In between long days of teaching and practicing yoga, this recipe has become my go-to for an easy, energizing lunch. The mix of cooked and raw ingredients provides a feeling of grounding nourishment without feeling heavy or weighed down in the afternoon. It balances flavors of sweet, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter – making this a perfect Ayurvedic meets macrobiotic-friendly meal. And more importantly, it meets the criteria of a sattvic meal. If you’re a practicing yogi, you’re probably well-versed in this concept, but those new to the term here’s more on what it means to eat sattvic food and why it’s so beneficial for our bodies and minds…
Sattvic Food – Food for a Quiet Mind
“Our food choices reflect the ongoing harmony with ourselves, the world, all of creation, and the divine.”
–Gabriel Cousens, M.D., Conscious Eating
Ayurveda explains that certain foods affect the qualities of the mind in different ways. These different qualities, known as the Gunas, are categorized into three primary groups: sattva, rajas, tamas. A sattvic mind is clear, peaceful and harmonious. A rajasic mind is active, restless, aggressive and worldly. The tamasic mind is lethargic, impulsive, cruel and degenerate. Because our thoughts, words and actions are shaped by how we feel, our diet directly influences these states of mind, and in return the mind affects our diet choices. Thus, the foods we choose shape our consciousness and our interactions with the world.
Since every food contains these different properties of sattva, rajas and tamas, we can consciously create the state of mind we would like to produce by what we consume. The ancient texts, like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Bhagavid Gita, explain that a sattvic diet is necessary for a pure mind and promotes longevity, goodness, strength, health, happiness, and pleasure. A modern sattvic diet can be described as one that avoids meat, fish, eggs, alcohol, caffeine, bleached flours, white sugar and other processed, irradiated foods. This diet instead focuses on high prana, living foods that consist of organic, whole, natural fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains grown in harmony with nature on good soils and cultivated with an attitude of love. When we consume these foods, it produces clear thinking, loving actions, and an open heart. It produces expansion, rather than contraction. Gabriel Cousens says in his book Spiritual Nutrition, “It emphasizes increasing prana (life-force) and the subtle elements of air and ether that help open the mind and heart and make them more sensitive.” A sattvic diet, which is essentially a plant-based diet, removes excess weight and toxins that are heavy in nature in the body and mind, and provides a lightness of body, mind and spirit for peaceful reflection in our meditation and yoga practices.
Ginger Miso Tahini Dressing
1/3 cup tahini
2 tbsp white miso paste
1 inch fresh ginger, skin removed
1 small clove garlic (optional)
1 tbsp tamari
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender, blend until creamy. Pour into an airtight container to store. Stores up to 10 days in your fridge. Makes 2 cups
Note: Garlic and onions are not a part of a traditional sattvic diet, if you have too much heat (pitta) in the body or find your mind is easily aggravated by these ingredients, please exclude the garlic from the tahini dressing.
6 leaves kale, stems removed, washed & torn
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet potato, cubed & roasted
1/2 cup cooked brown rice (quinoa or millet)
1 tbsp gomashio
Preheat oven to 375. Wash and cut sweet potato into 1″ cubes, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 375. While roasting, prepare kale by washing well, removing stems and tearing leaves into small pieces. Place in a large bowl and massage with olive oil to break down the rough texture. For a cooked option, lightly blanch the leaves in a pot of boiling water to soften before transferring to the bowl and adding the olive oil. Check the sweet potato, stir to avoid sticking or burning on the pan. Once tender, remove from oven.
To serve, scoop 1/2 cup of warm cooked brown rice (or cooked grain of choice) on top of the massaged kale. Top with roasted sweet potato, a healthy heaping of the tahini dressing, and a big sprinkle of gomashio (a seaweed/sea salt/sesame blend).
Makes 1 large bowl for a hungry yogi