Life exists surviving and thriving in the multi-varied landscapes of the Earth, each held in unique balance by differing climate conditions and environmental factors. Much like the Earth our bodies, made with the same materials, have varied internal landscapes requiring both universal, elemental understanding and individualized attention so that balance may be achieved.
Ayurveda’s ultimate goal is that of yoga; union, achieved through perfect balance. When elements in our life are balanced, things flow, we have fluid relationships, assets, etc. These external factors have their secret origin in our health and energetic/emotional well-being, factors that Ayurveda attributes to right diet.
Discovering truths about your unique body type can be a vehicle for greater awareness and understanding regarding your dietary choices. When it comes to food our present state of conscious awareness plays a pivotal role in what makes it past our gums. Diet is directional and the more informed we are about the food we eat, the greater the chances are we might choose to eat things that are inherently better for us. Our body type is key in this equation; Ayurveda says our bodies are all combinations of elemental aspects: Vata; air/ether, Pitta; fire/water and Kapha; water/earth. Recognizing a pre-dominance towards any one of these elemental forces within us is a first step to taking our diet under our conscious will power. The second step is of course recognizing what elements certain foods represent and how they interact with the forces that reside with us. An Ayurvedic consultation gives you tools for discerning these two steps, no longer making diet choices a game of chance, but rather an awakened response to what our bodies are asking for.
When it comes to balancing out our nature using food some choices are elementary, others intuitive and some experimental. There is a reason: that watermelon tastes better in the hot Summer sun as opposed to the wet and damp Fall, that Winter is a perfect time for an earthy root vegetable soup and Spring a time for seasonal produce and fruits. Within reason our bodies will always do best with seasonal food that is grown in close proximity to our homes. As we begin to incorporate more local conscious food into our diet we can immediately notice shifts in our day-to-day health. As we start to incorporate these truths into our lives they become common sense: if your run hot; stay away from spicy foods and eat more cooling foods, similarly, if you run cold; find warm foods that dont tax your digestion and if you are light in nature; find grounding foods that help you stay present and focused. Most of us have had enough experimentation with feel-bad foods to be able to make educated choices about that which is not to eat, or at least not in excess. When we do over-do it at least there is truth in using good foods to balance us back out again. p>
Our ability to see food beyond the mere circumstances of routine determines its positive affects on our body, mind and Spirit. Sub-conscious eating patterns are those which are done robotically; often without any connection to the food: where it came from or how it was processed before it reached us. While subconscious eating generally refers to food which is unhealthy for us, even food that is otherwise good for us can be eaten subconsciously, thus limiting its true potential for feeding us on many levels. Conscious eating patterns are those which we initiate, mostly in acknowledging the need to eat better and incorporate inherently good foods into our diets. Conscious eating patterns begin in January for many people attempting to change a habit-pattern and either become second nature by February or fizzle out 8 days into the new trend. Super-conscious eating delineates a clear understanding of what we are eating, when we are eating it and how it may potentially affect us on many levels. When we eat super-consciously, we do so with the recognition of the specific vitality of our food, water and overall lifestyle in our life’s greater scheme. Anomalies to these include the fact that it is more productive to eat bad food consciously than good food unconsciously, at least on a short-term basis and even a finely tuned digestive system should be able to take a couple slices of pizza without getting completely thrown out of whack.
In Ayurveda there are certain foods designed to bring the body back into balance regardless of body type. Sometimes these refer to individual types of food but for our purposes we will highlight dishes like Kitchari. The 3 body types in Ayurveda are referred to as Doshas (Dough-shas) and kitchari is what is known as a tri-doshic food, one that has the ability to bring any body type back into balance.
Here is a recipe for kitchari: Enjoy!
- 2-3 TBS ghee (you can make by clarifying butter, or buy from an Indian grocery store)
- ½ tsp black mustard seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 small pinch of asafoetida (“hing”) powder
- ½ cup split yellow dal, rinsed well, soaked overnight and drained. (It is best to use mung dal with the hulls still on if you tend toward constipation).
- 1 tsp rock salt
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 cup white Basmati rice, rinsed well and drained.
- About 6 cups in a regular pot. 4 ½ cups water if using a pressure cooker.
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 4-5 thin slices of fresh ginger root
- Vegetables Optional*
Using either a pressure cooker (much faster) or a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the ghee on medium heat. Ghee burns easily, so be careful. Sauté the mustard seeds and cumin seeds in the ghee until the seeds begin to pop. Slowly add water to this keeping eyes and face away from pot. If you are using root vegetables specific to your dosha type i.e. carrots, beets or potatoes add these now so they cook thoroughly. Then add the drained mung dal, asafoetida powder, turmeric and salt mixing. You may find the need for more water at this point, kitchari should be moderately thick when finished but not spoon standing thick. Then add the rice, cumin powder, coriander powder and ginger. Stir well, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
If you’re using a regular pot, cover and bring it to a boil on high heat. Then turn the heat down and let it simmer until both the rice and dal are mushy.
You may have to experiment with how much water you use to find a consistency that you like. (The more water, the thinner the consistency). A thinner consistency is preferable if digestion is weak. You will notice that kitchari will thicken when it cools and you may need more water than you originally thought.
In order to provide the best quality of energy to your body, Kitchari should be made the day that you wish to eat it and served hot. This recipe serves six.
- Fresh cilantro (great for pitta – ok for vata and kapha)
- Coconut (great for pitta)
- Lime (ok for everybody)
- Pumpkin Seeds (great toasted with Braggs)
- Fresh ginger
- Braggs liquid aminos
- Ghee, clarified butter