Spring Fasting

photo(45)Olan assembled and ready to go!Food is medicine, so is abstinence from it when appropriate. 

As temperatures shift from cold to cool and then warm, most world traditions observe a period of fasting.  It could mean not eating from dawn to dusk or for a part of the day, or simply skipping a meal periodically.

The most commonly avoided foods are meats, dairy, eggs, and heavy grains; some avoid substances like sugar, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and even specific processed foods like a favorite candy or gum :-).  The idea is to not eat congesting and heavy foods that can burden what may already be a sluggish digestion from winter.  Lighter foods especially seasonal vegetables, fruits, and lentils gently detox and nourish at the same time.

This soup is called an ‘Olan’ and is a part of Kerala’s cuisine from the south of India.  I find it to be light and nourishing and completely adequate as a meal.  This recipe has some modifications to make it seasonally appropriate and suitable for most palates.


• 1 packed cup of chopped greens (this is a good way to bring in baby kale, Swiss chard, arugula, or any seasonal green other than spinach);  and/or 1 packed cup of a spring squash like zucchini ; this soup is traditionally made with white pumpkin, peeled and sliced thin (available at Asian markets)

• Ground black pepper to taste

• 1 tsp. turmeric powder

• 1 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated; 1 green Thai pepper, split – optional but entirely delicious!

• 1 can (preferably a brand that has lined cans) of organic, black-eyed peas drained and rinsed; alternately, they can be soaked overnight and cooked covered until tender.

• Coconut oil to drizzle; dash of coconut milk optional before serving.

Add all the ingredients (wet, dry, and the cooked beans) into a stockpot with plenty of water to make a soupy broth; bring to a boil and gently simmer until greens look bright green and tender and the vegetables are lightly done.  (My version in the photo was made with yellow squash, hence the lack of green!)

Season with sea salt and raw sugar to taste.  Add a generous tablespoon of virgin coconut oil to the pot and shut off heat.  Add a dash of coconut milk for a richer broth.  Enjoy!

Author: AyurJaya

Clinical Ayurveda Specialist

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