Sweet Chai of Mine- virtuous spiced snack cookies for yogi’s and their friends

Another recipe!
I’ve gone gluten free for a trial period. I never thought I would do so, as I am a champion sourdough baker, but all the signs are pointing to a gluten intolerance, which is a bummer. ( Actually, I think many people are gluten intolerant, or on the way to becoming so ) I feel very good, clear headed and light and mobile in my muscles and joints- but you’ve heard it all before and I won’t bore you with the details now.
Anyway, it’s not as hard as I thought, though the next step- grain free might prove a bit harder, so I am gearing up to that by getting some good recipes on the family menu.
Bikkies (cookies) are well loved around here- I like to grab a couple before teaching a class to keep me going, so after looking at various cookbooks and websites I came up with this very virtuous, healthy recipe that ticks all the boxes.
The kids even like them, but then again, there was often ginger and spices in their breast-milk so they are used to it. You might like to tone the spices down a bit to suit your palate.
Here they are:
sweet chai cookies

Sweet Chai of Mine
SNACK COOKIES
Paleo, Vegan, AIP friendly, Sweetener free, Gluten free, Grain free, Nut free, Dairy free… and still good to eat!

1 ripe, medium sized banana ( mine are usually frozen- no need to defrost- & always organic )
3 fat juicy organic medjool dates – pitted
3 tablespoons coconut flour, measured flat not heaped
1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil- hard or soft or melted ( on the second trial I ran out and used homemade ghee instead- even better taste- though no longer vegan )
3 heaped tablespoons shredded natural coconut
1 heaped tablespoon of lucuma powder ( optional, makes for a lovely sweet caramel undertone and comes with awesome superfood powers )
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated – or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom ( optional – not always AIP friendly )
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or kombucha vinegar or lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon baking soda ( you could probably skip it if intolerant )
Pinch of pink salt

Throw the lot in a high powered blender ( I use a thermomix ) and mix until a smoothish paste – some texture remaining is nice. A tiny bit of water may be needed to make it into a cookie style batter, depending on your brand of coconut flour.
Coconut flour takes a few minutes to absorb the moisture, so if you think it is too thin, wait a few mins before adding a tiny bit more coconut flour.
Spoon onto a silicone baking mat or baking paper, shaping with your fingers a little. I make about 15 smaller cookies- I find them very filling and satisfying. Great with a cup of tea.
I threw some cacao powder and cacao nibs to 1/3 of mine, to make chocolate chai bites ( though no longer AIP friendly perhaps) The darker ones in the above photo are the chocolate version.
Bake at 180 C 325F for 10-20 minutes, depending on your oven. A little browned around the edges is nice.
Wait a little before transferring onto a cooling rack.
Store in a cool place in summer.
Let me know what you think, I like comments and feedback!

Yogi food: Pumpkin Buckwheat Almond Bread….. a recipe!

A nourishing, protein rich, yeast-free, gluten-free breakfast or lunch bread.

This is my first recipe post on yogaguerilla’s blog.
I think I’ll be doing more as healthy, nourishing food is a major interest of mine.

Yogi food

Yogi food

I made this bread this morning before the heat of the day, and it baked while we were doing our practice. It was a perfect breakfast, delicious topped with yellow butter, high in protein and pleasantly filling. Eating your vegetables for breakfast is a wonderful thing. I had some for lunch, toasted, and it toasts beautifully, too.

I am not sure how long this would last on the counter, especially when it is hot like today, so perhaps pop it in the fridge after a day, if there is any left.
I am in no way a gluten free yogi, as I make my own rye based sourdough, wholegrain bread several times a week for my family. We tolerate gluten containing grains prepared properly (ie- fermented). However, several times a year I choose to take a few days to a week off from gluten (and often dairy) to give my system a break.

Be sure to use free range, pastured eggs. Anything else is just not fair on the chickens. No excuses. I have 6 out of my 8 chickens laying currently, so using up excess eggs is always a good thing.

Pumpkin is a good source of beta carotene, antioxidants, omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) and grounding, natural sweetness. Sweet potato would also work here, or a mix of the two.

Almonds are full of protein, plus omegas, vitamin E, calcium and fibre. In Ayurvedic medicine, almonds are said to promote ojas (essential life energy), and nourish the nervous system.

Eggs have recently become my best friend- a great source of protein, fats and vitamins and a quick easy filler, bringing you down to earth after a strong practice. I was vegan for years but find adding eggs and a little cultured dairy to my diet brings a much needed balance and nourishment when working the body so intently.

