I worked as a holistic chef for David Cho's spring yoga retreat at Hidden Villa in Los Altos last weekend. This is my 3rd year in a row, and it has been always a great learning experience for me.
This beautiful retreat center has a wonderful commercial kitchen that every chef has dreamed of. There are 6 huge gas stove tops and 2 large ovens, a huge flat-top grill, and an entire cutting board table. On top of that, there is another fully equipped gas stove and a sink in the corner just for the vegan use... I still remember when I first had set foot in the kitchen, I was totally speechless. So excited and thankful for giving me the opportunity of being a conductor of this lovely kitchen. I felt like I got wings that I could do anything. And it was true. We were able to create so many magic on the plates.
Since it was a spring detox retreat, I used a lot of vegetables and grains that help to detox and nourish the body. According to TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), Spring corresponds with liver and gallbladder. The liver is one of the most critical organs which plays like the role of a chemical refinery plant for the body. All the toxic food including food additives, pesticide residue, and unwasted oil we happen to eat daily get detoxified by our liver so our purified blood can circulate in the body.
When spring comes, our liver and gallbladder are at full blast because all the fat that stored in the winter to protect from the cold is no longer needed, so our life force energy tries to get rid of it just like we no longer need our coats and boots. So, we are ready for the warm season. With upward energy of spring, our organs inside of the body start to prepare for the summer.
Our mother earth prepares the perfect spring vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, leeks, arugula, bok choy, beets that help to nourish our liver and gallbladder. So, I use them all to create the food for the hungry yogis. I also used a lot of naturally fermented food such as chickpea miso, homemade amazake, soy source to promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria for improving immune function as well as digestive and heart health.
I also prepared the pile of sliced oranges every morning. The taste of sour associate with spring according to TCM. Those citric & amino acids in the fruits help to support the liver function. So, I used a lot of sour condiments such as organic apple cider vinegar and Umesu for the salad dressings.
Our eyes and tendons/muscles are connected by the meridian of the liver. Hence, if you have eye problems such as dry eyes or blurry vision, or muscles problem such as having a cramp in the middle of the night could be a sign of stagnation of your liver. So, if you have any sign on the above, it is time to take good care of your liver. Eat lots of spring vegetables, and avoid oily food until all the symptoms are gone.
If you could skip dinner, that would be even better! It is said that about 80% of your enzyme in your body is used up for digesting of the food you eat, and only 20% is used for restoring your health on a daily basis. But if you go on fasting, 100% of your enzyme is used for restoring and detoxification for your body. In the natural kingdom, wounded animals usually go on fasting so they get healed faster. Children under 7 also still have natural instincts to protect themselves. So, when they get sick, they usually lose appetite which is a natural way of healing. When we get older, many of us tend to lose or weaken our instincts somehow. If you get sick or not feeling well next time, try to skip the dinner or eat a small amount and see how you feel the next morning. A lot of my friends told me that they felt much better and see their skin more clear even though it was painful for them to sleep their stomach growling so hard...
Thank you, David Cho, for trusting me to cook meals for your precious yoga family members! Thank you all the yogis who ate all my creations with a big smile! And last but not at least, thank you Nao, Rieko and Seiya who assist me all the way through to complete the mission. I love you all!
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