Ayurvedic Meals for the Whole Family
When we start to learn about the doshas, and what foods correspond well with our individual constitution, it’s understandably common for people to get caught up in “good” foods and “bad” foods. And while, yes, there are certain foods and spices that will help you find health and wellness again, becoming too rigid or dogmatic around diet poses another issue.
Something I remind clients regularly is that we still need all six tastes in our meals, just to varying degrees depending on the particular imbalance.
Let’s say for example, we have a pitta imbalance, so we completely eliminate any spice or warmth from our diet. That will just put our digestive fire out entirely and we’ll end up with a new kind of imbalance!
So a person with a pitta imbalance (vikruti) would still want a little bit of the pungent, warming taste in their food— something as simple as a tiny shake of black pepper can be enough, or even cumin, which has the special action of aiding digestive fire without raising pitta.
The best kind of meal has every taste and quality within it. But if you’re cooking for your family and trying to live more Ayurvedically, what do you do? A question I receive a lot is “How do I cook a single balanced meal for multiple doshas?” I’ll tell you this: you do not have to cook three separate meals every day for each family member!
You start with a simple, healthy meal. For example: rice, beans, leafy greens and vegetables. The meal should be warm, well cooked, and have a moist quality to it. That’s a wonderful base. The vegetables, beans, and even type of rice will vary (and sometimes the beans or rice are the in the form of noodles in our house), but that’s the foundation. And that foundation works well for every dosha.
Now, the vegetables that each dosha needs do vary. So if you’re making a meal for the whole family, with many different doshic combinations, the best option is to simply eat produce that’s in season.
So the secret is really in portions and spices.
Vata needs a bigger portion of rice.
The vegetables and beans are roughly equal sizes, but a little smaller than the rice portion.
Kapha needs a smaller portion of rice,
with a bigger portion of vegetables and moderate amount of beans.
Pitta needs roughly equal sizes all around.
You can spice the whole dish with mild spices. Something like cumin, coriander, fennel, and a bit of mineral salt would be good for everyone. From there, individual dosha spices can be added to everyone’s plate.
A nice way to do this is to prepare dosha seasonings and keep them in separate jars nearby for everyday use. But you can also just combine them as you cook. Up to you.
Vata seasoning should be warming, moist, salty, sweet, and sour.
You can make a vata seasoning with spices like turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, seaweed flakes, asafoetida, rosemary, oregano etc. and extra oil and fat (olive, avocado, ghee, and sesame are great options).
You can warm the spices and oil on the stove and drizzle on top of the food or just add them in separately. A sour component like a squirt of lemon juice or vinegar on top is great too.
Pitta needs mild, cooling spices with sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes.
The spices that I mentioned above for the dish as a whole is perfect for pitta. The only thing I would personally add is fresh cilantro. Cilantro is a wonderful option to add on top of a pitta plate!
Kapha needs warming, light, sharp, pungent (spicy), bitter, and astringent (drying) spices.
You can make a kapha seasoning with spices like sage, onion powder, chili pepper flakes, black pepper, turmeric, caraway seeds, fenugreek, asafeotida, thyme, oregano, rosemary, etc.
A little bit of oil can be added or mixed in with the spices, but keep it minimal because kapha is already very moist. You can heat the oil and spices on the stove lightly and then drizzle on top of the food, or just add separately. Garnish with parsley on top!
And that’s it! A balanced Ayurvedic meal for the whole family. Have you tried cooking this way? I’d love to hear from you!