Protein Rich Recipes

Many people would like to be vegetarian but aren’t sure how to get enough protein in their diet.  It’s actually very easy to eat enough protein; the two secrets are to first of all, lay off the junk food(yes, there is vegetarian junk food!) because high fat and/or high sugar foods are filling – too filling – and then there’s no appetite for the protein foods, and second, eat sufficient high protein foods at meals and you won’t be so hungry later on that you’re tempted to eat high fat or high sugar foods!

Legumes are the cheapest and most nutrient rich food group to supply protein, with smaller quantities of seeds and nuts and milk products, balanced with whole grains.  There are so many kinds of beans, with varied flavors and uses a person could eat a different kind of bean almost every day of the month.  Here are some to think about:

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Split peas, green gram or mung, garbanzos, brown lentils, red lentils also called masur dahl, black or turtle beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, fava beans, pink beans – to name just some of those easily available.

Here are a couple of recipes for using beans, but since I rarely measure, except for pastries, I’m giving some ideas with general proportions and ingredients. Exact measurements really depend on how large a preparation is being made.  Bean soups are easy to freeze and easily keep a few weeks in the freezer, so it’ simple to make a large pot of bean soup and freeze a few containers for later on.   Here are a few tips for cooking beans to make them digestible and tasty:

  1. Wash well, and then soak 12 hours or even 24, for very hard beans like pintos, kidney beans and black beans. Discard water and rinse again.
  2. Cook in a pressure cooker for about half an hour – the timing really depends on the type of pressure cooker, the cooker manual may give directions, or you can experiment and see how long it takes to cook them properly. In my cooker, for instance, it takes 25 minute to cook soaked garbanzos well, but 45 minutes to cook pinto beans.

If cooking without a pressure cooker, choose a large heavy pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes leaving lid off.  Then turn heat down to a low simmer with lid on and check often to see if you need more water.  I love using a pressure cooker as it saves time, energy and I don’t have to worry about burning them.  Pintos, black beans and garbanzos take longer, kidney and navy beans are intermediate, brown and red lentils cook quickly and no need to soak or pressure cook.  Some beans like red lentils and split peas cannot be cooked in a pressure cooker as they foam up, but since they cook quickly there is no need for the pressure cooker.

  1. When beans are soft with no hard parts, they are done. Best to add any salt the last part of cooking.  I often make large pots of beans and freeze some in plastic containers for later use, they freeze well.

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Tofu Coconut Curry Soup

Tofu Coconut Curry Soup

On a cold day there is nothing like a hot bowl of homemade soup. It is warm, comforting and very delicious. One must try soup recipe is tofu coconut curry soup. This soup is packed with dynamic Thai flavors that will wake up and warm your palate. There is the lovely texture of the tofu, tender slices of carrot and that signature curry flavor which is complimented flawlessly by the addition of coconut milk. These components are then enhanced with the perfect amount of spice along with sweetness to balance it out. The best part is, making this soup is so simple.

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3 Modes of Nature & Brocolli

I have a dear friend with a strong interest in health and nutrition.  He works as a hospital librarian and therefore has access to all the latest research so he often sends me snippets on health and nutrition related issues. I was just watching one such video today, which talked about the method by which broccoli provides such potent anti cancer properties, as well as myriad other benefits.  I once put money into shares of a company researching the anti cancer properties of broccoli, hoping to produce a saleable product.  It wasn’t a smart move really, as all you have to do is eat raw broccoli to get the benefits.

Why raw broccoli you ask? You know those light emitting tubes that start to glow when you bend them to break the internal compartments so that 2 separated chemicals merge and produce a neon glow, popular at music festivals and useful in wilderness situations? Well broccoli is like that. It contains a precursor compound called glucoraphanin and an enzyme myrosinase.  When the broccoli is munched on, or cut, the two compounds meet up and produce the magic sulforaphane.  But myrosinase is destroyed by heat so when you munch cooked broccoli you don’t get sulforaphane.

