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Friday, December 18, 2009

Cassoulet On A Winters Day

It is winter on this Saturday in the northeastern United States, and today the earth is covered in a blanket of snow. Fog has settled in over the mountain ridge and the lightness of day is gone by three-thirty. The fire is anxiously burning in the wood stove, but the kitchen still carries a slight chill. It is a good time to turn on the oven and bake something aromatic and satisfying for dinner. It has been a productive day. I have managed to shovel the snow from the long brick walkway, pushed a wheelbarrow full of firewood across an acre of yard and stacked them on the front porch. I have written three pages of dialogue between two central characters in the novel I am attempting to write and found a bottle of 2001 Reserva, Marques de Caceres stored in the basement; a blood red Spanish wine perfect for my current mood.

I open the wine and set it aside to breathe while I see to my beans and vegetables. I have a pot of black beans simmering on the stove and have added a few diced carrots. Two winter leeks are cut into half moons and soak in a bowl of water to extract any residue of sand and dirt. Meanwhile, I mince the garlic and sauté three chicken sausages, each sliced in half lengthwise. I remove from the freezer fresh basil, rosemary and thyme harvested from my garden as the late summer days spilled into autumn. The herbal leaves were tenderly plucked from their stems and placed in bags and then into the freezer. Yesterday, before the snowfall, I wandered into my garden and found the rosemary still vital and alive lifting up through the snow. All else in the substantial plot had succumbed to the frost and freezing temperatures.

Rosemary, for remembrance, is a strong, powerful herb symbolizing loyalty and friendship. Hamlet's Ophelia offers rosemary to the memory of her father as she goes mad with grief and sorrow. Eventually she drowns her sad self, but I suspect she would have reconsidered had she smelled my kitchen just before the cassoulet emerged from the oven. If rosemary is the herb of remembrance than it stands to reason that our ancestors used it medicinally to improve the memory. It is also a carminative, meaning an herb that soothes the digestive tract, and will help to relieve the flatulence causing properties of the beans I am cooking. I have combined black turtle beans with leeks, garlic, bay leaf, basil, rosemary, and thyme, all cooked in a deep, rich olive oil that was first used to sauté the chicken sausage. I have then topped this mixture with a cornmeal crust to seal in the flavors and absorb any surface juice.

I remove the cassoulet from the oven and I am stunned by its perfection. The crust seems to float atop the beans, sausage and vegetables, simmering in a red ceramic cassoulet dish. The design of this cooking pot is one of perfection, with its oval form and five inch depth. I had soaked it right along with my beans, to ensure an even and faithful distribution of heat. With a pot like this, one could achieve culinary fame and fortune; perhaps ending ones days on QVC selling ceramic cassoulet dishes to those who will use them only to decorate their massive country style kitchens. Then again, those culinary wannabe's may be inspired enough to discover the true purpose of their lovely Tuscan knick-knack with this recipe.

I have already gone back for seconds! The rich broth and complex flavors call to my very heart. The cornmeal crust is just thick enough to cushion the strength of the beans and sausage simmering for an hour in miso, herbs and kudzu root. The miso is sweet mellow white and the kudzu brings some thickness to the water used to cook the beans and carrots. I justify this gluttony with the memory of plowing through four inches of snow pushing a wheelbarrow filled with old logs; plus the fact that it tastes so good paired with the Marques de Caceres. I am content to end my day of winter labor indulging my senses before plunging into a week of promise.

For those of you reluctant chefs or for those who think this recipe will take to long to prepare, consider that you are presently home bound by the snow with nowhere to go and little to do that can bring you such pleasure. Rather than attempt to complete the recipe in one go, do a little at a time as you move through the kitchen in the course of your afternoon. In this way the whole process of preparing your evening meal will receive the time and respect it deserves, slowly cooked with love and anticipation and savored on a cold winters night in front of a roaring fire.

Black Bean and Sausage Cassoulet
1 1/2 cups dried black beans
3 cups water
2 carrots, halved and chopped
3 Italian chicken sausages
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white part, chopped in half moons
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 leaves fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1 stalk fresh rosemary
3 stems fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3 small bay leaves
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbs. mellow white miso
1 Tbs. kudzu root
½ tsp. sea salt

Topping
½ cup corn meal
2/3 cups spelt (or whole wheat) flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese or soy parmesan
2/3 cup non-dairy or dairy milk
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 egg or egg replacer

1. Once you have soaked the beans and chopped the carrots, drain the beans and return to the pot with 4 cups water and the chopped carrots. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes.
2. While the beans are cooking chop and soak the leeks, mince the garlic and gather your herbs together. Slice the chicken sausage lengthwise; heat the oil in a heavy skillet and sauté the sausage until browned on both sides. Remove to a plate.
3. Add the strained leeks to the oil and cook until tender, then add the garlic and herbs, stirring well to combine.
4. Remove a cup of cooking liquid from the beans and set aside. Add the leek and herb mixture to the beans then pour the bean liquid into the skillet to collect any remaining oil and herbs. Return this liquid to the bean mixture and stir well.
5. Soak the cassoulet pot for 15 minutes in water, drain and have the pan warmed and ready, then pour the black bean mixture into the pot. Cover and place into a pre-heated 375-degree oven and cook for 30 minutes. While the beans are cooking prepare the top crust.
6. In a medium size bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, Romano cheese, baking powder and sea salt. Whisk together the milk, oil and egg and stir it into the flour mixture, combining well. Set aside.
7. Dissolve the miso and kudzu in a half cup of water.
8. When the beans are done remove from oven and uncover carefully. Stir in the miso/kudzu mixture and a half-teaspoon of sea salt. Slowly pour the cornmeal mixture over the top of the black beans and return, uncovered, to the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and allow to bake for another 30 minutes or until the crust is cooked.
9. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I suggest you invite some friends over so you don't end up eating it all at one sitting.

Friday, December 11, 2009

VEGETARIAN SWEET POTATO STEW


This evening I was invited to prepare some kind of vegetarian stew for our towns Main St. Christmas event. The dish needed to be kept warm in a crock pot so I could easily ladle it into cups for customers browsing for Christmas gifts and weekend groceries. As the front door of Natures Harvest swung open it ushered in families of 4 and 5, couples out on the town and a frigid 15 degree wind blowing in behind them. No one refused a cup of piping hot vegetable stew with a dollop of yogurt and before long I was scraping the last of the juice off the bottom of the pot.

This recipe is enough to fill a 3.5 quart crock pot. I first prepared the recipe in a large enamel coated Dutch oven, while the crock pot was warming up, and then transferred the mixture to the crock pot. At that point I walked away and let the pot do the cooking, there was nothing more for me to do. Gotta love it.

