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Archive for the ‘Seasonal Tips & Recipes’ Category

Golden Squash Soup

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

This is a perfect recipe to celebrate the abundance of the late summer season. Icreated it for the web site worldshealthiestfoods.com. Enjoy!

Prep and cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into about ½ inch pieces, (about 3 cups)

1 large onion, chopped

3 medium cloves garlic, chopped

1 TBS chopped fresh ginger

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp curry powder

2 ¾ cups + 1 TBS chicken or vegetable broth

6 oz canned coconut milk

2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro

salt & white pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Peel squash and cut into pieces.
  2. Heat 1 TBS broth in medium soup pot. Sauté onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent.  Add garlic, ginger, and continue to sauté for another minute. Add turmeric, curry powder, and mix well. Add squash and broth, and mix. Bring to a boil on high heat. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered until squash is tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Place in blender and blend with coconut milk. Make sure you blend in batches filling blender only half full. Start on low speed, so hot soup does not erupt and burn you. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Thin with a little broth if needed. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Reheat, and add cilantro.

Serves 4-6

Springing Forward

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

It has been a monumental winter for me. I am sure it has been for you as well. We are all growing, healing, reckoning, reclaiming, regrouping at a depth, and pace that makes our hair blow, and our eyes tear as we gulp, hang on, and go for the ride of all rides. It is a very exciting time.

Spring can be a very powerful ally in this growth spurt we are going through. Or it can drop you to your knees in frustration, anger, resignation and depression. How we walk through spring at this time, 2011, seems very significant to me.

We are going through a collective cleanse of negative energy that will keep us from moving into the higher frequency necessary for the transition into a more life affirming existence in our world.

We are being asked to embrace our true nature, rise to the task of committing to become who we each were uniquely designed to be, and contribute our gifts to our world, no matter what they may look like.

We are being asked to let go of old wounding that keeps us hooked into our anger and victim mentality.

These are all physical, emotional, and spiritual qualities that relate to the spring season and the organs, liver and gallbladder.

Use this spring wisely. It could be crucial for you. Care for yourself. Align with this season so it can support you through these transformative times. Love, gently cleanse, and nourish your liver and gallbladder to start with, and embrace this season as an ally that can support you.

Use the spring plants that are naturally coming into season in your environment. There is a reason they are showing up now. They cleanse and build your liver naturally without harsh artificial cleansing methods that can be damaging to your body. And remember to be kind to yourself, you are worth it.

Nettle & Sweet Potato Soup

Prep and cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 inch fresh ginger, chopped

4 medium cloves garlic, chopped

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, diced in ½ inch cubes

3 cups fresh chopped nettle leaves, rinsed,

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

salt and white pepper to taste

Nettle & Sweet Potato Soup Directions

Sauté ginger and onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring frequently.  Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute. Add broth, and bring to a boil on high heat.

Once it comes to a boil reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered for another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 more minutes.

Add rest of ingredients and cook another 5 minutes. If you simmer for a longer time before adding greens for extra flavor and richness, add a little more broth.

Serves 4

Cooking Tips: This soup can be made with other wild spring greens as well, such as dandelion, lamb’s quarters in late spring, yellow dock, chicory, etc. You can also add ramps, wild garlic for extra flavor. Play with this recipe, it is flexible and a great early spring cleansing soup. Also, this soup is better after it has had a chance to sit for awhile.

Wild Green Wild

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

It is showing early signs of spring with little shoots peaking out of the surface of the Earth’s crust. It has inspired me to share this spring piece with you and possibly inspire you for the forthcoming new season.

Wild Green Wild

Once a dear friend and I were the only humans living on the peak of a certain mountain in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Our neighbors were the plants and animals on 250 acres, sprawling in every direction. I spent most of my time wandering around every rock, creek and path as far as I could travel by foot. The mountain became my mother, friend and teacher.  She nourished me on many levels.

