Welcome to October!
Seasonal junctures present the perfect opportunity for cleansing and simplifying (as we’ve discussed before, here and here). With the autumn equinox now behind us, we offer strategies for inviting more simplicity into your diet and your home.
So without further ado, here’s this month’s dose of what we’re chewing on. ;)
What we’re eating
This traditional bean-and-rice stew is the quintessential cleansing and healing food. With nourishing ingredients and spices that kindle digestion, kitchari doubles for detoxing and rebuilding, providing balanced, whole-foods nutrition in a simple package. Whether you are undertaking a preconception cleanse, overtaken by pregnancy food aversions, recovering postpartum, nursing an illness or injury, desiring an easy fall dinner for yourself or your family, or planning to bring a meal to a new mom or ailing friend, kitchari can be your answer!
Kitchari (spelled variably as kichadi, khichri, and more) features classically in Ayurvedic medicine as a healing stew that contains balanced nutrition in an easy-to-digest form. It is used during times of cleansing, as well as during times of convalescing and rebuilding, since it provides wholesome nourishment without taxing digestion.
And it is incredibly versatile. Though split mung beans and basmati rice form the typical foundation, you can select other combinations of one legume and one grain, as well as your preferred spices. For example, you can replace the beans with red lentils or the rice with quinoa. You can swap out the Indian spices for Italian favorites or simple combinations like dill and lemon. You can also include your choice of vegetables to make a complete meal. Asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, fennel, greens, okra, squash, and zucchini are all good options; select two or three of different colors to reap a wider micronutrient benefit.
For early postpartum or other periods of convalescence, add extra water for a thinner consistency while digestion is still compromised. Also avoid cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens, as those can be more challenging for delicate digestive tracts. For those using kitchari as a monodiet during a home cleanse, see the variation that follows the main recipe. In either case, you can prepare the dish and keep it warming in a crockpot for around-the-clock consumption. But try to finish the pot within 24 hours to minimize the negative effects of old or leftover food, effects that are more acutely felt when both convalescing and cleansing.
Daunted by the ingredient list? Don’t be! It’s mostly spices, and once you have them on hand, putting the meal together is a cinch. If you’re not convinced, my friends at Banyan Botanicals (yes, I do in fact know several of them personally!) make it easy for you with their kitchari spice mix. If even that’s daunting, start with the whole kitchari kit!
For the rest of you, the hard-core do-it-from-scratchers, here’s our take on the classic healing stew. Enjoy!
- 1 cup split yellow mung beans (preferred) or red lentils, organic if possible (soaked overnight)
- ½ cup white basmati rice, organic if possible (soaked overnight)
- 6 cups (or more) homemade bone broth, vegetable broth, or filtered water
- 1 pinch hing (also called asafetida) (optional)
- 2 tablespoons organic ghee (preferred) or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground (or more to taste)
- 3 cups (or more) vegetables, chopped into small pieces (optional)
- 1 teaspoon unrefined sea or mineral salt (or more to taste)
- ½ small lime, juiced (or more to taste)
- 1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped (optional)
- grated unsweetened coconut (optional)
- In a large soup pot, put water or broth on to boil.
- Rinse soaked beans and soaked rice and add to boiling water or broth.
- When the liquid returns to a boil, skim the foam with a slotted spoon and discard. Add a pinch of hing if using (hing enhances the digestion of legumes), reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot.
- Meanwhile, warm the oil or ghee over medium-low heat in a small heavy skillet. Add the ginger, stirring to coat in oil. Cook gently for a few minutes until just lightly toasted and starting to become fragrant.
- Add the mustard, cumin, coriander, fennel, and fenugreek seeds and stir again. Let toast a few more minutes.
- When the seeds become lightly browned and fragrant, mix in the turmeric and black pepper and gently cook for another minute. Then turn off the heat and remove the skillet so the spices do not burn.
- Now return to the soup pot. If including vegetables, add them at an appropriate time—soon after the beans and rice for slow-cooking vegetables like beets and carrots, near the end for quick-cooking vegetables like greens. Add more water or broth if needed.
