Friday, July 29, 2011

Nourishing Mizuna and Daikon Salad

I love a crisp clean Salad to cleanse my pallet and refresh my senses. Daikon is so cleansing and good for digestion that it is traditionally served with Sashimi, Tempura and Sushi in Japanese Restaurants. Mizuna is also cleansing, fresh and piquant in flavor. So pairing them creates a refreshing surprise for your taste buds. 

I love the way the flavors of the Daikon Radish and Mizuna play off each other in texture and form. I like to cut the stems from the Mizuna and Place them on a plate while I begin preparing the Daikon.

Then I scrub my Daikon with a Vegetable brush and prepare it for my salad. You can cut the Daikon in Rounds, Julienne, or a rectangular slice. Whatever shape you decide on be sure it is sliced thin. Try using a Mandolin for this!

For my Dressing I keep it simple. I use Orange Juice, Rice Vinegar, a pinch of Sea Salt and if you choose to use oil try a few drops of Toasted Sesame Oil and a Garnish of Sesame Seeds. If you like you can add Orange Sections to this salad for an additional taste sensation. However you choose to serve this Salad, concentrate on the dance of flavors on your tongue.

Serving Suggestion:
This salad would be a wonderful accompaniment to theTempeh of the Sea recipe from my June 24, post and the Raw Slaw recipe from my June 29, post.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nourishing Fruit Sorbet

With the temperature inching its way up the thermometer a cooling fruit filled Sorbet is in order!

I always keep some fresh ripe fruits frozen for the taking and making of Smoothies, or in this case a Sorbet! I own a Vitamix Blender which can turn out a dessert with the consistency of Sorbet without the need of an Ice Cream maker. The Vitamix Blender is a must have tool for your Nourishing Kitchen!

Frothy, Frozen Fruit Sorbet 

12 Oz of Cold Coconut Water
4 Frozen Ripe Bananas
1 Cup of Frozen Mango
1 Cup of Frozen Pineapple
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbl of Maple Syrup, Agave Nectar or Raw Honey

Pour Coconut Water into Vitamix Blender (you could try a food processor)
Add Mango, Sweetener of Choice, Vanilla Extract and Blend
Add Pineapple and Blend while adding Bananas (pre cut in Chunks) and use the Tamper which comes with your Vitamix to keep fruits moving. The tamper is necessary because the mixture will be extremely thick. This beautiful and satisfying dessert will take no more then 5 Minutes to make!

Scoop into Pretty Glasses or Serving Dishes which have been visiting your Freezer for an hour or so and Garnish with Mint or Shredded Coconut


Friday, July 22, 2011

A Nourishing Chilled Soup

It has been extremely hot in Vermont for the past three days hitting well over 90 degrees each day. If feels like we just aborted July and headed straight into August. It’s really hard to think about cooking in weather like this, because my inclination is to lie down and drink copious quantities of Iced Vanilla Chai Latte (Soy of Course)!
So, needless to say, the soup this week is chilled. I think you could experiment with herbs other than those listed below, although I would hesitate to put really strong herbs such as Basil or Sage in because it would just take over. The texture and thickness of the soup which I pureed in my Vitamix was just Divine! The garnish on the soup is a Cashew Cream, Chives and a sprig of Fresh Thyme.

Chilled Herb Soup
1 1/4 pounds Sweet Onions such as Vidalia, chopped (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 cup Cashews ground to a powder in your Coffee Grinder or Food Processor 
4 cups Vegetable Stock
3 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf Italian Parsley leaves, washed well and spun dry
1 cup chopped fresh Chives (about 3 bunches)
3 tablespoons loosely packed fresh Tarragon leaves
3 tablespoons fresh Thyme leaves (preferably lemon thyme)
4 oz of Silken Tofu or a large Dollop of Cashew Butter
2 tsp Umeboshi Vinegar
1 Tbl fresh Lemon Juice