You can substitute some chicken sausage for the vegetarian version if that is more to your liking, and make sure to cut the vegetables in bite size pieces, not to big or to small. I did use some red wine I had sitting around, really just to get rid of it, and it balanced the sweetness of the vegetables very nicely. The store was running a special on a new product, canned peeled baby tomatoes, so I threw those into the mix and the combination of flavors worked really well together. The cumin and fennel seeds are my present obsession, so naturally they started the whole ball rolling. To make it more belly filling serve the stew over some cooked brown rice and top it with a teaspoon of plain yogurt. Then sit down to a big bowl of steaming delight and let your senses do the rest.


VEGETARIAN SWEET POTATO STEW
 Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 cups leeks, chopped, white only
1 red pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cup sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cup butternut squash, peeled,chopped
1 cup red wine or vegetable stock
28.2 ounce can cherry tomatoes plus juice or diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 vegetarian sausage, casing removed, sliced half lengthwise, then sliced into pieces.

1. Turn a 3.5 quart crock pot to HIGH and cover.
2. In a large dutch oven heat the oil over medium high and sauté the cumin and fennel seeds until browned.
3. Add the leeks, stir well, cover, reduce heat and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the red pepper, stir and cook another minute.
5. Add the carrot, sweet potato and squash one at time stirring to combine and waiting 2 minutes before adding the next vegetable.
6. Pour in the wine or stock and stir well. Bring to a low simmer and pour in the cherry tomatoes with juice. Stir to combine.
7. Add the water and sea salt and bring all to a low simmer.
8. Stir the sausage into the stew, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
9. Remove the lid from the crockpot and ladle the vegetable stew into the crockpot. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce heat to LOW and cook until ready to serve at least another hour.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

MISO BASED RECIPES

"Our daily meals mirror our evolutionary development. If we eat foods of the proper quality and in the correct amounts and sequence, we may fulfill our biological potential. We will grow strong in body and mind and pass our vitality, life, and spirit on to the next generation. If our way of eating is unbalanced or chaotic, we will lose our health, and our family will decline." Aveline Kushi

In Aveline Kushi's book The Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking, she writes about the importance of serving foods in their proper sequence. The meal begins with a light soup, ideally containing sea vegetables, miso and tamari, which represents the composition of the ocean from which primitive life evolved. From there the meal moves from the more contracted dish's such as root vegetables and protein towards whole grains, leafy greens and finally raw salads.

One food that is used throughout Japanese cooking is miso, a fermented paste made from soybeans, seasalt, koji (a mold starter) and often combined with whole grains and beans.  The versatility of miso allows for creativity in making soups, dressings, sauces, dipping sauces, marinades, spreads and pates.
You can read more about the benefits of miso on my care2 blog, but for here I have posted some quick and delicious recipes for using miso on a daily basis. Just remember not to over use this salty condiment or you'll be swinging in the opposite direction and looking for something sweet and liquid.

Tofu Ricotta Cheese
Yield:  4 – 6 servings

1 block of soy tofu
2 large Tbs. mellow white miso
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast

1.  Press a heavy plate on top of the soy tofu to release the excess water.
2.  When all the water from the soy tofu has been completely expressed place the soy tofu into a bowl with the miso and the yeast.
3.  Using your hands, mash mixture.
4.  Cover the bowl and let it sit on the counter overnight.
5.  Use the soy tofu in place of ricotta cheese.

Hummus A L'Orange
Yield:  4 servings

1 can cooked chick peas
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbs. white miso
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice or 1 tbsp. frozen concentrate
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. minced ginger
Juice of one lemon
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1/3 cup soaked almonds

1.  Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.
2.  Serve with raw vegetables or chips.

Tahini Miso Spread
Yield:  4 servings

4 Tbs. tahini
1 Tbs. apple juice or water
1 Tbs. sweet white miso

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Miso Vegetable Soup
Yield:  4 servings

2 carrots julienne
1 small onion, chopped
4 dried shitake mushrooms, broken into pieces
4-6 cups water or vegetable broth
small piece of wakame sea vegetable, soaked in water
1 tsp. mellow white miso per cup of soup

1.  Combine ingredients in a soup pot (including soaking liquids) and bring to a boil.
2.  Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender.
3.  Ladle a small amount into a bowl and dissolve the miso.
4.  Add miso broth back into soup and serve immediately.

Leek Quesedillas
Yield:  2 servings

2 sprouted grain tortillas
½ cup grated soy or fontina cheese
2 large leeks chopped and sautéed in olive oil
2 cups of raw spinach
2 Tbs. peanut butter
1 Tbs. miso

1.  Mix peanut butter with miso and spread on one tortilla.
2.  Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, then the cooked leeks, and finally the spinach.
3.  Top with the second tortilla and spray the top with olive oil.
4.  Spray a round heavy skillet or griddle with olive oil and lay the tortilla into the heated pan.
5.  Cover and cook on med-low for 3-5 minutes.
6.  Remove cover and turn over, re-cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the spinach is wilted.
7.  Slice and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TOFU AND SPINACH IN PUFF PASTRY


     Years ago when I was invited to share Thanksgiving dinner with a group of friends I would always bring along a favorite dish to share. I confess that it was also for my own enjoyment because I was usually the only vegetarian amongst some serious turkey eaters. The first few times this happened I made the mistake of waiting for everyone to serve themselves at the buffet. By the time I got to my contribution I would find mere crumbs to enjoy. I had learned this lesson as a teenager growing up in a family of 10 children and 2 adults. When people are hungry they have one thought and that is to satisfy their food lust. Thereafter I made sure to set aside a portion for myself and let the hungry hoards devour the rest.

     I was moved to share this experience because the following recipe was everyone's favorite dish at these holiday gatherings. Every time I prepare this recipe I make sure there is enough for a group, knowing there will be no leftovers to take home with me. Unfortunately, Pepperidge Farm is the only puff pastry available in the supermarket and there is not a whole grain version available on the market. A good niche to fill if anyone is so inclined. I have also adapted this recipe using a homemade dough from spelt flour and it worked quite well. However, for a quick solution the puff pastry comes in real handy.


    Tofu and Vegetables in Puff Pastry
Serves 12

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2- 10 ounce packages of frozen spinach
    1 jar of roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and cut into thin strips
    1- 14 ounce package firm tofu, crumbled
    ½ teaspoon nutmeg
    sea salt, to taste
    1 -17.3 ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed
    1 cup non-dairy (or dairy) Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1. Defrost the puff pastry in the fridge overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 375°F. 

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion until just tender, add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
4. Add the spinach, and red peppers, cooking until spinach is tender. 

5. Add the nutmeg and crumbled tofu stirring well. Cook 3 minutes to combine the flavors.

6. Spray a baking pan and roll out one sheet of the puff pastry.

7. Scoop half the sautéed vegetables along one edge lengthwise, sprinkle with grated soy cheese and roll the pastry into a log. 

8. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry and roll into a log.

