Ayurveda completely transformed my relationship with food. I once used food as a drug to numb my mind and heart from all that felt out of control in my life. When I began eating according to Ayurveda, however, I felt much better physically and mentally, after years of eating disorders, digestive system disturbances, insomnia, and anxiety I could not find solutions to elsewhere.
Eating according to Ayurveda empowered me to overcome all my physical health challenges within just a few months. Over a longer period of time, this led directly to healing my mind and, ultimately, to transforming my spiritual consciousness (a beautiful continual process).
Now, when people approach me to learn how to experience more well being in life, I always tell them it starts with food. Along with sleep and balanced sexuality, food is one of the three sub-pillars (upastambhas) of health in Ayurveda - and the most important.
Because digestion is considered the key to overall physical and mental well being (since the body and mind are considered intimately connected in Ayurveda), the best way to start to change your health (and thereby change your life) is by embracing healthy recipes to boost your digestion.
Here are three of my favorite healthy recipes that I learned from my Ayurveda studies:
Reclaim Your Digestive System with Khichadi
Made of cooked green and/or yellow mung dal lentils, white rice, and a variety of spices, khichadi (also called kitchari) is one of Ayurveda's superfoods. Almost all Indians know khichadi as one of the primary healthy recipes for whenever you feel unwell. Khichadi is such a go-to food that I widely recommend it to clients struggling with a variety of health challenges. It can be made with a number of seasonal spices and vegetables, so you can continually experience different flavors.
Filling, yet light, it's wonderful for yoga practitioners who want to go deeper into their spiritual practices, as it brings about a calm mental state. For those who want to cleanse the digestive system, it is helpful to eat a diet of khichadi and takra (a spiced yogurt drink; see recipe below) for about 7 to 10 days (or until toxins disappear).
1/2 cup white basmati rice
1 cup green or yellow mung dal (or 1/2 cup yellow and 1/2 cup green dal)
Himalayan pink rock salt (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons ghee
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Rinse the rise and dal, then add to a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover the rice and dal by 1 inch and soak for 3 to 4 hours if possible (or at least 30 minutes).
Place the pot on the stove over high heat. Heat until it boils, then reduce the heat to low. Add the rock salt and turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has a mushy consistency, 20 to 25 minutes. Add additional water if preferred, or cook until it becomes as dry as you like.
Place the ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until the seeds start crackling, about 10 to 15 seconds or less.
Pour the warmed ghee mixture into the pot with the rice and dal. Serve with fresh cilantro for added flavor and digestive system support.
Boost Digestion Naturally with a Light, Spiced Ayurveda Buttermilk Recipe
Takra is an incredible digestion promoter during colder seasons. While Ayurveda typically doesn't recommend eating cold yogurt because its dense, cold qualities can clog your bodily channels, this version lightens the yogurt by whisking it with water, transforming it into a health-promoting food. It's amazing how a few small adjustments can make such a difference in a food's healing potency.
Takra benefits those suffering from piles, diabetes, abdominal tumors, diarrhea, many skin diseases, obesity, anemia, and more. Takra is particularly helpful anytime you experience loss of appetite. When combined with khichadi in a mono diet, it can help those combating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Note: Consume ideally before 3:00 p.m; eat in moderation in the spring.
2 cups water
1/2 cup organic whole cow's milk plain yogurt, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted and ground into powder
2 1/4-inch pieces fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Himalayan pink rock salt, to taste
Boil water, then cool to room temperature. (Boiling the water makes it easier to digest.)
Place the room temperature yogurt in a small bowl and whisk for 2 minutes.
Slowly add the water, cumin, ginger, cilantro, and rock salt to the yogurt. Continue whisking until takra is smooth and frothy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Mung Dal Pancakes: a Healthy Breakfast (and Any Other Meal) Recipe
Mung dal, being light and easy for digestion, makes for a very sattvic meal - a meal that promotes balance and peace of mind. Mung dal pancakes are a great breakfast for stress relief and starting your day on a cheerful note. You'll need to plan ahead and pre-soak the mung dal.
1 cup mung dal
1 teaspoon freshly ground roasted cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Himalayan pink rock salt, to taste
3 tablespoons ghee
1. Rinse the dal until the water is clear, then add to a medium bowl. Add enough water to cover the dal by 1 inch and soak overnight or at least 3 hours. Drain and rinse.
2. Pour the mung dal into a blender and blend, adding as little water as possible, until the batter is the consistency of pancake batter. Add the cumin, turmeric, and salt, and blend again.
Heat some ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Cooking in batches, pour some batter into the pan and spread like you would to make pancakes. This much batter will be enough to make 4 to 5 large thick pancakes or 8 to 10 smaller ones.
Cook until the edges start curling up and the underside is medium brown, about 5 minutes. Then flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes longer. Continue adding more ghee and batter until you've finished cooking all of the batter.
I hope you enjoy making this delicious healthy recipes, and improving your digestion in the process!
Learn more delicious healthy recipes and more about Ayurveda, in The Ayurveda Way: 108 Practices from the World’s Oldest Healing System for Better Sleep, Less Stress, Optimal Digestion, and More.
Photos - Copyright © 2017 Liz Daly. All Rights Reserved. From The Ayurveda Way, used with permission from Storey Publishing.