Why Good Ayurvedists Don't Drink Smoothies

Why Good Ayurvedists Don’t Drink Smoothies

If you are an Ayurvedic adherent you have heard of the perils of smoothies. There are a number of reasons that a person who wants a long, happy and healthy life will stick up their noses at smoothies.

Yet smoothies are so easy to make, tasty, satisfying, convenient to carry with you, and a delivery system for all sorts of nourishment! Liquid breakfasts are ideal for those of us who don’t get hungry enough for a meal before we leave the house but still want to avoid the temptation of a mid-morning scone.

Luckily there are ‘smoothie replacements’ that do not offend the rules of Ayurveda and will supply you with the benefits and convenience that smoothies do.

Let’s reiterate the reasons for avoiding smoothies (as they are usually made)

● Cold.

Cold foods are indigestible and damaging to the digestive fire. Frozen fruit, which is a mainstay for most smoothie drinkers, lacks prana and damages the health of Agni (digestive fire).

● Raw.

Raw foods are hard to digest and create ample fodder for parasites. This means they encourage yeasts, bacteria, and possibly even parasites to flourish in your gut.

● Food combinations.

It is rare that a smoothie complies with Ayurvedic food combining laws. Most contain mixtures of fruit with milk or yogurt, or fruit with veggies. These improper food combinations will contribute to weakness and dysfunction in the blood and bone marrow which are felt as fatigue, lethargy, sensitivity to cold, skin and connective tissue problems, etc.

● Supplements.

Protein powders, dehydrated ingredients like spirulina or barley grass juice, bee pollen and various ‘superfood’ oils are meant to increase the nutritional content of smoothies. Many of these processed and dessicated foods cause digestive confusion and poor absorption. Even ayurvedic herbs are hard to assimilate if not properly processed first. Your smoothie is probably more nutritious without them. Remember: you are what you digest (not what you eat).

● Size matters.

A small glass of freshly pressed fruit or veggie juice is great for active people with decent digestions. Thirty two ounces of frozen, hyper enriched blends of too many ingredients will be a heavy burden even on those with the best digestion.

Despite the ‘nutrients’ in smoothies you will not get the benefits when you consume food raw, cold (especially frozen!), and in poorly combined forms. Smoothies produce ama (indigestible waste) in most people. Want proof? Check the tongues of people who you see in a smoothie bar for thick white coatings!

Drink your meals Ayurvedically!

If you know anything about ayurveda (or chinese medicine) you know that cooking your food is digestively essential. But the repertoire of American cooking lacks warm beverages that are also satiating liquid meals. Luckily other cultures have caught on to the convenience and benefits of these ‘fast food’ meals.

Below I have included raw, cooked, warm and not-too-cold recipes, and recipes with and without milk products. If you have any digestive disorders avoid the raw recipe (walnut shake) or toast the nuts before you use them.

The ‘lightest’ of these smoothie-stand-in’s is Yusha. Yusha is not a smoothie at all but a light savory soup. It is easy to make overnight in a crock pot then take with you in a thermos for whenever you get hungry. It is light, delicious, nutritious and perfect for replacing a meal on the run!

6 Ayurveda-Approved Recipes For Smoothies

Walnut Shake

● 1⁄2 cup walnuts soaked overnight
● 3 large dates
● 1 tablespoon honey
● 1 pinch each: ground cinnamon, ginger, cardamom
● a few drops of vanilla
● 2 cups water

Pulse all ingredients in a blender for 2-3 minutes.

There are many variations of this easy drink to try. A splash of rose water is delightful, different types of nuts or seeds can be used as long as they are soaked (avoid cashews and peanuts as they are very heating and heavy). A pinch of salt will bring out the flavors. It might be interesting to try a savory version too.

Takra or Seasoned Buttermilk

Takra is typically served after lunch to counter the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and related digestive disorders by increasing assimilation of nutrients and reducing post-meal discomfort.

But a mid morning sweet takra (savory is also good) is much like a lassi: nourishing, digestion improving and light to digest.

● 1 cup whole milk yogurt
● 3 cups water
● splash of rose water
● 1 teaspoon raw honey
● season with a pinch or 2: ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, etc.

Whisk water and yogurt vigorously until a bubbly foam appears–3 minutes is ideal.

