Cozy Tea Time

Mmmmm, there’s nothing like a warm, comforting cup of tea on a winter day.

Personally, I love chai. It’s my coffee (since I don’t like coffee).

And chai spices have their medicinal benefits. Fennel, cardamom and coriander are great for digestion and black pepper and ginger are fabulous for kicking on a little fire.

I’ve been feeling a little daring lately (yes, changing my tea is about as daring as it gets right now) and decided to mix things up. If you’re down for a tea-sized adventure, here’s a version I’ve been loving. I made a cup for a friend recently and she said it was like drinking a cup of comfort.

Let me know what you think!

Tulsi Astragalus Rose Tea - aka A Cup of Comfort

Tulsi, otherwise known as Holy Basil, is an adaptogen used in Ayurvedic medicine. It supports the body against stress and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Tulsi also used as a treatment for diabetes and asthma. And it’s an herb of wonderful spiritual lore and significance.

Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herb used for all things immune boosting, like colds and ailments, as well as to fend off heart disease and diabetes.

Rose, oh rose. In addition to being sweet and delicate, rose is powerful medicine. Rose has been used for centuries to heal many diseases and ailments. Rose tea aids digestion and tummy trouble, can relieve menstrual cramps, reduce stress, boost the immune system, help with osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease and relieve urinary tract infections. Rose is also the herb/oil of beautification and is great for hair and skin.

rose tea

You can get loose herbs at your local natural foods store or order online from a reputable retailer like Mountain Rose Herbs.

How to make

tulsi tea

1 tsp tulsi
1 tsp astragalus
1 tsp dried rose
non-dairy milk
maple syrup
sprinkle of cinnamon

(Start with equal parts of the loose tea, then adapt according to your taste.)

Pour boiling water over herbs in a tea press or teapot and let steep for 10-15 minutes.

Transfer tea to small saucepan and add equal parts non dairy milk (oat milk seems to be having a moment).

Warm to your desired temperature.

Pour into mug and add maple syrup to taste.

Sprinkle some cinnamon on top.



One Thousand Degrees

Well, that's what they feel like...those first few hot days after the gentle fluctuations of spring.

To combat the afternoon slump, I like to take the dog for a walk around the block after lunch. Today she got so hot that every patch of shaded lawn was the only place she wanted to be -- sprawled out on her belly, fully exposed to any amount of coolness. If I wanted her to go anywhere, I was going to have to drag her as she played possum. I wish I had a picture of it.

My phone says 87, but it feels more like the 90s. It was a hot walk, I'll give her that.

Perfect timing to try out one of my recipe ideas for the Summer Daylong Retreat!

I decided on a classic cooling beverage -- Rosewater Lemonade. Two of my favorite things! roses and lemons, and I had both ingredients on hand.

We are moving into the season of pitta, or fire, as described in the Ayurvedic system. When aggravated, pitta can respond with irritability, resistance and aggression. Being over-heated can make anyone angry!

The antidote to out-of-balance pitta is cooling sweetness and beauty. Rosewater Lemonade is the perfect remedy.

The fragrance of a rose can cool anger and criticism. Rosewater relieves and cools inflammation as well. While I was making this drink I sprayed it on my face and the back of my neck -- it's great for sunburned skin or summer rashes, and heals and soothes internal tissues. It has a mild astringency that tones tissues, including the digestive tract.

hot lemon water

Lemons are an Ayurvedic staple year-round. They cleanse the blood of impurities, aid digestion and quench thirst. They are a cooling astringent in the blood. The sour taste brings a scattered mind back into focus and helps shift us from the head back to the heart.


This drink is absolutely lovely. It's light, sweet, subtle and, well, cooling! I'm sitting outside working, even after that thousand degree walk!  Pearl, on the other hand, is inside :)


Rosewater Lemonade

1/2 Lemon
1 t raw sugar or maple syrup
1 T rosewater
2 c water

Mix all ingredients together. Served cool or at room temperature.

