Friday, September 30, 2011

Drinks to cool down Pitta

According to Ayurveda, ice-cold foods and beverages disrupt the digestive power called Agni. Agni or digestive fire can be compared to burning logs. If we dump cold water over burning logs the fire goes out.

The same goes for our digestive process. If we ingest ice- cold foods and drinks then our digestive fires become weak. The body begins to work harder to digest and absorb nutrients and pitta or the metabolism gets out of balance. Irritability, intolerance, loose bowel, aggressive behavior or heart burn are all indications that pitta has become out of balance. Ice-cold drinks are a quick fix to cool off and a challenging habit to break. The ancient knowledge of Ayurveda provides simple solutions to maintain balance during the hot summer without causing side-effects.

The most effective way to maintain your cool in the summer months is to make sure your body is properly hydrated with pitta( fire)-pacifying beverages.

Drink at least 7-8 glasses of pure spring water a day. You can add a sprig of pitta-pacifying fresh mint to the water or a teaspoon of pure Organic Rose Water. Water kept in the cellar or a cool room is about the right temperature for digestion on a hot day. Drinks right out of the refrigerator may be tempting but they are too cold for the digestion. Instead, pour out the desired amount into a glass and let it set for 10 or 15 minutes to take the chill out. When you start avoiding or cutting down on ice-cold drinks you will notice that your stomach is less bloated and puffy and there is greater ease in handling hot weather.

Adequate hydration gives more energy to the body, clarity to the eyes, suppleness to the skin and helps to eliminate toxins. Many people feel fatigue and would be surprised to find out that the cause may be as simple as dehydration. It is especially important to keep fluids flowing into the body during summer when we tend to perspire more and lose more water.

Ayurvedic Suggestions for Cooling Down
Fresh, sweet fruit and fruit juices are especially beneficial for balancing pitta. They provide nutrition and keep the body cool and comfortable. Watermelon juice, fresh cucumber juice, lettuce juice and coconut milk are four of the most beneficial juices to pacify pitta. By consuming at least one of these items several times a day you will notice a tremendous difference in your reaction to the high temperature.

Fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro and watercress can also be juiced or made into a chutney to balance pitta. Or steep cooling herbs in boiling water each morning, cool to room temperature and drink the water through the day to get the benefit of the herbs and hydrate your physiology. Favor cooling spices such as cardamom, coriander, and fennel when cooking. Use Organic Rose Water or rose petal conserve as a cooling food supplement or add to summer drinks.

Certain fruits and spices can tend to irritate pitta and should be avoided during the summer months. Strawberries and peaches are known in Ayurveda to especially increase pitta and may even cause rashes or allergic reactions in some sensitive people. If you love strawberries and peaches it is better to cook them with sugar and cardamom and serve the puree with a tablespoon of pitta-pacifying whipped cream or blend the puree with some sweet grape juice to make a sweet, cool drink. Small amounts of whipped cream with some cooked fruit is a lighter, more satisfying summer dessert to try instead of frozen ice-cream.

Over time, as you tailor your diet to the foods and tastes that are ayurvedically balancing for your physiology and the season, your desire for foods which can cause an imbalance will gradually fade away. Initially, you might feel restricted, but make adjustments in stages, letting your physiology get acclimated to the changes, and eventually you will feel satisfaction and contentment.

Summer Mint Drink
For syrup: Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl, stir till sugar dissolves. Stir in 1/4 cup of tightly compacted fresh mint leaves (without the stems). Cover and chill for a minimum of four hours. Strain mixture through a sieve. Discard leaves. Store syrup for up to three days. To use the syrup for a water based drink: Place one tablespoon of mint syrup with about one cup of room temperature water and stir.
For a milk-based drink: You can also add 1-2 tablespoons of half-and-half cream to the water and syrup for variation.

Rose Lassi
1/2 cup fresh yogurt
1 cup water
or 1 teaspoon rose petal water
Sugar to taste
1 pinch ground cardamom (optional)
Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Mango Milk
One fresh peeled and sliced ripe sweet mango
2 cups of milk
Sugar to taste
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
Boil milk and allow to cool to room temperature. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

Salty Lassi
This Salty Lassi is spiced with cumin and is a great refreshing drink in the summer.Feel free to experiment with other cooling spices like fennel and anise.

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup plain yogurt or coconut milk
1 cup chilled milk or water for vegans.
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup of ice cubes
A dollop of plain yogurt for garnishing

Dry roast  the cumin seeds for a few minutes until you start getting a wonderful aroma.  Cool and grind to a coarse consistency. In a blender blend all the ingredients. Top it up with a dollop of yogurt. Serve chilled. 
Makes 4 servings.

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