Sacred and Delicious

SACRED & DELICIOUS

Food • Health • Spirituality

Auspicious New Beginnings with Black-Eyed Peas and Greens!

Ask any Southerner how to start the new year in the most auspicious way, and they won’t even blink before naming a bowl of Hoppin’ John or some other version of peas and greens—like this vegetarian Smoky Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Collards! Serving such a dish on New Year’s Day is thought to bring good luck because long ago black-eyed peas reminded someone of coins. The greens are said to bring prosperity because greens are associated with green cash. If you enjoy food history, you can read more about this legend at Southern Living  and Epicurious.

My Smoky Black-Eyed Pea Soup is filling because of the generous proportion of peas, and it is made even more satisfying by the addition of butternut squash, a favorite winter vegetable. If you serve this soup over rice, like a traditional Hoppin’ John, you will need little (if anything!) else at your New Year’s Day table.

How can you make your New Year’s Day even more auspicious? Read More

A Sacred & Delicious Thanksgiving with Fresh Cranberry Salad—Reprised

Vegetarian Thanksgiving. Photo by Roger Winstead.

If you incorporate Ayurveda into your life, you will still be able to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast—in the spirit of Ayurveda. We do this at our house by cooking everything from scratch and, as much as possible, using fresh organic ingredients. Traditional Thanksgiving spices are more than seriously delicious; they naturally balance the qualities of each dish. So, yes, bring on the pumpkin pie because it’s not Thanksgiving without a little splurge! Just make it healthier and tastier for everyone by using fresh pumpkin and unrefined sugar.

But first, there’s the main event. At our table the stars of the menu are all side dishes: sweet potatoes topped with a pound and a half of pecans; cornbread dressing with caramelized onions, shiitake mushrooms, and fresh herbs; my “Elegant Green Beans” with leeks and basil; grilled tofu (for some protein to balance the carbs); and a refreshing cranberry salad. You’ll find recipes for all of these delectable dishes in my book, Sacred & Delicious, scheduled for publication in on June 5, 2018. But today, for you, I’ll share a sneak peek of the cranberry salad recipe.

This recipe is adapted from one shared with me by my brother, who credits the dish to Andrea Amburgey’s Aunt Louise. I’ve updated what was originally a 1960s’ Jello-based recipe, using only fresh fruits and creating a wholesome addition to any Thanksgiving buffet.

Finally, let’s count our many blessings on this special day, including the abundance of nourishing food at our tables. May everyone everywhere—one day soon, in our lifetimes—have enough nourishing food to eat.

Wishing you and your families a sacred and delicious holiday!

Lisa J. Mitchell

PS I first ran this post in 2014, but I’m sharing it again because these are my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, and I cook them annually!

Gentle Detox with Mung Soup (Autumn Reprise)

Many of my blog followers will have seen Vaidya Smita Naram in recent weeks, and her advice to everyone is this: Eat mung soup for a few days each month to help move toxins out of the body, which makes it possible to experience vibrant health! Digestion can be especially challenged when the weather changes, making autumn and spring ideal times to give the stomach a rest. A diet of mung soup for a few days—and up to a week—provides a safe and gentle detox that you can do at home. On a fast of mung soup with vegetables, you’ll never go hungry, and you can detox while carrying on with work and all of life’s many activities.

You can make a simple mung soup with a few spices and serve it with vegetable sides or, as I do, you can cook the soup with vegetables to make it a heartier dish. My preferences are Swiss chard, winter squash, and zucchini.

I like to use a slow cooker, which can be invaluable for vegetarians and omnivores alike. There are, however, a few tricks that make a Crockpot® meal worth savoring. Instead of loading all the ingredients at the beginning of the cooking time—whether that’s before you go to bed or before you leave for work—save a few specific steps for the last hour of cooking:

1. Warm powdered spices such as cumin, coriander, and turmeric in ghee or oil on your stove top and add them to the slow cooker about 15 minutes before serving. (If you leave spices in the cooker for 6 to 8 hours, they can actually burn … says the voice of experience.)

