This winter in British Colombia resembles more like the rest of Canada. It is colder and dryer than usual, hence the importance of keeping yourself warm in order to enjoy it fully. Winter is actually the season when the digestive fire is strongest. The body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy in the winter months, and the cold weather forces the fire principle deep into the core of the body—igniting the digestive capacity. Our bodies therefore crave a more substantial, nutritive diet at this time of year, and you will likely find yourself needing larger quantities of food.
In general, you’ll want to focus on eating warm, cooked, unctuous, slightly oily, and well spiced foods. Drink room temperature, warm, or hot beverages and avoid smoothies, or chilled drinks. You can increase heat and circulation while encouraging clean and clear respiratory passages (in case of flu or nasal congestion) by drinking a tea boiled for five minutes with ½ teaspoon each ginger root, cinnamon, and clove. Also, teas made with combinations of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds encourage strong digestion and can be taken after meals. Hearty, heating vegetables like radishes, cooked spinach, onions, carrots, and other root vegetables are generally well received this time of year, as are hot spices like garlic, ginger, and black pepper. Cooked grains like oatmeal, barley, brown rice, or kitcheri make a perfect winter breakfast, and lunches and dinners of steamed vegetables, whole wheat breads, and mushy soups and stews are ideal. Legumes should be well cooked, well spiced, and garnished with a dollop of ghee so as not to aggravate vata. If you eat them, winter is also a great time to enjoy eggs (especially poached or hard-boiled) and meats like chicken, turkey, rabbit, and venison. And while dairy is best reduced in the winter months, a cup of warm/hot, spiced milk with a pinch of turmeric, nutmeg, and cardamom before bed can help to encourage sound sleep.
This article is an excerpt from the chapter on “Food as therapy, and improving your digestive fire (agni)” in my Ayurvedic Training: From Theory to Daily Practice. Visit this page for more info and to register to this course from April 17th to 21st 2017.
Here’s my favorite oatmeal recipe to start the day making Vata dosha happy.
Use organic steel cut oats for a nuttier taste; salt, ghee (optional), fruits, nuts and spices.
For 2 persons use 2/3 cup of oats for 2 cups of water
Boil the water, then add a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of ghee, and the oats. Add dried fruits: mangoes, raisins, apricots or figs to the mix and slow cook for 25 minutes. Do some yoga or meditate while it cooks.
*If you use fresh fruits (berries or other precooked fruits) add them after.
Just before serving add some almonds, coconut, sunflower seeds (or your favorite nuts), as well as cinnamon and cardamom to taste, and 1/8 of a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
Bon appétit and have a beautiful day!
Farmers Market Spring Salad: (3-4 portions)
Preparation and cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Here is another simple recipe. I invite you to visit a Farmers’ Market near you where you will be able to find all these ingredients.
Feel free to change the type of lettuce, greens, or protein depending on what’s available.
Kapha dosha friendly as most of the ingredients are light and cleansing, this salad will also keep your Pitta dosha cool on warmer days.
1 whole green/red leaf or oak leaf lettuce washed and torn, or 3 cups of mixed greens with some arugula in it
1 cup of heirloom multicolor cherry tomatoes cut in halves
3-4 baby cucumbers cubed
1.5 cups of slightly undercooked gai lan or broccolini, cut in 3 cm pieces
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped finely
1/2 cup of fresh strawberries, cut in halves
Optional protein addition:
1 cup of shredded cooked chicken (white meat preferably)
or 1/2 cup of almonds for a vegetarian version
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Farm House grated Fermiere (parmesan style cheese)
Salt and pepper to tast
Wisk all ingredients together and set aside.
When ready to eat, drizzle the dressing on top of salad, toss, and…
Spaghetti Squash with Endive, Arugula and Apple Salad (3-4 portions)
Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour and 10 minutes (includes some free time)
This recipe is simple, has few ingredients, it’s delicious, vegan, warming, hence Vata friendly. It can easily be adapted to pacify Kapha dosha during the Spring (switching some of the ingredients to those in parenthesis) to make a lighter and more cleansing version (during the months from March to June).
- 1 spaghetti squash
- extra-virgin olive oil (or sunflower oil)
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pound of asparagus, steamed tender
- 1 leek finely chopped (or 2 garlic cloves, chopped)
- 2 teaspoons of minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (or local fresh goat cheese)
- 1 tablespoon of toasted pine nuts (or sunflower seeds)
The first step takes 45-55 minutes while you can be doing something else: prepare the dressing and other ingredients for your salad, then meditate, or do some yoga …
- First, bake your spaghetti squash, it’s the best and easiest way to cook it.
- Preheat your oven to 375 F.
- Wash the shell of the squash, rinse well and dry with a towel.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scrape the seeds out of each half, and place the squash, cut-side down, in a baking pan.
- Pierce the squash shell several times with a fork and bake for about 45-55 minutes, or until the flesh is tender.
- Remove from the oven, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then use a fork to pull the strands of squash and reserve.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or sunflower oil) in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat
- Slice the asparagus into 1-inch pieces and sauté them with leek (or garlic) and rosemary for one minute
- Stir in ricotta (or goat cheese) and squash
- Season with salt and pepper and sauté until hot and creamy
- Top with pine nuts (or sunflower seeds)
- serve with: Endive, Arugula and Apple Salad
For the dressing:
- Whisk together 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar,
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and
- 1/2 cup olive (or sunflower) oil.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper (low on salt during Kapha season)
- Mix 2-3 heads of Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces,
- 1 cup arugula, and
- 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
- Stir in the dressing and toss all ingredients together just before serving
- Share and enjoy!
This is one of my favourite soup recipes as it brings Vata dosha all it needs to be in peace. Easy to make, it will calm your body, your mind, and your environment. It has warming and grounding energy. It is a complete meal in itself, but you can also serve it with some fresh bread. It is very nutritious, delicious, and also vegan.
- 2 tablespoons of ghee or olive oil
- 1 sweet onion chopped
- 1 leek chopped
- 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger root
- 1 sweet potato or yam chopped in 1cm cubes
- 3 carrots chopped in 1cm cubes
- 1 rutabaga chopped in 1cm cubes
- 5-6 Roma tomatoes blanched and chopped
- 25-30 green beans chopped or 1 chopped broccoli
- 1 cup of split mung beans or green lentils, well rinsed
- Herbs: 1 teaspoon of each: freshly grounded fennel seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 liters of fresh filtered water
- Fresh cilantro leaves to taste
Sauté the onion and leek in the ghee (or olive oil) until golden, about 4-5 minutes, add the herbs and mix well. Add the lentils and the tomatoes, stir, and then add the vegetables: root veggies first, mix well, add half the water and bring to boil, cook for 5-10 minutes. Then add the beans or the broccoli florets and the rest of the water. Bring to boil again, then lower to simmer for 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add fresh cilantro, serve and enjoy!