This whisking is essential to transforming the yogurt (that is heavy, heating and phlemy) into the light digestive qualities of Takra. Don’t skip this step!

Add salt and spices to your liking.

Yusha or Green Mung Broth

This broth is leckhan or scraping to the tissues and great for weight loss or detoxification. Drink this broth throughout the day whenever you are hungry.

● Rinse and soak 1/2 cup of green mung beans overnight, or at least an hour. If you use a pressure cooker or slow cooker this is not as important.
● In a soup pot toast spices (hing, turmeric, ginger, ajwain, red pepper, cumin, coriander, etc) in a dab of ghee or oil until their fragrances are released.
● Add the drained beans and 8+ cups of water.
● Boil until the beans are very soft.
● Add salt, cilantro, grated ginger, and pomegranate juice if you want.
● You can strain the beans out and just drink the broth, or leave them in for texture.

Sahlab

Sahlab is a delightful hot breakfast (and dessert) of the middle east. When visiting Palestine I was often in a cue of children outside the elementary school waiting while a street vender ladled steaming styrofoam cups of sahlab out of a giant mobile cauldron, sprinkling each cup with chopped nuts and spices.

Originally the taste and thickening agent came from regional orchid root bulbs. Now we use cornstarch, but rice flour would also be a good choice.

This is a drinkable version, but can be made thicker so it can be enjoyed with a spoon.

(serves 4)

● 4 cups milk
● 2 tablespoons cornstarch (or fine rice flour)
● 3 tablespoons sugar
● 2 teaspoons rose water (or vanilla)

Toppings:
● ground cinnamon
● unsweetened dried shredded coconut
● 2 tablespoons pistachio nuts or almonds; chopped fine

Mix the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of the milk.
Bring the remaining milk and sugar to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
Add the cornstarch mixture and the rose water, stir to loosen up any starch that settled on the bottom.

Cook on low heat until it comes to a boil, stirring constantly.

Serve in individual cups.

Scatter chopped pistachios over the surface of each cup; sprinkle with cinnamon and coconut.

Muhallabieh

Muhallabieh is a favorite pudding of Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Palestinian and Egyptian children.

I have reduced the sugar to make a liquid breakfast cereal suitable for a thermos. Rice may be purchased already ground or crushed at home with a mortar and pestle or electric blender.

Ingredients:

● 4 cups whole milk
● 1/4 cup rice, ground (or rice cereal)
● 3/4 cup water
● 1/4 cup sugar
● 1 teaspoon ma’ez zahr (orange blossom essence)
● 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds, pine nuts or pistachios

Mix rice with water and add to milk which has been brought to a boil. Stir and cook until thickened and then add sugar. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture coats the spoon. Add flavorings and boil a few minutes longer.

Pour into individual serving dishes and decorate with chopped nuts.

Suff – Ethiopian Sunflower Seed Drink

This drink is nourishing, filling, and refreshing. Traditionally consumed during Lent or fasting days Suff makes a great between-meal snack or meal replacer. Several beverages based on seeds (sunflower, flax and sesame) are made in Ethiopia. You can use this recipe with any of these seeds.

● 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
● honey (as required) or sugar (as desired)
● small piece of fresh ginger root; peeled
● 3 cups water

Rinse and drain seeds (this is not necessary if you are using sesame or flax seeds). Then roast the seeds in a dry pan until they smell toasty. After roasting, grind the seeds and ginger with a little water until smooth in a blender or food processor.

Add the rest of the water and blend until very smooth.

Add honey and spices and enjoy!

mm
Eden Lorraine Tosch, MSc is a Registered Ayurveda Clinician (AAPNA). Her background includes formal training in Classical Ayurveda Medicine, many years as a massage therapist and graduate work in Cultural Studies and Social Psychology. Eden believes that Ayurveda offers an emancipatory health care choice with the potential to bridge individual self-awareness, social justice, and spiritual aspirations. She is an alumna of Shubham Ayurveda in Fremont, CA.

27 comments

  1. While I agree with you energetically speaking. Your recipes have added refined sugar? I find that interesting since you mentioned bee pollen and spirulina should be avoided because you consider them processed. Does not make a lot of sense in MOP.

