Hong Kong Food Styling and Photography


Hong Kong Food Styling and Photography

Lakshmi Harilela is a creative food and still life photographer based within Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. She helps clients in the culinary and health fields., Lakshmi is well travelled and captures the passion and craft behind food and restaurant brands through creative lighting techniques. Lakshmi collaborates with creative directors, food stylists and numerous agencies to create the model images.

In addition, Lakshmi has participated in the creation of cookbooks, publications and leading consumer brands worldwide. Her clients include ThreeSixty, Peninsula, Miele, Marriott Hotels, Oliver's, Four Seasons to name a few.


Spice Master - Blending Courses


Spice Master - Blending Courses

Here at Love True Food , we custom make spices according to your constitution (dosha). The spices can help digest toxins from the gut and reset the lymph system. According to Ayurveda, specific spies have effects on our whole system. For example black pepper is heating an dry and aggravates fire (pitta) and dissolves earth (kapha) and pacifies air or vata. It's heating nature dissolves through mucus and clots. Now if we take a spice like coriander, it cools the system and pacifies fire and air. It always clears the mind. Having a knowledge base of basic spices can really affect the way food digests and assimilates into our system. 

Below is a diagram that depicts the elements more clearly;

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Here are some spices and their effects; 

Ginger is invigorating, excellent digestive aid. Increases digestive capacity known as agni. 

Saffron: Helps with beauty, is an aphrodisiac cough suppressant, antidepressant.

Cumin burns through ama (undigested food). It enhances appetite, and cleans the liver. 

Turmeric, its bright yellow collar acts as an anti-inflammatory. Anti-viral, anti cancer and is great for skin and beauty. 


Nasya - An Ayurvedic Pancha karma Therapy


Nasya - An Ayurvedic Pancha karma Therapy

In Ayurveda it is believed that the nose is the direct passage to the brain. Nasya is an ancient method of dropping a substance into the nose and inhaled in order to lubricate the passages and make way for chi or prana (life force) to enter the head and body. Substances can be medicated oils / juices / and powders which stimulate the vital centres of brain. 

When we administer herbal oils (nasya) it helps clean toxins that accumulate in upper body (sinus, throat, nose, head areas). Certain oils sooth and protect the delicate mucus membranes, also receiving tension in the head and relief stress. This can balance VPK. It was also noted that nasya can sooth the voice making it more attractive. 

Certain people use nasya for hair fall, helps eyesight and promote mental clarity. 

Please consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner to see if this is a suitable daily practice that can be incorporated into your life. 




Smokers - Vaping or Dhumapana


Smokers - Vaping or Dhumapana

There is an ancient method of smoking known as Dhumapana, which is actually an Ayurevdic Treatment known to clear the lungs of excess Kapha. The utilization of herbs such as bishop's weed, turmeric and cloves are said to be a good thing to inhale. But Ayurvedic smoking is different from modern day smoking. It is carried out for head and neck disorders as well as emotional disturbances and mental issues. 


  • Schizophrenia
  • Migraine headache
  • Headache
  • Oral infections, gingivitis
  • Nasal polyps
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sleeplessness
  • Ear infections
  • Bad breath

Sometimes burning is done with a wick and patients inhale through nose and out through mouth. However, there its a product out there known as Nirdosh Herbal Filter Dhoompan (Hand made cigs that you can smoke to give up or kick the actual habit of smoking). I tested them and they taste herbal and like cow dung! But they've completely put me off smoking nicotine and tobacco.

Mostly in our culture we hear of vaping noways to remove the side effects of smoking or burning herbs. There must be discretion for smoking though.

Here at LTF, we are selling these herbal cigs if you want to quit smoking. Being an ex smoker myself  I tried everything from acupuncture to hypnosis and all sorts. These really help with the habit, as mostly the breathing in and out is what is important. 



In the Clear


In the Clear

In the Clear / Clean & Clear

Methods and means for clearing the lungs the Ayurvedic way


Respiratory problems can be the result of a poor diet, bad posture, lack of exercise or even deep emotional trauma. But most commonly, they occur at the crux of the seasons, when cold turns to hot, or dry becomes humid and vice-versa, we well as when pollution levels are high.


