Kitchen Sink Kitchari (an Anti-Candida Stew)

[UPDATE, JUNE 2010:  In March, 2009, I began a much more serious (and much more restrictive) candida diet after suffering from myriad candida symptoms for more than 6 months.  Finally, with a raging rash taking over my torso, I had to succumb and begin the diet afresh.  After 15 months (so far) I’m 90% better, lost 45 pounds, and feel terrific.  To read from the beginning of my “new” candida journey, see this post.]

These days, I can’t think of a single person I know who isn’t stressed.  I mean, with all our modern amenities, our time-saving devices, our plugged-in technology, most of us are still plagued with a constant sense “never enough” or “not up to snuff.”  And I’m not too proud to admit that I myself am probably preternaturally sensitive to stressors in my life.  In fact, it’s possible that I react just a wee bit more forcefully to stress than the average person. Truth be told, I find it downright impossible to cope some days.  Oh, all right, fine; I admit it:  I’m basically a slobbering mass of quivering kanten who’s totally incapable of coping with excess pressure.  (I mean, do you know anyone else who had to quit meditation because it was too stressful?)

It’s not as if most of us can just take off for a few weeks to our  spectacular retreat in New Zealand when we feel overwhelmed by life’s little curve balls (how lovely for you that you could, though, Shania).  Some, like the HH, play records (as opposed to CDs) to de-stress; others play with their home décor, wardrobe or hairstyle. Some play the clarinet.  And then there are those who simply play around.

Me, I like to play in the kitchen.

Throughout my recent hiatus from the blog, I kept encountering interesting recipes or ideas for baked goods and my hands would itch to get back to cooking.  There’s something immensely soothing about swishing a wooden spoon over and over through a clear, fragrant broth, or chopping mindlessly as carrots are transformed into mounds of tiny, uniform cubes on the cutting board.

But what to cook? As I mentioned last time, I’ve embarked once again on an anti-candida diet for a few weeks, which means my diversions in the kitchen will have to comply with the guidelines of that eating plan. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the anti-candida diet is basically a nutritional means to reduce the candida albicans yeast that’s present in and around us all the time, but which occasionally multiplies out of control in certain people (those with compromised immune systems, those with blood sugar issues, those with hormonal imbalances, etc.)   My personal weakness is an addiction to sweets; sugar is the number one preferred vittle for those microscopic opportunists.

In order to reduce the number of candida organisms down to a “normal” level, the anti-candida program (I’ll just call it ACD from now on) commonly recommends cutting out any foods that could potentially feed the yeast or encourage it to grow.  In its most stringent form, the diet would eliminate:

  • anything containing any kind of sugar (cane, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, brown rice syrup, etc.–plus fruits, fresh and dried);
  • simple carbohydrates, which convert to glucose very quickly (flours, pasta, bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, biscuits, crackers, cornstarch and similar starches, and any other baked goods of any kind; candies, chocolate, ice cream, pudding, anything candy-like; white potatoes, white rice and any other white grains)
  • foods that contain mold or fungus or encourage it to grow (yeast is a fungus, after all): mushrooms, peanuts, cashews, melons, cheeses;
  • the most common allergens or foods that could cause allergic responses (which trigger the yeast): dairy, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy foods;
  • foods that are fermented or might encourage fermentation (on which yeast feeds): alcohol, vinegars, all condiments (no ketchup, sorry); soy sauce, etc.
  • anything artificial, processed, containing chemicals or additives, imitation or artificial seasonings and flavorings and colorings;
  • pop, fruit juice, presweetened drinks, coffee, tea.

Right about now, you may be wondering, “what the heck CAN you eat??”  Good question.  The basic list of “permitted” foods is actually shorter than those that are prohibited.  Still, there’s quite a bit left that’s both tasty and nourishing:

  • all vegetables except very high-glycemic ones (such as white potatoes, corn, etc.)
  • whole, gluten-free grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, etc.)
  • beans and legumes
  • some nuts and most seeds
  • water
  • natural, cold-pressed oils (especially olive oil)
  • a bit of lemon juice
  • stevia (a natural herbal sweetener that doesn’t affect blood sugar levels)

I was leafing through the book that became my ACD Bible when I was first on the diet about 10 years ago (called The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook), and I have to admit I began to despair a little.  Life without pancakes on Sunday mornings?  Life devoid of fresh, juicy fruits? Life sans a little tipple on occasion?  How would I cope?  What could I eat when the HH and I went out to dinner?  What would I do when my friends invited me to Starbucks to catch up?  It was starting to feel mighty stressful around here.  So I exhibited my usual reaction when I’m feeling stessed:  I got into the kitchen when I couldn’t stand the yeast.

