Category: Grains

Kichadi: The Realistic Reset

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Happy 2018 dear friends! I hope that you all had a restful and relaxing holiday, and that you’re ready to take on the new year.

As most of you know, the past few months have been all-over-the-place (literally) for my family and I, so I’ve been giving myself plenty of freedom when it comes to what I’m eating and how often I’m exercising. With my regular routines out the window, I’ve felt an immense sense of liberation – it’s great to let go once in a while! – but now it’s gotten to the point where my body is really craving some stability and grounding, especially after the holidays. Sometimes I like to go drastic and embark on a 10-day juice fast or something like it, but my body and my mind aren’t feeling a hard-core anything at the moment, so I’m turning to kichadi to gently ease my way back into eating with more balance.

Kichadi, sometimes called and spelled khichdi, kitchari, kitcheree or khichri, is the famous one-pot wonder Indian dish that combines rice and lentils or quick-cooking pulses or legumes, such as mung beans. Its best known in Ayurvedic tradition as a cleansing and complete protein meal, very easy to digest, and a cinch to make! It is delicious, super comfort food, and even if you’re not down with eating the exact same thing for every meal for several days in a row, you’ll be thrilled to learn it’s also the perfect thing to tuck into on a cold winter night.

Because of its simplicity and ease, many people find that doing a kichadi “mono-diet” is very pleasant and far less of an ordeal than a juice fast for example (although I need to be clear that a juice fast is far deeper and more effective). Taking three to seven days to eat this dish exclusively gives the digestive organs a serious break since kichadi is very easy to break down and assimilate. And because digestion is at the core of human health, putting a practice in place that supports this essential process makes room for the miracle of self-healing: something the body is constantly striving for, but often distracted from by poor dietary and lifestyle choices. When we forgo processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and common allergens for a few days, we give our bodies the space it needs to do what it naturally does anyway: clean itself up!

I like to eat a kichadi diet in the colder months when the weather is unfriendly and I need some reassuring, grounding, warm food – and juicing sounds about as fun as a hole in the head. It’s also a wonderful way to glide yourself into the process of cleansing if you’ve never tried it before. Since it doesn’t involve abstaining from food, most first-timers find it totally do-able, and dare I say it, enjoyable! I’ve just completed three days of eating kichadi for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I’m feeling sooo much more balanced, clear-headed, and energized – the ways I would like to feel at the beginning of a brand new year! I hope that this simple and realistic reset is up your alley, and that you give it a go.

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First things first, you’re going to need to do a bit of planning for the kichadi diet. Set a realistic goal for yourself – ideally you’ll be eating this dish for at least three days, up to seven, but if one is all you can handle, that is okay too. Since you’re eating throughout this practice, going about your regular life is usually fine, but if you want to go the extra mile and give yourself a real treat, do the kichadi diet over a long weekend or break from work so that you can focus on some other cleanse-enriching experiences, such as a massage, a sauna visit, daytime napping, reading an actual book, and maybe even going offline completely. Gasp! I started my kichadi diet on a Monday and carried out my normal routine with work and family life, and just made sure to give myself lots of juicy personal time in the evenings (essential oil bath, yin yoga sesh, early lights out etc.). Aside from a cleanse-classic mood swing on the last day, no one around me even noticed what I was doing. Since they were too busy eating pizza.   

Before you begin you’ll want to start by cutting back on alcohol, caffeine, sugar, meat, dairy, processed foods, and anything else you know is throwing you off balance. If you abstain from these things for at least a couple of days before you begin, your experience will be much smoother, as you won’t be distracted by gnarly withdrawal symptoms while you’re trying to chill. You can also add any bad habits you have to your hit list, and reduce or eliminate the daily practices that aren’t making your life extra groovy.

Whatever day you are starting the kichadi on, soak the rice and pulses / legumes together the night before. This step is important for improving the digestive qualities of kichadi, but if you are really pressed for time or you forgot, get them in water as soon as you can. Remember that even soaking for an hour is better than nothing! Cook the kichadi daily if possible, since the fresher the food is, the more energy, or “prana” it contains. My recipe makes about six servings for my appetite (eight for people who eat less) and I can easily stretch one batch over two days if no one else in my family wants it. Regardless, you’ll have to make at least two batches if you’re going for three days, and I would not recommend keeping kichadi around for longer than that. Freezing is an option, but freeze it in the portion size you’d want to eat so that you’re not heating more than you need at one sitting.

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Daily routine
The night before: soak the rice and pulses together in plenty of filtered water overnight.

Morning: upon rising, drink a large glass of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice, followed by another glass of pure water. Make your first batch of kichadi, and enjoy it for breakfast. Store leftovers in the fridge.

Midday: Drink a couple large glasses of water at least 30 minutes before eating. Heat your desired amount of kichadi and enjoy it for lunch.

Evening: Drink a couple large glasses of water at least 30 minutes before eating. Heat your desired amount of kichadi and enjoy it for dinner.

