fFrom the longest day to the shortest - it’s solstice time again. In Seattle, the growing darkness hit hard this year. Even for longtime residents of the Pacific Northwest, who are well versed in short days, late fall of 2018 has been brutal. The dark feels heavier this year. Thankfully, today marks the turning point and we welcome the slow, yet steady return of light.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the season of winter is known as Kapha. It’s qualities are that of water and earth - cool, heavy, slow, smooth, stable, dense, cloudy, and viscous. To build resiliency and maintain health, we seek to cultivate the opposite in our diet and routine.
A regular (read daily) exercise or yoga practice should be vigorous and sweat inducing. The general idea is to get moving! Though we can take cues from nature and slow the pace of daily life (sleep in just a bit, limit our commitments and projects, ) we do want to refrain from long naps and a sedentary lifestyle. I’m in the mountains of Idaho for the holidays and looking forward to snowshoeing every morning!
Winter is a time to decrease sweet, sour, and salty foods. Since our bodies are naturally slowing down during Kapha time, we avoid tastes that have a tendency to encourage weight gain. We keep our internal fire going in the cold and wet of winter by increasing consumption of foods that are pungent (like ginger), bitter (like coffee, turmeric, and dark greens), and astringent (think chickpeas, apples, and quinoa). At Ecolibrium Farms we’ve still got a few things in the fields and in storage that are perfect for winter diet like radishes, garlic, cabbage, and carrots (cook the veggies whenever possible to add warmth to your belly). At the farmers markets in Seattle I’m buying kale, spinach, apples and pears.
If you’re among those who like to do a cleanse after holiday excess, you might consider a mono-diet of Kitchari for a few days as a nourishing option. I’ve shared this recipe previously for autumn. I’ve adapted it for winter below.
Ghee (or olive oil)
Basic Spices - Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Corriander, Ginger, Turmeric
Additional (optional) spices - Curry Leaves, Mustard seeds, Cumin
Mung beans (split or whole, yellow or green) - available in most bulk food sections
Whole ginger root
Greens (a few handfuls of spinach, kale, or chard)
1. Prepare mung beans- rinse one cup mung beans and soak for several hours or overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
2. Sauté spices - In a large pot (or dutch oven), heat 3 tbsp of ghee or olive oil and lightly brown fresh minced ginger, one-half teaspoon cinnamon; one-quarter teaspoon each of ground cardamom, cloves, turmeric, salt.
4. Cook beans - Stir mung beans into the spice mixture in the pot. Add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Roughly chop vegetables - set aside.
6. Prepare grain - Rinse one cup of quinoa, then add to pot along with vegetables. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stir occasionally to keep bottom from browning. Kitchari should be soup-like when you turn off heat, as it will continue to absorb liquid.
7. Savor - spoon into bowls, add a little olive oil and salt over the top, and enjoy