Author Archives: J Gomez

Antidotes for Holiday Health

In our Ayurvedic nutrition course recently our teacher gave out some useful tips on how to “antidote” certain foods that we all enjoy eating but which, especially during this season of the year, winter, can be particularly challenging to our digestive system.
According to Ayurveda Winter is the season when the Kapha principle manifests. Think of winter and thoughts of cold weather, nature slowing down, a certain heaviness, which can produce dullness but also stability. The food we eat/want to eat at this time reflects our body and mind’s desire to find balance. We tend to go for more warming foods which are well seasoned with heating herbs and spices. Good examples would be baked dishes or slow cooked dishes.

To manage the heaviness of this season get in the habit of adding warming spices and herbs such as ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, cumin, fenugreek, saffron, thyme, parsley to your dishes. It is the time also to avoid fatty, greasy and fried foods, and eat more seasonal local vegetables, especially leafy greens.

But it’s the holiday season and we want to have fun. So I’m going to share with you FIVE antidotes my teacher shared with me to keep your digestion on track if you eat the following foods IN MODERATION during the holidays.

  • Holiday Antidote 1: You enjoy ice-cream – sprinkle a mixture of clove, cinnamon and cardamom powder on it
  • Holiday Antidote 2: You are making a milky pudding – add saffron
  • Holiday Antidote 3: Cheese is served at the end of the meal – add black pepper
  • Holiday Antidote 4: You are serving avocado with the meal – add lemon juice and black pepper to it.
  • Holiday Antidote 5: You are baking biscuits/cookies or pies – add dry ginger to the wheat flour.

And here’s a quick sweet recipe to get you in the festive mood.

Date & Seed Balls ( for 10-15 generous portions)
Preparation time: 10 – 15 minutes
1/2 cup dates
1/3 cup seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
2 tablespoons honey
4 -5 tablespoons dessicated coconut
Finely chop the dates and the nuts/seeds.
Place in a bowl with the salt and cardamom powder.
Mix well.
Add the honey and mix well.
Put the coconut onto a plate.
Use your hands to make balls with the mixture and roll them in the coconut.
Serve straightaway or chill then store in an airtight container.

Food for balance

A subscriber contacted me recently who had learned that she has a “moderate to severe Vata imbalance.” She wanted “a few suggestions about foods to include in (her) diet to help with that?”
According to Ayurveda Autumn is the season when the Vata principle manifests. When we think of Autumn we think of a windy time of year, a time that is dry(ing) and colder than the warmer summer months. The wind also brings with it a lightness that can be refreshing and clearing. All of these are qualities we may also experience within the body. When the Vata principle is not in balance, there is more “wind”, more movement of air in the various body cavities which may cause discomfort. The lightness within the body might translate into a feeling of not being connected or grounded. Typically the feet and the hands are cold and dry, and the body feels the cold more easily.
At this time we all need to make sure that our diet has more liquid to counteract the drying effect of the season and also that it contains warming foods and herbs and spices. Soups are a super simple dish to add to our diet, especially those with warming spices and herbs such as fresh ginger, turmeric, and sage, parsley, and thyme and using local seasonal vegetables such as carrots, onions, pumpkins and other squash, and beetroot.
To manage the lightness and dryness of the Vata principle I like to make hearty protein-rich soups from mung beans, lentils, or other beans and add warming oils such as sesame oil or ghee. The soup could be our main meal (at lunchtime), and for those of us who lead busy lives, it’s an easy option to make plenty and have the leftover soup in the evening. But what about breakfast? We can carry on the soupy idea and have a warming porridge of oat groats or brown rice spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with raisins and soaked & peeled almonds. Mmm…
Meals at this time should help us feel comforted and cosy to manage any fear or anxiety we might have from not being grounded or feeling uncertain. Throughout the day we can drink warm to hot water or herbal teas to keep hydrated.
In Ayurveda we talk about six tastes and the ones that help to balance this principle are the sweet taste, the salty taste and the sour taste, in moderation. Sweet, as in whole grains, have a sustaining effect to your blood sugar, and sweet is the taste of love and compassion, emotions that are often out of balance or lacking in our Western society. The sour and salty tastes bring heat into the body and aid digestion as well as retain water.
And here’s one of my favourite soup recipes for the season. Enjoy with sprouted bread for a hearty meal!

Late Summer Soup

Recently I was given the opportunity to collect an organic seasonal vegetable basket because someone I know was away on holiday. I came home with courgettes (zucchini), tomatoes, beans, a bell pepper, onions, lettuces, mini cucumbers, basil, a kohlrabi and a swede. What an abundance of choice at this time of year!

The end of summer is slowly approaching and we have a lot of choice. However, I enjoy simple meals at a time of the year that can be quite hectic.

Let me share with you a recipe for a soup using a vegetable that abounds during this period – the courgette (zucchini). Eaten with one (or two) sprouted bread(s) you can have quick nourishing and satisfying meal. 

