Warming Ayurvedic Kitchari

Let me first disclaim that I am by no means and Ayurvedic health professional, just a gal who likes to research wellness and add some things into my routine if they work.

Kitchari (pronounced kich-uh-ree) is a traditional cleansing food of Ayurveda, the ancient, holistic health science of India. It has long been used to nourish babies, the elderly, the sick, and the healthy during special times of detox, cleansing, and deep spiritual practice. With a combination of basmati rice, split mung dal, and warming spices, this dish is comforting and satiating. Every so often, I make a giant pot and do a kitchari cleanse - that’s right, nothin’ but bowls and bowls of kitchari for several days. It gives my digestive system a chance to reset and cleanse. Unlike juice cleanses, kitchari is delicious, nourishing, and keeps me full throughout the day.

benefits of eating kitchari

IT’S TRI-DOSHIC

This warming dish is balancing for all constitution types. Not sure your specific dosha? Find out more about that here.

EASY TO DIGEST + NOURISHING

The combination of basmati rice and mung dal provides all the essential amino acids needed to form a complete protein. The protein content of kitchari supports stable blood sugar levels (crucial for us hormone-balancing gals!) so that energy and mental clarity are balanced during the cleansing process. Taking a mono-diet of primarily kitchari for several days gives the digestive system a chance to reset because the diet is so simple.

REMOVES TOXIC BUILD UP

Mung dal has an astringent (dry) quality which has a natural pulling action that helps remove toxic build up from the intestinal lining. This particular pulling action is much gentler than the harsh or abrasive “scraping” that can happen with cold or raw foods, particularly raw vegetables. Once the toxins are loosened from the body, it’s essential that they are properly eliminated. Split mung dal provide 15grams of fiber per 1 cup serving, thus making it easy to move the toxins through the G.I. tract and out of the body.

GUT HEALING

With 95% of the body’s serotonin produced in the gut, it’s clear we process our stress through the intestinal wall. Chronic stress will irritate the intestinal wall and compromise digestion, the ability to detoxify through the gut, and cope with stress. During a kitchari cleanse, the digestive system can heal. This gives the body a chance to reset and restore.

REMINERALIZES THE BODY + ANTI INFLAMMATORY

I’ve been particularly enjoying this kitchari cleanse during my menstrual phase because of the anti-inflammatory properties and the ability of the dulse/kombu to remineralize the body. During menstruation, our bodies lose a fair amount of iron and zinc which can be easily reintroduced into the body through the addition of seaweed. The addition of turmeric in this recipe also provides some wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, great for decreasing those pesky period cramps. It’s no secret that heat is a wonderful way to alleviate cramps, and I find that eating warming foods and dishes while menstruating decreases my cramps substantially.

warming Ayurvedic kitchari

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice

  • 1 cup split mung dal

  • 1 tablespoons avocado or coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard seed

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seed

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

  • 5 cups filtered water

  • 2 sheets of kombu or dulse (or any seaweed)

  • Veggies of choice - I like to use broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and kale

HOW TO MAKE

  1. In a heavy-bottom dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add in your spices, stirring for about thirty seconds to wake up the spices.

  2. Add in the rice and mung dal and stir for another thirty seconds, making sure they’re coated with the spices and oil.

  3. Add in your liquid (you can omit the veggie broth if you don’t have it, but I find it adds a nice flavor), and bring to a boil.

  4. Once the mixture is boiling, add in the sheets of kombu or dulse and reduce to a simmer.

  5. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the rice and dal have absorbed most of the liquid.

  6. Add your heartier veggies (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower) about halfway through the cooking process and stir leafy greens in at the end.

  7. When the kitchari is finished, dispose of the dulse/kombu.

  8. I like to top my kitchari with cilantro, avocado, and tahini paste. Enjoy!

With love and light xx

Natural Remedies to Relieve Period Cramps

For some women, period cramps can be completely debilitating. They can cause nausea, migraines, diarrhea, and interfere with everyday life activities such as work or relationships. According to Alisa Vitti, the author of WomanCode and creator of FloLiving, period cramps cause the US Workplace to lose $2 billion annually; they are nothin' to play around with.

Prior to September of last year, I had been on birth control for almost ten years. I got on birth control in hopes of controlling my cramps because they were so terrible when I was first experiencing my period in middle school. I remember having sharp, shooting pains in my abdomen that felt like someone was stabbing me - no thanks. This, coupled with other symptoms such as nausea, hormonal acne, and overall fatigue, made getting on the pill an easy decision for me. That little pill had been chemically controlling my hormones for me and I never once experienced a period cramp while on it. I even chose to skip my period for a whole year while I was traveling abroad; crazy, I know. Not having to deal with a period interfering with my life seemed awesome at the time until I started getting more into holistic living last year. I quickly realized that I had been using birth control as a bandaid for almost ten years to cover up these symptoms and fears. Fast forward to September of last year when I made the conscious decision to get off of birth control and the cramps flooded in with full force. 

After I stopped taking birth control, I lost my period for almost five months. I had spotting here and there, but my full, regularly scheduled periods were long gone. However, I was still getting cramps. My body wanted to bleed, but my hormones were so confused it didn't know how. This was so incredibly frustrating for me and I had many moments where the thought of getting back on birth control seemed like the best idea. Why am I doing this to myself? I'd think. But I wouldn't allow myself to go back down that path. I had already read the book WomanCode (two times), which was my reason for getting off of birth control in the first place, and had been cycle syncing for a month. I was dedicated to healing my body the natural way. 

