In Ayurveda, eating is an artform. According to the ancient holistic philosophy, a balanced diet isn’t just about what you eat, as it’s about when and how as well.
Beautiful, bubbly and knowledgeable Ayurvedic expert Sahara Rose is our go-to for making modern sense of these ancient concepts. She’s shared with us about everything from how to handle allergies to the basics on our doshas (our Ayurvedic mind-body type — discover yours here).
To celebrate the upcoming release of her debut cookbook, Eat Feel Fresh: A Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook, we asked Sahara to give us a breakdown of what she eats in a day. From balanced breakfast bowls to post-dinner digestive tonics, Sahara is sharing the ins and outs of her daily diet and three exclusive recipes from her new cookbook. Pre-order the book here (it’s officially out October 2nd) and get exploring below…
The morning is the most sacred time in Ayurveda; the way we start our day is how we will feel for the rest of day. We each have a fire in our guts, which is in charge of our digestion, metabolism, nutrient absorption and elimination. When we sleep overnight, this fire goes out, so it’s up to us in the morning to ignite that spark yet again. This is why Ayurveda recommends starting your day with something warm.
I personally love starting my day with CCF tea, which stands for cumin, coriander and fennel seeds. This trio helps stimulate the digestive system, support your body in detoxing, and increase nutrient assimilation. It’s also super affordable and easy! The night before I’ll boil 4 cups water and steep 1 tsp ground cumin, coriander and fennel seeds each overnight. The next day, I’ll add a splash of hot water and have that first thing in the morning!
After my daily form of movement, which varies between pilates reformer, cardio and infrared yoga, I’ll come home and have my Surya Smoothie from my cookbook, Eat Feel Fresh. The word surya means sun and this smoothie really makes me feel like a bright day. I’ll change it up according to what Dosha is out of balance, but recently I’ve been loving the Spring Cheer Smoothie bowl, which consists of refrigerated blueberries (not frozen), steamed + refrigerated cauliflower (which makes it easy to digest—frozen hampers the digestive system), water, plant-based protein powder, cinnamon, ginger and a few droplets of monk fruit sweetener. I top it off with some blueberries, chia seeds and grain-free granola. It’s probably my favorite meal of the day and feels like I’m having dessert for breakfast, without any of the sugar, dairy or wheat.
Surya (Sun) Smoothie
1 cup blueberries
1 handful spinach
1/2 cup steamed cauliflower florets
handful of spinach
1–2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 scoop plant-based protein powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp fresh grated ginger
pptional: 4 drops liquid monk-fruit sweetener or 1 pitted date, to sweeten
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top with chia seeds and blueberries. Enjoy!
I used to skip lunch and find myself famished at dinner, which is why I make sure I have my mid-day meal. In Ayurveda, we should make lunch our biggest meal of the day because it is when our digestive system is most active and we have the time to burn off the excess energy. My go-to is one of my Six Taste Bowls, which incorporate the six tastes we ALL need to keep us nutritionally balanced—and prevent mid-afternoon cravings (coffee and chocolate anyone?)
The six tastes of Ayurveda are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent, which you can easily get in a versatile bowl. My favorite for the fall is the Quinoa Sunflower Seed Pesto Bowl. I already have the cooked quinoa, roasted squash, chickpeas, spiralized zucchini and pesto ready in my fridge from my meal-prep day, and just throw them together, topped with sunflower seeds and microgreens if I want to be extra. Just looking at the bowl makes me feel warm, comforted and grounded—and ready to pick my Halloween costume.
Quinoa Sunflower Seed Pesto Bowl
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup roasted acorn squash, sliced
½ cup roasted chickpeas
2 medium zucchinis
3 Tbsp micro-greens
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds or halved walnuts
several springs of parsley
for the pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
3 garlic cloves, minced (omit for Pitta)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or walnuts
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
Using a spiralizer, slice the zucchinis into thin ribbons with the straight blade. Boil a small pot of water and add the zucchini. Cook for 2 minutes, then strain immediately and let it drain for a few minutes.
To make the pesto, combine basil, garlic, sunflower seeds or walnuts, salt, and lemon juice, in a food processor. Pulse while streaming in olive oil until emulsified. Turn off and scrape down once or twice to ensure all is thoroughly processed. Transfer to a bowl.
Add quinoa to a large bowl and mix in ½ serving pesto. Top with sliced acorn squash, zucchini ribbons, roasted Mediterranean chickpeas and ½ additional serving pesto. Garnish with microgreens, walnuts and parsley.
I tend to keep dinner on the light side and often will just eat leftovers from lunch with a salad or lentil soup, depending on the season. This summer in LA it’s been all salads for me (as someone who is predominantly Pitta in my constitution) but I’ll still need to balance it off with something warming and grounding to keep my Vata in balance (which just LOVES to give me bloating!)
I’ll heat up one of my Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers from my book, and just have it over a baby spinach and arugula salad with a dressing of avocado, tahini, lime and coconut vinegar. Just that bowl right there comprises of the six tastes:
Sweet: Sweet potatoes, avocado
Sour: Lime, coconut vinegar
Bitter: Arugula + spinach
Pungent: Cumin + turmeric in the burger
Astringent: Chickpeas, tahini
With the combination of the six tastes, I’m not left cold, bloated + gassy like an unbalanced salad with only greens would.