Every spring the mountain woke from her winter slumber, slowly at first, a stretch, a yawn, a warm day followed by a week of snow. Then another warm day. Eventually the snow ceased and the warmth increased. The mountain vibrated with awakening energy rising from her depths.

Within a matter of weeks, she went from deep sleep to ecstatic expression of brilliant color, bursting with flaming orange and yellow azaleas, pink mountain laurel, sassafras, dogwood and redbud blossoms. Suddenly, young violets covered the ground, their new light-green foliage sprinkled with small lavender blossoms. The bears, mountain lions, snakes and cardinals became visible once again and reclaimed their grocery store.

I gathered the precious leaves of the young violets and blossoms for my wild, green salads. I combined them with tender dandelion leaves, cochani, purslane, chickweed and the watercress growing by the streams. These wild greens vibrated with the energy—the same spring energy that was surging through me and the mountain, a force of creation and self-expression that didn’t know the meaning of holding back.

The mountain wore her brilliantly colored spring blossoms like a maiden on fire with desire. Her ecstatic presence permeated with scents, beauty, nourishment, wisdom and creative energy.

The spring wind picked up and caressed me gently as it brushed across my cheeks, my body, awakening every cell to the energy of new life, pulsing with potential, asking to create a new beginning.

The wind knew when to gently waft across my skin to get my attention. At times it ravaged me like a forgotten lover reclaiming its place. My hair blew, my eyes watered, and I, too, awoke with desire from a long sleep.

If I hadn’t aligned with the previous season, making my peace with the stillness of winter, then this rising life force demanding to be expressed would turn to frustration and anger.  The touch of my breezy lover irritated and annoyed me. I hid inside to get away from him. The fluttering leaves in the trees and plants no longer sounded like music. They became mere noise that I wanted to shut out.

Spring’s life-force energy had been freed, stirred up and ignited. Now it was available to support me in expressing myself more fully during the new year’s cycle. But I had to be prepared to use the natural energy of spring. This is what I learned from that mountain in North Carolina.

Now I support my annual journey by staying in alignment with this energy. When the earth itself is waking, I focus on spring foods and preparations. They will support me to come out, be seen, get active and dance with the world around me with passion, enthusiasm and joy.

As the energy awakens and moves upward and through my body, it can be thwarted. Bringing the young spring greens into my diet will nourish and cleanse my liver and blood. I do this to help the rising life-force energy move freely forward and upward into an expression of who I have become. Tossed with a little lemon juice, these young greens enable my body to get rid of physical and emotional toxins.

Spring is the perfect time of the year to drink a daily tea made of dried dandelion and nettle leaves. These herbs give our body added support for cleansing, building the blood and keeping the energy moving.

Spring is also the best time to enjoy raw or barely cooked vegetables. Quick stir-frying or light-steaming of seasonal vegetables, nourish our energy, moving it closer to the surface of the body when we are more active and outward.

I eat young greens raw or slightly cooked, tossed with fresh lemon juice and a touch of olive oil with a variety of fresh herbs—a delicious and simple way to enjoy these seasonal foods. Add a variety of young sprouts, such as alfalfa or radish. They align us with the energy of new beginnings.  When I’m in sync with this season, I don’t hold back or apologize for who I am any more than my beloved mountain. But I need to get in sync or I feel like a forgotten potted plant left to die of thirst in a dark corner.

Aligning with the energy of the spring season supports the blossoming of my heart and passion as I relate more to the world around me during the summer months. I continue to eat an abundance of greens to keep my rising energy flowing freely throughout the summer.  I nourish my spirit with lover, friends, hikes, gatherings, dance and all my passions.

The wisdom I gained in the stillness of the winter months prepared me for the rising joy in the spring and summer. As the summer months wane I begin my slow return to my inner world. In the early fall I am grateful for the wisdom that has been shared with me. I am ready to let go of what doesn’t support the deep joy when I honor and feel connected to all there is.

Spring Tonic

This is a good tonic that you can drink all through spring. Go out in nature and gather as much of the greens as possible. Not only is this a good liver tonic, but gathering wild greens out in nature gets you in touch with nature’s reflection of spring energy.

