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Mung Bean Soup- Ayurveda’s detox nectar!

January 20, 2011

Making Kitcheri during the cooking workshopFor a deep cleanse to the body, you can try a mono diet of mung bean soup perhaps after a few days of eating a light vegetarian diet to prepare your body gently. Mung beans are available from health food shops, Indian grocers and sometimes supermarkets. Try and get organic if you can and buy in bulk to reduce costs (though you will save money on this diet, as well as time normally spend preparing food!) They come in whole green variety, split green or split yellow. The whole green is most nutritious.

The soup recipe is highly nutritious and naturally detoxifies the body. It works by cleansing the liver, gall bladder and vascular system of any ama (undigested toxins). If you follow it for a few days you will lose weight, as well as any retained water and feel lighter, clearer and more energised- but you need to have a little willpower initially, though it does tend to get easier day by day.

As this is a powerful detoxification process, pick a time when you are not very busy, and can be less sociable if you feel like it. You can do this diet for anything from one to 7 days, or longer if desired and you are feeling the benefits.  Just try it for one day if you are not sure- and carry on if it feels ok. You could try one day a week, one weekend a month or go for the full 7-10 days to really cleanse the system. Please be aware of detox symptons such as tiredness, irritability, headaches and possible tears- these are all normal aspects of a physical and emotional detox.  NB: Please do not do this fast if you are pregnant, breast feeding, nor suffering from a long-term chronic illness without consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner.

The benefits of a mono-diet of such a light and easily digestible food include:

•    Cleansing the body of toxins and residues (including heavy metals) by cleaning all the body’s subtle channels
•    Corrects digestive fire (or agni)
•    Sharpening the mind, providing tranquillity, energy and vitality
•    Promotes weight loss, reduces swelling and water retention

Some other tips for your detox:

  • To help loosen deep seated toxins, drink one or two teaspoons of ghee dissolved in hot water in the early morning on an empty stomach. If you are Vata type, add a pinch of Himalayan rock salt (from health shops), Pitta types should just have plain ghee, and Kapha types a pinch of an Ayurvedic herb called Trikatu, or else a pinch of ginger. This will help the process but you can also do the diet without these herbs- its so simple.
  • Throughout the rest of the day eat only mung bean soup and nothing else! You can eat as much as you need to satisfy your appetite, and once the previous meal has been digested. This means leaving 3-4 hours in between each meal, waiting for genuine hunger to appear (not boredom!)
  • Make up a fresh batch for each day, re heating only as much as you need for each meal so the meal is as full of prana (energy) as possible. For work and eating out, I find a food thermos works very well if you don’t have a kitchen at work. Buy a large one and you can even fit 3 meals in it for busy days. Try not to use a microwave as these are not very healthy- a subject for a future article.
  • If you feel like a little variety, you can also add green leafy vegetables, pumpkin or courgettes to the mung soup, or make a completely vegetable soup and have this for one of the meals per day.
  • If you are feeling weak or very hungry you can eat a little brown or white rice with the soup (well cooked) at lunch time.

Other things to do during your 3 day seasonal detox:

  • Self massage every morning, with an oil appropriate for your skin type, followed by a hot shower will aid in eliminating toxins from the body. Try dry skin brushing before the massage for extra effect.
  • Use a neti pot and tongue scraper daily, and try and follow other aspects of daily routine described.
  • Turn your home into a spa! Treat your skin with some of the recipes in this handout- you can use scrubs on the body too, and the masks on the hair… Get creative.
  • Focus on quiet reading, gardening, being creative, listening to soothing music, and relaxing!
  • Avoid television and excessive external stimulus.
  • Use the extra time for yoga, pranayama and meditation
  • Spend some time in nature- a brisk walk is ideal.
  • Make sure you get enough rest as you will feel tired with the detox.

Healthy eating after your detox

Be careful what you eat after your detox is over, keeping food light and nourishing as overloading the system too soon will case more toxins to form.  Kitchari is ideal for the first day after as it is so light to digest. Whilst digestion returns to normal avoid heavy foods (meat, fish, eggs, bananas, bread, cakes, biscuits). Longer term, it is recommended to follow the general guidelines for an Ayurvedic diet

  • Favour seasonal, local food (right balance of 5 elements) and spices to help balance the six Ayurvedic tastes, balance the doshas and maintain a strong digestion (agni) eg: cumin, coriander, fennel, & saffron are ideal
  • Favour light, easy to digest, lightly cooked food that is assimilated into the body
  • View cooking as a process which should be done with love (don’t cook when upset!)
  • An Ayurvedic diet is according to principals not hard and fast rules- get creative!
  • Eat your food with a respect for nature, giving thanks in a way that is meaningful to you.

Mung bean soup recipe

You will need:

  • 400g mung beans (whole green or split green or yellow but green is best
  • 2 litres water
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 pinch asafoetida or Hing (from Indian stores, health shops or large supermarkets
  • Lime juice
  • 2/3 tsps of fresh root ginger
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Half an onion
  • Ghee (See Recipes page) or olive oil
  • 1 tsp. each of cumin seeds and coriander seeds and other spices as per your taste
  • rock salt or herb salt

Wash the mung beans thoroughly and then soak them either over night or for at least four hours before cooking. Heat ghee or olive oil in a pan and add a teaspoon of turmeric powder and 2 pinches asafoetida (to take the gas quality out of the beans). Sauté for a few seconds and then add the soaked beans, fresh water and some fresh root ginger. For one part soaked mung you need about four parts of water. The amounts given above will make 5 generous portions. Leave to bubble away for 30-40 minutes and add more water if necessary. Continue to cook until all the beans are soft and broken up. If you use a pressure cooker, the soup needs cooking for only 8 minutes once the vessel has come to pressure. You can then turn off the heat and leave the pot to cool for a further 10 minutes before opening it. Once the beans are cooked, heat some ghee or olive oil in another pan, add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic and half a chopped onion (if you wish but Pitta types can omit as these are a little heating but they do add flavour) and sauté lightly for a minute until soft but still aromatic. Now add some finally chopped fresh root ginger. Next add one teaspoon of cumin and coriander seeds plus any other herbs or spices (except chillies which are too heating), such as cardamom seeds, black pepper, black cumin seeds etc. and briefly sauté. Add these sautéed spices plus some rock salt into the mung beans and continue to simmer for a further few minutes. Don’t add salt in the beginning, as this makes the beans tougher and they therefore take longer to cook. Serve the soup warm with a good squeeze of lime juice, and some fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped and stirred into the soup.    If you feel like a little variety, you can also add green leafy vegetables, pumpkin or courgettes. You can also blend the soup for a better consistency and flavour.

Kitchari:

This is ideal to eat for a day after your moong bean soup cleanse as its a key recipe for Ayurvedic nutritional healing, especially in illness or detoxing. Good for all doshas.

  • 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or sesame/ sunflower oil
  • 2 bay leaves (warms, digestive)
  • ½  tea spoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds (omit for pitta), coriander powder, turmeric, fresh grated ginger root
  • 1 pinch rock salt or herb salt
  • 2 pinches asafoetida
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup split mung dal (yellow or green, or whole mung beans soaked overnight)
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 60g diced organic carrots/celery/ seasonal vegetables
  • fresh lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves to serve.

Wash rice and dhal separately in at least 2 changes of water. Sauté mustard seeds in ghee till they pop, then add other spices, starting with the seeds and the powders. Add mung dhal and rice and sauté for 2 minutes. Add boiling water, bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Prepare vegetables that suit your constitution by cutting into small pieces. Add vegetables, salt and extra water if required and simmer for another 20 minutes or until fully cooked. Aim to have minimal water remaining.