All posts by petersan

Pan with vegetables

Your daily soup

Eating plant-based begins with eating more plants – what’s in a name.
For many people, this is where the health of their diet is lacking.
Everyone has heard the message, once or even repeatedly, that for good health and strong immunity you should eat more vegetables. However, we come from traditions that gave vegetables a third-rate role by definition.

Plant Power

Fortunately, for more and more people, things are moving in the right direction!

An excellent way to drastically increase the amount of plant power in your diet is a daily soup.

A good soup is home-made, with fresh, organically grown vegetables, possibly with some legumes for more vegetable protein and a more solid texture.

Best ways

It is best to keep the cooking process as short as possible to preserve as much nutritional value as possible. Vitamins and enzymes break down in too much heat and too long a period of heat.

Good cooking processes for soup are :

– Cold raw soups
Raw vegetables are ground in a blender with herbs, possibly some nuts or sprouted legumes and cold water (e.g. summer soups such as gazpacho)

– Lukewarm raw soups
Raw vegetables are ground in a blender with herbs and possibly nuts or sprouted legumes with the addition of hot water, i.e. without boiling the soup. The result is a soup that barely exceeds 40°C.

– Classic hot soups prepared in a pressure cooker with a short cooking time (10 min. under steam)
Raw vegetables are cooked with herbs and pre-soaked and rinsed legumes such as lentils and beans in water under increased pressure. After steaming for ten minutes, the soup is ready and can be mixed.

If necessary, add vegetable stock to season.
Sea salt or miso is fine as a means of salting.

Enjoy !

Our real home

What is the real home we live in?

Do you invest in the profitability of bricks and concrete or in the quality of the only real home you will live in all your life?

This interesting question arose when I was looking for a possible alternative home that would better suit my changing needs.

I visited an expensive flat that was being sold by a charming and talkative man who had once bought the flat on plan as an investment, and now wanted to get rid of it because he considered “the profitability to be insufficient”.

I listened and observed the man carefully as we walked through the fairly recent flat, which as usual had a mixture of good and less suitable features. It also struck me as a little “boxy”. I immediately felt like wanting to tear down the partition walls and opening up the space.

The man himself did not look healthy at all. I felt something like high blood pressure and could not help feeling that he was on medication. Nevertheless, he had a successful career in the medical field. A bit like the prototype of the hardworking, socially successful worker with lots of savings and many investments in “real estate”.

Vital energy

I realised that “real estate” is somewhat illusory. The only thing that remains real is change.
I had the feeling that there are two relevant dwellings in which we spend our whole lives. On the one hand, the energetic and physical entity of our individual body.
On the other, the larger home of this planet where we as privileged beings may temporarily reside.

How do we deal with these houses?
Where do you invest your money and life energy?

Respect for one’s own body and the larger body of this earth creates the basic conditions for a meaningful and successful existence, where you can let the best of yourself flourish in a sound relationship with the greater whole.

Picture of magnificent vegetables

Vegetables first

What are your fillers?

Feeling stuffed quickly

Virtually all conditions of obesity, lack of energy or digestive problems are caused by a wrong choice of food products.
In general, everyone has one or more products that are used as “fillers”.
A filler is a food that is relatively easy to prepare, which quickly gives a “full feeling” when eating. After all, an empty stomach is quickly misinterpreted as hunger. However, having an empty stomach is no sign at all that your body is hungry at that moment.
In our society, the fillers are often bread, pasta, white potatoes or rice.

Low quality fuel

Consequently, meals are still traditionally composed on the basis of such a filler. A plate is often filled with potatoes or pasta, and then topped off with sauce, a limited amount of vegetables and a protein source. Think of something like spaghetti bolognaise, a sandwich this or that or french fries with xyz.
The problem is that these common filling products are very poor in real nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. You can think of them as a form of low-quality fuel.
In fact, you can stuff yourself until you almost pass out into a food coma, and still your body is waiting in vain for real nutrients. This is one of the reasons why (real) hunger quickly rears its head again, which you might smother with the same fillers. And so the cycle continues.

