Rose Petal Lassi to Aid Digestion and Cool Pitta

Lassi is a traditional Ayurvedic drink that aids digestion. Made from yogurt, water, and spices, it is good for all mind-body types. It is best to drink lassi after you have finished your main meal at lunchtime. Remember that the increase of Pitta in our environment and in our body during the summer causes our own internal fire of digestion to become diminished. The Pitta-pacifying influence of roses and the digestion-enhancing quality of lassi makes this drink the perfect summertime refresher.


Rose Petal Lassi (serves 4)

2 cups fresh yogurt

2 cups water

1/2 tablespoon Rose Petal Jam

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 cup sugar or honey (to taste)

Blend ingredients in a blender until frothy. Serve immediately and enjoy.

As an alternative to Rose Petal Lassi, try the traditional Digestive Lassi served at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa.

Digestive Lassi (one glass)

1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 cup water

1 pinch black salt

1 pinch freshly ground pepper

1 pinch cumin

1 pinch ginger

Blend all the ingredients and drink it after your meal.

Yogurt in and of itself is not recommended in the summer because it aggravates Pitta. When made into lassi, however, yogurt’s Pitta qualities enhance digestion without increasing Pitta elsewhere in the body. Store-bought yogurt is more sour and Pitta-aggravating than homemade yogurt. For this reason, fresh yogurt is ideal for making lassi. Convenient yogurt makers are widely available in stores. Or you can make it easily with what you already have in your kitchen.

Fresh Yogurt

Heat 1 quart of milk to 185-195 degrees.

Take the pot off the stove and let it cool for a bit. Then place it in a sink filled with cool water until the milk cools to 120-115 degrees.

Once the milk cools to 120°-115°, add plain yogurt as a starter (1/4 cup). Do not use Greek yogurt. Mix well.

Pour milk with starter into a sterilized quart-sized canning jar.

Place the yogurt in a warm place and leave it undisturbed for 10 to 12 hours. Wrap the jar with a towel if your house is cool.

Here are some options:

Some people turn their oven on to 200° for about 5 minutes, turn off the oven and put the towel-wrapped yogurt in the oven with the oven light on.

Others prefer to put their yogurt in a cooler filled with 120° water and close the lid. Make sure the water comes to the top third of the jar.

Another approach is to wrap the towel-wrapped jar in a heating pad set to “high”.

Refrigerate your yogurt for at least 3 hours before eating.

Getting the Most Out of Our Food—Helpful Tips from Ayurveda and Modern Science

With the fullness of summer comes bustling farmers’ markets and overflowing shelves in the fruit and vegetable sections of our grocery stores. It is the time of the year when the availability of local produce is at its peak. Indulge! Studies have shown that eating seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day can extend life expectancy a staggering 42%.

To cook vegetables or to eat them raw is the question of the season. According to Ayurveda, this decision is best made with an understanding of your body type, your state of balance or imbalance, and the quality of your digestion.

Ayurveda’s main text, the Charak Samhita, recommends primarily cooked foods because cooking increases the element of agni that is essential for the assimilation of nutrients and their transformation into the bodily tissues. The higher proportion of nutrients available in raw food doesn’t count if you can’t digest, absorb and assimilate them. Let’s look first at body types and who can eat what. Then we’ll move on to specific foods and how to best make their nutrients available to us.

In order to choose the best option for your physiology, not only do you need to evaluate your individual physiology, it also helps take into account seasonal influences. In the summer, for instance, our body reacts to the high external heat by turning down our metabolism. This means that for many the ability to digest food is severely diminished.


Raw Food vs Body Type

In general, those with Pitta, or Pitta/Kapha body types who do not have significant Vata imbalances can handle raw foods in their diet, especially in the late spring and summer seasons. This is because the element of “fire” or “agni” is very lively in their constitutions and they benefit from a cooling diet.

