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.
One of my favorite ways to celebrate love (on Valentine’s Day or any day!) is by creating sensual and tantalizing treats to indulge in. Think rich chocolate sauce, fresh whipped cream, gooey caramel, a plethora of juicy ripe fruits and (if you really want to explore the senses) a blindfold.
With a partner or on your own, you can go on an adventure of the senses when you take away the dominant sense of sight. Touching, smelling and tasting these simple treats can be turned into an exotic feast right in the comfort of your home.
Here are some delicious vegan recipes to get your sensual tantalizing taste adventure started:
Vegan Dark Chocolate Sauce: Whisk together ½ cup cocoa powder, ½ cup room temp maple syrup (add more if you want the sauce sweeter) with ¼ cup melted extra virgin coconut oil. Keep at room temp. If you refrigerate it will harden up a bit.
Coconut Whipped Cream: take one can of full fat coconut milk and place in the fridge overnight (can also sub coconut cream). The next day scoop out the thickened cream (save water/milk for smoothie) into a chilled bowl. With an electric beater, beat the cream until thick and fluffy. Add vanilla or almond extract to taste along with organic confectionary sugar to sweeten.
Vegan Salted Caramel Sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat combine 1/2 cup coconut (or brown) sugar with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup almond milk. Cook until the sugar dissolves then increase the heat to medium high and bring it to a boil. Stir often until the mix thickens but is still gooey. Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance butter or melted coconut oil and a ½ teaspoon vanilla.
Put each of these sauces into small bowls and serve with fresh ripe fruit such as strawberries, cherries, apples, pears, and mango. You can also have pieces of brownies, vanilla pound cake, or angel food cake available to dip into the sauces.
Use your fingers instead of toothpicks so you can feel the variety of textures and truly explore your senses. Indulge, experience, enjoy and celebrate the sensuality and beauty of love.
It is winter in Florida and my lovely grandmother, who calls the sunshine state her home, has been struggling with the cooler than usual weather this year. She constantly complains of being cold and has in turn been racking up the heating bills to try and stay warm.
So I, being the health nut that I am, suggested that she try drinking some ginger tea which is known to increase circulation and warmth within the body. Surprisingly, she listened to me, and went out and bought some! She was a little shocked by the piquancy of it, but noticed that it did help. This is what led me to today’s blog about ginger.
Ginger is an amazing root that is used for culinary, aromatic, and medicinal purposes. It is an odd looking spice, pale yellow in color with a torso like shape and lots of little nubs poking off into various directions.
The part of the tropical plant, known as Zingibar Officinale, used is its starchy, pungent, aromatic rhizome. Ginger is a tropical, hot spice with flavors of citrus, and floral, woodsy undertones. In the culinary world it can be added to a dish to provide substance and thickness as well as for added aroma.
I read that back in the day the English taverns set out ginger powder on the tables along with salt and pepper for people to sprinkle on their drinks, thus forming ginger beer and ginger ale. Today ginger is still used to make ginger ales and is even added to Yemen coffee.
Ginger can be used in its dried or fresh state, and is available as the whole fresh root, dried root, powdered, preserved, crystallized (excellent in gingersnaps), and pickled. India, China and Jamaica are major producers of dried ginger, while the beautiful US state of Hawaii produces much of the fresh ginger.
Some say that Indian ginger has strong aromas of citrus, Chinese ginger is most pungent, and Jamaican ginger is the finest with a delicate and sweet presence. I am not a connoisseur of ginger though so what ever looks the best at the market is what I purchase.
Fresh ginger root can be found in the produce section and should be stored in the fridge unpeeled. It should look firm, smooth, and healthy, with no spots or mildew. The skin may be removed with a paring knife and then the root sliced, diced or julienned.
Add it to your cooking (beans, soups, stir fry), in the juicer (great with carrot and apple) or in tea. **Fresh Ginger Tea – put a couple of thick slices of fresh peeled ginger root in a cup of hot tea and steep. Add lemon slices if you wish.** Dried or crystallized ginger is a wonderful addition to baked goods, and you can even buy ginger candies to chew on which also may help with nausea.
Medicinally, ginger is a wonderful healing spice and is extremely prevalent in Chinese medicine. Ginger tea, which is what I explained to my grandmother, is a diaphoretic (fancy term for “makes you sweat”). It warms you up and promotes perspiration which is good to alleviate colds, for cold weather, and to detoxify your body.
Overall, ginger promotes warmth and circulation in the body, increases metabolic rate, helps the body detoxify from acidic foods, cleanses and rebuilds the cardiovascular system, alleviates symptoms of gastrointestinal stress, prevents motion sickness and nausea associated with pregnancy, aids in digestion, and reduces flatulence (hallelujah!).
It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, and the list goes on. Basically, it’s really darn good for you…who knew this little hot number had all that and more! Ginger is such a versatile spice that you may want to get to know well and have fun experimenting with in your cooking and baking.
Ginger will add to your culinary repertoire as well as your health, and at the least may keep You hot and spicy!
It is winter in New England and the perfect time of year to cozy in and cook nourishing meals for you and your family. One of my favorite nutritious and delicious winter meals is a pot of hearty soup served with some local bread and a mixed green salad.
This vegan and gluten free soup is a recipe I created that is so simple it only requires a couple ingredients and spices. It is incredible easy and quick to make as well. Happy winter cooking!
Chef Stacey’s Vegan Creamy Butternut Squash Soup – serves 2
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 can (14oz) coconut milk
Optional 1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste
Water or vegetable broth to thin to desired consistency
Optional garnish of chopped cashes and fresh cilantro
Place all ingredients into a medium soup pot and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until the squash is tender when a fork is inserted into it. About 20 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until creamy and smooth. Add water or broth to thin to desired consistency. Pour into bowls and garnish with optional toppings.
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.