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.
We have the perfect recipe for you to taste the power of prana: baked pumpkin. Go to the farmer’s market and find a sweet pumpkin that has been growing plump in the summer sunlight. Grab your knife and get ready to bake something that will satisfy your soul.
How augmenting vegetables calm the body and mind
Augmenting vegetables have a slightly more important role in your bowl than the green ones (which is why we recommend a balance of 60% augmenting foods to 40% extractive). Here’s why: Your body is constantly releasing and rebuilding tissue. This is a natural process that cleanses toxins and supports new cellular growth. Eat too few augmenting foods and your body will take what it needs from the valuable stores of nutrients in your bones and muscles. Eat too many augmenting foods without balanced amounts of extractive and you’ll gain weight.
The right amount of augmenting foods gives you fuel to rebuild what has been lost. Your body can create healthy muscle, protective fat and strong bones. And then the mind softens. The weight of augmenting foods grounds vata dosha, reducing anxiety and fear and covering you in a warm blanket of faith. This is what we mean when we say food is medicine.
You’ll find a list of common augmenting foods here, but we encourage you to be your own teacher to learn which foods are augmenting and which are extractive. Look for the sweet rasa, or taste, and quality of heaviness and you’ll easily identify the augmenting foods.
A recipe for nourishment
Simple Ayurvedic Recipe: Baked pumpkin
Any kind of squash (butternut, acorn, kabocha) is interchangeable with the pumpkin. Use what grows best where you live.
2 ½ cups pumpkin, cut into large wedges (about the size of half your palm)
2 Tbsp. ghee
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 tsp. fennel powder
1/8 tsp. mineral salt
Pinch black pepper (or substitute 1/8 tsp. clove powder)
1/8 cup chopped basil
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F/190 C.
Add all ingredients to a long, shallow baking pan. Stir well to coat the pumpkin with the ghee and spices. Add water to about ¼ the level of the pumpkin and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. About halfway through, scoop the liquid over the pumpkin.* Serve warm with an open heart.
*Be sure the water doesn’t boil off -- it’s what keeps the pumpkin moist and tender. If you need more, heat it in a kettle before adding it to the pan. Adding cold water will increase cooking time.