Kitchari Comfort


I’m always fascinated with the similarities of tradition across cultures. I have been fascinated with this since I was a young child - starting out with similarities across religions, studying anthropology in college, studying different cultures of medicine and healing, and parallels in food culture. What can I say - I always want to see the common ground! A wonderful example of this is between Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine. These two modalities have so much in common and it’s theorized that Ayurveda was a sort of mother to Chinese medicine. Each of the traditions has been adapted to their individual cultures in unique ways - but I find the most common ground between them to be in their use of therapeutic foods and the qualification of foundational principles of health. 

Healing food, or therapeutic food, is a major cornerstone of both Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Both systems believe in the power of using food to promote health and recovery, and also that if your diet is not balanced for your body type, illness can occur. Kitchari is a famous Ayurvedic dish used to balance the body in times of stress or weakness, and it’s just all too similar to the Chinese congee. Or the American homemade chicken noodle soup, or chicken and rice soup in this case! It uses one of the most basic, easily digestible and non-allergenic grains known to man to make a warming, nourishing, endlessly adaptable dish a whole family can enjoy. It’s wonderful to eat when recovering from illness, high stress, postpartum, or during cleansing phases. You can modify it to any season with the addition of more or less spices & seasonal vegetables. 

Kitchari means “mixture” usually of 2 grains, or grain and legume. Here is one of my favorite recipes for this Ayurvedic healing dish using whole mung beans + rice, which is my preference: 

Adapted from what is locally known as a famous recipe by GB Khalsa, Midwife, found in Edible Austin, 2014 | Cooking Time ~ 1.5 hrs and makes a nice large batch for a family:

1 C of soaked mung beans (6-8 hrs soaked)

1 C of white basmati rice, rinsed well 

7-8 C water 

8 Tbsp ghee*

1 Tbsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

1 small onion

3 cloves garlic, minced 

1 4″ piece of fresh ginger, minced 

1/3 C Bragg’s liquid aminos, plus more for topping

¼ tsp ground garam masala, optional 

Place the mung beans in a large pot with 4 C water, bring to a boil and cook for 20-30 minutes until the beans start to pop open. Meanwhile, rinse the rice and then add it to the pot with 3 C more water after the beans have popped open. Stir to incorporate, put the lid on and cook the beans and rice together for ~ 25 more minutes, stirring if needed occasionally. (You may want to add more water by the cup if you see it getting too dry as it cooks.) While this mixture cooks, make your homemade ‘masala’ in a saute pan: add ghee and heat on medium until melted, add turmeric, pepper, cumin and ginger, turn heat to low & saute for a few minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until onions are very tender and you have a delicious smelling sauce. 

Now, add this masala to the beans and rice mixture with the Bragg’s aminos and stir to incorporate. Cook the mixture all together for another 20 minutes on medium-low heat. Turn off the heat and let sit another 20 minutes on the stovetop - if you have excess water in the pot let it sit without a lid to let some of it evaporate, or strain a bit. Serve it warm with steamed, seasonal veggies on top, or top with cilantro, cucumber slices, and a splash of Bragg’s. It’s very, very good. :)

Enjoy <3. 

* I use 8 Tbsp of ghee because I’m a Vata type person who naturally runs more deficient rather than excess in my constitution. Oil is very good for me! You can easily cut this amount down to 4-6 Tbsp if you tend to be more fiery, overweight, or have a hard time with oil/fats. 

Spring Health: Aligning with Nature


I’m talking about spring health this week in collaboration with Neu Skin Austin - check out her post about how to nourish your skin this spring as well! Spring means Growth, Flexibility, Green, Upward and Outward motion, Movement, Expansion, Newness, Emergence, Cleansing, Renewal. We can tune in to connect with ourselves & the world by any of these actions. The LIver and Gall Bladder are associated with springtime in TCM. Doing a food or energetic cleanse is always optimal at this time. Using therapeutic foods that promote gentle detoxification like burdock root, dandelion, wheat grass, beet and beet greens; or chlorophyll rich foods like any fresh green herbs/ micro greens/ spirulina that promote cleansing but also renewal is wonderful. Sour flavors are also key - lemon, lime, apple cider vinegar, fermented and pickled vegetables. Moving your body with yoga, walking, time outdoors, rock climbing… anything you enjoy! Spend time considering your goals for spiritual and professional growth or change. Spring is a great time to start something new while we are surrounded by the expansive energy and growth happening around us. Spring is also an ideal time to consider changing or leaving anything that is no longer serving you - whether it be an exhausting job, relationship, old habit, or addiction. The Liver embodies a refined assertiveness that is timely, skillful, strategic and forceful, yet remains flexible. When this organ is out of balance we tend to see anger and frustration arise. You may also ask yourself, how could I be more flexible with myself and with others?

