Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkin Mungbean Daal

If you follow food blogs at all, you're sure to have noticed the recent abundance of pumpkin recipes! With Halloween just around the corner I get why, but despite the fact that sugar pumpkins are a traditional harvest food, pumpkin itself is far from a short-season vegetable. In fact, there are many varieties of pumpkin to be had virtually year-round, hiding in plain sight under the admittedly unsexy and very general nom de plume: Winter SQUASH.

I love winter squashes and pumpkins for their sweet taste, velvety smooth texture and meaty bite. These water-rich carbohydrate sources are high in antioxidant carotenoids like beta carotene that help boost immune function and promote eye health. Winter squash and pumpkin are easier to digest than whole grains, and filling without being heavy.

Some of my favorite varieties are the very dark green Buttercup squash (which resembles a bumpy, flat acorn squash), it's orange cousin Kabocha squash, and the beautiful jewel-toned Japanese pumpkin.

The other night I baked a Buttercup and had enough left over to add into the thick, delicious and satisfying protein-rich daal pictured at the top of this post.

If you don't have any roasted pumpkin on hand, it's easy enough to make. Remove the stem and halve your whole, unpeeled pumpkin or squash through the north-south axis. After scooping out the seeds with a spoon, place cut face down in a pyrex baking dish with about a half inch of water added to help keep squash moist while baking. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 450 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin—just keep checking. When a butter knife slides easily into the side, it's done.

Pumpkin Mungbean Daal

4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup dry mung beans
3 slices ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
2 thin slices fresh jalapeno or red chili pepper, or cayenne to taste

1 medium carrot, sliced
2 cups peeled and chopped roasted pumpkin or buttercup squash
sea salt to taste
red pepper flakes, fresh chopped cilantro or other green herb (optional)

Simmer vegetable stock, mung beans, ginger, curry, jalapeno and lemon for an hour until beans are very soft. Add carrot and pumpkin and simmer another 20-30 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Serve as a soup, or over a bed of fresh chopped spinach to add a little crunch and freshness. Top with red pepper flakes, sprouts or any freshly chopped herb, such as chives or cilantro, if desired.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Autumn Quinoa + Spiced Apple & Avo Salad

I took these pics for the Beautiful Plate Challenge and wanted to share the recipes—especially for the Autumn Quinoa, since it is so yummy!

In general, I find plain quinoa can be a little, shall we say, blah-tasting on its own. But cooking it in veggie broth with seasonings makes it taste great! For convenience, I like to use plain water and a powdered veggie broth mix but feel free to use boxed (or your own homemade) vegetable stock or broth instead.

Quinoa is a high-protein seed-like grain and very easy to digest. It is one of the grains that is most well tolerated by people with IBS and those on a low-FODMAPS, GAPS or SCD diet.

Enjoy Autumn Quinoa topped with a lightly cooked pastured egg (as shown above) or keep it vegan with a drizzle of lemon-tahini dressing and a sprinkle of sesame/hemp seed or raw cashew pieces. 

You can also pair this dish with any salad of your choice (as in the Spiced Apple & Avo Salad, shown below).

Autumn Quinoa
1 cup yellow quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp Seitenbacher's Vegetable Broth powder
1 Tbs toasted onion flakes
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp minced fresh hot red chili pepper, or chili flakes to taste
1 tsp minced green onion tops 

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until all water is absorbed. Stir in minced hot pepper and green onion tops, recover and let sit 5 minutes. 

Spiced Apple & Avo Salad

1/2 Honeycrisp apple, diced
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
cayenne sprinkled to taste

Stir all 4 ingredients together. The lemon juice keeps the apple and avo from turning brown; the cayenne turns up the heat and makes this a warming dish, even though it's raw. Eat at room temperature for best flavor and to help beat the chills.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Turkish Delight: A Warmly Spiced Green Smoothie for Fall & Winter

The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda generally cautions against consuming cold, raw food. This restriction applies especially during fall and winter months for all people and year-round for anyone suffering from weak digestion, a condition known Ayurvedically as deficient Agni, or low digestive fire.

It makes sense that we don't want to steal heat from our body to warm up whatever we put into our stomach. But raw food doesn't have to be cold! In fact, delicate raw foods like fruits, sprouts and leafy greens can be heated all the way up to 118 degrees without becoming cooked (i.e. retaining their cellular and enzymatic integrity.) Whole nuts, soaked grains and other dense raw foods may remain raw and alive at even higher temps heading into the 150-155 degree range.

It follows that we can enjoy the benefits of fresh, living foods and respectfully feed the flames of our digestive fire simply by shifting our raw culinary focus away from things like cold salads, chilled soups or frozen fruit drinks and more towards gently warmed raw recipes. 

Even the infamous green smoothie, oft maligned in Ayurvedic circles for its "indigestible" complexity of contents and chilly rawness, can be prepared and consumed* in a way that honors Agni.

Turkish Delight: A Warmly Spiced Green Smoothie

1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 Tbs chia seeds
1 cup warm water
2 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 banana
1 cup raw spinach
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp turmeric

Put the kettle on and warm some fresh water on the stove while you put the hemp seeds, chia seeds and dates into your blender. Pour hot water on top and let the dates and seeds soak for about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend until creamy. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon before drinking. 

*Note: How to Drink a Smoothie
Because digestion begins in the mouth, it is crucial to remember that a smoothie is really more food than drink! For best digestion and assimilation, a smoothie must be sipped and savored, thoroughly ensalivated and introduced into your stomach slowly so that it can be recognized, welcomed and processed efficiently. Never gulp it down like a glass of water! I always tell my clients: Chew your smoothie! Although liquified, it contains a significant quantity and assortment of solid ingredients and needs to be eaten like a food. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sweet Brown Rice & Toasted Sunflower Seed Salad

White balsamic vinegar and fresh mint are the star ingredients in this simple brown rice and sunflower seed salad. To make a complete meal, I served mine with hummus, diced avocado and two kinds of salsa on a bed of chopped romaine lettuce and homegrown mung bean sprouts.

Sweet Brown Rice & Toasted Sunflower Seed Salad

For the Oil-free Vinaigrette:
2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs coconut aminos or tamari
1 medium clove garlic, minced or grated
1 tsp honey or agave
1/4 tsp cayenne 

Combine dressing ingredients, mix well with a fork and set aside while preparing the brown rice salad. 

For the Brown Rice Salad:
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
3/4 cup diced cucumbers
8 black olives, pitted and chopped 
10 fresh peppermint leaves, minced

Start toasting sunflower seeds in a dry cast iron pan over medium to low heat, stirring as needed to prevent burning. While seeds are toasting, prep remaining salad ingredients. When seeds begin to brown nicely, remove pan from heat and allow to cool. Store cooled seeds in an airtight container until final step.  

Add brown rice to a large mixing bowl. Pour dressing over rice, stir well and allow it all to soak together for a few minutes.

Add tomatoes, cucumbers and olives. Stir gently to combine.

Stir in mint leaves, cover and chill. When ready to eat, mix in about two thirds of the toasted sunflower seeds. (This is done last so that the seeds will remain crunchy and crisp!) To serve, top salad with remaining seeds and garnish with additional mint leaves. 

This salad can be made ahead and keeps nicely for two or three days, even after the sunflower seeds are mixed in and become chewy rather than crisp. Enjoy leftovers as part of a composed salad, as shown below. Bon appetit! ��