For even more cooling, use lime instead of lemon.

My beverage came out a honey color because I used coconut sugar. Next time I will try maple syrup. 

I played with the ratios and ended up adding more lemon and rosewater, so I'm not quite sure what my proportions were. Experiment according to your taste.


rosewater lemonade

Recipe adapted from Joyful Belly.


Anytime Biscuits

I love biscuits. My mom used to make biscuits like these, free form and oversized, for breakfast and we'd slather them with butter and honey.

There are for sure things that I just have to accept are going to be "different" in vegan form.

Ice cream. Angel Food Cake. 

Different meaning not as good. And I'm ok with that.

Because honestly, anything you can make, I can make vegan. And it's almost always just as good or better. (If that hasn't been true for you, let me give you some better recipes!)

And the great news is, I don't have to skimp on biscuits!

I saw this recipe last week and started craving them. So Saturday morning, I made them with all 5 ingredients, and they were AMAZING.

While they were cooling I cut up some fresh strawberries from the farmer's market and cooked them into a little saucy-jam. 

So really, I had strawberry shortcake for breakfast.

To be honest, these would be great with soup or throw some sage or rosemary in there and you'd have a lovely savory biscuit. These biscuits are for anytime!

If you love biscuits, try them. If you don't love biscuits, I don't know if we can be friends.


Vegan Biscuits


vegan biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup rice milk (I used about 3/4 C almond milk and filled the rest with water)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

vegan breakfast

2. Line a sheet tray with parchment and set aside. I cooked mine in a glass dish smeared with a little Earth Balance.

3. Mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix oil, and rice milk until just combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and combine with hands. Do not overmix.

4. Form biscuits and place on lined sheet tray. I made 10 biscuits.

5. Cook for 20-30 minutes depending on size. Biscuits should have a light, golden brown color.

vegan strawberry shortcake


Recipe adapted from VegNews.

Super Simple "Monster" Cookies

You're simple and sweet
Why do they call you monster?
You do not scare me!

tahini monster cookie

These debuted at class last week and somehow I agreed to write a poem about them. I can never resist a haiku!

"Monster Cookies" generally have a bunch of goodies in them with a base of a nut butter and oatmeal. According to a quick google search, they are "the Frankenstein's monster of the cookie world - a mashup of different components."

What I love about these -- besides the super moist texture and perfectly balanced flavor -- is how simple they are to make. Even for the "non-bakers," this one is doable.


Super Simple Monster Cookie (vegan + gluten free)


3/4 cup tahini
3/4 cup coconut sugar (I used a little less)
3 1/2 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
1/3 dark vegan chocolate chips (these are my fav - nut, soy and diary free)

Other optional add ins: 1/3 cup raisins, 1/4 cup nuts
And if you aren't a fan of tahini, try another nut butter like almond or sunflower


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, add tahini, coconut sugar, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and salt and combine until well blended.

Add oats dark chocolate and any other add-in; mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Using a spoon, scoop the batter onto your baking sheet  Bake cookies for 10 minutes and let cool for another 10 minutes.


See other vegan cookie recipes.
See other general vegan recipes.

Photo and recipe adapted from About to Sprout.


Magic Spring Sauce

It's not a pesto, it's not a chimichurri, it's a magic sauce perfectly suited for spring.

Make it and put it on everything. Roasted veggies, toast, pasta, burritos or tacos, a veggie burger -- I mean, anything.

No need to be super precise in measuring...personalize it according to your flavor preferences.

This is a terrible picture. It's better than it looks.

This is a terrible picture. It's better than it looks.

Magic Spring Sauce

1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1-2 bunch(es) cilantro
2-4 cloves garlic
1 avocado
Lime juice (lemon would do fine)
1/2 C (or so) oil (Thrive Algae Oil is my favorite for health reasons)
Optional 1/4-1/2 C nuts -- pistachios or walnuts would be great
Optional jalapeno or chili pepper flakes if you like some kick

Put everything in a food processor or blender and mix it up!

