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Bright & Grounding Chickpea, Parsnip and Kale Soup

Here’s a simple, nourishing soup that will help ground you through any holiday craziness or, really, any kind of stress you might be experiencing. Pureed soups offer such an easy way to get lots of veggies into your diet, and the possibilities for pureed soup recipes are endless. Think of them as warm, savory smoothies, and you’ll see that almost anything goes.




I love a smooth soup, but sometimes I crave a little more texture within that creamy format. Enter this Chickpea, Parsnip and Kale soup, which has it all in terms of texture: a smooth and silky base, with satisfying chunks of chickpeas and kale throughout.
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The Gold Star Experiment

When I was a schoolteacher, I carpooled with a woman who went to the gym every day, rain or shine.

 

I’m not like that.

 

Actually, I enjoy exercise, but it just takes a lot to motivate me. Justification for not doing it flows from me with the ease of water breaking through a poorly built dam. It’s too cold, too hot, too late, too early. I’m too hungry, too full, too busy, too tired.

 

When I was teaching French to elementary school-aged children, I used a reward system that worked incredibly well. Every student got a gold star for the day if they made an effort to speak French. It was remarkable to see how hard they worked for this seemingly small token.

 

I wondered if I could apply this same tactic to my own life. So began my Gold Star Experiment.

 

On the first of the month I posted a calendar on my fridge. Each day contains the words “Exercise” and “Vitamins.” I made it simple because I knew if I set my expectations too high there would be a greater chance I wouldn’t follow through. The goal: take vitamins and do something active every day, no matter how small.

 

Keeping track of each day is very helpful. Otherwise, I have a tendency to put things off until tomorrow. But then tomorrow becomes another tomorrow and so on. This way I’m accountable every single day. To sweeten the deal, I promised myself a gift if I received 31 gold stars in the month.

 

The experiment was a success. It seems…Gold stars aren’t just for children!

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Healthy Holiday Treats

The mouthwatering aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg waft through homes everywhere as chefs lovingly recreate traditional holiday favorites such as pumpkin pie and gingerbread. Nothing conjures up the holiday spirit more than festive meals eaten in the company of family and friends.

Eating in the pleasant company of friends and family is wonderful for health. According to ayurveda, the spiritual components of cooking and eating are just as important for digestion and assimilation as are the physical components. That means, for example, cooking in a joyous rather than a stressed atmosphere, giving positive attention to the process of cooking and serving the meal, saying thanks before you begin, and enjoying companionable silence or quiet, pleasant conversation with friends and family as you eat. Such a meal converts quickly to ojas, the substance that sustains life and promotes good health, radiance and bliss.

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Give the gift of yum!

What is more precious than the gift of time? Unless it’s the gift of yum. :) How about giving both to dear friends and neighbors, the ones who will TRULY savor the delicious, delectable treats that you drop off for their enjoyment? Some might love DIY kits, with all they will need to make something marvelous, and others might like a fait accompli. I’ve got some suggestions for both!

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Sweet Potato Galette with Magic Green Sauce

I love galette. It really is the lazy wo/man’s pie. I love that galette crust requires the least amount of fuss of all the crusts, and that the messier it looks, the better. I love that galette filling can be any good combination of vegetables, fruit and herbs, and that it can be as minimal or grand as one wants. This sweet potato version falls on the minimal side of the galette spectrum, yet it is completely lovely and delicious. There are layers of caramelized onions, thinly sliced sweet potato, and sage, all enveloped by a rustic spelt dough. We love to eat it with our favorite, magic green sauce, which is a savior for any leftover herbs in your refrigerator that are fated to end up in the trash or compost. 
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Your Gift Guide: The absolute best cookbooks for 2017

We live in a world where we are SATURATED with information. Gone are the days when we had wait with baited breath for the latest and the greatest. We are ALWAYS confronted with the latest and the greatest! But there is also a place for savoring the very best. One of those places is inside the covers of a superb cookbook. These are the books that have penetrated the constant barrage during 2017 for me, the ones that I REALLY like and recommend!

For me, the criteria are:

  • Does the author have a point of view?

  • Is the author telling a compelling story through the recipes?

  • Is the photography enticing?

  • Is it original? (That’s a big thing! So much of what is “new” is not original. Been there. Done that)

  • Does the front matter of the book set you up for success?

  • Is it well designed?

Otherwise, you could just go online. But then again, I haven’t had that much luck online. I get frustrated with the poor quality of the recipes. These books have all passed the litmus test of true value.

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Count Your Blessings

While preparing Christmas Eve dinner a few years ago I sliced the tip of my finger on a sharp blade. Although it wasn’t a particularly bad cut, it was deep. I wrapped it tightly and went outside to catch the final rays of evening light. While I was sitting on the porch, feeling sorry for myself, a neighbor popped over. As we chatted over the fence, I held my finger in my palm and grumbled about having cut myself. After offering me a pair of latex gloves so I could continue making dinner, he told me that he’d had a difficult few days. A close friend of his family, a woman with four children, had died in a tragic accident.