2-3 handfuls mixed herbs: parsley, dandelion leaves, mint, chickweed, miner’s lettuce, nettles, plantain.

1 TBS chopped fresh ginger

2 cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.

2 TBS fresh lemon juice.

1-2 TBS honey

2 cups water

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until leaves are liquefied. Allow to stand for an hour or more and strain. Discard the solids and drink the refreshing liquid.

Holiday Recipe

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Roast Wild Duck Breasts with Pomegranate-Chile Sauce

You can make this sauce and serve it with any roasted bird. Please make sure it is organic, and humanely raised, or wild. Delicious served with mashed potatoes.

ingredients

Sauce:

1/3 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup water

2 cups plain, unsweetened pomegranate juice (such as Pom)

2 cups low-salt chicken broth

4 large dried California chiles,* stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo** (very hot, optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin (not toasted)

Mineral salt and white pepper to taste

Duck:

8 5-to 6-ounce boneless duck breast halves, skin and fat trimmed to size of breast

Coarse kosher salt

Ground coriander seed

Fresh pomegranate seed

preparation

For sauce:
Stir raw sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil until syrup is deep amber color, swirling pan occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add juice, broth, and California chiles. Boil until sauce is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Puree in tightly covered blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Whisk in adobo sauce, vinegar, and cumin. Season to taste with generous amount of coarse salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat before using.

For duck:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Score skin of duck (don’t cut into flesh) with 5 cuts in 1 direction; repeat in opposite direction, making diamond pattern. Sprinkle duck all over with coarse salt, pepper, and ground coriander. Place 2 large ovenproof skillets over medium-high heat. Add duck, skin side down, to skillets, dividing equally. Cook duck until skin is crisp and deep brown, about 7 minutes. Turn duck over; cook 1 minute. Pour off fat. Transfer skillets to oven. Roast duck until cooked to medium rare, about 5 minutes.

Transfer duck to cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes. Thinly slice each breast crosswise on slight diagonal. Arrange slices on plates. Spoon sauce over. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Hot-and-Sour Pumpkin Soup

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Great seasonal recipe for moving things through the body and supporting your fall letting go.

Happy Samhain!

yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings, or about 10 cups

Active time: 40 min Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (3-lb) sugar or cheese pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)

1 cup dry white wine

2 qt vegetable stock

6 lemongrass stalks (bottom 5 inches only), coarsely chopped

1 (1-inch) piece galangal (thawed if frozen), peeled and coarsely chopped

3 to 5 fresh (1 1/2-inch) Thai chiles or 2 fresh jalapeño chiles, trimmed and coarsely chopped (seed chiles if a milder flavor is desired)

4 kaffir lime leaves (fresh or frozen)

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup Asian fish sauce

Cook onion, garlic, and ginger in 1 tablespoon oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Add pumpkin and wine and boil, uncovered, until wine is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Stir in stock and simmer, covered, until pumpkin is tender, about 20 minutes.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté lemongrass, galangal, and chiles to taste, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Purée pumpkin mixture in batches (use caution when blending hot liquids) and return to pot. Stir in lemongrass mixture, lime leaves, lime juice, and fish sauce.It’s true what they say. Embrace and share the feelings that arise in a creative way, put it into art, honor it, and it shifts. I love it. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Pour soup through a sieve, discarding solids, and season well with salt and pepper.

Optimum Cooking Methods for Fall

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Fall is the beginning of our energy’s movement inward. It is the time of year when produce that is in season requires a longer period of cooking compared to the foods of summer that can be eaten raw or quickly cooked.

The weather is cooling down, and we naturally want to begin making soups or oven and stovetop braised stews, etc, with the root crops and cold-weather greens that are in season. It is the time when oven-roasted meats are appropriate. Not only does this warm our body, it warms our home which we naturally avoided in the summer months, but welcome in the fall.

