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Rainy Day Soup

Last night I dreamed I was applying to universities and had been rejected from every single one. However, hidden underneath the pile of rejection letters, I found a small envelope offering me a free ride to a school in the Caribbean, even though I hadn’t even applied. In my dream, when I went to visit the tropical island that was home to the university, I inhaled the scent of plumeria and heard the gentle sea breeze rustling the palm fronds, and I realized that sometimes what we least expect far surpasses what we plan for.

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5 Time-Saving Hacks for Ayurvedic Meal-Planning

Life can get hectic, especially in autumn — a time of new school assignments, demanding projects at work, and the beginning of the holiday season. When your schedule is slammed, it can be hard to find time to prepare healthy, balanced Ayurvedic meals. Ironically, this is likely when you need them most! Delicious, well-spiced, cooked meals help to balance the doshas and create harmony in your mind and body.

While you can’t always prepare a full, Ayurvedic spread, there are some helpful, time-saving hacks that can help you — and your family — to eat well on the go. We’ve shared a few tips below, drawing inspiration from Ayurvedic chef, writer, and artist Miriam Kasin Hospodar, author of Heaven’s Banquet: The Maharishi Ayurveda Cookbook.

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Vegetarian Spring Pho with Sweet Potato Noodles and Heirloom Beans

Hot soup has always been my ultimate comfort food, and I know I will be needing lots of it in the months to come. Vietnamese pho is king when it comes to soups that warm you from the core, and I’ve been experimenting with vegetarian pho recipes during the past couple of weeks.The main component of any pho, but especially vegetarian pho, is the broth. This pho broth is first and foremost based on toasted spices – star anise, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, peppercorn, and clove – each bringing its individual character to the flavor profile. I’m not normally the biggest fan of cinnamon in savory dishes, but in this broth it balances with tamari, brown rice vinegar and chili to create a fragrant and deeply nourishing broth.

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Eating with the seasons: orange is for fall

Here's a favorite from the archives! Who can resist those gorgeous squashes stacked in groceries and farmers markets this month? And they are SO good for you. Don't miss my soup hack for an easy and delicious Curried Butternut Squash Soup. Isn't it nice when life can a little easier?

Fall… that invigorating time, filled with crisp air, glowing woodlands, and a feeling of the world settling down for a long winter siesta….  And how many of you have already flirted with colds during this change of seasons, hmmm?

Time to focus on boosting your immune system!  

I’ve got a (delicious!) culinary cure, brought to you by the letter “A” and the color orange.

“A” is for vitamin A, a superstar because of its major importance in:

  • Vision (you knew that one, right?)
  • Skin health (acne & psoriasis are often responsive)
  • Adrenal & thyroid function
  • Cellular growth
  • Nerve cell function
  • Brain health & performance: plasticity, memory, cognitive functioning, learning, mood, mental energy
  • Inflammatory function
  • Digestive health & detoxification (can help the body get rid of pesticides & microorganisms).    


Convinced?


It’s best to obtain vitamin A through your diet, not supplements. Why? Because it’s a fat soluble vitamin, meaning that it’s best absorbed along with some healthy fat, such as olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, or ghee (clarified butter).  

Looking for food sources? Vitamin A is conveniently found in anything orange and anything green, such as all winter squashes, carrots, kale, and collard greens.

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Fine Fall (and winter) Meals: Ayurvedic Soups

Nothing warms and nourishes quite like a hot bowl of delicious soup on a cold fall day. Ayurveda loves soups. They are easy to make, they are nutritious and easy to digest, and they are perfect for the light evening meal recommended by ayurvedic experts (vaidyas). Because they are so easy to digest, soups are ideal for children. Made with fresh organic fall vegetables, grains, pasta, beans, dhals, herbs and traditional ayurvedic spices, soups make great ayurvedic dietary anchors. Enjoy your soup with freshly-made chapatis (flatbreads) on the side, and it will be a meal you’ll want to return to.

Soups are also fast. You can have a finished soup ready to serve in 30 minutes. Here are a couple of easy ayurvedic soup recipes. Remember, whenever possible, favor fresh, organic and non-GMO foods.

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Start with soup!

My favorite season is coming up, and that’s soup season! My neighbor and Soup Sister Julie Burford and all the folks on the block are getting revved up, and I can already see the steam coming out of the kitchens. The first stage of soup making is broth making, so we’re all busy making Magic Mineral Broth (see below) and bone broths and freezing them in quart jars, ready to incorporate them into big colorful vats of nourishing, comforting, savory soups! 

I celebrate the beginning of the season of soup. 

I feel like the happy soup chef in Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice (here in a video with Carole King singing the verses, so adorable). 

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“In the Flow” Apple Pancakes (Gluten- and Dairy-Free)

I nearly ran out of gas this morning. The orange light glared at me from the dashboard with its menacing, ominous glow. There’s a gas station just a couple blocks from my house, but I’d left my purse at a friend’s home, and there wasn’t enough fuel in my car to retrieve it. So, I ransacked my bedroom looking for cash, but apparently I’d already spent my “in case of emergency” stash. Then, I overcooked my eggs and tripped on the dog’s food.