Most people have seen spirulina used in smoothies to add a superfood boost to their day, but I wanted to share 2 other ways (besides taking a capsule) you can use spirulina in your kitchen. This is an ideal superfood for spring. Besides mother’s milk, spirulina is the highest source of GLA-rich oils we can consume. These oils are very light for the body and increase metabolism and fat burn-off, similar to flaxseed oil. Spirulina reduces heat signs in the body and can be a key factor in building good blood quality (as in anemia), it is also very easily digestible - suitable for all body types as it is nurturing yet also offers cleansing action due to the high chlorophyll content. A super-green food for a super-green season, & a must-have in your pantry!

Spirulina Gomasio

1 Tbsp black sesame seeds

½ Tbsp white sesame seeds

1 tsp course sea salt

1 tsp dulse flakes

1 tsp spirulina powder 

Mix all components in to a small container and store in the fridge for several weeks. Use as a spice topping liberally on anything from rice bowls, veggies, salads, porridge, soups or popcorn :) 

Spirulina Salad Dressing

3 Tbsp sesame tahini

Juice 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp spirulina powder (or start at ½ if you’re not used to the taste)

2 pitted dates

½ cup water

¼ tsp salt

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth, using more or less water depending on the consistency you like. Great on salad greens, grilled veggies, grain bowls, or as a dip. 

Butter Mints

The concept of a butter-mint may sound crazy to some of you… mints made out of butter. Yes, pure butter! There are some recipes that call for a mix of butter & coconut oil or coconut butter… but I prefer the plain old, grass-fed butter variation that lends itself to a very silky, melty texture and pure taste of mint (instead of coconut-mint). But, what the heck are butter mints anyway? Right. Well, they are just little dollops of flavored butter, basically. In this case, flavored with peppermint extract, a bit of raw honey, sea salt, and some raw cacao powder. Very simple. They look like this:

But, why would you just decide to eat some dollops of butter?? Right. So, say you find yourself craving sugar every day. Or say your child is always asking for cookies or sweets - Butter Mints can be a great alternative to these things. It is impossible to eat many at once (I can’t do more than 3) as they are just dollops of healthy fat going in your belly - which fills you up quite fast as the digestion required to break that down takes a longer time than it does for a cracker or sugar cookie. Fat burns longer than sugar - and it also slows down the absorption of sugar so that you enjoy sustained levels of blood sugar instead of spikes. There have now been many studies that show fat doesn’t make you fat… it’s mainly sugar and excessive simple carbohydrates that do that, but beyond the weight issue, healthy fatty acids from grass-fed butter nourish and fuel our brains, establish good hormone health, and increase good cholesterol. I consider butter an essential food group for kids, especially. Read more about just how healthy butter can be here. I keep a jar of these in the freezer for my toddler (and myself too, let’s be honest) and he eats them as “special treats” often - because they are delicious! So, now that you are convinced it’s worth a try, here’s the recipe:

Pure Butter Mints:

  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), organic grass-fed butter is the healthiest! 
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbs. raw honey
  • Small pinch of unrefined sea salt
  • Optional: 1 Tbs. cacao powder for a chocolate version

Bring butter to room temperature, mix all ingredients in a bowl with a spatula until silky smooth and completely mixed. Place butter mixture into a plastic bag or pastry bag and use a pastry tip to squeeze nickel-sized dollops onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or just cut the corner end off of your plastic bag). Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until set - store in a glass jar in the freezer and eat chilled! 

Summer Corn with Umeboshi

Looking for a new way to jazz up all that corn on the cob your family is eating this summer? We love ours grilled and charred with olive oil and salt, Mexican-style with chili powder, cilantro, and lime, and also this way - with a smear of umeboshi paste and gomasio on top. It’s just as easy as anything to make, and chances are you have NO idea the benefits of eating this intensely pickled, funny sounding Japanese plum - it’s great to have an easy way of incorporating them into such an American staple. 

