Amalaki (Embilica Officinalis) Uses & Benefits

Amalaki (Embilica officinalis) is not only considered by many to be Ayurveda's most potent fruit, but Amalaki is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda that is used extensively in formulations. 

Nomenclature

English: Indian Gooseberry
Sanskrit: Amalaki, aka Amla (vernacular).
Latin: Embilica officinalis or Pjullantus embilica (less common)

Synonyms:

  • Dhatri ("Mother" or "Nurse") - Amalaki is the ultimate carer and healer.
  • Amrta ("Immortality") - There are only a few herbs which have the Amrta quality. Amalaki is like nectar that promotes immortality.

Energetics

Rasa (taste): Sour (predominately), sweet, bitter, astringent, pungent
Virya (energy): Cooling
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Sweet
Gunas (quality): Dry, light.
Dosha: VPK-

Tridoshic Fruit

One of the marvels of Amalaki is that it contains all 6 tastes except salt. Thus this fruit mitigates:

  • vata by its sour taste
  • pitta by its sweet taste and cold virya (energy) and
  • kapha by the dry quality and astringent taste.

Usually sour herbs aggravate pitta. Amalaki is an exception, and is one of the very few sour herbs that actually reduce pitta.

Ayurvedic Action

Ganas (classical groups):

  • Vayasthapana (Anti-Aging) - Caraka (The famous sage) quoted Amlaki as the best among the Vayasthapana herbs.
  • Jvarghna (Treats Fever) (Caraka)
  • Kasaghna (Treats Cough) (Caraka)
  • Virecanopaga (Purgative) (Caraka)
  • Kusthaghna (Treats Skin Diseases) (Caraka)

Indications

Rasayana - Longevity and Immunity

Rejuvenator that promotes longevity. Thus is included in the classical group of Vayasthapana. "Rasa" (the essence of properly digested food) is being spread ("ayana") to nourish all the rasavaha srotas: 10 dhaminis (arteries) and heart, as well as the udakava srotas: Talu (soft pallet) and kloma (pancreas/thyroid).

This potent anti-oxidant fruit is fantastic immunomodulator, aphrodisiac and rejuvenator. (Bhavaprakasa).

Digestion

Assists bowels and reduces inflammation in the GIT as it supports healthy intestinal skin. Especially helpful in ulcers, hyperacidity (Amlapitta), colitis, hepatitis, haemorrhoids and intestinal bleeding conditions. Great laxative and liver cleansing action. Healthy intestinal "inner" skin accordingly improves health and lustre of the "outer" skin.

Diabetes and Metabolism

Its Ojas and immune boosting action helps cope with diabetes and urinary disorders (Prameha), (Bhavaprakasa).

Home Remedy: 2.5ml Amalaki juice + 2.5ml Turmeric juice + bit ot Honey (Astanga Hrdayam U.).

More Benefits:

  • Respiratory System - Amalaki's immune boosting action strengthens the lungs and helps in cough.
  • Sattva (Pure Consciousness) - Amalaki’s prabhava (special effect) is having a sattvic effect that raises the quality of consciousness and the overall wellbeing of the body.
  • Raktapitta (Bleeding diseases) (Bhavaprakasa).
  • Caksusya karma (Benefits the Eyes) - Reduces excess pitta in the eyes. Triphala is one of the best formulations for eye diseases (Netra roga). (A.P.I.)
  • Soma Roga
  • Kesha (Hair Tonic) - increases hair strength, reduces premature baldness greying since it pacifying the pitta burning the roots of the hair. A main ingredient in the Vital Veda + the Raju family's Bringraj Amalaka 11 Oil and Rajus Kesha Oil.

Vitamin C Powerhouse

According to the studies, the average Amla fruit (22.5gm) contains 121mg of vitamin C.
The average orange (130 grams) has about 70mg of vitamin C.

So one little Amla berry is packed with more vitamin C than the orange, which a 5.8 times bigger fruit!

Amalaki has 10 TIMES the amount of vitamin C than an orange when we measure equal weights of both fruits.

Research suggests this all-natural vitamin C content contributes to the potent antioxidant capabilities of Amalaki.

This is far from mega doses of vitamin C that people are taking. But what is compelling is the ability of Amalaki to take a small amount of vitamin C and use it to activate an entire matrix of chemicals that deliver a multitude of health benefits.

More about Amalaki herb coming soon.

Important Formulations

Triphala

One of the most popular formulations in Ayurveda and rightly so because mostly everyone can use it and benefit from triphala's actions.

Triphala helps in diabetes and skin diseases. It is fantastic for the eyes (external and internal application) and helps in fever. It helps in digestion and natural, regular elimination (laxative action), thus is an essential supplement to take today when we (even health individuals) are inevitably exposes to environmental toxins. 

Note Triphala is contraindicated for those with loose motions, diarrhoea, bleeding disorders of the GIT. 

"Tri" = Three
"Phala" = Fruits

The three fruits (in equal quantity) that make up triphala are:

  1. Amalaki (Embilica officinalis)
  2. Bibhitaki (Terminalia belerica)
  3. Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)

Shodana Vati - 3-Dosha Balancing and Purification

Shodana Vati's main ingredient in Triphala plus a whole lot more other herbs. If one takes Shodana Vati (superior option) people do not need to take Triphala.

This is a Raju family formula made with love and mantras that is the best free radical scavenger and anti-oxidant; immune modulator and blood purifier. It's good for gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, tooth and oral problems, female problems, high cholesterol, chronic cough, eye disorders, addictions, helps clear the skin and more. Available at Vital Veda.

