One Pot Immune Boosting Mung Daal Stew

one pot mung daal stew

I discovered the original Moong and Masur Lentil Curry version of this recipe when my brother gifted me Vij’s Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine back in the day. I absolutely love Indian Food, and while I have tried many different cookbooks, this is the one I keep coming back to. The recipes are well seasoned and absolutely delicious. I also love the variety; while the majority contain meat and dairy, with a bit of creativity I have managed to adjust them in a way that works for us. I was thrilled when Vij’s at Home was published a couple of years ago, as we were able to expand our recipe base, and discovering Vij’s Sutra at the Hudson Market here in Victoria made me one happy camper, as their Kale and Navy Bean Curry is out of this world.

This particular version came about as a result of many years of experimentation. I stuck with the classic for a long time, because why mess with perfection after all? Then I started to play around a bit, the natural result of the culinary programs I have taken over the past couple of years, which helped me find my footing and start experimenting in the kitchen. I love the texture variety that comes with a bunch of different lentils; please feel free to switch things up as you like. The addition of quinoa or amaranth (two protein rich, super grains) allows for a one pot dish and a night off for your rice cooker. Combining turmeric, black pepper and coconut oil helps to boost the bioavailability of curcumin, the main cancer fighting component of turmeric, and the addition of a bit of fresh lemon helps maximize the absorption of iron in the kale. I have also added some powerful, superfood ingredients (Vitamineral Earth, 14 mushroom blend and Sea Veg Blend) to boost the nutrient profile of the soup, along with increasing immune system support. This is a long standing family favourite; my son was pretty much grown on it, given that it was a major craving during my last pregnancy, and it is a staple that we eat at least once a week.

One Pot Immune Boosting Mung Daal Stew

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 tsp asafoetida (also known as hing, optional)
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 medium onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 – 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh grated turmeric (1 tsp dried)
1 – 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (1 tsp dried)
7 cups warm water
2 tsp Sea Veg Blend (dulse or nori flakes are great, a combo also works well)
2 tsp Vitamineral Earth (optional)
2 tsp 14 Mushroom Blend (Harmonic Arts – optional)
1/2 cup split mung daal
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup du puy or beluga lentils
1/2 cup quinoa or amaranth
2 cups kale, finely chopped
1 Tbsp sea salt (or less, if you prefer)
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Thai chilies, sliced (optional)

Directions:

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat until liquid. Add spices, and stir until mustard seeds start to pop. Add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic, turmeric and ginger (the latter two can be grated directly into the pot). Stir to combine and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant. Then add water, sea vegetable flakes, Vitamineral Earth and 14 mushroom blend (if using), split mung daal, red lentils, du puy lentils, quinoa or amaranth, and kale, and stir again to combine. Add sea salt & pepper and proceed as follows:

Pressure Cooker:

Place the cover securely on top, and lock. Turn the heat to high, until under pressure and then turn the heat on the stove down to medium. Let steam for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and quick release the pressure. Unlock the lid (facing away from you, to avoid a mung bean steam facial) and add lemon juice. Give it a stir to combine and serve, garnished with fresh cilantro and Thai chilies (if desired).

Stovetop:

Cover the pot with a lid, and bring to a boil. Give the daal a stir, and lower heat to medium low, cooking for 30 minutes. For a thicker soup, allow the daal to cook without a lid for the last 10 minutes. Add lemon juice, and serve, garnished with fresh cilantro and Thai chilies, if desired. With the stovetop method, you can wait and add the kale during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Feel free to modify and adjust this recipe based on what you have on hand, and be sure to let me know what you think!

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Pumpkin Pasta with Sautéed Garlic Mushrooms and Vegan Parmesan

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I am a huge fan of all things pumpkin, including beverages (homemade pumpkin spice lattes with dandy blend are lovely), desserts (superfood pumpkin cashew cheesecake anyone?) and savoury dishes (Meghan Telpner’s Ronsonian Pumpkin Soup recipe out of the Undiet Cookbook is delicious!). I would even go so far as to say that October could be renamed Pumpkin Month, in honour of this illustrious squash. Rich in beta carotene and fibre, along with seeds that are beneficial for many things, including prostate health, this lovely veggie is no slouch in the health department either!