2. Also add any fresh herbs in the last 15 minutes.

3. Steam any vegetables 10 to 15 minutes before finishing the soup—and, to add to the flavor, you can do this with salt, ginger, and (optional) garlic. If you prefer, you can add greens such as kale or chard, in the beginning. Other vegetables, particularly squash or sweet potatoes, tend to get too mushy if cooked all day.

4. If you’re adding chopped onion, about 30 minutes before serving slowly brown the onion in ghee or oil until it caramelizes. (If you use shallots instead, they will brown in 10 minutes.) This additional step will infuse your final dish with a layer of flavor that you just won’t get by cooking onion in water or stock all day.

You can apply these tips when you cook this hearty mung soup recipe, a gussied up version of the classic Ayurvedic dish. I make this hearty soup once a week on an ongoing basis because it helps to keep the digestive system clear. When mung soup is served during panchakarma (Ayurvedic detoxification) programs, it’s very simple: cooked mung beans, salt, bay leaf and a few spices. When I’m cooking at home, I sometimes add onions for extra flavor and I often add vegetables for a more substantial dish. It’s a thick soup so it may suffice for your meal, or you can serve it over quinoa or rice.

Finally, thanks for your patience awaiting new recipes! I’ve been busy readying the manuscript of Sacred & Delicious for publication and will be involved in production through the fall.

In the coming days it will be Halloween, so remember to make a batch of mung soup the next day— particularly if you or your kids eat too much Halloween candy!

Lisa J. Mitchell

Lisa J. Mitchell

 

 

Balance Summer Heat with Vegan Zucchini Soup

Vegan Zucchini Soup with fresh herbs is a perfect side dish that will help cool your metabolism to deal with the heat.  Fresh mint and cilantro are naturally cooling, but if you have an aversion to cilantro you can add a touch of basil or double up on the mint. Cucumbers are also cooling, and they are balanced with a touch of ginger to add a spark of flavor while helping digest the cucumbers. Cucumbers are much easier to digest when peeled and Read More

Gluten-Free Peach Cobbler Makes Summer Complete

Summer holds many joys but few are as divinely delicious as ripe southern peaches in a peach cobbler. Peach pie is also a special delight, but cobbler is so much simpler to make.

Peach cobbler is not such a far cry from traditional Ayurvedic cuisine as you might think. As with all food in the Ayurvedic model, cooked fruit is preferred to raw. And I make this dish with unrefined sugar, as do traditional Ayurvedic cooks when making sweets. Read More

Adapting Mexican Food for the Ayurvedic Diet

By popular request I’m posting my recipe for refried beans, which I use as the protein base for Mexican-style burritos (or tostadas) stuffed with sweet potatoes, red peppers and zucchini. No cheese or tomatoes for me, and just a hint of poblano pepper, but I’m happy to use plenty of homemade guacamole!

Who said that following an Ayurvedic diet requires eating Indian food every day? If you love Indian food, go for it! But if you don’t like it much at all, you can easily apply the core principles of Ayurveda to every cuisine, including Mexican food. In my book Sacred & Delicious, and on this blog, I offer many examples of how to balance your favorite foods to keep your body in balance. Read More

Spring Delight: Asparagus Pilaf with Quinoa or Millet

It’s still spring so I’m not quite done with asaparagus! I present to you asparagus pilaf cooked two ways, both gluten-free. I’ve tried this recipe with quinoa and millet. Each dish is satisfying enough for a light meal, while they both work well as appetizing side dishes.

This pilaf is a colorful addition to the Passover table or Easter celebration. And a happy invitation to my observant Jewish readers—no guilt necessary! The rabbis have given their blessings to quinoa during Passover, and millet may not be far behind. Read More

Chickpea Soup (or Stew) with Bonus Digestion Tips!

Although it’s officially spring, some chilly days and freezing nights are still ahead, but you can stay warm with a hearty chickpea soup—or make it a stew with a little less liquid. This is a very easy recipe that can be made in less than an hour if you use a slow cooker or pressure cooker. It’s also very filling and can serve as a one-dish meal.

