EAT TASTE HEAL: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living
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The Essence of Ayurevdic Cooking
By Chef Johnny Brannigan

STEP 1. Take time to rest your mind. All great teachers, including Christ, the Dalai Lama, Krishna, Buddha, and Socrates taught the importance of resting the mind deeply. Why…one may ask? The mind, which is filled with innumerable thoughts, worries, cares, and desires every day, becomes burdened and dull over time. Energy begins to dissipate from the mind and body, and life begins to lose meaning. In coming to a state of rest, to a place of silence, the mind suddenly feels fresh. In this state, one sees the beauty of all existence that it is blissful and divine.

How does one do this? If you are asking this question, you are already a seeker. Take time to meditate each day. Meditation is not thinking, concentrating, or trying to empty the mind. It is a natural settling of the mind to its source- to a reservoir of stillness and deep rest. Meditation begins when you stop trying to meditate. It is always recommended to learn from a teacher and to then make it a discipline and pleasure. You will immediately begin releasing deep rooted stress and strain, thus alleviating the root cause of a staggering 80% of all diseases.

STEP 2. Exercise your body at least 3 times a week. Doing Yoga postures tones and recharges every organ in the body, while releasing toxins and stagnation, and keeping the joints flexible. Yoga is also great for improving digestion, deepening sleep, and for decreasing stress.

STEP 3. Prepare and eat your food lovingly. We are all made from food and will also return to food one day. Buy, grow, and consume fresh, vibrant foods that make you feel healthy and vital. Also favor organic, local foods whenever possible and eat in accordance with Nature’s seasonal rhythms.

Ayurveda also recommends using all the six tastes in your meals each day- namely: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Pungent (spicy) and Astringent (dry) tastes. An ancient Vedic saying also says: “Never let anyone cook for you who doesn’t love you.” Love is always the most important ingredient!

STEP 4. Give your body a rest from eating now and again. For one day each month, try eating just fruit or drinking herbal teas or fruit juices. This is an excellent way to give the digestive system a break and to cleanse the internal organs. Helpful cleansing teas include dandelion, triphala, and pau d’arco. Eating light foods with digestive spices like ginger, fennel, coriander and cardamom is also a good way to cleanse the body and tissues. You’ll feel like a million bucks afterwards!

STEP 5. Early to bed and early to rise! It’s the first principle of Ayurveda, and a wonderful way to immediately align yourself with the rhythms of Nature.

STEP 6. Clear negative emotions regularly. Forgive yourself and others and let go of anger, blame and resentment—it only hurts you. Write a letter expressing anger, sadness, hurt, fear, what you really want and what you appreciate. Life is a reflection of your inner world, so remember to polish the mirror regularly! Go to a movie and cry, go into Nature and shout, scream or jump up and down- anything to release the negative or stagnant energy!

STEP 7. Always remember to love yourself. Treat yourself like a precious jewel and work to discover your own inner nature and personal blueprint for health. Go for a swim in the ocean, book a massage, participate in cleanse, walk barefoot in the dew, dance naked, start painting- surprise yourself by doing something out of the ordinary!

STEP 8. When you meet someone, always offer upliftment, rather than spreading bad news, gossip or negativity. Give someone a hug, make them laugh, or tell them how good they look. Spreading happiness is infectious. Remember…laughter is the best medicine!

STEP 9. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones (this takes some practice!) Just remember, repetition is the mother of skill. Patanjali, a great sage who lived 8000 years ago, and author of the original Yoga Sutras, says: “The moment the mind begins to entertain doubt, negativity or fear, one should immediately entertain the opposite.”

STEP 10. Imagine good things happening to you. Write down goals, live life expressively, and fill your house with flowers, music, and anything that brings you inspiration and joy. Accept and expect all that is good in life-- inner and outer—and live in the moment as much as possible. Also, discover your role in life- what makes you passionate and enthusiastic. This is called your dharma or purpose- that which expresses your uniqueness…your bliss!

Article written by Chef Johnny Brannigan, ‘The Organic Chef’, co-author of the newly-released: Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living.

Chef Johnny trained in Ayurvedic cooking at the age of 18 and has used the principles of Ayurveda for the last 29 years in over 30 countries around the globe. Currently, he is cooking on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and has recently founded The Taste of Transcendence International Ayurvedic Cooking School.

