By Shruthi Bajaj, Ayruvedic Chef at 7 Centers Yoga Arts
Enjoy the pumpkin bounty of the fall by creating a simple and soothing stew. This amazing seasonal vegetable is extremely beneficial in calming the Vata dosha, which can be elevated during the fall season, due to the dryness, the winds, and all the transitions occurring in nature.
Cooked pumpkin is considered a sedative, which calms the nervous system, a system that is often compromised when Vata is out-of-balance. Pumpkins help to build the vital energy cushion, which recharges and regenerates tissues in the body. According to Ayurveda, stabilizing the nervous system through fall immensely helps your body to maintain immunity during the winter months.
Pumpkins are their lovely orange color because of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene, also in carrots and sweet potatoes, is an antioxidant that reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease. Vitamin A soothes the lung membranes and bronchioles, and supports the immune system.
Golden Pumpkin and Coconut Stew
1-2 tablespoons ghee
½ onion, diced
5 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
6 cups vegetable stock or water
2 ½ pounds pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup fresh basil or cilantro, chopped
Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the diced onion, carrots, celery, and ginger. Sauté for 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and slightly brown. Add more ghee if the mixture begins to look dry. Add turmeric to the mix, and sauté for another 30 seconds.
Add the pumpkin pieces and coat with the spices. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 10-20 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Remove from heat and let cool briefly.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Return the pot to the heat, add the coconut milk and salt, and gently heat. Garnish with cilantro or basil, and serve with fresh warm bread.
To balance Vata: to warm Vata, substitute the coconut milk with an organic milk or non-dairy option. To increase digestive fire, add additional ginger or black pepper.
To balance Pitta: to cool Pitta, eliminate onions from the recipe, or substitute with a milder version such as leeks or shallots
To balance Kapha: to lighten Kapha, substitute the coconut milk with rice milk. To increase digestive fire, add additional ginger or black pepper.
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Recipe inspired by Shosoni Yoga Retreat Yoga Kitchen Cookbook. Thank you to Joyful Belly and Amadea Morningstar for other content.