Tag Archives: ayurvedic nutrition

Cereal For Dinner?

I would love to know who’s had cereal for dinner in the past week. Anyone? Confession: Me me, I had cereal tonight!

We are full into pitta season. Long days, lots of sun and heat begin to increase pitta’s fire in each of us. So when it comes to meals we are probably not reaching for spicy chili, heavy rice dishes, or mashed potatoes. Nope, that stuff feels too heavy and warm for us. So, we might crave something light and sweet, like cereal!

While your mom may have said that cereal is not a good dinner, I’ll tell you that cereal is actually not a bad dinner during summer! It’s light and easy to digest. The milk has a cooling effect on the body (plus, liquid calms down fire), it’s a mild laxative, and instantly calms stress and anxiety. The cereal is dry and light, so it soaks up any excess oils and heat. Both cereal and milk have what is a “sweet taste” in Ayurveda which is the best taste to balance pitta.

SEE?! Don’t you feel better? Craving cereal in summer is not strange, it’s totally natural! Our bodies call for exactly what we need. Next time you get a craving for cereal for dinner, check the weather because I bet it was a warm day

*Choose cereals wisely. Fruit Loops, Cap’n Crunch, Coco Pebbles and the like are FULL of sugar, which will jack you up and crash you down! No bueno! When in doubt, shop the natural foods section of the grocery store. You mostly can’t go wrong at Trader Joe’s too :) 

Tri-Dosha Menus

trifecta_menus

Tri-dosha menus

From my hands and heart to yours, here are three dosha menus in ONE post for your downloading and sharing ease. Groovytown!! *high kick!* These menus are not meant to box you in, rather, they are created to expand your mind into the world of foodie concoctions that are awesome for you.

Something to keep in mind, if you eat a “wrong-for-your-dosha” food, don’t stress about it! Just do better next time, it will not kill you. In fact, someone once told me, “You cannot kill anyone with Ayurveda.” SCORE! Well, I suppose if you struck the wrong marma point hard enough you could, but that’s beside the point. If your body responds well to the food you are eating, keep doing that! If you are not digesting well, try some of the menu recommendations according to your dosha and see if you begin to feel better.

Again, there are a myriad of foods we can choose and frankly we should have a diet balanced in all six tastes, organic when possible, and eat with a happy mind. If you do all those things, you will be in far better shape than you did before you found this crazy lil site :) Enjoy your dosha menus and if you like these, please please share!

Any other questions I can answer or Ayurvedic information you are dying to know about? Email me! monica@heymonicab.com. XOXOX!

 vata_menu

pitta_menu

kapha_menu

 

Tip: Omit Brown Rice

Something to note! Brown rice is actually pretty tough to digest – it takes a long time to get through the system. In Ayurveda, digestion is #1 importance! If you feel heavy, bloated, are not hungry, or are not pooping, switch to white rice, like basmati. You’ll probably feel a lot better.

Pomegranates: Worth The Putz

Pomegranates are worth the putz! Check it out, I’ll tell you why. Pomegranates are delicious, juicy, poppy, little seeds that have a special affinity for the blood, heart, reproductive system, and are cooling for the digestive tract.

The pomegranate is tridoshic but it is especially cooling for pitta in the digestive tract to help inflamed stomach and intestines. It is useful in ulcers, IBS, hyperacidity (use as an antacid), diarrhea, even hemorrhoids. Okay ready for more?! Not only all that but it strengthens the heart and nourishes rakta dhatu (that’s, blood tissue). A good clue that it works on the blood and the liver (both pitta locations!) is that the color is bright red. It’s also good to reduce hot flashes and keep tempers cool during menopause when the body moves from pitta lifecycle into vata lifecycle.

Basically the pomegranate is astringent so it dries and cools (balancing for pitta and kapha). Vatas be mindful because it can cause constipation. In fact, boiling pomegranate peels for 5 minutes then drinking the water will stop a severe bout of IBS or non-stop diarrhea instantly. If you have oily skin and/or reddish skin with pimples, splash that same “pomegranate peel” water on your face for a facial tonic. Your skin will tighten, become less red and will feel cooler :)

Since they are in season, go pick some up! Eat the seeds, drink some juice and play with the peels! If you are a vata, have a little bit less and do not ever drink “pomegranate peel” water – you will be so sad. However, if you have any pitta-type disorders, pomegranates are a God send. Make friends with them. There is a little putzing to peel them, but check out this Produce Picker Podcast (I don’t know him, but his intro is kinda funny and I liked the instructions) to learn how to get the seeds out easily. If it takes longer than you wish, chill out, sing, enjoy the process. Some things are worth a little extra effort and little pommeys are one of those things! xo

Challenge! No Bubbles

Since we are in the thick of vata season now, I would like to challenge you to NOT drink carbonated beverages for one week. For some of you this will be a piece of cake. But for others, this might be tough. You might not know just how much carbonation you consume until you attach your mind do it. Ah! Mindfulness! During fall, the goal is to focus vata energy moving downward (so we can poop, concentrate, stay warm, etc.,) and bubbles…well, they go up! So drinking carbonated bevys reverse the body’s natural flow, which is counter-intuitive to all the vata-balancing work you are doing.

