If there is one thing that I have learned about diet and nutrition, it is that there is not a “one size fits all” answer. We are all unique beings with unique constitutions. A particular style of eating or a particular food that may bring good health to one person may not work for another. Through the study of Ayurveda, I learned to look at each person as an individual who has very unique needs that may change depending on emotional and physical well being and on the time of year/season. A couple of years ago I had the honor of studying with DeAnna Batdorff at the dhyana Center in Sebastopol, California. The dhyana Center is a healing center based on Ayurvedic philosopy that provides therapeutic treatments, a by-donation wellness clinic, a Yoga and Movement Studio, an Apothecary Bar, and soon to be opening Self-Care Studio featuring baths for soaking and steam rooms. The Education Branch of the dhyana Center teaches an extensive Ayurvedic Clinical Practitioner Program that is amazing.
Ayurveda is considered by many to be the oldest healing science. Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well balanced lives. The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge. It has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years. The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper drinking, diet, and lifestyle, as well as herbal remedies. Ayurveda is based on the principles of three doshas. Doshas are the energies that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body: VATA, PITTA, and KAPHA. Each person has all three Doshas, but usually one or two dominate. Various Dosha proportions determine one’s physiological and personality traits, as well as general likes and dislikes. For example, Vata types will prefer hot weather to cold and Kapha types are more likely to crave spicy foods than other types. The idea is that once you understand your dosha, you can use lifestyle and diet to bring your self into balance.
By looking at myself through the eyes of Ayurveda, I learned a lot about myself and how to better bring myself into balance. Because I am a PITTA/VATA constitution, I know that I have to nourish my VATA in fall and winter by avoiding cold and dry foods and by nourishing my body with rich, nutrient-dense foods. I also know that I have to pacify my PITTA in summer by avoiding a lot of spice and eating cooling foods like cucumber and coconut. I have also learned to be in rhythm with nature. Just like there is a time for winter’s cold and dormancy, spring’s vibrant burst of green, and summer’s bright sunshine, there is also a time for me to sleep more in winter, to be creative and productive in spring, and to be most active in the summer.
The best way to learn about Ayurveda is to experience it for yourself. While traveling in India, Alexei and I had some Ayurvedic treatments in Varanasi. Vigorous massage and traditional oil and steam treatments. But if going to India is not an option for you, finding a local Ayurvedic Practitioner can be a good place to start. Locally here in my town, the dhyana Center offers many great services. The easiest way to get a taste of what Ayurveda has to offer is the by-donation Wellness Clinic on Wednesday from 4-7pm where you can get assessments (including pulse readings,) health information, and nutritional support. To learn more visit their website HERE
While studying ay the dhyana Center, I learned many great food recipes. One of my favorites is for vital green pesto. This pesto is meant to be eaten as a condiment with your meals. The combination of vital green herbs, pumpkin seeds , and raw olive oil provide you with a concentrated super food packed with protein, Vitamin B, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Omega 3 Oils. I consider this pesto medicine because of it’s antioxidant and immune boosting qualities. It’s great for adding a little bit of raw LIVE food to all of your meals. Best not to heat this pesto as heating it will destroy some of the healing properties. I eat this on eggs in the morning, grain-free crackers for a snack, on steamed veggies, in stews, on meats….on EVERYTHING!!
The trick to making this pesto is to make sure that all of your ingredients are DRY. After washing your greens, dry them thoroughly before using. This pesto will last for a couple of weeks in the fridge if there is no moisture in it. It is the water content that will make it spoil and let mold grow. If you prefer to soak your pumpkin seeds, dry them in the dehydrator before using. I have substituted 1/2 hemp seeds for 1/2 cup of the pumpkin seeds, and it tasted great. This recipe uses cilantro and parsley, but feel free to be creative and use basil, fennel root, or any other greens that you like.
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and dried
- 1 bunch parsley, washed and dried
- 1 cup olive oil, , extra-virgin cold-pressed
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds, raw
- salt to taste
- Place greens into food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped
- Add olive oil and pumpkin seeds. Process until forms a smooth paste.
- Feel free to leave pesto as chunky or smooth as you like it.
- Salt to taste
- Transfer into clean glass jar
- Store in fridge for up to 2-3 weeks (if it lasts that long at your house)