Systematically inflated profile

Here you have the recipe for the fastest-growing phenomenon in the world of health. More and more overweight people with a lack of energy. Paradoxically enough, obesity is in most cases not the result of overnutrition but of systematic malnutrition. The body does not know what to do with all that nutrient-poor, calorie-rich food. It converts the excess into fat and/or water. The body has too many acid-forming toxins to process. And to remove them from the bloodstream in time, there are only two solutions. Store them either in fatty tissue or in extra water pushed between the body cells. And there we have the recipe for the systematically inflated profile of most Belgians and Europeans today. We learned it from the Americans, and it is now quickly making school in Asia.

Healthy eating style

The lesson is simple: build every meal around a large amount of vegetables. Prefer green (leafy) vegetables, cabbages and coloured vegetables supplemented with root vegetables according to the season. Preferably strive for a nice balance between raw and lightly steamed. Vegetables are typically low in calories, but score very high in nutrients.
It’s a bit of a godsend, but the adage proclaimed for decades that “eat more vegetables” is not a free option. It is no more or no less than the single foundation of a healthy eating style. Without that foundation, the house of your health slowly collapses over the years.

Prosperity and ignorance

We are not exactly helped either. We are subject to traditions and habits about eating and cooking, handed down from mother to daughter. Our typical Belgian plate of today is the direct heir to the eating practices that have taken off since industrialisation. The standard diet of the working class person was cheap, “empty” filler food. Like the almost archetypal brown bread and the daily “cooked potatoes with sauce”. And if one was lucky on Sunday, a piece of cheap meat of the worst kind. The rich indulged in refined flour products and large quantities of meat. Vegetables played a totally secondary role in either case.

Diseases of affluence: really ?

And on the sidelines, the food industry, with its refined technologies and social marketing and engineering strategies, is aiming for one thing only: to make you buy and eat even more than is healthy for you.
There is no such thing as “diseases of affluence”. This term makes it seem as if you have to take it or leave it: either you have prosperity and you have to take disease with it as part of the deal, or you have no prosperity. What comes closer to the truth is “diseases of ignorance”. Or “profit driven-lack of legislation-lobbying diseases”.

Create your menus around the vegetables
So from today, reorganize your plate wisely and start eating a large quantity of varied vegetables of the season at every meal.

Picture of different granulated sugars

Sugar is a drug

The food industry has incorporated sugar in just about all common products, to the point of absurdity. Suppose you make a fresh tomato sauce with very fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh herbs. Would finish your sauce by adding two heaped tablespoons of white sugar?
Well, I guess not !
And yet that is exactly what the food industry does. Sugar is even added to things like bacon. All the bread in the supermarket has sugar in it.

The only reason why the food industry adds sugar everywhere, and even sometimes in hallucinatory amounts, is that sugar causes a physiological reaction that makes you want to eat even more.

As part of a 30-day no refined sugar challenge, I decided to take a look at how much sugar and in what form I actually keep in my pantry. Refined white sugar, the cocaine of sweeteners, has been out of my kitchen pantry for about 20 years. And when I bought or ate something sweet, like a piece of cake, I always went for the so-called better kinds of sweeteners. Like coconut blossom sugar, whole raw cane sugar and so on.

Glycemic index

One of the criteria for finding the best alternative was to go for the lowest “glycemic index” of a sweetener. That index is supposed to be a measurement of how fast sugar is metabolised, and the slower, the better. But it could be yet another false concept from the food industry. Each sweetener comes with its own marketing tactics, which would have us all believe that this one is better than the other. In Europe, cane sugar has long been considered better than the more common beet sugar. Simply because it is exotic and tropical and therefore has a more natural, unspoilt image. But it is still sugar.

Eight alternatives

Wow, I discovered that I currently have 8 alternatives to refined sugar in stock, some never used, some occasionally, albeit in moderate amounts. Today’s main sweetener for baking or making sweet desserts is not in the photos, that is medjoul dates. Apart from that, I still use a teaspoon of maple or rice syrup over a portion of soy yoghurt, for example.
It reflects a decades-long search for “the good/best sweetener”, but it also reflects the problem I really have: an excessive craving for sweet things. Even after a large, complete and healthy meal, I often feel the need to end it on a sweet note.

