Turmeric and Ginger Harvest

I am honored to participate in the harvest and cooking of fresh, organic turmeric and ginger grown in a Vermont greenhouse.

May the fruits of the harvest inspire us to find balance during this fall equinox time. Equal day and equal night call for a pause, a moment to revel in what surrounds us, appreciate it for what it is, and reflect on what's working in our lives and what we could let go.

Let these traditional Indian recipes inspire you to support your digestive health and immunity with turmeric and ginger. I have learned how to prepare these dishes from Dr. Vasant Lad, director of the Ayurvedic Institutes in India and New Mexico.

Ginger: warming, anti-inflammatory, soothes stomach cramps, reduces flatulence, alleviates common cold and flu symptoms. Clinical studies show that ginger consumption decreases arthritis pain and protects the liver from damage.

Turmeric: anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory, turmeric contains anti-inflammatory curcumin, which helps to heal GI diseases such irritable bowel syndrome. It prevents cancer cells from growing new blood vessels to feed themselves and induces the death of existing cancer cells. It also breaks up accumulated amyloid plaque in the brain that’s related to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Rajma

Rajma means red kidney beans in Hindi. This is an adaptation of a traditional Punjabi recipe. These rich and hearty legumes are high in iron and protein. They support gut health with their fiber content.

To pressure cook* the beans:

¾ cups rajma (red kidney beans)

1 ½ cups water

*If you do not have a pressure cooker, just soak the beans overnight and boil in water until tender, about 45 minutes.

For rajma recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated turmeric

  • 2 cloves fresh chopped garlic

  • 1 ½ teaspoons red chili powder or 2 fresh chopped chilies

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder

  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes

  • ½ teaspoon garam masala

  • Salt to taste

Wash dried rajma under running cold water till water runs clear.

Soak them in enough water for at least 8 hours or overnight.

If using canned beans, there is no need to soak or pressure cook them. Just rinse under the water and use beans in the recipe

Pressure cooking beans: discard the soaking water and add rajma to the pressure cooker with 3 ½ cups of fresh water. Close the lid and put the top on. Cook on high for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes. Let the pressure go down by itself and then open the cover. After pressure cooking the rajma, they should be soft and some of them will open up. Discard any leftover water from pressure cooking.

To prepare the rajma, heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add bay leaf and saute for 30 seconds. Add chopped onions and salt. Cook the onions till they are light brown in color, about 5 minutes. Saute ginger, turmeric and garlic for a minute.

Add tomato. Mix well and let it cook till all the moisture is evaporated and oil starts to leave the sides of the pan. do stir in between to make sure that it is not sticking to the pan. Add all spice powders. Mix well and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the beans, cook for 10 more minutes, and enjoy over rice.

Aloo Saag

In Hindi, aloo means potatoes and saag means spinach. This classic side dish can also be made with kale or collard greens.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or ghee (clarified butter)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 1 inch each of freshly chopped turmeric and ginger

  • 2 large potatoes, cut into chunks

  • ½ tsp each: salt, cumin, and garam masala

  • 1 tablespoon mustard

  • 2 cups spinach leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the potatoes and spices. Continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes more. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Check the potatoes are ready by spearing with the point of a knife, and if they are, add the spinach and let it wilt into the pan. Take off the heat and serve with grilled chicken or cooked beans and rice.

Kitchari

Kitchari means mixture, usually of two grains. This is one kitchari recipe that is particularly nourishing and easy to digest. I like to prepare the rice and lentils separately and mix them in my bowl.

Rinse 1 cup long grain brown rice. Bring to a boil with 2 cups water. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, with lid askew, for 30 minutes.

In a skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon ghee or coconut oil with:

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: mustard seed, cumin seed, cumin powder, coriander powder

  • 1 inch each of freshly chopped turmeric and ginger

When seeds start popping, turn off heat and slowly pour mixture into cooking rice.

You can add zucchini, summer squash, peas, cauliflower, broccoli or asparagus to the rice.

For the lentil dahl, rinse 2 cups yellow split lentils. Drain and bring to a boil with 5 cups water.

Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Skim off any white foam that develops and discard it.

In a skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon ghee or coconut oil with:

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt, cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala

  • 1 inch each of freshly chopped turmeric and ginger

Add vegetables such as beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, collards, kale and spinach to the skillet. Add 1 cup water, cover, and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Mix into the lentils, stir, and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Maple Gingerbread

The nights are getting cooler here in Vermont, and I am thinking about the kinds of warming, blood-building foods that will strengthen our immune systems in preparation for the colder months.

