RECIPE: KITCHARI, AN AYURVEDIC HEALING STEW
Incredibly tasty and nourishing, kitchari (kichadi) is a popular Indian dish. Kitchari combines a protein-mung dhal (yellow, split mung beans)-with light and aromatic basmati rice plus a few veggies (use just 2-3 to keep the meal easily digestible). Kitchari is a rich, filling soup, a perfect meal to fill just about everyone’s belly!
In Ayurvedic Medicine, kitchari is regarded for strengthening agni or ‘digestive fire,’ supporting metabolism, and cleansing the liver. When agni is strong, the body is better able to assimilate food, excrete waste and protect against imbalances that can lead to health problems.
- 1 cup white organic basmati rice
- 1/2-1 cup yellow split mung beans
- 6 cups water (approx. amount may vary based on vegetables added)
- 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds or powder
- 1/2 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)* optional
- 3 leaves of swiss chard (spinach or kale)
- 1 1/2 cups assorted vegetables of your choice (carrots, sweet potato, squash, beets)
- Sea salt, to taste
- Garnish with cilantro, basil or dill
- 1-2 tbsp lime juice, per serving
Carefully pick over mung beans to remove any stones. Rinse rice and beans several times and set aside. In a large pot, warm coconut oil over medium heat. Once oil has warmed, add whole spices (fennel, cumin and mustard seeds) until they begin to pop. Add powdered spices and cook until aromatic. Stir well, being very careful not to burn them. Add rice and beans and combine well. When rice and beans begin sticking to sides of the pot, add ginger, salt and water. Cover and bring to boil. Decrease heat to simmer and allow to cook for approximately 20 min. While the rice and beans are cooking, chop the vegetables and garnish. Set aside. When rice and beans are cooked, add vegetables and mix well. Add more water if necessary (depending on how many vegetables you added you may need more liquid). Cover and allow vegetables to cook completely (10-20 minutes). Serve hot in bowls. Add lime juice and garnish to taste.
AMLA, INDIAN GOOSEBERRY (Emblica officinalis)
Indian Gooseberry is an unusual, translucent fruit found in shades of yellow, green, red, or black. Berries may be perfectly round or oval and elongated and contain abundant, tiny edible seeds. The flavor ranges from tart and sweet to moderately sour.
Gooseberry is abundant in vitamin-C, and contains B-vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and beta carotene. A powerful antioxidant, Amla helps prevent and repair damage caused to cells by free radicals. Two other compounds in Amla, flavones and anthocyanins are noted for their beneficial health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.
In Ayurvedic Medicine, both dried and fresh Gooseberry fruits are used alone or in combination with other plants to support health and treat a variety of medical conditions. Some of the many health benefits or effects include:
- Fortifies the liver and helps flush toxins from the body
- Balances stomach acid
- Helps regulate blood sugar
- Reduces inflammation
- Healing ulcers
- Supports heart health
- Manages fever, coughs, bronchitis or asthma
Gooseberry is of interest to researchers and health practitioners for its role in managing diabetes, prevention and treatment of certain cancers and heart disease, and its protective effect on brain health. In fact, several researchers revealed that various extracts and herbal formulations of Amla have potential therapeutic benefits and the results are similar to standard drugs. It’s important to consult with your health practitioner to determine the right amount of an Amla supplement.
Look for Indian Gooseberry in international grocery stores and enjoy the fruit as part of a healthy diet.
Want to dive deeper into Amla? Check out this article on What Are the Benefits of Amla Juice? by our friends at Health Ambition.
- Nutrition Data & You. “Gooseberries Nutrition Facts.”
- Food Facts at Mercola.com “What Are Gooseberries Good For?”
- Dasaroju, S. & Gottumukkala, KM. “Current Trends in the Research of Emblica officinalis (Amla): A Pharmacological Perspective.” Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res. (Jan – Feb 2014) 24(2), no.25, 150-159 . Accessed on January 31, 2015.
- Da Silva Pinto, M. et al., “Evaluation of red currants (ribes rubrum l.), black currants (ribes nigrum l.), red and green gooseberries (ribes uva-crispa) for potential management of type 2 diabetes and hypertension using in vitro models.” Jl Food Bioch (June 2010) 34:3, 639-660. First published online March 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-4514.2009.00290.x
- Baliga, MS & Dsouza, JJ. “Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn), A Wonder Berry in the Treatment and Prevention of Cancer.” Euro Jl. Cancer Prev. (2011 May) 20(3), 225-39. doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0b013e32834473f4.