- After the beans and rice have been cooking for about 30 minutes and most of the liquid is absorbed, add the warm spice mixture. Spoon a little of the bean-rice liquid into the skillet to rinse the spices into the soup.
- Add salt and taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve with lime juice and extra ghee. Garnish with optional cilantro and grated unsweetened coconut if desired.
If preparing kitchari for a cleanse, then make the following modifications.
- Use only split yellow mung beans and white basmati rice, if available. Save variations with other legumes and grains for after your cleanse.
- Use filtered water instead of broth. Increase the liquid to 8–10 cups.
- Omit the oil or ghee. Instead, before adding water to the soup pot, dry roast the mustard, cumin, coriander, fennel, and fenugreek seeds for a few minutes; add the hing, turmeric, black pepper, and fresh ginger and stir. Then add the beans and rice and stir again. Finally, add the water and bring to a boil, as above.
- Omit the optional vegetables.
- Modify the spices if desiring variety. Instead of the spices in this recipe, try dill and lemon, ginger and cinnamon, or Italian herbs like basil and thyme. Avoid spicy flavors, like those found in Mexican or Thai cuisine, and all fats.
- This recipe makes enough for 3 or 4 meals. Adjust the measurements as needed to avoid any leftovers; you should eat no food older than 24 hours during a cleanse.
What we’re reading
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. If you don’t equate “tidying” with “magic,” then we challenge you to let Japanese cleaning consultant and decluttering expert Marie Kondo convince you otherwise. Her international bestsellers just might transform your home—and possibly your life.
Not convinced? If you’re anything like us or the people we meet, then you could use a few more hours in your day. And did you know the average person spends 30 minutes to 2 hours per day searching for things? Imagine how much more time you could devote to life—to work, family, leisure, creativity, making dreams a reality, and more—if you got your act together and put your things in order!
Boasting more than 8 million copies in over 40 languages, Marie Kondo’s books take tidying to a new and—dare we say—celestial level. Her KonMari Method, clearly elucidated in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and then elaborated in Spark Joy, turns conventional organizing on its head. She spells out a framework for categorically, thoroughly, and honestly evaluating everything you own—first clothes then books, papers, miscellany, and sentimental items—to cull those that truly bring you joy. Only then can you store and organize your possessions once and for all.
If you, like us, find your homes perennially cluttered or occasionally out of control, Kondo’s wisdom helps reclaim space and imbue it not only with peace but also with joy. The process helps cultivate gratitude and responsible ownership, especially valuable lessons for kids. Tidying clothes, claims Kondo, is the perfect activity for kids, one they learn quickly and happily. Even toddlers can learn to fold and gratefully return garments to their homes, no prodding required!
Her unorthodox method is surprisingly simple yet unequivocally powerful. Countless clients and readers have tapped into tidying’s magic: by radically overhauling your physical space, you can dramatically shift your mental, emotional, social, and spiritual space, transforming mind-set and life mission in uncanny ways. We love how she undergirds her methodology with the philosophy that “tidying is just a tool, not the final destination,” a means for turning your home into “a sacred space, a power spot filled with pure energy” from which to launch a life you love.
Amen to that! We’re more than ready to launch from an energetic power spot into a joy-filled life. And we’re excited to share more about how we’re doing that in the coming months.
So stay tuned! In the meantime, what sparks your joy? How are you making your life radiate with it? Let us know!
What we’re pondering
Only two skills are necessary to successfully put your house in order: the ability to keep what sparks joy and chuck the rest, and the ability to decide where to keep each thing you choose and always put it back in its place.
—Marie Kondo, Spark Joy, page xii
And what we love…
Connecting with new moms! Are you having a baby this fall? Do you know someone who is? We’d love to support you!
Postpartum care—for both mom and baby—is a topic very close to our hearts. Whether you’re anxious or excited, overwhelmed or as ready as you’ll ever be, the postpartum period can be the most peaceful and empowering experience of your life, especially if you don’t weather it alone. Invite us into your journey for tips and tools to last your family a lifetime. We’re here for you, whether this is your first baby or your umpteenth!
To more simplicity and less clutter, together we are “Preparing to Parent: Growing Families with Purpose…on Purpose.”