Category Archives: Spices & Herbs

How Long Should I Take Herbs?

I have a question to ask: how long should I take herbs for a dosha imbalance? I went to an ayurvedic doctor and was found to be a vata-pitta (prakriti) with a vata vikriti. I experience the vata imbalance more often than the pitta imbalance. The doctor gave me herbs but really didn’t tell me when/if to stop taking them. I went with a specific health issue I wanted to correct, and that was corrected, so I stopped the herbs. My health is okay, but I can tell the vata is out of whack again (digestive issues, anxiety, can’t concentrate). Should I start the herbs again and just keep taking them? What if my pitta becomes unbalanced? Should I stop the herbs and get new ones for a pitta imbalance?
Awesome question about herbs!! The duration of taking herbs will depend on how long you’ve had the problem and what else you are doing to correct/maintain balance. Something like amalaki honestly can be taken daily and forever – kind of like a daily vitamin! But amalaki is an exception to the rule. Herbs not only fix the symptoms but correct the root cause because they are absorbed and digested deep into the tissues. They change/improve the structure of our tissues and help channels flow in the proper manner. So once the herbies go into the body, they help correct the imbalance and you should not need to take most herbs forever. Taking herbs will depend on how long you’ve had the problem – the longer you’ve had it, the longer you’ll likely need to take the herbs. That said, they are not meant to be taken for a lifetime (amalaki excluded). However! Most herb mixes have spices in them (i.e., black pepper, ginger, hing, tumeric, cloves, cinnamon, corriander, and the list goes on) which can be used in our foods for a consistent balance.
What IS meant to be taken for a lifetime are new dietary and lifestyle habits. That said, let me answer the other part of your question. Vata imbalance is tricky…we ALWAYS have to manage vata especially if you are a vata person. Why? Because vata goes out of whack the fastest (and it comes back to balance the fastest too) and because we live in a very vata imbalancing world! Everyone seems to have a bit of vata elevation (vikruti) whether it’s their constitution (prakruti) or not. Your vata will likely swing out before your pitta does – because it’s a faster dosha (energy of movement, remember!). But, good thinking because we are now in pitta season (if it’s summer where you live) and we can overheat. Pitta imbalances to look out for include, itchy/red eyes, itchy/red skin, red zits, rashes, heartburn, acid reflux, sour stomach, irritability, and loose poop. As long as you don’t have any pitta issues creeping in, you’re doing great. This is where knowing yourself and your body really comes into play. The goal of Ayurveda is to know yourself SO well that you can tell immediately when you feel “off.” That subtle feeling of “off” is what will save you from ever having a serious imbalance or health problem :) XOXO!
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Agni-Stoking Foods

Heya! Following up on that non-ayurvedic breakfast, I thought you might find it useful if I shared some agni-stoking foods. These are important to keep in your daily Ayurvedic bag of tricks and incorporate into your meals each day. Ayurveda goes pretty nuts with the agni-promoting therapies, foods, spices, herbs, etc., and the reason is, if agni doesn’t function properly, neither do we. I’ll say it again: malfunctioning agni is the root cause of most disease!

*clunk* *clunk* *clunk* <—That was me. Pounding the agni information into your head (note: not an Ayurvedic therapy).

Put your Ayurvedic thinking cap on when cooking and sneak these foods and spices into your meals to make sure you give agni a nice boost. Do it daily! Don’t just eat cheese sammiches. And without further adieu, AGNI-STOKING FOODS:

- ghee. And no, ghee does not make you fat
- garlic
- black pepper
- ginger: tea, indian lemonade,
- cinnamon
- nutmeg
- a piece of fruit on an empty stomach, 1 hour before a meal (not banana)
- grapefruit, lemon, lime
- cumin
- red pepper flakes
- pickles
- salt: also retains water, good for vata. Not good for pitta and kapha
- lassi

How you could incorporate these agni-stoking foods and spices into the meals you make at home? Don’t be shy–I’ll start it off. PICKLE ON A STICK! Ok that was too easy. I’ll say, sprinkling cinnamon into your morning tea or coffee. Your turn!

 

Seasonal Chai

In case you missed it last year, I created “Good Morning” mugs that came with homemade chai mix for the holidays. Since it’s chilly outside, now is the perfect season for a hot, spicy, velvety cup of chai. If you need some little gifts, stuffers, or hostess gifts the mug is cute and inspiring. And the chai is really yummy (if I do say so myself) too!

