Cooking was never my passion until I knew ways to find how healthy you can be by cooking the right way.
I always believe a good life includes choosing the right foods based on your body constitution, climatic and external conditions and digestive power.
Food plays a major role in ayurvedic practice by supporting the body’s healing processes. Metabolic diseases and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract are directly influenced by food. Food can also indirectly affect diseases of the skin, muscles, and joints, as well as a neurological, gynecological, and psychological disease.
I was introduced to Ayurveda at a younger age. By the constant use of effective herbal Ayurvedic medicines and home-cooked healthy foods, I had that deep interest to learn Ayurvedic science more. I did my Bachelors in Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery and was an Ayurveda physician in India before I moved to the US in 2015.
I started incorporating Ayurveda principles in cooking food with easily available spices and herbs over the counter. Most of them have really positive effects on many disease conditions and overall general health.
In this article, I am trying to explain a few of the common spices and herbs that you can start using in your day to day life for a healthy beginning.
The action of Spices on the body
The action of spices within the body differs according to the ways that they are used. Spices are mostly used for their natural flavor and aroma in processing food. In addition to adding taste, some spices (cumin, ginger, coriander) also have preventative effects, aiding digestion through the production of digestive enzymes. When mixed with digestive juices, these substances aid absorption. Such spices have individual effects, their actions depending on the constitution of the person concerned and their disease. Indian food is becoming increasingly popular and is often seen as healthy. From an ayurvedic perspective, healthy food is food that is used in a healthy way. I would say Indian foods are not automatically Ayurvedic but you can always make your food healthier with the right choice of herbs.
Spices to have in your countertop
Almost all spices are digestive in action. The following 5 spices can be used on a daily basis for promoting digestive wellness. The gut health is the gateway to perfect health of skin, hair and overall good health.
As per Ayurveda, in addition to digestion ginger is useful in Nausea, asthma and has got a powerful anti-inflammatory action. It is available in both dry and fresh forms and it’s better to use the dried forms in Summer. It is pungent in Taste and undergoes sweet taste conversion post digestion. Ginger balances Kapha in the body.
You can use the dried ginger powder in drinking water to aid digestion and metabolism. Also use ginger to make ginger tea, while baking goods, marinades and even while sautéing vegetables.
It is pungent in taste and light to digest. It is digestive and carminative. It can be used in savory dishes to add full flavor to onions, garlic, eggs, and even meat.
c) Cumin seeds
Cumin can be used both as the whole seed or ground. Cumin seed benefits from toasting before use to bring out its aromatic, nutty flavor. Cumin is a staple ingredient in most curry powders and many spice blends. It’s reserved primarily for savory recipes, like chili, stews, meat, fish, and vegetables.
Ayurvedically, it is light to digest and has a pungent taste. The post-digestive taste conversion is also pungent. In addition to improving the digestion, it can also help in conditions like anorexia, and it improves the taste.
I usually add turmeric to my rice recipes for color pop, to soups and curries for a flavor. You can even add turmeric in your smoothies, scrambled and while tossing veggies. Having turmeric tea is also a healthy option to include turmeric in your daily diet.
It is bitter and pungent in taste and light for digestion as per Ayurveda principles. It helps in improving metabolism and has a detoxifying action on the body. It is anti-inflammatory and is good for your skin as well.
e) Ajwain seeds
Ajwain is light to digest and has a bitter and pungent taste. It is hot in potency and balances Kapha and Vata. It is a digestive, improves taste, and useful in abdominal colic and pain.
It can be used to boil water and use for drinking to reduce bloating and abdominal pain. It can be used to flavor the vegetarian dishes, especially with lentils.
There is now ample evidence that spices and herbs possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic, anticarcinogenic, and glucose- and cholesterol-lowering activities as well as properties that affect cognition and mood.
Keep these spices handy in your kitchen countertop and ensure good health and immunity this fall season.