I’m Elle Leonard, an entrepreneur, wife, athlete, expert snacker, non-stop thinker, and CEO of Level Foods. Welcome to my blog!

Tahini Turmeric Bowl

Tahini Turmeric Bowl

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Last winter, I was introduced to Ayurveda. If you aren’t familiar with it, you’re not alone. This was my first time as well. Ayurvedic Science is one of the oldest homeopathic healing systems, originating in India. In its simplest form, Ayurvedic practices identify the unique traits, or doshas, of an individual and customize wellness accordingly. The goal is balance and connection within the body. Their 5,000-year-old principles greatly emphasize cooking as a key part in achieving this balance.

During a trip to New York, one of my best friends took me to Divya’s Kitchen, the only Ayurvedic eating establishment in the country. Though Ayurvedic cooking is traditionally associated with Indian culture, Divya’s Kitchen (25 First Ave) takes a global approach to their menu. The restaurant is owned by a husband-wife duo, the wife, Divya, serving as the head chef while the husband, Prentiss, helps run the business. They both lived in India for 5 years while learning the fundamentals of Ayurvedic cooking. Wanting to share this lifestyle with a larger community, they made Diyva’s a restaurant downstairs and a cooking school above called Bhagavat Life. In addition to running her restaurant, Diyva is also one of the leading Ayurvedic professionals in the United States. She’s written her own book, teaches classes and has been cited in notable publications such as Well + Good, Savant, Bon Appetit, and Medium.

Prentiss, our waiter, was an absolute gem. We could sense his passion for the Ayurvedic lifestyle by the way he patiently answered every question we had about the practice, the food, and the preparation. Though they can’t tailor each dish to every individual’s dosha within the restaurant, they use basic Ayurvedic cooking practices as a way for the consumer to benefit from the overall experience.

For example, an Ayurvedic cook has to understand how each individual ingredient is digested by the body. The example Prentiss used was yogurt and fruit. While fruit is typically somewhat acidic and digested fairly quickly, yogurt takes much longer for the body to digest. This combination in your stomach can cause gas, bloating and uneasiness.

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I would guess that all of us have experienced gut discomfort after a meal. If it weren’t for him explaining the speed at which different ingredients digest, I wouldn’t have given it much thought. Despite my own research after this meal, I’ve struggled to find information on food’s digestive speed outside of Ayurvedic research.

During our visit to Divya’s, we ordered two appetizers, two entrees, and a dessert. The dishes were flavorful and the combination of ingredients was unique and fresh. There wasn’t a crumb left.

The meal itself isn’t the reason why I am writing this story now, it was how I FELT when I left. Typically after I eat, I have that cozy, kinda sleepy, full feeling. My Divya's post-meal feeling was almost the complete opposite. I was full, but not stuffed. I didn’t feel sleepy, I felt energized. Even with quite a bit of food, my gut felt content. No bloating, no uneasiness, nothing.

Upon returning home from New York, I started to do some research. Wanting to learn about simple ways to integrate Ayurvedic cooking into my diet, I stumbled upon turmeric. With its electric yellow color, the turmeric plant is a staple in Indian cuisine. With a host of medicinal benefits, it’s actually its main active ingredient, curcumin, that’s responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant defense.

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Curcumin is TERRIBLY absorbed in our bodies.

Similar to the speed of digestion, Ayurvedic science also studies the absorption of different ingredients. the combination of TURMERIC with BLACK PEPPER increases the absorption of curcumin by 2000%. (Source)

Eating the right foods is extremely important but this example showed me that feeling the benefits of good food is an art. So, I started peppering and turmericing (Yes, I made up that word) EVERYTHING.

Eggs in the morning? Turmeric and Pepper.
Avocado on toast? Turmeric and Pepper.
Chicken Marinade? Turmeric and Pepper.

While I was T&Ping everything, I started playing around with adding turmeric in sauces. For the last year, I have been making this Turmeric Tahini Bowl; continuously tweaking the sauce and bowl until I found my preferred combination. Below, I have outlined how I build my bowl and a step-by-step recipe for my turmeric tahini sauce. Feel free to experiment with different veggies or proteins to customize this bowl to your taste.

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