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Recipe: Gratin of Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” 
—Melody Beattie

A traditional Thanksgiving offers an abundance of food choices and the opportunity to experience gratitude on many levels. When we sit down for dinner, we may look around the table and give thanks for family, friends, good health, a secure job, a solid relationship with a partner and more. If we are fortunate enough, Thanksgiving is also a time to take note of the large amount and variety of food we have. This is, in and of itself, a reason to celebrate and be grateful!

A main tenet of Ayurveda is to honor agni (digestive fire) because the quality of one’s digestion is one of the main predictors of health. Coincidentally, eating copious amounts and varieties of foods all in the same sitting negatively impacts agni.

For example, intestinal distress caused by overeating can present itself in the form of heartburn, nausea, gas/bloating, or a combination thereof!

If we imagine agni like a campfire and food like the logs that we feed to the fire then, overeating is like piling too many logs on the fire that subsequently snuff out the flame. When the flame is snuffed out, the logs (food) do not get burned. This remaining food is left undigested and undigested food matter gets stored as toxins and unhealthy fats.

Food compatibility also factors into the quality of digestion. Some foods “play well with others”, while some are best eaten alone. This is, in part, due to the role that enzymes play in digestion. It is also due to the fact that foods have the quality of being light or heavy.

There are times when the heavy quality of one food will create a “roadblock” in front of a lighter food that wants to pass through digestion faster than the heavier food. Fermentation causes intestinal distress and when the lighter food can’t get past the roadblock, it can react by fermenting while it waits for the heavier food to be digested.

This agni-friendly fall harvest recipe contributes nicely to Thanksgiving’s epicurean cornucopia.


Serves about 6.

2 sweet potatoes, thinly sliced or chopped
2 yams, thinly sliced or chopped
1 large carrot, grated or chopped
1 large turnip, chopped
1.5 cups or more Brussels sprouts, sliced
1 medium onion chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons melted ghee or enough in which to generously coat the vegetables
The following spices ground (feel free to work with other spices too, such as mustard seeds, fenugreek, etc.): Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom, Fennel, Cumin, Coriander, Pink salt
1.5 or more cups split mung dal, cooked in vegetable broth and 2 tablespoons ghee
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or other seeds, chopped nuts of your choice

*For those who have a sattvic diet, you can substitute hing/asafoetida in lieu of garlic and onion, to impart those savory tastes.

  1. Combine and all the ingredients together in a large bowl except the spices, mung dal, and pumpkin seed garnish, and mix together well with 3 tablespoons melted ghee.
  2. Pour the mixture into a large shallow baking dish.
  3. No need to measure the spices- just sprinkle a layer of each spice over the mixture, stir to coat the veggies well and then, spread the veggies evenly into the baking dish.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and veggies are fork tender.
  5. Remove mixture from oven and serve with a generous serving of mung beans and pumpkin seed garnish.