Chyavanaprasha

Chyavanaprasha is a honey based jam (leham) procured with many herbs. Eating this regularly maintains optimum energy and immunity levels, especially during seasonal and life changes. Chyavanaprasha reduces kapha, colds, and promotes inner strength.

Unfortunately most herbal manufactures are not making proper Chyavanaprasha. The only company that makes it properly to my knowledge is Maharishi Ayurveda, although Maharishi Amrit Kalash is superior.

Anand Sidhi Yog - Nutritious Immune Boosting Bliss

An easy to digest rasayana that strengthens and repairs all the dhatus (tissues). It provides supreme nourishment for rapid healing and feeds the most re ned levels of the physiology, the mind and only the healthy body, not the disease.
It strengthens the lungs, helps in chronic cough and is a great anti-oxidant. "ASY" restores physical vitality, immunity, good digestion and eternal bliss. Amalaki is the main ingredient in this Raju family formula made with love and mantras. Available at Vital Veda.

If taking Anand Sidhi Yog, no need to take Chaywanaprash or Amrit Kalash since ASY is superior.

Check out our Amla Pickle Recipe here.

If you are in India and Amla is in season (around December), take advantage of that and eat them fresh!

 

Credits:
Chywanprash photo - Jiva

 

Amla Pickle (Recipe)

Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry)

This recipe can be for lemon pickle by replacing lemons with amla.

Amla is the common name for the fruit of the Amalaki plant (Embilica officinalis). This is not only considered by many to be Ayurvreda's most potent fruit, but Amalaki is also one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda.

Tridoshic Fruit

One of the marvels of Amalaki is that it contains all 6 tastes except salt. Thus this fruit mitigate:

  • vata by its sour taste
  • pitta by its sweet taste and cold virya (energy) and
  • kapha by the dry quality and astringent taste.

Benefits of Amla

  • Rasayana - Rejuvenator that promotes longevity. Rasa (the essence of properly digested food) is being spread (ayana) to nourish all the rasavaha srotas: 10 dhaminis (arteries) and heart, as well as the udakava srotas: Talu (soft pallet) and kloma (pancreas/thyroid).
  • Good for the lungs and immunity. 
  • Digestion - assists bowels and reduces inflammation in the GIT as it supports healthy intestinal "inner" skin. This accordingly improves health and lustre of the "outer" skin.
  • Diabetes.
  • Fantastic aphrodisiac and rejuvenator.
  • Amalaki’s prabhava (special effect) is having a sattvic effect that raises the quality of consciousness and the overall wellbeing of the body.

Vitamin C Powerhouse

According to the studies, the average Amla fruit (22.5gm) contains 121mg of vitamin C.
The average orange (130 grams) has about 70mg of vitamin C.

So one little Amla berry is packed with more vitamin C than the orange, which a 5.8 times bigger fruit!

Amalaki has 10 TIMES the amount of vitamin C than an orange when we measure equal weights of both fruits.

Research suggests this all-natural vitamin C content contributes to the potent antioxidant capabilities of Amalaki.

This is far from mega doses of vitamin C that people are taking. But what is compelling is the ability of Amalaki to take a small amount of vitamin C and use it to activate an entire matrix of chemicals that deliver a multitude of health benefits.

Read more benefits and information on Amalaki here.

Amla Pickle Recipe

Note this recipe can simply be adjusted to make Lemon Pickle by replacing Amlas with chopped up lemons.

Fresh Amla is hard to get outside of Asia.

Ingredients

  1. Finely chopped Amla fruit - 1 kg
    (or if making lemon pickle, slightly peel the outer layer off then chop 1kg lemon).
  2. Rock salt - 100 gm.
  3. Sea salt - 200 gm.
  4. Turmeric powder - 25 gm.
  5. Dry roasted ground fenugreek powder - 2 tsp.
    Dry roast until it is very good smell and brownish red colour. Then grind to powder.
  6. Dry roasted ground cumin powder - 5 tsp at least.
  7. Lime Juice - 1 tbsp.

Spices to add it at the end:

  1. ghee
  2. mustard seeds - 1 tsp.
  3. cumin seeds - 2 tsp.
  4. fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp.
  5. garlic - 3 cloves finely chopped.
  6. curry leaves - 8 leaves chopped.
  7. dry chilli - 2/3 chopped (optional).

Method

Day 1

  1. Finely chop Amla fruit (approximately into 6 pieces per fruit) and remove the seeds until you have 1kg.
  2. Add 25 gm turmeric power and mix well.
  3. Add 5tsp roasted cumin powder + 2 tsp roasted fenugreek powder.
  4. Leave in a bowl loosely covered with a lid closed for 3 days (72 hours). Mix well at least a few times a day.

Day 4

  1. Add 100 gms rock salt + 200 gms sea salt. Mix well.
  2. Leave in a bowl with the lid closed for 3 days (72 hours). Mix well at least a few times a day.

(A lot of salt preserves and cooks the pickle).

 

Day 6:

  1. Now the pickle is just about ready but requires one last step.
  2. In a pan, heat ghee then fry in the ghee:
    • mustard seeds till they pop.
    • Then cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds till they pop. 
    • garlic, curry leaves and dry chilli until the garlic becomes golden colour.

Store the pickle in a glass jar and it is ready to be used.

This pickle gets better with age when stored in a glass jar.

 

 

Feature Food: Banana (“Kadali”)

There are two species of Banana's - Musa acuminata (the common fruit) and Musa balbisiana (plantain or green banana that's used as a vegetable). Additionally there are hybrids and offsprings, but they all stem from these 2 original wild species.
I will share the Ayurvedic view of the common Banana fruit (Musa acuminata), known as "Kadali" in Sanskrit.

