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Hello!

I have a love story for you…

This is me smiling.

Me in Pune, India, November 2010

I’m smiling because this picture was…

  1. Taken on my birthday
  2. When I was at a party in India
  3. India is my most favorite place ever
  4. My friends and I had just eaten Indian fudge.

This was no ordinary fudge… it some of the best fudge I’ve ever tasted.

And I didn’t even know Indian fudge existed until I was IN India (perhaps, like you, it never occurred to me to equate Indian culture with gooey chocolate goodness).

It was the winter of 2010. I’d journeyed out to study at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune. On my way there, I stopped for a few days in Matheran – a beautiful “hill station” nestled between Mumbai and Pune.

Matheran is famous for having no cars, clean air, lots of monkeys and really good chikki – a classic Indian sweet made from nuts or seeds, ghee (clarified butter) and jaggery (a truly delicious Indian brown sugar).

I was going to stay with a family in Pune, and I wanted to bring them a gift. Matheran’s famous chikki seemed perfect, so I bought one for them and one for me.

Upon tasting it, I understood the hype was for real – Matheran’s chikki is AMAZING.

I ate a whole package before I even left Matheran, and couldn’t fathom the idea of leaving without more.

Alas, there was no more Matheran chikki in my future and my last minute, late-night chikki mission was a bust! I arrived in Pune chikki-less, save for the chikki I’d set aside for my host family.

As it turns out, I shared my chikki story with an Indian couple who, upon meeting me in line at a local restaurant, took me out to lunch AND invited me to their wedding…

I’m telling you. How can you not love India?

They informed me that the BEST chikki actually comes from a nearby town called Lonavla, and that it was just a train ride away.

Without hesitation, I boarded the train to Lonavla the very next day. I was Cooper’s bound – a sweets store the couple said was the BEST.

I was thrilled to reunite with fresh and abundantly available chikki. AND, most importantly, I was introduced to Indian fudge.

I purchased far too much to eat by myself, and traveled back to Pune all smiles and full of excitement.

That’s how fudge became my “T”-shaped birthday cake and the rest is history : )

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is NOT fudge – they’re brownies. But they’re fudgy and delicious, and my tribute to the incredible times I’ve had in India, which I’ll never forget, or take for granted.

 

Fudge-Inspired Rosemary Brownies

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Yield: About 16 brownies

 

Once these babies have cooled to room temperature (if you can wait that long to taste them), you’ll experience bites of moist chocolate goodness imbibed with the savory kick of rosemary – an advantageous herb in winter for its ability to strengthen circulation, metabolism and elimination.

For a grain-free brownie, substitute the gluten-free flour mix with 3/4 cup blanched almond flour and 1/4 cup coconut flour. You can make these vegan by substituting the eggs with egg replacer. Ener-G brand egg replacer is my fave for baked goods.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Coconut Oil

5 ounces Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

2 Eggs (at room temperature)

1 teaspoon Rosemary Extract or Vanilla Extract

1 cup All-Purpose, Gluten-Free Baking Flour

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 cup Organic Coconut Sugar

2 teaspoons fresh chopped Rosemary or 1 tsp dried

Pinch of Good Quality, Mineral-Rich Salt

4 drops certified pure therapeutic grade Rosemary essential oil (optional)

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan with coconut oil.

Set up a double boiler method on your stove over medium heat. Melt the coconut oil and the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat.

In a small separate bowl with a wire whisk or fork, beat the eggs and then whisk them into the chocolate/oil mixture. Beat in the rosemary extract and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, rosemary and salt. Beat in the chocolate mixture until smooth. Spread the brownie mixture into your greased pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, and allow them to cool completely before digging in. Enjoy!

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P.S. If you ever find that you need a nutritional reset post eating these brownies… join my next Ayurvedic Cleanse Program! Details are on my homepage. xo

Hello Friends!

