When it comes to longevity and well-being, ayurveda recommends heading to the kitchen. Food is one of the main sources of prana, or vital life force, giving energy and vibrancy to a yogi. And in ayurveda, it's often used as medicine. (Read more in why A Plant-Based Diet Makes Better Yogis.)
The following five ayurvedic recipes help the body function optimally. They are all made from kitchen staples and have the power to improve overall well-being while correcting and preventing any imbalances in the body. The ginger appetizer stimulates metabolism, CCF tea balances digestion, takra improves absorption, the ojas elixir nourishes body tissues and ghee improves both mental acuity and digestion. In ayurveda, emphasis is placed on all the natural world has to offer that provides strength, nutrition and health to a yogi. (Learn more in Top 5 Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants.)
Ginger Appetizer for Low Appetite
Ayurvedic philosophy views appetite as good thing. If the digestive fire is weak (low appetite), food won't undergo proper digestion. The result is a buildup of toxins, or aama, which are the culprits of disease. This simple ginger appetizer has a pungent flavor and warming effect that helps ignite digestion.
- 2” piece of fresh ginger
- 1/2 of a lime
- Pinch of Himalayan salt
How to Prepare Ginger Appetizer:
Use a small paring knife to peel the ginger. Slice crosswise into thin pieces. Place the ginger in a small bowl. Squeeze the lime over the ginger until it’s just barely saturated, then sprinkle with a pinch of Himalayan salt. Allow the ginger appetizer to marinate for a few hours before using. Store in the fridge. Munch on a few slices 5 minutes before lunch and dinner.
CCF Tea for Detoxification
When cumin, coriander, and fennel are combined, they form a harmonious trio that kindles the digestive fire and aid in detoxification. Whether the issue is low appetite, gas, bloating, or constipation, CCF tea works great. It’s a gentle cleanser, reduces inflammation, and even supports a healthy menstrual cycle, cumin being one of the best spices for women. (For a morning detox ritual, try Lemon Ginger Morning Detox.)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 4 cups water
How to Prepare CCF Tea:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for a few minutes. Transfer the tea and seeds to a thermos, and sip throughout the day, straining it as you pour.
Takra for Digestive Health
Takra is recommended throughout Ayurveda for its ability to improve absorption and heal the gut. Although yogurt is heavy and can clog the body’s channels, takra is processed in such a way that it’s light to digest. It’s traditionally hand churned buttermilk, but this recipe is a quick and modern shortcut. Along with aiding in absorption of nutrients, takra reduces gas and bloating and stokes the digestive fire.
- 1 cup plain organic yogurt
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 pinch Himalayan salt
How to Prepare Takra:
Combine the yogurt and water in a blender. Blend for 60 seconds, then turn off the blender and allow the mixture to sit for a minute. Use a spoon to scrape off and discard the foamy layer that’s settled on top. Add the cumin, coriander and salt. Blend until mixed. Store in the fridge and drink 1 cup at room temperature after lunch.
Ojas Elixir for Vitality
This elixir boosts ojas, the essence of all body tissues that supports our strength, vitality and immunity. Its ingredients are all considered sattvic in nature, elevating the mind and promoting internal peace. Although you can drink it as a daily health tonic, it’s especially ideal for those of us who are depleted, anxious or feeling weak. (Learn Why Yogis Love Turmeric.)
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 pitted date
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ghee
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
- Optional: a few strands of saffron
How to Prepare Ojas Elixir:
Combine the almond milk, date, turmeric, black pepper, ginger and ghee in a small saucepan. (If you’re using saffron, soak it in a tablespoon of almond milk for a couple minutes before combining it with the rest of the ingredients.) Bring to a gentle boil, then turn the heat to medium low and simmer for a few minutes. Add the cardamom in the last 30 seconds of cooking. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Serve warm. (Read more in The Benefits of Chai Spices.)
Ghee for General Health
Ghee is a form of clarified butter. Because the milk solids are removed, even those with lactose intolerance can usually consume ghee without any issues. It actually improves digestion. Ayurveda explains that ghee lubricates and nourishes the tissues and improves memory, intelligence and complexion.
- 1 lb. organic, unsalted butter
How to Prepare Ghee:
Place the butter over medium heat in a small and very clean saucepan. After melting, the butter will bubble and foam, making loud crackly noises. Stir occasionally with a very clean metal spoon to make sure the butter doesn’t burn. After about 10-15 minutes, the crackly noises and bubbles will begin to subside. The whitish foamy layer that floated on top will sink to the bottom. Once the ghee settles completely and the milk solids have sunk to the bottom of the pot and turn an amber color, the ghee is done. Strain into a clean glass jar. Store at room temperature. Use it in place of any oil when cooking.
Stoke Your Fire
For optimal well-being, head to your kitchen. These recipes will help ensure that your digestive fire is burning brightly for proper digestion, absorption, assimilation and overall support for healthy body tissues and a calm and peaceful mind.