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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Cabbage Recipes

Why cabbage? It is a healthy and inexpensive vegetable that’s in season in the fall and winter. It contains polyphenols, cancer-preventive plant nutrients. It’s packed with Vitamins A & C to boost immunity. It helps reduce inflammation and heal stomach ulcers.

Purple Cabbage Soup

You will need:

  • 1 head purple cabbage

  • 1 rutabega

  • 2 yellow onions

  • 3 tablespoons olive, grapeseed or sunflower oil

  • 1 tablespoon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and coriander

  • salt and pepper to taste

Chop onions into thin crescent moons.

Heat oil in the bottom of a soup pot. Add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add mustard and spices and simmer for 15 more minutes.

Meanwhile, chop rutabega and turnips into small chunks. Chop 1 medium red cabbage into threads, removing the hard inner core.

Add vegetables to the pot and add enough water to cover vegetables. Bring both to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook with the lid on until vegetables are soft.

Purée with a blender or immersion blender.

Enjoy with a dollop of unsweetened yogurt or sour cream.

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Comforting Cabbage and Noodles

This is adapted from a traditional Slovakian recipe, Haluski.

You will need:

  • 1 package wide egg noodles or gluten-free noodles

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 yellow onion

  • ½ head green cabbage, chopped (about 5 cups)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions (boil until tender) and then drain in a colander.

While the noodles are cooking, thinly slice the onion. Remove any dirty or damaged outer leaves of the cabbage.

Cut the cabbage into wedges, remove the core, then slice thinly.

After draining the noodles, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the sliced onions to the pot used to cook the noodles. Sauté the onions over medium heat just until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Add the cabbage and continue to cook until the cabbage is tender (5-7 minutes).

Return the drained noodles to the pot with the cabbage and onion. Add the remaining butter and stir until the butter is melted and everything is evenly coated. Season the cabbage and noodles liberally with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Serve warm.

You can scramble an egg and serve that over it to add protein to your meal!

Savory Cabbage Fritters

This is adapted from a traditional Japanese recipe, Okonomiyaki.

You will need:

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup water

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or wheat-free tamari

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 4-5 cups shredded green cabbage

  • 1 carrot

  • 3 green onions

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce or sriracha

Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Thinly slice the cabbage until you have 4-5 cups.

Peel the carrot and shred it using a large-holed cheese grater.

Slice the green onions.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, soy sauce, and sesame oil until smooth. Begin whisking in the flour, ¼ cup at a time, until it forms a thick, smooth batter.

Add the cabbage, carrots, and green onion to the batter and stir until the vegetables are mixed and everything is evenly coated in batter.

Heat ½ tablespoon of oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add ¾ cup of the vegetable and batter mixture. Press it down into the hot skillet to form a circle, about 6 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Place a cover on the skillet to hold in the steam, which will help the cabbage soften as it cooks.

Cook the pancake until golden brown on the bottom (about 5 minutes), then flip and cook until golden brown on the second side.

Pile the cooked pancakes on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm until ready to eat. Add more oil to the skillet as needed as you cook the pancakes.

To prepare the spicy mayo, mix together the mayo and hot sauce. Drizzle over each pancake just before serving.

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Pears for Healthy Digestion

Dry weather and oily, rich winter foods can cause constipation, gas and bloating. If your digestion suffers in the winter because the air is so dry and the meals are heavier, pears are a perfect antidote.

Pears are loaded with flavonols, plant nutrients that provide anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant support. They are high in pectin, a sugar loaded with galacturonic acid, which coats and soothes the intestines to reduce symptoms of heartburn, ulcers, GERD, acid reflux, and colitis. Pear fibers bind with bile acid in the intestines, making them soothing and easily digestible. They are an important part of a low-allergy diet and. In my native Italy, they are one of the first foods given to infants.

These recipes also feature cardamom and olive oil, both of which support digestion in crucial ways.

Cardamom is a fragrant and floral spice native to Southeast Asia that reduces gas and bloating. Its warming and soothing quality makes it a perfect pairing to pears.

Olive oil is a polyunsaturated fat that hails from various parts of the world, including Greece, Syria, and Italy. 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. 

Pear, Almond, and Chocolate Muffins

These delicious muffins are more like dessert. They are gluten-free, (almost) dairy-free, and free of refined cane/beet sugar (adapted from the Five and Spice blog).

You will need:

  • 2 cups almond flour (I like Bob's Red Mill brand or you can make your own in a food processor)

  • ½ cup rolled oats (replace this with more almond flour if you want grain-free muffins)

  • a pinch of sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon each: nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ¼ cup coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 large egg

  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate

  • 1 small pear, diced into little pieces

Heat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a muffin pan with olive oil.

In a medium bowl, stir together the almond flour, oats, spices, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mix and add the maple, oil, coconut milk, vanilla, and egg. Whisk these together and then fold dry ingredients into wet until mostly smooth and fully combined.

Add the chopped chocolate and pear at the end. 

Spoon the batter into muffin tins, filling each cup almost to the top. Bake until brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing and serving.

