Breaking the Cleanse

karma cleanseUp until today, working in the kitchen and eating meals within the community has been a valuable test of my will and austerity. For example, witnessing and smelling the decadence of a creamy chocolate cake being prepared and decorated was the ultimate in divine temptation. But I have remained true to my cleanse, only consuming kitchari over the past 5 days. This morning, I helped to prepare Sunday morning breakfast and found the time to make my own kitchari with time left to ponder and relax. One thing that the cleanse has offered me is clarity in vision, and the ability to fine tune whatever task I have been handed. That’s been a superior benefit to this daily routine that I’ve been witness to! With Shivaratri festivities starting today, several ceremonial rituals involved a fasting regiment for at least 18 hours. I have wanted to participate in all 3 ceremonies but that would have meant starting my fast last night. And there was no way that I had the physical stamina or willpower to do without food for 36 hours. I needed sustenance beyond a liquid diet, after 5 days of a mono-cleanse that left me wanting for ‘normal foods’ and a routine of nutritional variety and sustenance. So instead, I have decided to eat my kitchari with the addition of steamed vegetables for breakfast. At 10am, I would start my fasting!

The best foods to eat after a colon cleanse are fresh raw / cooked fruits and vegetables, vegetable broths, well-cooked whole grains, nuts & eggs and lots of water. Alcohol, fried foods and processed foods should be avoided at all costs. Alcohol is not an issue as no alcohol is allowed at Mount Madonna. Fried foods I tend to stay away from. Chocolate and processed foods: a bit more of a challenge. However, today I stayed true to a fasting ritual: I incorporated a drink of homemade yogurt and rice milk to my liquid fast today. However, in the evening, my tummy was bloated. At first I thought it might be the dairy, but my co-cleanse partner Annie thinks it might be the rice milk and the processed oils contained in it. Regardless, I am taming the shrew and cutting back on my Lassi drink (my tongue is super coated with a thick white mucus = perhaps a dairy intolerance??).

Here’s a couple of Lassi recipes from the website Ayurvedic Yogi that I didn’t have access to a blender to follow, but will be making in the future!

Lassi

Aids digestion at end of meal as increases Pitta. Blend 2 cups of water with ½ cup plain yogurt, skim off the fat that rises to the surface, add 2 pinches of ginger and cumin powder. For Vata types, add a little rock salt; for Pitta types a little jaggery; for Kapha types a little dried ginger powder and black pepper.  Or try:

  • Pachak Lassi: Add 1 inch of fresh ginger, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds / powder, pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon chopped coriander to garnish. Balances all doshas.
  • Spicy Lassi: 2 tablespoons sugar, (or less) ½ teaspoon fresh, grated ginger or ¼ tsp. Dry ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cardamom. Good for all doshas.
  • Sweet lassi: 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 drop of rosewater.

