By Bindu Shortt
In the US, pitta season runs from July through October. According to Ayurveda, pitta qualities are mostly heat and moisture. Think humidity. These qualities can accumulate and express in you as skin conditions, irritability, sour or acid stomach, or loose bowels. To soothe your pitta energies, apply the principle of opposites.
Avoid foods that are themselves heating, such as coffee, alcohol and meat as well as fried and spicy foods. Favor seasonal veggies and fruits that are cooling. Summer is the only season in which the cooling qualities of melons are beneficial. How wonderful that nature gives us the foods needed to keep us balanced in each season!
Because digestion itself is warm, Ayurveda still recommends eating most of your foods cooked during pitta season. This allows for strong digestion and maximum energy from your food. Salads may be eaten a few times a week, when used as a condiment rather than your main dish. Fruits also are still better eaten cooked (grilled peaches, blueberry cobblers). Most people, however, can tolerate raw fruit a few times a week.
Drink cooling beverages including room temperature water with mint, cucumber, lemon or lime. Or try coconut water, purchased at the store. Homemade lassi in the summer can include some rose water and cilantro for extra pitta relief.
In your daily self-massage either switch to all coconut oil or do half and half with your regular oil. This will cool your body from the outside in. In addition to your yoga, swimming is a wonderful for summer activity as it does not overheat. If you do another activity, do it in the cooler morning or evening hours.
Saffron is an exotic spice that has been used throughout history for its scent, its color, and its medicinal properties. Ayurveda prizes saffron as a pitta balancing herb, since it is both bitter and astringent, two tastes that pacify pitta. Just 1 to 5 strands of saffron is all you need to receive its benefits. The following saffron rice recipe goes well with any dahl (lentil or bean dish) or with summer steamed veggies. Its simplicity is appropriate for summer cooking:
1 cup white basmati rice, washed
5 strands of saffron
3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
- Wash and rinse the rice. You can soak it for 30 minutes to make it more digestible.
- Dry roast the saffron in a medium saucepan. This brings out its flavor.
- Add the rice, water and salt and cook, covered, over a low heat for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is soft.