Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Indian Red Curry

Although this post is about curry, I wanted to first mention that having the right cookware - nothing new or expensive, just a few basic pots and pans - will make preparing many of these meals easier, and/or less time consuming.

Pots and pans I recommend having:

1 small saucepan
(good for "meals for one", melting butter, sauces, poached eggs)
1 medium saucepan, with tight fitting lid
(good for cooking rice, quinoa, popcorn, sauces, "meals for two", hard boiled eggs)
1 large skillet, with handle
(excellent for curries, stir frys, omelets, scrambles, risotto and browning proteins)
1 large stock or soup pot, with holes in lid for draining
(super for stews, soups, pasta)
Crock pot
(awesome for soups, stews, beans, curries)

For the Indian Red Curry, I used the skillet.

This is what I had on hand:

a few TB of coconut oil
1 cup of red lentils
(red lentils cook differently - and faster - than other lentils, so it's important to choose this particular kind)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed, minced or chopped
(your preference, really, tho I prefer mine crushed as to not waste any of the precious oil)
3/4 of a medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced and then quartered
2 small red potatoes, chopped the same size as the carrot
1 cup cauliflower florets
(I had a bit of a head leftover, so I just chopped up what I had to match the size of the other veggies... more or less won't matter with any of these ingredients)
2-4 cups of water
several TB of red curry paste
(I buy this at specialty international/Asian/Indian grocery stores in bulk and keep refrigerated. This lasts a long time and makes preparing these dishes simple)
1 cup Brown Basmati rice, cooked

This is what I did:

Sautee garlic in oil for a minute or two, then add onion and stir for a few more minutes.
Add remainder of veggies, stir.
Add 2 of the 4 cups water, stir.
Add lentils, stir.
Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low, stirring occasionally with a rubber or silicone spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the skillet as you go.
As mixture thickens, add the remaining 2 cups of water, a little at a time, and continue to stir occasionally.
After simmering for about 1/2 hour, add curry paste a little at a time, seasoning to taste.
Continue simmering and stirring until the water has been absorbed and both lentils and veggies are soft.
Serve over rice.

If you prefer,
stirring in a bit of sour cream, plain Greek yogurt or any vegan alternative, gives this dish a creamy kick!

For more information on the health benefits of lentils, click on this link:


Monday, November 29, 2010

Pho Soup

I've been sick recently. I had a pretty high fever for a few days, so eating wasn't high on my list of things to do... laying around moaning was. Still, it's important to get good stuff into your system and keep yourself hydrated when it's difficult to keep things down. Sipping on coconut water, miso soup and herbal teas is perfect for that, but when you are starting to feel better, one of the easiest to prepare, simplest to digest and most nutritionally dense things to make, is Pho soup.

What you need:

1 package of rice noodles
(I like Thai Kitchen brand, as it comes in individual packages and includes seasoning)
(good ones to use are kale, cabbage, spinach, scallions, chives, onion, broccoli, carrots, garlic, ginger - any combination of any of these, and others that steam easily)
Nutritional yeast

Make noodles according to directions.
When the noodles are almost done, add your veggies and simmer for a few more minutes.
Pour into a ceramic bowl, sprinkle with nutritional yeast.

Often, since garlic is most potent as a natural infection fighter in its raw form, I'll crush a whole clove or two into the soup at the very end. This will give your soup an extra nutritional boost!

To learn more about the health benefits of garlic, check out this link:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

White Bean, Kabocha and Kale Soup

This is a most wonderful soup recipe that I found online last year. It calls for the highly prized (and difficult to process) Kabocha Squash, a sweet and delicate squash that gives this soup a creamy texture without dairy, grain or added fat. It is worth the trouble of peeling and cubing. The soup is incredibly smooth, naturally vegan and gluten-free, and VERY nutritionally dense. One serving will feed your body well! You may certainly add homemade toasted garlic breadcrumbs or a few shavings of your favorite hard cheese on top (I like Pecorino), but it is still excellent without.


