The Yogic Diet: Cranberry Banana Bread

The Yogic Diet

Food has such a powerful impact – affecting our physical appearance, physiological processes and emotions. With such a diverse variety of food items to choose from, making small changes in what we eat and observing the effects these have on our body help us to decide which foods best nourish our bodies and minds.

The Yogic Diet comprises 3 main gunas (categories): Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Sattvic foods are seen as pure, wholesome foods that increase energy and prana (life force) within us. These leave us feeling calm, refreshed and alert, and are generally primary sources of energy so are largely plant-based. Sattvic foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, nuts and oils, whole grains, legumes, honey and mild spices that have not been processed.

Rajasic foods are said to be stimulating, such as spices, caffeine, tobacco, processed sugar, onions and garlic. They make one overly alert and thus difficult to find calm.

On the other hand, Tamasic foods make one feel dull, sluggish and perhaps even lazy. These include alcohol, meat, fish and mushrooms, as well as foods that have been frozen, fermented, reheated, fried, stale or laden with preservatives. Unfortunately, this is the kind of food the large majority of the population consumes in this day and age, be it due to convenience such as microwave meals or taste preference, it not only provides insufficient prana to the body, but also inadequate fuel for the mind. From a nutritional perspective, some of these food items may not necessarily be harmful to health – for example frozen vegetables or meat still retain majority of their nutrients, but the process of freezing has depleted its prana. 

Besides that, the manner of preparation and the way it is eaten can also determine the guna. Food that is prepared with love and awareness is Sattvic, while overeating or scoffing down your food is said to be Tamasic, even if the food itself is Sattvic. Thus, we would ideally have wholesome foods prepared with love and care, eaten in a mindful and relaxed manner.

The effects of food on our body can perhaps best be seen in meditation. During mediation, the 2 main issues are an over-active mind, brought about by ingesting excessive Rajasic food, and conversely, falling asleep due to too much Tamasic food. Thus, Sattvic foods are best for attaining the balance between the 2 to quiet the mind whilst maintaining alertness to explore our thoughts.

Cranberry Banana Bread topped with chia seeds and butterfly pea flowers 

Ayurvedic Doshas

Ayurveda translates to complete knowledge about life. It focuses on balance of the interplay between the body, mind and spirit, where imbalances lead to illness. There are 3 main doshas (changeable body types) –Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each body type is associated with the 5 different elements – Vata goes with air and space/ether, Pitta goes with fire and Kapha goes with water and earth. Your dosha is determined by 3 main criteria: physical appearance, physiological processes and your behaviours or mindset. By doing an online quiz, we found out our doshas, where most people have 1 or 2 dominating doshas. Besides that, we learnt about the health conditions each dosha is more susceptible to, and how to alter our diet to prevent this. I have summarised some characteristics of each dosha below:

Properties Vata Pitta Kapha
Element Air, Space/Ether Fire Water, Earth
Stature Thin Medium Large bones
Skin type Dry skin Oily skin Good skin
Metabolic rate High Medium, warm temperature Low, but strong immune system
Mental characteristics Quick learner, spontaneous and likes change Opinionated, intense focus, usually a leader Easygoing, friendly, slow learner but retains information well, likes routine
Weaknesses Poor at managing finances, fickle Domineering, poor anger management Frugal
Medical conditions susceptible to Constipation, restless sleep, arthritis, depression, anxiety Inflammation, hypertension, coronary heart disease Metabolic syndrome: Obesity, type II diabetes, high cholesterol

Let food by thy medicine

In Ayurveda, diet plays an important role in affecting our physiological processes, acting as both a preventative and therapeutic measure. There are 6 main Ayurvedic tastes – sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent, which are also associated with the elements as shown in the table below:

Ayurvedic tastes Elements Dosha suitable for
Sweet Earth, Water Vata, Pitta
Salty Water, Fire Vata
Sour Earth, Fire Vata
Pungent Fire, Air Kapha
Astringent Air, Earth Pitta, Kapha
Bitter Air, Space/Ether Pitta, Kapha

