September 26, 2013

Autumn Breakfasts: Easy and Healing

Autumn is here, with cool, misty mornings and pink sunsets streaking the evening sky. It feels hard to get our of bed sometimes! Once I get up, I try to step outside, look up into the sky, and breathe deeply. Even if it is cold outside, this practice invigorates me and whets my appetite for breakfast.

Since breakfast is one of the best ways to get our metabolism going for the day, please eat it. Try these recipes to ease the transition into fall.

Banana Coconut Super Power Bars

You will need:
3 bananas, ripe and mashed
2 cups cooked oats (any kind is fine, especially oatmeal leftovers!)
¼ cup coconut flour
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg (this is the medicine!)
½ cup dried dates, chopped (optional)

To prepare:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil.

Mix everything together.
Spread onto cookie sheet evenly with a spatula.
Bake for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Slice and store in tupperware containers in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Protein-Packed Popovers

You will need:
6 eggs
2 cups almond milk
6 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted 1 cup almond meal
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and salt

To prepare:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease 8 muffin tins with vegetable oi.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy using a whisk.
Beat in the almond milk and coconut oil.
Then, beat the flour, cinnamon and salt into the egg, milk, and butter mixture. Pour about ¾ cup of the batter into each of the greased muffin tins.

Bake for 1 hour. Make a slit in each to let out steam; bake for 10 minutes more. Immediately remove the popovers from tins.
Serve with cooked fruit and nuts.

Apple Pie Parfait

You will need:
1/2 cup unsweetened yogurt (cow, goat, or almond)
1/3 cup applesauce
3 Tablespoons walnuts
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
pinch cinnamon

To prepare:
Stir together and eat.

Pumpkin Custard

You will need:
1 medium pumpkin

2 Tablespoons coconut butter
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice

To prepare:
Roast the pumpkin whole at 375 for 1 hour.
Remove from oven, cool, remove seeds, and scoop flesh out into a stock pot.
Add all the other ingredients and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Pour into a glass container to cool and set if you like.
This dish will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

September 5, 2013

Medicinal Culinary Spices

Health is a changing state of balance. Illness, pain and food cravings are signals of the body’s disharmony. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a centuries-old healing modality that persists today with doctors, naturopaths, and acupuncturists, explains that food is medicine. To satisfy the whole being, TCM encourages including five flavors in each meal: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and bitter.

The five flavors correspond to five elements: Earth is sweet, Metal is pungent, Water is salty, Wood is sour, and Fire is bitter. Each element maintains balance with a moderate amount of its corresponding flavor, but illness occurs when a flavor is used in excess.

Each flavor also corresponds with a time of year. See how you can incorporate foods to match the season. Spring is sour. Summer is bitter. Late summer is sweet. . Fall is pungent. Winter is salty. The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder.

Try cooking with these herbs and spices to support the transition into fall:

Garlic: high in Vitamin C and pungent sulfurous compounds, which reduce inflammation in the body; nature’s strongest anti-biotic; contains polysulfides, which trigger blood vessel dilation to reduce blood pressure; anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, controls overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the small intestine thus helping to reduce heartburn and eventual ulcers.
Ginger -  warming, anti-inflammatory, soothes stomach cramps, reduces flatulence, alleviates common cold and flu symptoms.

Parsley – 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. Contains volatile oils that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens as well as ease the burn of insect bites and stings.

Rosemary – antiseptic herb that contains rosmarinic acid, which stimulates the immune system, increases circulation, and improves digestion and concentration. Anti-inflammatory, digestive, and aromatic, the potent herb both aids in digesting fats and decreases the risk of infection from contaminated foods.

Sage –Improves memory by decreasing the growth of neurovascular plaque in the brain. Soothes the digestive tract, dries excess mucus from all membranes, and provides crucial phytonutrients which counteract the effects of oxidation, not only in human blood but also in cooking oils and nuts.
Thyme –Contains thymol and other volatile oils, which have antimicrobial activity against bacteria. Helps preserve foods and protect them from microbial contamination. Thymol helps increase the percentage of healthy fats, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) in brain, kidney, and heart cell membranes.


