Summer food

Eating Well Into A Healthy Spring

Spring and summer foods should be lighter than what was being consumed in the deep of winter. Eat the main meal at lunch to slowly regain strength and energy. Barley, wheat-based pies, honey, grape wine and ginger tea or wine are recommended

Ayurvedic prescriptions for food are always based on the season in the location of the patient. Because the doshas cycle with time through the day, the year and the life cycle, any food-as-medicine prescription for any ailment must be tailored to several factors.

Unlike the modern medical treatment plan that is stagnant and often prescribed for life, such as a thyroid drug or statin or blood pressure medicine, Ayurveda advises changes every 2-3 months after assessment. A good prescription will specify changes in the daily routine, clothes, medicinal formulations, activity, as well as the foods.

As we move into spring and summer, the cold air and biting wind transform into cool breezes and warmer temperatures. The humidity is low but increasing. The heat lingers in the air as the midday temperatures create a heat that thaws the lakes and also increases the flow of heat around our body. This latent heat allows our skin pores to open a little, allowing more air to flow, and also allowing some of the heat to move out of the body. Understanding the weather, humidity and water helps us to understand digestion and oiliness required by the body.

summer food
Eat locally produced foods like greens, berries and vegetables

In Ayurvedic terms, the late kapha season is marked by ice melting to water, in which phlegm that has been sludgy all winter begins to flow, both in the rivers and in our body. People with phlegm buildup in their head and sinuses will begin to experience runny nose, loose phlegm in the throat. Those with weaker immune systems may experience a buildup of skin fungus known as ringworm.

To counter this kapha and get it out of the system before the hot summer approaches, Ayurveda provides a host of remedies. If the kapha that has been accumulating in the tracts of the body does not get taken out, the residues of it will resorb back into the body, creating pockets of moisture and phlegm that were unneeded waste. Accumulation over time can cause kapha diseases of respiratory diseases, immunity, joint problems, head and neck phlegm such as sinusitis and pharyngitis, and gastric issues, because these are the houses where kapha resides.

Kitchen pharmacies are important for cleaning up the body before getting ready to eat. In the early morning daily routines known as dinacharya, go to the kitchen and add a little salt and turmeric to the water used for jalneti (nasal irrigation using a neti pot) to clean out the phlegm. Changing the toothpaste is important too. Experiencing taste is important, as it changes the composition of the saliva. Cinnamon can be used all throughout the year, as it is a sweet astringent that is favourable for the spring and summer, and its pungent heating qualities are favourable for autumn and winter. More sour and salty tastes are recommended for spring to pull out the kapha stuck in the oral cavity. Neem is the best of the bitters and is excellent for the late winter and spring seasons as it cuts kapha and lowers pitta. Khadira is advised for the kapha cold season, as it is an astringent, which dries the oily nature of kapha and also decreases kapha and pitta as it is composed of the cooling and drying elements of earth and air.

Midday walks are
Morning & evening walks help adjust the clock genes of the body

Just as the tastes evoke emotions, and emotions evoke chemical changes in the body that affect hormones, enzymes, and organ functions, so the use of tastes can be used medicinally to alter one's health in one's favor.... or to deleteriously affect it too! During the kapha season, eat locally produced foods, such as greens in soups, and berries and vegetables that crop up. Opt for hot soups that will melt the phlegm in the throat. Pungent, bitter and astringent tastes (rasa) in foods should be favored if you are trying to reduce kapha, both the phlegmy kapha in the body, as well as flabby fat. Light and dry foods are excellent for reducing phlegm, so have some dry fruits and nuts, popcorn, and crackers with dry cheese. Avoid cold foods and oily preparations during the spring to prevent oil buildup.

Foods should be lighter than what was being consumed in the deep of winter. If heavy foods are in your appetite, remember the law of virya - when the power of fire is high in the sky, the power of fire is high in the belly. Eat the main meal at lunch to slowly regain strength and energy. Barley, wheat-based pies, honey, grape wine and ginger tea or wine are recommended.

The appetite is slowing reducing too, so the food should be adjusted accordingly, depending also on the daily activity level, and the amount of exercise, dance, movement and sports that are now available as the weather gets warmer. Midday walks and outings are recommended. Romantic behavior is preferred in this season, so take a romp with your lover instead of a midday nap, then enjoy an early supper. Morning and evening walks at sunrise and sunset help adjust the clock genes of the body, reminding the internal organs that the days are getting longer, and changing the rhythms of the body's biochemical machinery.

Light and dry massages of the body and of the feet are advised by ancient Ayurvedic physicians, either an hour before food, or 3-4 hours after food.