2013 was one of the busiest years of my life and I ended December with one of the worst flus I’ve ever picked up to prove it. At first I noticed that, even though I was getting plenty of sleep, I was feeling extra tired for days on end. Then I got an uncharacteristic string of headaches. I thought it was due to getting my menses, but I knew something was off… I just couldn’t be sure what.

But then I taught 10 yoga classes in 48 hours (which normally would be rather peaceful, I must say) and I woke up with a super sore throat, more headaches and whole body pain. Once I surrendered to bed, it became clear that my sinuses were infected and my head was full of phlegm (well, now I knew why I was getting the headaches!). I proceeded to have fever alternating with chills, followed by a deep lung heaviness and racking cough.

Needless to say, I felt miserable! But I’m grateful to my body for showing me its symptoms so I could bring it back to balance.
Today is my first day of feeling better (I’ve spent 4 days in bed up til now) and I feel inspired to share how I got my health back, naturally!
I never took anything synthetic. Instead, I stuck to the following basics: I ate no sugar or dairy (foods I was reluctant to give up as fall turned to winter – my bad!), I drank lots of warm fluids – including simple garlic broth and ginger tea, I stayed in bed, I asked for help (such as, “help friends! can anyone walk my dog?”), and kept myself warm. Beyond that…

First things first… I sucked on these:

Zinc Heals.

These taste good.

Not everyone feels that Zinc makes a big difference when fighting infection. But my experience is that when I take it in the first 24 hours of feeling sick, it really helps me feel better faster. If nothing else, these particular lozenges are not sugary – they are made from low-glycemic brown rice syrup – and they really soothed my sore throat and unquenchable thirst in the first two days of my… deep rest period. : )

Second, I did Steam Inhalations every couple hours, followed by cleansing my nasal passages with warm salt water.
It’s called using a Neti Pot – and it looks like this.

Neti Pots are amazing for clearing the sinus passages of excess phlegm.

Neti Pots are amazing for clearing the sinus passages of excess phlegm.

Also known as “Nasal Rinse Cups”, neti pots clear the sinuses and nasaly passages. They are available in plastic, stainless steel and ceramic styles of varying shapes and sizes. Clearing nasal passages removes excess mucous that make you more vulnerable to bacterial infections, allergies and chronic or acute congestion. If you’ve already got a whole lot of mucous going on like I did, warm salt water will help break down and remove that excess mucous – out of your head! I must have done at least 10 steam inhalations and 12 neti pot rinses in the first 36 hours of feeling awful. And you know what? It helped sooooo much and made my sinus headache go away within a few hours.

Here’s what to do: Fill a neti pot with warm distilled water and ½ teaspoon sea salt (preferably a good quality, mineral-rich salt) for a gentle saline rinse that provides relief for excessive mucous and/or nasal dryness while rinsing away dust, pollen and other irritants that may become lodges in the sinus cavity.

Lean over the sink with your forehead leaned towards the drain. Place the spout of the neti pot to your right nostril and turn your head towards the left (so that your left ear is now facing the drain). Breathe through your mouth as you allow the distilled salt water to flow in through your right nostril and out through your left nostril.
Repeat on the opposite side. Finish by gargling with the last bit of salt water that is left in the pot – this is especially helpful if your throat is sore! Blow your nose gently, but thoroughly, to purge as much water and mucous as possible.
If you suffer from constant congestion (especially in the morning), you may adapt this as a daily practice, tagging it onto the daily brushing of your teeth. It’s wonderful to do daily when cleansing and for times when a cold is coming on or you’ve been exposed to excess dust and other pollutants. Neti pots can be purchased online and at most health food stores.

What’s a Steam Inhalation?

It’s a humidifier, it’s a facial, it’s a way to break a sweat and a way to build your lung strength, improve your blood circulation, and move phlegm out of the lungs. Since I don’t have a bathtub where I currently live, I use steam inhalations as the next best thing to soaking my whole body in hot water when I need some extra heat and ESPECIALLY when I need to heal my congested lungs.

