Monday, April 23, 2012

Non-fiction Feature: Essential Nourishment Recipes from My Estonian Farm by Marika Blossfeldt

For this Non-fiction Feature, we have a guest post and some yummy recipes from Marika Blossfeldt, the author of Essential Nourishment: Recipes from My Estonian Farm.
Shifting Seasons

A shift of seasons is always a good time to reexamine our habits and tendencies and ask ourselves: do they still serve us or is it time for a change? When observing nature we can easily see that life is cyclical and constantly changing. Would it make sense to change our patterns as do the seasons? According to ancient ayurvedic wisdom the key to living a healthy and happy life is in fact to live in harmony with the cycles of nature. These refer as much to the seasons as to our body types and the rhythms of each day.

Seasonal Body Types

Ayurveda means “The Study of Life” and is rooted in Indian philosophy. It proposes that all manifestations of life come in three different qualities: kapha, pitta and vata. Kapha has the quality of spring – the elements are earth and water. Pitta has the qualities of summer – the element is fire. Vata has the qualities of winter – the element is air. Body types also fall into these three categories.

Spring is a very wet and heavy time of year. The earth is saturated with water from snow melt. Persons with kapha body types are big-boned, full-bodied and physically strong. Their solid skeletons protect them from osteoporosis. They are frequently easy going, slow, methodical types with balanced peaceful temperaments. Kaphas have a slow metabolism and strong intestines, and the ease with which they assimilate nutrients means that they do not need to eat much in order to stay in good health. In fact they should avoid overeating because their main health concern is the danger of obesity.

Like summer, pitta people are fiery, passionate and expressive. They are physically oriented with more muscle and temperament. They have a strong and athletic constitution. Their skin is sensitive and might have a tendency towards rashes. They often sweat a lot and are easily irritated. Pittas tend to be leaders and are well-organized, intelligent and charismatic. They are usually emotional, competitive, passionate and in need of a good eight hours of sleep to cool off and feel rested. They have enormous appetites for food and life experience, and can become gluttons if not careful.

Winter is the coldest season, it is dry and windy – the wind can blow without restriction as the trees are without leaves. Vata qualities are cold, dry, light, rough and constantly changing. The vata body type is thin-boned, tall and skinny or short, slim and petite. Vatas have sharp minds and a tendency to worry. They are light sleepers and have nervous dispositions. These people usually have a fast metabolism, experience difficulty gaining weight, and are characteristically weak in their intestines, suffering from poor absorption of nutrients. Vatas require highly nutritious foods to promote healthy assimilation.

After reading about these three body types, you probably have a good idea which you most identify with.

Seasonal Eating

After the cold winter with heavier warming foods, spring is the best time for a cleanse, using naturally occurring astringent greens like water cress, dandelion and arugula, any sprouts and herbs like basil and parsley. These foods help to decrease the seasonal tendency towards mucus, congestion, colds and allergies. Turnips, radishes, daikon and the whole onion family are great fat melters. Using less meats, fats and salt is beneficial as well.

When it is hot during the summer months, use the cooling effect of seasonal fruits, berries, lettuces and vegetables. Have more raw foods. Now is the time for salads. Eat complex carbohydrate rich foods to stay energized during the longer days of summer.

The late fall harvest is rich in nuts and grains – both warming and insulating to combat the cold of winter. Meat too is warming and can be eaten in larger quantities, as well as salt. Prefer cooked food to raw food. Eat a lot of warming soups and increase intake of fat and oils to keep the body lubricated in this dry time of year. Eat vegetables that traditionally could be kept over the winter, such as potatoes, root vegetables, winter squashes and cabbage.

Daily Seasonal Rhythms

While the cycle of the seasons is easy to observe each year, on a more subtle level, each day reflects a change of “season” every four hours. From 6 am – 10 am we experience a period of spring. Our muscles get stronger and the body becomes heavier. This is a good time for physical activity. From 10 am - 2 pm we move through a period of summer. Digestion is strongest during this time period and metabolism is at its peak. From 2 pm – 6 pm winter sets in. Our nervous system is strongest and therefore this is a good time for mental activity. From 6 pm – 10 pm spring returns as our metabolism slows down in preparation for sleep. This is another good time for some light physical activity. From 10 pm – 2 am summer is back, a time when our liver is actively cleansing our body. From 2 am – 6 am winter returns. Our body feels light and therefore traditionally this has been the best time for meditation.

