I love to eat! But I'd rather not spend a lot of time cooking. I developed these crockpot recipes with inspiration from Heaven's Banquet—Ayurvedic Vegetarian Cookbook by Miriam Hospodar, and The Ageless Woman—Natural Health & Beauty After Forty, by Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, an expert in the system of natural medicine called ayurveda.
For a recipe index, see the Blog Archive below.
Crockpot Soupe Basics:
I'm an intuitive cook; I use words like "about" or "handful". My recipes make about four servings of hearty soup. The basic measurements are: 1/4 - 1/3 cup whole grain; approx. 1/3 cup lentils; 1.5 quarts of water; 1.5 - 2 Tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter, highly recommended by ayurveda) or vegetable oil; 1 teaspoon of salt; 1 rounded Tablespoon of spices; and about 3 cups of mixed veggies. I use, and recommend, organic ingredients for the purest food and optimal nutrition. I hope this blog helps you enjoy good eatin', good health, and creative cooking! I love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cabbage soup with panir

Yum! This is a complete “Indian meal” in soup form, minus the gulab jamin.

Yesterday evening I made panir, a delicious fresh cheese. This soup may also be good with crumbled tofu*, but the flavor of panir is wonderful. Here is a sure-fire method, taught to me by a friend, which has never failed me: Bring to a boil two glasses (approx. 16 ounces) of organic milk, plus about half a glass of water to prevent the milk from scorching. Use medium heat, and stir pretty much constantly. (In other words, don’t leave the room....) When the milk comes to a roiling boil — and while still boiling — add about 2 Tablespoons of lime juice (Lakewood organic, pure lime juice.) Curds will form immediately, separating from the whey. If the liquid still looks milky, add a little more lime juice. Continue to boil for a few minutes (longer makes firmer panir). Pour through a sieve. (Keep the whey if you want to use it for soup etc. It’s very nutritious.) Fresh panir can be refrigerated but best used by the next day.

Soup starts with 1/2 cup of red lentils, and a heaping 1/3 cup mix of brown basmati rice and millet. Rinse well and bring to a boil in 1/5 quarts of water. Transfer to the crockpot on high heat.

One hour later or so, heat 2-3 Tablespoons of oil. I used sesame oil this time, but ghee or sunflower would be good too. Use medium/low heat and make sure the oil doesn’t start to smoke. If it does, like mine did this morning, start over. (Oils have different smoking temperatures, at which point they become carcinogenic and distasteful. Mustard seed oil is the exception—apparently it becomes tasty, though I've never tried it.)

To the heated oil add 1/2 teaspoon of brown mustard seeds. Sautée finely chopped ginger (1 inch, peeled) and leek or onion (1-2 inches, depending on your onion-preference) until fragrant. Add a heaping Tablespoon of curry powder mix or Vata Churna (from MAPI.com), and a hearty dash of hing. Add some tomato paste and/or several tomatoes—peeled is best—and a little water from the crockpot soup base. Simmer on low for a minute or two.

Add a couple of carrots and half a head of green cabbage, all finely chopped. Add 1 teaspoon of mineral salt, and mix well into the veggies. Add half a can of cooked garbonzo beans and crumble the panir into the mix.

By this time the veggies will be tender/crisp and it’s time to transfer it all to the crockpot. A little squeeze of lemon and a small handful of fresh cilantro... mmmmmm! Mix well, ladle ‘er up and away you go (remembering to turn the crockpot to "warm"...)

* If you opt for tofu, I highly recommend organic if you want to avoid genetically engineered soybeans...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cauliflower soup with nutmeg

I’ve been enjoying the holiday cooking and baking season! For Thanksgiving, I decided to try some recipes in an intimidating Indian cookbook which has been staring at me from the bookshelf for years. While shopping for ingredients in an Indian grocery, I told the owners about my plan. They thought it was so funny, they said they would make a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. I need to go back to follow up... and report my success!

One of the discoveries of the Thanksgiving experiment was a delicious nut paste which I used in today’s soup: I simmered 2 tablespoons of white poppy seeds for half an hour, and soaked 2 tablespoons each of blanched almonds and cashews in warm water for about an hour. Drain the soaking water from the poppy seeds and nuts, place in a blender, adding about 1/4 cup of fresh water. Blend until smooth, and set aside. (I did this yesterday evening.)