Buckwheat brings a rich supply of flavonoids- rutin being the key one- providing a lipid lowering effect, protecting against heart disease and blood clots. Buckwheat is a good source of manganese, copper and magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and muscles, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery- that’s just what we yogi’s need after practice- and lowering blood pressure.

Ingredients:

450 g ( 3 cups) grated raw pumpkin ( I blitzed mine in the thermomix which left a few bigger chunks, they cooked through easily )

4 whole large free-range eggs (or 5 bantam eggs if you have smaller feathered friends )

1/2 tsp sea salt/ himalayan pink salt

1/4 cup (60 ml) cold pressed macadamia nut oil (olive oil works too, but coconut oil would be too dense and make for a constricted batter and a bread that is only good whilst warm. Cultured butter- melted and cooled- would also be delicious)

2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder- make sure it is fresh.

1 cup/100 gm almond meal- with or without skins ( I use whole activated -soaked and dried- almonds, ground to a flour in my thermomix )

1 cup/100 gm buckwheat flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour- or is you don’t have that, perhaps brown rice flour or another gluten free option.

1/2 cup true arrowroot- or perhaps sub’ in up to a tablespoon of coconut flour if you have a bag of it and are wondering how to use it ( ie- sparingly )

Note: You can experiment with the grain flours, to make up 200 gm/ 2 cups. Or use more almond meal, less grain flours if you like. I threw in some teff grain here ( 1/8 cup ) for the additional iron. If I had any chia on hand I would have used a bit of that, too. The batter should be thick but still move easily when you tip the bowl.
2 teaspoons molasses or rice syrup ( I did one of each) or not, if you are reducing sugars. The pumpkin provides sweetness as it is.
Seeds- sesame, sunflower, flax or pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 180 C , or 150 to 160 C if fan forced.
Mix the pumpkin, eggs, salt and oil in a bowl.
 Add the almond meal, grain flours and baking powder to bowl, and mix with a spoon so that no powder remains. 
Scrunch up a piece of baking/parchment paper and smooth out, and use it to line a large loaf tin.
 Dollop the mixture evenly into tin. Sprinkle the top with your chosen seeds.
Bake for approximately 1 hour if fan forced, up to 30 minutes longer if not. Test to see that no stickiness is left on a skewer. Ovens are so variable, so check after 1 hour and keep checking every 15 minutes if not cooked through.
 Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the tin for 15 minutes before pulling out in the baking paper and putting on a rack to cool.
Slice with a serrated knife.

Eat warm, cool or toasted. Tastes great with nut butter, soft butter, ghee, goats cheese or avocado. I’m thinking it would be nice with cinnamon or even ginger for a sweeter bread in winter,
Please share with your gluten free and yogi friends- and if you try it, let me know what you think.

YOGA, ACHES and PAIN- and what to do about them.

This is the first in a series of posts about the aches and pains that may arise from a regular or daily, physical yoga practice.

Like any other activity where you use your body- sport, working out at the gym, gardening, housework- aches and pains and injury may result. Lack of activity will also cause aches and pains ( think how you feel when you get off a plane, do some long distance driving or after a long day of sitting meditation )

It’s a part of living with a body.

Over the many years of my yoga practice, I have had various aches and pains move about my body as areas opened up, or strength was developed, or indeed if I performed an asana incorrectly or without mindful attention- so I have had much experience experimenting with what works to alleviate these pains.

Yoga is designed to balance the body, and this certainly means that it aims to create balance in flexibility and strength. Areas of the body that are flexible- especially over flexible, need support from muscle and bone strength. Areas of the body that are strong can be tight or blocked, and require flexibility to be efficient and comfortable. Keeping this in mind- and applying it to your own body specifics in a mindful way, can help prevent injury and even everyday aches and pains to a certain extent. Simply put, flexible people coming to yoga needs to work on strength, strong people- especially those with strong or ‘built’ muscles need to work on flexibility. But thats getting off topic a bit…

There are a lot of great things you can do to alleviate aches and pains and minor injuries, so I have split them into various categories over several posts:

Please note that I have only included what has worked for me personally- or my partner ( a tradesman, sportsman and long term yogi himself ) .. so while there are many studies out there, and I have read countless articles ( some shown in the links ) this is largely an anecdotal post.

I would love to hear from you if you have other tips apart from these… please make a comment below.

Supplements, tonics and foods that heal- Internal.

