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!!
Here is a list of the basics needed to cook up delicious and nutritious plant based meals:
GRAINS: Brown rice, wild rice, rolled oats, quinoa, cornmeal, buckwheat grouts and flour, spelt or whole wheat flour; moderate use of whole-grain pasta, soba noodles, rice noodles, couscous, bulgur.
LEGUMES: Dried, low-sodium preservative free canned, frozen or fresh - black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, white/navy beans, adzuki beans, green beans, wax beans, lima beans, lentils, split peas, sweet peas, sugar snap peas, snow peas, edamame.
NUTS AND SEEDS: Unsalted and raw nuts - walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios. Unsalted and raw seeds - sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame.
SPECIALTY FOODS: Preservative free coconut milk, pure peanut or almond butter (no hydrogenated oils, sugar, or preservatives added), capers, olives, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, unsulphured dried fruits - apricots, figs, raisins, dates, prunes.
OILS, CONDIMENTS, AND SEASONINGS: Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling or dressings, olive oil for cooking, sesame oil, flax oil, safflower oil, coconut oil, vinegars - balsamic/white wine/red wine/rice/apple cider/white, nama shoyu/tamari, tahini, maple syrup/agave nectar, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard.
HERBS AND SPICES: Sea salt, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, ground coriander, curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, dry and fresh ginger root, cardamom, dill, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, garlic, onion.
FRUIT: Seasonal fresh or frozen fruits to your liking - apples, avocados, pears, bananas, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, berries, peaches, plums, kiwi, pineapple, mango, melon, grapes, etc. Keep a fresh supply for quick snacks. Also, good to have on hand are lemons and limes for cooking with their juices.
VEGETABLES: Items used often- green onions, potatoes - red/yukon/russet/sweet, bell peppers, carrots, celery, tomatoes, greens - mixed lettuce/arugula/chard/kale/spinach, fresh herbs - parsley/basil/mint/cilantro/rosemary. Keep a fresh supply of local, seasonal vegetables for your meals. Mix it up and try to get a good variety in your diet - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, mushrooms, seaweeds. cucumber, eggplant, brussel sprouts, radishes, beets, asparagus, leeks.
Most grocery stores and even super Target and Wal-Mart are carrying organic and high quality foods now. And surprisingly you can get gourmet foods at places like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Marshalls, and Job Lots. Happy shopping!
Tonight I decided to end my last Wednesday of 2016 with an auspicious and adventurous meal.
I scanned through my favorite raw food recipe book, "Raw Food for Everyone" by Alissa Cohen and decided upon a dish called Buddha Bowl. Buddha is the enlightened one so I thought maybe this meal would bring me some good luck and enlightenment in the new year. Wishful thinking!
The dish consists of what Cohen considers a broth of dates, fresh ginger, scallions, jalapeno chili, garlic, and coconut milk (its consistency did not remind me of broth but rather of a thick creamy sauce) and a variety of mixed fruits and vegetables that are tossed into the broth.
Produce such as ripe mango, avocado, daikon, carrots, spouted mung beans, bok choy, snow peas, and fresh herbs were included. I took her basic recipe and cut down the amounts in the broth, deleted the jalapeno chili and added red chili pepper flakes, and used sugar snap peas instead of snow peas (which was not a good idea because sugar snap peas are too fibrous raw).
The dish looked lovely and tasted good, but really did not speak to me. I realized that as much as I enjoy raw desserts year round, I do not enjoy raw meals in the winter in New England. So, I decided to be creative and cook this meal instead.
I heated some oil in a stir-fry pan and added the cut up daikon, carrots, sprouted mung beans, bok choy leaves, sugar snap peas (much better cooked!), mint, and cilantro. I left out the mango and avocado all together and added baby spinach.
This stir-fried for a few minutes, then I added the original broth mixture along with peanut butter and cayenne. The result was much more to my liking. The warm, lightly cooked food felt better in my body and I really enjoyed the added peanut flavor.
Tonight's meal reminded me to listen to the needs of my tastebuds AND my body. I used a recipe as a guideline but added my own creativity and a little adventure to create something that was delicious and nourishing.
In this new year I hope you experience good luck, nourishement, and adventure in the kitchen as well as in every part of your life. Get creative, have fun, listen to your body and COOK, COOK, COOK!
What do you do with all that beautiful and abundant patty pan squash that is filling up your garden? Create a delicious and refreshing end of summer salad to bring to the Labor Day weekend party!
This salad is delicious warm or can be served at room temperature. Serve as is or over a bed of fresh garden greens and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
1 cup Israeli couscous (try farro or for gluten free quinoa or wild rice)
3 cups water
4 cups sliced patty pan squash
1/2 cup diced green onions
1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup toasted sliced or slivered almonds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
In medium saucepan on medium heat, add about 1 Tablespoon olive oil then pour in couscous. Stir couscous until coated with oil. Cook until they are lightly toasted. Pour in water, bring to a gentle boil and cook until water is absorbed and couscous is tender.
In medium saute pan on medium heat, add about 1 Tablespoon olive oil and the patty pan squash. Stir the squash to coat with oil. Add the green onions and spices and saute about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and parsley and saute another couple of minutes. When squash is lightly toasted and softer but not mushy, add almonds in.
Turn off heat in pan and add cooked couscous or other grain. Drizzle on balsamic vinegar and add any additional spices to taste.
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.