Night time: Drink a cup of herbal detox tea if desired, enjoy something that nourishes you (bath, meditation, stretching) and go to bed early.

Repeat for three to seven days.

Kichadi Reset tips
1. Eat when you’re hungry. This may seem like an obvious one, but many people eat according to the clock, instead of listening to their bodies. Take these days to really tune in and see when your body actually desires food, and how much you need to eat to feel satisfied. When you feel real hunger, your body is giving you the signal that it is actually ready to receive.

2. Cook mindfully. Remember that cooking is something to be grateful for. If you normally approach cooking from a “let’s get this over with” standpoint, use this opportunity to make your meal prep a ceremony, and see it as a gift to yourself. Take your time washing and cutting vegetables, delight in the sound of the spices popping, the scent that wafts up while you’re peeling ginger. The attention and intention you put into your food will come back to you, and nourish you in ways that you never thought possible.

3. Keep things interesting, by adding a squeeze of lime instead of lemon to your kichadi. You can use parsley instead of cilantro, and adjust the spices to suit your personal taste. If you really need some variety, top the kichadi with some of your favourite sprouts, grated raw carrot, or fold in some spinach while it’s still hot.

4. Cravings are normal, especially when you’re knowingly depriving yourself! If you feel a craving coming on, first identify what the craving is. Be curious…maybe it has nothing to do with the food, but more your emotional or mental state. If you really can’t shake the feeling, drink water first, then try a piece of fruit, or some raw veggie sticks.

5. Drink a lot of water. The body functions optimally when properly hydrated. It is especially important when we’re resetting, since we’re letting go of things that need to be flushed out. Water is essential to this process, but it will also prevent cravings, combat fatigue and brain fog, and keep the bowels moving. Remember to drink water away from mealtimes for optimal digestion (30 minutes before eating, 2-3 hours after unless you’re very thirsty). Other beverages, even if they are “mostly water” like coffee and tea, are not water. Only water is water.

After the Kichadi diet
Although it is extremely tempting to celebrate and indulge after denying oneself certain things, this is not the best time to do so. Even though this process keeps your digestive system humming along, your body is still in a sensitive place. Introduce new foods slowly, and keep combinations small and uncomplicated (i.e. don’t have a meal with 20 different foods together). Limit meat, dairy, sugar, and processed foods for as long as possible. That congratulatory slice of cake should wait until you’re pretty much back to “normal”, or maybe even find an alternative ; )

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I hope that many of you try the kichadi diet out, and rejoice in the fact that there is no need to do something radical and overly deprivational during the winter. This is a time for closing in, for being quiet and gentle, and nourishing oneself in a tender way. And remember, you can enjoy this delicious kichadi even for a day, and any season of the year when you need to find your equilibrium once again. It’s a tasty way to come back to center, every time, anytime.

In health, vibrancy, and abundance for the year ahead,
Sarah B.

Show me your kichadi on Instagram: #mnrkichadi

Poke-Inspired Beet Bowl

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Poke seems to be everywhere these days, from fine restaurant menus, to fast-casual and even food trucks. Chefs are coming up with clever combos and creative reinterpretations – even fish-free versions for the veg set. I knew had to take a stab at it. Or at least a poke. Sorry.

For those of you hearing about poke for the first time, this fresh and tasty dish (pronounced POH-kay), hails from Hawaii. In its most unadulterated form, poke is raw fish, originally combined with sea salt, candlenut and seaweed. It evolved over the years as ingredient availability increased, and the salt was replaced with soy sauce, the seaweed with spring onion, the candlenut with sesame and so on. Once it hit mainland America a few years ago, poke mania ensued and the dish evolved to become more of a meal – not just a snack. Now it is often served atop rice and garnished with all manner of innovative ingredients. Fully-focused poke restaurants have established themselves in major cities across North America. Many of these eateries allow their patrons to customize their bowls with veggies, sea weed, pickles, beans, nuts, and alt-grains, tapping into the to the fact that fast, fresh, healthy meals are becoming mainstream. Which totally rocks.

I had most of the elements for my own poke-inspired version in my head…except for the fish (the most important part?). I racked my brain to come up with something that looked just like tuna or salmon, but didn’t want to use fruit, like watermelon or papaya, since I didn’t want the dish to be sweet. It wasn’t until I was trying to fall asleep one night, that it came to me…chiogga beets! Chiogga, or candy-striped beets are gorgeously two-toned when they are raw. Sliced thin horizontally, they reveal rings of deep pink pigment and creamy white, resembling something that your grandmother keeps on her coffee table in a crystal dish. But for anyone who has ever roasted these stunning creatures will know that the magic doesn’t last; the magenta bleeds into the white during cooking, resulting in an almost homogenous pale pink, with slight variegation. WHICH LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE TUNA. I almost couldn’t sleep. Too excited.

