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First Post and Sage-Cashew Spread Sandwich

Sage Sandwich – layers of pickled purple cabbage, tomato, avocado sandwiched between two toasted slices of oat-sesame-flax bread spread with a cashew sour cream spread spiked with sage. Whew, what a mouthful!

Eating For Your Body’s Constitution

When I started eating vegan/plant-based, I felt the imperative to make sure I would stay vegan indefinitely. This, for me, meant eating as naturally as possible, choosing whole foods over refined foods mostly, keeping meals interesting so as to avoid the awkward scenario of craving or missing animal foods, and also taking measure to avoid deficiencies. I spent my first six months subscribing to ideas of eating raw, thinking that healthy-eating entailed less processing and so less cooking, also choosing high-fibre foods (whole wheat, brown rice), eating significantly more legumes for protein, and leafy green vegetables since these were prized for their detoxing qualities. These healthy eating discourses are after all most readily accessible and conspicuous, which I thought to follow in spite of my own sense of intuitive eating.

Sound familiar to most of the eating healthy discourses out there?

Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me. Disconnectedness quickly ensued despite the ”healthy” eating. I noticed I felt drained and lacked motivation most of the time. My digestion also seemed poor as I experienced bloatedness. It took me a while to stop and realise that given the symptoms I was experiencing, and how unfulfilled I felt after a meal, that I cannot really be eating healthily. Which was so strange since I was eating food that was theoretically supposed to be nourishing me. I was determined to make veganism work for me, knowing deep down it could work despite my newness to it all. I started delving deeper into alternative sources of food knowledge, since these modern approaches clearly weren’t comprehensive enough, paying particular importance to what’s being said about plant-based foods.

This landed me at concepts of Yin and Yang, Macrobiotics and most importantly, led me to read about what Ayurveda had to say about food. I found out about eating for my own body’s constitution, which being Vata reflected qualities of Air and Space, meant that I should choose to eating warm and grounding food in order to achieve better balance in my state and well-being. Using this ideas helped me put into perspective my negative experience with some of the approaches I had previously tried. More importantly, I figured out how food combination impacts a person and becomes of significant impact to one’s health and well-being once one starts eating predominantly plant-based.

Importance of Food Combining For Vegans

A simple example to illustrate the importance of food combination. Once meat, a source of Yang, is omitted from the diet, one needs to know how to attain Yang in order not to suffer from Yin imbalance. Heard of the stereotypical pale, anemic and weak vegetarian? That is a case of classic Yin imbalance. Though this is an extreme example, we can sometimes notice subtle signs of Yin imbalance in ourselves such as feeling cold, dry, anxious or being stressed out. This is a sign when we need to slow down and ground ourselves in to avoid being spaced out and easily agitated.

Vegans have an array of Yang options when it comes to diet, such as legumes and whole grains. However, the important thing to note is that not everyone digests the same food in the same manner. Certain kinds of grains or legumes may give people gas or bloatedness. To find out what works is a delicate process of using your own intuitive experience and getting a feel for the particularities of your own body type.

What Works for Vata Type

First up, I am not a certified Ayurvedic practitioner. I attempt only to use concepts to understand why my body reacts the way it does to certain foods and combinations, and to provide a better idea of what might perhaps help someone of similar constitution.

Being vata, I currently find myself subsisting best on food that is properly spiced like dal and other Indian dishes. Also good are ground vegetables (beets, carrots, pumpkin) although not too much of leafy greens. Raw foods, especially raw oats (all the rage among raw vegans!) or cold foods (cold non-dairy milk straight from the fridge) leave me feeling tired and sapped. I now avoid them like the plague!

I use the knowledge I’ve gained so far basing it on my own experiences, and my sense of intuitiveness to guide me towards the best way to eat for my body. And I hope this inspired you to take charge of your own eating habits too. if there’s anyone out there, vegan or non-vegan, who feels equally confused about what’s really right to eat, hey, I just want you to know you’re not alone!

What a long-winded introduction (hey, my first post anyway!). On to the star of this post: Sandwich recipe!

While not exactly warming fare for Vatas, this doesn’t mean Vatas shouldn’t eat sandwiches, but preferably eat with the consciousness that such food may aggravate one’s condition and seek to minimise the potential imbalance that may result. Sandwiches can be quite cold and drying. Anything raw immediately makes it highly yin or cold while the bread, which I toasted, has a dry quality. To minimise aggravation, I would have a warm spiced tea like Masala tea or a warm root vegetable soup like ginger carrot soup to complement. This makes a significant difference as I find warm to hot drinks always makes me feel better.

I’ve also been feeling a bit more of the chills lately, this despite living in a tropical climate, so I’m definitely making sure I don’t overeat too many of these foods. I usually spice my food really well (read: eat Indian food) but it gets more confusing when temperatures soar midyear and my body start exhibiting symptoms of being under the weather. Best to keep these signs of imbalance in check and make sure they do not go out of hand. For example, choosing warm food options and bringing a jacket or scarf out to keep warm in air-conditioned environments.

Last but not least, here’s the recipe for my Sage-Cashew Spread Sandwich if you’re interested:

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Sage-Cashew Spread Sandwich (for 1)

IMG_5270 IMG_5273 Sage and Cashew Spread Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices favorite bread
  • tomato slices
  • 1/4 to 1/2 avocado, cut into slices
  • purple cabbage, shredded
  • cashew sour cream
  • a few leaves of sage, finely chopped
  • salt, pepper, EVOO

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Method:

Pickle cabbage shreds in some salt and vinegar (I use apple cider). Toast bread if preferred. Spread cashew sour cream on both slices of bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle lightly with EVOO.  When cabbage is done, squeeze to remove excess moisture, and stack onto one slice of bread. Follow with the avocado layer, sprinkling some salt, black pepper and lemon juice to season. Finish with the tomato layer and remaining slice of bread on top.

Enjoy with a warm beverage or soup if your body so requires!

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