Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bitter Gourd - sounds horrible but oh so good!

Bitter gourd is a vegetable largely found in tropical climates resembling a bit like a bumpy cucumber.  It can be otherwise known as bitter melon or bitter squash, and yes the clue is in the name it is oh so bitter and it doesn’t look that appealing either!  However despite that it has wonderful health benefits and cooked in the right way can be enjoyable!  It seems that it is bitter guard season here in Kampala, where they can be found at the vegetable stall outside Jazz supermarket and at Prunes organic market each Saturday morning, so bring on the gourd I say and here is why –

Benefits –
-       Low in calories and high in water content
-       Lowers blood sugar levels and helps with type 2 diabetes
-       Is an excellent source of folates (B12, important for vegans)
-       Is a great tonic for the liver and kidney
-       Helps to improve skin and fight infection
-       Helps with weight loss
-       Aids digestion and helps relieve constipation
-       It is filled with essential vitamins and minerals Vit A, B1, B2, C, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper and phosphorus.
-       Helps relieve colds, coughs, and asthma
-       Helps fight infections and builds on the immune system
-       Helps to reduce toxins within the system

Although it is very healthy it should though be consumed mindfully and only in small quantities (max 2 gourds per day) so as not to bring imbalance to the other elements such as air and space within you, or to aggravate Vata dosha.  Here is how I cook mine –
- Choose gourds that are fresh, bright and deep green
- Wash well in suitable water
- Slice down the middle length ways and remove all the seeds with a teaspoon and cut to the desired shape
- Heat a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in the pan
- Add a little coriander, ginger, sesame, parsley, cumin and a little pepper
- Add the gourd and whatever other vegetables you wish, I normally add other greens such as spinach or green beans
- Sauté for a few minutes then add some water to create some steam and cook until the desired amount
- Serve with rice cooked with turmeric and possibly raisins for a little sweetness to override the bitterness of the gourd.
- Enjoy!

Enjoy your food you eat and chew well taking in the flavor and easing digestion.  Eat to live, not live to eat! 

Wishing you great success with your gourds, and not a bitter God as a beautiful soul said to me the other day!
May you all be well, happy and at peace
Om Namah Sivaya
Mangala / nicky.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

5 Minutes a Day.

Life is busy, is it really so much busier than it used to be?  I think about when people were having families of 8, 9, 10 children, before there were such inventions as washing machines and pressure cookers.  I think about when people lived in caves and had to hunt or gather for their food, keeping wild animals away from their dwellings and families.  Are we really so much busier or are we much better at wasting time on useless things?  Has technology been intended to give us more time but in actual fact taken it away as we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from social media, screens and things that go bing bong beep beep toot toot.  Maybe it is the case that we have just lost all our sense of concentration and focus and instead of gliding through the duties that we have to fulfill on a daily basis, we are all running around like headless chickens from one stimulation to another?  Is it the case that instead of seeing this beautiful world that lies around us, and being a part of that beauty, we are more intent on destroying the true nature of the planet and the true nature of ourselves.  Is it more the case that instead of seeking the positivity of a wonderful opportunity of life, we moan and criticize; we can’t relax and strive for more and more of the wrong things?  Now is the time to take charge, not later, not tomorrow, not next week, but this very moment.  Don’t make a martyr of yourself because you think you should, don’t think that if you are not stressed then you are failing; stress seems to be a common trend these days.  Spend five minutes each day with this simple meditation, over time you will absolutely notice a difference in yourself, which will then ripple on to the others surrounding you.  Don’t waste any more time being a headless chicken, become more focused, more in control and kinder to yourself. 

1. Make sure your phone is off and you are in a place you will not be disturbed.  If you need to get up earlier before everyone else in the house does for this then do so!
2. Sit in a comfortable position with the spine held straight.  Close your eyes.
3. Start to bring your awareness through your body from the toes upward and try to relax.
4. Start to follow your breath, keeping the breath natural, feeling every inhalation and every exhalation. Do this for some time and feel your mind naturally start to calm down.  If the mind wanders away, it is ok, acknowledge the distraction, let it go and come back to the breath.
5. Then tell yourself by mentally repeating -
I breathe in calmness to my body, I breathe out calmness to the world.
I breathe in calmness to my body, I breathe out calmness to the world.
I breathe in strength to my system, I breathe out strength to the world.
I breathe in strength to my system, I breathe out strength to the world.
I breathe in peace to my system, I breathe out peace to the world.
I breathe in peace to my system, I breathe out peace to the world.
I breathe in and cherish myself, I breathe out and cherish others.
I breathe in and cherish myself, I breathe out and cherish others.
I am healing, I am healed.
I am healing, I am healed.
6. Repeat as many times as you have time for.
7. Sit for a few moments in silence, with your breath and feel the love and light of your own self.
8. Make a promise or intention for the rest of your day.
9. Slowly come out and try to keep these thoughts with you as much as you can through the day, at any time no matter what you are doing you can bring your awareness back to your breath to help tune in to that meditation.

“Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of each day remembering that we all want the same things….to be happy and to be loved and that we are all connected together.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Let us find the beauty within our hearts, find our peace and cherish the opportunity of a wonderful life. 
For now Om Lokha Somastha Sukhino bhavantu
May all beings find balance, harmony and peace.
Aum shanti shanti shanti

Mangala / nicky.