Day 3: Ayurvedic Cleanse

So far, it has been pretty easy for me to just eat gentle foods that complement my dosha constitution. Rice, potatoes, vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruit. For the past three days, there have been so many choices without feeling like I’m lacking or doing without. Tomorrow however begins 5 days of pure kitchari consumption. No sugars, no enhancements, no extras. Just specific agni / fire-inducing spices, ghee, white rice and mung dal all cooked up into a lovely porridge mixture known as kitchari. The Kitchari Diet is highly observed as a mono-diet during Panchakarma (Ayurvedic Detox and Rejuvenation). As defined on the Ayurvedic website: ‘MichiMagic‘, Panchakarma literally means “five actions.” Five actions to cleanse, rejuvenate and balance body, mind and consciousness. Ayurveda recommends performing these procedures for each change of season, which is very beneficial for overall health, wellness and self-healing. Although it’s not a change of season right now (Spring is a mere 1 month away!), the timing of the cleanse is impeccable with Shiva Ratri being the ending day of our cleanse and with a support group of 3 others accompanying me along this journey. I love the idea of cleansing, of purification rituals, going to the Ganges, meditation and pranayama, taking a hot bath or sauna — anything detoxifying through a non-energetic means of sweating (cleanses take enough energy as it is). All of these methods have powerful psychological, religious and spiritual meanings. And in turn, a very positive effect on health. Other benefits of a cleanse? Clarity of thought, an invokation of peacefulness and lightness. Also, for many ancient cultures, fasting has helped people “lighten up” after a long winter, shedding any extra winter fat layer that has provided warmth. With us being in California, we really haven’t experienced a hard long cold winter such as I have experienced in the past, coming from Canada. Also, having just taken a course of antibiotics to clear up the remnants of my whooping cough, in addition to my 5 week bout of flu and low energy, a detox of sorts seemed to be a good thing for me to do right now, even thought it’s not a transition of season (when a typical cleanse is done). Spring is only a month away (!!!) and the timing of such an event is austerity at its finest. I’ve done quite a bit of research on different Kitchari recipes. But they all state pretty much the same thing about an Ayurvedic cleanse: the simpler the recipe’s constitution, the better for ones digestion. A mono-diet is defined as a diet that consists of only one type of food. This enables a cleansing effects on the intestinal tract because the mono-diet is easy on ones digestion. A mono meal is very nutritious, and supposedly one can not overeat on a mono meal because ones taste will change to slightly sour when feeling satisfied and full.

kitchariMy Proposed Daily Kitchari Recipe (Mungbeans and Rice)

  • approx. 5 cups water
  • 1 cup split mung beans (aka mung dal), sorted and rinsed well or sprouted whole mung beans
  • 1 1/4 cups basmati rice, sorted and rinsed well
  • 2″ piece gingerroot, peeled and finely chopped / grated
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground or seed cumin (or both!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground or seed coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground or seed fennel
  • pinch of sea salt
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon of asafoetida (this spice is used as a digestive aid, also known as ‘Hing’)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  1. Wash the mung dal and rice until water is clear. Soaking the dal for a few hours, overnight or sprouting for a few days helps with digestibility.
  2. Bring water to boil in a 6-quart soup pot. Add whole sprouted mung beans and cook at a light boil, uncovered. {If using split mung beans, pre-soak the beans for 4-6 hours and skip this first step. Add soaked beans to the ghee mixture with the rice (see step 5).}
  3. Melt ghee, add turmeric and fry mustard seeds (plus any additional seeds used) until they start popping.
  4. Add other spices and simmer on medium heat for 2 minutes. Watch and stir so that spices don’t burn.
  5. Add rice and stir fry for about a minute.
  6. When beans begin to split open, add rice and spice mixture {skip this step if using split mung beans}.
  7. Cook 20-25 minutes over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally, and more as it thickens.
  8. Remove from heat, add fresh cilantro and let it sit another 15 minutes (it will thicken up a little more like a hearty stew).

An Ayurvedic Cleanse

Last night at the Kirtan in Santa Cruz, I was invited to participate in a 9 day cleanse along with three other fellow Mount Madonna lady friends. Without really discussing much about the details, I jumped at the chance of having the support group for such a ritual. I’ve done cleanses before, but always on my own. This Panchakarma cleanse is based on that prescribed by Dr. Vasant Lad (a leading authority in Ayurvedic medicine) in his book: “The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies“.  This Ayurvedic cleanse is noted as helping to prevent future illness and at the same time helping to promote body consciousness and healthy living. It is said to be nourishing and balanced, easily digested, and cleansing in nature. What I like about the book (although I’ve just begun to explore it) is that Dr. Lad offers natural alternatives to conventional medicines and treatments with practical advice and easy-to-follow instructions. That’s especially important to me! So continues my journey along the path towards the ultimate “state of balance” and well-being. So as I delve into the depths of this cleanse, I am learning loads of info not only on cleansing but on the Ayurvedic way of life. It fascinates me more than I expected (although we did study Ayurveda briefly during our Yoga Teacher Training). Panchakarma by definition is a unique, natural, holistic, health-restoring series of treatments that cleanse the body’s deep tissues of toxins. The process appears to be quite simple, yet its effects are most profound. Panchakarma opens the body’s subtle energy channels to increase vitality and inner awareness while enhancing the life force.

