Herbs for the Spring or Autumn Soul

http://www.today.com/money/tag/fall-foliage

Fall weather brings out the cook in me along with some scrumptious ingredients for one pot meals. I love to play around with the different combinations of herbs, spices, vegetables and legumes to create new dishes. Between my little backyard garden and my CSA (community supported agriculture) there is quite a variety of fresh produce at this time of the year.IMG_0697

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/preserving-the-color-of-fall-foliage.html

This week I was reacquainted with an old favorite herb, sorrel. A member of the oxalis family, sorrel is used widely in European dishes. I was first introduced to sorrel when working with two wonderful herbalists in Branford Connecticut. I’ve mentioned these women in a previous blog post and it occurs to me each time I am reminded of them how much they positively impacted my life. One of my jobs was to run the day to day operations of their herb gardens and shop. I loved getting paid to be in the cutting and formal herb gardens. Sorrel was a favorite herb of mine at the time and so I learned how to prepare it. Since then I have learned more about it’s health benefits and potential risks for certain people.

Sorrel is a good source of iron, potassium, vitamin A and C. Health benefits of sorrel include aiding good eyesight, strengthen the immune system, stimulate the liver, aid digestion and it can increase circulation and energy level. However, due to it’s oxalic acid content people with kidney stones, gallstones or with rheumatic conditions should use it moderately if at all.

I made a lovely sorrel soup this weekend. It is a very simple recipe for such a yummy soup that can be served either warm or cold. While sorrel is considered a spring herb it can also be added into fall recipes as can other leafy greens. Sorrel is one of the first leafy greens to appear in gardens in the spring and it’s tart flavor reawakens our winter palate. In the fall sorrel is equally delicious when started late in the growing season. If it is an older plant it will contain higher levels of oxalic acid which not only effects the taste but is less beneficial in terms of health benefits. Make sure late season sorrel is from a late season crop. Here’s all the ingredients you need…so simple
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I adjusted this recipe from Mother Earth News http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/sorrel-soup-recipe-zmrz1301zmat.aspx#axzz3FHXPZbNK, I swapped out butter for Earth Balance.

onionsSautee onions

sorrel potato prep1Cut sorrel into ribbons and chop potato into small chunks

ss cookingAdd sorrel and potatoes to onions

sorrel soupBlend together and top with plain Greek yogurt

I served this hot as a first course with ginger glazed salmon and wild rice to follow. I was lucky to have fresh tender sorrel greens available through my CSA, but you can keep this recipe tucked away for spring if you’d like when the new tender growth is readily available.

Happy cooking and eating!

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

 

Herb Woman

Roots and herbs she gathers, morning, night and noon, by raising dog star underneath the moon.

In her fragrant kitchen while the lost world sleeps, Gentle midnight priestess, she mixes and steeps.

Shakes the leafy brethren, sorts and scraps with skill, on her vibrant fingers wood and field and hill-

Poppy leaves and wormwood, Peony petals split, dreamy hop flowers added for a headache quilt.

Hands only made for healing, nostrils made for smell, forehead wide and yearning, eyes fixed in a spell.

With the loose prescriptions floating through her head, Such are prayers she mutters ere she goes to bed.

By Eleanor C. Koenig

 

 

 

 

A Winter’s Afternoon

ice cycles

White-Eyes

In winter

 all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
             Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
    but he’s restless—
         he has an idea,
             and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake.
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.
So, it’s over.
    In the pine-crown
         he makes his nest,
             he’s done all he can.
I don’t know the name of this bird,
    I only imagine his glittering beak
         tucked in a white wing
             while the clouds—
which he has summoned
    from the north—
         which he has taught
             to be mild, and silent—
thicken, and begin to fall
    into the world below
         like stars, or the feathers
               of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
    that is asleep now, and silent—
         that has turned itself
             into snow.
Mary Oliver
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Spring is coming. The light is changing and the days are slowly lengthening. Stay warm as this cold descends upon us again and remember it will soon be spring! Make a delightful soup or stew to stay warm and feed your whole being. This is a real comfort food soup and so easy to make.

Buckwheat Soba Noodles in Broth

1 lb buckwheat soba noodles

½ cup shoyu

½ teaspoon ginger

1 cup finely chopped leak

2 cups water

2 cardomon pods

1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

½ cup shredded nori

In a medium saucepan, fry the leeks until they are tender.

Combine water, shoyu, ginger, cardomon in pot with leeks and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, bring to a simmer for approximately 15 minutes.

Add buckwheat soba noodles and cook until noodles are tender – about 5-7 minutes.

