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The origin of the word “laddu” is unknown. In Sanskrit, laddus are called “Modak.” In general, modak is a small ball made of flour, ghee, sugar, and some spices.
Most common recipe for laddus includes besan (black small chickpea flour) combined with sugar, cooked in ghee and molded into a ball shape. The Carak Samhita contains many laddu recipes prepared using Ayurvedic medicinal ingredients.
Besan Laddu Tray
In India, laddus are often prepared for festivals or family events such as weddings and births, or given as a prasad(offering) at Hindu temples.
This week, we bring you a SVA exclusive: Organic Chocolate Quinoa Almond Laddus! It will take you less than 20 minutes to assemble but will create a lifetime’s worth of memories (remember Proust’s Madeleines?!)
Ingredients You will need:
(these measurments will make 10-12 bite-size laddus)
4 tablespoons Besan flour (black chickpea flour available from any Indian grocery store)
4 tablespoons organic Quinoa flakes
6 tablespoons organic brown sugar
3 tablespoons slivered almonds (blanched or non-blanched)
1 tablespoon organic Cocoa powder – unsweetened and alkali free
3 tablespoons melted Mum’s Ghee
15-20 organic green cardamoms – crushed
10-15 organic pink rosebuds
1 teaspoon Madhur Masala
1 teaspoon VJK for Him and Her – optional
1 teaspoon whole or crushed pink peppercorns – optional
1 pinch of Soma Salt – optional
Mix the Besan and Quinoa flakes and slowly dry toast on a dry pan. This is the longest part of your recipe, make sure you keep mixing the powder so it toasts evenly. When the color turns a golden light brown, put the mixture into a mixing bowl.
Next add the cocoa powder to your mixture.
At this point, add Madhur Masala. If you are adding ayurvedic herbal/spice mixtures to your recipe do it now (VJK For Him or For Her)
At this point, crush the cardamom pods and add along with the rose buds to a pan, add your ghee and melt the whole thing stirring frequently. You may cook this on low heat for 1-2 minutes to better infuse the ghee with the cardamom and the rose.
In the meantime, add the sugar to your dry mixture and mix every thoroughly.
Now add the sugar to your dry mixture.
Next pour the hot melted ghee through a tea filter over your mixture evently and with a spoon make sure all your dry mixture is nicely and evenly blended.
Now you can add in the dry toasted and sliced almonds and mix the ingredients a little further.
You are now ready for your final step of shaping your mixture into little balls or laddus. You can use an ice cream scooper to make sure you are picking up the same amount every time and your laddus will be of the same size. Flatten the mixture in your hand and squeeze tightly to bind all the ingredients together and then gently roll from palm to palm (see the video) and your laddu is ready.
Repeat this step until you finish all the mixture. To top it off, you can shred some pink peppercorns on top with a pepper mill to add a twist of flavor. Enjoy
New beginnings inspire resolutions, a renewed promise to oneself to secure the happiness that seems to elude us day after day – perhaps it will come through losing a few pounds; quitting the caffeine addiction; allowing for (more) me-time; making time to help those less fortunate…. How come these heart-felt resolutions fail within the first few weeks of the new year? Why can’t the best and strongest of intentions withstand the whirlwind of daily life?
Today I want to give you a secret. I want to teach you a very simple yet central ayurvedic formula that will keep your New Year resolution(s) going strong through the year. In this sense, you will only need to heed this one ayurvedic principle, make it your one and only resolution, to stay on top of it all. So put your list aside and read this first.
Here it goes.
Ayurvedic science is comprised of “siddhanta”-s. A siddhanta is made up of:
A siddhanta is a saying that gives proven wisdom, and shows measurable practical results. A siddhanta is a formula that yields palpable results no matter when or where tested, it will always do what it says. In short: it’s science at its best. It holds true under any circumstance and for all. In Ayurveda, siddhanta-s are written in compact formulaic language. Many times you need an expert teacher or guide to get the meaning, otherwise you’ll miss it. I want to talk about one such siddhanta today.
This is a siddhanta from the Charak Samhita on the natural law of “more and/or less:”
sarvabhavanam: under all circumstances
karanam: the reason
hetur: etiological factor
pritak: separating, taking away
kritam: the act of separating
This siddhanta-s is known as the “samanya and vishesh siddhanta:” the formula for “more or less.” The idea is: whenever you take something away – it could be a mental habit, a physical act, a material, anything at all really – you are creating separation and decrease – pritakkritam. This is the siddhanta. So what’s the big deal? Let’s think of it in SVA terms, that is: in terms of Soma, Agni, and Marut.
See whenever you take something away, or reduce something, you are creating vacuum. In ayurvedic terms, when you create vacuum, you bring in more Marut. Marut is made of the air and space elements. In the body, an excess of marut expresses itself as vata dosha imbalance. And we know from our ayurvedic studies that Vata dosha is the king of all doshas, when it goes off, Pitta and Kapha can’t be too far away. And this is the key. If you take away a habit that is harming you, without replacing it with a good habit, if you remove an ingredient, without filling its place with another, if you cut loose a toxic relationship, without finding TLC in another, you are doomed to fail your resolution and run to restore it, much to your distress. Let’s say this in practical terms.
How to KickYour Addiction(s)!
Staying away through sheer willpower is a proven formula for failure. Let’s say you are addicted to white sugar, and you know by now that white sugar is not good for you for so many reasons: it feeds cancerous cells; it creates inflammation; it tips off your hormonal balance by creating too much estrogen; it is highly addictive to your brain chemistry and desensitizes you to enjoy healthy sweets with long term use. But you can’t quit the habit. Why?
Why do we hold on to harmful habits in the first place? On some level, they address a want, a need.