So for one week, try no carbonated beverages. My guess is that you might notice a difference in digestion, concentration, sleep and if you have any problems with constipation, that should subside too :)

Lemme know how it goes!

The Kind Book

Dude!! Has anyone read, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone? I just got it last week and I am LOVING it!! To be honest, I was a little skeptical (pitta) at first because I wasn’t sure how substantial it would be. I thought it might be a lot of fluffy air about nothing or that it would severely in try to sway us to veganism. SO wrong I was!

She is a former meat eater and dairy lover. And basically, she has been vegan for years and the book explains how and why a vegan (if the word “vegan” just turned you off, stay with me here) diet is “kind” to our body-minds and the planet. What I like about the book is that she is not overly preachy, but she does go into detail as to why a plant & grain based diet is good for the body-mind. I also like that she does not try to push anyone to change to be vegan, she simply gives facts and guidance. She actually gives a LOT of great facts about our food and where it comes from, which EVERYone should know! Her writing style feels like you are talking to your girlfriend (she even talks about farts), which makes all of this really easy to grasp and it also feels like it’s coming from an authentic place.

If you are questioning your nutrition and/or what kind of foods are good for you, this is a great educator and a fun read. She must have studied Eastern health modalities of some sort because she is RIGHT on parallel with Ayurvedic nutrition philosophies. What is not in her book, which is uniquely Ayurvedic, is that depending on your dosha(s), the types of food you eat will vary per person.

She has a blog, The Kind Life ,which has more recipes and life-guiding goodies. Below is my favorite excerpt from the book so far (oh yeah, there are loads of tasty recipes too!).

I’m here to remind you that eating is the most important thing you do. It determines how you look, how you feel, and even how you behave. Every meal drives your day in one direction or another. Food is the foundation of your life.

Bringing your Ayurvedic Lunch

 

Show of hands, who gets in a mad scramble at lunch time to grab something to scarf down before their next meeting? 1, 2, 3, 4…wow, LOTS of you! ;) Who is so rushed in the morning that they don’t have time to pack a good lunch? Who has empty cupboards and complains that there is “nothing in the house?” Who’s sick of spending…$10-$12+ per day on lunch that is not as healthy as you would like OR is not as tasty as something you could have made yourself?

Ah! This is where it gets fun. Friends!! You have FULL control over what you eat for lunch!! Yes you do! It just takes a little planning. By bringing lunch, you would have more time to eat (because you’re not running around trying to find food), you would feel good about eating healthier and saving money, AND you will have time to enjoy relaxing before you jet to your next meeting. You can pack your lunch at night so that you just have to grab it. Really! It’s not that hard, you just have to make it priority and you will LOVE how easy it becomes.

This lunch thang is a big challenge for almost all of my clients. It’s very hard for most hard-working people to make lunch a priority because we have so many other things on our plates (pun!). But bringing your own yummy lunch will ease stress, enhance your efficiency, settle your mind, help with weight loss and save you dough. Plus, you will be eating fresher foods that have not been processed which will do wonders for the body-mind. Try it for 1 week. My guess is that you’ll feel SO GOOD that you will want to make that decision over and over. It will be one of the most healthy things you can do for yourself, I promise.

The trick for an Ayurvedic lunch is to make sure it’s not freezing cold and avoid using the microwave if possible. Those are the biggest hurdles I’ve discovered ya’ll have with this. Most foods can be kept room temperature and they will not rot/spoil in a matter of 4 hours — it’s just the truth — so don’t feel like everything has to go in the fridge. When I take my lunch to work, I leave it on a shelf at my desk. That way I don’t need to nuke the crap out of it because it’s cold. I usually eat it room temp or add a little hot water from the water cooler to warm it up (depending what it is).

Where to start when to bringing your Ayurvedic lunch:

• Make a dish in a crock pot or rice cooker at night so it’s ready in the morning.  Bring any kind of one-pot meal in a thermos or some other “keeps things warm” container. Foods you could make are soup, rice/veggies, pasta, barley/veggie, veggie curries, fried rice, or do a google search and find endless possibilities.

