Hot Spicy Black Bean Soup for a Cold Day

Black beans

Black beans

Fresh cilantro

Fresh cilantro

Blood oranges

Blood oranges

image

I have written, before, about the fabulous home-smoked chipotle peppers given to me by a friend and grown by another friend in Truro. These babies pack a powerful supply of heat, so much that one teeny pepper, soaked in hot water (the smoking process turns a fresh jalapeno pepper into a dried pepper) AND with the seeds removed, brought heat to a whole big pot of soup! But luckily for those of you who might make this soup, the available canned chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, while still scorching hot, don’t get me wrong, might not be as hot as these. Still, start with only one to see….
I added blood orange segments as a nod to the original Brazilian Black Bean Soup I used to make from Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, (hers had oranges in it) plus to tone down the heat. It came out delicious.

This recipe just happens to be vegan and Gluten free. It’s funny that most things I make are gluten-free, without even trying, except when it comes to baking, but that’s a story for another day.

I made this soup a couple weekends ago on a very cold day, and I couldn’t remember whether I used roasted diced sweet potato or roasted butternut squash! So I went back to my photos and pictures of both were in close proximity to my soup photos. Are you kidding? Well, I determined that one could use either and either would be fine, although I did use the butternut squash. I think.

Vegan Hot Black Bean Soup
Ingredients:
3-4 Cups cooked black beans*

1 T grapeseed oil

1 medium Onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves or more

1 T cumin seeds

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, diced into cubes, and roasted** (or a large sweet potato, peeled and diced and roasted or steamed would be totally delish too!)

1 dried chipotle pepper, soaked in hot hot (or boiling) water for about 20 min, then seeds removed OR one small chiptole pepper in adobo sauce (use the sauce! it’s a great flavor)
several blood oranges, peeled, the white pith removed somewhat (don’t stress over this; it doesn’t really matter!)

stock or the cooking liquid from the black beans, about 4 cups (one container full of vegetable stock from Trader Joe’s could work if you buy canned beans instead of cooking the beans from dry.)

chopped cilantro, about 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on how much you like it!

I soaked a whole mess of black beans overnight and then drained, rinsed and added a few cups of water (more than enough to cover the beans), brought that to a boil and then covered and simmered for a few hours. I added a piece of Kombu (seaweed) for flavor but mostly it’s supposed to help the beans be more digestible and produce less gas and PLUS it’s a superfood in itself, full of minerals we don’t get elsewhere.

So, if you aren’t up for cooking your own beans and want to buy organic canned beans, that is perfectly fine; personally, I drain and rinse canned beans so I can better adjust the salt content myself.

After the beans are cooked, I drained them but preserved the cooking liquid to add as stock to the soup. Saute the chopped onion in grapeseed oil (or other neutral cold-pressed vegetable oil) with the whole cumin seeds and the garlic, peeled and chopped. When the onions are cooked through, add them to a blender with about 2/3 of the cooked beans and the chipotle pepper and about 2 cups of the stock (or cooking liquid) and then pour all of that back into the soup pot, adding the rest of the whole cooked beans and the roasted butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. add the orange sections about 30 minutes or so before serving.

**for the butternut squash, you can soak the whole thing in hot water for a while (20 minutes to hours) and then it makes the peeling easier. Peel, discard seeds and chop into bite-sized pieces and place on a pan with some melted coconut oil (I add 1-2 Tablespoons of coconut oil to a jellyroll pan, stick it in the oven that’s been preheated to 350 degrees, and let it melt; it takes minutes.) Then you can roll the squash pieces in the oil to coat and place back in the oven. Turn after 20 minutes for a total of about 45 minutes cooking time. Roasting the squash can be done in advance and even the day before or earlier in the day.

This soup pairs nicely with a green salad with watercress or arugula or some other strong green, plus, of course, a nice crusty bread.

Advertisements

Thin but not Healthy

By the end of this summer, I was the thinnest and also the unhealthiest I have been in a long long time. There. I said it: yes, thinner and unhealthier! To most people, this might seem like a ridiculous paradox. Thin is what everyone (who isn’t and many who are) seems to not only strive for, but equate with good health.
I know that most women would absolutely love to be told that they look skinny or even thinner but I think what irritates me is that I didn’t look great; I just looked thinner! There were lines on my face that weren’t visible before this recent unhealthy weight loss and dark circles under my eyes that also weren’t there before.