3 cups onion, diced
2 cups celery (including the green tops), diced
2 T. olive oil
2 T. garlic, minced
1 T. ginger, minced
8 cups veggie stock

(I only had 4 cups of veggie broth on hand, so I added 4 cups of water, instead)
6 cups Kabocha squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

(I saved the seeds, rinsed them in a colander, spread them on a cookie sheet, sprinkled them with garlic salt and left them overnight in a 200 degree oven - good snack!)
6 cups kale, destemmed, and roughly chopped

(Use whatever kind of kale you want... I had Dinosaur Kale - also known as Tuscan or Lacinato Kale)
2 t. dried basil
2 t. dried thyme
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 - 15 oz. can baby butter beans, drained, and rinsed
1 - 15 oz. can Great Northern beans, drained, and rinsed

What I did:

In a large pot, saute the onion and celery in olive oil for 5 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, Kabocha squash, kale, basil, thyme, cumin, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the beans and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Salt further, to taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Yields about 3 quarts, which is great for portioning, freezing and enjoying at lunchtime!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ginger Agave Pear Apple Crisp

In Yakima, WA, last month, I had the opportunity to pick some pears and apples with some friends, from a local farm. I ended up with quite a few more than I had intended, but I quickly figured out how to put them to good use and cleaned out my cupboards at the same time! Although I found several recipes online, I strayed from them all, reducing the amount of sugar and substituting some ingredients for others. The first batch was all pears. The second was a combination. I found blueberries in the freezer and added them into the second batch, as well as cut the sugar amounts below, in half again. If the fruit is fresh and sweet, then adding so much extra sugar is unnecessary, but then, I wasn't raised on sugary desserts. Less is more, and that's one reason I prefer agave. It's also easy to make this recipe gluten free by using only gluten free cereal and flour.

Main body:

7-8 pears and/or apples, cored and cubed
1/4 cup of sugar, brown or white
2 good squeezes of agave
2 TB butter, cubed or sliced
1 teaspoon of ginger
2 teaspoons of Cinnamon
a sprinkle or two of cloves

Combine all of this in a big bowl with a silicone or rubber spatula. Spread in lightly greased pan.


6 TB butter, cubed or sliced
1/4 cup sugar, brown or white
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 cup cereal/granola/rolled oats/raw nuts and fruit 

Combine all of this in a big bowl and mix up with a fork, and spoon it over the fruit. 
Flatten it gently with the fork, filling in the spaces.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.
Let cool and serve! 

By the way... This is fantastic with Scoop's Organic Pumpkin or Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crack Open a Coconut!

While a friend was in town, we decided to buy ourselves a coconut and share it. As we waited for the delicious water inside to fill a glass, we wondered about the health benefits of coconut. We knew the oil was good for us... We knew the water was good for us... Who knew the whole thing was good for us?!
SO good!

Here is a list of what we found:

  • Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
  • Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases.
  • Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
  • Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
  • Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
  • Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.
  • Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
  • Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
  • Helps protect against osteoporosis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
  • Improves digestion and bowel function.
  • Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Supports tissue healing and repair.
  • Supports and aids immune system function.
  • Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
  • Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
  • Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant.
  • Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
  • Does not deplete the body's antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
  • Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).
  • Reduces epileptic seizures.
  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.
  • Dissolves kidney stones.
  • Helps prevent liver disease.
  • Is lower in calories than all other fats.
  • Supports thyroid function.
  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
  • Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
  • Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
  • Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
  • Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
  • Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
  • Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
  • Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
  • Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
  • Provides protection form damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation form the sun.
  • Helps control dandruff.
  • Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
  • Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
  • Is completely non-toxic to humans.

    If this does not convince you to RUN to the nearest market and buy yourself a coconut to have on hand for snacking, cooking and drinking, I'm not sure what will!

    For more information on the health benefits of this AMAZING fruit, check these links:

    Now, I'm certainly not suggesting that all you do is eat coconut, but it seems like a welcomed addition to any healthy diet, in moderation. Personally, I only use two oils to cook with; organic extra virgin olive oil and organic extra virgin coconut oil. However, I've rarely taken advantage of the availability of a whole coconut. Drinking the water after a workout and having small chunks for handy snacking, are definitely two ways I will start to use this helpful fruit in my regular diet.

    Also, I learned that since the cavity of the coconut is sterile until opened and mixes with blood easily, it was used during World War II in emergency transfusions! CRAZY AWESOME!