Embracing Wisdom

Life, food, wellness and love


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Kitchari

Let’s face it being a red-head has some great qualities: unique coloring (only 2% of the world population has red hair),  we well-known for a spunky temper and we have an awesome sense of humor due to years of being teased.  Believe me, I have heard them all. The not so great qualities of being a red-head: well, that very same temper plays both sides of the coin and I pity the person dealing with the not-so-spunky side, red-heads have a much lower pain tolerance and even bleed more than non-gingers, and seasonal changes especially from summer to fall is incredibly difficult. The hot PITTA dosha that most red-heads are can be exasperated this time of year. With that said, it is a great time to consider a Ayurvedic porridge made from rice and mung beans. This amazing stuff is wonderfully seasoned with ginger, cilantro, cardamom and clove. Kitchari is considered is used to purify (and cool down) digestion and cleanse systemic toxins from the body.

I typically do this process in the spring and most certainly in the fall.  I try to make the day or few days to be quiet ones where my focus is to love my body.  I practice Yoga, meditate, take short walks in nature and drink plenty of water.  This year I chose to do a one day Kitchari cleanse the day following a huge hike up a 14,000 foot mountain.  My body was tired and empty from the exertion and I felt this would be a great way to move gracefully into the fall season.

Kitchari reminds me of a  creamy rice cereal and a light dal, or lentil soup. Great for warming the body on a cold day, but even greater the cozy feeling is the rest it offers your digestive system.  This blend of rice, legumes and spices provides all the needed nutrients one needs while resting the system and also provides the body needed energy. Ideally eating Kitchari for three days is ideal but a once or twice a month day is a great maintenance practice.  The morning of the “cleanse” I avoid caffeine and I enjoy unsweetened steel-cut oats with butter or ghee.  The process of making Kitcahri can be meditative if you are open to seeing the process as one of health and vitality.

KITCHARI

  • one cup yellow split mung beans (can sub red lentils if unable to find)
  • one tablespoon chopped ginger
  • two tablespoons shredded coconut
  • handful of fresh cilantro
  • one teaspoon cinnamon
  • one-quarter teaspoon each of cardamom, pepper, clove powder, turmeric, salt
  • three bay leaves
  • three tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • one cup basmati rice
  • six cups water

1. First, rinse split yellow mung beans and soak for several hours. Set aside.

2. In a blender, liquefy one ginger, shredded coconut and chopped cilantro with one-half cup of water.

3. In a large saucepan, lightly brown spices and three bay leaves (remove before serving) in three tablespoons of ghee, or butter.

4. Drain the mung beans and then stir them into the spice mixture in the saucepan.

5. Next, add raw basmati rice. Stir in the blended spice and coconut mixture, followed by six cups of water.

6. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until soft.

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Eliminating Two Things

Had someone told me a month ago that I would be no longer eating sugar or drinking wine I would have scoffed at such an absurdity. For years I have told myself and others that those were the two food items that I was not going to eliminate from my diet and I made every excuse I could as to why they were not harmful to me.

I facilitated a 21 days ‘cleanse’ where the participants were encouraged to eliminate five items from their diet; gluten, animal products, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. In addition we practiced yoga, meditation, yoga meal guidelines, and journaling.  As the facilitator I felt that to be in integrity and authenticity, I needed to participate in some form for the 21 days.

Having once been a very large woman, I have found what works in my body and I am cognizant of where I have been, and where I never want to go again. Participating in this cleanse meant that I would be challenging myself and my body and expanding my awareness of what works in my body.  I have been a vegetarian for three years and once I moved away from that diet, I realized that it was horrible for my body–inflammation, fatigue, digestive issues, and overall malaise. So the steak were going to stay.  I am already gluten/grain free so no biggie there.  Caffeine? Uh no.  At the time, I was not ready to eliminate coffee–reduce yes–eliminate no.  So that left sugar and alcohol.

It is astonishing how once I put my mind to something, it was relatively easy to complete it. Initially, I replaced wine with herbal tea and the post-dinner chocolate with teeth brushing. I realized the drinking and eating were simply habitual and that I really had no cravings.  I had a day or two of feeling post-sugar grogginess, but overall I was astounded at how clear I felt in both my mind and my body. Not only was my mind clearer, I now sleep better, I have more energy, and I managed to drop a few pounds.

The work ahead of me now is to make it through the coming holidays with awareness.  Not just the awareness of sugar and wine, but the awareness to enjoy.  Find that balance between habitual and mindless eating/drinking and enjoyment.  And perhaps my next challenge will be to eliminate that coffee.  Or not.