Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Turning up the Agni!

Agni is the "fire" that drives digestion and metabolism in the Hindu medical practice of Ayurveda. The digestive and absorption process is called Pakwagni (digestive fire).
So, while the temperature is dropping, it makes sense to turn up the digestive heat which in turn warms you from the inside out! Also consider eating more healthy, warming, concentrated foods. Dark orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, winter squash, and carrots provide immune nourishing beta-carotene and the warmth of their shades of orange colors. Also adding Spices will increase the warming quality of you food.

Grounding roots (especially those that grow in cold climates) such as onions, rutabagas and turnips can help one better acclimate to the seasons. Other warming foods include arugula, mustard greens, and watercress. Nuts, seeds, and their butters make excellent warming and insulating snacks. Icy cold drinks can cool you quick.
When consuming food from the refrigerator, take the item out and allow it to get to room temperature before eating.
Think blended Carrot Ginger Soup, or Squash Pudding. Blend your Squash in a Vitamix with Dates, Vanilla, Pumpkin Pie Spices and a little Water or Almond Milk. Voila! You have a Pudding or Filling for a Pecan and Date Crust. Enjoy this with a warming cup of Chai Tea.

The flavor associated with winter is salty and a perfect time enjoy the wonderful mineral rich Sea Vegetables such as Kelp, Nori, Hijiki, and Dulse which can be used to season food. Celtic or Himalayan salt contain more minerals then table salt. Black colored foods such as Black Sesame Seeds, uncured Black Olives, and Chia Seeds make wonderful warming winter condiments.

Culinary herbs and spices which support the feeling of warmth and improve circulation include:

Black pepper (Piper Nigrum) is a member of the Piperaceae (Pepper) Family, has antiseptic, and antioxidant properties.
Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum), a member of the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) Family, is an expectorant, thus helping to open the respiratory passages.

Cayenne (Capsicum Frutescens), a member of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) Family, is rich in vitamin C, and helps relieve chills, coughs and congestion. Sprinkling a bit of cayenne pepper between one's shoes and socks can help warm the feet when needing to be outdoors. (Avoid the eyes and mouth!)

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Cassia) is a member of the Lauraceae (Laurel) Family, helps dry dampness in the body and warms people that are always cold and suffering from poor circulation. Cinnamon is antiseptic and an excellent digestive tonic.

Garlic (Allium Sativum), a member of the Liliaceae (Lily) Family, helps one be more resistant to infection. Garlic is a potent vasodilator and improves circulation by helping to prevent the blood from clumping together.

Ginger (Zingiber Officinale), a member of the Zingiberceae Family, is a natural antioxidant and antiseptic. It improves circulation to all parts of the body. Ginger baths are warming, muscle relaxing and cold and flu relieving and can be made by simmering eight ounces of ginger into a half gallon of water, simmering at a low boil for twenty minutes, then straining into the bathtub.

Horseradish (Armoracia Lapathifolia) is a member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) Family. It is high in vitamin C, and aids in the digestion of fatty foods. Horseradish is antiseptic and a strong decongestant; helping to open congested respiratory passages.

Also consider removing your food from the Fridge and allow some time for it to come to room temperature prior to eating. You can always warm things to 105 degrees in a Dehydrator or on the stove. This is a wonderful rule to go by in winter. I take advantage of the warmth and my handy food thermometer!

As I write this I am enjoying a warming cup of Chai Tea with home made Vanilla Almond  Milk, YUM!


2 Cups water
1 Cinnamon Stick
10 Cardomom pods
10 Whole Cloves
1 Tbl Ginger finely minced 1 Cup Almond Milk
3 tsp Rooibos Tea
Stevia, Agave or Raw Honey to Taste

Pour water in saucepan
Add the Cinnamon, Cardomom, Cloves and Ginger
Bring up to a simmer, cover and simmer for 10 minutes
Add Tea Leaves, cover, and turn off the heat
After 2 minutes, strain the tea into two cups
Add Almond Milk warmed to 105 degrees and Sweetener of choice


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