Vata Balancing Beef Quinoa Winter Vegetable Stew

As discussed in the December 19 and 20 blog, vata is composed of ether (space) and air and is elevated during late fall and winter.  Increased vata can result in seasonal colds, restlessness, anxiety, gas, and constipation.  We also live in a very active, fast paced vata aggravating world.  As the king dosha and the only dosha that moves, vata is often the initiator in many imbalances, even those involving the other doshas: pitta and kapha (refer to December 2 blog).  This combined with our numerous responsibilities and hectic schedules can make balancing vata seem like a constant struggle, especially during the vata season. 

One of the easiest ways to pacify our vata is through diet.  Not only is what what we eat important; how we eat is equally if not more important.  Take 10 to 15 minutes to mindfully eat your meal.  Sit quietly with no distractions, away from the computer, phone and TV, to focus solely on your food.  This allows your brain to fully comprehend that you are eating instead of doing a million things at once, allowing your food to be better digested and assimilated.

Take some time to sit quietly, taking some deep breaths and observe the colours, textures, and aroma of your food.  If you suffer from anxiety, mindful eating can be very calming and may also help alleviate your symptoms.

If time is an issue when it comes to meal prep a slow cooker or crock pot can be extremely beneficial.  All you have to do is set it up in the morning and your meal will be ready when you get home.  Slow cookers come in a variety of sizes and are great for making large portions to serve the family. 

The following recipe for beef quinoa winter vegetable stew is designed for a slow cooker but does not require one.  If you are a vegan or vegetarian, simply make this without the beef. 

*A note on Ayurveda and the vegetarian diet.  Ayurveda recognizes the Yogic Principle of non-violence, which pertains to a vegetarian diet.  Ayurveda also acknowledges that due to the heavy qualities of meat, it can be balancing for vata.  Beef can be good for vata because it can help restore balance using the principle of opposites.  Vata is cold and light; beef is warm and heavy in nature.  It is important for you to honour what feels right for you.  There are lots of vegetarian foods that are also balancing for vata, including the root vegetables in this stew.  Choosing organic, local, humanely raised and slaughtered animals is the best possible choice for society, and for your own digestion if you consume meat.   

Beef Quinoa Winter Vegetable Stew: Slow Cooker Preparation:

-1 pound organic ground beef (optional)

-1 yam cubed

-2 beets cubed

-5 carrots sliced into medallions

-½ celery stalk, sliced

-½ white or golden onion cubed

-2 cups red or gold quinoa

-2 ½ cups water or a carton of organic beef or vegetable broth

-¼ tsp pepper

-1 tsp salt

-¼ tsp cumin

-¼ tsp coriander

-¼ tsp dry basil

-¼ tsp mustard seed

-1 pinch to ¼ tsp chili (optional if well tolerated)

Prepare vegetables as described above.  If you are using beef, roll it into small balls and place at the bottom of the crock pot.  Add quinoa then water or broth.  Add the other vegetables and spices.  Gently stir in the spices so they are submerged.  Make sure all ingredients are submerged.  If not, add more water until they are.  Set slow cooker to low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours depending on how much time you have.  Check the factory guidelines for cooking duration of your slow cooker as models vary.  Choose an appropriate time based on the volume of ingredients and your model.  When serving, add salt and pepper to taste.

Stove Top Preparation:

If using beef roll the beef into small balls and fry with butter or sesame oil with the onion, mustard seed and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Place the quinoa and water or broth in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil and then add the beef (optional) and other vegetables.  Make sure all ingredients are submerged.  If not, add more water until they are and bring to a boil again.  Stir in the rest of the spices.  Simmer for 2-3 hours.