Resisting temptation

It must be purely emotional. Last night, for the first time in a long time, I felt an emotional dip, partly because I was physically and mentally very tired. Normally, I would smother such dips by grabbing a banana or an apple or putting a dried fig or date in my mouth. But this month I am playing the “no sugar” challenge: no more fruit during the day after breakfast. And also resist the temptation not only for refined sugar and its 60+ disguises, but for sweet in general. To see what this experience could teach me.

Sweet during childhood

I had been thinking all day about the role of sweetness today and in my childhood and youth.
Today, I am “tickled” to buy something sweet when I go into town. I eat sweet in search of peace, to escape stressful situations. When in town, I often walk into a health food shop or supermarket, even if I don’t have to be there. Just to get a supposedly healthy sweet date-nut protein bar and eat it to feel an instant sense of relief and satisfaction.
As a youngster, satisfying the sweet tooth was a daily ritual. Sugary things were everywhere. Bread with chocolate spread and jam was served at breakfast, together and mixed with salty cheeses or processed meats. No wonder I remember having stomach cramps every now and then. When we came home from school, around 5 p.m., my mother served us a sweet snack, made of sugared “Dr Oetker” pudding powder, to be dissolved in boiling milk. W either vanilla flavour or chocolate flavour. In the vanilla variant, my mother would always soak two or three speculoos biscuits (the typical Belgian allspice and cinnamon biscuit called speculoos). It tasted heavenly and kept us satisfied for a couple of hours before dinner, so that might have been some sort of device to control our behaviour.

Dealing with high sensitivity

I realise that, as a hypersensitive child I had to deal daily with rather mundane situations that were challenging and stressful for me. Plus there was a lack of my own territory. The sweet became like a drug. I must have rarely felt safe outside the house, and stressed once home. At home, there were the special events where we felt we were noticed or taken into account, with family dinners and their dessert buffets. Or the occasional waffle and pancake nights where you could cut through the sugar in the baking smells.
I am still very sensitive to auditory and visual over-stimulation, I dislike crowded, noisy environments or large crowds, and whenever I find myself in them, the craving for sweetness rears its head.

Recalibration

The really interesting part of the month will be the recalibration of the taste buds. By reducing my intake of concentrated sweetness, I can re-appreciate the subtle sweetness present in, for example, a cashew nut, in steamed pumpkin puree, in carrots, in a watermelon, in almond paste, in sprouted lentils or even in unsweetened grains such as boiled rice. I feel this will be a great benefit. Being able to taste the natural sweetness in pure, unprocessed foods without needing a shot or overdose of all those concentrated sweeteners.
It’s almost like learning to revalue life in its smallest aspects, without the need for powerful, explosive sensations.

.
What it will be about in any case is regaining freedom. Because if you find yourself craving a certain taste and getting saddled with an uncontrollable urge, you become a slave to it. To an emotion that doesn’t get a proper response. And which you try to numb with food.
An image of bright child's eyes

The most intelligent question

2020 has caused a leap of consciousness in a growing number of people. The world will never be the same as before. That is fine, because the old model was in urgent need of change.
More and more people are questioning themselves and their way of life.
Wonderful! It was about time.

The most intelligent question in the world

In fact, the most important conversation you should have on a daily basis is the conversation with yourself. To challenge our mind and our heart on a daily basis. In this way we avoid living “on automatic pilot” and not consciously holding the wheel of our lives in both hands.
What question should you ask yourself in this context? What is the smartest question in the world to start with?

Well, anyone who has been a child or has children knows this inevitable question, which a 4 to 5 year old constantly asks the parents during a certain period of her or his life, until those parents become a little bit nervous or feel a slight annoyance rising.
And that question is: Why?
Yes, the most useful and intelligent question in the world comes from the mouths of small children. In order to know whether you have given up the steering wheel of your life without realising it, it helps, in your daily conversation with yourself, to ask the simple question: “Why?” regarding each of your choices and actions, and then answer it as honestly and sincerely as possible.

