I recently completed Vidya’s “New Year Renewal 14 Day Holistic Cleanse.” It was wonderful, & such a nourishing & gentle way to “cleanse” ~ no “fasting” in the usual sense of the term, no deprivation, no starving oneself. Just an easing into a cleaner, simpler, gentler way of eating. We began by slowly leaning away from caffeine, alcohol, gluten, refined sugars & processed foods, & leaning into whole, plant based, real foods. We began adding daily “self-care” rituals to our morning routine. We began eating at set meal times, with gratitude & without distraction. We eased off of snacking between meals. We were encouraged to slow down, be mindful, be reflective, & take notice of the subtle changes. We then moved into a 3-day “kitchari fast,” & then spent the next week easing our way back into our our more regular eating habits. Again, with encouragement to take mindful notice of the subtle changes. It was a beautiful experience, & despite what one often thinks of when “cleansing,” we actually ate really, really well…
We were given a suggested meal plan with recipes for breakfast, lunch, & dinner, as well as smoothies, juices, teas, light snacks, & yes even dessert. We were encouraged to cook within a clean, well organized & “sacred” kitchen space, so we could create meals with peaceful purpose & intention. Honestly, returning to the kitchen was my favorite part of this experience. I had a rough December. Physically, I was not feeling well. My appetite wavered, if I had one at all, so I snacked here & there, or on the go. I had trouble sleeping, so groggy mornings lead to too much coffee. As it was the holidays, our staff lounge was full of sugary, festive treats, to which I would mindlessly gravitate towards. My schedule was full, which left little time to meal plan, grocery shop, & bulk cook. And with my varying appetite & often upset tummy, I was not motivated to cook anyway. All of this took it’s toll, & I began to feel extremely out of balance. I needed a reset.
To be honest, I am pretty undisciplined on my own. I tend to overindulge a bit on things that I know are not the best for me. Call it habit, apathy, boredom, I tend to get stuck in unhealthy patterns. I recognize them, I acknowledge them, but without support, I am stubborn to change. That’s why these guided “cleanses” are good for me. I started doing seasonal cleanses a year ago with my yoga & Ayurvedic teacher, Laura Plumb of Veda Wise, & it was through that experience that I realized I really needed the community support, the platform to share, & the encouragement of others. I just can’t go it alone! Laura’s winter cleanse comes later in the season, so when I discovered Vidya’s cleanse began in early January, I jumped on board. I really needed to get myself back on track, ASAP.
With each cleanse experience I always take something away, be it a recipe, a ritual, a self-care practice. And while I had so many takeaways from the Vidya Cleanse, one of my most favorite discoveries was Claire’s “Yogi Bowl,” which was in our recipe book, as well as on her blog. It follows the simple formula of – a green, a grain, a roasted veggie & a delicious sauce. This is a formula I’ve used myself in the past, but for some reason the combination of brown rice, roasted sweet potato, kale, & ginger tahini sauce really hit the spot. I found myself craving it everyday for lunch & it was so quick & simple to put together that I did eat it for lunch – for days on end. But of course, after days on end one does crave a bit of variation, so I started to make simple modifications – swapping out the brown rice & adding quinoa, sometimes using curly kale & other times lacinato, & switching up the sauce. I also like the addition of pepitas for crunch & daikon sprouts for an extra boost. The roasted sweet potato, however, is always the constant! Sweet potatoes are the most grounding & nourishing food – absolutely perfect, especially in winter.
- Lemon Tahini Sauce ~
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ - ½ cup water
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon zest
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- Salad ~
- 6 leaves lacinato kale, washed & cut into ribbons
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small sweet potato, cubed & roasted
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- 1 Tbsp gomashio
- Generous sprinkle raw pepitas
- Handful of sprouts
- For the sauce: Combine evoo, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, water, & sea salt in a blender. Blend until smooth & creamy
- Preheat oven to 375. Wash and cut sweet potato into 1″ cubes, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with himalayan pink salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 375.
- While roasting, prepare kale by washing well, removing stems & tearing leaves into small pieces. Place in a bowl & drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil on top. Use your hands to massage oil into the kale leaves, making them soft & tender.
- Once tender, remove sweet potato from oven.
- To serve, scoop ½ cup of warm quinoa on top of the massaged kale. Top with roasted sweet potato, a healthy heaping of the lemon-tahini sauce, a big sprinkle of gomashio, pepitas & a handful of sprouts.
What I love about this dish is that many of the components can be prepared in advance, so you can put together a quick & healthy meal in a flash. I have to be at work by 8 am, which means, unless I get up at 5 am, I am scrambling to do my self care practices, prepare my breakfast & lunch, take the dog for a walk & pull myself together to get out the door on time. Bulk cooking on Sundays is a habit I am trying to create these days. Not only is it a relaxing & enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, it helps keep me on track for the week! So, I’ll make a big pot of quinoa or rice, wash & shred some kale, roast sweet potatoes or other veggies, make a dressing, & maybe prep a few snacks for the week like hummus, raw energy bites, breakfast cookies, etc. This makes my mornings a breeze, as all I have to do is put the contents of my salad in a container, grab a piece of fruit, or some hummus & veggies & lunch is ready!
The other great thing about this salad is that it is super filling! I have long & busy days, & I am always on the go either running from one job to the next, or teaching after school children’s yoga classes. Needless to say, I need a lunch that will sustain me well until dinner, & this salad does exactly that! It definitely keeps me feeling nourished & energized all afternoon.
If you are interested in trying an ayurvedically inspired cleanse, Veda Wise’s Winter Cleanse starts February 1st & you can get all the details here! And, consider joining me in Vidya’s Spring Renewal Cleanse coming up in April. This follows the Spring Equinox, which in the eyes of Ayurveda, is the best time to do a deep reboot!
Have a lovely & restful weekend, xo