9. Bake 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.


Monday, November 16, 2009

LIVER/GALLBLADDER FLUSH


Gallstones are the result of a congested liver not able to detox naturally. Sediment from the liver settles in the bile and accumulates in the gallbladder, blocking the bile duct that leads to the duodenum. Eating a whole-foods diet and avoiding foods high in fat is a recommended treatment for first softening gallstones before flushing them from the system.

Before attempting to flush gallstones from your gallbladder check with a reputable holistic medical practitioner and proceed under his/her guidance.

In Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, Paul Pitchford recommends the following 21-day plan to slowly dissolve the stones. Each day, along with eating a balanced whole foods diet, you should also:
  • Eat one or two radishes.
  • Drink five cups of chamomile tea.
  • Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of fresh, cold-pressed flax oil to two meals.
After the 21 days continue using the flax seed six days a week, over the next two months.
Along with this plan he suggests you include foods that help to dissolve gallstones, such as pears, apples, parsnips, sea vegetables, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and the spice turmeric. According to Pitchford, this program will safely remove all sediment from your gallbladder.

SEVEN DAY LIVER/GALLBLADDER FLUSH

The ingredients of this 7 day flush has you including green apples into your diet, for the six days prior to doing the full flush.

For days one through six you will need:
  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 glasses of fresh organic apple juice
Have the apples and juice each day while continuing to eat a whole-foods diet low in fatty foods.
One hour before bed each night, mix together:
  • 2 TB. cold-pressed olive oil
  • 2 TB. lemon or grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
  • 8 oz. distilled water (warm or room temperature)
Drink slowly and immediately go to bed, lying on your right side. Repeat this protocol for six days.
On day seven have a colonic or give yourself an enema in the morning. The colonic will help to alleviate any uncomfortable reactions to the flush such as cramping, nausea, headaches, and heartburn.
Following the colonic, drink only the fresh apple juice and eat lightly cooked foods for the remainder of the day. Eating raw foods after a colonic can cause indigestion.

NOTE: Colonics and enemas are both hydrotherapies that involve introducing water through the rectum in order to cleanse the colon. The key differences between colonics and enemas are that colonics cleanse the entire length of the large intestine and require professional assistance; while enemas can be done at home, but only reach the lower section of the large intestine.

One hour before bed mix together:
  • 2/3 cup cold-pressed olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon or grapefruit juice
  • 8 oz. distilled water
Sip slowly; when done go to bed and lie on your right side.
In the morning you will have diarrhea and pass the stones. Following this give yourself an enema or go for a colonic. This step will help to wash out any remaining toxins that have been flushed out of the gallbladder and into the intestines. Use the remainder of the day to rest and relax.

The gallbladder flush has been successfully used by thousands of people over the years. Variations on the flush have been created by alternative health practitioners, and they basically use similar ingredients, but in varying amounts.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Detoxing Your Body, by Delia Quigley

Friday, October 30, 2009

AUTUMN CLEANSE PHASE RECIPE

This week the Autumn Body Rejuvenation Cleanse group moves into the Cleanse Phase of the program, which allows the body to move deeper into letting go, relaxing, detoxifying, and cleansing. However, it is also the time of euphoria, renewed energy for some, needed sleep for others. During this phase I find myself singing in the kitchen, in the shower, walking around the house doing necessary chores, yet now they seem effortless and all easily part of my day.

During a past Cleanse phase session, a veteran Cleanse participant of five years, remarked on her upcoming trip to Disney World, “I know how difficult these next two weeks will be finding food I can eat staying in Disney World, but I don’t care, because I am looking forward to how great I feel when I am following the Cleanse Phase of the program.”

Dare I say, we all nodded in understanding, knowing her time would be spent looking for clean, organic, nutritious foods, while we all would be rolling up collard greens with the most delicious ingredients.

This recipe calls for using cooked lentils, however, feel free to substitute some ground turkey or chicken if that is your desire. Either way, you can assemble all the parts over the course of a day or two, then put it all together for a wonderful meal that could even travel with you, as you journey on your way.


Stuffed Collard Rolls
Serves 6

11/2 cups short grain brown rice
3 cups water
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, washed well, cut into half-moons
12 collard stems, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup lentils
1 teaspoon sea salt
12 collard leaves

1. In a medium size saucepan combine the rice with water and salt, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until water has been absorbed, about 50 minutes. When done set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, rinse the collard greens, shake off any moisture and place on a plate next to a cutting board. Take each collard, lay it flat on the board and slice along each side of the stem, leaving about 1-2 inches at the top attached. (Remove the stem and set aside to mince later). Fold each collard in half lengthwise and set aside while you prepare the remaining leaves.
3. Add a cup of water to a large skillet and arrange the folded collards, just overlapping each other, in the water. Cover and simmer over medium low until just tender, but still bright and green. When done remove the cover, and leaving the leaves in the skillet run under cool water to stop them cooking.
4. Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the leeks until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the minced collard stems, garlic, lentils and sea salt stirring well. Spoon in the cooked brown rice, plus half a cup of water. Stir to combine vegetable with rice, salt to taste, and remove from the heat.

ASSEMBLE
To assemble the rolls, lay a collard green on the cutting board and cross one side over the other, just enough to close the gap between the two sides.
Using a quarter measuring cup, scoop the rice onto the collard about 2 inches up from the bottom. Cover with the lower part of the leaf, then fold in the sides, roll again, continuing to tuck and roll right to the top. When done place each roll gently into a casserole pan and return to preparing the next collard roll.

TOPPINGS
There are several options for topping the rolls, and I am sure your creative taste buds can conjure up a few of your own, but for inspiration allow me to suggest the following:

Pour a can of diced tomatoes over the collard rolls, cover with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F, for 20 minutes.

Using your favorite red pasta sauce, pour the jar over the rolls, sprinkle with Romano cheese and bake covered for 20 minutes.

Prepare a tahini miso sauce by placing: ¼ cup tahini * 1 tablespoon white miso * 1” piece peeled ginger * 1 clove garlic * juice of half a lemon * 1 cup water, in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour over the rolls, cover and bake.

Roast either an acorn or butternut squash. When cool remove skin and mash in a bowl. Meanwhile, sauté:
1 onion, minced
2 clove garlic, minced
1” piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced, in olive oil until soft and tender.

Add a pinch or two of sea salt, then spoon in the squash and mix it all up to combine the flavors. Serve the collard roll resting atop a mound of the squash puree, add a spinach, alfalfa sprout salad on the side and feel your insides sing the song of life, for this is the gift you have given yourself. Congratulations!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Black Bean Chili


There I was wondering what to prepare for a quick lunch with my two assistants when my mind went right to creating a quick black bean chili. Perfect for a cool autumn day and all I needed were a few ingredients already in my cabinet plus some fresh greens to tie the dish together.

I always keep a few cans of beans and diced tomatoes on hand, along with a few containers of the Imagine brand organic soups. Lucky me, I had everything I needed and within a few minutes the chili was assembled and heating on the stove.

