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Food: What’s in a food?

November 2, 2011

Dear Yogis

Recently I’ve been thinking more and more about how to create sattva in my life; how choices I make effect how I feel, what I think, and what I am able to give and receive. Thoughts cannot be controlled – they happen to us – but we can control what our internal environment looks and feels like. Either we are living lives that create more and more karma, (tamasic or rajasic), or we are moving towards creating karma-neutral lives, (my favourite newly coined term based on the idea of carbon-neutral living).

Truth is, we can never be free of action; that is simply not possible in this world, but we can perform action not informed by tamas and rajas if we consciously create sattva in our lives. Our yoga practices go a long way towards this, helping us find stillness in a controlled space at first, then, as we learn to access that stillness, finding it reaches beyond the yoga class into everyday living. Meditation is another practice that creates sattva, but a more immediate way is through food.

All of us consume food every day. The choices we make and the effects of these foods on our daily living are not arbitrary. If you eat refined sugar, your energy levels will be low, causing you to crave more refined sugar, trapping you in a whirlpool of low energy and irregular mood states. Think about this for a moment: who of us haven’t snapped at a loved one simply because we were sugar-lowing? This may cause tension, a spiraling fight, crying children or even a flabbergasted stranger, (should you, for example, be stuck in traffic), which leads to guilt, guilt and more guilt. It also leaves you feeling drained, tired and miserable with a whole lot of repair work ahead. If you eat food that requires a lot of digesting, all your body’s energy will go towards that, rather than refueling and restoring.

A while back I made the step from vegan to raw vegan. I don’t have hard lines. They never work. I still have cooked grains now and again, but what was interesting to me was seeing how a really small change in my life had huge ripple effects. My energy levels were suddenly elevated, my skin started glowing, I never felt full and heavy, (though certainly sated), and I was becoming more and more positive which meant my whole life took on a new glow. Earlier in the year I also joined a group that studies the Bhagavad Gita. Together, these two seemingly minor choices have changed my life and given me better tools for healthy, happy living.

We are all on our own journey and we all need to do what works for us. Instead of changing or cutting out certain foods, you could try adding new healthier choices, allowing your body to naturally start craving what is good for you. This month’s recipes are just that: a non-alcoholic beer, a delicious raw pasta and finger-licking raw chocolate crunchies that are actually beneficial to your health, so go ahead and indulge, (hooray!).

Next month we’ll look at some great Christmas ideas so empty out those old tins and bottles and prepare for a feast.

Namaste`

Chantelle

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Baobab beer

Well, this is not exactly a beer and it’s completely non-alcoholic, but when you shake it up before serving, it becomes beer-ish. It’s a bit of a twist on the old ginger beer. My friends love it and it’s full of nutritional value. Baobab has more calcium than milk, alkalizes minerals in the body to create the correct body pH and is packed with vitamin C. The Camu Camu I added is also high in vitamin C – in fact, it has more than any other food source in the world. Additionally, it supports the immune system and has valuable anti-depressant properties. Together with the ginger, this is an immune boosting drink of note, (and it doesn’t taste like medicine!).

Ingredients

  • 700ml water
  • 100ml freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
  • 100ml freshly squeezed organic orange juice
  • 100ml freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 4 tbsp Baobab powder
  • 2 tbsp Camu Camu powder (optional)
  • A handful of dried buchu leaves
  • 2 or 3 stalks of fresh lemon grass, quartered lengthwise
  • 4cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled in sliced
  • 50ml honey or agave nectar (or add more if you like it sweeter)

Method

Add the water, lemon juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Baobab powder, Camu Camu powder and honey in a blender and blend until mixed.  Place the lemon grass, ginger and buchu leaves in a glass jar and fill it up with the Baobab mixture. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours so that the flavours get a chance to merge well. Strain and shake before you serve to get the beer foam. If you don’t want it foamy, simply stir and pour into a cocktail glass.

