Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Turning up the Agni!

Agni is the "fire" that drives digestion and metabolism in the Hindu medical practice of Ayurveda. The digestive and absorption process is called Pakwagni (digestive fire).
So, while the temperature is dropping, it makes sense to turn up the digestive heat which in turn warms you from the inside out! Also consider eating more healthy, warming, concentrated foods. Dark orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, winter squash, and carrots provide immune nourishing beta-carotene and the warmth of their shades of orange colors. Also adding Spices will increase the warming quality of you food.

Grounding roots (especially those that grow in cold climates) such as onions, rutabagas and turnips can help one better acclimate to the seasons. Other warming foods include arugula, mustard greens, and watercress. Nuts, seeds, and their butters make excellent warming and insulating snacks. Icy cold drinks can cool you quick.
When consuming food from the refrigerator, take the item out and allow it to get to room temperature before eating.
Think blended Carrot Ginger Soup, or Squash Pudding. Blend your Squash in a Vitamix with Dates, Vanilla, Pumpkin Pie Spices and a little Water or Almond Milk. Voila! You have a Pudding or Filling for a Pecan and Date Crust. Enjoy this with a warming cup of Chai Tea.

The flavor associated with winter is salty and a perfect time enjoy the wonderful mineral rich Sea Vegetables such as Kelp, Nori, Hijiki, and Dulse which can be used to season food. Celtic or Himalayan salt contain more minerals then table salt. Black colored foods such as Black Sesame Seeds, uncured Black Olives, and Chia Seeds make wonderful warming winter condiments.

Culinary herbs and spices which support the feeling of warmth and improve circulation include:

Black pepper (Piper Nigrum) is a member of the Piperaceae (Pepper) Family, has antiseptic, and antioxidant properties.
Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum), a member of the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) Family, is an expectorant, thus helping to open the respiratory passages.

Cayenne (Capsicum Frutescens), a member of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) Family, is rich in vitamin C, and helps relieve chills, coughs and congestion. Sprinkling a bit of cayenne pepper between one's shoes and socks can help warm the feet when needing to be outdoors. (Avoid the eyes and mouth!)

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Cassia) is a member of the Lauraceae (Laurel) Family, helps dry dampness in the body and warms people that are always cold and suffering from poor circulation. Cinnamon is antiseptic and an excellent digestive tonic.

Garlic (Allium Sativum), a member of the Liliaceae (Lily) Family, helps one be more resistant to infection. Garlic is a potent vasodilator and improves circulation by helping to prevent the blood from clumping together.

Ginger (Zingiber Officinale), a member of the Zingiberceae Family, is a natural antioxidant and antiseptic. It improves circulation to all parts of the body. Ginger baths are warming, muscle relaxing and cold and flu relieving and can be made by simmering eight ounces of ginger into a half gallon of water, simmering at a low boil for twenty minutes, then straining into the bathtub.

Horseradish (Armoracia Lapathifolia) is a member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) Family. It is high in vitamin C, and aids in the digestion of fatty foods. Horseradish is antiseptic and a strong decongestant; helping to open congested respiratory passages.

Also consider removing your food from the Fridge and allow some time for it to come to room temperature prior to eating. You can always warm things to 105 degrees in a Dehydrator or on the stove. This is a wonderful rule to go by in winter. I take advantage of the warmth and my handy food thermometer!

As I write this I am enjoying a warming cup of Chai Tea with home made Vanilla Almond  Milk, YUM!


2 Cups water
1 Cinnamon Stick
10 Cardomom pods
10 Whole Cloves
1 Tbl Ginger finely minced 1 Cup Almond Milk
3 tsp Rooibos Tea
Stevia, Agave or Raw Honey to Taste

Pour water in saucepan
Add the Cinnamon, Cardomom, Cloves and Ginger
Bring up to a simmer, cover and simmer for 10 minutes
Add Tea Leaves, cover, and turn off the heat
After 2 minutes, strain the tea into two cups
Add Almond Milk warmed to 105 degrees and Sweetener of choice


Friday, December 16, 2011

Nourishing Warming Soup

As we move toward the Winter Solstice and a New Year, I am feeling a need to add as many healing and strengthening ingredients to our recipes. Cracking open my favorite books on Herbs, Chinese Medicine and Macrobiotics ignites a spark of creativity as I find myself in my pantry gathering the ingredients for this Nourishing Soup! 