The overly cold, dry, light qualities of raw foods, however, may create problems for anyone with a severe Vata imbalance. They may find an increase in symptoms of abdominal gas, bloating, constipation, worry and anxiety, and dryness. Those wishing to balance or counter Vata imbalances do better with a diet that is warm, moist and easily digestible.

Those with Kapha imbalances may find that the cold nature of raw foods leads to allergies, sinus problems or asthma.

One solution for those who prefer raw foods but lack a strong Pitta component is to enjoy raw juices. Juicing or blending with “super blenders” that basically pulverize foods allows you to break down the cellulose the surrounds the outer layer of fruit and vegetable molecules, thus allowing you to derive optimum nutritional benefits.

Nutrient Availability in Foods 

It turns out that many vegetables only offer their full nutritional value when they have been cooked. Let’s look at how to get the most out of this summer’s fresh, organic vegetables.

It is important to note that when I refer to cooking vegetables, I am usually referring to steaming for 4 or 5 minutes or baking in the oven with a slight drizzle of oil. Obviously, mushy, over-cooked vegetables are not going to provide many healthful nutrients. Boiling vegetables removes many important minerals and nutrients.

Cooking vegetables reduces the mass of the vegetable, concentrating more nutrients with less bulk. Bitter greens like spinach and kale are generally more edible when cooked because cooking also eliminates the oxalic acid, which interferes with calcium absorption.

Cooking significantly improves the digestibility and bioavailability of starchy foods such as potatoes and yams, squashes. This is also true with grains and legumes.

(One note about whole grains: the phosphorus in bran is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. According to the book, Nourishing Traditions, phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. This is why many traditional ways of cooking grains include presoaking or fermenting grains before eating them. These processes neutralize the phytates, essentially predigesting the food so that their nutrients are more available. Phytic acid is also present in nuts, which also should be soaked before eating.)

Green beans always need to be cooked until soft otherwise, they are actually toxic. Raw beans are poisonous because they contain prussic acid, which is deactivated only by cooking.

Cooked carrots, spinach, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers supply more antioxidants such as carotenoids and ferulic acid to the body than they do when raw,

Mild heating, such as steaming, appears to improve the extractability of beta-carotene from vegetables, along with increasing betacarotene’s bioavailability. Beta-carotene absorption can be as low as 1-2% from raw vegetables such as carrots.

Lycopene in tomatoes is thought to be responsible for reducing the risk of some cancers and heart disease. Studies have shown that the absorption of lycopene is greater from cooked tomatoes. However cooking tomatoes can destroy other vitamins, so it is good to include raw tomatoes in one’s diet as well as cooked tomatoes.

Steaming asparagus ignites its cancer-fighting potential.

If you have any questions about which form of vegetables is best for you, check with an Ayurveda expert in your area. Ayurveda pulse assessment will reveal what kinds and forms of vegetables will be most helpful in creating a healthy balance for your mind/body system. Ayurveda recognizes the unique differences of each individual. In order to correctly determine your optimal requirements, it is important to understand your level of balance and imbalance. For information on Ayurvedic consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

Eating at Night Puts on the Pounds~ How an Ayurvedic Routine Can Lead to Weight Loss


Regular eating after 8 PM leads to weight gain, according to modern research. The most recent study on this subject showed that those who dine late in the evening typically have waistlines two inches larger than those who dine earlier. The results of these kinds of studies underscore the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda gives the knowledge of how to live one’s life in accord with the natural rhythms and cycles of nature. The classic Ayurvedic daily routine is based on a foundational understanding of nature’s functioning and the acknowledgment that we are a part of nature. When we are living in tune with nature’s cycles it means that all our mind/body systems are supported by the same cosmic forces that maintain the world around us.

In this recent study, researcher Patricia Lopez-Legarrea analyzed data on almost 5,500 Chileans. She noted that “the body clock produces optimal levels of appetite enzymes and hormones during daylight hours.” Those who ate late had an average Body Mass Index (BMI is a measure of weight in proportion to height) that was at least a half a point higher than those who dined earlier.

