Vegan Sushi

summer vegan sushi
Summer is definitely here. The children are out of school, the weather is heating up, we are outdoors every day, and our little island is overrun with tourists- reminding us how lucky we are to live here in this blessed village by the sea.

Inspired by Chef Joann, the all-star caterer for our Sophia Camp Benefit Fundraisers, I thought I’d try a Vegan version of sushi, and now this is one of my favorite summer lunches. It works well for picnics as it is an easy pack, and it’s been a favorite at parties. You can make it with anything, even almond butter and banana, so it’s a child pleaser too, especially if you involve them in choosing their own ingredients and rolling their own rolls.

Picnic Meals-Vegan Sushi

Vegan Sushi-Collard Rolls

Vegan Sushi Roll

You can do so much with this. You could julienne a cucumber, slice an avocado, grate zucchini, add vibrancy with red or yellow pepper, replace the chard with any fresh, favorite green, spoon in some hummus, stack some rice – really it is all according to your own taste, creativity and local, seasonal availability.

Vegan Sushi
makes 4 servings

4 Collard Leaves
2 Carrots
2 Chard leaves
1 small handful of Sun Sprouts
Bamboo skewers

Optional, any or all: 
2-3 Basil leaves
1 small handful Cilantro
a pinch of Dill

Aioli
2 T Vegan Mayonnaise
1 t Dijon Mustard
1 clove Garlic, finely minced, or 1/2 t garlic powder
1 t fresh Lemon juice
Sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes
Pink Salt & fresh cracked Black Pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and red pepper flakes until it is well mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Grate the carrots. Stack chard leaves and roll them up tight. Slice the leaves widthwise into narrow pieces to create long thin strips. Slice through the length to make smaller strips. Do the same with the basil and then finely chop the Cilantro.

Lay the carrots, chard and sprouts out in tight rows lengthwise on your collard leaf. Add another tight, thin row of herbs. Fold one side of your collard in and begin to roll. Pull your vegetables in close as you roll to keep it tight. Once it is rolled, take a very sharp knife and cut them into “sushi rolls.” Gently pierce the collard with your skewer and drive it through the roll to hold it all together. The skewer then becomes your utensil for serving and dipping. Serve with the aioli, and enjoy with a refreshing rose fennel tea.

Vegan Sushi

vegan sushi-collard rolls

Since summer is Pitta season, raw food is generally okay at lunchtime when our digestive fires are strongest. My digestion still needs help, though, with raw food in any season, thus the mustard, lemon, garlic, and red pepper as digestive aids. Here are some suggestions to tailor this meal according to your own digestive strength ~

Vata: Lightly sauté the carrot and greens with minced ginger and a dash of Tamari to soften. Replace red pepper with a sprinkle of powdered ginger in the aioli.
Pitta: Omit the garlic and red pepper in the aioli. Try fennel powder instead, adding small amounts at first and increasing to taste.
Kapha: Use both fresh and powdered garlic and be generous with the red and black pepper. You might enjoy ginger tea with your meal, or chew on a stick of ginger soaked in lemon just prior to lunch.

raw vegan sushi-aioli dipping sauce

I loved your comments on my last post on rice. You shared so much of your heart, and often your family history. Since it is such fun to hear from you and to give, I’ve decided to make this the summer of giveaways. This time it is a book – Chef AJ’s Unprocessed with over 100 healthy and gluten-free recipes. Just comment below and let us know what you are loving for summer meals, and we will randomly pick a name to receive it.

Thank you & Namaste!

Kichari Burger

winter kichari I am often asked how to make Ayurvedic meals appealing to the whole family. First, I am very fortunate that my family enjoys eating well, and by that I mean eating whole, healthy foods. But it is true that our Ayurvedic staple, kichari (click the link if you are not sure what that is), hasn’t always been popular with the younger ones.

kich burrito Kichari Burrito

Early on, I would spoon kichari into a wrap with salsa, a bit of yogurt and cilantro, and we’d call it a burrito. That worked, although I can’t say it was our most popular family fare.

Recently, in the midst of juggling a few things, I found myself wanting to prepare a special meal for a sick friend who was staying with us. We’d had kichari the evening before, and since I didn’t have time to make anything new, decided instead to spruce up what we had left.

This was the result – a Kichari burger that has now become a family favorite.
kichari slider stamped

To make it, you start with your favorite kichari recipe. I have lots around this site – a basic, all purpose kichari recipe here, a more elaborate one on that same page, an autumn kichari here, a winter kichari here, a summer kichari here, and for good measure below I offer you one more – because I want to share the amazing grace that is Robyn Field, and to share her favorite kichari as it is such a classic.

Part 1

If you already have a favorite kichari recipe, skip to part 2. 