Here’s How To Steam: Fill a stockpot two thirds of the way full with water. Add some fresh sliced ginger root (if you have it) and bring the water to a rolling boil. Set a place for yourself at a table where you can sit quietly, undisturbed, with both feet flat on the floor and at a level where, when the pot is placed before you, you can easily lean over it with a towel over your head AND the pot. Just before you sit down with the steaming pot of hot water, add whatever healing lung herbs you have around the house or in your backyard – rosemary, lavender, mint, comfrey, lemon balm, mexican marigold and/or calendula flowers are common plants that do wonders for the lungs.
Place the herbs in the hot water and immediately sit before the pot with a towel over your head – this ensures that you “catch” the first volatile steaming oils of the herbs. Breathe as deeply as you can, really filling your lungs with the steam, for as long as you can – try for 10 to 15 minutes. Blow your nose as often as you need to throughout the steam. Things will get released!
Because the steam inhalation liquifies and breaks down hardened mucous, it’s a good idea to use your neti pot right after. Good News: you can re-use your steam inhalation 3 times before discarding.

The Next Thing That Made a Difference – I Ate These.

Healthforce Nutritionals is my favorite Superfood company.

Healthforce Nutritionals is my favorite Superfood company.

Vitamin C helps rebuild vital tissues of the body – including the lungs! Only whole food sources of Vitamin C are completely absorbable and assimilable by the body. That’s why I always use Truly Natural Vitamin C by Healthforce Nutritionals. One and a half teaspoons gives you 300mg of totally absorbable Vitamin C. That’s basically the same amount of Vitamin C that you’d absorb from taking 1000mg of a synthetic sourced Vitamin C, but without the need for your body to process out all the unusable parts of the synthetic form. Plus, because whole food sources of Vitamin C are non-toxic, you can take as much as you need and not get sick to your stomach. This one tastes good, too.

I couldn’t take the probiotics those first two days – I felt too sick and nauseous to keep much down aside from fluids. But once I started feeling a little better and gaining back my appetite, I took Friendly Force to start giving my colon (lung’s sister organ) some support for building good bacteria and reducing bad bacteria in the gut. After all, more than 70% of the body’s immunity lives in the gut so “getting sick” IS a chance to purge, purify and rebuild.

Of course, I turned to Ayurveda, too. It’s my thang!

Ancient Ayurvedic Remedies like Nasya really work!

Ancient Ayurvedic Remedies like Nasya really work!

Nasya oil is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for healing, soothing and strengthening the ears, nose and throat. The Nasya Oil pictured is one I learned to make from my teacher and founder of the dhyana Center, DeAnna Batdorff. She learned it when she ran an ashram’s infirmary in Bihar, India. There are lots of Nasya Oil blends out there, though – some less fiery than others. This one, made from ghee, sesame oil, ginger and fresh garlic is pretty strong but it’s one of the best anti-bacterial blends I know. I warm this up and put a dropperful in my ears when I feel low. Sometimes, when I’m really brave, I’ll sniff and swallow a few drops. It’s strong! But it can really fight infections.

Lung Points Photo

Enemas help, too, because they clear out the lower channel of the large intestine, lung’s sister/partner organ. And really any warm, cleansing practice you can think of will help you get well – putting garlic and onion on your food, drinking lots of healing broths, eating Asian pears for sore lungs, eating only when you are hungry, sleeping as much as you can and need to, canceling all obligations so you can focus on complete self-care, drinking water… etc. You get the picture. Use your inner wisdom – you know what to do. But I will share one last healing experience…

One more thing that helped (but I’m especially lucky) – Cuddles from Nurse Spanky.

Nurse Spanky.

Nurse Spanky.

I hope these remedies help you feel better fast!
Love, Talya

My dog’s name is Spanky.

Yesterday was our 5 year anniversary of being together… I adopted him on December 30th, 2008 when he was 17 months old.

This year, Spanky began downloading his incredible wisdom through me, via my Talya’s Kitchen Facebook Page.

I swear that it is he who has written these posts – I’ve only acted as a conduit for his experience, knowledge and clarity of judgement.

