Moussaka

This incredibly comforting and delicious dish is akin to a Middle Eastern version of Sheperd's Pie.

The spices are warming (cinnamon), digestive (coriander and black pepper), and anti-bacterial (allspice and oregano).

Enjoy!

Know that you can make it vegan by using kidney beans instead of turkey or beef and olive oil instead of butter.

Moussaka

For the sauce:

  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef (hormone / antibiotic free)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 chopped onion

  • 4 chopped garlic cloves

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, coriander, allspice, black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cup tomatoes (diced)

  • 1/4 cup red wine

  • Salt to taste

For the layers:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 2 eggplants or 3 zucchini

  • 3 Yukon gold or other yellow potatoes

  • Olive oil

Prepare the sauce by chopping the onions and sautéeing then in olive oil for 5 minutes or until translucent.

Add the garlic, spices and beef or turkey. At the wine and stir well with a metal spatula until meat is thoroughly cooked.

Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thick.

Remove bay leaf.

Meanwhile, slice the eggplant or zucchini, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast at 415 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Boil the potatoes, drain three quarters of the boiling water, mix with nutmeg and butter and mash thoroughly with a fork or potato masher. Set aside.

Reduce oven heat to 375.

Oil a 9x9 baking dish or small rectangular casserole dish. 

Assemble the moussaka:

place a layer of beef/turkey sauce on the bottom;

Arrange half of the eggplant/zucchini over it;

Cover it with another layer of beef;

Add the rest of the zucchini/eggplant;

Smooth the potatoes over the top.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until potatoes are golden.

Cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

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Making Time To Cook

As Spring finds us with its fat buds ready to burst into fragrant flowers, I look ahead to the long days of Summer. Here on our homestead in Vermont, we revel in the warm months and take time work in the garden, walk in the woods, and sit outside to soak in the lingering evenings.

Summer will also bring a heightened pace of life. With so many daylight hours, the temptation can be to stay busy for the majority of the day! Now is the time to prepare the body, mind and spirit for this brilliant, abundant, and sometimes tiring time of year.

Spring brings the gift of rejuvenation, new life, and the opportunity to prepare for Summer. Start the season with a weekly meal plan, which allows you and your loved ones to keep eating whole, simple foods that are nourishing and delicious.

You can try creating a meal plan with friends or family.

Sit down together, perhaps after a shared meal, and talk about your favorite dishes.

Meal ideas

  • Taco Night

  • Casserole

  • Soup, Bread, and Salad

  • Pasta Night

  • Pizza

  • Breakfast for Dinner

It's easy to make these meals healthy and delicious! Just be sure to add plenty of vegetables to your sauces and soups. I made the pizza pictures her with an oat crust, pesto sauce, and toppings of steamed broccolini, walnuts, cooked white beans and a little Parmigiano cheese.

Savor your meals with inspiring spice blends, sauce and spreads to bring forward tons of flavor. Allow each person to mix and match the components of each meal so that everyone enjoys it.

Here are other options to inspire you. Click each link to learn more.

Be well and enjoy the art of cooking!

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Spring Tonics

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables available.

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and its cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine systems.

Rejuvenating Nettle Soup

You will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 large shallots

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon each: coriander and turmeric

  • 2 large zucchini

  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground brown mustard

  • 4 cups freshly harvested young nettle tops

  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock

  • 1 cup chopped green olives

Peel and dice shallots.

Place oil in a soup pot, warm it to medium heat, and sauté shallots for 5 minutes.

Add spices. Sauté for a few more minutes.

Dice zucchini and add to the skillet. Add mustard and olives.

Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the water / stock and nettles.

Bring everything to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.

You can add marinated tempeh or roasted chicken to the soup for a delicious meal.

Nettles (Urtica dioica): warming and drying, nettles alleviate water retention, boost our body’s stores of iron and offer many other nutritive minerals. Gently cleansing, they can help mitigate the effects of seasonal allergies.  Use the young, fresh leaves in soup, pasta sauce, or as tea.

Olive oil: monounsaturated and liquid at room temp., first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

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Wonderful One Pot Meals For Spring

Give yourself time to rest and rejuvenate.

Make a simple meal that can be re-heated in the oven and served at dinnertime with enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

During the time you would spend cooking in the evening, try doing one of these things.

Go for a walk. Sit in the sun. Talk with a loved one. Hold someone's hand. Breathe deeply, in and out, offering gratitude for another day on the planet.