In SVA terms, we know that any sweet taste contains Soma. Soma is the key to our life, to our health to our longevity, and our mental and emotional balance. Remember: it was the nectar that the gods and demons fought over; in Greek mythology it is known as “ambrosia.” In some situations, your body calls for extra Soma, for example, whenever your are experiencing mental or emotional stress, and due to that stress Marut and Agni have gone high in your body. To feed that Marut and Agni and cool things off, your body desires more Soma – or more sweet taste. If all you have available for you is white sugar, as a source of Soma, and if you don’t eat it and go cold-turkey in quitting white sugar then you are setting yourself up for a sure downfall. Witholding from eating that chocolate bar when all your stress markers are off the charts is torture! You will end up having several extra bars… Be smart about things with SVA. Spare yourself the unnecessary torture. Do not provoke your Pitta and Vata doshas further through deprivation. Pitta and Vata which govern your body will go high, then you lose your ability to handle mental and emotional stress, and you plummet through your dark tunnel of addiction with more despondency.
Although it is a good and wise thing to stop white sugar, it is even wiser to replace the white sugar wtih a healhty source of Soma (perhaps dehydrated whole sugar-cane juice; or sweet juicy fruits; or raw honey; etc). You can’t fight addiction with addiction! You can’t take on darkness without bringing in the light. And when you bring in the light, darkness subsides on its own, as a great guru once said…
If your life is such that you have to deal with an overload of mental pressure and emotional stress on a daily basis, you can take measures to further support your body by supplying healthy regular doses of Soma. This is where the pharmacopeia of Ayurveda comes in handy. The use of plants and herbs. Rose is the queen of flowers and carries such a vast array of balancing somagenic properties. I made my SVA Rose Petal Preserve not only with dehydrated sugarcane juice, encapsulated with natural fruit pectin, but with the best organic Rosa centifolia petals. Many note how my Rose Preserve carries a slightly sweet yet sour taste, unlike most or all rose preserves. That’s because I formulated it to pacify Sadhak Pitta and Prana Vata. Use it therapeutically, not as a jam. Take a teaspoon with warm water morning and evening or during the day, to help curb your sugar craving by pacifying your Vata and Pitta doshas.
If rose is not your thing, go for another best-selling sweet SVA item: my Sesame Crunch that comes in 6 different flavors is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. The cane sugar in this treat, the Soma, is balanced by the Agni of the sesame seeds, and vice versa. While eating sugar on its own can aggravate your Kapha dosha, and eating sesame seeds can throw off your Pitta and Vata doshas through too much Agni, eating them together is pure balanced bliss! Plus you get the extra added benefits of sesame – it is high in calcium and nourishes your bone tissue.
The key is: when you take away something, give something in its stead.
Since food is the primary sub-pillar of health and happiness, and we are on the topic of food addictions, let’s take another example that SVA followers have a hard time with: onion and garlic. I always tell those who come to see me to reduce/eliminate the use of onion and garlic, if they want to have the friendly bacteria in their gut flourish and support their mental and overall health. But this is easier said than done. Not only our taste-buds, but our entire physiology gets addicted to the sharp sulphurous smell and taste of onion and garlic.
I have written extensively about this on my blog, but in a nutshell, onion and garlic contain a high content of sulfure molecules which kills the friendly bacteria. While they are considered “amrit” or life-bestowing in specific conditions, they are not meant for daily regular consumption. Only as medicinal additions to diet. The fact that the friendly bacteria cannot survive when you eat onion and garlic on a regular basis should be enough impetus for you to kick the habit. But again, it does not work that way. If your body has become chemically addicted to an item, there’s not much your mind can do about it. Here’s an alternative:
Number 1: adopt a drink of 80/20 ration of water to home-made yoghurt. Add Soma Salt to taste and a few pinches of Mom’s Masala. This is a delicious drink to help replenish your friendly bacteria of the gut. You will be able to think more clearly and stay resolute in your outlook and decision with a healthy gut – the latest discovery about friendly bacteria is they help produce neuro-transmitters that support brain functioning. The lassi, yoghurt and water drink is also famous for its known benefits for the overall digestive system.
Number 2: replace onion and garlic with cabbage and brussel sprouts! Slice/chop these very fine, fry in ghee and/or sesame oil, and add to your food. These vegetables also have sulphur molecules and will give you a similar flavor. However, if you need the heat and the “kick” out of the onion and garlic sharpness, use thin green thai chillies, and/or fresh ginger. These have countless benefits for health, with no side-effects (unless you have are prone to or already have pitta imbalance, then use with caution).
Early Bedtime for Even More Soma!
Still need more Soma? Did you know that going to bed early fully restores your depleted stocks of Soma and Ojas? Soma is the raw material for Ojas. More Soma more Ojas more health and longevity. You know you want to. Because you’ve heard the adage: “early to bed and early to rise make you healthy wealthy and wise!” So if you are addicted to going to bed late, despite your best intentions, and you have all kinds of distractions and justifications, first remember this: going to bed late has many dire consequences for your health, amongst them the most important – it burns your vital energy source, the Ojas in your body. And not just that: it disturbs your overall total metabolism. In Ayurveda it is called “agni vyapar” – metabolic transformations of agni through the body’s different organs and organ systems. This disturbance lowers the efficiency of your immune system.
But going to bed early is one of the hardest habits to cultivate in this day and age of electrical wonders. After a full day of interacting with all kinds of EMF/EMR machines and getting all stocked up on the buzz, and coming home to TV and electricity with bright jarring lights and loud music etc, even when you want to, and you lay your body down for an early night, many times you will not fall asleep, instead you will actually feel mentally and physically energized and get second wind.