Spanky and I hope that this selection of his 2013 Wellness Tips bring joy and inspiration to your heart and help you to usher in a FABULOUS, WONDROUS and BEAUTIFUL 2014.

Spanky’s Wellness Tips. #1

“Allow your dog to take you for a walk every day.

Spanky Loves Walks!

Spanky Loves Walks!

It’s good for the body and it’s good for the soul.”

-Eckhart Tolle

Spanky’s Wellness Tips. #2.

Look as impossibly cute as you can at all times. This ensures your probability of being petted, caressed, massaged and given delicious treats.

Posing like Hugh Hefner and winning.

Posing like Hugh Hefner and winning.

“Place yourself in rubbing distance of everyone you see, and practice doing cute and cuddly things. If you play it right, you can pretty much turn your whole life into one long massage.” – Mary Monroe

Spanky’s Wellness Tips. #3.

Just Be Yourself.

Be Awesome.

I Love Being Me.

I Love Being Me.

Spanky’s Wellness Tips. #4.

Play until you can play no more.

I'm so hot! I love to play!

I’m so hot! I love to play!

“Play isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.

When we play vigorously, we trigger a mix of endorphins that lift our spirits.

Play is a state of being that is happy and joyous.

Jumping into and out of the world of play on a daily basis is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting.” – helpguide.org

The Day After We Met - December 31st, 2008.

The Day After We Met – December 31st, 2008.

Spanky’s Wellness Tips. #6.

HUG. Every chance you get!

“Hugs really are rather quite magnificent if you think about them.

They’re free (that’s nice, things are a little tight right now), they’re quick (good, I’m busy), you can do them in public (I have nothing to hide),
you can hug people of both sexes (equality is nifty), you can hug people of all races (everybody needs hugs), and you can hug people of all ages.
Seriously, if you’re not hugging, you’re missing out.” – Traver H. Boehm

“Regular embraces can lower the risk of heart disease, decrease stress, boost immunity, fight infections and ease depression.
Just ten seconds of hugging can lower blood pressure and release feel-good hormones like oxytocin and dopamine.” – MailOnline

Spanky’s Wellness Tips. #8.

Love (and put) Yourself First.

I love to be in the spotlight - with my friends!

I love to be in the spotlight – with my friends!

Spanky-Ji has much to say about this particular wellness tip. Below are a handful of his favorite quotes on the subject…

“If anyone hates on you because you are happy with yourself then you stick your paw in the air and say screw it. My happiness will not depend on others anymore. I’m happy because I love who I am. I love my flaws. I love my imperfections. They make me me. And “me” is pretty amazing.” – Unknown

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.” – Lucille Ball

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” -W.C. Fields

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” -Dr. Suess

“What a fool, quoth he, am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.” -John Bunyan (LOL!)

Spanky’s Wellness Tips. #9.

Eat Living Foods.

Mmmmm.... I love grass!

Mmmmm…. I love grass!

Living Foods contain loads of enzymes which contribute to the body’s ability to assimilate foods and digest foods properly. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, plant proteins and – if they are green – chlorophyll.

My personal favorite living foods include grasses, chlorella (algae, yum!), cherries, goji berries, avocados and carrots.

I don’t recommend eating dead foods. I ate a dead starfish once and threw up on my mom’s new boyfriend’s bed. Blech.

Spanky’s Wellness Tips. #10.

Surround Yourself With Wonderful People.

Chillin' With My Friends... That's where it's at!

Chillin’ With My Friends… That’s where it’s at!

“Be the kind of person you’d like to be with.”

“It is important to make an effort with those people in your life who are kind, who love you, and who are a positive influence in your life. And, of course, it is just as important that you also try to be kind, loving, and positive so that those people want to be around you as well.” – Jamie Falahee

“It’s less important to have lots of friends, and more important to have real ones.” – Amanda McRae

“Surround yourself with good people. They make it easier to keep your head up even when you’re going through bad times.” – Thema Davis

Spanky’s Wellness Tips. #12

Get enough sleep.