Living in harmony with the cycles of the day could mean going to bed early, around 10 pm, before the liver kicks in. It is best to be resting as the liver detoxifies the body. By staying up late day in day out, our liver is not able do its job properly and toxins can accumulate in the body and cause health problems. Getting up early will be easier than getting up late, as the body is lighter in the earlier part of the morning. Digestion is strongest during mid day. Therefore it is best to have the largest meal in the middle of the day. Have dinner in the early part of the evening, so that you can digest in time before going to bed. Allow at least three hours between dinner and bedtime.

By acknowledging and paying attention to the cycles of the day and adjusting our lives to going with the flow of nature we can experience an ease of being, feeling rejuvenated and energized instead of drained and tired.
ABOUT MARIKA BLOSSFELDT:

Marika Blossfeldt is trained in the visual and performing arts. She was both a painter in the late 1970s in Berlin and a featured soloist in the New York dance scene in the 1980s and ‘90s. She also conceived and choreographed multimedia dance works and toured internationally in the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. On screen, she played the role of the bald bartender in the Hollywood movie Bright Lights, Big City.

While in her late thirties, she purchased an old farm in her native Estonia – a dream come true – and transformed it into an international art and wellness center called POLLI TALU ARTS CENTER (www.pollitalu.wordpress.com). Once the restoration of the farm complex was complete, Marika began to facilitate yoga, cooking and wellness retreats during the summer months. As a budding self-taught natural foods chef, she created her own herb and vegetable gardens and harvested the wild greens and berries growing on her land. To this day, she personally oversees the quality and tastiness of all meals served to her guests.

After a decade of pampering visitors with delicious healthful food, Marika decided to formalize her culinary skills by completing a program of study with world-renowned nutrition specialists at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City.

The institute was a life-changing experience. Marika shifted her focus from making individual works of art to making life itself a work of art – by practicing a holistic lifestyle where body, mind and spirit are integrated and deeply cared for. As a holistic health coach (www.MarikaB.com), she now inspires her clients to step into the limelight of their own lives, to make self-care a priority. Clients learn how natural foods, enjoyable physical activity, a sense of purpose, building community and creating a high-quality lifestyle will restore their vitality and boost enthusiasm for pursuing their dreams and passions.
Author Links:
Marika’s website: www.MarikaB.com
Polli’s farm and arts center: www.pollitalu.wordpress.com
Marika on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mblossfeldt
Essential Nourishment on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EssentialNourishment

ABOUT THE BOOK:

ESSENTIAL NOURISHMENT, Recipes from My Estonian Farm by Marika Blossfeldt

Drawing from her vast knowledge of natural foods and her experience in conducting private and group health coaching programs as well as wellness retreats, Marika Blossfeldt has put together an inspiring, concise and very useful nutrition guide, weaving together food, art and the joy of living a healthy and fulfilling life with gentle, easy to implement suggestions for balanced eating, abundant energy and genuine well-being.

Essential Nourishment - once and for all - ends the confusion around food and helps the reader to:
choose food purposefully, making food our friend and not our enemy
understand how our moods and energy levels are affected by the foods we eat
discover how we can stabilize our blood sugar naturally by consciously eating balanced meals and
achieve weight loss the healthy way - without dieting - simply by eating great-tasting, nutrient-dense foods.

At the same time Essential Nourishment is a beautifully designed everyday cooking guide. Each whole food recipe is easy to recreate and accompanied by a sensuous full-page photograph - taken at Polli's farm in Marika’s birth country Estonia, where she spends her summers conducting yoga, wellness and cooking retreats.

Essential Nourishment is the perfect book for women and men looking for a common sense approach to nutrition that is flexible, feels natural and can be maintained for the rest of their lives – without strict rules or regulations – without sacrificing taste and pleasure.

The first Estonian edition of Essential Nourishment was published in 2009 and quickly became a bestseller. The book landed 5th place in the weekly ranking of Estonia’s largest bookstore chain. Essential Nourishment was competing against Stieg Larsson’s „The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“ and „The Girl who Played with Fire“ which came in second and third. The first English edition was released October 1, 2011.

On March 6, 2012 Essential Nourishment was awarded a GOURMAND WORLD COOKBOOK AWARD in Paris, France. It is also nominated for the BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD in the US.


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