Although there are myriad causes for feeling out-of-sorts, it can be valuable to ask yourself: “Am I stressed?” Often when I feel like the world is imploding around me and nothing seems to be going right, the root cause is stress. Once I acknowledge that my life doesn’t actually suck; I’m just feeling overwhelmed, I can find a way to change my state. It might feel unproductive to take time away from your busy day, but when I’m in a good mood and feeling relaxed, I’m both more joyful and more productive. Spending time outdoors seems to help me the most, but I’ve also found that exercising, cleaning the house, or meeting a friend for a meal can get me out of my head. In many ways, it’s like hitting the “restart” button on the computer.

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Red Cabbage, Blueberry and Apple Sauerkraut + Giveaway

I grew up with home-pickling and fermenting as the norm. Food in the Soviet Union was not only scarce, but also highly seasonal, so if you didn’t take care to preserve some tomatoes or cucumbers for the winter, you wouldn’t be able to taste any until the next summer. My mom made sure to stock our cool basement with jars of pickles, tomatoes, and fruit preserves every summer, as did pretty much every woman around. Other common fermentation projects included kombucha (or the ‘tea mushroom’ as we call it) way before it was cool, kefir, and of course sauerkraut.

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Obsessed with the new? Our ancestors already had the answers.

As James Hamblin points out in his recent cracker-jack article in The Atlantic, “New Nutrition Study Changes Nothing: Why the science of healthy eating appears confusing—but isn’t,” the term “neophilia” was coined by J. D. Salinger in 1965 to refer to our obsession with novelty. And while a degree of curiosity about what’s new is no doubt healthy, like so many things these days we seem to have taken our obsession too far — certainly with food and nutrition.

As Hamblin shares, editors and publishers aren’t interested in nutrition articles that don’t have sensational headlines, preferring to focus on narratives that upend conventional wisdom. The thought seems to be, if new research doesn’t change or challenge the way readers think about the world, why is a story worth publishing? 

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Meal Planning Strategies for Fall Sanity

Most of my clients are surprised to hear that I menu plan every single week. That's right. Even as a pro chef and nutritionist if I want to eat the way that best nourishes my mind and body I follow the same advice I give my clients. In my CALMTM approach to health and healing we discuss the importance of creating a meal plan, a shopping list, and carving out time to cook. The basic principles in every meal plan include: real food, plant-centric, seasonality, a rainbow of color, local (as possible), and variety. Notice, there are no measurements of calories, no over analyzing micro and macro nutrients. Keep to these simple principles and the benefits will come back to you in flavor and health insurance. 

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Barley Sauté

Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color. Sprouted barley is naturally high in maltose, a sugar that serves as the basis for both malt syrup sweetener. When fermented, barley is used as an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages. As the weather begins to turn cold, a big pot of soup simmering on the stove warms the heart as well as the hearth. Adding some whole grain barley to the pot will improve your health along with the flavor of whatever soup or stew you're cooking. In addition to its robust flavor, barley's claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of molybdenum, manganese, dietary fiber, and selenium, and a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium, and niacin.In this recipe, barley is sautéed similar to what you would do with rice. The added herbs and spices makes this a great dish on its own or serve with with a salad. Enjoy!Barley SautéIngredients1 cup barley2 cups water1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced2 teaspoons fresh basil, minced2 tablespoons red bell pepper in small slices½ teaspoon turmeric½ teaspoon mustard seeds½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds½ teaspoon cumin seeds1 tablespoon olive oilDirectionsBring water to a boil. Add barley and reduce to low heat.Cover and cook for 40 minutes or until water is cooked out.In a separate frying pan, heat olive oil.Add mustard seeds; when they begin to pop add cumin and fenugreek and cook for about one minute.Then add fresh ginger, turmeric and red pepper.After 3 minutes add the cooked barley. Cook for several minutes and garnish with parsley and basil.Add salt to taste.

Grains — Vegetarian Powerhouses

 DisclaimerThe sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.

Cauliflower ‘Pesto’ Pasta

I’m back with another recent weeknight dinner favorite. It’s a hearty pasta dish, and it’s a keeper.

I can always count on pasta to get Paloma (9) eating dinner without too many negotiations, and I generally try to hide/pack as many vegetables as possible between the noodles. She would definitely be much happier eating plain pasta with a few grates of sheep’s milk cheese on top, but she’ll also tolerate most veggies when they’re interwoven with any pasta-like food. This one is made wholesome with a special, cauliflower ‘pesto’ with pistachios, herbs and golden raisins.
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Turning in and letting go

This is the first ever guest post on my blog! Lately, some people in my close circle have been writing posts that touch me on a really deep level, and I want you to see them, too. It’s that feeling of OMG! Did this piece ever nail it on the head! It’s like a good book. You just want to tell your friends.

This post is from my dear friend Marti Wolfson, MS, who has appeared on my blog several times — most recently in Foods to take when you travel (when she was starving on an airplane at 26 weeks pregnant) and last fall in Soup Session with the extraordinary Marti Wolfson, when we had SUCH a good time chopping and cooking up Spicy Thai Carrot, Corn & Tomato Bisque soup (the video is great!).  

