When I graduated from college in 2006 I was diagnosed with a chronic digestive disease called Ulcerative Colitis. The doctors told me there was nothing I could do to heal from the disease and the best I could hope for was to go into remission for short stints of time. At my lowest point, I was taking 18 prescription pills and my symptoms were still extremely debilitating, not to mention embarrassing.
In 2008 I started researching alternative forms of medicine, and even flew solo to Bali to meet Wayan, the healer from the book, "Eat, Pray, Love". Although it was lovely to meet Wayan, unfortunately having one session with her was not going to heal me. I was looking for a quick fix, and eventually realized that with my disease there was no quick fix.
About a year later I moved back home with my parents, depressed, sick, and feeling hopeless. I would often attend these free lectures at a local book shop near my parents house. One night, a beautiful Indian woman named Shunya Pratichi Mathur gave a lecture about the ancient indian healing practice called, Ayurveda. From the moment she started speaking, I was completely captivated. She spoke about how humans are a microcosm of the macrocosm of the universe. She explained how the 5 elements, earth, water, fire, air and space exist in our bodies and how imbalances of these elements can cause disease. She also spoke about the mind, and the spirit, and how true healing can only be achieved when we look at the person as a whole being. It was the first time I had even considered the possibility that my disease was not just bad luck or poor genetics, rather an imbalance that was curable once the root causes were removed.
I signed up for an Ayurvedic retreat with Shunya Ji the following weekend, and ended up carpooling with 2 Ayurvedic doctors who would change the course of my life forever. As we drove through the golden hills down the 101 on the way back from the retreat hey listened with warm eyes and compassionate hearts as I shared my story with them. I had tried so many different diets and supplements and tinctures and traveled halfway around the world and was still not cured. Tears streaming down my face, one of the doctors looked into my eyes and told me with confidence that I would heal from this disease. He told me to get out a pen and a piece of paper and write down everything he said. The doctors collaborated giving me a list of foods to avoid and new recipes to cook. They also gave me instructions on what time to wake up in the morning and how to do a simple meditation every morning to help me connect to my deeper self and heal my mind and spirit as well. After a few months of following their instructions, my condition had improved dramatically. I became fascinated with Ayurveda and signed up for a one year self healing course with Shunya Ji at Vedika Global, a small Ayurvedic college in Emeryville, Ca. After submersing myself in Ayurveda for a year, changing my diet and lifestyle, meditating, doing yoga, and learning how to cook foods that were balancing for my body... I healed. Not only did I heal from ulcerative colitis, but everything in my life improved. I slowly weened myself off all prescription mediation, my skin cleared up and I even developed a glow. I would get tonsillitis four times a year before I started following an Ayurvedic lifestyle, after that one year course, I have not had tonsillitis once.
I was so impressed by my own recovery, and deeply intrigued by this 5,000 year old science that I studied for two more years and became an Ayurvedic Lifestyle and Wellness Counselor so I would be able to share this knowledge with others. In 2012 I founded Daily Ayurveda. My goal is to share the deeply rooted solid science of healing in a simple and digestible manner so that others may benefit from all of the gifts Ayurveda has to offer.
From the heart,
Whether at your best or worst, kitchari is the ideal food for you. It is sometimes referred to as Indian comfort food but it is also one of the most gentle foods for cleansing and a great first food for children. While it can be made with other grains or legumes, the most popular and balanced recipe for all body types is the one made with mung beans and basmati rice.
Why are the specific ingredients such as white basmati rice and mung recommended?
Basmati is a long grain rice. Long grain rice that has the husk removed has a lower glycemic index than other kinds of of rice. It is also lighter to digest compared to other varieties of rice yet highly nutritious.
Split yellow mung beans are the least vata increasing and gas producing bean used in Ayurvedic recipes. This is why it is recommended during all seasons. The difference between the yellow beans with the husk removed and the green mung is that the husk is slightly harder to digest and can increase gas in some with delicate digestive systems. Also, I personally believe that yellow mung beans makes a more palatable batch.
Combining these two ingredients provides a complete protein which means that your body gets the fuel it needs to have sustained energy throughout the day. You can use it for gentle, slow weight loss combined with proper movement excersise based on your body type, Also you can use it to cleanse your digestive tract after making poor food choices, and it will not make you feel weak or lack luster like other restrictive diets.
What about ghee?
Ghee is sweet and cooling. It is known to increase immunity, strength and intellect. After meals, it also helps in feeling satisfied for longer when used in the proper amount like in this recipe.
And the spices?
The spices that I always use are hing, cumin and turmeric. Cumin acts as an appetizer, digestive, slows intestinal growths and it prevents abdominal distention. Turmeric enhances complexion, relieves skin diseases, blood diseases, swelling, anemia and more. Hing while relatively unknown in the USA is a taste promoter and is a powerful medicine for spasms, pains, intestinal growths, abdominal diseases, distention and worms. Himalayan rock salt is the salt of choice for this recipe. It is less heating than other kinds of popular salts, it enhances taste perception, is a digestive and acts as an appetizer.
Depending on season, one may add fennel seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, fresh ginger, black cumin, etc. It should be tasty, comforting, warming to the stomach and not bland. If it’s bland then you should add more spices or salt. If you aren't excited about the taste of something, the early stages of digestion will be hampered and you won't even get the full health benefit of the meal.
I’ll never forget my first pomegranate. I was walking around in Old City Jerusalem and wearing my favorite pair of jeans and a light colored shirt. A man came over and pushed a cut pomegranate on my friend and I. What was I supposed to do with this thing? I had no idea so I just started pressing and squeezing. Immediately after I started squeezing those precious seeds into my mouth, my thirst was quenched and I felt an energy boost. My shirt and pants were not so happy though.
Lesson learned: take my time, use the water method to extract the seeds and sit down to eat it.
Since that time more than 10 years ago, I have moved to California where one can easily buy or grow their own pomegranates. So what was the first tree I planted? Yup, it was a pomegranate shrub that was just 1 foot tall. It now blesses me with a lot of pomegranates to eat and juice with my kids. I also buy pomegranate juice from the farmers market to supplement when I don’t have any available in my garden.
So what are the benefits of pomegranates?
They are sweet, astringent, sour and work wonders for cooling off any aggravated pitta in the body without aggravating kapha and vata. Pomegranates soothe inflammation in the digestive tract, alleviate diarrhea and loose motions, act as an antiemetic so can be helpful in morning sickness, stop bleeding, help in anemia, reduce fevers, act as a cardiotonic, a brain tonic and as an aphrodisiac. The astringent rind while not very tasty is a strong medicine for stopping dysentery, traveler’s diarrhea and getting rid of parasites. Due to such things as the high quantity of vitamin c and tannins, the fruit is also known for its ability to slow the aging process, prevent heart disease and even prevent cancer. The pomegranate is a great overall tonic that helps when one is feeling weak.
Besides buying them whole to eat the seeds, you can get great benefits from the juice or the dried powder sold in stores. The juice is best taken at room temperature as opposed to cold. The powder known in Indian stores as anardana can be used in sauces, spice mixes or chutneys in the fall season to reduce pitta and add a complex sweet and sour taste that can't be found elsewhere.
Autumn Swiss Chard & Cauliflower
1 medium fennel bulb (chopped)
1 medium sweet onion (chopped)
1 bunch swiss chard (chopped)
½ head of cauliflower (broken into small florets)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon pomegranate powder
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon ghee