The respiratory system carries prana (life force) and oxygen to the lungs. As such, it is one of the body’s most important systems. It is therefore key that any issues relating to it are addressed. As ever, it is always best not simply to treat the symptoms but to seek out the cause and address that. 


Individuals who identify with the kapha dosha, or who are kapha-dominant, can be the most susceptible to the kind of imbalances that result in respiratory issues. These usually surface in the form of excess mucus, which is produced in the stomach and accumulates in the lungs. This depository of mucus can cause colds, congestion, coughing, phlegm, swelling and water retention or stagnation in the respiratory tract of kaphas. Those with vata or pitta doshas are not immune to respiratory issues, but their symptoms will usually present themselves as asthmatic (vata) or infectious (pitta). 


The excess mucus that the body produces when its dosha is out of balance is usually indicative of low agni, or digestive fire. It is therefore important to stoke that digestive fire. The most obvious way to do this is through diet.


As would be expected, a sluggish digestive fire does not need heavy, dense foods. These weigh the system down, so it’s best to avoid foods such as meat, cheese and anything fatty or fried. Eliminating dairy can also be beneficial. Fire your digestive system up by adding warming spices to your meals – ginger, cloves, cardamom and black pepper are particularly good options, and sip hot water with lemon and honey throughout the day. Consider the time of day you are eating and try and start and end it with lighter meals, making lunch the largest meal of the day. It goes without saying that eating and drinking to excess will be detrimental to regaining balance in your dosha.


Diet is not the only thing that can fire up you digestive system. An active lifestyle can work wonders, particularly for those with a more sluggish kapha dosha. Warming the body through sport can help to liquefy any accumulated mucus, bringing it back into the digestive tract where it is more easily eliminated. Exercise also usually involves an increase your breathing rate – cardio is particularly beneficial – and this gets your lungs going and will improve their functionality.


To speed the process along and to aid recovery, there are some specific Ayuervedic supplements that help with clearing the lungs of mucus. Nasya oil is often used to lubricate the nasal passages to ease breathing when there is congestion. Consider using a neti pot to help remove mucus and any pollutants from these passages and to cleanse and refresh them.


Many of these healing means focus on the body. But it’s also worth thinking about the mind. Meditation is an excellent way to practice mindfulness. As it involves regulating breathing patterns, it can be beneficial to those suffering from respiratory problems, too. Extend your meditation into a yogic practice where you link breath with motion; this will help nourish your lungs. Yoga can also improve flexibility in the areas that surround the lungs, allowing them more space to do their job, while yogic breathing revitalizes prana in the body to support them.


Making yoga, meditation or some form of exercise a regular part of your daily routine and looking after your diet are not only beneficial to healthy lung function but can bring many other benefits to body and mind. They not only help to stave off the imbalances that result in respiratory problems, but will help to maintain balance in the body and serve as a preventative measure for a wealth of other health issues.


Anxiety & Depression; An Ayurvedic Perspective


Anxiety & Depression; An Ayurvedic Perspective

According to Ayurveda mental health is a complex topic to understand and really grasp and identify the pathways. The treatment is not as straightforward as a cold, cough or migraine. Having said that if you really dive deep not everything is physical or physiological. 

The social aspect to mental health issues; lots of stigma attached to it. This can also present additional challenges.

Stress manifests in two categories;  Psychic and Somatic. For example a 'fear induced diahorea' The mind body relationship scientifically has enough data to show that our guys health can cause lots of mental health issues, even neurological diseases such as parkinson's and dementia and alzheimer's. There is a link between body and mind is apparent.

There is a direct connection between the panache mahabhutas (air, ether, fire, water and earth. When someone is exposed to stress, where physical, mental or verbal (as classified in Ayurveda).

If the individual is high in sativa (peace and tranquitly) they will probably not have must manifestation or response to the stressors. If someone has a weak mind, they can be impacted and effected, having much response to different stress. 

A rajistic response is air and fire aggravation according to Ayurveda. The stress will travel through 16 channels and cause anxiety and other expressions. Rajas can also cause aggravation. 

When Ojas (the essence of all of 7 chats, source of vilify and energy and clarity and motivation) is depleted it can also cause anxiety. 

With Depression the image below portrays the activity in a depressed awake person vs not depressed. 

