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March 29, 2009

Gnochi all Romana

Semolina is fast becoming one of my favourite ingredients for egg free cooking, and here's yet another simple impressive recipe. Gnochi alla Romana is a little different from usual gnochi because it is baked, not boiled. And it's about a hundred times easier to make!


1 L water
2 Tbs butter
2 1/2 cups coarse semolina
1-2 teaspoon himalayan rock salt


Bring the water to boil with salt and butter in a large saucepan. Pour in the semolina slowly, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps. Keep stirring till the mixture thickens and take off the heat. Spread the mixture onto an oiled work surface about a cm thick (wet hands work well for this) and allow to cool and harden.

When firm use a small round cookie cutter to cut the semolina into rounds. Layer the off cuts on the bottom of a greased baking tray and then arrange the rounds so they overlap eachother. Drizzle with some extra melted butter and nutmeg (and choose your topping from below) and grill for a few minutes till warm an golden.


Traditionally this is topped with parmesan, butter and nutmeg, but Ayurvedically speaking parmesan is not a food to favour. Try serving with fresh herbs, pesto, ricotta, pureed roast capsicum, pinenuts...any of your favourite pasta toppings.

March 22, 2009

Sexuality and the dosha

Sex is a very individual thing, and each person has completely unique thoughts, opinions, emotions and desires regarding sex. Some of this is cultural, but a lot of it can help us to understand the dosha of a person.

Vata is creative, sensual, responsive and wary. They naturally have a low interest in sex, which serves them well physically because it can be quite imbalancing for them. Sex is important to them only as an expression of love, for they love to express themselves.

Vata may take some time to commit in a relationship, but once they do they are very faithful lovers. For this reason they may be considered cold sexually, but when they meet the right person they will be a surprisingly satisfying lover.

Vata really appreciates romance, beauty and art, and their partners would be wise to indulge them here as it will help allay their anxiety and warm their desire. They may not know it but traditional values and routine are very valuable. It can be helpful to plan to have sex ahead of time and enjoy all the courtship and foreplay that precedes.

Vata is most likely to have problems concieving due to stress, dryness, low body weight and disturbed Apana Vata. Travelling and general instability won't help, so Vata's parter can really help by appealing to their romantic side, cooking regular meals (the best thing anyone can do for Vata) and encouraging them to slow down and rest. Worry is their greatest enemy, and their sex drive can be switched off all too easily.

Pitta is fiery, ambitious, attention seeking and passionate. Their competitive nature may impede on their sex life by preventing them from ever feeling satisfied. Pitta people love to think of themselves as fantastic lovers, but a lack of patience and reliability may be frustrating for their partner. They tend to prefer spontaneity and power.

Pitta types may suffer from impotence due to excess heat burning up the reproductive tissues or Pitta's natural flow of movement upwards, instead of downwards (like fire). Pitta may indulge in sex more often than Vata, but go more gently in summer.

In matters of sex Pitta should take care to channel their enormous energy through their heart, rather than their sex organs or brilliant intellect. This will lead to virility, compassion and nobility in sexual relationships.

Kapha is enduring, balanced, determined, nurturing and hard working. Kapha is naturally very sensual, and considered a very good prospect for marriage. Their partners need only watch out for feeling trapped by Kapha, as they become very attached and can be greedy.

Kapha is unlikely to suffer from reproductive issues and will usually bear many children very easily. Enlarged prostate, endometriosis or ovarian cysts may be caused by Kapha, but most commonly, Kapha need only lose a little weight if they have any trouble conceiving.

Kapha can really benefit from excercise, and sex is one kind of excercise Kapha can be more easily persuaded to partake in!

For the best possible sex life you would be wise to know your partners dosha, as this will help you to seduce and stimulate them, meet their needs and understand when things don't go exactly as you hoped.

Special thanks to Maya Tiwari for much of the information in this post.

March 07, 2009

Women in medicine

For most of modern medical history female doctors were considered inadequate by the institution. Many were considered quacks and others pretended to be men.

