Written by: Andy Vantrease
Seasonal transitions can be harder on your body than you may think. During the dark, cold days of winter, our immune systems are focused on preserving energy and warding off bacteria that lurks in enclosed spaces. We sleep more, eat more and generally move slower than other times of the year.
As the weather shifts to welcome in Spring, we’re bombarded with pollen, busier schedules and hours of extra sunlight. The pulse of life quickens and energy bursts forth around us as plants, flowers and animals emerge from hibernation. Nature makes it look graceful, but we humans have to take extra care during this transition—and we usually pay for it if we don’t (hello allergies and classic warm-weather colds!).
Ayurveda—the sister-science to Yoga—recommends participating in a gentle cleanse each Spring to shed the stagnant, heavy energy of winter and prepare for brighter, longer days ahead. In addition to asana, pranayama and meditation, it’s helpful to add foods to your diet that can be classified as light, dry and warming. Think: More steamed veggies and soupy broths and less fried foods and heavy dairy products. The goal is to mirror and move with the energy of nature as the seasons change.
For support during this transition, consider a 3-5 day kitchari cleanse to reset your immune system.
What the heck is kitchari?
Kitchari (pronounced kich-uh-ree) is the traditional cleansing food of Ayurveda. It’s a cooked combination of split mung beans or lentils and white basmati rice with plenty of spices. When cleansing, it’s recommended to eat a satisfying portion of kitchari three times per day with no snacks between meals.
Amidst all of the modern diet trends happening today, this might seem like an unusual cleansing food, but it’s actually delicious and efficient for several reasons:
· It’s a complete protein
· It’s easy to digest
· It’s nourishing enough to get you through the day
· It loosens toxins and helps you flush toxic buildup
· It’s gentle, which (generally) means less detox symptoms
*Rest as much as possible and be gentle with yourself physically, mentally and emotionally during any cleanse.
Curious? Here’s a simple recipe from Ayurveda.com. Happy Spring!
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup mung dal or split yellow lentils
6 cups (approx.) water (may need to add more as kitchari cooks down)
1/2 to 1 inch ginger root, chopped or grated
1/4 tsp. mineral salt
2 tsp. ghee or coconut oil
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
Handful of fresh cilantro leaves
1 and 1/2 cups assorted vegetables (options such as zucchini, asparagus, sweet potato)
Carefully pick over rice and dal to remove any stones. Wash each separately in at least 2 changes of water. Add the 6 cups of water to the rice and dal and cook covered until it becomes soft, about 20 minutes.
While that is cooking, prepare any vegetables that suit your constitution. Cut them into smallish pieces. Add the vegetables to the cooked rice and dal mixture and cook 10 minutes longer.
In a separate saucepan, sauté the seeds in the ghee until they pop. Then add the other spices. Stir together to release the flavors. Stir the sautéed spices into the cooked dal, rice, and vegetable mixture. Add the mineral salt and chopped fresh cilantro and serve.