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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 —

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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

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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 often says,

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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.

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Auspicious New Beginnings with Black-Eyed Peas!

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 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 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?

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Fresh Food Thanksgiving with Cranberry Salad

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 October 16, 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!

 

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Best-Tasting Gluten-Free Pastas

I’m delighted to say that the gluten-free industry is creating some better-tasting, better-for-you pastas nowadays, and this summer pasta recipe features organic chickpea spaghetti.

Both the chickpea pasta and red lentil spaghetti made by Explore Cuisine™ hold up well, without turning to mush. As important, a two-ounce serving of either product has 11 grams of protein, a plus for gluten-free vegetarians. If you’re like me and you feel better with more protein and fewer carbs, you can add some grilled tofu to the recipe. As for the vegetables, you can substitute the listed ingredients with whatever

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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

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Spring Delight: Asparagus Pilaf

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.

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Seven-Minute Sides: Smoky Greens

A pot of fresh greens is so quick and easy to make! It’s the perfect side dish to a cool summer soup, a quinoa salad, or some Southern black-eyed peas. Greens are always ideal when your priority is easy cooking with a dash of healthy and delicious.

I was inspired to make this dish when one of my husband’s patients brought us a large bag of beet greens right out of her garden, but you can also use a bunch of kale or chard, though kale will take an extra 10 minutes to cook. I suggest  6 to 10 large leaves per person, at least, since they will reduce to a small serving after cooking.

You can use any type of seasoning, but a good artisan salt like Salish Alderwood Smoked Salt transforms an ordinary dish into gourmet food. If you crave a little heat, add some fresh ginger. If

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