Garam Masala: Wish you a Warm 2017

fullsizerender-1There is something very special about cooking with a powdered spice blend that has been whipped up with your own hands. Pure, unadulterated, organic spices gently roasted until fragrant and then powdered in a coffee grinder are rocking my world these days. Over the holidays, I created a spice blend that has been adding flavor and goodness to several homemade vegetable, bean and lentil dishes.

Garam Masala, a staple in Indian cooking, literally means warm spice and is comprised of several spices. Rather than adding spiciness like chili peppers do, this blend brings deep flavorful warmth to dishes. Added at the end of cooking a dish, I think of Garam Masala as a blessing, the final flourish that ties up loose ends and brings the dish together for a pleasing, wholesome completion. While good Garam Masala is widely available in stores, it has been my heartfelt desire to DIY and nail this blend. Given its grand role in Indian cooking, making the blend was immensely satisfying for me.

Most store-bought Garam Masala blends have ample amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg. You may want include them if you love the spices, but I have eliminated them in this particular version. Eliminating the cinnamon and nutmeg makes this blend suitable for a wider variety of dishes.

To make my version of Garam Masala, you will need.

  • Coriander Seeds: 3 Tablespoons
  • Cumin Seeds: 2 tablespoons
  • Fenugreek Seeds: 2 Teaspoons
  • Fennel Seeds: 1 Tablespoon
  • Black Pepper: 1 Tablespoon
  • Cloves: 1 Teaspoon
  • Cardamom pods: 1 Teaspoon
  • Star Anise: 1

Gently roast the spices in a heavy bottomed pan until fragrant and grind into a coarse powder in a coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container.

In addition to being delightfully flavorful, the spices in this blend are massively healing. Coriander seeds decrease inflammation and prevent food poisoning. Cumin seeds promote the secretion of pancreatic enzymes and improve immune function. With their maple syrup like flavor fenugreek seeds not only add taste and aroma, but they also contain an amino acid called 4-hydroxy- isoleucine that improves insulin sensitivity. Fennel seeds promote digestion and contain several essential oil components that have antioxidant and carminative properties. Black pepper stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid and improves digestion. Cloves, according to traditional Chinese medicine, “warm the middle burner”. Ayurveda deems them supreme for internal warming and therefore, metabolism and digestion. Cardamom contains high amounts of volatile oils that are responsible for its pleasant taste and antioxidant properties. Traditional healers consider it warming to the body and stimulating to the mind. Star Anise is a beautiful spice. Rich in shikimik acid (Tamiflu contains this ingredient), star anise keeps flu and other infections at bay.

In Greek mythology cardamom is associated with a feeling of ‘grateful warmth’. That pretty much describes the feeling behind the creation of this spice blend. I wish you grateful, gracious graceful warmth in the New Year. May the gentle warmth of the spice blend nourish you for all of 2017.


  • Axe: Why you need more Coriander in your Life
  • The World’s Healthiest Foods: Cumin Seeds
  • Medical Medium: Fenugreek Tea
  • Nutrition and You: The Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds
  • Acupuncture Today: Cloves
  • Maharishi Ayurveda: Clove
  • Herbal Greece: Cardamom Mythology
  • Superhuman Coach: Star Anise

Kasturi Turmeric (Curcuma aromatica): The Retin A of the Ancients

If there is a plant that is medicine and magic in equal measure, it is turmeric. By now, you have probably heard about turmeric’s astonishing therapeutic properties. Thousands of research studies validate its healing prowess in calming inflammation, warding off infections, fighting cancer, lifting depression, reducing cholesterol, healing the liver, soothing the digestive system, making skin radiant and much much more. Most studies done on turmeric refer to the common variety of the spice-herb, botanically known as Curcuma longa. However, today I want to shine light on the lesser-known and wilder cousin of common turmeric, also known as wild turmeric, kasturi turmeric or vana-haridra in Sanskrit. The botanical name of this variety of turmeric is Curcuma aromatica, referring to its vibrant, camphoraceous aroma.

Belonging to the family Zingiberaceae or the ginger family, Curcuma aromatica is mainly cultivated in Kerala and West Bengal in India. It is considered an annual plant because the plant grows rapidly from spring to late autumn and the shrubbery dies down in winter. However, the rhizomes of the plant that remain latent produce new flowers and leaves during subsequent seasons.

