The sun is shining, there are more hours of daylight now, but does your body still feel like it’s hibernating? Cold winter months spent eating comforting foods make winter a little cozier but can also slow down your digestion and leave you feeling heavy, lethargic, and foggy. Spring is a natural time to cleanse and renew.
Rise and Shine with Warm Water and Lemon
It may sound simple, but this easy drink—a glass of warm water in the morning with a squeeze of fresh lemon—helps stimulate digestion and eliminate waste. As long as you have no adverse reaction, try this for 2 days on and 2 days off, for 30 days. Notice how you feel. Most people feel a little lighter and brighter when they add this to their regime. If you are prone to heartburn, replace the squeeze of lemon with a tiny squeeze of lime.
Break a Sweat
Sweating has long been regarded as a healthy ritual to release toxins from the body’s largest organ—your skin. Through exercise or heat, sweating even for a short time, followed by a shower, can help you feel refreshed and clean from the inside out. While it is important not to over heat the body, especially if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, sweating for most people has very positive benefits. Your local gym, health club, or spa is likely equipped with a sauna, hot tub, or steam room. And you can easily create an at-home spa with essential oils, some Epsom salts, and a hot bath. Actively breaking a sweat is fun too! Dancing, biking, running, brisk walking, practicing Salute to the Sun, or jumping on a rebounder or trampoline, will get your body warm and your blood pumping in no time.
Nourish With Kitchari
Kitchari is an easy-to-digest meal made from mung beans and basmati rice. It’s also high in protein. Gentle on your stomach, kitchari affords your body the extra energy it needs during a cleansing period. You can eat kitchari for lunch, dinner, or both—depending on how you feel. You can eat kitchari while you are cleansing, or as regularly as you like. It’s up to you. Most people find they feel grounded and satisfied when they add this wholesome, cleansing meal to their diets. Double this recipe and freeze portions ahead of time to heat up on the fly if you like. Remember to soak the beans ahead of time, as suggested below. There are many kitchari recipes, but this one is pleasing to most bodily constitutions:
- 1 cup dry whole mung beans* – washed and picked through for bad beans or stones.
*Soaking the beans beforehand for 12 hours with triple the amount of water renders quicker cooking times and a more digestible meal. If it’s hot out, soak them in the fridge. Sprouting them, by soaking them for longer (24 hours) is ideal.
- 2 cups white basmati rice – rinsed through a sieve until the water becomes clear
- 1 – 2 Tbsp of ghee or oil
- 1 chunk fresh ginger root (about ½ to 1 inch), peeled and minced
- 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds or powdered fennel
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder (or fresh grated if available)
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 to 2 Tbsp of the ghee or oil.
- Add the fresh ginger, and spices. Toast spices for a minute or so under medium heat—do not burn—and add the soaked and drained mung beans. Stir for a minute or two, then add the soaked and drained rice. Stir for a minute, then add about 8 cups of fresh water. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and cook until the mung beans are butter soft. Check and stir frequently as often more water needs to be added. When cooked, add salt to taste and black pepper if desired.
Adding vegetables to your kitchari provides you with flavor, fiber, color, and nutrients. It also helps relieve constipation for most people. Add diced vegetables in the last 20 minutes of cooking such as: cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, or sweet potato. Stir in greens such as broccoli, kale, or collards when done cooking and allow to sit for 15 minutes with the lid on. Stir in delicate greens like spinach just before serving.
If spicy food suits your body, add 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red chili or 1 small fresh green hot chili.
Try garnishing with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, and a little dob of plain yogurt.