Spice, spice, baby.

By Betty Gold
Updated: May 28, 2019

Whether you’ve read about the potential benefits of Ayurvedic cooking or have heard from friends that the practice healed their health woes, this ethos is taking the culinary world by storm. If you’re interested in learning more about Ayurveda or maybe you’re just looking to cook more at home, here’s what you need to know.

What is Ayurveda, exactly?

Ayurveda is a holistic medicine practice from India that’s been around for over 5,000 years. Quite literally, it means ‘the science of life:’ Ayu = life, veda = science. The basic idea of Ayurveda is simple: if you practice a more natural lifestyle, you will feel better. In the West, Ayurveda typically refers to a lifestyle that includes choosing local, seasonal foods for your unique set of biophysical needs, practicing stress-management techniques, and drinking herbal teas.

What is Ayurvedic cooking?

To best answer this question, we consulted with Erin Casperson, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. She’s also a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic health counselor. “I think what I want most people to know about ‘Ayurvedic cooking’ is that all cooking is Ayurveda. When we gather fresh produce, whole grains, sustainable protein sources and spices we are cooking in a way that promotes Ayurveda,” says Casperson.

Whether or not you’re interested in trying out Ayurveda for yourself, these five simple strategies key to Ayurvedic cooking are great ways to make your meals healthier.

Think seasonal

Use your farmers market as a resource to see what’s growing in your region. “Nature gives us what we need for good health,” says Casperson. Talk to the farmers about what dishes you like to cook and how their fresh vegetables, fruits, and other offerings can be incorporated. The ultimate rule is to keep it simple and keep it local.

RELATED: Is It Better to Buy Locally-Grown or Organic Produce?

Spice it up

Spices are a staple in Ayurvedic cooking. They support digestion and have loads of other health benefits, and small amounts daily support the entire system. “Keep turmeric on hand for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger for a pungent kick to support the immune system and digestion, and add cardamom to your coffee to lower the acidity,” recommends Casperson.

Plan ahead

Meal prep is key to saving time and energy. Soak your beans and rice in the morning so they cook faster when you get home. Make spice blends on the weekend so you already have a spice for your beans and rice. Consider joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm to have seasonal fruits and vegetables delivered or pick them up at the farm each week. By planning ahead you aren’t left wondering what to eat and ending up with take out.

Cook a little everyday

The average American spends about 27 minutes in the kitchen everyday, and we spend 11 hours on screens! As preventable health issues continue to increase, it is imperative we start cooking at home for most of our meals. If you eat out for all of your meals, start by cooking one at home each day, then increase this at a steady pace so you end up making most of your meals at home and only a few out each week. Cooking at home saves you time, money, and you’ll feel great doing it. It’s also a great way to bond with loved ones.

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