It’s honestly way easier/ more intuitive to count tastes rather than macronutrients and calories, and gives you a way healthier relationship with your food! Food is so much more than just a number, but rather the energy we take into our bodies, which we then share with others. When we eat a diet balanced in the six tastes, we feel more balanced in life.
Balakara (Strengthening) Sweet Potato Turmeric Chickpea Burger with Magic Sauce
1½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 large sweet potato
1 ½ cup rolled oats (gluten-free optional)
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp black pepper
2–3 garlic cloves (reduce or omit for Pitta)
½ tsp cayenne (omit for Pitta)
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup chopped cilantro, to garnish
sliced avocado (optional), to serve
arugula, to serve
sliced cherry tomatoes, to serve
sprouted bun, to serve
for the Magic Sauce:
¾ cup cashews, soaked at least one hour
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp tomato paste (option to omit for Pitta/ yogic path)
1 Tbsp monk fruit or regular maple syrup
4 tsp pickle relish
3 tsp stone-ground mustard
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375. Wash your sweet potato and wrap it in foil. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Once baked, remove from oven to cool and switch oven to 350.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all burger ingredients and pulse until combined.
Form mixture into balls place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten the burgers with a spatula .
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven for and bake for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through baking.
In the meantime, make your magic sauce by blending all ingerdients in a food processor or blender. Adjust taste as needed and pour into bowl.
Toast sprouted bun and place one patty on tap. Top with avocado, arugula, cilantro and sliced cherry tomatoes. Pour on 1 serving magic sauce and top with another bun. Enjoy your Insta-worthy burger!
Ayurveda recommends closing out your day with a delicious tonic and sweet treat, as it’s food for the soul and feeds the divine feminine within us all. That’s why we get so irritable when we’re on strict diets— we all need something sweet to nourish us! We just have to make sure to get it from high quality ingredients made from Earth, not a lab.
I’ll settle down into the evening with an adaptogenic golden mylk potion from my book, which just consists of a tbsp of my turmeric paste, ¼ tsp ashwaghanda, ¼ tsp shatavari and 2 droplets of monk fruit in a cup of 50/50 hot water/ unsweetened flax milk.
The reason why I use my turmeric paste is because it makes the turmeric the most bioavailable. Curcumin needs a healthy fat, like coconut oil, to be absorbable by the body. It is also 50% more bioavailable when paired with black pepper. Any golden mylk mix that doesn’t contain black pepper and isn’t paired with a fat isn’t giving you the benefits you’re drinking it for! This is also why turmeric capsules on their own are not nearly as effective as consuming them.
I sprinkle my potion with a dash of blood-sugar-balancing cinnamon and froth with an electric frother because foam just adds such a luxurious feel. Turmeric is an Ayurvedic superspice and has been scientifically proven to be as effective of an antidepressant as Prozac, so what better way to end your day than Earth’s happiness booster? You don’t need sugar-filled wine when you got adaptogenic turmeric!
I’ll also nibble on my Chai or Golden Mylk Bliss Balls, which are nature’s little Ayurvedic treat. My fav version consists of sunflower seed butter, hemp hearts, coconut oil, dates, flax milk, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, ashwaghanda and shatavari. So good and so balancing for female hormones.
Mark my words—shatavari will be the next ashwaghanda! Both Ayurvedic adaptogens that cater to whatever your nervous system needs, which is why it’s such an intelligent herb. However, they have notable differences. Ashwaghanda is a masculine herb, and the name means “strength of a stallion” in Sanskrit. Shatavari is it’s feminine sister, who’s name means “she with 100 husbands.” You may just be walkin’ around with 100 stallions after having your shatavari fix!
Chai Adaptogenic Bliss Balls
makes 16 balls
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup sunflower, almond or coconut butter
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/2 cup raw almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
¼ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp vanilla extract
4 Medjool dates, pitted and preferably soaked
2–4 Tbsp non-dairy milk
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp ashwaghanda (optional for adaptogenic benefits)
½ tsp shatavari (optional for adaptogenic benefits)
suggested coatings: beetroot powder, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, chopped goji berries
Place all ingredients, beginning with 2 tbsp non-dairy milk in a food processor. Blend until a wet dough forms. Add additional tbsp non-dairy milk if dry.
Divide the dough into 16 2-inch round balls and roll in your choice of toppings. Place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Before eating, take the balls out of the freezer to thaw for a few minutes.
Balls can be stored in an air-tight container in freezer for up to one month. They do melt in heat so best to consume them cold.
Eating this way makes me feel expanded, uplifted and nourished from within. People often ask me if I have cheat days and the honest answer is no.. I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself to need to cheat on anything. It’s just like being in a loving relationship—why look anywhere else? I LOVE where I am at! Becoming more conscious of the way I eat was the very first step on my spiritual journey and I hope this inspires you to eat not just for your body, but also for your mind and spirit.
Discover more from Ayurvedic expert Sahara Rose right here.