Now that the holidays are behind us and we’re settled into this new year we can shift our attention back to self nourishment. I know how challenging it can be to stay focused with holiday travel, family gatherings, and parties. Now is a wonderful time to plant seeds of intention for the year for how we want to feed ourselves.
There are many ways we can nourish ourselves. Creativity, expression, service, movement, spiritual practices, relationships, and what we eat can all be forms of nourishment. When one area is off balance we tend to be off balance in other areas as well. Our lives ebb and flow and it’s not about being ‘perfect’ in all areas all of the time. In fact it’s not about perfection at all. Like with any practice, we pay attention, we slow down, and when we notice we’re off track we gently bring ourselves back. With dedication and focus, over time all forms of nourishment become woven into the fabric of our everyday life and it doesn’t take as much effort to maintain.
Our foundation for self care and nourishment is what we feed our physical bodies. Since what we eat literally makes up the cells in our bodies it stands to reason that eating well makes up our entire experience of life. We’ve all heard the stories of heavy smokers that quit smoking and after 7-10 years their lungs are like new. This is because the cells in our lungs renew themselves on a constant basis. Our skin, nails, red blood cells, liver, bones, and heart all renew over different periods of time. Some processes take longer than others but isn’t this mind blowing? Our bodies are literally changing before our eyes and you can see why giving them healing foods is so important.
Many folks like to kick off the new year with an extreme cleanse (and when I say extreme I am referring to an all juice or master cleanse) but I prefer to wait a few weeks into January and then eat a nourishing pot or two of kitchari. Given that it is winter, it’s best to stick with as many warm foods as possible and don’t skimp on the fat in the recipe, it’s valuable for countless functions in the body.
Kitchari, is the main cleansing meal in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a combination of split mung beans and basmati rice. Traditional kitchari is made from white basmati rice because it is easier to digest. This healing one pot meal gives our often taxed digestion a break, balances metabolism, cleanses the liver, refreshes our blood, and supports our body to detox what it needs to.
Digestion is of number one importance in Ayurvedic medicine and with good reason. So many health issues can be traced to our gut health. The idea behind a good kitchari is that it is easy to digest, nourishing without being heavy, and light enough to allow our bodies to detox very gently. There are many different spice combinations that one can use based on their particular Ayurvedic dosha (your basic constitution). The recipe I used is adapted from Vasant Lad’s Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing and is suitable for all constitutions. If you’re interested in Ayurvedic cooking this is an excellent book to get you started. Loads of information and delicious recipes.
For the last two years I have used a simple kitchari as a staple recipe in my online Sugar Cleanse. In that recipe I added vegetables to make it more of a substantial meal. This recipe I’m posting now has no vegetables but you can add them if you like. Make sure they are cooked well so they are easy to digest. Good veggies to choose are carrots and green beans.
This kitchari is what I ate during my recent prenatal yoga training. It was the perfect meal as it kept me alert and able to practice without feeling weighed down. Some days I ate an egg or two and had green smoothies with chlorophyll as a snack. Typically kitcahri diets, or mono diets, are kept up for 7-10 days, longer if there is a specific health issues. I suggest starting off with two days and see how you like it and how it makes you feel. The recipe makes enough for 1 day depending on how hungry you are.
Eat the kitchari over the course of a weekend or any couple of days that you have a little extra down time. The beauty of kitchari is that you can eat as much as you want. I recommend eating many small meals throughout the day verses three big meals. Smaller meals helps to stabilize blood sugar and will make this a much smoother process. Eat kitchari for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack. Supplement with hot tea and green juice. Try to drink your green juices as close to room temperature as possible.
It is very important to drink plenty of water and get tons of rest on any cleanse, even if it’s only for two days. If you feel great after the two days then add on an extra day or two. Listen to your body and pay attention to the signals.
I add juices to my cleanse for the minerals and vitamins. This is not traditionally done in Ayurvedic medicine. I’ve worked with many Naturopaths and Acupuncturists over the years and I am sharing a sample cleanse that I do in the winter. I cleanse for a week but I don’t recommend doing that if this is your first time. Take it slow, there is no race to the finish line here! Use the time to turn inward and give your body a break
Cleansing Kitchari 2 Day Cleanse
Days 1 + 2
- 8 oz of Lemon Water (first thing in the morning)
- 8oz of Green Juice (1-2 per day)
- Kitchari (as much as you want all day)
- Herbal Tea (1-2 cups per day)
- Water (1/2 your body weight in ounces per day)
Self care treatments and practices you can do while cleansing
- 1 c. split mung dal
- 1 c. brown basmati rice
- 1 & 1/2 piece fresh ginger, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 c. purified water
- 3 Tbsp. ghee
- 2 inch piece of cinnamon bark
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 5 whole cardamom pods
- 5 whole cloves
- 10 black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. Celtic sea salt
- 6 c. water
1. Rinse mung dal and rice well. Add mung dal and rice to a small bowl and cover with water. Let soak over night, 10-12 hours. The next day rinse in 2 changes of water. Set aside.
2. Put the ginger, coconut, cilantro, and water in a small blender and blend until you have a smooth liquid.
3. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat and add the ghee, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon for a minute or two until very fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices.
4. Add the blended mixture to the pot along with the turmeric and salt. Stir until it is light brown. Stir in the mung dal and rice well to coat completely.
5. Pour in the water, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Allow it to boil for five minutes them reduce to a simmer on the lowest possible setting, lid ajar for 25-30 minutes or until mung dal and rice is very soft.
6. When kitchari is done turn off heat and let sit.
7. Serve warm with a few pieces of fresh cilantro for garnish.
If you’re doing this cleanse and plan to eat it all day, portion out some kitchari to take to work in a thermos and eat it warm or at room temperature. Kitchari can easily be reheated in a small pot on the stove, just add some water and cook on low to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.
Enjoy this simple, nourishing cleanse!
Please check in and ask questions in the comment section. I look forward to hearing from you and supporting you this year!
ASHLEY NEESE is a bold soul who empowers women to take good care of themselves. Her nutrition programs, yoga classes, and lifestyle blog guide wellness seekers towards bringing their whole being into each moment so they can heal and be at peace. Ashley works with clients all over the world and runs a life changing online Sugar Cleanse. You can find her sharing healthy recipes and self-care tips on her website, www.ashleyneese.com.