These cooking methods bring warmth into our body so our life force is not consumed trying to stay warm. It is the season when we dry, can, and store foods from our harvest for winter. These methods of preservation have a warming effect energetically, making these foods appropriate for the colder months.

I am enjoying the fall harvest and the bounty of sweet potatoes and butternut squash from my garden. So I am making soups in various forms with these ingredients and putting some away for winter. Here are some suggestions from the fall harvest for soups, etc. The sweetness of the squash and potatoes go nicely with the pungent spices and support the lungs and colon. This is the season to do a gentle colon cleanse, so these dishes lend themselves to supporting this.

*Cubed butternut squash and sweet potato with red and white kidney beans, onion, garlic, roasted poblano chilis, cumin, coriander, oregano, cilantro, veg stock. Makes a great autumn soup.

*Pureed soup of butternut squash with onion, garlic, spice grind of fennel seed, cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, salt and white pepper.

*Roasted butternut squash and sweet potato with fennel bulb as a side dish

Fall, Honoring, Letting Go

Monday, October 4th, 2010

We are obviously going through a collective transformation. Our lack of respectful relationship with our physical world has hit a critical stage. For some it has been a catalyst for an awakening and are taking steps to rectify this. I’m one of the many who have discovered this is as a life path. The movement in this direction is gaining momentum at an exciting pace. Being a part of this transformation and finding our gifts that contribute to this momentum is an exhilarating honor.

Believe it or not we have support in how to navigate this deep transformation from the very being we are trying to save. Our Mother Earth. Nature goes through a life, death, rebirth transformation every yearly cycle in an intelligent way that supports the continuation of life, and evolution. This is not news to most. However, what many are just beginning to realize in the modern world is that our human journey is a self similar reflection of this natural process, not just as a physical being who is born, lives and dies, but as a spiritual being who is growing as well. When we align with it in how we live, eat and think our physical, emotional AND spiritual growth is supported by an immensely intelligent Divine being. Maybe our Mother really does know what she is talking about.

So how does this relate to our daily lives in a practical way that we can wrap ourselves around and put into practice? A basic step toward aligning with this natural map for transformation is to eat organically grown seasonal local foods with appropriate cooking methods. These foods embody the energetic qualities for aligning with this natural seasonal energetic wave of transformation where we live.

Natural seasonal local foods support us to go inward when nature does, come out when nature does, let go of what no longer serves us, use it as compost, just as nature does, reap our harvest as a result of it, rebuild, reflect and spring forward with a new awareness of who we are while honoring the process of life continuing as a result of a death of some kind. Whether it be the death of an old belief system, the death of a cycle in our life, the death of a plant or animal to nourish us so we can take this journey, or the eventual death of our body.

The collective transformation we are going through now is creating the death of a massive societal set of beliefs and actions. We can let go of these old beliefs and naturally evolve to a higher consciousness in which to build a modern society that aligns with our natural world–the world that is already here, waiting for us to honor enough to actually live by her wisdom. This does not mean we all need to retreat to the woods and darn our skids. This energetic flow is available, accessible and applicable everywhere.

Natural seasonal, local foods are being harvested not only on rural farms, but inner city community lots. Local farmers markets are cropping up in communities of all sizes. The energy around this is building at a rapid pace that is awesome. Preserving local foods in ways that support the warming of our body in the colder months instead of eating the same foods grown in the opposite hemisphere and shipped will support us to stay aligned with the energetic qualities of the current season.

In the Taoist 5 Element System fall is a time for letting go after the harvest of the previous cycle and prepare ourselves to enter the winter months. When we can trust this process we can receive the gifts waiting for us in the winter months. When we can honor all the seasons of the year and our life the ride is much more enjoyable.

When we honor the Earth and eat the foods according to her wisdom we embody her wisdom. That is when we can honor our own body’s wisdom enough to trust it to know what it needs when regardless of what the latest diet trend is.

When we are aligned with the current of the Earth’s natural creative energy we can let go and trust the current to carry us through this cycle. We just have to show up and allow. We can enjoy the journey with all it’s flavors.