The medicinal formulations to use will of course depend on the person and their constitution,  lifestyle, work and imbalances. Use of triphala is excellent if there is a little constipation. Talisadi churna will remove throat phlegm buildup so that you do not swallow the phlegm and add to the work of the gut, which is trying to digest your food. Fresh ginger added to chai, or as a tisane - ginger tea! -- will improve the digestive fire.

Go to the kitchen and warm some mustard oil for a pre-bath massage to allow your skin to eat and to remove the dryness of winter, making the skin moist but not too moist and preventing fungus or bacterial buildup. Dried herbal powder scrubs known as ubtana made from your old spices will make the skin glow.

Ayurveda uses the logic of the qualities of the season, known as the gunas, to calculate recommendations for foods and activities. By trying what works for you, and altering your routines to avoid what makes you feel worse, a gradual increase in daily energy, with good appetite, no cravings, emotional happiness, smooth bowel movements, good sleep and good sex drive are the keys to self-assess whether you are following the right regimens for your body.

SustainKart Shilpa & Kanthi

Sustainability is No More A Buzzword!

"Through SustainKart, we are stepping up our efforts to help people adopt sustainability and make wise choices with regard to conscious eating" – Shilpa Reddy

For a one-year-old startup, SustainKart has become a go-to place for people, who love everything nature-friendly. This India’s first-ever and largest e-marketplace for sustainable merchandise is a one-stop shop for all things organic, cruelty-free, biodegradable, upcycled, recyclable, earthy and durable. The products are available in various categories like lifestyle, fashion, décor, gifting, furniture, kids, food & nutrition, wellness and pet care.

A brainchild of renowned fashion designer Shilpa Reddy and young entrepreneur Kanthi Dutt, SustainKart was launched in 2021. It has over 950 brands including conscious alternatives, wellness and beauty products, nutrition-rich foods and snacks, lifestyle and daily commodities, besides 68,000 stock-keeping units.

In August last year, actress Keerthy Suresh launched her own beauty brand Bhoomitra, which is also the first private label of SustainKart. In the next big move, the Hyderabad-based e-commerce aggregator recently teamed up with actor Samantha Ruth Prabhu and is planning to open its first retail outlet in Hyderabad in April. It will set up 30 such stores across India in the first year and 100 in the next two years.

In a chat with AYUVE, Shilpa and Kanthi opened up about ‘conscious living’ and their vision for their ‘passion project’. Excerpts from the interview:

What’s the story behind SustainKart?

It’s a passion project to create a positive impact on society after the pandemic outbreak.

Shilpa: I have been following and advocating sustainable living from the past 6 years. I have been using social media to promote the same. But, all my activity came to a standstill when the pandemic struck and we were under lockdown. However, it gave me an opportunity to introspect and also think about future.

While I was in that phase, I met up with Kanthi – now partner in SustainKart – on some work. He suggested that I should organise and upload all the content (related to sustainability) I have been posting on social media in a YouTube channel. I loved the idea and immediately collaborated with him to produce, format and create content for my YouTube channel – Sustainable Living with Shilpa Reddy.

While the show got wide recognition, eco-friendly brands wanted to be a part of it and people kept sending us queries as to where they could find the products we were referring to in the show and on social media. Then came the idea – why not aggregate the sustainable products in all categories and create an ecosystem that can become a one-stop-shop for everything sustainable. The best thing is that it all happened so organically, on need-of-the-hour basis.

SustainKart Shilpa
Shilpa Reddy, Co-Founder, SustainKart

What inspired you both to adopt sustainable living?

Shilpa: Even before I became a mother, eating clean food, keeping body fit and mind healthy became top pri0rities for me; for my family, too. I also understood the repercussions of not living a life without any responsibilities or making any conscious decisions. So, I chose sustainability and want to inspire others to do the same.

Kanthi: I have always been inspired by this mission to adopt “a clean body, clean mind and clean living”. I’m only striving to pass this on to our coming generations.

What kind of foods do you stock on SustainKart?

SustainKart has all types of foods that are plant-based, organic and chemical-free. In fact, we are stepping up our efforts to help people adopt sustainability and make wise choices with regard to conscious eating.

Do you think that vegetarianism and veganism have gone mainstream in Hyderabad?

Yes, very well so! It reflects in the number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants coming up in the city of late, with a wide range of cuisines to choose from.

How is the Telugu film industry catching up with the concept of ‘conscious living’, given the fact that you’re partnering with actors who are advocating the same?

Well, it’s evident that celebrities are choosing conscious and sustainable living, while promoting their daily practices in their respective horizons via social and virtual media.

It has been a year since the launch of your e-commerce site. How far did you succeed in capturing the market?

Sustainability is no more a buzzword. It is on its way to paving the path to lifestyle change. Making healthy yet tasty food options is the only way to capture more consumer interest. Indian food consumption is driven by taste. By 2026, our vision is to capture 5% share of the e-commerce market.