Days 1 to 3: Virechan: internal cleansing thru internal oleation (with organic unrefined sesame oil, as I am strongly Vata in dosha). Days 4 to 8: Kitchari Monodiet. Days 6 to 8: Basti: a herbal enema — Colon therapy with herbs (I am using organic Dashmoola as my calming herb for the colon and digestive tract). Day 9: Kitchari with steamed vegetables. Day 10: Break the cleanse.

Something that I have been doing almost daily for the past 4 weeks is especially a good ritual to follow on a cleanse.

Oil Pulling: Theoretically, one may remove fat-soluble toxins from the body before they reach the liver. My routine: After a scraping my tongue first thing upon waking, I’ve been taking 1 tablespoon of organic unrefined sesame oil and vigorously swishing it around in my mouth for ten to fifteen minutes. After spitting it out (beware of the potential for clogged drains with daily oleation), I rinse my mouth several times with warm water followed by brushing my teeth. From what I’ve read, the oil rinse is especially important if the lymph system is congested (common with chronic disease). It is also purportedly very effective with health problems in the head and neck area, including dental problems.

On Dr. Vasant Lad’s cleanse, it is noted that the more I slow down during these next 9 days, the more my body will be able internalize it’s energy for cleansing and healing. That means no strenuous exercise (my energy levels will help to predicate that, I am certain) but rather lovely long walks through the Redwoods, if I feel up to it. Daily yoga, meditation and pranayama will be a perfect accompaniment on this journey. And I’m really excited about the whole process with a lovely support group cheerleading me on!

Fighting Hidden Demons

I’m really not sure what’s up with my body. 🙁 I usually never get sick, and if I do, it’s usually fleeting and somewhat restrained.  Five weeks ago, I started to get the flu, and it hit me HARD for 3.5 solid straight weeks. The first week, neither slaDE nor myself got much sleep with my fits of hacking and constant waking. I still have a lingering wicked annoying cough (thankfully all the phlegm has dried up) and I am SERIOUSLY tired all the time. I’m napping where I can and getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Maybe I need more cardio? Never a bad thing. But with being so tired, it’s hard to get motivated. And with these 5:30am morning starts, I’m challenged but sticking with our routine of 2 hours of daily yoga, meditation and pranayama. Could it be mono, whooping cough, iron deficiency, pneumonia? I’m hoping to see a doctor in the next week. I can’t take all this tiredness and perpetual coughing accompanied by a squeaky voice. I haven’t wanted to resort to antibiotics, so I’ve been stocking up on my Ayurvedic medicine as well as echinacea, astragalus, turmeric, golden seal and other immune fighting herbs. Can’t seem to get much done. Blah …. 🙁

Ayurveda World

Today was my busiest day yet here … 3 different duties kept me active through the day. At the end of it I was feeling quite exhausted as I’m not up to speed yet with this flu bug hanging on for dear life. However, I’m trying not to let the sickness wear me down too much, finding sleep where I can manage, diligently taking my Ayurvedic medicine suggested by the Ayurvedic clinic (situated at the base of the MMC). The premise behind Ayurveda is that it “uses synergistic blends of herbs and medicinal substances to support the efficient functioning of the body and to address underlying imbalances, based on traditional Ayurvedic principles and processes.” Today I found solace in several ‘prescriptions’ they offered as suggestions in my healing plan:

ayurvedaSitopaldi powder – a traditional expectorant used to dispel coughs and colds (Ingredients: Pippli fruit {HOT like cayenne}, Dalchini bark, Ela seed). Taken 2-3 times per day in the form of a hot tea.

