Though we are only officially a few weeks into winter, I already want to crawl under my blankets, wrap myself in fleece and dig out my heaviest wool sweaters. When I hear the clank and hiss of our radiators, I know summer is long gone. In Ayurvedic medicine, Winter, with its cold, dry, and windy aspects, is associated with Vata. For some, winter is a time of holiday weight gain, freezing hands and feet, and a weakened immune system leading to battling colds that linger for weeks. But it doesn’t have to be. By including foods and spices that balance us for the season, we can fortify ourselves against the excess cold, dry, and windy aspects of the next few months.
When we feel our lips start to dry and crack and that chill deep in our bones, it means it’s time for some Vata balancing. One of my favorite Vata balancing spices is cinnamon. In terms of Ayurvedic principles, cinnamon falls under the pungent, astringent, and sweet tastes. Most importantly, it has a warming effect on digestion and can stimulate the digestive fires or agni making it useful for the treatment of digestive issues.
But the benefits of cinnamon go beyond just warming us up on a cold winter’s day. Cinnamon has the ability to improve the flow of circulation making it beneficial for anyone suffering with cold hands or feet. It is anti-microbial, stopping the growth of bacteria and fungi including candida. Its warming effect can be used to provide relief when facing a cold or flu, which is especially true when combined with ginger. In addition, it has the ability to slow the rate at which the stomach empties after a meal. This in turn slows the rise of blood sugar, alleviating any blood sugar crashes where we start to crave the quick burst of energy of sweets that can come with a load of unnecessary calories and weight gain.
Best of all, cinnamon is an easy spice to incorporate into meals and snacks.
Try some of these easy ways to add cinnamon to your diet right now and balance the Vata aspects of Winter:
- Add cinnamon to any granolas, hot or cold breakfast cereals, yogurt , or smoothies
- Add cinnamon and a bit of coconut milk and stevia to a warm cup of ginger tea
- Roast sweet potatoes in coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon for a truly nourishing snack or side dish
In addition, check out some of these Vata balancing cinnamon recipes:
NPR’s Kitchen Widow: Monica’s Super Simple Chicken Curry
Elana’s Pantry: Cinnamon Buns
Cara’s Cravings: Ginger Bread Cookie Dough Protein Bars