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hong kong ayurvedic nutrition

Detoxing the Ayurvedic Way

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Detoxing the Ayurvedic Way

words; Rachel Duffell

The ‘five actions’, or panchakarma, to naturally detox body and mind

It’s so easy for our bodies to become unbalanced due to the stress of life today. With this imbalance come food cravings, weight gain, mood swings and even depression and anxiety. While detoxification might bring to mind cabbage soup diets, raw juice cleanses, and lemon water fasting, detoxing the Ayurvedic way is a natural and relaxed experience, not only recommended to cure ailments, support digestion, rejuvenate and revitalise, but to be undertaken as a preventative measure against illness.

The aim of Ayurvedic detox, or panchakarma, is to remove toxins from the body. According to Ayurveda, these toxins, including preservatives, DDT, dioxin, pollutants, pesticides and other damaging chemicals, accumulate as ama and it is this which needs to be removed from our fat cells where it is stored and evacuated naturally from the body via the colon, bladder, sweat glands, lungs, nasal passages, etc.

Panchakarma means ‘five actions’ and is comprised of five treatments, encouraged to be undertaken at the junction of the seasons or when illness arise, and in the case of the latter, for as long as they take to heal.

Panchakarma begins with a pre-purification process, or purvakarma where the body is prepared to release its toxins. Abhyanga, or full-body massage with medicated herbal oils, comes first, where long, sweeping strokes are applied to the body to start moving any toxins towards the colon. This stage can be accompanied by shirodhara, or oil-spilling where warm, herbalised oil is poured over the forehead. Both of these procedures help to calm and relieve stress. Swedana is also part of the preparation and is a sweating session which follows massage, again aiding in loosening the toxins from the body. 

Once the body is prepared the main purification process begins and can include vamana, where congestion in the lungs is eased through therapeutic vomiting, removing excess mucus. Virechana can address excess bile in the gall bladder, liver and small intestine through therapeutic purgation. The nasal passages are also cleared with medicated drops in a nasya procedure. Finally, the colon is treated with basti, or enemas using herbal decoctions and medicated oil preparations, which soothe constipation, digestive problems and other ailments.

These treatments are complemented by gentle activities such as yoga, breathing and meditation sessions. They are also supported nutritionally by the ingesting of ghee each morning which helps to loosen ama, the undigested food particles and toxins caused by eating unhealthy foods or by weak digestion, and drive it out of the body. Meals are best comprised of kitchari, an easy to digest, simple vegetarian porridge, eaten like a soup or stew. This reboots the digestive system without being harsh to it, ensuring the body is nourished and fulfilled. Many detoxes starve the body causing it stress so it is unable to perform natural detoxification functions. But during panchakarma and on a diet of easily digestible and nourishing kitchari, the body is at its optimal state to thrive and work on rebalancing itself for a state of wellbeing and health. A cleansed and purified digestive system allows balance to be restored which will be accompanied by a clear mind and sense of wellbeing. As well as playing a key role in panchakarma, a kitchari cleanse can be carried out by itself and can be tailored to a person’s dosha for optimal results.

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Hong Kong Healthy Cooking Classes

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Hong Kong Healthy Cooking Classes

I converted my apartment in West Kowloon into a small cooking studio for those wanting to hone in to their creative abilities as a master chef. The catch is that all classes are vegan or vegetarian, and you know what, the food tastes so much better than a diet full of meat and dairy. Whilst I am not a hardcore vegan, I do proclaim to be the best vegetarian cooking instructor in town. You can book as an individual or within a group of 8, for a partial participation experience. After the class, get to taste your creations with a glass or two of wine or one of our healthy detox drinks. You really won;t find such an exclusive experience elsewhere in Hong Kong. Health is cool, and focusing on healthy plant based food is not only good for you, but also good for the environment. Don;t get me started on why, that's saved for another blog post. 

Our most popular class is the vegetarian Thai Cookery Class, see offerings below; 

THAI- RIFFIC

Learn true authentic Thai food from a vegetarian and vegan perspective.  Learn the basic skills necessary to build on a foundation of true culinary delight without the harmful effects of animal protein. Menu includes:  Home made vegetarian Tom Yum Paste, Tom Yum Soup, Pomelo Salad, Tofu or Seitan Basil, Garlic Fried Rice.  

Duration: 2 ½ to 3 hours    Price: HK$880

* Menus may vary according to seasonality of ingredients. 

 

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Kicharee Cleansing

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Kicharee Cleansing

Cleansing the Ancient Way: Kichari 

Kichari (pronounced kich-ah-ree) is known as a staple food originating from India, and combines mung lentils with basmati rice. These two ingredients being the most digestible of the group, mung beans in particular are considered the most digestible of all its cousins. The word defines ‘mess’, meaning porridge. It is a warm dish, as digestion is in fact a warm process, and is packed with optimal protein and nutrition for nourishment of all the cells and ‘dhatus’ (tissues, in Ayurveda there are 7) of the body. 

The type of cleanse is compared to that of a mono diet, which helps the body reach homeostasis in its quest for optimal balance. From day 1 to 3, you may notice the boredom of the diet may urge you to cheat, however, by day 4, you’ll feel a slight and noticeable difference in your energy levels as the digestive system is given a much needed break. The journey of cleansing is not so extreme, it adds value to removing unwanted toxins without the negative effects of a total juice fast. However, leading up to any cleansing, one must try to avoid, animal products, even dairy and cheese, caffeine is a tough one but necessary, otherwise the body may go into major healing crisis with caffeine withdrawals. Sugar is another story, and if you remove refined sugar before partaking in this cleanse it can drastically help the removal of toxins and it has a less harsh effect on the healing. Gluten can be avoided as well.