It goes without saying to feel free to adapt the level of chili heat to suit your palate. Also, if you have a bunch of cilantro on hand chop it up and throw on top for added flavor. Oh yes, and just a reminder to use organic ingredients for all your recipes. Your efforts not only support your health, but the health of our beautiful planet as well. Thanks.

Black Bean Chili
Serves 6

16 ounces Imagine Cuban Black Bean Bisque
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups kale, washed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
1/2 cup spicy salsa
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1. In a large saucepan combine the bisque, beans, tomatoes, kale, salt pepper and 1/4 cup of salsa.
2. Bring to a simmer and cook until the kale is tender about 7 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let sit another 5 minutes covered.
4. Serve in individual bowls and top with extra salsa and chopped cilantro.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dal and Flatbreads

I love Indian food. It all began 29 years ago when I was living in a small town in Holland wandering the streets in search of new food ingredients and returning home to cook gourmet meals for the other residents in our student dwelling. One of the students there was an Indian women studying bio-chemistry at the nearby university. When I told her my love for her food she graciously and generously took me under her wing and taught me what she knew.

With her instruction I opened up to a whole new world of herbs and spices, grains, lentils and vegetables. The other students challenged me to create meals that were spicy enough to stand up to some twisted notion of having to endure a kind of heat that has tears streaming and nose running. I was happy to oblige; and when my friend took me Paris to meet her auntie I was further instructed in the complexities of blending Indian spices. Ah, those were lovely days of discovery and experimentation all carried out on a receptive and willing audience.

Over the years I have held dear to a few treasured recipes; but recently I was moved to share the bounty of Indian cooking with my vegetarian clients. Over and over I am asked how does one keep their daily diet interesting and varied? Naturally, the answer lies in exploring the wide range of Asian cuisine, Indian being a large part of that variety. I recently offered a cooking class featuring Indian Dal and Flatbreads. How simple and easy it is to make these two mainstays that contribute protein, carbohydrate and fat to a meal.

The word DAL translates to mean any lentil-based dish. It is also used to distinguish between a whole lentil and one that has been split and hulled (skin removed). In India Dal is served at every meal in one form or another. The nutritional benefits are high: 1 cup of lentils equals 20 grams of protein, the cost is very inexpensive and the taste is delicious.

Flat breads such as chapattis, rotis, naan and puri’s are served alongside the Dal and often used as the utensil to scoop up the soup like mixture. Chutneys, relish and pickles are served as condiments and enhance the flavors of the dal. Served with a fresh green salad you have the makings of a satisfying lunch or dinner meal.

In order to stay true to the traditional recipes I took a trip to my local library and picked up a few cookbooks written by Indian men, who wrote lovingly about the meals their mothers prepared when they were growing up. I enjoyed reading the stories of their childhoods and the way the recipes played into their lives for years thereafter. Although the internet is heavy with downloadable recipes I still prefer, or perhaps it is trust, what it written in a beautifully illustrated book, authored by a chef who knows what he/she is talking about. So for your reading appetite I introduce:
Indian Home Cooking, by Michael Batterberry (ISBN 0-609-61101-1)
The Turmeric Trail, Raghavan Iyer (ISBN 0-312-27682-6)
Fresh Indian, by, Sunil Vijayakar (ISBN 1-4351-0068-9)

And now for the recipes.

Moong Dal
Serves 4

1 cup yellow split peas, picked over, washed and drained * ½ teaspoon turmeric *
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste * 4 cups water * 2 cups Swiss chard, chopped

Tempering oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil * 1 tablespoon cumin seeds * 1 teaspoon fennel seed * 1 med. onion, chopped * 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced * 1 whole green chili, seeded, diced * 3 clove garlic, minced * ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro * Juice of ½ lime or lemon

1. Put the split peas into a large saucepan with the turmeric, salt, and water. Bring to a boil and skim well. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft, 20 to 30 minutes. 2. Add water during cooking, if necessary. Taste for salt and add more if you need to. If you like a thicker dal, use a whisk to break up the lentils into a puree. If you like a thinner dal, add water.
3. For the tempering oil, heat the oil with the cumin and fennel seeds in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cumin turns a light brown color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onion, chili, ginger, garlic, and cook, stirring, until the garlic no longer smells raw and turns a golden brown color, about 30 more seconds.
4. Stir the tempering oil, half of the cilantro, and all of the lime or lemon juice into the dal. Add a small amount of water to the skillet and wash out any extra oil or herbs and add to the dal. Add the swiss chard and stir well.
5. Simmer very gently, uncovered, until chard is tender, about 7 minutes. Ladle into individual bowls and sprinkle each with the remaining cilantro. Serve hot.

Mung Bean Dal
Serves 4

1 cup mung beans, picked over, washed, and drained * ½ teaspoon turmeric *
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste * 4 cups water * 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped * fresh yogurt

Tempering oil
2 ½ teaspoons coconut oil * 1 ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds * 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes * 1 teaspoon garam masala * 1 teaspoon curry powder * juice of ½ lime or lemon

1. Place the mung beans into a large saucepan with the turmeric, salt, and water. Bring to a boil and skim well. Turn the heat down and simmer, covered, until the mung beans are soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Taste for salt and add more if you need to.
2. For the tempering oil, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until they turn a light brown color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, about 30 more seconds.
3. Stir the tempering oil and all of the lime or lemon juice into the dal and simmer gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Transfer the dal to a serving bowl and top with cilantro and yogurt. Serve hot.

Spinach Red Lentil Dal
Serves 4

1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained * 4 cups water * ¼ teaspoon turmeric * 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root * 3 ½ ounces baby spinach leaves, chopped * large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Tempering Oil
2 teaspoons coconut oil * 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced * 2 teaspoons cumin seeds * 2 teaspoons mustard seeds * 1 tablespoon ground cumin * 1 teaspoon ground coriander * 1 red chile, finely chopped * sea salt

1. Place the lentils in a large saucepan with the water, turmeric, and ginger. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface.
2. Lower the heat and cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach and chopped cilantro, stir, and cook for 8-10 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and when it is hot add the garlic, cumin and mustard seeds, ground cumin, ground coriander, and red chili. Stir-fry over high heat for 2-3 minutes, then pour this mixture into the lentils. Stir to mix well, season, and serve immediately with roti bread.