 

The weight of his story sunk in deep. I kept picturing the children without their mother on Christmas, or any future Christmases. In an instant, the life of this family had been irrevocably changed.

 

I returned to my house with a heavy heart. I felt deeply for my neighbor and the family dealing with this awful tragedy, but I realized that my sadness wouldn’t serve anyone in that moment. My sorrow would never bring back the wife and mother, nor would it put their family back together. The only thing I had control over was my feelings. I could continue to feel sad, or I could say a prayer for the family and make a greater effort to appreciate every moment. And, so that’s what I did.

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Cauliflower with Pistachios

Cauliflower is one of the most delectable, beneficial and versatile foods there is. From its sumptuous aroma and indescribably nuanced flavors (slightly nutty, a bit floral, but not at all overwhelming), to the luscious way it practically melts on the tongue when cooked to perfection, cauliflower is a powerhouse of deliciousness and nutrition, and there are countless ways to add it into daily dining.

For this recipe, we've joined cauliflower with pistachios for a truly unique and ambrosial taste experience. The dry, almost "earthy" flavor of pistachios intermingles beautifully with the nutty/floral overtones of the cauliflower for an enticing and extremely healthful dish. Enjoy!

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9 Proven Health Benefits of Pumpkins + 9 Truly Healthy Pumpkin Recipes (That Taste Delicious!)

Bright orange pumpkins are popular symbols of fall. But pumpkins are much more than something to carve or serve in a pie.


You can use pumpkin in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. And when you discover all the powerful health benefits of pumpkins, you’ll see why the humble pumpkin can be an easy and affordable way to boost your health and add color to your meals.

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Roasted Potato and Split Pea Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

I’ve been wanting to come up with a worthwhile roasted vegetable salad ever since the weather turned chilly. I can’t be the only one who loses appetite for cold, super-green, lettuce-y salads once it’s cold outside. I’ll still say yes to something like a hearty kale salad, but most other ones make me shiver, if not accompanied by something warm. This salad is anything but shiver-inducing. Fingerling potatoes, carrots, and red onion all get roasted together in the oven, then mixed with green split peas, parsley, and a very special miso vinaigrette. The result is a substantial and hearty fall salad that makes for a great side dish or even lunch.
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Olive Oil Loaf with Hibiscus Beet Icing

Checking in really quickly with this olive oil loaf that we haven’t been able to get out of our heads. We knew that we wanted it to be vegan and naturally sweetened, with a pink, plant-based icing, but the rest took a bit of debate. Should it be gluten-free or not? Should we aim to make it golden yellow like traditional olive oil cake? We finally decided on a simple, spelt version (maybe we’ll tackle a gf one later?), sweetened with coconut sugar, and thus darker in color than your average olive oil batter. It is still moist and hearty, and the icing is so easy and very special :)


I love baking with spelt flour, especially sprouted spelt, which I used quite a bit for the baked goods in our new cookbook. The batter here is very simple, and yields a nice, crumbly yet moist dough, perfect for baking projects like this one. I would usually use coconut oil in this batter, but decided to go the traditional route and use olive oil. I love the subtle, earthy flavor that it brings to this loaf.

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Vata-Pitta Balancing Soup

Moong dhal is rich in protein and a staple food in India. This healthy Indian comfort food is prepared from yellow split lentil (green split gram without skin) and a main source of protein for vegetarians.  


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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and naturally sweetened)

Anyone who has ever been on a rollercoaster with me will tell you that I’ll scream until I’m blue in the face. But, what they don’t know is that the uphill section is often the scariest part for me. Going up in a rollercoaster, I hold my breath, clench my jaw, and repeat over and over again, “oh no oh no oh no!” That’s when my muscles are the tensest and I feel my heart beat the fastest. After so much buildup, screaming on the downhill is a fun, cathartic release.

What if rollercoasters were all downhill with none of the uphill? Would we react the same way? Sometimes anticipation is necessary to building excitement. Waiting for these cookies to bake and smelling their heavenly aroma makes that first bite—of warm chocolate mixed with crunchy nuts and chewy oats—even better.
 

Ever since going gluten free, I’ve been craving a cookie with a cookie-like texture. Many GF cookies are crumbly or overly soft, but these (in my opinion) are perfect. Plus, they have lots of good things in them. Coconut flour is full of fiber and almond meal is packed with protein.

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Ode to Chai

I started drinking chai when I was doing my internship at The Chopra Center for wellbeing because we had to make it every day. There were an almost overwhelming number of spices that went into that chai recipe. OMG! And I was the newbie on the block. So guess who got to make the chai? 


And then it became addictive. When you have a cup of chai tea, it’s like wrapping yourself up in a cashmere blanket, it’s so cozy and warming. In this cool transition time of year there’s so much warmth and depth in a cup of chai. It feels just right. 



What is chai, exactly?


