Think Vegetarian Cooking Is Bland? Think Again.

By Jill Leslie
Owner and Founder
Kitchen Alchemy

I am a huge fan of “Heaven’s Banquet: Vegetarian Cooking for Lifelong Health the Ayurveda Way,” by Miriam Hospodar.

Not only does she show us how to make our kitchen the basis for health and healing, the recipes are simple enough to appeal to everyone—even those who don’t know their way around the kitchen.

Of course, the serious chef will appreciate the sophistication of the recipes, and those of us who have been studying nutrition for years will find solace in the manner that the dishes are crafted to balance the body and mind.

In fact, Hospodar follows the principle that if food does not taste good, it is not truly nourishing. She says, “If you aren’t up to a little magic occasionally, you shouldn’t waste your time trying to cook.”

While the book’s 700 international recipes are exclusively vegetarian, meat eaters will love this book, too.

This spectacular cookbook combines more than 23 years of research and experience by Hospodar, who sprinkles humor and inspirational quotes throughout the text.

One of my favorites is her nod to Ambrose Bierce, who defined “digestion” as “the conversion of victuals into virtues.”

What I like best about this volume is that Hospodar introduces her readers to the idea that the ordinary act of eating is an extraordinary act of taste, healing, and health.

In fact, the beginning of the book includes a comprehensive description of the Ayurvedic system and which foods are good for each body type: vata, pitta, and kapha.

  • Vata is quick, cold, and dry by nature. It governs motion, breathing, circulation, elimination, and the flow of nerve impulses to and from the brain.
  • Pitta is hot and precise by nature. It governs digestion and metabolism and the processing of food, air, and water throughout the body.
  • Kapha is solid and steady by nature. It governs structure and fluid balance and forms muscle, fat, bone, and sinew.

Click here to learn more.

That’s not all.

Hospodar also points out that other factors affect how nourishing your food is, such as the benefits of eating seasonally, how the mood of the cook affects the food he or she is preparing, and how settled you are when you eat.

“The Ayurvedic meal,” writes Hospodar, “is designed to promote optimum digestion and maximum pleasure.” If you want to cook in a way that skillfully combines nutrition and taste, let Heaven’s Banquet be your guide

For more, visit for a sampling of recipes and entertaining articles by Hospodar.

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About Jill Leslie and Ayurveda Alchemy

Jill Leslie is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, herbalist, wellness chef, and yoga teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area who, for more than two decades, has been immersed in the study and practice of natural healing.

The entrepreneur, who has owned her own businesses since graduating from the University of Maryland in 1986, founded the award-winning retail shop Milk & Honey in Sebastapol, CA, in 1999. She sold it in 2006 so that she could delve deeper into her study of yoga and Ayurveda.

Ayurveda Alchemy: As she discovered the life-changing wisdom of these ancient practices, she began sharing her knowledge at wellness retreats, yoga studios, and through cooking classes. Her passion for herbal medicine and nutrition, and her love of sweets, inspired her in 2008 to found Ayurveda Alchemy.

In addition to hosting classes and events, and providing consultations and dietary advice about Ayurveda, she has created a line of healthy and delicious confections, which are available online at Kitchen Alchemy Treats. “When I learned the adage of Ayurveda, ‘Let your food be your medicine,’ I put on my apron and said, ‘Let your medicine be delicious,’” she says. Learn more at