1. In a 4 to 5 quart saucepan cook Onions in Olive Oil with 1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt and 1/2 teaspoon of Black Pepper over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add the freshly ground Cashews and cook, stirring for approximately 3 minutes. Add Broth and simmer, stirring 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add Herbs and simmer 1 minute.
2. Remove pan from heat and let mixture cool slightly. In a blender puree mixture in small batches until very smooth. Add your Silken Tofu or Cashew Butter and 2 Tsp Umeboshi Paste in Blender and Blend till totally smooth. Chill soup until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight
3. Just before serving, stir in Lemon Juice and Umeboshi Vinegar. Garnish soup with Cashew  Cream and Herbs.
Cashew Cream:
1 cup Cashews, 1/4 cup Water, 1Tsp Agave Nectar, 1/2 Tsp Umeboshi Vinegar

Soak Cashews for 4 to 8 Hours, drain and puree with 1/4 cup of water, with the addition of the Agave Nectar and Umeboshi Vinegar

Garnish with Cashew Cream, finely chopped fresh Chives and a sprig of fresh Thyme.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Nourishing Tridoshic Meal Idea

What to serve your Dinner guests? When creating a balanced meal and addressing the Doshas I always play it safe by serving a simple Tridoshic Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice, a Tridoshic Dahl, with a refreshing Cilantro Chutney from my last blog post and a fresh Salad with a Tridoshic Dressing. This meal will calm the Vata, cool the Pitta, and move the Kapha! 
-Vata, -Pitta, -Kapha

Tridoshic Vegetable Curry 
Serves : 6
1 cup fresh green peas (frozen if necessary)
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup potatoes, diced
2 cups string beans or asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons sunflower oil or ghee
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander powder1/2 cup Yogurt or Soy Yogurt
Heat oil or ghee in large heavy skillet. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Then the mustard seeds pop, add turmeric. Then add all the vegetables and the water. (If using frozen peas, do not add until rest of vegetables are nearly done.) Cook covered until the vegetables become tender, about 15-20 minutes. Then add yogurt and the rest of the ingredients, stirring well. Simmer uncovered on low heat for another 15-20 minutes.

Tridoshic Dal
Serves : 6

1 cup split mung dal
8 cups water
2 cups summer squash, in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
1 cup carrots, in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
1/8 teaspoon hinge
2 tablespoons sunflower oil or ghee
1-1/4 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice or 1 tablespoon amchoor (dried mango powder)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
1 small hot green pepper, chopped finely or 1/4 cup prepared salsa (omit for Pitta, and easy on this for Vata)
1-1/4 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
Garnish: Fresh coriander leaves, chopped and shredded unsweetened coconut
Wash dal until rinse water is clear. Wash and chop vegetables.
1. Warm 1 tablespoon oil or ghee in large heavy saucepan.
2. Add hing, turmeric, and lemon juice and saute for 30 seconds over low heat (be careful, it is easy for turmeric to burn).
3. Stir in the beans and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Add the chopped vegetables and stir another minute or two.
5. Add water, salt, ginger, and pepper (if you are using it); bring to a boil on high heat. Then cover and reduce heat to medium-low.
6. Let soup simmer for 45 minutes or until beans have dissolved.
7. Warm remaining tablespoon of oil or ghee in a small skillet, add cumin and mustard seeds, heat until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
8. Add to soup, which is now ready to serve.
9. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves and coconut.

Tridoshic Lemon Tahini Dressing
Serves: 6

1 cup raw tahini
½ cup purified water
Juice of 2 small Meyer lemons
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 inch ginger root, peeled & chopped fine
3 Tbs. fresh, minced cilantro
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 Tbs. celtic sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Mix until tahini is fully blended.  Store in a glass jar with tight fitting lid.  Shake well before each use.

*These Recipes were adapted from The Ayurvedic Cookbook, written by Amadea Morningstar with Urmila Desai. This Ayurvedic Cookbook Classic is chock full of amazing information and ideas to give you a basic understanding of foods to Nourish your Doshas

Two other books you may want to add to your collection are written by Maya Tiwari. The Path of Practice: A Woman's Book of Ayurvedic Healing  and Ayurveda: A Life of Balance: The Complete Guide to Ayurvedic Nutrition & Body Types with Recipes

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nourishing and Refreshing Cilantro

Cilantro  also known as Chinese parsley, refers to the leaves of the coriander plant. It's easy to grow from seed in your garden or in a pot in bright sun.