I was up in Comox visiting my cousin for Thanksgiving when I noticed a big jar of pumpkin pasta sauce in the local health food store. I was inspired to pick up some fresh ingredients and try my hand at making my own version, from scratch. I wanted to combine some of my favourite fall themed flavours, both sweet and savoury, and create a dish that would appeal to both kids and parents alike. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pasta 

Ingredients

2 Tbsp coconut oil
3 small onions (or shallots)
3 cloves garlic
1 can coconut milk
1 can organic pumpkin purée
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp fresh grated turmeric
2 bags rice penne
Handful fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Melt coconut oil over medium low heat.
Add onions and garlic with a small pinch of sea salt and let sweat for 15-20 mins.
Add coconut milk, pumpkin purée, dried spices, and fresh grated ginger and turmeric, whisking until smooth.
Simmer sauce mixture for 10 minutes, allowing flavours to meld.
While sauce is simmering, cook penne in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and rise with cold water.
Remove sauce from heat, and stir in rosemary, lemon and fresh cracked pepper. Check seasoning and add additional sea salt, if needed.
Mix together sauce and pasta, topping with the sautéed mushroom blend & vegan Parmesan below.

Sautéed Garlic Mushrooms

Ingredients

3 cups mixed mushrooms (I love a mix of chanterelles and oyster mushrooms)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Pinch sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Truffle oil (optional)

Directions

Warm olive oil over medium low heat.
Add garlic and stir till fragrant.
Add mushrooms and a pinch of sea salt and sauté until mushrooms are soft and all moisture has evaporated.
Finish with a small drizzle of truffle oil.

Vegan Parmesan

Ingredients (inspired by Sarah Kramer’s recipe, in Vegan a Go-Go)

1/8 cup sesame seeds
1/8 cup hemp seeds
1/8 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a spice grinder or well cleaned coffee grinder and process until mixture achieves a coarse, grainy consistency.
This mixture can be kept stored in a sealed container (mason jars work great!) in the fridge for up to a week.

What is your favourite way to rock pumpkin goodness in the fall?


All Natural Mobile Pharmacy

When we left Canada for Europe a couple of weeks ago for my Dad’s wedding we were a bit like the walking wounded. A month of intensive renovations, followed by a rather frantic move left us all sleep deprived and on the cusp of getting sick. Sniffling and coughing our way through the service was the last thing I wanted; thankfully I had a few tricks up my sleeve (and in my carry on) that ensured our immune systems were all properly boosted as we navigated planes, trains, automobiles, and public transit systems in very large cities.

Thankfully I can report that having returned from our trip, we are all still in good health. I am thrilled about this, given all of the miles we have covered, the late nights we have had and the high level of excitement we have experienced, seeing friends and family members and taking part in my Dad’s wedding. I now have a “mobile pharmacy” (as my husband calls it) of easily transportable remedies that will definitely be a part of our travel experience going forward.
My 5 Top Travel Picks are as follows:

1. Four Sigma Foods Instant Chaga

I absolutely love Four Sigma Foods, they make travel with the wonderful immune boosting properties of medicinal mushrooms so easy, whether it is out and about for the day, or further afield. I love their Instant Reishi Powder for relaxation before bed, their Instant Cordyceps Powder for a gentle pick me up, and many of their other, incredible blends for detoxification and healthy brain function, but my favourite by far for travel is Instant Chaga Powder. Chaga mushrooms are a wonderful addition to your diet, as they provide a plethora of anti-cancer and immune boosting properties. David Wolfe’s book is a wonderful, extensive resource, and he gives a lovely summary of the benefits in a webinar here and a Facebook post here. As an added bonus, Four Sigma Foods is offering a 20% discount on their immune boosting products until October 15, 2015 on their website.

2. Living Libations Immune Illume Hotberry

This amazing, immune supporting blend contains a potent mix of schizandra berry, seabuckthorn berry, ginger, clove, cinnamon, turmeric and grapefruit. It is a bit spicy, if that is not your thing you could use the straight Immune Illume instead, or put a drop in a flavoured drink – an organic juice, for example. You can find out more information on the Immune Illume here

3. Thieves Oil

My cousin gave me a thieves oil blend in a dropper bottle before we left (1/4 cup carrier oil like jojoba to 4 drops Thieves Oil), and it has been fantastic. My kids are not sure about the spice of the Immune Illume Hotberry, but they are more than happy to let me massage their neck with a bit of the thieves oil blend. I get a kick out of the fact that its name was derived from grave robbers who used the blend to keep from getting sick during times of pestilence and plague. The blend includes immune supporting essential oils of clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary, and can be used as a base for all natural cleaning products as well. For a variety of uses and a couple of recipe variations to make your own blend check out this post here.

4. Frankincense First Aid

I have done extensive research on the healing properties of frankincense essential oil over the last little while, and was thrilled to find Frankincense First Aid on the Living Libations website. In addition to frankincense, this blend also contains peppermint, lavender, oregano and wild thyme, known for their anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. I love adding a few drops to some oil (I also travel with their Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever and gently applying it to any cuts, burns or other skin irritations we experience while on the road. It works like a charm!

