Seasonal Mind/Gut Cleansing

Seasonal Mind/Gut Cleansing

As we step into a new season, many of us are excited and ready to take on positive changes, especially when it comes to our health and well-being. Today, I am going to introduce one ancient practice gaining renewed attention for its holistic benefits—the kitchari cleanse. 


What is the Kitchari Cleanse?

The kitchari cleanse is a traditional Ayurvedic practice that involves consuming a nourishing, easy-to-digest dish known as kitchari. This simple meal is made from a blend of rice, split yellow mung beans, ghee (clarified butter), and a selection of Ayurvedic spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger. A kitchari cleanse involves consuming kitchari as the main source of nourishment for a specific period, typically ranging from a few days to a few weeks. According to Ayurvedic principles, this cleanse is designed to provide a gentle reset for the digestive system while promoting balance in the body's doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.


Historical Roots and Development

The roots of the kitchari cleanse trace back to ancient India, where Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine, was developed. Ayurvedic practitioners recognized the therapeutic properties of kitchari and its ability to support the body's natural detoxification processes. The cleanse’s development is deeply ingrained in the collective wisdom of Ayurvedic traditions passed down through generations.


Why the Kitchari Cleanse is Still Practiced Today

The continued practice of kitchari cleanses can be attributed to several factors:

  • Detoxification: The ingredients in kitchari, such as rice, mung beans, and various spices, are believed to have detoxifying properties. The simplicity of the ingredients and the preparation process is thought to give the digestive system a break and support the body in eliminating toxins.
  • Digestive Reset: The dish is also easy to digest, making it suitable for individuals with digestive issues or those seeking to give their digestive system a reset. It is often recommended during times of illness, recovery, or when the body needs a break from heavier or more complex foods.
  • Gentle and Nourishing: Kitchari is a nourishing and wholesome dish that provides essential nutrients while being gentle on the digestive system.  The dish is considered a "complete protein" as the combination of rice and mung beans provides essential amino acids.
  • Cultural Heritage: Kitchari is deeply ingrained in the culinary and cultural heritage of India. The tradition has been passed down through generations, and many people continue to practice kitchari cleanses as a way to connect with their cultural roots and maintain a connection to traditional healing practices.

 


How Long to Perform a Kitchari Cleanse

1-3 Days: Often used for a quick reset, especially if someone is looking to ease back into a healthier eating routine or address mild digestive issues.

5-7 Days: This duration allows for a more substantial detoxification and is often considered a moderate-length cleanse.

10 Days or Longer: This longer duration may be pursued for more profound detoxification or as part of a specific wellness or Ayurvedic program.

It's important to note that while a kitchari cleanse is generally considered gentle and nourishing, it may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals with certain health conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with specific dietary needs should consult with healthcare professionals or qualified practitioners of Ayurveda before embarking on any extended cleanse.


Kitchari Recipe (4 - 6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup split yellow mung beans
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 6-8 cups water (adjust for desired consistency)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

  • Wash the rice and mung beans together in cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside.
  • Dice the carrot and zucchini. Chop the spinach. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Let them splutter.
  • Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, grated ginger, and asafoetida (optional). Sauté for a minute until fragrant.
  • Add the rinsed rice and mung beans to the pot. Stir to coat them in the spices.
  • Pour in water and add salt. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer. Stir occasionally.
  • After about 15-20 minutes, add the diced carrot and zucchini. Continue simmering until the rice, beans, and vegetables are fully cooked and the consistency is porridge-like. Adjust water as needed.
  • In the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in the chopped spinach. Cook until wilted.
  • Taste the kitchari and adjust salt if necessary.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro.
  • Serve hot and enjoy your comforting bowl of kitchari!

Feel free to customize this recipe by adding other vegetables, adjusting the spices, or incorporating additional ingredients based on your taste preferences. Kitchari is versatile, and you can make it your own while still enjoying its nourishing qualities.


 

Incorporating a kitchari cleanse when you need a reset can be a transformative and culturally rich experience. Whether you're drawn to its Ayurvedic roots, seeking digestive balance, or simply looking for a mindful start to the year, the kitchari cleanse offers a time-tested path to well-being. 

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