By making a Broth of Nettle Tea, Burdock, Dried Shitake Mushrooms and Wakame Seaweed we are supporting the organ pair associated with Winter which is Kidney/Bladder. 
In traditional Chinese medicine the element associated with winter is water, which has a floating energy. Water energy goes deep inside the earth; it is the root and basis of life. This is the time of hibernation and inward self-reflection, when the energy is still on the surface, yet active underneath. 
Winter is a time of conservation and storage. Because the kidney, along with the urinary bladder, is predominant in this season, winter is the time to build, conserve, and store kidney chi through rest and self-reflection. The time of day that the Urinary Bladder peaks is from 3:00 to 5:00 PM and the Kidney from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. 
Foods with floating water energy go deep into the body and strengthen the kidney, urinary bladder, and reproductive organs. 
The most beneficial foods for this time of year are burdock, buckwheat, black soybeans, and black sesame seeds. Dried foods, like Shitake Mushroom, also contain concentrated energy to build inner strength. 
The taste associated with winter and the water element is Salty. Winter cooking includes warming soups, more oil, rich bean dishes and sea vegetables which are all strengthening to the kidney.

4 Dried Shitake Mushrooms Soaked (save soaking water) 
3 Tbl Finely sliced Burdock Root
1 Onion diced
1 Clove Garlic minced
2 Stalks Celery diced
1 Carrot diced
1 Cup of Cabbage minced
3 Tbl Dried Nettle Leaf Tea 
2 Strips of Wakame Seaweed
1 tsp peeled and grated Ginger 
4 tsp White Miso diluted in 2 Tbl water
7 Cups Filtered or Spring Water (includes Shitake soaking water)
4 Scallions Sliced on a Diagonal 

Shiitake Mushrooms provide high levels of protein (18%), potassium, niacin and B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They have natural antiviral and immunity-boosting properties and are used nutritionally to fight viruses, lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Lentinan, an immunostimulant derived from shiitakes, has been used to treat cancer, AIDS, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease, and other conditions with impressive results.
Burdock Root is a great source of many non-starch polysaccharides such as inulin, glucoside-lappin, mucilage...etc that help act as good laxative. In addition, inulin acts as prebiotic helps reduce blood sugar level, weight and cholesterol levels in the blood.
Burdock root contains a good amounts of electrolyte potassium (308 mg or 6.5% of daily required levels per 100 g root) and low in sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
It also contains some valuable minerals such as iron, manganese, magnesium; and small amounts of zinc, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus.

Mineral- and vitamin-rich Nettle is a naturally nutritious way to help maintain a healthy urinary tract and flush toxins from your system. It is said to uplift a weary body, reduce fatigue and also improve thyroid, kidney and bladder functions. Nettle is also considered an age-old remedy for allergies and respiratory problems, as well as an old-time women's herb that helps to regulate menses and stimulate lactation in nursing mothers.

Wakame Seaweed is a good source of Vitamin A, C, E and K, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and supports healthy Thyroid function.

 In a sauce pan bring Water, Shitake, Burdock, Onion, Garlic, Celery, Carrot, Cabbage and Wakame to a boil
Turn down and simmer covered for 15 minutes
Add Nettle Tea to the pot and simmer an additional 10 minutes
Pour through fine mesh strainer
Set aside Shitake Mushrooms and remove stems
Place Saucepan with Broth, Wakame and Shitake on burner and bring up to a simmer
Turn off, add  grated Ginger and Miso
Place a Shitake in each serving bowls and add Broth
Garnish with Scallions 

Share this Nourishing Warming Soup with family and friends and "let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" to quote Hippocrates!  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nourishing Cacao Tonic

As I sit here looking out my window watching snow falling, collecting on branches and creating a little winter wonderland. I begin to develop a strong desire for hot cocoa. Not just any hot cocoa but my Nourishing Cocoa Tonic chock full of vitamins and nutrients!


12 Ounces Spring Water
1 Tbl Vermont Chaga Powder
10 Raw Almonds, soaked overnight and peeled
2 tsp Raw Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Maca Powder
2 tsp Lucuma Powder
2 tsp Yacon Powder
¼  tsp of Vanilla Powder
2 Drops Stevia Liquid

Pour water into a small sauce pan, add Chaga Powder and bring to a boil
Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes covered
Strain and pour into a Vitamix Blender
Add peeled Almonds and blend on high, higher, highest 
Add the rest of the ingredients and blend 
Do not strain, but enjoy this luscious vitamin and mineral rich Tonic 

Nutritional Information:
Almonds are so nutritious due to their vitamin content. Almonds are also rich in folic acid and vitamin B therefore when consumed during pregnancy it helps to reduce birth defects of fetus. Copper content helps in proper development of bone and improves nerve functioning. Almonds function as powerful antioxidants due to its Vitamin E content. It helps in improving blood circulation and lowering of cholesterol thereby providing added cardiac protection. Not only this, it helps to stabilize blood sugar as well. Therefore it can be the best snack for diabetic patients. One of the other significant health benefits of almonds are due to its laetrile content which serves as an anti cancer component.

