Those of you who have been following this blog may remember the last of the Niyamas. The Eight Limbs of Yoga give us a framework and a plan to follow. The second of the limbs is the Niyamas – the ‘do’s – and the last of these is Ishwara Pranidhana. This means to have an awareness of forces beyond our everyday world. To see the good or the God in everyone and everything, and to walk in the beauty of that knowledge.
In Chapter 10, Krishna describes to Arjuna this very concept. He is everything and everyone.He is everywhere. Everything stems from him and lives within him. ‘There is no limit to my divine manifestations, nor can they be numbered…whatever in this world is powerful, beautiful or glorious, that you may know to have come forth from a fraction of my power and glory.’
On this ‘Yoga Prescribed’ blog, we have had a romp through a variety of foods which have medicinal value. Yoga teaches us to be aware; to listen to our bodies. The more in touch with the body that we become, the more we are able to read the signals. I develop a headache in a specific place if there is not enough oxygen in the room. I develop a headache in a different place if I am dehydrated. In both cases, the headaches disappear immediately once I have fixed the problem. Listen to your body.
Including a variety of foods in the diet will take care of your nutritional needs. Eat a rainbow of vegetables. If you are drawn to a certain fruit or vegetable, eat it. Your body is telling you what it needs at this moment. For instance, you might find that you are fancying carrots and oranges. Yes, you might need betacarotene and vitamin C, but on a more subtle level your sacral chakra could be out of balance. You might need more of the colour orange in your life. Listen to your body.
Always remember that the way you eat matters, too. Yoga teaches us about the three gunas. These are qualities or constituents of nature. Eating in a rush is rajasic. When you are busy, busy, busy, it is not an appropriate time to eat. Eating because you’re bored and indolent is tamasic. You’re feeding your emotions, not your body. However,eating when you are calm and balanced is sattvik. You have time to consider your food and what your body needs. You eat slowly and with appreciation. Listen to your energies…Listen to your body.
‘Food is medicine’ is an ancient Chinese proverb, and it is still so true today.
Tomatoes were introduced to Europe by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. They are rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids such as betacarotene and lycopene. They contain vitamins C and E, and so protect the heart, the circulatory system and the body against cancer. They are low in sodium and high in potassium, thus are helpful with conditions such as high blood pressure and fluid retention.
Canned tomatoes lose very little of their nutritional value, so always keep some in the larder. The lycopene contained in tomatoes protects men against prostate cancer. Tinned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato ketchup and sun-dried tomatoes are all important nutritionally. They protect men and women against heart disease. I love cherry tomatoes! So much nicer than sweets!
I got into sweet potatoes big-time when we lived in the States. They are very popular in the Caribbean, and date back a long way. Indeed, Columbus brought them to Europe, and you will find them in every supermarket in England now.
Sweet potatoes contain starch, which is energy. They provide some protein, vitamin C, vitamin E and a huge amount of carotenoids, including betacarotene. They are considered to be strong in combating cancer.
Sweet potatoes are delicious in homemade juice. Try combining apple, celery, carrot and sweet potato.
Mashing this delicious vegetable with others, such as ordinary potatoes, parsnips or swede, is a great way to introduce them to children. Get them organically grown if you can.
Spinach is such a great vegetable. You can put the tender leaves raw in a salad, or quickly boil in very little water to accompany almost any cooked dish.
Cancer research has demonstrated that spinach contains even more protective carotenoids than other dark green or brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. Spinach is good for the eyes and is rich in folic acid and iron. It’s a definite dietary requirement for pregnant women
A pile of quickly steamed spinach with a poached egg on top is a delicious snack. Do source your spinach organically.
Peppers originated in the Americas. Columbus brought them back to Europe, and from there they spread to Africa and Asia.
Sweet peppers are low in calories, and supply folic acid, potassium and fibre. They are an excellent source of beta carotene and bioflavanoids. These substances are antioxidants which protect the body against arthritis, cancer and heart disease.
Most importantly, peppers are packed with wonderful vitamin C. The green ones have the smallest amount, and the red ones the most., but even the green peppers give you more vitamin C than an orange. This is more than your daily requirement. Keeping them in the fridge ensures no loss of this important vitamin whilst storing. Always source organic, if you can.
Pumpkin pie was a big treat when we lived in the States!
Pumpkin seeds contain amino acids, calcium, essential fatty acids, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins A,C and E. You can put them on your cereal in the morning, as I do. They are super helpful for any bladder problems, and troubles with the prostate gland in men.. The reason they are so helpful for prostatitis is down to their abundance in zinc. Pumpkin oil can alternatively be taken in capsule form.
The flesh of the pumpkin is widely used in Europe, the U.S.A., Australia, Africa and the Caribbean. It is a rich source of beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.
Snacking on seeds and nuts is essential for vegetarians.You can be sure that you are getting iron for healthy blood, magnesium for maintaining healthy body cells, and zinc for normal growth and development, when you include pumpkin seeds in your diet.
Yesterday our son gave us a packet of paprika from his holiday in Budapest. It came with a delightful painted wooden spoon. Paprika is extensively used in Hungarian cooking, where it is the prime ingredient in goulash.This wonderful herb originated in South America and was probably taken to the Balkans by Turkish merchants.
The Hungarians use paprika for both colour and flavour. It is rich in carotenoids and stimulates the circulation. Carotenoids are a class of compounds related to vitamin A. They act as anti-oxidants. The sub-class of carotenoids are carotenes , of which beta-carotene is the most widely known. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is important for bone and teeth formation, for the skin and the hair, and it aids the immune system.
We will most certainly be putting Hungarian paprika in our recipes this week!
Papayas are a great source of vitamin C and also beta carotene. It is this latter which helps to prevent damage caused by free radicals. These can cause some cancers. There is a little iron and calcium in the papaya fruit, but perhaps its most interesting content is papain. This enzyme aids the digestion.
Sometimes known as pawpaw, papaya stems from Mexico and Costa Rica. It is now extensively grown in Hawaii.
The seeds can be used to flavour dressings. Buying papaya in tins does not stop you experiencing the delicious taste, but nearly all the vitamin C is lost in the canning process. Always best to enjoy fruit in its natural raw state, and to source organic fruit and vegetables whenever possible.
Melons are such a favourite with our grandchildren in the summer! Orange-fleshed cantaloupe are among the most nutritious of the many varieties of melon. A 100g portion supplies more than half the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. and is also a good source of beta carotene (which the body converts into vitamin A.) Both of these are antioxidants which may help to prevent cancer and heart disease. It is thought that the high water content in melons may stimulate the kidneys to work more efficiently.
Melons are low in calories so they are a popular choice for slimmers. Sprinkle some ginger on your melon slice instead of sugar. Delicious!
(Source organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible.)