Tag Archives: Recipes

Ayurvedic Guidelines for Diet & Digestion

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Diet and digestion are considered to be of the utmost importance in Ayurveda. They constitute one of the three pillars of health. Not only is what you eat important but also when you eat, where you eat, whether you are paying full attention to what you eat, what your hunger level is when you eat, and what your mood is when you eat.

Following are some important guidelines for healthy diet and digestion:

1.   It is best to eat your main meal around noontime. This is when digestive powers are at their maximum. Eating a large meal late in the evening when digestion is weak can lead to all sorts of health problems, including obesity, lethargy, and poor sleep, to name a few. Eating a small breakfast ensures that the appetite will be maximum at noontime. A large breakfast is incompletely digested by noon when it is time to eat again.

2.   Digestion is better when you refrain from eating another meal until the previous one has been completely digested. It takes about two hours for the stomach to empty but it may take 4 to 6 hours to completely digest a big meal. When you feel hungry again, this is a sign that the previous meal has been digested. Snacks between meals should be avoided by most individuals. If you have eaten a very large meal, you may want to skip the next meal.

3.   It is best not to eat unless you are hungry. When you have a sharp appetite, it means that your physiology is ready for food and will make maximum use of it. If you eat without any desire for food, it may actually have a harmful effect on your body. If you are angry or upset, wait until those feelings have passed before eating. Eating should promote feelings of pleasure to ensure proper digestion.

4.   When eating, do not indulge in other activities, such as reading the newspaper or a book, watching TV, having an intense conversation, etc. The process of eating requires your full attention in order for the food to be properly digested.

5.   After eating, it is good to sit like a king or queen for 5-10 minutes to allow the digestive process to get a head start before plunging back into activity. This helps the digestive cycle be maximally effective.

6.   Cold drinks should not be taken immediately before a meal or with a meal or immediately after a meal. Ayurveda considers cold drinks to be very harmful for digestion. They decrease the function of the digestive enzymes. This means that by drinking cold drinks, you actually decrease your body’s ability to digest your food. Drink room temperature or hot beverages with your meals. Hot water pacifies Vata dosha, the king of the doshas and the one most easily imbalanced. In summer, those with large amounts of Pitta dosha can have cold beverages, but not around mealtimes. Once you put this guideline into practice for a few weeks, you will notice the positive effect on your digestion and you’ll wonder how you ever tolerated cold drinks at mealtimes.

7.   It is good to take a walk after meals. It helps the digestive process function properly and settles the mind, which aids digestion because the mind and body are connected.

8.   A simple cure of many digestive ills is to avoid overeating. Ayurveda suggests eating to 2/3 to 3/4 of capacity. It is best not to leave the table feeling ‘stuffed.’ The digestive system can become overwhelmed. When we exceed our digestive capacity, the production of Ama can be the result. Ama refers to products of incomplete digestion that result in the build-up of toxins in the system. This material can circulate and cause damage by sticking to vital channels in the body and plugging them up. Ama is sticky. The white sticky material you scrape off your tongue in the morning is one type of Ama. It is a visible guide to how well your digestive system is functioning. When you eat a heavy meal at night your tongue will likely be coated with whitish sticky material in the morning. When you eat in moderation and get regular exercise there will likely be a visible reduction in the amount of Ama on your tongue.

Eating in moderation is recommended for better health and longevity. Modern scientific studies have demonstrated that animals which are slightly underfed outlive those that have food in front of them all the time.

9.   It is better to eat in settled circumstances. It is best not to eat while standing. Sit to enjoy your food. This will allow the mind to focus on eating. Eating while driving is not recommended. It divides the mind. Eating is one of the most important things we do each day and it requires our full attention.

10. The value of well cooked food. Ayurveda recognizes that food contains vital energy, called Prana. Freshly cooked and served food is high in Prana. Frozen foods, canned foods, and foods that have been refrigerated for a long time are completely devoid of Prana. Raw foods contain this energy but are very difficult to digest and thus are of less benefit than well cooked food. Ayurveda not only considers the nutritive value of the food but also its bioavailability.