Mine was thicker, more spreadable and sauce-y.
   It could also be a pesto-like dip by adding more oil after blending
     or a thicker veggie dip with less oil
       or a salad dressing by adding a little water.

You know I'm a fan of getting extra nutrients in super sly ways, so you could also play with adding a spoonful of miso or some white beans or a little nutritional yeast...and then adjust the oil/water for desired thickness.

The Magic Sauce has limitless potential!!

Let me know if you try it :)


Go-to dinner starter

One of my favorite "basic" meal starters is this base of mushrooms and a green.

I almost always have those two things on hand (they are a given on the grocery list) and I can make them into at least a half a dozen delicious dishes.

Here's one:

Mushroom Chard Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes

This was one of those "oops, I didn't plan dinner" nights. Thanks to my loyal mushroom/green stock, it was easy to throw something together.


I used a butternut pasta that I got for Christmas. I had baby bellas and shiitake mushrooms, but any work. The sun dried tomatoes gave it a little sweetness. Walnuts and nutritional yeast pack in the nutrients. Of course a few cloves of garlic while sautéing the onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Greg likes things spicy, so he added chili pepper flakes to his.

The base of this dish is simple:

1. Onion or leek
2. Mushrooms
3. A leafy green like kale or chard

Just that is divine.

saute vegetables

The optional additions include:
Nutritional Yeast
Sun-dried tomatoes
Other veggies like zucchini or carrots
Beans of any kind

I mean, anything would work -- whatever you like or depending on the season. I'm not creative in the kitchen, but I've had a surprisingly good time riffing off of this main idea.

Then, depending on what you have time for, what else you have on hand, your cravings, and a million other things, you can turn this into all kinds of goodness. 

veggie pasta

You can make it into a Buddha Bowl -- quadrants of mushroom, green, a bean and a whole grain. Add some avocado, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and drizzle with your favorite vinegar-style dressing.

Have it with a fresh green salad.

You could turn it into a soup (a miso broth would be delicious).

Or.... burritos!

It's easy and fun to pay around with this one. Let me know if you try it out!


vegan baking

Around the holidays I got into the habit of baking for the folks in my Sunday morning class. It was so fun for me (and they seemed to love it) that I've continued to do it, experimenting with recipes and "wowing" people who thought vegan treats all tasted like cardboard.

I keep promising to post the recipes, so here are a few of the favs.

The first cookie is actually a cookie -- sweet and treat-like. The other two are yummy enough to feel like treats, but they are FULL of healthy adaptogens and superfoods. So you can indulge AND feed your cells.

If you have favorite treats or healthy snacks, I love to hear. Enjoy!


Soft Pumpkin Ginger Cookies

vegan pumpkin cookies

Ooooh these were good. They flattened out quite a bit, but did stay soft and chewy and had GREAT flavor.

I don't reserve pumpkin just for fall -- to me these are an all-season cookie.


(Rose Flavored) Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies with Cashew Cream Filling

vegan cookies

I thought these would be hard/complicated, but they weren't. The man in my house didn't like the sound of rose, so I did NOT make mine rose flavored. Instead I tried a few drops of spearmint essential oil. It wasn't bad, but I didn't love it. Several students seemed to really like it, though. It probably just depends on how much you like mint (tho the mint flavor was really subtle).

Because the original "rose flavored" recipe used pink cashew cream, I thought I'd get creative and make mine blue. Not advised. It clashed with the bright green pistachios.

natural food coloring


Just a note about food coloring...conventional food coloring is made with chemicals and is not vegan. I found this brand at our local Co Op, which is totally natural and uses fruit and vegetables for coloring.



Bliss Balls

bliss balls

I've made two versions of these -- turmeric and basic cacao. The cacao are my FAVORITE. Someone in class said she liked the Thumbprints (above) better because there were not as sweet and rich as the BBs.

So if you like RICH and DENSE (i.e. grounding, satiating), then try these. If you like less sweet, go for the Thumbprints.

