Bird Song - Living Well with Ayurveda

ARTIST: Rose age 11

Simple Meditations.

Vegetarian & Vegan Cooking.

Growing Your Own Medicine.

Cooking, Meditation, Growing Your Own Medicine.

Begin a meditation practice.

Learn to cook healthy vegetarian food.

Get back to nature.

Ayurveda means the science of life. At its heart is the principal of nurturing and looking after your body and mind. It is a true science that looks at the whole picture. Explore with me vegetarian healthy eating, growing your own medicine and meditation. They are not separate chapters in our lives - I have mixed them up to inspire you.

As you look through choose something that appeals to you. Write down what you need. Then turn off your computer or phone and bring it into your REAL life. Organise it and make it happen, give yourself a week before choosing another. 

There will be 52 ideas, one for each week of the year.

Remember these are my dreams, creative ideas and recipes but I have learnt many of them from reading inspiring books and from the people, animals and plants around me. I am grateful to all teachers too numerous to mention. We are part of a large and interconnected learning circle.

Along the way as you start meditation, eating healthier and getting back to nature, you will have your own unique and special ideas. Create a better life for yourself, follow your heart.

Start small but dream big!

You have the rest of your life after all.

Keep on learning and enriching your life.

Namaste Julie

Giving & Recieving

It is important in our lives to give back because it affects OUR wellbeing. Doing something for someone else makes US happy.

Empire Bay Yoga is sponsoring an Australian disadvantaged child with The Smith Family her name is Mariah and she is 9 years old. Money that I recieve from Living Well, from yoga fees and workshops will contribute to this monthly payment.

I have decided not to put up a pay wall for access to Bird Song but instead invite you to step into a learning circle and donate $20 

This will help pay Mariah's monthly sponsor fee and contribute towards building a yoga studio and improve my garden and house in the wish that one day it will be ready to run yoga retreats and workshops. 

THANK YOU

You are helping me create my big dream.

Account Name: Julie Ivison   BSB 062 627  Account Number  1012 0840

 

Next term I will begin a mindful meditation course on Thursday Evenings 6 -7 pm for those of you living close enough to join me. More details after the New Year

 Namaste Julie 

Bird Song - Meditation

ARTIST.
Rose age 11

We should be living outside in nature, but unfortunately our modern lives and new technologies distance us more and more from the natural world.

This is said to be one of the main causes of unhappiness.

Spend as much time as you can outside.

Begin this meditation by closing your eyes. Become aware of your breathing.

Feel your chest rising and falling.

Think of a bird that you hear in your neighbourhood or work, that you like.

Find out as much as you can about your chosen bird and start to listen out for its song.

Over time you will train your mind.

You may be busy, distracted, unhappy but your mind will say. "Listen isn't that beautiful?"

Imagine the bird is singing to you. The sound is unique to your ears.

If you can, go outside.

Inside or outside, take at least 3 lovely deep breaths

Feel your connection with the bird and with all of nature. We are part of it. 

You may be surprised at how often your bird will sing to you when you need it.

My bird is the butcher bird and they got me through my intensive yoga teacher training!

They sing often in my garden and I smile and listen.

Don't be a miser, you can practice Bird Song where ever you are in the world. You can have as many special birds as you want.

Learn about the birds around you and feel connected to nature.

BACK TO BASICS. Cooking Vegetarian & Vegan Food

THE ALL TIME FAVOURITE !

Veggie chilli with corn chips and guacamole.

I cooked this one 4 days ago.

Rosie my daughter said it didn't look as good visually as it usually does but it was still delicious.

I used butter beans instead of kidney beans this week. They are creamier and I like them better. Also there was no organic beetroot in the shops. Big disappointment! We all love beetroot in this and it is fantastic for vegetarians and vegans, it is known as a blood builder in Herbal Medicine.

Beetroot are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. They are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium.

I try to buy seasonal veggies and summer is not so good for growing beetroot. I added zucchini instead.

Zucchini are a good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Thiamine, Niacin, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of dietary fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

I am trying to inspire you to eat your veggies and I am hoping this meal will make it easy for you to add more veggies to your diet.

BACK TO BASICS. Cooking Vegetarian & Vegan Food

Veggie Chilli continued.

The recipe.

One of the most important things I learnt from some Italian students many years ago was to always caramelise onions. It makes food so much tastier.