Fall Tonic

Friday, October 1st, 2010

This is a fall tonic I created that my students fell in love with. I was lucky enough to be able to gather the herbs in the wild and use lemon verbena from my garden, which brought a powerful wild life force to the tonic. Combine dried herbs and flax seeds. Store dried herb mixture in a glass jar with tight-fitting lid. Make an infusion steeped with boiled water for a cup of tea. One or two cups of this tea a day supports you during the fall months. It is in my book, “Divine Nourishment.”

1 cup Nettles

1 cup Goldenrod

1/2 cup Lemon Verbena/or Lemon Balm

1/2 cup Mugwort

1 cup Mullein

1/4 cup Flax Seed

Nettles — Enriches liver yin, nourishes and cleanses the blood, relieves fatigue, regulates metabolism, restores adrenals and thyroid, restores lungs, promotes expectoration, relieves coughing, promotes detoxification, clears eczema, reduces tumors, dissolves deposits and stones. Drains fluid congestion in liver and kidneys, relieves edema.

Goldenrod — Relieves chronic skin conditions, resolves toxicosis, nourishes and restores the kidneys, clears bladder and kidney damp heat, reduces intestinal infections.

Lemon Verbena —  Supports digestion, lemon flavor nourishes the liver.

Mugwort — Supports the movement of stuck energy, tonifies chi, stimulates digestion, drains fluid congestion, promotes sweating, dispels wind damp/cold, clears damp heat, reduces inflammation and clears intestinal parasites.

Mullein — Nourishes lung yin, moistens dryness, relieves coughing, promotes expectoration, resolves phlegm, circulates lung chi, clears damp heat, clears toxic heat, removes lymph congestion and benefits the skin

Flax Seed — Strong source of omega-3, anti-oxidant, supports the intestines to cleanse and matter to slide through.

Figs

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I love Figs. They are hard to improve upon, so I keep my preparations simple. Following are two simple ways I prepare fresh figs when I am blessed enough to have them.

1. Cut your fresh figs in half lengthwise. Top them with a small dollop of chevre goat cheese and put them on the grill skin side down for just a couple minutes. They cook fast and the cheese softens quickly if you put the lid on the grill. A little fresh thyme mixed in with the goat cheese is a nice addition. Serve immediately.

2. Place about 1 1/2 cups sweet Marsala wine in a pan with a sweetener of your choice. I don’t like foods real sweet, so I go light. Simmer for about 5 minutes uncovered. Turn off heat and place about 10 fresh figs cut in half into the sweetened wine, stir and turn off heat. Let them sit in the wine for about an hour or more, stirring gently occasionally to make sure they are all getting coated. Remove figs with a slotted spoon and reduce liquid to a syrup. You can serve the figs alone drizzled with the syrup or over something like vanilla ice cream drizzled with syrup. Very simple, very delicious.

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Wild Mushrooms

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

This is a wonderful fall recipe that I love and wanted to share with you.

Ingredients

For brussels sprouts

  • 3 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For shallots
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lb large shallots (about 6), cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and separated into rings (2 1/2 cups)
  • For mushrooms
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 1/4 lb mixed fresh wild mushrooms such as chanterelle and oyster, trimmed, quartered if large
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water

Preparation

Roast brussels sprouts:
Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.

Toss Brussels sprouts with oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, then spread out in 1 layer in 2 large shallow baking pans (17 by 12 inches). Roast, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through roasting, until tender and browned, 25 to 35 minutes.

Saute’ shallots while brussels sprouts roast:
Saute’ shallots in 3 batches, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per batch (watch closely, as shallots can burn easily). Quickly transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, spreading in a single layer. (Shallots will crisp as they cool.) Pour off oil from skillet (do not clean).

Sauté mushrooms and assemble dish:
Heat olive oil, then sauté mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 7 minutes.

Add wine, thyme, salt, and pepper and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 2 minutes. Add water (1/2 cup) and simmer. Transfer to a serving dish and stir in Brussels sprouts. Sprinkle with shallots and serve.

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