Vegetarian Autumn Recipes: Shepherds Pie, Ratatouille, Apple Crisp & Carrot Cake

Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the crisp air, the colours and most of all the cozy harvest meals. Here are some of my favourite fall recipes: veggie shepherd’s pie, ratatouille, apple crisp and carrot cake. This dishes are perfect for a vegetarian Thanksgiving! (Ayurvedic considerations per dosha posted below each recipe.)

VEGGIE SHEPHERD’S PIE (à la Craig Bannerman)

  • YY_veg-sherpherds-pie2 c french lentils – soak for 1-2 hours before cooking
  • 1 red or white potato – cubed
  • 3 sweet potatoes or 1 butternut squash (or combo) – cubed
  • ~ 1/4 c Oilve oil
  • 2 small white onions – chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves – chopped
  • 1 bag spinach – chopped (or 1 block, 300 g, of frozen spinach – thawed)*
  • 1-2 corn – remove kernels of corn from cob
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp organic ketchup
  • Optional: goat cheese (for topping); chili, saffron or any other spices else you like


  • Soak your lentils for a minimum of hour to soften them – I usually do this in the morning or afternoon.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Cube potatoes and/or squash and place on backing sheet covered in a light coating of olive oil.
  • Roast potatoes/squash in over for about 15 mins or until you can slide a fork in easy.
  • Once lentils are soaked, boil them in a big pot until they are soft enough to squish easily between your fingers – about 20 mins (amount of water doesn’t matter, you’ll be straining them.)
  • TIP: Add half a potato to the boiling lentils. Then discard potato piece when cooked. (The potato pulls out the farty/gasy quality of lentils– it’s a chemistry thing. This is especially important for Vata or people with weak digestion.)
  • Sauté onions and garlic on the stove with olive oil.
  • Mix cooked and strained lentils with sautéed onions, garlic cumin, ketchup and other spices if desired – set aside.
  • Once potatoes/squash are roasted, let them cool for 10 mins, then mash them in a bowl with salt & pepper.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
    • Place lentils as first layer in a large casserole dish.
    • Second layer is corn kernels and/or peas.
    • Third layer is chopped spinach.
    • Fourth layer is mashed potatoes and/or squash.
    • Optional topping: crumbled feta or goat cheese.
  • BAKE at 350 degrees for approximately 20 mins or until topping is lightly browned.
  • SERVE with a side of steamed greens like kale or broccoli and a smile!
  • PS…This dish can easily be frozen, thawed and reheated.

AYURVEDIC TIPS:  This is a fairly tridoshic meal. For Vata, leave out the corn and peas, and substitute the red potato for another sweet potato. *For Pitta, instead of spinach use a layer of collard, kale or swiss chard, and serve with salad or steamed kale instead of broccoli. For Kapha, leave off the cheese and use 3 red potatoes and 1 sweet potato. {More about ayurveda – how to know what dosha to follow}


(This recipe is inspired by one from The Globe & Mail. Thanks to Greg & Tanya for sharing.)

  • 2 onions – sliced fine YY_ratatouille2
  • 1 small eggplant – sliced fine
  • 3 zucchinis – sliced
  • 3-4 ripe tomatoes – sliced
  • 2 red peppers – cut in strips
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh basil – finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh tarragon – finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh oregano – finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ~1/2 c Olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 c quinoa – cooked


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Slice onions first and place them in casserole dish covered in a small coating of olive oil.
  • Let onions brown in oven for 5-10 mins. (Set timer or check often)
  • Slice eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes, and set aside in large bowl.
  • Chop red peppers, garlic and herbs, and add these to the bowl.
  • Mix together mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and about 1/3 c of olive oil.
  • Using your (clean) hands, toss vegetables with the dressing.
  • ASSEMBLY:  Spread veggies over roasted onions and place casserole dish back into oven.
  • BAKE for 40 mins to 1 hour or until lightly browned on top.
  • SERVE the rataouille over a bed of white quinoa garnished with fresh herbs. Enjoy!
  • PS… This makes an excellent lunch the next day!

AYURVEDIC TIPS:  For Vata, this dish is fine as is. For Pitta, use tomatoes that are sweet and in season. Also, add 1/2 tbsp of mustard instead of full tbsp and use less garlic. For Kapha, use only one zucchini and add 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper to balsamic and mustard dressing. {More about ayurveda}


VEGAN APPLE CRISP – best ever!