It astounds me that, in our culture, the idea of being thin (or even thinner, because I thought I was thin enough to begin with!) is regarded so highly.

Honestly it felt sort of fraudulent to enjoy getting complements: just “you look great!” which is nice, but still…I knew that I had not been eating optimally. I certainly did way less physical exercise and spent so little time on my yoga mat that my body was hurting and stiff and sore. I also felt much less than optimal health because I had let my meditation practice largely lapse. And yet, wow, as a yoga teacher people do stare at your body as part of paying attention to you and the complements poured in because as a society we have been brainwashed into thinking thinner is better.
I am curious about this.
This summer I undertook a crazy work commitment voluntarily and, when the summer started, I had lost a couple pounds in a healthy way due to my own spring cleanse, (clean whole foods and no processed foods or sugar and little dairy and no animal protein; I am Not a grain or gluten-free adherent).
(Hit me up next spring for a chance to do the spring into spring cleanse with me! Ha ha you might lose weight!)
My job this summer was on the Cape, a 2 hour plus drive twice a week; it didn’t allow me time to cook and putter in the kitchen and, being neurotic about what I put into my body, there is very little “on the road” food I want to eat. (How much trail mix can I eat when it’s hot and humid out?) And, it required me to sit for 12 hours at a time starting at 5:30 am which left little or no time for my yoga practice or other exercise. So I consumed copious cups of coffee (a big Shout-Out to 141 Natural Market’s organic cold-brewed iced coffee!) and also succumbed to sugar, which I had almost completely eliminated from my personal menu.
What is the take-away with this? What is my point? Don’t judge a book by its cover. Thin people aren’t necessarily healthier people! I have to admit that I miss the complements and I miss the looseness of my jeans, but I’m back to healthy sitting in meditation and grateful for the time I have to play in my kitchen and create foods I want more of.
So here is one of my creations, easy, delicious:

Black Bean and Shrimp Quesadillas

(Shrimp can be eliminated for those who are vegan or not into eating it.)
raw quesadilla
I can of organic black beans
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled
1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro (more or less to taste; I like a ton!)
Juice of one lime (or more)
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 T cumin seeds *
Sharp Vermont cheddar, shredded (Mexican cojillo cheese would be even better but hard to find!)
Tortillas of your choice (about 3 large or 4 smaller)
2 T grapeseed oil (or any really)
Optional : chopped onion

I keep lots of fresh organic cilantro in my fridge like this:
cilantro in a glass
It is a great liver detoxifyer.

If you don’t have cumin seeds, you can use 1 ½ t cumin powder and add to mixture after it’s cooked; less authentic Mexican taste but fine nonetheless)

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the chopped garlic and cumin seeds and chopped onion; once fragrant, (about 4 minutes) add the black beans and the shrimp and cook until shrimp appear done (only between 5-10 minutes).
shrimp and black beans
Then sprinkle in the chopped cilantro and mix well. Pile into tortillas and sprinkle cheese on top and then press 2nd tortilla on top. In a dry skillet, cook each quesadilla until cheese melts and keep warm (on a 200 ° oven) while the others cook. Serve with Herdez green salsa or any salsa of your choice.

quesadilla

Culling Cookbooks, saying Farewell

I never thought of myself as someone who finds “good-byes” hard, but I do find change difficult, and aren’t they really the same thing?  Moving from a place of comfort to something new and unknown is just like saying good bye.  So instead, Farewell seems more palatable (excusing the pun.)

Because my three sons span a gap of 29 years, I always thought I would not be one of “those” mothers who cried at their youngest one’s graduation or who couldn’t bear the transition of having him leave home. I’ve been doing it full time for almost 30 years, so I am so ready to be free of full-time mothering!! or so I thought…

Recently I got maudlin sorting through (and weeding out) old cookbooks. Gone are the days of the “feeding 5 in under 30 minutes” and shortcut desserts. Now I am a integrative nutritionist: a healthy eating maven and plant-based whole foods clean eating cook; I no longer use any processed “shortcut” foods.

Still, with a mild sadness and sense of loss that I suspect is connected to my youngest son preparing to leave for college, I tried to weed out those old cookbooks. I own quite a large collection of baking cookbooks, quite a few devoted entirely to cookies, to chocolate, to biscotti, pies and tarts; I even have a dessert-only cookbook from the legendary Olives of Boston, now closed.