In a large pan add extra virgin olive oil. Add 1 large diced onion and cook until they start to brown - this makes them sweeter and tastier.

Then add 1 tin of organic diced tomatoes. 

1 tin of organic beans (mixed, kidney, butter it doesn't matter) RINSE VERY WELL

IN THE COOLER MONTHS I USE ADZUKI BEANS WHICH I BUY DRIED, SOAK OVERNIGHT, RINSE AND COOK BEFORE HAND FOR 1 HOUR. IN SUMMER IT HEATS MY KITCHEN UP TOO MUCH BUT IT IS MUCH BETTER FOR YOU AND CHEAPER TO USE FRESHLY SOAKED AND COOKED BEANS. You will need to add some water with soaked beans but do so gradually checking regularly.

A lot of veggies of choice, experiment with what ever is in season.

I usually have kale and silver beet in my garden that goes in as well.

Put the lid on and cook for a while, you want the sauce to thicken a little. It depends on beans and veggies used but if it is quite watery take the lid off and keep an eye on it.

Add salt and chilli to taste. Recently Chinese 5 spice has been going in as well.

BACK TO BASICS. Cooking Vegetarian & Vegan Food

Veggie Chilli essential extras.

 

I cook rice or quinoa as well.

 

Guacamole.

Mash 1 ripe avocado and mix with 1 clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of Greek full fat yoghurt (vegans leave out) and a good squeeze of fresh lemon.

 

Put corn chips in the oven with lots of cheese (no cheese for vegans)

In the photo above I accidently used parmesan it didn't melt well but it tasted "real good."

A simple, easy, three minute meditation

"Stop. take a deep, cleansing breath.

In fact, treat yourself, take a few more."   Maya Fiennes

 

Sitting in a chair or on the floor, laying down, or standing.

Close your eyes and smile. Breathe through your nose. 

Place your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your belly.

For a few breaths feel your chest rising and falling through your left hand.

For a few breaths feel your belly rising as you breath in and fall as you breath out - very slight.

Now you are going to take 3 deep breaths.

Breathe into your belly then feel your breath move into your chest, feel yourself relaxing as your exhale.

Breath normally and then repeat 2 more times.

Open your eyes and slowly move back into your day.

GROWING YOUR OWN MEDICINE

One plant at a time !

Your plant doesn't have to be a medicinal plant, growing something, looking after and enjoying having it around is good for you.

Close your eyes and picture a plant that you feel connected too. Maybe because of the smell or the beautiful flowers or because of a memory. 

Spend some time imaging where you could grow your special plant. A pot on the window sill or your garden. 

Now make it happen, bring it into your life.

If nothing comes to mind, easy...walk into your local nursery and pick up the first plant that you like and bring it home.

We have so many resourses' now if your local nursery doesn't stock your plant. You may be able to find it online. I can recommend 

https://www.diggers.com.au/ and https://www.daleysfruit.com.au/

If it dies...buy another...maybe try something easy ask at your local nursery.

If it thrives....buy another.

The picture at the top of this page shows me on the veranda with a lovely pot of geraniums on the table. My Dad always had red geraniums at the front of his house. When he visited my garden he used to say I needed more flowers. He died a couple of years ago and the geraniums remind me of him and he was right they look beautiful. They are still in the pot from the nursery but inside a beautiful ceramic pot and if they start to look dodgy I put them near my water bin where they will get some TLC and go out and buy another! 

Worm juice, seaweed extract, sunshine and regular watering keep them healthy and I have gradually increased my collection including the lovely blue pots.

BACK TO BASICS - Cooking Vegetarian & Vegan Food

My quickest, easiest spaghetti recipe.

SPAGHETTI CRUMBLE....or quinoa crumble (gluten free)...or rice crumble

Ingredients:

*SPAGHETTI ( QUINOA or RICE )

- I prefer the high fibre...everyone moans if I give them wholemeal.

*SEEDS. PUMPKIN, SUNFLOWER, CHIA, LINSEED. Teaspoon of each

- highly nutritious and cheaper than nuts. A few seeds go a long way. I blend them in my nutribullet and call it a crumble. Keep blended seeds in the fridge for no more than 4 days. These can be added to salads including fruit salad, porridge etc.