The trick is to go slow. Try going to bed half an hour earlier every day or over the span of a few days. If you usually go to bed by 11:30pm, try to go to bed by 11pm instead. Don’t aim for 9pm all at once! Our bodies are very intelligent, but most of all they love habit. It is very hard to break a habit, specially the bad ones. So you have to strategize very wisely! Even as you try to slowly go to bed earlier, take measures to wind down your activities in the evening and adopt settling habits – light breathing and/or yoga; turning down the lights to send the right messages to your brain chemistry; turning off your wi-fi; earlier, lighter, but protein-rich and less spicy dinners; etc. And then you resort to SVA to do something for balancing your Prana vata and Vyana vata – they are responsible for keeping your mind alert and energized and not allowing you to fall asleep, or to suddenly wake up after falling asleep!
Ayurveda offers a wide array of calming plants and herbal synergies. I have made things easier by putting them into unique SVA formulations. My line is called Soma Nidra. The Soma Nidra formulas come in roll-on, essential oil, oral spray, and loose tea form. You can apply the Soma Nidra roll-on on the lower back and cervical spine as well as your wrists; or spray the Soma Nidra oral spray in your mouth; in major case scenarios where it is almost impossible for you to settle down into sleep earlier, you can apply Vata oil with Magnesium and Vit D on your knees, lower legs, and feet, and leave the oil on. This is a gentle Vata dosha calming massage before bedtime and it works wonders! This will pacify your Prana and Vyana subdoshas. Soma Nidra tea is if you are really really not getting sleep, and have fallen into a bad rut. Drink Soma Nidra tea ½ hour before bed. Boil 1 tsp in 4oz water for one person. steep for 5 minutes. strain and drink slowly.
In the big picture, in order to stay on top of any and all your New Year’s resolutions, don’t fight it. If you want to change something, bring in something to replace it. The new sprout naturally and innocently lets the old skin fall off even as it shoots up. To keep your core energies at their optimal, heed food and
sleep, and then you can’t make any errors in your actions. The sutra says:
Three subpillars of life support healthy happiness and longevity: food, sleep, and proper action. And in that order: first proper food (ahar) in a timely manner, and then sufficient timely sleep (7-8 hours a night), and this will support ALL your actions, actions that are worthy of powerful Brahma consciousness, rooted in peace, life-supporting and evolutionary, bringing you balance and bliss. You’d be surprised to see how – when you are well fed and well rested – your mind operates optimally and you can be the boss of your own life. Go to my blog to find recipes, tips and guidance in general.
Happy Holidays! Here’s to a fabulous 2017, filled with balance and bliss always!
When we’re stressed, sweets are the first thing we reach out for. But never without consequences.The quest for the healthiest sweet remains as elusive as our unabated desire for it! I am personally known for my sweet tooth. My mother used to wake up in the middle of the night to make milk rice pudding to satisfy my craving! While I have not been able to get my wife to commit to making fresh rice pudding at midnight, she does make sure there is always an assortment of home-made sweets sitting on our kitchen isle. For the past year, our favorite has been the traditional, simple yet delicious, “chikki.” As my wife kept eating one after another, she asked me about their properties and how much “damage” she was incurring by ingesting so many of them. As I was explaining their health benefits to her, I remember what a healthy sweet chikkies are, specially when made with sesame seeds.
Chikki is a popular Indian confection, but you can find many variations in different traditions of the world. The idea of chikkis is simple: nuts and/or seeds combined with sugar. Almonds, cashews, even peanuts, or a blend of nuts, or seeds, are traditionally used to make chikkis. One other variation involves using only sesame seeds. That is my favorite, and also happens to be the healthtiest as you will see why. In India, consuming sesame chikkis is primarily associated with and consumed at New Year Festivities, in the month of January, when the Sun moves from the Southern to the Northern hemisphere.
Traditionally, the nuts, or the sesame seeds, are combined with “jaggery” – cane sugar. Jaggery, because of its traditional artisanal extraction and manufacturing methods, carries a higher content of minerals naturally occuring in the sugar cane plant, thus making it a healthier sugar for regular consumption. In India, we make chikkies by melting the jaggery, and then adding the nut(s) or sesame, and coat them thoroughly. The mixture is then either transferred to a mold, or rolled out, cooled, and cut into bite-size pieces.
In terms of SVA dietary protocols, I cannot think of a healthier sweet than chikkies. The minimal processing/cooking, the actual nutritional wealth of the ingredients, and the overall ayurvedic balance of the chikki recipe makes it a star amongst sweet recipes.
True, we should monitor our consumption of sweets, specially as we age. However, did you know that eating sweets does play a central role for our mental and emotional health? You may have experienced how your craving for sweets increases in stressful situations, or when you’re tired, but did you know that there is a science behind this?
Stress and Sugar Cravings
According to modern science whenever we experience mental stress the brain uses up more serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter; some researchers recognize its chemical ability for maintaining mood balance. A deficit of serotonin can lead to depression. Science also tells us that consuming sweets or sugar increase serotonin levels in the brain. However, modern science also recognizes – as we already know in SVA – that processed sugar crystals penetrate the blood stream at such high speed that they tend to give an immediate high followed by a greater crash in serotonin levels, resulting in feeling low and even sinking into depression. The molecules of processed sugar, white sugar, cannot provide a steady sustained effect of serotonin and thus mood elevation. Processed sugar has been stripped of most of the naturally-occuring minerals and its balancing properties. So when you eat processed sugar, it penetrates your body at high speed, gives you a sugar high, and then lets you crash, making you crave more and more of it so you can maintain your high. Moreover, white sugar is highly estrogenic. In women, it will increase estrogen levels, but the resulting crash or ‘rebound’ effect offsets any short term elevation in mood or energy level. Higher levels of estrogen have been associated with: weight gain; bloating, swelling, tenderness in breasts; bloating; decreased sex drive; irregular menstrual periods; headaches; mood swings.; fibrocystic developments in the breast; and even cancer.