• I like to make a “kitchari burrito” — it is room temp (no micro!) but they are tasty and don’t get soggy!

• Make this awesome 10-minute kitchari and bring in a thermos!

• Make roasted veggies or steamed veggies the night before and bring in a container with pasta and a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper.

• Bring pieces to assemble a good lunch, like tomatoes, avocado, fresh mozzarella cheese slice, and basil. I’ll bring a tortilla and make a wrap!

• Pesto and hummus are fun accessories. Basil can be used with pasta (sprinkle some pine nuts & sundried tomatoes – mm!) or spread on a wrap. Hummus can be used to dip steamed/cooled veggies or used as a spread on some naan.

• Use a little hot water from the water-cooler and add to warm up soup or soften and warm up a rice dish.

• I keep oatmeal, raisins and almonds at my desk if I get into trouble. Yes, it’s an oatmeal packet, but better than starving or rushing. I use the hot water to “cook” it and let it sit til it absorbs. Decorate with raisins and almonds and…not too shabby!

• Don’t skip lunch if you didn’t bring it. If you need to duck out and get food, make sure it’s prepared fresh by happy people and is warm-ish. Don’t carry any guilt or judgement around about it, just make a conscious choice to do better tomorrow. Yeah?

And you know what?! You are smart. I bet you have lunch ideas to share with us too. Send them in the comments below so we can all see and have better lunchies. There will be a “part 2” to this which includes lunch ideas for kiddos! Stay tuned. XO!

Challenge: Small Dinner

Did you try the mindful munching challenge? How did it go? I have another one for you if you would like to add on! That’s what these challenges are all about. They are not something you can cross off a list, as much as they are small habits you can build on. And before you know it, you’ll have new habits and better health!

This week’s challenge is to have a small dinner. If you normally have dinner as your biggest meal, try making lunch bigger and eat 1/2 what you normally would at dinner.

Why it’s important: Dinners that are too large can cause weight gain, cloudiness of mind, depression, general lethargy, ama, and will make it harder to get up in the morning! Instead of feeling fresh, light, and ready to go, the heavy food from the night before might still be hanging around our digestive system. Once the sun goes down, so does our digestive fire (agni) and we just don’t have the power to tackle a big meal. Over time, this can cause loads of imbalances.

So, try it!! Have a small dinner about 1/2 the size you would normally. If you already eat dinner as your smallest meal, good job and keep it up! Let me know how it goes – we’ll want to cheer you on!

Scrappy yet Healthy Summer Pizza

Lately my fiancé and I have been hooked on making our own pizzas with leftover scraps (that sounds bad, but you know what I mean) from the fridge. They are SUPER easy, healthy, and way better than any pizza I’ve had in LA. Sorry LA, your pizzas have yet to impress me. I’ll be kind and blame the water! We use any veggies we’ve got laying around and any cheese we have hanging out in the fridge. Most of the time we wing it with what we have in the house and it always turns out amazing.

Bonuses about making your own pizza:
A!) Use any veggies from the farmers market! If you have left over veggies that you need to use, slap them on the pizza. Healthy and balancing! When we buy from farmers markets, we ensure that we’re getting the freshest seasonal produce and our bodies LOVE it.
B!) Use the bbq so you don’t heat up your home. That’s what we do and the pizza has a nice “brick oven” flavor to it…only it’s not. It’s bbq. So maybe I could just say it has a nice “bbq” flavor…
C!) It takes LESS time to whip up your own than it does to call the pizza dude. It tastes better, it’s healthier and it’s cheaper!
D!) Divvy up the pizza as necessary so everyone has their favorite ingredients on their portion.
E!) Never underestimate the joy of yummy leftovers.

Lookey. Here are some pics of one I made recently. One side has red sauce, spinach, red peppers and a little shredded mozzarella. The other side has pesto as the sauce, fresh mozzarella blobs, and grape tomatoes.

Here’s how to make it. Keep in mind, I am the laziest “cook” in the world. Lazy. Pants.

Oven instructions
1. Get some pizza dough from the grocery store (Trader Joe’s has whole wheat and herb doughs in addition to plain!). You will probably need to let it sit for 20 minutes before smooshing it flat. You can take a walk or do yoga while it sits :D
2. Smoosh the dough flat onto a floured cookie sheet or round pizza pan.
3. Add sauces (homemade pesto, olive oil, ghee, or red sauce), a little cheese (a little goes a long way, keep it healthy and don’t “over cheese”), and veggies galore!
4. Stick in the oven 10-12 min. DONE!