It was the Retin A of the Ancients

Kasturi turmeric was historically used as a medicinal and aromatic skin healer and complexion enhancer. It was the Retin A of the ancients. Ayurvedic texts record at least 53 different Sanskrit synonyms/names for turmeric, out of which names such as, gandhaplashika (has a lovely fragrance), hridayavilasini (which delights the heart), nishawa (clears darkness and imparts light), varnini (which gives color), varavarnini (which makes you fair), varnadhatri (makes the skin radiant) and yuvati (young girl), probably refer to the skin radiance enhancing properties of kasturi turmeric.

It was (and still is) the go-to remedy for most common cosmetic complaints such as acne, sunspots, hyperpigmentation, dullness of complexion, etc. The herb’s strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it supreme for healing acne, erasing sunspots, and bringing radiance to the skin. In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that with long-term use, the herb inhibits facial hair. With its in-built musk like fragrance, the herb has an inherent elegance that makes it well suited for cosmetic purposes.

Scientific research validates what the ancients held true. A 2010 study published in Journal Cell Biology Toxicology reported that extracts of Curcuma aromatica (along with extracts of Alpinia galanga) protected the skin from UVA induced melonogenesis. An overproduction of melanin (skin pigment) due to sun exposure can lead to hyperpigmentation commonly and melanoma (skin cancer) in extreme cases. The researchers concluded that the herbal extracts worked by inhibiting cellular oxidative stress and improving antioxidant defenses to protect the skin.

My Experience with Kasturi Turmeric

Kasturi TurmericIf you are from the southern region of India, there is a good chance that you have been exposed to kasturi turmeric. Growing up, our bathroom shelf at home always held a bottle of the powdered herb mixed with gram flour/garbanzo bean flour and we used the homemade formulation as a face and body scrub. Unlike regular turmeric, kasturi turmeric is relatively non-staining and will not leave you looking yellow and jaundiced after using it.

I had forgotten all about the herb until I experienced a recent bout of stubborn, hormonal acne along my jawline. Intuition guided me to make kasturi turmeric my herbal ally instead of the typical pharmaceuticals that are promoted to treat acne such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Just when I was wondering about how to source the herb, a friend (when I was discussing the herb with her) gave me some of the powdered herb along with some rhizomes (that I could grind into a paste) that were grown organically in her father’s farm in Kerala!

I am back to my childhood days now, joyfully experiencing the sensory and tactile pleasures of communing with a delightfully colorful, aromatic, magical and somewhat messy herb. The hormonal acne is gone, hope the hyperpigmentation left behind follows it too.

What is left to Say?

In addition to its topical use for enhancing the complexion and for various skin complaints, Ayurveda prescribes the herb for respiratory, circulatory and cardiovascular conditions. Recent research confirms that when Curcuma aromatica is ingested in the form of an extract, it has protective and healing abilities for various infections, inflammation, cancer and diabetes.

If Curcuma longa, the common variety of turmeric, is immensely healing, Curcuma aromatica, its wild cousin, is infinitely magical too. After all, it is the wilder cousin. Characteristically, a powerful, enduring life force is built into the nature of wild things. And coming in contact with a powerful life force, puts us in touch with our own life force, our own power, our own vitality and our own radiance.

What Else is left to Say?

You may have heard about the parable of the restless deer that scours the entire jungle in search of a beautiful aroma that always seems to follow him. The deer searches far and wide to no avail. It is only when he looks within, that he discovers that the musk (kasturi) was all along in his own belly.

I have seen women on a long-term regimen of kasturi turmeric literally glow and glisten. It is probably because they have a strong sense of their inner kasturi, their inner radiance, and outwardly reflect it.

Kasturi turmeric can do that for you also. Find a way to source the wonderful herb and work it into your skin care regimen.


  • Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry; Pharmacological activities of wild turmeric (Curcuma aromatica Salisb): a review.
  • Cell Biology and Toxicology; Modulation of antioxidant defense by Alpinia galanga and Curcuma aromatica extracts correlates with their inhibition of UVA-induced melanogenesis.
  • Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition; Turmeric, The Golden Spice





Greens 101: Debonair Dandelion

When people think of dandelions, they think of bright yellow flowers ruining a pristine lawn. Ella Wheeler Wilcox must have had the dandelion plant in mind when she said, “Every weed is but an unloved flower”. Not only is the glistening yellow flower of the plant gorgeous, but also the roots and leaves of the dandelion plant are brimming with phenomenal healing prowess. If eating kale makes you feel virtuous, munching (or juicing) on dandelion greens will leave you in a blissed out state of leafy liberation. Here are three reasons why you should make dandelion greens a part of your diet, ASAP.

