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:

Golden Milk Elixir

Just like grandma used to cook up for you with love and foresight. This nightly sleep aid and anabolic tonic holds great wisdom, incorporating one of the most nourishing foods: cows milk, with the intelligence of natures herbs and spices. You’ll sleep like a baby and super charge overnight.

Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep?

This Ayurvedic remedy will reduce your stress to allow you to switch off and gain a more restful and undisturbed sleep.

Supersede the Stress

Insomnia, which can increase the risk of most degenerative diseases(1) is mostly caused by stress. When we are under stress, cortisol levels (stress fighting hormones) do not decrease, rather they keep us revved up throughout the night and we don’t have the energy to calm them back down.

Modern science has once again proved ancient wisdom by showing milk has certain peptides that lower cortisol and support sleep by 50%. The improvements of sleep are remarkable:

  • Promotes deeper sleep (3)
  • Supports more restorative sleep (3)
  • Provides relaxation at the level needed for sleep (4)
  • Calms anxiety (4)
  • Improves numerous stress markers (5)
  • These peptides further support digestion, emotional state, cognitive function and even cardiovascular function. (6)

Interestingly, these peptides in milk activate GABA receptors.(4) Pharmaceutical drugs that are widely used as sedatives for stress, anxiety, and sleep target these same GABA receptors!(7)

Ojas Building

Even if you sleep well, this night-time tonic will not only upgrade your sleep to be more deep and restful, but also build your Ojas.

Ojas (OH-jas) is considered to be the most refined by-product of digestion, said to reside in the heart. Ayurveda considers ojas to be a bio-celestial substance that is our vital essence.

Our vitality, immunity, vigour, skin, sleep, digestion, spirituality and physical strength are all directly influenced by our reserve of ojas.

Ojas builds our inner silence. It Increases the ability to genetically connect with the circadian rhythms allowing the body to resonate with the rhythms and thrive. If your body is under stress, emergency alarm bells will keep ringing (flight or fight response/sympathetic nervous system) disconnecting you from the genetic ability to hear these rhythms.

Building ojas is an art. Yoga, pranayama breathing exercises, meditation, spending time in nature, sleeping at the right times, laughing, showing love and affection and giving to others, spending time being creative, relaxing, and doing things that make you happy all build ojas.

Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build ojas is to eat a diet of fresh, unprocessed whole foods in the appropriate season.
Further, there are certain foods and herbs in Ayurveda that are great ojas-builders. These were traditionally blended with warm milk and taken before bed as a sleep aid and an ojas-builder.

Ayurveda’s Super Sleep Recipe:

  • Boil 3/4 cup of unhamogensied cows milk + 3/4 cup of water + 2 strands of saffron + 1 chopped date + 3 crushed and peeled almonds. Boil till it reduces to approximately 1 cup or till it fully foams up.
  • After the milk has boiled. Add:
  • 1/4tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2tsp ghee.
  • 1/4 tsp Ashwagandha powder (optional for more ojas building and calming effect)
  • 1/4 tsp Shatavari powder (optional for more ojas building and calming effect)
  • pinch of Ojo or Samadhi (Raju family herbal preparation)
    (Can modify herbs and spices according to season and body constitution).

Sitr well, then drink and enjoy.

When to Drink It:

  • Have between dinner and sleep - approximately 45-60mins after dinner and 45-60mins before bed.
  • You can even make this your dinner.
  • Drink one cup of the golden milk each night for 3 months to rebuild ojas levels and support sleep patterns.
  • You can also have this in the morning approximately 45 minutes before breakfast or make it your breakfast, (good for people who don’t have an appetite in the morning). It is also a great replacement to coffee.

"But I Don’t Do Dairy"

If you are intolerant to dairy, it is probably indigestion, some weakness and/or your mind getting the better over you by 'accepting' the intolerance. Additionally, most milk is difficult to digest because it is unnecessarily homogenised, pasteurised the wrong way, added chemicals, pesticides, preservatives and anti-biotic’s.

However, drink the right milk and correct your agni, and you may find you can slowly introduce this medicinal lactation back into your diet.

Most places you can find milk that is non-homogenised without all these nasty additives. Getting non-pasturised or vat-pasturised, (heated at low temperature for short time), is a bonus, but the main precept is to drink non-homogenised milk. This has become so popular that mainstream supermarkets in Australia and New Zeland are now selling it. Additionally, most health-food stores will have it.

If you are very sensitive to milk, I suggest first correct agni, then slowly introduce dairy by drinking thin Lassi with lunch.