BBQ instructions
1. Smoosh dough on a well floured cookie sheet (to shape it) and flip the pan so that the dough lands flour-side down onto the grill. It will lose it’s shape, you may need to restretch a little. It cooks quickly, so wait like 1 minute and check the bottom. When the bottom looks toasted, remove and bring inside (the top will be a little raw).
2. ****Most important part**** Flip it over so that the grilled side is facing up and the undercooked side is on the bottom. Add your sauces and toppings.
3. Place back on the grill so that the bottom can cook. Wait til cheese bubbles in the middle and DONE!

You can also add pepper flakes, garlic flakes or make a garlic oil with olive oil and garlic in a pan. The sky is the limit. My personal favorite is: Carmelized onion, dates, and a little bleu cheese on an olive oil crust. HEAVEN!!

Have fun and use what you have. That’s what life is all about afterall. You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to make something great. Often what you already have is greater than anything else you can find out there :) xoxo!

Challenge: Mindful Munching

HOHkay, I think this challenge will make a huge impact for you. I

For 1 week, do not eat while standing, walking, or sitting at your desk

My friends, I’ll tell you why it’s important to put your mind in your food.
Numero Uno! We will actually pay attention to taste. Digestion starts in our mouth with saliva and teeth. When we taste, it stokes our agni and preps us to digest food. Healthy agni is key to heath!
Numero Dos! We will be able to feel when we are full and therefore will less likely overeat (overeating is a huge factor in causing disease). When we calm down the other senses, our mind stays with our food
Numero Tres! You deserve time to eat for crying out loud! Sheez. Who said that we have to work through lunch? Last I checked (and I am a recruiter by day), the law says that you must take a 30-60 minute lunch break for every 8 hours worked. Take that break because it’s yours and you deserve it.

 

And if you want a piece of candy, take it from the dish, walk with it, sit down in a chair (if you are at your desk, face away from the computer), unwrap it and TASTE the darn thing. You might love it and be satisfied with just one. Or, you might decide that Hershey’s kisses taste like wax and they aren’t worth it ;) Whatever the outcome, at least you are fully aware of what you’ve eaten. And THAT is mindful munching :) xo. Tell me your results!!!

 

Customize Your Cup O’Joe

Woohoo! An Ayurvedic posting on coffee! Yesssss. Who knew such a happy thing existed?! When advising my clients, I don’t usually make them rid their coffee. Why? Because depending on the person’s dosha, coffee might not be that terrible of a thing for them.

Authentic Ayurveda says that we should not have coffee, not because of the coffee but because of the caffeine. Caffeine constricts flow, it makes you pee (diuretic to be fancy), it can make you manic/anxious, and it’s addicting. Yes, we all know that. And there is a Starbucks on every corner! THIS is why I write a little post about coffee. I know you. I know you’re going to have your coffee regardless of what myself or Ayurveda say. So! I’ll work with ya a little bit and give you the best coffee -making combinations for each dosha, to keep you balanced and happy.

Coffee’s Ayurvedic Qualities
Coffee has a bitter (cold, dry, & light qualities) taste, which is imbalancing for vata, but balancing for pitta and kapha. The bitter taste is a blood purifier (blood ruled by pitta), detoxifies the body, liver tonic (liver ruled by pitta), depletes tissues (kaphas tend to have excess tissues), especially reproductive tissues. In simple terms, bitter increases vata because it will increase the cold, dry & light qualities. Vatas need to stay warm, unctuous, and heavy, so too much coffee will be their worst enemy. The manic, scattered, jittery folks that drink coffee are most likely high vata. On the flip side coffee will cool pitta, while it dries and uplifts kapha! See the beauty of how this works?

Customize Your Cup O’ Joe!
VATA COFFEE: Vatas need lots of warm milk in your coffee to balance the bitter qualities. Start with at least 1/2 mug of warm milk and add brown sugar, stir, then add the coffee. If the coffee is strong, add warm water (use the office water cooler/heater!) to your milk and then a splash of coffee. Coffee should amount to no more than 1/2 mug. This way you get a taste of the coffee, but overall this is a nourishing, calming drink for vata without sending anxieties through the roof. As a MEGA-BONUS, vatas can add ghee to their coffee. Their coffee should always be hot.

PITTA COFFEE: Pittas can also make vata coffee because pittas will benefit from the sweet taste from milk and sugar. Pittas can handle a slightly darker coffee with a little less milk. They won’t get as anxious as vata with stronger coffee because pittas are more sturdy. Pittas are sort of in the middle. The people who are angry or crabby before their morning coffee are likely pitta people, because they need the bitter taste in coffee to “cool” them down. Pittas can also have an iced coffee during summer. Also…as a MEGA-BONUS, pittas can add ghee to their coffee too!