Le Pissenlit

The contemporary French name for the dandelion is pissenlit, literally meaning ‘piss-in-the-bed’. If you think that the name has to do something with the green”s diuretic abilities, you are absolutely right. Herbalists and folk medicine healers have long prescribed dandelion greens as a diuretic for liver problems such as jaundice and cirrhosis and for high blood pressure. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine confirmed that the dandelion fresh leaf “increases the frequency and excretion ratio of fluids in healthy human subjects.” Whether it is the dreaded PMS bloat or I ate too many salty foods bloat, dandelion greens will help you get rid of all the extra fluids and have you looking svelte in no time.

Fantastic Nutrition

Vitamin K is the new Vitamin D. We all know that Vitamin K helps with blood clotting, but emerging studies suggest that along with Vitamin D, the fat-soluble vitamin builds bone and remineralizes teeth. You can essentially heal a cavity in your tooth with the help of these two vitamins! As if that were not enough, it best online casino also helps prevent neuron damage in the brain and it may prevent certain cancers. Dandelion greens contain a whopping 535 percent of the RDA of Vitamin K! In addition, the greens also contain significant amounts of vitamin A, C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese and zinc.

Delectably Bitter

DandelionI find that there is something inherently truthful about a bitter green. It helps me pay attention to what I’m eating. Have you noticed how easy it is polish off an industrial sized bag of potato chips? You can consume unbelievable amounts of salty or sweet foods without being mindful, but try doing that with bitter foods. Each bite, bites back. You pay attention, you focus and you slide into that angelic zone of mindful eating.

Paradoxically, bitterness increases the delectableness of food. Use fresh dandelion leaves in salads or add them to your morning green smoothies. Sautee the leaves with fat and add them to your vegetable, grain or egg scrambles. Not only will they make these foods more digestible (bitters stimulate digestion and increase bile production), but they also will add a touch of intensity and sophistication to your everyday dining. You can Michelin Star yourself.


  • The Imponderabilia of Actual Life; Pissenlit and Dandelions
  • Goodreads; Elle Wheelar Wilcox
  • Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; The Diuretic Effect in Human Subjects of an Extract of Taraxacum officinale Folium over a Single Day
  • Dr. Mercola; What are Dandelion Greens Good for?
  • University of Maryland Medical Center; Dandelion
  • Featured Image Credit; Graphics Fairy


Six Tips for Getting Soft Shiny Hair without Chemicals

Whether you have thick or thin hair, long or short hair, straight or curly hair, shiny hair is a wonderful thing to have. Shiny hair, not only, instantly enhances your appearance, but it is also a reflection of your internal health and wellbeing. Since time immemorial women (and men) have spent huge amounts of time and effort in trying to unlock the secret to healthy, shiny hair. Cleopatra of Egypt and Queen Anne of England were said to have used honey, and oils to keep their hair healthy and shiny.

There is something magical and angelic about shiny, gleaming, bouncy hair. Don King, the boxing legend said, “My hair is God’s aura.” Several indigenous cultures, especially Native American, place great emphasis on hair-care as they believe that it tied to our intuition and nerve health. In these cultures, hair is considered an extension of our nervous system. In certain yogic traditions, hair care is seen as a way to raise our kundalini energy. Hair is seen as a blessing and caring for it, a spiritual activity. If healthy nerves and good internal health can contribute to healthy hair, the reverse can also be true. Hair care can calm your nerves, nourish the crown chakra, raise your energy, improve your intuition and contribute towards vitality.

Some of us have turned to commercial products laden with alcohol and chemicals for quick results and (fake)glossy hair. Lackluster results (pun intended), and allergic reactions from chemical laden products have us looking for easier and more natural methods. Whatever your final goal is, vanity or spirituality, here are some easy and natural ways to bring the luster back to your ‘God’s aura’.

