Cleansing Kitchari

Confessions of a True Spring Cleanse

As a health and wellness guide, I was long resisitant to the concept of cleansing and detoxing because I felt they were too closely akin to dieting, and not supportive of sustainable lifestyle changes. But then the more I studied Ayurveda through my yoga practice and teaching, I became open to the idea of the spring being the perfect time to cleanse. Think of it as a spring cleaning for your body and soul, instead of your house. ​ For me, it was and has been a unique opportunity to be more mindful, once again, and a surprise as to which things were difficult to give up ( and only for 10 days)!  So here goes: eliminating booze of all kinds was definitely harder than I thought. When my husband was going through treatment for cancer this past winter, I had picked up a routine of a beer or two in the evening, not even realizing it had become a habit. So there you go. I also consider myself as somewhat of an expert of taming sugar cravings, and that habit had also gotten a bit out of hand but, 14 days after I started this cleanse I am not even moved by the idea of sugar. I will still have it and enjoy it on ocassion, but it’s not a monkey on my back! The basis of this The Spring Cleanse is a collaboration between myself and Roberta Duncan of the Gentle Art of Wellness. Roberta is a knowledgeable herbalist and probably the cleanest eater I know. We each did a cleanse last spring and compared notes. Roberta had good success and enjoyed her experience with PDX Replenish (shout out to Andrea and Andrea) and I had less success with my Ayurvedic cleanse which was too extreme and unrealistic, and did not provide enough support. (All good things to learn from!) Hint, hint: Next year we will be marketing our own cleanse based on our experience these past two years. Roberta and I did two similar but different tracks. We are both primarily vegetarian, so giving up animal protein wasn’t an issue. We also don’t eat processed foods already, but that is the #1 key component to our cleanse. Then she eliminated grains since she’s already gluten free due to an allergy/sensitivity. I am not, so I gave up wheat and gluten for this 10 day cleanse, along with: dairy, alcohol, sugar, seafoods and, gulp, marijuana. We experimented with creating great recipes, tons of raw veggies and I added in the traditional Ayurvedic dish of kitchari (which is mung dal and rice) for a couple days in the middle. Mung dal are split beans. Roberta did some juicing. Some of the top liver detoxifiers include beets, cilantro, watercress, celery, all green leafy vegetables and some fruits like grapefruit, pears, apples and berries. The food ends up being super low in fat (we both lost weight!) so by the end we were craving things like nut butters and tahini, so we used our intuition to feel better and added in coconut oil, ghee and avocado as well.

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Beet and Carrot Slaw with Cilantro

For my version of kitchari, I added collard greens and a combo of roasted sweet potatoes and stir fried baby broccoli I’d made the night before. The reason for kitchari is its ease on the digestive system. Ayurveda would not have a cleanser eating tons of raw vegetable or raw juices. It’s too rough on the system. What I like about kitchari deep into the cleanse is that it’s hot and spicy, cooked, and then you can add all and any good vegetables to suit your palate. Katherine’s Kitchari

  • 1 cup mung dal
  • 1 cup white or brown basmati rice (typically, white, because it’s easy easy on the digestive system)
  • 1 T ghee or coconut oil
  • Spices, to include turmeric, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cardamon, ginger, astofoeda, sea salt ( some or all) I used Banyan Botanicals kitchari spice blend because I had it from last year’s cleanse!) There should be a total of about 2 Tablespoons for this amount.
  • Onions and/or assorted vegetables.
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Fresh Collard Greens

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes and stir-fried brocolini

Thoroughly rinse the rice and the mung dal separately and then you can combine or  not.  Heat the ghee or coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven or large saucepan. Toast the selected spices until fragrant.  If you are using whole mustard seeds, put those in first, as they will begin to pop and then you can add the rest of the spices, about 2 Tablespoons total.   Once the spices exude a powerful fragrance, add the rice and beans and stir well to coat, cooking for 1-2 minutes and then add 6 cups of water or broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Cook for about 90 minutes.   You can add cooked, roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes or chopped fresh greens or broccoli  to the mixture for the last 1/2 hour or 15minutes or even hour.  This is a forgiving and flexible dish.

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Katherine’s kitchari with collards and sweet potatoes and broccolini added

Number one thing to remember about a cleanse: Nurture your self first including getting lots and lots of sleep and rest and yoga and exercise (gentle not pounding). This is for you first! Make it juicy good. ​

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