    • A bit of refined sugar (in ayurveda it is referred to as rock sugar or ‘sita’) is not a big issue. It is used medicinally quite a lot in Ayurveda. Refined (rock sugar ) is actually considered to be better than unrefined (jaggary) which is said to contribute to parasites. Did you know that vonima (one of the panchakarmas) can be done with sugar cane juice? it is a great solution for children and those who are sukhamar.
      But that being said the Reishis of ayurveda would be shocked by how much sugar we consume and in general sugar should be minimized.
      My resistance to all the additives that people like to add to smoothies is that I don’t think we digest most of that dehydrated stuff very well. Ayurveda does not really like anything dehydrated (rice beans etc are apparently not in that category). I personally think that a little bee pollen (consumed with the same rules as honey) and spirulina are fine. Though keep in mind that spirulina is quite cooling– a little goes a long way.

  2. I find this all very interesting and I will be trying out some recipes for sure; however, I was wondering what the best recipes would be for me because I was diagnosed with gastroparesis a couple years ago and have gained a bunch of weight due to my PCOS. Thank you so much in advance!!

    • Have you heard of Yusha?

      This is what I would do:

      Replace lunch and dinner with Yusha (you can have as much as you want. Here is the recipe:

      Basic recipe is approximately: 1T (40gms) dahl to 6C (540ml) water boiled till the dahl is cooked.
      Mung is standard but other types of dahl are used. Preparations can be Akruta– without salt, ghee or other spices, or Kruta– with salt, ghee or other oil, black pepper, cumin, coriander etc. Various types of beans are used, and the herbs and spices of course vary.

      Yusha can be strained or not depending on the digestive strength.

      Yusha feels satisfying and light. Which it is. It can be a great meal replacer and medicine at the same time. The recipes are imprecise; remember the point is that it should taste good so that you enjoy it and continue with the treatment.

      special recipe for joint pain:

      1 tsp each:
      — fresh or dried daikon radish (get dried radish at the old berkeley bowl in the Japanes section),
      –barley- preferably unhulled,
      –dried or fresh jujubees (get these in a chinese grocery),
      — horse gram (Indian market),
      — dried ginger,
      — coriander.

  3. Fantastic article as I am truly trying to do things to balance my vata imbalance. I actually make warm smoothies and prefer them. I never liked fruit in my smoothies anyway so I do yerba mate green tea with hemp seed, collagen powder, ghee, coconut oil, cacao butter and a few drops of liquid stevia…….this is my morning starter and then go with cooked food throughout the day. I gave up protein powders as they tend to be too aggravating as are most fruits. This is helpful….thank you

  4. I am confused on smoothies . I can understand not using frozen fruit, but is there anything wrong with fruit and veggies combos. Example:
    Lemon apple berries kale cucumber??
    Any help would be appreciated Thanks

  5. Thank you for your support to us for this topic. I need this information and I feel very happy to getting here only. I am very satisfied with your site and also I like your site it’s very interesting one.

  6. So if you wanted to make a few ayurvedic smoothies how wud u go about making them?
    warm regards

    • Jennifer Eddinger

      Just as is stated in the article – skip the ice, avoid frozen fruit, no dairy mixed with fruit, etc. Try one of the recipes and see how you like it.

  7. Cold ? Which creature in the world had been warming the food in the last many millions years ? Only stupid human … Why should food be warm ? This is absolutely unnatural and unhealthy. This article is nonsense, sorry …

    • Warmer foods are much easier to digest. Cold foods cause dampness in the body which can lead to various illness. A cold organic juice or smoothie occasionally can be cleansing when the body may be overheated.

      • Not according to ayuveda– though I am considering the idea that as some fruits are anulomon, and increase BM quantity and softness, this may clear pitta from the system. I like apricot juice for this.
        But room temp is as cold as anything you eat should get. The main purpose of ayurveda is to preserve and perfect Agni. Cold food will never do this.

    • Which creature has been chilling their food with ice? that would be unnatural too…
      In fact, if you watch Michael Pollan’s “Cooked”. you will see that it may be the fact of our cooking food that enabled us to develop larger brain’s and more leisure time 🙂

    • Ayurveda comes from God, therefore it is not nonsense
      Ayurveda is older than modern scientific theory that imagines that humans evolved from monkeys – a modern theory that is very new compared to the Ayurvedic science

      • mm

        Thanks Anandrup for reiterating the authenticity of Ayurvedic knowledge. We are very sure that many Ayurvedic principles , diet and lifestyle guidance and herbs will find substantiation through modern research in time to come. Then the acceptance of Ayurveda will be much more wider.