Cough Syrup [beats the horrendous and useless Nyquil I bought the other day] – a traditional lung tonic used to dispel coughs and colds (Ingredients: Ginger, Elecampane & Osha Tincture, Honey). Taken 3-4 times per day followed by warm liquids.

Turmeric Powder – gargle twice a day in hot water. I had to take note: turmeric stains anything that it comes in to contact with. Not just the glass cup used to swirl the mixture in, but the bathroom sink and any clothes that happen to receive any back splash. I’ve resorted to gargling and spitting outside in to the tall grass. Even the grass is turning a bright yellow :).

Anu Thailam – helps to relieve headaches, allergies, sinus pain and rhinitus. (Ingredients: Sesame Oil, Milk, Holostemma tuber, Himalayan cedar heartwood, Nutgrass tuber, Cinnamon stem bark, Indian sarsaparilla root, Licorice root, Sedge tuber, Wild asparagus tuber, Sugarcane plant, Bael tree root, Indian crocus rhizome, Solanum root, Desmodium root, Pseudarthria root, Embelia seed, Cardamom fruit, Chaste tree seed). I was suffering from the beginnings of an ear ache, so I wanted to nip this in the bud. The directions had me place several drops in each ear and 3 drops in each nose. The latter instructions have me saying NEVER again. Why? Well, in putting down the nose, the mixture ran down my throat. I wasn’t expecting the horrendous taste or physical body reaction. I went into a sneezing fit that lasted (no kidding) 1/2 hour. The taste remained in my throat for the rest of the day and I vowed not to repeat despite any benefit that might occur.

I’m excited at the prospect of an alternative health care plan. We’ll see how effective it is as the week goes on.

 

Herbal Summer Recipe: Medicinal

Mountain Rose Herbs is one of my favourite sources for online bulk herbal, culinary and aromatherapy supplies. At the moment, they’re having a DIY herbal recipe contest that can fall in to 3 categories: medicinal, culinary, or body care. In return for a winning entry to one of the three classifications, a $200 gift certificate is generously offered. And the caveat? This contest ends tomorrow, Sunday, May 16. 🙂

It’s interesting to have a diverse blog like mine that not only covers the terrain of our Airstream travels but also offers green-friendly tips and thoughts, recipes for the body, soul and health, travel experiences and advice, plus so much more. I’m curious however. Does this make my blog a bit too confusing and unfocussed? Or do you like the diverse array of topics and articles?

Anyway, enough of my rambling … on with the promised recipes, posted as three separate entities below.

Recipe #1 of the Mountain Rose Herbs Recipe Contest

Medicinal ~ Summer Bite / Sting / Splinter Poultice

bentoniteClay is known for its ability to purify and pull poison out of a bite / sting to the skin’s surface, keeping the poison from spreading; Echinacea lessens an allergic reaction and Lavender disinfects.

Yield = 1/8 cup Clay Poultice (paste)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Bentonite Clay
  • 1 tbsp Distilled Water
  • 12 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon Echinacea Root tincture

Combine the lavender e.o. with the echinacea tincture. Mix the the water and the clay together, using only enough water to form a thick paste, and slather it on to the wound area.

Let the clay dry for about 20 minutes. There may be a slight pulling sensation as it dries … this is a normal sensation. Rinse the clay poultice off with cool water and reapply, if necessary.

For a more powerful poultice, mix equal parts of bentonite clay with apple cider vinegar until it forms a creamy paste. Apply the paste liberally to the problem area and let it set on the body for about 45 minutes. Rinse as above. Be sure not to use any metal bowls or silverware when mixing this recipe as the bentonite clay could react badly with any metal used.

Herbal Summer Recipe: Culinary

Recipe #2 of the Mountain Rose Herbs Recipe Contest

Culinary ~ sKY::s Super Green Superfood Smoothie

VitaMix SmoothieSmoothies are a cre8tive force that I tinker with almost every day, and rarely do I duplicate the same ‘recipe’, as I tend to blend whatever I have available.
The quantities in the smoothie can vary depending on how many you will be feeding and how green / sweet  you like your smoothies. And if you don’t have some of the ingredients, don’t fret! Mix and match whatever you can that appeals to your sense of taste and adventure.

