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As we head into winter (Vata season), the elements of air and space become more abundant. Vata’s qualities are cold, light, dry, rough, mobile, and erratic. Applying the opposite qualities offers support for staying in balance throughout the winter season. Therefore, you may find yourself in need of heavier, more warming, and grounding foods.
If meat is not on your menu, “old world” or “ancient” grains, such as farro, are a good staple to have in your pantry. Farro is known for its high fiber, zinc, B vitamins, iron, and impressive amount of protein.
Soaking grains before cooking them is always important to re-hydrate the grain from its dry state. This reduces gas/bloating and improves the nutritional bio-availability by removing anti-nutrients that inhibit optimal digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
In Ayurveda, there are three qualities (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas) known as the gunas. The tamasic quality tends toward inertia, darkness, and heaviness. Mushrooms possess tamasic qualities because they grow in the dark, with an inward and downward flow of energy. Medicinally speaking, mushrooms stimulate immunity, are nervine and grounding to alleviate anxiety and promote sound sleep, as well as bolster bone/joint health. This is a huge bonus at a time of year where many of us may suffer from insomnia, aching bones/joints, and colds or flus. “Boning” up on these foods now will help thwart imbalances later on in the season as we insulate and arm ourselves just prior to the height of winter.
The walnut takes credit for being known to build stamina. Shaped like a brain, it is also a tonic for the brain and ojas (think strength, immunity, life sap) enhancer. With a slightly bitter taste and crunchiness, it pairs well with farro and mushrooms for a nicely varied flavor and texture profile.
Farro, mushroom, & walnut bowl
1 cup farro, soaked for 8 hours and rinsed
1.5 cups thinly sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
Himalayan pink salt & black pepper to taste
Ghee for sautéing
2 cups vegetable broth
1. In a medium-sized pot, sauté the onions until translucent.
2. Add the mushrooms and sauté until their water evaporates and they become more firm and slightly brown.
3. Add the farro, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
4. Turn down to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes with the lid on, until the water has evaporated.
5. Remove from heat, transfer to serving bowl, and garnish with walnuts.
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