Overnight I soaked 3/4 cup of split mung dal. I think a can of organic white beans would also work well. Today I forgot to add grain....! but I would use 1/4 cup of brown basmati, quinoa or millet. (If I were using canned beans, I would simply purée them in a blender and add to the cooked grains. If making this soup without grain, I would add the puréed beans after sauteeing the spices in oil, before adding the veggies.)

I brought the dal to a boil in 1.5 quarts of veggie broth (water would be fine), and transferred it to the crockpot, leaving it on high for a little over an hour while we showered, stretched, and meditated.

In the final countdown to the morning commute, I sautéed a quarter of a sweet onion in 2-3 tablespoons of sunflower oil (or ghee would be great) until the onions become translucent. We aren’t big onion eaters, but they are very healthful so I use them occasionally. I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. (Note: according to ayurveda, using fresh black pepper heated in ghee is very nourishing for brain tissue, and is recommended for preventing Alzheimer's disease. See The Raj ayurvedic medical spa at www.theRaj.com for an article about this.)

I mentioned nutmeg in the title of this blog, but actually I used powdered mace, my latest culinary fascination. Mace and nutmeg come from the same nut and have similar flavor, so either would work. (Mace has a more subtle, complex flavor.) Freshly grated nutmeg is so much more interesting than the packaged powder; a fine toothed “microplane” zester works really well. In either case, add 1/2 teaspoon of mace or nutmeg to the hot oil and onion mix. (You may need a dash more if using pre-powdered nutmeg.)

Stir in 3 cups of finely chopped cauliflower and dark green chard. Toss in a a few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped. Add 1 teaspoon of mineral salt. Sautée a few minutes until the veggies soften, then add to the crockpot.

Add the nut paste, stir the soup well, and ladle up your thermoses (or turn the crockpot to the lowest “keep warm” setting). And away you go!

On days when I've made more than enough soup for lunch, I leave the crockpot on warm all day and add a big handful of freshly chopped parsley to augment the soup for dinner.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Broccoli and cheese soup

This was an experimental soup. It turned out pretty well on first try and I'll continue to play variations on this theme.

I used split mung dal (beans) to add a creamy consistency without using cream or flour. It's not as smooth as a true cream-based soup, but if you have time you can blend the dal once it is cooked, before adding veggies.

1/3 cup split mung beans and 1.5 quarts of water or broth. Bring to a boil and transfer to the crockpot. Add a small amount of sunflower oil or ghee, and simmer on high for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of butter, or ghee (clarified butter). Add 1 inch of leek or green onion, finely chopped (or a hefty dash of hing, if you don't want onions), and 1 celery stock, finely chopped. Add 1 -2 Tablespoons of Simply Organic All Purpose Seasoning, and sautée the mix until the leek and celery are soft.

Toss in a small handful of chopped parsley. Add a dash or two of black pepper, and half teaspoon of salt.

Add 1-2 cups of chopped broccoli florets and 1 chopped carrot, coat the veggies thoroughly with the spice/oil mixture and transfer to the crockpot, adding it to the mung dal.

I found a wonderful raw goat milk Italian herb colby at my local co-op. Cheddar or gouda could also be nice for this soup. Stir in 1-2 cups of grated cheese, and you're all set!

Ladle to the thermos, and turn the cooker to low for the remainder of the soup.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hearty lentil soup

A cozy, nutritious soup for a cold, wet, winter day!

1/3 cup brown lentils or French lentils.
1/4 cup mix of brown rice and millet. (Do I need to say it? Look for tiny rocks, and wash the lentils and grains thoroughly.)
1.5 quarts of water or broth.

Bring the lentils and grains to simmer on the stove top, then transfer to your slow cooker on high. Add about 1 teaspoon of extra virgin expeller pressed olive oil, and 1 large bay leaf, in the crockpot. Come back in about an hour or so.

Warm about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on very low temperature; do not let it get hot enough to smoke. Add 1-2 tablespoons of Simply Organic All Purpose Seasoning (if you're using water instead of broth, use more spice). When you smell the aroma, stir in finely chopped ginger root, and an ample handful of finely chopped parsley (Italian flat parsely or curly parsley). Add a dash of asafoetida (hing)—optional. (Everything is optional, of course...) You could use an "inch" of finely chopped leek or green onions instead of hing. If you've got fresh oregano, thyme, or marjoram, add about a teaspoon of finely chopped herbs for an extra flavorful stew.

