Monthly Archives: September 2009

Bit of Wisdom {17}

Vata Blows in for Fall

vata_2013_icon

Oooo. Didja feel the breeze? Let’s give a round of applause for vata’s first appearance in 2014 (vatas really like applause)!!

<Pause so vatas can bow>

OK! Today marks the first day of fall and that means that vata moves in to govern nature for the next few months. While pitta was around for summer, we ate fresh fruits, veggies and salads. Vata however is much cooler and dryer and we must adjust accordingly! Because vata energy is dry and cold, things like salads (dry and cold) won’t balance us in this season, rather things like root vegetables, soups, and warm foods will suit us much better.

Vata is made of air + space and it’s the energy of movement. In addition, the qualities of vata are dry, cold, rough, mobile, light and subtle. A dried up leaf blowing around, upside down and flippy in the wind is a perfect example of vata.

During fall and early winter, the vata dosha has a tendency to increase in all of us because what is most inherent in nature, is also most inherent in us. So above all things, we need to pay close attention to the nature that surrounds us. We cannot keep the same habits all year round. Eating watermelon in Wisconsin during Christmas is not only tastes like junk, but it’s imbalancing. It’s cold and wet just like nature at that time, which will increase those qualities in our bodies and could give us a cold (hellooooo). In addition it’s not in season which means that it’s not natural. Going against nature is a great way to make us sick.

It’s not hard to go with nature, just LISTEN to what your body is asking for. Comfort foods are great for this time of year because it calms and soothes the windy and cold qualities. Suddenly those goopy stews, hearty soups and breads are just what we need. We don’t feel heavy, we feel nurtured like someone just wrapped our insides in a fleece blanket.

In preparation for vata season, start drinking warmer liquids now. Start laying off the salads now. Begin incorporating more oils now. Start making warm foods for dinner. Swap out the fruit for breakfast and try oatmeal. And there’s more tips too in this VATA SEASONAL BLOOM – FREE DOWNLOAD.

In doing these simple things, you will prepare the body (and mind!) for when things get windy and chilly and it won’t be such a shock to the system. Remember to eat foods that are warm, goopy and heavy (but that doesn’t mean eat a whole ton). You will probably use more chapstick, lotion or oil to lubricate dry skin – good! See, we already know how to respond to nature in many ways. Use your logic. Listen to your gut and most of all, use your BUDDHI. You will be better off listening to yourself than anyone else.

And if you get a little lost, then ask me! Cause I probably know some things you don’t :) I’m here to help you figure it all out.

And one last thing. I’d like to thank the Vatas in the room for gracing us with their beautiful, stunning, presence (vatas like drama) as we embark on the winds of change for fall! Hooraaaay!! Bravo!!!
<Pause so vatas can bow>

Bit of Wisdom {16}

Magic (and Organic) Ghee!

I would love to introduce you to Pure Indian Foods. If you ever have doubt or are in a quandary about how to make or where to buy ghee, look no further. I am so NOT a product gal, but I highly recommend this organic ghee over anything you can buy anywhere else. It’s the best I’ve ever had!!

Ok and, I lied a little. It’s not exactly magic ghee but it come as close to magic as you can get. First, THIS ghee is made from free range grass-fed cows. All they eat is grass as nature intended. Second, the ghee has been made for 5 generations by hand. And THIRD, the ghee is made only on waxing or full moon days, which are considered to be auspicious in the vedic astrology system. See I told you. Darn near magic!

And you should TASTE it!! Whoa nelly. SO good.

For those of you thinking, “What is ghee and why is it good for me?” Here you go

Also here is a great page on the Pure Indian Foods website with loads of great information on ghee and its health benefits.

In addition, below are some great tips from the folks at Pure Indian Foods (I borrowed this from their site) about how you can use ghee. Enjoy!!

How to use Ghee?