Continue digging

And after that first answer, ask yourself again the question: “Why?”. Just like that little child of barely 5 did.
Because one answer can sometimes hide a deeper answer. So you continue to dig down to the bare bone until you have identified the real motivation or driver behind your choice or behaviour.
Then, hold it up to the light today, and see if that choice still makes sense in 2021, knowing that life is short and fragile.
Bet that in 2021 a lot of old patterns of behaviour will be replaced by fresh, new choices!
Isn’t that just marvellous?

Picture of a winding forest road

Sitting still

You may be wondering what that picture of a somewhat neglected, winding road, half gravel, half earth, through a forest, has to do with sitting still.
Well, life sometimes makes strange twists and turns.
I ended up in the middle of Norway in 2009 after a peculiar coincidence. At the invitation of an organic farmer who had emigrated from Belgium, I stayed and worked there for a week. In the afternoons I left for long walks in the rather wild forest landscape.

Beyond the border

This was also the case on that day in October. The season was on the border of autumn and winter, with the occasional wet snow shower. The road in the picture finally took me past the border of civilisation, somewhere on a high plateau.
There, sitting on a boulder amongst the vegetation tending to all possible shades and hues of colour, suddenly a silence fell.
But a silence like I had never experienced before. I was eating a sandwich I had brought with me and was awakened … by the sound of my grinding jaws. I had never heard that before. I was perplexed and stopped eating.
Then it dawned on me that there was nothing, absolutely nothing to be heard there.
It was the first time in that moment that I caught a glimpse of absolute silence.

Perhaps life would have led me there, in the run-up to the discovery, more than 10 years later, that I am actually hyper-sensitive to sound from an early age. My brain can only select between the many separate sound signals in a “soundscape” with the greatest difficulty and at the cost of a lot of energy.

Meditation

Yoga is a complete system conceived to prepare oneself for meditation.
Meditation has to do with crossing borders as well as confronting silence.
There are countless meditation traditions. All of them offer methods to “silence the mind”. To bring consciousness beyond the noise.
Because apart from the fact that our contemporary world with all its traffic, machines and other incessant human activity, must seem like a deafening hell for our ancestors until about two centuries ago, there is another sound that never seems to stop.
And that is the incessant “chat” of the thoughts that pass through our brain.

The current that controls us

Those thoughts make up for an automatic, endless flow. A mess, in which interesting ideas, ingenious insights or whisper-smooth intuitions drown in an excess of automatic, coarser chatter. The latter consists largely of fantasies about the past or the present. Most of these we are not even aware of.
But that flow does control us. And is responsible for our emotions and our state of mind, day in, day out.

In Indian philosophy the world was created by sound. That is a beautiful metaphor for what modern science has understood in the meantime. Because first there is vibration, or energy, and the matter of what we call the real world is no more or no less than coarse, “condensed” energy.
So you create your own world from the energetic vibration your thoughts constantly create.
All that exists in your world is the materialisation of your own thoughts. If there is chaos around you, then that is a projection of the chaos that probably exists within you and that you fuel by means of your thought stream.

Tips for a first step

Without attending a particular meditation school, you can already take a first step in meditation at home.
What do you need?

  • A place where you will likely not be disturbed
  • Use a chair or meditation cushion to sit on that allows you to relax with your back upright
  • A clock or meditation timer with an alarm function

How do you go about it?

  • Book 5 to 10 minutes at a fixed time in your day. Early in the morning or in the evening before bed are good moments
  • Set your clock or meditation timer
  • Sit with your back straight and eyes closed
  • Breathe in and out slowly and regularly
  • Stay quiet

And become aware of your own thoughts.
Observe them one by one. Every time a thought comes up, take note of it, and then let go of it. Bring your awareness back to your breathing.

Do you want more control over your daily life? Then start by listening to the sound of your inner thoughts and get to know them.
Start with five to ten minutes a day. And let it gradually become longer.

What we experience on a global scale this year 2020 can be nothing more or nothing less than a clear and compelling invitation from a higher consciousness to stop our insanely exaggerated outer activities. And to stay at home – at least for a good while – and learn to sit still with ourselves.

