When you reach Rock.Bottom.

Last year was one of the worst years I’ve had health-wise. I was basically sick with one thing or another all year, and things all came to a head when I was diagnosed with critical hypertension in July and put on blood pressure meds. Inside I was screaming THIS IS NOT ME!!! I am not the person on blood pressure meds in their 40’s!! It was very depressing but… the medication did make me feel better. Nonetheless,  I am determined to not take meds even though I have a pre-existing heart condition. I was very concerned about the extreme side-effects I experienced, even after I was put on different meds, and the fact my Dr. was very blasé about the fact he could “give me another medication to counteract the side-effects if necessary”. So my tactic has been to wait until my blood pressure stabilised over a longer period, then to wean myself off the meds and step up my yoga and exercise game, reduce my stress, and change my food game all whilst checking my blood pressure consistently (so no need to worry Mandytje 😉). On top of everything, I appear to have become more allergic to my fluffy bundle of joy, Roosje the Cat. But that situation is easily resolved by taking an allergy tab every day. Obviously, she’s not going anywhere ha!

I decided 2017, the year of my 50th birthday, I am going to commit completely to my health because the future looks short and depressing if I carry on like this. Last week I did a two-day Ayurveda course to refresh my knowledge and learned so much, I loved every minute of it! I am inconsistent about my Ayurvedic diet even though it’s the only thing that works for me.

Along with my course last week, I stumbled across a book called The Hot Belly Diet by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar which appealed to me because it’s based on Ayurveda, and it’s about reigniting your digestive fire by following this diet for 30 days. So the ‘hot’ in the title is not the sexualised use of the word hot which is common now. The basic idea is to rekindle and maintain a balanced digestive fire (‘agni’) beginning with 3-day preparation phase to detoxify and give your digestive system a rest.

In Ayurveda we believe that the digestive system is the most important system in our bodies because it provides our body with the energy we need from birth to death. How well your agni functions determines the quality of your life. I will write more about agni in another post. But for the next 30 days I will be on this program to start feeling better because I do believe food is a medicine.

Here is a short summary of the plan:

  • A 24 hour castor oil cleanse before starting is optional. Do the oil cleanse the Sunday before you begin. Have your last meal on the Saturday night and don’t make it a heavy one.
  • Preparation days 1-3 are about breaking old patterns and not eating or drinking the things that lower your digestive fire. The goal is to lighten the burden on your digestive system.
  • Start day 1 on a Monday because the author thinks it’s easier to have your regular routine, rather than potential social distractions at the weekend (which is the case for me this week)
  • For the next 23-days, you mainly eat kitchari, a nourishing, easy to digest rice/dal  combination which I love anyway and always makes me feel great. Kitchari is the main dish for lunch (and dinner if you want), plus a non-creamy soup and steamed vegetables. Breakfast is a superfood smoothie, or oatmeal, or an egg-veggie scramble.
  • On the final 4-days you can start to reintroduce the other foods suitable for your dosha.

So this is what I’m going to be logging on here and am very interested to see what changes not only in weight, but in energy it will bring me. Will I still have energy to do yoga and go to the gym? Will I sleep well/better, will I stop getting skin rashes and bloating? Will my blood pressure be stable? I am positive I will answer yes to all the above!

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Tuesday 16 April

The Plan:
Tuesday
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Mid-morning (10-11) Stewed pears
Lunch (12-13) Falafel from Maoz
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Ei­er­mie met tofu en spits­kool (AH)

The Reality:
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Mid-morning (10-11) Stewed pears
Lunch (12-13) Falafel from Maoz
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Ei­er­mie met tofu en spits­kool (AH)

We had dinner so late last night again (forgot how long risotto takes…) that I’m sure it’s the reason we both had problems waking up this morning. It was all a mad rush. Hate those kind of mornings.

As I knew I’d be lugging my yoga bag around I had decided not to bring lunch today so I had a Maoz falafel for lunch.

