Cool, Green Summer

We find balance in summer weather by eating foods that are

bitter

(cooling, moist), such as: unsweetened cocoa, olives, dandelion, kale, celery, and amaranth leaves. It is also important to take time to rest, sit in the shade, breathe deeply, and absorb the green color that surrounds us.

These are the healing properties of summer herbs:

Basil

–anti-bacterial, digestive, and aromatic, this member of the mint family stimulates growth of white blood cells and protects against unwanted bacterial growth.

Cilantro

– the leaf of the coriander plant stimulates the secretion of insulin and helps lower levels of total and LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), while actually increasing levels of HDL (the "good" cholesterol). Cilantro’s volatile oils have antimicrobial properties.

Parsley

– purifying, anti-dandruff, digestive, and tonic, parsley is also rich in Vitamin C to decrease inflammation, beta carotene to help prevent infection and strengthen immunity, and folic acid (B vitamin) to support cardiovascular health.

Velvety Green Soup

You will need:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced
  • 1 bunch chard, chopped
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen peas
  • 3 cups water and 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh basil

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the shallots and onions.

Cook, covered, until they are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add zucchini and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the chard and peas. Add the water and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Add the basil. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender.

Chop the rosemary and use as garnish. Serve with cooked quinoa. This soup is excellent chilled, too!

Herbed Pesto

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You will need:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup fresh parsley¼ cup pumpkin OR sunflower seeds1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Place basil, seeds, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor.

Make a coarse pesto and set aside.

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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Recipes for Spring Renewal

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 of all, and we’ll discuss their nutrition as well as many other health benefits.

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and it 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 (hormonal) systems.

In Traditional Chinese Five Element Theory (TCM), the flavor of Spring is sour. The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods include vinegar, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, fennel, and caraway seeds. Sourness has an astringent and consolidating effect in the body. It can control diarrhea and excess perspiration or help focus a scattered mind.

Sour foods will help us harmonize Spring. In India’s time-honored tradition of

Ayurvedic Medicine, spring is known as the Kapha season. Kapha, the earth element, is heavy, grounded, and can feel stuck when it is out of balance. While spring waters are flowing and mud is everywhere, uplift your body, mind, and spirit, with a daily walk, deep breathing, and sour food.

I was raised in the

European / Mediterranean tradition, where we harvested dandelion greens each spring to make a bitter and delicious salad with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and grated carrots. I remember how much my grandmother loved vinegar. She dressed our salads generously with this sour liquid. Thank goodness for the carrots to temper the sour and bitter flavors for an overall harmonious effect.

Spring is a wonderful time to engage in a food meditation while cooking. As you chop, stir, and smell, try to be quiet and pay attention to the alchemy of cooking. This practice, along with the inclusion of sour foods and bitter greens, will help you feel more patient, calm, assertive, flexible, and alert.

Creamy Green Sauce

You will need:

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

  • 1 large bunch kale, collards and/or chard

Chop onions. 

Add oil to a skillet. When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover. Add a splash or two of water. Add salt and black pepper.

Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water if onion is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a medium stock pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.

Rinse and chop  kale, collards and/or chard. Add greens to the pot, cover, and reduce heat to low. Braise greens for 5-10 minutes.

Add greens to onions. Stir well to incorporate and purée with immersion blender or food processor. Enjoy as a condiment for grains, as a delicious sauce for salmon, and as a sandwich spread.

Walnut Leek Paté

Chop one large leek into crescents and place in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes on low heat. Add a splash of lemon juice and turn off heat.

While leek is cooking, place ½ cup walnut halves/pieces in a skillet.Toast on medium heat, tossing often with a spatula, for about 3 minutes or until walnuts are lightly browned.

Once leeks and walnuts are cooked, place them in a food processor and add 3 Tablespoons olive oil. You can also place all ingredients in a deep bowl and blend with an immersion blender.

Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes. Taste for salt.

Serve and enjoy with biscuits or savory breads or as a dip with steamed broccoli. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

Dandelion Pesto

In Italian, ‘pesto’ simply means ‘stomp’. You can ‘stomp’ any fresh herbs or greens you like into pesto. Get creative! Try a combination of parsley and cilantro, basil and parsley, or dandelion and nettles.

Harvest as many fresh, tender dandelion greens as you can. Aim for about 3 packed cups. Rinse well.

In a food processor or blender, blend into a thick paste:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • ¼ cup best olive oil (labeled with acidity of less than 0.5%)

  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Add dandelion greens. Pulse to incorporate.

Freeze large batches or enjoy with sourdough rye bread, over freshly cooked quinoa, or as a topping for poached white fish or white beans. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

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Get Creative with Summer Sauces

This summer, try to preserve the abundance from your gardens or local farms to enjoy on cold winter days. These three sauces are wonderful fresh and keep well, too. 

To preserve them, just sterilize half pint mason jars and lids by pouring boiling water oven them while they are in the sink. 
Prepare a water bath by filling a soup pot with water and bringing it to a boil.
Fill jars three quarters of the way with sauce, screw on the lid, and place in boiling water for 5 minutes. 
Extract, set aside, and test the lids 24 hours later. 

Lids need to resist the touch in order to be completely canned.
If a lid bows when pressed, eat that jar right away of freeze it.

Click this link for an easy oven canning method for cooked sauces (like tomato, apple, and jams).

Be well and enjoy today.

Parsley Cashew Spread


Coarsely chop:
1 bunch fresh parsley (about 2 packed cups)
1 clove garlic

Place in a food processor with:3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup cashews
½ teaspoon salt

Blend well.
Enjoy with toast, over pasta or cooked rice, or as a side salad.

GET CREATIVE: Add dill and serve over boiled potatoes. Grate carrots into the sauce, blend in a blender, and serve as a dip for steamed broccoli.

Cilantro Tahini Sauce


Chop 1 bunch fresh cilantro (about 1 ½ packed cups).

Place in a blender with:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon each: coriander and salt
2 tablespoons tahini

Blend well.

Try it with pinto beans and corn tortillas or black bean soup and corn bread. Click here for recipes.

GET CREATIVE: try mixing cilantro with ¼ cup shredded coconut, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 1 tablespoon tamari (fermented soy sauce).

Basil Sunflower Sauce


Coarsely chop:
1 bunch fresh basil (about 2 packed cups)

1 clove garlic

Place in a blender or food processor with:
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

Blend until smooth.

Try it with sliced tomatoes and goat cheese.

GET CREATIVE: Use walnuts instead of sunflower seeds. Add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Try using sacred basil (tulsi) and coconut oil instead of basil and olive oil. Add a tablespoon of raw honey, blend, and serve over ice cream.