For two people you need

2 medium courgettes/ zucchini
2 tablespoons ghee/coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder (optional)

1.    Wash the courgettes and cut them into slices.
2.    Heat the oil/ghee in a pot. When hot add the cumin and fennel seeds and sauté until brown.
4.    Add the turmeric powder and black pepper and stir well.
5.    Add the courgettes.
6.    Add 1 teaspoon of coriander powder and salt to taste.
7.    Add enough water to cover the courgettes, cover and leave them to simmer for 10 minutes.
8.    After 10 minutes pour the contents of the pan carefully into a blender and blend for 10-20 seconds.
9.    Serve with some fresh parsley sprinkled on top and with flat bread  or a sprouted bread.


Daily bread?

For many of us bread is a staple at mealtimes.
Since the start of the year I’ve been making sprouted bread and  I even found a way to continue making it so while I was away travelling.

Sprouted bread is an ancient form of bread which has many health benefits for our modern-day life. For example, it has a low glycemic index so is digested more slowly. This means that  an individual’s  blood sugar level is more stable for a longer period, thereby diminishing the desire to snack.

Sprouting is  a way to produce nutritious, fresh and delicious food. It is economical in time, space and  money (most seeds etc. double in size when you sprout them). When the sprouts germinate the grain reaches its highest level of nutrition. The seed is broken down and the wheatgerm and endosperm prepared to nourish the growing plant. Germination improves the availability of Vitamins A, B and C and protein levels significantly. It also releases the iron, potassium and calcium and provides carbohydrates, which are easier to digest  since enzymes have already broken down their starches.

Sprouts are rich in :
– antioxidants, which help to eliminate free radicals (a product of oxidation in the body) which are considered to be responsible for ageing and tissue damage
– natural plant enzymes, which are important for proper digestion and connect us directly to a very natural way of eating and to nature, even if we don’t have a garden or a balcony to grow food.

raw and sprouted breadSprouted bread is simple to make and travels really well. It’s a good idea to store it in the fridge if you don’t plan to eat it within a couple of days).
Here’s a short fun video on the way I make it.
I’d love your feedback, especially if you consider yourself intolerant to wheat, and be happy to answer questions on this topic.


Seasonal Soup for Summer

Here’s a quick recipe for a simple tasty soup that I’ve been enjoying after a day of study recently.

Cooking Time : approximately 25 minutes
(2-4 portions)

350g seasonal vegetables
1 spring onion
½ tsp cumin seeds (if cabbage family is used)
½ tsp fennel seeds
1-2 cm fresh ginger
Coconut oil
salt (to taste)
chopped parsley/coriander   (optional)

1.    Cut the vegetables into chunks, peel the ginger with a spoon and chop finely.
2.    Pour enough oil into the pot to cover the bottom and sauté the cumin and fennel seeds.
3.    Then add the ginger.
4.    Add the spring onion, stir and then add the vegetables.
5.    Mix well then add 1 litre boiling water and salt to taste.
6.    Before serving sprinkle on chopped coriander or parsley (optional).


Energise Your Life through Healthy Nutrition

Recently I was invited to give a talk on healthy nutrition with customised catering for a multinational company here in Geneva. All those who attended were keen to know how to improve their energy levels with a healthy nutrition especially while at work.

To give you a true taste of the material they received I’ve decided to share a summary of the presentation in the form of a short video.

View it here

Energise Your Life through Healthy Nutrition

and share your comments just below.

Recipe Time!

In February I was at the Sivananda ashram in France giving a week-long course on vegetarism and also yogic vegetarian cooking.Here’s one of the recipes I developed during the course.

Carrot and celeriac soup

Cooking time : approximately 25 mins

250g carrots
100g celeriac
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp. coriander seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1-2 cm fresh ginger
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp black pepper
Salt (to taste)
Chopped parsley (optional)

1.    Wash and slice the carrots, peel the ginger with a small spoon and chop it finely. Peel and dice the celeriac.
2.    Cover the bottom of a pot with oil, let it heat and sauté the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds.
3.     Add the ginger, then as it starts to brown, add turmeric and black pepper.
4.     Add the celeraic and the carrots.
5.    Mix well then add 1 l boiling water and salt.
6.    Before serving sprinkle with chopped parsley (optional).


Detox Time!

Water is the dominant element during the season of Winter. In Nature, it is a time for introspection, rest and even a time when it’s ok to gain a little weight – that is after all what animals do.! However, we humans want to carry on at our usual pace.

Tip 1
Nature supports a slower steadier pace during this period so it’s a good moment to  take time to rest and plan for the year ahead.

Water flows and is essential to life. Our bodies contain approximately 70% at birth. Our bodies mirror the world we live in. We can see small streams and great oceans within us in our blood circulation, our lymphatic system, our saliva, our tears etc. When our body “water” is out of balance we lose our fluidity on all levels, we dry out. 

