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Prep Your Mind + Body for the Holiday Season

As New Englanders, we are treated to the dramatic seasonal changes that offer us a direct experience with the year's cycles. Recently, Autumnal colors have blazed in a chorus of light and and sound; the winds swirl the leaves ushering out the Summer and preparing us for a season of inwardness. The nature-lover in me has been taking advantage of walks and explorations in this glory before battening down the hatches for the holiday season. We each have our own process in preparation. For some it may look like clearing the post-Summer yard for the Winter weather.

While the foliage continues to fall to the ground, this beautiful golden blanket will soon deteriorate, feeding the earth as the rain and snow arrive. Considering the months to come, my loved ones come to mind and I look forward to the opportunity of celebrating with family and friends. My to-do list is growing and battening down the hatches reflects my need for emotional stability and protection. I know this is a timely opportunity to implement my knowledge of self-care and restoration. My meditation practice reminds me to conserve energy and seek clarity throughout this season of giving and receiving.

Halloween is like a signal of seasonal change, and tied as it is to our childhood, it can serve as a reminder to care for ourselves first so that we can enjoy our time with others. In years past, Halloween has been the segue into over-indulgent eating resulting in a sugar coma that I often do not recover from until early spring. This season after many years of exploration, I am choosing to be as proactive with my dietary needs as I have been with my yard work. I discovered Ayurvedic cooking this year with Katie O’Donnell while on retreat at Kripalu™ and a fabulous Indian dish called kichari; a mixture of moong beans and rice with delicious spices. While entertaining and family can be challenging aspect of the spiritual practice, the concept of setting up for easier digestion is attainable through some basic delicious recipes. I noticed right away, after a weekend of eating this way, a calmer body and mind. Even adding kichari once a day has offered me the support I need during this frenzied time. Below is one of my favorites…

Calming Kichari from Kate O’Donnell’s cookbook Everyday Ayurveda Cooking for a Clear, Calm Mind

6 cups water

1 cup basmati rice

1/2 cup yellow moong beans/dal (soaked over night or at least a few hours)

1 Tbsp Calming Spice

2 cups kale,swiss chard or collards coarsely chopped into strips

1/2 -1 tsp salt

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


1-2 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)

Calming spice mix

1Tbsp coriander seeds

1tsp fennel seeds

1tsp cumin seeds

1Tbsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Roast the coriander, fennel and cumin seeds in the same frying pan over med.heat. Stir constantly for 3-5 min until you can smell them. Cool and then grind spices together. Combine in an air tight glass container with turmeric and cardamom to a uniform powder.

In a large saucepan, boil 5 cups of water on high heat. Set the other cup aside to add during cooking as needed.

Rinse the rice and beans twice or until water runs clear. Add them to the boiling water, along with spice mix and keeping high heat until liquid boils again. Immediately turn the heat down and simmer, partially covered, for 20 min without stirring. Check after 20 min to see if beans are submerged. If not, pour additional water on top…do not stir. Place the greens on top to steam. Simmer partially covered, 10 min more.

To make tempering, warm the ghee in a small skillet on med heat. Add the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and cook until the seeds pop, 2-3 min) Remove from heat and pour into kichari. Add salt, stir well and let stand, covered for a few min.

Kichari should have a soupy, soft consistency. Serve it in bowls, as you would a stew. Garnish with lots of fresh cilantro.

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