We are now well into January and although the light is slowing drawing out it can be a time when our energy and motivation is low. Christmas holiday festivities can also leave us feeling sluggish as we often change both our sleep and eating habits. The start of a new year and new decade can prompt us into a “new me” state of mind and a desire to make changes. Awareness of what we can do to help ourselves helps us feel motivated and inspired but we can also go into frustration and feelings of not being enough as we are. We are still in deep Winter and nature around us is hibernating and drawing strength. This is a good time to mirror the same energy in our daily life by taking plenty of rest, eating nourishing food, exercising to keep supple and reflecting on the year past and planning the year ahead.
Mung Beans are the perfect mid-Winter food as they are super nourishing and will fill you up but are cleansing and restorative. Rich in pectin and butyrate they are very soothing for the gut, turning fibre into a demulcent coating for irritated intestinal walls and promoting good gut bacteria. Studies have also found them to be beneficial in balancing blood sugar levels and cholesterol so very helpful for getting back on track after holiday food. High in protein, fibre, B Spectrum vitamins, calcium and minerals they are antioxidant and are a great boost for immunity.
Here is our recipe that we enjoy ourselves and have shared with our clients for many years. I use a slow cooker to get the deepest flavour. The astringent quality of mung beans is part of their magic in healing and toning the digestive system. Cooking them slowly over a long period softens this astringency for an easy to digest soup.
1 cup whole green mung beans (rinsed and soaked overnight in cold water)4 cups water 2 tablespoons ghee 1 small onion chopped 2 garlic cloves crushed, ½ teaspoon turmeric, a pinch asafoetida, 1tsp ground coriander, ½ teaspoon curry powder (Just ingredients mild curry powder) ½ teaspoon salt or to taste. Lemon or Lime, handful chopped coriander.
Soaking the mung beans overnight helps them soften during cooking and increases their digestibility. Add beans to slow cooker and cover with the water (note I find if you initially use just enough water to cover them, they soften quicker and you can then add more water to get the consistency of soup you want. If you add lots of water at the beginning, they take ages to cook.) Turn onto high or Auto depending on how quickly you want the soup to be ready.
Heat the ghee or alternative oil in a frying pan. Sauté chopped onion on a medium heat for a few minutes then turn heat down low and cover. Leave for 15 minutes or until onions are very soft and a little golden. Add garlic and cook until a good smell is released then add turmeric, coriander, asafoetida and curry powder. Stir gently and cook for a minute to release flavour of the spices. Add to slow cooker and stir well. Depending on the setting you have used the mung beans should be soft in about 5 hours. The longer you can leave them the softer and more cohesive the soup becomes. Add water to your preferred consistency and salt to your own tastes. Finally add a squeeze of lime or lemon and a handful of chopped coriander.
Our moods naturally ebb and flow between creative and processing, extroverted and introverted. We might notice it more in the Winter though with the weather and tendency to draw inside amplifying our less self-supporting thoughts and patterns. Energy always follows interest, and this can be a good time to bring in more activities which genuinely interest you. It might be listening to podcasts on the way to work, taking a walk with a friend, sorting out your old photos, planning a trip away, trying a new class…the list is endless. The only thing that matter is it INTERESTS you rather that being something you feel you should do. When we are interested our metabolic and hormonal system responds positively and our whole health gets a boost.
We’ve put together a selection of our favourite supporting herbal companions for some extra help through the challenges of Wintery days and nights.
Brahmi is Ayurveda’s favourite herb for the mind and for improved clarity, focus and concentration. Used in Ayurveda to enhance memory and learning capability whilst also promoting a joyful sense of calm and peace.
Ayurveda describes a class of herbs as medhya rasayana or rejuvenating to the mind. They are antioxidants and natural stress relievers (adaptogens) that help improve circulation to the brain and sharpen cognitive function. Brahmi formula is blended from Ayurveda’s most effective mind rasayana herbs.
If you find it hard to keep positive and motivated at this time of year you may benefit from a boost to serotonin to feel brighter. Joy of Living capsules contain a blend of powerful botanicals, including Brahmi and vitamins to both lift your spirits and improve mental clarity
Just the aroma and fresh taste of this tea is enough to uplift your spirits on a grey day. This blend of amber, yarrow, valerian root and chamomile work naturally to enhance your mood and relieve stress. A balanced mix of cinnamon, fennel, green mint, ginger, liquorice root, hibiscus, clove, red pepper and cardamom combines to produce a tasty, fruity flavour. Plus an extra pinch of orange zest, for extra vitamin C and antioxidants.
The seasons brings us different gifts so enjoy the variety that we get to experience from living in a climate of four seasons. Feast on the sweet, root vegetables, heavier foods and last of the Autumn fruits whilst our digestive fire is still strong. Rest and reflect whilst the nights are still long and finish those inside projects before the long days call us outside. The leaner times of Spring will be here soon and time to renew and cleanse.
The hope of spring is in the air on warmer days and light is definitely drawing out but often your energy feels at its lowest during this last stretch of winter. Try some of our tips for feeling lighter and stronger during kapha season.