Prana does not last after the food has been cooked. According to Ayurveda, food should be consumed within five hours of cooking. Refrigeration may extend this for some time. It is best to avoid leftover foods, canned and processed foods, snack foods, etc. This also applies to juices. Canned or bottled juices are devoid of Prana and are thought to produce Ama, which is not good for health. Fresh juices are better, according to Ayurveda.

11. Exercise or walk for 30 minutes every day. Exercise tones the body and sharpens the digestive powers. However, it is best not to exercise right before meals or if you are very hungry. Also avoid exercising right after meals.

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Healthy Recipes

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For most of us, finding the time and energy to make a home cooked meal each day can be challenging. That is why today we present quick, easy to make, healthy recipes for everyone! These foods are not only easy to make but they are delicious and nutritious! They will easily become part of your weekly meal planning.

Basmati Rice

Basmati rice, available at Indian groceries and most health food stores, is the king of all rices. It’s a high-quality long-grain rice that has a unique aroma when cooked. Prepare your rice so that it is cooked but still firm and the grains don’t stick together.  Here’s one way to prepare Basmati rice:

Directions:

1.   Wash the rice in several changes of cold water.
2.   Put the rice in a saucepan and add 1 ½ times as much water as you have rice.
3.   Let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
4.   Bring to a boil, then stir, cover the pan, and reduce to a simmer.
5.   Simmer gently for 10 minutes.
6.   Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit covered for 5 minutes.
7.   Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

Beans

Here’s some advice on cooking with beans:

  • Sort through them a bit before you cook them. You’ll probably find an occasional small stone to remove.
  • Rinse them several times before you cook them.
  • For some beans, you should soak them for a while first to soften them up before cooking.
  • Cook them well. When they’re well cooked, the digestion can get right down to its task of transforming them into beneficial chemicals.
  • Contrary to popular practice in the West, don’t add salt before the beans are cooked. Acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice shouldn’t go in either until you’ve cooked the beans. Then add these things and cook a few more minutes.
  • What you can add are spices like cumin, black pepper, and ginger (which have a lot of health-promoting effects).
  • To store your dry beans and dals, keep them in dry, airtight containers at normal room temperature.
  • Beans keep, but try to use them within six months or so. As they get older, they lose moisture and take longer to soak and cook.

Here’s a nice, basic recipe:

Split Moong Dal
(2 servings)

Ingredients:

½ cup split moong dal
2 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ carrot, cut into thin slices
½ teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
1 teaspoon Immunity Mix (see below)
1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Immunity Mix:

6 parts turmeric
3 parts ground cumin
3 parts ground coriander
6 parts ground fennel
1 part powdered dry ginger
1 part ground black pepper
¼ part ground cinnamon

Mix the spices together well. (Store them in an airtight container in a cool place away from direct sunlight.)

Directions:

1.   Sort through the dal and remove any small stones, then rinse the dal in cool water several times.
2.   Put the water, carrots, and dal in a medium-sized saucepan, and bring it to a boil. (If foam forms on the top of the boiling water, skim it off and throw it away.)
3.   Lower the heat, and continue to simmer the dal for 20 minutes until it is tender. (If you like a thicker dal, continue the boiling for another 5 minutes.)
4.   Add the salt.
5.   Melt the ghee in a separate saucepan. Add the ginger root, and sauté for several minutes. Add the Immunity Mix and sauté briefly, about 30 seconds, with the ginger root. (Be sure that you don’t burn the spices.)
6.   Add the spice mixture to the dal and stir. (Be careful. The dal may splash a little when you put in the hot oil.)
7.   Add the lemon juice and fresh cilantro. Stir and serve.