Kanthi sustainkart
Kanthi Dutt, Co-Founder, SustainKart

“I have always been inspired by this mission to adopt a clean body, clean mind and clean living. I’m only striving to pass this on to our coming generations.” – Kanthi Dutt


Like Bhoomitra, do you have any plans to launch your own food brand in near future?

Food is a huge part of clean living and lifestyle. Sustaining health is majorly dependent on what we eat. We’d love to explore more channels in sustainable food, before launching a private label, like we did in case of Bhoomitra.

What’s your takeaway from the journey so far?

Shilpa: I make sure that my heart and conscience are in the right place, with the kind of work I take up. At the end of the day, being able to impact lives around and adding value in some way or the other mean a lot to me. So far, my journey has been gratifying. But, there is still a long way to go!

Kanthi: Customer satisfaction is the key to success of a business. Rest all keeps me on my toes.

What's your vision for SustainKart?

We want SustainKart to grow into a platform that brings about a change in the spending patterns of global households – towards more conscious and sustainable products.

plant-based wholefoods

First Vegan Culinary School Opens in Goa

India’s first all-vegan culinary school – The Vegan School – has been set up in Goa recently; its 11-week residential course will begin in September

Finally, India got its first vegan culinary school. Established in Goa, The Vegan School will train prospective chefs in all aspects of plant-based cooking. Its first residential course, spanning 11 weeks, will begin in September.

Nisha garg chef from Vegan School
Chef Nisha Garg preparing pasta

The Vegan School has been founded by husband-wife duo Ashish Santhalia and Nisha Garg. Ashish, also the course coordinator, has over five years of experience in the education sector. A Masters in Global Sales and Marketing from Austria, he is passionate about plant-based wholefoods.

Nisha Garg, who did her diploma in plant-based cooking, will be the chief instructor at the institute. She has over a decade of experience as chef and worked at Vaxthuset, a famous plant-based fine-dining restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden.

According to Ashish, they chose Goa for opening the School, in view of the sizeable vegan community and vegan restaurants present in the location, besides the easy availability of plant-based raw ingredients.

“The culinary course has been developed to meet the growing need to nudge people towards a plant-based diet. In 11 weeks, with over 70 culinary lessons we help you on the journey to becoming the vegan cook you've always wanted to be. We teach you to impact communities, friends and families with the healthiest and most delicious food on the planet. These lessons are taught by our smart and well-experienced specialized chefs. These lessons are easy to absorb and practise even for beginners. The course is 100% hands-on and practical,” he explains.

The programme will mainly focus on wholefoods and culinary wellness. During the course, the trainees will be learning about various cooking techniques, starting with knife skills. They will be introduced to making raw, gluten-free food and no-oil cooking. They can intern in any vegetarian or vegan restaurant across the world and can enjoy guest lectures from renowned chefs.

The classes will be held from Monday to Friday, with a fixed topic for discussion each day. Post-lunch, there will be demonstration of the day’s lesson and the students have to prepare the same. The Vegan School will also help the cooking enthusiasts improve their culinary vocabulary and prepare for a career in the field of plant-based food and nutrition. At the end of the programme, they will have to prepare a sit-down dinner for selected guests.

Pickled Red Onion

Medicinal Uses of Onion

Onions are an amazing substance. This underground bulbous extension of a plant stem is found around the world. It has been used both as a vegetable and as a spice.

Onion was considered non-vegetarian (aamish) food by some, a sort of animal product because it grew underground but was hot unlike most roots which are cooling; it was thus considered impure. It has a bad reputation for heating the body of a person that is trying not to be engaged in human desires, and can change our character and personality. Onions are grown all around the planet, from the Netherlands to Mexico to China and India, which produces about 13% of the world's export crop as well as huge amounts for domestic use.

Onions contain carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals, such as copper, chromium, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and flouride.

Natural red onions
Natural red onions

Since the Vedic times in ancient India known as Akhanda Bharata, the red onion (rakta palandu in Sanskrit) was described. We find at least 22 classic ancient texts that describe its properties in various ways, in over 320 references scattered through texts over thousands of years. From the Mahabharata and Garuda Purana to the Charaka Samhita and the Bhavaprakasha to the Kama Sutra, we see the description and popularity of red onions.

In the kitchen, onions are used in myriad ways, cut into various shapes, used raw and also cooked; they can be baked, boiled, sauteed and always add flavor to the food. But how does an item that is so benign that it can be used as a popular food also have medicinal properties?

Medicinally, the raw red onion is described for many uses by ancient Ayurvedic physicians.

To revive consciousness: The ancient medical texts advise that raw freshly-squeezed onion juice can be placed drop by drop into the opening of the nostril to revive consciousness.