Food Facts: Umeboshi Plums (or plum paste)

Umeboshi salt plums are extremely sour and salty. They are commonly called “Japanese alka seltzer” because of their common use in treating digestive upset. They are highly alkalizing and can help with indigestion, diarrhea, liver issues, fatigue, the elimination of toxins and even worms! Because of their action on the liver, they have also gotten a popular reputation as a hangover cure. You can buy them whole or commonly as vinegars or pastes. One umeboshi plum a day = the apple of the East! 

Summer corn with Umeboshi

Fresh corn, kept on the cob

2 Tbsp umeboshi paste

1 splash Mirin rice wine

Gomasio (a sesame seed and sea salt mixture) or toasted sesame seeds

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Grill or steam corn to desired doneness. While your corn is cooking, mix umeboshi paste with a splash of mirin and stir/whisk together to thin the paste - you may need a splash of water as well to taste. Umeboshi paste is VERY strong, so thinning it out makes the flavor less punchy and adding the wine will balance a little sweetness into the paste. Spread a thin layer over each cob, top with gomasio sprinkles or sesame seeds and cayenne for kick. 

What did you cook this weekend?

A few delicious images of our home-cooked food choices this weekend… Do you cook with your family on weekends? Do you go to a farmer’s market? It’s a great way for me to unwind with everyone at home - cooking a wonderful meal that makes the whole house smell good, getting everyone at the table together, taking time to enjoy our family and appreciate what we have. If that’s not good medicine, I don’t know what is. 

Above: Garlic Shrimp with chile de arból and parsley…

Above: Grilled Vegetable Tacos with all the trimmings… 

Above: First Heirloom caprese salad of the season! I could eat these daily for the rest of the spring AND summer… 

Fennel Tea "Cure-All"


Fennel teas are plentiful and easy to find in tea bags in many grocery stores, but making your own straight from the seeds is so much more effective and therapeutic if you are really looking for the health benefits it has to offer. And what are those, you might say?? Well, personally, I like to think of fennel tea being a digestive “cure-all” for many stomach & GI issues. I think that is its biggest strength. Upset stomach, heartburn, gas, bloating, nausea, IBS symptoms, even pain from stomach ulcers can be relieved by fennel tea. You can also modify fennel tea with a few other herbs to customize it to your own taste and need, although it’s already pretty delicious on its own. Another benefit of fennel - the naturally sweet & cool flavor makes a great breath freshener. It would be wonderful to serve a large glass pitcher of this herbal tea alongside lunch for friends or family- they will never suspect you are looking out for their health as well as relishing their company. :) Here is my recipe for basic fennel tea, with some additional variations you might find work best for your tummy:

Fennel Tea:

3 tsp crushed, whole fennel seeds (crushed with a mortar and pestle works just fine to release the oils)

3 C water

Bring water and fennel seeds to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain and drink up to 3 C daily for health benefits. 

Fennel + Licorice Root Tea: Licorice has been researched and proven to help with stomach ulcers, heartburn, and as a general digestive aid. You can buy whole licorice root from an herbal pharmacy and use about 3 grams with the recipe above. *

Fennel + Ginger Root Tea: More warming and stimulating, ginger adds another benefit for digestion by helping nausea, bloating, or feeling “stuck” or cold in your gut. Cut up 3-4 slices of fresh ginger root and add to the recipe above. 

Fennel + Dandelion Leaf Tea: Dandelion focuses more on digestive issues related to the liver. Promoting bile flow, helping digest fats, & cleansing from a rich diet. Add 2 tsp of bulk dandelion leaf in a cheesecloth bag or metal tea ball to the recipe above for a great digestive “detox” tea. *

Happy sipping! 

*Always consult with your healthcare practitioner or nutritionist to be sure licorice and dandelion are right for your body type before consuming in large amounts.

Immune Boosting Turmeric Ginger Tea

From Amrita Sondhi’s book The Tastes of Ayurveda is a recipe for a hot tea that will bust a cold before it begins. Ginger warms the body and acts as an anti-inflammatory; turmeric is a natural anti-biotic food; lemon clears toxins, stimulates digestive function and purifies the body; while honey will naturally suppress a cough. Try this effective and yummy tea at the onset of very first symptoms of a cold or cough and you may be surprised at the results.

