Sacred and Delicious

SACRED & DELICIOUS

Food • Health • Spirituality

Archive for the ‘Legumes’ Category

Do you have a plan for the day after Halloween?

If you or your kids plan to eat a lot of Halloween candy, then I highly recommend that you plan a pot of Mung Soup with Vegetables for the day after!

According to Ayurveda, mung beans are one of the healthiest foods on the planet and the  greatest source of vegetarian protein, because they’re so easy to digest. This soup is made from whole mung beans, which have a scraping action. Translation: eating cooked mung beans will detoxify the body, specifically the colon, liver, kidneys, and the lymph system.

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 and winter squash or a combination of chard, sweet potatoes, 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. If you prefer, and if you have the extra time at home needed to cook the beans in a regular soup pot, you can make this as a one-pot 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 launching
Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook. You can find it at most independent book stores, or they will order it for you if you like supporting your local merchants. You can also find it at Amazon.

Enjoy this Mung Soup recipe every time you need an easy meal…or an easy detox!

Lisa J. Mitchell

 

 

 

Cannellini Summertime

A few days ago my husband, Tom, walked into the kitchen and asked if we had any white beans. I thought What on earth for? and then, more politely, asked, “Why?”

“Thought I’d make some white bean hummus.” He smiled and assured me he’d get it started after golf, despite a 2:00 p.m. tee time. Although he has created some great dishes, this was not going to happen, I knew.

I said, “What if I make it instead?” Ask and ye shall receive! I must say, though, that it 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

Best-Tasting Gluten-Free Pastas

20160722_213639(2)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 Read More

Warm Up with Winter Soups and Diverse Spices

Baby, it’s cold outside for Southerners — and it’s the perfect time for cooking something hot and hearty like a Bean soup crop 1flavorful Italian bean soup with greens and sun-dried tomatoes. Twenty-eight degrees and freezing rain pelted the Raleigh/Durham area and much of the East Coast Friday, and it’s snowing again today as I write. No complaints here, though. Grateful for our good fortune to still have power, I have taken pleasure in creating an updated version of a familiar bean soup. Read More

Welcome the New Year with Gourmet Black-Eyed Peas, Greens, Winter Squash and Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

Stuffed Chard2Black-eyed peas and greens share a long tradition in the South as  the New Year’s culinary messengers of  abundance. Being a Southern Jewish foodie, I’m proud to offer this uniquely gourmet approach to an old classic!

If you’re looking for an elegant entrée to impress vegetarian or omnivorous guests on New Year’s Day, try stuffing blanched red chard leaves with home-made black-eyed pea pâté and roasted winter squash; then smother the chard rolls with a luscious white wine shiitake mushroom sauce. Read More

Slow Cooker Mung Soup with Vegetables

Mung soup with veggies

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®.)

A slow cooker can be invaluable for vegetarians and omnivores alike, but it helps to know a few tricks that make a  Crockpot® 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! (And, if you’re eating animal protein, then meats will safely cook all day in the Crockpot®.)

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, near 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!

Lisa J. Mitchell

 

SLOW COOKER MUNG SOUP WITH VEGETABLES

Preparation time: About 45 minutes active. Start to finish 5 to 8 hours.
Serves 6 to 8 depending on serving size

I prefer this soup cooked all day in a slow cooker, but you can certainly cook the beans in a pressure cooker in about 30 minutes. If you cook the beans in a regular pot on the stove, they will cook in 60 to 90 minutes, depending on altitude and climate.

2 cups whole green mung beans
8 to 10 cups water
1 large fresh bay leaf or 3 curry leaves
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
1 small onion, preferably sweet (optional)
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 pinch asafoetida powder (optional)
1 bunch chard, spinach or kale
1 small to medium sweet potato
1 large zucchini or yellow squash
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 to 2½ teaspoons Light Grey Celtic Sea Salt
1 medium garlic clove, pressed (optional)
½ cup freshly chopped cilantro
Lime wedges

Cook’s Tip: Asafetida purchased at Indian grocers is cut with wheat. However, gluten-free asafoeteda is now available online.

1. Rinse the beans, strain them and place them in a slow cooker with water and the bay leaf. Turn the cooker to the high setting. Start with 8 cups of water unless you will be away from the cooker for 6 hours or longer; in that case, start with 10 cups of water.  If you are home, you can reduce the heat to low once you see the beans start to split, which will take 4 to 5 hours on high. If you are going to be away from the cooker for 6 hours or longer, start the soup on high for as  long as possible — at least an hour, two hours even better —  before turning it to low. When cooked on high, the soup can be ready in 4 to 6 hours (depending on altitude and climate). When cooked on low, it will take 8 hours or longer.

2. About 45 minutes before serving the soup, prepare the onion.  (If you are omitting the onion, skip to #3 and 4). Chop the onion. In a medium sauté pan, heat oil on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cover until the seeds pop like popcorn. Reduce heat to low or remove the pot from the heat source. Add asafetida (if using) and onions. Once they turn uniformly golden (about 10 minutes), reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking another 20 minutes or so. When they onions are brown and caramelized (but not burned), add the ground spices to the onion mixture and stir for a few seconds. Then pour the mixture into the pot of beans. Ideally, let the spices flavor the soup for at least 5 minutes before serving.

3.  Chop some of your favorite greens, a sweet potato and a zucchini.  Steam them in batches, one batch for each vegetable, and then add that batch to the pot. Steam the potatoes for 10 minutes. Steam the greens for 6 to 8 minutes until tender (longer for kale) and zucchini for 6 to 8 minutes.

4. If you are not using an onion, heat the ghee or oil in a small spouted pot, if possible. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cover until the seeds pop like popcorn. Reduce heat to low or remove the pot from the heat source. Add asafoetida and the ground spices to the ghee, and stir for a few seconds. Then pour the mixture into the pot of beans. Ideally, let the spices flavor the soup for at least 5 minutes before serving.

5. Finish the soup by adding ginger, garlic and salt to taste. Stir well.  Serve each bowl with a small handful of cilantro and a splash of lime.