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"Heaven's Banquet" - Ayurvedic Cooking Made Easy

ISSUED // February 21

"Heaven's Banquet" - Ayurvedic Cooking Made Easy

Want to try Ayurvedic cooking, but not sure where to start? Pick up a copy of Heaven’s Banquet: The Maharishi AyurVeda Cookbook.

Written in 2001 by Miriam Kasin Hospodar, Heaven’s Banquet is the quintessential Ayurvedic cookbook. Much more than a collection of recipes, Heaven's Banquet is an easy guide to supporting a long, healthy, delicious life.

A self-described “home cook,” Miriam understands the challenges of cooking healthy meals for a big family on a crazy schedule. While raising her family, she studied Ayurveda and refined her own recipes. During this time, she served as chef at international meditation courses and Ayurvedic spas, cooking for dignitaries, students, and families. She also studied Ayurvedic cuisine with Ayurvedic Vaidyas (experts).

The MAPI Team interviewed Miriam back when Heaven’s Banquet was first published. We’ve republished the conversation, which includes tips and recipes.

What is ayurvedic cuisine?

MIRIAM: Ayurvedic cuisine is about cooking and eating for greater balance, better health, and bliss. Ayurvedic cuisine is one of the core components of Ayurveda, which is the oldest health care system in the world and has been time-tested over the millennia. Ayurvedic texts emphasize the importance of food for maintaining health and happiness.

The goal of eating is complete fulfillment for the individual: nourishing the senses, mind, body and spirit—which enlivens bliss in the body and, in turn, balances the mind and body. One method used in Ayurveda to bring about this balance in the mind and body is the sense of taste. As Hippocrates once said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food."

 Do I have to be a vegetarian?

MIRIAM: Not necessarily. Although the long-standing tradition of Ayurveda is vegetarian, every type of food will have a certain value for someone at some time. Ayurvedic cuisine respects the needs and preferences of each individual rather than trying to fit all of us into one nutritional mold. When you start eating Ayurvedically, it will help enliven your body's inner wisdom. Then, your body will crave foods which pacify the Vata or Pitta doshas.

Don't force. Depriving yourself of foods you are craving can create an even bigger conflict. Most importantly, pay attention to how you feel. Remember that your body has within it all the intelligence it needs to maintain balance. Be receptive to what it is telling you. If your craving remains insatiable, your imbalances may best be identified and addressed by a health care practitioner trained in Maharishi AyurVeda.

Interested in booking an Ayurvedic consultation? You can schedule a wellness check-in here.

Can ayurvedic cuisine be classified as a low-fat diet or a sugar-free diet?

MIRIAM: Cooking Ayurvedically can be both, if people need it. Different people need different things. It's easy to adjust recipes accordingly.

For example, if you have a Vata imbalance, you need more sweet and rich foods. If you have a Kapha dosha imbalance you should eat fewer sweets, except honey. And Kaphas need to cut back on fats and oil. At different times in our lives we may be able to eat more of one thing than another. This isn't a one-size-fits-all diet.

Learn more about the basic principles of the Ayurvedic Diet.

Why do you bake without eggs?

MIRIAM: According to Ayurveda, eggs can have a subtle effect of causing the mind to wander. So I've developed special methods for baking without eggs. All the quick breads and muffins in Heaven's Banquet are eggless. I worked 19 years on developing an eggless, corn syrup-less pecan pie, and I think you'll agree—it's healthy and delicious.

Why is an ayurvedic diet healthier than others?

MIRIAM: MIRIAM: Ayurvedic cuisine is based on a complete system of health. It doesn't have a limited focus such as "low-fat," "high-fiber," etc., which may change as new scientific research is available. Ayurvedic cuisine is based on specific principles that remain true over time.

Health issues can always be traced to an underlying imbalance in the mind and body. By following the principles of Maharishi AyurVeda, you can determine which foods, tastes, and herbal supplements will promote wellness in your mind and body.

Sample Recipes from Heaven's Banquet — cookbook by Miriam Kasin Hospodar

  • Cornbread - Comfort food fans unite! Cornbread is a naturally sweet and wholesome side for chili, stews, salads, and soups. Miriam’s version offers Ayurvedic adjustments for different dosha types.
  • Lemon-Yogurt Cheesecake for Jerry - This light and fluffy variation on traditional cheesecake satisfies your sweet tooth without weighing you down.

Miriam's Tips for Quick Ayurvedic Meals

It's well worth the time it takes to nourish your body well. Whatever time we "lose" by preparing fresh foods, we may gain by adding more years to our life and more vitality and happiness to those years.

  • Buy dry goods such as dhal, beans, grains and pasta in bulk to save extra trips to the grocery store.
  • Use a Crock-Pot® (slow cooker) to cook beans, soups, stews, Khichari (savory dhal and rice).
  • Prepare one-pot meals in a crockpot: dhal soup with barley, minestrone (with pasta added before serving), or any type of stew or soup containing dhal, grains and vegetables.
  • Add a sprinkling of olive oil and fresh herbs to pasta for a one-dish meal; add tofu, panir/paneer, or nuts for a more substantial meal.

Facts About Ghee

  • Ghee is a good source of vitamin A.
  • In recipes calling for butter, you can use 30% less ghee.
  • Ghee has a very high burning point, but a low melting point. So it stays viscous in the body in all circumstances.
  • Baked goods keep longer when cooked with ghee.
  • Ghee contains no hydogenated oils, or trans fatty acids.
  • The Charaka Samhita (an ayurvedic text on health) says ghee promotes memory, intelligence, and ojas, and improves digestion without increasing Pitta dosha.

An Ayurvedic Sweet-Busting Tip

Here's a three-step tip that will help you when craving sweets:

  1. After a meal, or after eating two or three dates, drink a cup of Maharishi AyurVeda’s Be Trim Tea. Be sure to drink a whole cup.
  2. Now try those cookies or that yummy-looking cake you've been wanting to snack on all day.
  3. Experience the taste of your snack. It may look good. It may even smell like it's going to taste good, but most people report that the taste is a very big disappointment.

Be Trim Tea is a flavorful digestive blend of mint leaf, fennel seed, Indian kino, cinnamon stick, cardamom, licorice, and other herbs and spices combined together in precise proportions to support healthy fat metabolism and help regulate appetite.. However, it also works to help break the mind-body connection between sweets and fulfillment. Find our delicious Be Trim Tea here and try it yourself!

© 1999, 2024 Maharishi AyurVeda Products International, Inc. (MAPI). All Rights Reserved. MAPI does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. See additional information.

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