What is Yogic Cooking?
Many ancient cultures recognized that all disease begins in the colon and they developed different ways to keep the colon healthy, including yoga postures, eating cultured foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and cultured vegetables, acupuncture, and herbs.
It’s important to keep a good balance of healthy bacteria in the colon. These work to counter yeast overgrowth and promote healthy elimination. There is tremendous consumption of carbohydrates in America today, coupled with fairly rampant use of antibiotics. This is the perfect combination to create yeast overgrowth: The antibiotics kill off all of the bacteria (both the bacterial infection and all of the good bacteria in the colon) and the yeast feeds on the carbohydrates (sugar in all forms, pizza, cereal, crackers, sodas, fruit, juice, chips, bread, rice, corn…). Yeast overgrowth leads to all kinds of symptoms, including fatigue, gas and bloating, skin problems, chronic yeast infections, and more. (For more information on Candidiasis, I can recommend two books, The Body Ecology Diet, by Donna Gates, and The Yeast Connection, by Dr. William Crook).
Simple ways you can begin to build healthier flora in your colon are:
- decrease consumption of all carbohydrates
- eliminate sugar, use stevia for a calorie-free sweetener instead
- include live cultures (from good quality yogurt, kefir or cultured vegetables) in your diet
- increase consumption of fresh vegetables and good quality protein, such as quinoa, millet, tempeh, kefir, yogurt, seeds, almonds.
Of course, if you are experiencing any chronic health problem, you should consult your health practitioner.
You can either make your own yogurt or purchase plain yogurt. Most commercially made yogurt is a concentrated food (and thus harder to digest). Powdered milk is added to give a richer flavor (this is like adding powdered milk to milk; think about it). Gelatin is added to make it thick and firm. Sometimes the cultures are not even live. Look for a yogurt that is made with milk and live cultures only (acidophilus and bifidus are excellent cultures). Avoid the flavored and sweetened yogurts and kefirs (although, it’s better to eat those than none at all).
I have found that the best quality kefir (a cultured milk beverage similar to yogurt but with superior culture) is the Helios brand. Other brands include Lifeway and Alta Dena.
Yogurt is simple to make, and once you’ve experienced it homemade, it will be hard to enjoy commercial yogurt again.
For each quart of milk (I prefer whole milk, but you can use 2%, 1% or non-fat as well) you will need about 2 tablespoons of starter yogurt (purchase a small container of a good quality plain yogurt). You can use yogurt from the last batch you made also, but after two or three times you should use a fresh starter.
Bring the milk to a boil (this is to kill any other bacteria that has grown in the milk so only the good culture that you add will grow) in a stainless steel saucepan, stirring all the while so it does not scorch. Have a sinkful of ice water ready. As soon as the milk comes to a boil remove it from the heat and place the pan in the ice water (let some of the water out of the sink if the pan is tipping). Stir occasionally until it cools to about 120 degrees (I never use a thermometer. Put a clean finger in the milk. You should be able to hold it in there for 30 seconds without it feeling “hot”). Now stir in your yogurt starter, using a clean spoon or wire whisk. This should bring the temperature down a few degrees, too.
You can keep the milk in the saucepan or transfer to a clean/sterile glass jar. Put on the lid and set in a warm place (about 115 degrees) to incubate. Good places are: gas oven with pilot light, electric dehydrator, on a heating pad (set to low with a towel on top of the pad), or use a commercial yogurt maker. If you are in Arizona, just put it outside! To contain the heat, it is helpful to wrap the jar in a few layers of blanket or towels. Let it sit undisturbed for 7-8 hours. The longer it sits, the more sour it will become (and the more acidophilus there will be!).
There is nothing in the world like eating a bowlful of freshly made, still-warm yogurt.
Here are a few ways you can enjoy yogurt:
SWEET LASSI (pronounced “Luh’see”)
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 4 ice cubes
- few drops stevia
Place in blender jar and blend until smooth. For variation, add a handful of berries or half banana.
BLACK SALT LASSI
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp. black salt (more or less to taste)
- 4 ice cubes
Place in blender jar and blend until smooth. This is a very refreshing drink for a hot day. Also, instead of ice cubes you can just add cold pure water.
CUCUMBER-TOMATO RAITA (“rye-tah”)
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled
- 2 medium tomatoes, ripe and firm
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro
- 2 tsp. minced fresh mint leaves
- 2-3 Tbsp. milk or water
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- dash cayenne
Peel cucumber, scoop out and discard seeds. Chop cucumber into 1/4″ dice or shred, using coarsest blade on your shredder.
Blanch tomatoes in boiling water just for a minute. Remove skin. Cut in half, scoop out seeds and discard. Chop into fine dice.
Combine all ingredients and let sit for one hour before serving. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Add more milk if you desire thinner consistency.
Serve with any Indian meal (very cooling with spicy food!).
© 2001 Siri Ved Kaur Khalsa