Year 2 lessons…

As year two of my practitioner course progresses, I can’t help but marvel at the depth of the whole subject of Ayurveda. When I first became interested, I read lots of magazine articles and books, did questionnaires to find out my constitution, started practicing a daily routine etc. and thought I’d acquired a good level of knowledge. However, I’ve since found out that I’d only scratched the surface!

Ayurveda just keeps surprising me with its profound wisdom – some of which, Western medicine is just catching up with, such as the importance of gut-health. I feel very fortunate to be learning with Dr Deepika and her team at the Ayurveda Institute UK and I’m now well on the way to becoming an Ayurvedic Practitioner.

What this means is that I’ll be able to help treat specific illnesses as well as help prevent them occurring in the first place.

So far, we’ve looked at eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, arthritis, asthma, fibromyalgia and diabetes and there are more to learn! We’ve looked into the allopathic (western) approach to these illnesses and how to treat them from an Ayurvedic perspective – I find it endlessly interesting and I can’t wait to help share my passion for Ayurveda and help others on their journey to better health.

Together with Ayurveda, we can do it!

Post-festivity ‘fug’ and a perfect breakfast to kick-start the day

It’s that time of year again … I don’t know about you, but I’ve eaten far too much at Christmas. So much so, that I feel my internal organs are actually made of cheese! I know I need to get back to Ayurveda to bring my sluggish digestion back into balance to prevent ‘ama’ (toxin) build up and I need to get my taste buds on the case again to get those digestive juices flowing. Luckily, I have the perfect breakfast to get my day off to a good start, which I’d love to share with you. You can make it the night before and reheat if you don’t have time in the morning.  This works well with either apples or pears, which I leave quite chunky in order to retain some bite. Eat this and your tummy will thank you!

 

Spicy fruit (serves 2)

Ingredients

4 sweet eating apples or sweet pears

Chopped fresh ginger – soak in a mug of hot water

Dates, prunes or figs (or mixture) – around 6 in total

Cinnamon stick

1 Star Anise

½ teaspoon ghee

Squeeze of fresh lime juice

2 cloves

Method

Make a tea by chopping up fresh ginger and pouring over boiling water in a mug – add the cloves to the tea and let it brew for 30 minutes.. Chop the dried fruit and apples into quite big chunks. Strain the tea and pour it over the fruit in a saucepan and add the cinnamon stick and star anise. Cook on the lowest setting on the hob for around 40 – 60 mins until the apples or pears are soft but not mushy. Once cooked, remove the cinnamon stick and star anise and stir in the ghee and lime juice.

 

Weight loss…an Ayurvedic perspective

I’ve struggled for what seems like forever with my weight; I’ve been on every diet invented and although they worked temporarily, I’ve consistently put all the weight (and sometimes more) back on.  I just got really fed-up about the yo-yo’ing not to mention the amount I was spending on diet clubs and clothes.

So imagine my absolute delight when I lost two stones in weight while eating foods to correct my rheumatoid arthritis! Not only could I move my hands again, but I could get into a size 10. This is the time I realised that I didn’t have to leave out entire food groups in order to shed the pounds – in fact, it just makes me crave them more –  and it was a revelation.

I’m not going to pretend it was easy – a change always requires some adjustment, but within a couple of weeks, I no longer felt the hunger pangs and I wasn’t craving all that bad stuff! However, any initial discomfort was worth it and the weight seemed to just melt away and my energy levels soared.

It’s easy to blame weight-gain on ‘eating too much’ – seems logical doesn’t it? However, what can happen – and especially when we’re constantly dieting – is that our digestion slows down. It’s called ‘manda agni’ in Ayurveda. When that happens, it’s much harder to lose weight, plus our energy levels can plummet and then we crave sugar. This is exactly what happened to me and I’d almost given up on even trying.

So, when I sought out an Ayurvedic practitioner, I actually went because of arthritis. She gave me a diet sheet, which included Ayurvedic cleansing foods plus a couple of medicines to take before food and bedtime. She said to me at the end of the consultation, “And don’t buy any clothes for a while”. I admit I felt sceptical. The first week I lost 7lbs and after just two months, I’d lost the two stones.