After consulting with a few classmates currently practising as holistic nutritionists, I was reassured that the ACD diet had been revised in recent years.  Considered unduly restrictive (you think??) it’s since been amended to better reflect current trends in the fields of nutrition and scientific research.  Apparently, some sweet foods can now be included as long as they’re low on the glycemic index or GI (which means they don’t raise blood sugar levels very quickly). A low GI denies the yeast its main source of nutrition–glucose. In other words, this time round, I can include most nontropical fruits (such as apples, some pears, berries, or peaches) in my menus, as well as minute amounts of agave nectar, a natural sweetener that’s also low-glycemic.

Scanning the ingredients of my refrigerator for inspiration, the first thought that occurred to me was to cook up some kitchari.  This Ayurvedic cleansing stew is a flexible recipe that always features rice, mung beans, and certain spices; beyond that, anything goes. It seemed perfect for that little flock of cauliflower florets waiting patiently to make themselves useful. There was also a lone sweet potato perched on the counter (the only survivor of the Sweet Potato and Ginger salad I made the other day), so those were my veggie choices, but you can use whatever you like or have on hand. The HH thinks this dish bears an unfortunate resemblance to Klingon gach, but I love its mushy, nubby base and nourishing, comforting broth.

The stew simmers gently for almost an hour, infusing your entire home with the fragrant, soothing aromas of Indian spices as it bubbles.  It may have been intended as a cleansing stew, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of flavor.  One serving of this, and your stress will evaporate, right into the swirling plumes of steam emanating from your bowl.

Since the mung beans feature so prominently in this dish, I’m submitting it to Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook for her second My Legume Love Affair event.

[UPDATE, JUNE 2010:  In March, 2009, I began a much more serious (and much more restrictive) candida diet after suffering from myriad candida symptoms for more than 6 months.  Finally, with a raging rash taking over my torso, I had to succumb and begin the diet afresh.  After 15 months (so far) I’m 90% better, lost 45 pounds, and feel terrific.  To read from the beginning of my “new” candida journey, see this post. Amazing changes occurred over time–and by 2015, I even had a best-selling guidebook and cookbook on the topic!]

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  1. It is a super restrictive diet – I remember a flatmate doing it and crying every night…

    This looks great. Really great.

    Shania in NZ? Lucky woman…

  2. I had no idea that cashews and peanuts encouraged candida to grow. Interesting.

    The kitchari looks lovely. I think the anti candida is just a refined version of the way most of us eat anyway? Wouldn’t you agree?

  3. you just knew there is a bag of mung beans helplessly waiting for me to do something with them, didn’t you?

  4. That stew looks gorgeous! I was a bit scared when you made that list. I was going, tick, tick, tick and thinking that is my diet, except for the caffine. I am so glad, I don’t have to think about that. *hugs* to you 🙂

  5. You are adorable! My hope is to mellow out myself, though I have been told by friends that I actually make espresso feel nervous when I’m around – not all the time, but often. I am striving for zen.

    This stew sounds great, and while challenging, I think restrictive diets force us to become more creative, which is a great thing!

  6. Yep just reading that list and thinking of life without all that food is very stressful – makes the revised diet seem ridiculously generous. I never realised just how restricted the ACD is – I had naively thought it was a matter of cutting out yeast (ie bread). But this has given me new respect (and fear) for your diet

  7. Glad you’re back! Yay!

    That anti-candida stew looks amazing. Will pass it along to a friend who suffers with the disease.

  8. We eat a similar diet then, Ricki 🙂 Love the stew recipe!

  9. I wish you all the luck on the ACD. It seems like a challenging diet, but the dish you posted about today looks might good!