Chapatis
Makes about 14

2 cups chapati flour or 1 cup whole wheat flour plus 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour * 1 to 1 ¼ cups water * flour, for rolling * butter, for serving

1. Mix the flour(s) in a large bowl. Add ½ cup of the water to the flour and mix with your hand to combine. Add another ¼ cup water and mix again. Continue adding water, a little at a time, until the dough forms a ball. (The dough should take about 1 cup water.)
2. Now knead the dough vigorously on a clean, unfloured work surface until the dough is moist, soft, and slightly sticky, but doesn’t cling to clean hands or the work surface, about 5 minutes. If the dough is dry, dip your fingers into some water and knead the water into the dough. Put the dough into a clean bowl, cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel pressed directly onto the surface, and let rest at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
3. When the dough is rested, prepare a small bowl of flour and also flour your work surface. Break off a piece of dough a little smaller than a golf ball. Toss it in the bowl of flour and roll it between the palms of your hands to make a ball. Set the ball on the work surface and flatten it into a 2-inch disc. Now roll the disc, flouring the work surface and the dough round as needed, into a thin round 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Put the chapati on a plate and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Continue to roll all of the dough into chapatis and stack them on the plate, pieces of plastic wrap between them.
4. Heat a griddle or frying pan (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat.
5. Place a chapati on the heated griddle or in the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the top darkens slightly and you see bubbles begin to form underneath the surface of the dough, about 1 minute. Now flip the chapati with a spatula and cook the other side until you see more bubbles, about 30 seconds.
6. If working on a gas stove, turn a second burner to high. Using a pair of flat tongs, carefully pick up the chapati by the edge and put it directly onto the burner. Cook until the chapati balloons and browns, 10 to 15 seconds. Then carefully turn the chapati, using the tongs to pick it up by the very edge, and cook until the underside browns and the bread balloons again, 10 to 15 more seconds. Remove the chapati from the fire with the tongs, or slide it off the griddle, put it on a plate, and rub with butter. Serve immediately while you continue cooking the remaining chapatis.
7. If working on an electric stove, cook the chapati on the griddle or in the pan until bubbles have begun to form on both sides. Then continue cooking the chapati, pressing down the edges of the round with a wad of paper towels as it balloons and turning the chapati in a clockwise motion, until the chapati is well browned and swells like a balloon. Turn and do the same on the other side.

Red Onion Chile and Gram Flat Bread
Serves 4

1 cup whole grain flour * 1 cup gram flour * 1 red onion, finely diced *
1 green chili, seeded and finely chopped * 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves * 1 teaspoon cumin seeds * 1 teaspoon anise * ½ teaspoon salt *
1 – 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water * salt * grapeseed or light olive oil, for brushing

1. Place the flours into a large mixing bowl and add the onion, green chili, chopped cilantro, and cumin and onion seeds. Season and mix together. Gradually pour in the water and knead for 2-3 minutes on a lightly floured surface, to make a soft dough. Let rest for 5 minutes and then divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each one into a ball.
2. Roll the balls out on a lightly floured surface to a 5-inch diameter disc.
3. Heat a large, flat griddle pan until it is hot. Spray with cooking oil. Cook the rolled-out discs of dough, one at a time, for 30 seconds on one side; brush or apray with a little oil, flip over, and cook for 1 minute, moving the bread around. Then flip the dough over again to cook on the other side for 1 minute or until the bread is lightly browned on both sides. Remove and keep warm, wrapped in aluminum foil while you cook the remainder. Serve warm.

Cilantro and Cumin Roti
Makes 16

3 2/3 cups whole grain, or chapati flour plus extra for dusting * 1 teaspoon salt *
3-4 teaspoons cumin seeds * 2 tablespoons very finely chopped cilantro leaves * 2-3 tablespoons grapeseed oil * 1 cup lukewarm water

1. Mix together the flour, salt, cumin, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and work it into the mixture with your fingers. Gradually add the measured water and knead for 5-6 minutes until smooth, adding a little extra flour if necessary. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.
2. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and form each into a round ball. Roll out each ball into a 5-6 inch disc, lightly dusting with flour if needed.
3. Heat a large cast-iron griddle pan or a heavy-bottomed frying pan over high heat. Cook the rotis, one at a time, for 45 seconds on one side, the flip over and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned at the edges. Remove and keep warm in aluminum foil as you continue to cook the rest. Serve warm with a variety of dishes, from fish, meat, and chicken to vegetables and salads.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

AUTUMN BREAKFAST MENU

I love breakfast, especially on a cool weekend morning when there is time to prepare something special. Take these recipes for example, they are perfect as an individual meal or prepared as a brunch to entertain stay over guests. Try them one recipe at a time and watch how your morning brightens when you change your routine and add some variety.

BREAKFAST MENU
Soft Morning Grains
Eggs McMochi
Maple Quinoa Pudding
Tahini French Toast


Soft Morning Grains

1/2 cup short grain brown rice * 1/2 cup barley * 1/4 cup hijiki, soaked * ½ teaspoon sea salt * 5 cups water.

Place ingredients in a small crock-pot and cook overnight or throughout the day on low heat. You can also soak ingredients covered overnight in a heavy saucepan. In the morning bring to a low boil, reduce heat and stirring often, simmer until water is absorbed.

Serve with:
1. A variety of cooked greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens, or Swiss chard.
2. Cooked beans, fried tempeh or tofu.
3. Roasted pumpkin seeds and/or sesame seeds.
4. Sea vegetables.
5. Sautéed onions, ginger and garlic.
6. Baked sweet squash.

Sesame Tahini Sauce
2 cloves raw or roasted garlic * ½ cup Tahini * 3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce * 2 teaspoons maple or agave syrup * 1 tablespoon brown rice or apple cider vinegar * ½ cup green or kukicha tea * 1 teaspoon chili oil (optional) * 3 green onions, sliced.

1. In a small food processor combine the garlic, Tahini, tamari, maple syrup, vinegar and tea.
2. Puree until smooth, adding more tea as needed for consistency.
3. Spoon over grains or pasta noodles and garnish with the green onions.

Eggs McMochi
Serves 2

4 slices cinnamon raison or plain mochi * 2 cups cooked kale * 2 eggs over easy or to your liking.

1. Heat up the waffle maker. Slice the mochi and lay it in the waffle iron. Cook until done.
2. Meanwhile, cook your eggs as you like them.
3. Lightly butter the mochi, then layer the kale and eggs on top. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve warm.

Maple Quinoa Pudding
Serves 2
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa * 1 cup coconut milk * 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, or to taste * 1 tablespoon vanilla extract * 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped and soaked * ¼ cup roasted peanuts

1. Heat 2 cups of water in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling, and stir in quinoa.
2. Cover pan, reduce heat to low and cook until quinoa turns translucent, for about 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract together in a bowl.
4. Stir the coconut milk into the quinoa and blend well.
5. Spoon quinoa into a bowl and top with apricots and some of the apricot juice, then the peanuts. Serve warm.

Tahini French Toast
Serves 2

½ cup Tahini * 1 ¼ cup water * 1 tsp. vanilla * ½ tsp. cinnamon * 1 tsp. Agave *
4 slices Righteous Raisin Spelt Bread

1. Mix Tahini sauce and pour half into baking dish.
2. Lay the bread in the batter, then pour the remaining half of batter over the top to the bread.
3. Allow to rest for 10 minutes while it absorbs the Tahini mixture.
4. Heat a cast iron skillet, spray with oil and cook raisin bread slices on griddle until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side.
5. Serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit, or agave syrup.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Healthy Pizza Recipes

The blog I wrote for http://www.care2.com/greenliving/ this past week is titled Thinking Out Of The Pizza Box and I continue here with additional healthy pizza recipes.