How does Ayurveda approach weight-loss? Weight gain is a sign that Kapha (our physical ‘earth’ / body solidity) is out of balance. First we look at balancing and boosting the digestion using the correct food and medicines. You’ll be given food ‘swaps’ to tweak what you’re already eating and then we look at portion sizes, times to eat and also when not to eat, plus a few lifestyle tips.

I’m passionate about supporting you in your journey to better health – please pop along to my clinic at Ransom Wood and find out more about how Ayurveda can help you.

A nice winter recipe

To eat The Ayurvedic Way is to choose seasonal and fresh foods. Many people believe you have to be vegetarian to follow an Ayurvedic way of life, but I was taught to meet (excuse the pun!) people where they are. A person who is used to eating meat every day is unlikely to want to eat dal all the time and I believe it’s more important for Ayurveda to fit into our lives in order to make small and more importantly, long-term changes. We want to make it as easy as possible to incorporate an Ayurvedic diet – we’re already busy people, so why make life more difficult?

I’ve recently been converted to Riverford Organic’s recipe boxes – I avoided them in the past, believing them to be a bit too expensive, but actually they’ve helped me keep my food budget under control, because I’m not calling into shops getting those little extra bits I keep forgetting! That, and the fact they cover all the tastes and are very easy to prepare (they mainly take around 30 mins), made them very attractive to me.

Below, I’ve shared one of their recipes with their kind permission. It can be adapted to vegetarian and/or vegan by leaving the chicken out. A lovely hearty and warming meal, perfect for these cold winter days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken and Mushroom Barley Bowl

Ingredients

125g pearl barley

50ml white wine

½ teaspoon bouillon powder

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 bay leaf

1 leek

1 carrot

150g mushrooms

15g thyme

Pack of tenderstem broccoli

250g chicken breast, cut into strips

Method

Boil a kettle, Rinse the barley in a sieve. Transfer it to a large saucepan. Add the white wine and increase the heat and let it bubble and reduce by ½.

Pour over 800ml of boiled water and mix in the bouillon, tomato puree and bay leaf. Season. Bring to the boil and let it cook while you continue.

Trim and halve the leek, lengthways. Finely slice it, rinse to clean any dirt then stir it into the barley

Peel and finely slice the carrot and thinly slice the mushrooms. Add both to the barley as soon as they’re ready.

Pick off 2 tbsp thyme leaves and add ¼ of those

Trim off the stalk ends of the tenderstem broccoli. Split and large pieces lengthways so that they cook evenly.

Stir the chicken, if you’re using, into the pan and lay the broccoli on top. Cook for a further 5 mins until the chicken is cooked through and the barley retains a little bite.

Check the seasoning. Remove the bay leaf. Serve in bowls sprinkled with the remaining thyme leaves.

Tasty

You know that feeling you get when you’ve had a really satisfying meal? That lovely ‘mmmm’ sensation? Well, that’s how Ayurveda wants you to feel after food! And according to Ayurveda, the way to achieve that is to include the six tastes, which are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent.

When first faced with this information, I felt a bit intimidated and also because, like a lot of people nowadays, I was far too busy to think about it! However, I found out it’s not as difficult as I imagined. Indian food tends to incorporate all six tastes naturally. After all, that’s where Ayurveda originated. Now that’s fine if you like Indian food – I could happily eat it all the time – but some people don’t get on with it. Food in the West focusses mainly on sweet, sour and salty tastes and this can cause imbalances in our bodies. So how do we include all of the tastes in our food to make it extra-satisfying to all of our senses? Here are some examples: –

Bitter – dark green vegetables (especially kale, brussel sprouts and cavolo nero), turmeric, green olives, coffee, aubergine, sesame seeds and oil, dark chocolate.

Astringent – green grapes, pomegranates, cranberries, green beans, green apples, rye, cauliflowers, most pulses, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, avocado.

