The change of seasons had me feeling a bit restless of late. With the Dutch weather being somewhat unpredictable these past days changing from sunshine to rain like Beyoncé changing costumes during a concert my mood was also going up and down a bit. And quite uncharacteristicly for me I even started sleeping badly. Well, the seasonal change was one thing, the other being the fact that I’ve been a bit hooked on this blog since I started writing it staying behind my computer way too late. So I had been waking up at odd hours and having a hard time falling back asleep. After a few very long nights followed by even longer days I decided to fight back my insomnia the best way I know how; through food of course!
Disturbed sleep is very much a sign of your vata being out of balance. On the one hand because vata generally has the hardest time dealing with change. Which means that changing from one season to another can easily make people with a predominant vata constitution a bit wacky to be quite frank. Me included! Secondly vata is the elemental type that will also worry or fret the most when imbalanced. This often leads to not sleeping very well because it is hard to stop your mind from racing back and forth in an attempt to control even the tiniest detail of your life (And if you’re very unlucky even of the lives of your nearest and dearest. That will keep you entertained til the wee hours alright!). Being the “lightest” constitution, made up of the elements air and ether, vata’s will in any case tend to be quite light sleepers and are easily awoken by even the slightest noise or ray of light.
Luckily Ayurveda makes quick work of combatting disturbed sleep through both daily routine and choosing foods that will calm you down, make you drowsy and thus induce sound(er) sleep. One of the failproof ways to quickly befriend your bed again is massaging your feet with warm organic sesame oil before bedtime. Listening to soothing music or meditating before going to bed will also help. If you have trouble sleeping avoid too much stimulating activities, such as watching action filled or scary television programmes or working on your computer late into the evening. You should also be extra careful with your caffeine intake during the day as vata is very sensitive to stimulants which often becomes evident at bedtime.
When it comes to food there are some ingredients that are especially useful to promoting better sleep. Dairy being one of the most important ones. So a cup of hot milk with some cardamom or nutmeg is a great way to wind down before retiring. But basically anything with (a natural) sweet taste that isn’t too heavy to digest is suitable. The ingredients I most often prescribe are almonds, ghee, oats, bananas, rice and milk. In the spice department nutmeg especially has a very relaxing effect when used in moderation. In large quantities it is said to be intoxicating or even hallucinating. But you’d have to grate at least half an nutmeg in your milk to get that far. And believe you me, no kind of trip would be worth the ghastly taste of so much nutmeg!
I made these delicious oatmeal cookies using as many sleep inducing Ayurvedic ingredients I could cramp into one recipe and have been sleeping like a baby since. If you’ve never baked with ghee before, boy are you in for a suprise! The golden glow it will bring to your cookies will leave you feeling peaceful and tranquil at sight. The taste is sure to sent you swiftly into the land of dreams…..Eat as a mid afternoon snack or at least 1,5 hours before going to bed with a cup of hot milk infused with cardamom or aniseed. Sweet dreams.
These cookies are perfect for (sleep deprived) vata and pitta’s. Sorry kapha’s, you’ll have to let this one pass you by as the sweet taste can be too disturbing for you. And being kapha waking up is more of a problem for you than falling asleep anyway. But have no fear. I have some lovely surprises up my sleeves especially for you guys. Stay tuned.
Sleep tight banana and oatmeal cookies
Makes about 10 medium sized or 20 small cookies
- 35 gram self raising (spelt or wheat) flour (or use regular flour and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda)
- 40 grams whole grain (spelt or wheat) flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg plus a bit extra for dusting
- 50 grams ghee at room temperature (but not melted)
- 75 grams (fine) organic cane sugar
- 1 egg
- 115 grams mashed very ripe banana (about 1 small banana)
- 70 grams rolled oats
- 40 grams roughly chopped almonds
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Mix the two types of flour with salt and nutmeg. In a medium glass bowl cream the ghee and cane sugar with a hand held mixer until the sugar has disolved and the mixture looks creamy (When using very large grained cane sugar it may not completely disolve. Don’t worry about that. Just make sure your mixture is quite smooth.) Add the egg and mix until it is well incorporated. Now spoon in the mashed banana and almonds. It’s fine if you can still see some small banana lumps. Finally mix in the flour mixture a couple tabespoons at a time and stir in really well.
For medium sized cookies spoon about a shallow tablespoon of cookie dough on the baking tray and flatten somewhat with the back of the spoon. For smaller cookies use about a full teaspoon of dough and also spread out with the back of the spoon. Leave some room between the cookies in case they should spread a bit during baking. Grate some more nutmeg on top of the cookies before baking them about 15 minutes for the bigger cookies or 10 to 12 minutes for the smaller ones. Leave to cool about 5 minutes before removing them from the tray. Than cool completely on a wire rack, get your nibble on or store in an airtight container. They will keep for about 2 days. Because of the banana in the batter the cookies will be soft and chewy rather than very crunchy.