Sunday, October 19, 2014

Autumn Quinoa + Spiced Apple & Avo Salad


I took this pic 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.

I enjoyed this meal as is, but you could take it over the top with a drizzle of lemon-tahini dressing and a sprinkle of sesame/hemp seed or raw cashew pieces. Bon appetit!
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! ��

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Walnut Basil Paté

Walnut Basil Paté (a savory, plant-based, pesto-like spread)

It's the last weekend in August. My boyfriend is going away. And at his house, a slightly wilty bunch of sweet basil that won't wait 'til Tuesday.

Naturally, I took it for my own.

Not a lot of basil—maybe a half a cup of leaves, loosely speaking. Surely enough for a little pesto of sorts, and what better time for pesto than now, Labor Day Weekend, when summer bows to harvest with September rolling in...

Sigh. Even though Fall has the best weather, I'm always a little sorry to see Summer go. Then again, the fresh produce is so abundant this time of year, I can't help but love it!

Anyway, here’s what happened. I got back home and tossed my little bunch of basil leaves into the Cuisinart with a clove of garlic (peeled and chopped) and about two big handfuls (a scant cup) of premium California walnut halves. I quickly pulse-processed these three ingredients—garlic, nuts and basil—into a green meal. Then, I added some seasonings—a quarter teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt, two teaspoons of nutritional yeast—and started processing again, this time while slowly fine-streaming, through the feeder tube, just enough extra virgin olive oil into the whirling mix to bind it together. (I haven’t quite eliminated solid fats and liquid oils altogether from my diet but I’m working on it, so I always use the minimum.) The moment the pesto bound together, I stopped the machine because I never like to over-process anything.*

What I ended up with is not so much a pesto as a Walnut Basil Paté that is so chewy and buttery and rich and DELICIOUS that I just want to eat the whole thing with a spoon RIGHT NOW.

But I won’t. I’ll save some for later. (But not TOO too later, because fresh is best.)

*Juicing, blending and food processing are marvelous inventions but they come with a price. Grinding up any whole food exposes all that was protected and volatile beneath the skin to damaging elements like oxygen and light. That’s why apples and avocadoes turn brown when you cut them: oxidation. So once you press, grind or cut into any whole food, best to eat it quick! I’d say this here pesto-like spread will be good for about three days…if it makes it that long. Enjoy it on whole grain toast, flax crackers, salad, soba or raw zucchini noodles. Bon appetit!