Life, Art and Food

A day that includes healthy real food and art is one I want to take part in. Yesterday was that kind of a day. I offered two classes in cooking for health, the first at Wild Oats http://wildoats.coop/ focusing on cooking for women’s health. I enjoyed the women who attended and working with Robin, the marketing manager at Wild Oats again. The second class focused on healthy holiday cooking and took place in a borrowed kitchen (as my kitchen is under construction) at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Pittsfield MA. http://www.uupittsfield.org/.

Again I was struck by how much I enjoyed the classes and cooking with others. I am also very grateful to have these opportunities to share information and recipes that really improve our health and are delicious too!

Imagesteamed root vegetables with broccoli

Out of the second class a very synchronistic conversation occurred which landed me and a participant from my cooking class at MASS MOCA, http://www.massmoca.org/event_details.php?id=771 to view the 9:30 lighting of Xu Bing’s “Phoenix” http://www.xubing.com/index.php/site/projects/year/2010/phoenix_project. This wonderful exhibit is leaving MOCA today to travel to New York and I find I’m grieving this loss. I fell in love with these magical creatures, the enormity, beauty and fearless presentation will stay with me forever. I am glad the moment presented itself for me to see them lit and to say farewell. I encourage anyone who has the chance to view Xu Bing’s Phoenix to do it.

Today is a day to regroup, to plan for upcoming classes as well as spend time studying and researching integrative nutrition. There is something powerful about the fact that the food we eat can and in fact does impact our health directly. We all have the power to take control of our health and change it no matter our condition. It takes courage to do so when faced with serious illness but what better time to take the leap…what have we got to lose? Like the phoenix, we can rise out of the ashes and be strong again. I want to share a nice recipe from Dr. Weil with root vegetables that can help strengthen us as we enter winter, the season of darkness and cold.

Roasted Root Vegetables

2 lbs root vegetables (yams, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, sweet potato, beet), cut into 1-inch pieces.

1 medium onion cut into 1/3 wedges

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 head garlic separated into cloves

Chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme

1) Heat oven to 400, place root vegetables and onion on roasting pan and toss with the olive oil until coated evenly.

2) Roast mixture for 45-50 minutes stirring every 15 minutes. After 30 minutes add garlic cloves and continue to roast.

3) Before serving add chopped herbs or for additional flavor add herbs for last 15 minutes of roasting.

Food as medicine

“All root vegetables contain healthful fiber and slow digesting carbohydrates, but beets have some special properties. Unlike most other red vegetables, which have anthocyanins to thank for their distinctive color (think red cabbage), beets derive their hue from pigments called betalains, which range in color from red-violet to yellow.  Betalains, in addition to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, trigger a family of enzymes that bind toxic substances in cells, neutralizing and allowing them to be excreted from the body. Garlic’s health benefits, many of which come from its sulfur compounds, are widely documented. Some of these sulfur-containing molecules, polysulfides, are converted by red blood cells into hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which dilates the blood vessels, helping to regulate blood pressure.

Thanks to Dr. Weil – http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/RCP00221/roasted-root-vegetables.html

bonsaiBe Well!

Joyful Life

We came to the Earth as absolutely loving beings.

That is our basic nature. And all we want is to have a joyful life together…..

A peaceful, harmonious, laughter filled, song-filled kind of life together.

Brooke Medicine Eagle

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This photo was taken at South River Miso in Conway, MA

I awoke this morning feeling grateful for the sunshine and for my lovely life. It made me smile to think about what this life has given me and to reflect on what I hope I have given back. Of late, the opportunity I am enjoying of teaching others how to cook and eat in a more healthful way.

Yesterday I got to cook with a group of young girls who were curious and willing to try new foods. They reminded me to have fun and explore, and how much I enjoy doing that with my own children even now that they are adults. I was also reminded how much fun it is to come together with new people and see what we can learn.

We prepared several dishes and then shared a meal together with their adults. One commented on how cool it was to have a class where you get to eat together afterward. I smiled. And so I will share one of the recipes we made with you in the hope it brings a smile to your face as well.

Green Rolls

 4 cups water

Collard greens large leaves or other green of choice

Cucumber cut into match sticks

Carrot, parsnip or other root vegetable, blanched and cut into matchsticks

Sauerkraut

Sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds

Mustard or hummus

Brown rice (optional)

Preparation:

 Heat water in large open skillet to boil.

