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.
Cooking Ayurvedic porridge for breakfast
Porridge is a term for any grain cooked to a soupy consistency. Look beyond oatmeal -- there is a wide variety of grains available. Lighten things up in hotter months with grains that are easier to digest (white rice, buckwheat, millet). In the cooler months, choose heartier grains (barley, brown rice, rye) for that “stick-to-your-ribs” feeling.
A good guideline for cooking most grains into porridge is to use 2 to 3 cups of water to ½ cup grain for two people. Use less water if you want it hearty, more for a soupier, easier-to-digest version. Add ghee or oil, mineral salt and spices and let it cook for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the grain you use.
Simple Ayurvedic Recipe: Buckwheat and Brown Rice Porridge
This month’s recipe is a porridge made of buckwheat and brown rice cooked with agni-fueling spices and ghee. These grains create a hearty combination that offers grounding and nourishment. This bowl is a lovely way to start the day. Plus, you’ll feel satisfied until lunch without needing a snack.
Buckwheat and brown rice porridge
1/4 cup buckwheat
1/4 cup brown rice
1/4 tsp. mineral salt
1/4 tsp. ginger powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp. fennel powder
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (leave out if agni is weak or you are feeling heavy)
1 Tbsp. ghee
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. flax meal (added after cooking)
Warm the ghee in a pot and add the salt, spices and sunflower seeds. Simmer until fragrant, then add the buckwheat and brown rice. Stir and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the water, stir and cover. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low to low (this varies depending on the heat of your cooktop) and simmer with the lid on for about 30 to 40 minutes. The grain will be soft when ready. Add more water after cooking if needed to reach your desired thickness.
Serve with flax meal sprinkled on top.
A sweet variation: For extra boost of ojas, add two chopped dates in the last five minutes of cooking.