The ideal Ayurvedic lunch is not a large or complicated affair. Vaidyas (ayurvedic healers) recommend you eat small portions of five to six different components, so that you get a variety of flavours and a balance of nutrients.And yes, vegetarian food is recommended.
Chutneys can play an important role, because they can offer you almost all of the 6 essential ‘tastes’ that Ayurveda identifies: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter. The simplest and most delicious chutney I know of is made by blending fresh cilantro leaves with a little salt and a green chilli, with a squirt of lemon. A hint of mint makes it even more exciting, while also adding vitamins and minerals.
So, here are some suggestions on how to put together an ideal Ayurvedic lunch:
1. A bowl of yellow lentils + a bowl of plain yogurt + a small salad or sauteed veggies + a chapati + a cilantro-mint chutney.
2. A bowl of soup + whole-grain toast + baked squash/potatoes/sweet potatoes + herb tea
3. A veggie-and-bean burrito + salsa + guacamole
4. whole-wheat pasta with seasonal veggies or pasta marinara, with herb tea or fresh lemonade.
Whole-wheat sandwiches, hummus, cooked beets, couscous with veggies, cottage cheese cooked with spinach, stir-fried broccoli, steamed dumplings, a tall glass of lassi (buttermilk) are all very welcome additions to your lunch platter. Now these are things you don’t have to slog over your stove or oven to make. If you have cafetarias and restaurants close to your workplace, some of these options should be easily available to you.
Portions matter too! Even if you’re eating a soup-toast-and-salad lunch, make sure you don’t overeat. A simple tip to help you eat the right amount: cup your palms and imagine the meal before you fitting into it. If there is more than that on your plate, reduce the portion size or share it with a friend. This way, you will never feel the midday slump that hits most people after a ‘good’ meal.