Summer’s Garden Soup

Vegetable Puree

Two weeks ago I posted summer ideas for breakfast, and last week, it was a fresh summer salad for lunch. So it seems in the natural order of things to offer you now a bit of dinner inspiration for summer.

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I love the intelligence of Mother Nature! Every season she offers us foods to balance her changes. In summer now, she bountifully provides cool foods to counter her hot weather: Cucumbers, Melons, Summer Squash, and herbs such as Dill, Mint, Cilantro.

Yesterday morning I went out to our little food garden and gathered up some of those fresh summer vegetables, blending them all together last night to make this exquisite little soup.

Garden Soup

The beauty of this is that there is no cooking required. Reminiscent of the old-fashioned elegance of chilled soups such as Gazpacho and Vichyssoise, yet updated with inspiration from the thoroughly modern practice of Juicing, this dinner is easy to make, easy to serve, easy to digest. It is also: good for your liver, pitta-pacifying, emotionally balancing, peacefully purifying, and, did I say cooling? 

Summer’s Garden Soup
Serves 2

1  Cucumber
1/2 Zucchini
2-3 Tomatillos
1 handful Cherry Tomatoes
1 small Avocado
1 few leaves of whatever green you have on hand: Kale, Arugula, Sorrel, Mizuna, etc.
1 handful Cilantro
1 sprig Dill
1 leaf Mint
1 Lime, juiced
1/4 – 1/3 c. Water
Pinch of Sea or Pink Salt, to taste

Put everything in your blender and mix until the consistency is smooth. Serve in bowls, garnished with slices of cherry tomatoes and dill, and sprinkle with lime juice. Eat slowly so you can taste all the flavors. It is complex, subtle, and delicious!

Options
Vata: Drizzle Olive Oil, stir in Yogurt, and/or add chopped Almonds to your soup bowl.
Pitta: Perfect! Could add toasted sunflower seeds for a satisfying, sweet crunch.
Kapha: Add 1 clove garlic and/or a tiny piece of fresh green pepper (serrano, jalapeno) when blending.

Summer Garden Soup

What do you like to make in the summer to chill, refresh and renew?

Wishing you a beautiful summer.
Thank you, dear friends.
Namaste!

A Few Ideas for Breakfast

Great CU
Buckwheat Cakes

I have a client who loves Quinoa and spinach for breakfast. It sounds good to me, especially with a light touch of cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and ghee or coconut oil. She adds a splash of GF Tamari. Some days I might add raisins, too.

I like Rice Pudding for breakfast and would definitely add raisins to that. Rice pudding is also a happy home for cooked dates, apples, bananas, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, and coconut flakes. I think of rice that way: a happy home for most things.

But what I’ve been having for breakfast lately I’ll say with a whisper, for fear that some of my Ayurveda friends would not approve (“Hot hot, hot,” they repeat, like the Nanny to Eloise).

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Almond Butter & Mango

It’s a wake-me-up-with-a-smile plate of sunny mango slathered with earthy almond butter, and a few bite size pieces of grape juice-sweetened ginger. I’m going Paleo, my friends….

Or at least I am enjoying how strikingly the latest craze, the Paleo Diet is such a briliant modern repackaging of the ancient wisdom we call Ayurveda: Eat what you can get your hands on ~ your own hands if you were left out in a jungle, or forest, or open savannah long enough to have to find your own food. In other words, eat food. Real food. Food of every shape, color and size. A wide variety, but mostly plants. Your body will take care of the rest.

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A Paleo friend celebrates Super Bowl Sunday with bacon roses | Photo: Marriott

I am not really going Paleo, of course, although I do appreciate its dynamic approach to reducing junk and focusing on high quality. I even like its focus on protein, although its emphasis on animal flesh isn’t for me.

Our 15 year old offers a history lesson: animals weren’t always easy to kill. Many were dangerous and just as likely to kill you. Paleolithic people had to hunt long and hard for their meaty animals, and when they did bring one home after their equivalent of a long day at the office, it was split amongst a tribe of say 10-20 people.

Yes, those were the days when he-men were devoted to the public good: sharing dinner with friends, stoking the communal fires, stewarding and safeguarding the community at large, carrying the heavy load for the womenfolk, teaching the children and contributing to the health and care of all.

I digress. It is easy to get lost in this Paleo wonderland.

So, our Paleo comrades probably did not eat bacon at every meal even if our modern-day Paleo friends would like to. In fact, one scientist suggests that our paleolithic ancestors were far more likely to subsist on tubers and termites!

For us, the simple everyday rule to healthy eating is this: whole food, plant based. The focus on unprocessed is where we celebrate our shared similarities!

Buckwheat Cakes
Buckwheat Cakes with Yogurt and Honey

Anyway, if you are a Neanderthal, or a HIT (High Intensity Trainer), and you want to really go Paleo, how about making up these quick buckwheat cakes? Topped with a cage-free, organic egg, pesto, a bit of cheddar, or honey and yogurt (non-dairy, of course), it makes a hearty meal for any caveman.

Buckwheat Cakes
Less fluffy than pancakes, and thicker than crepes, these “cakes” are delicious with Almond Butter, Yogurt and Honey, Maple Syrup, pesto and melted cheese. Really, anything that needs a base.  They might even be wonderful drizzled with chocolate. Let your creativity play and let us know what  you discover.

BUCKWHEAT CAKE RECIPE
adapted from Martha Schulman’s Buckwheat Crepes

1/2 cup Almond Milk
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Buckwheat Flour
1/3 cup Almond Flour/Meal
3 tablespoons melted ghee, or your favorite high heat Oil
Water

Place the milk, eggs and salt in a blender or a bowl. Blend, or whip with a fork to mix thoroughly. Add the flours, then add the oil, and mix well.

