5 Time-Saving Hacks for Ayurvedic Meal-Planning
Life can get hectic, especially in autumn — a time of new school assignments, demanding projects at work, and the beginning of the holiday season. When your schedule is slammed, it can be hard to find time to prepare healthy, balanced Ayurvedic meals. Ironically, this is likely when you need them most! Delicious, well-spiced, cooked meals help to balance the doshas and create harmony in your mind and body.
While you can’t always prepare a full, Ayurvedic spread, there are some helpful, time-saving hacks that can help you — and your family — to eat well on the go. We’ve shared a few tips below, drawing inspiration from Ayurvedic chef, writer, and artist Miriam Kasin Hospodar, author of Heaven’s Banquet: The Maharishi Ayurveda Cookbook.
1. Bake Your Breakfast
Dried cereal can be Vata-aggravating, and hot cereal takes a bit of time on the stovetop. One relatively quick fix: bake a nourishing batch of granola or muffins every few days and savor them on busy mornings. We like Miriam Kasin Hospodar’s versatile Universal Muffins recipe from Heaven’s Banquet (see below). The great thing about these muffins is that you can modify the ingredients to suit your taste and prakriti. Spread a little ghee or nut butter on them, and enjoy with fruit on the side for a nutritious breakfast.
2. Embrace the Crock-Pot
Crock-Pots are a wonderful asset in any Ayurvedic kitchen. In Heaven’s Banquet, Hospodar writes, “A Crock-Pot (slow cooker) is a great time-saving tool, as it can cook foods overnight and while you are at work. Even when you are at home, you don’t have to constantly keep an eye on the food — it won’t boil over or burn.”
Veggie stews and soups cook particularly well in Crock-Pots, though legumes can be a little trickier. If you’d like to add beans or lentils to your soup, Hospodar recommends cooking those on the side and adding them in later. Another great tip: if you make your own ghee, it’s easy to make it in the Crock-Pot, says Hospodar.
3. Roast Those Veggies
Roasted vegetables are a multi-tasker’s dream — especially if meditation and/or yoga are part of your daily routine.
“Roasted vegetables are really nice, because you can just stick them in the oven while you’re meditating,” said Hospodar on a recent phone call. “It takes about 45 minutes total to roast most vegetables, although zucchini goes a little faster, and asparagus.”
If you’re looking for quick, cooked veggies, though, Hospodar recommends broccoli or asparagus, which can be steamed to perfection in minutes. Word to the wise: it’s always best to do veggie prep right before cooking, rather than hours or days ahead. “Once vegetables are cut, the vitamins just start to dissipate,” says Hospodar.
4. Pasta is Your Ally
Generally speaking, pasta cooks quickly, and as Hospodar mentions in Heaven’s Banquet, capellini, vermicelli, and extra-thin spaghetti take just 4-6 minutes. Mix your pasta with sautéed veggies, and voila: an Ayurvedic meal. Hospodar writes, “A sprinkling of olive oil and fresh herbs are all that is needed to create a lovely main dish or one-dish meal. Add tofu, Panir, or nuts for a more substantial dish.”
If you need a little inspiration, Hospodar’s Capellini with Peppers recipe is a great start (scroll down for recipe).
5. Cook One-Pot Meals
When it comes to being efficient in the kitchen, one-pot dishes are a godsend.
“There are casseroles that cook for half an hour,” says Hospodar. “You can throw those in while you’re meditating; you can just walk away from the stove and leave them.”
Whether you use that free time to meditate, do yoga, clean up, or tick household chores off your list, you’ll be glad of that extra half an hour. Kitchari and certain soups are also good one-pot meals, says Hospodar. Just do your veggie prep, assemble the ingredients, and relax while your delicious Ayurvedic dinner simmers away, filling your home with fragrance.
Any quick-cooking Ayurveda tips of your own to share? Drop us a line in the comments below!RECIPES FROM HEAVEN’S BANQUET
Universal Muffins1 dozen
A basic recipe intended to be altered to create your own original muffins.
Ingredients1 cup (150 g) whole wheat flour
1 cup (140 g) unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
¾ cup (180 ml) buttermilk
¾ cup (180 ml) water
¼ cup (60 ml) melted ghee, butter, or oil
Directions1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter 12 muffin cups.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together.
3. Mix the buttermilk, water, and oil. Pour over the dry ingredients. Beat until just barely mixed, about 15 strokes.
4. Pour the batter into the muffin cups. Bake until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.
Date-Nut Muffins: Add 2/3 cup (120 g) chopped dates and ½ cup (50 g) chopped walnuts or pecans in Step 3. (Yields 1 to 2 additional muffins.)
Orange Muffins: Add 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest and replace the water with orange juice in Step 3.
Spice Muffins: In Step 2, add ½ teaspoon each: ground cinnamon, ground allspice, and ground ginger; ¼ teaspoon each: ground nutmeg and ground cloves.
Banana or Pumpkin Muffins: Add 1 cup (235 g) puréed ripe bananas or puréed cooked pumpkin in Step 3. Reduce the buttermilk (but not the water) to ½ cup.
- Replace no more than ½ cup (70 g) wheat flour with non-wheat flours such as spelt, barley, buckwheat, cornmeal, or bran.
- Replace buttermilk or sour milk with nondairy milk or fruit juice mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Add 1 cup (100 g) drained grated carrot, zucchini, apple; reduce the buttermilk to ½ cup (120 ml).
Capellini with Peppers6 to 8 servings
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
2 green bell peppers, cut into strips
12 ounces (350 g) dried capellini
3 tablespoons ghee or butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of hing (optional)
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) torn fresh basil
¼ cup (60 ml) minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup (25 g) grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Scatter the bell peppers on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt, and toss to coat. Bake, stirring once or twice, until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
- While the peppers are roasting, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain.
- Melt the ghee or butter with the olive oil. Add the hing and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil, and parsley.
- Toss the vegetables and Parmesan with the pasta in a serving bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
- Replace one or two peppers with yellow ones to make the pasta even more colorful.
- When adding the vegetables in Step 3, toss in crumbled feta cheese or panir.
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.