Sattvic cooking for all doshas


When people come to Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga trainings, they often ask how we can make our food so delicious when it is prepared so simply. We say that our secret ingredient is sattva

Sattva, or balance and harmony, is a principle in nature and all parts of life. It is the energy of sweetness in life, bringing us closer to the divine. When you cultivate this quality in your kitchen, the food you make will be much more than a delicious meal -- it will be an adventure in healing. 

The way we teach students in our Ayurvedic chef training is to make sattva the first ingredient in every recipe. This includes building meals made of sattvic foods, but most importantly, setting your energy to reflect the important role you have as a cook.

​Sattvic cooking is good for all doshas

We often cook for large groups of people. Our students and guests come in with different states of imbalance and entirely different constitutions. Many families face the same issue. One person is experiencing a vata imbalance, while another’s pitta is too high. Sattvic cooking is the answer. Using a variety of sattvic foods, cooking meals fresh, avoiding overeating in one sitting and setting the energy of the kitchen will support all doshas, so you can make one healing meal for everyone in your household (keep in mind that if someone in your household has extreme imbalance, it’s best to work with an Ayurvedic practitioner to outline a menu plan). With this approach, your body has the chance to naturally come back to balance, and it will often do so without additional therapies.

​Creating a sattvic kitchen starts with you

Think of your kitchen as a sacred place of healing. This starts with you and your energy as the cook. Whatever you bring into the kitchen will be reflected in your food. For instance, if you come home from a stressful day at work, you might feel scattered and forget to add the salt. If you spent a day lounging around on the couch, the tamas (the quality of inertia) you are experiencing may encourage you to reach for heavy ingredients that will diminish agni, digestive fire. Be honest with yourself about your state of balance before you start cooking. Take a few minutes before you begin cooking to ground yourself and create a sacred experience with the food you will prepare. 

Here are a few tips to bring sattva into every meal you make: 

  1. Before you even pick up a knife, say a mantra or a short prayer. Think about your loving intention for the food and the people who will eat it. Come back to this intention as you prepare the meal. If you get thrown off or feel unguided, pause and recite the mantra or prayer to ground you back in the present moment.

  2. Turn off music, televisions and keep your phone and other electronics out of the kitchen. Give the meal you are preparing the respect of your full, peaceful attention.

  3. Allow your creativity to flow by giving it a path. Vata is responsible for creativity, and it works best when it has a structure. Use a meal plan and a variety of sattvic cooking methods (sautéing, baking, simmering and steaming are just a few you can draw upon). Pull out all your ingredients before you begin and set your intention on how each component of the meal will come together.

  4. Use your clean hands as often as possible. You’ll feel the energy of the ingredients, and be better able to tell if something is mixed properly or lacks prana. This practice also brings your healing energy directly into the meal.

  5. Practice cooking by feeling, not thinking. For instance, use your fingers to add spices, not a measuring spoon. Develop your intuition to tell you the right amount to pinch out. Keep in mind that the amount will vary based on your body’s needs and the seasons, so let go of attachment to the way you’ve done things in the past.

  6. Use recipes for inspiration and creativity, but don’t get caught up in trying to recreate a meal from the past or someone else’s vision. The weather, the time of year, your energy and many other factors are involved in how the final product comes out. Flow with the experience of the present moment instead of trying to hold on to recreate the past.

Cooking with consciousness is a step toward living a more awakened life. When you approach cooking as the sacred act it is, you’ll be more attuned to how healing it is to feed yourself. This is what turns a daily task into a loving spiritual practice. 

Visit our Ayurveda Lifestyle page for kitchen essentials

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