Understanding the Ayurvedic daily routine means understanding the three doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and how their influence changes throughout the day. (If you are not familiar with the doshas, please read The Raj blog, Understanding the Doshas.) Pitta, which is responsible for transformation and metabolism, peaks in the daylight hours from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. For this reason, Ayurveda recommends eating one’s main meal at noon, when one’s digestive powers are at their peak.

The second Pitta cycle is from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM. This Pitta cycle is a more subtle cycle of transformation. This is when the body repairs itself from the activities of the day. Research has found that even our joints contain little biological clocks that trigger repair mechanisms to heal aching joints at night if we are asleep. If we are active during this late hour Pitta time, the energy that is meant to be used for regeneration and repair ends up being spent in other ways. If we are trying to digest food from a big, late-evening meal, the results will be sluggish and it will not be as effective as the mid-day process. Not only does the body not process the food efficiently at night, the process of digestion draws energy away from what the body wants to be doing at night: healing and regenerating on a cellular level.

Going to bed before 10:00 is one of the greatest health tips on record. Sleep is right up there with nutrition and exercise in terms of its importance in keeping us healthy.

While we sleep, our body is hard at work performing repairs on the heart, blood vessels, brain and other tissues that help keep chronic disease at bay. When we cut back on sleep, we cut back on the body’s all-important nightly maintenance schedule. Eventually, this neglect will take its toll, setting the stage for major problems.

(As an aside, Ludwig van Beethoven kept an early bedtime routine, going to bed at 10 p.m. at the latest. He was able to optimize his early-morning routine (a time when Vata predominates, encouraging creativity) because he was fresh and vitalized from a properly timed night’s sleep.)

Modern research has been making the connection between the body’s natural biorhythms and weight gain for some time now. A 2013 study showed that when we don’t get enough sleep we trigger reactions in the brain that confuse the signals of tiredness and hunger, and that this can lead to increased cravings for sugar and starchy foods. In Ayurvedic terms, we would say that an increase in Vata (due to a lack of rest) causes the body to crave Kapha foods in order to reestablish balance. Another study found that sleep loss not only boosts hunger but also slows the rate of calorie burn, promoting weight gain.

Yet another study took a look at “night owls”; people who ate the same amount of calories per day as those who went to bed at normal times, but who ate a larger proportion of those calories at dinner or after 8:00 p.m. Researchers found that calories consumed after 8:00 p.m. were most strongly associated with weight gain, and concluded that it’s not only the quality of your diet that matters but the time of day you’re eating.

Lead author on the study noted, “The study suggests regulating the timing of eating and sleep could improve the effectiveness of weight management programs.” This is why Ayurvedic weight loss programs can be so successful. They not only take into account your individual body type and the way your body reacts to specific foods, but also your entire daily routine and your relationship with the world around you. Getting back in step with the cycles of nature means that your body can function in a more effortless and effective mode, no matter what you want it to accomplish.

For more information on The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa Weight Loss program, visit:

Ayurveda Tips for the Spring-to-Summer Transition


Now that the cool, wet Kapha days of spring are behind us, it is time to adjust to the increase in heat in our environment. The hot, sunny, and dry days of summer mean that that same heating, Pitta influence is increasing in our physiology. Pitta is hot, sharp, sour, pungent, and penetrating. It is a fundamental principle of Ayurveda that like increases like. To balance Pitta, we need to opt for choices that are cooling, sweet and relaxing.


Because the hot weather of summer increases Pitta within the body, we need to begin to favor foods that pacify (decrease) Pitta. Include more foods with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Include the fresh, sweet fruits and vegetable that grow in this season. Foods such as cucumbers, sweet fruits, and melons are considered very cooling. Dairy can help balance the heat of Pitta. This includes milk, butter, and ghee.