Ayurveda & Depression

There could be a range of symptoms including, difficulty eating, lack or loss of appetite etc. There is Vata aggravation present as well as Kapha. There can be suicidal tendency as well, as well as chronic fatigue and difficulty sleeping. There are lots more symptoms. There can even be thoughts of worthlessness and extreme guilt. 


In Ayurveda we can manage this mental health issue. We should be very careful with meditation and utilise pranayama preferably. Certain herbs can help with depression;

Vacha (given in small quantities), vidanga, varana, chitraka, katurohini, turmeric, guggulu, jyotishmati, kapikacchu, kushtha, hingu and sarshapa. (All of these are hot, penetrating, sharp, totally anti-kapha) In depression you need something that can break through the stagnation and inertia with anxiety its the exact opposite. Generatiing energy and creating clarity. Dosages are extremely importantly in Ayurveda. *Important to nite that dacha is banned in the USA, there is an FDA issue with the product. 

Formulations like, purana ghritam (old ghee), panchagvya (milk, yoghurt, ghee, cows urine and liquid cow dung), vachadi choornam, Mahapaishachika ghritam and gugguluvachadi ghritam.

Ghee that is 10 years or older is called purana ghritam, it can help with depression. It'll be reddish in colour, it is extremely powerful on its impact on the mind. It's so strong it can activate those pathways to drive the energy out of depression. 

Teekshna nasya (sniffing on black pepper is clearing to the mind), Udvartanam (rubbing of powders, kapha pacifying), Dhoompana (inhale fumigation from medicated herbs). And bbviously Pranayama that is stimulating. 

These differ from Lithium treatment for mental health issues like bi-polar, depression etc. But we much ask ourselves, how long can we give a chemical. It will have a different effect on the body and will have serious side effects. So in retrospect, using Ayurveda can help, and sometimes an integrative approach will work. 


Conquering the mind with Sattvavjaya, behaviour therapy. It can range from mild, medium to intense. Holding hands can help the client. Cutting some sensory inputs can work a great deal. Cutting toxic relationships and removing certain stimulus can be a god's send. Meditation also falls under Sattvajaya. Another way is Herbs and formulas, Bodywork Procedures (head oiling) and Retreats and Getaways. These are ways to help deal with bombardment of stimulus and sensory inputs. Forrest bathing is gaining momentum in popularity. On it's own can be extremely therapeutic. 

Read next Article on Anxiety. 



Meditation As Medication


Meditation As Medication

Meditation should not be a chore, it is an art of being. The minute you let your mind 'be' it settles down to its most ideal rhythm. Go to a quiet place and disengage. Try and experience that joy. We are losing that in the 21st Century.

Solutions to most mental health issues can use meditation, however not ALL. Most of today's mental health issues are caused by too much 'doing', something known in Ayurveda as AtiYogam. Step back and just be, it is very healing. 

Stress is the 21st Century killer. We've lost this, everything is 'go go go'. We have to look within us, the entire universe is within us. We should become one with the inside and thus become one with the outside. Turning the senses inwards will delve into healing. Once you start looking within, you'll find a resource, a higher self, a soul, an all pervading being. All the answers are within you; chew on this.

STRESS in Ayurveda in the Astanga Samgraham AD3, states that it is exposure to stimulus physically, mentally, environmentally, beyond the body, mind threshold causes disturbances in the functional principles of the body (vata, pitta, kapha) and the mind (tamas and rajas). This manifests as Physiological and Psychological disturbances. 

It is not surprising that harmony is being disturbed causing disease in our modern lifestyles. Excessive living is something that we can collectively resolve. Ayurveda and Yoga and can aid these manifestations of diseases. From childhood we are trained to engage in excesses. Children are victims to our stresses.

Physical stress, Verbal Stress and Mental Stress are categories of stress according to Ayurveda. These are foundations in Rajas and Tamas. Rajas deals with V and P and affects body/mind channels, manifests as anxiety and other symptoms.  Tamas deals with Kapha and also affects mind body channels and manifests as depression and other symptoms.  All are caused by a weak mind. Thus meditation is medication.

