Haloumi is an unusual cheese that can be boiled, baked or fried. The outside goes golden brown and slightly crisp, while the inside melts deliciously. It needs to be eaten straight away, though, or it soon goes tough and rubbery. It can be teamed with all manner of cooked and raw vegetables, as in this simple salad.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 pkt mung bean sprouts
1 bunch broccoli, lightly steamed or blanched (boiled for one minute then refreshed in cold water)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, shredded
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1 T extra virgin olive oil
250g/8oz block haloumi cheese
2 T plain flour
2 T olive oil (for frying)
Combine sprouts, broccoli, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, mint, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Season then toss to combine.
Cut haloumi lengthways into 8 slices. Pat-dry with paper towels. Dust lightly with flour and shake off excess.
Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook haloumi, in batches, for 2 minutes each side, or until golden.
Drain haloumi on paper towels. Serve salad topped with warm haloumi.
The mind–body connection is basic to yoga, and although the idea is still somewhat radical in Western science, Yogis have known for thousands of years that the food you eat affects not only your body but your thoughts and feelings, your IQ, memory and mood. Optimizing your nutrient intake plays an important part in both the prevention and treatment of mental health problems, as well as improving mental performance and emotional balance.
The most direct way that food affects mood is via blood sugar: as your blood sugar falls, so does your mood. So what we need is more of the foods that help to maintain even blood sugar levels, and less of those that create dramatic highs and lows. This is best achieved by avoiding refined carbohydrate and sugar, which yogis regard as rajasic and tamasic, and eating more unrefined carbohydrates, especially oats and barley, pulses, fruit and vegetables.
Mood and emotions may also be affected by a shortage of nutrients. For example, a deficiency of iron (found in prunes, dates, black olives and other dark coloured food) can result in depression. Other nutrients essential for emotional and mental health include vitamins B1, B2, niacin, B6, folate, C, magnesium and zinc. Magnesium, which is found in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, was used before lithium as a mood stabiliser in the treatment of manic depression.
Calcium is also essential for good mental health, and if you find yourself becoming jumpy and irritable, highly-strung and difficult to live with, make sure that your calcium intake is adequate.
Some special foods that are good to eat at stressful times, including when you’re ill or taking medication, are wheatgerm, green leafy vegetables, peas, nuts and seeds. Meat eaters can also look to liver, shellfish and oily fish.
Bananas are one of the few foods to contain serotonin, a neurotransmitter which is known to produce feelings of calm and wellbeing.
Lunch should be the most important meal of the day. This is because the digestive fire (agni) is strongest in the middle of the day, and we are best able to digest. As far as possible, eat fresh vegetables, a variety of beans, and whole grains, such whole grain brown rice. This is the essence of the yoga diet, and the easiest way to organise it for those who have to rush off to work is to prepare it the night before. In a future post I will share how to do this using a vacuum (Thermos) flask so that it cooks in its own heat during the morning. Namaste.
As the cold weather sets in, make sure to avoid draughts, and keep warm. Colours that pacify vata are red, orange and yellow. White is also OK. A Vata pacifying diet is one that favours naturally sweet, sour and salty tastes, well cooked and served warm. Dry food such as popcorn and raw vegetables should be minimised. Frozen foods and ice drinks will aggravate Vata. Meals should be accompanied by plenty of warm liquids. A good tea for pacifying Vata dosha is made with equal parts of ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. Chamomile or liquorice tea, and plain hot water are excellent.
Activities: Vata dosha is increased by too much jogging, cycling, exercising and by working too hard. Rushing to be on time, long hours of study, staying up late at night and too much partying will aggravate Vata. Excessive talking, shouting, crying and laughing will also do the same. Sleep and rest pacifies vata, as does meditation and a foot massage with sesame oil (buy it from a health food store, not the supermarket, or you will smell like a Chinese meal! In the US, Neutrogena make a light sesame oil that is very suitable). Done before bedtime this will help you to relax and enjoy a sound sleep. Drinking a cup of warm milk before bedtime is good in autumn and winter together with a pinch of cardamom, ginger or nutmeg. One should ideally be in bed by 10 pm. Sweet dreams!
If you’re a Pitta and you’re in the Southern Hemishphere, you’ve probably already had some uncomfortably hot days (and nights). So here are some tips on how to keep things balanced in the coming months:
Diet : favour sweet, bitter and astringent tastes, and watch out for overeating as the digestive fire (agni) is lower in summer. Salads and fresh green vegetables are cooling and best taken at lunchtime when the digestive or agni is strongest, in order to avoid creating gas.
Make good use of cooling herbs like coriander leaves and seeds and fennel; hot and spicy herbs such as ginger, black pepper, chilli and cayenne pepper should be avoided. Caffeine and alcohol tend to increase Pitta dosha, though a cool beer or glass of white wine on a hot day is OK and preferable to spirits and red wine which are pitta aggravating. Ice cold and iced drinks are best avoided as these depress the digestive fire and thus pave the way for the build-up of toxins. A good afternoon drink for Pitta is a cooling lassi made with a 1/2 cup of yoghurt, a 1/2 cup of water, a pinch of cumin powder and a 1/4 of a squeezed lime mixed together in a blender.