These sweet-based cookbooks could present a challenge for me, to avoid sugar and perform a makeover of some of the recipes but instead I am mourning the lost innocence I had when I used to regularly make cookies and cakes with white sugar and flour and butter.

It’s not like I ever thought these treats were “healthy”; it’s just that I didn’t realize how bad they were. I have to say goodbye to that lost innocence even if I occasionally bake that way again. (Homemade treats that aren’t healthy are still better than a store-bought unknown-ingredient-laced bakery item.)

It was simply more fun when sugar didn’t symbolize an inflammatory-causing food for me.

Kudos to the old saying, “you can’t go back again”. Innocence lost cannot be regained, just as grown children, my 6’2″ tall youngest son, cannot reasonably ever be my baby again. When I see school buses picking up youngsters waiting with their parents, I get a profound jolt, a mix of sadness and joy.

My kids will never be there again, and neither will I.

My mantra is often to stay in the present, and yet, change and loss gets foisted on us even as we live in the moment. I believe that learning to accept change, to embrace the new even with its accompanying loss is, in fact, one of the keys to happiness.    Yogic wisdom asks that we discontinue yearning for what might be or has been or could be and accept, even Love, what is.

So with all that said, I might add, for those who missed me, that I wrote this a few months ago hoping to come up with the perfect makeover recipe my youngest sweet-loving son would happily embrace.  I even made homemade peanut butter balls with honey and coconut flour coated in chocolate he thought were disgusting.

Truth be told, my children don’t embrace the healthier snacks and treats.  After all, they weren’t raised on them!

So here’s one, adapted from Vegetarian Times, that we adults enjoy.  I might as well embrace the empty nest…

Oat and Almond Balls (raw and gluten free and vegan)

oat almond balls

oat almond balls

2 1/2 Cups rolled oats (can be regular or quick-cooking.) Gluten free if necessary…

1/2 Cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/4 cup raisins

1/3 Cup raw cacao nibs (if you don’t want to splurge on nibs, just use 1/2 Cup raisins as per the original recipe)

2 Tbs, raw sunflower seeds

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 Cup almond butter

1/3 plus 1 Tablespoon raw honey

2 Tbs. sweet brown rice syrup or barley malt syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

optional : 4 squares of dark chocolate at least 70%)

1. Grind 1/2 Cup oats and 1/4 Cup pumpkin seeds with or without the chocolate in a food processor until a powder forms.  Transfer to a flat bowl and set aside.

2. Combine the remaining 2 cups oats, the remaining pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Then, add the almond butter along with the honey, syrup, and vanilla, Mix well until a dough forms.

3.  Get your hands wet and keep a moist towel nearby (it’s sticky!!) and roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Coat each ball in the oat-pumpkin seed (and maybe chocolate) powder.  Place in freezer for 20 minutes to set and then serve or store in the refridgerator.

Adapted from Vegetarian Times Oct. 1, 2005

 

Scape Escape

Found the last of the scapes today at Hingham Farmers market! Sad I didn’t make it to fabulous Marshfield farmers market on Friday afternoon, but time to make fabulous scape pesto,,again.

edible South Shore & South Coast Blog

Better Living Through Local Foods

Last weekend as I was trying to figure out what to make for two different parties I was reminded by a fellow health coach of the fabulous website that features a Garlic Scape Pesto recipe: www.agardenforthehouse.com

With hope, and some trepidation, I headed to the Marshfield Farmer’s Market to see if I could buy garlic scapes, which are young garlic shoots with a very short season. Rise ‘n Shine Farm of Marshfield had them so I was in luck!

Scapes unadorned

I knew some of the guests at the first party were either gluten-free or on the paleo diet (completely grain-free, amongst other restrictions), so I got some lovely cherry tomatoes from the Oakdale Farmsand I couldn’t resist the ciabatta bread from the Hearth Wood Fired Bread also at the farmers’ market.

With all my goodies in hand, I headed home to make made…

View original post 248 more words

the REAL DEAL

image


Just like fresh garden tomatoes in August  and bananas when you’re in Jamaica in the middle of the winter, the taste of strawberries right off the vine bursts into your mouth like an epiphany of “this is the real deal”.  So too, with  true love like my oldest son has found with his bride-to-be, to know them is to know it’s the REAL DEAL!  They are both top-notch people and I love them.

image So, for their engagement party I decided to make a Engagement Party Salad with a fresh strawberry vinaigrette over watercress, arugula and fresh spring lettuce; (what a great metaphor for marriage and for life! Always mixing the bitter or spicy with the sweet and then finding balance in the mix…)  I added toasted sliced almonds and Gorgonzola, sliced avocado and of course fresh sliced strawberries.  You could easily substitute walnuts or pecans  for the almonds and feta or goat cheese for the Gorgonzola cheese.

