It's Time for a Seasonal Detox
Here in Perthshire, there is definitely an autumnal air creeping in. While the days might be sunnier the wind is howling and the leaves are starting to curl and crisp. We are straddling the remnants of the summer and welcoming in autumn but with it there are not only changes in our natural environment but in our bodies as well. Vata season is upon us!
Now what on earth do I mean by Vata?
This is the language of Ayurveda. A world I find fascinating and deeply functional for today’s fast paced world where we need to find some balance and grounding. Ayurveda is the oldest continually practised health system in the world and originated in India. It focuses on understanding imbalances in our body so we can avoid dis-ease and ultimately ill health.
There are three doshas, known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha that naturally arise in everyone’s bodies when the five elements (space, air, fire, water, earth) some together in various combinations to make up the human body. Each performs a certain function:
Vata (VA-tah) is the energy of movement
Pitta (PITT-ah) is the energy of transformation
Kapha (CAF-hah) is the energy of structure and lubrication together with cohesion.
These doshas are also connected to your daily routine (more about that in another blog soon!) and the annual seasons. We are moving out of Pitta season and into Vata season.
You may have started to notice that your hands are starting to get dry and your digestion is getting sluggish, or dare I say it, a bit windy; that will be the movement of Vata!
Now is the perfect time to do a short detox to support our bodies through this seasonal change and set us up for the winter to come.
Below is a recipe for a delicious KITCHARI, a mono-diet and a Sattvic food (one of the three qualities, or trigunas, that coexist with the doshas to create a balanced state of mind) that creates calm and stability, while kindling our digestive fire (agni) and finally holds the capacity for happiness - exactly what we need as the nights draw in.
Having previously been a private chef I tend to cook by eye and taste, which I realise is not terribly helpful (it drives my husband bonkers as he ‘by the letter’ type of cook!) so please take the below as a guide and adjust to your taste.
Makes 4-6 portions
2tps Coriander Seeds
1tps Ajwain Seeds (if you don’t have add more fennel and and cumin)
2tps Cumin Seeds
2tps Fennel Seeds
Toast the spices and grind
You can now buy ghee in many supermarkets but if you can’t find it is very easy to make.
Take 1/2 packet of unsalted butter and gently melt. Continue to cook on a low heat and remove the white ‘scrum’ off the top. When the brown sediment starts to form take off the heat and strain the butter and discard the sediment. This will last for a bit in the fridge and can be used in other curries.
1/2tps Hing (optional)
1tbsp Mustard seeds (I love them so put less in if you don’t)
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1-2 inch chopped piece Ginger (I like to peel and whizz up with water and keep in the fridge to have with hot water in the mornings. You can then use it for lots of recipes as well)
2 cups Basmati Rice
2 cups Moong Dhal (you can sometimes get this in supermarkets but health food shops should stock it and for those that are local to Crieff the fab team at Comrie Croft have ordered some in specially)
4 cups of Water
Salt (I like pink Himalayan salt for this. It definitely needs some salt but be careful not to add too much as I frequently do)
Chilli Flakes (optional)
Melt the ghee in a large pot. This is a little like a risotto so whatever you’d usually use to make that. Add the mustard seeds and heat until they start to pop. Add the spice mix and the rest of the spices. Add any vegetables you are using.
While the spices are gently cooking in the ghee rinse the Moong Dhal and basmati rice in a sieve until the water runs clear.
Add the rice and moong dhal to the pot with half the water and stir well. Let it bubble away then add the remaining water a cupful at a time until the consistency is how you’d like it. I like mine like a risotto but you can have it more soupy if you wish.
I often cook up other vegetables separately, either roasting or steaming them, to add a different texture to the Kitchari. Add salt and chilli flakes to taste.
Enjoy this mono-diet two to three times per day (depending on how many meals you tend to have. I generally don’t eat breakfast as I am a Kapha-Pitta, which I will go into in another post) for two to three days.
During your detox it is important to a few more things to let your body and mind get the full benefit of the fast.
Reduce strenuous exercise
Rest often and get a good night’s sleep
Drink tons of warm water and spicy teas
Avoid over stimulation and toxic media. So reduce TV and social media activity
Massage - as part of an Ayurvedic routine it is recommended to self massage with warm oils in the morning. Or why not head to a steam room to sweat out those toxins!
Break your fast slowly. For every day that you have been detoxing take one day to reintroduce simple foods.
Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Kale, Parsnips, Pumpkins, Spinach, Squash, Swiss chard, Turnips