One of the more challenging parts of being a plant-based eater is getting enough protein and feeling satiated. In fact, when people discuss their digestive well-being with me, here are my top suggestions. You make the choices.
Eat more fresh veggies. Start your bowl or plate by piling on veggies, legumes, and nuts. You'll see how full you can be by witnessing the sheer quantity that will go in your body the second you load up.
Reduce meat, if not quit it entirely. Studies show it can take up to two days to digest meat and fish. For more efficient turnover, eat sparingly.
Plan your meals to keep your energy up, and bring snacks with you. I can't go more than about four hours without eating, or my energy really drops and I get foggy-headed. When I do some prep on the weekends or have nuts in my bag, I don't get trapped into grabbing whatever is in front of me during the work week.
Ayurvedically, a particular food can be a fantastic snack and/or meal - easily digestible, easy on your system, delicious, and customizable. It's kitchadi, generally a combination of rice, mung dal, and spices, said to be tridoshic (good for all types). The customizable part is the addition of extra spices, herbs, veggies, and toppings to cater to your needs. Because I'm primarily pitta, I lessen the heat-producing spices, like cayenne, and add cilantro, shredded coconut, and fennel for cooling and digestive circulation without heating me up!
Traditionally, kitchadi is so gentle a baby can eat it. It's also the go-to in the yoga lifestyle if you're recovering from being sick, have a sensitive stomach, feel a little "off," or just want to cleanse (obvi great for spring/kapha season). My recommendation is to make it and eat it that day. Classic Ayurveda principles tell us not to reheat food the next day, as it's no longer "fresh" and therefore, less digestively supportive. (This is hard to do, because we are busy, and advanced prep is definitely a strategy to help us eat healthily, so just do your best.)
There are so many variations on kitchadi, but my version is very simple (I like recipes with the fewest amount of ingredients). You can make this in a traditional pot on the stove, in a rice cooker, or the Instant Pot (experiment based on your additions and appliance).
SUPER SIMPLE KITCHADI
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes
1/2 c basmati rise (I like brown, but white is fine too)
1 c mung dahl (split yellow)
3 c water
1/2 c chopped ginger root
2 tsp ghee (clarified butter; substitute coconut oil if vegan)
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds and/or coriander seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Option: 1/2 c small, cubed carrots (substitute or add peas for extra protein; cubed sweet potatoes in the fall)
Wash rice and dahl. Add water. Cook 20 minutes.
Add chopped veggie and cook 10 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, sautés cumin/coriander seeds, cumin, coriander, ginger in ghee/coconut oil.
When rice/dahl is done, stir in spices.
Serve in bowls and top with cilantro, fennel seeds, shredded coconut, toasted pumpkin seeds, etc. (cilantro and fennel can be one drop of high quality essential oil)
(In an Instant Pot, use the rice setting. In a rice cooker, cook normal time. These are easier options, but if you can use a pot on a stove, you can keep checking in on it the first time you make it and understand consistency - which allows you to adjust for the other appliances as needed.)