Ayurvedic Food Diaries : One-Day Vegetarian Sample Menu For Vata Season
One of the questions I most often get asked is what does a typical day according to the Ayurvedic diet look like. This can be a challenging one to answer! As I always say, dietary recommendations vary according to quite a few factors, including age, lifestyle, intolerances, seasons and state of health (i.e. doshic balance) - specific health concerns are always best addressed by a trained Ayurvedic practitioner. If you have read my post on the 10 golden rules for healthier digestion, you have learnt some some of the most important basic guidelines for your Agni (digestive fire) to thrive, which you can say is at the root of your overall wellbeing. Simply keeping these in mind no matter what the dietary plan is can greatly contribute to achieving your best state of health.
This sample One-Day menu could be considered tri-doshic - meaning that it is appropriate for Vata, Pitta and Kapha - however I will mention a few ingredient alternatives to ensure better digestion and nourishment for each dosha. Denser, warm and moist foods take center stage throughout the sample as these are most appropriate to counteract the effects of the current cold and dry Vata season by pacifying the Vata dosha that is naturally rising in all of us at this time. As we say: As above, so below! These foods are ideal to maintain the integrity of our tissues as well as being naturally building and nourishing.
I have chosen a vegetarian menu today, but if you do eat meat, opt to consume it in the middle of the day instead of at dinner in order to fully and optimally digest this heavier option. One last thing - you will not find any calorie counting here! Just healthy, simple, homemade & seasonal meals to increase your ojas (natural immunity) and giving your body the proper nutrition it deserves. At the end of the day, you are the best placed to know what heals or unsettles you - try to always be in tune!
Breakfast - Nourishing Bowl Of Oatmeal
Although a lighter breakfast is prescribed in Ayurveda as we want to give our digestion the time to function according to its full potential , we can opt for a slightly more consistent option during Vata months. Lately, I have been starting the day with a small portion of cooked gluten-free rolled oats, adding bulk and warmth to my breakfast. I simply follow package instructions, cooking it with water rather than milk. As it gently simmers, I add a pinch of ground cinnamon, ginger and cardamom and 1 tsp of ghee. Once served in the bowl I add about 1 tsp of raw local honey. I also like to add some toppings for extra nutrition and fiber such as chia seeds and bee pollen, as shown in the picture above. Oats are pacifying for Vata and Pitta dosha, however for Kapha, you can opt for buckwheat, barley or millet and omit the ghee.
Morning Beverage - Warm Lemon Water With Turmeric
I am absolutely loving this anti-inflammatory and gently detoxifying beverage right now which is an infusion of fresh turmeric root and lemon. This drink can also be consumed first thing in the morning, before ingesting anything else, to jump-start digestion. I just simply simmer 1/8 teaspoon of grated turmeric for about 5 minutes and add the juice of half a lemon once removed from heat. This drink is appropriate for all doshas, although if Pitta is highly aggravated, you want to decrease anything too sour and acidic, such as lemons. To further pacify Kapha, you can add a little raw honey once it has slightly cooled down.
Optional Morning Snack - Stewed Apples With Spices & Ghee
I can't get enough of my comforting stewed apple morning snack right now! Not to mention that while cooking it acts as a natural yummy incense for the house. If true hunger is present later in the morning, especially if you have been quite active in earlier hours, a little portion of well-spiced fruit could be a really good option to help you stay satiated before lunchtime. To make, simmer two small peeled, cored and grossly chopped red apples, a few Tbs of water, a pinch of ground cinnamon, clove and nutmeg spice, the scraped seeds of 1/3 third vanilla bean and 1 tsp of ghee for about 10 minutes. As mentioned, the ghee would be more pacifying for Vata and Pitta, but can aggravate Kapha. If this is the case, omit or use sparingly.
Lunch - Coconut Curry Soup with Tofu
In Ayurveda, lunch should be the largest meal of the day as it falls within Pitta time (10 am to 2 pm), when our digestive fire's efficiency is at its peak. In this sample, I am featuring a ridiculously easy to make coconut-curry soup with tofu that is nourishing as well as hydrating for the body. On days when I am too busy to make an elaborate curry soup, this is the recipe I use: I saute chopped onion, fresh grated ginger and minced garlic in ghee or olive oil for 4-5 minutes and add 2 tsp of good quality mild curry powder. I then add a can of coconut milk, 4 cups of vegetable broth and bring everything to a boil. Once I've left the soup base simmer for 15 minutes, I throw in some chopped swiss chard (or other seasonal green) and a package of organic cubed tofu and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Finally I just sprinkle a little toasted coconut flakes as a topping and voilà, lunch is served! You can definitely add your grain of choice on the side or inside the soup to add more nourishment. This meal, as is, would be considered tri-doshic.
