Choosing the right salad ingredients for you this summer is key to maintain digestive and doshic harmony
Tis the season for green eating...
Summer is upon us and for us health enthusiasts (or those with little time to cook) lunch means SALAD! BUT, did you know that choosing the wrong ingredients, from veggies to sauces, can be the difference between feeling light, fresh and ready to impress or feeling full, bloated and in gastric distress! Luckily, Ayurveda knows the secret to what's what on your plate and we are in a sharing mood...
Do it Ayurveda styley with your dosha in mind No matter the weather, season or time of day, when it comes to eating (if you want your food to go down well and give you energy to function) you can't escape needing to consider your dosha. This is even more important when it comes to salad! Why? Because even though we consider those lush little leaves to be light (and they are, AFTER digestion) salads are actually hard to digest because they are cold, rough, raw and astringent - qualities which are all opposite to the agni (digestive fire).
Good news though - depending on your dosha, there are ways of making salad easier digest and there are ingredients you can include which will harmonise your dosha, support agni, compliment the qualities of the season and make you feel fantastic (as well as tasting awesome, of course!).
To start making your salad the Ayurveda way (and prevent the post lunch slump/belly bloat) we have included a blueprint for what to include (and not to include) plus a list of seasonal ingredients you can play around with to create the perfect summer salad which is suited to you dosha and digestion!
Understanding your ingredients
More often than not, making salad means throwing together any old veg from the fridge into a bowl without a moments thought about how the the tastes, textures and qualities effect the mind and body, or how well the ingredients might fit together! In Ayurveda, we say that every meal should include the six tastes: sweet, sour, salt, pungent, bitter and astringent. The reason is that each taste has its own effect on dosha and when they are all used together in a meal it tastes 'complete' and you are not left craving something else after.
Which tastes affect which dosha?
1) sweet, sour and salty tasting foods increase kapha (earth and water)
2) sour, salty and pungent tasting foods increase pitta (fire and water)
3) pungent, bitter and astringent tastes include vata (air and space).
So, knowing that, you can imagine how overdoing the heavy, creamy cheesy ingredients if you're a kapha mama means you won't feel the benefits of a lovely light fresh garden salad; if your pitta, overdoing the hot spicy seasoning will leave you feeling burnt out even after eating 'cold food' and if you are vata and you overdo the greens, everyone better watch out as you will be 'popping' all afternoon.
Choosing the right ingredients for YOU is absolutely KEY!....So, lets get started!
Every summer salad should include the base ingredient of:
1) 4-5 fresh (ideally organic), SEASONAL vegetables
2) A carbohydrate or, if you are having a low-carb diet, a grain-like seed that provides insoluble fibre to support healthy movement of food through the digestive tract
3) Lighter, sweeter or astringent proteins such as lean white meat, fish, soaked beans or peas (hello hummus!) or soaked nuts
4) A dressing which includes some oil, salt, pepper, herbs or spices and other nutritious flavourings to make your salad pop and to increase agni and reduce liklihood of gas!
Salads should ideally not include:
1) Fruit (fruit does not digest well with other food and should be eaten alone)
2) Honey which has been heated (although it can be added cold in the dressing)
3) Too crazy a mixture of cooked and uncooked, either is fine but it should be either all (or mostly) cooked OR uncooked
4) Both dairy and tomato - although they are a favourite, they do not digest well together sadly! One or the other is fine though.
OK, now we have covered what is best to throw in there, let's look at which ingredients are best for you!
Choose your seasonal vegetables
Vegetables for Vata
Asparagus, beetroot, cabbage (cooked), carrots, cauliflower, courgette, cucumber, radishes, fennel, green beans, leafy greens, leeks, okra, onions, peas (cooked), sweet potato, spinach, squash,.
Vegetables for Pitta
Artichoke, asparagus, beetroot (cooked), bitter melon, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, coriander leaves, courgette, cucumber, fennel, green beans, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, leafy greens, leeks (cooked), lettuce, mushrooms, okra, olives (black), peas, potatoes (sweet), prickly pear (leaves), pumpkin, radishes (cooked), sprouts, watercress.
