Are you ever overwhelmed by the abundance of information regarding what and how we should be eating?
Having struggled with digestive issues growing up, I turned to food for healing and, in my search for answers, I tried every dietary theory under the sun. It was through Ayurveda that I started to uncover a deeper, time-tested wisdom that rang true for me — that our health isn’t static and no single food, diet or belief system is meant for everyone. The essence of Ayurveda reminds us that we are a part of nature, and nature has her own palpable rhythm that shapes our unique needs.
Our inner rhythms are cyclical just as the seasons and cycles of the sun, moo, and earth. A great Ayurvedic teacher, Bri Maya Tiwari, reminds us that “your vital tissues are created from nature’s seasonal rhythms and provisions. By imbibing nature’s foods, you are able to transport nature’s essential nutrients to your cells, thus your mood, memory and overall health are directly affected by the biorhythms held within the tissues of your body. This is why we must remain attentive to the cyclical changes of our inner rhythms during each season and its transition into another.” By creating a conscious relationship with our food, we can nourish these deeper connections with nature and nurture our bodies’ fluid needs.
The essence of Ayurvedic cooking uses everyday culinary spices and natural foods for nourishing and balancing the body and mind. We learn to identify the energetics of food (virya), whether it has a heating or cooling effect once consumed, how the different flavors (rasas) influence the doshas, and whether it created a harmonious and peaceful (sattvic) experience in body and mind. With this awareness, we select foods that will bring balance to our state of being.
Since Ayurveda seeks to find harmony through balance, in simplest terms, we eat foods and partake in lifestyle activities that balance out the characteristics of each season. Autumn and early winter is vata time with the cold, dry, windy weather, thus we seek warming, cooked foods like roasted root vegetables and nourishing stews. While the cold and wet weather of late winter and early spring are expressions of earthy, slow-moving kapha in the environment, we enjoy spicy, astringent, and bitter foods to promote movement and cleansing in the body. The hot conditions of early and late summer expresses the qualities of pitta and vata, so we seek hydrating, cooling foods that are abundant and in season — think sweet melons and juicy berries, summer squash, leafy greens, fresh herbs and cooling spices — during these months.
This summer recipe takes a plant-based approach to a classical Ayurvedic digestion remedy — lassi. Traditionally made with yogurt, this version uses coconut yogurt, pitted sweet cherries, a splash of rosewater and a pinch of cardamom for an easy-to-make cooling treat.
Invoking the senses is essential in the sacred act of nourishment, so as you prepare this sweet cherry lassi, take time to admire the vibrant colors, feel the softness of the fruit, smell the aromas of the spices, and sip slowly as you take in the subtle tastes of the this drink. Notice how this process of slowing down and creating a relationship with our food through the senses has a peaceful and harmonious effect on body and mind. This is the heart of Ayurvedic cooking.
Claire Ragozzino is a yoga instructor, plant-based chef & holistic nutrition educator. She works with clients around the globe to inspire transformational changes in their health and wellbeing. Her wellness programs are infused with Ayurvedic principles, plant-based nutrition, and yogic philosophy to cultivate knowledge for intuitive healing. Learn about her seasonal cleanses, coaching programs and global retreats: www.vidyaliving.com