Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Journey of A Thousand Miles...To Reach Us

Here's a bit of trivia about the ancient philosophy of Ayurveda: Approximately five thousand years ago, the most knowledgeable sages of India trekked, individually, thousands of miles to meet at a central location in a Himalayan cave. Here these wise philosophers gathered to discuss, of all things, the eradication of all human suffering.

Did they accomplish their mission? Obviously humans still suffer; Siddhartha and Jesus notwithstanding, as a lot we can be a pretty miserable crowd. Thankfully, we also recognize wisdom when we see it, which is why, I believe, Ayurveda has survived. (We also recognize beauty and goodness, which is why humans have survived.)

So what does Ayurveda tell us? It teaches us about proper use of food, medicine, exercise, study, contemplation, obedience, and even sex. Generally, it advocates moderation in everything, which is a very sensible approach to health as well as to academia and career pursuits, and of course to relationships.

Since we've been talking about sweetness, and how wonderful it is to be sweet, we should also consider Ayurveda's point of view on sweets: keep it moderate, and it's great. We shouldn't ignore sweets or consider them unhealthy--in fact bringing a certain sweetness to life can expand your sense of generosity and compassion.

How do you do it in a healthy, moderate way? One way is with our old friend licorice. The sweet root offers much more than just a sweet taste--it helps with a myriad of health concerns such as coughing, digestion and ulcers...but more on these later this week.

Licorice Almond Milk
Today: a sweet recipe using this delectable and ancient herb. Following along the alkaline-promoting guidelines of Ayurveda, this simple milk invokes the healthy protein benefits of almonds with the anise-flavor of licorice.

  • 1 tsp dried licorice root
  • 1/2 tsp orange peel or cinnamon, if desired
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey, if desired

Place the dried licorice root (and optional orange peel or cinnamon pieces) in a mesh teaball and dangle in a saucepan. (If you don't have a mesh tea ball, simply brew the licorice root loose and then strain it out when you pour your mug of milk.) Pour in the almond milk, make sure it covers the licorice ball, and bring to a simmer. Brew on medium-to-low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the milk does not burn. Add honey if desired, and pour into warm ceramic mugs. (Note: Ayurveda encourages drinking this milk after sex to restore the energy. What a great excuse to experiment with herbal medicine!)


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