March 30, 2015

Miso Soup

Soothing, cleansing, and delightful, this gentle soup helps to balance our springtime need for a little extra salt and liquid.

It goes well with vegetarian sushi! Try it.


Miso Soup


You will need:

8 cups water
1 teaspoon tamari
1/4 cup miso paste
1 tablespoon dried seaweed (kombu, kelp, or wakame)
1 clove chopped garlic
1 inch chopped ginger root
1 carrot, grated
½ bunch chopped kale or chard

Pour the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the seaweed. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop and grate vegetables and herbs. Add these to the pot and simmer for 10 more minutes.

As soup simmers, spoon the miso paste into a bowl. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot broth into a bowl and whisk with chopsticks or a whisk to mix and melt the miso paste so that it becomes a smooth mixture.

Turn the heat off, add the miso paste to the pot and stir well. Taste the soup - if it needs more flavor, whisk in another tablespoon or two of miso paste. Serve immediately.



March 27, 2015

Spring Greens

Now is the time to enjoy the savory, bitter, and sour flavors that prepare our bodies for spring.

Try these wonderful greens in your meals.

Broccoli


This wonderful vegetable is a favorite of kids, who tend to think it looks like little trees. It's high in fiber for digestive support. It contains B vitamins for heart health and helps the lymphatic system to cleanse itself.

Break it into florets, or 'trees', steam it for 3 minutes, and season it with pesto or lemon tahini sauce. Toss it with cooked spaghetti for a quick dinner or use it as a pizza topping once it's steamed.

It's much easier to digest when cooked, and steaming doesn't affect its health benefits.


Mustard Greens


This spicy cruciferous green is high in fiber to support elimination and vitamin K to promote healthy bones. The phytonutrients that make it so spicy are the same ones that encourage the body to cleanse and shed winter's heaviness.

Try them braised in coconut milk with garlic, ginger, and turmeric. I also like to add them to stir fried dishes. Their mild pungency decreases with cooking, so do not worry about them being too spicy for you.

Thanks to Sigona's Farmers Market for this photo.


Arugula


This delicious salad green is hearty and grows well in the cold spring months. It's high in vitamins A, B-6, C, K, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, which help maintain balanced mental health and detoxify the system. Arugula also contains copper and iron, which contribute to a balanced metabolism and reduction in cravings.

I like to serve it raw in salads, over grains, or tossed with cooked beans or chopped apples.


Bok Choy


This green, originally cultivated in Japan is high in omega-3s for brain function and rich in Vitamin K to strengthen bones and decrease inflammation. 

It cooks up quickly and has a nice tang. Cut heads in half lengthwise and sauté in a small amount of olive oil for 5 minutes. Dress with lemon, salt and black pepper.

Serve with white beans or white fish.


March 24, 2015

Gluten free egg noodles

Egg noodles are such a soothing comfort food. It is easy to make a wholesome, gluten free version at home. In fact, some regions of Italy follow a similar recipe, making their pasta naturally gluten free.

You will need:
1 cup corn meal (plus 1/2 cup more for dusting)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
4 teaspoons arrowroot powder dissolved in just as much hot water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup warm water
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl, whisk together arrowroot and hot water.

Add cornmeal, buckwheat flour, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, water, and oil. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix well.

Dough will be slightly tacky but easy enough to handle if you coat your hands in cornmeal first.

If it is too wet, add more buckwheat flour. If it is too dry, add a bit more warm water.

Do so, separate dough into two balls, and let it rest in the bowl, covered with a cloth, for 1/2 hour.

Then, cover a work surface with cornmeal.
Roll out one dough ball to 1/4 inch thickness.

Fold in half and slice into thin strips.
Pull strips apart, toss with more cornmeal, and set aside on a corner of the work surface.

Repeat the process with the second dough ball.

As you are doing so, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Boil noodles in two batches.
They are done when they rise to the top of the water.

Pull them put with a slotted spoon and place them in a serving bowl with plenty of butter and freshly ground black pepper.
Enjoy!

March 21, 2015

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 or other vegetable 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.


March 17, 2015

Fresh, Fruity, & Fabulous

Smoothies are not just for breakfast!
Enjoy them as snacks when the afternoon blues hit or serve them in a little cup as dessert when visitors come to dinner.

With the coming new moon and spring equinox on March 20th, these recipes will uplift you and inspire you to sow seeds of intention for the season to come.

Each one of these recipes features coconut, which helps to tonify and nourish your hormonal and digestive systems and bring the balance that's synonymous with this time of year.


Coconut: 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 action makes it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites. 

This food is considered sacred by people from the Indonesian Archipelago to the Indian Sub-Continent because of its potent healing properties. 


Coconut Cream Pie


You will need:
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 banana
½ orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend until smooth.


Decadent Chocolate Cherry


You will need:
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
¾ cup of frozen cherries
1 tablespoon cacao powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Blend until smooth.


Soothing Delight


You will need:
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 ripe avocado, peeled and de-seeded
2 dates, fresh or dried, chopped
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Blend until smooth.



Thanks to Alisa Cooks for the Chocolate Smoothie photo!