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Raw sweet potato pasta with creamy avo sauce

Yes, you can eat sweet potato raw and it’s delicious! You will need a spiralizer for this recipe. It’s been a wonderful addition to my kitchen, (they’re cheap as far as equipment goes – around R350), as it allows me to create beautiful salads and raw pastas. If you’re not so into the raw thing, the sweet potato can be replaced with regular pasta and the sauce can be used to create a cold pasta salad. The flavours are beautifully fresh and by now we all know that avo is a food of the gods, containing monounsaturated fats, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E which keeps your red blood cells healthy. It is also loaded with dietary fibre and is a good source of vitamin B6 which keeps the skin healthy, gives you energy and supports the nervous system.

Sweet potato and avo compliment each other really well in that they share many nutritional properties – giving you that extra boost. Like avo, the sweet potato is a good source of dietary fibre and vitamin B6, but also contains vitamin C, manganese, vitamin A, (immune system and healthy skin), copper and iron, (healthy blood). Really, this is health in bowl.

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes, spiralized OR enough pasta, (I suggest linguini), for 4
  • 2 avos
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • 1tsp lemon zest
  • 25ml organic cold pressed olive oil
  • 40g fresh basil
  • 100ml water
  • 20ml honey or agave nectar
  • Sea salt to flavour
  • Pepper to taste, (only add a little on top right before serving)
  • Calamata olives, pitted and sliced lengthwise
  • Pumpkin seeds

Method

Spiralize the sweet potato, cut the strings into edible lengths and set aside, (I do it with kitchen scissors). Blend the avos, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, basil, salt, honey and water until it becomes smooth and creamy. Now mix well with the pasta – you really need to get your hands in there! Serve and sprinkle with as much olives and pumpkin seeds as you like. Serve immediately or within 2 hours of preparation.

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Raw chocolate crunchies and muesli

It’s time to abandon sub-standard, preservative packed, nutrient free imitation chocolate and trade it in for the real thing, which is in fact a superfood, will not make you fat, and will not dump you with a sugar low. Too good to be true? Believe it! The cacao bean has long been revered by ancient cultures. Rich in antioxidants, (anti-aging), packed with magnesium and full of anti-depressant properties, it is truly a sin to eat anything less than the real thing. And now you can make your own! I have a crunchy or two, (or three); every day and never suffer eater’s regret. I also pack mine with goodies such as hemp powder, (complete protein), chia seeds, (blood sugar stabilizer, omega 3s), spirulina, (the cacao disguises the flavour so this really works for me as spirulina is packed with protein, vitamin B for energy, calcium and iron), and whatever else I feel like. You can use my recipe as a base and go wild from there. Seriously, this is what you’ve been looking for all your life.

Ingredients

  • 100g raw cacao paste
  • 125ml coconut oil (may need more if you add a lot of superfood powders, but I rarely add more)
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder or vanilla from ½ a pod
  • 3tbsp mesquite powder
  • 4tsp honey or agave nectar, (if you prefer less sweet, use only the mesquite powder)
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1tsp orange zest
  • 80g almonds, finely chopped
  • 50g cranberries
  • 75g fresh blueberries
  • 2tbsp spirulina (optional)
  • 2tbsp hemp powder (optional)

If you want to make muesli, leave out the blueberries and add oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, dried apple, dried pineapple and anything else you like.

Method

Melt the cacao paste and coconut oil in a double boiler. Add in the mesquite, honey and vanilla powder.  If you want smooth chocolate, stop here and place in trays, (I use ice trays – they give me a lovely bite size block). If you like chewier chocolate, add the orange juice, orange zest, almonds, cranberries, blueberries, spirulina and hemp powder. Mix thoroughly and place in ice trays. Now place in the freezer for 12 hours, allowing the blueberries to really freeze. Store in freezer and serve ice cold.

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ChantelleChantelle Roelofse teaches yoga in Muizenberg and co-owns a vegan restaurant, CLOSER, in the area as well. When she isn’t in an asana or thinking about food, she runs, plays piano and writes. She is interested in the philosophy of yoga and how we can incorporate it in modern living. Chantelle supports ethical living and veganism.chants_za@yahoo.com

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