Ayurveda, Cooking, Health, Norway, Oslo, Vegetarian

Spring Cleaning

It’s the end of February and I’m ready to start preparing for spring! No word yet on my visa to Sweden, but my information shows up in the system as being received, so at least Migrationsverket has it.  The temperature has become a few degrees warmer lately, but I’m in Scandinavia, where winter arguably lasts an eternity.

This week, we’ve decided to do a mini panchakarma.  Panchakarma (PK) is a cleansing and rejuvenation program for the body, mind and consciousness.  There’s a whole list of things to do to prep for before, during, and after panchakarma – but were not at a fancy retreat center or spa, so we’re doing the at-home version, which mostly just follows the internal cleansing (or the prep before PK).

Mung DalFor a week, we have to eat a non fat mono-diet.  In other words, lentils and rice.  Boring.  We feel like we’re living like poor people or in prison, but its good for saving money.  The purpose of this bland cleanse/diet is to give the digestive system a chance to rest so that the body can focus its efforts on detoxification. Cold drinks, cold foods, caffeine, sugar, dairy and alcohol should be avoided.

Alcohol? Caffeine? Sugar?

Let’s just say, its been a rather dull week :-)

This is not a fast.  The point is not to be starving or feeling like we’re majorly depriving ourselves.  Although, that’s arguable considering I can’t drink coffee all week.  We’ll mostly be eating kitchari.  There’s lots of information regarding what one can or can’t eat, but they all seem to agree that foods consumed should be warm, organic (and not contain alcohol, fats, sugar, caffeine, etc).  Here’s the recipe that we’re mostly following, with a few minor additions (like coriander or ginger):

KitchariMung Dal Kitchari

1 c basmati rice

1/2 c yellow split mung dal (we used red)

3 tablespoons ghee

1 teasp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 pinches hing (couldn’t find so we didn’t use, but it aids in preventing excess gas or bloating)

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

4 c water

Wash lentils and rice thoroughly.  Its even recommended to soak them for a bit of time prior to cooking to aid in digestion later.

Heat ghee over medium heat in a large pot add cumin and mustard seeds and hing.  Stir around until the seeds start to pop.

Add the lentils and rice, turmeric, and salt and combine for a few minutes.  This allows all the flavors to blend together and does actually create a yummy aroma.

Thereafter, add in the water and bring to a boil.  Return the heat to a lower temperature and allow the water to be absorbed, indicating the kitchari is cooked.  If the rice looks undercooked or tastes a bit hard, add more water and cook longer.  We used brown rice basmati, but normal white rice basmati cooks faster with less water.

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Why Kitchari?  It’s easy to digest while also being detoxifying and nutritious (and bland if its all your eating for days on end).  According to Ayurveda, India’s ancient holistic healing system, proper digestion is essential to good health. When you do the full PK cleanse it includes oil massages, sweating, and enemas to evacuate toxic materials from the body.

GheeEvery morning on an empty stomach, we’re ingesting tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) and we’re increasing the amount ingested my double every day.  Ghee is another healing food that Ayurvedic practitioners believe increases agni, the internal fire that powers digestion and metabolism.  I don’t particularly like ghee alone on its own (or any other oils for that matter), but I guess I’m more used to these weird rituals now.  There’s a variety of information out there about how to do proper PK and I’m actually having difficulty finding consistent details on the exact amount of ghee to ingest.  I’m guessing it should begin with at least a tablespoon and gradually doubled each day for up to 7 days.  Ghee smells amazing when cooked, but when ingesting on an empty stomach, I always find it to be accompanied with nausea.  We’ll modify all this accordingly to our schedule.  There’s a whole other list of things that should be followed during the cleanse.  For example, reduce computer and tv use, mediate, rest and do lots of yoga, take long walks, etc…

For me, while I have no excuses, but I do a lot of stuff on the computer and I have a lot to get done.  The rest I think I accomplish most days anyways.

The final day of the cleanse involves drinking castor oil and letting it all come out.  Sounds fun right?  I promise not to post any pictures of the findings that day.

As my time here in Norway is nearing its end, I’m cheating with this weeks cleanse a bit.  Good lord, am I ever good at cheating with these things!  I will accelerate things a bit and do my major cleansing on Friday.  Social plans are calling this Saturday evening…things which can’t be neglected.

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