Chaga contains a complex "cocktail" of phytonutrients and immune activating compounds such as Beta Glucans (Complex Carbohydrates) or Polysaccharides also found in Algae, Yeast, Oats, etc. Chaga's Beta Glucan - polysaccharides are a potent immune activator. The Beta Glucans are powerful immune boosters that work by stimulating the body's ability to set up cellular defenses. Beta Glucans are largely responsible for modulating immune deficiencies.

Cacao contains Theobromine a weak but effective stimulant, containing substances that are chemically and pharmacologically related to the brain lipids anandamide (the word "anandamide" is derived from "ananda" which is Sanskrit for "bliss"). This would account for the euphoric sensation some feel when indulging in chocolate.The theobromine naturally found in raw cacao is a mild, non-addictive stimulant that some believe can treat depression.The much touted nutritional benefits or raw cacao range from reducing cataracts to improving heart function to alleviating stress. Amongst the loftiest claims in raw food culture is that raw cacao (without added sugar or dairy products) will reduce your risk of cancer as the high levels of antioxidants reduce the amount of free radicals in the body.

Yacon powder has a slightly sweet flavor and is known worldwide as the future food for diabetics. Due to its unique carbohydrate composition, Yacon stores carbohydrates as fructooligosacharides (FOS), which makes it an ideal Superfood for diabetics and those watching their sugar intake. It contains inulin, an indigestible sugar, which means that although is has a sweet flavor, it contains fewer calories than would be expected.
Yacon is also beneficial in colon-related problems and also acts as a prebiotic that balances the flora and flow in the intestines. It has also proved effective against parasites and fungus.
Lucuma Powder is from a very nutritious fruit with high levels of beta-carotene, B vitamins and iron, with significant amounts of calcium and phosphorus.

Maca is a root vegetable that is widely used for medicinal purposes and can be found in powder and various supplemental forms. Claims of its benefits include increased energy and moods, sexual enhancement, immune system function and disease-fighting properties. Maca is used to treat conditions such as osteoporosis, stomach cancer and stomach ulcers, erectile dysfunction, depression, leukemia, AIDS, HIV and tuberculosis.

Stevia extract is a super-sweet, low-calorie dietary supplement that helps regulate blood sugar and supports the pancreas. It is valuable for anyone with diabetes and hypoglycemia.

I love using my best China or colorful mug to serve this in. I find it makes this treat that much more special.


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.  These ingredients are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Nourishing Immune Building Soup

While so many people are lining up for Flu Vaccines, I am in my "Kitchen Apothecary" cooking up an Immune Building Soup! Consider having this soup throughout the flu season to keep your immune system strong. This will prove to be a great support if you are feeling weak or experiencing cold or flu symptoms.

Why is this soup immune building, you ask? Well, let's take a look at the ingredients!  Millet is a wonderful Gluten-Free Grain which has a cleansing effect on the body. It is considered a Prebiotic which actually supports healthy Flora in the intestinal tract. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and Astragulus is a wonderful immune boosting root. Ginger supports lung health and is warming to the body. Kale also supports lung health while giving you a mega dose of many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients which help to detoxify the body. Kombu Seaweed is high in Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and also has the ability to enhance flavor when cooked into a recipe. I like to think of it is Mother Natures MSG!
Grains of Millet

Immune Building Soup
1 Onion small dice
4 Cloves of Garlic minced
2 Tbl Olive Oil
3 Carrots small dice
2 Celery Stalks small dice
1 Cup Corn
2 Sticks of Astragulus, which can be found in the bulk herb section of your local Coop or Herbal Apothecary
3 Kale leaves sliced into 2 inch strips
1 Cup Millet
6 Cups Water

2 inch piece of Kombu Seaweed soaked for 10 minutes
2 tsp Peeled and Grated Ginger
1 Tbl Two Year Barley or Chick Pea Miso diluted in 1/4 cup of Water
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Astragulus Root
Heat the olive oil in large sauce pan

Add Onion, Sea Salt and cook for a couple of minute
Add Garlic and cook for a minute
Add Carrots, Celery and Corn, and mix
Add Millet and mix
Cover with water, add the Astragulus, Kombu and simmer covered for about 30 minutes 
Salt and Pepper if needed and cook for 5 minutes
Add Kale and Grated Ginger and cook for 2 minutes
Turn off, remove the astragulus sticks and add the Miso 

Grated Ginger 
So for this glorious season of Winter, may you keep strong and healthy listening to your body and nurturing yourself with this immune building soup. Till next time, stay warm and toasty.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nourishing Green Juice

Thanksgiving has come and gone and as we gear up for the next round of Holidays I say let's lighten up and Nourish our cells with a mini Juice Feast. Weather you chose one day, two days or snack on your glass of Green Goodness, enjoy it and feel your body coming alive as you cleanse with this vitamin and chlorophyll rich elixir.

