the thoughtful spices that went into this salad. Write in your comments, I’d love to hear how this salad worked for you.

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–charuyoga–

Beets tamil Brahmin style

20141120_182728Simple, elegant, tasteful, this way of doing your beets is bound to have you hooked.

2 cups steamed, peeled and cubed beets Spice Mix
1 green chili slit lengthwise
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp curry leaves
½ tsp coconut oil
1 tsp urad dal
Salt to taste
Pinch hing

Method

• Wash beets. Steam whole beets using a steamer basket
• Remove from pan. . Allow to cool and then peel. This is the easiest way to tackle beets without getting your hands all deep red
20141120_180858• Cut into cubes and set aside
• Meanwhile in pan, heat oil
• Add mustard seeds, when they splutter, add urad dal, curry leaves, and green chili
20141120_181401• Toss in the steamed, cubed beets so they are coated with the spice mix
• Add salt and remove from fire.

Do try my way of cooking and eating beets? Do let me know if you like them this way.. I paired beets with the cold medicine soup, rice and some papad.

–charuyoga–