Nose bleed: Ancient medical texts describe the use of raw freshly-squeezed juice from a few onions placed drop by drop into the bleeding nostril will stop the bleeding.

Ear pain: Ancient medical texts prescribe freshly-squeezed onion juice mixed with an equal amount of vinegar and of rosewater, warmed slightly with placement of just a few drops into the ear canal to reduce ear pain.

Belly ache: The ancient medical texts are replete with remedies for the gut. For reducing belly aches, ancient physicians recommended eating boiled onions with some salt-containing medicines such as lavana-bhaskar. This works because the extra heat that the onion and the salts and minerals provide in the cauldron of the belly induce digestive enzymes that increase their activity to process the undigested food.

Urinary burning: Ancient physicians encountered urinary tract infections, usually occurring in those with compromised immune systems or those who had gotten infected. If the opening burned during urination, the prescription was given to drink about 60 ml of boiled onion juice after freshly-squeezing the juice from fresh onions.

Urinary retention: When urine does not want to pass out naturally and the urge occurs but flow is hampered, the urine cannot completely empty from the bladder. For the acute or chronic retention of urine, ancient physicians prescribed eating a medicinal formulation made with boiled onions mixed with the ash alkali of barley, known as yava-ksara, which captures its mineral essence.

juice onions
Freshly squeezed onion juice is healthy in many ways

In the ancient text Astanga-hrdayam (Sū. chap 6, sloka 13-14), barley is described for its excellent medicinal properties in diseases of the urinary tract, disorders of fat metabolism, and phlegmy conditions such as runny nose, wet cough, and the persistent throat phlegm. Barley (yava) has the properties of being drying (ruksha), cooling and contracting (sheeta) and stabilizing (guru). In urinary bladder imbalances, consumption of barley dries up and cools the inflammation, and promotes contraction of the muscles to allow increased flow of urine out of the body. People with chronic urinary tract problems may increase barley in their diet.

Hemorrhoids: Ancient medical texts recommend drinking raw onion juice with rock sugar for the relief of bleeding piles.

Low sperm count: Ancient medical texts prescribed the preparation of onions mixed with a special arsenic-based preparation to raise the sperm count. Used commonly by specialist physicians known as rasa-vaidyas, the use of metals that are processed for use in severe or incurable diseases was known well by Ayurveda to revive and reorient tissues of the body, just as platinum or gold or arsenic have been discovered and used in chemotherapy today.

Burn wounds: Ancient physicians treated burn wounds and scars with the expressed juice of freshly-cut onions, applying the juice to semi-healed scars to repair the wounds. The juice would seep in and create some irritation, which called in the immune clean-up crew called macrophages in modern science, which function to allow new scaffolding of skin tissue.

Wasp bites and bee stings: Ancient medical texts advised rubbing freshly cut minced onion to skin burning from wasp and insect bites and bee stings, to reduce the burning. This is similar to the use of homeopathic Allium cepa for the burning sensations in the body, especially when weeping or flow of liquid from the tissues is present.

Menstrual aches: Ancient physicians prescribed eating sauteed onions in pure cow ghee to alleviate menstrual difficulties in flow and menstrual pain.

Cut onions
Raw onions are good for health

Ancient physicians were discerning and deeply keen observers. The ancient medical texts also advised when NOT to use onions.

  • Never eat onions if there is hyper-acidity or acid reflux.
  • Avoid onions if there is a chronic sour taste in the mouth or sour eructations (reflux).
  • If a person is weak in strength, avoid eating onions, as they require strength to digest.
  • If a person is experiencing a lot of wind in the gut, burping or passing of gas, or bloating, avoid onions.
  • Never eat onions if diagnosed with gastritis, as onions further increase the stomach juice.
  • In all vata aggravation conditions, it is recommended to avoid onions.

Onions have a mysterious usefulness, perhaps due to their complex chemical contents and energy. In the processing of metals to become useful to the human body in the form of bhasmas, onions are used in the grinding (bhaavana) of metals with organic plant compounds. Bhasmas (herbometallic and herbomineral ashes) of arsenic, godanti, haritala, and tamra (copper) are bhasma.

In addition, onions can detect compounds floating in the air. Placing a freshly cut onion near the bedside table before sleeping will absorb noxious chemicals that circulate while you sleep. In the morning, observe the onion by the bedside and compare it with the other half that was kept in another room, loosely covered. The bedroom onion will be shriveled if there are noxious compounds in the air.

Please consult with your Ayurvedic physician before engaging in home use of these remedies, as proportions and processes can make a difference between efficacy and adverse effect. Most modern medical doctors consider onions as superstitions and lacking in medical evidence, as they do with most non-pharmaceutical medicines.