A culinary nutritionist who developed the CALM™ (Culinary and Lifestyle Medicine) approach to health and healing, Marti is brilliant, graceful, and wise beyond her years. And she’s about to become a mother! (Everyone send good energy.) She calls me FGA (Fairy God Aunt). We’ve known each other for 13 years, and have cultivated a lovely relationship even though we live 3,000 miles apart. I am so grateful for Marti!

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Grain-Free Maple Pumpkin Muffins

 

Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Naturally-Sweetened

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Roasted Eggplant Wedges with Herbed Pistachio Millet

I’m writing from a hotel in Orlando, where we’ve been waiting out hurricane Irma. Man did we dodge the bullet with this one. Our home is on a tiny island off the West Coast of Florida, and originally the storm’s projected path fell right over the island as a very powerful category 4. So powerful that we were getting ready to say goodbye to our house. Due to some extremely fortunate weather circumstances, our home only got hit with a category 1 storm and the island did not flood. There’s no power or cell reception, the streets are a mess, the bridge to the island has a large boat jammed against it, and everything is closed, but we still have a house! Hope everyone is staying as safe as possible this hurricane season.

This is an extra cozy, late summer meal that I made last week when we were trying to figure out exactly what to do as the hurricane was approaching. It’s great for weekdays and tastes amazing, even in times of total uncertainty :)

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Ayurvedic Garbanzo Bean Party Dip

The chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is a legume. The seeds of this ancient plant — the chickpea — are high in protein. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes — 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.

Other common names for the species include garbanzo bean, ceci bean, sanagalu, chana, hummus and Bengal gram.

This slightly-tart, slightly-sweet dip is perfect for a party. It can also be used as a stuffing for quesadillas or as a pesto-type sauce.

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In love with lentils!

Lentils are the underdogs of the pulse, bean and legume food group, the unsung heroes, worthy of more attention and respect. If you’re not integrating lentils into your food world, I have some tips for you.  A few easy tweaks in their preparation makes their texture terrific instead of blah (a game changer!) and their flavor zooms up on the dial with a few well-chosen ingredients. 


Lentils have been part of the human diet since Neolithic times. Archeological evidence shows they were eaten 9,500 to 13,000 years ago, and that they were one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East.  


Healthwise, they are a good source of protein, folic acid, dietary fiber, and many trace minerals. In researching The Healthy Mind Cookbook, I learned they are exceptionally good brain food full of brain-friendly B vitamins with folate that helps keep our minds healthy and sharp as we age. Lentils support cognitive functioning (iron), focus (folate) and memory (zinc). Yay, lentils!


One of my favorite workshop food demos is a lentil salad recipe. It’s usually easy to find someone who isn’t wild about lentils, because they think they are bor-ing, or worse, mushy :( Ugh. I delight in DAZZLING them with lentils cooked the right way and tossed with bright ingredients, to make for a magically nourishing and utterly delicious mouthful! (Picture the spoon going into their somewhat reluctantly open mouth...the pause… then the involuntary spasm of vocal delight… yummmm!) I invariably gain countless converts to the humble lentil.

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End of Summer Raw Heirloom Pasta Sauce

This sauce is the epitome of late summer. Before we head into fall—the season of apples and pumpkins—grab onto those last few tastes of summer with this fresh and vibrant sauce. It’s best made with summer heirloom tomatoes (the more colorful the better!); however, you can also use “regular” tomatoes.

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Red Cabbage and Sweet Potato Smoothie

Smoothies are my absolute favorite breakfast. I always get sad once the mornings start getting cooler, because an ice-cold smoothie bowl no longer seems like a very appropriate breakfast option. I continue making them into October anyway :)


For years, I’ve had the same smoothie formula that consisted of frozen banana, frozen berries, as well as any greens and super-powders I had on hand. This past year though, I decided to start packing more stuff into my smoothies, specifically more veggies. If you have a blender, especially a high-speed one like a Vitamix, it’s so easy to ‘hide’ all kinds of things in your smoothies. I’ve been favoring steamed and frozen cauliflower, sweet potato, and zucchini in place of frozen banana. I’ve also been adding things like raw beets, red cabbage, and even mung bean sprouts into the blender. At first, eating a barely sweet smoothie was strange, but now I can honestly say that I’ve grown to appreciate and love having a less sugary breakfast. I realized that it’s more important to me to have a smoothie, any smoothie than to have a sweet, dessert-like one in the morning.


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Savoring that last breath of summer

I remember Labor Day weekend as the last swim before the community pool closed. Getting ready for school, buying school supplies. New school shoes and clothes. The Labor Day barbeque. The last breath of summer, before you had to get back down to business. 

Even now as an adult, I can feel things are calmer and quieter in August, during the dead of summer, when people are taking a vacation or staycation. Labor Day is high tide, then it’s back to full throttle, nose to the grindstone, and It doesn’t matter if it’s still 102 degrees. We’re back on!

Culinary-wise, it’s the last of the picnic trio (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day). Our traditions aren’t as elaborate on Labor Day as for the others, but it’s fun to savor and celebrate the swan song of the season, especially a season with such a glorious harvest of fruits and vegetables.

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