My inspiration for the late spring love of a salad is the strawberry vinaigrette form Jess Ziss Cool’s Simply Organic cookbook. (This is seasonal and beautiful book.)

First, take about 15-20 hulled strawberries (I tripled because it was, after all, a Party! but also made it again with double and single-sized…) and puree them in a food processor so that you have a half cup.  Because these are the ones you are blending up, choose overripe and mushy ones and save the pretty ones for the show  finished salad.

Good gracious! Another metaphor here: the bruised and ugly parts may not be seen publicly, but they complete the final product. In fact, they are crucial to making it.

Continue reading

Home Harbor Dayboat Scallops: as fresh as it gets!

Run to the Marshfield Farmer’s Market TODAY if you can (2-6 pm Fridays all summer) because the incredibly fresh dayboat scallops harvested and marketed by Max Carpman of Home Harbor Seafood is making a guest appearance, and his fresh fare is sure to sell out!   I’ve been lucky enough to sample his scallops on a few other occasions, so I know they are always amazingly fresh and delicious; a melt-in-your-mouth experience!  These scallops are  Not soaked in the “solution” that all commercial scallops in the stores are stored in.  Max worked for years as a commercial fisherman before starting his new wholesale and retail venture called Home Harbor Seafood.  These babies are completely wild harvested,  sustainable and fresh and clean from the  deep blue Atlantic.  The Website is under construction but look for it soon!

Lately, the mangoes have been wonderful and super sweet when ripe but firm enough to chop into fresh salsa. I had planned to make fish tacos with mango salsa when I was lucky enough to acquire these yummy scallops, so I decided I would simply pan-sear them and use the salsa as a topping.  The result was a treat for my tastebuds, but I have to say that I’ve had these scallops at a friend’s house simply baked in butter, lemon and breadcrumbs and they were fantastic!  I don’t usually like that type of dish, (too bland for me) but these scallops are good enough to shine through the simplest of flavorings.

image

The first thing I did was make the salsa.  (The scallops remain amazingly fresh and just a slight scent of the ocean with no seafood-y smell just sitting in their cozy plastic bag!)

Take one fully ripe (soft to the touch but not mushy) mango and cut each half away from the large center seed.  I do it like this:

imageimageimage

Put the chopped up mango in a bowl and then you add, chopped red peppers, chopped jalapeno peppers, (which I do by cutting around the seeds so you have the flavor with out the heat.  If you want some heat, let some of the seeds come into the mix!)

imageimage

Add the peppers, chopped red onion to taste, then chopped cilantro to taste, some Celtic sea salt, some garlic and the juice of 1-2 fresh limes. Cilantro is such an excellent metal detoxifier, I use it a lot.  If you dislike the flavor, leave it out or substitute parsley.   Mix it all together, give it a taste (or two) and then it can sit at room temperature if you’re eating it soon, or refrigerate for later.  Saving for later is nice because it allows the flavors to meld and get friendly with each other!

image

For the scallops themselves, the stars of the show! I put some lemon juice and a bit of olive oil and then I pan-roasted some cumin seeds and sprinkled those on.

Get your pan really hot, (a cast iron would work well) and then sear the scallops for just 2-3 minutes per side and so they still seems slightly raw in the center.  The only hard thing about cooking scallops is to not overcook them: always err on the side of undercooking and you can throw them back on the heat if they’re too raw.  These scallops are fresh enough for sushi though!

 Serve with rice and dish the salsa on top.  Delish!

 