However, before we get to the recipes let's take a look at what excess cheese and refined wheat flour does to your digestive system. For many people they are difficult to digest due to their refined nature, but they also create an excess of mucus in the system. Now, a certain amount of mucus helps to lubricate the internal body, but when there is excess that cannot be eliminated through the bowels it makes its way up into the lungs. This results in those lovely hacking, coughing spasms you may have experienced; from there it rises to the sinus in hopes of being eliminated through the nose. An overabundance of mucus congests the sinus cavity creating eventual inflammation and, well you know, pain.


Colds can be one way your body gets rid of a lot of that congestion. All your orifices open up for the occasion and out comes the fluids, from your nose, eyes, pores, and anus. It is your body’s cry for help, as in “please stop eating processed, homogenized cheese, milk, and yogurt; and for crying out loud stop with the white refined flour already, I cannot do my work properly!”


Well, now, that having been said, let's move on to the recipes. Notice there is not much cheese used here, but these pizza's are big on flavor. Substitute favorite ingredients as you deem necessary and let me know some of the creative ways you have adapted pizza to your diet.


Arugula Pesto on Spelt Crust

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

3 cups fresh Arugula

1/2 cup roasted walnuts

2 clove garlic

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

salt to taste

1 large spelt pizza crust


1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees

2. Combine ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.

3. Brush the edges of a Spelt pizza crust with olive oil.

4. Spread a thin layer of the pesto across the crust.

5. Bake on a baking stone about 12 minutes or until browned.

6. Remove from oven and allow to sit on the stone another 3 -5 minutes.

7. Serve while hot.


Italian Herb Individual Pizza

Yield: 1 serving

Olive oil - spray

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1/3 cup cannellini beans

1/4 cup Romano cheese

4 plum tomatoes, sliced

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/3 cup broccoli florets, lightly cooked

2 tablespoons capers

4 anchovies

1 spelt pizza crust (individual size)


1. Lightly spray the spelt pizza crust with olive oil.

2. Spread tomato sauce on top.

3. Sprinkle the oregano and basil on top of the tomato sauce.

4. Layer the cannellini beans, plum tomato slices and broccoli florets.

5. Place the cheese, pine nuts and capers over the entire pizza.

6. Arrange the anchovies decoratively on top.

7. Place in a pre-heated 425-degree oven for 10-12 minutes.


Greek Pizza for One

Yield: 1 serving

Olive oil - spray

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

4 cherry tomatoes, sliced

2 green and hot peppers, minced

1/3 cup kale, cooked, chopped

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup Kalamata olives

1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced

2 hard-cooked eggs – chopped

1 Spelt pizza crust (individual size)


1. Lightly spray the spelt crust with olive oil.

2. Spread the tomato sauce on top.

3. Sprinkle the basil and oregano over the tomato sauce.

4. Layer the peppers, kale, and sliced tomatoes on pizza.

5. Sprinkle with the cheese and olives.

6. Place chopped eggs in center of pizza and top with dill.

7. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 10-12 minutes.


Rice Crust Pizza

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

1 rice crust pizza

1/2 cup pesto sauce (see recipe below)

1 large tomato slice

6 sliced kalamata olives

1 cup cooked dandelion, kale or spinach greens , chopped

2 tablespoons chopped chives

1/4 cup Romano cheese


1. Spread pesto sauce over the entire pizza crust, leave the edges free.

2. Layer interior with chopped, cooked greens

3. Place sliced kalamata olives around the dandelion greens

4. Sprinkle with chives and Romano cheese.

5. Bake pizza in the oven on either a pizza stone or oven rack at 425 degrees for 8-12 minutes.


Basil Parsley Pesto Sauce

Yield: 1 cup

1 cup fresh parsley (stems removed)

1 cup basil leaves

2 cloves garlic

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons pine nuts


Place ingredients in a blender and pulse to blend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Making of a Tempeh Ruben Sandwich



There are great vegetarian sandwich's and then there is the Tempeh Ruben, a big open face sandwich that takes a bit of jaw stretching to wrap your mouth around its layers. It is perfect for an at home lunch, as it can get a bit messy and require some finger lickin. I will take you step by step with photos to help guide you through the process. So let's begin with lunch for 2:

2 slices of your favorite whole grain bread, lightly toasted.
6 slices of vegan Almond cheddar cheese

I have used the Berlin Bakery Sourdough Spelt bread for this demonstration because it is my favorite. You can lightly toast the bread and place the cheese on each slice while still warm. This helps the cheese to soften.


Next comes the tempeh. Take an 8 ounce package of tempeh and cut it in half. Remove one half and slice that through the center so you now have 2 squares of tempeh. In a small saucepan bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add a few drops of tamari soy sauce and simmer the 2 tempeh squares f
or about 5 minutes. When done remove and place on the almond cheese while still hot. Now you're melting.


The all important next step is the Russian dressing traditionally used when making a Ruben sandwich. However, for this recipe I prefer to mix a few teaspoons or tablespoons (your choice) with a few teaspoons of spicy salsa and use that for my sauce. Once you have whipped up these two ingredients you can spoon it over the tempeh and then add thick slices of fresh tomato.



Next comes fresh slices of ripe avocado, followed by a mound of raw, live sauerkraut, more dressing if you choose, and then top with a fresh leaf of lettuce. Serve with a knife and fork and a strong napkin. This is a hearty, delicious meal and should be enjoyed slowly and chewed thoroughly. Bon Appetit!




Tuesday, August 18, 2009

IMPROVING YOUR DIGESTION WITH YOGA AND MEDITATION

There is an old yogic saying that goes something like this, "The secret to a long life is a flexible spine and the digestion of a lion." Unfortunately, many of the people I see as a nutritional counselor and yoga teacher have serious digestive issues. This is often due to years of eating refined and processed food, taking antibiotics without restoring healthy microflora back to the intestines and living a high stress lifestyle. With 80 percent of the immune system located in the digestive system a compromised colon can weaken the whole body.

When the mind and body are under pressure, excess hydrochloric acid is released in the stomach and the core of the body becomes rigid with tension. Your digestive system is only reflecting what is going on in your mind, and what you are putting into your mouth. Both stress and refined, processed, sugar-laden foods create an acid condition in the digestive system. "Dis"-ease grows in an acid condition, whereas optimal health requires a more alkaline/acid balance. I compare it to how the afflictions of our thoughts can create an acid mental condition.