The Benefits:

  • "Banana cures obesity, kapha, diseases of the vagina, causes constipation, improves colour and destroys poisoning." (Lodhradi Gana).(1)
  • Banana is a good remedy for depression and a great replacement to snacking on chocolate as a comfort food. When depression is caused by quality of dryness, bananas actually grant courage and fortitude. (This does not mean to indulge in Banana when feeling down, eat everything in moderation).
  • It mitigates Pitta due to sweet taste, however if eaten in excess can increase pitta.
  • It increases stomach acid - beneficial for those with too little acid.
  • High in Potassium - Potassium levels are important for those whose sodium/salt intake is high and for nerves and muscles.
  • High in Vitamin B6 - Combining B12, Folic acid, and B6 is important because they are synergistically active to provide protection to the heart, brain, and nervous system and more.
  • Skin Care - It is good to incorporate in to your homemade topical skin paste. Especially for Pitta skin types.
  • Low Pesticide Levels - Banana's are not very "dirty" in the sense that conventional tree's don't require much pesticides.

Cautions:

Banana + Dairy = Incompatible Food Combination (Viruddha Ahara)

Banana mixed with dairy is highly incompatible.

The post-digestive action (vipaka) of Banana is sour, while the vipaka of milk is sweet. The different vipakas create an incompatible food composition that typically deposits as "Ama" (undigested food material = toxins) in the body and will manifest as disease later. It changes the intestinal flora and diminishes Agni (digestive fire).

Banana mixed with dairy is a common cause of skin diseases.

This (incompatible) food combination is so common in the west, and is in my top 3 "biggest flaws of the western diet." Stay away from Banana Smoothies with milk (see my healthier Banana Smoothie Recipe), Banana in your Porridge, Banana Milkshake and Banana Cake.

Generally, banana (like most fruits) should be eaten alone, but there are some exceptions (see below).

Time to Eat Banana

  • Banana is one of the only fruits with "rules" - One should not eat it on full stomach nor empty stomach.
  • Banana is not healthy to eat first thing in the morning.
  • Like other fruit, having Banana as an afternoon snack is an appropriate time to eat banana.
  • People with high blood sugar should not eat banana very much.

Ayurvedic Properties

  • Rasa (Taste) - Sweet and Astringent
  • Virya (Energy) - Cooling
  • Vipaka (Post-Digestive Effect) - Sour

Banana Smoothie

A more compatible and healthier option.

Recipe here.

References:
(1) Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, Ch. 16, (18-19).

photo: by Dylan Smith taken in Tiruvannamalai. 

Other Feature Foods:

Ayurvedic Porridge (Quick Cooking Time)

Here is a simple, nourishing and nutritious meal that only a takes a few minutes to prepare, and you don't have to be a kitchen wizard to prepare it.

Sweet First

In Ayurveda, sweet is the first taste to start the day and also to start a meal (yep, 'desert' is the first thing you eat in Ayurveda).

After you have fasted for some time, whether it be overnight or in between meals, your hunger = strong agni (digestion and appetite). You need strong agni to digest the sweet taste because it is the heaviest taste (dominant with the earth element).

Further, the sweet taste kick starts the agni and stimulates saliva secretions (Bodhaka Kapha), to prepare your digestion for the meal and/or day ahead. This is why when you finish with sweet (common desert), you keep wanting more... and then you'll begin to feel very "full" and heavy.

Ayurvedic Porridge Ingredients:

  • Oats, coarse semolina, rice flakes or quinoa flakes -  1/3 - 1/2 cup
  • 1 Tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp raw sugar (optional)
  • handful of raisins/sultanas
  • handful of one type of crushed nuts (almonds, macadamia or cashew)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cardamom powder

Method

  1. Put ghee in a pot, let it heat.

  2. Add 1/3 - 1/2 cup of coarse semolina or oats or rice flakes or quinoa flakes etc.

     

  3. Toast (fry) grains in the ghee to infuse ghee into the grains. - this lightens the grains and makes them easier to digest.

     

  4. Add approx. 1-cup of boiling water, stir and cook. - Be aware of porridge splatter, continually stir to avoid lumps and splatter.

  5. Add 1 tsp or tbsp of raw sugar (optional) + handful of raisins + handful of soaked and crushed almonds or cashews (optional for more protein and a filling breakfast) and stir.

  6. Add some cows milk (optional). If adding milk can initially add less boiling water.
  7. Add 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon powder + 1/4-1/2 tsp cardamom powder (cardamom and cinnamon removes morning sluggishness).

  8. Stir a bit more then it is ready!

Makes for 1 person.

Try another type of Ayurvedic Porridge HERE that is assists in weight loss and is yummy for children.

"A sweet start to the day wakes the agni up to say g'day!"

7 Ayurvedic Super Foods

According to modern science, food nutritionists, food industry leaders and dieticians, so called “superfoods” aren’t exactly “super.” Wikipedia describes that “Superfood is a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits..”

The European Union has even prohibited the marketing of products as “superfoods,” unless accompanied by a specific medical claim supported by credible scientific research.(1)

Not particularly inspiring…so I will redefine the word from an Ayurvedic perspective.

First of all, there is no need to exaggerate that foods are “super.” Whatever one uniquely needs will be their superfood. Additionally, everything is actually superfood if you know how to transform and use it.