  8. Hi I was just wondering when you visitied the middle east when you speak about salhab? I couldnt’t seem to find a ‘Palestine’ on a map. Thanks.

    • George, i totally agree with your comment. Why even the most innocent article on aurvedic smoothies attempts to make a “political” statement?!

  9. The problem is some people are predisposed to certain food allergies. Like certain grain intolerances, dairy ect. Not everyone does well eating th sme things. If you ever look at the longest living people on the planet or in the world right now I do not think any of them ever ate an Ayurvedic diet. I believe their health and vitality had to do with moderation, a good attitude and not getting too stressed. Blessings.

  10. Hello,
    I consider this article a good read. However, I disagree with the facts provided.
    1. You can use fresh fruits, avoid ice and frozen fruits.
    2. Raw and fresh fruits are good and healthy. You have to clean them properly.
    3. You can definitely take care of combinations when you are preparing them.
    4. Nothing bad if you add spirulina or ashwagandha or cinnamon or other herbs.
    5. You can easily bring down the size or simply share it with two persons.
    6. You can avoid milk and can only use yogurt for making these. or buttermilk

    Simply, I personally found smoothie a great way to take fresh and healthy fruits.

    Warm Regards,

    • In response to your comments:
      1. & 2. Raw fruits are ok for people with strong digestions but not in large quantities (and many smoothie drinkers love big portions!). Yes cleaning is important but textual indications against raw foods go way beyond that. Human digestive tracts are not designed to fully digest most raw veg and some fruits which means the left overs are great food for Krumi or parasites.
      3. Yes combining is the most important point.
      4. I see many people going overboard with adding dried supplements to their smoothies. 1T a day of ashwaghandha is going to cause problems and this is not uncommon here! These are medicines, not do-it-yourself supplements. A few pinches of cinnamon or ginger are of course good.
      5. Yep size does matter.
      6. Yogurt is not a good everyday food (pathya) in ayurveda and is especially bad with fruit. Takra (churned and watered down yogurt often referred to as buttermilk by indians) is a different story as it is treated with churning and becomes light. Still it is not proper food combining to have it with fruit. It is fine however with spices and even rose and honey.

      Hope that clarifies these ayurvedic points.
      Eden

  11. Hi, Eden, I just read your post about Candida and I have the Vatta and Pitta Candida issues and have my whole life. 62 years. It came to a head 7 years ago when I had very serious fungal infection with boils on my legs and then I went on the bodyecology.com diet. Includes 80% non starchy veggies with 20% meat or quinoa or millet. I extended this to almost NO grains,No sugar, No dairy. Mostly leafy greens half of which come in drink form from Vitamix.

    I can see that I can integrate some of your recommendations from your candida post into my diet. Especially the honey ginger lemon warm drinks before meals. Think I will continue with green drinks but slightly cook them and then warm them before drinking.

    Any advice greatly appreciated….OH BTW Over last 6 years my health has improved greatly due to these diet changes but still have a way to go.

  12. Hi I just found your site and have a big question. I do drink smoothies, or should I say I make green drinks and drink them all day. Mixed in with this is many veggies during the day as well. The green drinks are sometimes cold in the morning guess this is a no-no. Will stop that. But the drinks consist of cucumber, kale, lime, spinach, kefir culture, etc.

    Your drinks in this post have grains, sugar, dairy and I KNOW my body does not do well with these. Any suggestions?

    With warm regards, Christopher

    • Hi Christopher: generally speaking an individuals body becomes intolerant to things like grains, dairy, and sugars when their digestion is pretty severely incapacitated. It is not your body in a healthy state that is reacting– it is a sign your agni and probably your dhatus or tissues are damaged.
      If you are interested in finding help with this Ayurvedically I recommend you find someone who is classically trained to work with in your area. Recovering from a condition like this requires a lot more than a few comments! But definitely refraining from cold (and raw too) is a good first step.

  13. Absolutely fantastic article! Thanks for this-I love being able to share ready made information such as this, with such great alternative recipes and explanations! I’m often recommending people to avoid smoothies due to the spleen/damp/digestive fire issues. Great to have this article to share! (:

Comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.