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Recipe: Basil Almond Pesto

I love the taste of fresh basil pesto

But, I have a lot of Pitta in my constitution. I have a hard time with garlic and pine nuts. The parmesan cheese traditinally used in pesto is pretty channel clogging and Kapha provoking. I avoid eating it very often and don’t give it to my son who has had some skin and lung issues in the past.

So I created this Basil Almond Pesto recipe.

I know it’s definitely not traditional pesto, but this recipe is pretty delicious. The freshness of the taste of the almonds adds a wonderful and unexpected touch.

But, let’s look at what the medicinal benefits of the ingredients:

Basil is a member of the mint family and is a powerful antioxidant–especially when it isn’t heated. It is a warming herb, so it can be used to help soothe Vata and Kapha complaints.

There are many forms of basil. They are used in herbal traditions all over the world to treat asthma symptoms and digestive upset, to help stabilize blood sugar, to improve circulation and to boost  immunity.

Basil is also antibacterial. It can be used internally or topically to support healthy wound healing and may help fight viruses.

Raw Almonds which have been soaked overnight in room-temperature water and then peeled are sweet and delicious.

They are cooling in nature and soothe Pitta complaints. The are not too heavy and eaten in moderation should not be Kapha provoking. The soaking and peeling also makes them less Vata provoking than other nuts.

Almonds are nourishing and aphrodisiac. They are also laxative and help the body excrete excess water while still being moisturizing.

Olive oil is an amazing food especially when eaten raw. It is very good for lowering “bad” cholesterol and has scientifically proven strongly antimicrobial properties.

The slightly bitter flavor of high-quality, virgin olive oil (as opposed to the bitterness of a rancid or spoiled oil) soothes Pitta inflammation and supports the functioning of the liver. Because of it’s light, bitter, fresh flavor it is not Kapha-provoking, and it’s sweet oiliness pacifies Vata.

Leeks are sweet and Vata reducing. When cooked, they soothe air in the digestive tract (bloating and gas) without aggravating Pitta

Basil Almond Pesto

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Recipe: Fresh Green Peas

Milo’s new favorite activity in the kitchen is shelling fresh green peas.

This translates into lots of opportunities to cook and eat green peas, and this is our favorite so far.

Peas are a great food to introduce in this blended form after a baby has successfully eaten a simple porridge or bone broth and then  orange vegetables, but this recipe pleased the adults, too. It is great served with home made tortillas or chapatis, savory crepes or dosas, rice, fish or chicken (I’m probably forgetting some things). It could even be made in a more thinned out form for a great soup. Just add 3 extra cups of vegetable or meat stock (and maybe some more salt).

Green peas are sweet to taste, cooling and dry in nature and have a sweet post digestive effect. This means that they are pacifying to both Kapha and Pitta and not aggravating to Vata if they are cooked thoroughly. All of these factors make it a perfect food for the spring and summer time for the whole family.

Blended Green Peas with Leek and Fennel

(serves 4)

1 lb. fresh green peas in the shell (2 1/2 – 3 cups shelled)

1 c. sliced leek

1/4 c. sliced fresh fennel

3/4 tsp. salt (seasoned salt like Herbamare works nicely)

1 heaping Tbsp. ghee

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Shell the green peas and place them in a bowl. Discard the pods.

Add ghee and oil to a pan. Heat slightly and then add everything else to pan.

Saute until the leeks are soft and translucent. Cover with water and simmer over medium heat until the peas are soft–about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. Blend in blender or with hand mixer until they have a lumpy consistency, or until completely smooth.



How to Drink Water (with recipes)

How much water should I drink?

For years, most of us have heard the suggestion that we should drink “8 cups of water a day.” Unfortunately it isn’t really that simple.

In fact, each of us has a unique constitution and lifestyle that actually has different requirements to stay hydrated. The amount of rehydration we need on a given day is directly related to how much hydration we have lost through the loss of bodily fluids.

When we eat, we need to sip just enough fluid with our meal to make our food somewhat liquid.
In addition, if we can’t digest our water it doesn’t matter how much we drink, we never really get hydrated. It may seem strange to think that we have to digest our water but, just like anything that we swallow, water has to be digested and transformed into a suitable fluid for our body’s nutritional needs. We have probably all had the experience of feeling bloated and overly full after drinking water—this is a sign that it is not being properly transformed.

And that is actually the most important factor. Our body is not like a sponge. Our bodily tissues don’t just immediately soak up the water we drink and suddenly become hydrated. If we drink too much water, just as when we eat too much food, we can dampen our digestive fire. Drinking too little water can also weaken our digestion.

The simplest way to know how much water we should drink is to drink when we are thirsty. Modern nutritionists say this is probably too late—that we are already overly dehydrated by this point—but this may be because most of us have lost touch with the subtle signs of our thirst. It may take some time to redevelop that sensitivity.

In general, all of us will tend to need to drink more water from the middle of summer through the autumn and less from mid-winter through the spring.

When Should I Drink Water?

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Weaning: Baby’s First “Solid” Foods

New mothers often wonder if they need to know their baby’s constitution to help them choose what foods they should feed them. Actually, though, all healthy babies have very similar nutritional needs. If there is some chronic health issue present in a nursing or formula-fed baby, weaning them should, perhaps, proceed more slowly, but is otherwise basically the same.

There are many opinions about what first foods to give to baby, but most cultures agree on when to offer baby solid food. It is best for babies to be exclusively breast-fed for at least the first 4-6 months.

Baby’s First Solid Foods

We began offering food to our son when he was about 4 ½ months old. I had heard many suggestions for first foods that I liked (including egg yolk and bone broth), but in the end I began with the traditional Ayurvedic first food (and good staple) which is a mix of toasted basmati rice and mung dal cooked with ghee and spices. My body has always digested mung and rice well and I figured that Milo would do well with it too. In the beginning, I would wait for it to cool some and then add some breast milk to thin it out.


Store dry porridge mix in a clean, dry glass jar.

It took Milo at least a couple of weeks to practice his swallowing, so at first he wasn’t really “eating” that much. For that time, we offered it only once a day, still breast-feeding on demand. As he learned to swallow, he would usually eat a small bowl of it once a day and then twice a day.

Once it was clear that he knew how to eat—which took about a month or so—I began offering orange vegetables. I started with carrots cooked well and added to his porridge. Next I added butternut squash and sweet potato, each time waiting about a week before trying the next vegetable.


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What’s So Great About Ghee?

We talk a lot about ghee in Ayurveda. It is said to be the best oil to cook with and it turns out there are lots of good reasons.

From the Ayurvedic perspective, ghee is special because it is the only fat that is said to strengthen the digestive fire. It is also very subtle and so can penetrate deeply into the tissues of the body to increase lubrication and cool inflammation.
First of all, what is it? Ghee is clarified cultured butter. This means it is butter that has been separated out from yogurt. It has then been cooked over a low-medium heat until the water has been evaporated out. During this process, the casein and the lactose have solidified and separated out of the pure milk fat.

Ghee has a very well balanced combination of saturated and unsaturated fats. Fat contents and proportions vary a bit throughout the year and depending upon the cow, but the proportions are about 65% saturated fats, 25% monounsaturated fats and about 5% polyunsaturated fat content. Most of the saturated fat is made up of short chain fatty acids and about 3% of that is linoleic acid which has antioxidant properties.

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