A Sutra-to-Science Explanation of Stress vs Sugar-Cravings
In ayurvedic terms, and as I’ve explained elsewhere in the context of SVA teachings, when we are stressed, our vata sub-dosha called “prana vata” goes out of balance – it goes high. Prana Vata resides in the head region and governs the overall reception and flow of Prana for the entire body. Whenever this sub-dosha goes out of balance, when it goes high, the body’s own support system kicks in to compensate by an increase of Tarpaka Kapha. This is because an increase in Prana Vata will tend to dry out the body overall, and particularly the brain channels. Tarpaka is the kapha sub-dosha that provides nourishment, lubrication, and overall support for the physical brain and spinal cord. Tarpaka Kapha, you can say in SVA terms, is the brain’s own lubricating and cooling system. Mental stress and fatigue, identified as prana vata imbalances, can deplete tarpaka. When tarpaka goes low, then pitta dosha can also go high – heating up the cooling and lubricating system of the brain as well. And here is our key: in situations where stress is imbalancing prana vata, the body’s automatic response is to increase additional intake of Soma to keep prana vata in check. This will automatically also keep tarpaka kapha in balance, as well as maintain good levels of Ojas – neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain.
Serotonin is a specific type of Ojas – a specific type of neurotransmitter. High vata and high pitta deplete tarpaka kapha and serotonin. In a nutshell, this is why we crave sweets when we are mentally stressed out. We crave for anything with the madhura rasa (sweet taste), because the madhura rasa is made of liquid and earthy soma, which can support tarpaka and ojas (serotonin). Note however, that it is actually soma that we are craving and that we need. But the tongue doesn’t necessarily distinguish between healthy sweets (those full of natural Soma) and those that simply taste sweet and promise Soma without actually delivering it – processed sugar confections.
Mental stress and fatigue is one reason we reach for sweets. The other reason is emotional challenges. Emotional challenges directly hit Sadhak Pitta. Sadhak – centered in the heart area – cooks or transforms our emotional experiences and thoughts. When sadhak pitta is balanced it provides joy, enthusiasm, and overall emotional well-being. When we get emotional challenges sadhak starts to use up more tarpaka kapha and thus deplete it. How so? When sadhak pitta is combust with heat due to emotional stress, when it has an imbalance of agni, it will also call on the reservoir of tarpaka kapha and ojas to cool itself off and restore balance. So now you will understand why whenever you are experiencing emotional challenges you will tend to reach out for that extra-large ice-cream tub!
So you see, in this sense, sweets and sweet treats are actually part of a healthy SVA diet. We understand why we should not automatically discard sweets as unhealthy. The real question of course is what kind of sweets we should consume and why. Most of you know that in the SVA diet I encourage the regular consumption of seasonal juicy fruits to replace sugary treats. Pears in particular give a very well balanced and sustained release of sugar molecules to the brain. This is why after eating a pear you feel blissful for a long time. Pears however are very somagenic – sometimes too somagenic to eat when raw, specially in the cold months of winter. Uncooked and eaten without proper spicing, pears might be only partially digested by your body, and their high soma content may create shleshma, mucus substances, and clog the srotas (physical channels) with a mixture of shleshaka kapha and ama. You can still eat pears in the wintertime, but only if you cook them with a stick of cinnamon and a couple of cloves perhaps, to counterbalance their high soma content,
Sweets play an important role in almost all celebrations and festivals of the world. In India particularly, we carry laddoos, sweet dumplings, to feed loved ones when joyous. Chikki is the celebratory sweet of choice that people for celebrating Makar Sankranti – the sun’s voyage from the southern to the northern hemisphere. This festival happens on January 14 and goes by different names according to different regions. In South India the festival is called Pongal. Ayurvedically, you will understand that this makes a lot of sense – in the wintertime they srotas or physical channels of our body shrink to the cooler temperatures, trapping agni in our body, and making us hungry for heavy and sweet things. Chikkies pacify agni through their sugar content, but also keep the soma in check, because sesame seeds are heating!
Sesame Crunch: Packed with Nutrients and Sweet Goodness
Nutritionally speaking, sesame seeds are a wonderful addition to your daily diet. They carry many health benefits according to Ayurveda, and modern science has discovered that they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, natural oils, and organic compounds which consist of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, zinc, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, protein, and tryptophan. A quarter cup of sesame seeds will give you approximately 35% of the daily values of calcium needed. Best part is
sesame seeds have a very low glycemic index. In addition to these properties however, sesame seeds also contain two unique substances – sesamin and sesamolin. Both of
these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent
high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin, in particular, is a great anti-oxidant and natural preservative that has been found to protect the liver from
Sesame Seeds in Ayurveda
How does Ayurveda like sesame seeds? It loves them! Here’s what the sutras have to say about sesame seeds, called “tila:”
So, according to the Carak Sutras, sesame is:
Snigdhoṣṇo: unctuous and warm
madhurastiktaḥ kaṣāyaḥ kaṭukastilaḥ: the rasas (taste) are madhura, bitter, astringent, pungent.
tvacyaḥ: good for the skin, whether used externally or internally
keśyaśca: good for the hair, whether used externally or internally
balyaśca: gives stamina
vātaghnaḥ: pacifies vata
kaphapittakṛt: can increase kapha and pitta. However this effect is counter-balanced by the samyog (combination) of black pepper and jaggery, respectively, in the variants.
Sushruta gives his opinion that the vipak is sweet. (This means that sesame is pitta and vata pacifying after digestion.) He also says that these sesame seeds are good for the teeth and that they increase medha agni –the ‘flame’ between dhi, dhritti, smriti. In other terms, sesame seeds make you literally smarter!
Bhav Prakash says in his Dhānyavarga that sesame seeds are grahi, that is they enhance absorption; also that they increase asthi agni, the metabolism of the bone tissue; and also that they increase or enrich sukra dhatu, the reproductive tissue.