Pitta-Pacifying Food 

Most of the class is Pitta dosha, so I made a pitta-pacifying cranberry banana bread to celebrate the end of our first week of YTT200. Since Pitta is associated with the fire element, Pitta-pacifying foods consist of those that are cooling, hydrating and subtle. These help to balance moisture, achieve optimum temperature and neutralise any excess acidity in the body. As such, Pitta should increase intake of sweet, astringent and bitter foods and decrease that of salty, sour or pungent. As a general guideline, hot, spicy and fried food should be avoided, as well as fermented foods such as sour cream or alcohol. A more comprehensive recommendation of foods that Pitta should consume is shown in the table below:

Pitta Pacifying Food Chart
Pitta pacifying food, source: https://www.theayurvedaexperience.com/blog/pitta-diet/

Cranberry Banana Bread Recipe 

As we practice asanas for 2h a day, we need to replenish the glycogen we’ve consumed, as well as provide our brain with the much-needed fuel for the afternoon of theory. Since our brain’s main metabolic energy is glucose, which we derive mainly from carbohydrates, I thought banana bread would be a generally sattvic snack to fuel us through YTT (which is also gluten-free). It has elements of Pitta-pacifying ingredients such as sweet overripe bananas, oat flour and cretan honey, astringent cranberry raisins and a small amount of cinnamon that contributes to the bitter taste. I’ve also topped it with chia seeds which absorb water to keep us hydrated and is rich in fibre to aid digestion. Besides that, butterfly pea flowers have anti-oxidant, anti-depressant properties that reduce stress and hypertension, and is beneficial for hair and skin.

 

Cranberry Banana Bread ingredients

Ingredients

  • 3 medium bananas
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cretan honey
  • 3 eggs
  • Cranberry raisins
  • Chia seeds
  • Butterfly pea flowers

Method 

  • Preheat the oven to 180°
  • Add the dry ingredients into a bowl
  • Mash the bananas and add them into the bowl
  • Add the wet ingredients and mix well
  • Fold in cranberry raisins
  • Grease baking tin (I like to use the inside of the banana peel, it works pretty well!)
  • Pour the mixture into the baking tin and top with chia seeds and butterfly pea flowers
  • Bake for 25min, then leave in for another 5min with oven off
  • Enjoy!

And there you have it, a quick easy pitta-pacifying snack fix. Would love if you gave the recipe a try, let me know what you think!

Kyla x

Ayurveda Body Type

Ayurveda is the complete knowledge of life. It is derived from ancient India Philosophy. Based on the philosophy of Ayurveda, it say that all the matter in this universe are made of 5 elements: air, water, space, fire, and earth.  They are made by this 5 elements with different proportion, so that there are variable creation in the universe with different characteristic.Read More

“You look like you’re dancing in a field of Dandelions”

Ever felt this way? Or do you perpetually feel this way? Well, you have a Vata body type.
Just like me, my first few lessons was greeted with comments such as “hey, you look like you’re dancing in a field of Dandelions” or “you have a very air/space body type”. What a weird first impression to give I thought. But hey, what a weird course to join in the first place! (I mean, who signs up and pays for mental and physical yogic torture!)
I later decided to pursue this point of intrigue and find out more about my yogic body type. It was like discovering a new horoscope system and taking all those horoscope indicator tests again.
Vata is a concept unique to Ayurveda and is one of the 3 doshas. Doshas are principles that govern the physio-chemical and physiological activities.  Most of us have 1 or 2 doshas, which are most dominant in our nature, with the remaining one(s) less expressed.
The 3 doshas are known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. In this article, I have compiled various sources and will elaborate on how you can determine your individual constutition, what food constitutes to your dosha element and how to go about finding a balance.