Activities : sunbathing is best avoided and hard work under the sun will aggravate Pitta. A
well ventilated hat and protection for the neck is important in preventing overheating. According to Ayurveda, sunglasses should only be worn during the brightest part of the day. Swimming is excellent exercise in summer especially ocean bathing (wash off salt after ocean swims) or even being close to water. Cool evening walks are good, as is the wearing of cotton and silk, especially in cooling colours like white, grey, blue, purple and green. Clothes should be loose fitting and allow the skin to breathe. If you want to go the whole hog, wear white flowers such as frangipani and gardenias, which also balance Pitta. (I am thinking of Billie Holiday as I write – the late, great singer was often photographed wearing beautiful gardenias in her hair). According to Ayurveda too much sex in summer can aggravate Pitta as sex is heating: the early evening is preferable to late at night when Pitta is in its prime. Early nights are recommended (before 11 pm). Oil massage with coconut or sunflower oil.
With another shocking story of animal cruelty associated with the live export of animals in the news last week, I thought it might be a good time to talk about Ahimsa, a term meaning to do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence – himsa). It is an important tenet of both Buddhism and Hinduism, and it means kindness and non-violence towards all living things including animals. Those of us who wish to live the yoga life should be concerned about the widespread mistreatment of animals in food production, and support wherever we can those who strive to improve their conditions.
One of them is Animals Australia, which is organising a Ban Live Export National Rally on Saturday 6 October.
For more information go to animals http://www.animalsaustralia.org/
Share the link to the official Ban Live Export rally page (http://AnimalsAustralia.org/live-export-rally) on Twitter and on the facebook walls of caring people, businesses and groups that you know.
I am reproducing below a wonderful report from friend and fellow yogi, Polly. It was written on her recent return to England after time away, and I thought the description of her garden was just too good to keep to myself.
“The weeds have overtaken both the vege gardens , since June rain was the highest on record. There are two large plots – however it was a satisfactory afternoon in the rain uncovering what has to be said, is an amazingly productive garden – beetroot, carrots, purple spring onions , potatoes ( three kinds , Desiree, Pentlin Javlin, and King Edward), garlic , shallots- purple and white, sweet corn, scarlet runner beans, courgettes, parsnips, rainbow chard, onins red and white, and leeks- purple and white.
The other garden contains copious amounts of brassicas, namely cauliflower , brussel sprouts, white sprouting and purple sprouting broccoli, which the pigeons entirely denuded after my departure , now they are back in force with new sets of leaves, and will mature sometime in winter.
They are flanked by two 25 metre rows of sweet corn and potatoes which could not be accommodated in the garden next to the house.
From now on harvest of the above will extend to making of chutneys and pickles , particularly the courgettes and beetroot which ripen at the same time as the onions and Bramley apples (sharp cookers) – the combination of these with some spices and other secret ingredients, make killer chutneys.
I have counted 47 fat figs on the tree which each year I have slowly rescued from brambles and refurbished with some careful pruning and mulched with Wood Farm decomposed manure, so plan for a net to be installed immediately to keep off the pesky birds, although there appears to be a species of enormous rat here that has a taste for figs so a deterrent must be found forthwith. (think rabbit trap).”
Thank you, Polly, and I hope you get to enjoy your figs!
250 g (1/2 lb) rolled oats
2 apples, grated
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup milk
or juice of 2 lemons
155 g (5 oz) chopped or slivered almonds
whipped cream (optional)
fresh or stewed fruit
1. Mix the first 6 ingredients and refrigerate overnight.
2. Just before serving, fold in cream, add fruit and sprinkle with almonds
1 red papaya
1 mango (optional)
1-2 kiwi fruit
1-2 passionfruit (optional, may be canned)
1 punnet strawberries lemon, orange or lime juice
1. Peel and seed the papaya, cut into cubes and place in a serving dish.
2. Add peeled, sliced mango.
3. Add peeled and sliced banana and kiwi fruit.
4. Cut the passionfruit in half and scrape out the pulp, add to dish.
5. Hull and quarter the strawberries, add to dish.
6. Add sugar to taste and the juice of a lemon, orange or lime.
7. Serve with yogurt, cream or ice cream.
grated peel of 1 medium lemon
4 tablespoons sugar
juice of 1/2 medium lemon
1. Peel four of the oranges, using a very sharp knife to remove both skin and pith.
2. Cut the oranges horizontally into thin slices and remove any seeds.
3. Put the slices in a bowl and then grate the lemon peel into the bowl.
4. Add the sugar.
5. Squeeze the other two oranges and add their juice to the bowl.
6. Cover the bowl with a plate and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, even overnight.
7. Serve chilled, turning the slices once or twice in the liquid before serving.