what is ayurveda?

learning the basics of ayurveda | this brown kitchen

I’ve started to get questions from people on Instagram and people IRL about what Ayurveda is and why I’m talking about it. So I figured now was a better time than any to have an actual informational post about it and how I’m incorporating it into my life. 

It all started this year when I decided that one of my intentions was to focus on wellness. After some different trials and errors along the way figuring out what kind of practices were applicable to my life that I could actually continue, I landed upon Ayurveda. To be clear, I’ve known about Ayurveda forever, I mean come on y’all this isn’t new to me – I’m Indian for pete’s sake. What is new to me is formulating a practice around its fundamentals. What started as an informational search of how to incorporate Ayurvedic eating into my life turned into a look of how to follow it as a full on lifestyle. So that’s how we ended up here.

Now to the actual question – what is Ayurveda? A brief and topline answer to that question is that Ayurveda is a traditional and almost sister science to yoga, that emphasizes wellness as a way to heal the body and bring balance to life, body, and mind. Ayurveda is based on the idea of achieving that balance in our bodily systems through our diet and exercise.

The thing that I’ve come to love most about this way of living is that Ayurveda is totally personalized to you and your mind-body type, and what it’s comprised of, while focusing on balancing the different aspects of your body through food and exercise. This is where the idea of the doshas come in. Doshas reflect the three main forces of nature – wind, water, and air – and each one of our bodies is made up of a certain combination of the three. So yes – this is about where I lose people in conversation because they start to think, “wow, I had no idea Ruch was such a hippie-dippie person”. FALSE. First of all, I am not a hippie now and not even close to becoming one. To go divulge into a mini tangent, the reason I want to share my experience with Ayurvedic practices is for the sole reason that I’m not learning or practicing it in the mountains of India. I’m learning about it here in America because my culture is a mix of Indian and American. I get to view a completely different experience of immersing myself in the practice because of where I live and how I grew up, and for me it’s kind of like this crazy adventure of discovering a part of my heritage but being able to share it in a way that everyone not from India can understand too. 

So the first part of incorporating Ayurveda into your lifestyle is to figure out your Dosha type – the three different types are Pitta (fire), Vata (air), and Kapha (earth-water). Each person has a unique combination of these three types and those types guide how we should eat, exercise, and live. For reference, I’m a Pitta – Kapha, leaning highly towards the Pitta side, which is why you will see more and more recipes here and on Instagram that follow the guidelines of that type. 

While this is  super top-line definition of Ayurveda and what constitutes its practices, I at least wanted to start the conversation and share a little background with y’all. I’ll be sharing more over the next few months, covering different topics within Ayurveda, and hopefully you can learn from it too. Let me know if you have any questions about what I’m doing with this practice or if you just want to say hello!

chaat masala egg salad + endive boats

a yummy egg salad with greek yogurt, avocado, and chaat masala

YAY for long weekends! I didn’t register until yesterday that I get an extra day of relaxation with the Memorial Day holiday this weekend and I was JAZZED to realize that. Do you have anything fun planned? My weekend will likely consist of errand running, hanging out by the lake and getting some sun, yoga class, and a recipe that I’m really excited to test – like seriously, I can’t wait to share this one with y’all.

Also let’s talk about barbecue season. There’s just something so quaint and small town America about being out in someones yard or out by the lake with the grill going. But Suruchi – you’re a vegetarian? What do you even eat a barbecue? Um, side dishes of course, side dishes are my jam. You can only attend so many outdoor grilling extravaganzas where you have to bring your own veggie burgers before you realize it’s just easier to fill up on side dishes, which are usually lighter options anyways. I’ve just become accustomed to munching on grilled corn, potato salad, and lots and lots of summer time fruits. Have I mentioned my love of watermelon yet? My only ask of grill masters is to please just leave bacon out of the side dishes. Please think of your vegetarian friends who will subsist on those dishes when cooking them up. (:

a yummy egg salad with greek yogurt, avocado, and chaat masala

a yummy egg salad with greek yogurt, avocado, and chaat masala

To celebrate grilling season and my tangential love of side dishes, I made up an egg salad. Egg salad is my dear old friend, who after many soggy roasted veggie sandwiches I found and have never let go of. Wanna to be my friend? Bring me an egg salad sandwich with extra lettuce. This version is made lighter without the use of mayo – instead subbing in greek yogurt and avocados, and given a flavorful kick from the use of chaat masala. 