What does it mean to sit with a straight back?

Our backs are not straight by nature. The spine is clearly S-shaped.
Sitting with a straight back means: keep your spine in its natural, upright shape.
It means that you do not allow yourself to “sag”.

How do you bring your back into its natural curvature?

  • Go sit on a chair or on a meditation cushion on the floor
  • Tilt your pelvis forward, as if you were pushing your navel to the front
  • Mark how your lower back becomes slightly hollow at the back
  • Open your chest by bringing your sternum a little forward and relax your shoulders
  • Finally, place your head and neck straight and balanced rignt above your shoulder girdle.

How do I know if I hold my lower back in the right position ?

  • Put your hand behind your back and touch the middle of your lower back
  • If you feel a cleft, like a little valley between your lumbar muscles, that’s when you know you’re good
  • On the other hand, if you feel the protrusions of your lumbar vertebrae sticking out, you are sagging. Adjust your posture by tilting your pelvis forward until you no longer feel the protrusions.
Split pea soup ingredients

Easy split pea soup

Yoga Kitchen – Simple, healthy and vegan

Anyone on a purely vegan diet would do well to keep a close eye on the proportion of protein. Peas and split peas are an excellent and very cheap source of high-quality plant protein with a rich and varied amino acid spectrum. They also contain a lot of complex carbohydrates and a good deal of valuable fibre.
Dream food, really!
What could be cozier and heartier than a good bowl of steaming hot pea soup in the cold season? And you can do that right from breakfast!

What you need for about 1 litre of freshly made soup:

  • 150 gr split peas
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • eventually a piece of green celery
  • one to one and a half tablespoons of good olive oil
  • Herbs such as: cumin seed, savory, fennel seed …
  • pepper and salt to taste

You can also add vegetable stock cubes to give extra flavour to the soup, but I’m not a fan of that myself.
Picture of split pea soup with its ingredients

Step by step

  • Allow the split peas to soak in water for a few hours until they are swollen
  • Rinse them in a sieve under running water
  • Gently heat the olive oil on low fire, sprinkle in the herbs (cumin seed, savory, fennel, or others, according to personal taste …) and let them fry softly in the oil for a few moments allow them to release their flavour
  • Add the finely chopped onion and carrot and fry until they become a little glassy
  • Pour in the split peas, stir and briefly fry
  • Pour 1 litre of water over the vegetables, bring to the boil
  • The cooking time depends on the type of pan: approx. 35 minutes in an ordinary pan. If you use a pressure cooker, reduce the cooking time to about 15 to 20 minutes.

Extremely important

When cooking legumes, add the salt only after the cooking process.
This applies to sea salt, salted soy sauce as well as any salty stock cubes or stock in powder.
Finally, you might add some extra pepper to taste and finely mix the soup with a handheld mixer or in a blender.
Serve nice and hot!

Enjoy this delicious, simple, fortifying soup with its respectable protein content!
Nutritional values split peas

When is the best moment to eat protein?

Opinions differ.
Some people claim that you benefit more from protein in the morning and at noon than in the evening. They claim it would be best to go to bed “light” with a digestive system that has finished its day job so that all the energy can be put into recuperation at night.
On the other hand, the night is precisely the time when protein synthesis and muscle recovery and building also take place. So according to other authors, it is a good idea to include protein in your last meal so that it enters the bloodstream at night and is available for protein synthesis.
That seems to make good sense.

Picture of visual fat loss progress

Halfway through

Four out of eight weeks of fat loss challenge are already a thing of the past.
And, how are things going?

What I’m actually doing

(What is it all about?)
I want to make a conscious change to my body.
To do so, I am stepping out of my comfort zone.
I put myself into a conscious calorie deficiency of about 20% for a period of 8 weeks.
In addition, I am following a progressive power training programme.

The first experiences

The centimetres are disappearing, slowly but surely.
I was not overweight in the classic sense of the term, and yet I saw and felt that I was walking around with too much fat. Even in places where I would rather not see it. For me these are the legs and in the waist.