Quinoa Casserole with Spiced Roots

You will need:

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and oregano

  • 3 red potatoes, chopped into cubes

  • 4 carrots, chopped into ½ inch rounds

  • 2 sweet potatoes, chopped into ½ inch rounds

  • 1 beet, chopped into cubes

  • 1 bunch kale, spinach, or chard, chopped

  • Sea salt to taste

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

  • ½ cup walnuts

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the spices, stir and sauté on low heat for 2 minutes.

Add chopped roots. Raise heat to high for 2 minutes.

Add lime or lemon juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Add spices. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop greens. Add to skillet. Add water if anything is sticking to the bottom.

Meanwhile, cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water.

Add nuts towards the end of cooking.

Grease a casserole dish with vegetable oil.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

When roots are soft, place in the contents of the skillet bottom of the casserole dish.

Once quinoa and nuts are cooked, spread it on top of the vegetables.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Enjoy! Serve with sesame lemon sauce if you like.

Sesame Lemon Sauce

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

  • ½ cup water

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

Use as a salad dressing or garnish for casseroles.

Millet Leek Casserole with Tempeh

Start with the millet.

Soak 1 cup millet for 2 hours or so. Strain and rinse millet.

You can also cook without soaking. This process removes phytic acid, making millet more digestible.

Pour into a cooking pot with 3 cups water.

Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer.

Simmer until millet begins to thicken (about 20 minutes). Stir occasionally, as though cooking oatmeal.

Add:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 carrots, grated

  • ½ teaspoon each: thyme and nutmeg

Cook on low heat and stir occasionally until millet thickens.

Meanwhile, chop 2 leeks.

Place in a deep skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Sauté for 5 minutes.

Chop 1 8-ounce package of tempeh into cubes.

Place tempeh in a bowl and add:

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

  • 1 teaspoon tahini

  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon coriander

Mix well.

Pour contents of bowl into the skillet with leeks.

Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, until tempeh is browning slightly.

Meanwhile, chop kale – about 2 packed cups.

Add kale and ½ cup water to the skillet.

Cover and cook on medium low heat for 5 more minutes.

Set aside.

Grease a glass baking dish (9x9) with olive or sunflower oil.

Pour one third of the millet into the baking dish and flatten it evenly.

Cover with half of the vegetable mixture.

Add another layer of millet, followed by vegetables.

Finish with millet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the top is turning golden.

Buckwheat Cauliflower Casserole

Place 1 cup dry kasha (buckwheat groats) and 2 ½ cups water in a stock pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until kasha begins to thicken.

Add ½ teaspoon each: salt, coriander, nutmeg

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop 1 large head cauliflower into florets.Chop 3 large carrots into crescents.

Oil a rectangular baking dish.

Add carrots and cauliflower to the baking dish.

Season with ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon.

Toss well to coat.

Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Mix as many peas as you like with the cauliflower and carrots. Remove from baking dish and set aside in a bowl temporarily.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of cooked kasha.

Cover kasha with the vegetables.

Cover vegetables with the rest of the cooked kasha.

Bake for 15 minutes, cool and enjoy!

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Mexico-Inspired Feast

As the weather starts warming slowly, I try to move my body more, breathe the fresh air even though it's cold, and eat more spicy food. Spice from the capsicum family (peppers and paprika) awakens the digestive system, accelerates the metabolism, and improves circulation.

I am inspired to share a Mexican-style meal, which reminds me of my visits to the Yucatan Peninsula. Every part of Mexico has its own regional cuisine. These dishes are familiar to me from my time in Chiapas.

Many of these ingredients, including garlic, cinnamon, and rice, have incredible healing properties.

With chills and weakness brought on by a cold, cinnamon's (cinnamomum sativum) anti-microbial activity stops the development of pathogenic bacteria. The active components in its essential oils warm the body. Try sprinkling it on buttered toast or adding it to applesauce.

Garlic, alium sativum, is one of nature's most powerful antibiotics. Its sulfur compounds reduce inflammation in the body. Effective in treating both viral and bacterial infections, fresh crushed garlic is a potent remedy. If your belly can tolerate it, mince or press 2 cloves of garlic, mix with 1/4 cup honey, and eat with toast or rice. You may also place a spoonful of fresh minced garlic in chicken soup.