Prana Dal
(
Recipe for 3)

Ingredients:

1 cup moong dal
1 lb. fresh organic spinach
½ teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of ground coriander
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of ground ginger
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
A few pinches of black salt (actually looks pink, available at an Indian grocery store)

Directions:

1.   Sort through the dal and remove any small stones, then rinse the dal in cool water several times.
2.   Cook the dal with the turmeric, coriander, cumin, and ginger. You should have approx. 2 ½ cups of thin cooked dal when done.
3.   Add salt to taste and cook a few more minutes.
4.   Wash the spinach thoroughly, then lightly steam it for 2-3 minutes.
5.   Put the dal and spinach in a blender, and blend for only 2-3 seconds, just enough to distribute the spinach throughout the dal without turning it into liquid.
6.   Pour into serving bowls. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of black salt. Serve it with rice or a chapati (a type of flat bread).

Sauteed Swiss Chard

Ingredients:

1 lb. Swiss chard, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon Immunity Mix (see below)
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Immunity Mix:

6 parts turmeric
3 parts ground cumin
3 parts ground coriander
6 parts ground fennel
1 part powdered dry ginger
1 part ground black pepper
¼ part ground cinnamon

Mix the spices together well. (Store them in an airtight container in a cool place away from direct sunlight.)

Directions:

1.   Heat the ghee in a frying pan.
2.   Sauté the Immunity Mix in the ghee very briefly, about 40 seconds, on low heat.
3.   Add the Swiss chard and stir it into the spices.
4.   Add about 2 tablespoons of water and cover the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the Swiss chard is tender.
5.   Add salt and lemon juice. Cook for a few more minutes, then serve.

Panir

Ingredients:

1 quart of milk (not homogenized is better)
Juice of 1 squeezed lemon

Directions:

1.   Bring the milk to a boil.
2.   Add the lemon juice. (The milk will start to curdle, but in this case that’s what you want.)
3.   Turn off the heat and let the substance sit for a few moments, then bring it back to boiling.
4.   Remove it from the heat. When it is half-cool, strain the curds from the whey through any fine cloth. (Muslin is good, or several layers of cheesecloth.)
5.   When most of the moisture has drained, gather the top of the cloth, tie it together, and hang it somewhere to drip. Let all the water drip through (which usually takes about an hour).

Yield: One cup of panir. You can cook it in with your veggies for a delicious and nutritious dish.

Nutty Delight

Ingredients:

2 parts sesame seeds, hulled
1 part white poppy seeds
1 part dried coconut (fresh, if you can get it)

Directions:

1.   Soak everything together for about an hour, until it’s soft.
2.   Blend the mixture into a smooth paste.
3.   Add this nutty paste to your vegetables or other foods as you cook them. Allow a tablespoon of paste per serving.

This mixture will help you sleep, and you’ll wake up ready to attack the day with vigor.

Lassi

For your noon meal, lassi can be a great aid to digestion. (It’s better not to have it in the evening, though.) Drink the lassi after you finish eating. Lassi is made by mixing fresh yogurt with water, and adding a few other tasty ingredients. Yogurt in its native form tends to clog digestion a bit. But when you blend it with water and make it into lassi, it aids digestion. The reason for this is that blending thins the yogurt and changes its molecular structure. There are many recipes for lassi. Here are three for you to choose from:

Sweet Lassi

Ingredients:

1 part cold yogurt
3 parts water
Pinch of ground cardamon
Pinch of sugar
Splash of rosewater

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together. Include cardamon, sugar, and rosewater, to taste. Drink after lunch.

Digestive Lassi

Ingredients:

1 part cold yogurt
3 parts water
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together. Include ginger, cumin, salt, and pepper, to taste. Drink after lunch.

Lassi to prevent gas, bloating

Ingredients:

1 cup room-temperature water
¼ cup fresh homemade yogurt
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cumin
1 pinch ground coriander
1 pinch salt

Directions:

Blend everything together for one minute. Drink after lunch to ward off gas and bloating.

This modified chapter was taken with permission from: The Answer to Cancer, by Sharma and Mishra, with Meade, SelectBooks, New York, 2002.