Things you”ll need:

  • Natural bristle hair brush
  • Gentle shampoo
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocados
  • Honey
  • Jojoba Oil
  1. Wash your hair every other day instead or even once in three days instead of every day to preserve the natural shine of hair. Shampooing everyday strips hair of the very natural oils that are responsible for shine. Also, shampoo and even plain water swell up the hair cuticle and make it look duller.
  2. Avoid heat to retain the natural shine of hair. Avoid using hot water to wash hair, and the hot setting on a hair dryer to dry and style hair. Use a ceramic ionic hair dryer (only if you must) as a safer and gentler way casino online to blow-dry hair.
  3. Use a pre-conditioning coconut oil or olive oil treatment (for at least 20 minutes) before shampooing. Take the time to massage the oil into your scalp, whenever you feel inclined to spend the extra time in taking care of your hair.
  4. Consider indulging in a weekly homemade deep conditioning treatment using common kitchen ingredients. Not only does it add shine and gloss, but it also relieve stress. The embedded link has some deep conditioning treatments that can be whipped up using common kitchen ingredients like avocados, honey, and jojoba oil.
  5. Rinse hair with lukewarm or cold water is to seal the cuticle and add shine to hair. A final rinse with cold water is an excellent way to revive both hair and add a metabolic boost to the body. As a further boost for stressed out tresses, consider a final rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
  6. Finally, eat a diet that contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, and flax is reported to promote hair health and shine. Omega-3 fatty acids act like internal moisturizers to heal dry skin and add gloss to dull hair.

Further Tips

  • Use a natural bristle brush and take the time to comb your hair.
  • Use a gentler ph balanced shampoos, that don”t contain sodium lauryl sulphate.
  • Commercial hair dyes and hair color can dry out hair and make it look dull and lifeless.


  • Homemade Beauty; Natural Homemade Hair Conditioner Recipes
  • 3Ho; Hair Care
  • Skeptical Inquirer; Geronimo”s Hair
  • Image Credit;

Why Women Experience more Hair Loss in the Fall

Have you noticed an increase in hair fall in the Fall? For me, the increase in hair loss begins in mid-October and continues until the beginning of December. I joke that I’m so tuned in with nature that my hair cannot help but mirror what the leaves of trees do around this time of the year, they fall. It turns out that the observation is not just a result of my active imagination; research confirms that healthy women lose more hair in the autumn months than any other time of the year.

In a study published in the journal Dermatology in 2009, scientists from Sweden tracked more than 800 healthy women over six years and reported that they lost most hair in the Fall. The study explains that the seasonality of hair loss is linked to the human hair growth cycle. The Swedish researchers say that human hair grows for a period of two to six years. At any given time, 90 percent of our hair is growing and the remaining 10 percent is, in what is called a telogen (resting) phase. The telogen phase lasts for 2 to 6 months before hair starts falling out and growing again. It turns out that the women in the study had the highest proportion of their resting or telogen hair in July. The telogen state ended 100 days later and started falling out in October. After all the telogen hairs fell out, the increased hair fall stopped in the beginning of winter, and a new phase called the Anagen (growing) phase started and the whole process was repeated again.

This is going to be a short post. If you notice increased hair loss in the Fall, please don’t stress. In the autumn months, the light is softer, colors more vivid, and your hair loss, more pronounced. Your hair cycle has a rhythm, just like everything else in the universe.

The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore said,

“The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.” 

For now, continue to eat foods that nourish your body, be gentle with your hair and surrender to the seasonality of the natural hair growth cycle. New growth is just around the corner.


Journal Dermatology; Seasonality of Hair Shedding in Healthy Women Complaining of Hair Loss

Goodreads; Rabindranath Tagore Quotes

Five Healthy Orange Foods for Halloween

Living both a healthy and a colorful life, are pursuits, that can go hand in hand. Mother nature, it turns out, can be a little bit of a drama queen. She loves to put on a show by enticing us with colorful fruits and vegetables that dazzle us with their innate radiance. Brightly colored orange foods that are inherently attractive, are the very ones that contain all kinds of healthy compounds. It turns out that we eat with our eyes too, and foods that nourish our aesthetic eye, also create physiological changes deep down to nourish our bodies.

Let us tune in to the color orange today, the color of Halloween and the color of happiness.  Tae Yun Kim, the author of The First Element; Secrets of Maximizing your Energy says,

“Orange strengthens your emotional body, encouraging a general feeling of joy, well-being, and cheerfulness.”

Deanna Minnich, author of Chakra Foods for Optimum Health also emphasizes the importance of orange colored foods for our emotional and creative bodies. She says,

“Viewing or eating orange colored foods can restore the sacral chakra (the seat of emotions and creativity) to its correct vibration.”

Nutrients-wise, orange colored foods are rich sources of carotenoids like beta-carotene, which are superb antioxidants that promote radiant skin, healthy vision and a rock solid immune system. Ready to dive in? Here are five orange hued foods, three tried and tested,  two relatively new, but all of them, stunning.

