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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

You could say we are not all created equal… Some of us run hot, some of us run cold or dry, and some of us spend ample amounts of time lounging in the realm of stagnation. When winter comes, nature levels the playing field by making everybody cold. Depending on where you live… it could be a chill in the air, frosty morning blues, or steady days of rain, snow, and ice. The call for warmth at this time of year tends to be universal, and nothing warms the body like a hot bowl of soup.

In Ayurvedic medicine, the 5,000-year old science rooted in the elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth, winter represents the elements of earth and water. It’s a time when hibernation comes easy (bears do it) and it’s natural to eat a little more than usual, to put on a few extra pounds and to insulate the self against the rough and tumble go-go-go of the outside world. This time of year lasts a little less than three months, from late December to mid March (only one month to go!), and is referred to as the Kapha time of year.

Kapha is one of the three doshas, along with Vata and Pitta in Ayurvedic medicine. The doshas are a simplified expression of the five elements I spoke of above. Vata embodies air and ether, Pitta represents fire and water, and Kapha encompasses the elements of water and earth. The doshas are essentially forces of nature that accumulate, and go out of balance easily when concentrated, agitated or exposed, both in the natural world and in the body. For example, winter is a time of year when water and earth (i.e. Kapha) dominates. There is a natural accumulation of water (wet, cool) and earth (heavy, dense) in winter, and it is a time that Ayurveda associates with Kapha qualities. Some of these qualities will feel familiar if you tend to accumulate a lot of Kapha on an individual level. Kapha qualities include heavy, wet, damp, slow, dense, full, sluggish, oily, and cool – like mud.

Ayurveda’s main premise is to bring balance to the body, mind and spirit – primarily through a focus on optimum digestion. Winter is a time of year when stagnancy tends to build rapidly in the body. If you are someone who already tends to feel cold, heavy or slow, it’s even more important that you engage in activities that warm up your blood and get your heart pumping. To combat common winter-induced sluggishness, for example, Ayurveda recommends warming the body by moving it regularly (i.e. engaging in a vigorous yoga practice or taking a brisk walk) and by fueling digestive fire with foods like well-spiced soups and stews.

Every dosha will thrive on a slightly different spice palate. Vata – which tends to be cold and dry – needs warming spices like cardamom, basil and ginger to heat their soups. Pitta’s natural heat tends to sustain throughout the year, so Pitta does best with anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, peppermint, fennel seed and coriander. Because of its slow and sluggish nature, Kapha requires the most stimulating spices, like cayenne, black pepper, garlic and rosemary.

In general, Kapha – and everyone living in a Kapha climate like winter – thrives on foods that are warming, energizing, nourishing, hydrating and that support strong circulation and elimination of toxins. Kapha rules the “water-works” of the body – the kidneys, bladder and the lymphatic system – so it’s especially important to eat foods throughout the Kapha season that nourish these organs and systems. Teas, hot broths and stews will do the trick. But is sure does sound like soup to me! Here is one of my all time favorite recipes:

FallSoup

Carrot-Squash-Sweet Potato Soup

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Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

8 Cups Purified Water

1 pound Organic Carrots

1 pound Butternut Squash or any winter squash variety

1 Large Sweet Potato

2 teaspoons high-quality, mineral-rich salt such as Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt

3 Dried Bay Leaves

1 Tablespoon Ghee or Coconut Oil

½ Bunch Green Onions, roughly chopped (use the whole stalk)

2 Cloves Garlic, minced (omit for Pitta)

1-inch Fresh Ginger Root, washed and minced

1 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1 teaspoon Cinnamon (omit for Pitta)

1 teaspoon Dried Parsley, Basil or Tarragon Leaves

1 Tablespoon Miso Paste (any variety)

Dash of Apple Cider Vinegar or fresh Lemon Juice

In a large stock pot, bring the water to a boil. Chop the carrots, squash and sweet potato into large 2-inch chunks. Add them to the water along with the salt and bay leaves. Cover. If you use butternut squash, it’s fine to leave the skin on. For other winter squashes, you may want to peel them first, before adding them to the boiling water.

Allow it to cook over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes or until you can easily pierce the vegetables with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a separate medium-sized saucepan, sauté the green onions, garlic and ginger in ghee over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add this mixture to the soup. Remove the soup from heat, remove the bay leaves and then add all of the remaining ingredients.

Puree the soup in a food processor or high powered blender and serve hot. For Pitta, garnish with fresh or dried peppermint leaves.