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, have a number of health benefits. They are an excellent source of vegetarian protein, and they help regulate appetite and blood sugar. High in fiber and antioxidants, they support the digestive tract, cardiovascular health and general well-being.

All legumes can be difficult to digest because they greatly increase vata, the quality of air—which, of course, can be an ongoing source of table humor! But you can dine with friends on a pot of beans minus the embarrassment if you follow these few tips for digesting legumes:

  1. Always soak the beans in cold water for eight hours before cooking them.
  2. Cook beans until they are completely tender.
  3. Use one pinch of asafetida per cup of dried beans (also spelled asafoetida, and called hing in India). The asafetida typically sold in Indian grocery stores is cut with wheat, but you can now purchase gluten-free asafetida online.
  4. Add a generous amount of fresh ginger and garlic to increase agni, your digestive power.

Stay warm with this delectable and satisfying Chickpea Soup or Stew during these final cold days of spring!

Lisa J. Mitchell

SAFE & EASY WEIGHT LOSS WITH AYURVEDA

“I lost 31 pounds over the past year, and I’m feeling terrific!” says Debby W., a Raleigh resident who first started seeing Dr. Tom Mitchell for a pinched nerve and later for chronic pain. After these issues were successfully resolved, Debby was open to meeting with Vaidya Smita Naram for a broader health assessment  during her first visit to Raleigh in March 2016. Vaidya Naram is a world-renowned pulse master and Ayurvedic physician.

“I was absolutely amazed at what Vaidya Naram told me in that first meeting,” Debby says. “She was right on the money identifying the existing conditions that I know I have just from taking my pulse, but she astounded me with other unexpected recommendations. She suggested that I was prediabetic and needed to eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar from my diet. Dr. Mitchell followed up with comprehensive blood testing to get a complete picture. It turns out that I am indeed prediabetic. However, with nutritional counseling and supplementation from Vaidya Naram and Dr. Mitchell, I have already seen a normalization of my plasma glucose levels and my cholesterol. WooHoo!

“I lost 14 pounds during the first six weeks when I began following the dietary recommendations and taking some Ayurvedic supplements,” Debby continues, “but I do not feel deprived at all!”

Debby is not a vegetarian, but she started eating more fresh fruit and vegetables along with lean meat and fish for protein. She happily reports that giving up the foods that contributed to chronic pain and becoming prediabetic has been well worth the effort.

“People are always saying, ‘Don’t you miss eating gluten, dairy and sugar?’ and my answer is ‘no!’ I’m completely satisfied with my meals. I snack on fruit, nuts and almond butter—which is absolutely delicious. I have so much more energy and a positive outlook for my health in the future.  Growing older does not equate to lethargy and weight gain. We have a choice!”

If you’d like to experience a consultation with Dr. Mitchell and Vaidya Smita Naram, call 919-785-2200 and begin your safe weight-loss program. Vaidya Naram is in Raleigh for a pulse assessment clinic Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5.  Prior to Raleigh, she will be in clinics in Manhattan, Edison, N.J., and Syracuse, NY. If you wish to schedule an appointment in New York, go to http://ayushakti.eu/ayushaktiusa.com/index.html.

Looking for ways to add more vegetables to your diet? You’ll find many easy and delicious vegetarian dishes right here at the Sacred & Delicious blog—all gluten and dairy-free, and rarely any sugar!

Always keeping your best health in mind!

Lisa J. Mitchell

 

Sweet Potato Hash: Healthy Comfort Food

If  you love sweet potatoes, I have good news for you, along with an easy and oh-so-delicious Southern-style recipe! And in case you’ve been following my blog and wonder why I cook with so many sweet potatoes, here’s one reason why: according to Ayurveda, sweet potatoes are one of the best foods for grounding high vata — that light, airy, buzzing energy that you feel when life is moving just a little too fast. Read More