Cilantro. I'm obsessed.
I couldn't wait to get to this herb.
Apparently though, not everyone feels that way.
According to Mental Floss, Julia Child has a lifehack for dealing with the 'soapy' taste some people experience from cilantro. "Pick it out... And throw it on the floor!" LOL
Our taste buds (our perceptions) are funny things.
Today we move on to the seed of cilantro, coriander. (Wait what?! Yes, really. They are the same thing.)
I’ll review Pitta and why, especially during the summer months, pitta could use some balance from cooling foods.
Then I will introduce the topic of yoga psychology, and the mental qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. (We will reference this post so so often in the future, so take note 😉 ) Hint: Natural, whole foods are best for mental clarity.
From there I will go into what modern science and ayurveda understand about the health benefits of cilantro.
Finally, I will wrap up with a couple of the recipes I have been playing around with.
I have found cilantro/coriander to be super useful in the summer due to its cooling nature.
I may have mentioned before that my dominant dosha is Pitta (fire). Summer happens to be the season of Pitta.
Ayurveda is all about balance, similar to yoga. It is understood that like increases like. Therefore, our goal is to find balance in all situations and environments.
Ayurveda even breaks down the time of day into Vata, Pitta, Kapha sections. The Pitta time of day is between 10pm and 2am and between 10am and 2pm.
This can be valuable in planning out your day to ensure balance.
If you are having trouble sleeping, try going to bed between 8pm and 10pm. This time is more conducive to sleep. Once the 10 o’clock hour hits, our brains tend to go into overdrive with projects, planning etc. Are you one of those who can get more done during that time? This could explain why.
During the mid-day when the heat is the strongest, Pitta can easily become vitiated.
This is why it is useful to stay out of the sun during this time, especially during the summer. High pitta from summer + high pitta from the time of day and maybe even high pitta from foods or your body constitution can make for disaster!
So let’s review, what does balanced Pitta look like and what does out of balance Pitta look like.
Pitta governs our energy, metabolism and strength of digestion. Pitta is the nature of fire, so those with pitta predominance are firey in nature.
When out of balance that fiery and quickness can turn into judgment, criticalness and anger.
When out of balance in the body, pitta manifests as inflammation, skin issues, loose stools and heartburn.
Balancing Pitta in our Family
Do you ever feel like there are a million things on your health-to-do list?
Like really. How is it possible to balance home cooked meals with exercise, full time jobs and dropping kids off at daycare?
In true pitta fashion, I have made it my goal to experiment with my own family and find how to make this possible. And do it ALL without burning out. (Hint: Self-care is KEY to a vibrant life. In my case, a supportive partner is also necessary.)
This week, while reflecting on cilantro and it’s cooling properties. It has provided another means of contemplating the way my family and I can get over-heated, or vitiate Pitta.
As an example, my husband I have been trying to get into an exercise routine. He took the initiative and asked one night if I would be interested in going for a run after work. I agreed and we set the intention.
While the intention was good, upon further review, and recognition of the 95 degree weather in the New Mexican summer, it was decided the Pitta dosha in each of us would appreciate opting out of this excursion. We chose a nice relaxing evening at the pool instead.
This has been a bit of a change in perspective.
While working out is of course healthy, health in the short term could turn out to be burn out in the long term. This is where Ayurveda helps to see the bigger picture.
We still have not figured out how to get an exercise regimen in. We do a routine of squats with the baby (extra weight!), abs and pushups. A few rounds of sun salutations. And for now, until we are inspired by a cooling summer activity, this is okay.
[Any suggestions for a cooling, kid friendly, exercise routine for the summer? Comment below. I would be so grateful _/\_ ]
This quote by Lao Tzu helps to keep perspective and balance my pitta and rajasic tendencies. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” And think about nature too… it is quite fit! Unless you’re looking at the urban, carbed out pigeons with big ol’ bellies.
Animals in their natural habitat spend a reasonable amount of time relaxing. Food for thought 😉
Out of Balance Pitta - Perfectionist
One of the ways out of balance Pitta dosha can manifest is by perfectionist tendencies. Part of this practice is noticing it is a practice, not a perfection.
There is a subtle difference between the ego’s view of changing habits and the higher Self’s view of changing habits.
This is why meditation is recommended regardless of dosha. By tapping into that quieter part of ourselves, we can learn what is the right path for us and how to make the changes necessary to be more aligned with our path.
With practice, discerning the difference between an ego reaction and a higher Self reaction becomes clearer.
This method of discernment in action and thinking is described as Sattva in yogic and ayurvedic psychology. It is our goal to increase our sattvic qualities and reduce those of rajas and tamas.
The qualities of the foods we eat, activities we perform all have an effect on the mental qualities we cultivate.
Mental Qualities – Sattva, Rajas, Tamas
The goal of Ayurveda is to bring us out of dis-ease. It is taught that ALL disease originates from not identifying with who-we-really-are; our true Self. This means we make choices that are not in our best interest.
The point of this isn’t to beat yourself up and fall into a perfectionist burn out cycle, but rather to start to identify tendencies and notice where improvements can be made.
There are three qualities mental qualities. Since all action begins from thought, it is useful to identify the effect of the activities in which we engage and the foods which we consume.
Sattva can be defined as clarity, rajas as agitation and tamas as darkness.
Sattva is defined as the quality of purity. The example of a perfectly clear lake is used. It can be seen as true intelligence and gives balance to our lives.
It is the state we experience while reading uplifting, inspiration material or when we do good, just for the sake of doing good, without expectation of return.