You may substitute substitute coconut or (freshly made) almond milk. Though you won’t get the benefits of the milk peptides, you’ll still have a vehicle for the ojas-building foods and herbs and some calming benefits from the warmth of the milk.

Take this milk to build some resiliency towards the stress that prevents us from sleeping like we should.

It’s tasty, nourishing and a great way to end the day, plus it’ll send you off with the clouds for the night.

 

References

(1) Occup Med (Lond). 2010
(2) The Open Sleep Journal. 2009;2:128-32
(3) J Dairy Sci. 2000 Jun
(4) Ther Umsh. 2009
(5) Eur J Nutr. 2005

 

(6) Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007

(7) FASEB J. 2001

Milk Rice Recipe – For Woman’s Health

Here is a very simple recipe that is the prescribed diet during the Banana Treatment.

This is also recommended for woman to eat during their menstrual cycle to balance gynaecological health, particularly in cases of dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation).

Ingredients:

serves one person

  • White Rice
  • Water
  • Full cream, unhomogenised, Cows Milk.
  • quantities vary on how much you want for the day.

Method:

  1. Wash and soak rice (1 hour is enough).
  2. Boil rice in water. When thick foam gathers on to the top, strain and dispose the foam/water. (This removes the impurities from the rice).
  3. Close to when the rice is cooked, add milk with equal amount of water till the level of the liquid is approx.  2cm above the rice.
  4. Bring to the boil - take off - Serve.

"But I Don't Do Dairy"

It is important to have even a little cows milk with the milk rice during the BT. If you do not want any milk at all, have plain rice.

If the reason for avoiding milk is a dairy intolerance, just avoiding heavy-to-digest proteins like milk will not fix the underlying proble, which is a weak digestive fire (agni). Take a steps action to re-balance your digestion, then slowly introduce the foods in the right way. Contact Me for a consultation to dig deeper into what is going on and get back on the track towards optimal digestion.

Guidelines for Banana Treatment Diet:

  • On the days of taking the Banana Medicine, one should not take any medications, herbs, dietary supplements etc. – if you have an issue or query with this, contact me or the Vaidya.
  • The banana herbs should be taken on a complete empty stomach. If you are taking the morning dose of Banana Medicine, you should not consume any food, herbs, or medications etc. that morning. Only plain water is allowed.
  • 1 hour before taking the medicine the patient should completely fast (no food, water etc.).
  • It is important to swallow the banana piece whole – Do not chew it or allow it to touch your teeth.
  • 1 -2 hours after taking the medicine the patient should completely fast (no food, water etc.). After this, the first thing the patient should eat is milk rice (see recipe below).
  • Do not talk for 30 minutes before you receive the banana herbs or 30 minutes afterwards. Results are more powerful with inward attention and silence during this time.
  • Every meal during the BT should be “milk rice”. If you have a trouble digesting cows milk, try a smaller quantity raw or unhamogensied cows milk boiled. If this is still uncomfortable, you may have plain white rice only.
  • Rarely people feel aversion to eating milk rice every meal. If this happens, and you really cannot tolerate it, have milk rice or plain white rice for the first meal (after taking the BT), then for the meals after that you may add a little cinnamon in the milk rice to add some flavour and reduce the aversion. Note that this is not ideal and for full benefits of the BT. Plain milk rice is best ruing menstruation cycle.  You can also have fresh, simple food throughout if you are really struggling with diet (see diet below on next bullet point).
  • Women who are post-menopause or men who are taking BT have much more leniency with the diet. You can eat normal light food throughout the BT. It is recommended to have milk rice after taking the BT, then you may have normal light food for other meals, but aim to keep it as simple as possible (not heavily spiced, flavoured etc.).
  • Continue sipping hot water frequently during the BT days to help remove the toxins more thoroughly.

Click here to read more about Banana Treatment

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!"

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

Cough & Cold Home Remedy: Honey + Spice Paste

This is a simple and very tasty paste that you can make up and jar it to have on hold, especially for the autumn-winter-early spring time of year.
This cough and cold remedy increases immunity and fights infections.

Recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon of Honey*
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 10 drops of fresh ginger juice or 1/4tsp ginger powder

Mix a large batch of this up, keep it in a glass jar ready for use.

Dosage: Lick 1tsp 2-3x a day or when needed.

*Honey should be unheated (not above body temperature). Ensure the honey you buy is extracted this way.  Most honeys in the supermarkets, even health food stores (organic included!) will be extracted at temperatures higher than 37 degrees. I suggest going to your local farmers market and speaking to the apiarist.

To learn What Exactly Is The Flu, + more simple home remedies, click HERE