The Ayurvedic Kitchari Cleanse
Kitchari, Kitcheree or Kichadi, no matter how you wish to pronounce it, is considered the chicken soup of the Ayurveda world. Ayurveda very simply means "The Science of Life", and it continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated mind-body health systems. Ayurveda offers wisdom, guiding human beings in a vibrant and healthy way while realizing their full human potential. Instead of focusing on one issue a person might be experiencing, Ayurvedic practitioners will look at the body as a whole, as the body is a huge working system. This is something that western medicine has failed us on. The western world is too quick to treat a person by one singular symptom, rather than looking at the bigger picture.
"The body and the mind are connected, and nothing heals like the mind".
Kitchari for Digest
Kitchari, when prepared, can vary chef-to-chef, but ultimately it's the same! Some will prefer a soup-like consistency, others will like it in more of a solid form, but the most traditional way of preparing Kitchari is one that resembles a stew. Yes, I said stew. See how I did not say a green juice spiced with cayenne? That's because the Kitchari Cleanse is a full meal, packed with many great whole ingredients that are extremely easy to digest.
When you think of the digestive system, does the word homeostasis pop into your head? What about the phrase "becoming, or being centered", do you think of the digestive system in this way? If you don't, you should! Our minds and body change all throughout the day, but in the course of these changes, they are regulating you to the norm, or returning you to center point. This is exactly what homeostasis is. While homeostasis plays a part in a lot of different systems within our body, the digestive system plays one of the biggest roles in our overall health. Homeostasis is a complete balanced system within all of us.
Kitchari is easy to digest, which makes it the perfect meal for a digestive cleanse. It will allow the digestive system to completely reset and rid of any toxins left within the body.
You should consider doing a cleanse during the transition of the seasons, after a painful or irregular menstrual cycle, if you suffer from constipation or loose stools, lack of energy, you struggle from digestive issues, your diet has been thrown out of whack or you feel scatterbrained.
I knew that I was doing the Kitchari Cleanse well in advance before I started, but it wasn't until after I got off a horrible, and I mean horrible period a few days before I started, that I confirmed that this was something I could not wait for because something internally is throwing off my womanly balances. I was on my period for 12 whole days, and my flows were moderate to heavy, and my cramping was out of this world painful.
I also have struggled for the past few years with digestive issues, so this has become a new resort for me to help relieve some of the pain I go through on a daily basis with eating food. Almost everything upsets my stomach. During the cleanse the first day I had some of the same nausea issues after eating, but that subsided as the days progressed and that was a nice feeling.
When wanting to start a meal cleanse, it is also time to consider the length of your cleanse. Typically, the Kitchari cleanse lasts between 3-5 days depending on your novice ranking (have you done this before) and how much time you have, or it can be 7 days long. If you are wanting to do a cleanse longer than 7 days or more complex and specific to your constitution, I would not recommend so much the Kitchari cleanse, but talking to an Ayurvedic Practitioner about the Panchakarma cleanse. This practice is much more than food, and is a whole body experience, but should not be done without talking to your practicioner.
When I started my cleanse, it was very important for me to find a time where I was at home and not under stress, which I was none of those things before my cleanse. Before my cleanse I was starting a new position at work, and my training was not allowing me to be home until well after the sun went down, and it caused a lot of internal clock issues and stress within me, and I knew that throwing in a cleanse within that mix would not be the safest or wisest choice. In short, my advice would be to choose a time where you are settled down. Some people choose to take time off work to do this, but that's not always practical for the rest of us. I chose to do mine on the first full moon of November.
My start was on a Friday, and I worked from home that day, and then I had Saturday and Sunday off, and it was the best case scenario for me because I was also done with my training, and I just got done coming off of my menstrual cycle. (I don't recommend doing what I did and drink a margarita at dinner the day before the cleanse- but I was on a date, and I figured that I am a goddess and I deserve it)
In a perfect world, it's best to eliminate alcohol, smoking, caffeine and cut down on your meat intake and eat lots of vegetables, and cut out unnecessary carbs and fats.
