A primer on Ayurveda for the modern life and Ayurvedic cooking for mind-body balance
with Chef Kirk Rouse
Welcome to an overview of Ayurveda, a word that intimidated me for a while. My thoughts have been, how do I boil down 5,000 years of teaching? Stepping back 2 years ago, I realized I don't need to know everything to start welcoming Ayurveda into my life and benefiting from tis practice. So our study together begins. Our first study will introduce key concepts, and next we will assess our unique mind-body type within the system of health and healing. Hopefully, our understanding will fall into place, and we won't have to remember the esoteric terms, because the basic concepts are profound. Remember your first yoga class!
Ayurveda is sometimes known as the "grandfather of modern medicine". It was created and codified in India over 5,000 years ago. It is frequently referred to as the "sister philosophy of yoga". Its practice focuses on the whole person; mental, physical, emotional, and a person's entire body constitution.
Ayurveda is personalized medicine using methods to identify your body type. Next time we will explore the five elements and the 3 body types, known as doshas. Please see the attached documents in this blog for some information on the doshas.
Ayurveda comes from ancient sacred scriptures of Hinduism that were coded and written by sages. It focuses on keeping the mind and body healthy and balanced through diet, lifestyle, and detoxification programs to prevent illness and treat disease. Ayurveda is not passive, it requires us to be proactive in managing our stress, eating seasonally and moderately (the 80% full stomach rule), staying active and engaging in self-care.
In my early stage of understanding Ayurveda, I found that I could concentrate on eating seasonally and moderately. Moderately has been a little hard for someone who cooks and centers their life around gardening and gastronomy. I am a classically trained cook and studied gastronomy at the University of France. I have the tools to tackle eating healthy and obtaining good flavor profiles. I need tasty food for motivation and encouragement. Thus, promoting study, practice and sharing.
Ayurveda has 2 main goals: to preserve the health of the healthy, keeping you balanced throughout the journey of your life and to eradicate the disease and imbalances in the sick- focusing on reversing the disease process and removing toxins and pathogens from the body to address the physiology of disease.
Ayurveda has influenced many medical systems. It was the first system to categorize medicine into 8 branches. Ayurveda is classified as a complementary and alternative medicine to modern medicine. Many health professionals are experiencing sustainable results when it comes to a person's overall health by incorporating techniques such as stress reduction (meditation and breathing), more moderate and cleaner diets (reducing consumption of processed foods and eating seasonally), movement (yoga) and lifestyle edits such as getting better sleep, being more active and being part of a community. Like "blue zone living".
Ayurveda can be effective when used preventively. I believe there is a place for Ayurveda (and other integrative therapies) to work in harmony with modern medicine. All are paths to good health.
So let this be the start of your journey to balanced health. Your body is unique. With these basic guidelines, we will research and discover more about our unique health and well-being through Ayurveda and yoga. I am avoiding "the all or nothing approach" as we start balance and habit changes.
With that said, we are in Vata season (we will explore the 3 doshas next time). According to the Ayurveda principles, this season suggests we fill it with warmth, oiliness, deep nourishment, loving relationships, stability, and grounding. We will want to eat mushy warm foods, steamed veggies, heart grains soups and stews, apples, grapefruit, beets, carrots, root veggies in general, oats, brown rice, kidney beans, ghee, olive and peanut oil, honey, and seasonal spices (cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg).
The 2 recipes shown below are ideal and easy to prepare. The recipes encourage your own additions or substitutions. Read them a time or two and imagine what you might change or add. The cookie recipe was given to me at a fall yoga retreat in the North Carolina mountains. Returning home and preparing the recipe I added nuts and raisins and more chocolate. The second time, I stuck to the recipe and liked both.
Finally, practice early to bed early to rise, eat 3 meals a day until you have your first burp -then stop and add movement (yoga) and some meditation. Be gentle, step outside of yourself and enjoy this new Ayurvedic Adventure.
Vata-Soothing Root Veggie Stew
Vata↓, Pitta ↓, Kapha↓
Serves 6 to 7 / Prep Time: 30 to 45 minutes /
Cook Time: 8 to 10 hours
• 3 quarts of water (substitute with chicken broth or bone broth)
• 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
• 1 small Yukon gold potato, chopped
• 1/2 onion, chopped
• 2 small parsnips or 1 large, sliced
• 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cubed
• 2 medium carrots, sliced
• 1 medium beet, peeled and cubed
• 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
• 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee, olive oil, or coconut oil
• 2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (use 1 tablespoon for Pitta)
• 2 teaspoons finely minced ginger (substitute 1 teaspoon dry ginger)
• Fresh ground black pepper
• Pinch of cayenne (omit for Pitta types)
• Himalayan or sea salt to taste
1. Prepare the veggies by washing, peeling and chopping as needed. Add each veggie to
the crock pot after it has been prepared.