Magnesium– is a vital mineral in which so many people are deficient. Magnesium helps the body repair the muscles, essentially feeding them, so they grow larger and stronger. Magnesium eases muscle cramps and helps you relax, is additionally great for stress relief (which in turn relaxes the muscles) and encourages a good nights sleep. It helps keep the integrity of the bones with a synergy with calcium and Vitamin D, and it suppresses the parathyroid hormone which increases blood calcium levels ( not a good thing ) which will break down bone if in excess.
It is a vital nutrient for the functioning of the heart. It is alkalizing and helps hydrate in its use as an electrolyte.
Magnesium can be found in the diet in nuts- especially almonds, in seaweeds, buckwheat, and whole-grains prepared properly for digestion ( soaked overnight in water with a little yoghurt or lemon juice to help break down the phytates ) and leafy green vegetables.
HOWEVER magnesium is such an important mineral that it is the one nutrient I take as a supplement several times a week to ensure I am getting enough, especially if my muscles are aching.

Vitamin C is essential for the restoration of collagen, which helps to rebuild muscle tissue that has been broken down. This can happens when muscles are not used, or when muscle fibres tear, which happens when muscles ARE used ( strengthening muscles actually requires the muscles to have minute tears which heal, forming a denser stronger muscle).
Citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, especially super berries like kiwi, goji, goldenberry and amla are high in C, as are many leafy greens and broccoli. Raw milk has vitamin C to some extent.
I tend not to take C as a supplement as it is so easy to find in the diet, and much easier on the stomach when taken as food.

Glucosamine,Chondroitin and Collagen ( Bone Broth or Stock )
Strict vegetarian yogi’s need to be aware this is not vegetarian, though I have heard that vegetarian supplements have been developed. Glucosamine and Chondroitin and Collagen are used for joint pain relief.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements are expensive, however. Making your own stock from organic, free range animal bones is a cheap and highly bioavailable way of including these substances in your diet.
Happy, pastured chicken, cow, lamb or wild game animals (I wont partake of the mammals, personally, but I make them for my family ) OR wild caught fish bones from a non oily fish are all good things in which to make bone broth.

The gelatin found in bone broth is hydrophilic- which means it attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices in the gut, thereby supporting proper digestion and absorption of the food it is cooked with (such as grains, soups etc) . It also helps with longer term hydration, holding liquid internally for longer. The gelatin in stock has the anti-inflammatory amino acids arginine, glycine and proline. It helps to heal the gut, and of course, the gut and digestion is the centre of all health.

Here is a link on how to make and use bone broth.
http://nourishedkitchen.com/bone-broth/

Kombucha

Kombucha has much anecdotal evidence supporting its use as a tonic for the body and a liver detox aid. Kombucha is also great for recovery IF you are used to caffeine and sugars, as it does still contain some of both after fermenting. I suggest having water first however, than going straight for the hard stuff, and not relying on Kombucha for energy as some people do with coffee. I find it very useful in relaxing over-used muscles, and give me a pleasant buzz- but I find it too over stimulating if taken after mid afternoon.
Many people have had success drinking kombucha- especially that brewed at home- for muscle pain, joint pain and arthritis, even fibromyalgia symptoms.
Kombucha can contain glucoric acid ( this has both been proven and disproven.. some say it has precursors to help the body produce its own glucoric acid) which is a great liver cleanser and helps with rebuilding the joints. It is full of probiotics, another way help make for a healthy gut.
Here a couple of sites to peruse about the use of Kombucha
http://www.cajunernie.com/arthritis.php
http://www.kombuchakamp.com/2011/04/kombucha-glucosamine-glucuronic-acid-athletes-healthy-connection.html

MSM is a natural nutrient that needs to be taken as a supplement as it occurs in small amounts in food. It is a type of sulfur, which is a vital building block of joints and cartilage ( as well as skin, hair and nails) and is also a methyl compound- which supports many vital biochemical processes in the body, including production of energy.
It is often taken with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.
Here is a link about MSM from a company that produces the stuff and as far as I can tell it is vegan, or vegan options are around.
http://www.msmguide.com/jointpain/sportsjointpain/

Coconut water… a glass of coconut water supplies you with the salts, sugars and electrolytes required for hydration. Make sure your choice of coconut water is not from concentrate… better still drink it straight from the nut. Coconut water can hydrate quickly and help prevent muscles from seizing up after use or over use. Remember, dehydration can be the main cause of headaches and muscle aches!

