Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

Cultivating a Harmonious Body with Ayurveda

This past month has been incredibly challenging. Our survival mode has kicked-in and there is a rise in global consciousness.  We are all doing our best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by taking care of ourselves, family, friends, and our communities.

As an Ayurvedic healer, many of my clients reached out asking for tips on improving their immune system during this time of crises.  Before I start talking about Ayurveda is important to remind that the CDC and the WHO have a lot of online resources and are the authorities on the prevention and safety measures for the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease). Be informed so you keep unnecessary fear and anxiety away. 

Ayurveda is an ancient healing system that focuses on the prevention of diseases. Fundamentally Ayurveda believes that our bodies are free of “dis-ease” when we are in harmony and aligned with nature.  On the other hand, when we stress our bodies and don’t pay attention to the environment around us, we begin creating disharmony and eventually “dis-ease”.

Below are a few “tips” that I want to share on supporting your immune system for overall health and well-being.  

Food as Medicine

The health of your gut is important for your overall health and immunity.  During Kapha season (late winter/spring) eat warm, cooked, light and easy to digest foods to support overall digestion. Avoid fried, heavy, dairy and mucus producing foods (ex:bananas, milk, cheese).  Avoid refined sugar and carbs! Cook with spices such as ginger, mustard seeds, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, garlic and clove.


Drink warm liquids avoiding cold beverages and ice as it creates constriction, stagnation and congestion. Ginger tea, CCF tea, Turmeric-ginger tea, Tulsi tea and sipping on plain warm water are wonderful choices to keep your body hydrated and to support digestion.


Our breath is vital!  It is our first action when we are born and our last action before we leave this world. Pranayama is one of my favorite practices as it eases the mind, helps balance your body’s energetic channels, and strengthens your lungs. 


Get enough sleep and rest.  When we sleep 7-8 hours per night, our bodies have the opportunity to repair, regenerate and digest not only food, but also emotions and the overload of information from our day. Your metabolism is more prominent at this time and a complete night of sleep is essential for good health and strong Ojas (vitality).  Avoid late nights by going to bed around 10pm. 


Regular physical activity early in the morning increases stamina and stimulates the immune system while promoting circulation and burning accumulated fat.  Choose grounding and outdoor exercises that are enjoyable. Avoid over exerting and depleting exercises.  

Meditation & Positivity

Cultivate happy thoughts! In difficult times a clear, steady and positive mind is essential to maintain a healthy immunity system. Meditation is a wonderful practice to lower anxiety levels and bring you a sense of calm. If you are new to meditation, there are many APPs that can guide you on starting a daily practice.  Start with a 5-10min practice each day slowly increasing to 15-30min.  Some of my favorite apps are Calm and Insighttimer.


Having a self-care routine is essential in creating a harmonious rhythm between your body-mind and the nature around you.  If you don’t have a daily routine yet refer to this article on Dinacharya and consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner that can guide you on creating a unique routine just for you. 


Ayurveda has many wonderful herbs and ancient formulas to strengthen your immune system.  Because Ayurveda believes in bio-individuality and each person’s unique constitution, is extremely important to consult your practitioner if you are interested in taking ayurvedic herbs.  Is also important to consider that Ayurveda uses ancient vedic formulation, or a combination of herbs with a carrier instead of a single herbs as listed below. The list below is to get your curious about this wonderful science. 

Ginger – clears phlegm, expectorant, diaphoretic.  Using ginger in teas or everyday cooking is very helpful in aiding a sluggish digestion and clearing ama (toxins) from your digestive system.

Turmeric – antiseptic, antibacterial, antioxidant, aids digestion, cough. Turmeric is great for cooking, seasoning and should be consumed in small doses. 

Clove – cold, congestions, cough, increases agni and improves digestion, toothache and gum infections. Clove is used in traditional ayurvedic preparations such as Sitopaladi and Talisadi. Is also a great addition to your morning oatmeal and cooked spiced fruits because of its distinct flavor.