Add 2 chopped carrots, 1 chopped medium potato, and a generous amount of finely chopped green kale. You could also add a little tomato puree, or 2-3 chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Add 1 teaspoon of mineral salt. Sautée until the kale wilts, then transfer to the crockpot.

If you're feeling abundant, add a handful of pine nuts—or sunflower seeds will do—for extra protein, a little crunch, and delicious flavor.

Important: Scoop out that bay leaf so that you, or your loved ones, don't get a nasty sharp poke in the mouth!!

Ladle up your soup, and away you go with thermos in hand. Or for those, like me, who commute from the home office down the hall, turn your cooker to low, and enjoy the aroma until lunchtime.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Spices for crockpot cooking

Here are the spices I keep on hand for a variety of soup recipes. (Generally, I use one well-rounded Tablespoon of any spice blend):
  • "Smart Spice Mix", an ayurvedic blend from Dr. Lonsdorf's book The Ageless Woman. (See May 2009 Blog Archive for the recipe, and read the book for an understanding of medicinal properties of herbs and spices.)
  • Lemon Curry powder from Frontier Herbs (an organic blend of turmeric, coriander, cumin, lemon peel, black pepper, freeze-dried whole lemon, cardamom, cinnamon, dehydrated garlic and red pepper/cayenne.)
  • "All-Purpose Seasoning" from Simply Organic (a blend of black pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, celery seed, tomato powder, basil, thyme, sage, oregano, and coriander)
  • Individual spices such as turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper corns.
  • Maharishi Ayurveda Products (www.mapi.com) have spice blends called churnas. Easy to use, and delicious, churnas balance the mind and body according to the season or individual needs.
I also keep on hand:
  • Fresh parsley is loaded with nutrients.
  • Fresh cilantro aids digestions. Wonderful for Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and fusion recipes.
  • Fresh ginger root aids digestion and absorption, and reduces inflammation in the body. How to use: Grate it or chop finely. Add to the hot oil and sautée briefly before adding other spices and vegetables. Store ginger root in a paper bag in the fridge.
  • One can of coconut milk, whole or lite, to use for Asian-inspired or creme soups.
  • One small jar of Thai green curry paste.
  • Brown mustard seeds. How to use: Heat oil on medium, and add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds to hot oil. When they start to pop, reduce temperature and add other spices. (If using mustard seeds and ginger root, do the mustard seeds first, then ginger, then any other spices.)
  • Hing, aka asafoetida, is a pungent powdered resin available in Asian groceries or well-stocked health food stores. Don't be put off by the smell; the flavor is wonderful! How to use: Add a dash after sautéeing other spices on medium/low heat. Make it brief. Don't let it burn... it's not pleasant.
  • Natural mineral salt
Nice to know: Coriander seeds can be ground in a spice blender or "Magic Bullet" and used in Mexican, Italian, and Asian recipes. A dash of turmeric added to grains and lentils after they've cooked is a great way to incorporate it's anti-inflammatory benefits into any recipe. Black pepper, freshly ground, aids absorption of nutrients. Asafoetida is said to help reduce gas and lower cholesterol.

Keep all spices in air tight containers, not plastic baggies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spicy peanut broccoli soup, and a note about CSA's

Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables. It's one of the most nutritious of veggies, and I find that it complements the flavors of spices beautifully.

For this soup I used red lentils and white basmati rice, but green French lentils would be nice, as would brown rice, quinoa, or millet. About 1/3 cup of each, washed, rinsed and then brought to simmer in 1.5 quarts of water. When it comes to a boil, I transfer it to the crockpot and let it cook on high for about an hour.