I sleep like the angel that I am.

I sleep like the angel that I am.

Your body needs sleep to be healthy, happy and to boost your immune system. Animals (including humans) who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to catch viruses and colds. Your body needs sleep to fight off disease. Be like me – I’m a sleep warrior!

“If I have a pillow to rest my head on, and a blanket to cover up with… I have nothing to complain about.” – Unknown

“Last night I dreamt I ate a ten pound marshmallow. When I woke up the pillow was gone.” – Tommy Cooper

Spanky’s [Extra Special Holiday] Wellness Tip. #13

Meditate.

I am peace.

I am peace.

As you surround yourself with friends, family and loved ones this holiday and new year season – or perhaps you are spending the holidays alone – find 10 minutes to sit quietly with the silence of your own heart. Support your sitting bones with a cushion and drape a soft shawl across your shoulders. Sit up tall, close your eyes and go within.

Perhaps you will find deep gratitude there. Perhaps you will find peace. Perhaps you will find anger or grief. Whatever you find, be with it. Be its companion in the silence. Be its witness. Don’t judge it.

In fact, see yourself the way you see me, His Holiness Spanky-Ji – as the most precious and loveable creature you will ever encounter in this lifetime. : )

Be well. Blessings on your journey into 2014 and Happy New Year!

Love, Spanky (and Talya)

talyaEarlier today it occurred to me that having a book signing party at an actual bookstore (especially a local bookstore I love so much – The Capitola Book Cafe) is kind of a big deal. So, I’m really excited and hope you will be able to join me for an evening of education, fun times and delicious food at the Capitola Book Cafe this Thursday, January 31st, at 7:30pm. It will be my biggest book signing to date of my recently published book,The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen. Books will be for sale and I will be signing them : ). Hope to see you there!

“The perfect marriage of a healing diet and exquisite taste, The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen showcases food as medicine at its best. With over 120 delicious recipes that provide healing flavors and harmony to the mind and spirit. Easy-to-follow symbols on each recipe page show how the unique chemistry of that recipe can be used to balance the body’s constitution” – The Book Publishing Company.

This recipe is an exerpt from my new book “The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitehen” – a great recipe to enjoy with frequency in the winter months, even if you’re already feeling good!

Feel Better Tea

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 32 ounces water
  • 2 inches fresh ginger root, cut into thin slices
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons raw honey

Directions:

Bring water and ginger root to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer, add garlic, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and add cayenne pepper. Pour 1/4 of the tea into an 8 ounce mug, add lemon and honey to taste.

Savory Version:

Replace cayenne pepper with ground turmeric powder. Omit the lemon and honey. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons miso paste to taste.

Although the great pilgrimage for Black Rock City has already begun (and it’s a journey for which I will, sadly, be missing this year), I thought it would be fun and useful to write about my most favorite foods to take on that worthwhile journey to the playa.

In case you have no idea what referring to, I am speaking of The Burn… the Black Rock City Art and Wine Festival… the land of limitless creativity and possibility pressed right up against your face (along with frequent high winds). Yes, that’s right. I’m talking about Burning Man.

Number one. Do not leave home for Burning Man without the basics one needs when “surviving” a week in the desert – shade, shelter, water, a warm coat, a bicycle and a kick-ass pair of boots (OK… the boots and the bicycle aren’t absolutely necessary, but they really do make the trip more fun). Water is no joke.

Number two. Do not leave home for Burning Man without hydrating foods. You’ll get the most out of your burn if you actually feel good while you’re out there. So what are some of the best and healthiest foods to take? Here’s a list of my favorite things to eat and drink on the playa…

Ripe avocadoes with Celtic Sea Salt – a meal unto itself when you’ve just gotten back from an exhausting afternoon of roller skating to Beyonce songs and meeting tons of cool people. I buy several “gradations” of ripe to unripe avocadoes so that I always have one ready for the day I crave it. Water follows salt so a generous pinch of healthy, mineral-rich salt (like “Real Salt”, Celtic Sea Salt, Lima Salt and/or Himalayan Salt) really makes a difference for your body in the harsh, dry climate of Black Rock City, Nevada.

