Here we are again! It’s the time of year best known for burning the candle at both ends and over-indulging the senses. Let’s dive into December with a plan for preventing the stress and weight gain that can accompany this holiday-filled month.

One variable responsible for weight gain is the simple concept of “calories in vs. calories out.”

Eating kichari, a classic Ayurvedic staple, is an excellent way to soothe and heal the digestive tract and provide the body with necessary nutrients, while eating lightly.

In lieu of our regular diets, we can dedicate one day a week to a mono-diet of kichari in exchange for each day that we are going to be indulging in holiday baked goods or attending parties (to clarify, this means that you would eat kichari one day a week for three meals and avoid other foods).

In this way, we are able to promulgate a palatable practice that offsets the weight gain and other stressful manifestations that result from overeating and making less than optimal food choices.

The following recipe is a variation of the classic Ayurvedic kichari recipe.

QUINOA & CORAL LENTIL KICHARI

Serves 4–6

Ingredients
1 C. quinoa-soaked overnight & rinsed before cooking
1 C. coral (red) lentils-soaked 4-6 hours & rinsed before cooking
4–5 C. boiled water
2 tsp. pink himalayan salt
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped ginger or 2 tsp. ground ginger
3 Tbsp. of ghee
2 tsp. mustard seeds
2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 Tbsp. ground fennel
2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground fenugreek
2 tsp. turmeric
Garnish: fresh chopped cilantro, wedges of lemon or lime
*Optional: 2–3 C. fresh chopped leafy green vegetables such as kale or Swiss chard, spines removed. 
*Extra boiled water.

Directions

  1. In a large pot, sauté the ginger in ghee for a couple of minutes until lightly browned.
  2. Then, add the rest of the spices except for the turmeric.
  3. Sauté a couple minutes or until the mustard seeds start to dance and the spices become fragrant.
  4. Add the beans and quinoa and stir to mix, coating them in the spices and ghee.
  5. Add 4–5 C. of the boiled water to the pot and return to a boil, uncovered.
    Then, turn the heat down to simmer, cover the pot leaving a small opening for air & space (vata) to escape and cook about 10 minutes, until quinoa is cooked through and lentils are soft.
  6. Next, if you are adding vegetables, now is the time to stir them into the pot with just enough boiled water to submerge them.
  7. Cover the pot and allow the vegetables to simmer a minute or two until they become soft and wilted.
  8. Turn off the heat, stir in the turmeric.
  9. Serve with the garnish of your choice.

It’s also at this time of year where we tend to eschew exercise in exchange for accepting invitations to socialize.

As specious as it may seem for those of us who tend toward the noetic notion of an “all or nothing” mindset, bear in mind the Ayurvedic tenet, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

If you find yourself crunched for time, remember that just as each cookie has a cumulative effect, so does each minute you dedicate toward movement of some kind or a brief yoga practice. Here are some suggestions for maintaining balance in December:

  • Take a look at your calendar for December and schedule a day each week to eat a mono diet of kichari.
  • Become a December Dynamic Duo with a friend by exercising together to hold each other accountable.
  • Master the mindset of “every little bit helps”. If you only have 10 or 20 minutes to exercise you can go for a brisk walk, do a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) , or simply turn on some of your favorite upbeat music and get your groove on.
  • Improve stress with yoga. Practice 5 Sun Salutations first, followed by 5 Moon Salutations, and finish by lying down to practice deep diaphragmatic breathing in a comfortable position with your eyes closed.
  • Are you involved in a holiday cookie exchange? If so, suggest each person bring a healthy, yet tasty treat to the table.
  • The word bala means strength. These unctuous treats are tasty, nourishing and can more easily be added to your to-do list because they are simple and don’t require baking:

BALA BALLS

Ingredients
2/3 cup unsalted nut or seed butter of your choice
1/2 cup date paste
1/4 cup ghee or coconut oil
2 cups oats
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

Directions

  1. In medium size pot, mix the date paste, ghee or coconut oil, and nut or seed butter over low heat until smooth and well combined.
  2. Pour the dry ingredients into the pot and mix together until well combined.
  3. Roll into balls.
  4. Optional: Roll the balls in cacao or shredded coconut.

Store them in the fridge, but serve at room temperature.

As always, give thanks and enjoy!

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