Molasses is an excellent source of iron, supports blood and heart health, and is packed with minerals. Try to find sorghum molasses, which is derived from a low-glycemic, gluten-free grain: sorghum. A relative of millet, sorghum is native to North Africa. It is a warming and tonic food that helps build fluids in the body and regulates digestion. When boiled, it creates a delicious and rich syrup that takes this recipe to another level.

If you cannot find sorghum, unsulphured cane sugar molasses will do just fine.

This recipe is rich in medicinal spices to balance blood sugar (cinnamon), support digestion and endocrine health (nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon), and ward off the cold and flu (ginger and cloves).

Maple Gingerbread

You will need:

  • 1 cup sorghum or millet flour

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cloves and nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and ginger

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup molasses

  • 1 egg or 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal dissolved into 2 tablespoons hot water (vegan)

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/4 cup hot water

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a baking dish with coconut oil. I use either an 8x8 dish or a loaf pan.

Mix all ingredients together in the order listed. Spread evenly into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Check for done-ness by inserting a knife blade into the center of the bread. Bake for 5 more minutes if necessary.

Cool 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

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Firey Cider

I first read about fire cider in Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Herbal Recipes For Vibrant Health.

Since this recipe has generated much controversy Recently, I am inspired by friend and herbalist Sandra Lory to call it "firey cider".

Regardless of recipe variations, this healing brew needs to be free for all to prepare and enjoy!

Its antimicrobial benefits are vast. Take a few spoonfuls of it when you feel cold or flu symptoms coming on. Use it during acute infection to treat the cold or flu, and enjoy it as a salad dressing if you like. Be well and stay healthy with food as medicine.

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Firey Cider

Please try to choose organic ingredients whenever possible.

You will need:

  • ½ cup diced ginger root

  • ½ cup diced turmeric root or 2 tablespoons turmeric power

  • ½ cup onion, chopped

  • ¼ cup minced or crushed garlic

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped

  • Zest and juice from 2 lemons

  • Raw apple cider vinegar

  • Raw honey to taste

  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme

  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns

Add the ginger, onion, garlic, jalapeno and lemon juice/zest to a quart-sized jar. Pack them down lightly so that the jar is about three quarters full.

Use a fermenting weight to hold down the veggies/roots, or place heavy roots at the top so that they will weigh down the herbs (which float).

Pour a generous amount apple cider vinegar over the everything. 

Cover jar with waxed paper to prevent corrosion, screw on the metal lid, and place in a bowl on top of the fridge for at least two weeks. Be sure to shake it once a day!

When the cider is ready, shake well once again and then strain the roots/veggies using fine mesh sieve. Add honey to taste and store in the fridge.

Feel free to cook the strained veggies in a stir fry.

Pineapple Maple Ginger Upside Down Cake

This is my version of a cake I had at Eat Here in Florida.

It was so good that I had to re-create it.

Try it for yourself. Email me if you are disappointed for any reason.

By the way, pineapple is packed with digestive enzymes and naturally very sweet.

Pineapple Ginger Upside Down Cake

You will need:

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, either fresh or frozen and thawed

  • 1 cup whole wheat or rice flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 egg, whisked

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil

  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, minced

For the ginger sauce:

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, minced

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a cake pan with vegetable oil.

Place 1/2 cup of the pineapple chunks in it. Set it aside.

Mince 2 inches of ginger root. Place some in a pan to make sauce and set some aside for the cake.

In a bowl, mix flour, powder, salt, and spices. Add the rest of the pineapple and mix just until it is well coated with the flour mixture.

Make a well in the center and add the rest of the ingredients.

Whisk them with each other and then incorporate wet and dry together until just barely mixed.

The batter will be gooey.

Pour it over the pineapple and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn out onto a plate.

Garnish each slice with apple slices, a sprinkle of nutmeg, whipped cream and ginger sauce.

To prepare the ginger sauce:

Place all ingredients in a stock pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes or until it is a thick paste.

Spoon over cake slices.

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Going on Vacation? Food for Healthy Travel

When winter starts feeling long in the Northeast, those who have the privilege might choose to travel south and warm their bones, joints, and connective tissue.

If you cannot travel this winter, here are some tips to improve flexibility and circulation from the inside out.

Soak your feet.

Just take a storage container or tub, fill it with hot water, table salt, and 2 or 3 peppermint tea bags. Let your feet and ankles soak in the hot water until it cools down - about 10 minutes.

Breathe deeply. Try this mindful peace breath if you like

.Then, pat feet dry and rub them with coconut oil or sunflower oil.