In figures there is little spectacular to report compared to those who really want to get rid of a lot of overweight or centimetres. And then: that’s the way it should be. Every body is unique. Comparing with others often marks the end of joy. So it is better to look at what’s on your own plate.
Each Monday I can take off with a lower starting weight.

Physically speaking, it was not easy at first:

  • There were days when I felt weaker and my voice sounded weaker too
  • The first weeks my sleep was significantly worse in quality
  • The higher protein intake did not feel completely OK during the first weeks. Now it does.
  • The power training sometimes felt heavy, especially in combination with eating less

Forward … march !

Mentally I feel strengthened. The challenge, together with the corresponding assignments, diagrams and tables:

  • help me to structure
  • challenge me to be more thorough
  • confront me with my inferior sides, such as laziness, procrastination, lack of consistency
  • Inspire me to clean up and get along with business in other areas of my life, just like “cleaning up” my body
  • challenge me and make me curious to learn more and understand more
  • ensure that I also make commitments in other areas of my life

Emotionally it is sometimes a bit difficult:

  • For the first few weeks I was often in a bad mood, I was walking on the tips of my toes
  • A couple of times I succumbed to the temptation of eating more than I was allowed that day, and then I was disappointed and a little angry with myself
  • Some existential doubts are still gnawing at me. Like: Why am I doing this? Isn’t this just belly-button staring?

The first benefits show up and let them feel

There is a clear visual result and from the inside it feels very different.

  • Round my waist and on my belly the underlying muscles become visible
  • I get more strength in my legs and mobility in my hip joints
  • I am more stable
  • In my yoga practice I feel the extra space and the lightness around my belly

There is, physically speaking, less ‘stuff in the way’.

The most important learning points

What I have learnt about myself going through this process:

  • The power of calorie management and monitoring the ratio of the three macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats)
  • All excess weight and fat can be traced back to “too much”. Systematically eating too much than you need in relation to your activity level
  • Even with a full stomach, just after a meal, I am still hungry for “something extra”. At that moment it is neither physical hunger nor a necessity. So what is it? What do I do with it?
  • I understand now that I generally drank too little water. Drinking more water is more beneficial than I thought

What I am not yet on good terms with

The whole protein story is still dubious. As part of these eight weeks of conscious fat loss, with the combination of calorie calculation and moderation plus the strength training, I am also expected to eat a lot of extra protein.
Is that really necessary? Or is that part of the famous protein myth? The myth that protein deficiency lurks around every corner. While the reality is, that the majority of westerners take in far too much protein … . To be continued.
I now play the game according to the rules of the challenge.

What the real challenge will be

Maintaining this beautiful result (which will only be better in 4 weeks) and to stay ahead of the seemingly random fluctuations of the past.
Counting the calories requires work and discipline. I find it very useful. It pushes you with your nose upon the facts, it’s done with guessing, fantasizing and wet fingerwork.
But maybe I won’t always be able to make time for it. So maybe I would like to evolve to a slightly more intuitive way of eating.
And still be able to maintain and master body weight and body constitution, without daily food tracking.

I realize this is about much more than just making a selfie of progress. It’s a picture of the inside as well as the outside. Changing your body equals changing your mind and vice versa.

Neti nose flush

The yoga path is a path of personal development, striving to experience what is called “the divine essence”.
This is a state in which all the superfluous, all illusions, all ballast, whether mental, emotional, physical or energetic, has been released.
So it presupposes a cleansing on all levels. This “cleansing”, and especially the maintenance of a state of purity, is a prerequisite for good meditation, in order to be able to perceive the most subtle movements of consciousness and energy in the body.
In fact, there is a lot of truth in that. An emotional layer that is torn by violent emotions, a mind that is misty or overly excited by inappropriate, or excessively stimulating nutrition, or a body that suffers from a high degree of obesity or too many toxins is not conducive to lucid concentration or serene meditation.