GREATER CELANDINE (Chelidonium majus)
The dainty yellow flowers of Greater Celandine (aka “swallow”) bloom when swallows return from winter nesting and die when the birds head south again. A member of the Poppy family, the medicinal use of the plant dates back to ancient Greece. It has been widely used in European herbal medicine through modern time for treatment of gallbladder disease and liver conditions. As a homeopathic remedy, Chelidonium has produced favorable results for treating liver disorders. It has also been used with health conditions such as indigestion, heartburn, IBS, gout, osteoarthritis, warts and other skin diseases.
Greater Celandine is often prepared as an extract or tincture, depending upon the intended use. If extracts are not properly prepared and preserved, it can render the herb less effective or cause side effects. Also, if you don’t use the appropriate dose of this herb for your particular health concern you could experience side effects ranging from rash to upset stomach and serious illness. Chelidonium is not appropriate for everyone. It is important that a healthcare practitioner provide you with the appropriate dose and quality of this herb.
Recent debate about the liver-protective versus potential toxic effects of Chelidonium majus has renewed the medical community’s interest in this plant. Interactions have been found when Chelidonium is taken with Tylenol or Erythromycin or other drugs that stress the liver.
- LiverTox.nih.gov “Greater Celandine (Chelidonium Majus) Drug Record.” Accessed on February 3, 2016.
- HomeopathyCenter.org. “Chelidonium majus.” Accessed on February 3, 2016.
- Biswas, SJ & Khuda-Bukhsh, AR. “Effect of a Homeopathic Drug, Chelidonium, in Amelioration of P-DAB Induced Hepatocarcinogenesis in Mice.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (April 2002) 2:4. Accessed via PMC. Web. Feb. 3, 2016. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-2-4.
- Gilca, M., Gaman, L., et al., “Chelidonium majus, an Integrative Review: Traditional Knowledge versus Modern Findings.” Res in Complementary Med. (2010), 17:5. Accessed Feb 3, 2016. PubMed ID 20980763.
- University of Michigan Health Library Online. “Great Celandine.” Accessed on Feb. 3, 2016.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM AYURVEDIC MEDICINE?
Ayurveda, “the science of life,” is an Indian medical system dating back more than 5,000 years. It is the oldest continuously practiced health-care system in the world. The principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper drinking, diet, yoga, meditation and herbal remedies. Ayurvedic Medicine examines and understands our connection with, and the influences of the energies that make up the universe: The five elements of ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth.
According to Ayurvedic principles, these energies exist within each of us-body, mind and consciousness-and comprise each person’s constitution. Each person’s constitution has different ratios of the elements, making everyone unique.
The three constitutional types, or doshas, reflect your physical, emotional, and psychological make-up. Usually, one or two types will dominate in a person’s constitution.
Pitta energy is linked to fire and controls digestion and metabolism. Pitta types are known for their intense personality, sharp intelligence and wit.
Vata energy is connected with air and space and is associated with bodily movement including circulation, breathing, and heartbeat. Vata types are upbeat, highly alert, flexible and creative thinkers.
Kapha energy is linked to earth and water and controls growth, immunity and strength. Kapha types are often solid in build, calm and tolerant.
An Ayurvedic doctor assesses for imbalances through the understanding of the elements and doshas, and a physical examination, which includes observing the condition of the pulse, abdomen, skin, nails, eyes and tongue.
Practitioners aim to teach people how to attain optimal health through a meaningful understanding of themselves and their dosha and by strengthening body, mind, and spirit through dosha specific health practices, foods, herbs, and other natural remedies.
- University of Maryland Complementary & Alt Medicine Guide online. “Ayurveda.” Accessed on Feb 2, 2016.
- University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality & Healing. “What Happens in a Visit to an Ayurvedic Practitioner?” Accessed on Feb 2, 2016.
- Garivaltis, H. “What is Ayurveda?” Kripalu.com. Accessed on Feb 2, 2016.
- Yoga International.com “What Dosha am I?” Recommendations on using Dosha quizzes. Article and links to videos. Accessed on Feb 2, 2016.
- NaturesFormulary website. Online Dosha Test. Accessed on Feb 2, 2016.
- National Center for Ayurvedic Medicine. Practitioner Search.
First Do not Harm
Identify and Treat the cause
Healing Power of Nature
Doctor as Teachers
Treat the Whole
Prevention is best Medicine
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.