PV Sharma says in his Dravyaguna Part II that sesame has the unique characteristic of adopting the prabhavas or properties of other ingredients through proper samyog (combination) and sanskar (processing). This is a highly desirable and unique property because it means that sesame can be mixed with cool things to give a cooling soothing effect, or mixed with hot or metabolism enhancing items to support greater metabolic activity.
But what about the other ingredient? The cane sugar, or jaggery, that’s part of the recipe?
Jaggery, also known as gur in colloquial Hindi – is a traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar commonly consumed in India. Gur’s primary property is that it is made without the separation of the molasses from the sugar crystals. In color, it can vary from golden brown to dark brown. Let us see what the verses say.
guḍo: Gur –the jaggery
vṛṣyo: enhances sukra – the reproductive tissue
vātaghno: pacifies vata
mūtraśodhanaḥ: purifies the urine
nātipittaharo: not that much pacifying to pitta. In higher quantities may increase pitta due to the agni content of certain minerals.
medaḥkaphakrimibalapradaḥ: can increase fat and kapha and stamina; can increase krimi (pathogenic organisms) and decrease immunity. But, sesame seeds balance kapha and fat increase and act against krimi as an immuno-modulator.
So all in all, my newest SVA product, the organic Sesame Crunch, is a beautiful recipe where the 2 ingredients literally correct eachother’s properties out, and we are left with a delicious healthy sweet snack with a mouthful of nutrients and minerals and calcium.
My bite-size Sesame Crunch will not only help you balance prana vata and nurture tarpaka kapha, nourishing your levels of neurotransmitter serotonin, but it is also perfect all year round, not just the winter season, because I have added some SVA flavors to keep the Sesame Crunch balanced and balancing for all times of the year.
Traditionally, the sesame chikkis come in one flavor – just sesame and raw sugar. Now you have 6 SVA flavors or varieties. Each flavor uses a specific additional ingredient not just for flavor, but to help further balance a dosha or satisfy your sugar craving.
With my SVA Sesame Crunches you will satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling guilty, and also nourish your brain, feed your body calcium, and so many other essential nutrients. It can’t get better than that!
Six Varieties for Your Doshas and Taste – Ingredient-wise:
1. Traditional Flavor: Organic Sesame Seeds and Organic raw sugar
2. Spicy Sesame Crunch: Great for kapha body types, or if you’re agni is a little on the low side. It helps open the channels and pacify tarpaka kapha & shleshaka kapha. Kapha body types can really benefit from a little Black
Pepper in the cold season, or anytime of the year. Did you know that modern science also shows that Black Pepper carries benefits for the functions of the brain? Studies showed that Piperine, an active compound in black pepper, inhibits an enzyme that breaks down the calming neurotransmitter serotonin; yet another study published in the December 2012 issue of “Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters” found that black pepper might help prevent and treat Parkinson’s disease. Researchers noted that piperine inhibits a type of enzyme that degrades the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is deficient in
Parkinson’s disease patients; Black pepper might forestall brain aging and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in a 2012 “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease;” Anti-seizure effects of black pepper were demonstrated in a study published in a 2010 issue of “Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin;” and finally Black pepper improved swallowing ability in stroke patients in a study published in the September 2006 “Journal of the American Geriatric Society.” Participants inhaled an infusion of black pepper oil for a minute per day for a month. Results showed increased
activation of the area of the brain that controls the swallowing reflex.
What does Bhav Prakash say about the rasa (taste) and gunas (qualities) of Black Pepper (Marich)?
Maricam katukam tiksnam dipanam kaphavatajit
Usnam pittakaram ruksam svasasulakrmin haret
Maricam katukam: Black Pepper is pungent. Tiksnam: Sharp. Dipana: It enhances agni, enhances the flame. Kaphavataji: Pacifies kapha and vata. Usnam: The virya is hot. Pittakaram: Increases pitta. Ruksam: Dry and gives drying effect.
3. Fennel Sesame Crunch: ideal for pitta body types – particularly women in their pre or post-menopausal stage of life – can benefit a lot from the addition of fennel. Fennel is pro-estrogenic and will give them more bliss by raising estrogen levels just enough. This hormone plus the increase in serotonin will give more bliss and reduce emotional and mental stress.
4. Cardamom Sesame Crunch: This variation is very good to pacify vata and pitta. It opens the brain channels, supports bliss, and aids in protein absorption. Anyone who loves cardamom will find this crunch magical. I use the hard to find long variety of cardamom. This variety has an amazing aroma. Special care was taken to protect this aroma (and all the other aromas) used in making all the flavors of the Sesame Crunch.
5. Rose Sesame Crunch: This crunch gives all the benefits of rose particularly useful for high pitta types whether facing emotional challenges or not. I made this variety especially for them. In this age of Kali Yuga it’s hard to keep Sadhak Pitta in balance for anyone, so this flavor is actually great for all. Eat just one crunch and for at least one hour your bliss will be restored – some have reported a rosy breath too! Special organic Rosa Centifolia petals were imported from India just for this Sesame Crunch. Find out more about the amazing properties of eating rose petals in my blog article – Top 11 Ayurvedic Properties of Rose: The Queen of Flowers.