Pungent – black pepper, ginger, garlic, chilli pepper, mustard, radish, turnip.

Sweet – wheat, rice, dairy, cereals, dates, pumpkins, maple syrup, liquorice root, sweet potatoes, ripe banana, figs, prunes, beetroot, carrots, corn, red lentils, mung beans, tofu, almonds, cashews, coconut, pumpkin seeds, ghee, milk, eggs, beef, pork, salmon, all sugars, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, mint, nutmeg, tarragon, vanilla

Sour – lemon, vinegar, picked and fermented foods, tamarind, wine, grapefruit, raisins, tomatoes, yeasted breads, butter, cheese, sour cream, yoghurt, garlic

Salty – sea vegetables, sea salt, tamari, black olives, Himalayan salt, rock salt, processed foods (high in salt), celery, cottage cheese, tuna

 

 

 

 

When we’re healthy, our digestion is strong and we should be able to eat most foods in moderation with no problem. However, if you experience any issues with your health, Ayurveda can suggest some tweaks to your diet and natural medicines that can help alleviate and prevent many illnesses; getting to the root cause and empowering you to take charge of your own health.

Ayur…what?!

Hi and welcome to my blog!  I’m Joanne, and I am very blessed to own The Ayurvedic Way, which is based in beautiful Ransom Wood in North Nottinghamshire. The first thing people ask me when I tell them what I do is, “Ayur…what?!” so for this first post, I wanted to de-mystify Ayurveda (pronounced Ah-yur-vayda).

Ayurveda is a complete medical system that originated in India around 5,000 years ago. It treats the whole person and looks into our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The main premise is that if our digestion is working correctly, we will enjoy good health – Western medicine is just catching up about how important gut health is.

In addition and unique to Ayurveda, is that our individual constitutions are taken into account. We are made up of the five elements – Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth and each of our bodies have varying degrees of each element. This translates to seven constitutions; Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Kapha-Vata and Vata-Pitta-Kapha.

Vata, Pitta and Kapha are Sanskrit words, which have no direct translation into English, so just to explain…

  • Vata is made up of Ether and Air – this is our body’s movements, including breathing, blinking, circulation, giving birth etc. When out of balance, it can cause conditions including – constipation, eczema, asthma and emotional states such as anxiety.
  • Pitta is made up of Fire and Water – this is our digestion and assimilation of foods, our colouring, function of the eyes and our temperature. Out of balance Pitta can cause, amongst other things, inflammation, dermatitis, indigestion, acidity and emotional states such as anger.
  • Kapha is made up of Water and Earth – this is our physical make up, our solidity, bones, muscle and fat tissues. Out of balance Kapha can, amongst other things, cause congestion, weight issues, psoriasis, tumours and emotional states such as depression.

The great news is that although Ayurveda can seem complicated, it’s actually very down-to-earth and takes a very common sense approach to health. When we’re in balance, we’re healthy. Various things can throw this balance out – incorrect foods (for our constitutions), the seasons, and our lifestyle and especially in this age of numerous stresses and high pressure living!

Ayurveda can help bring you back into your balance. The prescription is the right food and lifestyle choices according to your constitution. To support this, the beautiful Abhyanga massage and Shirodhara are both wonderful ways of de-toxing and helping relax our minds. It’s a life-long journey, but a gentle and completely natural one.

And why am I so passionate about Ayurveda? Around six years ago, I developed rheumatoid arthritis. I put it down to my age and something I needed to manage with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication. The mobility in one of my thumbs and a couple of fingers were compromised, but I wrote it off as ‘one of those things’. Having always been fascinated by how food can either harm or heal people, I started looking into diet and someone (I forget who, but thank you, whoever you are!) mentioned Ayurveda. I found a practitioner and after a thorough examination, was given dietary suggestions. After just three months, the arthritis was completely gone and I lost over two stones in weight, which was a wonderful bonus! I’ve not looked back since and it’s fair to say that Ayurveda has changed my life.

My mission now is to share my passion and support you on your journey to better health.