2. If you desire this dish to have meat, add 1 pound of chopped chicken breast or stew
beef at this point. Of course this is optional.
3. Once all of the listed veggies are chopped and in the crock pot, add the water or
broth to fill the pot. Do not fill to the brim. Leave a couple of inches of space to
allow the veggies to swell while cooking.
4. Add the fresh ginger and spice mixture (Vata Churna or Agni Churna).
5. Add the ghee or oil.
6. Cover the crock pot and set the heat to low. Cook for 8-10 hours. This can be left on
overnight or throughout the day.
7. After the cooking process is over, add in the apple cider vinegar and salt to taste (I
would start with 1/2 teaspoon). Add any more black pepper or cayenne pepper if
8. Serve, enjoy, and feel a sense of grounding immerse. There's not much better way to
connect with the Earth then to take in the roots of Her soil.
9. If there are leftovers, store in the fridge to eat off of throughout the week. This recipe
will typically last 5 to 6 days.
10. This stew recipe can be made vegan, vegetarian, or by including meat, depending on
your individual needs. It is naturally gluten-free and grain-free. However, if you are
able to eat grains, I definitely recommend cooking some quinoa, rice, or millet
separately and serving the stew over them. Yum!! I have tried all of the above
options and they are all great!
Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Excellent moist chocolate chip cookie with oatmeal and mini chocolate chips.
Submitted by Ken Sherer
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:10 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
1 ½ cups butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Beat butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together in a bowl until creamy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract; beat until smooth.
Mix flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; stir into creamed butter until combined. Fold chocolate chips into batter. Drop 1 to 2 tablespoons batter for each cookie onto a baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until the edges of each cookie are lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
ABOUT CHEF KIRK ROUSE:
My roots run deep in Albany and Southwest Georgia. My ancestors are scattered from the banks of the Flint river to Thomasville. I spent my formative years in the middle Atlantic states graduating with a BA Greensboro College, Greensboro, NC and back to the south completing an MS Troy state University, Troy, AL. I spent over 35 years in the insurance business in Albany while cooking and eating up a storm.
Cooking, food, and food culture have been a lifelong passion. The summer of my junior year, I lived with a group pf people that shared land, space, and amenities. There I was introduced to what was then "New Age Cooking" through cookbooks like "Moosewood Cookbook" and "Earth Water Fire Air". I began formal studies during my business travels in the early 1980's attending the California Culinary Academy, Jane Butel's Mexican Cooking School, Dianne Wilkinson's French Academy Atlanta, a stint at Julia Child's Cambridge home, the French Culinary Institute NY, King Arthur Flour's baking school, School of Natural Cookery Boulder CO and many others. Upon retirement I enrolled for 2 sessions at The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY. In 2016 l attended Le Cordon Bleu Paris and obtained a certificate in Basic Cuisine following a semester of study. I returned to Paris for the next 3 years completing specialty food courses at The Ritz Escoffier School Ritz Hotel, Le Cordon Bleu and obtained a diploma in Gastronomy from The University of France - Reims.
In 2018 The Table Southwest Georgia, the areas first and only underground restaurant, began operatic The Table is alive today doing special dinners occasionally with private membership. Website is thetablega.com
In the mid 80's, I practiced yoga under the direction of Dr. Carlanda Cohen. Dr. Cohen is a certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor. Classes were held at the local Unity Church. Dr. Cohen has a PHD in English and her oral meditations were captivating. I practiced with her for about 2 years.
Fast forward to the last couple of years. Exercise and health have always been a part of my life. I have lifted weights, ran, swam, cycled, etc. The last 2 years I have spent a lot of time at 229Yoga. 229 Yoga opened up a new world of yoga, and longevity. The Blue Zones of the World fascinate me, and they are areas of the world that move, mediate, eat well, have community, and support systems, and have more centenarians than any place else on the planet.
Ayurveda is the science of yoga. Living your best life and practicing living to 100. Food and knowing what we need is a big part of this, and I want to share my knowledge in a healthy way. Join me as we study and cook. Aside from some lessons we will be cooking together soon.
Stay tuned for information on planned cooking classes and tastings!