6. Cacao Sesame Crunch:
Cocoa Sesame Crunch: And here is the black sheep of the bunch! I personally do not care at all for chocolate. I did not grow up eating it, and having tried it later in life, I do not understand the fascination with it. According to my SVA findings, chocolate can clog your channels and sandhis (gaps) especially the five bhutagnis (liver burners). However, many of my lady clients repeatedly request it, so if you must have it, make sure you are choosing cacao instead of cocoa. As I said, in SVA, the cacao bean is not on my top list of edible items, even though when minimally-processed, or raw, cacao beans are confirmed superfoods. Here’s an impressive list of the raw cacao bean’s health benefits: Antioxidant effects. Cacao beans are absolutely packed with phenolic phytochemicals and flavonoids, which protect your cells against damage from free radicals. Oxidative damage can result in premature aging and many of the modern chronic health conditions. Boosts your mood and cognitive performance. Epicatechin, the main flavonoid in cacao was shown to improve various aspects of cognition, preserve cognitive abilities during aging, and improve overall mood. Lowers blood pressure. Recent studies found that flavanols lower blood pressure and increase blood vessel flexibility. Protects the heart. Researchers found that flavanols and procyanidins from cacao increased antioxidant capacity in the blood plasma and reduced platelet reactivity, resulting in a healthier heart. Regulates insulin levels. Epicatechin, a flavanol in cacao, activates key proteins and help regulate glucose production, even among diabetics. Cacao beans are also rich in nutrients like magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese. They’re actually thought to be one of the richest food sources of magnesium around. Keep in mind, cacao is NOT cocoa! If you must have chocolate, go for the unprocessed raw or least processed cacao powder, or nibs, or chunks. Cocoa starts the same way cacao does: harvested from the cacao plant’s seed pods. The processing makes all the difference, however. Cocoa is heated at much higher temperatures resulting in a less bitter and somewhat sweeter flavor, but also different health effects.There are actually two types of cocoa available: 1) Dark cocoa, undergoes processing with an alkalized chemical solution. This processing further depletes and degrades the cacao’s healhty antioxidant and nutrient content. 2) Natural cocoa powder tastes a little more acidic and bitter than the dark version, but it’s still not as nutritionally dense as cacao powder. Bottom-line: you want to go with cacao rather than cocoa because cocoa powder “mixes” often contain added sugar and/or other sweeteners. Of course, this is one of the reasons why cocoa tends to be cheaper than cacao and easier to find. Look for high-quality cocoa without added sugars, dairy products, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, or emulsifiers. This is the kind I use in my Sesame Crunch, and the only kind you should be going after if you are seeking the health benefits along with the bitter and sweet chocolate taste you are craving! You can also find other recipes on my Youtube channel: such as my chocolate laddoo recipe that uses spices to counterbalance the clogging effect of the chocolate – https://vaidyamishra.com/blog/?s=chocolate. But I think adding organic cocoa powder to the Sesame Crunch is even better, as sesame’s heating and channel-opening properties are perfect to counteract the clogging effects of the cocoa bean. This crunch, like all the rest, is also vega, which is also desirable. Even my wife loved and approved it!
This is, then, my gift to you, this holiday season – guilt-free nutrition-packed sweets that you can enjoy with your morning cup of tea, after your meals, or as a stand-alone snack. Anytime of the day or the year is the right time to bite into a sesame crunch! Happy Holidays!
This product and statements have not been evaluated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and are not intended to be used to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. All of the information above is intended to be used for educational purposes only and may not be used to replace or compliment medical advice.
Let’s face it – the holidays can be mentally and emotionally stressful! In addition to our ongoing daily professional or familial obligations, we may find ourselves carried away by the whirlwind of back-to-back parties; endless shopping lists; painfully crowded malls and supermarkets; under-the-gun baking, cleaning and entertaining; family obligations and traditions that may involve challenging emotional settings. So it’s very easy to lose sight of ourselves and get caught in dizzying activity, compromising our own health. By the time it’s finally time to celebrate, you’re probably already exhausted having tried to make things perfect for everybody, but your diet is off, your can’t seem to get a full night’s sleep, and you are mentally tense, emotionally fragile – in a word: you’re a wreck! True, you may not be able to change how things are going to unfold and how stressful they are going to be, but you can manage how you are going to go through and respond to the stress.
Do you know what happens in your body when you get stressed? Your brain and body release specific chemical toxins, such as cortisol, that create metabolic imbalances that trigger inflammatory conditions. Stress compromises your body’s acid-alkaline balance, bringing down your immunity and making you prone to ill-health, weight-gain, depression, and more. Did you know that you can correct your body’s response to stress? This involves more than a mind-over-matter trick – when stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup no matter what you tell yourself to do. However, with Ayurveda, and specifically SV Ayurveda, we learn that there are herbs and ingredients that can naturally boost our bliss, or “correct” our behavior by increasing the “happy chemicals” in our brain: serotonin; dopamine; endorphins. With Ayurveda, you can also help curb those undue holiday errings of the senses: the overeating; the hang-overs; unruly sleep, etc.
How can SV Ayurveda help us address the typical holiday hazards?
Emotionally Down?: it’s unsettling how holidays can magnify pain. They will highlight everything that may have recently changed in your lives — a divorce, a death in the family, estranged family members, etc. If you are missing someone special this holiday season, if someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, first thing is to tell yourself it’s ok to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry and express your feelings, to give yourself the space to work through your emotions instead of suppressing them. You should not force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season! But do not dwell on the sadness longer than you need to. Acknowledge it and release it. But isn’t that the tricky part?! How do you release sadness?
If you are feeling sad it means your sadhak pitta is off and needs to be balanced. You can cool off and balance your sadhak pitta by eating seasonal sweet juicy fruits – apples and pears are great this time of year. In addition, add more protein your diet, cooked with a nice pitta pacifying masala.
Herb-wise, add Ashoka Transdermal cream or roll-on your tala-hridiya marma points. You can also do the full Samadhi Set protocol 3-5 times a day.
Add Ashoka and Brahmi Nectar drops: 3 drops of each to a glass of water.
Drink “Bliss and Bliss tea”
Drink “Vaidya’s Cup!” Treat yourself with Chyawanprash, – it’s the best tridoshic dessert you can have and 1 tsp will be worth 10 slices of cake or 5 chocolate bars!
