This week you’ll find me over on Pure Green Magazine talking about what seasonal alignment through Ayurveda means to me and sharing a recipe for my favorite cooling summer ice cream. I’ve had the honor of being a community leader alongside plant food bloggers, Lindsey Love and Laura Wright, for the #PGMinseason project. So far, we’re two weeks into the four week journey, and my goodness…I’ve never been more inspired (read: hungry!) by food photos. Late summer seems to offer us the most beautiful bounty to work with, and the instagram community is capturing it all. We’ve done a weekly roundups of our favorites, be sure to scope out Week 1 and Week 2.
Now for me, the idea of foods being in season wasn’t a concept I grew up with closely, living on an island in Alaska where it rained so hard nothing could grow locally except the salmon that swam upstream to spawn in the summer months. We had one season on that island, and that was rain…15 feet a year that is! So when I moved to Washington, DC and eventually to Oklahoma it was a lovely surprise to have all four seasons and local farmers markets to explore and expand my seasonal repertoire.
Then when I started to dive deeper into Ayurvedic wellness, the concept of in season took on a whole new meaning for me. In Ayurveda, there are actually six seasons instead of four, where winter and summer are divided into wet and dry months. Though the seasons greatly depend on our own geographical location and weather, the general concept of balancing health through seasonal alignment is applicable to all. I find it interesting that the word rtucharya, which describes the cycle of the seasons, literally translates to mean “cosmic rhythm.” Thus, it’s this seasonal awareness that allows us to live in balance and harmony with our environment and the cosmic rhythms of the earth. And food is, I believe, the most direct and natural way to attune our bodies with the seasons.
Seasonal rhythms have an important influence on our biological cycles, and each season expresses characteristics of a specific Dosha. Since Ayurveda seeks to find harmony through balance, in simplest terms, we eat foods and partake in activities that balance out the characteristics of each season. Autumn and early winter is Vata time with the cold, dry, windy weather, thus we seek warming, cooked foods like roasted root vegetables and nourishing stews. While the cold and wet weather of late winter and early spring are expressions of Kapha in the environment, we enjoy spicy, astringent and bitter foods to promote movement and cleansing in the body. In the hot, dry/humid conditions of early and late summer expresses the qualities of Pitta and Vata, so we seek hydrating, cooling foods that are abundant and in season – think melons, summer squash, leafy greens and fresh herbs – during these months.
As we are in summer now, there are a few general tips I try to follow to keep my body in balance with the season while taking advantage of all the amazing ripe seasonal produce available:
- Eat sweet, hydrating fruits like apples, apricots, avocados, berries, cherries, coconuts, figs, nectarines, peaches, plums, and melons. Avoid overly sour or under ripe versions of these fruits.
- Enjoy sweet or bitter vegetables like artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, leafy greens, and summer squash.
- Utilize cooling herbs that help reduce Pitta, including cardamom, cilantro, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, lemon balm, mint, parsley, rose, and saffron.
Naturally, the heat of the summer is one of the few times you can really enjoy a good ice cream. To combine some of these cooling Ayurvedic foods and spices, I made a fresh coconut-based ice cream using cardamom and vanilla bean, with a stewed plum and apricot compote to layer on top. If ice cream isn’t your thing, I also enjoy this compote on top of coconut yogurt. And I imagine it would go quite well on a morning porridge, too! I hope you enjoy this recipe and explore the practice of seasonal eating and what it means to staying healthy, balanced and grounded in the cosmic dance of life.
FIG & PLUM COMPOTE OVER CARDAMOM VANILLA ICE CREAM
10 plums, pitted & chopped
6-8 figs, stems removed & chopped
1 orange, juiced & zested
2 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp raw honey
In a thick-bottomed pot, add ¾ of the chopped plums, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil to reduce the plums for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Then, add the remaining ¼ of the plums, the chopped figs, the spices and the raw honey. Continue to simmer on a medium low heat while the mixture cooks down for another 10-15 minutes. Avoid overcooking! You want the consistency to be a like stew with soft chunks of fruit in a thick syrup. Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to an airtight container and store until ready to use.
Note: This compote can be used for a number of dishes, from breakfast porridges to yogurts and ice creams. If you prefer a hot compote, serve immediately after cooking, otherwise allow plenty of time to cool before serving over top ice cream.
2 cups young coconut meat
½ cup cashews, soaked overnight
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup maple syrup or raw honey
4 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla bean powder
1 tbsp ground cardamom
pinch sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender, puree until creamy. Transfer the liquid into your ice cream maker. Following your machine’s directions, churn until thick and creamy. If needed, transfer to freezer and allow time to solidify until ready to serve.
To serve, scoop 1-2 satisfying scoops into a bowl or jar, serve with a big spoonful of compote, a sprinkling of orange zest and chopped pistachios.
Be sure to swing over to Pure Green Magazine to see what Laura and Lindsey have been making for the #PGMinseason challenge! Between the three of us, we have your dinner party covered from start to finish…