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Tapas and Tomatoes

David Rogers, Owner & Chef

22 JUNE 2016

This time of year the vegetables at Portland’s farmers markets are gloriously colorful. It is hard to know which ones not to get, because they all look so nice and probably taste great as well. Ayurveda teaches us, though, that not everything that looks and tastes good to us is good for our overall health.

Depending on your Ayurvedic dosha – or constitutional type – there are certain foods you should favor in your diet, and others that you should definitely avoid. And very often the foods you crave most might be the ones you should avoid first.

For instance, I love the flavor of tomatoes. Not the tasteless ones that feel like watery, semi-solid mush in your mouth. I mean the ones that are juicy, sweet and tart all at once, and that if you add just a pinch of salt make a tasty snack on their own. The tomatoes I saw at this weekend’s PSU farmers market looked delicious!

But tomatoes and most citrus fruits aggravate my dominant pitta dosha – which often expresses as skin problems – especially as the weather warms up. So I eat them very rarely, and I use them only sparingly in the sattvic food that I cook for others because by definition sattvic food should be balancing for people of all doshas. That is what makes makes sattvic food energetically healing.

Learning what foods Ayurveda recommends you avoid, understanding that it is worth avoiding them even if they appeal to your senses, and then choosing not to eat those foods is part of tapas. Tapas is the yogic practice of acting with positive self-discipline even when it seems hard or feels unnatural. Repeatedly making hard, conscientious decisions can help you to cultivate new, healthier behaviors and expand your understanding of your Self.

As Ashtanga Yoga master Sharath Jois says, “By practicing tapas, impurities are destroyed, and the body and sense organs will gain spiritual power.”

Give me a shout if you are going to the farmers market this weekend. I hope to see you there!

David

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