My periods these days are still a bit late, but are pretty normal otherwise. I do still get cramps for about the first 24-36 hours of my period, but they are nowhere near as painful or excruciating as before. Since I'm all about those natural remedies these days, I have an arsenal of tips and tricks I use when Aunt Flo is visiting for the week that make my period less painful and more enjoyable. 

WHAT ARE CRAMPS?

An elevated level of Prostaglandin E2 trigger menstrual cramps while the uterus is contracting and expelling during the menstrual cycle. Prostaglandins are a group of fatty acid compounds with different hormone-varying effects, the most notable being period cramps. 

I find that my cramps vary depending on my levels of self care and overall lifestyle balance. When I am on top of my diet (eliminating sugars/gluten/soy/dairy/eggs/meat), managing my stress and anxiety consciously, exercising regularly and according to my cycle, and regularly practicing self-care routines, my cramps are significantly less than if I were to throw that all out the window. Basically, the strength of my cramps depends on how I treated myself that month. I've observed that if I steer from those lifestyle choices, my period cramps are significantly worse, I get more hormonal acne, and I experience traditional PMS symptoms such as mood swings, night sweats, breast tenderness, etc... To keep myself in check, I track my symptoms and cycles on the MyFLO app to get in better touch with what I need and how I feel. It's the coolest thing to experience your body healing first-hand.

NATURAL CRAMP REMEDIES

ESSENTIAL OILS

I use essential oils for different aspects of my lifestyle (anxiety, abhyanga, etc...), but giving myself a belly massage while having period cramps may be the greatest use I've found thus far. Clary Sage is antispasmodic, meaning is naturally treats spasms and muscle related issues, such as period cramps, by relaxing the nerve impulses that we can't control. Rub a few drops of clary sage with a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, almond, etc...) between your palms and then gently massage your lower abdomen/upper pelvic region in a counter clockwise motion with light to medium pressure. It works wonders! I've also applied this on my inner thighs, hips, and lower back when cramps are really intense.

DIET

By now, you probably know that I'm a huge proponent of having a healthy, well-balanced diet full of whole foods. This has made a huge difference in my overall lifestyle and allowed me to get my period back after it was lost. Western medicine can be quick to cover up symptoms with a pill or a shot, but that's simply a bandaid and doesn't address the true, underlying hormonal imbalance. After reading the book WomanCode cover to cover many, many times, I learned that there are certain foods that you should enjoy during the different cycles your body goes through. During menstruation, Alisa Vitti recommends foods higher in fatty acids to get more PGE 1 and PGE 3 into your diet since our levels of PGE 2 (as mentioned above), are already elevated. I also find that eating warmer meals such as roasted veggies, soups, overnight bircha, or kitchari during my period makes me feel my best.

FOODS HIGH IN ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

  • olive oil
  • flax seeds
  • chia seeds
  • nuts (walnuts, almonds)
  • pumpkin seeds
  • hemp seeds

FOODS TO ADD INTO YOUR DIET

  • seaweed (dulse, wakame)
  • mushrooms (all kinds)
  • kelp
  • reishi mushrooms (I like Sun Potion)
  • miso

FOODS TO AVOID

These foods can cause excess inflammation and I've found that avoiding them causes less painful cramps. For many of us, we immediately reach for sweets or junk foods while on our period. But, I've actually noticed that the deeper I get into cycle syncing, the less I crave these foods.

  • dairy
  • soy
  • gluten
  • alcohol
  • processed sugars
  • caffeine
  • raw vegetables in excess
Food chart from  WomanCode  - what to eat and when to eat it. I keep one of these on my fridge and reference it daily.

Food chart from WomanCode - what to eat and when to eat it. I keep one of these on my fridge and reference it daily.

HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE!

H2O is the healer of all healers. During menstruation, us ladies lose a lot of liquids from our uterine lining and it's crucial to constantly be replenishing them. Dehydration during your period can actually worsen symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and brain fog. Avoid drinking sugary beverages and opt for big glasses of water, it's a quick fix.

GENTLE YOGA

During menstruation, your body is working overtime and your energy levels are low. Forcing yourself to do high intense cardio or cycling is not what your body needs during this time. Incorporating gentle yoga poses into your daily routine is beneficial, especially when you're on your period. I would not recommend doing any inversions while you're bleeding, as your uterine lining will travel back into your body. But some gentle yoga poses such as child's pose, supine twists, happy baby, supine butterfly, and camel pose can all help with pelvic discomfort. If you want more gentle yoga sequences, YouTube is full of free tutorials.

CHILL OUT

Know when you need to rest. Honor this time during your menstrual cycle and allow your body to release. It can be hard to relax and unwind in a fast-paced world. We tend to feel like we need to always be doing something or always stay busy but we rarely give ourselves time to just chill out. By tracking your cycles on the MyFLO App, you can plan ahead in preparation for your menstrual cycle. Get the hard, time consuming tasks out of the way, avoid planning a lot of social events around this time, buy yourself a bath bomb, and get the Netflix ready. Instead of scheduling gym time, schedule journaling time, meditation time, bath time, and nap time. Giving your body a chance to rest actually relieves a lot of the inflammation we can experience during menstruation. Low stress = low inflammation = less cramps. Science.

I'm a huge proponent of self-care every single day, but take a little extra time for yourself during your period. Simply recognizing and honoring the process of menstruation is a beautiful act of self-care.

How do you treat your period symptoms?

With love and light xx