The next day I gathered up all the things I’d like in a poke bowl: short grain brown rice (not long grain – an important distinction), spring onion for bite, carrot for crunch, edamame for pop and protein, and avo for creaminess. I took this last one a step farther and blended it with lemon and wasabi for the most boss sauce ever. This alone would be delish on most things…please try it. And for the fishy component, I thought back to the raw vegan “tuna” I made for my first cookbook, and how effective adding a sprinkle of nori was to boost that fresh-from-the-sea flavour. This is not a deal breaker for the overall dish, but it definitely made it taste complete. If you can’t find nori flakes, just crunch up a couple sheets of the stuff that you’d use to make sushi. Easy fix!

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I like to use wasabi powder in the avo cream since the pre-made stuff in a tube is questionable. Have you ever read the ingredient list on one of those packages? It can be scary stuff. In a pinch, use it, but tracking down the powder is worth it from a nutrition standpoint, and also a flavour one. The real stuff tastes infinitely better! What a shocker.

Wasabi is Japanese horseradish, and like its western counterpart, it belongs to the Brassica family, like cabbage, broccoli and mustard. The root is dried and then pulverized, which gives us the powder that we can blend with water to create wasabi paste. It is a difficult crop to grow, which explains the high price for the genuine product. Most wasabi powders don’t contain any wasabi at all, but are instead a mix of mustard powder and regular horseradish mixed with green food dye. A high-quality wasabi powder should be organic and contain only horseradish and wasabi. The colour should be pale green – not disco neon. Most health food stores carry wasabi powder. This is a good brand.

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Everything unfolded just as I’d hoped it would. The beets came out perfectly pink with those thin white stripes that look just like fat striation. The marinade that I tossed them around in was acidic and ginger-y and just plain yum. Building the meal up with the rice, the beans, the veggies, a dollop of cream, a sprinkle of nori and roasted sesame, was ever so satisfying and fun. This healthy, fresh meal is calling you. No need to poke about, just make it. Again, sorry.

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I’m on my last few days of I just ended the North American cookbook tour. Honestly, it’s been just magical and I am so grateful to all of you who came out to show some love and connect with the healthy community around them!

All love and smiles,
Sarah B

Show me your bowls on Instagram! #mnrpokebowl

Emma’s Tahini, Orange + Coconut Muesli

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Tahini Orange Coconut Muesli

I can’t recall the exact day that I stumbled into Emma Galloway’s world, but I do remember being completely and utterly awe-struck, inspired, and grateful. Her blog, My Darling Lemon Thyme has been on my highly edited list of sites that I actually read, and her delicious, innovative recipes have been making regular appearances in my kitchen ever since.

Joy of joys, Emma released a cookbook, and just like the blog, it is a true gem. Flipping through this book is kind of like shopping in a store where everything fits you perfectly, is the exact colour you want, and strikes the perfect balance between need and want. For instance, I need a recipe for gluten-free sourdough bread, and, I want another recipe for granola. She takes familiar ingredients and genius-ly transforms them into something unique and special that makes you ask: why didn’t I think of that?! Sweet Potato and Kale Latkes, Mung Bean Pancakes, Buckwheat Tabouli – the list goes on. Emma uses exclusively plant-based, gluten-free, whole food ingredients, and taste comes first! I want to tuck into every single one of her meals and treats.

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Although it was nearly impossible to choose just one to share here, the recipe I settled on was Tahini, Orange + Coconut Toasted Muesli, as it sounded like the best and most exciting new way of enjoying granola, and the perfect way to bid farewell to those last winter oranges in the market. The idea of adding tahini to granola was totally brilliant (thanks again, Emma), along with the flavours of toasted coconut and oranges. Yum. After baking, the additions of dried fruit are really special and deliver bright, juicy hits throughout the toasty nuts, seeds and grains. It’s incredibly balanced and tasty, and makes a stupendous topping for yogurt, porridge – even as snack eaten right out of the jar. A bag of this on a recent trip halfway across the world proved to be a real lifesaver!

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The next time I make this recipe, I am going to try it with rolled oats instead of the quinoa flakes. Although it was a nice change to use a different grain, I find the texture of quinoa flakes a little too light and powdery – I prefer the heft and crunch that oats give to granola. I’ve even wondered about using buckwheat groats, which I love in cereal. I will keep you guys posted when I try something new!

Tahini Orange Coconut Muesli


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Thank you, Emma, for sharing your gifts with the world. We love granola, and we love you.

xo, Sarah B

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I’m also really excited to share some (hopefully) helpful information for you in the new Resources section here on the blog. Since I get many, many emails with similar questions about the practicalities of running My New Roots, I have decided to write a few pieces on the inner workings of this food blog – and where I don’t have the answer I have asked my team to kindly chip in… you know, about hosting and coding and technical stuff that makes my brain hurt 😉

Have a look and let me know if there is anything else, you’d like a writeup about!

xo, Sarah B.