Do a Kitchen Cleanse!

Cleansing your kitchen is a great complementary practice to a spring digestive cleanse. In the same way the body naturally wants to purge excess accumulation during this season, we also find desires to clear our physical spaces of clutter as well.

Kitchen cleansing is a great way to cultivate a deeper sense of mindfulness in the kitchen. Food waste is at epidemic proportions and I’ve found that doing regular kitchen cleanses helps me to be more mindful of using everything that I buy and minimizes the waste coming out of my kitchen. When I first started doing these, it was sometimes staggering how many half-bags of bulk foods I had floating around, sometimes with multiple portions of the same items.

Here are seven tips to make your kitchen cleansing process effective and easeful:

1) Take everything out. Empty your fridge, freezer, pantry and cupboards shelf by shelf. This allows you to take thorough stock of what exactly you have. As you take out each item, purge anything that is well past its expiration date (use a smell test for anything just expired), as well as any items that have visibly degraded or that you are certain you won’t use. For any items that are still usable, you might donate them to a friend or seek out your local Buy Nothing group if you use Facebook (people on my local group are always giving away partially-used food items).

2) Take inventory. After a shelf is empty, clean it well to remove any dust or food matter that may have accumulated. As you return items to their rightful place, make mental notes of things you might wish to use that you may have forgotten about. You might commit to using as many items as possible in your meal planning for the next week.

3) Find a place for everything. If you’re a bulk foods shopper like I am, consider transferring any items in bags to jars. This has a few advantages: a) foods will stay fresher for longer, and b) foods become more visible. Jars can initially seem bulkier to store, but The Container Store and other places sell expanding shelves that allow you to house items efficiently in a way where you can see everything.

4) Say goodbye to sad spices. The good thing about spices is that they last quite a long time, often even beyond any printed expiration dates on their packaging. But, they do eventually lose their potency, both in terms of flavor and medicinal effect. As you go through your spices, get rid of any that have clearly changed in color (this is often most prevalent in green leafy dried herbs like oregano). To test other items, place a small amount of a spice in your hand or on a spoon. Bring it to your nose. If you don’t detect a pungent odor, chances are it is pretty lifeless and should be replaced. You can avoid collecting too many spices by seeking out somewhere that sells spices in bulk, where you can buy small amounts or just what you need, rather than a full jar. For those in Los Angeles, Spice Station is my go-to for bulk spices (and they ship for those who are not local). Co-opportunity in Santa Monica also has a great selection of mainly organic spices.

5) Label everything. Have you ever tried to discern a bag of dried marjoram from dried oregano? Stared at a powdered spice mix with no clue what it is? Or forgotten the name of that really cool heirloom dried bean you bought at the farmers market? Labeling jars or other unmarked packaging makes everything easier, especially when you share a kitchen with someone else who also enjoyed cooking. A Sharpie and masking tape will do the trick, or an old-school label maker is always fun!

I love my label maker!

I love my label maker!

6) Remove clutter. After you’ve tackled food items, turn your attention to your kitchen counters. If you find things that don’t pertain to cooking, move them elsewhere. Let your kitchen be a dedicated space to cook in, not an office. Find new homes for anything that doesn’t belong there.

Once counters are done, empty and inventory all cabinets and drawers housing your kitchen tools. If you come across anything you haven’t used in over a year or that you purchased for one-time use, consider donating it or gifting it to someone who can use it (again, the Buy Nothing groups mentioned above are great for this). The same goes for anything you may have excess of. You only need so many measuring cups, wooden spoons, etc.

7) Be regular. I recommend doing a kitchen cleanse twice a year, and schedule mine to coincide with my annual spring and fall cleanses. If you don’t have a regular cleansing routine, set a reminder in your phone for the spring and autumn equinoxes to prompt you.

Do you have a favorite kitchen cleansing tip? Click “Comment” and share below!




Clean Up Your Springtime Routine

The warmer (and in some places wetter) days of spring are upon us, and chances are you may be feeling the urge to clean up your life a bit. Whether you’re caught up in the craze of konmaring your closet or looking for cleaner foods to eat, the ancient science of Ayurveda provides some insight into why so many of us feel like lightening up in the springtime.

From the Ayurvedic perspective, spring is the season of kapha, an energetic quality associated with the elements of earth + water (think: mud). Typical descriptors of kapha include dense, heavy and slow, but the one that I prefer (that came to me via my dear friend Dr. Siva Mohan) is accumulation.

Spring is the time that we actively work to counteract physical manifestations of various accumulations in the body (which may present as excess mucous, slow digestion, bloating or a few extra pounds), and in the same way, we may feel the urge to clean up other facets of our lives as well.

My personal routine includes a weeklong food-based Ayurvedic cleanse (you can join in as well!) and a commitment to do more vigorous exercises this time of year. I’m also a big believer in a daily neti pot, which is great year-round, but particularly beneficial in the spring for anyone suffering from allergies.

I asked a few wellness-expert friends for their top recommendations for cleaning up their self-care routines in the springtime and I’m delighted to share their suggestions with you:

1) Get Your Lymph Moving

Ever since I discovered Ayurveda, I’ve been a big fan of sugar and salt scrubs as a way to stimulate the lymphatic system (dry-brushing also works wonders). A daily scrub not only helps to counteract stagnant accumulations in your body’s joints and tissues, but also helps boost your immune response as well. I generally make my own scrubs because many commercial scrubs contain synthetic ingredients, manufactured scents and nasty things like plastic beads, but I’ve been blown away by Beautycounter’s Lustro Sugar Scrub, which was gifted to me by Chantalynn Huynh. It’s simply sugar with natural therapeutic and essential oils, and its amazing lemongrass citrus scent will invigorate your mind as well as your skin. Chantalynn has been educating me (and the world!) about Beautycounter's products and benefits, and I highly recommend this brand to anyone looking to make more conscious skincare/cosmetic choices.


2) Make Kitchari

Kitchari is an easy-to-digest mung bean and rice stew that Ayurveda prescribes for cleansing. Aside from its digestive wonders, it helps to strip toxins from the blood and also is a complete protein, so it leaves you feeling satisfied and energized. It’s the main superstar in my online cleanse, and a regular part of my everyday diet as well. If you want to simplify your shopping and whip up a batch, Dr. Siva Mohan offers a kitchari kit complete with mung beans and spice mix. Just add rice and water and you’re good to go! I also like adding chopped vegetable while cooking for a complete one-pot meal. If you join in my spring cleanse, you'll get to know Siva as one of our guest speakers during the week and also learn some of her best tips for managing kapha season.



3) Drink Tea

One of the simplest (and most delicious) ways to fight accumulation in the body is by using stimulating spices. This chai tea from Left Coast Apothecary was recommended by founder Alexandra Scott as a great kapha-buster. It contains warming spices like cinnamon, and ginger, which help stoke your belly fire, as well as dandelion root, which is an incredibly powerful detoxifying herb. Added to the mix is Trikatu, a blend of three types of pepper, which has been used for centuried in Ayurveda as a way to rid the both of excess ama (accumulation that gathers in the body from undigested food). This blend is a great digestive booster, and is sure to provide noticeable results whether you choose to include it as part of a formal cleanse or not.

What are your favorite ways to manage kapha season? Any special products to recommend? Share in the comments below!