I’ve recently started studying the Ayurvedic principles and it makes me happy to see that all that intuition I’ve had in me when cooking can be understood, more clearly defined and adjusted through diving into this ancient philosophy. It’s time for kitchen sadhana: bringing our spiritual practice into the kitchen. Today, with a warming butternut squash porridge.
It is all about balancing our mind and body with good night sleep, meditation and mindful contemplation, good food, yoga and exercises that fits us and how we feel that day. You might have heard of the three Ayurvedic Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which are connected to all our senses, the 5 elements, 6 qualities of doshas and 6 tastes and their qualities. Ayurveda is the sacred science of life that is many thousands of years old, and can seem quite complicated at first, but like everything, it starts to make more sense as we’re studying, experimenting and digging deeper and deeper.
I choose a simple breakfast recipe as inspiration. As I’m discovering more about my imbalances, I made a decision to let go of my usual breakfast: toasted rye with vegan butter and Marmite for a while. Breakfast is an important meal that we tend to forget about when we have to rush to work early or that we don’t really change up just to keep things simple. But treating ourselves to a hearty, warm and nourishing breakfast can really make a difference to our days.
I have a hard time with porridges because they tend to be heavy and make me feel sluggish, but porridge doesn’t have to be made of grains cooked into a thick sticky mess. Along with a bunch of handbooks I found a beautiful Ayurvedic cookbook in our local library called East by West by Jasmine Hemsley, that has a lot of great ideas and inspirations for everyone along with a good summary about Ayurveda in the last section. I got inspired by her Sweet potato-Orange porridge that is made with sweet potatoes, water, orange extract and some toppings, but she helps us with some tips on how to tweak it to fit us in the here and now.
I swapped the sweet potatoes to butternut squash, the orange extract to orange juice and topped the soothing warm mash with cardamom and cinnamon spiced pumpkin seeds, a few drops of beautiful deep green pumpkin oil and some coconut flakes. It is perfect for balancing my Vata and Pitta these days, to help me focus, and to get grounded and stable mentally, emotionally and physically.
half of a small butternut squash (ca.1,5 cup) – roasted
1 cup orange juice (or a bit more if you like smoother porridge)
pumpkin seeds, pumpkin oil
ca.1/4 tsp cinnamon
ca. 1/2tsp cardamom
1. To roast the squash, put the sliced pumpkin in the oven on about 190 C and roast until soft (ca.25min), you can decide to peel after to save time.
2. In a pan, gently toast your seeds together with some cardamom and cinnamon, add the coconut flakes in the very last minute
2. Put the soft squash in a bowl that fits best to your stick blender and add the orange juice and a small tsp of ground cardamom, plus cinnamon to taste.
3. Blend until smooth, pour in a small bowl and top with your toasted toppings
What does it taste like? Mostly like fresh and sweet roasted butternut squash with a little orange freshness in the aftertaste, and a very light pumpkin seed- pumpkin oil fragrance on top that brings it some more depth and complexity. Reminds me a lot of baby food, and it is indeed nurturing! Will use more cardamom and a tiny bit more cinnamon next time, but I’ll definitely make this again, and experiment with different variations. It would work with coconut milk and some granola too, or some dates to add more sweetness, or with some fresh ginger if you feel that you need a morning kick to get on with your day.
Gotta admit, this tastes and feels really new to my morning tastebuds and belly, but let’s see, maybe I’ll be super zen today, and I’ve learned that our habits affect our beliefs and our beliefs affect our habits and there is definitely room for improvement in my mind-body balance and therefore: my diet!