I buy organic from honest to goodness   www.goodness.com.au

* CHEESE - VEGANS USE NUTRITIONAL YEAST FLAKES INSTEAD

If I have yeast flakes in the fridge I add about a dessertspoon as well as cheese these contain a wealth of protein, vitamins and minerals. The cheese I add for the taste. I love parmesan, but will add cheddar if I have none. I am slap dash with measurements, a hunk of cheese cut into small squares. I try not to eat too much cheese but I want my pasta to be delicious so experiment with the amount you add.

* BASIL OR ANY HERB YOU LOVE - I grow bush basil and it is always available if a little scrawny in the winter - if you have no herbs or don't like herbs leave them out

* GARLIC a clove or 2 depending on taste.

All the above ingredients except yeast flakes are put in my nutribullet and blended. This is now called cheesy crumble and ready to put over your pasta, roasted veggies or fresh tomato sauce.

Quick, easy, nutritious and most importantly delicious.

* VEGGIES ARE OPTIONAL. The photo is organic roast pumpkin with the skin on.

Zucchini is lovely roasted and I get plenty of these in summer. Experiment with left over veggies.

If you have fresh tomatoes you can cook these in olive oil in a pan until soft.                                  

BACK TO BASICS - Spaghetti Crumble continued.

Cook your spaghetti....or quinoa... or rice

Blend your seeds, with a clove of garlic, a hunk of cheese and herbs to taste in a nutribullet

I call this cheesy crumble...if you are using nutritional yeast flakes add these after and maybe a drizzle of EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil so it is not too dry. This is great on pasta without extras and is full of nutrition.

Ready in 10 minutes

If you want fresh tomato sauce, chop and cook as many as you like or have. Be generous with the EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil and heat it up before adding the tomatoes, put the lid on the pan until soft. This takes about 20 minutes. Serve with pasta and sprinkle cheesy crumble on top...too much can be a bit claggy, maybe a dessertspoon and keep the rest for salad.

Ready in 20 minutes

If you want some roast veggies, roast in pan with a drizzle of oil.

Serve on top of the pasta and sprinkle on a dessertspoon of cheesy crumble.

Ready in 20 minutes

Enjoy and experiment!

MEDITATION - Smile

It is not what you look like on the outside but what you feel like on the inside that is important.

Our society puts too much emphasis on our looks. You could be the most beautiful looking person in the world and still be very unhappy. Being beautiful can make life very hard, being looked at where ever you go. unsure if people like you as a person or hang out with you because of the way you look.

For a moment look at this lovely photo taken at Attagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple known as the Temple of Healing. It is most famous for its collection of 1200 Rakan statues that represent the disciples of the historical Buddha. Each have different expressions, body shapes and amounts of lichen and moss! The healing comes from making you smile.

Close you eyes, feel your breath rising and falling.

SMILE.....everyone one of us has a beautiful smile.

Breathe in contentment, breathe out tension.

I took this photo because of all the 1200 statues. I like him best because of his lovely smile.

Be liked and loved and smile more often. Smile at yourself, smile at others, smile because you can.

Practice this meditation as often as possible

Hand Massage - Mindful Meditation

Ayurveda places great importance on massage for health.

The two main oils used in Ayurveda, are virgin organic coconut oil which is great for summer as it is light and cooling and organic sesame oil which is rich and warming. Use the oil straight from the bottle/jar or make up your own special blend adding essential oils. This photo shows one of my unique oil blends which have a couple of drops of orange and frankincence essential oil added to a 50ml bottle of sesame oil.

The oils have special properties depending on how you are feeling. This blend is calming and energising.

Creating a special place in the house to learn mindful meditation will help you focus and relax quicker but you can sit anywhere comfortable. Sit on a chair or cross legged on the floor with a cushion under the hips. 

Feel your breath, smile and close your eyes.

After a few moments rub a small amount of the oil gently into your hands and wrist.

Focus on the feel of the massage. This gets easier the more you practice.

With your thumb and index finger gently massage the webs between your fingers.

Breathe through your nose.

For each web feel the breath flow in and out then move to the next.

This is a wonderful way to relieve tension and stress and to learn to focus, letting go of busy thoughts.

Now gently press your left thumb into the centre of the palm of your right hand supporting the back of your hand with the left fingers.

This is an important Marma massage point in Yoga and Ayurveda. Imagine you are bringing in positive changes in your life and picture what that means to you. 