According to Ayurveda, cilantro offers the bitter and astringent tastes. It is a cooling herb and puts out excess flames in the stomach and generally enhances the digestion without aggravating Pitta dosha.
In recent years, modern science has discovered that cilantro is a natural chelation agent, very helpful in removing heavy metals such as lead, mercury and aluminum from the body. To get the benefit of cilantro's chelating property, enjoy a couple of teaspoons of cilantro chutney with your meals on a regular basis.

Cilantro Chutney

  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves and soft stems
  • 6-8 almonds, soaked in hot water and blanched
  • 4 walnuts, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
  • 4 tbsps cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Umeboshi Paste or Sea Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper to taste.
Wash cilantro thoroughly and drain.
Place the cilantro, nuts and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
Gradually add the olive oil and continue processing.
Season with the Umeboshi Paste or Sea Salt and Black Pepper and blend for a few seconds more.
(Serves 4-6)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Determining Your Dosha

The principle medical system of India is known as Ayurveda and is over 5,000 years old. This "Science of Life" is considered the art of living in harmony with nature. In Ayurvedic philosophy, people, their health, and the universe are all thought to be related. It is believed that health problems can result when these relationships are out of balance. The goal of Ayurveda is to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit. This is believed to help prevent illness and promote wellness.
Developed from the ancient text of The Vedas, Ayurveda views the human body as a homunculus of our cosmic Universe, regulated by the balance between three primordial humors, call dosha.
Your dosha is your Ayurveda mind & body type. There are three doshas in Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We each have all three of the doshas in our physiology, just in different proportions, so your dosha is unique and personal; it is like your fingerprint.
Each dosha is made up of one or two of the five basic elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth.
Each dosha has a particular relationship to body functions and can be upset for different reasons.
A person has her own balance of the three doshas, although one dosha usually is prominent. Doshas are constantly being formed and reformed by food, activity, and bodily processes.
Each dosha is associated with a certain body type, a certain personality type, and a greater chance of certain types of health problems.
An imbalance in a dosha will produce symptoms that are related to that dosha and are different from symptoms of an imbalance in another dosha. Imbalances may be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle or diet, too much or too little mental and physical exertion, or not being properly protected from the weather, chemicals, or germs. 

The following test will give you a good idea of the levels of your doshas. We have to remember that everyone has all three doshas, but in varying degrees. After reading each description, on a separate sheet of paper mark 0 to 7 for each question. Note that values 2 and 5 are not assigned at all (don't use them). 
Add up your totals for each Dosha and place the name of the first, second and third Dosha, beginning with most dominant in the slots below.

0, 1 = Does not apply
3, 4 = Applies sometimes
6, 7 = Applies most of the time

Evaluating My Vata
Physical Attributes:
1.My physique is thin - I don't gain weight easily.___
2. I am quick and active. ___
3.My skin is usually dry, more so in winter.___
4.My hands and feet are usually cold.___
5.My energy fluctuates and comes in bursts.___
6. I usually develop gas or constipation.___
7. I usually have difficulty falling asleep or having a sound night's sleep.___
8. I am uncomfortable in cold weather.___

Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Attributes
9.My nature is lively and enthusiastic.___
10. I have difficulty memorizing things and remembering them later.___
11.It is easy for me to learn new things quickly, but I also forget quickly.___
12. I am not good at making decisions.___
13. I am anxious or worrisome by nature.___
14. People think I'm talkative and that I talk quickly.___
15. I am usually emotional by nature and my moods fluctuate.___
16. My mind is restless, but also imaginative.___
17. I have irregular eating and sleeping habits.___

Total Vata: ___

Evaluating My Pitta
Physical Attributes:
1. I don't tolerate hot weather. ___
2. I sweat easily.___
3. I can't tolerate delaying or skipping a meal.___
4.My hair is fine, straight, light, blonde, red, graying early, or balding. ___
5.My appetite is very good and I can eat big meals.___
6.My bowel movements are regular. I might have occasional loose stool but not much constipation.___
7. I like cold drinks and such foods as ice cream.___
8. I often feel hot.___
9.Spicy, hot foods upset my stomach.___

Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Attributes
10.I consider myself efficient.___
11. I try to be organized and accurate.___
12. I have a strong will and my friends think I am stubborn. ___
13. I am impatient by nature.___
14. I tend to become irritable or angry quite easily.___
15. I try to be meticulous and am a perfectionist by nature.___
16. I get angry easily, but I don't hold a grudge.___
17. I am usually critical of myself and others.___

Total Pitta: ___

Evaluating My Kapha
Physical Attributes:
1.It is easy for me to gain weight but difficult to lose.___
2. Skipping meals is easy for me and does not cause any problems.___
3. I tend to have congestion, mucus, or sinus problems.___
4. I'm a sound sleeper.___
5. I have thick, oily, dark, wavy hair.___
6.My skin is smooth and soft with an almost pale complexion.___
7.My body frame is large and solid with a heavy bone structure.___
8.My digestion is slow, so I feel full after eating.___
9. I have a steady energy level with good endurance and strong stamina.___
10. I'm sensitive to cool and damp weather. ___

Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Attributes:
11. I tend to be slow, methodical, and relaxed.___
12. I need to sleep a minimum of eight hours to feel well the next morning.___
13.By nature I am calm and composed. I don't get angry easily.___
14. I am not a quick learner but I am good at memorizing things and remembering them later.___
15.Many people consider me affectionate, forgiving, and peaceful.___
16.I usually oversleep and have difficulty waking up the next morning. ___
17.I am very reluctant to take on new responsibilities.___

Total Kapha: ___

My total scores are: Vata_____, Pitta_____, Kapha_____.
I am ________ first, ________ second, and ________ third.

I hope you find this interesting and have fun with it! The Ancient Science of Ayurveda is very complicated in the sense that if you want a deeper understanding of your Dosha makeup, your Prakriti, seeing a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner is suggested.

Two books with more information to support your understanding of Ayurveda are: 
Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing - A Practical Guide by Vasant Lad
Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing by Usha Lad and Vasant Lad

Next Time: Focus on Cilantro 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What is a Dosha?

Read any article on Ayurveda and you are likely to see some mention of the three Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. What exactly are Doshas and what do they have to do with our well-being?

According to Ayurveda, the five fundamental elements that make up the universe--space (Akasha), air (Vayu), fire (Agni), water (Apu) and earth (Prithvi)--also make up the human physiology. How do these elements work within us? Looking at the elements from the point of view of what they do in the physiology, rather than what they are, Ayurveda describes three biological humors or psychophysiological energies called doshas. There are three doshas, called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and each is mainly a combination of two elements. Vata dosha is made up of space and air. Pitta dosha is a combination of fire and water. Kapha dosha is made up of water and earth. Each of these doshas are further divided into five sub-doshas. Together, the doshas orchestrate all the activities that occur within us.
The combination of the three doshas that you inherit at conception is called your Prakriti or original constitution in Ayurveda. While it is not unheard of for people to have nearly equal proportions of the three doshas or just one very predominant dosha as their Prakriti, most people have two doshas that are more or less equally dominant, with the remaining one less dominant. Thus, there are ten classic types of prakriti possible--Vata-Pitta-Kapha, Vata (where Vata is much more dominant than either of the two other doshas, Pitta, Kapha, Vata-Pitta (where Vata and Pitta are the two major doshas with Vata being slightly more dominant than Pitta), Pitta-Vata (where again Vata and Pitta are the two major doshas, but Pitta is slightly more dominant than Vata), Vata-Kapha, Kapha-Vata, Pitta-Kapha and Kapha-Pitta. Of course, each of us has a unique doshic thumbprint, and an Ayurvedic healer performs an Ayurvedic pulse assessment to discover that unique doshic make-up and the exact nature of imbalances in order to recommend a very individual program for restoring balance.
For good health and well-being to be maintained, the three doshas within you need to be in balance. That does not mean they need to be equal, unless you were born with equal doshas; it means that you need to maintain your original doshic make-up or Prakriti through life as much as possible to maintain good health. Unfortunately, factors such as the dietary choices you make, the lifestyle you lead, the climate where you live, levels of environmental pollution, the work you do, the nature of your relationships with people and even just the passage of time can cause one of more of the doshas in your Prakriti to increase or decrease from its original level in your constitution, creating vikriti or imbalance. If this imbalance is not corrected, you eventually lose your good health. That's why restoring balance is the central theme of the Ayurvedic approach to health.
While it is ideal to follow a personal program of balance laid out by an Ayurvedic healer after an Ayurvedic pulse assessment and a question-answer session designed to discover your precise needs for balance at a given time, a well-designed questionnaire can help you assess for yourself if you need to balance one or more doshas, and diet and lifestyle tips and herbal formulas can help maintain or restore balance.