There is a good trick however…  sulforaphane is not destroyed by heat, so if you chop up your broccoli and leave it for say an hour before cooking, there will be a decent supply of sulforaphane in the cooked broccoli.  Or if you are making soup, blend up the broccoli before cooking it.  Or even more magically, just add a pinch or two of mustard powder to your cooked broccoli, not in the cooking but on your plate so it doesn’t get too hot.  Mustard seeds contain the enzyme myrosinase, and mustard powder is just ground up mustard seeds.  And the precursor glucoraphanin is not destroyed in cooking so when you mix the two the enzyme goes to work and sulforaphane is produced in your very innards.

Going back to my medical librarian friend.  He is always trying for an optimal healthy lifestyle, and is well educated in what that means, yet finds himself continually acting in less than healthy manners.  (Don’t we all!  Speaking for myself here…) Anyhow, recently he wrote me, “here is the million dollar question hon – i know all the things i should do (or at least try) but never seem to quite get there so a bit of a mystery why not – not like the hardest thing in the world really and potentially the benefits could be very significant.  what say you?” 

My response was that deep questions require deep answers.  The fact of the matter is we think we are in control of our actions but we are subtly bound up by the modes of material nature, which the yoga texts called tri-guna, the three gunas.  These are tamas (ignorance), rajas (passion), and sattva (goodness).  All products of material nature are controlled by a combination of these three energies, and this includes our bodies and our minds.  In as much as we identify with our bodies and minds we also are controlled by these modes.To explore more about our real identity and essence, check out the amazing Self Discovery Series by Jagad Guru.

One can consider these energies as being like the 3 primary colours that are used to produce a myriad of hues and shapes in an artist’s work.  So while I will describe each mode as a single entity, they are never found purely in material nature, but always in come combination.

Tamas, the mode of ignorance is that energy which draws one down into excessive sleep, lethargy, laziness and ultimately madness.  It is increased by eating stale old foods, flesh foods, wine, and drug taking.  Places that are controlled by this energy include pubs and slaughter houses.

Rajas, or passion, is the energy of ambition, striving, strong desires.  Food that is overly spicy is one example of rajas.  Cities, stock markets, bustling shopping malls are all passionate rajastic places.  The energy of rajas is creative, making one active and productive.  But it has a terrible downside, which is the frustration that develops when these strong desires are not fulfilled as and when one had wanted.  And frustration leads to anger which can then draw one down into tamas.

Sattva, the mode of goodness is a more desirable energy to be influenced by.  A person in the mode of goodness is peaceful, kind, thoughtful and gentle.  Foods that are healthy, juicy, sweet, fresh, and vegetarian are sattvic.  The countryside and natural settings, and clean, quiet and airy places are in this mode.  One who is predominantly influenced by this mode tends to find it easier to enquire into the deeper purpose of life, and to be engaged in practices of meditation and spiritual endeavour.  There is still a downside to this mode, which is that one can become so attached to the sattvic lifestyle that one will avoid less peaceful situations, and not be willing to enter into the stress that sometimes accompanies a sincere search for spiritual enlightenment.

So in response to my friends questioning why he didn’t act in his best interest even though he know how he should be acting, I said that as long as we are controlled by 3 modes of nature so we are not fully in control of our own minds and desires.  We think we want to do something, but that desire is instigated by whatever combination of the modes we are currently influenced by.  Just think of how advertisements work! The three modes are even more subtle, insidious and all encompassing.

So we have conflicting desires and behaviours, sometimes influenced by the mode of goodness to eat well and act in healthy way and sometimes influenced by one of the other modes to act in less beneficial ways.

