When everything is frozen and white outside, we stay inside, in a cheerful, cosy and warm environment, filled with positive smells of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, oranges and cloves. The time before winter solstice is one of the best to use for stimulating all our senses and awakening joy within us.
Towards the end of the year, there is so much to do, before the new beginning! During this stressful time, you might feel out of control, even skip meals and completely lose control over your mind. All this will increase your Vata, while the first snowfall may also cause imbalances of Kapha, this is especially why during this time the best food to choose is warm, cooked, slightly oily and well spiced with enough moisturising liquids (soups, teas, porridge, kitchari), favouring sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent taste: spinach, radishes, carrots as well as seasonal root vegetables, cooked grains (oatmeal, cornmeal, rice, barely) as well as black pepper, chilli peppers, garlic, ginger, onions and cardamom, nutmeg, cloves.
Creamy and delicious spinach and coconut soup
Spinach has astringent, sour and warming characteristics, it stimulates Pitta while pacifies Vata and Kapha when used in moderation. Nutmeg grounds, makes you positive and brings you back to the present, while cardamom and ginger stimulate your circulation and warm you up. When combined with coconut they boost your metabolism, while the coconut cream cools down your mind and lubricates your brain and at the same time keeps you hydrated. Spinach helps strengthen your immune system, which is just perfect for cold and busy winter days. Spinach is also great for your eyes and for people who suffer from asthma, however, it retains water, therefore it is not recommended to be eaten too often if you suffer from gallstones, kidney stones, edema or gouty arthritis.
Collect and prepare:
- Spinach either fresh or frozen (chop or cut it into small pieces)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ghee (try goat ghee) or coconut butter (recommended only if you have a strong digestive fire as it is hard to digest)
- Nutmeg, cardamom and ginger
- 3dl coconut milk or 1.5 dl coconut cream
- 4dl of water
- Salt and pepper
- Heat ghee or coconut butter in a pot.
- Add nutmeg and cumin seeds until lightly browned. Also, add ginger (you can cut it into small pieces or grate it) and salt.
- Add spinach and slowly start adding water, then boil and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Finally, add the coconut cream or milk and continue to heat for another couple of minutes. Then blend and purée it gently.
- Garnish with black pepper.
- Serve hot, you can add some chia seeds as decoration.
- Great foods to have with spinach are mung beans, potatoes, quinoa or warm, home-made wholegrain bread.
Ayurvedic cardamom, ginger and clove happiness cookies
Cardamom, ginger and clove are three warming spices that boost your metabolism, warm up your body and make you come alive, especially in winter, when it is colder. If you add some sugar it results in a wonderful nourishing sweet treat that you can share with loved ones. However, using too much of the three spices is not advisable for Pitta, while they will definitely balance and pacify Kapha and Vata.
Collect and prepare for 20 cookies:
- 2 1/4 cups organic flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup ghee at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (agave or maple syrup, palm sugar)
- 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 organic free-range eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
- In another bowl mix together sugar and ghee until creamy and light. Add cardamom, eggs and vanilla extract and combine them well.
- Put your mixer on a low speed and gradually add the flour mixture until the dough combines together and no longer sticks to the bowl.
- Shape the dough into balls or make different shapes (I love to make leaf shapes, by using forest leaves as a template) and place them on baking paper on a baking tray.
- Before putting them into the oven you can decorate them with sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, herbs, seeds or petals sprinkled on top.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, until they are a light golden colour on the edges. Remove from oven, cool and serve. Best enjoyed with spicy tea.
Cinnamon rice pudding with almonds
This warm old fashioned meal works miracles in healing the body and deeply nurturing the soul. I now understand why my mum always treated me with rice pudding! It instantly improves mood, when feeling down or ill, especially on cold, rainy days.
Hot milk oleates the body, making it soft, while the mixture of fats and carbohydrates sweetens the blood. This is especially important for coating dry membranes with mucus, lubricating nasal passages, lungs and the digestive tract. When milk and rice are cooked together, both ingredients become homogeneous and therefore easy digestible, soothing and nurturing your stomach. Also, cinnamon and cardamom stimulate digestion, warm up your body and help flush toxins out of your body, thus leaving you filled with energy and contentment. Finally, almonds are easily digested, a great source of protein and also help create a Sattvic state of mind. Due to its warming and soothing characteristics, it is highly recommended that dry Vata types mostly eat this for breakfast. They will find it will give them more stamina, energy and vitality.
Collect and prepare:
- 1 cup milk rice
- 3–4 cups of milk (goat, almond or rice milk)
- 2 tablespoons almonds
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Raw honey or Maple syrup to sweeten
- Soak almonds overnight and peel them in the morning. Chop or blend them in a blender.
- Bring milk to the boil and add the spices and the rice. Depending on your taste, you can also add cloves and nutmeg powder. Cloves instantly pacify Vata, bring heat to the surface of the body, warm the body and open skin pores. Nutmeg stimulates digestion, warms the body, relaxes the senses and increases mood.
- While simmering on a low heat, stir constantly and cook until the rice is soft and has absorbed most of the milk. If the rice absorbs all of the milk before it is cooked then it is okay to add more milk.
- If you are Vata or your body is very dry then double or triple the quantity of milk.
- Once the dish has cooled down to room temperature, garnish with a pinch of cinnamon and add honey/maple syrup to taste.
I hope the recipes above will inspire you to get in the kitchen, experiment and even discover your own wonderful recipes of what works best for you. Do not forget to share as sharing is caring!