Welcome to my kitchen. Let's sit at the table together, or better yet, stand over the counter as we get our hands into something delicious. The first step to healthy living starts here, in the kitchen. When something in your life isn't working or feels out of sync, one of the first steps is to evaluate what and how you've been eating. Through the process of digestion our food literally transforms into all of our bodily tissues. Inherent in the food we eat are the qualities that make that food delicious or bland, perfectly crunchy or smooth. For example, a pear is juicy, cool, and sweet and a slice of pizza is oily, heavy, and dense. These and other qualities are consumed by us every time we put food into our mouths. Through the process of digestion and transformation, these qualities contribute to our energy level, physical strength and stamina, moods and also affect our emotions. Food affects who we are, how we feel, how we think and even plays a role in the choices we make in our lives. When something just isn't working right in our lives, first head to the kitchen and take inventory of what you've been doing there. Do not start self-criticizing now, this is an opportunity to look at your life. Ask yourself: How many hours do I spend nourishing myself and engaging in supportive life habits and relationships? How many hours do I spend partaking in non-supportive habits and relationships? Now, let's get started!
Whether you desire to make small adjustments to your well-being or need to completely revitalize yourself, shifting from non-supportive habits to supportive ones is simpler than you may imagine, especially when you start small and in the kitchen. The most profound medicine we have is food. According to both Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine, first we must breathe and calm our minds and then we must eat. The simplest, safest, and most cost effective resource we have is addressing our diet and healing our habits around cooking and eating food. Food is inexpensive, deeply healing, and generally safe. Health and healing is not about finding a magic bullet, but it is about building a life paradigm that encourages each of us to take an active role in our own well-being and ultimately, to heal ourselves. It is about making choices, prioritizing what is nourishing, and adding in the good stuff and letting unhelpful behaviors drop by the wayside. I often hear people say they don't have time to cook for themselves. While cooking for oneself does take time, the beauty of it is that the more you do it, the easier and faster it is to cook a healthy meal for yourself everyday. And what results, by far surpasses the cost.
The kitchen is my happy place, my sacred space, and daily opportunity to feel deeply rooted and connected to myself. It is where I can share my love, nourish myself and nourish others. Food is love, love is ojas and ojas is immunity, optimal health and happiness. I have fond early childhood memories of baking cookies in the kitchen with my mom. My love for food and for being in the kitchen came easily and early to me. If that is simply not the case for you, don't worry. That is why I am here!
by Rachel Redmond
Try this kitchari recipe at least once per week. It is part food and part medicine. Mung beans gently detoxify the liver, are easy to digest. The added spices aid digestive aiding and are rich in antioxidants. The varieties and variations of kitchari are endless and can easily be adjusted to the constitutional needs of the individual.
Kitchari is traditionally made in one pot, with the rice and mung beans cooked together for ultimate digestibility. This is recommended while on a kitchari mono-diet or preparing for or during panchakarma (which is the Ayurvedic cleansing program). For a delicious and healthy meal apart from these times, I like to use this kitchari (deconstructed) recipe as it leads to, in my opinion, a more desirable texture. Here the rice and mung beans are cooked separately and then mixed together at the end while serving.
- 1 cup yellow split mung beans, soaked for at least 1 hour, preferably longer
- 1 cup white basmati rice
- 2 cups chopped mixed vegetables (i.e. zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, yams, cabbage ect...)
- 2-3 Tb. Ghee, plus about ½ TB for rice
- 1/8 teaspoon hing (asafetida)
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 7 fresh curry leaves (find in refrigerator section of local Indian grocery store) or use 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 small tomato
- 1 Tb. Fresh grated ginger
- 1-2 tsp. ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp pre-mixed curry powder (optional)
- ½ tsp Salt and add more if needed
- Pepper to taste
- Juice of one lime or lemon
- Handful chopped cilantro (optional)
- Soak mung beans for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight in cool, purified water. Next day drain old soaking water and rinse several times until the rinse water is clear.
- Place mung beans in a large pot with 4-5 cups of water, add more hot water later on if a thinner consistency is desired. Bring water and mung beans to a boil, skim off the foam from the top (foam is gas producing), bring to a boil, then turn down heat, cover with lid and cook for 35-45 minutes or until mung beans are 75% cooked (slighty al dente at this point).
- Soak basmati rice 20-60 mins. Pour off soaking water and rinse twice. Cook basmati rice separately. For 1 cup of rice, use about 2 cups of water. Add a pinch of salt and a spoonful of ghee. Bring rice to a boil, stir the rice so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom and let the rice boil for 1 minute. Then turn heat to low, cover with tightly fitting lid, and allow rice to simmer for 16 minutes. No peeking! When the time is up, remove rice from heat and let stand with lid on for another 5-10 minutes. Then remove the lid and fluff with fork.
- Meanwhile, wash and chop vegetables into bite-size pieces.
- In a separate sauce pan heat 2-3 Tb of ghee, add mustard seeds and wait until they begin to “dance”. Then slightly reduce heat, add hing, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and cinnamon stick. Stir together about 1 minute.
- Add chopped tomatoes and ginger, let simmer about 2 minutes while gently stirring. Then add in ground spices: turmeric, coriander, ground cumin, and curry powder if desired. Stir everything together until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the spice mixture and vegetables to mung beans when the mung beans are about 75% cooked. Stir everything together and let simmer until the vegetables are soft and the mung beans are fully cooked (this will take about 15 more minutes). Add at least 1/2 tsp of salt and likely more to taste once the mung beans are cooked. Wait until this time to add the salt as it may inhibit the mung bean’s ability to properly cook. Add fresh cracked black pepper and the juice of 1 lemon or lime. Add more ghee if desired, and garnish with chopped cilantro.
This recipe is vata and kapha pacifying, and may increase pitta.
Soon to come...pitta pacifying kitchari!