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?
Here's a sweet and simple ojas-building complement to any meal.
What is ojas anyway?
Ojas is a subtle essence that creates radiance, vitality and joy. Strong ojas gives bright eyes, glowing skin and a sense of peace and stability. Sounds like something you want a little more of in your life, right? Here's how.
A sweet and simple stovetop bread recipe with aromatic and warming holiday spices!
Fall is a delight. Surrounded by warm, rich colours and crisp air it’s truly a joy to get outside and experience nature’s glow. It is a time when we feel compelled to ‘get down to business’ and put in effort to create the change we wish to see in our lives. Fall is also vata season when the wind dominates and bringing with it with it the energy of movement and change. However we can get carried away with this energy and take on too much. We may find ourselves spending excessive time in front of screens or splitting our attention between multiple activities at once, all in an effort to accomplish our goals. Excessive mental activity, coupled with the momentum of change we see in nature will tend to aggravate vata dosha and cause a state of imbalance. When we experience anxiety, sleeplessness and forgetfulness, we know that we need to take care of vata dosha.
Inside your digestive system lives a whole universe, home to about 100 trillion microscopic organisms. Meet your intestinal flora, tiny bacteria that support your digestion by breaking down the food you eat into easily assimilated nutrients and getting rid of undigested matter.
In Ayurveda, digestive health is the source of whole body health. When your intestinal flora is well-balanced, symptoms like gas, bloating and constipation are rare and easily remedied. As a result, your ojas is stronger, leaving your body with better immunity. When this balance is disrupted, the reverse is true.
You can find plenty of Ayurvedic recipes, Ayurvedic cookbooks and Ayurvedic chefs, but as much as you look, you’ll never find Ayurvedic cuisine. That’s because Ayurveda is more than just a way of cooking -- it is a way of looking at food and life as a whole through the lens of nature’s rhythms.
Nature is always changing. If you study what is happening outside your home, you’ll notice that not a single day is the same as another. Your body and mind are a reflection of nature, so they are always changing too. In fact, the Sanskrit word for body is sharira, which translates to “that which is always changing.”
The practices of Ayurveda allow us to prevent illness, but the science also has a lot to say about what to do in those times when you do get sick.
Illness is a time to take care of your body. It is a signal to slow down, rest and come back to balance. It is important to allow time for full recovery -- nothing else is more important. What you do during this time matters greatly in how fast you will heal and the level of health you will reach afterward. Until symptoms subside, let go of your daily responsibilities, stay in bed, avoid looking at computers or screens and, most importantly, eat only very simple foods.
Agni, digestive fire, is weak during illness, so you cannot digest the same kinds of foods you enjoyed before. Yet as you are healing, your body needs nourishment. Kunyi, a soupy rice cooked with mineral salt and ghee, offers a meal that is very easy to digest and perfect for times of illness.
In the West, it is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is also true from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Breakfast, the first meal of the day, means to “break the fast.” You have not eaten all night and your digestive organs are meant to be in a state of rest. In these early hours, agni, digestive fire, is like a pile of smoldering coals. Come out of this nighttime fast with care and you will turn these coals into steady flames.
What you eat for breakfast will affect agni all day long. Heavy foods, such as eggs, sausage, or nut butters, dampen your fire. Cold foods, such as smoothies, yogurt or cold milk, restrict your body’s digestive channels, weakening agni for the rest of the day. Dry, crunchy foods, such as toast, cereal or granola, increase vata. Vata and agni can support each other or create imbalance in the other, so the better your relationship is with one, the better it will be with the other.
The best choice for agni is a simple, cooked meal. A good breakfast for any morning is a bowl of warm porridge.
Nature draws inward during the cooler seasons. Plants shift their focus away from producing showy flowers and leaves and focus instead on strengthening their roots in order to stay grounded and nourished throughout the year.
The wisdom is simple, but profound: When you go within, you grow your foundation. You can apply this to your own life, starting in your kitchen.
Root down with root vegetables
The food we eat brings in the qualities we’d like more of. So if you want to be more grounded, more connected to the stability of the earth, eat root vegetables.
It’s time to rethink your smoothie habit. You know that cold, blended fruit and veggie drink that you’ve been told is a healthful meal. Be honest: How do you really feel after you have one?
On the surface, smoothies appear healthful. Fruit is filled with vitamins and fiber. Protein powders have a long list of nutrients. Nut butters are filled with good oils. Yogurt, coconut oil, cacao, maca -- what else do you toss in your blender? Taken individually, the ingredients in a smoothie seem to have all that your body needs to function.
But Ayurveda asks you to look holistically. From this view, the results are different.
Combining fruit with other foods wreaks havoc on digestion, resulting in gas and bloating. Adding ice or frozen fruit dampens agni, digestive fire. Topping everything off with a heaping scoop of protein powder fills the void with something that is unrecognizable as food to your body. All this leads to uncomfortable digestive problems that are the first step on the path to illness and disease.
If you’ve got a smoothie habit, leave them out for two weeks and replace them with our recipe of the month: a date shake.
By Lisa Åkesson Stryker
I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. As much as it’s a lovely idea to have day where love and attention to our fellow human beings is in focus, it has also sadly been connected with pressure, consumerism and anxiety for me in the past.