Find the mugs and chai on my etsy store. Happy Shopping! xoxo

 

Introducing: SEASONAL BLOOM!


Oh boy, oh boy! I created a REALLY FUN 18-page guide for summer! In my passionate quest to heal people through Ayurveda, I decided to create a fun guide to staying healthy during each season. From that intention, Seasonal Bloom was born! As you may already know Ayurveda, the seasons correlate with the energies that govern our bodies, which means that we will be most healthy when we follow nature. While www.heymonicab.com holds buckets of information, Seasonal Bloom is something you can easily refer back to.

This first one is all about summer and pitta energy. Come on pittas, I know you’re excited!! I know I’m excited cause my vata butt is doin’ a little dance! Speaking of which, vatas and kaphas I did not leave you out. Luckily you will have an easy time during summer because your body and mind will hum in perfect harmony with nature.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF SEASONAL BLOOM. Show your friends! Tell your family! Just by bringing awareness to the amazing science of Ayurveda, we can begin to heal each other. Some samples are below:

I welcome your questions, emails, comments and suggestions. This is created for you with love, so let me know what your wishes are!
Thanks again for all your supportive hearts.
Namasté my friends!
Monica B.

Cholesterol Reducing Spice Mix

Hey! One of you inquired about a spice mix to help reduce cholesterol. Indeed I have one! I got this one from Maharishi Ayurveda and there is a ton of great information on cholesterol on their site. If you want the short version, I’ll sum it up.

Basically cholesterol is a kapha imbalance. Remembering that kapha is lubrication and structure (it sticks and holds things together), in the case of cholesterol, kapha has created an increased “collection” of cholesterol. Cholesterol is NOT bad, in fact we need a certain amount of it. But when we have too much, it’s a cloggy problem.

Cholesterol reflects too much meda dhatu (fat tissue), which is also caused by a kapha increase. Why does kapha increase in the first place? Could be several reasons (mental, emotional, stress factors), but the main reason is likely low agni (digestive fire). Malfunctioning agni is responsible for 90% of all disease, which means if we don’t digest our food properly, we’ll eventually get some kind of imbalance. The key is to digest, assimilate, and eliminate foods properly (golden rule!) and you won’t get sick.

It’s also important to follow a kapha balancing diet and lifestyle if you have high cholesterol. Split lentils, mung dahl, garbanzo beans (hummus!) are good. All veggies are a big YES! Greens like kale, spinach, collard greens. All would be great sauteéd in a little ghee and add the spice mix below. Fruits like apples, pears, prunes and figs are also helpful for cholesterol because they help clean the bowels. Proper pooping is very important because it is directly connected to healthy agni. So pay attention :)

Avoid salts, cheeses, red meats, heavy breads, potatoes, goopy oil foods, fried foods, and yogurt. And as always, the fresher the food, the better.

Also, don’t forget about exercise! Kaphas don’t like to move much, but it’s exactly what they need. They need to get their sweat on at least 20-30 minutes daily. For kaphas who are lazy, try kapalbhati pranayam :)

Below is a recipe of spices that all have kapha reducing qualities. Together they will heat, dry and move the cholesterol out. Sprinkle on toast in the morning with a tiny bit of ghee. You can sauteé with cooked veggies and stir frys or sprinkle on rice or pasta (rice and pastas should be the smallest portion on the plate for kapha, veggies should be more).

Cholesterol Reducing Spice Mixture
You can make a nice sized batch and keep in a lidded jar. Enjoy and share with loved ones!!

3 parts ground turmeric
6 parts ground cumin
6 parts ground coriander
6 parts ground fennel
2 parts ground fenugreek
1 part dried powdered ginger
1 part ground black pepper

5 Spices for the Brain

Check it out! Someone has their finger on the pulse of Ayurvedic spices. Eeeeven if they don’t call them “Ayurvedic.” Those of you who are my clients, know that I recommend these often. xo!

New scientific research backs up Ayurveda: 5 spices that are good for the brain! http://bit.ly/bVHjP6

Ghee-Licious Flavors!!

Yaaaay!! My dream has come true. The ghee man (Sandeep! From Pure Indian Foods. 1.877.LUV.GHEE) has created some knock-your-socks-off ghee flavors! In addition to the original grass-fed ghee, now there are 6 different flavors of the ghee infused with healing herbs and spices. Woooo!!