A strong, healthy digestive system requires physical rest, mental calm and fibrous foods. High amounts of stress can cause intestinal disorders by reducing the circulation of blood to the absorptive areas of the bowels. There are a number of things that can be done to heal the digestive system including improving the diet, taking certain herbs that heal intestinal tissue, detoxifying the filtering organs and cleansing the blood. Meditation and yoga have been shown to aid in the treatment of many digestive problems, including colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, acidity, and gastric ulcers.

While meditation helps to calm the stomach, reducing acidity and releasing tension in the large and small intestine, yoga poses help to stimulate the peristaltic action in the intestines, increasing blood flow to the area. At the same time specific poses massage all the internal organs enhancing the body's ability to better absorb nutrients and eliminate waste more effectively. This is due to twisting the body, bending forward, doing backbends, going upside down and sitting on the heels and rounding forward. Seems simple, but according to B.K.S. Iyengar in his book, The Path To Holistic Health, "Health is not a commodity to be bargained for. It has to be earned through sweat."

He goes on to say that each posture is "aimed at purifying and strengthening each organ, bone, and cell of the body." Somewhat different than taking an hour out of your day to exercise, yoga integrates the holistic aspects of mind, body, and spirit into that same hour, with the added benefit of healing your digestive system.

Do you need to focus on any particular poses to target the digestive system? Yes and no. If you are including a variety of poses in your daily practice you should be fine. Make sure to listen to what your body needs rather than trying to force more than your body is willing or able to do. In this way you can unite the body, mind and spirit in a focused moment with balance and integrity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting Your Protein from Indian Dahl


What is it about Indian food that sets my taste buds into a swoon and my mouth burning with delight? Well, it could be the hot peppers, the spices and those heavenly chutneys. Then again it could just be the combination of tastes that make my mouth sing.

Take the traditional Dahl recipe for instance. With this delicious dish you can use a wide variety of lentils to create something different each day. Dahl, sometimes spelled Dal, is the perfect dish for vegetarians and vegans looking for a good protein source with a lot of flavor. And let's not forget the health benefits. Lentils are loaded with both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol levels.

One cup of cooked lentils provides you with 17.86 grams of protein and 15.64 grams of fiber. They are a rich source for molybdenum, folate, iron, phosphorus, copper, thiamin and potassium. Plus they are fast cooking and adapt well to many different spices. Pay a visit to an Indian food market where you will be amazed at the variety of lentils, pulses, beans and split peas used to make dahl. Buy a few different types and try them out at home. The basic spice list includes: cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, garlic, ginger and onion. Or you can use a good curry powder with a teaspoon or two of garam masala.

Curry powder is a combination of Indian spices and herbs that can include the spices mentioned above, as well as, fennel seed, and fenugreek. Garam masala, on the other hand, is a combination of ground spices that include cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, star anise, coriander and cumin. It provides the sweet and hot, while the curry adds the savory and spicy. A nice combination when used properly.

I like to use the quick cooking red lentils and pair them with sweet potato, ginger, garlic and coconut milk. Or another favorite is to use mung beans to make dahl. Mung beans are beneficial to the liver and gall bladder, they act as a diuretic, and help reduce swelling in the body. There are 24 grams of protein, 132 grams of calcium and 189 grams of magnesium in 3.5 ounces of cooked mung beans. There is no need to pre-soak these beans as they cook quickly and are easy to digest.
The following two recipes use both the curry and garam masala. They can be made thick and served over rice or thinned with water or stock to make soup. Adapt heat and salt to your tastes.

Spicy Mung Beans in Coconut Milk

Serves 6-8

1 cup mung beans * 4 cups water * 1 onion * 3 cloves garlic * 2 inch piece fresh ginger * 1 hot pepper or 1 tsp. red pepper flakes * 1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala * 1 tablespoon coconut oil * 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) * 1/2 teaspoon sea salt * 5.5 ounces coconut milk

1. Wash and sort through the mung beans removing any stones or other debris.
In a large saucepan or dutch oven bring the mung beans and water to a boil over medium high heat, cover, reduce and allow to simmer until beans become tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, chop the onion, mince the garlic and pepper, peel and mince the ginger.
3. Heat the oil and ghee in a skillet and sauté the vegetables over a medium low heat, stirring from time to time, until onions are tender, about 4 minutes.
4. Add the curry powder and garam masala, stirring well. Cook until the spices release their aroma, about 1-2 minutes.
6. Stir the onion spice mixture into the mung beans. Add a small amount of water to the skillet to “wash” out any remaining oil or spice adhering to the bottom of the pan; and add this to the mung beans.
7. Add the coconut milk and salt to taste, stirring well. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook another 30 minutes or until the beans have broken apart and the flavors well combined. (At this point you could place the mung bean mixture into a heated crockpot and cook on low until ready to serve).

Note: Clarified butter known as GHEE is regular butter that has had the milk solids and water removed leaving behind a pure golden-yellow butterfat. Also known as drawn butter, it has a rich butter flavor with a long shelf life of several months and a much higher smoke point than most oils. You can buy it ready made in an Indian or natural foods market.

Red Lentil Dahl
Serves 6

1 cup red lentils, rinsed * 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped * 1 cup vegetable stock * 1 1/2 cups water * ½ sweet onion, chopped * 2 clove garlic, minced * 2 Tbs. fresh ginger, peeled, minced * 1 Tbs. coconut oil * 1 Tbs. ghee * 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk * 1 tsp. curry powder * 1 tsp. garam masala (Indian curry powder) *

1. In a large saucepan combine the lentils, sweet potato, water and stock. Bring to a boil slowly, reduce heat and simmer while preparing the onions,
2. In a skillet heat the oil and ghee. Add the onion and ginger. Reduce heat to low and cook for 3 minutes stirring often.
3. Add the garlic and continue to cook another minute.
4. Add both curry powders stirring well to roast the herbs. Careful not to overcook.
5. Keep the heat low, when the aroma is released from the herbs stir the onion mixture into the lentils.
6. Add a small amount of water to the skillet and “wash” the pan then pour the remains into the lentils.
7. Salt to taste and allow tosimmer covered for another 15 minutes.
8. Serve with toasted cashews or peanuts. When not on the Cleanse top with a dollop of sheeps yogurt.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Homemade Kimchi. Great for Digestion.


My kitchen has taken on a rather distinctive odor, as one jar replaces another in my quest to create the perfect Kimchi for my cooking classes. Recently I served up a side dish of Kimchi to some willing students and we all agreed it was like taking a digestive enzyme. It’s something like Jimmy Cagney telling the audience, “my mother thanks you, my father thanks you...”, but in this case, my digestive system thanks me by working more efficiently. 



Kimchi is the Korean name for a form of cultured vegetables usually made up of cabbage, carrots, green onions, garlic and ginger. When these foods are fermented the bacteria, yeasts or molds used in the process, predigest the food, meaning they break down the carbohydrates, fats and proteins to create Probiotics, which are friendly, life giving bacteria beneficial to the gastrointestinal system. Your body needs these super Probiotics in order to function properly. 


