It really comes down to how you want to feel in life.
We talk a lot about sattva here at Hale Pule. In fact, from our point of view, the goal of the practices of Ayurveda and Yoga is to increase sattva in the mind. Why is this?
Well, it really comes down to how you want to feel in life. I prefer to feel peaceful rather than agitated. I really enjoy myself when my body feels strong and agile, and I feel connected to it. When I feel open and enthusiastic about what’s happening right in front of me, I know I’m getting the most out of my experience. I feel content.
A steady feeling of contentment - that’s the practice of samtosha - and you can see how it’s rooted in sattva. We can find sattvic energy in nature - in our food. Most fruit is sattvic, and we eat it several times per week at Hale Pule.
Ayurveda tells us that it’s best to eat fruit on its own.
This is because we digest fruit much more quickly than other foods. Why is that a big deal? Say, for example, we eat fruit with yogurt. Our digestive system will quickly process the fruit, and then it will sit in our gut and begin to ferment while our agni is still working on the heavier yogurt. This leads to ajeerna - or indigestion - which shows up as bloating or gas, or ama (undigested food in the digestive tract - also known as a major source of dis-ease).
When my new clients learn this, they often ask for advice on when to eat fruit. I suggest eating fruit at breakfast, or as a light snack if you have a long stretch in between meals (6 or more hours - which ideally doesn't happen too often). I also like to talk about portion size. Many of us are used to eating just a little bit of fruit at a time - an apple or an orange. A handful of berries perhaps. But if you’re eating fruit for breakfast, you need to make sure that you are eating enough to keep you satisfied until your next meal at lunch. A good way to gauge this is by holding your two hands together and forming an open bowl. In your mind’s eye, fill it with fruit. Then just see what your experience is with your portion size. When you are eating your food, pay attention to your first burp. That’s your body telling you that you’ve eaten enough for now. This is key! Click here to read more about ‘the burp’ and why it will change your life.
Fruit is sattvic - but it really needs to be eaten fresh and free of chemicals. Particularly kiwis, strawberries (or anything with thin skin or seeds on the outside), and fruit with soft permeable skins like peaches and berries should be organically grown. Spray chemicals and chemical fertilizers distort the mind because they block the flow of prana, which disturbs the doshic balance and agni. Plus, chemicals are heating, acidic and drying. So, if increasing sattva and feeling content is important for you, then seeking out organic, chemical free fruit is a good way to invest your time. And those farmers appreciate the support.
It’s also worth thinking about what the term ‘organic’ really means where you live. In the United States, the idea of organic is pretty diluted these days - diluted with... chemicals. But some farmers really do practice integrity with their methods. Be sure to read the fine print on things you buy. See how the certifier defines organic. Best of all, get to know your local farmers. Ask them how they grow their produce. If they are open, and they look you in the eye when they respond, you will know to trust them or to move on. Here in New Zealand, organic is not such a common term. Folks prefer to label their produce ‘spray free’. When we go to the market each Saturday, we chat to the farmers we buy from and we get to know how they do things. We have found absolutely spectacular produce here.
Often fruit is eaten raw, but lightly cooking it improves digestibility and wakes up the prana in the food. You’ll also find that fruits that are typically on the sour side, like apples or kiwis, taste a little sweeter.
For these reasons we like to eat fruit stewed with a little oil and some spices, year-round. Here’s a nice recipe for you to enjoy:
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Apples kiwis, raisins, all cleanly grown without chemicals
1.5 Tbsp ghee
½ tsp mineral salt
1 tsp fresh chopped ginger
½ tsp cumin seed
1 tsp cinnamon
4 whole cloves
4 cups apples, chopped (no need to peel if grown without chemicals)
1 cup kiwi, peeled and chopped (pear is a nice substitute)
½ cup raisins
4 - 6 cups water
Heat the oil in a small pan and simmer the ginger, cumin, cinnamon and cloves until the aroma comes up. Mix in the apples and raisins and add water to cover. The amount of water depends on how much liquid you prefer. Simmer covered on low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the apple skins are soft. Turn off the heat and add the kiwi, and let sit covered for a few more minutes. Serve warm.