Immune-Boosting Tea:

8-10 slices fresh ginger, cut into rounds

8 C water

1 tsp ground turmeric

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp raw honey, or raw manuka honey

Boil ginger and water in a pot on high, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add turmeric and lemon juice and let cool slightly before pouring into pitcher through a fine mesh sieve. Add honey. Stir well and drink up to 3 C/day for healing benefits. 

Variation: Add a scant 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper to this tea for improved blood circulation - this tea can be drunk as a general anti-inflammatory tea for fertility patients who need improved circulation to reproductive organs - the antioxidants in cayenne & turmeric may help cardiovascular function and improve qualities of sperm and egg cells. Also great for any chronic inflammatory condition. 

Food Facts: 

Raw Honey (or Manuka honey): The benefits of raw honey, or especially raw manuka honey (from bees who feed off the manuka tree native to New Zealand) are plentiful. It has major anti-bacterial effects, anti-biotic effects, and tonic effects. Manuka honey has been proven to kill dangerous gut bacteria and will also soothe skin burns when applied topically. This is a honey to keep in your medicine cabinet - use it for burns, in hot teas for sore throats and colds/coughs, or use 1 tbsp in warm milk for a natural sleep aid. It’s pricey for honey, but super affordable for medicine. :) It will be the best tasting remedy in the house! 

Fall: Season of the Lungs

In traditional Chinese medicine, during fall we are most susceptible to dryness which can affect the lungs, skin (what we call the “outer lung”), and digestion. Common signs of disharmony in the fall are thirst, dry nose and skin, itching, and sore throat or cough. There are a number of things we can do to combat dryness and fortify our bodies for the coming winter months. These tips will help you stay balanced during the fall season, and prepare you for a healthy winter! 

1. Drink. More. Water. Sounds easy, but we often forget this simple act. Hydrating yourself well will prevent your body from getting too dry and help your organs stay healthy and happy. Your lungs especially like to stay “moist” and freak out when they get too dry - coughing, burning, bronchitis, etc can occur. So drink up! 

2. Incorporate moistening foods into your meals. Pears, apples, persimmons, figs, spinach, pumpkin and squash are all moistening foods. Eat these fall foods in abundance and you will set your body up for a healthy winter. Soups and steamed foods are helpful, as well as other “yin” foods like tofu, white fish, yams, & edamame. 

3. Sleep more. As the days grow shorter, allow your body to rest more. We are moving out of the highly active period of summer. Fall is the time to store up our energy for the harsher winter months ahead & going to bed earlier or practicing restorative exercise can benefit our health during this time. 

4. Organize, Cleanse, & Let go. Fall and Spring are both great seasons for organizing your life and letting go of what you don’t need. Try a gentle cleanse, clean out the kitchen or closets, and let go of old grudges or emotional grief. It’s a good time to gather yourself together and start a clean slate in preparation for winter. 

5. Cover up. Especially if you are one to get sick easily or catch colds in the cooler months, don’t leave home without your scarf or hat. Although it may still feel like summer to us now, windy and cooler days are ahead and cold fronts may sweep in suddenly. Our neck and head are most vulnerable to wind and pathogenic illnesses, so cover up and protect your qi from exposure to the elements. 

And…  get acupuncture, of course! Acupuncture will strengthen your resilience and help you make a healthy transition from fall to winter. 

(Thanks to AOMA and The Web That has No Weaver for content inspiration)

My husband loves when I make what I call “Rainbow Bowls”. Tasting Table made a really great info-graphic on how to create a balanced bowl based on macrobiotic principles with several variations to keep your palate happy. We love making this type of dish for dinner and having heaps of leftovers for lunches during the week. Make a quick bowl of dressing like this Sunflower dip to spoon on the top and you’ll be surprised at just how delicious macrobiotic can be. 

My own variations for macro-bowls include some traditional Chinese medicine changes, naturally, like adding chicken/egg/beef/fish for those who are not vegetarian or need extra protein; adding different greens like collards/kale/chard for extra heartiness and iron; religiously garnishing with gomasio or sesame seeds/nuts; and adding a sour flavor for total balance like pickled beets/cabbage or sauerkraut. 

These bowls are always so colorful and vibrant - they never fail to put me in a good mood. They leave me feeling light, satisfied & energetic… Isn’t that what food should do in the first place?