Drink ginger tea.

Ginger tea improves circulation and uplifts mood by supporting healthy digestion. When digestion is not healthy, mood suffers.

Make a smoothie.

Fruit can bring joy to the moment and give our cells a burst of the plant nutrients that are under blankets of snow right now.

Here is a simple recipe:

  • 1 cup organic plain yogurt (cow, almond, or coconut)

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

  • 1 teaspoon raw honey

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Click this link for more smoothie recipes.

If you are lucky enough to travel, here are some ways to stay healthy!

When we go to a new place, our guts have to adjust to the foods and the environment of this place. Sometimes, the bacteria that are naturally present in one location are very different from the ones to which we are accustomed.

Eat Pre-Biotic Foods.

Especially when traveling from a cold weather climate to a warm weather one, please choose pre-biotic foods, which stimulate the growth of healthy pro-biotic bacteria in your gut. These include apples, almonds, onions, pears, and potatoes.

Choose cooked fruits and vegetables.

When eating out, choose cooked fruits and vegetables to minimize the risk of exposing yourself to water-borne parasites. If you choose to eat raw fruits and veggies at restaurants, ask staff to wash and handle them with bottled or treated water to reduce risk of exposure.

If you shop and cook at a home kitchen during your travels, wash fruits and vegetables in a colloidal solution that suspends bacteria.

Skip the ice.

Ice can often be prepared with water that's untreated. For local folks, that's no problem. Their guts are accustomed to the local bacteria. For travelers, this might cause digestive upset such as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Ask for drinks prepared with treated / bottled water and no ice.

Pack an herbal toolkit.

Stock up on tinctures - medicinal herbal extracts. Find them at your local health food store or online. Choose goldenseal, sweet annie (artemisia annua), and echinacea. Take a dropper of each one of these every two hours at the onset of symptoms of infection, such as: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or extreme migraine.

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Winter Foods That Heal

The full moon of December is here, and snow covers every last remaining plant stalk and kale leaf in our gardens. This moon is known by indigenous people of North America as the Cold Moon, the moon of long nights, and the Winter Moon. I try to welcome winter with warming foods

Deer are browsing the crab apple branches and chickadees buzz between bee balm stalks to stay warm. I love this time of year. It is peaceful. The snow that blankets everything is a metaphor for stillness. Take ease in this time. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do.

Even if the holiday commitments are piling up, take time to rest each day. Even if you rest for five minutes while sitting at a window or on your couch with a cup of tea, this practice invokes the stillness of the upcoming Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.

This is the stillness that rejuvenates, respects the spirit, eases the mind, and clears stress from the body. From this calm place, ask yourself what you need to be truly nourished.

I like to prepare soups, whole grains, and delightful, wholesome desserts at this time of year. My husband and I sit, light a candle, and savor carrot ginger soup. I wake up to a simple, hearty breakfast of eggs poached in greens.

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I enjoy baking simple desserts and sharing them at holiday gatherings. This way, I avoid eating lots of white flour and white sugar and having a headache and bellyache the next morning.

Try this maple gingerbread (gluten-free) to inspire your holiday baking.

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Juice for Renewal

As November makes its way to the new moon, you can renew your body, mind, and spirit by enjoying nutrient-dense juices. These blends will awaken your senses each morning and help cleanse your internal organs after savoring the rich foods of holiday feasts.

If you do not already have a juicer, click this link to view Williams-Sonoma's options for purchasing your own juicer.

Whole foods are rich in fiber, which can ease constipation by building bulk in the stool. Fiber also helps starches to metabolize more slowly so that blood sugar remains stable. When juicing, we remove the fiber from food and concentrate its nutrients, which can cause blood sugar spikes. 

In addition, because we do not have to chew juice, saliva's digestive secretions are reduced. Hence, I like to pair juice with a protein-packed popover or a home-made banana almond bar for optimal digestion and balanced energy.

Regardless, drink small glasses (8 ounces or less) of juice and see how your stomach tolerates it. The more green foods you put in your juice, the more your blood and skin will glow. Ginger and carrots in juice will heal the digestive system and increase pancreatic secretions.

Try these recipes and see what you think!

REVIVE + DIGEST

Ginger is a digestive aid, which stimulates digestive secretions, increases the amylase concentration in saliva, and facilitates the digestion of starches and fatty foods. It stimulates the immune response and reduces inflammation and anxiety. Use smaller amounts if you have excessive heartburn or an ulcer.