As Featured in:  LA Yoga Magazine (Spring 2006)

Ayurvedic “Spring Cleaning”
By Daniel Rhoda

In our modern world of air conditioning, central heating, and around-the-clock lighting, the cycles of Mother Nature have become easier to ignore. At its essence, Ayurveda is a 5000 year old guide-map for re-aligning ourselves with these seasonal rhythms. Ancient Ayurvedic texts describe ritucharya, or lifestyle and dietary regimens specifically tailored to each new season.

Each of the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) naturally increases during seasons with similar qualities to itself. Spring is warm, liquid, and soft, just like Kapha dosha. During this season, the heat from the sun awakens the vibrancy and beauty of Nature. Accumulated Kapha and ama (the toxic by-product of poor digestion) begin to liquefy, leading to the common occurrence of colds, sinus congestion, and allergies. Ayurveda, therefore, recommends internal “spring cleaning” for all doshic types, but particularly for Kapha individuals. In addition to undergoing traditional panchakarma treatments (Ayurveda’s five-step system of detoxification), there are several simple ways to cleanse and detoxify at home.

Eliminate Kapha…Fast!

Fasting is an effective way to expel Kapha from the body, to kindle the digestive fire, and to burn away ama from the body and mind. In determining the appropriate type and length of a fast, it’s important to take into account your constitution, digestive strength, and overall vitality. In general, a 1 to 3 day fast is an excellent way to transition between Winter and Spring. If you’re new to fasting or have a chronic illness, it’s recommended to first consult an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Simple Fasting Techniques

Kitchari Mono-Diet
Eat only kitchari, 2 to 3 times a day, for 24 to 48 hours. Kitchari is a grain-and-legume dish cooked with mildly heating spices. It’s both cleansing and nourishing, thus keeping the doshas balanced. For a Spring variation, try the version below made with barley, a mildly astringent grain that’s great for balancing Kapha.

Air and Sunshine Fast
Do not consume any food or water for 24 hours. Begin the fast in the evening and spend time outdoors during the day. This is a more vigorous fast and excellent for individuals with excess Kapha and ama accumulation.

It’s best to choose a fasting period in which you’ll be able to follow a peaceful routine. After fasting, slowly work your way up to eating solid foods again. This allows agni to regain its power of digestion. The signs of effective fasting include:

-Lightness in the body and clarity in the mind
-Regular bowel movements with no gas or bloating
-A pink tongue and fresh breath

Detoxifying Teas

Sipping warm teas throughout the day is another highly effective way to flush away ama from bodily tissues. Simply place the ingredients in a medium saucepan with 4 cups filtered water, bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes, and steep for 2 to 5 minutes. Add the lemon while the tea is steeping and strain into a thermos.
Kapha Springtime Tea

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cinnamon or licorice stick
10 fresh basil leaves
Squeeze lemon juice

In addition to the simple techniques above, adding more pungent herbs into your diet, such as cumin, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon is a great way to kick-start your body’s metabolism. Foods rich in bitter taste, such as dark leafy greens, and astringent foods, such as lentils, are also excellent for lightening and tightening the tissues. Lastly, try adopting simple lifestyle changes to honor the arrival of Spring: wake up earlier, exercise regularly, spend more time in Nature, and breathe in the vibrant life energy, the prana, that dances in and around you in its newly awakened splendor!

Barley Kitchari
Makes 4 Servings

1 cup barley
1/3 cup split yellow mung dhal
3 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ginger powder
½ teaspoon tumeric powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

1. Soak the mung dhal for 1 to 2 hours.
2. Thoroughly rinse the rice and mung dhal twice.
3. Put the rice, dhal, sunflower oil, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
4. Reduce the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Add the spices after 15 minutes. Cook until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Vata: Substitute basmati rice for the barley and ghee for the sunflower oil.
Pitta: Eliminate the ginger and turmeric powders and add 1 teaspoon fennel seeds.


Daniel Rhoda is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner and student of Thomas Yarema MD and Suhas Kshirsagar MD (Ayurveda) at the Kauai Center for Holistic Medicine and Research. He is co-author of the newly released: Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living.

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