More Than Soups:

Although chamomile is a summer flower, chamomile tea is known for its especially nurturing effect on kidneys. Simple herbal broths – like miso or vegetable – can easily be infused with immune boosting additions like garlic and ginger. Since dairy tends to digest pretty heavy, and can lend to an increase of mucous production which is already at a high in winter, dairy-based soups can be easily substituted with non-dairy base alternatives like coconut milk. All kinds of stews, provided they are warm and filled with as many fresh vegetables as you can get your hands on, warm the belly – and perhaps more importantly, the spirit!

soup cookies

Gluten-Free Soup “Cookies”

VPK-

Preparation time: 30 minutes

This recipe is my take on a savory, gluten-free scone that just happens to taste amazing with soups.

1 ½ cups brown rice flour

1 cup garbanzo bean flour

1 cup tapioca flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. xanthan gum

2 tsp. dried sage or 1/4 bunch fresh sage, chopped fine

½ tsp. brown mustard seeds

1 small red onion

2/3 cup maple syrup

½ cup, plus 1 tsp. ghee at room temperature

½ cup almond milk

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla extract or other flavor extract

½ tsp. celtic sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.

In a small skillet, heat 1 tsp. ghee over low-medium heat. Add chopped red onion, sage and brown mustard seeds. Sautee for 2-4 minutes, until onion is slightly soft and brown mustard seeds start to pop.

Whisk the onion mixture with other wet ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in stages. Blend thoroughly.

The batter should be dense. If it is too dense, add teaspoons of almond milk until all the flour is mixed in and the batter is still rather stiff. Form Soup Cookies into 2-3 inch mounds, shaping them with wet hands.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, until Cookies form a thin crust and a toothpick comes out clean from its center. Cool on a rack before serving.

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.

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!!!

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.

Follow along to make your own

Ghee is considered one of the “super-foods” of Ayurvedic nutrition. Overflowing with abundant health benefits, ghee, also known as clarified butter, is clean, sweet and light to the taste. It is one of the most beneficial forms of fat for the body and when taken with medicinal herbs, ghee helps transport an herb’s nutritional properties to all seven tissue layers of the body.

Click on the images below to follow along:

Vegan, Gluten-Free and Dairy Free – this recipe can be prepared as all RAW or not per your preference.  Cashews replace heavy cream in this traditional dish.  It is absolutely delightful and delicious over pasta, winter squash, steamed vegetables, fish and chicken.  The variation makes a great “spread” for dehydrated crackers or toast. Plus, garlic’s anti-biotic and anti-viral properties make this a health-giving condiment to keep around all Winter long.

This recipe is featured in Public Television Station KTEH’s “KTEH COOKS WITH GARLIC” Cookbook! To purchase Talya’s Kitchen Ayurvedic Cookbook click here.

Allow 15 – 20 minutes preparation time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Raw Cashew Pieces
  • 1 ½ Cups Cold Water
  • 1 ½ Tbs. Raw Garlic, Peeled & Minced (about 4 cloves)
  • 1 Tbs. Miso Paste
  • 2 Tbs. Very Hot Water
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp. Mineralized Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Coriander Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp. Dried Dill Weed
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary (optional)
  • 1/8 Cup Fresh or Dried Pomegranate Seeds (optional)

*Variation…

For a thicker sauce, or to use this recipe as a vegan spread, reduce Cold Water to 1 Cup and reduce Miso Paste by ½ Tbs.  When serving this sauce over the holidays (for extreme beauty and delight), garnish with Fresh Rosemary and Fresh Pomegranate Seeds.  So Delicious!

Directions:

To make the Cashew Cream… Place Cashews and Cold Water in a blender.  Process on high speed for 1 minute.  Pause and scrape down the sides with a soft spatula.  Process for another full minute – until your Cashew Cream sauce is smooth.  Set aside.

Peel and finely mince garlic cloves.  Set aside.

In a small glass or ceramic bowl, combine Miso paste with Hot water (recently boiled water is fine) until the miso paste has dissolved.  Add Lemon Juice, Salt & Coriander Pepper.  Stir again and set aside.

Place Coconut Oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1 Tbs. of Raw Garlic into the pan and sautee for one minute.  The garlic will feel a little sticky but that’s O.K.  Add the Miso mixture and the Cashew Cream. Stir well. Lower heat to simmer and stir for another 2 – 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in remaining garlic, dill and… Voila!

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