Chai is a beverage that is a blend of black tea, honey, spices and milk. And… you can riff on that. You don’t have to put milk in, or you can use nut milks of your choice. You can use green instead of black tea, or a little maple syrup to sweeten instead of honey (but not that much of it). 


Use the basic idea as a blueprint and make your own personal chai.



Why add chai to your culinary vocabulary?

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Coming to you with my favorite, easy treat as of late. Though the desserts section of our recipe index has plenty of bar recipes of all kinds (check out our lemon bars, ‘twix’ barsmatcha lime bars, etc.), I can’t stop coming back to them as one of my favorite dessert formats. These cookie dough ones are a little different though – they are shaped into perfectly indulgent, bite-sized treats. They are also: made with pantry ingredients, low-maintenance in preparation, gluten-free and vegan, and they really do taste like cookie dough!


This post was created in Partnership with Nuts.com
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Culinary choreography: learning a few dance steps!

They say in life that you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. So it goes in the kitchen. Many people are amazed to find that stepping into the kitchen is actually a relaxing, almost meditative experience. There’s a flow that takes place, an engagement of the mind that leaves us feeling refreshed and connected, as though all our senses were taken on an adventurous sojourn. Food and cooking demand that you be in the present, a place where yesterday’s follies and tomorrow’s peccadillos hold no sway. But to be fully present, it helps to learn a few tricks of the trade as a way of turning your kitchen into an inviting space filled with culinary gifts that feed the soul.

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Ayurvedic Strategies for Healthy Holiday Eating

‘Tis the season to be snacking! From Thanksgiving (or even Halloween) through Valentine’s Day, the holidays present an extended string of festive gatherings that center around food and drinks. While living it up with friends, family, and colleagues can be fun, it can also be a bit stressful—especially if travel, hectic schedules, extra spending, and rich, sugary foods are on the menu.

“When there’s stress involved, our choices can become more reactive, rather than coming from a grounded place and connected to the self,” says Sankari Wegman, an Ayurvedic consultant at The Raj who also teaches Ayurvedic cooking classes. Moreover, Wegman tells us, it’s particularly easy to feel stressed during Vata season, which falls in autumn. “Vata by nature is light and airy, and it gets thrown out of balance when there’s any kind of irregularity.”

Below, Wegman offers ten easy Ayurvedic lifestyle and diet tips to help combat holiday stress—whether you’re the host, the chef, or dining solo this season.

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No-Recipe Cozy Vegan Latte

This happens to me pretty much every day at around 3 o’clock, providing that I’m working from home. I get up from my desk, put on the teapot, throw a bunch of things in the blender, whirl it all together, and end up with a cozy and satisfying latte-ish drink that gets me through to dinner time. I don’t drink caffeine anymore, because I’ve always been very sensitive to it, and found that avoiding it altogether really helps with even energy levels (I may have made a few exceptions in Italy :)). But this little ritual takes me back to the days when 3 o’clock meant a cup of really good tea or a matcha. There’s really nothing better.


I end up making a different drink every time, based on my mood and the ingredients I have on hand, but the general formula is the same. There’s always something for creaminess, something for flavor, something for an energy boost… So I thought I’d give a ‘no-recipe’ recipe here, as well as a few of my favorite combinations. Midday super-latte making is a really fun routine to add to your day if you’re around a blender, and it’s good for your in a number of ways: it gets you out of the busyness of the day and nudges you to take a break, it’s creative, and the beverage you’ll end up with will likely be good-for-you, warming and tasty.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Walnut Pesto & Sage

Don’t be scared off by home-made gnocchi, they are easier than you may think and the process is one worth learning. I feel it is a right of passage everyone should take. To make your own pasta, knowing it has been made with real, whole foods is not only satisfying but the knowledge that you can make delicious easy gluten-free pasta using nutrient dense ingredients is pretty special too!

The dough or uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for easy suppers when you don’t have time. If you don’t have a gnocchi rolling board you can use the end of a fork to give the gnocchi a quick curl to create the same characteristic effect.  

The best walnut pesto I ever had the pleasure of making was in Italy when the fresh mid-autumn walnuts were in season. Over time, walnuts become bitter so it is best to source freshly shelled walnuts when possible. It will make all the difference to this pesto.

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Quick, simple and sensational: the Frittata

I’ve rediscovered the frittata! You know those periods when life overwhelms? When you just need somebody to tell you what to eat? Something in your back pocket to reach for? For me, the frittata is IT. My Soup Sister, Julie Burford, reminded me of this by recently bringing me two  gorgeous, tasty ones! What an amazing gift. Granted, I’ve made frittatas MANY times… but it hasn’t always been my go-to dish. I’d kind of forgotten. Now it’s back!


Sometimes, I get in a cooking groove, a rhythm, and I sort of forget some old chestnuts. Like a favorite shirt that ends up in the back of the closet until one day you spy it and think, Where have you been??? And wear it 2 weeks straight.

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