  • 6-8 apples – peeled and sliced (McIntosh and/or cortland are best for cooking)YY_apple-crisp
  • 1 tsp cinnamon – ground
  • 1/2-1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1  1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c kamut flour (or other whole grain flour)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 c coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp dry sweetener (can use organic cane sugar, sucanat, coconut sugar or 1.5 tbsp stevia – stevia is sweeter)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 c pumpkin seeds – dry roasted (If preferred, you can use other nuts or seeds instead.)
  • Optional: 1 tsp finely chopped ginger; coconut cream or ice cream.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Peel and slice apples and place in large bowl.
  • Using hands, toss apples with 1/2 tsp cinnamon, lemon zest and maple syrup.
  • Place apple mixture into baking dish.
  • Mix together oats, flour, 1/2 cinnamon, dry sweetener, pumpkin seeds (+ ginger if desired) and work in softened coconut oil.
  • ASSEMBLY : Crumble oat mixture over apples.
  • BAKE at 350 degrees for approximately 45-50 mins or until topping is slightly browned.
  • SERVE as is or with a dollop of coconut cream or ice cream. Mmmmmmm….
  • PS… You can vary the amounts of sweetener. Use less if you prefer the crisp a bit more tart.

AYURVEDIC TIPS:  For Vata, this dessert is good as is, but avoid eating it with ice cream. For Pitta, leave out the ginger. For Kapha, desserts should be enjoyed in small amounts and in moderation. Helpful tips for kapha include reducing the sweetener, adding some ginger and serving it plain. {More about ayurveda}


This recipe works best when you use the left over carrot pulp from making carrot juice.  

  • 1 c kamut flour (or other whole grain flour) YY_carrot-cake
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tsp cinnamon – ground
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg – ground
  • 2 organic eggs or vegan equivalent (2 tsp ground flax seeds + 6 tsp hot water)
  • 1/2 c coconut oil
  • 3/4 c organic cane sugar or sucanat
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c carrot pulp
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger – finely chopped
  • Optional:  1/3 cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds –  crushed; handful of whole seeds for topping.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease one baking dish (~ 9″ x 9″) with coconut oil.
  • Mix together together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
  • In a larger bowl, whisk together eggs (or vegan egg replacement), oil, sugar and vanilla.
  • Mix dry ingredients with wet mixture – stir well.
  • Using hands, mix in carrot pulp, ginger and if desired, add crushed seeds.
  • ASSEMBLY : Pour batter into greased baking dish and sprinkle whole seeds on top.
  • BAKE at 350 degrees for approx. 45 to 50 minutes. To test if ready, insert a toothpick or fork – it should be clean when you pull it out.
  • SERVE as is or covered with your favourite icing. (I like this recipe plain or with a light lemon juice and icing sugar glaze .) Soooooo good!

AYURVEDIC TIPS:  For Vata, all good like this. For Pitta, carrots are considered ‘pungent’ or heat producing, so enjoy this dessert in moderation and leave off any lemon glaze. For Kapha, desserts are best as occasional treats, as sweet things increase kapha. This said, to modify this recipe for Kapha, use vegan egg replacer, 1/4 c apple sauce and 1/4 c coconut oil, reduce sweetener and add ginger. Best to leave off the icing for Kapha. {More about ayurveda}


Please let me know if you try out one of these recipes and what you think! Kindly posts your comments below.





What’s my Dosha?

What’s my dosha? is a rather complex question, because every living creature is composed of all five elements and all three doshas– vata, pitta and kapha.  Each of the ayurvedic constitutions (doshas) have distinct attributes and responsibilities in the body. You cannot survive without them. This said, we are not one-third vata, one-third pitta and one-third kapha. There is an infinite number of doshic combinations and no two individuals are exactly the same.  We all have a unique balance that makes me, me and you, you. One’s essential nature is inherited from our parents and does not change.  This is Prakruti.

When we are healthy and balanced, we experience the favorable qualities of the doshas and our Prakruti is revealed. When we are imbalanced or sick, we experience Vikruti, the shadow or unfavourable qualities of the doshas.  Vikruti (imbalance state) can also be inherited from our parents and grandparents. Since we only treat vikurti in Ayurveda, what’s important to determine are what doshas are out of balance. Why? Because we don’t fix what ain’t broke!