Lightly blanch collard or chosen greens, remove and place on cookie sheet to cool.

Lay our blanched greens onto sushi mat making sure to cover mat completely.

Layer the cucumber or root vegetable, sauerkraut and pumpkin seeds on the greens. Spread some mustard on the filling.

Carefully roll up the green in the sushi mats squeezing out extra water. Remove from mat and cut into 5-6 sushi style rolls.

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These are actually wrapped in nori which is another great way to introduce healthy greens and vegetables into a non vegetable lovers life…and we all need some vegetable to stay healthy 🙂

Next week I will be teaching a Cooking for Women’s Health class at Wild Oats Cooperative Market in Williamstown, MA as well as a Healthy Holiday Cooking class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield. Consider coming to join our fun!

Be well

Food and Faith

Have you ever considered the role food has played in various faith traditions? Humans have for centuries used food in sacred meals and in some cases asked for a blessing at everyday meals. There is sacred fasting and sacred feasting in many faith traditions. Take for instance the Passover Seder, the Muslim tradition including both fasting and feasting of Ramadan, the Buddhist practice of Mindful Meals, the Christian Eucharist, the Sikh Langar and the Native American Corn Harvest Ceremony.

Food is the core of these and so many more faith traditions both for nourishment and for the symbolism of the foods. It is simply heavenly to prepare and offer meals to those we love whether for special occasions or for the joy of “breaking bread” together at sunrise or sunset.

ImageBreaking Bread with friends @ Michaum Point

I consider myself a spiritual person and so I love to read and research many things that involve our spirit, essence, soul or whatever term you’d like to attach to your deeper self. In fact, I have been invited to speak on this topic on Sunday October 6 at The Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield, MA. Since the invitation came I have thoroughly enjoyed researching various world religions and faith practices to learn more about how people celebrate their families, their lives and the beginning and end of the day. It is undeniable the power of food in our lives and it goes beyond nourishment.

I have also thought more about how I use food in my life as a means to speak to people and care for them. When my children were not feeling well my first impulse was to make them soup or tea so they would feel better. When a friend was sad I would invite them to come for a meal so we could spend time together and cooking something for someone who has touched my heart and I can’t find the right words to express what they have given me. The very practice of “breaking bread” is in my world sacred and loving. It is a time when we catch up with those we love and share our hearts.

Imagefamily feasting love you guys

So as I rise and move through my day I am just taking note of how I interact with food and notice what purpose it plays beyond nourishment in my interactions with self and others. I invite you to do the same and to keep in your minds and hearts all those who lack food and other types of nourishment in their lives. How do we offer what we enjoy to those who have or experience less?

ImageBlessed Be!

 

Other places I will be this fall include:

The Pittsfield Farmers Market on 9/28 and again on 10/12 from 9am-1pm

Wild Oats Food Coop on 10/26 12:30-2:00pm “Cooking for Women’s Health”

Unitarian Universalist Church Sunday service “Food and Faith” 10/6 starting at 10am

Private cooking class at the Unitarian Universalist Church on 10/19 from 3-6:30 “Cool Kids Cooking Class”

Private cooking class at the Unitarian Universalist Church 3 Saturdays from 10/26 to 11/9 4pm-7:30pm “Healthy Holiday Cooking Class”

Wild Oats Food Coop on 11/16 1pm-3pm Healthy Holiday Cooking

for more information contact me at Leeyinger@yahoo.com

 

The Beauty of Chocolate

Chocolate makes me smile! It’s just that simple. And when I am smiling the world is a better place. I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite poets and Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

One reason to smile is this delightful Pistachio Chocolate Mousse. The recipe below comes from Eric Lechasseur and Sanae Suzuki’s vegan macrobiotic cookbook Love, Eric & Sanae. When I prepare this mousse people think I’ve spent hours fussing to create it and that also brings a smile to my face. Both because they enjoy it and because it is truly a simple dessert to make.

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Pistachio Chocolate Mousse

Love,Eric  Sanae

Here’s the recipe:

24 ounces of silken firm tofu, well drained.

½ cup maple sugar

1 pinch sea salt

½ cup soy milk (unsweetened)

9 ounces grain-sweetened chocolate chips – semi sweet also works

½ cup ground pistachios

Combine maple sugar, tofu and sea salt in a food processor and process for approximately 5 minutes until creamy.

