We started learning about Ayurveda last week in school. Ayurveda, which means the science of life, is a mind, body and spirit healing system that originated in India.
But, before I dive into a VERY long-winded ‘Simone’s notes’ version of basic Ayurveda, I thought I’d share a new recipe with you. Since it’s been quite cold the past few days, I’ve been craving more comfort foods. To me, comfort= carbs, I’m a carb loving gal. I had never baked with millet flour before but thought I’d give it a go. Millet flour is somewhat similar to whole-wheat flour, it’s definitely a more dense, hearty flour than the rice flour I often bake with but still very tasty. These are not your typical ‘cake like’ muffins, more of a hearty breakfast muffin. Hope you enjoy
Zucchini, banana, chocolate chip millet muffins (submitted to wellness weekend): 1 cup millet flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp salt, 1 mashed ripe banana, ¼ cup maple syrup (could sub agave or honey- I have not tried), 1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp water (flax egg), ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup grated zucchini and ½ cup chocolate chips (could sub walnuts)… mix dry ingredients, mix wet ingredients, wet to dry, mix well and fold in chocolate chips. Scoop ¼ cup batter and pour into lined muffin tins, bake at 375 for 20 minutes (makes 7 muffins).
Now onto my very basic understanding (or maybe misunderstanding) of some ayurevedic concepts…
Ayurveda revolves around finding balance of body, mind and consciousness through making lifestyle changes for your specific constitution. Everyone has a different constitution that takes into account your physical, mental and emotional characteristics. For example, it’s because of individual’s constitutions that two people experience different symptoms when sick with the same virus or that two individual’s of the same height and weight have different hunger and thirst tolerances. External and internal factors, such as: diet, seasonal changes, trauma, relationships, etc., have the ability to throw off ones balance. Imbalance= disorder= disease. Ayurveda is all about being self aware and re-establishing order= balance.
Ayurveda identifies 3 energies or humors (tridosha) that are present in everyone and everything: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Optimal health is found when the doshas are in balance. Disease occurs when your dosha (meaning that which darkens, spoils or causes things to decay) is out of balance. Although everyone contains all 3 doshas, they do so in different proportions- everyone has a dominant dosha.
So what characteristics do the different doshas present?
Vata is the energy of movement made from air and ether and is represented as primarily dry, cold and light. Examples are breathing, blinking, muscle movement, pulsations of the heart; cellular movements etc., Vata predominant individuals are thin and underdeveloped individuals that have quick minds, are flexible and creative. They walk, talk and think fast, are easily tired and often feel unstable. When vata is in excess it collects primarily in the colon. The individual will experience weight loss, darkened complexion, anxiety, constipation, pneumonia, flatulence, hypertension and many more symptoms that involve the air principle.
Pitta is the energy of digestion and metabolism made from fire and water and is represented as hot, sharp, moist and light. Examples are digestion, absorption and assimilation (both mental and GI), metabolism and body temperature. Pitta predominant individuals are of medium build, have strong appetites, are alert and intelligent and are often leaders. When pita is in excess it collects primarily in the small intestine. The individual will be easily agitated, aggressive and jealous while disease will involve the fire principle resulting in fevers, weak digestion, skin diseases, heart burn, ulcers and inflammation.
Kapha is the energy of lubrication and structure made from earth and water and is represented as cold, moist and heavy. Examples are joint lubrication, skin moisture, the ‘glue’ that hold cells together, it is the energy that forms the body’s structures such as bones, muscles and tendons as well, kapha provides our emotional support. Kapha predominant individuals are of larger build, have slow metabolism, move slowly, gain weight easily, and are calm, tolerant and forgiving. When kapha is in excess it collects primarily in the chest cavity. The individual will experience an increased rate of growth, increased laziness, dullness, and coldness as well as become greedy, needy and depressed. Kapha disease involves the water principle resulting in flu, congestion, water retention, weight gain, diabetes, asthma etc.,
So with all that being said, how does one either maintain balance or bring oneself back into balance?
By becoming self-aware and by altering an individuals diet and lifestyle habits.
Lets look at the diet: to restore balance it is important to consume excess dosha pacifying foods.
To pacify vata, individuals should consume sweet, sour, salty and pungent tastes and should avoid bitter and astringent tastes.
To pacify pitta, individuals should consume sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and should avoid sour, salty and pungent tastes.
To pacify kapha, individuals should consume bitter, pungent and astringent tastes and should avoid sweet, sour and salty tastes.
Curious about your constitution? Take a test and find out (click here)
Curious about your specific nutritional guideline? (click here)
Obviously there is A LOT more to Ayurveda but I have already gone on for far to long today. To be continued…