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Taste a rainbow on your plate with Ayurvedic cuisine

February 11, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Every day at lunch, there's a rainbow on Simone Heurich's plate.

She begins with a salad of purple cabbage with green peas sprinkled throughout. The main course is a combination of chopped red pepper, broccoli, bite-size squares of sweet potato, yellow squash and cauliflower, with South Asian-style seasonings and ginger.

Rounding out the meal is dal - an orangy-red dish of split red lentils seasoned in turmeric and other spices - and quinoa, a small South American grain (pronounced kih-NO-uh).

For dessert, it's sliced papaya or pineapple. The beverage: a yogurt-water mixture to help digestion.

Think of it as yoga philosophy for food.

Heurich, 53, is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at her home studio just north of Smithsburg. She says just as people aim to find balance in their lives through yoga, people ought to seek balance in life by the things they eat every day.

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It's all part of an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Ayurveda is a traditional Indian system of holistic healing, which emphasizes balance in all aspects of life.

"I do Ayurvedic cooking," Heurich says.

Under Ayurvedic thinking, a person's body type determines what kinds of food they should eat. A heavier person, Heurich says, might want to consider eating more raw foods. "They have a lot of the earth element. They need to eat lighter."

A tall slim person, on the other hand, would want to eat cooked foods, hardier foods, particularly during the winter time.

"They have a lot of the air element, but they do not have a lot of the earth element," she said. "They need to eat things that will 'ground' them."

Heurich also is vegetarian and avoids artificial chemicals. So, for good health, she likes to incorporate a variety of organic foods in her daily diet. The result is often a colorful meal with tons of healthful benefits such as protein, carotenoids and vitamins.

She gets a number of her ingredients at specialty shops and health food stores, such as Whole Foods Market in Frederick, Md.

"People should know there's more to vegetarian eating than cooking rice," says Heurich, who also hosts cooking lessons in her home.

Heurich talked with a reporter over lunch one afternoon to discuss cooking, yoga and Ayurveda.

Q&A with Simone Heurich



Q: There's yoga and then there's yoga. Some people don't know yoga is part of this bigger system. You seem to know a great deal about this.

A: Yoga is the sister science to Ayurveda. What happens oftentimes in this day and age, (is) we take parts of things and only use them. Yoga is a part of Ayurveda.

Q: How did you get into this?

A: My grandfather was very health conscious. He always had me eating healthy things like wheat germ, when I was in middle school in the '60s. My interest grew when I was in college. I discovered the vegetarian diet in 1971. I realized there's a whole world of food that I was never exposed to as a kid.

But maybe that was a good thing because I might not have liked it if my mother cooked it.

Q: What would you say to those die-hard meat eaters who would look at someone such as your self and say, "Become a vegetarian? Why would I do that? I wouldn't have anything to eat."

A: That's a good question. I teach cooking classes and I come across people like that. I say "Be willing to try new things - things that are closer to the way we find them in nature."

Q: Is there a food - other than meat - that you absolutely cannot stand and will not eat?

A: You know, I can't think of anything. I love fruits and vegetables. I can't think of anything I don't like.

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