It is important to realise that it is actually possible to surpass the influence of all three modes.  This is the goal of the more subtle yoga practices, especially mantra yoga, which, when appropriately practiced, is nirguna, beyond the control of the triguna, the three gunas.  When one moves beyond the modes of nature into a state of nirguna, it is possible to be one pointed, not switching from one desire to another. But as long as we are embedded in material nature, we are under the controlling influence of the three modes, which churn our desires like a washing machine so sometimes one desire and behaviour surfaces and sometimes another.  Even if for some period we have stability it is only relative.  In time the pendulum will swing.  There is really only one stable place, and the practice of the deepest aspects of yoga will bring gradually bring one to that place.

Home Facial

It’s simple and cheap to do facials at home using ingredients most people have in the kitchen. There is really no need for expensive cosmetics or treatments, most of which use very dubious ingredients that many people are allergic to or have reactions and actually can make the skin worse. Simple, cheap and natural are best. A general facial suitable for most skin types follows, with specifics for different types of skin.

Tie or wrap up your hair to keep it out of the way, best to wear a tee shirt that you don’t care about, and allow enough time so you are not interrupted.

First, massage the face gently and thoroughly with mild natural oil such as coconut, almond or refined sesame. Apricot is also a good gentle oil, and many people like grapeseed. Then let the oil sit on your skin while you collect the utensils and ingredients for your facial.

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Step One
Steam your skin

Pour very hot water, almost boiling, into a large bowl on a table. Sit in a chair and hold your face over the bowl, allowing the warm steam to soak into your skin. If the steam is too hot, let it cool down a little. You can place a towel over your head to make a tent to capture the steam if you want. A few drops of essential oils can be used for the steam if you like. Continue reading

Benefits of Tongue Cleaning !

Just as a person brushes their teeth every morning, it is a good health habit to also clean the tongue. A metal tongue cleaner is the most efficient tool for this purpose and is traditionally used in Asian countries such as Japan and India. Overnight, “ama” (by-products of digestion) as well as mucus and bacteria, collect on the tongue – and scraping with a tongue cleaner is more effective than just brushing. You will notice a much cleaner feeling in the mouth when using a tongue cleaner daily.

tongue cleaner - Benefits of Tongue Cleaning

Daily tongue cleaning improves oral health by reducing bacteria count and the debris that accumulates overnight.

There are reflex points relating to all the organs of the body on the hands and feet, and similarly there are reflex spots on the tongue. By massaging the hands and feet, different parts of the body can be benefited; and by scraping the tongue carefully with the tongue cleaner, all the internal organs are indirectly energized, and the gastric fire – digestive enzymes – are stimulated, thus improving digestion and assimilation.

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Also, by daily observing your tongue both before and after cleaning, much can be learned about your health. A much coated tongue, especially if the coating is hard to clean off, can mean approaching illness, or toxicity that may be helped by a day of fasting or light diet , or drinking hot ginger tea.

Gently scrape from the back of the tongue forward until you have scraped the whole surface (six to ten strokes), washing off the tongue cleaner as needed during the process. It is helpful also to gargle with warm salt water. Just wash your tongue cleaner well and store until the next use.

Baked Tortilla Chips with Mango Guacamole

Chips and guacamole is always a nice part of eating at a Mexican restaurant. The chips are made in house and the guacamole is full of flavor, texture and richness. When they combine a tasty and healthy appetizer is. To elevate the nutritional value even more why not add mangoes to the guacamole for some tartness and sweetness and bake the tortilla chips rather than fry them? Here is how to make baked tortilla chips with mango guacamole.

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Healthy Brown Rice Pilaf with Vegetables

Healthy Brown Rice Pilaf with Vegetables

Brown rice is a nutritious and filling choice, which is why it features in many vegetarian diets. The following recipe combines healthy brown rice with vegetables, and includes vegetable stock and parsley for flavor.

This is a very simple recipe which you may serve hot or warm, as the main dish or as a side dish. This recipe makes 6 servings but may be enjoyed cold the following day or reheated gently on the stove instead. Leftovers will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for several days.

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