Vegetables for Kapha
Artichoke, asparagus, beet greens, beets (raw), bitter melon, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, eggplant, fennel, green beans, green chillies, horseradish Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, mixed-bean sprouts, mustard greens, onions, peas, peppers, potato (white), radish, spinach, swedes, squash, tomatoes (cooked), turnip greens, turnips, watercress, wheatgrass sprouts.
Choose your grain/grain-like seed
Grains for Vata - sweet and grounding
Rice, bulgur wheat, couscous, whole wheat pasta, buckwheat
Grains for Pitta - sweet and dry
Barley, couscous, pasta, rice, rice cakes, sago, sprouted wheat bread, tapioca, wheat, wheat bran.
Grains for Kapha - light and dry
Barley, buckwheat, corn, couscous, crackers, millet, buckwheat, rice (brown and wild), rye, sago, sprouted wheat, tapioca, wheat bran
Choose your protein
Proteins for vata - sweet and oily
Split mung beans, red lentils, aduki beans, tur dhal, urad dhal, tofu and soya products. Cheese, especially cottage cheese, cream cheese and goat's cheese. Chicken, turkey, veal, duck, eggs, fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna and seafood Almonds, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, coconut, hazel nuts, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts.
Proteins for Pitta - sweet and astringent
Aduki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils (red & brown), mung beans, peas (dried), pinto beans, soybeans, split peas, white beans, tofu and soy products. Cheese (soft, not mature, unsalted), cottage cheese, goat's cheese (soft, unsalted). Chicken and turkey, eggs (white only), fish (fresh water), prawn and venison. Almonds (soaked and peeled), coconut, flax seed, popcorn (unsalted), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds.
Proteins for Kapha - light and astringent
Aduki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, lentils (red & brown), lima beans, mung beans, peas (dried), pinto beans, soy milk, split peas, tofu (hot), tur dhal, white beans, cottage cheese (from skimmed goat milk) goat's cheese (unsalted and not aged), goat's milk (skimmed), yoghurt (diluted). Chicken, turkey, venison, eggs, fish (fresh water) and prawns. All nuts and seeds are to be avoided, except flaxseed, popcorn (without salt or butter), pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
Choose your dressing
Dressings for vata - slightly sweeter and warm
Black pepper, chutney (mango), ketchup, lemon, lime, lime pickle, mango pickle, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, soy sauce, tahini, vinegar. Sesame, ghee, olive. Most other oils in moderation. Ajwain, allspice, almond extract, anise, asafoetida (hing), basil, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, marjoram, mint, mustard seeds, nutmeg, orange peel, oregano, paprika, parsley, peppermint, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, salt, spearmint, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, vanilla. Barley malt, fructose, honey, jaggary, molasses, rice syrup.
Dressings for pitta - slightly creamier, cooling & green
Mayonnaise, sunflower, safflower, olive, flaxseed, coconut oils or ghee. Most other oils in moderation, except corn oil and vegetable oil. Lime juice, basil (fresh), caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, ginger (fresh), mint, parsley, saffron, spearmint, tarragon, turmeric, vanilla. Barley malt, maple syrup, rice syrup.
Dressings for kapha - slightly spicier
Black pepper, chilli pepper, chutney (mango), coriander leaves, horseradish, lemon, lime. Almond, corn, sesame (external), sunflower, ghee, mustard. Ajwain, allspice, anise, asafoetida (hing), bay leaf, black pepper, caraway, cardamom, cumin,coriander, dill, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mace, marjoram, mint, mustard seeds, nutmeg, orange peel, oregano, paprika, parsley, peppermint, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, salt, spearmint, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, vanilla.
That should keep you busy for the rest of summer ;)
So there you have it! An unlimited number of recipes all in one blog! Why not try mixing and matching and see what you come up with? We are sure you will discover something amazing and new that you gut will thank you for you if you choose to make your summer salad the Ayurveda way! Goodbye bloat, hello summer body!
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