Trying to live a holistic life in an unholistic world

Posts Tagged ‘ayurveda

Vinyasa. Meditation. Repeat.

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So, I’ve been sticking to this Kitchari cleanse for 3 full days now (I realise how ridiculously short that sounds, but I’m pretty in tune with my body) and to be completely honest, I don’t feel that great.

ImageMy Kitchari

I generally don’t eat rice (shock! horror! How can a Korean girl not eat rice?) or any other starchy carbohydrates like pasta, bread, flour based foods or even high protein carbs like beans or even superdeluxe quinoa due to feeling pretty sloth-like, bloated and unsatiated. So, to switch suddenly to a diet that is based on a foundation of beans and rice, I have to tell ‘ya, I did have my reservations, (hence the weeks of research) yet the positive, holier than thou, second coming, pillars of enlightenment results people spoke of lured me in.

And I guess this is why nutrition is such a personal thing. I’m not saying that Kitchari is not a healthy, nourishing food. Indeed it is, it has to be. A meal consisting of basmati rice, mung beans, vegetables and spices, on paper, seems to be a perfect, harmonious blend of proteins, carbohydrates, fat (from coconut oil or ghee) and minerals. It is also deliciously tasty and aromatic and by changing the variety of vegetables or even bean, it is never boring.

My 2nd Kitchari – see I gave it a chance.

It wasn’t eating it that has been the issue, I do enjoy foods like this, an Indian style risotto if you will (cooking methods are quite similar, however, flavours couldn’t be at more polar opposites) It’s just the lethargic, heavy feeling I’ve had since I started eating it on Saturday, adhering to it fully on Sunday.

Through my interest in nutrition and fitness and twenty years spent dancing and obsessing over every muscle group and fat cell, I’ve learnt what works for my body, in terms of physique, digestion and feeling clear, focused and energised in my mind and spirit.

It’s nothing that I’ve learnt in one book. It’s not following one particular lifestyle or nutritional plan. Geez, it’s not even from one specific country!

I’m not going to lie; that would be more unwhole*istic than purporting to be this ethereal raw food, vegan that, well, basically I am not.

I  seem to crave a lot of protein; animal protein in fact.  Eggs, oedeng**, seafood, pork (I’m essentially Korean – it’s not my fault), lamb. (I grew up in Australia where BBQ was dinner 3 times of the week, salad optional)
** I know oedeng is like the hideous 2nd cousin of the hotdog, a mish mash of fish whatever’s, starch and MSG and probably a fair few artificial somethings and what-nots, but again, it’s in my blood. I love ’em….. O.O

I love fruits and vegetables.

I don’t eat meat/animal products every day, or even every second day. But, I do eat them. And, I do crave and enjoy them. Just as I crave vegan or raw food aswell.

I’ve seen all the documentaries, I support the cause, I feel the exact same rage and emotions you do at the intolerable cruelty to animals on every brutal level from factory farming, fish farms, ocean depleting net fishing and inhumane slaughtering to the heinous and unnecessary fur farms, animal testing that yields no worthy results. I won’t visit the circus, zoo’s or aquariums because I believe those environments are distressing, cruel and make a mockery of the animals, depriving them of their most basic rights.

In an ideal world, well in my ideal of an ideal world, I don’t necessarily think that humans would be herbivores. I just think our modern world, our need for instant gratification, greed and gluttony, changed the ways of farming and agriculture so inherently, that we no longer even recognise or identify what is on our plates from where it was sourced/created.

In Australia it is easier for me to make more ethical choices regarding the food I eat as there is a greater awareness of organic, ethical farming; for both produce and animals. In Korea, whilst I can recognise organic produce, I very rarely will buy meat/seafood as I have absolutely no idea where it’s coming from, it’s a stab in the dark (horrible unethical pun) to guess what part of the animal it is aswell. And when the pork/fish/seafood is that cheap, I always wonder what on earth happened for that meat to become that cheap, I don’t even want to know.

They say, ignorance is bliss. But I believe, knowledge is power. The power to make well informed decisions, to stand by your beliefs or at least have the understanding of why you feel strongly about certain issues.