Foods that are sattvic are whole foods, not processed. Milk, dates, vegetables (excluding onions and garlic), fruit, legumes, seeds and nuts. We can also say that a sattvic diet is a yogic diet. That is what yoga aims to do… bring us into a state of largely sattva.
From the state of sattva we can experience deep wisdom and clearness of intention.
Rajas is the quality of activity and most of us are in this state. The example is used of a lake with ripples after a rock has been thrown in. It is the state of agitation and energy.
This state is preferred over the state of tamas, although it does make us tend to go out of balance. Rajas is when the light begins to come in. From the mental space of rajas we can begin to experience sattva.
Rajasic foods include extra spicy foods, garlic, onions and coffee.
A rajasic lifestyle is one that is too busy, perhaps from traveling too often. When we are overexposed to the media, gaming and drinking 3 monsters a day… You might be in rajas.
Tamas is the quality of ignorance. In the example of a lake, it is a pond with muddy water. From here we cannot experience the state of Bliss that is taught we can experience by every religion on earth. It creates non-movement, non-expansion and stubbornness in the mind.
Tamas is the state we are in while deeply immersed in a TV show full of drama or 6 hours into a gaming session. We may be fueling the fire through rajasic methods, but our state of mind is rather tamasic.
Tamasic foods include processed foods, foods with additives and leftovers. These foods decrease tejas, or the discriminative power, in the mind. Tejas can be thought of as the subtle form of pitta. We will go over this next week when we discuss cumin.
A tamasic lifestyle is one where the environment is dirty and not well maintained. One where too much time is spent indoor and with too little stimulation via books or educational materials.
Overview of the Gunas
May we remember that all three gunas are necessary for physical life. While we may want to avoid tamas, the state is necessary for sleep, which we should be doing for roughly 8 hours a day.
That being said disease only happens from a state of rajas or tamas. It is taught that disease cannot manifest in a sattvic environment, hence we should be striving to create fertile ground on which sattva can grow.
All about Coriander, or it’s plant form, Cilantro
Virya (Action on the body): Cool
Rasa (Taste): Sweet, Bitter, Astringent, Pungent (Seriously, one plant has 4 out of 6 tastes?!) [Cilantro is less sweet]
Vipaka (Post Digestion): Sweet[Cilantro: vipaka = pungent]
Gunas (Qualities): Light, Oily
Doshas: VPK- (best for pitta, but bad*ss for anyone 😉)
Cilantro also has a special action of making hot spices less sharp.
Both the seed and plant help in dispelling gas, strengthens the digestive power (agni), eliminate unuseful build up in the system, and reduces fluid stagnation.
“The seeds of the coriander plant contain different types of volatile oils with proven health benefits. Coriander seeds have 25% fatty oil content and are made up of a high amount of petroselenic acid, followed by lesser amounts of linoleic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid.5 …Spices and seeds represent an important source of fatty acids in the human diet, and insufficient intake can result in inflammation and symptoms of dermatitis.6 In addition to the essential oil, the seeds contain sugars, alkaloids, flavones, resins, tannins, anthraquinones, sterols, and fixed oils.7,8”
“The seeds of the coriander plant have been shown to in many studies to decrease blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance.12-14 This effect likely is due to the flavonoids and polyphenols present in the seed. Studies also have shown that the seeds can lower cholesterol levels, making it beneficial for heart health. In several animal studies, coriander seed extract decreased LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol in rats.12 The extract also increased HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).15”
I refer you to the American Botanical Council for more information
These are a couple of super quick ideas of how to incorporate cilantro into your kitchen toolbox. The cilantro chutney can be added to any southwest type food and it goes wonderfully. The cilantro rice can be made any time rice is used as a side dish.
1 bunch of cilantro, with stems cut
1 lemon - juiced
2" piece of ginger, peeled
¼ cup of red onion or green onion (optional, remove if following yogic diet)
¼ cup of olive oil
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cumin
Add all to a blender. Blend on high for about 30 seconds to 1 min, until desired texture.
We haven't talked about ginger yet, but it too is a very supportive digestive herb. Especially when fresh. (Be careful taking dried ginger, it is quite warm and can aggravate pitta dosha, leading to heartburn etc)
Guys, I am not into complicated recipes. I have a family, a full-time job, school and this lovely blog. I can’t make recipes too complex.
Honestly though, if you have questions about this and need clarification, please comment below. I would be soo happy to help 😊
Literally this easy:
1. Make rice
2. Add chopped up cilantro to taste
Delicious and beautiful in presentation! :D
The universe must be teaching me a lesson on patience.
For the second week in a row I was super nervous that the seeds was not doing so hot (pun intended). And then, bang! Today, a little sprout made its way above ground.
Review of This Week’s Lessons
My personal lessons have had to with reducing my perfectionist tendencies. And if I feel myself become too judgmental and critical it is my first sign that fire is running through my veins and it is time to chill out.
If you don’t have cilantro chutney on hand (but you really should…. ), my go-to chill out is coconut water mixed with a splash of lime.
I have been trying to follow the 80-20 rule at home and the 60-40 rule when with friends or family. Sometimes this is beneficial for the mind and body, sometimes it is not. This is again why mediation is so important. The real answers to your well-being come from your own Self.
I hope this week was informative! Thanks so much for checking in!
Next week we’ll finish up our ingredients of the CCF tea – the ULTIMATE digestive tea – with cumin. Sign up below if you’d like updates on new postings <3
So many blessings, health and love to you and yours
Love & Om