Didi Ananda Devapriya's Meditation and Yoga Blog

Vegan Carob Walnut Cupcakes

carob walnut cupcakes

This recipe has been a favorite of mine for many years – it makes such a light and fluffy cake that is luscious, dark and rich in flavor, but surprisingly low in fat. Most people are convinced it is a dark chocolate cake – as the barley coffee gives it some of the bitterness of chocolate. It is the chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda that makes this cake rise, and which is one of the secrets of making amazingly light, delicate, egg-less cakes. As the vinegar reacts with the baking soda, its flavor is neutralized, forming bubbles of carbon dioxide and water, so don’t worry-  you won’t taste it. Just make sure to preheat your oven so that you can immediately bake this cake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c flour – 150 g
  • 1/2 c carob – 50 g
  • 2 T barley coffee powder (orzo, Inka)
  • 1 1/2 c sugar – 175 g
  • 1 1/2 t soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 c oil – 50  ml
  • 2 c water (sparkling water is best if you have it) 225 ml
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of toasted, chopped walnuts

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Add the oil and water, beating the batter until well mixed – it will be a very runny consistency.  Add the vinegar at the end, and only when the oven is already hot (approximately 350 degrees) so that the cake can immediately be put in the oven, while the baking soda and vinegar are reacting and causing bubbles in the cake. Fold in the walnuts.  Spoon into a greased or lined muffin tin, and then bake until done (about 30 minutes).

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (1 package Dr. Oetker’s)
  • 100 grams butter (1 stick)
  • 2 T barley coffee
  • 1 T carob powder

Melt the butter over a low flame and then add the other ingredients, whisking until smooth and shiny. Glaze the cupcakes when slightly cooled – if they are too hot, the glaze will simply melt off, but some warmth helps it to spread easily.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Cream Cheese frosting

lemon poppyseed cake

Lemon is one of my favorite flavors and the combination with the velvety cream cheese frosting is luscious. The addition of the lemon rind in this cake gives it a beautiful color, which often surprises people when they discover that it is made without eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 1/12 cups bubbling mineral water
  • 3/4 cups sunflower seed oil
  • grated rind of 3 lemons
  • 1/3 cup poppyseeds

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 200 grams cream cheese
  • 100 grams butter
  • rind from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Let butter soften. Beat the cream cheese and then add softened butter. Add vanilla extract and then slowly add sifted powdered sugar. Stir in lemon rind at the end. Refrigerate to allow it to become more stiff as the butter cools.

Cool the cake completely before frosting. This cake can be made also as cupcakes.

 

 

Tofu Picatta

piccata plate

Lemon, butter, pepper and capers give this tofu picatta dish a fresh, tart, springtime flavor.  It was featured at our April dinner at Morningstar. Together with steamed asparagus and oven roasted rosemary potatoes, and an organic salad from our AMURTEL Bio Garden, it was a lovely introduction to spring!

Ingredients:

  • 1 block of plain, unsalted tofu, cut into square slices
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • asafoetida
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced without seeds
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoons ground pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoons parmesan
  • 1 finely chopped parsley

Drain and press out excess water from the tofu. Combine 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and a dash of asafoetida (or to taste) with chickpea flour and then coat the pieces of tofu in the flour mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet.  Add about 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida. Pan fry the tofu until golden brown and then remove.

In a clean skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida, and the sliced lemons. Allow the lemons to cook. Add the vegetable broth or water, capers and ground pine nuts (sunflower seeds also work). Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked tofu and then add parmesan and garnish with parsley.

 

 

Eggless Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

carrot cake

This is a luscious, moist cake with warming spices, so especially suited to cool weather, though it is popular at any time of the year. I often make it at Christmas parties. I also recently  made it for a birthday party in Spain during the Youth in Permaculture meeting. In fact, this posting is inspired by their requests for the recipe…There I used a kind of “fromage frais” instead of cream cheese, and it was delicious.  The cake is vegan, and though the frosting is not,  I have included a link to a vegan cream cheese frosting as well for my vegan friends!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour (whole spelt flour also works nicely)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (cassonade)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 2 cups raw, peeled, grated carrots
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 175*C. Butter and flour a cake pan, or line with baking paper.

Combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a large bowl beat the oil, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy, and then add the mineral water.  Gradually add dry mixture into the wet ingredients. Add carrots. Gently fold in nuts and raisins.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness. A toothpick inserted should be barely moist when inserted in the middle.

Place on a cooling rack to cook. After 10 minutes invert the cake out on to the cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream cheese frosting:

  • 200 grams cream cheese
  • 100 grams butter
  • rind from one orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Let butter soften. Beat the cream cheese and then add softened butter. Add vanilla extract and then slowly add sifted powdered sugar. Stir in lemon rind at the end. Refrigerate to allow it to become more firm as the butter cools(for vegans, the frosting can be made with vegan margarine and vegan cream cheese, or simply eliminated, dusting the cake with powdered sugar if desired)

*Note for Vegans: As this cake is actually completely vegan, the cream cheese frosting can be eliminated, dusting the cake with powdered sugar if desired or here is a nice vegan option made with cashews!).

Moroccan Chickpea Sattvic Stew

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This aromatic, cinnamon and cumin scented chickpea dish is warming in the winter and delicous with cous-cous. I made it for our last vegetarian dinner at the Morningstar Center in Bucharest!  It has the additional advantages of being low fat and vegan, but very hearty and filling. It is also sattvic – a type of vegetarian food that enhances your meditation and yoga practice.