Rice, oryza sativa, is the most common cereal grain world-wide. It is nourishing and soothing to a system that's depleted by cold and flu. It stops diarrhea, nourishes dehydrated tissues, and is one of the easiest grains to digest. When you are sick, make rice porridge with 1 cup rice and 3 cups water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to ensure that you are getting sufficient electrolytes. You can season it with thyme and cinnamon if you like.

Shopping List

  • cornmeal (non-GMO if possible)

  • long grain brown rice

  • black beans - please soak overnight

  • eggs

  • sour cream

  • milk (almond or cow)

  • olive oil

  • apple cider vinegar

  • canned / jarred tomatoes

  • salt

  • cinnamon

  • cumin

  • coriander

  • oregano

  • red chile flakes

  • onions

  • garlic

  • carrots

  • lime

  • orange

  • spinach

  • mushrooms

  • fresh cilantro (optional)

Black Bean Stew

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, oregano and salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes (optional)

  • 1 cup cooked black beans

  • 2 cups water

  • juice of 1 orange

  • freshly chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

Soak beans overnight or for 8 hours. Rinse, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer.

Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the top of the pot.

Simmer for 30 minutes or until beans are tender but still well-formed.

Rinse, drain, and set aside.

Chop onions, garlic, and carrots.

Place in a stock pot with olive oil and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add spices and black beans. Stir well and sauté for 3 more minutes, or until you can smell the spices.

Add water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the juice of 1 orange. Stir well.

Turn off heat and enjoy with cooked rice and a garnish of freshly chopped cilantro if you like.

Cornmeal Casserole

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a glass baking dish (9x9 or so) with olive oil. Set aside.

Mince:

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 pound mushrooms

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 onion

Place these in a deep skillet with 3 tablespoons olive oil.

Turn heat on high and then reduce to medium low once vegetables start to sizzle.

Add 1 teaspoon each: oregano, cumin, and coriander - mix well.

Splash with 1 tablespoon lime juice, stir once more, and cover.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. 

Turn off heat, add 2 packed cups spinach, stir well, and spread into baking dish.

For the topping, whisk together these ingredients in the order listed:

  • 2 cups cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 eggs

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (almond or cow)

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Add a bit of water if the dough is too dry. You need to be able to handle it with your hands without it cracking or crumbling.

Shape dough into a flat disc and place over vegetables.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 

Remove from oven and serve with sour cream chile sauce.

GET CREATIVE! Avoiding cream and cheese? Put a fried egg or braised cod on top.

Sour Cream Chile Sauce

In a serving bowl, mix:

  • 2 cups sour cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander and chile flakes

  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

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Buckwheat


Try this nutty little grain to cool summer heat and nourish yourself.

Buckwheat helps maintain balanced cholesterol, stable blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Its beneficial effects are due to its high flavonoid and magnesium content.

These recipes will inspire you to savor kasha, toasted buckwheat groats, in new and interesting ways!

Plum buckwheat breakfast



In a stock pot, bring these ingredients to a boil:

3 plums, halved, pitted, and quartered
2 ½ cups water
1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)
½ teaspoon each: cardamom and cinnamon
pinch salt

Reduce to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

At the end of cooking, add:

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons honey

Mix to incorporate and enjoy! Top with unsweetened whole yogurt if you like.

Buckwheat cauliflower casserole


Place 1 cup dry kasha (buckwheat groats) and 2 ½ cups water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until kasha begins to thicken.

Add ½ teaspoon each: salt, coriander, nutmeg

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.




Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Chop 1 large head cauliflower into florets.
Chop 3 large carrots into crescents.

Oil a rectangular baking dish.
Add carrots and cauliflower to the baking dish.
Season with ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon.
Toss well to coat.
Roast for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Mix as many peas as you like with the cauliflower and carrots. Remove from baking dish and set aside in a bowl temporarily.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of cooked kasha.
Cover kasha with the vegetables.
Cover vegetables with the rest of the cooked kasha.
Bake for 15 minutes, cool and enjoy!


Strawberry buckwheat dessert

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Mix these ingredients together:
1 cup buckwheat flour
pinch salt
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder

Make a well in the center and add:
3/4 cup milk (almond, rice, or cow)
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs

Whisk well.

Add 2 cups fresh strawberries, de-stemmed and halved.

Incorporate wet and dry ingredients.
Pour into an oiled pie plate and bake for 20 minutes.
Cool, slice, and enjoy!