There are three  main reasons why you will want to consider incorporating vegetable juicing into your health program:

1.Juicing helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. This is important because most of us have impaired digestion as a result of making less-than-optimal food choices over many years. This limits your body's ability to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. Juicing will help to "pre-digest" them for you, so you will receive most of the nutrition.

2.Juicing allows you to consume an optimal amount of vegetables in an efficient manner. If you are a carb type, you should eat one pound of raw vegetables per 50 pounds of body weight per day. Some people may find eating that many vegetables difficult, but it can be easily accomplished with a quick glass of vegetable juice.

3.You can add a wider variety of vegetables in your diet. Many people eat the same vegetable salads every day. This violates the principle of regular food rotation and increases your chance of developing an allergy to a certain food. But with juicing, you can juice a wide variety of vegetables that you may not normally enjoy eating whole.

Ingredients:  Kale~Parsley~Celery~Cucumber~Granny Smith Apple~Lemon~Ginger 
Breville Juice Fountain Elite
My Juicer of choice is the Breville Juice Fountain Elite. I love it! So easy to clean and powerful. I run all of my pre-washed veggies and fruits through, give it a quick scrub and I'm good to go!
Try experimenting with different ingredients and make your own "just right for you" Juice. Just remember to include some greens.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Nourishing Stuffed Squash

Even with the weather feeling like late September we cannot stop the Calendar. Thanksgiving is just a few days away! I have created a Menu which I hope will be the Muse for your Holiday fare. The Star of the show is, Acorn Squash with a Wild Rice Stuffing. For me nothing brings Thanksgiving to mind more then roasted squash, wild rice, toasted pecans, and cranberries. Come deliziosi

Acorn squash is totally satisfying when roasted and topped with a drizzle of Olive Oil and s sprinkle of Sea Salt. If filled with a hearty stuffing of Lundberg's Wild Rice blend, Pecans, and Cranberries, it is a meal in itself. Loaded with comforting flavors it is bound to be hit at your Holiday Table!

The Menu:
Corn Chowder, 03 August 2011
Stuffed Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing
Daikon Nishime, 19 November 2011
Swiss Chard and Shallot Saute, 04 September 2011
Blanched Salad, 24 August 2011 
Ginger Pear Crisp, 23 September 2011
"Kukicha" Twig Tea
Acorn & Delicata Squash

3 Acorn  Squash  Cut in Half
1 Yellow Onion Small Dice2 Medium Shallots Minced
4 Celery Stalks Small Dice
2 tsp of Fresh Sage Finely Minced
2 tsp of Fresh Thyme Finley Minced  
2 Cups of Cooked Wild Rice Mix 
2/3 Cup Pecans Toasted and Chopped
1/4 Cup Apple Juice Sweetened Dried Cranberries 
1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
3/4 tsp Sea Salt 
4 Tbl Olive Oil to Brush on Squash and for Sauteing  

Lundberg's Wild Rice Blend
1.Place squash cut side up on a baking sheet, brush 1 teaspoon of the Olive Oil over the tops and insides of the Squash halves, season with Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
2.Roast in the oven until just fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes
3.Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil in a large saute pan over medium heat
4.Add the Onion, Shallots, and Celery, season with Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, stirring occasionally, cook until just softened, about 6 minutes
5.Stir in the Thyme and Sage cook about 1 minute
6.Remove from heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries, and measured salt, pepper and the last Tablespoon of Olive Oil
7.Divide the rice filling among the roasted Squash halves, about 1/2 cup for each
8.Continue roasting until the Squash is completely fork tender, the edges have started to brown, and the filling is heated through, about 20 to 25 minutes

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nourishing and Cleansing Daikon Nishime

As the North Wind comes blowing through the Valleys of Vermont, the Mountains are awash with shades of brown and speckled with Evergreens. The sky is overcast shades of dove grey and mauve. This inspires me to pull out my heaviest pot and make one of my favorite nourishing and cleansing dishes.

