It’s that time of year when the warm summer days shift to crisp mornings and brisk evenings, and my dinners shift from cool veggie salads to warmer, heartier dishes.
My body works best when I eat with the seasons. This means when the weather is cool I fuel up with warming foods like soups, roasted veggies, and invigorating spices (cayenne, cinnamon, ginger). When the weather is warm I nourish with fresh fruit, raw salads, and cooling foods (cucumber, mint, cilantro).
September is a transition month so I like to combine warming foods with the seasonal harvest and a dash of cooling herbs. This curried quinoa salad is a perfect example of this culinary blend:
For the recipe click here to see this original blog post on The Juicery's Blog "The Squeeze".
Today I went to visit a friend who has a bright green thumb! His garden was filled with plump, purple eggplants that were begging to be devoured.
I left his house with three medium size eggplants and hurried home to try out a new recipe. Since I have been surrounding myself lately with people of Middle Eastern culture, I decided upon a Middle Eastern style dinner.
The menu...Baba Ganoush, Fattoush, and toasted pita chips. Baba Ganoush is a paste made primarily of eggplant and tahini (sesame paste), while Fattoush is a light, refreshing salad made with pita bread chunks.
For the Baba Ganoush, I started by warming up the oven and pricking the eggplant. Next I placed the eggplant on a sheet pan and baked them at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. After they cooled, I cut the tops off, peeled away the skin, and placed the flesh into a food processor and added lots of yummy ingredients. To lessen any bitterness in the eggplant you can add a bit of organic sugar as well.
While the eggplant was baking I toasted the pita chips and began working on the Fattoush. When all was complete, I sat down and enjoyed an aesthetically and physically pleasing meal. And, to top it off, it felt nice knowing that I was enjoying food that was hand grown by my friend.
Between love and pride put in the labor to grow the vegetables to the love and pride put in to the cooking, the meal satiated my body and spirit.
Baba Ganoush - makes about 3 cups
3 medium sized eggplants
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoon fresh cilantro
Pre-heat oven, prick eggplants with a fork and place whole on a baking sheet. Bake about 30 - 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool. Cut off tops and skin. Place flesh and the rest of ingredients into a food processor and blend well.
You may adjust salt, lemon juice, and garlic to your preferred tastes. Experiment with spices and herbs. Parsley is a very popular ingredient in Baba Ganoush and can be used instead of cilantro. Or you can also try using mint instead. Garnish with olive oil and serve with toasted pita chips.
Fattoush - makes about 3 servings
1 large pita bread toasted and cut into small chunks
1 tomato, diced
a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/4 red, yellow, or green pepper, diced
2 stalks green onion or chives, sliced
2 leafs of romaine or green leaf lettuce, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Mix above ingredients together and toss with dressing.
Dressing - 1 clove crushed garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape), 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix ingredients together, adjust flavors to taste, and drizzle on Fattoush.
Fresh basil....mmm, I just can't get enough of it. Its piquant aroma, vivid green color, and Italian roots puts me under its spell.
Tonight I decided to make a pesto from the basil I picked up at the farm stand the other day and serve it on top of zoodles (raw zucchini noodles). Pesto is incredibly easy to make, but seems so gourmet. I beefed up the gourmet factor by using macadamia nuts and a drizzle of white truffle oil. Yessssss...I love you Pesto!
Pesto - makes 2-3 servings
1 bunch of fresh basil, washed and dried
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape)
salt to taste
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
(if not vegan, 1/4 cup vegetarian parmigiano reggiano cheese)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
drizzle of white truffle oil
In a small food processor puree basil, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt. Add macadamia nuts and blend. Add optional cheese, olive oil, and truffle oil and blend until a creamy consistency. Adjust olive oil and salt amounts to taste and texture.
If you are vegan and not using the cheese you could try a tablespoon or more of nutritional yeast to get that cheesy umami to the pesto. Toasted sesame seeds also add some interesting flavor.
Serve over zucchini noodles, warm pasta, roasted veggies, with a hot toasty baguette and fresh tomato, or straight from the bowl. Divine.
After a nice early evening yoga class I came home eagerly anticipating cooking dinner. I reveled in the fact that I was going to prepare, with my bare hands, a home cooked, healthy and delicious meal.
