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, 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.