Here’s how to tell when a dosha is out of balance:

VATA (air & space)

Vata character when balanced

•  Vibrant, lively, enthusiastic
•  Clear and alert mind – fast learner
•  Flexible
•  Adaptability
•  Imaginative, creative, artistic
•  Sensitive/ clairvoyant
•  Talkative, energetic, quick to respond
•  Social butterfly

What aggravates Vata 

•  Irregular routine – irregular meals & sleep
•  Staying up late
•  Multi-tasking & excessive mental work
•  Cold, dry weather
•  Bitter, astringent, pungent or cold food
•  Traveling, injury, trauma
* Bitter emotions like grief or astringent emotions like fear, aggravate Vata. 

When out of balance – Symptom –> Pain

•  Restless, unsettled, forgetfulness
•  Light interrupted sleep, insomnia
•  Tendency to overexert then crash
•  Fatigued, stiff, dryness
•  Anxious, worried, lonely, depressed, unstable
•  Underweight, malnutrition
•  Poor digestion, gas, bloating, constipation

Conditions: arthritis, dehydration, mental illness, anorexia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease

To balance Vata – Calm & soothe

•  Create routine for meals, work & sleep
•  Favour warmth & rest
•  Reduce stress, travel, disturbing sounds & loud music
•  Favour warm lubricating, nourishing food
•  Favour soft colors, calming music
•  Gentle flowing yoga & restorative poses
•  Guided meditation & rest

PITTA (Fire & water)

 Pitta character when balanced

•  Warm, loving, passionate, contented
•  Enjoys challenges, motivated
•  Strong digestion & immunity
•  Lustrous complexion
•  Good concentration
•  Articulate and precise speech
•  Courageous, bold
•  Sharp wit, intelligent, focused

What aggravates Pitta 

•  Excessive heat or exposure to the sun
•  Alcohol, smoking, drugs
•  Time pressure, deadlines, competition
•  Excessive activity – physical or mental
•  Too much spicy, sour or salty food
•  Skipping meals
* Sour emotions like envy or pungent emotions like anger, aggravate Pitta

When out of balance – Symptom à Inflammation

•  Demanding, aggressive, perfectionist
•  Tendency towards frustration, anger
•  Tendency towards skin irritation & infection
•  Extreme hunger, allergies
•  Prematurely gray hair /early hair loss

Conditions: ulcers, heart burn, IBS, OCD, high blood pressure, acne, liver issues, addiction, hypoglycaemia, auto-immune diseases
To balance Pitta – Refresh & release tension
 •  Reduce stimulants, spicy foods and pressure
•  Favour coolness, leisure, natural beauty, rest  & moderation
•  Favour sweet, bitter & astringent taste
•  Work on letting go of anger & cleanse blood
•  Gentle yoga in nature with some challenge
•  Mantra meditation & rest

KAPHA (earth & water) 

Kapha character when balanced 

•  Affectionate, compassionate
•  Nurturing, calm, relaxed
•  Forgiving, loyal, Emotionally steady
•  Good listener & good memory
•  Slow, methodical, reliable
•  Strong stamina
•  Natural resistance to sickness
•  Soft skin, melodious voice

What aggravates Kapha

•  Oversleeping
•  Overeating
•  Insufficient exercise
•  Too little variety in life
•  Heavy, unctuous foods
•  Too much sweet, sour or salty food
•  Cold, wet weather
* Sweet emotions like desire, or salty emotions like greed, aggravate Kapha.

When out of balance – Symptom –> Swelling

•  Complacent, dull, boring
•  Sluggish, lethargic, lazy, no ambition
•  Oily hair & skin
•  Coughing, phlegm, congestion
•  Slow digestion & metabolism
•  Heavy, overweight, emotional eater
•  Possessive, over attached, needy
•  Tendency to oversleep

Conditions: obesity, chronic fatigue, kidney issues, blocked arteries, diabetes, growths (tumors)

To balance Kapha – Motivate & encourage

•  Reduce sweets & heavy food
•  Regular exercise – daily
•  Favour stimulation, new experiences, variety
•  Sleep less, eat small meals & let go
•  Favour pungent, bitter & astringent taste.
•  Active, invigorating & stimulating yoga
•  Mantra meditation or walking meditation

Related Articles

What is Ayurveda?