In general, for a food to be “super” it must:

1. Promote ‘Sattva’

Sattva is a quality in us that translates to “purity.” If Sattva is increased, then so is our inner stillness, clarity of mind and contentment. Love radiates and flows back to us in abundance, while the hormone oxytocin (also known as the “bonding hormone”) is simultaneously secreting. Fresh, seasonal whole foods are predominately Sattvic, thus increases the Sattvic quality in us based on the Ayurvedic law of “like increases like.”

2. Detox and Heal the Body

Some Ayurvedic foods are prized for their powerful medicinal properties. Ayurveda valuably teaches us how to use food as medicine.

3. Directly nourish ‘Ojas’

Ojas is the vital essence of our body that translates to “vitality.”
A plentiful reserve of Ojas is reflected in the lustre of the eyes and skin (like the glow in a baby), strong physical strength, immunity and libido, good digestion, vigour and spirituality.

'Ojas' is considered to be the most refined product of digestion. Every food must metabolise through all the body’s tissues before it can become Ojas.

Ojas: a bio-celestial liquid substance that (predominately) resides in the heart, as well as all over the body in a less concentrated matter.

Building Ojas is an art. Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build Ojas is to eat a diet of fresh unprocessed, seasonal whole foods, and have a balanced agni to support the process. A handful of special foods (some listed below) even metabolise to nourish and build Ojas directly.

The Super Seven!

The seven Ayurvedic super foods I have chosen genuinely are super. They aren’t just packed with a dense hit nutrients, minerals and essential constituents, but actually promote and support your bodies natural intelligence to absorb and produce its own required constituents itself! Further, The Super Seven promote strength, immunity, peace and contentment in the body and mind. And best of all, they are readily available to everyone! Here they are…

1. Hot Water

I am about to reveal to you a very special Ayurvedic purification technique that is excellent for eliminating toxins from the body’s system…
It sounds very simple, but you’ll find that is has a powerful influence in purifying and strengthening the gastrointestinal tract, as well as detoxing and rejuvenating the major systems of the body.

All you have to do is sip hot water frequently throughout the day.

Sipping frequently (rather than focusing on quantity) flushes the lymphatic system, softens hardened tissues (just like hot water will soften leather, unlike cold water) and dilates channels and deeply hydrates the body. It also heals and repairs the digestive system.
In a short time you’ll begin to appreciate the soothing and balancing effect of this technique. Once you have gotten used to it, you will look forward to drinking hot water on a frequent basis.

“Hot water is the most superfood.”
~ Dr. J.R. Raju.

 

 

2. Ghee

Ghee is the crown jewel that joins Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking. Ghee is clarified or purified butter. With all the lactose components & milk solids removed, no-one is allergic to ghee.
Ghee is light to digest and has the special quality of enkindling Agni and supports fat metabolism. It effectively detoxes the gut and is an effective source of internal lubrication.
This concentrated golden substance is highly Sattvic and directly nourishes Ojas.
Click HERE for more on the benefits of ghee

3. Cows Milk

Dairy has a bad name in the press these days. With people increasingly claiming dairy intolerances, it has become perilous in todays new-age health scene.

Let me clarify two reasons why this has developed:

1. The dairy industry in the west is increasingly producing homogenised milk from poorly treated, stress inundated cows that are being fed grains. Further, the milk is pasteurised the wrong way, with added chemicals, pesticides, preservatives and anti-biotic’s.

2. A lot of kids drink cold homogenised milk with sugar filled processed cereals, and topping it off with some fruit in their bowl or having a glass of OJ on the side – a highly “un-ayurvedic” recipe for an incompatible digestive disaster.

Hence, people develop a dairy intolerance. And it may only hit them down the track. Possibly when they finally begin to tune into their own body and become more conscious.

Let me also add, if you believe and accept the notion that “dairy is bad,” you negatively charge the micro-biome in the foods, stress out your own body and if when you eat dairy with guilt it will not digest well due to lack of harmonious compatibility. Mind is the culprit here.

However, Ayurveda on the other hand prizes dairy as one of the most medicinal and nourishing foods and one of the most anabolic foods that directly builds Ojas. Rest assured, it is not a requirement for anybody to drink milk all the time, but if someone is in need of strength or Ojas, milk is one of Ayurveda’s top choices.

What more, it is a classic Ayurveda sleep remedy to drink boiled milk with spices before bed, also having a profound stress reducing action. Modern science has proved ancient wisdom by showing cows milk has certain peptides that lower cortisol and support sleep by 50%.(2)

Cows are considered sacred animals in India and cow milk is highly revered in Ayurveda as one of the most Sattvic of foods.

Please note: milk should always be boiled with equal amounts of water and un-homogenised and preferably organic. This will make it easier to digest.

If you have difficulty with cow’s milk don’t worry, first correct your agni, then slowly introduce dairy. (Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner). Also, there are six other superfoods on the list to choose from!

4. Lassi

Lassi is buttermilk, or diluted yoghurt.

  • Improves digestion and a fantastic pro-biotic.
  • Lassi is the best alkaliser.
  • As Lassi improves digestion and absorption it ultimately supports calcium absorption and bone health.
  • Balances heat (pitta) and clear the physical channels.
  • It is the best remedy (with a pinch of salt) for haemorrhoids and anal fissures.
  • A great food to introduce dairy to a lactose intolerant person after they have corrected their agni.
  • Lassi is very hydrating, and a great drink to have with lunch.

*Yoghurt should be fresh.
Ratios of Yoghurt : Water: 1:4, 1:6, or 1:14.

Lassi recipe here

5. Honey

Honey is super Sattivc and directly nourishes our own life-nectar, Ojas. It is actually more of a medicine than a food. Due to its richness, it should be taken in moderation.

