Warming, Vegan, Dosha-Specific Winter Food

A challenge for all of us as winter approaches and our nourishing, super-fresh garden food is gone is how to eat well. This task is more challenging for me as a vegan, and then even trickier as an Ayurveda practitioner.

On top of that, as the temperatures drop, I crave weightier foods that are not necessarily good for my Kapha dosha. I could easily rationalize that putting on fat in winter is my evolutionary right. But that would be a terrifically unwise thing to do. Weight gain slows the metabolism and the spirit. The last thing I want is to feel all winter is sluggish and depressed.

But despite being vegan and ayurvedic, lots of great winter food options come into my field every day. Rice, grains, beans (I’m big on black soybeans right now), dark greens, root veggies, soymilk, spices, tofu, cider, hot teas, hot cereals, hot soups, breads, fruit, and fermented foods are just a few of my favorite things.

I made an insanely delicious soymilk white hot chocolate the other day by simply heating soymilk in a pan, adding pure white chocolate, a touch of coconut sugar, and some cinnamon. After it was hot, I frothed it. Oh. My. God. It was absolutely soul satisfying, and the ground cinnamon warned my chronically cool, damp dosha. The soymilk delivered phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), and the white chocolate was so sweet and yummy. This is going to be a go-to hot treat this winter.

I also made a hot Kapha elixir using soymilk, ground turmeric, a touch of coconut sugar, and triphala extract. Again, I frothed it. Totally warming and drying: perfect for my constitution.

Dinner two nights ago was a mono-meal of steamed Brussels sprouts tossed in a little maple syrup and Himalayan pink salt, then sprinkled with ground flaxseed. My husband brought home a loaf of awesome bread, and I had it with the sprouts. A completely satisfying meal that revolves around my favorite cool-weather veggie. More phytoestrogens in that flaxseed.

There are definitely nights – especially in winter – when I have no ambition to prepare a meal. Last night was one of those. My last meal of the day was a bowl of cold grain cereal and soymilk, an organic apple, leftover brown rice, and hot tea. Later, I stole some of the Halloween candy we were giving out to trick-or-treaters. Not the best thing to do, but I’m fully human and am willing to admit it. Have to nibble candy on Halloween.

This morning’s breakfast was toasted whole grain bread spread with raw honey, and hot black tea with soymilk. This raw honey was sourced from a friend’s bee farm in North Branford. Although a vegan, I feel comfortable with eating it. My feelings on that might change down the line, but for now, my spirit is all right with it.

I’ve been making a lot of spicy vegan burritos. Make some fresh brown or white rice, add diced tomatoes (I use canned organic in winter), sriracha, and red or black beans. If you have some nutty nutritional yeast, toss that in. Top it with fresh, organic, chopped lettuce, and roll it all up in a soft flour tortilla. A big plus is some homemade guac if you have it. It’s incredibly filling and nutritious plant food. It’s been my favorite meal lately.

A friend of mine who has recently become a vegetarian told me of a product called ‘Beyond Meat’ – a soy meat substitute that people are raving about. It’s said to have a texture and taste eerily like meat, and new vegetarians and vegans are buying it up.

I’m not going to knock it too hard, but here’s my feelings on it: I don’t want to cater to the part of myself, cultivated in childhood, that may crave animal products. Most of us were raised eating them. But then we detached from our parents and started making our own decisions. Those decisions led us away from participating in corporate farming, agri-business, and animal cruelty in any way. One of the biggest demons that had to die was that palate – acquired during our upbringing – for animal flesh.

Most people who adopt plant-based diets grapple with that demon early on. (I promise you, it gets better and better, until eventually, the sight of meat becomes a full-on revulsion.) The last thing I want to do is add mock meat to my diet and start courting that demon again.

A vegan diet, free of faux anything, is the most delicious, satisfying, diverse, planet-conscious, wisdom-of-the-earth way of eating you can possibly imagine. I mean yummy food all day long, a blossoming sense of compassion, and a spirit that keeps evolving. Did I mention amazing food? You can’t go wrong.

It’s going to be a long winter here in Connecticut. Today is November 1. Our Okinawa sweet potato plants are showing signs of frost damage, and I think this weekend, do it or lose it, we’ll have to harvest our purple potatoes. That will wrap up the 2017 garden, and the winter work of nourishing this vegan, Kapha dosha body and spirit of mine will begin in earnest.

Barbie xo

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