Guduchi – anti-inflammatory, fever reducer, immune system support, infections.  In low grade fevers guduchi is given with mahasudarshan and a pinch of pippali (long pepper).

Tulsi – antipyretic, decongestant, antibacterial, expectorant.  A tea of tulsi with cinnamon, cardamom and lemon grass can be used in the first signs of cold. 

Pippali – kapha reducer, low agni and sluggish digestion, immunity, mucus, rejuvenative for the lungs. A tea of ginger with a pinch of pippali can be given for weak lungs.  

In positivity, 

Luciana AWC, CHC, RYT, AYT

Resources: Sahasrayogam – Dr.G. Prabhakara Rao; Bhavaprakasa Vol.1 – Prof. K.S. Srikantha Murthy ; Ayurvedic Medicine – Sebastian Pole; M.A,Sc.; Texbook of Ayurveda, General Principals of Management and Treatment Vol. 3 – Vasant Lad,

All material and information presented by Blueberry Bunch by Luciana Ferraz is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made about products, supplements, or treatments have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The information on is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner before making changes to your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle.

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Sweet Potato Squash Casserole: a whole-food, plant-based recipe

The holidays give you a great opportunity to amaze your friends and family with whole-food, plant-based cooking. So Blueberry Bunch enlisted Certified Plant-Based Raw Chef Joanna Derouin to share a dish for your guests to enjoy: Sweet Potato Squash Casserole.

Combining the flavors of the season, this healthy sweet potato casserole is easy enough to prepare that you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of your loved ones.

This time of year is about gratitude, so put your best intentions in the cooking process and spread your love through the food you serve.


Sweet Potato Squash Casserole

Assembling Sweet Potato Squash Casserole


Top and bottom layer
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes*
  • 1 small acorn squash (or butternut squash)*
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

* To save some time, you could buy pre-cut sweet potatoes and squash.

  • 8 oz. sliced mini Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (or coconut aminos if avoiding soy products)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes (for a sweeter version, use cranberries and pecans instead)
  • 1 cup cooked tri-color quinoa (can also use amaranth or millet)


Ready to Bake - Sweet Potato Squash Casserole Layers of Sweet Potato Squash Casserole

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes and squash, then peel (if using organic sweet potatoes, you can keep the skin on to add more fiber). Cut evenly into ½ inch-thick rounds, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, black pepper, turmeric powder and rosemary. Bake for 40 minutes, until the sweet potatoes and squash are tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, start the stuffing by adding the mushrooms, paprika and tamari to a bowl, mixing them all together and allow to sit for 15 minutes so the mushrooms can marinate.
  4. After 15 minutes, place the marinated mushrooms and the cherry tomatoes in a large, dry skillet, and sauté over medium heat, stirring frequent for about 7 minutes. (There is no need to add water; the mushroom will release enough liquid to cook the vegetables without them sticking to the pan.)
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat, and remove any remaining liquid. Add the cooked quinoa, mix it gently and set aside.
  6. When the sweet potatoes and squash are tender, remove them from the oven and mash them together with a fork. Add the flaxseed meal and mix until even. Adjust the flavor to your taste, adding more salt, black pepper and dried herbs, if needed.
  7. Spread a 1 inch tall first layer of the sweet potato and squash mix into a large casserole dish. Add the mushroom stuffing on top of it. Then, spread a final layer of the sweet potato and squash mix, covering all the stuffing. Press down firmly with a spoon.
  8. Bake uncovered at 400° F for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is light brown.
  9. Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy.

Serving of Sweet Potato Squash Casserole

More about Chef Joanna

Joanna Derouin - plant-based raw chef

A certified plant-based raw chef by the renowned PLANTLAB® Culinary School, Joanna Derouin has a lifelong passion for cooking and conscious eating. In a journey to nourish her own body through a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, she has been an avid student of nutrition and believes that proper nourishment can be a powerful aid to our healing processes.

Interested in checking out more of what Joanna has to offer? Follow and connect with her on Instagram.

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