Then comes the fun part:
  • Bring 2 Tablespoons of organic sesame oil to medium/high heat and then add a dash of brown mustard seeds. When they start to pop, turn the heat down to medium/low.
  • Add a "thumb size" amount of fresh ginger root, finely chopped or grated.* Sautée for about 30 seconds.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of red chilie flakes, or more if you like it hot. A dash of hing (asafoetida), or one inch of leek or a garlic scape—finely chopped—are also delicious, nutritious options. Sautée briefly.
  • Stir in a heaping Tablespoon of organic peanut butter and blend with the spicy oil.
  • Add 2-3 cups of prepped veggies and stir to coat the veggies with the spicy oil mixture.** I love the taste of broccoli in this soup, but zucchini, eggplant, green beans, and/or carrots are also great. (When using eggplant or green beans, add a small amount of water and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring a few times, before the next step.)
  • Transfer the veggies and spice mix to the lentils and grains in the crockpot.
  • Stir in one teaspoon of salt and a dash of turmeric.
  • Toss in a handful of peanuts and fresh cilantro right before ladling the soup into your thermos.
*To keep ginger root fresh, store it in a small paper bag in the darkest part of your fridge — or peel and freeze to be grater-ready).

** A note about fresh vegetables and Community Supported Agriculture
I've seen time-saving suggestions to chop a week's worth of vegetables in advance. However, as soon as veggies are chopped, they begin to lose nutritional value. (Indeed, once they are picked they start to lose value.) Ayurveda recommends chopping vegetables freshly for each meal, but if you're like me, that's not a practical option. So, my compromise it to prep the night before.

Fresh produce has the best nutritional value and flavor. Short of growing your own garden, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms are a great resource for the freshest vegetables. Members pay a subscription fee to a local farm, and during the growing season, receive a steady supply of produce. Although CSA's are winding down for the season in my area, this is a good time to look for one near you. They often offer discounts on early subscriptions for the next season. Joining an organic CSA not only means you can save a bunch of money on high quality food, it also strengthens your local economy, contributes to a healthier environment, and supports the people who are willing to go to all the "trouble" to grow our food! Check out the USDA site about Community Supported Agriculture, click here.

Check out Real Food Wednesdays hosted by kellythekitchenkop.com and cheeseslave.com

Monday, October 5, 2009

Autumn is soup season

As seasons change, you might notice your body making changes too. Here in Western North Carolina, fall came with the honking of geese, a deluge of rains followed by glorious, cool, sunny days, cascading leaves, and darker, sleepier mornings. And the subtle aching of my hip joints...

The weeks of transition from one season to the next is the best time to detox, to alleviate any imbalances that may have accumulated during the previous season, and tune-up our bodies for the coming months. Joints, in particular, can give us clues to our overall state of health. Arthritis, according to the natural health system called Ayurveda, indicates the build up of toxins caused by less-than-perfect digestion. Ayurvedic physicians recommend cooking with ginger and turmeric to cleanse impurities from our system, and improve digestion and absorption. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends the same spices as part of his "anti-inflammatory diet" to reduce arthritic pain (among many other benefits).

Warm vegetable soup spiced with ginger root and turmeric is an excellent way to lighten your diet during a seasonal cleanse. Soup for dinner is a good way to improve digestion and the quality of your sleep. (A heavy meal in the evening is not fully digested before going to sleep, which leads to toxins, says Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, a medical doctor and expert in Maharishi Ayurveda.) An after dinner walk aids digestion, and is a peaceful way to connect with your spouse, kids, neighbors or your family dog.

Nia fitness helps me keep moving comfortably. On days when my hips feel a little creaky, an hour of Nia restores the bliss, and feels like a warm oil massage! (Which, by the way, is another recommendation from Ayurveda. I love MAPI's Joint Soothe massage oil.)

For more information about Ayurvedic recommendations for joint health, click here.
Also see Dr. Weil's website for information about the anti-inflammatory diet.

For soups made with ginger root and turmeric, and antioxidant rich vegetables, continue reading here!

Enjoy an invigorating autumn (or spring, if you happen to be in the southern hemisphere.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Too hot for soup?

It's been awhile since I last posted... but yes, we've been enjoying the bounty of fresh, local, organic vegetables this summer. I love the bumper stickers, "Thousands of Miles Fresher"...

It's been too warm to eat hot soup for lunch... but continuing my campaign for fresh and fast, I've been making versions of all the preceding recipes without the soupiness, and using food-grade stainless steel containers instead of a thermos.

My first step is the grain and legume dish prepared with slightly more than 2:1 ratio of water to grain, which I bring to boil then transfer to the crockpot—an hour on high is just about right for rice, quinoa, millet, and lentils.

