Wisdom & Deliciousness from the kitchen of Lakshmi
Hello Everyone, today I’m feel blessed to share an interview with Lakshmi Wennakoski-Bielicki. This talented yogini, chef, photographer and writer is the founder of the blog, purevege.com as well the author of the soul-stirring (& mouthwatering) new cookbook, Pure Vegetarian. And today, we’re fortunate enough to hear through her own humble and reflective words, how her yoga practices have influenced every part of her being, including how she cooks, eats and approaches life.
So, without further ado….I welcome Lakshmi Wennakoski-Bielicki.
Tell us about where your love for cooking & spirituality comes from?
My attraction for immaterial comes from the previous lives – from the propensities, activities and goals I’ve pursued in the past – but my spiritual awakening sprang forth when I found compassionate, enlightened association in my youth. The realization of these saintly persons affected me so deeply that the soul I had forgotten I am erupted from a suspension, like a volcano.
For me, spirituality is not only a state of existence, but a dynamic process of connecting everything – including cooking and eating – to Divinity with knowledge and devotion. It is the ultimate yoga, or a relationship, between the energy and the energetic, and it is maturing through conscious efforts.
What inspired you to start your blog, Purevege.com?
Blogging was an organic venue to move forward and upward, and to reach out, while I was adjusting to the slower pace and different temperament of midlife. I’ve been blessed with so much wealth – love, Vedic knowledge, focus, simplicity, peacefulness and affinity for transcendence – and one way or another I want to share it with others. Vegetarian food is a good platform to communicate with like-minded persons. Maintaining the blog engages my creative drive, too.
What’s your favorite ingredient to cook with?
I like everything fresh: vegetables and herbs right from the garden, or even wild vegetables like nettle, goutweed and edible flowers found in the field and forest. I wouldn’t survive without milk for yogurt and paneer (fresh cheese), or butter for ghee (clarified butter)! Spices are important to me, too.
When I lived in the temple ashram, I learnt my kitchen motto “bhakti (devotion) is the most essential ingredient”. “How” you cook – in what state of heart or consciousness – is primary, and “what” you cook (with) is secondary. The modern world is neglecting the former and over-emphasizing the latter, while forgetting that food nourishes the soul as well as the body.
What’s your most important self-care tool or ritual that you do daily?
I’ve upheld several vows, like meditating certain number of mantras (prayers) daily, and offering everything I eat as a loving sacrifice to God, since I was initiated into bhakti-yoga discipline in my late adolescence. These are some standard self-reforming methods that, when regularly practiced, uplift from selfishness to selflessness, or material to spiritual. But, my quest of self-realization continues throughout the day; it is a lifestyle of using my senses, mind, intelligence and ego as instruments of the soul, atma, in the service of the Supersoul, paramatma.
Can you tell us what your favorite part about writing your book was?
Writing Pure Vegetarian was a bittersweet experience which I understand better now when the book is published. The process and people I collaborated with taught me a lot by stirring some dark, dusty corners of my heart I had closed my eyes from. It was painful to face my shortcomings and I had trouble in making my ideas subservient to the cookbook form. However, I’m now able to appreciate the hardships more than the easy parts like developing the recipes, and cooking and photographing for the book.
Any last things you’d like to share?
To quote Radhanath Swami, one of my teachers and the author of The Journey Home (an autobiography of an American swami): “The human form is the crescendo of creation as we have the power to surrender to the Absolute Truth”.
Lakshmi, thank you so much for sharing your insights, nourishment and inspiration with our readers; truly grateful! And if you’re interested in acquiring a copy of her soul-stirring, new cookbook and checking out the delicious recipes on her blog, she is hosting a giveaway on her website this week, so make sure to stop by at www.purevege.com.
Lastly, we’ll leave you with a recipe from Lakshmi’s treasure trove of nourishment for the soul; her Energizing Breakfast Bowl (doesn’t the picture above look amazing)!
I’d love to continue this conversation in the comments below….so let us know what you thought of this interview and how you take your yoga practice off the mat and into the kitchen…and your daily life. Looking forward to hearing from you!
With lots of love and gratitude,
- 1 cup (250 ml) almonds
- 1 cup (250 ml) white butterbeans
- 10 Brussels sprouts
- 6 - 7 kale leaves
- 10 radishes
- 2 - 3 avocados
- A handful of seedlings (microgreens)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Jeera seeds (roasted and powdered)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon juice
- Himalayan salt
- Natural yogurt
- Soak the almonds in clean water for overnight.
- Wash and soak the beans in clean water for overnight. Rinse and cook them in clean water until soft, but not mushy.
- Wash the Brussels sprouts and steam them and them in ¼ cup (60 ml) water for 4 – 5 minutes.
- Wash the kale leaves and chop them smaller. Place the leaves on the top of the Brussels sprouts and keep steaming until the water evaporates. Remove from the heat source.
- Peel the radishes, avocados and wash the seedlings.
- Combine the almonds, beans, Brussels sprouts, kale, radishes, avocados and seedlings. Sprinkle with olive oil, jeera powder, black pepper, lemon juice and salt. Serve with natural yogurt.