Top 5 Sattvic foods for Winter
"The study of nutrition is the study of the interaction with and assimilation of the dynamic forces of food by the dynamic forces of our total being." ~ Gabriel Cousens, M.D., Spiritual Nutrition and The Rainbow Diet
Ayurveda, the traditional Hindu practice of medicine and sister science to Yoga, is the system of finding balance through diet, herbal treatment and yogic breath. Today's modern practice should be no different. An urban yogis life can be a mashup of healthy routines and unhealthy habits. I myself am guilty of this. I make it to my mat almost daily but have recently developed an eye twitch as a result of too much caffeine, not enough sleep, and constantly staring at my computer screen. And I know I'm not alone in the struggle for mental and physical harmony. Many yogis imbibe in the nightly glass of wine (or 3), are quick to show up for back-to-back classes but fail to hold space for a friend in need or even just hold the door for the person behind them. Ayurveda was originally grounded in the idea the we experience freedom from suffering by eating foods that nourish our bodies and by living in alignment with natures rhythms. A well rounded Ayurvedic lifestyle encompasses eating, drinking, moving, breathing, sleeping, loving and living. Nothing is left behind because Yoga, at its very core, was designed to be applied in conjunction with Ayurveda to bring harmony in all facets of our lives.
Sattva, one of the 3 Gunas, or qualities of the natural world, is associated with purity, wholesomeness and virtue. The idea is that we should seek to attain these same qualities by keeping our food, minds, and bodies pure. The original Sattvic diet was designed to raise consciousness by sticking to a diet rich in Prana. The ancient Ayurvedic diet was simple; foods rich in Prana, the universal life-force, not only meant a vegetarian diet but high vibrational foods like fresh fruits and vegetables that were grown in rich, fertile soil and harvested at the proper time of year. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. Freshly prepared foods could also attain a higher Sattvic quality based on the love and energy put into making them. Today's canned or processed foods are considered low frequency and therefore not Sattvic in nature and should be avoided. For today's yogi think organic, vibrant, and seasonal. Other important characteristics of a modern Sattvic diet include foods that are light, soothing, and easily digestible.
Here are my top 5 picks for maintaining abundant and radiant health this winter:
Ghee- A form of clarified butter is an essential power food. High in oil soluble Vitamins A and E this amazing replacement for oils and traditional butter also has a high smoke point making it perfect for cooking and frying without releasing free radicals. Added bonus, Ghee is rich in fatty acids that are absorbed directly by the liver (like carbs) and are burned as energy making it perfect for athletes to use as a consistent energy source. (Read more amazing benefits of Ghee here.)
Brussel Sprouts- Cabbage's mini-me are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Like other cruciferous vegetables sprouts have high levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Cook these in some ghee and add a dash of herbs and spices for the ultimate Sattvic dish.
Winter Squash- Gourdy goodness! Acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and delicata... there are so many options awaiting you. You can grill 'em, roast 'em, or made them into enough soup to feed a small studio, this grounding and flavorful starch is always a hit. Plus its a comfort food you wont need to feel guilty about.
Citrus Fruits- Picture that 5lbs bag of clementines that you and your roommate always seem to purchase at the same time. For warmer climates like San Diego, these little cuties are the cheerful cure to dark winter days. Loaded with Vitamin C, citrus consumption has also been linked to lowering your risk of a laundry list of ailments like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, and Crohn's disease.
Dark, leafy greens- Think kale, collards, and chard. They aid in digestion, help lower cholesterol, and are packed with Vitamins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. They're a great low caloric addition to nearly any meal and can be added raw or lightly cooked.
This, of course, is a very short list but a good jumping off point for those of you looking to add a little balance into your winter diet.In addition, when preparing a Sattvic meal spices are mild which include basil, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fennel, fresh ginger and turmeric… hot and strong spices are not Sattvic. I want to also add here that the right foods for you will also depend on your Dosha, or your mind-body type (I've included a link for a free Dosha Quiz below).
Its important to remember that the ancient yogis didn't believe in a one size fits all approach to health. A well rounded and congruous path has always been the way of the true yogic practitioner and finding your own cadence on this journey can be challenging. But, once you fall into a rhythm that serves you body, mind, and soul the path becomes clearer, more vibrant. We find the purity and wholeness the Satva embodies we become guided by that dynamic and clear force, like a ballet of effort and ease that creates a beautiful dance within.