Ayurveda is a whole art of understanding foods and their qualities.
There are some simple guidelines when it comes to being creative with food in an ayurvedic way. We dance with these concepts
- the Six Tastes and their relationship to how they pacify or agravate the Doshas . See ‘Intoduction to the 3 Doshas‘ for a full explaination.
- the qualities of foods and how they relate to the doshas – such as hot, cold, dry, hard, soft, moist, oily, heavy, light, sharp, smooth, etc
- how to properly combine individual ingredients to suit our tastes and needs appropriate to your elemental Prikruti and Doshic vikruti.
- how to eat with the Seasons as they change in their elemental influences
- the natural intelligence of following the local seasonally available produce.
- how to use the guidelines to break the guidelines and still eat the foods you love
To start with, here a few basic guidelines to inspire you to explore Ayurveda in more depth.
Organic whole foods are the foundation of health, regardless of whether it’s an Ayurvedic or macrobiotic or one of the many health food systems. Processed foods are often GMO, heavily loaded with chemicals, dyes and preservatives, and pesticides content is high even in regular fruits and vegetables on the supermarket shelves. This damages our healthy gut bacteria and thereby diminishes our over all health. Seek out the local farmers markets that may be organic without the costly certification , and enjoy your shopping by exploring more variety.
Whole grains contain the full nutrition as often it’s the ‘germ’ which contains the largest amount of goodness, and the ‘skin’ the greater amount of fibre. Soak whole grain overnight to activate for easier digestion. Chose germinated grains whenever possible, from a variety of red, black, brown and wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, whole oats etc. Be creative – its quick and easy to freshly home grind a pre-germinated whole grain in a coffee grinder to make a porridge for breakfast, and far more delicious.
Freshly prepared food provides with a vital essence we call Prana. Eating a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables is truely a western luxury and affords us greater possibilities of health.
How we prepare the ingredients is important, so we may bend the rules regarding our dosha appropriate foods, and of course, making sure we are digesting them well ! (See Agni for more information). For example, a Vata may get away with having an occasional salad, if it is served on a day which is not so cold dry or windy, with a heavy oily spicy tahini dressing, loaded with avocado or crunchy tempeh, warmed with steamed sweet potatoes or pumpkin, with a mix of raw and hot spiced saltey toasted seeds. So even though the salad greens are still raw, we have balanced it with all the other additions to the dish.
Briefly stated, the gunas are another branch of catogorising qualities. They can be related to the likely tendancies of the doshas of vata, pita and kapha respectively, but not necessarly so. One can be a tamasic pitta or a rajasic vata
satva is clear, illuminating, creative, and pure
rajas is dynamic, restless and selfish
tamas is inert, unconcious and ignorant
A Satvic diet is the basis for health. Satva may be translated as ‘pure’ and as stated in the texts of India “when food is pure, the mind is pure and this creates an oasis for awakening that affects every level of our health”. Being aware of Satva allows the consciousness in food to be one of the crucial determinants in creating health.
Hence we need to look at the sources of our food and to choose the most potent and life giving for the benefit of not only our personal health, but also for the planet as a whole.
Satva emphasizes fresh local fruits vegetables and sprouted whole grains, nuts & seeds, grown organically in harmony with nature and prepared with Love.
We must avoid processed, stale, genetically engineered GMO , non organic or irradiated foods, as well as meats, alcohol, garlic, onions and eggs. Attention to details such as the quality of our water and choosing spring water or simple carbon filtered water; using only quality salt such as unrefined sea salt or Himalayan pink salt ; and sweeteners such as evaporated whole cane sugar or raw honey.
And remember the simple goodness of a home cooked meal made with love and awareness is going to nourish your body, mind and soul on a level which will bring you deeper on your healing path.
Changing to a satvic diet requires an awareness to the Consciousness in foods, and having a clean clear, clutter free kitchen as a sacred place to prepare our foods is essential. Be creative, play positive music, sing and dance in the kitchen and enjoy the preparation of your foods
Dare to throw away all processed foods lurking in the back of the cupboards and fridge and give yourself a fresh start in the kitchen on the path to your health. Invest in your health by buying quality cast iron, copper or stainless steel cook ware and utensils.
It is so easy to have simple, healthy meals even in a busy modern world. I hope these few recipes will inspire you to further your taste for balanced, Ayurvedic, Satvic health foods.