March 13, 2015

Whole Food + Mindfulness = Health


Food For Thought



Much of the body's total digestive response to any meal starts with the mind. If we are distracted before we begin to eat, and if we are not fully aware of what and when we are eating, we are not stimulating the full beneficial digestive response.

On the contrary, mindful eating requires being fully present with our food. It's a meditation practice that brings our thoughts to the food and our experience of the food.

In Eating Mindfully, Susan Albers describes:
"Eating a mindful meal means completely focusing your mind on the 'process' of eating. You take it moment by moment and focus on the here and now. You begin by looking at the food, noting the different colors and shapes. You really see what is in front of you. You also become aware of the manner in which you reach for the spoon and fork. Food doesn't automatically end up in your mouth. Your entire body is involved in getting it there... from ingredients to atmosphere, whether appealing or appalling, both the psychological mood and the physical accessories that surround you when you eat may influence the way in which you metabolize food and in turn your health and well-being."

You can cook and eat whole food, as close to the source as possible, to reduce your risk of illnesses from the common cold to cancer. Many doctors maintain that food is the best way to prevent and treat obesity, diabetes, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and depression.

Choose one food to be your health ally this spring. I am choosing black pepper. What about you?

Black pepper: although it’s known for making you sneeze, black pepper can actually help to ward off the sniffles. Black peppercorns are high in piperine, a compound with anti-inflammatory qualities that can reduce swelling in joints. Piperine also helps you absorb the benefits of other spices.Try for 2 teaspoons of both black pepper per week to boost your immunity.

By including your healthy food ally in your diet each week, you can contribute to your own long-term well-being. Remember that it takes time a commitment to notice these changes. Be patient.

Most of all, enjoy your meal!

Here is my favorite black pepper recipe.

Healthy Stir-Fried Vegetables



You will need:
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped
3 carrots, rinsed and chopped into matchsticks
1 large head broccoli, chopped
2 zucchini, rinsed and chopped into matchsticks
1 small purple cabbage, rinsed and chopped
1 hanful snap peas (optional)

1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari (low sodium)
1 teaspoon each: turmeric, cumin, and coriander
1/2 teaspoon each: fenugreek and cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Juice of half a lime

Heat oil in a skillet.
Add ginger and garlic. Stir well.
Add vinegar.
Sauté on medium heat, with the lid on, for 5 minutes. Add water if anything is sticking.
Add carrots, zucchini, broccoli and cabbage in layers with carrots on the bottom, then zucchini, then cabbage on top.

Add ½ cup water, soy sauce, and spices. Do not stir. Reduce heat to medium-low.
Cook with lid on for 5 minutes.
Add snap peas if you have them.
Stir, increase heat to medium, and cook for 5 more minutes, or until carrots are just tender.

Squeeze lime juice over the top and mix well to incorporate.


Serve over rice with chopped hard-boiled eggs or enjoy with rice flatbread.

March 4, 2015

Being Vulnerable

Dear Ones,

I just watched Brene Brown's inspiring Tedx Talk on The Power of Vulnerability.

It has helped me to realize how, by making myself vulnerable and sharing my story of illness and healing, I can encourage others to do the same.

In 2005, I let down my guard and admitted to friends and family that I was feeling awful and could not continue with work or daily activities. Many listened.

This vulnerability came with a huge wave of shame.

While I was caught up in comparing myself to the predominant work ethic around me, I felt incapable and weak. I "should" just grin and bear it, right?

Well, that was not possible. I was so sick that there was no choice but to surrender.

Despite my shame, a miraculous web of support lifted me.
The helping hands came in many forms: friends, family, doctors, naturopaths, herbalists, shamamic practitioners, and countless others.

The support also came from the plants and and the food which which I worked to heal myself.

Yes, I healed myself.

My own vulnerability opened the floodgates of support and turned my shame and grief into gratitude. I have so much gratitude for illness and for its teaching that I do not have to live life the way that dominant culture dictates.

The immense gratitude I felt bolstered me to heal myself.

Slowly, made peace with my chronic parasitic infection and all the co-factors it caused. From anxiety and depression to dramatic weight loss, constant intestinal cramping, and an eating disorder, I made peace with all of it.

Even at my worst, I was still dancing.



I chose to live differently. I realized that stress is the root cause of illness.

Thanks to a wise and supportive friend, I went on a meditation retreat.
Mindfulness revealed to me how stressed I was.

I realized that I went about my life in a constant state of hurry, worry, fear and self-doubt. My yoga teacher, Prem Prakash, taught me that I must drop these four states in order to be free from stress and live in the present moment. Thank goodness I listened to him.

Present moment awareness is and will always be the key to remembering, over an over again, that vulnerability, gratitude, mindfulness and non-judgement are the practices that allow me to live a unique and meaningful life.

I wish for others to heal themselves of the cultural wounds that keep them oppressed and stuck in rigid thinking. I wish for others to avoid going through the immense pain and suffering that has led me to this understanding.

Be vulnerable.
See who shows up to support you and what wounds they expose in return.
Lean into this exchange with compassion, both for yourself and for others.

This mindful act is the root of health.

I am constantly working to remain mindful and aware of my tendency towards stress. It's a practice. It's never over. But I strive to practice with joy and appreciation for each moment.

Here's to another day on the planet!

With heart-felt connection,
Lisa


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