Hello Spring! As I lead a global group through our third annual spring cleanse, I have food on the brain…quite literally! This post explores the subtle layers of cooking and how the tastes of each food creates not only a physical experience, but a mental/emotional experience as well.
Ayurveda explains that there are six rasas or tastes: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter and Astringent. Each of the tastes is also comprised of the five elements, meaning the tastes affect the doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We use different foods and their corresponding tastes to stimulate an experience. For example, bitter greens stimulate enzyme and bile production and the breakdown of mucous – limiting the presence of Kapha in the fluid channels of the body. In springtime, Kapha is most present in our external environment and our internal experience. Thus, making conscious food choices can help to decrease the effects of an overabundant Kapha. In springtime, we seek light, naturally cleansing foods to help us lighten up after winter as we move into warmer weather. Opt for foods that are bitter, astringent and pungent to help gently detoxify, tonify and kindle digestive fire. Below is a short list of spring-balancing flavors to incorporate into your cooking:
|aloe, arugula, barley, basil, beets, bitter melon, cinnamon, chard, cilantro, cumin, dandelion greens, dill, fenugreek, grapefruit, Japanese eggplant, jicama, kale, lettuce, nettle, parsley, rhubarb, watercress, radicchio, turmeric||banana (unripe), beans/legumes, basil, carrot, celery, clove, cumin, coriander seed, cranberries, figs, fenugreek, cruciferous vegetables, parsley, pomegranate, okra, quinoa, tofu, saffron, spinach, sprouts, turmeric, zucchini||asafoetida, black pepper, cardamom, celery seed, cinnamon, chilies, clove, coriander seed, garlic, ginger, mustard, onion, radish, turmeric|
This list is brief, but gives you an idea of what produce, herbs and spices to enjoy in your springtime diet. If you’d like to explore the Six Tastes of Ayurveda in more depth, I recommend starting with this article on sweet and working your way through salty, sour, bitter, pungent & astringent to learn more about the effects on body and mind each taste has.
This springtime recipe incorporates several of the six tastes that balance kapha in early spring – basil, sprouts, coriander and clove are all astringent and promote gentle cleansing. Beets are also wonderful detoxifiers, supporting elimination and purification of the blood. And all lentils are also wonderful protein source when eating for kapha. I serve it slightly warm and with a dollop of goat milk yogurt to make it a meal.
2 large red beets, boiled, peeled & cubed
1 ½ cup dried Beluga (black) lentils, soaked & lightly cooked
½ cup capers
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 cup goat milk yogurt (or dairy/non-dairy yogurt of your choice)
1 cup fresh sprouts or micro greens
Soak the lentils overnight in a bowl. Drain off water and rinse well before cooking.
First, in a large pot with lid, bring water to a boil and place the washed/trimmed beets in the pot. Cover with lid and allow to cook for on a low boil for 35-40 minutes, until beets are tender. Remove from water, take the skins off the beets and cut into cubes. Set aside until assembling salad.
While the beets are cooking, bring water to a boil in a medium pot and cook the lentils with a pinch of salt. Cook for 12-15 minutes, checking texture of the lentils to make sure they’re still firm and not overcooked. Soggy lentils are a buzzkill to this salad, so be sure to remove from heat and drain before the skins are falling off. Soaking your lentils overnight will also decrease the actual boil time. Once done, remove from heat and drain water off.
To assemble, combine the cooked lentils, cubed beets, capers and basil in a bowl. Toss with vinaigrette and serve with a heart handful of micro greens and a dollop of yogurt. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
1 large Meyer lemon, zested & juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp pink or sea salt
1 tsp coriander powder
pinch clove powder
cracked black pepper
Combine all ingredients together in a small jar. Cover with lid and give a good shake until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Store in jar until ready to use.
Makes 3-4 servings