Sprinkle the sesame seeds and nori over top of soup and serve immediately

 

Peace and Brightest Blessings

Winter Returns to The Berkshires- SNOWDAY KIDS

Winter is reminding us that there is still plenty of time to enjoy some fun in the snow! The view from my front porch this morning is simply beautiful…and it is so quiet when it is snowing like this.

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Last week I was talking with one of my colleagues about how much I love the snow, it has a way of making me feel 12 again. In this cynical world we could all use a return to simpler, more joyful times in our lives. When was the last time you played a game or were just plain silly for the sheer joy of it, not worrying about what anyone thought about you?

I have been given the gift of taking this week off from a job I love to participate in The Macrobitoitc Leadership Program level2A module at Kushi Institute in Becket, MA. When I woke at 5:30 this morning, as I do every morning I heard the snow plows and starting hoping for a snow day.  It was an automatic response to when I worked in the public schools and we had snow days. I chuckled and then ran (well more like shuffled so I didn’t bump into Kira the Wonderdog and her cone of shame) to the window to see just how much snow had fallen. I really didn’t want to miss my classes at Kushi Institute, but as Mother Nature would have it I’m home bound at least for the morning. The snow plow guy told me to go back inside…no travel unless we absolutely have to…POOH! I will miss Shiatsu class this morning but I’m still holding out the hope I can make it up the mountain to Kushi Institute for my afternoon classes.

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Kushi Institute main house on a sunnier snow day!

My dear friend Marty, who passed away this last year was one of those people who could find joy in just about anything. He loved sharing stories about his escapades, and it always made me laugh. One such story was when he went to the grocery store in Maine where his family had a summer cottage and he jumped on back of the shopping cart and rode it around the store, much to the chagrin of people who didn’t know him. I laughed so hard at his tales because they were authentic and because he could pull it off. Marty loved snow days, he had several rituals surrounding whether the weather would cause school to be closed. So today I am thinking about Marty, who is no doubt having his own version of a joyful snow day (though he was much more of a tropical weather sorta guy) as the schools in The Berkshires call a snow day. I hope at least some of the kids are going to find their way outside into the snow to be just plain silly today.

heart

Silliness is good for the heart and the soul….grab a sled and try it today!

Healthy, Happy Holidays Ahead

When you think about the word healthy. what comes up for you? Do you believe it is attainable for you? If you could change anything about the way you live, work, play and eat what would it be?

ImageIs this in the cards for you?

Simple questions that may not be so simple to articulate but they are certainly worth exploring particularly with the holidays quickly approaching. The addition of the expectations that go along with the holidays can sometimes upset the very careful balance we create to be more fully present in our lives. Some of us become overwhelmed by the prospect of adding holiday planning into our already hectic lives. I hope to offer a few strategies and at least one easy recipe to reduce stress and allow you to enjoy your holidays however you choose to spend them.

First, remember what it is you love so much about the holidays. Focus on that and make it the priority of what you plan. Next, make a task list of what needs to be accomplished and set up a time to share with others so you don’t feel alone in making things happen. If you share the tasks not only do you feel less pressure but those you love feel needed as you are all in it together….it can be really fun! And finally, keep it simple. Some of the finest memories come from the most delightfully simple things.

The recipe I offer up today is just that sort of dish…simple but truly memorable.

pomegranate tart 2

White Bean, Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 15oz can white beans drained or 1 cup prepared cannellini beans (see directions below)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry/gluten free
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds

1) Preheat oven to 425, coat 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray/oil

2) Toss the Brussels sprouts with 1 Tbsp. olive oil season with salt and pepper if desired and appropriate. Roast Brussels sprouts for 10 minutes turning once, or until browned set aside and reduce heat to 400.

3) Puree beans with remaining olive oil in a food processor until smooth.

4) Roll puff pastry into 12inch square and press into pie plate allowing edges to hang over the pie plate ½ inch or so. Prick bottom with fork and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

5) Spread the bean mixture onto hot crust, top with beans Brussels sprouts and sprinkle pomegranate seeds over top.

And only about 300 calories per serving for those of us counting calories.

I recommend using organic bulk, whole grains and beans whenever possible as it is healthier and in fact more cost effective to do so. If you chose to prepare dried cannellini beans first rinse them and then soak overnight of for at least 6 hours. This removes the enzyme inhibitors that are on all dried unprocessed whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds which can upset our digestion. Soaking beans helps break down the oligosaccharides, the indigestible sugars that cause gas in beans, as well as removing tannins, phytic acid and tryspin inhibitors.

