How do we practice asteya in the kitchen?
Sometimes, perhaps oftentimes, the gratification of the moment takes precedent over well-being in the long-term. We’ve all had moments when we have done something that we know won’t make us feel good later. Many people have this relationship with food. Ice cream is good now. Bad later. I know this, but I’m going to do it anyway.
Consider the idea that this behavior is stealing from yourself. You’re stealing your future well-being.
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.
Understanding Ayurveda is not about academics and memorizing a list of rules, it is about slowing down and being in the experience of life. One of the best (and most delicious) ways to learn Ayurveda is by taking your studies to your own kitchen.
Becoming an Ayurvedic cook requires little more than a willingness to study the effects of what you eat on your body and mind (although this guide to setting up your Ayurvedic kitchen has a few other tools to get you started). Throw away limiting dosha food lists and focus instead on exploring different foods and different ways of preparing them. Pay attention to the results with a wellness journal, and you’ll soon be able to move away from black-and-white thinking about what and how to eat and toward the innate wisdom inside you.
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.
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.
A food that is “good for you” can have quite a different effect when eaten in excess or in poor combination with other foods. We see the results of this in many clients who come to Hale Pule for Ayurvedic consultations. They believe they are doing all the right things for their health, but still experience gas, constipation, anxiety and other symptoms. When we peel back the layers of their daily habits, these clients are often overconsuming a so-called healthy food or eating it in ways that weaken agni, or digestive fire.
Every bite you take can be a building block for health – especially when your meals include foods that increase ojas.
Ojas is an energy and a substance in your body that is responsible for vitality and immunity. Just like a bank account, you spend ojas through stress, lack of sleep or not eating properly. But replenishing ojas is as simple as adding foods that increase it to your meals (including high-quality fats – like ghee – almonds, and dates). Along with balancing agni and getting adequate rest, foods that increase ojas will help you feel and look as healthy as you are meant to be.
Nature is our greatest teacher. By honoring the cycles in the natural world around us, we can begin to observe – and respect – those same cycles within us.
Here at Hale Pule, we invite the sattvic power of nature into our lives through daily work on Durga Farms. Guests who attend our intensives and immersions get to share this experience by working with the Hawaiian soil and enjoying the freshly harvested food at every meal. Guests leave inspired by the healing power of nature and are often ready to start their own gardens at home. But it’s not necessary to have acres of land to become a gardener – you can start with something small, such as a window box with a few fresh herbs.
There’s such beauty in dairy. With its cooling and fortifying properties, it’s a great summertime food. Here at Hale Pule, we enjoy dairy, such as fresh buttermilk, ghee and fresh paneer, which is a cheese that anyone can make at home.
It may surprise you that not all cheese is regarded equally in Ayurveda. Our bodies have an inherent balance of virus, fungus and bacteria – the good kinds that keep us healthy. The act of aging cheese is a process that intentionally creates mold to bring about that distinctive pungency. When we eat that mold in such a concentrated way, it throws off the natural balance in our bodies and creates digestive disturbances. And, because aged cheese has been compacted over a long time into a hard, glue-like substance, it’s no wonder that it causes constipation and dairy intolerance.
Want a quick way to brighten up your meal? Try this lovely recipe for spiced carrots.
The spices add a light kick to the sweet and earthy flavor of the carrots, leaving you more than satisfied. Enjoy these carrots with rice, greens and your favorite legume as part of a balanced meal.