Preparing food in this manner isn’t difficult, and rewards our pallets with delicious dishes, juices, and drinks. At the same time, we’ll be nurturing and healing our body and mind, removing toxins, and getting the most nutrition from the foods we eat.
This type of cooking will teach you about the qualities of different foods, such
as warming, cooling, cleansing, dry, oily, etc. and the process of choosing our food and creating our menu’s will become more and more intuitive.
Cooking For An Ayurvedic Diet
Ayurvedic cooking is both a science and an art: The foods used in this type of cooking are not simply flavored and aromatic; they also have the ability to heal and help to raise the body to its optimum level of health. Here are some of the principles that this type of cooking is all about:
1. Ayurveda believes that nutrition, digestion and cooking are all integrated. Therefore, it always focuses on eating in such a way where food is easily digested. This allows the body to extract the most nutrition it possibly can from the food that was eaten.
2. If a person wants to completely give himself or herself over to the Ayurvedic way of cooking and eating, they must become a vegetarian. This is an issue that is non-negotiable. It is also advised that all vegetables are cooked first instead of being eaten raw. The reason for this goes back to the critical issue of digestion. When vegetables are cooked,
they are more easily and efficiently digested. This will also allow minerals and vitamins to be more easily assimilated into your body.
3. The six tastes of foods – pungent, bitter, sour, astringent, salty and sweet – gives the body critical information about what it is consuming. A diet that is properly balanced will contain a healthy combination of all of these tastes.
4. As Ayurvedic food is being prepared, the environment plays a critical role. Food and diet change depending on what season it is, helping a person’s body adjust more easily to seasons as they change. The practice of eating different diets depending on the season is an effective way to prevent illnesses that are season specific. A person who is using these principles to cook food will prepare it based on the temperature of the season and day. When it is warm in the summer, salads, fruits and other light foods are preferable. During the cold winter months, heavy grains and spices can be used frequently. This practice goes much deeper that cooking for the different seasons of the year. It also refers to the different seasons of a person’s life. When preparing food for elderly people, for instance, it is best to give them soft foods, stews and warm soups. When a person is middle-aged and still very active, foods that are chewable and more filling are recommended.
5. One of the most important principles regarding the Ayurvedic preparation of food is the idea that only fresh food should be consumed. Food that is preserved, processed or stale does not contain the necessary nutrition to fuel your body and give it the energy it needs. Even foods that have been leftover from the previous day should be avoided.
6. Coriander, cumin, ginger and turmeric are the spices Ayurvedic cooking most frequently utilizes. Coriander and cumin help with digestion. Ginger is pungent and turmeric is astringent and bitter. If you are preparing a vegetable curry, use 1/2 tsp. of coriander and cumin, 1/4 tsp. of ginger and 1/4 tsp. of turmeric per person.
7. Along with eating the most nutritious foods that provide the most benefit to your overall health, the importance of eating the right amount and combinations of each food are also stressed. If a well-balanced diet is consumed throughout a person’s life, the belief is that a person’s youthful appearance and vitality will be preserved. People will also live longer if they adopt this practice. There are three primary focuses which are healthcare, healing and prevention.
Food is placed in the three categories of Tamasic, Rajasic, and Satvic. Rajasic foods are generally neither positive or negative, while foods that harm one’s body or mind are considered tamasic.
Satvic foods, strong in the sattva guna, comprise the bulk of an Ayurvedic diet, being the most beneficial to mind & body.
The Three Gunas (or Grades):
- – Tamas: A quality of the mind that evokes resistance, inertia, darkness and the need to stop. Tamasic foods tend to be harder to digest and metabolize, and have an overall ‘heaviness’ to mind & body. Fried foods, fish and meats, onion and garlic, and alcohol & alcoholic beverages promote tamas.
- – Rajas: A quality of the mind that induces that energizes and stimulates, promoting action and energy, but also can cause aggressive and dominating thoughts. Spicy foods, caffeinated drinks including tea, coffee, caffeinated sodas and “energy drinks”, chocolate, ice cream, and canned foods promote rajas.
- – Sattva: A state that promotes clarity, balance and harmony. Herbal teas, honey, dry fruits, vegetables, nuts, milk and fresh fruits are foods that help to promote sattva.
In Ayurvedic living, the foods would be absolutely the most sattvic of all are fresh milk from a happy cow, and fruit freshly fallen from a tree. This reasoning is that absolutely no harm was done to the organisms from which the nutrients came, but rather they gave the food willingly and with their blessings.
Knowing Your Body Type: The Tridosha
It is important to know what body type you have because certain foods can be more harmful than beneficial to certain body types. They describe physical characteristics as well as mental preferences and Ayurveda aims to keep the Doshas in balance
- – Vata: Air, Ether—the movement principle. Light, cold, dry, mobile, subtle and rough.
- – Pitta: Fire, Water—the energy principle. Light, hot, greasy, sharp and ﬂuid.
- – Kapha: Water, Earth—the structure principle. Heavy, cold, greasy, stable and softening.
One of the greatest advantages to adopting the principles of Ayurvedic cooking into your life is that they can be applied to all individuals. No matter what temperament and lifestyle that you have, there are methods of cooking that you can now use to begin converting your body into a healthier way of eating.