Still having a lot of gas and bloating issues which is not so good and made me worried about doing yoga. We did balances and forward bends today; I love me some forward bends! I was telling my teacher how since doing yoga regularly again, I can feel the difference in my body going into the poses and feeling like I’m progressing nicely. She reminded me that when I used to practice regularly years ago, I did really well and I’m a natural “You’re a Yogi” she said. I swear if I had a tail it would have wagged like mad. I was so happy she said that – it felt good! I think I’ll step my classes up to two a week as I have done the last two weeks, because it just feels great.

We also spent a while talking about nutrition and I notice that I feel like a phony talking about it. I know a lot about it, but because I am so overweight, I feel like people must think “yeah right”. When TLB went to see a nutritionist a few years back because of high blood pressure, she told him exactly everything I had been telling him. I’ve always been interested in health and nutrition, unfortunately my knowledge was theoretical and I was not practicing what I know. I always told my sister she should study nutrition as that’s almost exclusively what we talk about, yet it never crossed my mind to do it myself 🙂

Speaking of not doing the right thing, I had a small bag of crisps today because I was starving after yoga. Bad choice on an otherwise good eating day! Dinner was noodles with tofu and pointed cabbage.

RECIPE: Risotto with turnip greens and rucola

Hoofdgerecht

2 personen
25 min

INGREDIËNTEN
2 bosjes raapstelen (ca. 200 g)
1 grote ui
1 teentje knoflook
1 bakje rucola (sla 30 g)
2 eetlepels roomboter
150 g risottorijst (pak 400 g)
2/3 kippenbouillontablet
(versgemalen) peper

VOEDINGSWAARDEN (per eenpersoonsportie)

Energie: 375 kcal
Eiwit: 9 g
Vet: 10 g
Koolhydraten: 62 g

BEREIDEN
Worteltjes van raapstelen verwijderen. Raapstelen wassen, laten uitlekken en grof snijden. Ui en knoflook pellen en fijnsnipperen. Rucola grof snijden. In (braad)pan boter verhitten. Ui in ca. 5 minuten zacht, maar niet bruin bakken. Knoflook en rijst kort meebakken. Raapstelen toevoegen en al omscheppend laten slinken. Bouillontablet en 250 ml water toevoegen en aan de kook brengen. Rijst onafgedekt in ca. 5 minuten gaar koken, af en toe doorroeren. Rucola erdoor scheppen en kort meewarmen. Op smaak brengen met peper. Serveren met (versgeraspte) parmezaanse kaas.

Bron: Allerhande 9 2001

Monday 15 April

The Plan:
Monday
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Mid-morning (10-11) Stewed pears
Lunch (12-13) Jerusalem artichoke soup and leftover noodles dinner
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Risotto with turnip greens and rucola

The Reality:
Monday
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Mid-morning (10-11) Stewed pears
Lunch (12-13) Jerusalem artichoke soup and leftover noodles dinner
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Risotto with turnip greens and rucola

The day did not start off well as it was a rush and we were all cranky it seemed, me, TLB and the cat. Monday morning blues I suppose. I was not amused when I got to work (late) to then discover I’d left my breakfast on the counter at home. I knew I’d need something before lunch so I settled for a hard boiled egg and an amaranth cracker. I skipped the mayo which I usually add a little bit of, to give it some moisture and it was actually fine; it didn’t taste like cardboard. I told myself Kapha needs drying, this is drying.

Lunch was some soup I had in the freezer; now I know for sure… Jerusalem artichokes give me gas. Enough said about that! The noodles which we had very late last night also didn’t help and I felt very bloated, a feeling I had grown used to in my life until recently.

Once again, life got in the way of my ‘carefully laid’ plans, as TLB’s mum was admitted to hospital so we know this week will be ‘take it as it comes’. But I have said that no matter what… we are going to cook and eat well for ourselves, especially to ground us in this uncertain time.