They are SO easy to make -- the only note is that some of the fancy adaptogenic ingredients are hard to find. Honestly, just come to class and I'll make them for you :)


gingerbread yoga people

If you love ginger, gingerbread, molasses or if you are vegan, these cookies will be your dream come true.

I'd never made gingerbread cookies before, but every year a girlfriend and I have a standing holiday cookie-making date (truth be told, we mostly drink mimosas), and this year I was determined to find delicious vegan recipes.

My neighbors were the test group and the gold stars came in the form of hand written thank you notes. I call that a thumbs up!

I know the holidays are over, but I think gingerbread is year-round. Just change up the shapes and dressings -- you can have snowflakes in January, hearts in February, tulips in March... I will come up with anything to keep the gingerbread cookies alive. And after tasting them, you will too!

Vegan Gingerbread Cookie Recipe by The Spruce

I followed the recipe to the T, including sifting the dry ingredients into the bowl. I refrigerated the dough for about 3 hours and had to add a lot of flour in the rolling and cutting. 

vegan gingerbread cookie ingredients

Remember that sugar is not vegan -- bone char is used in the processing. Organic sugar IS vegan. I use all organic ingredients whenever possible.

A simple powered sugar (organic!) and almond milk frosting got a little pep by adding some cardamom (which I add to pretty much anything that will stand still).

I found some vegan "natural" food coloring at our local natural foods Co Op. I just used a toothpick to add some personality to the yoga folks (hello, fancy yoga pants!). The pose cookie cutters were a gift from a friend a few years ago.

The best part was taking these characters to class and having people Oooh and Aaaah and come back in the building for seconds...and thirds. I cannot tell you how DELICIOUS these are. Seriously. Print the recipe, go to the kitchen and make them.

vegan gingerbread cookies

stewed apples

Why I don't make this for breakfast all year long makes no sense, given how excited I get when I remember that it's fall, the perfect time for a little sweetness and warmth. In Sacramento, we get fresh Apple Hill apples at the local Co Op, which is usually my cue that stewed apples are what's for breakfast.

In-season fruit is always best -- for the environment and your body. A variety of foods throughout the year is ideal.

Because this recipe uses fresh ginger, it's a good way to warm up and get the digestion, which can be a little sluggish in winter, back in gear.

And in celebration of all the other fabulous fall fruit, I've been adding red pear and more recently fuyu persimmons (high in antioxidants and many vitamins including many B-complex vitamins).

In the system of Ayurveda, fruit is eaten separate of other foods (especially dairy -- apologies to those of your who love fruit with your yogurt). Most fruits are somewhat acidic and digest rather quickly. When combined with more complex foods, the fruit can move through the digestive tract too slowly and can cause fermentation, gas and bloating.

I usually put this on the stove and let it simmer while I'm having my warm lemon water, then I'll eat this as a "first course" to breakfast. Sometimes it's enough; sometimes I want some hot cereal for a little more fuel. Give fruit about 30 minutes to digest before eating anything else.

I know it may not be feasible to make two dishes for breakfast -- although you could make them simultaneously.  I make a big pot and then store two portions in the frig for the following days. In a pinch, if I'm heading out for the day, I'll break some rules and have half of a bagel or zucchini bread to go as my second course.

The recipe is simple and modifiable -- adjust the spices and ratios to your liking!

Stewed Apples

1 apple (choose tart or sweet as you prefer)
1 red pear (optional)
1 fuyu persimmon (optional)
1/2 t fresh grated ginger
1/4-1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/8-1/4 t ground cardamom
drizzle of honey (optional)

stewed apples

Chop apple and put in a small saucepan with 2-4 T of water (just enough to cover about 1/4 of the apples). Add ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. You could also use a dash of clove, nutmeg or other favorite spice.


Bring to simmer and reduce heat. Let cook on a light simmer until fruit is just starting to soften. Add other fruit (the pear and persimmon will take less time to cook) and simmer another 5 minutes or until fruit is at desired softness. A couple of dates would be really great in this too!