On the other hand, Ayurveda teaches that honey will be poisonous when heated above body temperature (that means no honey in hot teas, hot porridge, cooking with honey etc.) as it perniciously clogs the channels. This is why is it always important to purchase honey that is extracted at low temperatures.

Learn more: Honey: Nectar or Poison

6. Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is the most thoroughly researched plant on this planet! and i don’t blame the scientists for the 5600 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies.

Turmeric has a vast catalogue of health benefits, but here is an essential summary on why to use Turmeric as medicine in your daily cooking:

  • It is the best anti-inflammatory.
  • It regulates mood and boosts cognitive function.
  • Protects the gut and stomach lining.
  • Supports joints: (pain, stiffness, swelling, arthritis) and healthy blood.
  • Since turmeric is anti-carcinogenic, it is vital to use when cooking meat due to the high risk of carcinogenic properties in most meat these days.

Turmeric powder is best advised, always with a pinch of black pepper, as black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric by an astonishing 2000%!(3)

Learn More: The Essential Uses of Turmeric

7. Almonds

Almonds are also Sattvic and help to maintain our Ojas. They are a good source of zinc, strengthen the body and grounding for the mind. But they are also quite rich and heavy, so again, moderation is the key. Half a handful of almonds a day is enough. To make them lighter and easier to digest, always soak almonds overnight in water and remove their skins the next day.

If you are in any doubt about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician.

References:
(1)  "Superfood 'ban' comes into effect". BBC News. 2007-06-28.
(2) The Open Sleep Journal. 2009;2:128-32
(3) Research done at St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore, India Planta Med. 1998 May;64 (4):353-6. PMID: 9619120

article originally published on Welcome Earth

Kitchari: The Essential & Delicious Ayurvedic Dish

Beyond all other Indian meals, there is one considered to facilitate spiritual growth and effectively detox the body.

Kitchari, pronounced Kich-ah-ree, has long been used to nourish babies and the elderly, the sick, and the healthy during special times of detox, cleansing, and deep spiritual practice.

A simple porridge like blend of lentils, rice and spices, kitchari is a comfort and health food that has many nourishing and cleansing benefits. Everyone should eat Kitchari at least a couple to a few times a week to reset digestion and nourish your body and mind.

Ingredients:

Split yellow mung beans along with a long grain white, basmati, or red rice and a blend of traditional Indian spices.

Why White Rice?

White Rice is easier to digest because the husk has been milled off. While brown rice supplies more nutrients, the husk makes brown rice a little harder to digest. During cleansing, it is important to be gentle on an already compromised digestion. Generally brown rice is also ok.
Red Rice is the best choice because it is most easily digested and is high in B12.

Why Split Yellow Mung Beans?

These are the only legumes that are “vata balancing.” This means that, unlike every other type of beans or lentils, they will not produce any intestinal gas.
They naturally are much easier to cook, digest, and assimilate.

Complete and Perfect Protein

The combination of rice and legumes have been a stable around the world for thousands of years, and for a good reason. All the essential amino acids that we need are provided by both of these together, making it a complete protein. Generally when you mix grain and legume/lentil, you get complete protein.

Kitchari for Cleansing

During a cleanse, it is essential to have adequate protein to keep the blood sugar stable and the body burning fat.

One of the most common reasons folks have trouble with cleansing is due to unstable blood sugars made worse by the detox process.

Look at a liquid fast for example, people are asked to drink only water, juice or veggies. For many, this type of fasting can be a strain and deplete blood sugar reserves. Then folks get really hungry, irritable, and end up with a (low blood sugar) headache or crash. The body cannot shift to fat metabolism and detox the fat cells (purpose of a cleanse) if the body is under stress and strain as a result of a difficult fast.

 

The Vital Short Home Cleanse

During this cleanse, Kitchari is your staple.

 

Basic Equation:

Stress = Fat Storing
No Stress = Fat Burning

So when you are cleansing, to detox heavy metals, preservatives, chemicals, pesticides and environmental toxins (which are stored in your fat cells), make sure you do not strain! Same goes with exercise.

“No Pain No Gain” is a myth and is actually counter-productive.

Fat burning is not just to loose weight, that is just a side effective. Burning fat enhances mood stability, good sleep, increases cognitive function, less cravings, balances acidity and maintains stable and calm energy levels throughout the day.

During a cleanse you can eat kitchari daily, even for 2-3 meals a day. If you do this, you sure can change it up by adding in veges or some lean meat.

Kitchari to Heal Digestion

In India, kitchari is often the first food for babies, not only because it is so easy to digest, it also heals and soothes the intestinal wall.

With 95 percent of the body’s serotonin produced in the gut, it is clear we process our stress through the intestinal wall. Chronic stress will irritate the intestinal wall and compromise digestion, the ability to detoxify through the gut, and cope with stress. During a kitchari cleanse, the digestive system can rest while being provided the nutrition needed to heal the gut and nourish the body.

 

Kitchari Recipe

You can play around with the quantities and types of spices according to taste, body constitution and season.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp of ghee (inferior is coconut oil) - use more ghee if you are doing the Vital Short Home Cleanse.
  • 1/2 cup of split yellow mung dahl
  • 1/2 cup of white rice or red rice
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 5 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (to taste)
  • 1tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of black pepper.
  • 2-3 pinches of asafoetida
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 1 heaped tsp salt
  • 1 whole onion (finely chopped)
  • 1-3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 4-8 cups of water (can be adjusted according to how long you soak for and desired consistency).