After work I went to the hospital with my yoga bag and I found myself looking forward to my yoga class so much. Unfortunately, as I left the hospital, the tram pulled away in front of me and the next one didn’t come on time. I was very disappointed; yes I could have gone and ran to the class but I did not want to come in with a rushed vibe and disturb everyone and then have to change as well. I was kicking myself for missing the tram, and then I thought, you know, hopefully I made an old woman happy by visiting her. Yes, I missed my class which I’d already paid for, but whatever.

It did mean I had time to cook which otherwise TLB would have had to do. I love risotto and I bought turnip greens for the first time on Saturday. Yum! And anyone who knows me knows I am nuts about arugula. So this dinner was a success and kapha pacifying on account of the arugula and turnip greens being bitter, pungent and astringent, the three flavors that reduce Kapha.

Risotto with turnip greens and arugula
Risotto with turnip greens and arugula

Week 16 Meal Plan (15 – 21 Apr)

Monday
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Mid-morning (10-11) Stewed pears
Lunch (12-13) Jerusalem artichoke soup and leftover noodles dinner
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Risotto with turnip greens and rucola

Tuesday
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Mid-morning (10-11) Stewed pears
Lunch (12-13) Falafel from Maoz
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Ei­er­mie met tofu en spits­kool (AH)

Wednesday 
On waking Hot water
Before gym (6:15) Iron-Rich Breakfast Drink (p 257 Morningstar)
Mid-morning (10-11) Stewed apples
Lunch (12-13) Ei­er­mie met tofu en spits­kool (AH)
Dinner (20:15) Vegetarian Bolognese with greens

Thursday
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Before gym (6:15) Iron-Rich Breakfast Drink (p 257 Morningstar)
Mid-morning (10-11) Stewed apples
Lunch (12-13) Vegetarian Bolognese
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Indian-Spiced Kale & Chickpeas with  Roasted Cabbage Wedges

Friday
On waking Hot water
Before gym (6:15) Iron-Rich Breakfast Drink (p 257 Morningstar)
Mid-morning (10-11) Spiced Fruit Compote
Lunch (12-13) Indian-Spiced Kale & Chickpeas with  Roasted Cabbage Wedges
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Lentils with Chia Seeds Recipe

Saturday
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Breakfast (8:00) Masala Egg Scramble
Mid-morning (11:30) Apple
Lunch (12-13) Lentils with Chia Seeds Recipe
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Spiced Pancakes (Brown p 81)
Pudding: Mixed fruit salad in spiced yoghurt (Brown p 128)

Sunday (Detox Sunday)
On waking Hot water
Mid-morning (10-11) Ginger Smoothie (MS)
Lunch (12-13) Green Mung Bean Soup
Dinner (18:30-19:30) Green Mung Bean Soup

BOOK REVIEW: Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine, by Harish Johari

Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine, 200 Vegetarian Recipes for Health, Balance and Longevity

(1994, 2000) by Harish Johari

The Author

Harish Johari (1934-1999) was a distinguished North Indian author, Tantric scholar, poet, musician, composer, artist, and gemologist who held degrees in philosophy and literature and made it his life’s work to introduce the culture of his homeland to the West.

The Book

Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine by Harish Johari explains the healing qualities of various Indian foods and spices and recommends combinations appropriate for specific conditions of body and mind.

The book is divided into two parts: Part I comprises of sixty-eight pages containing an Introduction to Ayurveda, and Part II is The Recipes, and Appendices.

PART I AN INTRODUCTION TO AYURVEDA.

Chapter 1 Principles of Ayurveda

This section is a description of the five elements, the tridosha theory and individual temperaments. Johari goes on to give a brief explanation of as he terms them, wind dominated individuals (v), bile dominated individuals (p) and mucus dominated individuals (k).

Then he goes on to explain the dhatus, the three doshas and their subcategories. The six tastes and their characteristics with examples are also explained and there is a chart explaining the composition, qualities and effects of the six tastes, and a list of foods and spices according to their attributes.