Remove from heat and let cool slightly. You can mash it if you like more of a sauce. I don't add any sugar, but if you use a tart apple, you could use a little honey for sweetness. Eat warm, juice included.

I hope you enjoy this fall treat as much as I do. Remember to adjust the spices to your liking. And this dish isn't relegated to breakfast -- it makes a great snack or dessert. Just make sure you have at least an hour before and 30 minutes after eating other foods.

eat well or exercise?

There is an Ayurvedic proverb which reminds us of the power of food:

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. 
When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.

Food truly is medicine.

And while exercise and eating well should not be mutually exclusive, if scientists have to pick one as the biggest determinant of your health, it's what you eat.

Isn't that amazing? More than exercise, eating nutritious food determines your health.

The science of Ayurveda agrees -- digestion is the seat of health. It's the first place to look when something is out of balance.

Rather than adding supplements -- or worse, taking medication -- making better choices about the food on our plates is something that is accessible every single day. 

And then, if that doesn't address the issues, supplemental support may be necessary. But Ayurveda always looks at food first (healthy relationships, including with oneself, are second).


Portobello Pot Roast

In celebration of fall here in California, I thought I'd share a recipe. 

The mark of a good fall meal is that you have to eat it with a spoon. Our bodies do well with moist, heavy, warm foods to balance the dry cold of the seasonal shift.

I've made this Portobello Pot Roast twice and it's a winner. You know I love mushrooms and this is the perfect blend of comfort and nutrition.


1/2 cup red or white wine
4 large portobello mushrooms sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large onion sliced
2 cloves garlic pressed
3 tablespoons flour if sensitive to gluten use gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon rubbed or fresh sage
1 teaspoon dried or fresh basil
3 cups vegetable broth
4 large potatoes quartered
4 large carrots cut into 3-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or lemon pepper to taste
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (for slow cooker instructions see recipe notes)

In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the wine and add the portobello mushroom slices. Allow them to cook through and brown a bit—you’ll need to keep moving them around and turning them—and then remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the pan and add the onion and garlic. Caramelize the onions by stirring them until they wilt and begin to brown. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

Mix the flour, sage, and basil together in a small bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the broth to create a paste, and pour the mixture into the same pan you used for the mushrooms and onions. While stirring constantly over medium heat, very slowly add the rest of the broth so that you create a gravy or sauce.

When the mixture just starts to boil, turn the heat off and add any additional seasonings.

Add the potatoes, carrots, salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to the gravy mixture. If more liquid is needed to keep the vegetables from drying out, add more broth.

Add the mushrooms and onions to the mixture and ladle into a large ceramic or glass pot or casserole dish with a lid, layering in the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Place the lid on and put into the oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

A side (or bottom layer) of brown rice or quinoa would make this just about as nutritious as possible.

Recipe and photo from A Virtual Vegan.

Let me know if you make it or have any creative additions!


sleepy time

Our bodies can't "make up for" or catch up on lost sleep.

If you read about the magic pill that neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett prescribes for brain, body and emotional health, you know that sleep is at the top of her list. Like, science has proven that it's the number one determining factor for our over-all well-being.

As a long-time insomniac, I have tried every prescription, over-the-counter, mail order remedy I can find. I have a drawer of things that didn't work, including those that actually made me jittery and anxious rather than relaxed.

And from conversations I've had with just about every group I've been a part of lately, I am not alone.

A few key things to consider:

  • Mix up your sleep aids -- use a sleepy tea for a few nights, then a different herb for a few nights, then maybe nothing for a few nights. The body will habituate to whatever you're doing and they will all lose effectiveness if you don't vary your approach.
  • But have a consistent bedtime routine. The brain/body loves routine. Start to wind down at the same time each night -- shut down the screens, dim the lights, take your time through your personal preparations like face washing and teeth brushing.  Start slowing down least an hour before you hope to be in bed.
  • Don't try to sleep until you're sleepy, not just tired. Your body can be exhausted, but your brain and nervous system can be amped. See above -- prepare your body to slow down and be sleepy.
  • This segment on NPR's Fresh Air with sleep scientist Matthew Walker has even more great tips on how to make sure you get enough sleep, and what to do if you aren't sleeping.


