Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Cleaning - The Many Ways

I am sure you have heard about all the cleanses that you can do around spring time. But are you ready? Does the cleanse sound right for you? Do you have a week to dedicate to your cleanse?
In America we tend to think that we should be on a constant cleanse. That juicing is the only way to clean the body and that if you feel lightheaded and grouchy, the cleanse is working. But that is the way we as Americans think, the more the better. Not so much in Ayurveda. Cleansing is a big deal and can help release toxic buildup from the body, but it also strips the body and provides little to no nourishment, so cleanses are done only a few times a year at the change of the season, not every other month. 

Kichari: A safe way to cleanse is going on a mono diet of kichari (recipe below), a very safe, healing and nourishing recipe that can be eaten for all three meals of the day for 3-5 days. This will allow your body to take a break from heavy, sugary, protein heavy, processed foods and will allow it to clean as well as nourish. This is a recipe that can be used if you have splurged on vacation or over the weekend and need to kick your week off right. Make kitchery and eat it for your three meals for one day, giving your system a gentle cleaning and re-boot. 

Vegetables: You can also opt for a vegetable only day ....or 3. Allowing your body to just eat fresh vegetables good fat like olive oil, coconut oil, ghee or avocado. No nuts, dairy, starches, sugars, meat or protein other than oils. This type of eating can give your body the fiber and vitamins and minerals it needs for a few days, while scraping out the sludge that may have accumulated in the intestines. It also gives your liver a break by giving your body simpler foods that are easily digestible and that can be easily assimilated. Note: if you absolutely have to be more active, add a hard boiled or poached egg to either your lunch or dinner. 

Juice: For those of you who want to do a juice cleanse, it's ok but while doing it notice how you feel and don't  kid yourself. If you feel awful, then maybe juicing is not the right cleanse for you, try something else. If you want to go ahead, don't juice for more than 3 days and try to stay clear of most fruit juices. They pack in the sugars and defeat the purpose. If you make the juice at home, add back some of the pulp for fiber so that you can make sure to keep your bowels moving. 

In any cleanse, making sure that you are having regular bowl movements, once to twice per day, is very important. Stool carries away the the toxins from the body. I also recommend taking a hot bath or sauna to open the pours and allow your body to sweat, which also releases toxins. Drink lots of water, room temperature or hot. Lemon or lime added will give an extra boost to the cleaning properties of the water and hot water in the morning with lemon will get the 'system' moving. 

Before you start a cleanse, make sure you check with your health provider first. And limit the amount of activity you do for the days that you are on the cleanse. Be gentle to yourself. Your body will be working hard to clean itself so it is important to support it by reserving your energy and resting.

Kichari Recipe (my favorite coming from www.lifespa.com)
This recipe makes enough to last you for 3 or 4 meals. You can play with the mixture of spices. Many people prefer this recipe when the spices are doubled (or even tripled).

  • 1 cup Split Yellow Moong Beans* (see for ‘weak digestion’ below)
  • ¼ – ½ cup White Basmati Rice
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Ginger Root
  • 1 tsp each Black Mustard Seeds, and Cumin and Turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp each Coriander powder, and fennel and fenugreek seeds
  • 3 Cloves
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 7-10 cup Water
  • ½ tsp Salt (rock salt is best) or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.
  • 1 small handful Fresh Chopped Cilantro Leaves
  • You can add any fresh vegetables to this recipe to switch it up. Stay away from starchy ones like sweet and regular potatoes.
It’s important to get SPLIT MOONG DAL beans because they are easy to digest and due to their cleansing qualities, they pull toxins from the body. They are available at Asian or Indian grocery stores or through LifeSpa. Different spellings include “mung” and/or “dahl.” Please note that you do not want the whole moong dal beans, which are green, or yellow split peas.
  1. Wash split yellow mung beans (dal) and rice together until water runs clear.
  2. Heat a large pot on medium heat and then add all the spices (except the bay leaves) and dry roast for a few minutes. This dry-roasting will enhance the flavor.
  3. Add dal and rice and stir again.
  4. Add water and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
  5. Boil for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn heat to low, cover pot and continue to cook until dal and rice become soft (about 30-40 minutes).
  7. The cilantro leaves can be added just before serving.
  8. Add salt or Bragg’s to taste.
* For weak digestion, gas or bloating: Before starting to prepare the kicharee, first par boil the split moong dal (cover with water and bring to boil), drain, and rinse. Repeat 2-3 times. OR, soak beans overnight and then drain. Cook as directed.

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this blog are based upon the opinion of Staraya McKinstry. They are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, and they are not intended as medical advice.


  1. This is wonderful information! I'm going to have to try the Kichari, I've never heard of it before but love the idea of a gentle food cleanse rather than a harsh or super intense detox. I tend to always flake out on my long "big goal" cleanses and like the idea of being able to do something less drastic but still effective. Thank you so much for sharing! -Megan

    1. Megan, I am excited that you are going to try it. I find Kitchari to be a yummy dish. I hope that you notice that this is a bit more manageable. And maybe once you start the cleanse your body feels great and you decide to do 7 days. But start with a 3-5 day goal and see where it goes. Once you are done SLOWLY add back other foods so that you build up your digestive fire. It will make you stronger in the long run and reset your metabolism.
      Enjoy and feel great!