Green foods are seen as anti inflammatory, as they are alkaline forming, not acidifying.
An acidic body- one that has high levels of acid ( in the blood) will have high levels of calcium being leached into the blood from the bones, the teeth and bones will weaken.
I tend to think our diets should be based around vegetables, with a lot of them leafy green vegetables, slightly cooked for better absorption and digestion.
Warm foods tend to be much gentler on the yogi’s body and hence nourishing to the muscles, joints and bones than raw foods… raw foods are best in summer and in the middle of the day- but that is another post altogether. ( yoga and food )
Green food powders are widely available, and often used for their alkalising properties. While I have bought them many times, I have never been able to incorporate them in my daily life, and they end up lurking- far past their use by date- in the back of the fridge. I suppose I’m just more into eating green veggies, personally, than powdered green foods.

Ghee– over the years I have had several Indian Master teachers tell me to ‘Eat more ghee’- usually in a stern and commanding tone. Ghee is a pure oil made from cow butter which has been heated and strained to clarify, removing the milk solids and lactose.
Ghee contains vitamins D, E, K and Omegas 3 and 9- but should always be sourced or made from grass fed butter in order to have good levels of the above.
Ghee is used in Ayurvedic medicine to lubricate the joints and nourish the muscles, amongst many other uses and is highly regarded for its ability to facilitate the absorption of the beneficial substances present in the foods with which it is prepared or served.
The reason yoga and pranayama teachers often recommend eating more ghee is for recovery after strong yoga practices ( and exercise, including childbirth ), building strength and for muscle repair. It also does a great deal towards calming the vata dosha and soothing pitta dosha. I’ve been prescribed 4 tablespoons a day! And although I love the stuff and use it instead of butter on everything, 4 TB’s is quite a feat.
Make ghee yourself! It is a lovely process, and costs far less to buy organic butter to make your own, than to buy the ghee pre-made.
Ghee can also be used externally as a body rub (but that’s for the next post, where I go into detail on the remedies and practices taken externally)

and last, but never least…WATER

The very first thing you should do after practice is drink water- every time, no exceptions.
Quality, purified, alkaline water, served room temperature and drunk in abundance.
Yoga practice releases toxins, and if you are not well hydrated after (and before) your practice you are doing yourself a real disservice. Not only from not allowing the body to flush out the toxins – and built up lactic acid- through the kidneys, but robbing your muscles of the water they need to recover. Fascia needs water to function properly, as does skin- to stretch and remain elastic.

If you find that water sits uncomfortably in your gut, seeming to not be absorbed and leaving you feeling bloated, you need to find better water. It’s quite possible that the water you are drinking is lifeless, and not hydrating to the body- being chlorinated, acidic or stale, or full of impurities such as VOC’s ( volatile organic compounds found in paints, chemicals, plastics and always major components of modern air and water pollution )

I have had many water filters over the years, but the one I have stuck with for the past 10 years is the Nikken PiMag water system. The PiMag filter removes impurities, toxins and chlorines out and, mimicking a natural waterfall, negatively ionises, alkalises and remineralises the water, with silver stones for anti bacterial purposes. Plus it is magnetised on the way out of the spigot. I have heard it referred to as a ‘structured water’ – which is highly absorbable, just like water flowing in a stream ( but in this day and age, quite likely a lot cleaner)

It is sweet and delicious and when you own a PiMag water system you find that you finally begin to drink the amount of water you should ( I also use it in all my cooking ) – and it’s then you begin to notice the benefits of a well hydrated body.
Many yoga and pilates studios and gyms are choosing the Nikken PiMag water filter to provide the best water for their students and themselves, and can write the cost off in their taxes!

PiMag waterfall water filter

PiMag waterfall water filter

One more point about water- it should be room temperature, or warm, never cold or chilled. Cold water on an empty stomach, or for that matter on a belly with digesting food, is not good for anyone, it literally freezes the guts, slowing down absorption and digestion.

To find out about PiMag water click here : http://www.nikken.com/product/technology/piMag-water/

I do sell these water systems ( available to 40 countries ) at a discount for followers of this blog, so if you are interested please contact me on heidi (at sign) yogaguerilla (dot) com

I have no affiliation with any of the products I use above EXCEPT the Nikken magnets (next post) and the PiMag Water filters- which I love and believe in, and have seen so many positive effects through- I decided to sell myself!
Please be sure to follow this blog for the next post on this topic Yoga, Aches and Pain- External and share it with fellow yogi’s and friends.

A comment- or if you have another tip that you favour yourself- is always appreciated.

Om
Heidi – yogaguerillagrrl