Listen to or chant the Heart Lotus Mantra.
Don’t skip or delay meals.
Use pitta masala. Use the soothing aroma essential oils of Rose, Neroli, Jasmine, and Sandalwood.
Add the non-alcoholic Celebration Nectar Drops to your celebrations! Formulated by Vaidya Mishra 3 years ago, the nectar drop “celebration drink” is a hit with SVA clients. You can add 5-10 drops to your glass of water during lunch or dinner.
Top of your meals with a cup of “Vaidya’s Cup.” You will be surprised by the shift in your mood. “Vaidya’s Cup” will boost the serotonin and the dopamine to enhance your bliss. You can have 3-5 cups a day.
Mentally stressed and Physical Drained? During the holiday season, obligations and errands run us down. Due to mental and physical over-activity prana and vyana vata go out of balance, leaving us feeling frazzled, unable to settle down, and constantly haunted by the feeling of “always more to do!”
Take a breather: literally take a few minutes to step out of a scene to sit down and breath. Do a quick alternate nostril pranayam exercise to regulate the flow of prana and keep things even in your Ida and Pingala channels. Clear your mind and restore inner calm by shifting your thoughts to the big picture.
If you are caught in the middle of frenzy, spray 4-5 squirts of Stress-Free Spray, breath, and relax. This water base formulations has been helping countless individuals since Vaidya Mishra launched it this year.
Apply Soma Nidra Roll-on on your wrists, cervical area, and inhale the aroma.
At night, before the big day, or after the party is over, take a bath with the SVA “Relax and Detox Bath Pouches.”
Do a self-mssage with Vata Oil with Vit D and Magnesium – alternately you can treat yourself to a massage parlor, take your oil with you and ask them to use it on you for a richer relaxing experience.
Add Mucuna capsules to your dietary regimen (For Him for men, For Her for women)
Reclaim your vibrant energy with Chyawanprash: 1 tsp morning before or after breakfast, and 1 tsp after lunch daily.
Try to do at least 10-15 minutes of yoga or a brisk walk daily.
Could not Stop Eating? Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all by abandoning your healthy habits, knowing full well that overindulging will only add to your stress and guilt. But it’s easier said than done, right? Here’s the trick: by consuming food that contains all 6 tastes – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent, you maximize your chance of not getting carried away by temptation. Food that carries all 6 tastes helps us maintain psychological and mental balance – Ayurveda is very clear on this. But science also finds that chilies or the pungent taste, for example, release the endorphins already present in our brains; cumin, which is astringent, releases serotonin; black pepper increases oxygenation calming us down and taking away anxiety. When you eat a meal that contains all 6 possible tastes, the coordination between your stomach, brain, and heart is optimal, minimizing your craving for sweets or larger portions. This means that your pitta dosha stays cool and composed, then your emotions don’t go off. Meals that contain all 6 tastes are tridoshic. Eating all 6 tastes in each meal will help you not abandon healthy habits when you need them most.
Add chutneys to your meals – cilantro chutney and/or the Tamarind and Amla preserve, which will give you satiation by enhancing digestion and absorption of food.
In case you overeat and feel bloated, try the Pro-Pachak drops – 5 drops in a glass of 8oz of water. Drink this after lunch and dinner to support digestion and absorption.
Make and carry a mixture of dry toasted 80% fennel seeds and 20 % ajwain seeds. Chew 1/2 tsp after each meal.
Overdosed on Sugar?: during the holidays it is inevitable not to overdose on sugar. It may be that one time of the time where we allow ourselves to go for it! And it’s great to reward ourselves from time to time… But here’s what you can do to help metabolize that sugar you ate so that after the holidays your immunity is not compromised, and in order to avoid sugar-induced fatigue and post-celebratory depression:
make a tea with 16oz water: add 2 pinches of Gymnema, 2 pinches Indian kino, 2 pinches of Jamun seeds, a tiny cinnamon stick, boil 5-10 minutes, filter and sip. This tea will enhance your sugar metabolism, by converting the sugar molecules into energy.
*Caution: don’t drink this tea if you have not eaten sugar (or consumed carbs), because it will otherwise drive your blood glucose levels low. Do not drink this tea before eating sweets, only AFTER eating sweets, otherwise you will not enjoy the sweet taste.
Can’t Sleep? When our days are overly active, prana vata goes high, and it becomes hard for the mind to unwind and settles down at the end of the day, unable to induce deep restorative sleep. What can help?
Massage with warm Vata oil with Vit D and Magnesium will help balance all of vata dosha.
Have a cup of Soma Nidra tea, or use the Soma Nidra oral spray, and Soma Nidra roll-on on the back of the neck and the shoulders.
Go to bed with “happy thoughts” – if your day was a mixed bag of events, let go of the ill-fitted episodes, as they were inevitable anyways, and linger on the brighter moments. You will be surprised to see how a conscious choice to prefer the positive over the negative will shift your mood and ease in blissful sleep.
In the end, holidays may be more stressful than fun, but the good thing is it’s predictable! You know it is going to happen, you see it coming, but also when it’s going to end, so you can do something about it. This year,you can be pro-active about it, and with SVA, you have a wide array of ayurvedic tips and stress-survival strategies, along with calming and mood-brightening formulations and recipes.
By Bonita Carol
August 5 2014
Last week I was fortunate to have spent some quality time with Vaidya and Malvika. I had been feeling under the weather for a few months and needed to get my Ayurvedic batteries recharged. I knew in my heart that there is no better way to do this than be with the source of Ayurvedic knowledge, my teacher, friend, and healer and to surround myself with nourishing open hearted people like Malvika. I also wanted to learn more and refine my skills as a SVA Educator. What was intended to just be a few days turned into a full week, just enough to detox and restore me back to health and engage my curiosity.