During the cleanse
During, you will want take it easy. Now is the time to be one with your mind, body and soul. Try not to do any strenuous exercise, and stick to a simple yoga flow if you can morning and night to just get your heart slightly pumping. Or, feel free to take a walk when you need it!
It is also best to only stick to non caffeinated tea and water during your cleanse. There are many great herbal tea's that you can choose from but I would stick with herbs that are carminative such as the herbs listed in the recipe. Carminative herbs help expel gas from the bowels and ease the stomach. Feel free to also give your water a kick with lemon, and warm it up. I prefer this option early in the morning!
When going through your cleanse, you are going to experience most likely a lot of cravings, and emotions, but please meet these feelings with acceptance and thank your body for allowing you to feel.
My Time Stamp thoughts during the cleanse
6:45 a.m- I woke up a little agitated, without clear reason. I got right up to tongue scrape and brush teeth then started cooking breakfast and lunch right away.
7:30 a.m- Kitchari has about 10 minutes of cooking left, just added zucchini and asparagus. Smells really good and looks very filling.
8:30 a.m- I feel content after eating, warm lemon water is saving my life right now!
10:15 a.m- I am craving coffee pretty bad right now.
6:30 p.m- Feeling nauseous, slight headache.
7:00 p.m- Ate last meal of the day, did not eat as much but enough to be content. Feeling tired of the same thing already, craving a lot of food.
8:30 p.m- Performed abhyanga, then after a bath I practiced yoga and meditated.
9:45 p.m- Feeling happier and refreshed, ready for day two.
6:45 a.m- Did morning routine, then prepared simple oatmeal with a little bit of fruit and chia seeds to break up the day. Feel very energized.
10:45 a.m- Crashing again, hungry for everything Caleb is having. Also, I want coffee!
12:00 p.m- Cooking lunch, and watching Caleb eating his delicious sandwich and my mouth is drooling. He is waving it in my face. (Boyfriends right?)
1:00 p.m- Ate lunch, it was the best. Felt better breaking it up with different root vegetables.
4:50 p.m- Prepared CCF tea and then I started to relax after visiting with family.
8:25 p.m- Finished dinner, feeling very proud and overwhelmed with emotion. Also, I really wish I had some dark chocolate right now.
9:30 p.m- Finishing the day with the normal meditation and yoga routine, and prepared for sleep. One more day!
6:45 a.m- Hello time change! I feel like I woke up late, that's okay, have to change to the new schedule. Woke up and made some more oatmeal, but kept it extremely plain and simple. Did not eat too much, but needed to break up the meals again. Following Intuition.
7:55 a.m- craving coffee.. I can't stop complaining about this.
10:00 a.m- argued with caleb that he wasn't allowed to have breakfast because I couldn't eat what he wanted but later apologized and said that I am just grumpy. (lOL)
10:15 a.m-started to clean the house and got a lot done before the work week starts.
11:35 a.m- Caved in and took a couple sips of caleb's coffee. (Hey, this is a judgement free zone) (I'm doing great ok)
11:50 a.m- prepared kitchari
12:30 p.m- ate lunch, packed it full with a bunch of different Vegetables. Ate outside, feel really good and it's delicious.
3:00 p.m- Got mad at Caleb for coming into the kitchen to grab "snacks" and he told me he can't wait until I am done with this cleanse! (Oh boy)
4:00 p.m- got some blogging done, preparing for work tomorrow. Starting new position! Caleb is being very patient with me and my emotions. I seriously love him. Took a bath and practiced Abhyanga, then meditated for about 15 minutes.
5:00 p.m- Complaining about being sick (Oh yeah, forgot to tell you I got a cold day on one, me and lovey have been taking care of one another. It sucks I got a cold during this cleanse, but hey- my body is getting rid of all the gunk!) (gosh, I am running out of kleenex)
7:00 p.m- Last meal! Tears tears tears! So proud of myself.