Vita-Mix Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 2 – 5 cups liquid  (I tend to use water or Almond Milk) but Juice, Herbal or Green Tea, Soy /Nut Milk and yogurt are options as well
  • 1 frozen Banana
  • 1 peeled Orange
  • 1/2 cup frozen fruit such as Blueberries, Strawberries, Mango, Pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons Hemp Powder (or Protein Powder of choice)
  • 2 handfuls fresh greens (Spinach, Chard, Kale, etc)
  • 1 tablespoon Chia Seeds (awesome protein source)
  • 2 tablespoons Flax Seed
  • 2 tablespoons raw Cacao Nibs or 1 tablespoon raw Cacao Powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Bee Pollen
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Aloe Vera Juice
  • a pinch of cardamon, cinnamon and sea / Himalayan salt
  • a splash of vanilla extract

VitaMix smoothieFor the adventurous, add:

  • a few Dandelion Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Spirulina or Blue Green Algae
  • 1 tablespoon of Maca Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Açaí powder
  • 1 teaspoon hemp and/or coconut oil

Try to source ingredients which are organic and/or as local and fresh as possible.

Blend all ingredients in a highspeed blender (placing solid or frozen ingredients in last — we use the Vita-Mix and LOVE it!).
Secure lid and blend. If necessary, add more liquid to reach the desired consistency. Serve immediately. One super-healthy, super green smoothie.

Experiment with quantities and varieties of fruits and veggies. I suggest that you give yourself permission to be a discerning alchemist. Take notes as you go to what succeeded and what ingredients were not so desirable. Let your taste-buds be your guide. Most of all, have fuN experimenting, and savour the healing and healthy experience of nourishing your body with goodness!

PS If you are interested in learning more about raw foods and where to find the Superfoods I live by, shoot me an email and I can forward you more information! Mountain Rose Herbs is a good place to start but I have other sources as well, and if interested in a Vita-Mix, you can get free standard shipping through me (anywhere in North America) and save :)!

Aromatherapy Summer Recipe: Body Care

Recipe #3 of the Mountain Rose Herbs Recipe Contest

Body Care ~ Blossoming Orange Hair Cleansing Rinse

rinse

I’ve got pretty fine hair, and I find that some shampoos can leave my hair feeling weighted or flyaway, dependant on many factors. So I came up with a wonderful smelling hair rinse that helps to stimulate and cleanse the hair ~ scalp, especially if I’m finding it greasy and unmanageable. The only warning: don’t let this hair rinse get in your eyes. It sure stings s lot!

Ingredients:

For a 100ml bottle of hair rinse, which will give you about 5 hair washes ~

  • 20 ml Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 40 ml Orange Flower Water (if you are having difficulty finding this, look at an Indian food market)
  • 40 ml Spring Water
  • 12 drops Petitgrain Essential Oil
  • 4 drops Bergamot Essential Oil

Combine all the ingredients and shake well before each use. Use on freshly shampooed and conditioned hair, leaving the cleansing rinse on for a few minutes. Wash out with with cool or tepid water.

Essential Oils and Herbs, in all their glory

That which exists in Nature will save us. All the high tech gadgetry and artificial replications of Nature’s tools will never replace what can be found living in our own backyards. Here’s a perfect example about the herb Thyme, as published in the UK Daily Mail:

Scientists have found that the common cooking herb, thyme, could be a miracle cure for the deadly MRSA bug.

Researchers at the University of Brighton, East Sussex, discovered that oils extracted from the plant can kill the bug – linked to at least 8,000 deaths each year – within two hours.

An extract from thyme has been found to kill MRSA in two hours

They hope the findings, published in the International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics, will be the first step in developing a new treatment to stop the spread of MRSA.

The infection is rampant in many hospitals and resistant to antibiotics.

Herbs: Natures true wonder drugs.