10 Ways to Improve Digestion

Green Juices for Vata, Pitta & Kapha

Natural Remedies for Stomach Flu  (Kitchari recipe featured)


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Chai recipes for Vata, Pitta, Kapha & kids

Given the season, here are some Chai recipes for Vata, Pita, Kapha & kids* too. Chai is medicinal and a great substitute for coffee or traditional hot chocolate and perfect for a wintery afternoon — think aprés-ski beverage! Mmmmm…

The word chai has a couple of meanings, which, in my opinion, are clearly related. In Hebrew, ‘chai’ means ‘life’. (It is also a symbol for the number 18, a factor of the auspicious number 108.) ‘Chai’ in many parts of the world, simply means ‘tea’. This warm and soothing beverage is usually made with spices, herbs and milk. In ayurvedic medicine, chai is considered a  rasayana, a remedy that lengthens lifespan. (‘Rasayana’ literally means ‘the path to [life’s] essence’.)

Here are some great chai recipes I share with my ayurvedic clients.
*See below, if you’re not sure how to choose which chai is for you.


Chai is perfect on a snowy afternoon.

Vata Chai
(for calming and warming)

  • 3 c filtered water
  • 4 green cardamom pods (crushed)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • Optional: 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 c almond, rice or seed milk
  • Raw organic sugar or Sucanat

Kapha Chai
(for stimulating & circulation)

  • 3 c filtered water
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger or ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cardamom pods (green or black)
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • 1 star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Optional:  ½ tsp black tea leaves
  • 1 c almond milk or seed milk or soy milk;
  • Honey or stevia
Pitta Chai
(for soothing and relaxing – not too heating)
  • 3 c filtered water
  • 5 mini rose buds or 1 tsp rose petals
  • 1 tsp black cardamom seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel
  • ½ cinnamon stick or ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean stick or 1 tsp ground vanilla
  • Optional: 2 tbsp pure organic cocoa nibs or 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 c almond milk or seed milk or ½ c coconut milk
  • Maple Syrup or Natural cane sugar

Kids Chai
(for a hot chocolate alternative, good night sleep)

  • 3 c filtered water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c almond or soy milk
  • Maple syrup or honey

1. In a large saucepan, boil water over high heat;
2. Add in spices / herbs, reduce heat and let simmer for ten minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let tea cool for a few minutes before stirring in milk and sweetener to taste.
4. Pour the chai through a strainer into cups or mugs and enjoy!

(Makes about four cups of chai.)


* What’s my dosha?
Vata, Pitta & Kapha are the three ayurvedic constitutions or doshas. Although we have all three constitutions within us, one tends to be more dominant and/or out of balance than the others. In ayurveda, we treat the imbalanced doshas, so here’s a little guide to help you choose which Chai recipe is for you.


Choose the Vata recipe, if you have some or all of these symptoms:
You are cold all the time;
• You have digestive issues like gas, bloating and/or constipation;
• You have restless or disturbed sleep;

Choose the Kapha recipe, if you have some or all of these symptoms:
• You feel lethargic and heavy;
• You have a slow metabolism;
• You tend to oversleep;

Choose the Pitta recipe, if you have some or all of these symptoms:
• You have redness in skin and often feel hot;
• You have heart burn or feel acidic;
• You tend to have soft or loose stool;

Read more

10 Ways to Improve Digestion

In Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, proper digestion is paramount to health. When digestion is optimal, we say that agni or the digestive fire is balanced. Our metabolic and immunity systems become stronger, we are energetic, we sleep well, we eliminate properly and we maintain a steady weight. When digestion is weak, we can experience any or all of the following:  gas, bloating, mood swings, weight gain, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, congestion, sleeplessness, low libido, inflammation, emancipation, heart burn and in serious cases, anemia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), crohn’s disease or diabetes.

Here are some tips on how to improve your digestion, increase your metabolism and strengthen your immunity system:

  1. Start your morning with a glass of warm water. It helps to get the system going.
  2. Eat only when you are hungry. If you aren’t hungry,  your body isn’t ready for food and you will have difficulty digesting.
  3. Don’t wait to eat. Hunger is sign that there are enough digestive juices (acid) in the body to assimilate food. The body will hold this acid in the small intestine for approximately 30 minutes, after which it will be transferred to the colon and reabsorbed into the blood stream. Overtime, this can increase our general acidity.
  4. Create a routine for meals. This may seem to contradict #2 & #3, but if you make a point of eating at the same time everyday, your body will adjust and thrive with the regularity. (This is particularly important for Vata & Pitta doshas.)
  5. Take time to digest. Avoid eating until the previous meal has been digested. Allow approximately three to six hours between meals.
  6. Snacking should be reserved for when you are very hungry between meals. Constant ‘mindless munching’ strains the digestive system.
  7. Fruit is best eaten at room temperature and alone. It digests quickly and therefore, eating fruit with other foods slows its assimilation and causes it to ferment in the gut, creating gas and bloating.  (For these reasons, fruit should never be eaten with a meal or for dessert.)
  8. Avoid iced beverages or food. Cold food amd drinks decreases the strength of our agni (digestive fire) and interferes with digestion.
  9. Eat until you are three-quarters full. You don’t want to leave the table very hungry or very full. Too much food overwhelms our agni.
  10. Practice food sadhana or mindfulness when eating. Enjoy your meals in a settled, quiet atmosphere. Always sit to eat and take time for gratitude. This helps you relax and digest better. Working, reading, watching TV or excessive talking during meals create distractions for your mind and body. This hinders your ability to know when your hunger is satisfied.

BONUS:  We are each a unique composition of elements. Understanding what the best foods are for your individual constitution or dosha will help you achieve your specific health goals and stick to your New Year’s resolutions. Whether you want to loose weight, improve digestion or increase your energy level, an ayurvedic practitioner can assist you in addressing your needs.


Yasmin_BIOpic_web_squareMy ayurvedic practice
As an ayurvedic practitioner, I work with people simply wanting to enhance their health as well as with doctors and their patients with serious conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. I design tailored food and lifestyle programs for each client. These programs may also include herbs, yoga, breathing, meditation and other exercises. Although my practice is based in Montreal, I have a satellite office in the West Island and I give consultations online via Skype.

Click here for more information about my ayurvedic services.

Contact me: hello @


Related Articles

What is Ayurveda?

Green Juices for Vata, Pitta & Kapha

Natural Remedies for Stomach Flu  (Kitchari recipe featured)




Light Dhal Recipe + Pitta Spice Blend

This Dhal (lentil) soup recipe is delicious and easy to make. It’s particularly fabulous for Pitta dosha, which can get all out of whack in the summer heat. Kapha and Vata can also benefit greatly from this dish, as it is light and easy to digest. Good for weight management programs too!

• 1 1/2 c split red lentils – soaked for 1 hr first, rinsed & strained
• 1 med size sweet potato – chopped (For Kapha: use 2/3 c chopped cauliflower instead)
• 2 stalks celery – chopped
• 1/3 c asparagus – chopped
• 1/4 c leeks or green onions – chopped
• 1/4 c green peas (Vata may want to omit peas.)
• 3 kale branches – chopped
• 2 tbsp Pitta spice blend*
• 3 c water
• 2 tbsp sunflower oil (or any other cooking oil appropriate for your dosha)

Soak lentils for a minimum of one hour before using. While lentils are soaking, chop the veggies and prepare the spice blend (see below). Then, in a large pot, sauté celery, asparagus and leeks in sunflower oil for approximately 2 minutes. Then add spice blend and continue to sauté for another two minutes– it will be quite dry. Add about 1/4 cup water and let simmer for another few minutes. Then add lentils, sweet potato (or cauliflower) and the rest of the water. Half cover the pot and let the soup simmer for about 25 minutes or until lentils are soft. Add in the chopped kale and pea and let cook for another 5-10 minutes. Serve over basmati rice or enjoy alone.


*Pitta Spice Blend
This fantastic seasoning was inspired by a recipe found in Eat Taste Heal: An Ayurvedic Guidebook and Cookbook for Modern Living by Johnny Brannigan — a great book. It adds flavor and keeps the fires of pitta in-check, especially during the summer.

• 2 tbsp coriander seeds – whole
• 2 tbsp fennel seeds – whole (For Kapha: reduce fennel seeds or replace with 1 tsp fennugreek seeds)
• 2 tbsp cumin seeds – whole
• 2 tbsp mint – dry
• 1 tbsp cardamon seeds – husked, yet whole
• 1 tbsp turmeric – ground

Grind all the ingredients together in a spice mill or coffee grinder. Place in a clean, dry jar with a lid and shake vigorously to ensure contents are well blended. Store in a dark, cool cupboard. Add to soups, stews, rice dishes, salad dressings and anything else requiring a flavor boost. Use within one month.