These Tasty Sugarless Vegan Muffins are for Real

Who doesn’t love muffins, those small, dome-shaped spongy cakes made of eggs, baking powder and sugar? But, for the health conscious soul, this is a recipe for disaster since sugar or the ‘white poison’ is something best avoided. So, usher into your life the sugarless vegan muffin.

In this particular recipe, all you have to do is replace sugar with a tasty combination of bananas, unsweetened apple sauce, and soaked raisins to give the sweet buzz.

To Make the Apple Sauce
Peel two apples and boil them in water till they soften, and then blend them until smooth.

To Soak the Raisins
Put them in a jar of filtered water and leave them in the fridge to soak for at least 12 hours. Don’t throw away the water used to soak the raisins because it can be used to making tea or almond milk, and there is no add sweeteners since raisins have done the job.

Sugarless Vegan Muffins Recipe

Ingredients

3 bananas (the riper the better)
¼ cup of applesauce (unsweetened, as per instructions above)
¼ soaked raisins
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour

Instructions:

  1. Blend the bananas, applesauce, raisins and oil together.
  2. Mix well with the dry ingredients.
  3. Separate the dough in small portions and fashion them into the shape of cupcakes (add some raisins on the top of each cupcake shape if you like).
  4. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.
  5. Enjoy with a cold glass of fresh juice.

Ashtanga Yoga Poses and Asanas, and Their Benefits to You

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, or simply Ashtanga Yoga, is the modern form of the traditional Hatha Yoga and forms the basis of almost all vinyasa, power and flow style yogas that are popular in the west today. Its roots go back to the early 1900s to an ancient text called Yoga Korunta, written by Vamana Rishi. The text was then passed on down from teacher to disciple and by 1927, it was imparted by Krishnamacharya to the then 12-year-old Sri K Pattabhi Jois. By 1948, Pattabhi Jois had set up the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore where he propagated his drive to promote and popularize this specific form of yoga.

Ashtanga Yoga: The Eightfold Path

Ashtanga Yoga literally means “eight-limbed yoga”; that is, the eight-fold path towards the attainment of peace of mind (ashta= eight, anga= limbs, yoga= peace of mind).

According to Patanjali, author of Yoga Sutra, the quest for inner peace involves an eight-phase journey:

  • Yama (moral codes)
  • Niyama (self-purification and study)
  • Asana (posture)
  • Pranayama (breath control)
  • Pratyahara (sense control)
  • Dharana (concentration)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Samadhi (contemplation)

The first four limbs- Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama – are considered as external cleansing practices while the next four- Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi – are internal cleansing practices.

According to Pattabhi Jois, any defects incurred during any or all of the external practices can be rectified but defects in the internal practices cannot, and is dangerous for the mind if the precise method of Ashtanga Yoga is not followed.

How (and Why)  Practice Ashtanga?

The term ‘vinyasa’ refers to the alignment of movement and breath, creating a dynamic flow to the transitions between asanas, wherein more attention is given to the breath and the journey from each asana to another, rather than on merely attaining the perfect body alignment.

The breathing technique in Ashtanga is referred to as ‘free breathing with sound’ by Sharath Jois, Director of the K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. Each breath is relaxed and aligned with every movement, while a sound like that of the ocean resonates in the throat. Vinyasa and this breathing style together produce internal heat which leads to proper blood circulation and perspiration, thereby cleansing the body in the process.

Bandha, or muscle locking, is another important principle of Ashtanga which assists the practitioner in maintaining an asana position and also moving in and out of it.

There are basically three main Bandhas, namely the Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and the Jalandhara Bandha.

The Mula Bandha, or root lock, is the tightening of the pelvic and perineal muscles.

Uddiyana Bandha is the contraction of the lower abdominal muscles. It is considered to be the most important Bandha as it supports your breathing and strengthens the core muscles.

Jalandhara Bandha is performed by extending the neck and elevating the sternum (breastbone) as you lower your head till your chin touches your chest, while your tongue pushes against the palate. It prevents pranic energy from escaping and also stops any pressure build-up in the head while holding your breath.

Drishti (focused gaze) is where you look at while in an asana. Its primary intention is to develop concentration and focus. The most commonly practised Drishti is Urdhva, or upward gazing, where the eyes are lifted while the body is perfectly aligned from crown to tailbone. Apart from Urdhva, there are eight other Drishtis which instruct you where to direct your gaze during each asana.

Ashtanga Away!

When practised diligently, Ashtanga Yoga brings physical and mental afflictions to rest, and you are able to experience vibrant health and sharp self- awareness.

The mind is brought under control and subsequently, the six poisons as per the Yoga Shastra that surround the spiritual heart- kama (desire), krodha (anger), moha (delusion), lobha (greed), matsarya (envy) and mada (sloth)-  are burned away and the light of your inner peace shines forth!

Vegetables or Vegetable Juices? The Daily Dilemma

We rely on vegetables for a wide range of nutrients and benefits like vitamins, minerals, fibres and antioxidants. But the confusion starts with deciding how to consume them. Eat them or drink vegetable juice? This is especially true when we need to balance our busy schedules, availability of ingredients, likes and dislikes among other factors.

3 Reasons to Consume Vegetables in Their Original Form

  1. Fibre is best available when vegetables are consumed as they are.
  2. Nutrients made available. Bite and chew on the veggies very well because adequately chewed food release nutrients.
  3. See how veggies go easy on the teeth and tummy using a simple trick. For people who have a compromised digestive system or dentition issues, the process of steaming/ pressure cooking/ boiling vegetables help maximise fibre intake. It is a common myth that cooking vegetables will take away its nutrients. That’s not true unless the vegetables are exposed to air, extreme heat (due to frying/ overcooking) for a prolonged period.

3 Reasons to Consume Vegetables Juices/Soups
You don’t need a chef or nutritionist to tell you to include 3 to 4 cups of vegetables in our daily meals. However, most people find it difficult to include more than one vegetable in their daily food schedule. This can be encouraged by adding vegetable juices/ soups in their day to day menu.

  1. A perfect mid-meal is unstrained vegetable juices/soups, which are known as negative calorie foods. They make the body spend more calories to digest than the calories they offer. No pain no gain – you work more to make a juice/ soup, but it is worth the effort. Vegetable soups/juices are low-calorie beverage choices which offer satisfaction as well.
  2. Hydration. Some find it difficult to adequately hydrate themselves due to low water intake habits. People working in an air-conditioned environment tend to drink less water. Those with fever, cough, or colds generally tend to lose more water than they consume. This, coupled with additional fluid requirements, becomes a task for them to attain optimum hydration. Well, coming to the rescue are vegetable juices/soups, which help achieve superior hydration.
  3. Antioxidants are little fussy creatures if they have to ‘work’ to the best of their capabilities for us. At any time, it depends on the vegetable chosen and the antioxidant considered – whether consuming a particular vegetable raw/ cooked/ souped or juiced will give us maximum antioxidant (E.g. – Lycopene is best available in tomato juices/ soups/ other processed food products versus a raw tomato.)

 

For best tolerance, raw vegetables might be better for the body during the day, and cooked vegetables and juices/soups might be better digested during the later part of the day.

A word of caution, however, avoid frozen/ preserved vegetables and ready to drink juices/ soups for they are high in sodium and preservatives.

To cut a long story short, a good blend of raw vegetables as salads, cooked vegetables as savoury food options and vegetable juices/soups as hydrants boost the total vegetable intake every day.

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