9:00 p.m- Reflecting on this journey, and going to bed! Wish me luck on my first day of social media Managing tomorrow! (dreaming of chocolate, pickles and coffee)
For my cleanse, I chose to do it for 3 whole days, and no snacking! In my day to day life, snacking is essential to my days, but since I was going into this with a completely different mindset and goal, I didn't snack at all, but please do so if your body needs it. You are in control. If you choose to snack, stick to plain apple slices, unsalted nuts or anything simple and healthy. Put down the chocolate!
Since Kitchari is made up of the same ingredients and preparation every single day, it was very important for me to alternate root vegetables. Kitchari does call for root vegetables since they are the easiest to digest, but if you can't stick with the same one or two vegetables during your whole cleanse, mix them up during your day. For example, on day one choose zucchini and asparagus, day two choose sweet potato, carrot and celery, and day three choose celery and squash. That way you can get your vegetable intake, but you feel a little bit better by mixing it up!
When preparing your Kitchari, it is best to cook every single meal before you eat it, instead of reheating due to the connection you can have while preparing your meal and freshness, but if that does not seem realistic to your lifestyle, please feel free to make a day's worth, or maybe at least prepare 2 of the meals, and maybe reheat dinner!
So, you're wondering how you make it?
You will need the following ingredients for a whole day's worth of Kitchari:
½ cup of yellow mung dal
1 cup of white basmati rice
1 tablespoon of ghee (this took me forever to find, but it's very important!)
½ teaspoon of whole cumin seeds*
¼ teaspoon of black mustard seeds*
½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of whole coriander*
½ teaspoon of whole fennel seed*
½ teaspoon of ginger powder
5 cups of water or milk substitute such as coconut or almond.
A plethora of root vegetables of your choosing! (Carrot, zucchini, squash, sweet potato, asparagus or celery)
*For the ingredients that are whole, feel free to buy them in powdered form if you need to, but I prefer mashing them with a mortar and pestle to release their constituents in a fresher manner.
Before you start to cook, it is best to soak your mung dal overnight in cold water to soften the bean. If you are in a rush, you can softly boil some in water for 3 hours. My tip to you is to soak all of your mung dal beans overnight, and soak enough to last you throughout your whole cleanse! This saved me so much time and it was always ready when I needed to cook!
When I was soaking the beans, I blessed the water with intention for the cleanse. I recommend doing so if you are practicing spirituality, or connecting to a deeper level with the universe.
In a pan of your choosing, heat it up on medium heat and add your ghee and mustard seeds. Press down on your seeds to smash them up while cooking to release the aroma. Careful! They pop! After your mustard seeds start popping, add your mung dal and rice and roast for 1 minute, stirring constantly so it does not burn. Then, add the rest of your spices such as cumin, turmeric, fennel, coriander and ginger and then add your water or milk substitutes.
Bring the broth to high heat until it starts to boil. When boiling, add in your vegetables then bring heat back down to medium low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Your final product will be a stew like consistency! Feel free to garnish with cilantro and salt if wanted, and to take your lemon/lime and squeeze the juice on top to add acidity to increase your saliva. Increasing your saliva will get your gastrointestinal system pumpin!
Then, eat for the rest of your life.
I am very dramatic.
First of all, congratulations and I am so proud of you for sticking through it! It's not the easiest thing in the world, but it's also not the worst, wouldn't you agree? It's very manageable to do especially if you are doing it for 3/5 days just to give your digestive system a swift kick the butt!
Now is the time to slowly introduce new foods back into your diet, but keep them whole and nutritious. Take time to reflect on your mood, and even your bowel movements, and notice change and feelings. Did you introduce something back into your diet that makes you feel like crap? Perhaps your body is telling you "Hey, I don't like this very much, perhaps we should take this out." Listening to your body is key to your wellbeing!