Since Ayurveda has been on my mind a lot lately, anticipating the program and all, I’ve been trying to incorporate as many “Ayurvedic” foods and herbs into my diet and follow a vata pacifying lifestyle even more so than I usually do. That being said, I ventured to the Herb Room the other day and purchased some Triphala and Ashwagandha for good measure. For some reason, I hadn’t really paid much attention to Triphala until just the other day when a friend who is familiar with the herb recommended it for its detoxifying agents and rejuvenating qualities. Apparently it’s the popular king of Ayurvedic medicine. I’ve already noticed my digestion improving slightly and a faster metabolism. It’s something one should do for one week, and then take a break from it for about a week to notice its effects. Ashwagandha, on the other hand, has been an herb with many benefits that I’ve been meaning to take more seriously for quite a while. It’s supposed to help deal with stress, anxiety, and insomnia (main vata imbalances). It’s funny, as I just now noticed on this particular website that has it for sale, a doctor quotes that “while most adaptogens are stimulants in disguise, Ashwagandha can give the energy in the morning to run a marathon and taken before bed, put you to sleep like a baby“. Perfect. Both things that I need. Ironic also that I’ve been heavily debating over whether or not to sign up for the full or half San Francisco marathon for this upcoming summer. I know I definitely want to at least complete the first half, but jeeze, 26.2 miles. I could definitely do the 13.1 again and again, and I want to run a marathon at least sometime soon, but for some reason I’m hesitant right now to just go for it full on. Maybe this Ashwagandha will help the decision making process a little easier? We’ll see.
I also intend on treating myself to this beautiful oil warming bowl
sometime in the near future to improve my daily abhyanga self-massage ritual. Birthday present, maybe? With a full years supply of organic unrefined sesame oil
, pretty please? That’s all I need.
Anyway, I really should just start a blog on Ayurveda (ha! right, like I have the time… eventually though) instead of blabbing on about it here on my “baking” blog, but I wanted to share some great recipes revolving around Ayurvedic foods that I’ve made lately. First of all, this oatmeal recipe = the best ever. To. Die. For. I used to never really be a big oatmeal fan because it would never “stick to my ribs” like everyone claims it should and I always felt it would weigh me down, but it’s a great breakfast meal for pacifying vata. I’ve tried my own oatmeal combinations, oat bran, steel cut oats, I try to mix it up as often as possible, and I have found that its warming, heavy, and sweet properties have worked positively well. Anyway, I tried this recipe yesterday morning (you have to prep the night before by soaking some almonds in water to soften them) and I couldn’t get over how tasty it was. Literally, the best oatmeal I’ve ever had in my life. My taste buds and tummy were very happy. Maybe it was the ghee? Or the slighly crunchy almonds mixed into the fluffy oatmeal? I also added some freshly diced pear. Not dry at all, more like a hot creamy porridge, like something “Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears” were eating. I don’t know why but that visual popped into my head when I was eating it. Anyway, I highly recommend this, and especially if you’re not a fan of oatmeal, this may turn you into one. I know it looks like baby food, but don’t let that stop you. Also, I made it again today, but didn’t soak the almonds last night, and it wasn’t as flavorful. It still works, I processed the oats and almonds in the food processor for a bit longer, but it wasn’t as good as yesterdays batch.
Here are the ayurvedic notes from the website about this particular recipe:
“Most Americans who eat their morning cereal with cold milk would be shocked to discover that milk with grains is generally a bad food combination. The milk curdles almost instantly in the stomach forming a greasy, indigestible coating over the cereal grains. When cooked together, however, the mixture becomes homogeneous and more digestible.
In the winter, thin, deficient vata people have trouble keeping warm. Their naturally high metabolism burns off any stored energy. To replenish, vata people should select a digestible breakfast that ‘sticks to the ribs.’ In Ayurveda, recipes that stick to the ribs build ojas, which is well-formed, well-nourished tissue.
Proteins are an important part of the alchemy in Oatmeal with Milk and Almonds. They build stamina and ojas. Vata people should start every day with adequate proteins.
Oats are an ideal breakfast grain because it is easier to digest than wheat or corn. Milk is heavy for digestion. Two powerful herbs, cinnamon and cardamom, are combined with the milk to make it lighter and less mucus forming. We chose almonds to supply proteins because they are also sattvic, helping to create a spiritual state of mind.
An ancient Ayurvedic text called ‘Ashtanga Hrdayam’ recommends hot cereals with milk. Hot cereals with milk ‘oleate’ the body, making it soft and supple. A mixture of fats and carbohydrates, hot cereals with milk sweeten the blood, making it more dense. Sweet blood helps coat dry membranes with mucus, lubricating the nasal passages, lungs, and digestive tract including the colon.”
Good stuff! I will now go and prep some almonds tonight for tomorrow’s breakfast…
Cinnamon Oatmeal with Almonds & Milk
2 tbsp almonds (I used pre-sliced/blanched)
1/3 cup oatmeal
1 tsp ghee
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp maple syrup
Soak the almonds overnight and peel them in the morning. Blend in a food processor or coffee blender with the oatmeal.
Place oatmeal mix and remaining ingredients from the list above in a pot with double or triple the quantity in water (depending upon level of dryness in the body–personally, I liked it more thick and creamy, the water diluted it too much).
Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until soft. Garnish with a pinch of cinnamon.
This next recipe is one that I made up myself, adapted from a few granola recipes I’ve come across. I wanted to make something with my favorite three ingredient combination: rosewater, pistachios, and cardamom. And then dates was the icing on the cake. This could be ayurvedic with those ingredients, fo sho. Anyway, this is really yummy. I tried to place the granola into mounds but they are fragile and fell apart anyway once they were baked. For the rosewater part of it, I used the ayurvedic Rose Petal jam
that I made a while back as the sweetener/replacer for the honey/maple syrup that is typically in granola recipes. Since most of you probably don’t have that sitting around in your cupboard, you could easily substitute maple syrup or honey in place of the jam and add a tablespoon or two of rosewater to the mix. Although once spring rolls around again, you could easily make a batch if you have some roses handy. It was so easy to make and goes with so many other delicious things! (Brie cheese, anyone?) Here’s some wikiHow instructions
if you’d like a visual step-by-step direction.
Rosewater Pistachio Cardamom Coconut & Date Granola Clusters
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pitted and chopped dates
1/4 cup chopped raw, unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup any other nut you like (I used TJ’s honey sesame cashews)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup rose petal jam
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place oats, dates, pistachios, cashews, coconut, cardamom, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix to combine.
Place the rose petal jam, oil, and vanilla in a saucepan over low heat and cook for 1-2 minutes or until runny. Pour over the oat mixture and mix well to combine. Spoon heaped tablespoonfuls onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden.
Allow to cool completely on trays. Makes 24. Store in an airtight container (should last for at least a month).