Which is why I fight a battle, feel pangs of guilt (that obviously do not outweigh my pangs of hunger) whenever I make a choice to eat meat, yet something rationalises it in my head. Snippets of ignorance, shunning thoughts of the torture, isolation, despair and downright, miserable, cruddy life the animal spent alive (not living, just barely alive) and endured to end up on my fork. I hesitate for a moment, also thinking of the hormones, disease and adrenaine I am ingesting, but these are dismissed as I flick back into the current moment, the senses evoked with smells, sounds of enjoyment from my dining partners, the sight of dishes that bring me great culinary delight and moral disdain, such as sashimi, eggs florentine, a steaming tagine of sweet morrocan lamb topped with a thick, plain yogurt, a freshly grilled seafood platter of prawns, scallops and snapper stuffed with lemon, garlic, chilli, coriander and italian parsley or the wonders of Vietnamese cuisine with their fresh produce and salty, spicy, sweet and sour flavours offset by meagre, yet adequate portions of meat and seafood.

And it’s these dishes, these are my weakness that make me question my ethics and viewpoints, However, these dishes are also unique to various cultures and so deeply ingrained in tradition and history, around long before the advent of factory farming or the gross misuse of animals and greed for their flesh began. They are traditionally celebratory dishes, to be consumed at momentous moments in life, where the life and death of the animal was revered and appreciated. Not bought at a generic corner franchised establishment as some quick and easy meal of convenience.

Anyway….. the Vinyasa has been amazing, grounding and a welcome change from what I would usually do, a perfect way to start and finish the day. I have been using some videos off youtube which allow me to practice from home, although I am not sure my technique is on point…..

I like this one for morning and this one in the evening.

As well as the Vinyasa, the meditation I’ve been practicing is from an app called Relax and Rest available on both android and all i-apps-things-whatever you call that family of ipods, iphones, ipads, macbooks you-know-what-i-mean! No matter what time of day, state of mood (from stressed, anxious, tired but can’t settle to dealing with a snoring boyfriend who smells like a beer) it always sends me off on a dreamy path of sleep, when nothing but alcohol or sedatives worked in the past.

And anyway, so that’s my long-winded review of Kitchari, with a side order of ethics, rants and opinions. It tastes great, amazing in fact, but makes me feel like, well….this…..


Have you any experiences with Kitchari? Do certain grains, rice legumes or flours make you feel like this? (I don’t think I have a gluten intolerance though) Do you wage your own moral war with yourself with regards to the eating of animals? Do you find it difficult to practice veganism? Do you think it is hypocritical of me to have a blog or specialise in vegan food when I myself don’t eat 100% vegan?


Kitchari. Vinyasa. Meditation. Repeat.

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Do you ever find yourself consumed by something, be it a food or a recipe, a creative endeavour, a new hobby, a lifestyle change or destination? And this thought snowballs as you try to find out everything about it; what defines it, what destroys it, what you have and what you need, the logistics of making it possible. As this thought metamorphoses into a reality, it becomes so deeply etched in your mind and daily life that it beats like a drum in tune with your heartbeat.

You know that it is the way forward, more than merely a passing phase, yet cannot for the life of you remember what it was that triggered the first interest, what sparked the direction of your thoughts. However, it doesn’t even matter. Life has a peculiar habit of drawing you in the direction you need to be.

Upon the death of my father, I had a similar all-consuming desire to practice Bikram Yoga. I had never heard of such a practice. Nobody I knew engaged in this discipline of yoga and there were only two studios in the entire city, one being a short 5 minute bus ride away albeit in a direction I had never been.

I cannot stand hot weather. I loathe feeling warm, and I grew up in tropical Queensland, Australia.

Yet, for 6 months I practiced Bikram 5-6 days a week. I sweated out my anger at losing my dad. I meditated for the duration of the 90 minute class to grasp control of my grief. And, I challenged and pushed myself more than I ever did through school or university.

I never sat down, laid down, drank water or vomited once in the class. There were times I didn’t want to go, times I thought my practice was getting worse, times I thought I wouldn’t make it through the class. But then there were also times I felt I was finally in control of something in my life, times I thought this was my calling and I would pay the ridiculous tens of thousands of dollars to become a Bikram Yoga teacher.

