A few weeks ago I met up with Alison Wu at her house in Portland for a little collaboration. I’ve known Ali for years, (we share a mutual friend), and have loved watching her develop her brand and share her message. She’s passionate, curious and bursting with creative energy. If you don’t already follow Alison, be sure to check out her Instagram and blog for some serious inspiration. She focuses on fashion, food, wellness and self-care and is known for her layered smoothies, vibrant salads, matcha potions, and herbal lattes. Together, we developed this immune boosting roasted cauliflower soup to support healthy digestion, boost immunity, and nourish the body during these long winter months when so many of us feel depleted and vulnerable. Continue reading for the recipe and some thoughts on immunity from an Ayurvedic perspective…
I can’t remember the last time I got sick…It’s probably been years. That’s not to say I haven’t had my fair share of issues; anxiety, insomnia, joint pain, skin issues, headaches etc. But I haven’t had a full blown cold in forever. I used to get sick fairly consistently, twice a year. When I started studying Ayurveda and totally changed my diet, I noticed that I got sick much less often. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons that my immunity seems stronger, but I think it’s mostly because of stronger digestion and plenty of nourishing, Ojas building foods. So what is Ojas, why do you want it, and how do you get some?
In Ayurveda, and in Yoga, there are three subtle essences responsible for all physiological and psychological functions; Prana, or life-force, Tejas, or transformation, and Ojas. Ojas is the subtle essence of strength, vigor, resilience, longevity, and immunity. It’s responsible for that radiant glow, vibrancy and vitality that we’ve all seen in others and wanted for ourselves. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the body takes 30 days to create Ojas through the process of healthy digestion. For a more detailed description of this process check out this article and to learn more about how to promote healthy digestion from an Ayurvedic perspective, check out this post from last year.
Aside from poor digestion, Ojas can become depleted by excessive sexual activity, over exertion, stress, lack of sleep, and fatigue. These things are so commonplace in our culture that we’re all probably at least a little depleted most of the time. I’m sure I’m Ojas deficient much of the time (stress and anxiety tend to get the better of me more often than I’d like) especially after the holidays. So how can we boost Ojas and immunity? Laughter, meditation, yoga, giving back, breathwork, self-massage and rest all help. Basically, more self-care more often. In addition, certain foods, including coconut, almonds, ghee, honey, saffron, cardamom, dates, and avocado all help build Ojas.
I know that the concept of Ojas won’t resonate with everyone, but I’ve personally found this philosophy and these practices to be transformational. I hope sharing my experience inspires you in some way and as always, if you want to learn more or have questions comment below.
This soup is packed with Ojas building ingredients like ghee and coconut milk, plenty of ginger, turmeric and lemon to promote healthy digestion, and some adaptogenic herbs for good measure. Ashwagandha and Shatavari are both Ojas building herbs that help reduce stress, build strength and stamina, act as nervine and reproductive tonics and soothe the digestive system. Be sure to check out Ali’s post on her blog here and enjoy!
*Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and tag my recipes with #tendingthetable.
Immune Boosting Roasted Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1/2 bulb celeriac, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ghee
1 large shallot, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 inch fresh turmeric, peeled and minced
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
Juice from ½ lemon
1 teaspoon shatavari powder
½ teaspoon ashwagandha powder
Radishes, watercress, sunflower seeds and nigella to garnish
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Toss the cauliflower and celeriac with the avocado oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife and beginning to brown.
Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a large pot set over medium heat. Saute the shallots, ginger and turmeric until soft. Add the roasted cauliflower and celeriac, the coconut milk, and vegetable broth and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, shatavari, and ashwagandha and transfer to a high speed blender. Puree on high until completely smooth. Serve warm garnished with sliced radishes, watercress, sunflower seeds and nigella.