Coconut Juice with Vitamineral GreenTM – last year I held a “green superfood party” at my Burning Man camp and had over 100 people arrive with plastic cups in hand, ready to be recharged! Almost nothing is as instantly refreshing, energizing and thirst-quenching as coconut juice mixed with greens. I’d say it is THE hangover cure, but feel free to be the judge on that for yourself.

*A note on this one… coconut juice is the same thing as coconut water. They are both the clear, sweet liquid that comes from young coconuts – their names are used interchangeably. Vitamineral GreenTM is a green superfood powder made from green grasses, seaweeds, spirulina, chlorella, digestive enzymes, probiotics and other incredible goodness. Healthforce Nutritionals makes it.

Jicama – my favorite light, crunchy, hydrating vegetable. Its high fiber content makes frequent trips to the port-a-potties a lot more pleasant (if you catch my drift). Plus, thick slabs of it taste great alone and/or dipped into the numerous tubs of Trader Joe’s Hummus you are bound to come across in your friends’ coolers.

Raw Cheese and Apples – here’s what to take with you to Grilled Cheese Camp. You can sit contentedly, knowing you are receiving the most delicious form of hydrating protein and fat in the universe (I exaggerate slightly)… unlike those eating pasteurized cheese on processed wheat bread. Sorry, Grilled Cheese Camp! I mean no offense. Who doesn’t love a camp that devotes their whole burn to providing others with a childhood comfort food? You guys rock!

Celery with Raw Almond Butter – another crunchy, hydrating, salt-carrying vegetable paired with, perhaps, the greatest condiment on earth. It’s a quick pick-me-up for when your friend comes by with a plan for the next great adventure that you just can’t pass up

Seaweed Water (aka Mermaid Tea) – if you don’t like the taste of seaweed, take this one off of your list. But if you don’t mind (or even adore) the taste of nutrient-dense sea vegetables, a few strips of this in your water will keep you cool and full of moist minerals from the ocean. Seaweed is the perfect balance to hot, dry, desert environments.

Mango – fresh is best, of course. Who doesn’t want sweet juicy mango pulp steaming down their face while having the most awesome adventure in the world? But reconstituted dried mango (the really raw, unsulfured kind) can satisfy most sweet cravings and keep you feeling a little more hydrated as well. It’s also nice to keep some dried mango in your pack for when a sudden wind storm picks up and you find yourself hungry and in need of making some new friends. Remember – it’s good feng shui to have ample snacks on your person.

Ghee (Clarified Butter) – perhaps my favorite Ayurvedic remedy on the playa. My fellow Vata (i.e. friend with a dry/cold constitution like mine) and I have often dreamed of having a “Vata Help Desk” at Burning Man. At our “to-your-health-installation”, we would slather dry, dehydrated people with ghee both inside and out. One Tablespoon on your food each day (like in a bowl of soup or stirred into oatmeal) really does lubricate you from the inside out, in a way that water cannot. Aside from coconut juice, ghee is the other thing I never leave for Burning Man without.

For my fellow Burners… xo.

A talented client of mine, Maria Grusauskas, wrote this lovely article filled with natural Ayurvedic remedies and a simple raw dessert recipe – all for helping to deal with grief and healing a broken heart. Click here to read the full story.

Thank you, Maria!!!

Smiling at my birthday party - where Indian fudge ruled!

I heart Indian fudge.

Do you see this picture of me smiling? That’s because this picture was (one) taken on my birthday, (two) I was in India, (three) India is like, my most favorite place ever, (four) I was with a group of international yoga friends for a super fun party and (five) we were eating Indian fudge. This was no ordinary fudge… it was the best Indian Fudge EVER.