3 Doshas
Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Vata is also known as space and air body type. People who are more “vata” have a “light” quality that may manifest itself in a lanky physique. Excess lightness may manifest as being underweight, having muscle wasting, light bones, insomnia or feeling “spacey” or insecure. The “dry” and “rough qualities may manifest itself as having dry or brittle skin, lips, hair, nails or bones. Or develop poor digestion with lots of bloating and constipation. The “subtle” quality of air may express itself as being introverted and creative, while the “mobile” quality can represent a healthy ability to multi-task. If in excess, this may result in scattered attention, fidgety tendency, tremors and nervousness.
Pitta is also known as the fire and water body type. Pitta individuals are typically of medium build. Physically, they have good muscle tone; have a tendency to always feel warm; have premature graying hair or balding; have reddish complexions; enjoy high energy levels; and have really strong digestion – they can eat almost anything. Mentally, they are extremely intelligent, focused, ambitious people. Emotionally, they are passionate about life, have a tendency to be perfectionists, and can become easily irritated.
Out of balance, Pitta types can experience excessive anger, suffer from inflammatory conditions (such as headaches and rashes), encounter digestive problems (such as acid reflux, diarrhea and ulcers), and become over-stressed, workaholics.
Kapha is also known as the earth and water body type and typically the largest of the body types. Physically, they have wide hips/shoulders; thick wavy hair; good physical stamina. Mentally, Kapha types tend to me slow to learn, but they have great memories. Emotionally, they tend to be very loyal, stable, and reliable – they are often referred to as the “rocks” in a relationship.
Out of balance, Kapha individuals have a tendency towards sinus congestion, poor circulation, and sluggish digestion that can easily lead to obesity.
To find out what dosha you are, take a dosha quiz here.
Vata, Pitta and Kapha foods
Even foods have their own Ayurvedic qualities. Try identifying some of these foods and you’ll see that the type of food you take in daily may actually correspond with your Ayurvedic body type.
Vata Food: Dry/crunchy foods, carbonated beverages, and cold/raw vegetables
Pitta Food: Hot spices, alcohol, coffee, vinegar, and acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes
Kapha Food: Deep fried, sweet or heavy foods. Too many cold foods or drinks can also lead to an increase as well. In general, fatty and oily food.
Eating for your Ayurvedic body type
Balance is the key to life.  Now that you know what is your dosha. Find out how what type of diet works best for you.
Vata Body Type
Following a vata diet helps rid your body of the imbalance responsible for your insomnia and anxiety, restoring your creativity. Fatty acids, such as avocados, almonds, flaxseeds and freshwater fish, are the answer for your anxiety and depression. Oils such as canola, coconut, corn, olive and sesame help relieve the dryness you experience. John Douillard, DC, Ph.D, author of “The Yoga Body Diet,” explains no oils are off-limits for the vata diet. He recommends choosing high-protein foods like nuts, chicken, turkey and fish. Increase oils for cooking and choose warm food over cold or dry food. Examples of vegetables include Brussels sprouts, garlic, winter squash and tomatoes. Fruits include dates, figs, grapefruits, grapes, lemons, limes, mangoes and oranges. Choose spices such as anise, black pepper, basil, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, ginger, saffron and turmeric. Enjoy butter or buttermilk, cottage cheese, rice or soy milk and yogurt. Brown rice, wheat and oats top the list for grains. Sweeteners such as raw honey, molasses, rice syrup and raw sugar can be used in moderation.
To find out more balancing your Vata Body Type, take a look at this video:
Pitta Body Type
In terms of a balancing diet, those who have a predominantly Pitta dosha need to be cooled down. Hospodar’s article in the “Yoga Journal” states that Pittas need a reduced amount of fats, oils and salt. Pitta-pacifying foods include ripe fruits and vegetables, except garlic, tomatoes, radishes and chilies. Coriander and mint have a cooling effect, and pomegranates, coconuts, grilled vegetable salads and rice pudding help to reduce Pitta if it is unbalanced.
To find out more balancing your Pitta Body Type, take a look at this video:
Kapha Body Type
To combat the congestion, Kapha types can add garlic to their diet or take garlic supplements. Hospodar’s article in the “Yoga Journal” states that light, dry, warm foods will help to stimulate and warm-up someone with predominately Kapha in their make-up. Grains such as barley, buckwheat and rye are good for the Kapha type, as are apples, cranberries and other light, dry fruits. Kaphas can also eat spices, herbs, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, but should avoid salt.
Exercise is also critical to keep Kapha people in balance; if you have a Kapha body type, you have to get up and move!
To find out more balancing your Kapha Body Type, take a look at this video: