Ayurvedic Tips and Recipes for Festive Season
With the festive mode on, it is important to pay special attention to eating and lifestyle habits to prevent any health problems later on. Following Ayurvedic ritucharya or seasonal guidelines can not only help you reconnect with the natural environment but also ensure that you maintain your well being even after indulging yourself during the festivals.
Festive season & health
In India, the festive season is in full swing, especially post Navaratri the attention is focused on pre-Diwali preparations. Navaratri, the festival dedicated to the divine goddess or shakti, is also about following self-discipline, in thoughts and deeds. Many people observe Upavasa or fasting during the nine days. Ayurvedic care recommends medically supervised, short-term fasting that is done taking into consideration the individual’s dosha type, cleansing requirements and health situation.
After Navratri comes Diwali, the most important festival in the Hindu calendar. Diwali also coincides with the onset of winter months or Hemant Ritu (approx. mid-November to mid-January). Hemant Ritu is followed by Shishir Ritu or the second half of winter that falls between Mid-January and Mid-March.
Both these seasons bring about certain changes in the body’s constitution. Pre-winter the pitta dosha is aggravated but as cooler months approach the pitta dosha gets reduced. On the other hand, Kapha dosha starts increasing due to the cold weather. Winter is also the season where the bala or strength is at its highest as the digestive fire or agni is strong. The agni/heat is trapped within the body due to blockage of channels or srotas due to external colder conditions. This results in increased inner fire and digestive capabilities. This is the reason why one should eat well in the winter months to avoid depletion of rasa dhatus or the nutritious fluid that is generated as a product of digestion. A weakened rasa dhatu aggravates the vata dosha which may cause bloating, gastritis, body ache, headaches etc.
Ayurvedic tips for festive season
Here are some useful Ayurvedic tips that can be followed during the festival season to ensure that all the revelry and binging on delicacies does not result in health troubles after the festivities are over.
- Drink warm water (with lemon if possible) in the morning/ushapana, on an empty stomach, as it helps flush out toxins, boosts the digestive fire/agni and also improves the ahara rasa to aid better digestion and absorption of nutrients. Also, warm water balances the Kapha & vata dosha.
- Ensure that enough quantity of food is consumed. As the agni is quite strong in this season, inadequate food can cause depletion of the body tissues or rasa dhatu. Ideally include a diet that does not aggravate the kapha dosha.
- Include snigdha/oily, amla/sour, lavana/salty tastes in your food. As the digestive fire is at its highest, even heavy to digest foods (buffalo meat, crabs, fish, oysters etc.) can be consumed during winter.
- Include fresh fruits such as pomegranate, papaya, guava, oranges, apples, strawberries and other seasonal fruits in your diet. Fruits are a rich source of multivitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and fibers and can help cleanse the toxins/ama build up in the intestinal walls.
- Include cow’s milk and its products, sugarcane juice, sesame oil, fresh grains, rice, and green leafy vegetables (such as methi/fenugreek, spinach/palak, Sarson, chaulai, bathua as they help boost immunity).
- Soaked nuts (almonds & walnuts) and seeds (sesame) are full of proteins & vitamins and can rejuvenate the body.
- Probiotics such as buttermilk help the intestines process food easily, help settle the stomach and also get rid of extra thirst that eating a lot of oily foods during the festivities can cause.
- Avoid foods that aggravate the vata dosha as well as spicy, bitter and astringent food items. Have khichdi with ghee, warm milk with turmeric/haldi, green tea with basil, lemongrass and ginger. Use jaggery/gud instead of sugar
- With winter approaching, warm, sunny days are lesser and can cause Vitamin D deficiency. Including foods that are a good source of vitamin D such as sesame or til (til has the highest Vitamin D quotient), spinach or palak, drumsticks (moringa or shevgyachya shenga), milk & dairy products etc. can help overcome vitamin D deficiency. Atapa or exposure to sunlight is essential as that is the natural source of getting vitamin D.
- Ayurvedic practices such as abhyanga/oil massage are highly recommended, once a week, during the colder months. It has vata balancing properties and improves blood circulation, relieves dry skin and body aches. Abhyanga with any medicated oil, that has been kept in the sun, also helps overcome vitamin D deficiency
- Don’t just exercise your mouth, make sure your body gets a workout too. Festivals mean binging on a lot of tasty sweets, fried & oily snacks, as well as limited movement. This can result not just in unhealthy weight gain but also in other health problems such as high blood sugar levels, cardio troubles, hypertension etc.
Make sure that you stick to your regular exercise routine. Brisk walking, light jogging, swimming, playing a sport in moderate proportion can all help keep the festival weight gain in check.
- Yoga & pranayama (Surya namaskars, vajrasana, pavanmuktasana, kapalbhati, anulom vilom) should be on the to-do list every day, all year round. The benefits from both cannot be over emphasized. Not only do they help relax and calm the mind, body and soul, they also facilitate smoother digestion and help cleanse the body from within.
Ayurvedic recipes for Festive season
Try these healthy but tasty Ayurvedic food recipes during the festive season.
Ginger amla barfi
Ginger is hot, spicy, oily and heavy – all the properties that ayurvedic winter food should have. It helps balance vata and kapha doshas (but it aggravates pitta if taken in excess amounts) and stimulates the agni to aid nutrient absorption. Amla or Indian gooseberry packed with vitamin C is well known as an Ayurvedic superfood. Amla acts as a diuretic agent thus helping better food absorption. It also promotes proper waste disposal, strengthens the liver and helps balance the stomach acids.
This recipe combines two of Ayurveda’s healthiest ingredients that are low in calories (but yummy to taste) that aid weight management.
- 250 gms amla
- 50 gms ginger
- 300 gms sugar
- 300 gms water
- 3/4th cup ghee (homemade preferred)
- 2 tbsp cashew nuts
- 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
- ½ cup all purpose flour or maida
- 1 tbsp corn flour
- Boil the amla/berries, then remove the seeds and grind them into a paste
- Take the ginger (make sure it is washed, cleaned & peeled properly) and make a paste
- Heat up a bowl, add 300 gms water & sugar to make a sticky syrup
- Add in the ginger and amla paste to the sugar syrup
- Add ghee to the mixture
- Then add corn flour, cinnamon powder and maida
- Mix all the ingredients thoroughly until the ghee starts to come out
- Remove the mixture onto a plate and let it cool
- Cut into even sized pieces and serve fresh
Chandrashoor or garden cress is a super nutritious seed that contains calcium, iron, fiber, protein, three amino acids, folic acid, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, omega 3’s and many antioxidants. It helps pacify kapha and vata dosha, is effective in treating severe stomach aches, rejuvenates the body cells, is an appetizer & stimulant, helps increase the volume of milk in lactating mothers etc.
Laddoos are a favored sweet during festivals, eating Chandrashoor Laddoos can ensure both health and taste (they help reduce cholesterol & blood pressure).
- 25 gms Chandrashoor seeds
- 100 gms Coconut Milk/water
- 300 gms Jaggery/gud
- 100 gms Freshly grated coconut
- 25 gms Almonds
- 25 gms Cashew nuts
- 1 tsp Nutmeg/Jaiphal powder
- 1 tsp Ghee (homemade preferred)
- Soak the Chandrashoor seeds in milk/water for 3 to 4 days
- Make a fine powder of almonds and cashews
- Keep a pan on the stove flame, then add ghee to it
- When the ghee melts, add in the jaggery
- Keep the flame on low until all the jaggery melts
- 2Then add the soaked Chandrashoor seeds and mix it well
- Add in grated coconut, mix it properly and cook until the water evaporates
- Add the nutmeg/jaiphal powder and finally add the almond & cashew powder
- Keep mixing the ingredients for a little while
- Let the mixture cool down and then roll into even sized Laddoos
Festivals are a season for family, happiness, celebrations and giving thanks for all the good things in life. Just as we take great pride in cleaning our houses and decorating them with lights, it is important to cleanse & rejuvenate our mind, body and soul to lead fulfilling and healthy lives. Follow these useful Ayurvedic tips and try out the nutritious recipes to make your festivals even more special!
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