Category Archives: General

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Seven-Minute Sides: Sautéed Asparagus

Need a quick side dish to finish off a meal with perfection? Enter sautéed asparagus, my favorite side to accompany almost any menu. It comes in especially handy when you’re making a complex main dish that is time-consuming and you need an easy recipe to complete the meal.

With organic asparagus still in abundance around much of the country, I’m offering this recipe as a follow-up to last month’s asparagus soup. Asparagus complement many menu centerpieces, from legumes, vegetable entrées and casseroles to more omnivorous fare. You can add asparagus to a salad for panache. Surprise your beloved with asparagus in a goat-cheese or all-veggie sandwich.

I call this recipe a seven-minute side,* but if you buy pencil-thin asparagus they will cook in three minutes! If you buy the extra-thick stalks, the dish could take as long as 10 minutes, but that’s prep to plate.

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Welcome Spring with Asparagus Soup

Magnificent spring! O, how we welcome your abundant blessings! For my toast to spring I offer you, dear readers, this easy asparagus soup recipe, a sneak-peek from Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook.  It’s still cool enough during these early spring nights to enjoy the warmth of  a delicate vegetable soup, though this is one of the few vegetable soups that I also enjoy at room temperature on a warm day.

When I initially crafted this recipe, my intention was to make a creamy soup, but the asparagus smelled so good before I added milk that I served it dairy-free and have ever since.  If you love dairy and are able to digest it, you can certainly add some real cream, say 1/4 to 1/2 a cup. Or add a swirl of whole coconut milk for a sensual flourish when you serve the dish to your grateful guests.

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Holiday Sweet Potatoes with Glazed Pecans

Photo by Roger Winstead

There are few things more Southern than sweet potatoes and pecans — pronounced pee-cans, where I come from (and that’s with an emphasis on the first syllable). I dreamed up this recipe about 25 years ago, and the dish immediately became my holiday tradition, replacing my mother’s tried-and-true sweet potatoes with pineapple and marshmallows. As I began cleaning up my diet, I made only minor changes to improve how this healthy comfort food affects how I feel.  I switched from using butter to ghee, still delicious but without the dairy reaction. And I replaced brown sugar with coconut sugar.

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Slow Cooker Mung Soup with Vegetables

Even though it was 84 degrees in parts of North Carolina this week, the word is out that the North winds are headed our way.  By the weekend much of the country will be under the spell of an autumn chill. What better time to pull out the slow cooker and start a lovely pot of soup? (In case you’re not familiar with the term “slow cooker,” you may know of it by the original manufacturer’s name: Crockpot® or the new hit, Instant Pot.

A slow cooker can be invaluable for vegetarians and omnivores alike, but it helps to know a few tricks that make a  slow cooker meal worth savoring.

Instead of loading all of the ingredients into the cooker before bedtime (or in the morning before leaving for work), save the real flavor-makers for when you get home:

1. Sauté dried spices such as cumin, coriander and turmeric in ghee or oil on your stove-top before adding these ingredients to the slow cooker. If you leave spices in the cooker for 6 to 8 hours, they can actually burn … says the voice of experience.

2. If you cook soups and stews with onions, slowly brown the onions in ghee or oil until they caramelize (20 to 30 minutes). This additional step will infuse your final dish with a layer of flavor that you just won’t get by cooking onions in water or stock all day.

3. Add fresh herbs the last 15 minutes before serving so that they don’t over-cook.

4. To keep vegetables flavorful, steam them 10 to 15 minutes before finishing the soup with salt, ginger and garlic, if you eat garlic.

So, you may ask,  what DO you leave in a slow cooker all night or day?  Legumes!

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 dish 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.  That describes the base of my soup recipe, one I modeled after a recipe I learned from Dr. Smita Naram, a renowned Ayurvedic pulse master, a pharmacologist and… an excellent cook! She created many delicious recipes  for a successful restaurant in the panchakarma clinic she founded with her husband, Pankaj Naram, outside Mumbai, India.

When I’m cooking for our regular diet at home,  I like to add onions for extra flavor and 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.

With Halloween approaching this evening, it’s a great idea to make a batch of mung soup this weekend — particularly if you or your kids eat too much Halloween candy!

Happy eating!

 

 

 

 

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