Then do the same with the centre of the left palm. Imagine you are letting go, it could be of your busy morning or a negative emotion, observe what comes to mind and feel it dissolve as the hands become relaxed.

Clasp your hands together and turn the palms facing out and stretch them upwards as you breathe in and slowly lower them as you breath out. Repeat 4 more times moving as slowly as you can. Be gentle...it has to feel good. 

This is yoga...... a connection between the body and mind using the breath. 

This whole massage takes about 5 minutes and how good it feels.

You do not have to use oil or be sitting at home. Practice in the office, on a train, anywhere.

Our hands are so important, yet we often ignore them. Love and look after them. 

 

BACK TO BASICS. Cooking Vegetarian & Vegan Food

Kitchari with red lentils.

This is a very nourishing and delicious meal. In Ayurveda it balances the energy in your body. Of all the meals I cook at the retreat Kitchari is the biggest hit. I serve it for lunch and if there is any left after a second helping, it is sure to be gone as extras with dinner.

My daughter eats it for breakfast, the dogs love it too !

It is very easy to make and cooks in about 20 - 30 minutes.

This recipe contains red lentils.

*Red Lentils are a very important food for vegetarians and vegans. 

  • High in Protein. Lentils contain more protein than most other types of beans and legumes, including black, white and pinto beans. ...
  • Dense With B Vitamins. ...
  • Source of Iron.

BACK TO BASICS -Kitchari Ingredients

2 cups red lentils

2 cups basmati rice (wholegrain preferably)

Left over veggies. I use a rainbow of colours in my kitchari I add

1 carrot

1 beetroot

Kale

1 dessertspoon of turmeric

Sea Salt to taste    1 to 2 teaspoons

 

Heat a little ghee, butter or coconut oil in a large pan.

Add veggies

Add well rinsed lentils and rice

Add filtered water to cover the lentils. 

Put lid on and simmer for 10 minutes add more water if needed, turmeric and salt, give it a stir.

I make it to a thick soupy consistency, check it and add more water if needed every 5 minutes until everything is well cooked.

BACK TO BASICS - Kitchari continued

This is the part that makes it sooo delicious.

*In a frying pan add a generous amount of ghee or butter (vegans use virgin coconut oil)

Fat is good for us it helps us absorb vitamins and mineral and is needed for hormone production and much more. Avoid toxic margarine and refined oils.

*1 - 3 cloves of crushed garlic

*3 special cooling Ayurvedic spices for digestion. Cumin, coriander and fennel.

I prefer to use whole seeds but powder works too (if you don't like them miss them out)

Pour this into the kitchari when it is cooked and ready to serve.

Extras

A sprinkle of fresh coriander for the top

Greek yoghurt

Chilli especially in winter

Ginger 

This can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner enjoy it.

GROWING YOUR OWN MEDICINE

Basil - A special Ayurvedic Herb

Many of the herbs we use in cooking are amazing medicines. The bees and insects know this and love basil especially.

It is so easy to buy a basil plant and place it on your window sill but remember to share and plant one in your garden for the bees and insects. Basil grows easily from seed too in summer. Basil is always growing somewhere in my garden.

Ayurveda is the Indian System of Medicine. In my opinion it is a wonderful system of medicine because it uses natural medicine. Herbs, spices, food, massage, yoga, meditation and lifestyle advice first but will recommend Western Medicine as well when these therapies are not sufficient. 

I could use Western Science to explain the health benefits of basil but it is lacking because it misses out its effect on the mind. A Diploma in Ayurvedic Herbology was part of my Medical Herbalist qualification with the special and inspiring Denis Stewart.

The information below is from a wonderful book called Yoga of Herbs by Dr Frawley and Dr Lad.

Basil is one of the most sacred herbs of India. It's quality is sattva.

It opens the heart and mind bestowing the energy of love and strengthens faith, compassion and clarity, clears the aura and strengthens the immune system...and you thought it just tasted good!

A plant of basil should be kept in every home for, its purifying influence. 

It is a tonic for colds, flus and lung problems and helps clear the sinuses.

It improves absorption and strength of nerve tissue and increases memory.

It is an excellent herb and combines with Gotu Kola for autism and senility.

It helps treat headaches, arthritis and abdo distension.

Tulsi is the basil used in India and other basil have similar properties.

Use the essential oil in a vaporiser with peppermint and eucalyptus...lovely for winter when it often dies back.