Carrots are quick, easy and inexpensive sources of beta-carotene. Eat them cooked with a little bit of fat for enhanced absorption of their natural form of vitamin A. They are nourishing when cooked as a soup or a stew and shine in them as carotenoid angels. However, they are also cleansing and liver protective when eaten raw. So don’t forget to have them raw in a salad or as a juice also.

Saffron is an expensive spice, but I like having it around in my pantry, both for its gorgeous color and its distinctive taste. It is called the happy casino online spice for good reason. Known to bring relief for mild to moderate depression, a 2008 study from Iran published in the prestigious British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, also reported the spice’s role in warding off PMS symptoms. I use saffron mostly in desserts, as a garnish for puddings or as a sprinkle for cookies. It brings instant happiness.

Sweet Potatoes are the quintessential autumnal food. I would eat them just for their names. Garnet, Jewel, and Beauregard. And they bring nothing but sweet news when it comes to health. While they are an outstanding antioxidant food in terms of their carotenoid profile, they also have other benefits such as blood sugar regulation. Although they are starchy, sweet potatoes increase blood levels of adiponectin, a protein hormone responsible for insulin metabolism, according to World’s Healthiest Foods. They are easy to incorporate into your dishes; I just cut them into thick slices, steam them and use them in stews and soups.

Goji BerryGoji berries are not as mainstream as say strawberries in the Western world, but their nutritional and medicinal prowess has been acknowledged for thousands of years in Tibet and China. Time to bring them into our lives too. They contain more carotenoids than carrots (sorry carrots) and more vitamin C than oranges. They also contain 18 different amino acids and several trace minerals. Known to be life extending in Chinese medicine, legend has it that a Taoist hermit lived for 500 years due to his daily consumption of the berries. I like them for their lovely color, a pinkish orange and dunk a few into my cup of ginger tea.

Mention mangoes and my eyes light up. Maybe it is because of carotenes (they are vision friendly after all) or maybe it is because the fruit is inextricably tied to my roots. The botanical name of the mango is Magnifera indica, indica indicating ,that it comes from India. Traditional Indian medicine hails the mango as a calming food full of prana or life force. Nutritionally speaking, mangoes are great sources of for their vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and potassium. In addition, they also contain proteolytic enzymes, similar to the enzyme papain in papayas that calm the alimentary canal and promote digestion.

So which of these delicious gems are you going to eat today?


Tae Yun Kim; The First Element; Secrets of Maximizing your Energy

Deanna Minnich; Chakra Foods for Optimum Health

BGOJ; Crocus sativus L. (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial.

World’s Healthiest Foods: Sweet Potatoes

Care 2; Goji Berries; Worthy of the Name ‘Super-Food’

Ratna Rajaiah; How the Banana Went to Heaven

Mid-Month Wellness News Roundup

If you don’t have the time to sift through all the wonderful trending health news and make matching changes (we call them edits around here) to your lifestyle despite being a health enthusiast, don’t fret. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Here are the top 4 write-ups (according to me) of the at least thousand pieces that I have read in the wellness world this mid-month. One of them is just a facebook update of one of my favorite health gurus, and the other a gist of a television show, but the information is just as exciting and the advice, just as sage. Continue reading Mid-Month Wellness News Roundup

Make a Coconut Oil Hair Treatment

Have a couple of hours on your hand and want to make your tresses look fabulous? Make a coconut hair oil treatment. Coconut oil has been used for millennia in India and other parts of Asia as a hair treatment of choice. Used for grooming the hair and as a conditioner, it is known to add bounce and shine to dry and damaged hair. When combined with other essential oils, coconut oil can also make an excellent dandruff treatment. Studies have shown that coconut oil has the ability to penetrate the hair shaft and reduce protein loss as compared to other oils such as sunflower oil or mineral oil. In addition, it reduces breakage due to its strengthening effect on the tensile properties of hair. Remember to shampoo thoroughly, otherwise you will end up looking like you need a shower ASAP. Continue reading Make a Coconut Oil Hair Treatment

Greens 101: Wonderful Watercress

Take one bite of this leafy green and you’ll know that it means serious business. A plant with a 4000 year old history, Nasturtium Officinale, commonly known as watercress has been revered world over for its medicinal properties. Belonging to the mustard family, natural chemicals found in this leafy green that impart a characteristic pungency and kick to it are also responsible for its kickass healing benefits. Through its bright green color and its sinus clearing horseradish like taste, watercress can turn a ho-hum salad or a sandwich into a totally epic one. Continue reading Greens 101: Wonderful Watercress