  • Use it in place of regular butter in your cooking. Ghee is great for sautéing since it doesn’t smoke or burn as easily as the ordinary butter.
  • Put ghee on your popcorn or spread it on your toast or bagel. You can keep some ghee in the refrigerator to be used on toast for spreading if the ghee at room temperature is liquidy.
  • There is nothing better on hot rice than ghee.
  • Add some ghee to hot oatmeal just before serving.
  • Add ghee as a flavoring in soups and salad dressings.
  • Drizzle ghee over fresh steamed veggies.
  • Brush a layer of ghee on corn-on-the-cob.
  • Use ghee to stir fry your greens such as kale and chard.
  • Make popcorns with ghee (melt the ghee, add salt and popcorn and pop).
  • Smear ghee on top of fresh hot Indian flat bread (Roti).
  • Use it in your casein-free, lactose free bread recipe.
  • Cakes and cookies made with ghee keep fresh longer.
  • Use ghee to make your flour tortillas. It will make them delicious.
  • Ghee is great for sautéing onions or making caramelized onions.
  • Mix ghee in porridge and mashed potatoes. Pour ghee into the hollow of a freshly baked potato.
  • Sauté mushrooms with salt, wine and ghee until mushrooms suck up all the liquid and then later release it.
  • Ghee is the secret to make a perfect Hollandaise Sauce, where it is a very good substitute for butter and much easier to work with.
  • Use ghee to make Bolognese Sauce.
  • Coat your pan with ghee before you cook the scrambled eggs to prevent sticking.
  • Make a French-style omelet, which is firm and does not brown, by using ghee instead of butter.
  • Ghee is a delicious accompaniment to fish, lobster or crab.
  • Mix ghee with nut butters to make a rich dip for apples or other fruit.
  • Mix ghee with Celtic sea salt and some chives to make a spread for pita bread.
  • Stir-fry chopped garlic in ghee and pour over fresh hot bread.
  • Sauté a batch of garlic in ghee to use for hummus.
  • Make a gluten-free dessert by mixing ghee (2 tsp), carob powder (1 tsp) and agave nectar (2-3 drops) well. Put this mixture on rice cake.
  • Since ghee is shelf-stable, you can carry it with you while traveling, camping or backpacking.
  • Use it as a skin lotion or massage oil. It keeps skin and joints supple.
  • You can also eat it straight out of the jar ☺

Balance the Six Tastes

Ok! We’ve talked about the six tastes, what they are and how each taste affects the body. It makes logical sense that we need to incorporate each of the tastes into our diet to maintain complete balance. Ayurveda says you should have all six tastes in each meal for proper digestion and to nourish and satisfy the mind (remembering mind rules body). Remembering to incorporate six tastes in each meal can sound a little daunting, I know. But if you just think about a meal where you have properly spiced carbs, proteins, veggies, and fruits you will GET all the tastes! It’s all in logical balance right?! Not too hard.

Eating all six tastes can balance our bodies, reduce cravings, and help in weight loss—without counting calories (Ayurveda does not have calories), restricting carbs, or working out like a maniac. Unfortunately in our Western world, our diet consists mostly of sweet, salty, and sour tastes. Unless we pay attention, it is easy to miss out on the pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. When these tastes are in disproportion, the mind focuses more on our emotions and we lose balance and harmony often times leaving us craving for something “more.” This is easily one of the causes of overeating and/or emotional eating in our society.

Example. Let’s say a kapha person has too much salt, sour and sweet tastes in their diet. Maybe they have several meals consisting of pasta with sauce or mac n’ cheese or pizza or peanut butter sandwiches. You get my drift. Oh, and maybe they snack on pretzels. They might retain some water because of the salt and they have some weight gain because of the sweet taste (aka carbs). Over time, the imbalance gets a little more severe and they grow lethargic (too much sweet) and might start to get crabby or greedy (salt does that). Over more time they could end up overweight with hypertension. Ta-da! Imbalance. Not hard to imagine, right?

While there are no “bad” foods in Ayurveda, there is a balance to maintain. This person above has an overabundance of sweet, sour and salty tastes and they are completely lacking the others. So, what if this person ate a salad along with their pizza to bring in some of the leafy bitter greens and astringent vinagrette dressing? In addition, what if they had some pungent spices in that salad or sprinkled on the pizza? When we think about it, it makes sense however most of us are busy thinking about carbs, calories and proteins rather than what we are tasting. Ayurveda offers another way to look at, er, taste things.

So, ya’ll might be thinking, “Ok fine but I have no idea where to start.” The spice combos below are a good start. If you already know your dosha, you can follow one of the recipes below and sprinkle in your food! I have a mix that I sprinkle (about 1 tsp) on my rice, on pasta with ghee (mm!), cooked veggies, soups, salad etc., You can sprinkle them on anything and they are an easy way to get your fill of the 6 tastes!

Vata Six Taste Spice Mix: 3 parts fennel, 1 part turmeric, 1 part cumin, 1 part dried ginger, 1 part black pepper, 1 part cardamom, 1 part salt, 1 part turbinado sugar, 1 part fenugreek, 1 part dried mango powder (all powdered)

Pitta Six Taste Spice Mix:
6 parts fennel, 2 parts coriander, 2 parts cumin, 1 part turmeric, 1 part salt, 1 part turbinado sugar, 1 part dried mango powder (all powdered)

Kapha Six Taste Spice Mix: 2 parts dried ginger, 2 parts black pepper, 2 parts turmeric, 1 part coriander, 1 part cumin, 1 part sweet paprika, 1 part salt, 1 part rock sugar, 1 part dried mango powder (all powdered)

!!! The spice mixes are from Ayurbalance.com

The Six Tastes {Spices}

Hey-o! Do you remember what the six tastes are? hint: see below

Effects that the tastes have on the body

Sweet: Increases kapha (see full chart), reduces vata & pitta. The sweet taste is a builder and a strengthener of all tissues.
Sour: Increases kapha and pitta, reduces vata. Helps aid digestion, reduces gas, sharpens senses.
Salty: Increases kapha and pitta, reduces vata. Helps increase agni, calming effect on vata and nerves, can make tissues flabby due to water retention.
Pungent: Increases pitta, reduces kapha and vata. Improves metabolism and digestion. Relieves pain and muscle tension. Promotes sweating and has a scraping action on the tissues.
Astringent: Increases vata, reduces kapha and pitta. Constricts blood vessels. Stops bleeding and flow, antibacterial. Absorbs all water.
Bitter: Increases vata, reduces kapha and pitta. Blood purifier, detoxifies the body, liver tonic. Depletes tissues, especially reproductive tissues.

In Ayurveda like increases like. For example, a pitta person who has too much pungent could result in an imbalance of heat or FIRE element. Therefore avoiding foods that contain the fire element (look above..aha! sour, salty and pungent) will help calm their fire until they are back to balance. See? Right.

After reviewing the foods list, a nice kapha friend said to me, “I don’t like many of the items that are balancing for me.” I told her that spices would flavor the foods so that she enjoy the foods more. AND! If she used spices on other foods it would help make them more appropriate for her.

For example kaphas tend to really like the sweet taste, but it doesn’t balance them because it’s made of the same elements a kapha is (earth & water). So for a kapha who likes sweet, why not add some chili powder to your sweet fruits (sounds crazy, but it’s like my FAVorite thing)? Or what about spices to your rice or pasta to help aid digestion and add more heat? You get my drift. Pungent and heating spices are able to cut through heavy, sticky, cold kapha increasing their energy and vigor.

And that’s just one example. You are probably thinking that this whole foods/spice/dosha thing can go very deep and become complicated. You are 100% right. And again, it’s very individualized depending on the state of YOU. Below I have listed information on some spices (there are a gizillion) and how they affect the doshas. Hopefully this provides some insight without being too overwhelming.

SPICES!
Corriander – tridoshic (balancing for vata, pitta and kapha)
Cardamom -tridoshic
Ginger – vata & kapha balancing. Fresh ginger is very heating and pittas should be very mindful
Tumeric – tridoshic
Fennel – tridoshic
Nutmeg – vata & kapha balancing
Cumin – vata & kapha balancing
Clove – kapha & pitta balancing
Black Pepper – vata & kapha balancing
Mustard – vata & kapha balancing
Garlic – vata & kapha balancing
Sesame – vata balancing
Cinnamon – vata & kapha balancing

See? Not too bad. Now you know if you are a kapha to put plenty of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg into your homebaked cookies ;) I know this might take a bit to understand at first. Holler if you have questions or comments. I am here to try and make this easy!