Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to do a simple, Ayurvedic Fall cleanse!

**If you'd like to skip the "story part" and get to the recipes/instructions, 
skip down to the BLUE FONT :).

If you know me or have been reading my blog, you're aware that my health has been less than optimal over the past few years. I've had digestive issues, anxiety/stress issues, menstrual issues, circulatory issues, and oh you know... heart surgery. I've made tons of progress but as a yogi, I am always looking for ways to purify my body naturally and bring it back into balance.

I had a check up with my heart surgeon 3 weeks ago and things were "decent." My heart rate was not in the danger zone but it wasn't normal either.  I also had several dizzy spells at work the week after which shook me up quite a bit. I decided to visit Dr. Pratima Raichur, one of NYC's top Ayurvedic doctors, to get her take on my heart and all the other funky little things that were going on with my body (I'll call those things "TMI"). 

She looked at my hair, eyes, skin, tongue, fingernails, weight, and body-type and discussed my symptoms with me. She also told me I was a Pitta-Vata. Pitta and Vata are two Dosha types, the third being Kapha. Dosha types are a description of your overall constitution as defined in Ayurvedic medicine. There are many quizzes you can take online to define your own Dosha type with food recommendations for each type. That being said, having an expert give you the information is always a better idea. Lord knows it's hard to view yourself objectively! I always cheated on the Cosmo magazine quizzes in middle school, didn't you? 

One of the main things she told me is that even though I was eating super clean, healthy food, my body was not absorbing enough of the nutrients from it. My body was still full of toxins, I was eating too much raw food that my body wasn't breaking down completely, and combining foods improperly. She put me on a regimen of herbal supplements- some for one month during my "detox" phase, and some for 2 months. She told me to eat raw food during the middle of the day only and to make sure I have a warm breakfast and cooked food for dinner. I am addicted to CRUNCH particularly super crunchy raw vegetables - at all hours of the day- so this was not an easy regimen for me. What you find out in Ayurveda is that typically the things you crave are the things that you should not have so much of...go figure. For the last week of my detox phase she recommended following a very simple Ayurvedic cleansing diet. Though the supplements were specific to my condition, the diet I have outlined below is "tri-doshic" or good for everyone (even you).
Can you SMELL what this pot is cookin'? 

The goal of this Fall cleanse is to rid your body of toxins that build up over time in a safe, gentle way. By eating a mono-diet (aka one food all day erryday) you reset your taste buds and become familiar with what it feels like to actually stop eating when you're full, rather than eating just because it's there and it tastes good. Who does that?? Though juice cleanses are great, they are not ideal for some constitutions- especially when the weather is turning cold. A cleanse like this is a great way to get off the sugar-caffeine-salty-fatty-fried or overeating train and back on track to reasonable consumption. It's also a great way to test for food sensitivities or allergies. After the cleanse, you can introduce soy one day (no wheat, dairy, meat, fish, or spice) and see if it aggravates your system. The following day cut the soy and just eat some wheat, to see if you have a gluten sensitivity, which many of us do. You can repeat this with all the usual food allergy suspects until you know exactly what the belly likes and doesn't like. It also won't leave you feeling starved because you're getting plenty of calories. 

Though you can do as few as 3 or as many as 21 days, I decided to follow this diet for 5 days- Monday through Friday. I eat the Rice Porridge for breakfast and 2-3 bowls of the Kitchari throughout the day. I have Brahmi rehydration tea all day long and one cup of Triphali tea at night (this is just Triphali powder in hot water). Today is day 4 and though I'm looking forward to biting into something crunchy, I don't feel hungry or have any cravings. I bought all the ingredients at Integral Yoga on 13th Street, though many other natural food stores may have them as well. They also serve Kitchari at the Jivamuktea cafe. There's doesn't have all the veggies so is less exciting than the version in my recipe below...which isn't all that exciting either but hey, it's a cleanse right? 

Here are the recipes I followed, though there are many other (simpler) ways to make Kitchari:

    • ½ cup white basmati rice
    • ½ cup organic yellow split mung dal or whole green mung beans
    • ½ of a burdock root , if available; if not, substitute 2 carrots
    • 1½ cups of fresh green beans
    • 1 small zucchini
    • 2 T ghee
    • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
    • ½ teaspoon of sea salt
    • 1 T coriander powder
    • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
    • 1 stick of kombu (seaweed – you can substitute a little wakame – one “leaf” per pot of soup)
    • 6 cups of water
    Wash rice and mung dal and soak for three hours or overnight.  Drain soak water.  Wash and peel burdock roots or carrots, and cut in your favorite way.  Cut green beans into 1-inch pieces.  Cut zucchini into pieces – any way you like.  In a saucepan, warm the ghee over medium heat.  Add the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and ginger, and sauté for one to two minutes.  Add rice and mung beans and sauté for another couple of minutes.  Then add the burdock or carrots, green beans and zucchini.  Stir for a minute.  Then add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Once the kitchari has come to a boil, add the salt, coriander, turmeric, and seaweed, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and cook until everything is tender (approx. 30-45 minutes).  If you need to add more water to prevent scorching, please do so.  The consistency should be that of a vegetable stew as opposed to a broth.  Garnish with fresh cilantro and add salt to taste.  You may add a little chutney to make it tastier.

    • 1 cup white basmati rice
    • ½ tablespoon ghee, coconut, or sesame oil (coconut or ghee is best for pitta)
    • 1 pinch of cumin seeds
    • ¼ teaspoon of salt
    • 2 cups of hot water
    Wash rice thoroughly.  Heat the ghee or oil over medium heat and sauté the cumin seeds for a few moments until the aroma starts to come out.  Add the rice and mix well.  Add the salt and hot water.  Bring all this to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes.  Turn down the heat to very low and cover.  For stickier rice leave the lid ajar, for drier rice keep the lid on tight.  Cook until the rice is tender— about 15-20 minutes.

    • 4.5 cups pure water
    • 2 heaping teaspoons peppermint or fresh mint
    • 1 heaping teaspoon brahmi 
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ lime (squeezed juice)
    • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
    Boil water.  Remove from heat and add herbs, salt, and lime.  Steep 10 minutes, strain, add turbinado, and drink warm or at room temp.

    Happy Cleansing!!!