If you’re into seasonal eating and artichokes, then you probably already know that early spring, and summer is a special time of the year. One of the few vegetables still making a seasonal appearance, artichokes, like humans, also come with a unique constitution or prakriti as referred to in Ayurveda. Key information that can teach us how to prepare, cook and serve up an artichoke in a manner that not only appeases our tastes buds, but one that promotes mind-body balance.
Determining an artichoke’s constitution involves a deeper look at their primary elements—ether, air, fire, water, earth, which help determine their key tastes, and qualities. These factors inform us of the role artichokes will play in the digestive process to support mind-body health. Known to be rich in fiber, these flowering buds with their crown-like appearance primarily fall under the astringent and bitter tastes. Through Ayurveda’s nutritional framework, these tastes speak to how artichokes help the mind-body to let go, tone and detoxify.
A natural diuretic, these buds are low on the caloric scale. While they have an earthiness, they are richer in the element of air. Making them light and dry in their qualities. Being inherently drying, along with their astringent and bitter tastes, artichokes have a vata nature. All of these factors support the shedding of excess earth and water elements that tend to accumulate during the fall and winter season.
In a sense, artichokes can then be seen as a natural antidote for spring. A season, when kapha dosha predominates, and the water element continues to rise well into summer. Counterbalancing with the elements and qualities of the external environment, artichokes provide us with the elements missing from the nourishment we receive from the external environment. At the same time, their primary vata prakriti, speaks to the possible imbalances over-consumption of artichokes can create.
However, cooking and serving artichokes with a vata pacifying approach brings. In incorporating the missing elements, tastes, and qualities into the recipe, you can add create a tri-doshic artichoke to support fostering balance within. Using a dose of a healthy, unrefined fat like olive oil, ghee or coconut oil will add more of the earth element, and also balance the dry and light quality. In addition, a few pungent spices, sour-y citrus, and mineral-rich salt adds the transformative element of fire. Aiding digestion, absorption, and warmth to this inherently cooling vegetable.
In Ayurveda style cooking and eating, along with seasonality, the six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter, and qualities play a key role. Easily integrated with today’s nutrients, carbs, and protein model, Ayurveda’s brings in flavors, textures, and experience. Long before nutrients were developed, this time-tested science spoke to the importance of nourishing all of our five elements—ether, air, fire, water, and earth. In addition to how the mind-body feels post consumption and the capacity of our digestive fire. Factors according to Ayurveda are holistically integral to the absorption of nutrients for the mind and the body.
Artichokes + Ayurveda Nutrition
- Primary taste: astringent and bitter
- Primary elements: air and earth
- Primary qualities: light and dry
- Primary potency: cooling
- Primary maha-guna: sattva
3 tips on how to balance artichoke’s vata constitution:
- serve with a warm, healthy fat like olive oil or ghee. this is will not only balance the dryness, it will also balance the lightness
- spice it up! add a little black pepper to aid digestion, balance the cooling properties and add a little of the fire element
- squeeze a little sour like lemon, lime or sprinkle some sumac, this will add a little of the fire element, along with supporting the digestive process
Serving by prakriti or personal constitution
- kapha constitution, imbalance or slower metabolic rate | steamed, boiled or grilled. decrease the quantity of oily or creamy dipping sauces. add a little more spice like black pepper, and sauted garlic.
- pitta constitution, imbalance or acidic digestion | steamed, boiled or grilled. reduce the souring agent in the sauce, especially vinegar and spices like black pepper, raw garlic, and red chilis.
- vata constitution, imbalance or if there is excessive dryness | steamed, boiled, lightly pan-fried, baked. enjoy with a healthy fat and natural souring agents like lemon or lime either whisked or emulsified for a creamy effect to balance the dryness, and lightness, for a more nourishing serving.