In honor of our upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday. I have decided to go back to my "Root's" in appreciation for the Kushi Institute in Becket, Massachusetts. I learned so much while studying and working there as a Head Chef. 
This is a simple method of preparing Vegetables which is helpful in restoring strength and vitality to someone who has become physically weak. Consider adding this dish to your meal plan two to four times per week.
Daikon Nishime
Nishime style cooking is a very comforting, relaxing way to cook. It's basically a Japanese slow braising technique that uses very little water, and increases the nutritional value by adding the sea vegetable kombu.

Daikon Radish
1 Large Daikon Radish
1 Three inch Piece of Kombu Seaweed 
1/2 Cup Spring Water
Kombu Seaweed
Use a heavy pot with a heavy lid or cookware specifically designed for waterless cooking
Soak a 2 to 3 inch piece of kombu until soft and cut into one-inch-square pieces
Place kombu in bottom of pot and cover with water
Add daikon which should be sliced into 1-inch Rounds
Sprinkle a few drops of Wheat Free Tamari over the Daikon Radish
Cover and set flame to high until a high steam is generated
Lower flame and cook peacefully for 15–20 minutes
If water should evaporate during cooking, add more water to the bottom of the pot
When the Daikon is cooked through, add a few more drops of tamari soy sauce
Replace cover and cook over a low flame for 2–5 minutes more
Remove cover, turn off flame, and let the Daikon sit for about two minutes 
You may serve the cooking juices along with the dish, as it is very delicious
Garnish with finely sliced Scallions, Parsley or my choice Lemon Zest 
You may also like to try one of the following combinations:
Carrot, Cabbage, Burdock, Kombu
Carrot, Lotus, Burdock, Kombu
Daikon, Shitake Mushroom, Kombu
Turnip, Shitake Mushroom, Kombu
Onion, Cabbage, Winter Squash, Kombu
Onion, Kombu
Note: It is not advisable to cook only carrot and daikon or carrot and turnip together, except when using additional vegetables.

Daikon cleanses the blood, promotes energy circulation and increases metabolic rate. It contains diuretics, decongestants and, in terms of phytochemicals, the digestive enzymes diastase, amylase and esterase. This makes it a primary ingredient in many home remedies.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Nourishing Carrot Cupcakes

Everyone seems to be riding the latest Cupcake Craze! My Carrot Cake has always been a favorite at our house so I decided to transform this delectable root vegetable rich dessert into, yes, you guessed it Cupcakes. The Maple Syrup and Coconut Milk in this recipe adds another dimension to the flavor and texture and the Tofu Whipped Frosting is Divinity!

Carrot Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Dry Ingredients:
1½  Cups Organic Unbleached White Flour
1½ Cup Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Tbl Baking Powder
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Nutmeg
⅔  Cup of Raisins
⅔ Cup of oven roasted Walnuts or Pecans chopped 

Wet Ingredients:
1 Cup "So Delicious" Vanilla Coconut Milk
1 Cup Maple Syrup
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar 
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
½ Cup Sunflower Oil
2 Cups of Grated Carrots

In one bowl whisk together dry ingredients to be sure they are thoroughly blended
In a Second bowl add all wet ingredients including the Grated Carrot and Raisins 
Whisk together to ensure blending
Spray Muffin Tin with Oil Spray
Place individual Paper Cupcake Liners in Pan 
Then pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients using a stir/fold movement to mix 
DO NOT over mix, this will create a tough texture
Spoon into Cupcake Tin
Place in the oven on middle rack
Bake for 30 minutes 
Test with skewer for doneness or tap with fingers and they should feel firm.
Remove and cool thoroughly

2 12 ounce packages of silken extra-firm Mori-Nu tofu, drained
⅔ cup of melted Coconut Oil
⅔ Cup of Rice Syrup
1 Tbl of Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Sea Salt
Place Tofu in a food processor and blend till creamy
Add Rice Syrup, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt and blend thoroughly
Drizzle the melted Coconut Oil into the Tofu mixture while the food processor is running 
Chill and Pipe on Cupcakes to create a swirl or simply spread in top   

Carrots strips made with a vegetable peeler
1 Cup of Rice Syrup

Warm Rice Syrup in a Double Boiler 
Add Carrot strips and let sit in the warmed Rice Syrup for 20 Minutes
Drain in a strainer 
Create Curls on a plate and chill in the Fridge 
Place a Carrot Curl or two in the Center of each Cupcake

You could use the rice syrup in place of some of the Maple syrup in your recipe.This would save waste and create a dessert that would support more balanced blood sugar levels.
Also consider making this recipe with Barley flour if you have a Wheat allergy. They will be more dense in texture but they will still have amazing flavor.  
I hope you have fun with this recipe and sharing these Cupcakes with your Family and Friends.