Eating healthy fast food does not have to be an oxymoron! In the time it would take you to sit in your car and wait for your turn at the drive-up window, you can create wonderful, creative meals to take along anywhere or savor at home. All you need is a bit of planning, and Ayurveda!
Ayurveda is an ancient form of healing and wellness attributed to India approximately 5,000 years ago. Ayurvedic philosophy takes the whole of a person into account — body, mind and spirit — to develop ways of living “Sadahanas,” or routines, that balance our “Doshas,” or body-mind-emotion energies.
Let’s take a look at the concept of Dosha, and then see how the choice of foods, cooking methods and menu planning can recharge our health and make putting together fast, nourishing meals a pleasurable snap.
Ayurveda recognizes three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha:
- Vata — By nature, Vata is light of frame, nervous, tends toward dry skin, hair and nails, and are finicky eaters. Ruled by the elements of air and space, foods that calm and satisfy Vata are sweet, moist and chewy. Good fats, dried sweet fruits, and warm meals appeal to this Dosha to ground and focus.
- Pitta — Pitta is ruled by fire and water, so it tends toward issues relating to metabolism, i.e., indigestion, constipation or its opposite, ulcers and upset stomach, bowels, colon and heartburn. Foods to balance Pitta are cooling, such as good quality cold soups or smoothies, non-astringent fruits and vegetables such as bananas, mango, butter lettuces, and root vegetables.
- Kapha — Kapha is ruled by the elements of earth and water, of the ground and Mother Earth. Kapha tends being toward overweight, and a sluggish metabolism. Kapha may also suffer from such ailments as food allergies, congestion, and bloat. Kapha does well with lemon water, salads, water and other melons to flush and recharge their systems. Gluten and lactose allergies are something to pay attention to when making Kapha food selections.
Now, let’s put together some quick, satisfying, Dosha-based meals, all of which can be made ahead of time, and portioned out to mix and match on the go. All Doshas do well with pita, lavash and wrap breads; just make sure they are gluten-free for Kapha. Stuff or wrap with tofu, seitan, veggie or nut burger, tempeh, rice noodles, chopped veggies (easy on the peppers, and hot spices for Pitta!) and non-dairy cheeses, chutneys, good quality oils and nuts. So many choices for wonderful sandwiches or salads!
Looking for other fast and easy choices? All Doshas do well with quinoa, rice, sea weeds, couscous and pilafs. Add in Asian vegetables, savories or surprises like cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla or other warming flavorings. With these bases of grains, rices and cereals, the limit to what can be mixed and matched only stops with imagination.
Desserts? Piece of cake! Vegan sponges, lemon cakes or cookies, puddings, yogurts (easy on dairy for Kapha), dates, figs, cinnamon pears, spiced nuts, carob brownies and frozen ices all satisfy and delight.
As far as cooking methods go, baking, broiling, braising, sautéing, steaming and roasting all work wonderfully to enhance the flavors of ingredients. Get creative with spices and herbs. Such incredible taste combinations are there for the making!
Portion out nut, rice, soy, hemp beverages, diced vegetables, fruits and crackers (gluten-free) and put them in containers ready to go, and you’ve got healthful, nutrient-dense, well-balanced meals that will appeal and appease out-of-balance Doshas, and get you out of that fast-food rut. Enjoy!