  10. I totally relate to what you say about you and stress, totally.

    The kitchari looks amazing!

  11. that looks lovely! How funny that we both did cauli posts.

    In a few weeks I will have to go on a very strict grain and sugar free for a month (phooey) and am trying to get myself prepared. What I will miss most is actually crystallized ginger. I’ve tried to make it myself with stevia, and it’s turned out stringy and, well, not very good. I thought if anyone would know, you or your readers might…any thoughts?

  12. Mmm that looks delicious. Sweet potato makes everything better!

  13. Oh–me, me, me! I get/got stressed out by meditation too! My friends thought I was crazy, but I am glad to know that I am not the only one :o) Confession: Yoga stresses me out too…

    Cooking is definitely a stress reliever for me, and I am really excited to cook/eat your anti-candida goodies! Knowing that low GI fruits can be included makes me feel *much* more at ease going for the diet…I think I am going to do it!


  14. Lucy,
    Yes, I felt like your flatmate many times during those other two years on the diet. But this time round, I’m not being as strict–I’m doing it more for the psychological boost, I think, so am a bit more relaxed with the “rules.” And I guess Shania is pretty lucky even w/o a retreat in NZ!

    Some nuts tend to harbor molds in their shells, and it’s considered bad for candida (triggers the candida, which is a fungus itself). I’d say the candida diet is a pared down version of what most of us eat, for sure. But for someone on the “SAD” (Standard American Diet–ie, mostly McDonald’s and other junk food-type stuff), it can be quite the shocker!

    Perfect way to use mung beans! And I’m blushing to admit it was the first time I’ve ever cooked them. Yikes.

    Thanks so much! For some weird reason, it really doesn’t feel that difficult this time round. And I’d say you are very lucky, indeed, and hope you NEVER have to think about it!

    That is a riot about the espresso. Zen sounds like a great goal to me, too. . . be sure to let me know how you accomplish it, wouldja?

    Gee, I suppose even this diet could be stressful, how true! But it’s more or less what I usually eat anyway, just minus a few things. At least I don’t have to learn to eat totally NEW foods on this diet!

    Thanks so much! And hope it’s a help to your friend, too.

    It’s certainly a GF diet, so yes, similar!

    Thanks so much! And if I think of it as a challenge rather than a restriction, I’m sure it will seem much more fun 😉

    It’s nice to commiserate about stress, but I guess that means I’m sorry you feel that way, too! The kitchari helps, though. . . .

    Wow–a month! Oh, wait, I guess I’m doing about the same. . . you can do it!! Re: the crstyallized ginger, I think it’s the sugar that actually creates the crystals, so omitting that would be pretty tough. I’ll email you with some ideas.

    It’s true, I love sweet potatoes in everything, from breakfast to dinner and in between!

    Funny we had the same experience–the “pressure” to relax was just too stressful! I’ve since managed to try it out with more success, but my mind does still tend to wander. Haven’t tried yoga, though (but maybe now I shouldn’t?)

    One thing I didn’t mention about the low-glycemic fruits is that they should be eaten alone, never mixed with other foods (as in a salad). Fruit digests pretty quickly, so if you eat it 1/2 hour or more before a meal, it shouldn’t encourage the yeast. Basically, I eat it for breakfast or a snack–but it’s still nice to be able to have any at all!

  15. Mmmm, that looks so nourishing.

    I quit yoga because it made me too anxious. I couldn’t believe a roomful of people had time to just lay around on the floor. All I could think about was getting home and taking care of chores.

  16. Mmm, that looks very hearty & comforting. I’ve done the candida thing many years ago. It was very restrictive, but I lost a lot of weight and felt amazing. But I pretty much lived off of brown rice and this spicy almond sauce.

  17. aTxVegn,
    You sound like me during meditation–my mind kept returning to all the things I wasn’t doing because I was meditating! But I guess that’s the point–I’m the kind of personality that needs to leave all that behind, at least for 20 minutes a day!!

    I felt the same way the first time I did the diet, but this time round I’m being a little easier on myself, as my symptoms weren’t horrendous and I just want a boost to my healthy eating habits. Unfortunately, I didn’t lose ANY weight the last time. . . maybe this time round. And I’d LOVE that spicy sauce recipe!!

