Ready to take on 2018? Let’s take full advantage of the new year with a bit of TLC the Ayurvedic-way. You won't find resolutions, or hard times here. Nor will you find juices or raw foods, which are the opposite of what we need with the Kapha qualities of Winter. Instead, Ayurveda - the Indian ‘science of life’ - is based around thousands of years of comfort foods that look after you from the inside out, giving you that inner glow by stoking the furnace or ‘Agni’ (see more below) while delivering easy nourishment. There’s also no skipping meals and no workouts; only relaxing walks, gentle yoga and a bit of breath work if you fancy it. Yep this is more about baths than boot camps, stretches than sweating and pampering rather than pain... chilled, calm, cosy and delicious in a gently powerful way you know?
So join me for an easy, scrummy 3 day plan. I’ll be starting this Sat (6th Jan) with a quiet weekend and taking it to work on Monday when I’m nicely in the swing of things. If you’ve got East by West already then you’ll have all the info on pg 291, otherwise follow the instructions below which include a shopping list so you can stock up on all the bits and pieces you need over the next couple of days ready for the weekend.
A bowl of comfort food - split mung beans slow-cooked with rice, quinoa or millet. Add your favourite veggies and you’re away.
A fantastic and simple way to start the day. Said in Ayurveda to tonify the bowels, clean the liver, reduce inflammation and cure constipation.
When to eat is important for digestion. Our bodies naturally want to follow the cycle of the day - snacks and artificial light disrupt the body's cycle. Aim to eat breakfast between 7 and 9, lunch by1pm and supper before 7pm. Bed by 10pm folks!
Believe it or not this is such an easy and practical 3 days - not only are the recipes simple but it takes the stress out of wondering what to prepare. The dishes are best enjoyed freshly cooked rather than reheated so I’ll make a batch of Kitchari fresh every morning (or overnight in a slow-cooker) to see me through the day and pop a portion or 2 into a thermos for later meals. The recipes are all one-pot so cleaning up is easy and as for finding the ingredients they’re all available from a good supermarket and can otherwise be picked up online.
- The recipes are vegetarian and naturally free from gluten. You can easily make them vegan by substituting the ghee and dairy milk for vegan alternatives.
- Where possible stick to quality foods, naturally grown without chemicals.
- If you’ve got blood-sugar issues it’s best to avoid the Stewed Apples for breakfast and opt for the Golden Milk with less jaggery or Kitchari for breakfast.
- Easing in - this is such a gentle and supportive 3 days however if you have been hitting the stimulants and depressants hard (e.g. booze, coffee, sugar and cigarettes) then be prepared for some frustrations! For an easier transition, slowly lay off in the days approaching your 3 day CLEANSE + RESET. (see below for easing out of the 3 day break).
- Avoid dairy milk with anything salty for easy digestion - wait at least an hour in between.
- Don’t go hungry - don’t try to improve or take advantage of the CLEANSE + RESET by eating even less or being strict on yourself. This is about giving your body the support it needs. Care for yourself as you would a loved one. Deprivation isn’t fun.
- Stick to hot water between meals rather than anything chilled.
- As with any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication programme, before you start, you should consult with your healthcare/medical professional.
BACK TO BUSINESS - life after the 3 day reset
Continue with the bliss by enjoying delicious freshly cooked vegetarians meals on the 4th day and more of the herbal tea and hot water. Avoid red meat for the first few days. If you do eat animal proteins choose lunchtime rather than supper time as these take longer to digest. Incorporate the 4 recipes into your weekly menu plan - these lovely comfort Ayurveda classics are great to come back to again and again to balance with any feasts or social engagements. Use other gentle recipes, such as Spring Clean Vegetable Brown Rice Soup (see page 196) and Vegetable Soba Noodle Soup (see page 171) from East by West the cookbook to ease out of your cleanse.
THE SHOPPING LIST
The following ingredients are found at most good supermarkets. If you can’t find one or two spices for the recipe don’t worry, just go on ahead without them and adjust to taste. Jaggery, mung dal (also called split mug dal) and ghee are the slightly more unusual ingredients but you can pick them up online or buy the alternatives suggested below.
- Organic apples
- Organic whole milk (pref. unhomogenised) or almond, oat, coconut, hemp milk etc
- Seasonal vegetables (try the dosha test to determine your dosha):
Vata - butternut squash, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes.
Pitta - carrots, cauliflower, (fresh) coriander, broccoli, leafy greens.
Kapha - brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celery, leafy greens.
- Bay leaves
- Black mustard seeds
- Black pepper, ground
- Cardamom pods
- Cinnamon, ground
- Coriander, ground /whole coriander seeds
- Cumin, ground
- Cumin seeds
- Fennel seeds
- Nutmeg, ground (optional)
- Star anise (optional)
- Turmeric, ground
Mung beans - available in their whole form (with their green jackets) at all good supermarkets. Even better, Mung ‘dal’ is traditionally used as it's even easer to digest and quicker to cook. Dal means’ split’ so look for yellow split mung dal at International food stores and online - not to be confused with yellow split peas or lentils which are a different variety.
Jaggery - cheap and cheerful you can get this online at Ocado or online health food stores in a block from which you cut chunks off. In the supermarket the closest option is Billington’s Molasses Sugar or a coconut sugar.
I am not a nutritionist, dietician or medical professional. The information provided in this plan has been developed following personal research and is based on my own experience with nutrition, wellbeing and Ayurveda. As with any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication programme, before you start, you should consult a healthcare professional and in particular, if you have a health concern of any kind, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor or other medical professional.