Optional Afternoon Snack - (2 Choices : Sweet or Savoury)
Cranberry-Pear Spiced Chia Jam With Tahini Drizzle
As we are in full blown cranberry season and as Ayurveda definitely encourages seasonal eating, I have made a few batches of jam using this fruit as a base to enjoy on days when I feel I need a little extra bite in the afternoon. My version is much lower in sugar than a typical jam not only for the obvious choice of reducing overall sugar intake but also to conserve the natural flavours of the fruits I am using. To make, mix 4 cups of fresh cranberries, 4 cups of chopped pears, 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of coconut sugar (or any other unprocessed sugar) in a large pot and let sit for about 10 minutes or the time it will take for sugar to dissolve. Add in 2 heaping Tbs of black chia seeds, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of cardamom and mix well. Turn on heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer (low bubble) for 15 minutes. When almost done, stir in the juice of one lemon. When cooking time is up, simply put in clean glass jars or follow traditional jarring methods for jams. I love having this with a piece of something wholesome I have baked with a drizzle of Tahini to make the snack more unctuous, if that's what my body needs. I will note here that since Kapha digestion tends to be slower, snacking is usually kept at a minimum or avoided in order to fully assimilate earlier meals and to not exacerbate sluggishness. The option below could however be more suitable :
Hummus And Seaweed Sprinkle
A simple savoury snack of homemade hummus with some extra thyroid support and minerals from the sprinkled dried seaweed. I used nori here, but any type could do! For homemade hummus simply blend 2 cups of cooked chickpeas, 1/2 cup of tahini, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Kapha could enjoy with some plain rice crackers as drier foods can be more suitable, however for Vata, you can spread over a yeast-free slice of bread or whole grain muffin.
Afternoon Beverage - Digestive Tea
This delicious and healing beverage can be a saviour for those who experience digestive issues such as intestinal gas and bloating, as these tend to also intensify during Vata season. This can also be a good remedy if you have been overindulging during the holidays. To make the infusion, simmer 1/4 tsp of each coriander, cumin and fennel seeds, 2 dime-sized pieces of fresh ginger and 1/2 tsp of licorice root in 2 cups of water for about 5 minutes. This tea is suitable for all three doshas, however omit licorice root if you have high blood pressure. And for those who have an aversion to the taste of coriander, fear not! The seed has a very gentle taste, quite different from the fresh leaves.
Dinner - Split Mung Bean Kitchari
Kitchari is a tri-doshic and traditional Ayurvedic cleansing meal that combines split mung beans, grains, vegetables and spices according to season and constitutional type. It is a great dish to remove toxins from the body while offering optimal and complete nourishment. When I began making Kitchari, I would often follow this simple and quick recipe here. In mine, I used seasonal root vegetables in and ghee as the base oil, which is more adapted to Vata or Vata season. Portion is kept small - in fact the smallest of the day - to not overtax the digestive system while the body is preparing for deeper rest during the night.
Kitchari can definitely be modified and so I am giving you below the best choices for oils, grains, veggies and spices for your specific doshic need :
Best oils: Ghee, olive oil, sesame oil
Best grains: Basmati rice, brown rice
Best veggies: Root vegetables, squash, warming green (rappini, chard, spinach)
Best spices: Warming spices such as turmeric, fresh ginger, fenugreek, black pepper, cumin
For Pitta :
Best oils: Ghee, coconut oil
Best grains: Basmati rice, brown rice
Best veggies: Bitter greens like dandelion, kale and collards, celery, zucchini, cabbage
Best spices: Bitter and cooling spices such as coriander, fennel, turmeric and fresh ginger
Best oils: Olive oil, sesame oil, ghee (use sparingly)
Best grains: Quinoa, millet, buckwheat groats
Best veggies: Bitter greens, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, green beans
Best spices: Heating spices such as dry ginger, mustard seeds, turmeric, cumin
A cup of warm milk with honey is a great Ayurvedic night time beverage to help alleviate insomnia that some of you may be experiencing during Vata season, and has become a classic all over the world. Drink a couple of hours before sleep and avoid if experiencing heavy congestion. (This goes for nut milks as well.) I like adding a pinch of nutmeg for added sleep inducing effect!