Half hour before departing for work, I heat 1-2 Tbsp of ghee or oil, grate some fresh ginger root, add a heaping Tbsp of whichever spice blend I'm using that day, and sautée the veggies. Add a small amount of water, just enough to cook the veggies. If I'm using the Thai curry paste, I'll use coconut milk instead of water. Takes about 10 minutes.

For extra protein, I add half a can of organic garbanzo beans, or toss in a handful of sunflower seeds, or pine nuts if we can afford to splurge that week. If I'm really on the ball I make a fresh cheese called panir. I'll save that for another blog entry...

Instead of a thermos I've been using stainless steel lunch containers with snap-on lids. They're lightweight, and don't pose the threat of toxins leaching from plastic containers. Health food stores carry these, or see www.happytiffin.com for nifty, stainless steel food containers.

Hubby especially likes it when I put a Dr. Kracker flatbread on top of the grain and veggies—the heat softens the impact of these delicious but exceedingly crunchy crackers! I like Dr. Krackers because they taste great, have no sugar, use only organic whole grains, and have a fairly high protein to carb ratio. Check 'em out at www.drkracker.com—"Home of the Uber Crunch".

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Young Coconut and Date Smoothie

Okay, this isn't soup, but I can't resist sharing this delicious treat.

Coconuts are full of vitamins and minerals, lower in fat than whole milk and have no cholesterol. The juice is a wonderful "sports drink" with natural electrolytes. Fresh is best, so if you've seen those strange white coconuts in the store and wondered about them, give this a try.

Choose a white coconut (the green outer layer is cut away to reveal the white husk. Brown coconuts are simply more mature and dry). Avoid any that are yellowing, or look a little purple on the bottom. The bottom should be firm or slightly yielding but not squishy.

You'll need a hefty cleaver or large chef knife to open the coconut. Tell everyone to stand back and whack an opening large enough to get a spoon inside the shell. This is my hubby's job. He makes a square opening with four mighty blows.

Pour the juice into a blender. The meat is wonderfully scoopable, almost like pudding. Enjoy some as is, and add the rest to the juice, careful to remove any husk fibers. Add three medjool dates (pits removed) and blend.

It just might be the yummiest thing this side of heaven.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thai-inspired Coconut Vegetable Soup

I love Thai food and recently I've explored ways to make a coconut-based soup adapted to my crockpot lifestyle. This one turned out pretty good. I hope you agree!

Coconut milk is nutritious and cooling, according to traditional ayurvedic medicine — which is probably why it is frequently used in spicy Southeast Asian cooking. Although coconut milk is high in calories (about 250 per half cup), nutritionist George Rapitis says, “The saturated fat in coconut is made up of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids that the body quickly turns into energy instead of storing as fat.” But if you’re concerned about calories, try light coconut milk.*

Thai-inspired veggie soup (everything organic, of course):

1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup quinoa
Wash and add about 1.5 quarts of water
Bring to a boil and transfer to your crockpot.
Stuff as much lemongrass dry herb as you can in a tea infuser and let it cook in with the grain and lentils. Fresh lemongrass directly in the soup would also be wonderful if you can find it.

Simmer on high, and come back after your morning routine, at least half hour or until the lentils are soft.

Add 1 cup prepped broccoli, and 1 cup yellow or green beans cut into manageable pieces. (I’m delighted to have so much local organic food available in my area!)

In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of coconut milk, add 1 full Tbs of fresh grated ginger root, and 1 full tsp of Green Thai Curry Paste, and 1/2 tsp of turmeric. Simmer for 1-2 minutes then transfer to the crockpot.

Add 1 level tsp of mineral salt, and a handful of fresh cilantro leaves.

Stir, ladle, and away you go with thermoses in hand! (Makes about 4 servings)

Alternatives to try:
Rice would be nice as a substitute grain. Basil instead of cilantro would make for equally yummy variety. Zucchini, yellow squash, and mung bean sprouts would be delicious alternatives. A handful of sunflower seeds would be tasty and add protein. Tofu would be good too. This recipe is pretty mild, so you could add some red chilis or more ginger if you like it hot.