My choice for the evening in honor of yoga's Indian roots, a yellow split pea daal. This was the first time I have cooked daal, and I basically just went on intuition and winged it. The result...YUUUMMM! So easy, so healthy, and so darn tasty. I will be making this a lot and trying it with yellow split peas and lentils as well.
Yellow Split Pea Daal - about 3 servings
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot stick, diced
cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
1 cup yellow split peas
3 cups vegetable broth or water
In a medium size saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add celery, carrots, and spices and stir evenly to coat. Saute for a couple minutes then add liquid and peas. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and peas are soft. Should be a thick consistency. Serve over rice, sprinkle with nutritional yeast for added nutrients, and enjoy.
One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is a rice cooker. I first learned of rice cookers while I was living in Hawaii, as it is a staple in every one's home there. You can put in any type of rice, quinoa, or other grain with the required amount of liquid, press the cook button and it does all the work. It is a great way to always have warm grains on hand. Tonight the first thing I did was pour the liquid and rice into the cooker then turned it on. So while I was preparing the daal, rice was being prepared for me. Awesome.
My goal is to help you find your magic in the kitchen and look forward to cooking. Cooking allows for many feelings or outlets such as creativity, relaxation, satisfaction, and sheer enjoyment. Knowing that you are treating your body as well as your taste buds by cooking your own healthy meals is a magical feeling all on its own. Allow your health and your spirit to say Namaste to your efforts.
Start your year and EVERY day right with these breakfast ideas:
Fruit salad - Combine your favorite seasonal fruits such as apples, pears, oranges, bananas, pineapple, or kiwi, and eat as is or topped with fresh squeezed lime juice, shredded coconut, hemp seeds, nuts and a drizzle of agave.
Smoothies - Throw all the ingredients in the blender the night before, blend in the AM, pour into a Nalgene bottle or reuse a plastic cup and enjoy. Be creative. You can use a base of water, juice, coconut milk or homemade almond milk, then add fresh or frozen fruit, wheat germ/flax/chia/hemp seeds, nut butters or nuts, sunflower seeds, spirulina and a sweetener such as dates, agave or maple syrup.
Or try one of my creations which in just one serving has 13 g Fiber, 14 g Protein, over 1,000 mg Potassium, 45% Calcium, 25% Vitamin D, 17% Vitamin C, 16% Iron, as well as many other vitamins and minerals:
FUNKY MONKEY SMOOTHIE: 1/4 cup chopped dates, 1 banana, 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter, 1/8 cup ground flax seed, 1/2 cup plain organic yogurt, 1/4 cup water. Place all in blender and puree.
Oatmeal - Again this can be prepped at night by placing water in a saucepan on the stove and setting out the measured cup of oatmeal with some raisins or dates added to it. In the morning bring water to a boil, place oatmeal and dried fruit in the pan and let simmer while you are doing something else. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cloves, along with chopped nuts and seeds for added nutrients. Sweeten or add a liquid of choice.
Coconut Yogurt and Muesli/Granola - Bob's Red Mill makes a pure delicious muesli or you can try making your own. The night before or first thing in the morning combine muesli with yogurt and let soak. You can add chopped fruit or use coconut/almond milk instead of the yogurt. For granola, just add yogurt, milk or try with orange juice, the way I sometimes like it.
French Toast, Pancakes, Waffles - Try making your own whole grain bread and use leftovers for french toast. Or make your own wholegrain or gluten free pancake/waffle base to have on hand. Combine dry ingredients and place in an airtight container in the freezer. Just add wet ingredients when you are ready to make them.
A new hearty Pancake/Waffle Recipe I developed this month, which serves about 3 and has 10 g Fiber and 8 g Protein per serving, consists of:
1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup ground flax, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp honey, 3/4 cup coconut milk, 1/2 cup applesauce, 1/4 cup water, 1 Tbsp safflower oil, 1/4 -1/2 tsp almond extract, and frozen raspberries.
I mixed all the dry in one bowl, the wet in another, and then blended the two until just combined. Pour in a waffle maker or make pancakes and press raspberries into the batter before flipping sides. Top with applesauce or maple syrup, toasted nuts and seeds, or fresh fruit.
Oh happy delicious day to you!!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.