Spiced Oatmeal Bowl & Intro to Ayurveda
Spiced Oatmeal Bowl and Intro to Ayurveda
So you might have picked up on my slight obsession with slathering almond butter and caramelized bananas onto almost all of my sweet creations of late. This is for a very good reason. This reason is: the delectable combination of toasty-roasty almond butter and ooey-gooey caramelized banana is just too heavenly not to, especially when topped with a pinch of pink salt. It really is like a match made in heaven, and if you haven’t tried it (!?) then you absolutely should stop what you're doing, find a spoon and find that jar of almond butter bella pronto!
Below is one of my absolute favorite spiced oatmeal recipes. It has the healing spices of cinnamon, turmeric and cardamom. It is believed that all dis-ease within the body stems from inflammation and imbalance, therefore eating foods that have natural anti-inflammatory properties (cue turmeric and many other food items) and can help to restore equilibrium within the body system are highly beneficial to ones’ overall health and well-being. Below I introduce Ayurveda, an ancient Indian philosophy to living a balanced, wholesome, nourished life. Fast forward if you want to skip straight to the recipe which is down below!
Ayurveda directly translated means the “science or knowledge of life”. Ayurveda is a philosophy of life and extends far beyond simply what you eat and what you don’t eat. It is a means of living in accordance with Mother Nature and living a life that is in harmony with the laws of nature. The basic foundation or essence of Ayurveda is, “recognize the power of self-healing within, and you will become your own greatest doctor!”. This is a powerful and very connected body of knowledge that empowers us to create vibrancy and health in our lives, to heal and to connect. It dates back to at least five thousand years to the ancient spiritual texts of India, also known as the Vedas. In the eyes of Ayurveda, health is a multi-dimensional, engaging, continuous process and goes far beyond a set of good-looking lab results. Its’ tendrils reach deep into every aspect of life: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, universal and social. I highly recommend the book, “EAT. TASTE. HEAL” where one of my favorite lines with regards to health is, “Every individual is a one-of-a-kind with an equally unique blueprint for health.” I think this is such an important part of the wider acknowledgement of what good health is: INDIVIDUALITY. We all have different bodies, minds, souls, spirits, needs, wants, cellular structures and doshas, and consequently there is absolutely NO one-size fits all with regards to your health. The system of Ayurveda provides us a framework with which we can start to understand and fathom the depths and intricacies of these blueprints of health that are so individual.
Ayurveda works intimately with the five elements: fire, water, air, ether and earth. These make up the basis for all manifest material matter in various ratios and levels. Ayurveda accounts for the differences in people by the three doshas, namely: Pitta, Kapha and Vata. The doshas are derived from the five elements and their related properties. These are “biological energies” within the body and mind and “they govern all physical and mental processes” within our body system. It is the specific ratios/makeup of these doshas that create the unique blueprint for health for any one person. Due to the subtle energetic nature of these qualities they are not seen in terms of science as “concrete” but are visible through the idiosyncrasies, characteristics, actions, behavioral patterns, presence and energy of an individual. Just as you are born with a specific and unique genetic makeup, you are born with an equally unique and individual dosha makeup (all three doshas are present in every individual but in different ratios making up the individuals’ unique health blueprint – usually there is one predominant dosha). What is referred to as being “balanced” in Ayurveda is when all doshas (in their unique proportions specific to said individual) are in natural harmony and balance, this is also known as “equilibrium”. Then there are two imbalanced states, known as: “INCREASED” or “DECREASED”. An increased state is when one particular dosha is “aggrevated” or in excess and a decreased state is when a particular dosha is in a depleted state meaning that the particular health blueprint for said individual is out of balance.
Having briefly touched on the doshas, I will touch on the fact that each food item (drinks, food, spices, herbs etc) effects our doshas in a particular way and the way that this effect is manifest varies according to the unique makeup of your doshas. Essentially, you have foods that are tri-doshic which means they are good for and balance all three doshas. Then you get foods that will increase or decrease the energy of particular doshas within your body – so essentially you want to eat things that will bring the most balance and harmony to your unique dosha makeup or health blueprint. For example if your predominant dosha is pitta (water and fire) you would want to avoid eating too much spicy, heated food as this will exacerbate the already fire-y nature of pitta people which would result in Pitta dosha being out of balance. I will write a more in depth post about Ayurveda and its wonderful philosophies, but for now I have given just the tip of the tip of the ice-burg so that I can explain the Ayurvedic quality of this divine bowl of spiced oatmeal!
Cinnamon is heating in the body (which makes sense because when you think of cinnamon you generally think of warming, comforting foods) and it can help to balance blood sugar. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is cooling in terms of its’ energetic qualities. Cardamom is tridoshic (meaning it balances all doshas) and it balances prana (life force energy). It can also counteract some of the negative effects of caffeine.
· ½ cup oats (I used quick cooking oats – Jungle Oats)
· 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of filtered water or plant based milk
· ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
· ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
· ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
· 1 tablespoon sweetener of choice (brown rice syrup, maple syrup, agave etc)
· ¼ teaspoon sea salt (or just a pinch if you want to keep it lower sodium)
· 1 tablespoon roasted almond butter
· 3 dates or 1 tablespoon raisins (optional)
· ½ - 1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
1. In a small saucepan place the oats and filtered water/plant based milk along with your spices. Bring to heat and stir consistently. Add in your dates and cook for about 3-5 minutes, adding more water if needed, or if you would like your oats to be less stiff/dense.
2. Add in your sweetener and salt and chopped dates. Stir well. Following the principles of Ayurveda fruits such as pear, apple and dates can be cooked into the oatmeal in moderation but generally speaking, banana and oats are not very compatible and neither is raw fruit and oats. Personally, the combination of banana and oats doesn't have too much of a negative effect for me from what I have observed, or perhaps I consciously will it not to because the combination is too sublime to pass up. But again, following the principles of a system like Ayurveda is amazing and completely life changing, and I follow them where I can but in this case ... oatmeal and bananas have got the better of me! But we do what we can, and it brings my soul joy combining the two, so today ... it's banana and oatmeal.
3. Place in serving bowl, top with caramelized banana, almond butter, toasted seeds and dates/raisins. I usually eat my oats with a pinch more salt or a dash of dark miso paste (it might sound very odd, but it’s delicious and very nutritious)