These muffins are best eaten the day they are made.

Pear Almond Cake

This light, fluffy tart is a wonderful brunch addition or a simple treat to serve at the end of a holiday meal.

You will need:

  • 2 cups almond flour

  • 1/2 cup oat flour (buy flour or make it by grinding rolled oats in your blender or food processor)

  • a pinch of sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • 1 egg

  • 1 pound Anjou pears

  • lemon juice and water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9 inch pie plate or cast iron skillet with olive oil.

Slice pears in half, core them, and then slice each half into about 3 smaller slices. Place these slices them in a bowl of lemon juice and water to keep them from browning. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flours and spices. Make a well in the center and add the rest of the ingredients, minus the pears. Whisk these together, then incorporate them with the dry ingredients. 

Pour batter into greased pan. Pat pears dry and arrange them in a circle over the batter. Bake for 25 minutes and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Would you like to learn more about which foods are ideal for you? 

Try a free initial consultation with Lisa.

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Spices for healthy holiday cooking

The early winter holidays are traditionally a gathering time. Come together with friends and family, slow down and enjoy the peaceful darkness of long evenings. As you circle around the meal table, remember that the light will return at winter solstice, December 21st.

Honor the peace that comes before the light slowly starts returning. Nourish yourself and your loved ones while staying healthy by incorporating these spices into your holiday cooking. You probably already do.

CINNAMON

During the colder months, cinnamon increases warmth and circulation and supports efficient digestion of fats and heavy foods. It counteracts the congestion that is often accompanied by dairy-rich foods.

Cinnamon also brings relief from the common cold and flu by dissolving mucus and resolving coughs and bronchial congestion. 

NUTMEG

Nutmeg is a highly prized digestive aid, commonly added to cheese sauces and creamy desserts. Enjoy it! It mediates the effects of rich food, sweets, overeating and late-night eating. Watch this short video on how to make a vegan cream sauce that mimics the flavor of dairy.

CLOVES

This potent spice comes from a beautiful beautiful tropical bush, the clove bush. It can develop into a large woody shrub. I have seen it growing in the shade of coffee trees in Indonesia. It is antimicrobial and antiseptic, particularly for the gums and teeth. Heavy holiday desserts are known to clog the sinuses and produce mucus. Cloves clear the sinuses, encourage mental clarity and clear mucus. Hence, they are a perfect addition to sweet treats as well as savory dishes.

Try these recipes to incorporate a taste of health into your meals.

COCONUT CARROT RICE PUDDING

You will need:

  • 1 can organic, full-fat coconut milk

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice

  • 2 medium carrots, grated

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger

  • 1/3 cup raisins

  • 2 tablespoons raw honey to finish

In a pot, bring coconut milk, rice and water to a boil.

Meanwhile, grate carrots.

Reduce heat to low; add carrots, vanilla, spices and raisins.

Stir well, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, until rice is tender. The mixture will still be liquid, like a thick stew. Cook it down more if you like or try it as is.

Remove from heat, stir in honey, and serve in small bowls, perhaps with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

GET CREATIVE! Two ideas: substitute parsnips for carrots. Instead of raisins, add chopped almonds and dates.

BAKED APPLES STUFFED WITH ALMONDS AND FIGS

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped

  • 1 cup almonds, chopped

  • ¼ cup red wine

  • 6 tart apples

  • pinch salt

  • 3 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine chopped figs, almonds and wine in a small bowl. Set aside.

Chop apples in half, remove core, and place right-side up in a greased baking dish that has a lid. If you do not have a lid, cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Fill apples with fig almond mixture.

Whisk together remaining ingredients, pour over apples, seal tightly, and bake for 1 hour. 

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if you like!

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DIY Kombucha

Summer can cause water retention and bloating. It's hot and our bodies need extra water to thrive. Since the digestive system is where we usually feel the impacts of bloating first, it's the best place to start addressing these issues. Digestive health is central to our overall wellness, governing nutrition, cleansing, immunity, neurological health, and much more.

To reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, emphasize a diet rich in vegetables and small amounts of fruits. Recommendations include: celery, dandelion greens, parsley, cilantro, basil, arugula, cucumber, melon, zucchini, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, avocado, broccoli sprouts, peas, sweet potato, and squash.

Probiotic bacteria can provide additional support against bloating and inflammation in the digestive tract. These friendly microbes work to reduce expression of inflammatory genes and cell signals and reduce gas, bloating, and discomfort as they improve nutrient absorption—among other critical actions. Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi provide excellent sources of probiotics. Lacto-fermented drinks such as kefir, kombucha and rice milk made with koji cultures can help, too.

Thanks to Rodale for this inspiration!

Try this kombucha recipe to strengthen summer digestion.

Kombucha

Kombucha consists of yeasts and acetic bacteria living symbiotically. It is a living culture that looks like a jelly fish or placenta pancake in a jar. It is a lightly fermented tea dating back to ancient China, which provides an excellent tonic for immunity and strengthening digestion.

Click this link for a recipe to make your own!

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