My Vedic Kitchen

Winter Herbs for Every Dosha

by Monica Kar and Vaidya Manohar, Vaidya for The Raj Ayurvedic Spa

Now that winter is at our doorstep, we're thinking about celebrations, snow angels, snow days, Christmas gifts, and maybe, the flu, colds and sniffles.

To avert that danger, Maharishi Ayurveda lays out simple guidelines for diet, lifestyle, practices and routines. They're all to help us flow smoothly in tune with Mother Nature during this sometimes severe season. These insights have their basis in a deep understanding of the relationship between the physiology and the seasons, and knowledge of the wonderful benefits available when we harmonize with Nature's cycles. Every season has a role, a special beauty and purpose and this is a chance to enjoy the season instead of fight it.

Here are a few simple tips from the kitchen to top winter at its own game, and dance through the cold months.

If you are Vata:

If you are congested, but not as an everyday supplement, mix turmeric with honey, enough to make a paste. Eat a teaspoon of this every day to keep the sniffles at bay. You can make enough for a few days at a time and just let it sit on your counter top. But again, Vaidya Manohar emphasizes only if you are congested.

Drink hot Ayurvedic Teas for your dosha: Organic Vata Tea, Organic Pitta Tea or Organic Kapha Tea; or Sniffle Free Tea, Slumber Time Tea or Worry Free Tea mixed in hot milk, water or juice. Ladies can drink Raja's Cup, a powerful antioxidant coffee substitute.

Dinner can include simple, "hearty" soups using different organic ayurvedic grains and greens and the vegetables of the season. The meal should include more than just soup.

Lunch should be hot, fresh, simple and your main meal.

Stay away from "cooling" fruits like melons and watermelons. These can cause indigestion.

Avoid cold food, straight from the refrigerator, including milk.

Warm milk at night, or when you come in from the cold, especially seasoned with "heating" spices, is particularly beneficial. You can get most of these herbs and spices at Indian grocery stores; the Western herbs can be found at most supermarkets. Here is a list of "heating" spices:

Cook with ghee or olive oil whenever possible. If necessary you can cook with sesame oil (unrefined), but the others are best.

If you are Pitta:

If you are congested, start taking the turmeric-honey mixture. However, keep in mind that it can be quite heating. You can have it every other day, rather than daily, but only if you are congested.

When you make "tea," or the milk, add less of the heating spices to it, and more cardamom and saffron and less ginger.

When you eat, eat pure organic foods of high quality and eat a good quantity.

The rules for lunch and dinner remain the same; your spices should include some cooling spices as well.

The rule for "straight from the refrigerator" remains the same too; you can include some cooling foods in your diet, as long as they are not cold.

Favor ghee and olive oil in cooking. Use sesame oil in moderation.

If you are Kapha:

Turmeric with honey for you as well; but only if you have congestion.

The rules for lunch and dinner remain the same. You just need smaller portions at night than do your Vata counterparts.

Most Kapha people I know love fried and spicy foods, and it seems that winter is the time you may indulge — but very sparingly! But no one should have fried food, or if you do, eat very little.

No cooling or cold foods — that rule applies here too.

Make sure it is really cold before you give in to the urge to have warm milk at night, and doctor it well with "heating" spices. Hot, rather than warm, milk is better for you. Please refer to the list of heating spices mentioned above.

Cook with sunflower oil, sesame oil or grape seed oil or ghee. In India, but not in the West, Kapha people use unrefined mustard oil, in moderation, to cook with during the winter.


4 dates and 4 almonds — eat this: a date and an almond, one at a time. Chew really well.

Some people I know are used to having this first thing in the morning. Vaidya Monahar cautions that this, however, is not for everyone. Dates, for example, are not for Kapha, unless they are soaked overnight.


Warming Winter Tea

Spicy Winter Milk

Acorn Squash

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.