I remember in high school, we could all buy roses for our friends and boyfriends for Valentine's Day and get them delivered to the school. The one strutting home with the most blood red roses at the end of the day was perceived as the most popular person.
It would always leave me with an icky feeling in my stomach, knowing that others were not as privileged as those who could afford to buy roses. It is a clever marketing trick for the flower and gift shops, and a great way to make insecure teenagers even more apprehensive by making them attempt to find their value in a symbolic gesture.
What exactly is a “superfood”? So many foods get this label lately, leaving people jumping from one expensive trend to the next.
Turmeric has been in the superfood spotlight for years. Ayurvedic practitioners have used this rhizome for centuries to reduce inflammation, support digestion and release toxins. But in recent years, turmeric has been presented as having superpowers that can fix nearly any ailment on its own. Turmeric’s health benefits are wonderful, but eating it every day in great quantities will not solve all your health problems. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that too much can have the opposite effect.
Grain has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Many health issues have been attributed to it: obesity, inflammation, leaky gut syndrome and mental fog are just a few that are on the list. But grain has been nourishing our ancestors for centuries and remains a central part of the diets of people around the world. So why is it suddenly a problem now? If grain is not a problem, why do so many people feel so good when they eliminate it from their diets?
Ayurveda offers a refreshing perspective on these questions, one that is grounded in more than 5,000 years of experience. Far before any diet fads filled the headlines, the ancient texts espoused grain as a way to balance the doshas and calm the mind. This wisdom still applies in the modern day.
The next time you are tempted to eat lunch while checking email or want to have dinner in front of the television, pause and take a few slow, deep breaths first. As you inhale, you welcome prana, the life force that is our connection to the divine.
We get prana from our breath, but also from the food we eat. Plants have done the work of transforming the prana from nature into nutrients that make it possible for our bodies to move and our minds to think. The food we eat is the reason we can have this incredible experience of being alive.
In nature, fire is the great transformer. When a fire sweeps through a forest, the ground is made more fertile and space opens for new sprouts to rise. But when fire comes too often to a forest, or it burns for too long, it creates a place where little can survive.
What is true in nature is also true in us. Pitta dosha, the fire element within us, has the power to transform. When balanced, its power can make space for new experiences to grow. When imbalanced, it leads to an inhospitable environment where nothing can thrive. Learn to tame the fire within to use pitta’s power as a benefit, not a burden.
Ayurveda teaches us to eat as a practice of vairagya, or non-attachment, an act that requires moderation and balance. The way we bring moderation (and joy) into our kitchen is by using the foundation of the Hale Pule bowl. By rotating through a broad list of sattvic foods, herbs and spices, we get a lot of variety, avoid aggravating the doshas and don’t get attached to eating the same thing every day.
If you want to feel better all day, eat a breakfast that brings balance.
When you wake up in the morning, agni, digestive fire is low. Just like a fire that has burned down to embers, you must stoke agni gently to ensure its steady strength all day long. When the flames are stable, you will be better able to digest what you eat and experience with ease.
Breakfast means to break the fast, and it’s important to do so with care. The traditional Western fare of bacon, toast and eggs are heavy and hard to digest, weakening agni by expending too much of its limited energy first thing in the morning. This affects your digestion for the rest of the day, and, over time, causes imbalance that will lead to disease. Opt for a simple and nourishing meal at the beginning of your day instead. One of our favorite is steamed bananas.
Is it possible to live in the modern world while maintaining a spiritual focus? Of course. Cultivate consciousness through regular spiritual practice and bring that into everything, everyday.
Cooking can be a spiritual act with that intention. That means turning off the cooking shows, putting away cookbooks with complicated recipes, and moving into your heart, where you have all the information you need to create simple, healing food. Allow your spirit to lead the process and you will be satisfied every time.
Once you’ve discovered the nourishment that comes by including the right proportions of grains and other augmenting foods in your meals, you can begin to explore the many varieties of grain that are available. Each one brings new tastes and textures and allows you to access your creativity and tastebuds.
Making friends with kapha dosha is about embracing stability, compassion and even-mindedness. Cultivate balance in kapha and you experience the sweeter side of life.
Even if kapha is not a primary part of your constitution, the qualities that make up kapha (heavy, dense, cool, wet, soft) exist in you. Your body itself is made of kapha tissues such as bones, muscles and fat. Without the structure kapha provides, vata could not move and pitta could not transform. You need to maintain balance in all three doshas to enjoy true health in body, mind and spirit.
Some days your cup feels full. You feel alive and whole and thoroughly grateful for what you have. Other days, your cup feels depleted. You gave too much without replenishing, and you feel tired and worn. These are times you need to recharge your body and mind, to get back to your true state of health and vitality. Tonight, fill your cup with warm, spiced milk.
Incorporating Ayurveda into your diet can bring many wonderful benefits, including better digestion, stable energy through the day and a calmer mind. And sometimes, it even comes with dessert.
That’s right: Ayurveda believes that sweetness in life and in cooking is a good thing. The sweet taste is nourishing, grounding and calms your body and mind. It’s just a matter of rethinking what you are accustomed to know as dessert and putting something more loving in its place, like our Carrot Halvah recipe below.