Eating for a Healthy Liver

Easy Beet Recipes
Baja Borscht
Mung Beans & Rice

What is Yogic Cooking?
Ingredient Information

Are you looking for a way to give yourself a “Liver Tune-Up”? There are different ways you can approach this, depending on what best suits you, your current health situation, and lifestyle. This could be anything from making simple changes in your current eating habits to going on an extended diet of specific foods.

DO’S & DON’TS: First off, I’ll give you a list of “helper” foods and a list of “avoid” foods. What you want to do is gradually increase the amounts of the helper foods and decrease the others. This is the easiest way to get started.

HELPERS: beets, radishes of all kinds, carrots, lemon juice, watermelon with black pepper, onions, melons (always eat melons alone), olives, raw vegetables, papaya, bananas, grapefruit, yogurt, Yogi Tea, black salt, black pepper, turmeric, and cardamom.

AVOID: all fried foods, cooked oil, caffeine and other stimulants, fried grains, all processed foods, cheese, meat, eggs, animal fat, alcohol, any food that is heavy or difficult to digest (taking more than 20 hours to pass).

LIVER TONICS: Another easy addition to your program is to start your day, the very first thing in the morning, with 8 ounces of cold, plain Yogi Tea. Take the Yogi Tea before you drink or eat anything else, sipping it slowly and mixing it with saliva well before swallowing. This is a well-known yogic liver tonic. In the alternative, you could sip unsweetened lemon juice and water (the juice of one lemon with 12 ounces of water). I would recommend sipping the lemon water through a straw to best maintain tooth enamel.

ONE-DAY AND ONE-WEEK MONO-DIETS/FASTS*: Once you are getting accustomed to the “helper” foods and life with less of the “avoid” foods, try a one-day fast or mono-diet of beets only. This is a good way to give your digestive system a “rest” and your liver a little tune up. Choose one day a week (Monday works for me) and have that be your cleanse day. You can try the beets different ways (see simple serving suggestions below), cooked or raw. Also, on your fast day, you can have as much plain Yogi Tea as you like, lemon juice (great squeezed over the beets) and, of course, lots of water. A little more aggressive approach would be doing the same fast for one full week, every 1-3 months.

CLEANSING DIETS*: Over the years I have tried numerous cleansing diets. I did well with the long-term strict mono-type diets when I was younger (40-day beet fast, banana fast, melon fast… more about these fasts another time). I’m better now with a little more variety and find that sticking to a regimen of pretty much only the foods on the “helper” list (and eliminating entirely the “avoid foods”) is very effective. Start with one week. Then next time, try it for two weeks, and then shoot for completing 40 days. Remember to drink lots of water.

When you have completed the diet, you should gradually introduce other foods. The best food to break the fast with and to give your body nutrients it has been lacking during the fast, is Mung Beans & Rice with Vegetables. This is a very easy-to-digest source of high-quality balanced protein, vegetables and fiber. It is a good alkaline food that is nurturing and rebuilding. Depending on how long you did the cleansing diet, you should have Mung Beans & Rice with Vegetables as your main food for several days to two weeks.

DEALING WITH CRAVINGS AND DEPRIVATION: Whatever program you choose to follow, if you find yourself beset with cravings for the foods you “can’t” have, try shifting your mind-set, so that it is a choice you have made, rather than a restriction put upon you. Usually within a week (often, just 1-2 days) the cravings subside, and you are feeling the effect of the diet: feeling more energy, lighter, and increased mental clarity, Importantly, if you go ahead and have that cup of coffee, or doughnut, or whatever, don’t feel guilty about it. You will probably find that whatever you ate or drank really wasn’t so satisfying after all. Let yourself feel renewed with inspiration to keep up!

Once, when I was on a long melon fast, every time there was a special meal, party, or feast with any food that I wished I could have… I took one serving and put it in the freezer. At the end of my fast I had a freezer full of cake, lasagna, pizza… you name it. And, you know what? I ended up not eating ANY of it; I had so lost the desire to eat that food. But, knowing I had some treats in the freezer for later did help me, in my weaker moments, from feeling deprived.

POSSIBLE OUTCOMES: You may start cleansing in ways you had not anticipated. Skin is the greatest organ we have for elimination, and it is not uncommon to have outbreaks of acne when on a cleansing program. Along the same vein, you may experience (actually, others may experience) increased body odor with an even less-inviting aroma. Also, your colon may go through some changes. Although beets help with regularity, you may find yourself with a little constipation or even runny stools. This is why it is important to drink lots of water and also drink Yogi Tea. Also, adding ground cardamom to the beets will help with your elimination. If you are going on the one-week mono diet, keep in mind it is a week to cleanse, heal, relax, meditate, and do yoga. Choose yoga postures that are for the liver and digestion. It is not a time to go mountain climbing, run five miles a day, work out for two hours in the gym, or work under stress. If you are accustomed to a protein-based diet, you are not likely to have the stamina for any type of strenuous exercise.