Organic Tulsi tea is available at some organic shops. It often has other herbs in a blend.

My local is Organic Plus, 1 Bonnal Rd, Erina NSW 2250 which has a huge range of teas.

Make pesto (activated -almond pesto recipe to follow)

 

Cooking Vegetarian & Vegan Food - Activated Almond Pesto

I have Kerren to thank for teaching me about soaking nuts. She is from the Middle East where almonds are grown and traditionally soaked in water before eating.

THEY TASTE SO MUCH SWEETER AND ARE DELICIOUS. I never used to like nuts but now I do.

Nuts contain enzyme inhibitors to stop them sprouting until conditions are right, after rain. They are a large seed really and soaking them begins germination. The enzyme inhibitors stop us from absorbing the nutrients and eating non soaked nuts can lead to digestive problems.

Almonds should be soaked for a minimum of 8 hours.

Have you seen activated nuts in Health Food Stores ?

These are nuts that have been soaked and then dried.

But eating them freshly sprouted is so much better and cheaper.

Make sure you rinse the water and eat them within 4 days. The fats in nuts can become rancid, keep them in the fridge.

Activated Almond Pesto - continued

Once you have soaked your nuts the rest is very, quick, easy and highly nutritious.

The soaked almonds are moister, sweeter and cheaper than pine nuts.

20 Almonds provide 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre, plus vitamin E (35 percent DV [daily value]), magnesium (20 percent DV), riboflavin (20 percent DV), calcium (8 percent DV) and potassium (6 percent DV).

To the nutribullet container add about 30 nuts 

Grab a handful of herbs from the garden, not just basil but any you like.

Chop up some small squares of cheese. Cheddar or parmesan. Vegans use nutritional yeast flakes. 

Peel a clove of garlic

Drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and whizz, add more oil as required.

 

10 Minute Tea Meditation

"Every morning when we wake up, we have 24 brand new hours to live. What a precious gift”

THICH  NAHT  HANH

Instead of spending most of your day over thinking, worrying, planning and missing the moment, try to stay more focused in the here and now. 

This is mindfulness and it is very important for being happy and healthy.

Start a tea ritual. Choose a time that is easy for you to practice every day.

Be aware of your breath as you make your tea and focus on everything you are doing. While the kettle boils stand in the mountain and breath deeply as yoga has taught you. While your tea brews take one foot off the floor and then the other. Watch your thoughts come and go and keep returning to the present moment.

Choose a special place to sit with no distractions and enjoy every mouthful, Carefully wash your cup

This meditation can be even more powerful by choosing a tea for a specific purpose. Chamomile for relaxing or peppermint which is up lifting for example, if you love a cup of English Breakfast then that’s the tea for you!

Enjoy the simple things in life!

 

GROWING YOUR OWN MEDICINE- Cheers!

This is not an alcoholic drink it is a " buzz smoothie"

Full of medicinal herbs, and nutritious seeds and green veggies.

Ingredients:

* A small bunch of green veggies. I add kale from my garden, which is bitter and improves liver function. 

* A small bunch of herbs.

I love lemon balm or lemon verbena. As well as tasting nice they improve digestion are anti - viral and help with depression (uplifting)

Peppermint or Mint. Also great for digestion, they stimulate the liver and are also uplifting and good for headaches.

Your own favourite herbs, do some research on their medicinal properties and you will be amazed, don't underestimate nature !

* Full Fat Greek Yoghurt - A tablespoon. Vegans use coconut milk or cream.

Fat is good for us, It is filling and helps us absorb all the wonderful vitamins and minerals in "the buzz"  Make sure your yoghurt is live, that it contains acidophilus a potent probiotic.

*Seeds. Pumpkin, sunflower, linseed & chia.

A powerhouse of nutrition,  a sprinkle of each.

* One banana, don't go overboard on the fruit it is purely to add flavour and taste. I have experimented with different fruit but banana is the nicest. Conduct your own experiment.

Add everything to your nutribullet in the order above and give it a buzz.

P.S.

If you have never tried a nasturtium flower you have been missing out! They are sweet and a little peppery. The seeds are highly therapeutic. I call them bombs and many a small child has wandered into the garden and been dared to try a bomb. They clear your nose definitely and are great for colds and flu. They love Australia as I do and self seed everywhere. So many different colours, they brighten up your day.