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Friday, September 28, 2001

So now, after indulging in a wonderful chocolate brownie with my coffee, both from the Clove Cafe in lovely High Falls, NY, I approach the subject of chocolate with a smile on my face, you bet!

Chocolate, as you know, was highly esteemed by the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs for its energizing properties. The Indians of the Vedic civilization were apparently unaware of this "food of the gods." Qualitatively, chocolate is warm, heavy and moist. So right away we can see that if there is any dosha that may seem to benefit from chocolate, it would be Vata which is cool, light and dry. This is especially true for milk chocolate. The caffeine may pose a bit of a problem for Pitta and less so for Vata. The heavy and moist qualities along with its fat content do not bode well for Kapha. However, I firmly believe that really good quality bitter, dark chocolate (I prefer that which is 70% Cocoa and does not have much sugar, which is very rajasic) can be a balm for the soul if taken in moderation. As we now know, there are true health benefits that can be derived from chocolate, but we should approach it as a fairly strong herb rather than as a weak food item. Therefore, less is truly better. At all costs, avoid cheap sugar-laden stuff with all sorts of non-food filler.

On the cold, dry nights we've been having up here in the Hudson Valley, my wife and I have been enjoying settling in with the following hot drink.

1/2 to 1 Tbsp. Ghirardelli Premium Unsweetened Cocoa
1/2 to 1 Tbsp. Roma (you can use any roasted grain beverage of your choice)
1 Cup Milk (or water for heavy Kaphas)

Mix Cocoa and Roma and set aside.
Begin to warm milk or water over the stove.
Add cocoa and roma mixture to heating milk or water and stir until steaming.

I enjoy just as is. For those of you with a sweet tooth (or Vatas who need to temper the bitterness) add some raw honey. Pittas use Sucanat or date sugar. Salute!

posted by frank | 11:50 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Well, sorry to have to say it, but the Ayurvedic texts don't seem to favor coffee much at all. Amadea Morningstar is the only one I found who places coffee on the "okay" list for Vata(!) which is something I do not agree with for sure.

Coffee is, if anything, a dieuretic and is therefore drying. Vata, as air and space doesn't need drying! In fact, as we go more into Vata season (Autumn) Vata needs more moisture and warmth. Besides dying you out, coffee has been known to be stimulating, or as we yogins and yoginis say, "rajasic." Foods that are rajasic, including coffee, garlic, onions, peppers and many spices move the body and mind into action. Vatas are the movers -- they seem to be unable to stop and their minds are filled with waves of activity. (I am speaking generally and archetypally here) So, between the drying and stimulating qualities of coffee, we just have to say that Ayurveda doesn't recommend it to Vatas.

For the very same reasons, plus the additional fact that there are acids found in coffee that can aggravate Pitta, coffee should not be the drink staple of firy Pitta. That leaves Kapha and here I am happy (as I am also Kapha) to report that coffee in moderation is just okay by Ayurveda. Kapha's heaviness and moistness are both alleviated by the stimualting and drying qualities that are such a bane for Vata.

Now, all that said, it would be unfair of me not to offer a way that anyone can have a cup of coffee and not get their doshas in an uproar, so I pass along to you a recipe given to me by Melanie and Robert Sachs. Don't I take good care of you?

Ayurvedic Coffee

1/2 Cup Coffee Beans
2 Almonds with skins
3 Cardamom Pods
3 Cloves
2 Star Anise
Small Cinnamon Stem (1/4 Teaspoon Powdered)

Grind this up in your coffee grinder and prepare your coffee as usual.
It's kind of like Coffee Chai.

posted by frank | 2:12 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

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