As for the history of women in Ayurveda, I would love to know more. I do know that what we have written today is the work of men. These old texts have been tampered with over the years and some of the references to women are considered to be added later.

As far as I can tell women were particularly import in medicine relating to child bearing. Women were birth attendents and supported mothers throughout. I have also heard that women didn't write their knowledge down like men did, and much was lost or altered over the years of oppression that followed.

Modern medical history is better recorded, of course because it is much more recent. So I've included a little information about some significant women in medicine around the time things began to change.

"Lovisa Ã…rberg (born in Uppasala in 1803, died after 1866), was a Swedish surgeon and doctor. She was the first recognised female doctor in Sweden; she was a doctor and a surgeon already in the 1820s, long before it was formally permitted for women in 1870. The only identified earlier female medical practitioner in Sweden, who may have had such an official recognition, was Kisamor, who didn't have any formal medical training."

"Dr James 'Miranda' Barry was a rather more unusual case. Graduating from the Medical School of Edinburgh in 1812 and forging a hugely successful career as an army surgeon, eventually becoming Inspector General of Hospitals – one of the most senior medical positions in the military, it was discovered upon Barry's death that this notorious dandy and flirt (who once even fought a duel over a woman) was in fact, female, and had lived a sensational deception all her life. The irony was that without taking on the vestiges of masculinity, Barry would never at that time have been accepted for medical training."

"Florence Nightingale was born in Italy on 12th May 1820. Despite opposition from her family she decided to devote her life to nursing and campaigning for better health care and sanitation for all. It was her work during the Crimean War that created the legend of the Lady with the Lamp and it was her experience here that drove her to continue, researching, writing and tirelessly campaigning.

Her greatest achievement was to make nursing a respectable profession for women. Florence's writings on hospital planning and organization had a profound effect in England and across the world, publishing over 200 books, reports and pamphlets."

And finally, today more than 60% of people studying medicine in Scotland are women, who have long led the way for women in medicine. I am so grateful to be living in a time when my skills in medicine are regarded equally as if I were a man.

March 02, 2009

Sattva and food

I recently told a story about the three guna's or quality's. Sattva is the desired guna, promoting peace and harmony and satisfaction. Sattva is associated with spiritual aspirations and many ascetics choose to bring more sattva into their lives. One way to do this i through what we eat.

You can easily tell which foods promote sattva because they are fresh, juicy, light, unctuous, nourishing, sweet, and tasty. They give the body energy and nutrients without taking much effort to digest. Foods that are stimulating or exciting (like chili) and foods that are old (like frozen foods or leftovers) are not sattvic.

How you prepare your food can increas or decrease it's sattva. Any food prepared with peace and love with be more sattvic, whilst anything prepared whilst you are angry or stressed will become less sattvic. Organic and seasonal produce gives more sattva and soaking increases sattva in all foods. Foods that are well cooked are more sattvic that foods that are raw or burnt or deep fried.

There are plenty of foods and herbs that promote sattva, including:
There are many food which are naturally high in sattva, but due to our modern processing and storage lose this quality. Milk for example is very sattvic, but only for four hours after milking! After that it is rajasic. Wheat is also sattvic, but becomes tamasic if it is not eaten immediately after being ground into flour-the whole grain, however, improves with age. Day old home made yoghurt is sattvic, but store bought yoghurt is not. Most of this is due to age or processing, and really is nearly impossible to avoid these days unless you live on a farm.

Guna do not correlate with dosha, though many people try to find a link. There are foods that are suitable for each dosha which are high in sattva. And again, sattva is not a black and white matter, some foods, like black pepper are highly stimulating and therefore rajasic, but the effect they have on the body can be sattvic because the cleanse and purfy the lungs. Different foods may be sattvic for different people.

If this all sounds a bit complicated, just go back to the very beginning, and choose foods that are fresh, juicy, light, unctuous, nourishing, sweet, and tasty.

To find out your guna and what areas you could work on you can a little quiz here.