This book represents the culmination of twenty years of research and experimentation with food and nutrition. In my early twenties I got sick and couldn’t get better. I was diagnosed with sinusitis, bronchitis, strep throat, and scurvy. Yes, scurvy. It took me a year to fully recover and was a huge wake-up call, as you can imagine. I was determined never to end up in such a situation again and began the painstaking process of educating myself as a food buyer, a cook, and a conscious eater. Along with my friend Tika, who is the source of the recipes, this book is our labor of love to the world, a container for our and others accumulated wisdom, a way to share with you how to eat in a way that feeds you, body and soul.
Visit us at DharmaFeastCookbook.com
Publication date: February 15, 2012. Can be ordered on Amazon.com.
The following is from the Introduction:
Most of us in the West spend our days surrounded by a fast-paced, technological world that is not particularly nurturing. Western culture has evolved into a way of life in which we cram as many words, information, and activities as we can into our day. Eating is often what we do while we’re busy doing something else. For the most part, grocery stores feed this lifestyle—they are filled with processed foods meant to be prepared and eaten as quickly as possible. Magazine, newspaper, radio, and television ads reinforce getting carried away by and becoming lost in unhealthy habits and food cravings.
We have lost our intuitive understanding of how to feed ourselves and our loved ones in a way that nourishes rather than one that does little more than placate the cravings of the less conscious part of ourselves. We crave concentrated foods: fast, easy, processed, and often full of salt, fat, and sugar—chips, power bars, and other filler food. We think we don’t have time—or energy—to cook.
So why, when it seems like we have less time in the day than ever, would we consider using a cookbook that asks us to make our meals from basic, natural ingredients? The answer is as simple as the recipes themselves. Within such an intentional diet are the seeds to bring sanity back into our lives.
If asked about our physical state, many of us would say “I feel pretty good.” Maybe we’re tired or irritable sometimes, or our stomachs occasionally hurt, or we have a skin rash, but overall we don’t get sick very often and we unconsciously think this is an indication of robust health. What many of us consider to be “fine” or “normal” means we don’t have a debilitating disease, which is not a good definition of “healthy.” In fact, our concept of “health” changes considerably when we learn about what we are eating and how it affects us. Once we do, we may realize that we have not experienced the natural life force of our bodies other than on a camping trip, yoga class, or weekend seminar.
Our bodies can tolerate many toxic substances, until the point that these cause disease. In the meantime, the body compensates for the neurotoxins (toxins that make the brain malfunction) found in processed food additives. It compensates for vitamin, mineral, and protein deficiencies. It compensates for lack of water and exercise. It adapts to overindulgence in sugars, salt, and fat. But a body in such a condition is not one that is healthy, whole, or balanced enough to function properly, and this can significantly impact every area of your life. If your brain is flooded with neurotoxins on a daily basis, for example, then your whole thought process is affected. Ideas, physical reactions, and even the depths you are capable of in relationships and life in general are all altered by the “fog” stealing through your mind. Indeed, eventually the body won’t compensate anymore, and then acute or chronic disease will likely set in. The list of symptoms of physical crisis is long and includes, gas and other digestive problems, allergies, symptoms of arthritis, insomnia, depression, spaciness and emotional fixation on anger, fear, and drama.
Sanity begins with learning about food, preparing it properly, and eating it consciously. If we do this, we have the possibility of becoming healthy and free of the confusion and reactivity caused by toxic foods. The diet we recommend, which is based on plant-based whole foods, leaves fewer residues physically, mentally, and emotionally. It does not leave a coat of plaque on our intestines, tissues, brain, etc., so it does not alter our body or brain chemistry the way many animal-based and processed foods do. For example, when we eat a lot of sugar, whether we know it or not, we have chemically-induced emotional highs and lows. The same is true with eating too many artificial preservatives, which cause a feeling of ungrounded spaciness.
When we eat a clean diet these residues are naturally eliminated from our body, and this has a deep effect on our mind and emotions. We can start experiencing a more natural response to the world around us, instead of reacting to it as per the toxins in the foods we eat. But we can’t know the impact these substances have until we get our bodies to a cleaner state and can experience the contrast.
As our diet changes, we become able to take care of ourselves and model for our children and others a relationship with food and life itself that is an expression of intention and sanity. Our premise is that a change in diet is the single most effective way to begin to move your attention away from psychological and physical problems so that you may dedicate that energy to your highest commitments.
Our recommendations are based on scientific findings as well as personal experience. Dharma Feast Cookbook : Recipes for a Fresh Start also draws on the way people have eaten for thousands of years from a wide range of cultures. One of this book’s strengths is that we have synthesized knowledge from these many different sources so that you don’t need to. Dharma Feast Cookbook offers you enough of the basics to help you make informed food choices, and encourages you to seek out more information if interested.
 “Dharma” refers to the universal truths that underlie all of life. It is the intrinsic nature of things, the right order of things; life as it is—the natural condition and essence of everything.
The Essential Foundations
The way of eating introduced in Dharma Feast Cookbook is supported by three pillars:
1. Discipline and Commitment: For most of us, our relationship to food is unconscious. It is an expression of psychological need, self-indulgence, or avoidance, and changing it takes discipline and commitment.
2. Open Mind: For some of us what is contained here may be radical and provocative but if we are open to what we are reading, we just might jump in with both feet and make one of the most positive changes in our lifetime.
3. Conscious Experimentation: Eating on this diet means eating or moving towards primarily non-animal, plant-based whole foods (as close to their original state as possible)—raw and cooked vegetables, greens, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, fermented foods, seaweeds, raw organic butter or organic ghee (clarified butter), fresh-squeezed juices, water, and certain supplements (see Supplementation in Resources and Recommendations, Chapter 8). We call this the Stage 3 diet. But pay attention while experimenting with the Stages—make sure what you “crave” is something your body needs, not just something you want. The cleaner your body is, the easier it will be for you to feel what’s working and what needs to be modified.
A Word About Our Differences
We understand that a sane relationship to food and eating comes easier to some due to our past efforts, or because of what was modeled for us as children. Others really struggle with establishing this type of “sanity.” Being aware of and being in one’s body gets a lot of press and air-time in magazines and workshops and following the recommendations in this book is a powerful and practical way to experience this possibility. However, we recognize that many people are not ready to eat exclusively at Stage 3, which is why we’ve also included a wide range of recipes for what we call the Stage 2 diet,which contains a few foods, such as limited dairy products and eggs, not found in Stage 3. Most important is that we choose a diet for ourselves and cultivate the discipline to follow it.
With this in mind, the material presented here is designed to put as much power as possible back in your hands when it comes to choices about your diet. We have found that making different decisions is much easier when we really know what it is we’re choosing. We invite you to try eating this way for a month—it may take that long for your body and taste buds to adapt. But the goal should be to include as much healthy food in your everyday life as possible.
Ultimately, our bodies are all different, so what will work for one person may not work well for another. Please create your own relationship to what you find here. Give yourself space to experiment and have fun. But, let the ideas take root in you and see what sprouts. In our experience, the recipes and lifestyle changes suggested here can open the door to a healthier and more centered body and mind.
We hope this cookbook brings you a renewed sense of connection to the meals you create. Let’s bring back the tradition of families and friends gathered around the table, sharing good food and good conversation. Here’s to helping make sure that never goes out of style!