They are all tasty and an easy addition to make meals extra good. Did I mention that ghee is the numero uno best friend of vata & pitta? Ghee reaches and nourishes all tissues (the best lubricator), it’s sattvic, it’s the only oil that increases agni (digestive fire/metabolsim), and it’s cooling for pitta. Below are the six flavors Sandeep and family have created with the love of cows in mind :)

1. Digestive (MonicaB Favorite!!): Ghee infused with cinnamon, cardamom, & ginger. Great on toast! Tastes like a cinnamon roll. Good for digestion.
2. Garlic (MonicaB Favorite!!): Ghee infused with garlic. Great on pasta, stir fried veggies, bread roll, homemade pizzas (spread on the crust). Good to help remove ama (toxins).
3. Indian Dessert: Ghee infused with fennel, cardamom, & saffron. Good for digestion and peace of mind.
4. Italian Herbs: Ghee infused with oregano, thyme, rosemary. Use on oven baked potato pieces, drizzle on veggies and add sea salt & pepper.
5.  Herbes de Provence: Ghee infused thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, lavender flowers. Add to caprese sandwiches, pasta with asparagus.
6. Niter Kebbeh: Ghee infused cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, tumeric, nutmeg. Nice on rice.

Go order some from Sandeep! | www.pureindianfoods.com | His family has been making this for 5 generations and their website has a ton of great information on ghee too. And be sure to tell him MonicaB sent you!

Warm Saffron Cocktail

If you are a vata or pitta type, you might have a tendency to get stressed (who doesn’t, right?) and perhaps worries of the future can creep in to cause some anxiety. When a client of mine was feeling anxious, ungrounded, wound up, and stressed, I told her to “wrap herself in a fuzzy blanket” with this little cocktail below.

Any time you feel like you have nothing to hold on to or that you are about to come unhitched, give it a try. This tiny drink is also great if you have a feeling of “emptiness” in your heart. It soothes both vata/pitta doshas and the ingredients are sattvic, which means that they are pure harmony for your entire being. And, it’s quite yummy!!

Small glass of warm milk
Add one strand of saffron
Can sweeten with brown or rock sugar if desired

Saffron is pricey. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can get a wee tiny (I mean wee tiny, it’s super small. You may have to ask for it) for about $6. But don’t be sad, it will last you a good while. Hopefully by the time the jar is finished, you won’t need to make them any more :)

Tip: Honey is heating

Hello Honey! ;) Honey might seem sweet, sticky, and heavy. But! It has a special quality (kinda magical) in which it digests hot, sharp, and drying. Great for heating up spring colds and clearing out kapha. That’s why honey is great for colds, mucus in the chest or snotty sinus problems. Oh and use the raw, unpasteurized stuff so that you get honey in it’s purest, most medicinal form. Go get em, honey. Mmmwaah!

Cinnamon Oatmeal with Almonds & Milk

YAY! I love The Joyful Belly! They have great Ayurvedic recipes and you can create an entire menu just for YOU! All their recipes break out according to your constitution (vata, pitta, kapha), so their meal plans are totally individual. Just like Ayurveda! AND it’s free to sign up. How ’bout them apples!?

Their recipe of the month is Cinnamon Oatmeal with Almonds & Milk. MM! Oatmeal is perfect to balance the vata energy of winter. It’s warm, grounding, heavy and sweet. It’s also sattvic which helps fight droopy winter feelings of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Remember to enjoy a small breakfast* because we want to stoke our agni (digestive fire) for the day. If we put too much food on agni, it will get put out. And if we ignore our hunger, agni will get smaller because it has nothing to burn.

Enjoy the oatmeal and be sure to check The Joyful Belly often for new recipes. They are great folks there and will also answer any questions you may have. Happy Oateys!

*If you at a large dinner and you are not hungry in the morning, don’t eat. You may not have digested dinner from the night before! Let your body catch up and drink ginger tea instead.

Breastfeeding Tips {?}

Hey! I just added a new category called, “Questions!” It’s important because these come from YOU, my bloomin readers. I get them from time to time (would love more if you got ‘em!) and sometimes they are nice to post.

I got a question today from a very lovely gal reading “from her perch in Nebraska.” How sweet is that – does your heart melt or what? Mine did. Anywho! She asked if I had any tips for breastfeeding mothers (her baby is 3 months) And I do! Below is what I wrote back to her. If you have further questions, I’m happy to answer the best I can.

