Ayurvedic Oatmeal for Every Dosha | Banyan Botanicals

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Ayurvedic Oatmeal Recipes for Every Dosha

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Ayurvedic Food Combining

For many, the concept of food combining – the idea that some foods digest well together while others do not – is entirely new, and somewhat foreign. But according to Ayurveda, it is an essential part of understanding how to eat properly. Continue Reading >

Cooking fresh food is one of the most important ways we can nourish ourselves. And what is easier to make than oatmeal? According to Ayurveda, every substance (dravya) is either healing, neutral, or poisonous, depending on its qualities, or guna. A substance is medicinal when its qualities bring your system closer to balance, and it becomes poisonous if it affects your digestion (agni) in a negative way, or imbalances your doshas—vata, pitta, or kapha.

Oatmeal may seem like a benign substance, but it certainly has obvious qualities to it. What do you think of when you visualize a bowl of oats for breakfast? Steaming, warm, and sweet, nourishing to your heart and soul? Or a sticky, gloppy, gooey mess? It can be both, depending on your Ayurvedic body-type!

Oats and Ayurveda

When prepared and eaten, or enjoyed as a tea or herbal infusion (the dried tops can be harvested for tea before they quite reach maturity), oats are considered to have soft, heavy, sticky, warm, and slightly oily (mucilaginous, we might say) qualities. And oats, in their grain form, naturally taste sweet. 

These qualities and the dominant sweet taste are particularly balancing for vata dosha, and the sweet taste along with the heavy and soft qualities are balancing for pitta. Oats are so similar to kapha dosha (think heavy, oily, soft, sticky, and sweet), that by the rules of Ayurveda, they are actually aggravating to kapha and kapha conditions, unless prepared correctly. 

Sweeteners and the Doshas

In Ayurveda, there is a time and place for sweeteners, and certain sweeteners are appropriate for some doshas while not beneficial for others. As a rule of thumb, it’s believed sugar that is darker and less refined has more nutrients. The following list will give you an idea of what may be best for you. If you aren’t sure what your dosha is, the Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz is a quick and easy way to find out.

Sugar. White sugar is made from sugar cane. It is heavily refined and imbalancing to all doshas.

Jaggery. Made from sugar cane and date sugar or palm sap (or a combination), this sugar is popular in India. It is a brown sugar, often kept in block form, so it has 20–30% more moisture than other sugars, and it is much less refined. Jaggery is generally good for vata, but aggravating for pitta and kapha.

Maple Syrup. Also known as maple sugar, this sweetener is native to the North Eastern US and Canada. It is sap from maple trees that has been boiled down to a sticky (or all the way to dry) substance. It’s considered cool, heavy, and sweet, and it contains vital nutrients like zinc and manganese. It is the best sweetener for pitta and suitable for vata when used in moderation.

Honey. Considered to have a heating and scraping action, honey is best for kapha dosha, and should only be eaten raw and in small amounts. As noted in many Ayurvedic texts, honey becomes “poisonous” and difficult to digest when cooked, creating ama (toxins) in the system.

Agave. Produced from the nectar of the agave plant, there is conflicting information on this sweetener. Some tout it as a low-glycemic index sweetener with numerous health benefits, while others dispute this and believe it is a very highly processed sweetener, just like cane sugar. It is said to provoke kapha, and to be okay for vata and pitta.

Dried fruit. Dried fruits, when cooked into oatmeal, are a great way to add sweetness. Dates, raisins, currants, apples, and ripe bananas are good for vata-types. Pitta-types can favor sweet apples, dates, raisins, and figs. Kapha-types do best with apples, apricots, cranberries, and raisins. Though Ayurvedic food combing rules state that uncooked or raw fruit should not be added to other foods, when fruits and certain foods are cooked together, the qualities of the foods change and may become more compatible. This is the case when dosha-specific dried fruits are cooked with the oats. Another consideration is the strength of agni, and if digestion is weak, it is best to stick with plain oats.
 

steel cut oats

What Else Can I Add to My Oats?

Oatmeal is a common breakfast food and many people enjoy “spicing it up” with different things.  One common combination that can challenge our digestive capabilities is yogurt and fruit. This pairing can impair the digestive fire and create ama. As you learn more about Ayurveda, it’s likely you’ll begin to question some of your food choices. Is it okay to have fruit, yogurt, nuts, and seeds with your oats? And the answer is that it depends—yogurt and grains may combine well together, yet we often overuse yogurt.  Yogurt can be okay for all three doshas, but as with everything else, it needs to be used in specific ways.

Yogurt

  • For vata, fresh yogurt is best, and commercial and frozen yogurt should be avoided.
  • For pitta, fresh yogurt that has been diluted is okay, frozen yogurt or commercial yogurt with fruit are best avoided.
  • Kapha can enjoy fresh, diluted yogurt, avoiding frozen yogurt and commercial yogurt.

Nuts & Seeds

You can add nuts to your oats, and again what’s appropriate for you will depend on your dosha.

  • Vata benefits from very simple combinations, and nuts, while providing fats and protein, can challenge vata digestion, so it may be best to avoid adding nuts altogether. If you do add them, very small quantities of coconut, sunflower seeds, and almonds are appropriate.
  • Pitta often has a strong digestive fire and may burn through a breakfast of oatmeal within an hour. This is where nuts can help sustain them. Soaked and peeled almonds, coconut, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are appropriate.
  • Kapha can do well with the addition of nuts, as the qualities of some nuts can bring balance to this dosha. Soaked and peeled almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are appropriate.
     

kapha balancing oatmeal ingredients

Dosha Balancing Bowls

Vata Balancing Bowl

Vata needs a soupier consistency, and organic rolled or quick oats with gentle spices like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon are best.

Use organic rolled oats or quick cooking oats.

Additions:

Pitta Balancing Bowl

Because pitta needs more substance to their breakfast, steel cut oats are best. They are less processed and will be more filling.

Use steel cut oats or quick cooking steel cut oats

Additions:

Kapha Balancing Bowl

The gritty textured quality of steel cut oats will benefit kapha.

Use steel cut oats or quick cooking steel cut oats

Additions:

  • Small amount of fresh ginger
  • Pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried coconut
  • 1 tablespoon dried currants
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds or chia seeds