My current favorite bedtime cocktail

Key ingredients

  • Yogi Tea brand has two Sleepy Teas -- one regular (in the blue box) and one Caramel flavored (in an orange box)
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Non dairy milk -- I like Flax
  • Coconut butter -- you can find it in the nut butter aisle of a health food store. If it's cool where you are, it will be solid. If you're able, it's great to heat and stir it up as the "butter" and the oil separate.
  • Local raw honey

How to

Heat about a cup of milk in a saucepan with about 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Nutmeg is a sedative, but it's strong, so if you're not a fan of the flavor, use less. Let the milk come to a low boil.

Pour hot milk into a mug and spoon in at least a teaspoon of the coconut butter -- stir well until the coconut butter mostly dissolves. Then steep the two teabags -- one of each -- for about five minutes.

Remove the tea bags and add a little more milk (or water) so that the milk is warm but not hot. Then add a dollop of honey and stir.

I like to get in bed with the lights low and sip my special tea right before going to sleep. Part of what makes this "work" is the ritual and my enjoyment; the herbs and goodness in the tea doesn't hurt.

If you try it, let me know how it goes!

fall enrichment

It's pretty common this time of year to see people talking about or advertising a "fall cleanse." 

Seasonal transitions are a popular (and useful) time to mark a shift in nature, prepare our bodies for a change in weather, light and activities, and check in with how our systems fared in the last season. And it makes sense to eat what is in season to ensure a variety of nutrients. 

But the word cleanse can be a little misleading. A cleanse isn't necessarily a detox, which can be more harsh. Detox might mean a juice fast, or a total food fast! A cleanse, on the other hand, is more about simplifying the diet so the body has an easy time digesting, not using any more energy than necessary on processing and absorbing the nutrients.

Because I associate the word cleanse to something more aggressive, I like to rephrase it as nourish.

And honestly, most of us don't need to "strip away" more in our lives. Yes, there are foods to refrain from in this delicate transition time, but we do it by "crowding out" rather than "cutting out." 


What most of us need is more deep nourishment -- for our cells, our hearts and our minds.

So... Enrich yourself as we enter fall.

Simplify your food. That might mean eating mild kitchari for most meals, or it might mean increasing your whole food, plant-based nutrient intake.

Here are a few guidelines.

Choose a timeframe -- 5 days, 10 days, 14 day, 30 days? You pick.

Give your system a break from:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Excess Salt
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Meat and Fish
  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Anything processed or in a package 

Instead, fill your meals with:

  • Seasonal organic fruit like apples, pears, figs, prunes, papaya, etc.
  • Seasonal organic veggies -- root veggies and fall/winter squashes are GREAT, as well as leafy greens, cabbage, celery and sweet potatoes
  • Whole organic grains such as brown rice, quinoa, amarynth, buckwheat, millet
  • Beans and lentils
  • Vegetable juice and broth
  • Soups and stews made with vegetables, legumes and grains
  • Small amount of oil (minimize the oil, as it is a processed product)
  • Raw honey (sparingly)
  • Warm water with lemon and/or ginger every morning

Here are a few recipes to inspire you:

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage
Roasted Veggies with White Beans
Wild Rice and Beet Salad
Fennel Squash Soup

Speaking of meals, it's important in this season to regulate your mealtimes. And don't overeat -- stop at about 80% full (which will give your brain time to realize that your belly is satiated).

If you'd like more tips for the fall transition, a little yoga, some time by the pool and someone to cook for you, there are two spots left in this weekend's
Women's Retreat on the Farm.  

Want to come?

Let me know your thoughts/questions/experiences with your Fall Enrichment!