Confessions of confections. This past year I developed some dietary habits that contributed to UTI, fatigue, and unnatural menopause symptoms. I moved to Berkeley California a few months prior and became addicted to Arizmendi Bakery on Shattuck Ave. eating their morning buttery scones filled with warm and melty chocolate pieces and drank it often with coffee. I have never been a coffee drinker, but my fatigue led me to it. I was also trying out all the new cafes and eating out a lot. In addition, a friend from Italy had gotten me into a Gelato craze. I basically ate everything that I was not used to eating. I had gotten lazy and bored with my Ayurvedic diet. I was taking my good health for granted. All this sugar was starting to harm my health.
I had no idea of what to expect as I was approaching the Prana Center. It’s been my past experience (over 15 years) with working with Vaidya and Malvika that every moment is spontaneous and plans have a way of changing from hour to hour mostly because they are very generously taking care of so many people’s health, creating new products, and managing the Prana Center. So I went without expectation and an open mind. What I received was more than I imagined.
Aromatherapy: Upon arriving, the Prana Center was literally buzzing with the sound of spices and herbs being ground. The smell of fresh aromatic cardamom filled the air. Then came the odor of sweet ground coriander, pungent clove, and cumin one by one. Vaidya said they make a new batch of Mum’s masala every two weeks so the flavors and benefits are maximum. Blanca offered me a cup of their newest tea, called Bliss and BlissTea. And after my 6 ½ hour drive from Berkeley, I started to revive.
Rare herbs: I did not realize that Vaidya has over 250 single herbs on hand, including some rare and very difficult to find herbs that were painstakingly difficult to find and were researched for authenticity by his son Raj who now lives in India. They don’t go through any middlemen and deal directly with the growers to avoid any scam. Vaidya said he must have all of these herbs in order to make his special formulas. He does not accept any herb that is partial, old, or in question. There are absolutely no
I also learned that the herbal formulas, in particular the herbal memory nectars work better when you follow the SVA diet. If you are going to eat junk food and take the nectars, then it’s not going to be as effective. You can’t just take herbs. You have to do the whole program. By the way, Vaidya took my pulse and then looked right at me and said, “No more eating out”. Of course I had not confessed my sins to him, but the pulse never lies….
Yummy Food: Vaidya and Malvika would not let me eat out and there was no kitchen for me to cook as I was staying at a hotel. So, they fed me. And they fed me good. Each day they generously shared the most delicious and heavenly food. Malvika and Vaidya cook their meals consisting of rice cooked with whole cardamom pods, dahl sprinkled with lime juice, and a variety of succulent healing vegetables such as green papaya with Loki sauteed with mum’s ghee, curry leaves, a variety of spices including their new Garcinia masalas, nagaimo (which really tastes like potato minus the starch!), roti, bitter melon, paneer cubes toasted in mum’s ghee and mum’s masala and one day she made fresh moringa leaves. The dahl always had a new and distinct flavor that was crafted and created in their kitchen with divine assistance. Most of all there was a whole lot of love in the food. I felt I was in heaven eating such an abundance of delicious food that was healthy, nourishing, and detoxifying as well. After one week of eating Malvika’s food, my UTI disappeared and that was without taking herbs and of course no sugar. My eyes looked clearer and I started to feel energetic. What they reminded me of is that eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Now, it’s a week since I have been home and cooking all the dishes she showed me. There are so many spice combinations that make a big difference and variety of dishes. This food is life changing.
Bad Vibes Be Gone: One issue that I have is that I do not do well sleeping in hotel rooms. And I was even considering not coming to visit Vaidya and Malvika because I would have to stay in one. I think Vaidya must have read my mind because on that first day, I was introduced to his product called Tribindu. It is an ancient blend of essential oils that contain the highest quality camphor, ajwain, peppermint, and tulsi oil with a spray top. You spray it all over the hotel room and under the furniture. I could not believe it; all the odd hotel vibes just went away and I felt the room was transformed. It’s also good as a mosquito repellent. As a de-decongestant if you feel you are coming down with a cold or have an itchy throat. And so many other things! I will never travel without Tribindu again.
Darshan: The highlight of my trip was receiving darshan from the SVA lineage. I had never been in Vaidya’s office. The feeling in that room was really heavenly, like there were angels in the room. Not to sound corny, but it’s true. The room has bookshelves filled with books on health and Vedic literature. He started to tell some stories from when he was with Maharishi, how he read a passage to him, from the Charaka Samhita about how drinking hot water 24/7 is not good for people who suffer from hemorrhaging, menses, and seizures. He said he was reading it from his Grandfather’s copy of the Charak. I asked him if he still had a copy of his Grandfather’s book. And yes, in fact he did. He pulled out a very old book written in Sanskrit. Below is a photo of us getting the blessing from his Grandad’s copy of the Charaka Samhita. Also pictured is Daria, who is helping Vaidya organize the Pulse and Marma E-course that currently has more than 90 participants. It was lovely to meet her.
End of trip: as all goods things have to come to an end, I had to pick up my things and head back home. But I did not leave before purchasing a whole bunch of SVA products for my daughter and myself. Unique ayurvedic formulations like Vitamin D and Vitamin B-12 that are applied trans-dermally, not taken orally, for maximal efficiency and safety, to help bypass the liver and other organs that we usually tend to tax due to bad diet and stress. I also made sure to get some of the newest cooking masalas or spice blends with Garcinia cambogia, and of course, Ashoka Transdermal, Ashoka memory nectar, and a few more nectars. Vaidya put me on a new protocol and I am not only feeling happier but I am more energized. I did not get to purchase their Sweet Orange and Mango chutney that bursts with amazing flavor – it’s their best-seller and always runs out! I will get that on my next trip. Thank you Vaidya and Malvika for the much needed love and healing.