By Juhi Singh
For those of us in self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s forced us to reset. We are now in timeout. So how do we proceed to reset? Each of us can take this pause to strengthen ourselves. Spend time in external confinement to find internal freedom. We keep going to external sources to replenish the almost-empty wells of our bodies, minds, and spirits. To that, I am experienced to speak.
When this has run its course, most of us will likely still have stocked pantries and freezers. From an ethical standpoint, I do not like waste. From a nutritional standpoint, I say this: If it comes out of the freezer moldy, toss. If it comes out of the pantry moldy, same. Unless, of course, it is Roquefort, then crack the Sauternes. Roquefort is a sheep’s-milk cheese that is easier to digest than that of a cow.
An Ayurvedic diet is a plant-based diet prepared with medicinal spices that may be incorporated into any palate. Please don’t think an Ayurvedic diet solely means consuming heaping teaspoons of Bhut Naga jolokia (a ghost chili, the hottest in the world). It is not strictly vegetarian. Personal choice and nutritional needs should be taken into consideration. Let’s share a few finds here, shall we? Sweet, smoky, and spicy, in that order.
Hari elaichi (green cardamom) is a source of supplements that aids in digestion, lowers your blood pressure, and soothes heartburn and IBS. It’s anti-inflammatory and, most likely, in your morning chai latte already. Its floral sweetness is suited for cakes and breads. I’m not giving you a pass to pop open prepared cake every day. But if you make one yourself or support a local business that does, I urge you to take joy in a slice.
Next up is jeera powder (cumin). This earthy spice flavors savory recipes like soups, and is a good source of fiber, thiamine, phosphorus, potassium, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Studies of cumin reveal potential health benefits in combating diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and drug dependency. It fights bacteria and parasites, boosts your immune system, aids in weight loss, and acts as an aphrodisiac. When weight loss and aphrodisiac shows up on any health list, everybody’s ears perk up. Quick aside: Massage your ears to get your immune system stirring.
Last but not least is lal mirch powder (red chili). This one’s for those of us who are not going anywhere near the ghost chili. Red chili is a source of vitamin C, potassium, and capsaicin. It’s good for supporting your immune system and heart health, and is quite tasty on salmon. Do you see nutrients and benefits overlapping? Nothing is a singular cure-all. Medicinal spices are like sprinkling fairy dust over your health. While you’re preparing your meal, I’d suggest sipping a turmeric tea cocktail for your immunity. Forgo the booze and caffeine. Though the occasional celebratory martinis and espresso are allowed, of course. It is also important to eat with the seasons and know your specific constitution. In Ayurvedic medicine, this is called dosha, a.k.a. body type.