And then, I’m not really sure what happened. Like everything, in which I seem to go all or nothing in to, oneday, I just stopped.

But, this post is not about my obsessive foray into Bikram Yoga. That was just more of a long winded comparison. A warm-up. A pre-game. A precursor.  An appetiser. 

So, sometime in the last fortnight, upon exiting my cave of depression, something was guiding me in the direction of all things ayurvedic, yogic and holistic. I took time to remember my intrinsic beliefs, to take things back to basics, strip myself of all prescriptions, partying and poisonous food and behaviours in order to have a cleaner, lighter, more focused mind, body and soul.

“The path of meditation requires a moderate, regulated life,
avoiding too much or too little food, work,
and sleep, or use of the senses.
The attention must abide in the soul all the time.
For such a person, yoga destroys all sorrows.”

— Bhagavad Gita

It is no surprise that in my kind of unconscious search (I started reading books again – chosen off my bookshelf, not before read – Light in Yoga, Clean and The Power of Now – which I still cannot get in to) I found myself late one night pulled in the direction of Kitchari.


I had never heard of this. Never eaten this. Cannot rememember how I even found it. But, almost daily, I have been researching this cleansing, detoxifying yet nourishing one-pot-wonder that is a staple in India and as part of an Ayurvedic cleanse to purify the body by flushing out toxins.

Kitchari led me to research Ayurveda more, which I had always had some sort of interest in, however previously, upon face value, the practice had lost me completely at “no onions or garlic”


I love nothing more than roasting some garlic cloves to consume straight up. I eat raw red onion until my stomach hurts.

Which is probably in essence why Ayurveda practices restriction or lowered intake of such sharp foods.

It’s funny though how we can immediately dispell a whole practice, centuries of research and proven results via longevity of life in good health merely because we disagree with one principle.

So, basically, the goal is to follow a Kitchari cleanse for 7 days – wherein Kitchari is the only meal consumed – then, assess the situation upon seeing the results. See, I mentioned in my last post I had been conducting all manners of experiemnts on myself. This is no exception. In order for this cleanse to be most effective, I will also be starting my day with a 15 minute meditation followed by Vinyasa yoga. Nights will also include another Vinyasa session and meditation before bed.

If after this (and I am prepared to do this cleanse for 30 days) I don’t feel changes in my mood, thoughts or energy levels, I just may give up on holistic nutrition and therapies and resolve myself to heroin.

Ummm, joking.

So anyway, what exactly is kitchari?

Directly translated, Kitchari means mixture, and usually pertains to a mix of two grains. Traditionally these are basmati rice and mung beans, however I did see many recipes using brown rice, yellow split peas, red lentils and even the Mr Famous grain, quinoa.


Whilst the variations are endless, with the additions and omissions of different spices, vegetables and even substitutions of different rice and lentils, I have refined my own recipe based on literally, about 50 different recipes, research into my dosha (Ayurvedic body and personality type – which I believe to be a pitta/kosha mix) and my own personal taste to come up with the following recipe:


1 cup basmati rice (I got from Foreign Food Mart in Seoul – however will be buying organic off iherb for half the price)
1/2 cup mung beans (Again same as basmati rice – in future will be getting off iherb)
6 cups of water
2 tbsp coconut oil (I don’t want to use ghee, ie no dairy for me)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup vegetables (I’m using cauliflower, broccoli, peas whilst in season – Ayurveda strongly recommends using seasonal produce, in line with my ethos too :))

Soak beans and rice overnight.
In a stainless steel or enamel pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add in spices and stir. Add in rice and beans and vigourously mix to thoroughly coat as this will prevent the rice and beans from turning to mush.
Add in the water and simmer covered for 30 mins.
10 minutes before cooking time is finished, add in any hard vegetables like carrots, sweet potato or in my case, cauliflower. 5 minutes out, add in softer ones like broccoli or peas.
Kitchari should resemble a thick dahl more than a soup. To finish, garnish with coriander and salt and pepper if desired.

Will be posting daily through this cleanse!


Written by ayearinpatissiere

June 7, 2013 at 21:13