Salute to the Sun, in a Wholesome New Way
Most practices start with Sun Salutation as a complete warm-up for body and mind. Seldom, however, do we stop to think about the meaning of the Sanskrit words for this energizing flow, Surya Namaskar. For thousands of years, the Hindus have revered the sun, which they call Surya, as both the physical and spiritual heart of our world and the creator of all life itself. And the Sanskrit word namaskar stems from namas, which means “to bow to” or “to adore.”
As a Yogi and 500-hour Jivamukti instructor and owner of Soluna Yoga in Culebra, Puerto Rico, I like to extend my reverence of the sun, to cooking for her family. Not only does the sun nurture the vegetables upon which their vegan diet depends, the sun literally does the cooking. Several times per week my chef partner and I use their solar oven from Solavore for reliably putting dinner on the table
People often ask me what I like most about solar cooking:
- To begin with, it’s healthy. The Solavore cooks at low temperatures, which means no boiling, no vitamins leached into the water. In fact, we use less water (rice, beans, and grains) or even no water (vegetables).
- Next up, it’s convenient. Between yoga classes and chasing my 6-year old, life is busy. Solar cooking is the convenience of a slow-cooker, without the use of fossil fuel.
- Really important, it’s kid safe. No glass, and an exterior that’s never hot to the touch, thanks to our solar oven’s inch-thick insulation. And it weighs only 9 lbs. so even our daughter Jade can set it up.
People who have never cooked in the sun are amazed to hear that most, if not all, of the recipes that you can cook in a conventional oven or stovetop, can be cooked in a conventional solar oven.
Additional benefits of cooking in a solar oven include:
You can cook everything from spanakopita to coq au vin and zucchini bread in the oven. Additional recipes can be found here.
You get second-day flavor on day one.
Improved Texture and Appearance:
This is particularly so when baking, as ingredients don’t disappear into the baking mix.
No fuel is required other than sunlight.
Recipes may take a little longer in a solar oven than a conventional oven so you may have to experiment a little at first and adjust your cooking time. You should point your solar oven at the sun and move it as the sun transits the sky to make sure that it is always facing directly into the sun.
Most people are surprised to learn that you can cook in the winter time with a solar oven.
The most important factor is the brightness of the sun, not the outside air temperature. Optional reflectors can improve heating of the oven in the winter. If there is snow on the ground, all the more reflection.
I use the Solavore Sport solar oven because it is versatile enough to cook family meals. It can be used year-round and it’s portable. I also like the fact that Solavore is a social enterprise (think Tom’s Shoes or Newman’s Own), that helps put out cooking fires in the developing world.
And finally, the magic…
Solar cooking makes you more aware of the movement of the sun and more aware of the passing of the seasons.
Surya Namaskar in a whole new light.
Solavore Solar Oven: http://www.solavore.com/