Robyn Field’s Classic Kichari

Step 1 

3 & 1/3 c water
1/3 c split mung bean
1/3 c red lentils
1/3 c basmati rice
1 t turmeric
12 curry leaves
1 t crushed fresh ginger

Step 2
1/2 t cumin seeds
1/2 t coriander seeds
5 peppercorns

Step 3
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 kale leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 t rock salt

Step 4
1 T ghee
1/2 t cumin seeds

Step 5
1/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 lemon
1/4 lime

Method
1. Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add mung beans, lentils, rice, turmeric, curry leaves and fresh ginger. Once it returns to a boil reduce heat and simmer.

  1. Grind seeds in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Add 1 teaspoon of the mix to the kichari.

  2. Add carrots zucchini, kale and salt. Cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and the mixture resembles a thick porridge. Stir occasionally. Add more water if needed.

  3. Heat ghee in a skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ground spices then immediately add a bit of the kichari to prevent it from burning and stir well. Add the spice fry to the pot of kichari and stir.

  4. Serve with lemon and lime juice, garnished with cilantro. Variation: Add fresh chili peppers and ginger in step 4 for a spicier version. 

kichari burger Part 2 Kichari “Burgers”
You could also call these sliders, and serve them at parties, or over salad for an elegant lunch. You pick the shape, and ultimately what to call them – because a rose may be a rose by any other name, but when it comes to feeding children (and fussy grown-ups), what’s in a name may make all the difference.

Ingredients
2 c your favorite kichari
1-2 T psyllium (husks or ground, either)
1 T nutritional yeast, optional
1 T ghee garlic powder to taste
optional: 1 egg

Method
Stir the psyllium and optionally the nutritional yeast with the kichari in a mixing bowl and mix well, ideally with your own clean hands. If you eat eggs, beat one egg and lightly stir it in. It will give your burger and better hold, and a crispier, golden edge. But strictly speaking, Ayurveda does not like us to mix our proteins

Melt the ghee in a saucepan on medium high. Sprinkle in the garlic powder according to your own taste, swirl the pan. Take a small handful of kichari mixture, pat it into a ball, then press to flatten. Place in your saucepan and cook until it browns. Turn it over and cover now while it browns on the second side.

Since there is no egg and the kichari is cooked, it is not essential you “cook it all the way through,” but I cover it to be sure it heats all the way through. vegan burger Raita Dipping Sauce
1/2 c yogurt (make your own)
1/2 small cucumber (persian are best), chopped small
3-4 spring onions, chopped 1 bunch of chives, chopped
1 bunch dill, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro or parsley, or a bit of both, chopped
Pink salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Stir everything together. Season to taste.

I served these on a slice of roasted beet and roasted sweet potato, ladled with the dipping sauce, and a side of curried mayo (1 t curry powder to 3 T vegan mayo) for vibrant color and flavor.

raita and chutney In the Springtime, Kichari is an essential part of a detoxifying cleanse. I invite you to join me for my upcoming 10 day Spring Cleanse with a 10 day meal plan, nourishing cleansing recipes, as well as Ayurvedic self-care and guidance, coaching, daily motivational emails, group phone-ins and group online support starting April 20th. For one of you lucky commenters, we will (randomly) pick someone to give the Cleanse for free.

So tell us, how do you use your creativity to keep your family eating well? I look forward to hearing.

Namaste! 

kichari vegan burger

What’s Your Dosha?

Wind, Fire, Water are the Three Dynamic Elements Governing Existence

Are you air, fire or water? Is your best season Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer? Are you more dynamic, focused, or nurturing?

Ayurveda sees our bodies as microcosms of the macrocosm – the universe within each being. This means you, me, everyone. We are all, all living beings, comprised of the five elements of the universe ~ space, air, fire, water and earth, animated by Mahat, a deep inner intelligence often called the Soul.

These elements, in their biological form, combine to create Doshas, which you can think of as an energy or force. There are three Doshas: Vata is made up of a combination of air and space ~ think of it as wind; Pitta is a combination of fire and water ~ think heat; and Kapha is water with earth, so it is the most stable.

Because we have all of the five elements of the universe in our being, we have each of the Doshas as well. But each of us is born with a unique, individual balance of these Doshas. That innate natural balance is called Prakriti, which is the unique combination of nature’s energies that determines your body type and personality.

Air can be gentle and refreshing, or strong and violent ~

Given that Prakriti is your inherent, unique, individual mind-body profile and Dosha is your energy imbalance, you can have a Vata, Pitta or Kapha Prakriti, but an entirely different Dosha at any given time. In other words, you can be Kapha, with a Vata imbalance. Or Pitta with a Kapha imbalance. It sounds confusing at first, but once you understand, a simple and elegant logic is revealed.

Since our health and well-being relies on balanced energies ~ stabilizing, strengthening and harmonizing our vital forces ~ in Ayurveda we look to the state of your Prakriti, your stable, balanced nature, and the play of Doshas, the fluctuating, dynamic energies, to determine wellness.

So how do you learn what Prakriti/Dosha you are?