Purity

Old yoga texts therefore contain relatively many instructions on purity and hygiene. Purity of the body, purity of food, purity of one’s relationship to oneself, to others and to the world.
The sanskrit term for purity is saucha.
The purity of the body was taken very literally. The daily purification of all body orifices is part of this. The aim was to remove all kinds of unruly dirt that jhad gotten incrusted in the body.
Rinsing the large intestine (colon cleansing), or swallowing a long stretch of fabrie which is then slowly pulled out again. Or drinking a large quantity of lukewarm salted water and then vomiting up the entire contents of the stomach. It was all part of the process and sometimes looked more like self-flagellation.

Nasal rinse

However, some of these practices are easily achievable and of great benefit to modern people. One of them is the daily rinsing of the nose with lukewarm salted water.
I learned it in the days when I was still practising Kundalini yoga. In the meantime I have abandoned that particular type of yoga. But I am still into the neti-nose rinse almost on a daily basis.
Together with ditching milk products, the neti-nose rinse is also one of the key reasons why I have almost never suffered from nasal colds for more than 7 years now.
Picture of tools for netu nose flush

What do you need

Very little, in fact!

  • A little jug for nasal rinsing
  • A solution of sea salt or himalaya salt in water
  • A kettle or water heater
  • 5 minutes of discipline every morning

The saline solution

Sea salt and himalaya salt are closest to the salt found in nature. After all, in addition to the ordinary sodium chloride, they contain countless other salts and minerals.
How concentrated should it be?
When I first heard about neti-nose rinsing, there was no clarity or clear information at all about it in the Kundalini world. People just went along, and it sometimes seemed like a form of competition to show who was the toughest: the more salt, the better. The more it gave a burning sensation in the nose, the better.
But today we are going to use our common sense and above all, treat our body with love and respect. That is why it is good to have a look at the natural internal salt concentration of the body, and take that as a starting point for an efficient and pleasant mixture. In a ratio that purifies the nose well and only causes a slight, rather pleasant activation of the mucous membranes.
The natural salt concentration of our body is approximately 8.5 to 9 grams of salt per litre.

A bottle with stock solution

Preparing the salted water and storing it in a bottle is a very practical way of working. It provides you with good rinsing water at an appropriate temperature every day:

  • Take a 1 litre glass bottle, with a resealable ceramic stopper
  • Weigh about 20 to 25 grams of salt
  • Bring the salt into the bottle, and then fill the bottle almost completely with warm tap water
  • Shake the mixture until the salt is completely dissolved
  • Fill further with cold water until the bottle is full.

You now have a bottle with a saline solution of 20 to 25 grams per litre. That is twice as concentrated as what you need.

The daily rinse

Now proceed as follows in the morning:

  • Take a glass with about the same content as your neti jug
  • Fill half the glass with the salt solution from the storage bottle
  • Fill the other half with hot, boiled water
  • Pour the mixture into your neti jug
  • Go stand with your head tilted to one side above a washbasin or sink
  • Insert the spout of the jug into your upper nostril and pour the liquid into it
  • Let the water drain through your internal nasal cavity and through the lower nostril into the sink
  • You can, if so desired, breathe in the saline rinsing liquid a bit. Hold your head tilted slightly backwards in order to “gargle”
  • Repeat the cleansing procedure with your head the other way around until the jug is empty
  • Finally, snout forcefully to empty each nostril in order to remove any remaining impurities.

For maintenance, just rinse the jug with water after use.

Free breathing

By cleaning your nose in this way at the beginning of every day, you ensure a clean nasal cavity in which dirt does not get a chance to linger. After all, it is precisely in these waste products that bacteria and viruses can nestle in advance, after which they easily find their way up into the nasal cavity. They can be at the origin of colds or flu.

Moreover, after rinsing, you will experience the pleasant feeling of free and unhindered breathing, which also benefits your morning yoga practice.

The white porcelain neti jugs of German manufacture are available in the yoga studio.
They cost 22,00 euros a piece.
If you want to make a reservation for one, please send me an e-mail.