September 1, 2013

Apple Season

It's apple season. In Vermont, the wild apples are lining the roadsides, ready for gleaners to scoop them up and make sauce or cider. These fragrant fruits have excellent medicinal value and help us transition into fall and winter.

Apples contain polyphenols and fiber to help prevent blood sugar spikes. They provide pre-biotic compounds that support intestinal flora and ease gas and bloating. Apples also contain antioxidants that help to digest fat in the cell membranes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular difficulties.

These lovely fruits, in the malus genus, are part of the Rosaceae family, to which roses also belong. Thus, it is no wonder that apples enliven our hearts and uplift our spirits.

Enjoy these apple recipes and ease into fall.

Apple Onion Tart

This tart is gorgeous and delicious. Sweet, savory, and fragrant, it is perfect for any meal.

For the crust:
1 cup almond meal
1 cup millet, freshly ground in a coffee bean grinder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each: rosemary and thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup almond milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Grease a pie plate with olive oil and set aside.
Grind millet in a coffee bean grinder to produce a grainy flour-like consistency.
In a mixing bowl, combine almond meal, millet flour, salt, and spices.
Make a well in the center, add olive oil, lemon juice and almond milk, whisk together, then incorporate with dry ingredients.
Press into pie plate. Make sure that the crust gets up the sides of the plate and that the thickness is relatively even all around.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove to prepare the filling.

For the filling:
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 onions (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
1 cup almond milk
1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 tart baking apple (McIntosh, Gravenstein or Jonathan)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to very low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, for about 15 more minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, almond milk, and nutmeg.
Stir in the onions.
Peel, core, and thinly slice the apple.
Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust and arrange the apple slices decoratively on top.
Press on the apples to slightly submerge them.
Bake until the top is lightly browned and the center is set, about 30 minutes. Let the tart stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Onions: strengthen lungs; anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; offer rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon.

Gingered Apples and Leafy Greens with Oven-Roasted Beets

For the apples and greens:
wash 1 bunch kale or collards. Chop length-wise.
Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil.
Grate ½ inch fresh (or frozen) ginger root into skillet. Chop 2 cloves garlic and add to skillet.
Turn heat to high and sauté onions and ginger for 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add greens.  Grate 1 granny smith apple (rinsed, with skin on) and add to skillet.

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour 2 Tablespoons water over vegetables and cover with lid.
Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt before serving.

For the beets:
Choose 4 medium red beets for a 9x13 glass baking dish.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Chop beets in half, first length-wise then width-wise. Then, chop each section into cubes. Throw cubes into baking dish after they are chopped.

When the bottom of the dish is covered with one layer of diced beets, sprinkle over the top:
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon garam masala
Pour ¼ cup olive oil over the top and toss with a spatula until beets are coated well.

Slide dish into oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove dish from oven and toss with spatula.

Bake for 15 more minutes, cool and enjoy alone or as a soup garnish.

Dark, leafy greens: collards and kale are rich in folic acid, calcium, and fiber.

Garlic: high in Vitamin C and pungent sulfurous compounds, which reduce inflammation in the body; nature’s strongest anti-biotic; contains polysulfides, which trigger blood vessel dilation to reduce blood pressure; anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, controls overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the small intestine thus helping to reduce heartburn and eventual ulcers.   

Kasha Biscuits
You will need:
¾ cup cooked kasha (buckwheat groats)
1 tart baking apple, cubed 

¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup ground flax seeds

¼ cup ground sunflower seeds
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon each: baking powder, baking soda, salt

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

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

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grind flax seeds then sunflower seeds in a spice/espresso bean grinder until they reach a flour-like consistency.

Place in a mixing bowl and add the coconut oil, cut into pearl-sized chunks.
Add spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix well. Incorporate the cooled kasha and then the lemon juice.

Drop mix in heaping spoonfuls on a greased glad baking dish.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges have turned dark brown.

Kasha (toasted buckwheat groats): rich in the flavonoid rutin, buckwheat woks to lower lipid content in the bllodstream, thus helping maintain smooth blood flow. Buckwheat also contains almost 86 milligrams of magnesium in a one-cup serving. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure.

Coconut oil: saturated fat, solid at room temperature, is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.


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