* Check out a fun website for nutrition and fitness info:
www.livestrong.com. According to the customizable calorie and fitness tracker, I can burn the calories from the coconut milk (based on 2 servings of this soup) by surfing or playing competitive volleyball for an hour. If I’ve used light coconut milk, 20 minutes of vigorous barn cleaning will do the job...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer potato and broccoli soup

Here's a quick post to say today's soup was quite good. I'll just give basics, and you can review details in other posts since the methods are pretty much the same.

Step one:
1/2 cup green lentils (everything organic, of course)
1/2 cup millet

Step two:
Sautee 1 Tbsp Smart Spice mix (see May 20th post) in 2-3 Tbsp sunflower oil on med-low for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Stir in about 2 cups of prepped veggies: broccoli and new potatoes (the kinds with thin skins. Peeled and cut into small pieces), and parsley or other fresh seasonal greens if you like.

Add 1 tsp mineral salt.

And away you go! Enjoy :D

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Italian soup

This is Italian in name only, because I'm using "Italian herbs" and I have some Italian ancestry...

Local organic asparagus is still available at my neighborhood farmers market, so I'm using it often. This would be a nice cold or cool soup, so simply remove the lid from the thermos about an hour before lunch if you don't want hot soup on a hot day... But it's better not to put it in the fridge to cool. According to ayurveda (the natural health wisdom of ancient India), once cooked food is refrigerated it loses nutritional value and is not as easy for our bodies to digest. Ayurveda frowns upon leftovers, and that's one of the reasons I've started this crockpot project...

The basics:
1/2 cup Green Lentils
1/2 cup Millet
1.5 quarts of water.

Bring to boil and transfer to the crockpot.
Stuff as many sprigs of fresh thyme as you can in a tea diffuser that snaps closed, and leave it in the soup while cooking. (It takes too long to trim the tiny leaves off the stems, but if you have time there's no reason not to chop them finely and put in the soup.)

I have fresh oregano growing in a pot on my deck, and I used 3 springs, each about 3 inches long, finely chopped and tossed into soup. Fresh marjoram would also be nice.

While we did our morning routine I let the soup simmer for about an hour.

Before leaving for work, I added a cup of chopped parsley and a small bunch of asparagus that I cut into little pieces last night. (I also added broccoli, but now I'd suggest a medium size zucchini instead. Steam or bake whole for best flavor then cut it up and add it to the soup. But it also works just chopping uncooked zucchini and adding it at the end, since it will cook in the thermos, as will the asparagus.)

Add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil or sunflower oil, and 1 level tsp of mineral salt. Remove the tea diffuser and bay leaves before ladling soup into thermoses. (Don't forget the bay leaves—they are sharp and can hurt an unsuspecting mouth.)

Kiss your significant-other (or pet) goodbye and have a great day!

(I realize my grammatical structure is inconsistent... I'm talking to you, and describing what I did, as if you were here in person!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dr. Lonsdorf's Smart Spice Mixture

Yes, we have been eating since my last post... It's exciting to see the start of the local organic produce arriving in the markets, and I've been making "variations on a theme" of my basic soup recipes.

Frequently I use a spice blend recommended by Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, an expert in ayurvedic (natural) medicine. She calls it Smart Spice, and she discusses the health benefits in her book Ageless Woman... (get the book, get the book.)

I prepare about 8 ounces of it at a time so it's always fresh and always handy:
10 Tbs fennel seeds
6 Tbsp coriander seeds
6 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp turmeric powder

Grinding your own mixture instead of using powdered spices will have better flavor and beneficial effect. I use a Magic Bullet but any spice grinder should work to create a fresh, aromatic, finely ground mixture. Stir the mix into a dry pan on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Cool then store the mix in an airtight container, away from sunlight.

For crockpot soupe, after the grains and legumes have been cooking a while, I sautee 1 Tbsp of Smart Spice in a couple Tbs of organic sunflower oil, until golden and fragrant - a minute or two. Then I add the mix to the crockpot, with the choice du jour of veggies etc. That's it!

You can also use 1/2 tsp of Smart Spice sprinkled on hot veggies, grains etc, or sauteed with a little olive oil on low for a nice drizzle on any dish.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Win a gallon of pure olive oil

Take the No GMO Challenge, learn about genetically-modified foods so you can make an informed choice about the food you and your family eat: Pure, organic food abundant with Nature's wisdom and nutritious blessings? Or food that is genetically manipulated by biotech companies who want to control the patents to the world's food source?