I didn’t even know that Indian fudge existed until I was actually IN India. I mean, you don’t exactly equate Indian culture with gooey chocolate goodness, right? But I happen to be a health conscious foodie, so I’m open to almost any gastronomic surprise (as long as it’s healthy and vegan-ish. Especially if it involves chocolate!

Even though I’m an Ayurvedic practitioner, and incredibly committed to health, I still love fudge. I mean, you’ve got to let yourself have fun in life. Am I right or right? : )

Anyway, back to the story of how I encountered the Indian fudge that became by birthday cake… Last winter, I was on my way from Mumbai to the international home of Iyengar yoga in Pune. I stopped for a few days in Matheran – a beautiful “hill station” nestled between these two metropolitan cities. Matheran is famous for having no cars, clean air, lots of monkeys and really good chikki. Chikki is a classic Indian sweet made from nuts or seeds, ghee (clarified butter) and jaggery (a truly delicious Indian sugar). Matheran was the perfect place to recover from jet lag and get reacquainted with my beloved India.

Since I was staying with a family in Pune, I wanted to bring them a gift – homemade chikki seemed perfect. So I bought some with the last of my money before I arrived in Pune, I also bought a small package of chikki for myself.

As it turns out, the hype is for real – homemade chikki is AMAZING. I couldn’t fathom the idea of leaving Matheran without more. But I had spent all my money and it was my last night in Matheran. I knew what I had to do.

At 9pm, I trekked over to the town’s only ATM. As I approached, I heard – and then saw – a frightening growl. It belonged a dog who appeared to be guarding the ATM. There was no way around him and no way I was going to get any money out of that ATM as long as he had something to say about it. My last minute late-night chikki mission was a bust! I arrived in Pune chikki-less (although I did still give my host family their chikki)!

It wasn’t too long before the universe stepped in, as it always does! I shared my chikki story with a sweet, modern Indian couple who, upon meeting me in line at a local restaurant, took me out to lunch AND invited me to their wedding – I’m telling you. How can you not love India?!

They told me that the BEST chikki actually came from a nearby town called Lonavla (he grew up there!) and that it was just a train ride away. I dutifully boarded the train the following day (it was only 4 hours roundtrip), found the store most renowned for their sweets –  a place called Cooper’s and there it was… the fudge! I forgot about the chikki at that point. I had a new love to tend to.

By the way… so that you know I’m not making this up, I recently discovered a Facebook group called the “Coopers Fudge Fan Club”)!!!

The rest is history. I bought the fudge. I ate it standing in the pouring rain. I loved it. I cherished it. I shared it with friends… and then I shaped it into a letter “T” and made it my birthday cake. The end… The recipe I’m sharing with you today is NOT fudge – but it is fudgy and delicious. Try it! And check out that Cooper’s Fudge Fan Club page on Facebook – it’s pretty awesome!

 

Rosemary-Infused Brownies – Gluten-Free!

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Yield: About 16 brownies

Once they have cooled to room temperature (if you can wait that long to taste them!), these brownies are bites of moist chocolate goodness imbibed with the savory kick of rosemary – an advantageous herb in winter for its ability to strengthen circulation, metabolism and elimination.

I adapted this recipe from one I found in “Bob’s Red Mill Baking Book”. Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite source for all types of grains, especially all-purpose, gluten-free baking flour. I always keep some on hand so that when the mood strikes for a batch of cookies or brownies, I’m ready!

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Coconut Oil

5 ounces Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips*

2 Eggs (at room temperature)

1 teaspoon Rosemary Extract or Vanilla Extract

1 cup All-Purpose, Gluten-Free Baking Flour

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 cup Organic Sugar

2 teaspoons Fresh, Chopped Rosemary Leaves or 1 teaspoon Crushed, Dried Rosemary Leaves

Pinch of Salt

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking pan with coconut oil.

Set up a double boiler method on your stove over medium heat. Melt the coconut oil and the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat.