Next Time: Determining your Dosha

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Life in Balance

Having read Becoming Whole a book written by Meg Wolff documenting her battle with Cancer, I was in awe of Meg's tenacity to overcome her illness and her journey using the Macrobiotic Diet as a Healing tool to support her recovery. 
Meg has blessed us with a new book titled, A Life in Balance: delicious Plant Based recipes for Optimal Health. This book is chock full of recipes from some of Meg's favorite restaurants such as Rosti for One from VBites, Heather Mills Restaurant in the UK; Tempeh Hash from The Good Egg Cafe in Portland, Maine and Masao's Blueberry Cake from Masao's Kitchen in Waltham, Massachusetts. 

Meg shares Breakfast Ideas like Big Treat Waffles; Soups like Cannellini Bean, and a  Basic Miso Soup which is perfection! There is a recipe for Poached Pears with Ginger Almond Cream that is, well, Divinity! There are tips on Sea VegetablesCutting Techniques, Family Reactions to Diet Change and much more.
I have chosen two of Meg's Salad Recipes to share with you. The first recipe was created by Meg's Daughter Cammie who is studying at The Natural Gourmet cooking school in New York City. I Love it because it is simple, elegant and unexpected! The second recipe is a Salad of Fennel and Orange, and with my Italian Heritage how could I resist!

Strawberry Shiitake Salad
1 Head of Romaine Lettuce torn into bite size pieces
A few Handfuls of Baby Spinach
1 pint of Fresh Organic Strawberries thinly sliced
10 Shiitake Mushrooms stems removed and thinly sliced
3 Tbl of Olive or Sunflower Oil
4 tsp of Golden Balsamic Vinegar
Pinch of Sea Salt or a few drops of Shoyu/Soy Sauce
Mix all Ingredients in a Bowl and Toss

Salade de fenouil à l'Orange
2 Fennel Bulb
1 Tbl of Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 Orange
6 Tbl of cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbl of FreshlySqueezed Orange Juice
1/2 Tbl of Rice Syrup or Honey
Fleur de Sel or Regular Sea Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
1 Tbl Dill 
5 Mint Leaves

Remove Stalks from Fennel Bulbs, cut in half and core
Slice Bulb as thin as possible, use a Mandoline if you have one
Place in Bowl, add Lemon juice and toss to coat
Grate the Zest of half of the Orange avoiding the Pith add to Bowl
Slice off top and bottom of the Orange to stabilize on Cutting Board, slice around to remove skin exposing flesh
Cut along side the Membrane to remove segments
Add segments to Fennel
Squeeze out any remaining Juice from the left over Membrane onto the Fennel and Orange segments
To make the dressing in a separate bowl, whisk Olive Oil with the 2Tbl of Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, add  Honey or Rice Syrup 
Add to Salad and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel and Freshly ground Pepper and Toss
Sprinkle with chopped Fresh Dill and Mint

This is just a glimpse of the Meg's vegan recipe selection from, A Life in Balance: Delicious Plant-Based Recipes for Optimal Health, distributed by Down East Publishers. 
If you can't find it at your local bookshop, they will order it for you. You can also find it at, Borders and Barnes and Noble. Get your hands on a copy today, you will not be disappointed! 

Visit Meg at: and read Meg's story in her Independent Publisher Award Winning Book: Becoming Whole, the story of my complete recovery from Brest Cancer