Archive for October, 2018

October 24, 2018

Kabucha & Zucchini Spaghetti

Japanese Pumpkin to Calm the Moving Vata Energy of Autumn

20181016_164025My lifelong obsession with pumpkins spans back to my single digit years. I fantasized about growing one as tall as I was, like the pumpkin pictured next to the kid on the seed packet. I never did. I also never even thought about eating one. Maybe the shorter growing season in northern Newfoundland was to blame, but I never saw anyone actually grow a pumpkin. Most families in my little community had a garden to grow potatoes, carrots, cabbage, even some lettuce in the later years, but never pumpkin. In my early 20’s I moved to the west coast and found out that pumpkins, in addition to being carved on Halloween, were also food!

I never looked back. Life brought me to Japan for a few years where the autumn pumpkin dishes made me even more in love with pumpkin (or kabucha in Japanese), and then to India where pumpkin is not only beautifully incorporated into meals but used in Ayurveda as a healing food. The markets in both these countries sold only a green pumpkin variety that I eventually realized is a lot more like what we call butternut squash here. The flesh is not as wet as our orange pumpkins and seems to work better in my pumpkin recipes.

The recipe below was inspired by my most recent squash/pumpkin epiphany, that pasta doesn’t need to always be topped with tomato sauce. Indeed “pasta” doesn’t even necessarily need to be pasta with all the zucchini available to be spiralized at the market these days. Zucchini is probably my second favourite vegetable…or maybe third behind beets, argh…so hard to choose!

Adding squash/pumpkin to your diet will help create physical and mental balance as the seasons change. Fall brings an increase in vata energy, which ayurveda teaches can leave you feeling scattered and overwhelmed. Pumpkin soothes this by bringing a calming kapha element to your foods.  A tasty way to enhance your ability to navigate the high energy schedule of the season.

This recipe is especially easy to make if you have pumpkin pureed and frozen in your freezer already. The recipe portion is for one person because often I pull this together when I am home alone for a fast lunch. You can easily multiply it by however many people you are serving.

Squash Spaghetti

  • 1 cup baked and pureed butternut squash/pumpkin* I have never used the can puree but that may work too.
  • ½ onion chopped finely
  • 2 cloves pressed garlic
  • One large zucchini (spiralizeded)
  • Salt/ pepper
  • Your favourite cooking oil
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Butternut squash Puree; baked, pureed, and then frozen into handy 1 cup portions.

Instructions

Saute the chopped onion and garlic in oil in a frying pan. Add the squash puree and salt/pepper to taste. Mix in pan for 2-3 minutes. Put aside. Saute spiralized zucchini in oil/salt/pepper to taste until desired softness. Top zucchini with squash sauce. You could use pasta instead of zucchini. Or you could top pasta with the zucchini and the squash sauce.

*No pureed squash/pumpkin in your freezer? Just cut a whole squash in half, scoop out the seeds & pulp. Brush oil the edge. Place cut side down on parchment paper in tray. Cook on 350 for 1 hour (or until soft and easily punctured through with a fork). Remove from oven, let cool, scoop the meat away from the peel and puree.

I like to freeze the puree into 1/2 or 1 cup portions for smoothies or single portion dishes like this one!

Enjoy!

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October 16, 2018

Bringing the Bread Poultice Back

A Fusion of Ayurvedic and Traditional Newfoundland Healing Approaches.

Bread Poultice Ayurveda Traditional Newfoundland Remedy

Ingredients for Nana’s bread poultice with the addition of tumeric for an ayurvedic touch.

Imagine a  four year old boy sitting with a laptop. Elmo is teaching him ABCs through an interactive video game. His bare thigh is wrapped in cling wrap to stop a tumeric-milk soaked bread poultice from ruining the sofa below. This is a memory of my son a few years ago, and continues to be a pretty good example of the mixture of modern lifestyle and ancient ayurvedic practice that you might find happening at any given time in our home (in this case there also a definite infusion of NL tradition). Am I grateful to live in a time that has a wide array of medical options when we get sick? Absolutely! However when it is possible to avoid those by seeking out the wisdom of ancient practices and traditions that also work I am all about that too. Just ask my kids. They have been known to refer to the spice rack in our kitchen as Mom’s medicines.

Before continuing I should make it clear that I do take my kids to the doctor when they are sick. I do listen with a great deal of respect to our physician, who is very knowledgeable and amazing. I also always fill the prescription for hydrocortisone or antibiotics, or whatever is prescribed…. just in case. It turns out however that I rarely need to use them. My love of Ayurvedic and traditional approaches means that before medicating I always try a gargle, or a tea, or slap on a poultice, and by the end of the day the ailing kid/adult is often getting better on their own.

My motivation for returning to the old-school poultice approach was triggered by a common viral skin condition in kids called mulluscum contagiosum. For some reason each time one of these tiny skin bumps began the process of leaving my kid’s system he got a giant circular infection all around it (think 3-4 inch round, red & swollen infected areas!). Prescription creams did not help and with the looming threat of having to turn to oral medications I remembered my late Nana’s milk poultice. I am not sure if she did it just as I describe below but this was how I remember it.

Nan Taylor 1

My beautiful Nan Taylor showing off her fancy new washing machine. She ran with the times, utilizing a wealth of traditional wisdom while embracing everything that modern life was able to offer, right up until she left this world.

How to prepare a traditional boiled milk bread poultice

  • Boil a cup or so of whole organic milk. I also add turmeric. Nana didn’t use tumeric, but ayurveda uses it extensively as an anti-inflammatory so I pull it out for almost everything that ails you. Just ask my long suffering boys, who, in addition to wearing it, have also consumed quite a lot of it over the years for lots of different reasons!
  • Soak a slice of bread in the hot milk mixture. I use my dad’s homemade bread.
  • Wrap the bread in a cloth and apply to affected area as hot as you can tolerate it on your skin. I slid the bread into a pantyhose leg so I could then tie it around my son’s leg. Kids are squirmy and don’t sit anywhere for long so I had to keep it in place somehow. This is also why I covered the whole area in cling wrap. Tumeric can stain, and milk does not leave a happy aroma in your furniture. Ayurvedic remedies can be messy but add the energy of a four year old boy and chaos ensues!
  • Leave on affected area until bread is completely cool.
  • Repeat twice a day. After a couple of days a pus filled head usually forms in the middle, and the infected area recedes. I did this for a few days every time one of those little bumps began their red infection cycle for about a year. It always worked. My son began to call the pantyhose leg his medicine pantyhose!

If you are interested in an ayurvedic perspective on using food and natural remedies to balance your physical and mental health subscribe to the Shakti Yoga blog where you will find ayurvedic/yogic/wellness type posts, albeit at a sedate posting rate  to ensure that my Pitta/Vata personality does not overload.

Happy poultice making all!