In a small separate bowl with a wire whisk or fork, beat the eggs and then whisk them into the chocolate/oil mixture. Beat in the rosemary extract and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, rosemary and salt. Beat in the chocolate mixture until smooth, then spread the brownie mixture into your greased pan. Bake for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before digging in

*In lieu of using chocolate chips, consider breaking a couple of high quality, dark chocolate bars into chip-sized pieces. Brands like “Alter Eco”, “Green and Blacks” and “Divine” taste especially… well, divine.

My name is Talya and I am a yogaholic. I am proud of this fact. My last boyfriend told me I stretched too much, that I was addicted to the postures, that I didn’t need it as much as I thought I did. But when we broke up and I couldn’t get out of bed on Christmas (he dumped me right before the holidays – brutal!), yoga was the only thing that got me out of bed and into the world. It might not have been a pretty sight (or a good-smelling one), but I showed up and stretched and breathed and cried. Thank you, God, for yoga.

Thank God For Yoga

My name is Talya and this is my blog. Sometimes I wonder if the contribution I make to the world is really enough. Is it really enough to show up at the local gym and teach people how to correctly position their shoulders over their wrists? Is it enough to teach cooking classes and turn people onto Ume Plum Vinegar and Green Superfoods? Am I good enough? Rejection does this. It makes me ask if I’m loveable, if I’m worthy, if I’m even really here. So… am I?

I took a walk on West Cliff Drive today with a woman I love and admire. She assured me that, yes, I am here. And she reminded me of the power of being your own best friend. Of looking these feelings in the eyes (grief, anger, devastation, hurt, sadness, vengeance, jealousy… the dark side, essentially) and saying: “That’s right, girl. That’s how you are feeling right now! You have every right to feel that way!” And you don’t have to make up a story about why you feel it. You can just let it be.

Love yourself.
Feel it.
Love yourself.
Feel it.
Maybe take a nap.
Go to yoga again.
Allow your super-awesome friend to bring you soup and watch you eat it.
Make raw brownies.
Feel it.
Love yourself.

Martha Graham says, “the body never lies”. Its core essence only wants to communicate truth to you – through you – the truth of how beautiful you are in your humanness. So… I’ll just be real. I lost something I really loved. There’s part of me that wants to be a victim, but there’s a bigger part of me that wants to heal this… And so I will. I’m learning to let go. I’m learning to trust that the Universe loves me, that God knows me better than I know myself and that – gosh darnit – people like me (and God LOVES me). So, now… I’m going to do the sensible thing and make Sweet Potato Fries with Raw Ranch Dressing for lunch. It’s the loving (and super delicious) thing to do. Take that, ex-boyfriend!!!!

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:
2 medium/large sweet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 4 inch long, 1/2 inch thick fries
2 to 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or ghee (or olive oil if that’s all you have around)
1 teaspoon coarse ground Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt or Real Salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed (optional)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Toss the sweet potatoes with the oil, salt, cumin, sugar and coriander so the fries are well coated.
Spread a single layer of fries out onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
Turn the fries over, maybe move them to the top rack in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the fries are golden brown and slightly crisp. Serve with Raw Ranch Dressing.

Raw Ranch Dressing

Ingredients:
1/2 cup soaked raw cashews
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed (optional)

Directions:
Place everything in a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Add an extra tablespoon of water if the sauce is too thick. Serve with Sweet Potato Fries.

And into the world with my first official blog! I am, right now, having a HUGE (private party in my bedroom) celebration as I welcome my new and (majorly) improved website. Hip, hip hooray for Gwyn Fisher, website artiste and all around awesome person. You rock! Thank you for fixing my website and making it beautiful again!

Let’s see if you can listen to the Talya’s Kitchen Jingle… (does it work?)

Talya's Kitchen Jingle

World, please stay tuned… I promise there is more to come soon (including a cooking class in the South Bay Area on May 21st and an 8 Day Cleanse in Santa Cruz that begins on May 13th with me and Dr. Tonya Fleck D’Andrea.) Want to play? Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get all the juicy details.

It's good to be alive!

Happiness for spring's warm arrival

Love, Talya

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