Combine soy milk and chocolate chips in a saucepan, heat at medium. Stir constantly until the chocolate has melted than transfer to the food processor.

Add vanilla extract and continue to blend for a few minutes.

Add ½ cup pistachios and process until well combined.

Transfer mixture to glass or ceramic container and chill for a few hours.

Serve in individual serving bowls topped with crushed pistachios.

YUMMY!

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As you go along your path remember….

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Health, Peace and Brightest Blessing

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!

I’m Back

Well it has been a long winter! I am delighted to be back with the freshness of spring and many cooking classes under my belt. My focus has shifted back to children and how to engage them in cooking with us. Here is just a quick snapshot of why we would want to cook with the children in our lives:

Do you struggle to find quick, nutritious snacks and meals to offer your children? With our very busy lives it is often challenging to find the time to prepare healthy meals. There is a healthy solution!

Children are naturally curious and adventurous so why not introduce them to food by making it fun.

They are so pleased when they make something for others and receive praise for a job well done!

Children will jump for joy when they learn to cook!

Benefits of Cooking with your Children

             Cooking with the children in our lives is a wonderful way to spend quality time together. They feel good about themselves when they contribute to the daily chores at home and cooking can be so much fun. Children love to have the opportunity to show us what they know and can do. They are proud of themselves when make something the whole family enjoys together.

Cooking with children does take time and patience. It can also get pretty messy and the food may not be just the way we grown ups like it, but believe me it is worth the effort. Preparing food to eat and share with others teaches children so many life-long skills while engaging them in a fun and healthy activity. And the fact is that children who help with the planning and preparation of meals also are more likely to eat what has been made. Younger children need tasks that they can accomplish safely and sometimes older children can help them when they get stuck.

Older children are able to read and interpret recipes. They can help younger children measure and and mix. Show older children how to properly clean cutting boards and counters and what good personal hygiene is when preparing food. Work with older children to set up the work area with all utensils that will be needed, and gather all ingredients before starting to cook. Teach them to develop the ability to plan for their menu by preparing all ingredients that must be chopped, peeled, etc. so that the actual cooking process goes smoothly and quickly. This organization and planning helps the cooking process go smoothly adding to their sense of accomplishment.

Shopping Adventures

Think about involving children in the entire food preparation process starting with making the grocery list, shopping, putting food away, setting the table, cooking and sitting together to enjoy the fruits of your labors.

In the grocery store teach your children how to read nutrition labels. Help them understand the difference between fresh and processed foods. Teach them about healthy fats, whole grains and beans, alternatives to meat and the importance of a balanced diet for overall good health. Introduce children to vitamins and minerals and how to shop for the highest quality foods at the best prices. Show children the content of sugar or salt that is in their favorite processed foods and offer them healthier alternatives they can make. In doing so we are teaching them about important nutrients and healthy food choices which they can carry all their lives.

The benefits of shopping and cooking with children are many.

They learn what healthy foods look and smell like

They learn about important nutritional information

They are more likely to eat the healthy food that is presented to them

They get to spend quality time with you

They may focus their time and energy in more healthy endeavors rather than being connected via phone, computer, TV etc

So what are you waiting for get into the kitchen with your children and have a blast! Try this recipe from Shari-Lynn Demaris’ cookbook it has become a favorite of some of the children in my life!

Tofu Nut Balls

 

½ cup uncooked short grain brown rice

1 cup water

2 Tblsp shoyu

½ lb firm tofu

½ cup ground almond

½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Sea salt to taste

1-2 Tblsp sesame oil

1 cup safflower oil (it is less likely to burn)

1)    Wash, rinse and soak the rice.

2)   Place prepared rice and water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat cooking for 35-45 minutes until rice is very soft.

3)   Place shoyu and ½ the tofu in a blender and then add about ¾ of the cooked rice. Blend into a thick paste.

4)   Place remaining tofu in a large bowl. Add the blended mixture to the bowl along with the bread crumbs and almond meal. Mix well, then add the remaining rice and sea salt to taste.

5)   Make small balls with your hands or flatter batter and use cookie cutters for special shapes.

6)   Pan fry balls in the sesame oil for 15 minutes or pan bake them at 350 for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!