I hear you! How do we eat good, easy, fresh food within the safety net of Ayurveda, without spending our life cooking? While also accommodating a household of people with different constitutions…
My first piece of advice would be to look at what all good Ayurvedic food has in common. Then would look at how we can make it easy for ourselves.
- Ayurveda likes warm food: it suits everyone. It is about human beings being able to digest food more easily when it has been cooked. Cooking is like a pre-digestion process. The warmth is in harmony with the GI tract, rather than putting it into shock with cold rawness. It’s all about giving our bodies a break.
- Incompatible food types: these are universal no-nos for any constitution (as the gut is incapable of processing these food combos; leading to toxicity circulating the channels of the body). So do not eat: fish with dairy, fish with fruit, dairy with fruit, pulses with eggs, pulses with cheese, eggs with fish.
- Spice mixtures: making these ahead of time for easy flavour and digestive aids. You can just add these to soups, vegetables, stews, to bring in some easy flavour. You mention you and your son have pitta constitutions, so here is a cooling but medicinal combination: cumin, coriander, fennel, fenugreek and turmeric (lightly toast all the seeds til they emit an aroma but don’t burn, then add turmeric powder, whizz in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar and store in a jar ready to spooned into mixtures you are cooking).
- Seasonal local vegetables: again these suit everyone. These are the foods appropriate to the time and place, which trumps constitution, as most local seasonal vegetables will be in accordance with the consultation of the person living where they grow. So see what your farmer’s market is saying. A simple meal with this is just roughly chopping a variety of veg, adding a little ghruta, and some spice seeds (fennel, coriander and ajwain will give a Mediterranean flavour, as well as packing a medicinal punch). Eat this alongside a little quinoa, rice, bread, or feta cheese.
- The wonders of split yellow mung (and how it suits every constitution). You can make a very simple split mung dhal, serve with some rice. The split yellow mung can be soaked ahead of time, meaning it is ready for a quick cook with some simple spices. One can also get on with other things while it’s cooking.
- Kichiri! Kichiri also suits all constitutions and is an easy, pre-soakable, one pot meal loved by our gut, so feel free to make it whenever. You can make a large batch in the morning and eat it throughout the day. You can play around with this too, adding different spices, using red lentils in place of mung sometimes and playing with different types of rice. You can even make with pears, dates and cinnamon powder for a slightly sweeter nourishing treat…
- Soup… bung some veggies (as described above) into a pan with some water and stock, and a few spices or seeds – to your taste – cook and whizz once ready. Have alongside a little rye bread or spelt crackers, and top with a spoonful of ghruta or pumpkin seed oil.
Go Easy On Yourself
Try and have something warm and nourishing for breakfast, let lunch be your largest meal of the day, eat something lighter for dinner, and try to have eaten this by 7pm when possible.
I am a huge advocate of going easy on yourself. The whole point of Ayurveda is to not put unnecessary stress on the body. It is about flow and ease, not dis-ease. So cut some corners when you need to and don’t worry about it!
Follow the first two points in the list above – choose warm foods where possible and don’t mix the wrong combinations. See what delights you on the menu, sometimes I will choose two starters, and sometimes I will go for a pizza or something I wouldn’t cook at home. Eating out is a treat, so enjoy it and give your self a break.
By Selina Van Orden
Selina is an Ayurvedic doctor practicing in the UK, as well as treating people across the world online. She is the Ayurvedic advisor to Pior Living atyourbest.one