Ingredients for a better life | September 7, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

- September 7, 2012

Ingredients for a better life

Cookbook offers healthy recipes with doses of wisdom

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

"Recipes from the Millennia" is more than a cookbook. It combines the philosophy of local author Parisa Ambwani with the "wise traditional recipes" she has collected from around the world.

It is the second volume on cooking by Ambwani, whose focus is not just on delicious recipes. She promotes eating simple, wholesome foods, whole grains, and reducing toxins.

"It's so important to buy foods fresh," said Ambwani, who has taught cooking classes for the town of Danville and the city of San Ramon. "They are more enjoyable, and it is good for the digestion. I try to eat what is in season."

Some of her ideas in the book are striking in their simplicity; for instance, she points out the importance of chewing thoroughly. This not only lets the eater enjoy the flavor and texture of the food but also allows it to mix with the saliva for better digestion.

One page (28) is dedicated to the rose, telling of its part in ancient Roman pageantry, and the benefits of rose hips, with a recipe for Aromatic Tea-Milk with Cardamom and Rose Hips. Another page is devoted to bees and the nutritional value of honey.

Ambwani recently completed this 392-page book as the fourth of a quartet she wrote to share the cooking and wisdom she learned from her mother and grandfather. "Recipes from the Heart," published in 2004, is also a large colorful cookbook, featuring 200 recipes of "original world quality cuisine." Two smaller volumes followed, to promote her philosophy of wisdom: "Seeds of Celestial Love and Peace" and "Human-Unity."

Everything ties in together, she explained.

"Good eating habits will enhance your physical, mental and emotional condition; it will also enhance your spirit," Ambwani remembers her mother telling her as she was growing up in Iran.

She recalls her grandfather explaining how the stars and the planets are all part of the vast universe, and that people are connected to them.

Ambwani has spent her life developing her nurturing philosophy: majoring in fine arts at the University of Tehran to graduate in 1967; moving to the United States more than 30 years ago, and then to Blackhawk.

"Children have to learn from their parents," Ambwani said. "The information in the book is not temporary information; it is for a lifetime."

She shares her tips on cooking and living to help everyone enjoy the fruits of the earth and to live healthier, more fulfilled lives.

"Most people in recipe books aren't expecting to read about spirituality," she noted. "In my mind there was a lot of thinking about how to bring the two together."

She extols her philosophy of life, including the focus of holistic home chefs, in the eight-page introduction.

"Food is not just ingredients -- there are lots of other things when we are eating," she explained. "There's your mental state: If you don't sleep enough, the next day you don't have an appetite.

"If you are in stress, your digestion is not working," she continued.

Ambwani emphasizes that the book is for all cooks, regardless of their experience in the kitchen.

"The recipes are really so easy. It is very clear, even young children can do it," she said. "If you don't know how to do it, you can go to the tips. It's almost an encyclopedia."

"Recipes from the Millennia" is available for $54.95 at Read Booksellers in Blackhawk Plaza. Learn more about her books at Ambwani will be doing a book signing at the store from 4-5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 4, with appetizers and beverages.

Tips from Parisa