Cleansing Kitchari

Confessions of a True Spring Cleanse

As a health and wellness guide, I was long resisitant to the concept of cleansing and detoxing because I felt they were too closely akin to dieting, and not supportive of sustainable lifestyle changes. But then the more I studied Ayurveda through my yoga practice and teaching, I became open to the idea of the spring being the perfect time to cleanse. Think of it as a spring cleaning for your body and soul, instead of your house. ​ For me, it was and has been a unique opportunity to be more mindful, once again, and a surprise as to which things were difficult to give up ( and only for 10 days)!  So here goes: eliminating booze of all kinds was definitely harder than I thought. When my husband was going through treatment for cancer this past winter, I had picked up a routine of a beer or two in the evening, not even realizing it had become a habit. So there you go. I also consider myself as somewhat of an expert of taming sugar cravings, and that habit had also gotten a bit out of hand but, 14 days after I started this cleanse I am not even moved by the idea of sugar. I will still have it and enjoy it on ocassion, but it’s not a monkey on my back! The basis of this The Spring Cleanse is a collaboration between myself and Roberta Duncan of the Gentle Art of Wellness. Roberta is a knowledgeable herbalist and probably the cleanest eater I know. We each did a cleanse last spring and compared notes. Roberta had good success and enjoyed her experience with PDX Replenish (shout out to Andrea and Andrea) and I had less success with my Ayurvedic cleanse which was too extreme and unrealistic, and did not provide enough support. (All good things to learn from!) Hint, hint: Next year we will be marketing our own cleanse based on our experience these past two years. Roberta and I did two similar but different tracks. We are both primarily vegetarian, so giving up animal protein wasn’t an issue. We also don’t eat processed foods already, but that is the #1 key component to our cleanse. Then she eliminated grains since she’s already gluten free due to an allergy/sensitivity. I am not, so I gave up wheat and gluten for this 10 day cleanse, along with: dairy, alcohol, sugar, seafoods and, gulp, marijuana. We experimented with creating great recipes, tons of raw veggies and I added in the traditional Ayurvedic dish of kitchari (which is mung dal and rice) for a couple days in the middle. Mung dal are split beans. Roberta did some juicing. Some of the top liver detoxifiers include beets, cilantro, watercress, celery, all green leafy vegetables and some fruits like grapefruit, pears, apples and berries. The food ends up being super low in fat (we both lost weight!) so by the end we were craving things like nut butters and tahini, so we used our intuition to feel better and added in coconut oil, ghee and avocado as well.

image

Beet and Carrot Slaw with Cilantro

For my version of kitchari, I added collard greens and a combo of roasted sweet potatoes and stir fried baby broccoli I’d made the night before. The reason for kitchari is its ease on the digestive system. Ayurveda would not have a cleanser eating tons of raw vegetable or raw juices. It’s too rough on the system. What I like about kitchari deep into the cleanse is that it’s hot and spicy, cooked, and then you can add all and any good vegetables to suit your palate. Katherine’s Kitchari

  • 1 cup mung dal
  • 1 cup white or brown basmati rice (typically, white, because it’s easy easy on the digestive system)
  • 1 T ghee or coconut oil
  • Spices, to include turmeric, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cardamon, ginger, astofoeda, sea salt ( some or all) I used Banyan Botanicals kitchari spice blend because I had it from last year’s cleanse!) There should be a total of about 2 Tablespoons for this amount.
  • Onions and/or assorted vegetables.
image

Fresh Collard Greens

image

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and stir-fried brocolini

Thoroughly rinse the rice and the mung dal separately and then you can combine or  not.  Heat the ghee or coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven or large saucepan. Toast the selected spices until fragrant.  If you are using whole mustard seeds, put those in first, as they will begin to pop and then you can add the rest of the spices, about 2 Tablespoons total.   Once the spices exude a powerful fragrance, add the rice and beans and stir well to coat, cooking for 1-2 minutes and then add 6 cups of water or broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Cook for about 90 minutes.   You can add cooked, roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes or chopped fresh greens or broccoli  to the mixture for the last 1/2 hour or 15minutes or even hour.  This is a forgiving and flexible dish.

image

Katherine’s kitchari with collards and sweet potatoes and broccolini added

Number one thing to remember about a cleanse: Nurture your self first including getting lots and lots of sleep and rest and yoga and exercise (gentle not pounding). This is for you first! Make it juicy good. ​

​ ​ ​

the Comfort of the Familiar…

Old Standbys

When times are tough, many of us turn to comfort food, along with possibly other comfort-related rituals, practices and substances. In this sweet life we live, coping with contant change alone can be tough. And life is always full of changes, good and bad. Image For me, comfort foods are often sweets and other sorts of creamy and not-so-healthy types of foods, lake macaroni and cheese and any kind of ice cream; (now I head for Luna & Larry’s organic coconut milk based dairy treat, a more clean-foods option than ice cream itself!) Being  the Head Cook of the family, I enjoy certain old standbys, the foods I go back and back to. These foods bring a level of comfort stemming from the familiarity of rituals. When it comes to food, like other parts of life, there is comfort in the familiar, the power of the known and well-loved. With many recent big events in my family, I’ve found myself making dishes (Like this shrimp with feta. ) One of these Old Standbys in our family is this delicious green salad with pear, blue cheese and pecans. I threw out the rule book and re-created this but I love not really following and recipe book, just my instincts (coconut oil instead of butter for the toasted pecans); the most important change I made was creating my own rasberry vinaigrette. So simple and so swoon-worthy good! ImageSally’s Salad, (cleaned up!)