Method:

  1. Wash mung and rice then Soak for 1-2 hours in water.
  2. Strain mung & rice, add (approx. 8 cups of water) in pot and cook. May need to add more water as you go.
  3. In a separate heavy-bottomed pan, add ghee on medium heat. Do this when the mung+ rice is nearly finished being cooked (after approximately 5-10 mins. This depends on heat and how long you soaked the dal and rice).
  4. Salute cumin, fennel, curry leaves, fresh ginger and any other herbs (not powdered herbs) in ghee until the seeds start to pop.
  5. Add onion & garlic (chopped finely) and cook until slightly golden
  6. Add pan fried herbs to dahl and rice and mix well, infusing the spices in the dahl and rice.
  7. Add your "final spices" - turmeric + pinch of black pepper + salt + hing.
  8. Cook and continue to stir for a little while. May need to add more water in till desired texture.
  9. Garnish with fresh lemon, black salt and fresh coriander.

Notes:

  • Diarrhoea or inflammation in gut - 2 parts rice, 1 part yellow mung
  • If feeling depleted or constipation: 2 yellow mung, 1 rice
  • Balanced state: equal ratio of mung and rice.
  • If having kitchari for dinner, best to not eat anything after (desert or milk) for full medicinal effect.
  • Can add steamed vegetables or lean meat when not cleansing, or for extra blood sugar support during a cleanse. (Although this isn’t real kitchari).

Kitchari: A New Favourite in Your Kitchen

Make kitchari when you are sick, when you are sad, when you are cleansing, for your kids or a loved one when they are not feeling 100%, when you can’t be bothered to cook, when your not fully grounded from travelling, when you need to regain your strength, or when you are feeling on top of the world!

You’ll be surprised how warming and comforting it is, and soon it’ll be the stuff you crave!

Summer Regimen

“Quantity of water gets reduced by the strong heat of the sun, rivers have very little water, trees have no shade under them because of falling of ripened leaves; the leaves, bark and entwining ceepers are all dried up.”
Astanga Samgraha, ch. 4 (27-37)

Summertime... and the living is easy..

It’s also hot and dry! and it's wise to protect yourself by keeping cool. To work in harmony with this season to thrive during it. Imagine feeling prime during summertime.

The very hot sun takes away the strength of the earth and all things on earth. Scientists call this “thermal accumulation.” Particularly in the second half of summer you may begin to feel inner heat accumulate.

Summer Pathogenesis

  • The heat in your body rises, which dries out your skin and sinuses, leaving them your senses sensitive and irritated.
  • You may notice your sinuses beginning to run a lot. Creating reactive mucus is the body’s response to this dryness.
  • You may experience looser stools – the body’s response to to remove the heat. Your intestinal villi might be irritated and inflamed.
  • You may experience anger, frustration, aggressiveness - other ways your body reacts to this heat (excess pitta).

Summer (especially the second half) is an important time of year to not let the heat take over and dry us out. Take this seriously. If you don’t get rid of the heat now, the heat will turn to dryness and you will suffer the following winter.

Going from hot/dry (summer) to cold/dry (winter) will profoundly increase vata - weakening ojas - leaving you susceptible to creating the perfect breeding grounds for colds, flus, and other undesirables.

Especially if you missed the cleansing train the past spring, you may be building an accumulation of mucosa that is starting to bake onto your intestinal tract with all this heat. Ewww, right?

Well, you can mitigate this by eating the cooling fruits and vegetables from the summer harvest and incorporate some herbs, therapies and other cooling techniques.

Stay Cool, Calm and Hydrated

Summer Regimen (Grimsa Ritucharya)

Summer Diet

In the summer, when the days are long and hot, we require cooling and high-energy foods such as fruits and vegetables.

This gift of extra fruits and veggies is nature’s antidote to the hot and dry weather. They have specific microbes that move excess heat out of the body, protect the intestinal mucosa and prevent irritation and reactive mucus.

  • Food should be sweet, cold (potency/energy) and liquid;
  • Avoid, substances which possess pungent, sour, and salt tastes and hot potency (virya).
  • Pitta aggravating foods such as coffee, spicy foods, red meat, yoghurt, cheese, fermented foods.

Fruit Rules

Ayurveda says fruit should be eaten alone for optimal digestion and health.

During the summer digestion is a little weaker, allowing you to enjoy fruit (which is light) as a full meal.

Experiment with this by having fruits (alone) for breakfast and seeing how long it will last you through the day. Also fruit can be had as an afternoon snack, which can perhaps supplement for dinner.

The fruits listed below, if you eat enough of them, will encourage looser stools and/or frequent urination – stimulating the body’s heat-removing channels.

Apples

Remove heat through mild purgation. Numerous phyto-nutrients support blood sugar. Eat only organic apples! as they are one of the foods that have the most pesticides.

Pomegranates

Very powerful anti-oxidant, pitta reducing, circulates the blood and lymph. Be sure to eat the white pith.

Watermelons

Naturally cooling and hydrating. Mild-diuretic. It may seem odd, but try the Ayurvedic combination of sprinkling some black pepper on watermelon to reduce water retention. It provides a cooling zing!

  • "Rice, milk, ghee, grapes, coconut water and (raw) sugar is indicated;"(1)
  • Cooling vegetables such as asparagus, coriander (cilantro), broccoli, and leafy greens.
  • Lassi - Make it thin. View recipe.
  • Drink Coconut Water - to keep cool and hydrated. Drink fresh whole coconut rather than packaged liquid.
  • “Alcoholic drinks should not be taken, or in very little quantity with addition of large quantity of water, otherwise it will produce oedema, looseness of the joints, burning sensations and delusion;”(1)
  • Reduce Coffee - Like alcohol, coffee dehydrates the body. Ensure you sip hot water before and after both alcohol and coffee.