Ingredients:

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How I fell in love with Yoga Asanas

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I first fell in love with yoga practices in France. I was an exchange student at the time, and we were encouraged to sign up for extracurricular courses in the afternoons. I chose yoga and modern dance. It was the first time I learned to direct my attention within my body and learn to listen and understand its silent language. Although I struggled to understand the directions flowing in graceful French, I was able to follow along with the movements. I became fascinated with my breathing, discovering to my surprise that I didn’t know how to breath correctly. I also learned to use my breathing to release tensions, sink deeper into positions and relax my body consciously. I discovered the limits of my flexibility and witnessed my body gradually loosening, lengthening and becoming stronger.

Though I could not remember the long sequences of movements in the class, I had soon memorized a yogic warmup known as the sun salutation and I began to integrate it into my daily morning routine. It soon replaced my need for coffee to wake up – rather with just 5 minutes of the vigorous sun salutation exercise, my entire body felt revitalized and wonderfully stretched and strengthened. It has remained part of my morning routine to this day.

When I returned from France, my friends and family had the impression that I had grown taller. I was already twenty, so I doubt that I was still actually growing in height. Rather, I think that as my posture became more aligned, it allowed my spine to lengthen. As I continued practicing, I found that chronic issues I had struggled with throughout my teen years, such as anxiety, chronic digestive issues and symptoms of chronic fatigue that had lingered after a series of illnesses I had had as a teenager, simply evaporated and disappeared. I felt lighter, more dynamic and energized, and the changes were permanent.

Most importantly, yoga helped me to tune into my own body and learn to listen to it. I found that even my cravings changed, as I began to feel the need for foods that were lighter, simpler and healthier.

Although I had tended to struggle as a child with numerous colds, strep throat, ear infections and flus throughout the winter, after a few months of yoga practice – I noticed that I went through an entire season without falling ill. Indeed, it is now a rare occurence that I catch a cold – despite daily contact with kindergarten children and their runny noses! My eyesight also improved – from a minus 6 to minus 1.75. I attribute this to the practices of “half-bath”, which includes splashing water on the eyes, as well as to the yogic self-massage done at the end of a session which includes many pressure points around the eyes.

Most importantly, after a few months of practice, I noticed my mind gradually settling into a more peaceful and harmonious state. When I first began yoga classes, if the teacher proposed a short meditation at the end, it seemed that the restlessness of my mind flitting around like a moth was heightened under the magnifying lens of the quietness in the room. I felt about as far from inner peace as one could possibly be. However, in time, something began to subtly shift within and soon I found myself curious and drawn to introspective practices, and interestingly, my mind was more easily stilled than before. I only discovered later, when studying “Biopsychology” – Shrii Shrii Anandamurtii’s writings on the relationship between glands, cakras and the mind – that indeed, yoga asanas were designed in order to prepare the mind to be still for meditation.

At this point, yoga asanas have become such a part of life for me that if for some reason I cannot do them in the morning – it makes me feel just as odd as if I were to skip brushing my teeth. They make me feel alive, fresh, energized and ready to face the day. When I practice in the evening, the days tensions and tiredness melt away and I feel renewed and relaxed. I am so grateful to have encountered yoga asanas. They help me to stay connected with my own body and develop an intuitive understanding from within. As I have learned to inhabit my body more fully, naturally and spontaneously I have found that I am then also able to experience and enjoy life more thoroughly.

Watching our kids grow up

AMURTEL's 20th anniversary album

This is a video / slideshow I made for the 20th Anniversary party of our Familia AMURTEL home last September. It was such a beautiful feeling to be altogether with all of our Familia AMURTEL children – now of course, most of them are already grown-ups!  It has been an amazing experience to see them grow and mature – often quite the roller-coaster ride, but overall I am quite proud of each of them! Glad to have been part of the adventure.

Hope you will enjoy watching this too!


 

Let’s meditate together online

I recently discovered this “Insight Timer” – and it is my current favorite thing! It is free, and you can put it on a smart phone, tablet or use from a browser.

I like the subtle tibetan bowl sound as a gentle way to end a meditation session without the rough jolt of other types of alarms. The app also automatically keeps track of your meditation sessions – so that you can record your progress, which can be motivating. It is particularly fun to also find other friends online meditating with you and you can send them encouraging messages…It also shows you how many people are currently using the timer to meditate all around the planet! Fun!

Hope to see you there!

Sa meditam impreuna online!

De curand am descoperit acest ”Insight Timer”- si a devenit preferatul meu! Este gratuit si il poti instala pe un smart phone, tableta sau sa il folosesti din browser.

Imi place sunetul subtil al bolului tibetan, ca un mod delicat de a sfarsi meditatia fara zgomotul brutal produs de alte alarme. Aceasta aplicatie iti urmareste automat sesiunile de meditatie- astfel incat sa iti poti inregistra progresul ceea ce poate fi motivant. Este de asemenea amuzant sa gasim alti prieteni online meditand cu tine si le poti trimite mesaje de incurajare…De asemenea poti vedea cati oameni de pe planeta folosesc in acelasi timp timerul pentru a medita. Distreaza-te!

Sper sa te vad acolo!

insight timer

 

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