Written by John Immel,
IntroductionFebruary brings the first days of respite from the long, harsh winter. The mornings are a little bit brighter and temperatures a bit higher, if only slightly, reminding you that spring is near. These subtle changes in nature trigger an important transformation in the body.
Live in the Southern Hemisphere? You may need the 10 Ayurvedic Recipes for August instead.
The winter period of building and sustaining is over, and it's time to start shedding your insulating layer of fat. While it has kept you warm all winter long, it is no longer needed to quite the same extent as the warmer weather awaits.
By taking the time to adjust your diet in February, your transition to spring will be a breeze. Without doing so, you may be left feeling heavy, dull, sluggish, and lethargic. You may also experience symptoms including congestion, excess mucus, or water retention as Kapha dosha increases.
We have compiled our top 15 recipes for February, taking all the guesswork out of the equation for you. These meals have been carefully selected to ensure you are giving your body just what it needs to shed the excess of winter, and lighten up right on time for spring and cleansing season.
Brighter & LighterAs the mornings get brighter, you may notice that your appetite gets lighter. It is natural for hunger to wane with even slightly warmer temperatures. It is important to recognize when this seasonal appetite loss happens for you. Don't be alarmed if food appears to lose its relish and appeal - that's natural this time of year. Instead of second guessing your body, simply eat lightly for a few days, and your appetite will return.
These breakfast options are a lighter way to start your day, appropriate for February. They include Roasted Pear & Raisins or Rye Berry Bowl with Kale & Cranberries. Both of these meals still have the warming satisfaction of a cooked meal on a crisp morning, but won't weigh your digestive system down.
For some, particularly Kapha types, even these foods may seem too heavy for a February morning. Start your day with a glass of fresh Carrot, Ginger & Parsley Juice instead. The parsley and ginger give this juice a dash of pungency to kickstart your metabolism in the morning.
Beans, Beans, the Musical FruitJust as the snow starts to melt, fat also melts from the tissues when the temperature starts to slowly increase. This action creates a surplus of oily and liquid quality in the body, and can leave you feeling heavy, congested, and fatigued.
To combat this extra moisture, add some dry and astringent ingredients to your diet. Astringent foods dry up excess water and absorb mucus in the body. There is no better way to do so in February than adding some beans!
Beans are nature's neat little package of astringency. For most, they are too drying to eat regularly in the fall, and can lead to some embarrassing gas and bloating at that time of year (hence their beloved nickname of the "musical fruit"). However, they are the perfect remedy for the mounting dampness as your body transitions to spring.
Team your beans with some fresh bitter greens, like in Curried Chickpea with Collard Greens and Sweet Potato, Kale & Black Bean Bowl Topped with Walnuts. Bitter greens pair well with beans in February, as they are also drying in nature, and stimulate metabolism too.
Get creative with your intake of beans! They don't always have to be part of a savory meal. Why not try this hearty, thick Black Bean Chocolate Smoothie for a sweet, satisfying snack that will also help keep elimination regular and dry water retention.
It's not just astringent beans that can regulate excess water. Light and easy to digest, this Cabbage Soup combines cabbage and celery, two diuretics which will help flush heavy water retention and put a spring back in your step.
Boost Fat MetabolismFebruary is all about ramping up fat metabolism. As your body starts to let go of its winter fat, congestion and stagnation may bog down your liver. The melting fat also causes the blood to become thick and viscous.
Bitter and sour foods foods, such as beets and lemons, are powerful cholagogues, meaning they help decongest the liver and gallbladder by flushing stagnant bile. This release of bile encourages strong fat metabolism and thins out the blood. Try Roasted Beets in a Balsamic Glaze and Salad with Blood Oranges & Lemon Fennel Dressing to help you a more efficient fat burner.
The Right Spice
Adding pungent spices to your meals will stimulate circulation ahead of cleansing season. They will also stoke your digestive fire, dissolve any mucus congestion, and help you say goodbye to the last of your winter sluggishness.
While lightening the diet is key, you can still hold on to some of those comforting winter root vegetables this month. Vata types in particular will benefit from keeping them in the diet, such as this Parsnip, Potato & Carrot Soup with Turmeric. Turmeric is one of the top spices to add to your meals in February as it thins out thick blood and helps cleanse the lymphatic system.
Something to Snack OnSweet or savory, having a few snack ideas up your sleeve is always a good idea for when unexpected hunger strikes.
If you tend to crave something crunchy, make yourself some Popcorn with Coriander & Cumin. This simple snack is well suited to this time of year. It is light and dry, and the mild digestive spices make it easy to digest. If you have a little more time to spare, make some Sweet Potato Fries with Red Pepper Hummus - a great addition for your next movie night.
If you are looking for a little sweetness in your snacks this month, perhaps as a Valentine's Day treat, you can whip up a batch of these Pumpkin Seed, Cranberry & Coconut No Bake Cookies in no time. Warming and light, they will satisfy you sweet tooth without burdening digestion.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.