Kripalu Kitchen

Enjoy Kripalu Recipes and culinary adventures.

Digestive Health and Spirituality

What You Believe and How You Digest May Go Hand in Hand

In this excerpt from their book, The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, Kripalu Nutritionist Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN, and coauthor Gerard E. Mullin share insights on how cultivating a spiritual practice can help you reduce stress, recover from illness, and lead a life of wellness.

Many studies have demonstrated a connection between spirituality and lower rates of stress and even depression. Maintaining a spiritual practice can help people cope better with stressful situations, thus reducing their anxiety levels and lessening the impact of chronic stress. Numerous researchers have documented a link between spirituality and depression: Spiritually healthy practices like finding meaning and purpose in life, having an intrinsic value system, and belonging to a supportive community with shared values may reduce depressive symptoms. Since stress and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression have such a profound impact on gut health, it stands to reason that engaging in a spiritual practice could have a positive impact on stress-related digestive disorders, too.

Harvard cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson was one of the first to study the relationship between spirituality and health. He revolutionized the field by showing that meditating in a trancelike state reduces stress and improves health while simultaneously raising consciousness and spiritual awareness. Though his finding is still considered groundbreaking by many in the West, ancient cultures have integrated spirituality into healing for millennia. Shamanic priests were regarded as “healers” long before the development of pharmaceuticals, and meditation and prayer have been at the very center of healing practices since the dawn of time.

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Posted on September 28th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Kripalu Kitchen

Balancing: Applying Love Life Lessons to the Kitchen

My fiancé, Jim, and I recently participated in a wonderful program at Kripalu led by David Deida called The Sexual Body and the Yoga of Light. While we never talked about food or cooking during the program, I couldn’t help but draw some significant parallels. A large part of the discussions centered on recognizing and enhancing the natural polarities of masculine and feminine energies. We talked about what it’s like to have both strong and weakened states of polarity with our partners. For me, when the polarity was strong and we had a clear sense of openheartedness, the amount of vibrancy and energy between us felt most engaging and satisfying. When the polarity collapsed, or when it felt forced or came with an agenda (e.g. “I want something from you”), our energy felt unsatisfying.

After the program ended, it just so happed that I needed to go straight to the Kripalu Kitchen to cook a dinner for our Board of Trustees and our donors. As I pondered what to put in one of the appetizers and reflected on the program, I was reminded that cooking can simply be thought of as a dynamic dance of creating healthy polarity between foods.

The white halibut needed the richly colored charmoula sauce we drizzled on it. The Moroccan sauce, with its sharp cilantro and spicy paprika, needed the stabilizing flavor of the olive oil to balance it. The dense flourless chocolate cake was complemented by the light, citrusy whipped cream. And the list of how we used polarized flavors, textures, and ingredients went on.

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Posted on September 21st, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen, Medical Insights

Organic—and Ornery

Does eating organic make us mean?

A recent study conducted by researchers at Loyola University New Orleans looked at how food related to morality: how and whether what we eat influences how we think and act. The results, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, revealed that eating organic foods can most definitely impact morality, kindness, and attitudes toward others—but not necessarily in a good way. Participants who were exposed to organic foods, the study reported, volunteered significantly less time to help a stranger in need. They were also far more judgmental about others’ actions as they related to food and non-food subjects. In short, people who ate organic food were more likely to be jerks.

While most of the organics-loving people we know are kind, generous, lovely non-jerks, the results of the Loyola study could perhaps be explained by what Aruni Nan Futuronsky, a certified life coach and program advisor for Kripalu Healthy Living programs, calls “the curse of consciousness.” That is, the more we know, the more we want to impose that knowledge onto others. As we make changes for ourselves it becomes easier to notice those who have not made those changes for themselves, or who otherwise live differently. We may then judge them, even unconsciously.

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Posted on September 14th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen, Nutrition

Food as Medicine

Western medicine teaches us that good food is the basis for good health. Food has the power to prevent much of the chronic illnesses we experience today and can play a critical part in treating these illnesses in a safe and more balancing way than pharmaceuticals alone. Eating a fresh, whole-foods diet is a very different experience from eating things that have no nutritional value, many of which have properties that can hurt us. Plant-based foods are particularly nourishing and healing as they supply us with nutrients and energy on many levels.

Food nourishes more than our bodies, it nourishes our souls and provides us with cultural meaning. Throughout history, meals have been a natural setting for people to come together. Our religious ceremonies often involve food. It is through food that we love and nourish our babies. Food brings prana, or life force, into our bodies, where it is transformed into energy to sustain us as people living authentic, meaningful lives who serve our communities as much as ourselves. Food touches the deepest levels of who we are as human beings, inviting health and wholeness.

Do you have any traditions or rituals around food that bring meaning to your meals?

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Posted on September 7th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: Pesto With Personality

I’m sure it goes without saying, but I love having dinner with friends. One of my favorite parts of going to a friend’s home to share a meal is that I get to experience flavors and flavor combinations that I may not include in my own cooking. I also get infusedwith a new energy that serves to wake me up in a way. I love experiencing how each person’s own energy becomes steepedin the food, from what they choose to make to how they make it and how they serve it. Each element becomes part of the meal’s flavor profile, creating an energythat I get to incorporateinto my own being.

I’ve always said that you can’t be truly healthy unless you cook for yourself. Cooking for ourselves is akin to all the other self-care practices we do, from brushing our teeth to getting a good night’s sleep. When we cook for ourselves, we are saying at the deepest levels, “I want to be alive.” When we cook and serve ourselves food filled with prana (life energy) we are declaring, “I really want to be alive and vital!”

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Posted on August 31st, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Kripalu Kitchen, Medical Insights

Breakfast—Not Just for Champions

Mom was right: It really is the most important meal of the day.

For 20 years, researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health followed 5,000 men and women, looking specifically at their breakfast habits: what they ate and when. The results, presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association, found that people who ate breakfast every day were significantly less likely to become obese or develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate breakfast three times a week or less. These findings are significant, if not particularly surprising. Haven’t our mothers been telling us to eat our breakfast for years?

“This study affirms everything nutritionists have been talking about,” says John Bagnulo, PhD, MPH, who teaches nutrition in Kripalu’s Healthy Living programs. “When people eat breakfast, and in particular foods that give them less of what I like to call a ‘blood sugar tsunami,’ they make much better food choices throughout the day.” This includes avoiding foods containing sugar, not overdoing it on caffeine, and practicing portion control. “It’s all related to blood sugar,” says John. “If someone misses breakfast, their blood sugar levels come way down. They’re starving by 10:30 or 11:00, and because they haven’t eaten all morning, they crave foods that have a higher glycemic index,” like muffins, breads, candy, or pasta. Then they crash again by 1:00 pm—and look for yet another sugary pick-me-up. Sound familiar?

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Posted on August 24th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

The Slow Down Diet

As the summer’s end begins its relentless march, the only mantra running through my head seems to be, Slow down, slow down, slow down. I yearn to savor more of the warm days, the outdoor fun, the farm-fresh veggies. I want the world to pause, to slow down, to give me more time to take [...]

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Posted on August 17th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Summertime Phytonutrients

Summer is perfect for opening our senses to all that’s fresh and local. Choosing produce grown close to home yields great taste, supports your community’s farmers and economy, and cultivates a more direct connection to the earth. Nothing is more local than the herbs and greens you grow yourself. Greens are chock full of phytonutrients, plant compounds that provide a range of anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as support the body’s natural detoxification process. Even if you’re not a gardener, you can still get a huge nutritional bang for your effort-filled buck by planting a few parsley, cilantro, or basil seeds in a window box.

Scientists are learning more about the power of phytonutrients every day. A single piece of fruit or serving of vegetable may contain hundreds or even thousands of different kinds, and the complex phytonutrient profiles of simple-seeming plants reminds us of the complexity of nature and of life itself. The role these nutrients play in health—if and how they synergize with other nutrients, and the interplay between them and our environments and lifestyle choices—are all active areas of research.

It’s clear that scientists are discovering what yogis have known all along: Fresh, local herbs and produce carry the essence of health. Let’s enjoy the taste of what summer offers us now.

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Posted on August 3rd, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: Let’s Fall in Love

You know you’re in love when it downpours on the day of your engagement party with 25 friends coming to you house, and it still feels like the sun is shining in all the right places.

Life has been busy (can anyone relate?) these past few months, and Jim and I have not been good at pulling together a dinner party on any regular basis.

Side note: Time is an interesting thing, isn’t it? Don’t laugh, but one of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to “master time.” Yes, somehow I have this glimmer of hope that it’s possible to enjoy life and all those opportunities that come our way with a grace and ease that make it seem as though there’s always enough time.

Despite the many days when I feel anything but graceful, this past weekend got me in one of those busy yet timelessness modes. On the night before the party, my two chef buddies, Jeremy and Sim, came over to help start the food prep. I had designed a fun menu featuring kabobs, spanakopita, lots of fun salads (see one of my favorites below), homemade grape leaves, roasted beets with chèvre—the list went on.

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Posted on July 27th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen, Nutrition

Fresh Herbs for Savory Summer Fare

Parsley, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, mint, basil, oregano, lavender… the list of herbs we love and their many uses is endless. In the Kripalu Kitchen, we use fresh herbs year-round, but when summer’s warm weather comes, their appeal is even stronger. Fresh herbs add an uplifting layer of flavor and an enlivening aroma. Once you get in the habit of buying fresh herbs (or better yet, growing them yourself) you will find that they are hard to cook without.

Here are some tips on how to use and preserve your fresh herbs this summer:

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