So give the cleanse a try and see for yourself how beneficial fasting is. This coupled with a yoga and cleansing program can help city dwellers to reach a state of inner peace and calm without spending top dollar on health products or vacation spas or retreats. 

 

Happy Cleansing. Below is a recipe to help you along the way; 

 

Kitchari- Serves 4

Ingredients: 

  • 3 ⅓ cups (800ml) water
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) split mung beans
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) red lentils
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 5 pepper corns
  • Step 3
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • ½ medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 kale leaves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon rock salt
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ lemon
  • ¼ lime

 

Procedure:

Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add mung beans, lentils, rice, turmeric, curry leaves, and fresh ginger. Once it is boiling again, reduce heat and simmer. In the meantime, grind cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and pepper corns in a coffee grinder. Add 1 teaspoon of the spice mix to the kitchari.

Add carrots, zucchini, kale, and salt. Cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and the mixture resembles a thick porridge. Stir occasionally. Add more water if necessary.

Heat ghee in a skillet. Add . teaspoon cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds. Add rest of the ground spices from step 2, then immediately add a little bit of the kitchari to prevent burning and stir well. Add the spice fry to the kitchari and stir.

Garnish with fresh lemon and lime juice and cilantro.

Variation: Add fresh chili peppers and fresh ginger in step 4 for a spicier version.

 

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Vegan Kimchee

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Vegan Kimchee

A beautiful pre biotic, this recipe uses apple instead of sugar. This simple fermented dish can be served with steamed rice for a boost to the immune system. Most cultures use fermented foods for a healthy gut, and this one is delicious. 

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Friends of the Earth

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Friends of the Earth

Check it out. Did a talk for Friends of the Earth regarding a vegetarian diet and how to cook healthy vegetarian food and make it tasty according to the principles of Ayurveda. We are all unique, and so our eating styles should be according to our unique constitution. This is why generic diets or lifestyle changes seldom work. Ayurveda notes that each individual should listen to their genetic code and vikruti to determine the types of foods that will bring the body back into alignment. 

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NOPA

Had a blast a NOPA. Here are some images from the cooking demo. Tune into our members area for more Ayurvedic Recipes and tips and tricks on getting to a fitter healthier you!!! 

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Sesame! Five ways sesame oil can change your life for the better. by Ally Barnard

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Sesame! Five ways sesame oil can change your life for the better. by Ally Barnard

Sesame has been around for more than 5,000 years, but it may be one of the most nutrient-rich foods still in use today! It’s capable of improving skin, hair and heart health, stimulating bone growth, reducing blood pressure and even helping to manage anxiety and depression. Talk about multi-tasking!

Here are five ways sesame oil can make you look and feel healthier, and stay that way.

Smooth, Silky Skin

Sesame oil is full of zinc, an essential mineral for increasing your skin’s elasticity and making it smooth and silky to the touch. Applied directly to the skin, it can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and age spots by creating a protecting layer that defends against UVB rays and toxins like pollution. Very handy on those hot, smoggy days in Hong Kong!

According to Ayurveda, sesame oil is also ideal for use in morning self massages or Abhyanga. This aims to remove toxins from the body, reduce physical stress, strengthen tissues and improve the appearance of skin. To do this, warm sesame oil to the temperature of tepid water and massage copious amounts firmly into your skin. Then, just chill out - don’t wash it off for 15-30 minutes! This massage is ideal for a pre-shower rub down before your morning shower, although of course you can use it any time you like!

Healthy, Happy Hair

Many of us damage our hair every day without even thinking about it, whether through the use of soaps, shampoos, hair colouring, rollers or straighteners. Sesame oil can help return your hair to its natural, healthy state and can even darken hair colour and stop hair loss. Just as with your skin, sesame oil deep conditions the scalp and improves the quality of hair follicles.

Frazzled, frizzy hair? No problem - apply warm sesame oil to the scalp as part of a deep conditioning treatment! Massaging the ends of your hair with sesame oil can also get rid of split ends. Dandruff or psoriasis? Sesame oil provides nourishment to your hair follicles, reducing flakiness and dryness.

Going out and need your mane to shine? Just take 4-5 drops of sesame oil and run them through your hair using your fingertips. What’s more, its anti-bacterial effects can help to eliminate any pathogens that might attack your scalp or hair. That means it’s even a natural way to attack your children’s inevitable attacks of nits!

Heart Health

Sesame oil isn’t just good for rubbing into your skin - it tastes delicious too! Both your tastebuds and your heart can thank its fatty acid content for that. As well as being a tasty alternative to cooking with vegetable oils, ingesting sesame oil keeps your cardiovascular system in balance and your cholesterol low. This means that a regular dash of sesame oil in your cooking can protect you from heart attacks, heart disease and strokes.

Sesame oil can also safely lower levels of blood sugar, combating diabetes and improving the effectiveness of some antidiabetic drugs in Type 2 patients.

Smile Brighter

Sesame oil can make your smile shine! It’s highly recommended by dental professionals for a process called “oil pulling”. That simply means swishing oil around your mouth and spitting it out. The powerful antibacterial effects of sesame oil can lead to whiter teeth, less dental plaque, better breath and protection against certain streptococcus bacteria that can cause illnesses from sore throats to meningitis.

Combating Cancer

Sesame oil has been directly linked to a slowing of development of some cancers, including lung, ovarian, prostate and renal cancers as well as leukemia. It’s anti-cancer effects are thanks to an organic compound it contains - phytate. It also contains high levels of magnesium, which have been found to be beneficial in preventing colon cancer.

Whether you massage sesame oil into your skin and scalp, or add a little to your daily cooking, you’ll soon feel the benefits and find yourself stocking up on this most ancient of condiments. Enjoy!

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