Ayurvedic Treats: Holiday Drinks to Balance Vata
In the cold winter months we need to take time to nourish our ojas, which, according to ayurveda, is one of the vital essences responsible for our physical vitality, mental clarity, and overall health, including our immune system and daily energy. Some of the ways we do this during the holidays are to gather with friends and family to create memories that will warm the soul and by taking time for daily rituals of self-care to stay steady and balanced when more demands are placed on us.
In addition to happy gatherings and regular self-care, enjoying an ojas-nourishing beverage is one of my favorite ways to feel nurtured and balanced during the chaos of the holiday season. Below are two of my best-loved recipes. Thanks to their moist, oily, smooth, warming, and grounding qualities, these drinks naturally balance the dry, airy, light, rough, and cold qualities of vata, the dosha that dominates the winter in colder weather climates. And I think they’re pretty delicious too.
Try this festive twist on hot chocolate. My 11-year-old son Finn and I have been experimenting with an after-school holiday drink—something warming, soothing, and sweet to wind down with at the end of the day. He came up with reindeer milk.
In a pan over low heat, warm the following:
1 cup whole milk (If you don’t do dairy, almond or rice milk make fine alternatives.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cardamom
½ tsp. vanilla extract or 1 tbsp. cocoa (Finn prefers vanilla.)
a thread of saffron—a nod to Rudolph’s red nose
¼ tsp. mint (for a peppermint taste, but then don’t use the cinnamon and nutmeg)
Yield: 2 servings
Nut and Seed Milk
Looking for a morning beverage? This grounding, earthy, vitamin- and fiber-filled, and fatty-acid-rich nut and seed milk drink—which I learned how to make in a kitchen-pharmacy intensive with Indu Arora—is the perfect way to balance vata at the start of the day.
In a small bowl soak the following overnight:
1 dry fig
1 date (preferably medjool)
1 tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds
5 to 6 golden raisins
1 green cardamom pod, crushed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
8 to 10 almonds
In the morning, drain the water, place all the ingredients in a blender (remove the pit from the date before tossing it in), add 6 to 8 ounces of hot water, blend, pour, and enjoy.
Yield: 1 serving
Note: If you have a pitta constitution, use fewer almonds and more raw pumpkin seeds and add ½ tsp. sesame seeds and white poppy seeds.
If you have a kapha constitution, use only ½ date and ½ fig, and add a touch of cinnamon and 2 to 3 black peppercorns to the mixture in the blender in the morning.
May these drinks build your ojas, and support your agni (digestive fire) so that you can be happy, healthy, and joyful this holiday season.