Rue

RUE (botanical name : RUTA GRAVEOLENS) is a small, evergreen shrub with woody stems and bluish-grey-green leaves.  It is used as a flavouring agent in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.  The leaves have an astringent or bitter taste, especially when dried.  RUE can be used with sour, acidic foods, which help to tone down its bitterness such as tomato sauces and dishes with olives or capers.  RUE leaves and berries are an important part of the cuisine of Ethiopia.  Sometimes, RUE seeds are used to flavour porridge.  In Italy, the young branches of the plant are dipped in a batter, deep-fried and consumed with salt or sugar.

rue-plantRUE is one of the herbs mentioned in the New Testament.  In some countries, holy water is sprinkled from brushes  made of RUE at the ceremony usually preceding the Sunday of High Mass, for which reason it is called the HERB OF REPENTENCE and the HERB OF GRACE.  RUE has a long history of use in both medicine and magic, and is considered a ‘protective herb’ in both disciplines.

The hardy evergreen shrub is mentioned by writers from Pliny to Shakespeare and beyond, as a ‘herb of remembrance’  of ‘warding’ and of ‘healing’.  RUE was once believed to improve eyesight and creativity, and no less personages than Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo regularly ate the small, trefoil leaves to increase their own levels of creativity.

Since olden days, RUE has been used to ward off contagion and prevent attacks of fleas and other noxious insects.  RUE juice is used to treat earache.  It is believed that RUE is helpful in the treatment of hypertension, diabetes and allergic reactions.  Tea made from RUE leaves is used to treat nervous headache, griping stomach ache, dizziness, cough, vertigo, palpitation, anxiety problems and high blood pressure.

————— (Sacred Space)

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Get rid of mouth ulcers

An ‘ulcer’ or a ‘perforation’ in the mouth, can be quite a pain.  Wile severe cases do need medical attention and in-depth check-up of what is causing it, there are home remedies to cure ulcers caused by bad eating habits.

(1) Ulcers could hurt a lot, so gently rub a cube of ice on the portion, for temporary relief.

  (2) Apply honey or ghee on the area for quick relief.  Repeat this process a couple of times so it eventually subsides.

(3) Chew on a clove bud.  Clove juice is known to heal the affected area.

(4) Anything with coconut will help —— coconut water cools your body down.  Chew on some coconut so the pain reduces or you could also apply a little coconut on the area for some respite.

(5) A good way to reduce heat in the body is to consume poppy seeds.  You could mix some sugar with poppy seeds and then consume them.

(6) One of the most popular methods to get rid of ulcers is to apply aloe vera gel on the affected area.

(7) Tough it might burn a little, gargle at least twice a day with warm water and salt.

(8) For temporary relief, place black tea bags on the affected area.  It will soothe you for a while.

(9) Avoid using mouthwashes containing alcohol, because alcohol works as a dehydrant.  .

Also use soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid irritation.

——Mrinalini.Sundar@timesgroup.com.

5 fruits to have this summer

It is important to keep your body hydrated in order to stay healthy in summer.  Besides drinking coconut water, buttermilk and loads of water, you must have fruits.  Nutritionists suggest five fruits to have this summer to cope with the heat and stay cool.

Melon(1) MELONS :   This water-rich fruit comes as a relief during the scorching summer.  Water melons are 90% water.  If you are suffering from a heat burn, water melon will have a soothing effect on your stomach.  Muskmelon also has plenty of Vitamin C and it boosts immunity.

Ice apple(2) ICE APPLE :  This fruit has a fantastic cooling effect on the body.  During summer we tend to get  heat rashes and stomach burns.  Regular intake of ice apples will help overcome common health-related issues that arise  Give children this fruit often, as they spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer vacations.  It will help them cope with the heat.  Ice apples are also high on vital minerals and Vitamin B12.

pears(3) PEARS : This juicy fruit quenches thirst and has several digestion benefits as it is rich in fibre.  It also helps prevent constipation.  Pears are rich in vitamins and minerals.

guava(4) GUAVA :  This sodium-free fruit prevents common summer health problems like cough, cold, diarrhoea and dysentery.  The fruit is also an antioxidant and helps prevent cell damage.

sweet lime(5) SWEET LIME :  Choose sweet lime instead of carbonated drinks when you feel thirsty. The vitamin C content in sweet lime will keep you away from cold and flu and its potassium content relieves one from diarrhoea , which is common this season.

