Digestive Formulas

Digestive Formulas for Easily Digested Food

Digestive Formulas are a mixture of spices and/or herbs that:

  • Enrich food with digestive enzymes so it is broken down and absorbed more easily
  • Make the food tasty in a natural and healthy way
  • Complement all of the 6 main flavors (sweet/ sour/ pungent/ astringent/ salty/ bitter)

Preparing Digestive Formulas

It is best to make your own blends rather than buying ready-made spice mixtures, so that you can correctly calculate the portions of each ingredient (which is very significant for the preparation of a digestive formula) and also to ensure their freshness, because the essential oils of spices and herbs must be preserved.

A simple coffee grinder is all we need to prepare the formulas, which can then be stored in small glass jars.

Digestive formulas can be preserved in a cool, dry, dark place, in an airtight container for approximately 2 to 3 months.

The philosophy behind each formula and how we choose its ingredients, is not entirely fixed. We have selected classical/traditional combinations, specific to a certain culture, considering the characteristics of each ingredient whether it be dry, sweet, or digestive, for example.

After much experimentation, we have developed formulas that have a specific purpose, or connection with certain food; enhancing taste, and adding flavor and aroma. There are plenty of other combinations as well so do not limit your inspiration!

A digestive formula is efficient when:

  1. It is freshly ground (maximum 2-3 months in an airtight glass container)
  2. It is used in proper quantities (1-2.5tsp. per person)
  3. It is activated; some spices/seeds need to be heated while others (like dried herbs) need to be added after cooking.

Main Digestive Formulas

1.Classic Digestive Formula (Yogic digestive formula)

This combination is often used to supplement the digestive enzymes that may have been destroyed during cooking. The digestive formula is activated if heated in a pan with a little bit of oil, at the beginning of cooking.

NOTE: Heat “wakes up” the aromatic oils, helping spices release not only their flavor but their qualities as well.

This formula is ideal for vegetables and pulses:

  • 1 dose ground turmeric
  • ½ dose ground cumin
  • ½ dose cumin seeds
  • ½ dose ground coriander
  • ½ dose coriander seeds
  • 1 dose mustard seeds
  • 1 dose chili or ground black pepper*

(*if the chili or the black pepper is too spicy for your taste, then the dose can be reduced by half)

Re-watch the following video from Part 1 - The Three Activated Hacks for a reminder on how to make this classic formula:

2. Garam Masala

This mixture is closer to the philosophy of Activated Vegan Food than any other Indian spice blend. The digestive formula is activated if heated in a pan with a little bit of oil at the beginning of cooking. This formula is ideal for vegetables and pulses.

  • 1 dose ground cumin
  • 1 ½ dose ground coriander
  • 1 ½ dose ground cardamom
  • 1 ½ dose ground black pepper
  • 1 dose ground cinnamon
  • ½ dose ground cloves
  • ½ dose ground nutmeg

3. Ayurvedic Formula

The Αyurveda philosophy suggests the combination of 5 spices that have been used for thousands of years, proven to help digestion and alleviate bloating.

This digestive formula is activated if heated in a pan with a little bit of oil at the beginning of cooking.

  • 1 dose fennel seeds
  • ½ dose ground coriander
  • ½ dose coriander seeds
  • ½ dose ground cumin
  • ½ dose cumin seeds
  • ½ dose whole cardamom
  • 1 dose ground ginger

4. Formula for burgers or pureed food (mashed potatoes/vegetables)

This formula is added into burger mixtures or pureed food. It does not need to be heated in oil before, but can be added before cooking into the raw mixture.

  • 1 dose ground paprika
  • ½ dose ground coriander
  • ½ dose coriander seeds
  • 1 dose ground cumin
  • 1 dose ground cinnamon
  • 1 dose chili or black pepper (or ½ dose if too spicy for your taste)

5. Formula for marinating (Baharat - traditional eastern spice mix)

Mix this formula with your local oil of choice and use as a marinade before cooking.

  • 6 doses paprika
  • 4 doses black pepper
  • 4 doses cumin seeds
  • 3 doses cinnamon
  • 3 doses cloves
  • 3 doses coriander seeds
  • 3 doses nutmeg
  • 1 dose cardamom pods

6. Raw Formula 1

These formulas are mainly made of dried herbs and should be added to food at the end of the cooking process.

  • 1 dose dried mint or spearmint
  • ½ dose dried basil
  • 2 doses dried oregano
  • ½ dose black pepper
  • 1 dose ground cinnamon

7. Raw Formula 2

These formulas are mainly made of dried herbs and should be added to food at the end of the cooking process.