Kimchi is high in fiber, yet low in calories, and it provides 80 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C and carotene. Also rich in enzymes, vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium and iron, and loaded with friendly bacterial cultures Lactobacilli. Plus it is very easy to make. All it requires is about 15 minutes of chopping and the next day spooning it all into a glass jar to sit on your counter for a good 5 days.



Here’s the recipe I’ve been using, but just know that I like my Kimchi spicy, so you may want to reduce or eliminate the hot peppers to suit your palate. Tasty and delicious, serve this alongside your salad and main dish to help break down those big clumps of food you forgot to chew properly because you were in too much of a hurry (again?) to sit quietly and chew each bite to liquid.



Kimchi
Yields 3 quarts


1 head Chinese or regular cabbage

1 large carrot

1 white radish, such as daikon

2 scallions, thinly sliced or 1 leek,
2 Tbs. sea salt

1/2 cup water

3” piece ginger, peeled, minced

2 clove garlic, chopped

2 to 4 hot red peppers, dried 2 inches long, split or
 1 Tbs. chili powder (optional)



1. Slice the cabbage lengthwise into quarters. Remove the tough core and
 slice into 2 inch long pieces.
2. Slice the carrot and radishes lengthwise and then into thin half moon
 pieces. Slice the green onions or cut the leek into half moons.

3. In a large bowl, toss cabbage, carrot and radishes with the scallions, and salt. Cover loosely and let stand overnight on counter.

4. The next morning drain the liquid from the vegetables into a bowl. In a blender puree the water, ginger, garlic and peppers until smooth. Add to the vegetables mixing well.

5. Pack the vegetables into a large sterilized jar or 3 quart jars. Pour reserved liquid into the jars. If more liquid is needed to cover vegetables, add more water.

6. Cover loosely with a lid and let sit at room temperature for 3 to 5 days
 to ferment. The liquid will bubble and the flavor will become sour.

7. When done refrigerate the Kim Chee for 3 to 4 days. The cabbage will become translucent and will be ready to serve.



Saturday, July 11, 2009


I like to think that America is in the midst of a food revolution. All the books available on improving one's health by eating a good diet, and books about how to green the home and save the planet, articles on health and nutrition in magazines and newsletters, helps me to maintain the illusion that progress has been made and victory is within our grasp. Then the New York Times comes along and bursts my bubble with an article by Roni Caryn Rabin, showing the latest statistics for Americans eating habits. 



According to a national survey of Americans age 40-74 those eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day has dropped from 42 percent to 26 percent. At the same time the obesity rate increased from 28 percent to 36 percent and the percentage of people who exercise dropped by half. The study, reported in the June issue of The American Journal of Medicine, proved disappointing to its lead author, Dr. Dana E. King, who was concerned that people are using medication to control their cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, rather than eating a high quality diet and getting regular exercise.

It is the nature of the human mind to deceive itself into believing what it wants to believe, and one of the greatest deceptions is that ultimate health can be found in a pill. Sorry to burst that bubble, but the only one benefiting from this lie is the pharmaceutical companies who indulge Americans addiction to greasy burgers, fries, sugar, and soda pop.

Author Eric Schlosser wrote in Fast Food Nation how, "In 1970 Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000 they spent more than $110 billion dollars. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music combined."

Taking a pill in place of eating a whole foods diet, only creates a build up of toxins and poisonous sludge in the blood. It is not much different than how a river or ocean becomes contaminated, and when this happens there is only one thing to do. Cleanse, detoxify, go on a diet, renew, rejuvenate, recover.

Now, I'm not talking about doing a quick 7-day laxative induced, fasting binge, which is just another illusion that there's relief to be found in pill form. No, I'm talking about a gradual shift off of stress causing foods: refined wheat flour, refined sugar, pasteurized dairy products, caffeine, alcohol and artificial sweeteners, flavorings and colorings. To a diet consisting of alkaline forming foods found in organic fruits and vegetables, plus whole grains, animal and/or vegetarian protein, nuts, seeds and fresh herbs.

This way of eating allows your filtering organs time to cleanse gradually, so the liver can purify the blood in order for the cells to rejuvenate and rebuild. With enough time the entire body, including DNA can remake itself. A good cleansing, such as the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse program should last 5-6 weeks, however, in order to remake and heal the body plan for at least a full year for recovery.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Favorite Quick Meal


Memorial day afternoon I had a guest over for a visit and as our conversation ran into dinnertime I rattled my brain to think up a quick, light, but delicious meal to prepare. Naturally I was drawn to one of my favorite quick meals, one I enjoy often whether alone or feeding guests. Food researchers have learned that people rotate ten meals over the course of a week, but the same ten meals week after week. I enjoy a much more varied rotation of meals, however this one particular dish works for me regardless of whether it is a snowy winter day or a spring evening. Just one of those things I guess, where the flavors come together in such a way that they leave a lingering memory on my tongue.

The sauce is easy and simple to make and I can vary the greens that I use and sometimes the noodles, although I prefer the Japanese noodles, either the soba or udon varieties.

1 2-ounce tin flat anchovies in olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil

Now, what I’ve learned, albeit the hard way, is not, repeat not, to drop the anchovies into a hot skillet of oil. This will only produce an angry dance of boiling oil as the anchovies release any moisture they still have. I even bought an oil splatter devise to cut down on the inevitable coating of anchovy oil raining onto my stovetop and, really, anything within a foot of the skillet. Then one day, for no other reason than to try and avoid the oil splatter, and because my splatter device had gone missing, I placed the anchovies, their oil, the garlic and the olive oil in a small iron skillet and brought it up to heat slowly. Well, low and behold, not a splatter or sputter. The oil heated to a boil, the anchovies dissolved and the garlic cooked to perfection. Hallelujah!

As for the noodles, I prefer the spelt soba noodles made by Eden Foods. To cook them I bring a pot of water to a boil, add a teaspoon of sea salt, then break the noodles in half as I add them to the boiling water, stirring well to separate the noodles. I realize that this may be a sacrilege amongst connoisseurs of noodle cooking, but it gives me the length of noodle I like to eat without having to do a lot of noodle slurping through pursed lips. I also add a variety of fresh greens to the pot with the noodles. This can consist of a few handfuls of either spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, kale or broccoli florets. Once everything is submerged in the water I bring it back up to almost a boil, cover the pot, turn off the heat and let it all sit tight for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, I get the anchovy sauce heating, so that everything is ready once I drain the pasta and place it in a big bowl.

At this point you can do one of a few things. If I am in the Transition Phase of the Cleanse then I will pour the anchovy sauce over the pasta and greens, toss well and serve. Other times I might grate some Romano sheep’s cheese over the noodles or toss in some soft goats Chevre cheese to melt and coat the noodles. Any one of the three suggestions work well and with a side of fresh, grilled asparagus and a salad of garden arugula, fennel, and toasted walnuts my meal is complete, all within a matter of 20 minutes or less.