—————Janani.Karthik@timesgroup.com. 

Reading before bed

In today’s social media world where one usually spends time on their phone before going to bed, here are a few important points to keep in mind.  This will surely make you ditch the phone and go for a book.
reading-before-bedWe scan, we skim, we browse but rarely do we read.  Our eyes Ping-Pong back and forth from Facebook posts to open chat boxes, unclicked emails to GIFs of dancing cats, scanning for key words but barely digesting what we see.  Average time spent on an online article is 15 seconds.
In 2014, the Pew Research Centre revealed that one-quarter of American adults hadn’t read a single book in the previous year.  And that’s a shame, because those who read exhibit significantly greater memory and mental abilities at all stages in life.  They are also better public speakers, thinkers and, according to some studies, better people in general.
 Cracking open a book before you go to bed could help combat insomnia, too.  A 2009 study from researchers at University of Sussex showed that six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68%, thus clearing the mind and readying the body for sleep.
The reasoning by psychologist and author Doctor David Lewis is that a book is “an active engaging of the imagination”, one that “causes you to enter an altered state of consciousness”.  It doesn’t matter if your book of choice is by James Patterson or James Joyce, fiction or fact, so long as you find it fully absorbing.  Because when the mind is engaged in a world constructed by words, tension evaporates and the body relaxes, paving the way for sleep.
———– Source : www. businessinsider.com

Colocasia

COLOCASIA (Hindi : ARBI or ARVI), a “powerhouse vegetable” is one of the oldest vegetables of the Indian Subcontinent.  —————– Much before that nouveau upstart, the POTATO taking over the Subcontinent kitchens in such a comprehensive manner, COLOCASIA was the “preferred tuber.”  In fact, Colocasia is not just indigenous to India, but large parts of Eastern Asia as well.  In the Philippines, it goes under a name similar to our ARBI/ARVI ——– ABI, and is a popular veggie.  Besides, of course, it is most popularly used as TARO everywhere.

ColacasiaCOLOCASIA was always the go-to-veggie in homes.  The aloo-meat curry, one of the most basic ways of combining goat meat and potatoes in a spicy thin gravy in Northern India may be deemed “home-style” today, but it was quite likely to have been preceded by ARBI-MEAT curry as the original starch-protein combination.  Fried Colocasia fingers make for an interesting textural counterpoint in this style of gravy dish, popular in U.P., primarily in Muslim but also KAYASTHA homes.
The favoured way to cook the tuber is, of course, to FRY IT.  Since Colocasia is also a “monsoon ingredient”, this makes sense given the fact that the Indian kitchen, whose functioning was based in AYURVEDA, preferred a switch to “heat-inducing” foods gradually as the monsoon cooled the Subcontinent and to fried foods to keep diseases at bay.
That is also perhaps why ARBI & AJWAIN make for such a perfect marriage.  AJWAIN (carom) is known for its digestive properties, and a perfect recipe to use the “monsoon spice” (carom), warding off stomach infection, common this time of the year, to coat fried Colocasia.
Even the leaves are fashioned out into PATODE in UP, Bihar & Gujarat use a sprinkling of carom in the masala spiking gram flour (BESAN).  PATODE is a recipe for the rainy day : The leaves of the Colocasia need to be cleaned and washed, spread out and then coated with a thin batter of spiced gram flour.  They can be layered, folded and then rolled (like a Swiss Roll), before being steamed.  Cut into rounds and deep fry for a tea-time snack.  You may not find more exotic PAKORA anywhere.
Arbi Masala FryColocasia is an invaluable source of dietary fibre.  The CORMS have more calories than potatoes, and these come primarily from “complex carbs”, which are slow-digestive”, will thus help fill you up more and also help elevate blood sugar levels gradually —–unlike simple, easy-to-break- down carbs.
The leaves, on the other hand, have antioxidants beta-carotenes and a significant amount of Vitamin A that is good for your eye-sight amongst other things.  And the CORM has some essential minerals as well —- zinc, magnesium and potassium that help regulate heart rate and BP.  So, Colocasia is actually a “powerhouse of nutrients” ——- a “super food”  —– in its own right.
Colocasia is trending as an ingredient, especially at “modern” Indian establishments.  ARBI TUK, for instance, has suddenly made an appearance on many menus, including at “The Bombay Canteen” in Mumbai, pegged on local gastronomy and a re-invention of forgotten regional recipes.
Arbi dishesTUK is a Sindhi term, essentially for deep frying vegetables and then tossing them in dry masala.  For ARBI TUK, all you need is boil the Colocasia, flatten it and the deep fry till it is crisp and golden.  Then toss in a masala of dry coriander powder, red chilly powder and dry mango (AMCHOOR) powder.  This recipe is essentially the same as followed in many parts of UP as well, where, one other spice is added to the crispy ARBI / ARVI, and that is AJWAIN (carom).  It elevates the dish to another level.
In Punjabi-influenced cooking, ARBI may of course be cooked in a generic onion-tomato masala.  But its charm can be better appreciated if you use the spices discerningly and selectively.  Dried fenugreek (METHI) is another ingredient that goes well with Colocasia.  Pan-roast the tuber and then coat it with a masala that includes a whiff of KASOORI METHI.  You won’t forget the flavour.
———–Anoothi Vishal.    

Fat and fabulous

FAT. It’s a beautiful word made ugly in a “thin-inspired” world.  It is important to keep your fat consumption under control, but eliminating fats entirely results in eliminating an extremely key nutritional component your body needs.  It adversely affects your efforts at getting fit.  Your body needs a healthy combination of protein, carbs, vitamins and fats for you to burn fat., because “fat burning” is a high metabolic activity.  Simply put, YOU NEED FAT TO BURN FAT.
Some fats are bad for you, pile on the cholesterol and cause problems and some fats are good.  Fats like MUFA and PUFA and Omega-3 fatty acids aid your overall weight loss and weight management goals.  Include these fabulous fats in your diet. —-
(1) Fat : AVOCADO  Fabulous : Avocado is loaded with vitamins (vitamins K, C, B5, B6 and E), fibre and antioxidants.  It is not alien to health and well-being and can be eaten in the form of a dip (like guacamole), in a salad or even on its own.  Go green
Avodaco(2) Fat : ALMONDS  Fabulous : An Almond is  a nutritional boon, combating health issues like high cholesterol and osteoporosis.  It’s also good for your heart, brain and immunity  Get a daily handful of this nutritious ninja (5-6 almonds per day if you are not on a weight loss programme)  to derive the best to offer.  Unsweetened almond milk is also a good  substitute for cow or buffalo milk if you are lactose intolerant.
(3)  Fat : WALNUTS.  Fabulous : Walnuts brim with nutrients.  Having 2 to 3 a day is enough to help your heart, bone health, mood and weight loss.  It also helps fight insomnia, gallstones, diabetes.
(4) Fat : FLAXSEEDS.  Fabulous : Flaxseed is an understated  power-packed fat.  Not only does it act as a natural laxative, it decreases cholesterol and has been known to put up an impressive fight against diabetes.  A teaspoon a day of toasted flaxseeds is all you need.
(5) Fat : GROUNDNUT.  Fabulous : Groundnut oil has a  great balance of MUFA & PUFA.  This oil is especially good because it has the antioxidant “resveratrol”, and is a good source of Vitamin E.  Those with peanut allergies need to avoid this though.
spanish-olives(6) Fat : RICE BRAN.  Fabulous : Another oily option is rice bran oil.  This is packed to the hilt with vitamin E and antioxidants.  It melds well with whatever you cook, be it Indian or Continental.  Its relatively low price makes it an extremely economically-viable option.
(7) Fat : SALMON.  Fabulous : Salmon fights heart disease, protects joints, improves mood and boosts cognition Cured or grilled salmon can be  apart of your plate in many different avatars.
(8) Fat : EGGS.  Fabulous : With just 16 calories per egg white, it is a 100% reference protein.  All the protein you get from an egg gets fully absorbed by the body, with none going to waste.  It is also cheap.  Eat it daily to keep your energy battery on auto recharge mode.
Baked Salmon(9) Fat : OLIVES.  Fabulous : Olives are great fats, and have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.  Pop it in salads, slice it in pasta or just have it as it is.
(10) Fats : SESAME SEEDS  Fabulous : Sesame seeds not only work to give you the good fats you need but are also an excellent source of calcium.
Whatever you choose to eat, all fats should be kept to about 10% in total of your daily recommended calorie intake.  Remember —– Good fats are not always less calorific but they can nourish you like few other things can.
—— Pooja Makhija (Nutritionist)   

Yoga on the go

Travelling for long hours means stiff joints and poor blood circulation.  Prepare your body, mind and spirit for travel fatigue.
You could be on a long road journey, a train ride or a two-hour flight ……… the seats are small and constricted and your legs are cramped in a tight space.  Travelling for long hours also means loss of blood circulation to the lower body.  One must straighten the legs and move the feet forward and backward periodically.  Feel the tension in your calves.  Rotate ankles, clockwise and anticlockwise.  Flex and stretch your toes too.
Gyan mudraSTRENGTHEN NECK MUSCLES :  While a neck-pillow works well in cushioning your spine during travel, some basic yoga steps only make your travel more comfortable.  ** Look up and bend your head back.  Then bend your head down and look downwards.  Move only your neck, breathing normally.  Repeat this three to five times.  ** Now turn your face as far right as possible.  Then turn to the left.  Repeat three times.
BENEFITS : Removes stiffness of the neck muscles and counters spasms, corrects the neck posture and aligns the joints.
LOOSEN UP :  ** Take your hands behind your head.  Place your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder.  Your elbows should point upwards.  ** Interlock your fingers.  Cover your forehead with your palms.  Exert force with your hands and neck in opposite directions.  The palms should force the neck back while the neck forces the palms forward.
BENEFITS :  Removes all traces of stiffness in the shoulders and neck muscles.
ARM STRENGTH :  ** Outstretch your arms, at shoulder level.  With all your strength, clench your hands into fists and then unclench them.  ** Rotate your fists in both directions.  ** Keep your hands on your shoulders and rotate elbows clockwise and anticlockwise.
BENEFITS :  Removes weakness in the arms, cures stiff shoulders and neck, alleviates joint pains.
yoga-reflectionsGYAN MUDRA :  ** Sit in a comfortable position in your chair folding your legs, keeping your back and neck straight.  ** Form the Gyan Mudra by touching the tip of the thumb with the tip of the index finger, the other three fingers straight and joined together.  Place your hands on the knees, palms facing upwards.  Close your eyes gently and focus on your breathing.  Hold this position for 10mins.
BENEFITS :  It improves concentration and reduces negative thoughts.  Regular practice eliminates insomnia, migraine usually associated with long travel.
POST-TRAVEL ASANA :  Stand erect, heels together and place both hands on your chest, fingers interlocked.  Stretch your arms ahead and slowly raise them up while breathing in.  Raise your heels, stand on tiptoe and stretch your entire body upwards.  Repeat two or three times.
BENEFITS : Strengthens the spine, ankles, knees, thighs and abdomen.  Relieves physical exhaustion.
———- Inputs by Yogacharya Dr. Surakshit Goswami.