General quantities of your plate should be:

  • 1/2 veggies (fresh, lightly steamed etc.) (at least)
  • 1/4 protein - lentils, animal protein (meat should be no more than 10-15% of diet), and especially less in summer.
  • 1/4 starch - grains, carbohydrates.

Summer Regimen

Avoid excessive exercise.
• Avoid basking in the midday sun as it is to draining for the body. Afternoon sun is best.
Get Vitamin D - Basking in the rising and setting sun is indicated. Take advantage of the adequate amounts of UVB rays that the sun offers more so in the summer. We need about 10-15 minutes of direct mid-day sun 3-4 days a week in summer, without sun protection (sunscreen). 45 minutes of setting sun is best.

Avoid jumping in the water soon after sun bathing

“Immersing oneself in cold water soon after prolonged exposure to sunlight is the cause for disease of the skin and eyes and increase of thirst also.”(2)

  • If the body is heated up and then immediately you jump in the ocean, a lake or a pool, the heat that has been built up will immediately come out, thus causes these diseases. The nervous system will also be shocked.
  • Further, if you take a shower or jump in a pool within an hour of getting your rays – you can wash off the pre-vitamin D that sets up on your skin. You will wash it off before it undergoes the process of converting to vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol to be transported to be stored in the liver.

 

  • Protect yourself from the sun - The best way to protect yourself from the sun is by staying in the shade or by the use of hats, protective clothing, etc.
  • Stay Cool - use fans rather than air conditioning as the latter is more drying and strips away oxygen.
  • "Beautiful lakes, rivers and forests which are cool and spreading pleasant fragrances are good for recreation and to relax;"(1)

Sandalwood Paste

Anoint your forehead with paste of sandalwood to stay cool; Woman can also apply on cheek bone. Good for headache. Must use quality sandalwood paste.

Takra Dhara

A treatment important for Pitta body types during summer and anyone who live in climates where it gets hot during summer. This (authentic) treatment is a bit rare on the ‘Ayurvedic market’ but if you can receive a series of it to cool you and your hormones down, it should do you good for the summer.

Abhyanga - using cold-pressed coconut oil (preferably) prepared with herbs that mitigate pitta. Daily.

Avoid Sunscreen

According to the Environmental Working Group, only 2 out of 10 commercial sunscreens are considered safe, and only 1 out of 10 of the 1700 sunscreens tested fully protect your skin from the sun.

Sunscreen is contra-indicated because it can have chemicals that can potentially be cancerous to the body. Further, most sunscreen blocks UVB rays (rays that make vitamin D) and does not block the UVA rays (rays that can irritate, disrupt hormones, cause allergies or are carcinogenic).

Simply, when they created sunscreen they got mixed up with the rays!

In Ayurveda, the skin should be strong enough to protect itself and gain energy from the sun, rather then run away from it.

No doubt, skin under intense sun will need protection of some kind. Coconut oil is adequate for shorter amounts of time exposure. Shade and clothes are the best choice.

detailed article about what sunscreen to use coming soon...

Weaker Agni

It is important to be mindful that our digestive fire is weaker in the summer, thus we will have a harder time digesting heavy, fatty and rich foods.

Nature is cooking all the fruits and veggies on the vines and trees all summer long, so the need for us to turn on a big furnace of digestive acid to cook foods that are already pre-cooked by the sun is unnecessary.

Conclusion

So think twice this summer before indulging in barbecued ribs, milkshakes, ice-cream, pizza breads and cheese, as these are (poor quality) winter foods that our body simply does not have the acids to digest.

If you do indulge in these popular summer foods, here are some things to remember:

  • Enjoy these foods as a larger mid-day meal when agni is strongest, rather than in the evening or late at night when the digestive fire is much less efficient.
  • Yes, it is OK to eat some of these harder-to-digest foods in the summer. Just do your best do eat smaller portions on the barbecue and much larger portions of the salad, fruits and veggies.
  • Eat these foods by incorporating local ingredients and limit heat or pitta increasing foods and increase heat-reducing foods.
“Even if you eat ice cream. Enjoy it (guilt free, with love and gratitude).”
Vaidya Dr. J.R. Raju

 References:

  1. Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, ch.4 (27-37 1/2)
  2. Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, ch.9 (5)
  3. Credits: Dr. John Douillard Lifespa

 

Ragi (Finger Millet) Porridge Recipe

What is Ragi?

Ragi, also known as 'finger millet' is a popular cereal grown throughout Africa and Asia. It was introduced to India 4000 years ago and is grown in the Himalayas. It is generally purchased as a very fine pinky/brown flour which can be prepared as breads, dosas, porridges, puddings and cakes. It is an awesome and delicious flour in its own right.

Properties of Ragi (Ayurvedic perspective)

Rasa (Taste): Sweet
Virya (Action): Heating
Vipaka (Post-digestive effect): Sweet
Gunas (Qualities): Dry, Light
Doshas: Balances Kapha, increases Vata and Pitta in excess.

Medicinal Qualities

  • Easy to digest
  • Nourishing
  • Treats high cholesterol, dull agni (digestive fire), diabetes, excess weight, and other excess kapha (mucus/fluid), (All millets have these actions.).

Where do I get it?

Raggi is not common in Australia (yet). You will find it in an Indian Grocery.

Ragi Porridge Recipe

PS. there is no chocolate, I swear, but it is tastier than chocolate, a little like a subtle cacao. The ragi roasted in ghee is what makes it look like melted chocolate.

