Spring cleaning is a phrase I have heard, and used, my whole life. Spring is coming so it is time to throw stuff away, start fresh, clean your house, etc. But I must confess, I never knew WHY I had to clean because of spring. That is, I never knew until I discovered Ayurveda.
Ayurveda views the transition of the seasons—in this case the transition from winter to spring—as an ideal time to cleanse. As a season like winter ends, we have accumulated many of those qualities in our body, and the new season, in this case spring, is a time to get rid of them so we can get back into balance and start anew. Allow me to attempt to translate into Ayurvedic terms.
The fall to early winter season is Vata season according to Ayurveda. Vata is made up of the elements of air and ether, and its qualities are dry, light, cold, mobile and subtle. The season we are in now, late winter to spring, is Kapha season. Kapha is made up of the elements of earth and water, and its qualities are heavy, dull, stable, cool and sticky.
As we transition from the early to deep winter, our bodies and minds tend to feel a shift. I know for myself, when fall and winter start, I am happy to balance the light, cold and dry qualities of the season with warm, cooked food that is heavy and dense—such as root vegetables, meats, grains and healthy fats. But now that I have been doing that for a few months, I am beginning to feel a bit heavy myself (hello, five extra winter pounds) and am craving more light, dry and subtle foods. This is how you cleanse in Ayurveda. You pay attention to which dosha and corresponding qualities have accumulated (in this case, it is Kapha) and balance it by eating foods that have qualities that are the opposite.A great way to spring clean through Ayurveda is with kitchari. Kitchari is made with a grain—typically basmati rice—and lentils, and is an Ayurvedic super food. It is light and nourishing and very easy for the body to digest. The combination of rice and lentils also creates a perfect protein. I came out of last weekend feeling very heavy and dull, but kicked off this week with a kitchari cleanse. See recipe below. Try it for a day and let me know how you feel!
Kitchari (Makes 3 Servings)
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup basmati rice (Rice is the go-to but you can use any grain. Quinoa or barley are also good options this time of year)
- 1⁄2 cup lentils (Best options are yellow split mung dal or red lentils)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil (Ghee is clarified butter. It is easy to digest and easily gets into the body’s tissues, which helps them get the nourishment they need. Found at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods)
- 1–2 cups chopped vegetables of your choice (Mix and match your vegetables to vary the taste. Good vegetables for spring are any leafy green such as kale, swiss chard or spinach; asparagus; brussel sprouts; cauliflower; broccoli; carrots—the possibilities are endless!)
- Add rice and lentils to three cups of water and bring to a boil. If you have time, soak rice and lentils for at least 20 minutes and drain and rinse before cooking, this makes them easier to digest.
- Once boiling, add spices, ghee or coconut oil and vegetables. Reduce to simmer and let cook for about 40 minutes until lentils and rice are cooked. Typically, kitchari is the consistency of a vegetable stew as opposed to a broth.