Well, summer, you just won’t quit! With So Cal temps climbing into the triple digits this weekend, & no a/c in my apartment, I’ve had to work hard to keep calm, cool, & collected. All I really want to do is hit the beach! Growing up with the beach near by, I’m ashamed to admit that I often take it for granted. I can be waterside in 15 minutes or less, yet can you believe I’ve only been to the beach 2 times this summer? What is wrong with me? Friday night, I met with the lovely ladies of the Sophia Camp, which I was a part of in early August, for a reflective reunion at the beach. Our friend Sally had the wonderful idea to bring boogie boards & hit the surf. My first reaction was thanks, but no thanks, I’ll stay on the sand. But next thing I knew I was running toward the ocean with reckless abandon & board in hand. And guess what? I had the most amazing time. The girl that hesitated to get in, was the last one out of the water. It was an experience of pure joy, pure presence, & fearless childlike fun.
I am so busy with this, that & the other most of the time, that either fly too quickly by moments of joy, or fail to take a moment to recognize them at all. This “go, go, go all the time” mentality needs to stop. This is the “VATA” in me. Always moving, chasing, changing, & fluttering around, when what I need most is grounding. And joy. My BFF Anna is great at this. Always trying to make the time experience, recognize & revel in moments of joy. And the greatest part don’t need to travel far, nor wide to find it. We just need to be open to receive it. To soak it up. Joy is always present in moments of simplicity – in a nature walk, a sunset, a flower, the gentle ocean breeze, a restorative yoga class, stargazing, reading a spiritual book, soaking a warm bath, a quiet meditation – joy can be found in whatever makes you glow, brings you peace & pure happiness.
You’ve heard it mentioned before, & I am sure it is quite obvious for someone that has a food blog, but one of the main places I find joy & pure happiness is in the kitchen. Cooking, creating, nourishing myself…it’s a joyful & meditative experience. I’ve loved diving deeper into Ayurveda through my Deep Yoga Teacher Training, & understanding how to balance the mind, body, & spirit, align with the elements & the seasons, has changed the way I eat & cook. And thank goodness for the principals of Ayurveda to help guide me through this heat wave! During the long hot days of summer, the body can begin to accumulate “PITTA” (the dosha that governs the summer) which if left unchecked can spark aggression, irritation, inflammation & more, eventually leading to exhaustion. And that is nothing to be joyous about. So how can we maintain balance? With foods, drinks & practices that are cooling & calming to the body. Anytime I begin to feel myself becoming imbalanced I make a big pot of kitchari. Even though standing over the stove in a hot summer kitchen sounds counter-intuitive, I promise you the end result is worth it! It is one of the most nourishing, healing, & cleansing meals you could make. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the wonderful thing about kitchari is that it can be adapted with the seasons. The base is always the same oil, split mung dal, & basmati rice, but the herbs, spices & added vegetables can be adapted. To stay balanced in the summer, we should be eating foods that are cooling & anti-inflammatory, with tastes that are astringent, sweet, & bitter. In this recipe, which was inspired by – the Mung beans astringent; basmati rice, coconut oil, carrots, & sweet peas are sweet; & the dried herbs are bitter. I also used coconut oil instead of ghee, to keep it vegan but also more “cooling & calming.” As wonderfully nourishing as ghee can be, it considered more “warming” & is best suited for autumn-winter.
- 3 Tbsp. coconut oil
- ½ tsp. coriander powder
- 1 tsp. each dried basil, dill, mint, & turmeric
- ½ cup split mung dal
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 6 cups of vegetable stock
- ½ cup fresh shelled peas
- 1 cup zucchini, chopped
- 1 carrot, finely shredded
- Basil/Cilantro pesto & shredded coconut for garnish
- Rinse mung dal and basmati rice until liquid is clear. Set aside.
- In a large stock pot, or dutch oven, melt the coconut oil, add spices and herbed and spices and saute over medium low heat until it browns, 1-2 minutes.
- Add drained mung beans & rice & stir well to coat with the oil & spices.
- Stir in vegetable broth, bring to a boil, cover & cook on low for 25 minutes. Then add vegetables and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the beans, rice, and vegetables are tender.
- Top with a bit of pesto, shredded coconut, cilantro, & coconut aminos.
I had some fresh herbs on hand & thought that a vibrant pesto would be lovely atop this kitchari. I used pumpkin seeds instead of nuts, as they are more Pitta friendly. This step is optional, but highly recommended for extra flavor!
- 1 cup loosely packed basil
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
- ⅓ cup raw pepitas
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor & pulse to combine.
- Will food processor running slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blend until smooth.
Whip up a batch of this cooling kitchari, pour yourself a glass of rose-fennel iced tea, or an aloe vera mocktail & rejoice. Some other wonderful cooling practices – sitali breathing to cool & calm the nervous system, a restorative yoga sequence with lots of forward folds, & a practicing a daily loving kindness meditation which is the perfect summer help reduce aggressive pitta, & increase joy & warm-heartedness. And of course my most recent cooling delight, jumping into the ocean! With these practices you’ll be feeling cool, calm & collected in no time.
How do you find joy & stay balanced in the summer months?