Being lonely is a problem when it comes to mental wellness. You could be surrounded by people and yet be lonely. It has nothing to do with solitude. This is why self love or love of self is an important practise in Ayurveda and Yoga. 

In Patanjali's surtras he states "by the practise of the 8 limbs of Yoga the impurities dwindle away and there downs the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment." 

This is why mind over matter can work, but also from body to mind can also work. 

For yoga classes please contact me on 95040288. 



Food as Medicine


Food as Medicine

Harness the power of food as a means to reducing inflammation in the body


Inflammation occurs when the body needs to heal – it’s the immune system responding to an injury or defending it against viruses or bacteria, but it can also be part of something more systemic.


When inflammation occurs white blood cells and the chemicals they produce flock to the injured area of the body to heal it. But there are two types of inflammation, one more short-term and reflective of the body trying to cure itself, the other chronic that can be extremely detrimental on health in the long-term.


Acute inflammation usually occurs when the body is injured. The effects, which can include swelling, pain and redness, usually subside after a few days once the body has healed itself.


Chronic or systemic inflammation, is long-term and is common in chronic and autoimmune diseases. It can be caused by bad habits or environmental influences, which can include an unhealthy diet, particularly one leading to obesity, lack of exercise, stress, smoking and pollution, to name a few. The symptoms are often not easily directly attributable to inflammation but heart disease, diabetes, lung issues, depression, cancer, anger disorders and skin issues have all been linked to chronic inflammation.


A carefully considered nutrition plan can, however, work wonders, particularly when anti-inflammatory foods are incorporated, the majority of which are healthy foods anyway regardless of the hard evidence promoting the efficacy of anti-inflammatory diets.


Like most healthy diets, the anti-inflammatory diet involves eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats, incorporating small portions of nuts, reducing red meat consumption and even having a glass of red wine once in a while.


The best anti-inflammatory diets to follow are the Mediterranean or predominantly vegetarian diets. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale contain sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound thought to inactivate the key inducer of inflammation while also encouraging enzymes that lower inflammation.


Quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant found in a range of fruit and vegetables, particularly red, green and purple-coloured plants, is another substance to incorporate into an anti-inflammatory diet as it can inhibit inflammatory pathways and functions and neutralise cancer-causing free radicals. It’s found in apples, peppers, dark cherries and berries, green vegetables, cranberries and asparagus, to name a few. Lycopene, too, has a combative effect on free radicals and work as an antioxidant. It’s found in watermelon, tomato, papaya, grapefruit, guava, mango, carrots and red cabbage.


When consuming fats, the focus should be on healthy ones, such as those found in olive oil and hemp oil. Reduce red meat consumption, instead focusing on plant-based proteins. And look to foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids –which can help to prevent inflammation. Walnuts contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, while avocadoes contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants, and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols, all of which help in the fight against inflammation.


It is important to get enough fibre in your diet. Avoid refined flour, and focus on whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and bulgur wheat. This fibre can help feed beneficial gut bacteria associated with lower levels of inflammation. This is also why fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut are recommended from their probiotic effect.


Herbs and spices, too, can be anti-inflammatory. Try incorporating fresh oregano, rosemary, ginger, cayenne, cloves and nutmeg into your diet, all of which have been shown in studies to inhibit inflammation. Turmeric is considered particularly potent for the anti-inflammatory curcumin it contains.


It’s not all about what you should eat, but as much about what you shouldn’t. Foods can be directly inflammatory, and it’s best to avoid the oils found in fried foods, dairy, sugar, artificial sweeteners and additives and processed foods in general.


These simple dietary guidelines are as much preventative as they are a means to reducing and combating chronic inflammation, and the results of following an anti-inflammatory diet will be beneficial in both the short and longer ter


Detoxing the Ayurvedic Way


Detoxing the Ayurvedic Way

words; Rachel Duffell

The ‘five actions’, or panchakarma, to naturally detox body and mind

It’s so easy for our bodies to become unbalanced due to the stress of life today. With this imbalance come food cravings, weight gain, mood swings and even depression and anxiety. While detoxification might bring to mind cabbage soup diets, raw juice cleanses, and lemon water fasting, detoxing the Ayurvedic way is a natural and relaxed experience, not only recommended to cure ailments, support digestion, rejuvenate and revitalise, but to be undertaken as a preventative measure against illness.