KAPHA COFFEE (how fun is that to say): Kaphas will actually feel uplifted from drinking coffee, rather than manic like vata. Kaphas need a little kick in the pants because they don’t like to move. They can enjoy a stronger coffee, but it should be pretty dark with less milk. Milk and sugar are NOT friends for kapha. The heaviness and sweet taste will have them craving sweets all day long. If kaphas need a sweetner, they can use honey (drying, scraping, heating)! Mind you, kaphas would love to tip the sugar shaker and hold for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5+ seconds until their drink tastes like candy. But if kaphas use the bitter taste in coffee to their advantage, they can get the energy they need without the sugar crash.

SPICE COUNTER!
Pinch of cardamom – reduces the effects of caffeine, warming, digestive. Good for vata & kapha
Cinnamon – super spice! Tri-doshic (heating, no for pitta in summer)
Brown Sugar – saweeeeet. Good for vata & pitta
Honey – sweet, but qualities are drying, heating, and scraping. Good for kapha.
Nutmeg – aphrodisiac, heating. Good for vata & kapha

 

Water Rules

“You should drink 8 glasses of water a day”

“Drink a glass of water before your meal for weight loss because you won’t eat as much”

“Divide your body weight by half, change that to ounces, and that’s how much water you should drink a day”

Any of these sound familiar? These are just three examples of information we are given about drinking water. AND, I’m going to say, don’t listen to them. Listen to YOU. We are all different bodied, minded, beautiful people and we all have different needs. Ayurveda has a totally different take on drinking water and as always, it has to do with who YOU are. It also has to do with nature’s clock and how strong one’s agni (digestive fire) is.

Think about it. A kapha person is made of water & earth. Kaphas don’t like to move, so they rarely sweat (thus keeping water inside). Kapha people also have low digestive fire and tend toward weight gain. And what does water do to fire? Yep, puts it out. SO! If a kapha person followed the second statement above in a quest to reduce their weight and drank a glass of water before each meal, their agni is instantly squelched and so is their ability to digests the meal properly. They just put out their metabolic fire. And they probably created ama. SEE how these blanket statement water rules can go wrong!?

Another example, pitta people are hotter (sweat, metabolism, stress) than a vata or kapha. Therefore, pittas are more thirsty because their fire is constantly burning and they need water to cool down and replenish. For them, more water helps them balance. SO! I’ll help set the record straight and I’m sorry if I confuse you. Please read with an open heart and an open mind. I want you to be healthy and I’m here to make life easy and happy!! xoxo.

RULES FOR DRINKING WATER
• No ice!
Ice shocks the system, hampers digestion, and closes channels. Pittas can have cool water, but no ice.
• Sip small amount of warm water or tea with a meal. Have water 1 hour after the meal. Sipping a little warm water will help the food soften and prepare for digestion. But, if you drink cold water before, during or after a meal, your digestive fire will get put out. It’s the fastest way to weight gain, lethargy, indigestion, and ama (toxins). In Ayurveda, drinking water right after a meal is considered a poison.
• Drink when you are thirsty. Not because you are trying to match a magic number or because you think you have to keep your water bottle full. If you are a sweaty athlete, you will require more. If you work behind a desk (ahem!) you won’t need as much because you are not exerting heat or water.
• Have a glass of room temp water first thing in the morning. Awesome to flush the system from it’s night time processing. Good for the bowels, liver, kidneys.
• Know your agni. If you have strong metabolism, you will burn up water in your body faster, which will require more water. If your digestion is sluggish and you are prone to weight gain (kapha) or bloating (vata), sip warm water and don’t guzzle agua with your meals.
• Vatas need the most water (dry dry dry), pittas need moderate water and will likely slug water all day, kaphas need less water.

Kapha Balancing Spice Mix

kapha spice mix

 

Hey! One of you inquired about a kapha balancing spice mix to help clear excess kapha. Indeed I have one!

For those of you who want more information, here is a thorough article from Maharishi Ayurveda with their perspective. Note: remember in Ayurveda we do not treat “cholesterol” because a) it’s a medical term and that’s a no-no b) we treat the person, not the disease c) Ayurveda looks at the whole diet and lifestyle. I can help with b) and c).

If you want the short version, here is my summary of the article: Basically cholesterol (which Monica B did not say) 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.”

This “collection” 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 excess kapha out. Sprinkle on toast in the morning. 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).

Kapha Balancing Spice Mix
You can make a nice sized batch and keep in a lidded jar. Sprinkle on foods like rice, barley soup, veggies, savory toast or english muffin. Use to also sauteé vegetables or make an “Indian-ey” fried rice. 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