Place a 7 to 8-inch pan over medium heat. Brush with ghee or oil. When the pan is hot, remove from the heat and ladle in about 3 tablespoons batter. Tilt or swirl the pan to distribute the batter evenly, and return to the heat. Cook until you can easily loosen the edges with a spatula. Turn and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Turn onto a plate. Continue until all of the batter is used.

Yield: About 5-6 pancakes

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For me, my Almond butter slathered Mangos keeps me happy, daydreaming about the days when were were all swinging through the forest happily gathering mangoes, bananas, and all variety of exotic fruit, as if it were an Eden of delight made just for us. Meanwhile, I give thanks to a modern world where every kind of delicious fruit is just a short walk away, and a modern belly that has had the intelligence to adapt, so I’m not stuck eating tubers and termites!

How do you keep mornings inspired? What do you eat for breakfast? What do you do to maintain strength and energy? I am curious and would love to hear about your creativity and routines.

Salutations and Santé!

~

Melissa Bechter of Vegenista recently joined me for my Ayurvedic Winter Cleanse and shared with me this photograph of the Paleo Pancakes she made on our "Integration Weekend." Thanks, Melissa!
Melissa Bechter of Vegenista recently joined me for my Ayurvedic Winter Cleanse and shared with me this photograph of the Paleo Pancakes she made on our “Integration Weekend.” Thanks, Melissa!

Channa Masala

Chick Peas in Masala Sauce

My husband Bhava and I are going to India in February/March to teach at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh. A group of wonderful, heart-centered Yogis are coming with us for a twelve-day Retreat, including 4 days of Ayurvedic treatments on the banks of Ma Ganga.

It is such an honor to take people “home” to the source of our practice, to meet wise sages and saintly swamis, to bathe in the healing waters of the Ganges, and to dwell for a time in the pure possibility of such enduring peace.

For this opportunity we feel humbled, blessed and deeply grateful.  Jai Guru!

This past weekend, we hosted a dinner for those who will be traveling with us. We wanted to give them an idea of what to expect and help them to prepare, both physically and emotionally. With my most fabulous husband’s help, I prepared our favorite dishes from a typical meal they might enjoy in India.

Fortunately, the dinner was appreciated. Two of our guests even said that they would become vegetarian if they could eat like this everyday. I am not sure if they knew just how that motivates me! Since I stopped eating meat at age 16, I promised I would never proselytize, but who does not see the reason in Paul McCartney’s statement ~

“If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”
*

So, when a flurry of requests erupted at the end of the evening, of course ~ despite an impossibly full week ~ I enthusiastically said, “Yes, I’ll post the recipes.” I love cooking, I love blogging, but mostly, I love it when people taste and feel the love that is in their food. So, yes!

We enjoyed a number of dishes, in the Indian Style. Of them, Channa Masala is the simplest and quickest to prepare. Since we are soon to depart, rather than typing it out, I encourage you to try this great recipe,  similar to the one we made, from my favorite Ayurveda recipe book,  Eat, Taste, Heal.

eat taste heal
You can use any Korma and Garam Masala spice mixtures. If you can’t find Korma, use Curry powder. If you can’t find Garam Masala, just make it by mixing cinnamon, coriander, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper: a little more of the first three, a little less of the last three.

You can serve Channa Masala with rice, or with Chappatti or Naan. If you can’t find these Indian breads at your local market try an Italian flat bread. Garlic was the favorite with our guests!

I hope you enjoy this protein-packed meal.

To your Good Health ~ Namaste!

~

I invite you to join me, Friday January 28th, from 6-9 pm, for a class on “Stoking the Fires: Ayurvedic Cooking in the Winter Season” to learn to prepare at home fresh Garam Masala and Korma Powder used in these recipes.

Sadhvi Bhagawati with Children at the Ashram
Sadhvi Bhagawati with Children

For a great close-up on what to expect in India, please read our beloved friend Sadhvi Bhagawati’s article, “India: Let It Inside You.”

Linda McCartney

Paul McCartney’s wife Linda was an original food pioneer who turned her passion into a food brand. Her family has maintained her company and a website where you can find her recipes for wholesome cooking. With so many delicious recipes like these available today, you might succeed in convincing your friends, too!


Chestnut Porcini Soup

Chestnut Porcini Soup

I found this recipe in Edible San Diego, a wonderful new magazine about local farms, markets and restaurants. It is featured in a profile of Patrick Ponsaty, Chef de Cuisine at Mistral, a restaurant overlooking San Diego Bay.

The original was not vegetarian, but with some adaptations is now a perfect “Opening” to our Christmas dinner. It would also make a great meal for those days after Christmas, when you want something hearty and hale. It’s certainly a creative way to use up any Chestnuts remaining from Christmas!

CHESTNUT & PORCINI SOUP
Makes 5-6 servings

1 yellow onion, medium dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 bouquet thyme
1 pound porcini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 pound white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
4 ounces white wine
9 ounces chestnuts
42 ounces vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon black truffle oil
4 ounces heavy cream
1 sprig cilantro, for garnish

In a medium stockpot, sweat onions in olive oil until translucent, then add chopped garlic and thyme. Add ⅓ of mushrooms and cook them until sweated out. Repeat with the next ⅓ and the next ⅓ until all mushrooms are cooked.

Once mushrooms have evaporated and have started to caramelize, deglaze with white wine.  After all alcohol in wine has evaporated add chestnuts. Cover with chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 30–45 minutes.

Remove from heat and add truffle oil. Place small amounts in a blender, add a splash of cream each time and blend until smooth. Repeat this process until all is blended. Use a whisk to mix all the batches together.

Check for seasoning and serve hot. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Chestnuts
Chestnuts

Mistral is the signature restaurant at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.