Chaat masala is a spice mix that is used to top off salads, veggies, and fruits in South Asia. In India, each street vendor has their own blend for chaat masala so certain spices come through more than others. Traditionally, the spices included are dried mango powder, cumin, coriander, dried ginger, salt, black powder, chili powder, and asafoetida. I personally use this brand of chaat masala – their blend is AMAZING – and I also used it in this recipe for a tangy kick

a yummy egg salad with greek yogurt, avocado, and chaat masala


chaat masala egg salad

6 eggs, hard boiled, peeled, and chopped
1/2 cup of celery, sliced
1/2 avocado, diced
1 heaping tsp, chaat masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped chives
5oz greek yogurt
endives, leaves removed
sliced radishes and chives for garnish

  1. in a large bowl, place the eggs, celery, avocadi, chaat masala, chili powder, salt, pepper, chives, and yogurt. fold the ingredients together gently until everything is coated.
  2. lay out a platter and place individual endive leaves out, filling each one with the egg salad.
  3. add the radishes and chives for garnish and serve!

this list

This Brown Kitchen - places to travel in Minneapolis

I’m going into this weekend with a clear mind and freshly washed hair. What do I mean? I just went FIVE whole days without washing my hair as a part of oil training. Basically I’m giving my hair a break and letting all those natural oils do their thing to help my scalp be its healthiest without stripping them all away and drying my hair out – and of course it helps your hair last longer between washes. It was actually quite nice getting up in the mornings this week and just tossing my hair up in a bun. It also means that I get to give my hair a break from the heat of my blow dryer which it probably appreciates. If anything, I will say that I have never appreciated a freshly washed head of hair as much as I have today – I feel like a rockstar!

As for weekend plans – I’ll be getting my flow on at yoga, shooting some content, and grabbing brunch at this local spot. And as always, here are some of my favorite finds from the internet this week!

Stumbled upon this column in the New York Times on practicing meditation in real time.

About to start this book and I am super excited about it – have you read this one?

This is my kind of spring pasta salad.

10 reasons to never start practicing yoga – this is hilarious!

Loving this cozy space and getting design envy!

Found the cutest shop in Minneapolis – you definitely need to check out Arlee Park.

I really want to try this vegan fattoush recipe next week.

Finished Master of None in 1 night (oops!) – here’s their official Italian travel guide!

 

lemon almond loaf + honey rhubarb sauce

a lemon almond flour loaf with a mint and rhubarb sauce - the perfect way to welcome warm weather! (and it's gluten and refined sugar free!)

the makings of a yummy lemon almond loaf

Be honest with me – if someone talks about healthy eating all the time, do you assume that they eat kale and hemp seeds all the time? Would you think that they rarely, if ever, indulge in things like a slice of cake with sprinkles? I believe that for a long time, if someone preached to the high heavens of being a healthy person, an assumption was made that they were missing out on the great foods in the world like a really chewy and doughy piece of sourdough or some hefty scoops of chocolate chunk ice cream. Times are changing though, and I love seeing more and more people sharing a different message of balance.

To be honest, finding the right balance between filling your day with leafy greens and playing TREAT YO SELF when someone walks into the office with a bag of Bruegger’s was a fine line that I didn’t always teeter on well. There were times where everyday of the week was a treat yourself day and then that just becomes a lifestyle. What I’ve discovered over the last year or so is that it is 100% possible to eat everything you want and not deprive yourself of those special treats. I’m one of those firm believers that food brings people together and so many of our major life events revolve around food, so you totally deserve to indulge (I mean come on, what would your birthday be without a whole cake to yourself or Thanksgiving without a second batch of garlicky sour cream potatoes??). So what does that mean for your everyday? I think that depends on you, your life, and how that makes you feel. I think our bodies are really good and actually wired to tell us what we need to be our best selves – and yes, sometimes our brains get in the way of what we should eat versus what we want to eat and that’s fine too. Our bodies kind of guide us to what we need to eat to satisfy what we’re currently missing in our diets (mindbodygreen had an interesting article that covers some of those cravings – like when we are stressed we can face adrenal fatigue and your body starts to crave salt to act as a fortification). At a certain point, you need to really trust your gut (almost literally!) to figure out what makes you feel good, and I think it takes time to be in tune with yourself about those things.

a lemon almond flour loaf with a mint and rhubarb sauce - the perfect way to welcome warm weather! (and it's gluten and refined sugar free!)

a lemon almond flour loaf with a mint and rhubarb sauce - the perfect way to welcome warm weather! (and it's gluten and refined sugar free!)

a lemon almond flour loaf with a mint and rhubarb sauce - the perfect way to welcome warm weather! (and it's gluten and refined sugar free!)

Something that I’ve come to love about Ayurvedic philosophies is how it emphasizes balance and how the main goal when it comes to eating is to adjust those balances within ourselves. So does that mean Ayurveda says to eat dessert everyday because #balance? Well no, not exactly. Instead, it says that if you are going to eat dessert, like ice cream let’s say, you can do certain things to make sure your body digests it properly and that you balance it out. Since most desserts can be exceedingly sweet, try to combine some spices in there to even out the foods, eat dessert earlier in the day so that your body has time to digest before going to sleep at night, make it as easy as possible for your body to adjust to your sugar intake!

So that’s where this loaf comes in – as a reminder that you can treat yourself too. This almond loaf is a gluten and refined sugar free version of my favorite flavor of muffins and cakes (LEMON!!!) and is topped with a jammy rhubarb sauce that is flavored with honey, lemon, and mint. I added a heaping helping of ginger into the loaf to help balance out the sweet and lemon helps to add some acidity in there as well. You could easily add some blueberries in here for an extra fruity punch and you could certainly swap out rhubarb if you don’t like rhubarb or are making this out of season. I’ve been loving a slice of this loaf (cake??) for my mid afternoon snack or as I’m running out the door. Snack on, friends!


lemon almond loaf with honey rhubarb sauce

for the loaf (adapted from Dolly & Oatmeal) ::

1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tsp baking powder
large pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp ginger powder
1/4 cup and 1/8 cup coconut sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the rhubarb sauce ::

3 tablespoons of honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 large sprig of mint, in tact
1 cup and an additional 1/4 cup of rhubarb, sliced

  1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a loaf pan with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. in a large mixing bowl, add the almond flour, arrowroot powder, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, ginger powder, and the 1/4 cup of coconut sugar. combine and then add in the egg yolks – mixture will be thick.
  3. in a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they start to get fluffy – add in the vanilla extract and keep beating, little by little start adding in the 1/8 cup of coconut sugar and beat until the egg whites form loose peaks. in four parts, slowly fold the egg white mixture into the flour mixture, being careful not to completely deflate the egg whites. fold mixture together until smooth and then pour into lined loaf pan.
  4. bake for 32 – 35 minutes until the outside is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. let cool.
  5. in a stove top pot add the honey, lemon juice, coconut sugar, water, and mint sprig. stir to combine and bring to a light simmer. add the 1 cup of rhubarb into the mixture and let the mix simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes until the rhubarb has started to break down and the sauce is thick. take off the heat and remove the mint spring. if you want additional texture, add the extra 1/4 cup of rhubarb and stir in to the sauce.
  6. serve loaf by the slice, topped with the rhubarb sauce, mint leaves, lemon zest, and powdered sugar if desired. enjoy!