The Ayurvedic Medicine of Taste
The health benefits of balancing different tastes, plus a recipe for Coconut Almond Overnight Oats
Nature’s evolutionary, self-regulating, generative intelligence is conveyed to us through her foods. Each flavor in the rainbow of nature’s abundance expresses a dazzling ray of this intelligence. Sweet gives us comfort, strength and fortitude. Salty supports hydration and digestion, while helping us “taste” the bounty of life. Sour bolsters courage, clarity and the power of assimilation. Pungent ignites enthusiasm and aids metabolism. Astringent helps us pull it together, focus, extract the essentials from food and the essence from life. Bitter gives expansion… but only by helping us let go, release, detoxify and purify.
The Six Tastes, or Shad Rasas as they are called in Ayurveda, are made up of the five elements. Sweet is Earth and Water. Salty is Water and Fire. Sour is Earth and Fire. Pungent is Fire and Air. Astringent is Earth and Air. Bitter is Air and Space.
When you include all six tastes in a natural, whole food meal, all five elements are fed and your body is fully nourished so that you feel satisfied and your cravings diminish.
Most importantly, the balanced application of the Six Tastes builds healthy tissue, increases energy, strengthens your immune system, promotes lightness and comfort, supports mental clarity, concentration and contentment. When you eat a meal integrating all six tastes you feel the inner peace of this natural intelligence harmonized within you.
It might sound complicated or esoteric at first, but it quickly becomes intuitive and logical. Try it at your next meal. While preparing it ask yourself, Which taste is missing? Which taste do I need more of right now in my life? Which taste should I reduce?
For instance, in summer we naturally feel the desire to reduce the three tastes that are heating: sour, salty and pungent, while favoring the tastes that are cooling: sweet, astringent and bitter. Rice with beans and greens is a great summer dish, or a hearty salad with salmon, tofu and feta would be ideal for lunch. The recipe below for Coconut Almond Overnight Oats balances the six tastes for summer while keeping prep easy and cool.
Coconut Almond Overnight Oats
No bake, no cook, no pressure - this recipe comes together in five minutes and is ready when you are in the morning. It’s high in protein, fiber and flavor to help you start your day with energy, elegance and ease.
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoon chia seeds
2 cups coconut milk (can also use almond milk)
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 medjool dates
1 teaspoon vanilla syrup
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 pinch pink salt or sea salt
Topping suggestions: blueberries, mango, coconut flakes, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, chopped almonds
In the evening, divide the oats and chia equally into two mason jars. Put the rest of the ingredients into an electric blender and mix on high until the dates and almond butter have completely liquified. Pour the liquid mixture evenly into each mason jar. Seal the jars and shake well. Store overnight at room temperature. In the morning add fruit, flakes, seeds and/or nuts. Enjoy!
There is a well-known Ayurvedic proverb that,“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” I invite you to my new online course, The Medicine in Your Kitchen: Introduction to Ayurvedic Cooking to learn how to restore, improve or preserve your most beautiful, radiant health.