The aim of Ayurvedic detox, or panchakarma, is to remove toxins from the body. According to Ayurveda, these toxins, including preservatives, DDT, dioxin, pollutants, pesticides and other damaging chemicals, accumulate as ama and it is this which needs to be removed from our fat cells where it is stored and evacuated naturally from the body via the colon, bladder, sweat glands, lungs, nasal passages, etc.

Panchakarma means ‘five actions’ and is comprised of five treatments, encouraged to be undertaken at the junction of the seasons or when illness arise, and in the case of the latter, for as long as they take to heal.

Panchakarma begins with a pre-purification process, or purvakarma where the body is prepared to release its toxins. Abhyanga, or full-body massage with medicated herbal oils, comes first, where long, sweeping strokes are applied to the body to start moving any toxins towards the colon. This stage can be accompanied by shirodhara, or oil-spilling where warm, herbalised oil is poured over the forehead. Both of these procedures help to calm and relieve stress. Swedana is also part of the preparation and is a sweating session which follows massage, again aiding in loosening the toxins from the body. 

Once the body is prepared the main purification process begins and can include vamana, where congestion in the lungs is eased through therapeutic vomiting, removing excess mucus. Virechana can address excess bile in the gall bladder, liver and small intestine through therapeutic purgation. The nasal passages are also cleared with medicated drops in a nasya procedure. Finally, the colon is treated with basti, or enemas using herbal decoctions and medicated oil preparations, which soothe constipation, digestive problems and other ailments.

These treatments are complemented by gentle activities such as yoga, breathing and meditation sessions. They are also supported nutritionally by the ingesting of ghee each morning which helps to loosen ama, the undigested food particles and toxins caused by eating unhealthy foods or by weak digestion, and drive it out of the body. Meals are best comprised of kitchari, an easy to digest, simple vegetarian porridge, eaten like a soup or stew. This reboots the digestive system without being harsh to it, ensuring the body is nourished and fulfilled. Many detoxes starve the body causing it stress so it is unable to perform natural detoxification functions. But during panchakarma and on a diet of easily digestible and nourishing kitchari, the body is at its optimal state to thrive and work on rebalancing itself for a state of wellbeing and health. A cleansed and purified digestive system allows balance to be restored which will be accompanied by a clear mind and sense of wellbeing. As well as playing a key role in panchakarma, a kitchari cleanse can be carried out by itself and can be tailored to a person’s dosha for optimal results.


Ayurvedic Cleansing


Ayurvedic Cleansing

Prevention means creating balance in Ayurveda. Ayurveda gives us the tools for how to live our life in a state of peace. This means creating joy, happiness and fulfilment. Ayurveda teaches us how to live within society and in our own minds too. 

Health is firmly grounded when we are able to  achieve the four goals in life: Kama (activities), Artha (prosperity), Dharma (codes of conduct) and Moksha (liberation). Health is the prerequisite for all aspects of life. In other words health is wealth. 

The definition of a healthy person is a person who has maintained his or her Body Constitution, examples includes experiencing balanced functions of the three doshas, state of digestion in the form of agni, balanced tissues or dhātus and eats products (malas).

A person who has clear thoughts, sharp sense organs and a calm and peaceful mind is considered to be balanced. This is all good and well talking about it, but what can we do to achieve this balance??? Well the first line of dance is prevention. This could means different things to different people. In my own life prevention is staying away from anything that causes you dis-ease, whether toxic relationships, toxic foods or environments etc. Once we know what causes us dis-harmony, we can stay away from these things. This is also a part of Yoga philosophy called yama and niyama, observances and abstinences. 

So in a nutshell, balance and prevention of illness can be achieved in three ways according to Ayurveda; 

1) hara (diet),

2) Nidra (sleep) and

3) Brahmacharya (walking the middle path)

We can do this by following; 

1. Dinacharya: Daily Routines

2. Rātricharya: Nightly Routines

3. Ritucharya: Seasonal Routines

The way we behave can effect vāta, pitta and kapha. So it is important we don't do things that aggravate the already surfacing doshas. 


For more information or to schedule your consultation please email LTF@lovetruefood.com 



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