There are many things I like about spring. Blossoms on the trees, slowly rising temperatures, more sunlight, new seasonal produce to look forward to. And detoxing. ,,Detoxing?” you say. Eye brow raised and all. Yes, detoxing. No, not the juice fast, nibbling on one salad leaf for the whole day type of deal. But more the ” I love you so much beautiful body temple of mine that I want to cherish and nurture you” type. The prospect of detoxing used to scare the s-word out of me for years. I would think of going days on end from one migraine to the next, stinkingly bad breath and mood swings. This was of course before I learned about the Ayurvedic way of detoxing. Please allow me to share.
One of the principles that Ayurveda revolves around is the principle that good health starts in the gut. A healthy gut equals a healthy you. A happy gut equals an even happier you. The digestive fire in our gut is referred to as “agni” in the ancient Indian language sanskrit. If for some reason your agni is not functioning well, say because you systematically over eat or you eat the wrong foods for you constitution, not all food you eat gets digested. Whatever undigested food remains in your gut will start to putrify forming a sticky, foul smelling , slimy substance called “ama” in sanskrit. Very loosly translated ama are toxins in your body. But the Ayurvedic term encompasses a much broader definition that includes “mental ama” as well as physical ama. You know you have ama building up in your system when your tongue is thickly coated with a white slimy film in the morning. When you feel heavy, sluggish or lethargic. When you feel tired and depressed for no apparant reason. When you suffer from inexplicable aches and pains. Or when you have symptoms of indigestion such as bloating and gas after eating.
Every one of the three Ayurvedic types has its own unique agni type which in turn has an effect on how their bodies and minds work. If you were to imagine your digestive fire as a flame in your stomach think of what would happen if you would subject that flame to the elements. Vata types are governed by air and ether. If you blow wind over a burning candle it will flicker. So Vata digestion tends to be irregular. One day they will digest something fine. The next the same food disturbs them immensely and is not digested well at all. Pitta’s main element is fire causing their digestive fire to burn very high with very high appetites and often great thirst as a result. When throwing soil or water, the governing elements for Kapha, on a flame it exstinguished making typical Kapha digestion slow and sluggish. If you are aware of these tendencies in your own personal agni you will know how to balance them through the right diet and lifestyle for your type year round. However with our often stressed and frazzled Western lifestyles at some point most of us will have more ama floating around in our systems than is desirable. Here’s where the detoxing part comes in.
Ayurveda is a great fan of cleansing your system on a regular basis and goes beyond the Western notion that the liver is the most important organ to cleans. The Ayurvedic approach of detoxing revolves much more around removing undigested garbage (ama) out of the GI tract. An ama build up makes everybody’s agni slow and sluggish and Ayurveda has devised many methods to stoak that fire back up. First thing you need to do is eat lighter, easily digestable foods to give your agni a break. It has probably been over working for quite some time. Secondly you assist your body in the process of eleminating ama by eating more of the bitter and astringent tastes which are great for this purpose. Lastly you help reignite your digestive fire by adding more spices to your diet. This detoxifying salad, that I especially designed for the wonderful people at SLA in Amsterdam, checks all the right boxes. And spring being the perfect time for detoxing I thought it nice to share it with all of you. Mungbeans are almost sacred in Ayurveda when it comes to detoxing because they are both easy to digest as well as nourishing. Furthermore they fall in the astringent taste category. Quinoa is one of the easiest grains/seeds to digest as well, plus it packs a punch in nutrient value. You get the bitter taste from the purslane and broccoli and a bit of heat from the radish. If that wasn’t enough to “relight your fire” so to speak the dressing will seal the deal. Bitter linseed oil in perfect unison with cleansing lime juice and heating fresh ginger. Raw honey, which is the most astringent of all natural sweeteners and known in Ayurveda for scraping ama from the body, balances out the flavour combination.
A word on detoxing and the 3 body types. The tastes that are used for cleaning out ama are bitter, astringent and spicy. These tastes balance heavier Kapha types the best. So they can do cleanses for a longer period of time. When it’s a mild cleanse anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. Pitta needs to take it a bit more easy on the spicy taste and their cleanse can last up to 2 weeks. These tastes are most unbalancing for Vata types so they should cleanse not longer than 10 days in row and make some appropriate modifications to suit their dosha better. I have developed a 10 day cleansing routine for each of the three types. Please go to my website for more information. http://www.thesoulfoodcompany.com/in/detox.html#detox If you are so tired from carrying around to much ama for too long and don’t feel like making the salad yourself head over to SLA on the Westerstraat in Amsterdam and order your detox salad there. It will be featured on their menu in the month of april. The ” I love SLA” Detox salad For 2 as a main course
- about 120 grams cooked green mung beans (from 50 grams dried and 150 ml water)
- about 120 grams cooked (black) quinoa (from 50 grams uncooked quinoa)
- 120 grams steamed broccoli
- 75 grams grated raw carrot
- 50 grams purslane or raw baby spinach
- 1 thinly sliced radish
- 2 teaspoons (black) sesame and hennep seeds
Wash the mungbeans thoroughly. Pour in a medium saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling lower the heat to verry low and put a lid on top. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the mungbeans are done but still firm and most of the water has evaporated. Drain the mungbeans in a collander, return to the pan and season with salt. In a seperate pan make the quinoa in the same manner. Combine all ingredients into a salad and dress with the ginger, honey dressing
Ginger, honey and lime dressing (Makes about 125 ml dressing) This amount is more than you will need for the salads but you can keep it in the fridge in a jam jar for 1 week.
- 30 ml lime juice
- 4 grams fresh ginger
- 1/4 red chili peper or chili flakes to taste
- 1 heaped tablespoon honey
- 5 grams fresh coriander
- 15 ml linseed oil
- 50 ml olive oil
- Himalaya sea salt to taste
Pour all ingredients into a small food processor and process into a smooth dressing.