Opt for fewer foods with pungent, sour and salty tastes. Sour, fermented products such as yogurt, cheese, sour cream, and vinegar should be used sparingly as sour tastes aggravate Pitta. Eat fewer tomatoes and hot spices. Rice (especially white basmati rice), barley, wheat and oats are the best grains to reduce Pitta. Eat less corn, rye, millet, and brown rice.

Switch over to cooling herbs such as coriander, cilantro, fennel, cardamom, and saffron. Hard liquor, red wine, and red meat are too heating for the summer.

Enhancing Digestion

As the heat increases outside our body, our physical system tries to maintain balance by lowering our internal fires. As a result out metabolism becomes lower and our ability to digest food diminishes. While may seem natural at this time to indulge in colorful salads and plates of uncooked vegetables, unless your digestive capability is exceptionally strong, your body may not be able to absorb nutrients from raw foods. Ayurveda recommends cooked foods to strengthen one’s digestive power and optimize nutrient absorption. Ripe fruits are considered to be “cooked by the sun” and are fine to eat. Avoid sour tasting fruits, however, as they will increase Pitta.

Ayurveda recommends never eating iced or cold food and drinks. While it can be tempting to grab a drink from the refrigerator or enjoy some ice cream on a hot summer day, these foods will pretty much “put out” our already diminished digestive fire. If you must, indulge in ice cream in the late afternoon, after your lunch has been thoroughly digested.

Stay away from carbonated drinks, as they also act to slow down digestion.

Meal Times

To keep Pitta dosha from becoming aggravated, do not skip meals or wait until you are ravenously hungry before you eat. In the summer months it is good to follow good eating habits: Breakfast is important. Cooked apples or pears are a light yet nourishing way to start the day. If you need a heartier breakfast, include cooked cereal.

Eat your main meal at noon when your digestive fires are at their peak. While yogurt is not recommended in the summer, yogurt in the form of lassi can actually help boost digestion. Drink it at the end of your meal.

Stay Hydrated!

Pitta is drying by nature. It is important to drink 4 – 6 cups of water daily, as well as enjoying other cooling beverages.

Daily Routine

Those who enjoy daily Ayurvedic massage may want to switch from sesame oil to a cooler oils such as coconut oil or olive oil.

Avoid direct exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Save your exercise for the early morning or late evening. Avoid extreme sports.

Go to bed on time. Because the days are longer in the summer, it is easy to stay up late. Unfortunately, because the sun rises early (along with the birds), we also tend to get up earlier. This lack of sleep can aggravate both Vata and Pitta. In addition, staying up late at night to watch television, or use the computer can aggravate the Pitta located in our eyes. Try to switch off electronic devices early in the evening to give your eyes a rest.

Favor aromas that are cooling and sweet. Sandalwood, rose, jasmine, mint, lavender, chamomile rose and geranium are recommended.

And don’t forget to meditate! Regular meditation will help lower your mental/emotional temperature.

Signs of Pitta Aggravation

The doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, are primary forces that are responsible for the characteristics of both our mind and our body. Pitta imbalance can manifest emotionally as well as physically. Anger, jealousy, and finding ourselves being increasing critical of others are as much signs of Pitta imbalance as indigestion, rashes, skin irritations, and burning eyes. Other signs of Pitta imbalance include diarrhea, burning sensations, sweating, fever, inflammation and problems with the small intestine and the stomach. Excess Pitta can lead to acidity, ulcers and liver disorders. If you suspect any health problems, seek a qualified practitioner.

Some people find that insomnia can increase during the summer months. Pitta-based insomnia is associated with waking up in the very early hours of the morning and not being able to get back to sleep.

Making changes in our diet and daily routine at the beginning of the season can help us avoid Pitta imbalances and allow us to enjoy a healthful and blissful summer.

For more information of programs to address Pitta imbalances, such as insomnia, gastritis, and ulcers, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website: