Sacred and Delicious

SACRED & DELICIOUS

Food • Health • Spirituality

Easy Summer Sides: Yellow Crookneck Squash

Long before the June solstice, summer is heralded by Memorial Day, picnics, backyard barbecues, and abundant yellow crookneck squash. This colorful squash dish with red bell pepper and fresh basil or dill (suit yourself) is great for summer entertaining, and it travels well to a potluck.

I tasted something like this dish once at a potluck supper way back, and of course, since I live in the South, it would have been smothered with cheese. I think this dish proves the winning possibility of creating a casserole without cheese that everyone will still love — Read More

Fun Food: Vegan Asparagus Wraps

You may recall that I promised a new asparagus recipe still in its gestation period. Today I’m delivering it: Vegan Asparagus Wraps. What I love most about these wraps is that, in my humble opinion, they fit into the category of fun foods. Children (or adults) who say they don’t like vegetables may just try something new if it looks like it might be fun to eat—and anything in a wrap looks like it’s hiding a secret treasure.

Cook the asparagus until just tender, and you’ll hear a crunch with every bite, which creates a pleasure sensation. Crunchy food involves all five senses—you see it, smell it, touch it, taste it, and hear it—amplifying the pleasure explosion in your mouth. (For this reason, I suggest that you buy stalks of a medium thickness rather than the pencil-thin spears, which can Read More

Three Asparagus Dishes Beckon Spring to Stay

Despite the dismal weekend forecast, organic asparagus are popping up everywhere in gardens and stores, so what better time to make a steaming pot of Easy Asparagus Soup!

Springtime in the South is such a tease:  it’s 80 degrees in February, and then in April it snows. Or as anticipated on Saturday, there will be rain all day, keeping everyone inside during the first full weekend of April, and then the overnight temperature will dip to a wretched 32. Be strong, beautiful azaleas!

As the days warm up into the 80s here next weekend (and as cities further north and west will at least have a brief respite in the 50s), you might want to try a gluten-free Asparagus Pilaf with Quinoa or Millet or some Quick Sautéed Asparagus.

Enjoy these reprised recipes. In partnership with my publisher, I’ve been working full-time to finish production on my gorgeous new cookbook! I’ll be back with another spring recipe this month, so stay tuned.

Lisa J. Mitchell

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRING ON THE DARK CHOCOLATE FOR VALENTINE’S DAY!

If you love dark chocolate and want to splurge a little for Valentine’s Day, do I have a treat for you and your beloved—perhaps the fudgiest brownies you’ve ever tasted! From a health perspective, the good news is that these are not outrageously sweet compared to standard fare, even though I’m told they are sufficiently decadent to stir the passions of any chocolate lover.

First, let me acknowledge what may be obvious to many readers: chocolate, fudge, and brownies are not part of ancient Ayurvedic cuisine. Nonetheless, I believe in adding some flexibility to my offerings so that
people exploring Ayurveda don’t feel constrained by too much austerity. As one of my Ayurvedic mentors Read More

Mushroom Lentil Soup

With so much cold and flu circulating in every public place at this time of year, I started eyeing the shiitake mushrooms at the grocery store today… and then invoked the Goddess Annapurna to help me create a delicious approach to mushroom soup. This Mushroom Lentil Soup is just that—a dish that’s definitely for mushroom lovers, as it boasts a hearty amount of the immune-boosting shiitakes.

The neutral-flavored red lentils, also known as masoor dal, give the soup substance as well as protein and iron. I use a mixture of traditional Ayurvedic spices (cumin and coriander to balance agni) along with classic American herbs (rosemary and sage), which you might expect to find in a mushroom bisque. You can add a couple of tablespoons or more of wine if you wish—just a little adds a nice dimension to the flavor. Read More

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