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.

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.)