Agni is your digestive fire, as known in Ayurveda. As winter comes to an end, the elements of earth and water begin to thaw. The stagnation that was upon us through the cold winter months are naturally attempting to flow. However, earth and water make mud. And it's hard to flow through mud, as becomes clear to me as I am tending to my garden in the pouring rain hauling large amounts of compost to renew my garden beds.
Earth and water are Kapha; we are entering the Kapha season. Things are muddy, but growth and renewal want to happen. In our internal and external environments. So how do we provide our internal environment (our bodies) the right amount of fire to boost our agni?
Seasonally, when in tune with our body, we are naturally inclined to lighten up on the portion sizes and the starches, oils, and dairy. We crave fresh, green juices, more fruit and veggies, and salads! If you're just beginning your Ayurvedic journey and you don't quite hear the internal whisper to lighten up, give it a try! Over winter we store energy to balance the cold. During spring we are naturally inclined to eat lighter foods so we don't feel so heavy as we prepare to move more, physically in the spring and summer months.
*Notice the omission of wheat. This is NOT, I repeat, NOT a slight against gluten. Check out my blog post about Dr. Douillard's book, "Eat Wheat", to gain a better understanding as to why wheat gets a bad rap and why you might not want to omit it (Celiac's excluded) in the fall and winter.However, for spring, wheat has the qualities we want to avoid in spring (heavy, warm, moist, stable), and it is sweet.*
Sweet fruits (eaten separately from sour as not to decrease agni):
Alfalfa sprouts Cauliflower Ginger Peas
Artichokes Celery Green beans Potatoes (baked)
Asparagus Chicory Hot peppers Radishes
Bean sprouts Chilies (dried) Jicama Seaweed
Beets Cilantro Kale Snow Peas
Bell peppers Collard Greens Leeks Spinach
Bitter melon Corn Lettuce Swiss Chard
Broccoli Dandelion Mushrooms Turnips
Brussels sprouts Endive Mustard greens Watercress
Cabbage Fennel Onions
Carrots Garlic Parsley
Dairy (in moderate amounts: once per day):
Fresh (if possible), plain yogurt
Animal Protein (if you eat it)
Ghee is good for all seasons
Nuts & Seeds
*Nuts are very sweet, heavy, and dense. Start to switch over to these seeds, and even pumpkin and sunflower butter (here's my favorite brand) instead of almond or cashew butter.
Now moving more doesn't necessarily mean signing up for a marathon, joining a high intensity training facility; if that's not your starting point. It's not called spring cleaning for nothing! Deep cleaning the house and the yard counts as moving more, too! Get the dog on board, too, now that the weather is nicer and start to explore the local parks surrounding your town.
The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intense exercise each week (30 minutes, 5 days per week). It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk 5,000 steps. Double that by perhaps walking in the early morning, or lunch/after dinner, and you've reached quite a step goal!
Over winter we naturally hold on to excess fat due to the cold and decreased movement. So why not take advantage of the natural cycle your body is geared to do an start walking?
Studies have shown that walking decreases the risk of cardiovascular events by 31
percent and 10,000 steps can get you there. Studies also show, increasing your daily steps can help you reach your weight loss goal.
Determine how much weight you wish to lose, and do a basic calculation.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends slow weight loss for lasting results — usually 1/2 pound to one pound per week.
Get your 10,000 steps in for the day can burn around 250 calories per day or 2,000 extra calories each week.
To lose one full pound, you’ll need to burn roughly 3,600 calories.
Depending on your weight and workout intensity, combined with healthy spring season food choices, you could lose about half of a pound per week simply by completing 10,000 steps each day.
Reviews of walking studies have shown that the best weight loss from walking is about 25 miles per week. This seems to be the tipping point of successful weight loss vs. increased calorie intake. That is about 7,500 daily steps above normal activity, or 12,800 for men and 12,400 for women. Running is quicker and burns more calories per mile than walking, but it is more strain on the joints. And if you aren't interested in it, think about walking. And count your cleaning and yard work steps, too!
Get to Know Agni Friendly Spices
All spices will support digestion during the spring season.
Here are my favorites, which go into teas and spice blends for foods.
My go to combos/ churnas (spice mixes):
For oatmeal cooked w/ chopped apples and/or pears:
Cinnamon, cardamom (1/2 pod per serving), nutmeg, ginger
For steamed basmati rice:
Turmeric, cumin, coriander, asofoetida/hing, Fenugreek, black mustard seed, salt
For roasted veggies:
Cumin, coriander, asofoetida/hing, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, salt
Cumin, coriander, fennel (sip on this all day, and it can help your belly bloat decrease significantly)
My favorite sources for herbs when locally grown is not an option:
Sky's the limit when it comes to what you can put on top of this lighter version of pizza crust. Switch the type of cheese, and less of it, add more spring time veggies, and eat outside with gratitude!
1 cup white quinoa
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp mineral salt
Enough water to cover the quinoa
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a pan w/ parchment paper.
1) Soak 1 cup quinoa in a stainless steel or glass bowl for 4-8 hours covered with a tea towel.
2) Scoop the drained quinoa into food processor (reserve the water) or other motorized blending device. Blend w/ salt and oregano. Add water if the blade won't turn, but only in 1 tsp amounts.
3) The consistency you are looking for is pasty, but not quite doughy. You can pour it on to the parchment paper lined pan and it will hold a pizza crust shape.
4) Once the consistency is ok, then oil the parchment paper lightly, and pour the quinoa mix on to it and form and pizza crust shape.
5) Place in the oven for 10 minutes and then take out to use the parchment paper to flip the pizza crust onto the other side and bake or 10 more minutes.
Add whichever toppings you choose from on the spring ingredients list and bake an additional 12 minutes.
Chopped brussels sprouts, thin sliced sweet potato, arugula, and ricotta cheese, sprinkled w/ chili powder, and safflower oil.