After the long holiday season of eating and eating (and more eating), I felt the need to do a gentle cleanse to get me back on track to my normal at-home-diet. We ate tons of yummy (and not so healthy) food over the last month, which has left me feeling a bit sluggish. I feel like I gained about 10 pounds, even though I remained pretty active during that time. I doubt I actually gained that much, but still I decided that I needed to do a cleanse to feel back to normal.
Most detox-cleanses are similar to prescribed starvation, but that doesn’t really do it for me. As an athlete, I need to consume nourishment in order to stay active and have energy to get through each day. I learned about Kitchari last year when my good friend mentioned that she was going to do a detox cleanse to help her lose weight for boxing. At that time, I was feeling sick and my stomach was having a lot of issues, so I looked into it and learned that it is also great to remedy those issues as well. So I decided to try it out and loved how I felt after I finished the cleanse last time.
Kitchari (or khichdi) is an Indian dish that is very similar to American grits or porridge, though combined with Indian spices. At its base, kitchari is a combination of long grain white rice and split yellow mung beans. But kitchari comes in all different shapes and sizes, because you can do A LOT of different things to it. You can add it to other dishes as a side, or make it hearty by adding veggies and meat, fish or tofu.
This staple comfort food of India is often used in Ayurvedic treatments to cleanse toxins stored in the body and restore balance. It is also often used to help sick and elderly people recover from health issues, as it is very very easy on the digestive system and still provides A TON of nutrients to the body. The combination of rice and beans creates the perfect protein, which in turn nourishes the body. Other cleanses that focus on vinegar and water, or all veggies and fruits actually deplete the body because blood-sugar is unstable. This causes frustration, crashing, extreme hunger, stress and anxiety, which is the opposite effect generally desired while cleansing.
The cleanse works by creating a mono-diet environment in the digestive system. The enzymes needed to digest this are easy to produce which allows the stomach and colon a chance to recover, heal and replenish. Some people use it to lose weight, feel better when sick or to restart themselves.
There is no set amount of time that you have to be on this cleanse for it to work. It is all dependent on your personal goals and desires. Last time I did it for a few days and felt great. This time, I plan to be on it for 5 straight days. Jake is going to join me for dinners though his version will have more modification with extra veggies and meat. Mine is going to be very basic, and consistent so that I can attain the full benefits that I’m looking for. I’ve decided to document each day to see if the difference is really noticeable.
- · 1/2 cup split yellow mung dahl beans*
- · 1/2 cup long grain white or white basmati rice
- · 1 tsp fresh ginger root (diced)
- · 1 tsp each: black mustard seeds, cumin, and turmeric powder (or 1 Tbsp curry powder)
- · 1/2 tsp each: coriander powder, fennel and fenugreek seeds
- · 3 cloves
- · 3 bay leaves
- · 10 cups water
- · 1/2 tsp salt or Bragg Liquid Aminos
- · 1 small handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves (for garnish)
- Wash split yellow mung beans and rice together until water runs clear.
- In a pre-heated large pot, dry roast spices (except bay leaves) for 2 minutes.
- Add rice and beans and stir, coating the rice and beans with the spices.
- Add water and bay leaves and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes.
- Turn heat to low, cover pot and continue to cook until soft; about 30-40 minutes.
- Add cilantro, salt or Bragg's Amino's to taste just before serving.
- *Split yellow mung dahl beans are available at Asian or Indian grocery stores. Different spellings include “mung”, "moong dal", or just “dahl.” You don't want the whole mung beans—which are green or yellow split peas as they are harder to digest.
- You can add steamed vegetables or lean meat when not cleansing, or for extra blood sugar support during a cleanse.
I officially started the cleanse for dinner. I used the recipe shown above, though I didn’t add any salt to the dish, which left it a little bland. Liquid Aminos are actually quite tasty (almost like soy-sauce), but much healthier. They added a nice flavor. Next time I cook a batch, I think I’ll be adding more salt and perhaps more curry since I like the flavor. I feel pretty motivated right now!
Today is the first full day of the cleanse. I was having some doubts this morning, when I ate leftovers from last night, because it just wasn’t “satisfying”. It filled me up, but wasn’t exciting or anything special. For lunch, I ate what remained of our kitchari and paired it with some additional jasmine rice, which actually was more filling and created a bit of a different texture. I didn’t have time to cook up a completely new batch for dinner, so I simply dined on jasmine rice. It wasn’t bad, even though it was boring. I found that it was actually nice to have something as simple as rice to mix it up a bit (plus I was too tired to whip up another batch). On the plus side, I do feel a lot better today. My stomach is happy as a clam.
I had a dream last night that I was cheating on the cleanse by adding things like crackers, bread, and meat and felt really guilty about it (what a weird dream). I woke up feeling relieved that it was all just a dream, because I felt very motivated today. I also slept for about 9 hours, which for me is HUGE! Normally I’m lucky if I get 6 hours of sleep without waking up because of an allergy attack, or being too cold, or loud noises or a bad dream. This morning I whipped up a HUGE batch of kitchari which should probably last 2 full days. It was much tastier than my previous batch, and I also added it to rice that we had prepped the other day, so it was quite good. I also feel more energized and my stomach feels less bloated and fat as it had for the past few weeks. A full workout today was also really great, though I didn’t want to push myself too much while doing the cleanse.
Nothing much to report. Happy to say that I enjoyed kitchari for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Feeling really great and climbed super hard today so I’m stoked!
Last full day of the cleanse (thank goodness). I’m definitely starting to miss real food. I think I’ll plan to gradually eat different things. My first meal on the docket is alaskan cod with rice and carrots. Not a huge stretch away from kitchari, but I figured keeping it simple is better than going crazy right off the bat. But for now, its kitchari for every meal…
YAY last day of the cleanse! I decided to continue for breakfast and lunch, but decided that tonight I will have y fish dinner. It was SO YUMMY!!! I’m so proud of myself for sticking with it. I hope to continue to follow in its footsteps with healthy food and rest and exercise!