Tip 2
Drink more water – but no more than 500 ml per hour so that you don’t stress the kidneys,and  avoid eating
excess refined carbohydrates or drinking alcohol or coffee

Water is associated with  the kidneys and the bladder in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Apart from physical symptoms indicating issues in these areas, on an emotional level an imbalance in the water element can translate into hypersensitivity, suspicious feelings or even fear (especially of change). 

Tip 3
Foods to help correct an imbalance are those that are naturally salty such as seaweed, millet, barley, miso – and/and bitter such as  rye, quinoa, local and seasonal vegetables

If you decide to do a longer “detox” to relieve your bloating, tiredness, nausea etc, please respect the way Nature supports you at this time. Eat simple cooked dishes from those suggested and make sure you take plenty of rest and quiet time during your detox. If you start to feel anxious or have other symptoms it could be that your body is detoxing more quickly than it is eliminating.

However you decide to “detox”, remember to observe moderation and calm.

Are you breathing properly?

Breathing is essential for survival and vitality. Most of us cannot survive for more than 5 to 10 minutes without oxygen. When we breathe we take in oxygen, essential for all bodily functions and, therefore, it is the key to nourishing the body and to achieving vitality.

However, when most people take a deep breath they push out their chest as they breathe in. We use a fraction of our lung capacity and our breathing is shallow.
We can learn a lot from the way babies breathe. They all breathe from their bellies and so use all their lung capacity. However, as we get older, we breathe more from the chest, which is much more inefficient since the stale air stays in the bottom of our lungs. As a result fresh air has a hard time reaching the lower section of the lungs where the blood vessels are wettest and warmest and so most efficient for moving oxygen into the blood.

Correct breathing is important for physical and mental health. By learning to breathe correctly we can increase our energy levels. Simply by slowing down our rate of breathing, for example, we start to change the chemistry in the body from an acidic pH to an alkaline pH.

If you are interested in learning further correct breathing exercises, I would recommend attending specialised classes. Hatha yoga can train us how to breathe properly again since, from the start, emphasis is given to proper breathing.  We learn to push out the stomach as we breathe in, then the breath filling up the chest and right up to the collarbones. As we breathe out we are encouraged to contract our abdominal muscles. Breathing is ideally slow, regular and rhythmical, ideally between 12 and 20 breaths a minute. By breathing this way for a few minutes a day you can  combat stress and improve your overall health generally.

Recipe for an Ayurvedic Christmas

During the holiday season a few things generally happen.

1. we rush around trying to get everything done by the end of the year or before we go away for the holiday period.

2. we tend to eat a lot of sweet refined foods and generally overindulge

While, in ayurveda, it’s recommended to eat a good amount of the sweet taste during this season, ideally it should come in a non-refined form such as whole grains, beans and pulses, sweet vegetables such as squash, sweet potato, beetroot and other root vegetables, and nuts and seeds.  We need to feel satisfied during this season and this type of food helps to fill us up and also supports the immune system.

Are you thinking that this recipe for Christmas doesn’t sound like fun? Well then I’m going to give you my menu – literally – for an alternative Christmas lunch that won’t break the bank or the belly!


Roasted pumpkin & sunflower seeds


Lentil & vegetable soup – your favourite winter vegetable with a lentil dahl. This soup is nice and filling and warming. Add a trickle of your favourite cold-pressed oil and a sprig of parsley before serving

Main course:

Buckwheat – this is a seed rather than a grain but has plenty of magnesium  and helps to regulate blood sugar levels – i.e. helps to fill you up!
Curried Vegetables – any seasonal vegetables added to my curry sauce – quick & simple
Steamed beetroot – simple but who can resist? Add a few drops of lemon juice to intensify the sweet flavour.
Green chutney – Whizz up your favourite herbs with lemon juice and ginger and season to taste

Dessert :

A slice of homemade spicy fruit cake
(from Winter Recipe booklet of Holiday Seasonal Saver package )

2 handfuls dried fruit e.g. raisins, apricots, dates, figs (soaked – overnight if possible – and cut into pieces)

125 ml/ ¼ pint  non-refined olive oil

125 grams /5 oz organic unrefined cane sugar

200 ml/ 1/3 pint Rooibos tea

300 grams/ 12 oz spelt/kamut flour

¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder

¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1.      Soak the dried fruit overnight in the Rooboisch tea.

2.      Pre-heat the oven at Gas Mark 4 (350-375°F, 180 – 190°C).

3.      Put baking parchment in a baking tin.

4.      Put all the dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, cardamom, bicarbonate of soda – (except the sugar) into one bowl and mix.

5.      Put the wet/moist ingredients – soaked dried fruit, oil, water – and the sugar into another bowl and mix.

6.      Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl containing the wet ingredients.

7.       Mix well. The mixture will fall easily from the spoon.

8.      Pour the mixture into the baking tin.

9.      Bake the cake for about 20 – 30 minutes. You will be able to smell the cake when it is ready.

And to drink – sip a glass of strong ginger and cinnamon tea.

Have a happy, healthy and satisfying holiday season!