3-4 Cups of greens (spring or any, really, I had Romain lettuce and it was fine.

​ 1-2 pears, peeled and chopping into large bite-sized pieces

1 Cup of crumbed Gorgonzola or other blue cheese

1/2 Cup of pecans, toasted and seasoned* (walnuts are good too)

Raspberry Vinaigrette:

1/2 C white Balsamic vinegar

1/3 C olive oil

 

Large handful of fresh raspberries

1 small clove garlic,

crushed salt and pepper to taste

Assemble the salad ingredients except for the nuts. In a saucepan, melt about 1 T of coconut oil and add the pecans to a medium-heat; spinkle with sea salt, to taste, about 1/2 T of organic or demerara sugar, a pinch of cayenne, cumin or chile or chipotle powder and toast until lightly crisped, stirring, and then place on a plate covered with paper towel to cool. toasted spiced pecans

Meanwhile, make the salad dressing by pouring 1/2 cup of white balsamic vinegar into a glass bowl or measuring cup and then dumping a large handful of fresh raspberries into the oil. Using a fork or other favorite mashing instrument, crush the rasberries into the vinegar until mostly dissovled. Add in salt and pepper to taste, 1 crushed clove of garlic, 1/3 Cup olive oil and 1 t of dijon mustard. Whisk or shake well to combine. For a sweeter dressing,add 1 T of honey or maple syrup.   Pour the salad dressing over the salad right before serving. I had extra.

image

Inspirational Arugula

I guess I must be a food nerd because I am inspired by a big green fresh bunch of arugula, (or even big juicy fresh organic carrots and of course ripe summer tomatoes.)image But back to arugula…the power of greens to provide fiber, vitamins and minerals is now pretty much well-known in the food world. Kale might be the ultimate “super food” but really all dark leafy greens are pretty much excellent foods to put into your bodies. image Many people don’t know that greens are an excellent and better source of calcium than dairy! The body’s abilty to absorb and benefit from the calcium provided in green plants far exceeds that of dairy (which some now believe actually leaches calcium from our bodies.) Oh boy, so many of the food truths we grew up with are turning out to be food myths. But consider this: eating fresh greens, canned or frozen and preferably organic is and always will be a good choice. Choosing foods that are as close to the unadulterated source (Mother earth) is always best. So, I finished Week Two Week Three of my Nightshades elimination experiment and I have not gotten any relief from the pain and inflammation in my fingers but I have found some new ways to add flavor into my foods. Instead of peppers, tomatoes, cayenne, chili powder, paprika and hot sauces and salsas, I have turned to garlic and onions and black pepper. Horseradish is another option. Remember Nightshade plants are all peppers, tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant and tobacco.

 image

 Honestly, who would want to give up tomatoes and peppers?  Not me but at least I tried! Pesto has always been a flavorful garlic-filled favorite of mine to make and I discovered last year that you can make pesto out of lots of things like garlic scapes in early spring and parsley and other herbs throughout the year. (yes, there is kale pesto…) So because of the No Nightshade thing, and because of the wonderful bright and bountiful organic arugula I found at Whole Foods Market this week, and because it’s super peppery to begin with I was inspired by arugula to create this pesto:

Spinach and Arugula Pesto

​ warning: the measurements are approximate and unconventional! 1 large handful of raw, washed baby spinach ​ 2 large handfuls of arugula with most of the stems removed 1 medium to large garlic clove, chopped 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan or Romano cheese 1/3 Cup of pine nuts, raw 1/3 Cup or more of good quality extra virgin olive oil salt to taste, about 1 full teaspooon of sea salt lemon juice, to taste In a food processor, place the chopped garlic in the bottom of the bowl fitted with the steel blade and then pile in the spinach and arugula and pulse until roughly blended. image With the engine running, start to pour a nice quantity of the olive oil in until the mixture looks like a paste ( or pesto!) and then add in the cheese and the pine nuts; (I like mine to have some texture, so I don’t fully process the pine nuts.) image image You must taste to see if it needs more salt, cheese and or more olive oil. ​ This is nice on pasta or fish. In either case, adding some fresh-squeezed lemon juice is nice at the time you serve it. It would aslo be delicious spread over crackers with goat cheese or some other mild cheese underneath.

image

image

My Nightshade Odyssey​

 

Elimination diets are all the rage, but being nightshade free is not as well-known as gluten or dairy. So, I finished with Week One of nightshade-free eating and it rots in a hellish sea of blandness with no Hot sauce!

