There’s something magical about the seams of the day—morning and night, sunrise and sunset, waking up and drifting off to sleep. While the energetics may feel different, these transitions in our day are equally powerful times to reflect on the meaning of rest. Our days, for the most part, are characterized by busyness, but all too often that state of mind carries over into the night. Whether it’s staying up too late working or scrolling, or struggling to fall or stay asleep, the dark part of our day is often not as restful as it could be, making our waking lives seem like a dream—or nightmare.
The Importance of Sleep
There are many ways to improve one’s quality of sleep, but from an Ayurvedic perspective it all comes down to our eating habits. Namely, eating too late at night, or eating foods that aggravate the vata dosha (salads and raw foods; dry, crunchy snacks; cruciferous and leafy vegetables; caffeine) can set us up for a fitful night of sleep. When we wake up in the morning, we might not have an appropriate appetite for breakfast, which then initiates a snowball effect of delayed eating and insufficient energy to go about our day.
Leaving a few hours of space between your last meal and bed is a healthy habit to get into if sleep is an issue for you. But we can also support sleep through the foods we choose to eat at the seams of the day—and this Vegan Pear Bread Pudding fits the bill as an excellent dessert-slash-breakfast food that has the potential to soothe the mind for sleep even as it supports circulation and digestion to keep you feeling alert and strong while you’re awake.
Superstar Spice: Nutmeg
One of the superstar spices of this warm, not-too-sweet, and comforting pudding is nutmeg. It’s name in Sanskrit, the language of Ayurveda, means “intoxicating fruit,” which you’ll find accurate if you ever took a whiff of this floral, citrusy spice. Just a pinch packs a big punch for supporting the nervous system, drawing the vata dosha that can wreak havoc on a good night’s sleep down from the head, as well as alleviating restless legs and other pain.
At the same time, it’s a gentle support for cramping and spasms in the digestive tract, can clear mucus from the lungs, and is an aphrodisiac (which in Ayurveda means supportive of reproductive tissue, not just arousing). Nutmeg, along with other spices like cardamom and saffron, are among a special group of herbs that support a trifecta of bodily functions per Ayurveda—the circulation of lymph, prana, and the mind, and support the creation of high-quality ojas.
Combined with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, nutmeg adds brightening flavor, aroma, and potent herbal medicine to this simple, delicious (and simply delicious!) meal to end, or start, your day. Enjoy it on a holiday, or any day, and be prepared to taste, and feel, the magic at the seams of your day.
Vegan Pear Bread Pudding
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons ground flax meal
1 cup almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil, solid
1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 Barlett (or red) pears, chopped
½ cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
4 cups bread (roughly ½ loaf), cubed
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment (for ease of serving).
- In a medium bowl, combine the flax meal, almond milk, and vanilla. Whisk to combine, and set aside while you’re preparing the rest of the ingredients, about 5 minutes.
- Place 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves in a large saute pan over medium heat. Toast the spices for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the pears and raisins, stir to coat in the spice mixtures, and saute for about 10 minutes, until the pears are soft, stirring occasionally.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (you’ll want it to be solid), walnuts, oats, and coconut sugar. Mix with a fork to form a rough crumble.
- Spread about 1 cup of the walnut mixture evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Top with the pears and raisins, then add the cubes of bread in even layers. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the top. Lastly, sprinkle the remaining walnut mixture on top.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the bread is crispy and the pudding moist when poked with a fork. Serve warm, with cashew cream or another topping of choice. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.