  18. Exactly–it was too much pressure to relax and and de-stress…it stressed me out! And I was always worrying I was doing it wrong, too. The same thing for yoga. I WISH they had been helpful.

    Thanks for the info about the fruits. I do enjoy snacking on fruit, so it will be nice to not have to give that up!


  19. That’s some fabulous stew, Ricki! Hard to believe you can still eat sumptuously with all the restrictions of this diet. My hat is off to you!

    Thanks for sharing this recipe for MLLA2.

  20. onlyjustwords says

    With a really severe case of Candida, rice is not possible, nor is Stevia, or chick peas, or lemon juice, and any antibiotic-tainted meat is also a huge problem. We sustained ourselves on turtle beans & raw vegetable salad and tisane for over 6 months because anything else would cause severe bloating and pain. We are only now after an entire year being able to introduce red rice. That’s how tough really severe acute stress can be on the system.

  21. onlyjustwords says

    Oh yes, and yogurt has been a real benefit, as has burdock root supplementation. But be extra careful about what sort of yogurt because manufacturers will sneak in powdered milk byproducts that the bacteria are not fully able to digest, and many Candida sufferers also suffer from lactose intolerance. Only buy yogurt with real milk and bacterial culture and nothing else in it.

    Sorry for being a pain, but I had to discover all this the hard way and it was no fun at all! 😛

  22. onlyjustwords says

    And sweet potato would have totally killed us!

  23. Wow, Ricki – just reread the things you are not eating. It’s a whole new level of tough. I think the only reason I CAN eat vegan is because I can still have bread, pasta, fruit, peanut butter(!).

    I bet you are laughing when people say that a regular vegan diet is restrictive. The diet WITH beer, AND cake.

  24. Oh. No fermented foods. Bummer. You are inspirational for sticking with it, and very creative! This recipe looks great, as does your faux chocolate!

  25. Ricki- Thanks for finding me on “The Kind Life”. This blog is a major help and inspiration for me!

  26. Hi Ricki
    Am definetly going to try this out as I was just diagnosed with candida a few weeks ago. I’ve been going to see Lisa Bixel. Believe you know her?

  27. this is a great recipe – i’m making it right now for the third time – my family loves it. i really appreciate your wonderful recipes & generosity in sharing them. (the lime pie rocks too!).

  28. Hey, I see that you used sweet potatoes in one of your recipes. I just got done with Phase 2 of the ACD from the book you used. I took the pau d arco caplets while on the diet. I was on the Phase 2 diet for about 2 months and went to the girlie dr. and she said that I am no longer have an infection. My question is that i see you used sweet potatoes in your recipes. I was confused in the book if sweet potatoes were safe or not because it says yams are foods to enjoy but yellow sweet potatoes aren’t. Anyway, I did enjoy sweet potato slices with cinnamon and cloves sprinkled on top baked in the oven basted with oil as a snack for a few weeks, but I laid off them for a while. I wasn’t sure if they were safe for the diet. I assume they are. I have just now been enjoying Phase 3 of the diet and more fruits. I am glad to find someone else who suffered with me :).

    • Hi ck,
      While I can’t say what would work for you, I know that sweet potatoes were okay for me. They are actually fairly low glycemic and are allowed in the first stage of the Whole Approach diet.

  29. Maybe if I just cook yummy stuff like this from your website and other ACD blogs and keep from labeling it at ACD in my mind, I won’t flip out? lol! This looks wonderful and is now on the menu for this week, thanks!

  30. Don’t beans & rice feed Candida? Is this recipe ok for stage 1?

    • It depends on which version of the diet you follow. The one formulated by Andrea Nakayama and me in my book allows both beans and brown rice. There are also several other anti-candida diets out there that allow them, too. Recent research has suggested that you do need some starches, and that candida feeds very easily on fats in the body.


  1. […] another wonderful recipe from Diet, Dessert and Dogs! I used quinoa instead of rice and I did put the sweet potato, but will […]

  2. […] of two grains, in this case quinoa and red lentils, which both cook up quickly. Other recipes use mung beans and basmati rice with more traditional Indian flavours, but really anything […]

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