What are the nightshades family of plants? They include tomatoes, peppers of every variety, hot and sweet (but not black pepper), eggplant and white potatoes. And tobacco.

image

Not a long list, but a hard one.

So, I have tried a few other times to go on this nightshade elimination trip and each time I get tripped up! As a vegetarian (and seafood eater) tomatoes and peppers and hot sauce and spices (like chili powder, paparika) are a big part of my diet which are now off-limits.

There is no way to write about this particular deprivation I am putting myself through without getting personal. And it is a personal journey, as all attempts at food deprivation must be. I’m not good at depriving myself, and generally don’t believe in it for precisely the reasons that I’m struggling with now.​

Over 20 years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune dusease wherein the body attacks its own myelin sheath, (the protective coating around the nerves of the spinal cord.) Because these attacks of MS can lead to scarring and damage to the nerves and spine and brain, it often leads to a myriad of physical and mental problems. Luckily, in my case, it has not. I have practiced a variety of disciplines to reduce the likelihood of relapses (as MS attacks are called).

Because my blog is about food, yoga and wisdom (Ha!) I will say that I have eaten primarily a plant-based diet for over 30 years, but I do eat fish and wheat and, gulp, even some sugar. I’m thankful I don’t need to be gluten free, vegan or paleo or any other dietary restriction like that.

And every day I am grateful for my yoga practice. Every morning Yoga is on my gratitude list.​

My current problem is horribly painful (and disfiguring) inflammation in my fingers, one on each hand. Not related to MS, but I’ve discovered that folks with one autoimmune disease are more likely to have another. Illnesses are not dispersed according to rules of fairness, right?

This may or may not be osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or something else.

It seems from my research that many (but not all) arthritis sufferers notice an improvement in their pain and inflammation when they eliminate all nightshades for a period of 3 or 6 weeks, depending on your source.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, of course I, who specializes in conquering sugar cravings by using only whole healthy and natural real alternatives to sugar have suddenly found myself succumbing to some serious sugary longings! Huh?

Luckily I know that binges occur when I feel deprived. And I feel deprived.

I am like one of those cooking show contestants presented with a challenge: no tomatoes with my pasta, salad or fish? No peppers, paprika or hot sauce in my appetizers? I gotcha!​

This week a made a walnut pâté with toasted nuts and garbanzo beans and lots of garlic. And I made sweet potato falafels (from 101 cookbooks website) and then I discovered this: Shallot Fig Spread by Terry Walters, the wonderful orginal author and creator of CLEAN FOOD, (and her newest cookbook, CLEAN START) and certainly one of my favorite vegan chefs and inspirations. Thank you,Terry,for leading the way in the Clean food path.

Do buy her cookbooks, but this recipe was genrously supplied on her website:


Shallot Fig Spread

image

(adapted from Terry Walters)

1 Cup dried Black Mission (Terry uses Turkish) figs, stems removed and cut in half

2 Cups water

7 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 T extra Virgin olive oil

1 T grated fresh ginger root

Zest of one orange

Juice of 1-2 oranges depending on their Juiciness! ( I used one super juicy mineola orange; original calls for 2)

2 T maple syrup

Place the halved figs in a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil; then, simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1/2 a cup, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside without draining.

Saute the shallots in the olive oil until very soft, (about 15 minutes) . Add the ginger, orange zest, and juice and stir continuously for about 5 minutes longer. Add the figs, their liquid and the maple syrup. Stir to combine and then remove from the heat.

he mixture is cool enough to touch, transfer to a food processor (or bowl with a handheld blender) and process until blended but not pureed.

Cover and refigerate until serving. Makes 2 Cups.

image

I had a friend over for lunch and made socca (on my website)  with the fig spread, some chopped fresh chard and goat cheese and then broiled. A soft, gluten-free vegan delicious flatbread!

and then I made the same idea with a rice flour tortilla​.

image