Ayurveda and Lemon Water

lemon water juicerOhayou gozaimasu! Good morning from Okinawa, Japan.  It’s January, the month of new beginnings and changes. It also began with a new moon, which is interesting even if you don’t think so.

Did you make any resolutions this year? If so, tell me about them. If not, I suggest that you add warm lemon water to your morning routine, known as dinacharya in ayurveda. It’s uncomplicated and effective, valuable attributes in resolutions if I do say so myself. Continue reading

Spinach curry with lotus root

spinach lotus curry platedIt seems like the recent typhoon activity ushered in some cooler weather here in Okinawa. It’s a welcome change from all the heat. Warming soups and stews are particularly good during the changing weather. They’re also great for balancing vata.

I picked up some Okinawan spinach, or handama, this week. Handama has a beautiful purple color on one side the leaf. It can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s got a pleasant and mild taste. I also found fresh lotus root, known as renkon in Japanese. It’s easy to find packaged renkon in the local Japanese stores, but this is the first time I’ve been able to use it fresh. It’s cooling and great for the liver. Continue reading

Rosemary Salt

rosemary salt containerI’ve had this bunch of rosemary from our garden hanging up to dry for longer than I care to mention. I love rosemary, but I don’t enjoy the large chewy pieces of fresh rosemary or the dry whole pieces that seem like they stab the inside of your mouth. Wah! I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. Today, I thought it would be nice blended up with some salt for sprinkling over popcorn, veggies, or potatoes. Continue reading

Ginger Tea

ginger tea pouringGinger is my go-to herb of choice. I prefer ginger to analgesics, and have been known to carry raw ginger in my purse. It’s a great anti-inflammatory, immunity booster, and is wonderful for digestion.  Helpful for breaking up colds, coughs, and phlegm, you’ll want to keep ginger around all winter. Continue reading

Kabocha Spice Latte (Dairy-free)

kabocha latte kabocha and mugAutumn is approaching. I know this because my Facebook news feed is full of comments about a certain company’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. Not because there’s been a weather change or anything silly like that. It’s Okinawa. It’s still hot here. Thank goodness my news feed keeps me informed.

Seriously though, let’s make a healthier version of this fall treat for you pumpkin lovers. You can say no thanks to the artificial pumpkin-flavored syrup, and hello to real food. Since I’ve yet to see a real-deal pumpkin in the local Japanese markets, guess what we’ll be using? Kabocha, of course! Continue reading

Gobo (Burdock) and Carrot Kinpira

gobo kinpira with chopsticksGobo (ゴボウ) is the Japanese name for burdock. It’s a root vegetable that has a very pleasant and earthy taste. Kinpira (きんぴら) is a Japanese cooking style that employs two cooking methods in one pot: sauté and simmer. Hurray, for one less dish to wash!

I had been taking burdock medicinally for a while before we moved to Okinawa to treat inflammation and eczema. Burdock supports the liver, acts as a mild diuretic, and is well-known as a blood purifier. It’s particularly good for treating the pitta dosha. When we arrived on island I saw lots of fresh burdock; I was excited to try cooking with it. I chopped it up and threw it into a soup. It was ok, nothing great though. I tried it a few more times because it was local, and good for me. I just wanted to like it better.   Continue reading

DIY Pickled Ginger

pickled ginger ginger jarI’m on a pickling spree this week! I love pickled ginger, or gari as it’s called in Japanese, and usually ask for extra of it when we go out for sushi. I’ve almost purchased it several times back in the states, but every time, the ingredient list stops me: red dye #40 and aspartame! Why is that in my pickled ginger!?! For me, those ingredients ruin something that should be a wonderfully healthy condiment. I don’t care if my ginger is pink or yellow… I just want a yummy (aspartame-free) ginger pickle, and I don’t think that’s asking for too much. Continue reading

DIY Furikake

furikake kana lidFurry cakey? What the heck is furikake?! It’s delicious Japanese seasoning mix! Furikake can be added to onigiri (rice balls), or sprinkled over rice and vegetables to jazz things up. Generally, it’s got some seaweed, fish, and sesame seeds. Then there are other flavorings like umeboshi, clam, shiso, bonito, egg, miso, or vegetables.

Some of the furikake packages contain MSG and other ingredients I’d rather skip. My favorite kind is the umeboshi, or pickled plum. As with most things, the fresher the ingredient, the better the taste. Feel free to add whatever you like into your furikake mix. So, on to the makings of DIY furikake! Continue reading

Kitchari

kitchari arialKitchari is like the Ayurvedic version of chicken noodle soup. It’s great for cleansing, resting the digestive system, and for when you’re feeling under the weather. Also, it’s a nourishing and comforting food. I especially like kitchari when I notice that my digestion is off from eating too many meals away from home.

The basics of kitchari are basmati rice, mung dhal, and plenty of water. This can be cooked into a watery soup or a thick porridge. The mung (or moong) dhal are split and de-hulled mung beans. Instead of the whole green mung bean, look for the split yellow type. They cook faster and are easier to digest. Mung beans are balancing for all the doshas. White basmati is also easier to digest than brown basmati. Continue reading

DIY Garam Masala Spice Mix

garam masala spice spoonsGaram Masala is, simply, a dry-roasted spice mixture. You can use all sorts of different spices. Garam masala isn’t limited to the spices used in this recipe. Feel free to play with different quantities or try adding fenugreek, fennel, black mustard seeds or fresh nutmeg. In a blind taste test, husbatron preferred the fresh taste of this recipe over the other two types of garam masala that I had. Beep-bop-boop! Continue reading