Visit www.Realfoodmedia.com and enter to win a gallon of pure, non-GMO olive oil from the Chaffin Family Orchard in California.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Asparagus and Zucchini Soup

Hurray for spring and local, organic asparagus! High in antioxidants, asparagus also contains glutathione, a phytonutrient which is essential for helping the liver remove toxins.

My soup today was delicious!
About 1/2 cup of red lentils. (I use the highly technical cooking terms about and some...)
About 1/8 cup quinoa, and 1/8 cup barley.
About 1.5 quarts of water, bring it to a boil and transfer to the crockpot.

Walk the dog, meditate, get ready for work. Or whatever you do in the morning. Come back in about an hour.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp of sunflower oil, briefly sautee 1 full Tbsp of Lemon Curry.
Toss in prepped veggies:
A bunch of asparagus, chopped into half-inch pieces.
One small zucchini, steamed whole to retain best flavor, then chopped and added to the soup as we're getting out our thermoses.
1 cup of fresh cilantro
1 full tsp of mineral salt
Some cubed tofu

Stir it up and ladle into your thermoses.
Have a yummy day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Little Green Gumbo

I had gumbo for the first time recently in Jackson, MS, when my Dad and I went to see the Raoul Dufy exhibit (terrific - go see it before July 5 '09). It was also a return visit for him - 48 years ago he was a Freedom Rider, was arrested at the Jackson bus station and spent the summer at Parchman Farm penitentiary. But that's another story...

Back to the gumbo. It was good! When I got home I checked my favorite cookbook (Heaven's Banquet) and found a couple of recipes. Mine is the 1040 EZ version.

Night before: finely chopped kale, about 5 cups (chard and collards would also work well, and could be a mix of greens. I'll try that next time.) Finely chopped 2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped one smallish sweet potato (not a yam), and grate about 1/2 Tbsp of ginger root.

Next morning: Get out your trusty 3 qt pan
Heat sunflower oil, add 1 Tbsp of "Gumbo Filé" (powdered sassafras and thyme). I was planning to get all the herbs Miriam mentioned in her recipe, but lo and behold the co-op had Gumbo Filé!)
Add the ginger root, and sautee briefly. Add veggies and sautee a few minutes then fill the pan half full with hot water. Bring to a boil and transfer to your crockpot. Stir in 1 tsp of mineral salt and 3 bay leaves.

Let soup simmer on high while you do your thing: shower, meditate, exercise... whatever it is you do. I returned about an hour and a half later. If you plan to leave the crockpot longer, put it on medium or low.

Final steps: Wash and rinse 1/2 cup of rice. I like organic white basmati. Add water and bring to a boil for a few minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the partially cooked rice to the crockpot. It will continue cooking in the thermos.

Fish out the bay leaves.

Heat a small amount of sunflower oil or ghee on LOW (a skimpy 1 tsp is plenty), and add a dash of hing (asafoetida) if you like. It smells bad but becomes very fragrant when heated. Don't let it sautee for more than a couple of seconds - it goes from stinky to good to horrible really fast. Spoon some soup into the pan and swish, then stir it into the soup. Get out your thermoses, ladle it up, and head out the door.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Mediterranean" soup with tahini and lemon curry

Approx 1/4 c Green lentils, 1/4 c of red lentils, and 1/3 c quinoa (could also use millet or cous cous), wash well then drain.
Add fresh water, filling to approx 1.5 quarts, and bring to a boil.
Transfer to Crockpot on high and go do your thing.

Later: Heat some sunflower oil on medium, add 1 full Tbsp Lemon Curry spice mix (available from healthfood stores). Sautee until fragrant, just a few seconds.
Add a tsp of finely chopped fresh ginger root.
Add prepped veggies of your choice. I used 2 zuccinis and 1 cup of chopped parsley.
Sautee veggies for a couple of minutes, then add to Crockpot.
Add 1 tsp of mineral salt.
Add half can of whole cooked garbonzo beans, and about a Tbsp of tahini.

Mix well, and ladle 'er up!

I'm loving Dr Kracker's "flatbread crackers" instead of bread, so I usually serve one (they're big and hearty) with the Soupe du Jour.