A sweet spicy dish with seitan

Sweet and spicy seitan

Yoga Kitchen – Simple, healthy and vegan

Have you switched to a vegan lifestyle and feel nostalgic for something like “meat stew”?
Then you must consider seitan.
Seitan has been known in oriental and more specifically Japanese cuisine for centuries. It is made of gluten powder. Gluten is the protein found in wheat and in plenty of other cereals. There is nothing wrong with that in itself. It is simply a powerful plant based source of protein.
Today, it is available in many forms as a standard meat substitute in organic shops and increasingly in other shops as well. Pre-cut in slices, in pieces or minced.

“Stoverij” is a typical Belgian (Flemish) dish people traditionally prepare with beer.
Seitan lends itself very well to this. But you can really do anything with it.
Take a look at this example of an oriental style spicy-sweet preparation:

For about two servings of vegan stew:

  • 200 gr seitan “suprème” or ordinary seitan
  • 50 gr onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 150 gr red and/or yellow bell pepper
  • 3 full tablespoons red madras curry paste (or any other curry paste of your choice)
  • a teaspoon of cumin seed
  • a teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons tamari, or sea salt to taste
  • 200 ml of water
  • One tablespoon of wheat flour or spelt to thicken the sauce. Corn starch (maizena) or kuzu will do the trick just as well.

Picture featuring a seitan dish and its ingredients

This is how to prepare:

Ready-to-use seitan does not require any pre-treatment. If it is a large piece of seitan, cut it into smaller pieces with a pair of scissors or a good knife.

  • Chop the onion and garlic and cut the sweet bell pepper into pieces
  • Let a tablespoon of olive oil warm up in a pressure cooker or in an ordinary pan over a low heat
  • First sprinkle the herbs in the warm oil. The oil absorbs the flavours.
  • Add onion and garlic and briefly fry.
  • Stir in the pieces of seitan and fry briefly.
  • Add the curry paste and the tamari and mix well.
  • Add the bell pepper and mix with the seitan
  • Finally pour in the water, close the pan

Irresistible

Preferably use a pressure cooker. This allows you to retain much more of the nutritional value. Also, the cooking process will take much less time and energy.
In a pressure cooker the whole thing is ready after about 15 minutes of simmering under steam pressure.
Count on 25 minutes for a classic pan.
Afterwards you can thicken the sauce by diluting the flour with some cooking liquid and then adding it to the preparation.
That’s it.
I guarantee you will be tempted to eat it all at once, it’s so tasty! The “suprème” version of seitan simply melts on the tongue.
Of course, nothing stops you from adding other vegetables or using other or additional herbs. Your taste is the norm.
Enjoy it fully !

Gluten or no gluten

Because more and more people are allergic to gluten, a phenomenon whose cause is exclusively attributed to gluten, eating wheat protein is more and more generally discouraged.

Personally, I think it is wrong. It is true that gluten, like other proteins, for example from animal origin, is relatively hard to digest. But if you are healthy and do not suffer from gluten intolerance, there is no reason to avoid it.

What is also true is that modern wheat has evolved genetically over the decades and is therefore no longer the same as the wheat that our ancestors knew. That may also have an impact on the digestibility of modern wheat. There are other cereals on sale in organic shops that are close to the structure and composition of the primeval wheat. Examples are kamut and spelt or emmer.

Thirdly, modern industrial bread is not as fair as the bread of yesteryear. For tasty, basic, fair bread you only need 4 ingredients:

  • flour (ground cereal)
  • water
  • yeast or leaven
  • (sea) salt

Modern industrial bread sometimes contains up to 20 different ingredients, mainly to make it leaven and ready to bake faster, and to influence its flavour and aroma.

Leaky gut

There is certainty that gluten, when it passes undigested or only partially undigested through the intestinal wall, cause damage further down the body, including allergic reactions.
On the other hand, there is no conclusive indication that the same gluten is also responsible for the deterioration and degeneration of the intestinal wall and the protective intestinal flora. For the latter may be due to other causes. Such as a diet that is too monotonous, with too many refined carbohydrates, too much added sugar, too many bad trans fats, too little fibre and, above all, industrially processed foods. The intestinal flora wears out, the intestinal wall slowly leaches out due to a lack of minerals and loses its protective effect: as a result too large openings appear. This is called “leaky gut” syndrome.