Chapter 2 Balanced Nutrition

Johari writes that most diseases are the result of wrong eating habits and/or of eating antagonistic foods. He explains that we need to understand the qualities of foods and how they interact with each other, in order to prevent disease.

The chapter contains quite detailed information about proteins, carbohydrates, fibres, sugar, starches, vitamins and minerals, water, and salt. He compares and contrasts western and Ayurvedic principles such as the fact that in Ayurveda there is no mention of vitamins because the ancients combined their food so skilfully that they created a fully balanced diet.

Chapter 3 Foods And Their Healing Properties

A significant chapter is dedicated to cow’s milk and its qualities. Its religious and cultural relevance, nutritional value, and its curative qualities. Some claims I find a bit controversial such as the fact he mentions milk fats can even cure tuberculosis and cancer as long as the milk is fresh and the cow is not fed with formula foods.

Chapter 3 also contains information on grains, wheat, wheat flour, and rice. It lists all fruits according to their characteristics and their effect on the doshas and the uses of various fruits.  He writes about various ways to fast such as a forty day milk fast and a three day grapefruit juice fast, followed by a forty to sixty day milk fast (!)

The chapter continues with a description of some common vegetables, and goes through a description of each vegetable’s properties, taste and effect on the body.

He does the same in the chapter on flavourings and spices. He even gives a recipe to counteract foods that “taint the breath”. There is a list of sattvic, rajasic and tamasic spices, that I found very handy. I learnt a lot from the descriptions about the properties for example on turmeric. There is a chapter on sweeteners, which is limited to honey and raw cane sugar then descriptions of various nut types.

Chapter 4 Guidelines For Preparing And Eating Foods

The chapter starts with an explanation of vibrations. He explains that food picks up the vibrations of the cook. He suggests not tasting food while cooking but to cook by feeling. Also, to eat only after the food has been offered to god first.

Then a list of incompatible foods and what to do to promote healthy eating. The list is exhaustive, from what to have in the room to what to wear, whom to serve first, second and third. He recommends washing the hands, face and feet before eating. Also, to only eat when the right nostril dominates and drink only when the left nostril dominates. Only eat when hungry, and preferably six hours after the previous meal. Washing ones hands, face, mouths and eyes after meals is also good for the digestive system. Rest after lunch but do not sleep. If one cannot walk outside, one can take 108 steps indoors. Take no solid food before a bowel movement. Do not face south when eating as it drains energy. Avoid laughter while eating, silence is preferable. It is preferable not to defecate for two or three hours after eating.

The chapter ends with a list of cures for indigestion caused by a particular food and how it can be cured by eating another type food.

Chapter 5 Food and the Cycles of Nature

The chapter starts with a description of food according to the seasons. He explains the characteristics of each season and the importance of eating foods that are in season. The author even goes so far to write about food for each day of the week. There is a chart, illustrating which foods to eat of a specific colour on the day that corresponds astrologically to that colour or quality. For example, on a Wednesday, one should eat coriander leaves, spinach, mung beans, broccoli and other green food because Wednesday is ruled by mercury and its colour is pear green.

Chapter 6 Food And Consciousness

In this chapter, the author describes Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in detail and the purpose of the gunas.

PART II THE RECIPES.

Introduction To The Recipes

In this chapter, tips are given there about the utensils one could use in the kitchen, with a description of each utensil and what its purpose is.

Appendices.

In the last section, you will find meal combination ideas, recipes for the sick and elderly and again, a section on milk.

Conclusion

I cooked several recipes from this book and was underwhelmed by all of them. Despite the use of spices, I found them bland. What I found missing was a clear instruction with each recipe as to which dosha it was suitable for.

Overall, I think this book does have an excellent introduction to Ayurveda. The author is clearly a scholar of Ayurveda, but I think it might be too much detail for someone who is just learning about Ayurveda. It is not a beginners guide, and I think it does assume you already have a basic knowledge of Ayurveda. I missed most a note next to each recipe about the dosha it is suitable for. Then again, because that information was not given, you had to think for yourself!