AND DON’T FORGET FRESH JUICES: Carrot, beet and radish juice are also excellent for liver detox. Start with a combination of 6 oz. carrot, 1-2 oz. beet and 1-2 oz. radish (any type radish will do, daikon is a good choice) juice. The beet and radish juices are very potent and you should only very gradually increase their proportion. The radish juice, especially, is best taken immediately after juicing. (It’s flavor quickly deteriorates.) Always mix juices very well with saliva. They are a very concentrated food and need that saliva to digest the best and to give you their full effect. Chew your liquids and drink your solids is an old saying. Simply put: chew chew chew.

*As always, never undertake any fast or diet program without the approval and/or guidance of your health practitioner.


HOW TO COOK: Steam whole beets (with skins, roots, stem ends, and all) until just tender (the skins will blister a little bit and they will pierce fairly easily with a fork or knife). Depending on size (I cut the large ones in half) they will take about 25-30 minutes to cook. Test one beet by running it under cold water and removing the skins. The skin should easily slide off. If not, cook the beets a little longer (be sure there is enough water in there so they do not scorch). When done, remove the skins from all the beets and cut off the root and stem ends. 2 lbs of beets will make about 4 cups of cooked beets. For a one-day fast, you will need 3-5 pounds of beets. Just cook them all up in the morning or the night before.


  • Cut cooked beets into slices or ½” cubes and drizzle with lemon juice and pepper.
  • Make a Black Salt Lassi to enjoy with your beets: Blend in a blender 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt, ¼ teaspoon black salt, and 2-3 ice cubes. Add more salt if desired.
  • Mash beets and mix with ground cardamom, pepper, little black salt and lemon juice.
  • Baja Borscht:

    2 cups cooked beets

    3” gingerroot, sliced thinly, boiled for 20 minutes in:

    4 cups water; then strain for ginger tea

    1 Tbsp. lemon juice

    2 tsp. fresh mint, finely minced

    little salt or black salt

    Blend 2 cups cooked beets until smooth. Add 1½ cups ginger tea, lemon juice, mint and salt to taste. Serve cold or heated.
  • Grate raw, peeled beets. Garnish with lemon juice, chopped cilantro, pepper
  • DAIKON RADISH: Peel and slice into sticks (like carrot sticks). Sprinkle with black salt. Great for snacks.
  • COOKED DAIKON: Steam whole (or in big chunks) and then peel. Slice or chop as desired. Add lemon juice and black salt, maybe a little cilantro.
  • RADISHES & RICE: a great combination. Use 1 cup basmati rice to 2 cups water. Bring water to a boil, add the washed and well drained rice, 1 bunch of red radishes (whole or chopped), 1-2 tsp. turmeric, ½ tsp. pepper, and about ¾ tsp. black salt. You can add other seasonings too (poppy seeds, celery seeds, green chilies). Return to boil, cover, turn to low, and let steam for 10 minutes. Keep covered, remove from heat, and let stand another 5-8 minutes.

Mungbeans & Rice with Veggies
Yield: approximately 1 gallon (8-12 servings)

This sort of curried stew is a great staple for the vegetarian/yogic diet.
Mungbeans and Rice together make a balanced protein which, when cooked in
this way, is very easy on the digestive system. This dish is so nurturing
and satisfying. It is one of the best foods for breaking a fast or special
cleansing diet and any circumstance where the body needs replenishing (such
as in illness recovery and the first few days after child birth). It is one
food I never tire of! Serve it as is, or dressed up a little bit with a
spoonful of fresh salsa on top! Sometimes I add water and take it more like
a soup (adjust flavor with a touch of tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos). Or,
make it on the thick side and roll up in a flour tortilla (like a burrito)
with chopped onion and lettuce. My favorite way is to have a simple bowlful
with a little chopped cilantro and crushed red chilies on top.

The seasoning in this recipe is mild. To spice it up a bit, add 1/2 to 1
tsp. of crushed red chiles and used rounded measurements for the other
spices (instead of leveled measuring spoons). You may also increase the
ginger and garlic per your taste. From start to finish, you can have this
ready to serve within 60-75 minutes (depending on how fast you chop!). Make
a potful, and enjoy it for several days for lunch and/or dinner.

It will keep refrigerated up to five days (but is always best fresh), and
does not freeze well.

4 quarts water
1 cup mung beans, sorted and rinsed well
2 medium onions, chopped
2″ piece gingerroot, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
3/4 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. curry powder or garam masala (optional)
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
6 cups chopped assorted vegetables (celery, chard, broccoli,
carrots, cauliflower, mustard greens.. whatever you like)
1 1/4 cup basmati rice, sorted and rinsed well
2 Tbsp. butter or ghee (optional)
salt, tamari soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos to taste

Bring water to boil in a 6-quart soup pot. Add mung beans and cook at a
light boil, uncovered. Add onions and ginger as they are prepped. Add
spices. When beans begin to split open add garlic, vegetables and rice. Cook
15-20 minutes over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally, and more as it
thickens. Add butter or ghee and season with salt, tamari or Braggs. Remove
from heat and let it sit another 15 minutes (it will thicken up a little

Based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan

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Written by Siri-Ved Kaur Khalsa

Explore Wellness in 2021