It’s not quite time yet for full-on spring cleansing, but if you’re anything like me, you may be getting eager to make some changes from the early winter/holiday diet and start getting ready for spring! It may not be a good time to cleanse or fast intensely, but we can start to prepare our digestive systems for a cleanse in a month or two. Here are some gentle, cold-weather-appropriate ways to start getting ready for the season ahead.
Cumin-Coriander-Fennel Tea (with Ginger)
A simple, carminative remedy, this tea can bring balance and comfort to an over-stressed digestive system. Taken daily (2-4 cups per day) for a week to 10 days, it is an excellent way to prepare for a fast or cleansing regimen. It can also be taken as a daily tonic to keep everything running smoothly. I suggest 1 cup after each meal.
A 1-inch piece of fresh Ginger root, minced
1 tsp each of whole Cumin, Coriander, and Fennel Seeds
2 quarts of fresh water
Bring water to a boil in a non-reactive saucepan
Add Ginger, simmer on medium heat for 5-10 minutes
Add seeds, simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes
Strain and drink hot or cold
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A quick and easy way to give your digestive system a bit of a tune-up is to take a probiotic supplement for 30-60 days. This can be done any time of year, and is a great way to prepare your system as your looking ahead to Spring fasting or cleansing. A simple re-balancing and replenishment to your gut flora can make a huge difference in the way you think and feel! There are plenty of probiotics out there, but an easy one to use is the Renew Life brand Colon Care. It is a reliable and easy-to-take capsule that won’t slow you down!
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Gentle Colon Cleansing with Triphala
If you’re feeling bloated or unhappy in your belly, or just feel really ready to get past the over-indulgence of the holidays, Triphala may be just the supplement for you. A gentle, non-stimulant bowel cleanser, Triphala is fine to take any time to tone and heal the whole digestive system. 1000mg per day with plenty of water encourages healthy, cleansing bowel movements without a laxative effect.
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This simple and wholesome food is the perfect basis for a cleansing diet. High in fiber and protein, easy to digest, and flavorful enough to be a pleasant mono-diet, kitcharee is a favorite among herbalists and yogis alike! This can be eaten as the primary or only food for for safe and effective cleansing at any time of year. Eaten as the sole food for 3 weeks or more, Kitcharee is an effective cleanse all by itself!
1 cup Basmati rice
½ cup Mung beans
1 TBS Ghee
Turmeric root pwd
Pinch of sea salt
Coriander or Parsley
Wash Rice and Beans together, and soak overnight (soaking is not absolutely necessary, but does improve digestion and absorption)
In a large non-reactive pot, saute Cumin, Turmeric, and Ginger in Ghee over medium heat until the Cumin seeds begin to pop, then add soaked Rice and Beans, stir until everything is well mixed.
Add 4 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes to an hour. Stir occasionally and add more water as necessary to get the desired thickness.
About ten minutes before cooking is complete, add your vegetable blend according to Dosha (see below) and re-cover.
Serve hot, with a handful of coarsely chopped Cilantro or Parsley on top.
*Larger quantities can be made up ahead of time and portions re-heated as needed.
*You can also cook your vegetables separately and serve them as a side dish.
*If you prefer, you can cook the Rice and Beans separately, and saute them together in the ghee and spices after cooking.
Vegetables by Dosha
This is by no means a comprehensive list! I recommend the food charts in Vasant Lad’s book Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing as a good place to start learning about foods for your Dosha. Below are my quick suggestions to start you off!
Vata—Winter or Summer Squash, Beets, Carrots, Turnips (Rutabaga)
Pitta—Winter or Summer Squash, Leafy Greens, Green Beans
Kapha—Leafy Greens, Eggplants, Asparagus
Roots and Greens Salad
This is a great make-ahead side dish. I tend to make big batches and keep it in the fridge for a week or so. So this recipe makes quite a lot. Although best for Vata and Pitta types, this salad is good for Kapha, too, but best replace the Walnuts with Chick Peas or other large bean.
1 bunch Kale
1 bunch Chard
2 large Carrots
1-2 medium Beets
½ cup chopped Walnuts
4 whole Scallions, roots trimmed off
1/3-1/2 bunch Parsley
Lime or Lemon Juice
Wash and finely chop the Kale and Chard, place in a large bowl while still a bit wet.
Sprinkle about a TBS of coarse salt over the wet greens and massage firmly with your hands until they soften.
Wash, trim, and grate the Beets and Carrots, add to greens mixture
Coarsley chop Walnuts, Scallions, and Parsley, add to greens mixture
Drizzle 1-2 TBS Olive Oil and half as much citrus juice over everything
Mix really well with your hands or salad tongs
Enjoy as a side dish, as a garnish, or as a meal in itself! Feel free to adjust the quantities to your taste and preference.