Let’s talk about routines.
I’m sure many of you, like me, are total creatures of habit. This can sometimes work to our detriment if always doing the same thing over and over again lands us in a rut that we just can’t climb out of. On the other hand, routines definitely have their perks. We have a lot on our minds these days, and doing some things on autopilot helps to free up brain space for more novel problem solving.
As it turns out, this time of year is actually great for us routine-loving people, especially when it comes to self care.
Our North American winter coincides with the Ayurvedic season of ‘vata’, which has characteristics of being cold, brittle, dry, and light. According to this ancient medicine, if you tend towards the vata dosha (or in other words, have a mind-body dominance of vata energy over the other two doshas), you’re more likely to be cold frequently, sleep lightly and have sensitive digestion. Based on that, it’s suggested that vatas benefit from bringing more stability, calm, and consistency into their lives, and routines are one way of doing it. As a result, vatas can help avoid things like digestive issues, irritability, constipation and anxiety. Similarly, all of us who live in cold climates at this time of year can do well with the same.
In a nutshell: good news for my fellow creatures of habit. Take that as your free pass to carry on with your routine-loving self!
There are tons of free quizzes you can take to find out which dosha(s) you tend towards, and while most conclude I’m a pitta-vata type, the coldness and irritability of vata are definitely characteristics I can identify with. With this in mind, I’ve been getting a lot of enjoyment out of self-care rituals lately, like….
- hot yoga before work on Fridays to close out the week
- face masks and massaging facial oils into my skin before bed (especially this one, a current fave because it smells loooovely!)
- diffusing essential oils in my apartment – citrusy ones in the morning and lavender at night
- meeting up with a friend or two on the weekend for a chat (which always leaves me feeling SO inspired, grounded and energized all at once – highly recommended)
- drinking warm beverages throughout the day, including golden milk, adaptogen lattes, and herbal teas
- cooking meals full of warm, grounding cooked root vegetables, herbs and spices (especially sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom)
I thought I’d share these in case they inspire you to do similar for yourself, and if you happen to have vata tendencies too, check out this article for more ritual suggestions. In my opinion, winter above any other time of year is a season we should focus a lot on self care. The days are short, we don’t get as much sunlight/vitamin D to stimulate energy and mood, and those things can leave us feeling kinda crappy. I don’t want you feeling crappy!
With that in mind, the Roasted Chicken Salad with Curried Yogurt Dressing I’ve got for you today is one of those meals that makes me feel grounded and calm from the inside out. From the smell of the cinnamon-spiced sweet potatoes, to the sweet and juicy grapes and the crunchy almonds on top, it’s absolutely one of those feel-good meals perfect for making on a lazy weekend.
From warm, cinnamon-spiced sweet potatoes to sweet juicy grapes, this Roasted Chicken Salad with Curried Yogurt Dressing will make you feel grounded + nourished.
For the pilaf:
- 1 cup uncooked buckwheat + 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 5 cups diced peeled sweet potato
- 1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp freshly minced parsley
For the chicken:
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp orange juice
- 500g raw boneless skinless chicken breast (I used Meatme.ca locally-sourced, responsibly-raised chicken which is a fantastic option if you live here in the Vancouver area!)
- 1 tsp curry powder
- sea salt + black pepper
For the sauce/dressing (you will likely have some leftover):
- 1 cup coconut yogurt (or other non-dairy plain yogurt)
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp each tahini and honey (you could swap maple syrup if you prefer)
- 1 tbsp yellow curry powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- sea salt, to taste
For the rest:
- 2 cups diced celery
- 1 cup halved grapes
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 4 cups shredded greens
- slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a resealable bag, combine all ingredients for the chicken marinade. Add the chicken, seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes in cinnamon, ginger, olive oil and parsley. Stir well to coat, then scatter onto a lined baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 mins, or until crispy. Transfer back to the large bowl and stir in the cooked buckwheat and parsley.
Cook the buckwheat: Pour the buckwheat groats and low sodium broth into a large saucepan. Boil, covered with a lid, for about 15 minutes or until most liquid is absorbed. Drain off excess liquid, fluff with a fork and set aside.
After the chicken has had a chance to marinate, place each piece on the second lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, then roast for 20-30mins depending on thickness, or until internal temperature reaches 165F.
While the chicken cooks, stir together all ingredients for the sauce. Chop the celery and grapes, and shred the carrot. Combine them in a bowl with a few tablespoons of the yogurt dressing.
Distribute the greens between 4 bowls, followed by the buckwheat pilaf.
Once the chicken has finished cooking and is cool enough to handle, chop it into small cubes and stir it into the celery mixture. Add more yogurt sauce as needed.
Distribute the chicken salad between the 4 bowls. Sprinkle each with slivered almonds and serve.
I’d love to hear from you… do you know what your Ayurvedic dosha is? Do you have any self care rituals you’re loving right now?