Gluten Free
Serves 1

Ingredients:

  1. 2-3 tbsp ghee – ragi is quite drying, so will need to use plenty of ghee, vata constituents especially.
  2. 1⁄4 cup raggi flour
  3. 1⁄4 cup un-homogenised organic milk
  4. 1⁄2 cup boiling water
  5. 2 tsp raw/rapadura sugar or jaggery – kapha constitution can have less.
  6. a generous pinch of ground cardamom & ground cinnamon
  7. pinch of slippery elm bark powder (optional to lubricate bowels)
  8. crushed cashews or macadamia nuts or almonds (optional for more protein and to fill one up more)

 

Method:

  1. Melt the ghee in a medium sized pot over low-moderate heat. 

2. Once the ghee is melted and warm, add the raggi flour. 

3. Toast the ragi flour in the ghee for 2-3 mins until the grain turns a deep chocolate colour.

4. Remove the pot from the flame and add all of the milk then all of the boiling water, being careful of any steam or splatter that is created.5. Return the pot to the flame and gently bring to a simmer stirring continuously and vigorously with a whisk to avoid lumps.

6. Add crushed nuts (optional, for more protein).

7. The raggi will thicken suddenly. If it gets too thick, add some more boiling water until the porridge is a thick soupy consistency.

8. Keep simmering for several minutes then add the sugar/jaggery and spices and stir through.


9. Remove from the flame and let it rest for a few minutes. Serve warm.

How I got into Ragi

My friend Nikki was shopping at the Indian grocery and asked me if I wanted anything. I asked her to get me Buckwheat flour so I could make my delicious Buckwheat Pancakesbut since all the flours were labelled in Hindi, she accidentally bought me Ragi. I didn't even know it wasn't buckwheat until I made the pancakes, as they were a lot drier causing me to use load more ghee.

So I researched it on the internet and mostly came across articles saying how good it was for babies. I then came across this lovely recipe from the Mudita Institute in Byron Shire. I have tweaked it a little. It has been my favourite porridge ever since. Thanks Nikki!

This grain is defiantly worth the trip to the Indian grocery! plus you'll find other treasures.

A Sweet start to the day is the nourishing way, and the Agni gently wakes up and in balance, says G'day!

 

Ayurvedic Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe

Here are light and easy to digest pancakes, that are quick and easy to make, and SUPER YUMMY!

Serves 2-3      Gluten Free

  • Good for Kapha, & Pitta body types
  • Seasonality: Good in spring, winter and summer


Ingredients:

  • Buckwheat flour – 1⁄2 cup (a.k.a. "Kuttu flour" in Indian Groceries)
  • Non-homogenized milk – 2 tbsp - (can replace with fresh almond milk or add millet & channa flour to make batter stick). 
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Cinnamon powder – 1⁄2 tsp
  • Cardamom seeds crushed or cardamom powder – 1⁄2 tsp
  • Ghee for frying
  • Fresh coriander, fresh lemon and maple syrup (optional) for garnish.

Method:

 Mix all the ingredients, adding water a little at the time, to make a smooth, runny batter.

Heat tawa or non-stick pan to low heat. Then coat pan with 1-1.5 teaspoons of ghee.

Pour on batter to the size you want & spread to make a 
pancake.

Optional: add chopped coriander on the raw batter and spread to infuse in with batter.

When bubbles start appearing on surface of pancake, spoon 1 teaspoon of ghee around edges (if you didn't start with enough ghee).

Turnover and cook other side, spooning ghee around edges to make crisp.

Serve with fresh lemon juice, fresh coriander and mango chutney or maple syrup.

Comments:

  • Good for those trying to lose weight and diabetes.
  • Good for suffers of I.B.S. & celiac disease.
  • Good for Kapha aggravations such as excess water retention, sinus blockage.
  • Good for grain-free cleanses/fasts.
  • Great for kids, they love it!

Ayurvedic Properties:

  • Rasa (Taste): Astringent, Sweet, Pungent
  • Virya (Energy): Heating
  • Vipaka (Post-Digestive effect): Sweet
  • Gunas (Qualities): Heavy
  • Actions on the doshas: Balances Vata and Kapha, increases Pitta in excess

Eggplant – Feature Food

“Eggplant is the King of Vegetables, because it is the only vegetable that has a crown.”
Vaidya Dr. B.A. (Father) Raju

Purification of Foods and Herbs

All foods and herbs should be first purified to clean them and enhance the potency. It is the transformation process of all herbs and foods which is essential for safe and effective use. No point of taking ‘super foods’ in high quantity and quality if it is not prepared the right way. Even one highly medicinal herb in Ayurveda, if not purified specifically by boiling it in milk, will cause cancer. Most simple and common purification method is washing with water.

To purify eggplant

Soak in salt water for about 20mins, then pour out the black water (impurities). Then it is ready to be cooked. Eggplant can also be roasted to counter the Slimy quality.

Medicinal effect

Great for thyroid health.

Caution

Can aggravate skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis as well as joint issues like rheumatoid arthritis.

Size Matters

I will let you in on a secret. The more tender, smaller, younger the eggplant, the more medicinal. This prevents the vegetable from developing the doshas (energies in the vegetable that causes vitiation in the body tissues). Often people at the markets leave the smaller eggplants behind!

A Clean Vegetable

Although it is always best to eat organic whenever possible for safety, health and to please our microbes in our gut even more, eggplant bears little to no traces of pesticides and is safe to consume in non-organic form.(1)

Enjoy eggplant in season!

photo: my favourite type of Eggplant. Field to Feast, NSW grows and sells them with a lot of love, thus promotes positive microbiology in the food simply through loving and positive organic farming!

(1) Environmental Working Group, “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” 2011 edition.