You will need:

  • 2 inches of fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 2 grapefruits, peeled and chopped

  • 2 green apples, chopped

  • 1 packed cup of fresh spinach

  • pinch salt

  • 3 cups water

Place all ingredients in the order listed in a blender. Blend well until everything is completely liquefied - about 1 minute.

As long as the ginger is organic, please blend it with the peel, which is rich in nutrients.

This juice keeps in the fridge in a sealed glass jar for 3 days. Shake before drinking.

Enjoy it with a glass with a whole grain breakfast such as amaranth flatbread

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LIVER LOVE

Beets cleanse the liver and flood the cells with iron. They provide the most concentrated source of phytonutrients called betalains, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Beets' high betaine content lowers the presence of inflammatory markers in the system. These powerful roots are a wonderful winter food.

You will need:

  • 1 packed cup beet greens

  • 1 beet, washed and chopped

  • 3 stalks celery

  • 2 inches fresh ginger root

Put all ingredients through a juicer* and store in the fridge in a sealed glass jar for 3 days. Enjoy a glass either in the morning or before bed. It will help to rejuvenate the internal organs and encourage effective metabolism.

To re-invent the vegetable pulp that's leftover after juicing, try this vegetable bread recipe.

BLOOD BUILDER

Carrots are high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity. They are rich in carotenoids and omega-3s, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity and cleanse the blood. Carrots also offer a healthy dose of B vitamins to reduce stress.

You will need:

  • 1 beet, washed and chopped

  • 2 carrots, washed and chopped

  • 1 green apple, chopped

  • 2 handfuls fresh parsley

Put all ingredients through a juicer*. This juice stores well in the fridge in a sealed glass jar for 3 days. It makes for an uplifting afternoon tonic. Drink a glass at work if you are feeling lethargic during the waning daylight hours. 

*If you would like to make this juice without a juicer, just grate the beet, carrots, and apple to shred them. Then, place them in a blender with the parsley and 2 cups of water. Blend well for 1 minute, or until the mixture is uniformly liquid.

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Healing Bowl of Delight

To celebrate the arrival of darker evenings, I am cooking with more root vegetables, warming spices, and foods to balance mental health.

Try this recipe to delight your senses and soothe your soul. It's a great way to cleanse after a day of rich, Thanksgiving-style eating.

BOUNTIFUL BOWL OF DELIGHT

This healing meal is comprised of three parts: pickled cabbage slaw, ginger tahini sauce, and vegetable legume pilaf.

PICKLED CABBAGE SLAW

You will need:

  • Half a head of red or green cabbage, thinly sliced

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon raw honey

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, fenugreek and cinnamon

GARLIC, GINGER + TAHINI SAUCE

You will need:

  • ¼ cup tahini

  • ¼ cup water

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon salt or tamari

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

  • ½ teaspoon freshly chopped ginger root

  • ½ teaspoon freshly chopped garlic

VEGETABLE + LEGUME PILAF

You will need:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 bunch (2 packed cups) of kale, chard, collards or spinach, roughly chopped

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, millet, kasha, or quinoa – cooked with wakame seaweed

  • 2 cups cooked beans (I like adzuki or kidney beans)*

  • 1 teaspoon dry rosemary leaf powder

  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

Make the pickled cabbage a day in advance. Place the red or green cabbage in a large jar or airtight container. In a large measuring cup, combine the apple cider vinegar, water, honey and salt. Pour the liquid over the red cabbage and press the cabbage down so that it is fully covered. Cover the jar/container and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To prepare the tahini sauce, combine all ingredients in a cup or small bowl and whisk well. Chill until ready to use.

Cook grains in twice as much water. Add seaweed halfway through cooking. Salt grains with about 1 teaspoon of salt per 2 cups of dry grains.

*If you are using dry beans, soak overnight and cook in three times as much water with more seaweed. Skim off any foam that rises to the top and discard it. Once beans are soft, rinse them well. Season them with rosemary, salt, and olive oil. Set them aside.

To cook the sweet potato, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Spread the sweet potatoes out on the sheet. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with a spatula until fully coated. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes, tossing them with a spatula after 15 minutes.

For the greens, fill a large shallow sauce pan or medium pot with about 1 to 2 inches of water. Place a steamer basket in the pot and fill the basket with the chopped greens. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to high. Once the water begins to boil, or after about 4 to 5 minutes, remove the kale from the basket and set aside.

In 2 bowls, divide the cooked grains, legumes, and sweet potato. Add a generous serving of greens. Top with slices of avocado and pickled cabbage. Drizzle the sauce over the top and enjoy!

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