Green vegetables are showing up everywhere lately -- raw in salads, pureed in smoothies, even baked as chips. It’s good to see more people interested in eating healthfully, but just because a little bit is good for you doesn’t mean that more is better. In fact, too many green vegetables without enough grounding, nourishing foods can quickly send vata dosha soaring.
Here’s why: dark, leafy green vegetables (kale, collards, broccoli, moringa, etc.) are extractive. Their qualities are dry, light, and rough -- exactly the same qualities as vata dosha. In the right amounts, these dark, leafy greens help our bodies release toxins so we can be at our best. But eating too many greens without enough augmenting foods will cause imbalance. Symptoms like gas, constipation, anxiety, an inability to complete tasks and a feeling of persistent coldness will soon follow (read more in our posts on a vata-calming diet and a vata-calming lifestyle).
True health is not defined by how many green vegetables you can eat in a day. It is defined by balance. So before you pile your plate full of kale salad, explore a different way to eat your greens, one that will leave you feeling more satisfied, grounded and calmer.
Cooking greens to balance vata
It’s wise to eat green vegetables every day, and it’s easy to do it and maintain balance in your body and mind. First, eat greens (and all extractive foods, such as legumes) as 40% of your meal. The other 60% should be made up of augmenting foods, like Ayurvedic baked pumpkin and whole grain.
Second, cook your greens with oil, spices, and water until they are tender. This makes them more digestible and suitable for vata dosha. When agni, digestive fire, is strong and vata is calm, life flows so much easier.
This month’s recipe shows you this easy technique that will soon become your go-to method for cooking greens. We used ghee, ginger, coriander, fenugreek and a squeeze of lime. Mix up the spices and the oil and you’ll never eat the same thing twice (see our post on Ayurvedic spice combinations for inspiration).
A Simple Ayurvedic Recipe for greens
We purposely don’t give exact measurements on the greens here. It’s more intuitive to use your hands and allow the greens to account for about 20% of your total meal (see our post on the Hale Pule balanced bowl to learn more). Keep in mind that some greens, such as beet greens, cook down a lot more than the thicker varieties, such as collards.
4 handfuls of finely chopped greens (collards, kale, beet greens, etc.)
2 Tbsp. ghee
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. coriander powder
1/4 tsp. fenugreek powder
1/4 tsp. mineral salt
Juice from 1/4 of a small lime
Heat the ghee in a shallow pan with a lid on medium heat. Add the spices and salt and cook until the aroma comes up to meet you. Add the greens and stir well to coat. Add water to about ¼ of the height of the greens, cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook until the greens are soft and tender and most of the water is absorbed (about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of green you are cooking). Serve warm. Be sure to add some of the cooking liquid to your bowl; it has many beneficial nutrients.
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