  • 1 dose dried oregano
  • 1 dose dried rosemary
  • 1 dose dried spearmint
  • ½ dose pepper
  • ½ dose dried thyme

8. Za’atar (Traditional Eastern Spice Mix)

This formula is a mixture of dried herbs and ground spices, and while it can be purchased ready in stores, it does not hold much value as the ingredients have been pre-roasted. When made at home however, it becomes an excellent digestive formula.

It can be added to the food raw after cooking, or pre-cooked with the food.

  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme (crushed)
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin 
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. sumac
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. chili or black pepper 

9. One herb/spice "formula"

If you are very fond of a particular spice or herb, and you feel it is good for you, you can use a big dose of one herb/spice, to add to your food.

Some good examples:

  • Potatoes with cumin (Jeera Alloo) - 1 tsp. of cumin for every 2 medium potatoes.
  • Rice with spearmint (Pudina rice) - 4 cups of spearmint for every cup of rice.
  • Rosemary is an excellent herb that boosts digestion, blood circulation and mind focus. Try to roast it separately in a pan with very little oil and add it next to your food and enjoy its taste and its health benefits.

10. Digestive Tea Formula (CCF Tea)

In case you are invited for lunch/dinner and it is impossible to add a digestive formula to your food, you can drink some digestive tea before eating to aid your system instead.


Mix equal quantities of:

  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fennel seeds

Boil 1 tbsp. of the seed-mixture for each cup of water for 3-6 minutes, and then let it rest for 10 minutes. Drain and enjoy it before a meal or during the day when you feel low on energy or dehydrated.

Once you have determined your Dosha in Part 3: Ayurveda Simplified, you can use the following herbs/spices in your tea to help create balance.

  • For those who have too much gas (vata), add mint or peppermint
  • For those who have too much bile (pitta), add clove or rose
  • For those who have too much mucus (kapha), add ginger

This formula can also be made into a digestive formula for food, by adding black pepper or chili and heating in a pan with a little bit of oil.

If for any reason you cannot add a digestive formula before cooking, you can activate a formula separately by stir frying it in a little oil, and then add it to your plate at the end of the cooking process.

Fresh Herbs

Adding fresh herbs will make the digestive formula even more efficient

We can add at least one fresh herb, for example fresh parsley, fresh coriander, fresh celery, or fresh dill, in two doses for any meal, as follows:

  1. One dose just before we turn off the heat.
  2. Οne dose before serving.

In this way, we will preserve the essential oils of the herbs, so they release their flavor and enhance the taste, but also release their digestive properties.

Allium: Garlic /Onion /Leek

You will notice that garlic, onion and leek, regardless of their popularity, are not included in any digestive formulas. We leave it up to you if you wish to include them in your food, either cooked or raw. The reason they are not mentioned in the formulas, is due to their intense smell, especially when they are raw. Allium over-stimulates the mind (leek less than the others) but eventually results in mental sluggishness and tiredness. Also, they have a strong antibiotic effect, thus, we prefer to consume them only when we need them, as a natural medicine, and not on a daily basis.

To replace garlic and onion flavor, we can use Asafoetida (hing). This spice has a healing effect for the stomach and the intestines and lacks the tamasic (dulling) effect of garlic and onion.

Asafoetida (hing)

Digestive Formulas for Sweets/Desserts

Although sweets may benefit from the digestive formulas to improve digestion, and enhance the flavor, we may omit them if a specific recipe suggests using another aromatic flavor.

The aim is to add all 6 flavors to the sweets by using aromatic blends, to balance its elements.

1. Masala Digestive Formula

This is a great formula that is used for tea, but is also suitable for cakes, crepes, crèmes and cookies.

  • 1 dose ground green cardamom pods
  • ½ dose ground cloves
  • ½ dose star anise (optional)
  • ½ dose ground peppercorns
  • ½ dose ground ginger
  • 1 ½ dose ground cinnamon

2. Pumpkin Pie Spice Formula

This formula works for sweet pies but also for raw desserts.

  • 4 doses ground cinnamon
  • 2 doses ground ginger
  • 1 dose ground cloves
  • 1/3 dose ground nutmeg

Experiment with your own formulas!

There are so many formulas that you can make by yourself or be inspired to try by the tradition of the country you live in. While making these formulas, ensure that they include all the flavors/qualities. Reduce the quantity of those which tend to dominate and ensure that they are fresh and that they retain their essential oils.