Use moderation and common sense to get your body back in balance

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO  - Kitchari, made of lentils or mung beans and basmati rice, can help get your system back in balance.There is quite a bit of buzz right now about detoxification rituals to cleanse our bodies of the many toxins we’ve consumed during the holiday season. Think of it: we’ve packed our bodies with sugary cookies and homemade candies, rich foods and alcohol since Thanksgiving and surely we’ll all feel better with those elements out of our system.

A quick Internet search of detoxification methods brings many fascinating results. Some are interesting enough to try, others leave you wondering who on earth would put their body through the torture. Here is a short lineup of detoxification methods found on the Internet:

Please remember that this information is shared strictly for entertainment value and should not replace the advice of your medical professional; I am not a doctor and do not play one on television or here on the newspaper page.

Raw/alkaline foods cleanse — This temporary cleanse uses uncooked fruits and vegetables combined with small amounts of raw nuts, seeds and sprouts. It supposedly reduces the body’s need to constantly attempt to alkalize the acidic nature of the blood, from eating a modern, non-alkaline diet.

Juice fasts — This method calls for consuming only freshly juiced fruits and vegetables for one to three days or longer. Helpful cleansing fruits and veggies include apples, carrots, beets, ginger root, spinach, pears, celery, kale, cabbage, cranberry and other dark leafy vegetables. Remember the Cabbage Soup Diet that enjoyed some popularity several years ago? This diet falls into the juice fast category.

Cleansing spices — Coupling a healthy organic diet with the use of cleansing spices is a mild way of creating change in the body. Spices and herbs purported to have cleansing qualities are cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, cumin, cilantro, fenugreek, ginger, fennel, cayenne pepper, black pepper, clove, rosemary and parsley.

Master cleanse — This detoxification method calls for consuming a diet composed only of fresh lemon juice, organic grade-B maple syrup, cayenne pepper and spring water. It was suggested that this be done in conjunction with the Oxygen Colon cleanse, below.

Oxygen colon cleanse — this is a six- or seven-day cleanse using distilled water, organic/raw apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice, Oxy-Powder and probiotic supplements.

Ayurveda kitchari — this method is actually appealing to me. Ayurveda can be defined as a system, which uses the inherent principles of nature to help maintain health in a person by keeping the individual’s body, mind and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term, made up of the words “ayus” and “veda.”

Ayus means life and veda means knowledge or science; hence the term ayuverda means the knowledge of life or the science of life. From information found online, Ayurveda is an intricate medical system that originated in India thousands of years ago. The aim of the system is to protect health and prolong life and eliminate diseases and dysfunctions of the body.

I learned that ayurveda is based on the premise that the universe is made up of five elements: air, fire, water, earth and aether. These elements are represented in humans by three “doshas,” or energies: vata, pitta and kapha. When any of the doshas accumulate in the body beyond the desirable limit the body loses its balance.

Every individual has a distinct balance and our health and wellbeing depend on keeping the right balance of the doshas. The ayuverda method for putting the body back in balance is to eat kitchari (pronounced kitch-a-ree). Kitchari is a spicy mixture of basmati rice and either lentils or mung beans that can be eaten once, twice or three times a day for a period of time.

I found many variations for kitchari online. I chose one that was simple and used readily available ingredients. You can substitute split yellow lentils for the mung beans if you wish and onion for the asafetida. If you decide to eat kitchari as a means of detoxification, use your own judgment as to how long and often to eat it.

I am not a practicing yogi or medical professional and have not presented completely all the benefits of ayurveda — continue your own research if you are interested.

Friends, there is a lot of hoopla out there about food fads and fancies. Use your good judgment and moderation. I hope you will enjoy adding something new to your culinary experience and wish you good health in 2013!

Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful!

Cleansing Kitchari —

Basic Recipe

Makes 3 servings

1 cup basmatic rice

1/2 cup mung beans (whole, soaked overnight)

6 cups boiling water

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 pinch asafoetida*

1 cup chopped vegetables, such as zucchini, carrot, cauliflower or anything you choose

1 teaspoon ground cumin, coriander or any other spice you choose

Combine the rice with the mung beans and wash twice. Place rice and beans into boiling water, add the turmeric and asafetida.

Cook over medium heat until the water is mostly absorbed. Add one or more cups of lukewarm water, vegetables and optional spices if you are using them. The final dish should be a stew with a very moist and soft consistency.

Adapted from Ayurveda for Women: A Guide to Vitality and Heath,

*Cook’s note: Asafoetida — an Indian spice also known as Devil’s Dung or Stinking Gum — has a sulphurous, onion-like smell that dissipates when cooked, leaving just an onion flavor. Asafoetida comes from the sap of a plant similar to a giant fennel. The sap dries into a hard resin and it is sold in “lump” and ground form. You can buy it in Indian grocery stores or substitute 1/2 cup chopped onion for it.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached by phone at 503-636-1281 ext 101 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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