Prakriti and Dosha Questionnaires and Quizzes abound, but the quickest way to determine yours is to consider your skin, sleep and digestion. Ask yourself the following ~

Fire is the principle of conversion without which there would be no life, no world, no existence

Skin
Is your skin usually dry?
Is it prone to redness, break-outs, itchiness or rashes?
Is it milky, thick, moist, with large pores?

Sleep
Are you challenged in falling asleep at night, restless, worried, even occasionally  insomniac?
Do you sleep easily, get up easily but often wake in the middle of the night?
Do you “sleep like a log” and enjoy staying in bed in the mornings?

Digestive Fire
Is your your metabolism quick but digestion is sensitive with occasional constipation or gas?
Is your appetite regular and strong, making you fierce if you don’t eat?
Is your appetite sluggish, especially in the morning, with metabolism slow?

The first question in each set above represents Vata. If you answered “Yes” to two or three of the first questions, then it is likely that Vata is your nature. The second question in each set represents Pitta and the third, Kapha. If you are still not sure, or want more detail, you can take my Dosha Test here.

Water gives us cohesion, stability, nourishment and refreshment

Like Doshas, the seasons move energetically, too, which is why it is so important to eat seasonally ~ to balance the doshic impact of your environment. Spring is Kapha, when Water dominates and combines with earth to make mud, or heavy, cloudy, foggy days. Summer is Pitta when heat, or the Fire element is strongest. Late Autumn into Winter is Vata, when the colder winds clear the trees of their leaves, creating more space for new life later to come.

Nature is always changing. At the same time, nature is always compensating for that change by offering foods that balance the energetic shifts, the Doshas, as they move seasonally.

Therefore in the Spring, we eat light and focus on detoxification. In the Summer we eat juicy, refreshing, cooling foods and in the Autumn we ground and strengthen with Autumn’s harvest of root vegetables, grains, warm soups, stews and herbal teas.

The Play of Elements

Throughout this Blog you will find Seasonal Recipes to illustrate nature’s bountiful wisdom. But many of you have asked me to write up ideas for a Whole Day of Meals Specific to Each Dosha.

This is daunting, but important, so I am going to break it down season by season, and post for the relevant season, hoping that you will enjoy getting the information you need when it’s most timely.

Since it is still gloriously Summer, I’ll start here, with A Day of Meals for Summer Season.

Beets, Carrots, Zucchini & Sprouts: Grated, Dressed and Ready to be Wrapped for Lunch

Breakfast ~ Green Smoothie, or Whole Grain Toast with Chyvanprash, or fresh fruit.

Morning Snack ~ Snacks are not essential but summer’s energy burns quick, often burning up the morning meal well before lunchtime. To keep that Pitta calm, stoke the fires with a piece of fruit or a frothy, blended juice of green veggies. You will feel that roaring heat mellow to a sweet purr in no time.

Lunch ~ Summer is the season and lunch is the time to go raw. I love a Veggie Wrap with grated carrots, zucchini, sliced cucumber, avocado, sprouts, lemon juice and a dash of of olive oil for dressing, seasoned with a sprinkling of fresh dill, mint or cilantro, and served with a side of Heidi Swanson’s Summer Corn Salad.

Afternoon Snack ~ Again, snacks aren’t essential or even ideal for most of us. We should arrive at a moment where we feel hungry between meals. But snacks can be very helpful when Pitta fires rage. Be prepared with Fresh Pea Hummus & Flaxseed Crackers, or Guacamole with a fresh Tortilla roll, a Coconut Banana Smoothie, a handful of fresh-picked vegetables plain or juiced, a handful of sprouts, Almonds or Sunflower Seeds, or even a slice of this delicious Live Coconut Pie, or this outrageous, Raw Chocolate Pudding that I wrote about last week.

Dinner ~ Grilled Vegetables with Quinoa; Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Broccolini and a Seasonal Salad; a warm, not hot, bowl of Beans & Greens; a room temperature soup of your favorite vegetables; or a simple meal of slow-cooked Kichari.

This is also a great time of year for a short Juice Fast. Try juicing for 3-5 days to deeply cleanse and throughly feed your body’s tissues. It helps reset your tastes to the singularly pure and healthy, so it is a nourishing way to turn bad habits to good.

Summer is really the easiest time of year for meals because most of your food is just hanging off the tree or vine seducing you with its vibrant color, ripe aroma, juicy flavor. Sweet and delicious, nature wants to nourish you, please you, excite you, love you, care for you.

What is your favorite Summer Meal?

Heaven’s Banquet by Miriam Kasin Hospodar

I’ve mentioned it before, but my favorite Ayurvedic cookbook is Eat Taste Heal.  Another one I love for its variety is Heaven’s Banquet by Miriam Kasin Hospoda, above.

Lisa Coffey is an American Ayurvedi who has been immensely creative in her expression of the Ayurvedic science. I borrowed the title of this article from one of her books, What’s Your Dosha, Baby?  She also has a lively website where you can play with quizzes on your Dosha and Doshic relationship compatibility.

It is all about Balance!

 May your food, breath and thoughts bring balance so your true light can shine.

Namaste!

~