Sacred and Delicious


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All Things Pumpkin

I love this Spiced Pumpkin Pound Cake. It’s a way to enjoy the holidays without getting a sugar high that’s followed by the inevitable sugar crash! This cake is wonderfully moist but not overly sweet, and it’s won rave reviews wherever I take it.

So, if you want to add something unexpected to a holiday feast, try this gluten- and dairy-free dessert that is sure to please, alongside the traditional pies. We enjoy it plain, but you can dress it up with a sweet glaze or sprinkle some maple sugar crystals on top once it has cooled.

I typically sweeten the batter with coconut sugar, because it has a much lower glycemic index and calorie count than either white sugar or maple sugar. Of course, maple sugar is lighter in color, and for that reason I wish I had baked this cake with the maple for a photo as it would likely be more aesthetically appealing to the American consumer’s eye! Maple sugar has some additional nutrients, compared to coconut sugar, and Ayurvedic expert Dr. Vasant Lad says that maple products (syrup or sugar) are “strengthening.” Here’s more on maple vs. coconut sugar. Either way, you’ll have a delicious cake that won’t last long at your holiday buffet!

If you’re new to the Sacred & Delicious Blog, you can also find some recipes for wonderfully delicious, traditional, healthy Thanksgiving side dishes right here.

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the trauma and deeply troubling problems that millions of Americans face going into this holiday. First, I offer my condolences and join in grief with thousands across California who are suffering from the destruction wrought by the horrifying fires and their aftermath. Thousands more are still recovering from the loss of homes during the devastating hurricane season. For many, such events may preclude the niceties of baking cakes and pies and the joyful cooking of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Still, millions more across our country suffer from chronic unemployment, underemployment, and poverty, finding such festivities impossible unless they are able to get to a soup kitchen. For those of us who are able to revel in the abundance of the holiday season, may we always make space in our hearts and at our tables for those who are less fortunate.

Wishing each of you a sweet Thanksgiving filled with all the traditions that bring you joy!

Lisa J. Mitchell



Preparation time:  About 3.5 hours (1 hour active)
Serves 8 to 12

For the Cake:
4 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin purée from 1 small sugar pumpkin (2-3 pounds)
10 tablespoons ghee
1½ cups sifted Bob’s Red Mill Super Fine Almond Flour
1½ cups oat flour
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine ground Celtic Sea Salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1½ cups coconut sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Glaze: (optional)
1 cup maple sugar crystals
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
2 tablespoons plain unsweetened almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. Remove eggs from the refrigerator 1 hour or more before assembling the cake so they can warm to room temperature.

2. Prepare the pumpkin: Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position, and preheat oven to 425˚F. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Cover the bottom of a 9×12 (or larger) baking dish with a piece of parchment paper. Place the pumpkin halves with the flesh down on the paper, and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until the pumpkin flesh is completely tender when you poke it with a fork. Let it cool. Scoop out the flesh and purée all or part of the pumpkin in a food processor. Check to make sure there are no lumps, and if you find any, pulse again until completely smooth. Move purée to a strainer and strain over a mixing bowl while you’re making the cake batter. (Note: if you skip this step, your cake will be delicious but overly moist.) Measure out 2 cups of purée, and set it aside for the cake.

3. Make the batter: Grease a 10-inch (3 quart) nonstick Bundt or tube pan lightly with ghee. Then lightly flour the pan, inverting it to tap out excess flour. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

4. Whisk together flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

5. Whip the ghee in a separate large mixing bowl with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the eggs, one by one, beating briefly on a low speed after each addition. Add the vanilla, and mix.

6. Using a spatula, fold the pumpkin purée into the egg mixture and stir until completely mixed. Then, fold in the flour and spice mixture. Mix until the batter is just smooth. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

7. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out barely clean. Let cool two hours in the pan; then invert the pan onto a rack and let the cake cool completely before slicing. Cover the cake in a domed container but do not refrigerate. Keeps for three days.

8. Make the maple sugar glaze (optional): Grind maple sugar in Vitamix or professional quality blender to a powdery texture. Combine glaze ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer. Drizzle over a cooled cake. Let the glaze set at least 30 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Tip:  Bake the pumpkin the day before.

Ayurvedic Notes: Almond and oat flour have some additional nutritional value (compared to gluten-free mixes) and both are easy to digest. Both do, however, increase kapha somewhat, as will sugar of any kind. As mentioned above, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index and calorie count than maple sugar, but maple is said by Ayurveda to be strengthening to the body. Pumpkin is fine for all doshas, in moderation, as are the spices, making this a good dessert choice on occasion. This cake is made with almond milk as a dairy substitute, as milk and eggs are considered an unhealthy combination. Without the glaze, this is also a low-sugar recipe, making it a fine dessert when eaten in moderation.  Enjoy it with the glaze for a special occasion!








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!

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

Holiday Sweet Potatoes with Glazed Pecans

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).  Put them together for a holiday meal and you have a little taste of heaven!

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. Read More


Preparation time: 10 minutes active. Start to finish: 40 minutes to 1 hour
Enough stock for two soup recipes

EditedSoupStockPotThis easy vegetable stock has a gentle flavor but it adds depth to any recipe—including summer soups! Please note that I specify Light Grey Celtic Sea Salt, which is a large, unrefined granule. Read More