Add about a 1 inch piece of Kombu to the beans (you will need to rehydrate the Kombu soaking it for about 5 minutes before you add it to the pot) as well to further help in making them easier to digest and to add in minerals from this sea vegetable. First place the rehydrated Kombu in the pot along with the soaking water, place soaked beans on top and cover with about 1 inch of water. They will cook from between 50 to 90 minutes depending on the bean and the texture you are seeking. Skim off the foam that gathers on top of the beans when they first start to cook as that contains the tannins and phytic acid that create digestive issues.

see photo of Kombu below: I recommend buying Maine Coast or Atlantic Sea Vegetables.

 You can find kombu in Asian markets, at Whole Foods and in many health food markets.

Be Well

Vegan Chili @ The Pittsfield Farmer’s Market 2013

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Okay so this isn’t the farmer’s market I’m talking about but this is my favorite walk ever and each time I travel to California to visit my family we go to Monterey Bay and take this walk to Pacific Grove. This is the most beautiful ocean walk I think! The Farmer’s Market I’m talking about is the Downtown Pittsfield Farmer’s Market, http://farmersmarketpittsfield.org/dpfm/.

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I had so much fun this summer being part of this new venue. It is the finest group of people running the market and the people participating in it are equally delightful. I did my last market of the season and just want to shout out to all of you a grand thanks. The market will continue until the end of October on Saturdays from 9-1 across the street from the Pittsfield Common. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.

This is one of the recipes I demonstrated at the market. My focus this weekend was cooking for women’s health. This dish offers good quality soy in the form of Hosta Hill tempeh, http://hostahill.com/ and kidney beans. Both are considered foods that promote women’s health. To learn more consider attending my cooking class at Wild Oats Food Cooperative @ http://wildoats.coop/ in Williamstown, MA on 10/26 from 12:30 to 2:00pm. We’ll make a few delicious dishes that contain health benefits for women.

Vegan Tempeh Chili

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 8-ounce package tempeh, crumbled by hand

2 tsp soy sauce 1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 cup kidney beans rinsed, soaked and cooked with 2” kombu

1 8 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 cup fresh/frozen corn (optional)

fresh cilantro to garnish (optional)

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil, sauté tempeh until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes, add soy sauce, and sauté another minute or two, until soy sauce is sticky and dissolved. Set aside.

In a large soup or stock pot, sauté the onions, garlic and bell peppers in the remaining olive oil until just barely soft. Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer for at least twenty minutes and up to forty minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding a bit more liquid as needed.

Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh minced cilantro.

My kitchen at home no longer exists as the demolition was completed today. I will share my remodel progress with you as the construction now begins!

Be well and remember to smile and sing a happy song every day…it’s good for the heart!

Cold breakfast recipes for kids

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We have very busy lives and for those of us with children it can be challenging to get everyone out of the house in the morning with a good breakfast. I have come across some delightful cold breakfast recipes that most children will eat!This one was posted on http://www.mrbreakfast.com and came from newjerseygal.

Banana Burritos – best to use all organic foods whenever possible
1 medium banana
1 flour tortilla – you can find rice tortillas for children with gluten sensitivity/allergies
2 tablespoons nut butter – I make my own almond butter which is the favorite at my house
1 teaspoon mixture of pure maple sugar and cinnamon
1 tablespoon raisins
1 teaspoon chopped nuts

Spread the nut butter all over the tortilla. Place the banana on one edge of the tortilla. Sprinkle the maple sugar/cinnamon mixture and chopped nuts over tortilla and roll up. Some of you may also want to top this off with some tofu whip or whipped cream! Trust me they will love making these and eating them….AND they could grow up to be as silly as my children did (see photo of Patrick’s graduation party above)

Fun with Food

Fun with Food

I love cooking with kids.

Cooking with children is a ton of fun! They are curious and adventurous so they are more likely to try new foods. It really isn’t difficult to introduce them to healthier food especially if they help to prepare the recipes. I’m going to offer a variation on Rice Krispy Treats that comes from The Kushi Institute kitchens.

Rice Krispy Treats

3 cups toasted brown rice cereal (Barbaras or Erewhan)
1 cup brown rice syrup
½ cup almonds, peanut butter or Tahini
1 tsp sweet miso

Variations:
½ cup golden raisins
Roll balls in chopped toasted nuts

1) Combined rice syrup, nut butter and sweet miso in small pot. Heat on low flame until well blended.
2) Pour over rice cereal and mix well.
3) Roll into 1” bals or press firmly into 8” x 8” glass dish. Let sit until cool.

The balls are very sticky so it is wise to drop spoonfuls of mixture onto parchment paper and allow to cool a bit before trying to roll into balls.

Give this recipe a try and make it with your children it will be a blast!