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If there’s one thing that can bring us back to a fond memory or comforting feeling, it’s an aroma. Of the five tanmatras (senses—hearing, touch, sight, taste, smell) of Ayurveda, the sense of smell corresponds to the earth element and nose. So it stands to reason that root vegetables, such as yams, are a food that feed our need for feeling comforted, warm, and grounded; not to mention that they smell great when they are being cooked.
If ever you are feeling bloated or gassy, nervous, or have anxiety, dry skin, or constipation, these are some signs of vata (space and air) vitiation, meaning that an abundance of space and air have over-accumulated and taken up residence in you. In winter, it’s easy to become vata vitiated because winter is the vata season, with its cold, light, and dry qualities. These qualities provoke an excess of vata in the body and mind.
Yams to the rescue! With their warm, sweet, unctuous, soothing juiciness, yams are a vital vegetable for vata balancing. They are easy on digestion, and possess vitamin A, C, potassium, and beta carotene, acting to increase lymphatic circulation. Yams are a warm hug on a cold winter day.
Recipe: Baked Yams & Brussels Sprouts
- 1 large yam, cubed
- 1 cup chiffonade of Brussels sprouts
- Grind together cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and mineral salt
- Melted ghee
- Cranberries and pumpkin seeds (optional)
- Place cubed yam and Brussels sprouts in an oven-safe baking dish. (with cranberries if you’re including them)
- Drizzle ghee over yam and Brussels sprouts, stir to coat.
- Sprinkle spice blend over yam and Brussels sprouts, stir again.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until both yam and Brussels sprouts are soft and fork-tender.
- Garnish with pumpkin seeds (optional).
Recipe: Baked Yam with Tofu & Tahini Sauce
- 1 large yam, cubed
- 1 cup or more cubed tofu, patted dry*
- About 1 tablespoon melted ghee
- 1 tablespoon each fresh chopped ginger and garlic
- 1/3 cup or more chopped scallion
- Mineral salt to taste
*Not a fan of tofu? Substitute with a cup of cooked grains of your choice, and stir in after yam is cooked.
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or agave syrup
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, and heat until warm.
- Combine all ingredients in an oven safe baking dish, except ghee.
- Drizzle ghee over ingredients, stir to coat.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with warm tahini sauce.