MonicaB says:
As far as Ayurveda is concerned, the “sweet” taste will be important for you. Because “sweet” is the only taste newborns have :) The “sweet” taste doesn’t necessarily mean sugary foods which is why I put that in quotes. Rather, they are grounding, building foods which are very important to create foundation and structure (a new baby needs that for growth). Examples of easy-to-digest sweet foods are mostly carbs, like: white rice (brown can be hard to digest), sweet potatoes/yams, pasta, breads, nuts, milk, ghee, brown sugar, sweet fruits and juices, ripe bananas (non ripe are astringent and not a good choice for you now), mangoes, grapes, figs, and dates (dates are GREAT for you). Cooked veggies are also great. I would say for now stay away from salads, pizza, red sauces, peppers, yogurt, and fermented foods. Your job is to build the baby’s little body through whole, nourishing, fresh foods. The sweet taste will go easy on yours and baby’s digestive system and I think you will feel very satisfied and nourished.

One spice that is great for breast milk is fennel. Do you like fennel? You can take 3 cups of boiling water, add the seeds (crushed a little) and boil for 5 minutes. Strain and drink the tea during the day. Fennel is great for quality and quantity of breast milk while helping reduce both mommy and baby’s gassy tummies. It’s an excellent digestive aid and can also help with colic and relieve pain for teething babies! And if you ever have cramps, gas or bloating, chewing up a small amount of fennel seeds after meals (or as needed) will take care of the problem.

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!

Tip: Ginger for Gas Pains!

Many vata people know what it’s like to be doubled over in pain from gas or bloating (vata’s main seat is in the colon). Others can get it from time to time as well, but no more! My friends, please keep ginger root on hand (America’s Test Kitchen says it keeps best in the fridge). When you get the awful bloating pains, just chop off a piece the size of your baby finger nail, and chew it up. It tastes a little like window cleaner but that’s nothin compared to piercing pains in your lower gut. You can sprinkle some salt to cut the sharpness if you want. But VOILA! Your pain will TOTALLY go away!! I super promise! Please try it next time and then give me a big, “woohoo!” when it works!

Tip: Cilantro for Skin

So! It works because the leaves of the cilantro (corriander) are cooling. That sounds way simple, but let me explain the rest of the story. Skin is ruled by pitta and when we get a rash or skin irritation (even acne) its because of pitta and too much heat in the body, or a reaction to heating elements in the environment. As we know, pitta is made of the elements fire and water and when those elements increase we use the opposite qualities to balance. So in this case, cilantro works because it has cooling and astringent qualities which cools and calms the fire.

*For those of you who think cilantro tastes like soap or tin foil, don’t worry it’s going on your skin, not in your mouth ;)

Tri-Doshic Easy Pesto!

Ok right off the bat, I am not a cook. However somehow, lately I am coming up with some really tasty recipes that I just hack together. One of my clients says she loves my “hack recipes.” Cool! A most recent hack recipe I am hooked on is making pesto from scratch. Hooked I say! I keep it in a jar in the fridge and then using for all sorts of stuff. Hooray for cheap, healthy, and fresh eats!

Tridoshic easy pesto!


Fresh Basil is tri-doshic which means it balances vata, pitta and kapha.
Depending on the ingredients you add, you can gear the mixture toward your own dosha(s) to enhance optimal digestion and overall balance. It’s super easy. There are no rules or recipe so you can be creative, but here’s what I do:

  • Get a bunch of fresh basil. Trader Joe’s has it for like 2 bucks a carton. We always use 2 cartons.
  • 3 Cloves of garlic. Vata and kapha can have more garlic, pitta should have less
  • Olive oil. Vata should have a fairly oily based pesto, pitta can have some oil, kapha should have less so that their pesto is more paste-ey.
  • Salt. Vata yes, pitta and kapha less salt
  • Black pepper. Yes for all, pitta be mindful of too much
  • Optional: Pine Nuts, Almonds, Fresh Parmesean.

Now for the fun part! Put the basil and oil into a food processor and grind it up. If it’s too sticky, add more oil. Add minced garlic, grind again. Then add salt and pepper…try it on a little piece of bread! Add more oil or salt and pepper…try it again! Get it til you like it and then you can store it in a little jar in the fridge. If adding the nuts and/or parmesean, add it only when you are going to eat it right away – don’t store it.

You can use it on plain pasta or with veggies, fresh bread, toasted cheese sandwiches, chicken & rice, mozarella & tomato sandwiches, add to homemade pizza, and basically anything that could use a spread! It’s sooo yummy and so simple. You can always add more oil depending on the dish. If you come up with something clever, do share! I would love to hear what you’re doing with tri-doshic pesto!

The Five Senses | 4 | Taste

Tasty!! Taste is the 4th sense. For some background before delving into the 4th sense, see the overview. You may also want to check out hear, see, and touch.

Ah, so taste! Why is it important? Digestion starts in the mouth with the saliva and teeth, so what we taste has a direct effect on our digestion. When we taste something sweet more moisture is brought to the mouth whereas if we taste something astringent it may make us pucker. And so? Proper digestion is of A #1 importance in Ayurveda – because if it’s off it creates ama, which is responsible for 90% of all disease.

When we can’t taste, we are likely to eat less, right? But just because we eat less, doesn’t mean we are digesting it properly…cause our mind is like “yuck, bleh.” On the flip side, when food is overly flavorful or too salty we may go back for seconds even if we are not hungry- because it’s soooo tasty. Over eating causes ama and weak agni and we know it’s just not a good thing.

The goal is to find a middle ground. Enhancing meals with spices (without salt) will add flavors that work with the body and help us feel satiated with a smaller amount. The taste will satisfy us without over enhancing our ego (like salt does), which increases the desire for more more more. However, when taste is too bland, our body is not “inspired” and then our mouth doesn’t water. And then digestion is stunted from the get go! That’s no good either.

Best is to spice foods without using too much salt and we will stay on track for the most part. If we bring our attention to the sense of taste, we will begin to understand how important it really is. It drives our digestion and is responsible for making sure the entire body has been nourished. More details to come on the 6 tastes in Ayurveda and how they balance (or throw off balance) the doshas…

Salty.

Salty! One thing I learned in a seminar at the NAMA conference is that we have way too much salt in our diet. Basically salt’s job is to compel us to take in more nutrients by making food tasty. But we have to be careful because that can easily result in overeating and weight gain.

Here’s what happens…salt increases desire in our sense of taste to such a level, that we just want more. We will go back for extra helpings even if we are no longer hungry, which results in overeating, weight gain and the accumulation of ama (undigested food, toxic).

Salt increases desire and sense of taste to such a level that our egos attach to the senses rather than to our soul. Because we are satisfying our desires rather than our souls, our ego says, “That was so good, give me more.” And then we get stuck in just satisfying our desires, over and over.

However, once excess salt is cut out of the diet, we stop going back for 2nd or 3rds because our bodies will be satisfied rather than our tongues wanting more salt. We become more satisfied with less and therefore weight is more likely to decrease and go back to it’s natural state.

So basically, we want the food to be pleasing, but not so overly tasty that we can’t control ourselves. Rather than salting, seasoning food with spices is the better way to go.

One cool thing about salt is that it reduces fear! For those with high anxiety, a salt lick can help!

(obviously nutrition is a HUGE part of life balancing because what you take in governs the body, mind and spirit. I am nervous and shy in starting to write about nutrition because there is so much. I ask for courage to start…because you all deserve to know about it)

Dancing for Garlic

I had NO idea the effects of garlic on a kapha until I witnessed it with my own tiny eyes tonight. They dance!! The kaphas, they dance for garlic!

My boyfriend (kapha-pitta) and I were making veggies stir-fry-like on the stove and I threw in some roasted garlic. His eyes opened up wide. Then he quickly grabbed the container out of my hand, dumped some garlic in his palm, threw it in his mouth and immediately started dancing. All around the kitchen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen his feet leave the ground while standing before! Below is the picture of the beloved garlic, taken by noneother than the belover, George Szakall.

THAT is a perfect example as to how tastes and spices can immediately change the energy of a person. What the garlic did was add immediate heat, spice and yummy flavor to an otherwise heavy, dense palate. It boosted the heavy energy of kapha and it physically got him moving. Another example is if you give a vata person warm, creamy soup with a piece of french bread and butter. The will feel so comforted, grounded and satisfied. An example of happy pitta food is a nice bowl of fresh fruit or a sweet treat at the end of their meal. The sweets help cool down the pitta and balance out their “spicy” nature.