5. Digest The Best

We follow a very clean diet at home, however being on the road can be a bit more challenging. We did the best we could, however I have found through previous experience that tummy upset can be part of the equation when traveling. Thankfully I brought a bottle of Digest the Best, also from Living Libations, which contains a tummy soothing combination of cardamom, tarragon, cinnamon, oregano, mastic, lemon, savoury, carrot seed, ginger, turmeric, coriander, schizandra and rosemary-verbenone. A drop or two on the tongue, or in some water and we were feeling better in no time.

What remedies have you found to be helpful when traveling? Do you have things you won’t leave home without?


Superfood Cashew Pumpkin Cheesecake with Coconut Whipped Cream

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When I was a kid, long before plant based foods became an integral part of my life, Thanksgiving was about one thing, and one thing only: Pumpkin Pie. I could take or leave the turkey, along with the weeks of turkey soup that followed. What I looked forward to the most was pumpkin pie, topped with a healthy dollop of whipped cream of course.

My interpretation of what pumpkin pie should be has changed a lot over time. I started out craving the oh so easy but somewhat suspect in the way of ingredients Safeway bought pie, topped with (I am embarrassed to admit it) whipped mystery topping out of an aerosol can. I then moved on to homemade pumpkin pie, including a white flour pie crust, eggs, carnation milk, topped with real, licked off the beater whipped cream.

After deciding to make a whole foods and plants the cornerstone of my diet I was faced with a real challenge; how to recreate this holiday favourite without all of the usual trappings? I tried and failed to find a viable substitute, until faced with the challenge of coming up with dishes for a canapé party for the Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional Certification last year. I decided to bite the bullet and created a cashew cheesecake version of my all time favourite.

Much to my delight it worked, with some delicious and very beneficial super foods thrown into the mix. I paired my superfood pumpkin cashew cheesecake with a toasty cup of my Chaga Chai, the perfect pairing to offset the cool temperature of the cashew cheesecake and to celebrate all of the warmth fall spices and seasonings have to offer.

For the photo above, I used a mini cupcake tray to assemble tiny cakes, before cutting them into small, bite sized mouthfuls. If you do plan to take this approach, be sure to let the cakes thaw for 5-10 minutes before cutting them out with circular cutters. They can then be returned to the freezer, covered, until it is time to thrill your guests with your culinary prowess. 🙂

Superfood Pumpkin Cashew Cheesecake

Pumpkin Pie Filling: (double recipe for a full cheesecake)

1.5 cup organic cashews, soaked overnight

2 Tbsp hemp seeds

3/4 cup pumpkin purée

1/2 c maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 tsp pumpkin pie mix*

1/2 tsp vanilla bean

1/2 tsp lucuma

1/2 tsp mesquite

1/2 tsp camu camu

* I like using the pumpkin pie spice from Silk Road Spice Merchant in Calgary, or making my own spice blend, using a recipe from The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices. You can find an adaptation for their recipe here.

Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix, or regular blender and purée until smooth.

If necessary, add water, a little bit at a time, until you achieve a smooth, thick consistency. Be sure not to add too much!

Please note, if you are using a regular blender you may need to process all of the ingredients in smaller batches.

Crust: (double the recipe for a full cheesecake)

1 cup pecans

2 Tbsp dates

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp vanilla bean powder

Add pecans, dates, salt, cinnamon and vanilla bean powder to a food processor and process until you have a crumbly consistency.

Assembly (Mini Cheesecakes):

Line a mini muffin tin with silicon or paper cups.

Press a layer of crust mixture in the bottom of each cup with your fingers, keeping them moist to avoid sticking.

Spoon some of the cheesecake filling on top, until it is just below the edge of the cup.

Let the mixture set for at least two hours in the freezer.

As mentioned above, let the cakes sit for 5-10 minutes before serving or shaping them. They can be stored, covered, in the freezer for a couple of days.

Assembly (Full Cheesecake):

Using a springform pan, add the crumbly crust mixture to the bottom of the pan and press until you have a solid, even layer.

Pour the cashew cheesecake filling on top, jiggle to even up the surface and let set in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

Remove the cashew cheesecake 5-10 minutes before serving, so that it is soft enough to cut. Please note, the cashew cheesecake does need to be stored in the freezer, otherwise it will melt completely!

And of course a good pumpkin pie recipe (cashew cheesecake or otherwise) would not be complete without a lovely whipped cream to finish it off. I love the following coconut based recipe, it is light and fluffy with a hint of lovely natural sweetness.

Coconut Whipped Cream:

1 14 ounce can of organic Thai Kitchen full fat, unsweetened coconut milk

2 tablespoons coconut oil, gently melted

1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder

1/4 tsp xanthan gum

¼ cup of pure maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)

Fresh grated nutmeg and cinnamon (to serve)

Add all ingredients to a large bowl, and whip until frothy (much as you would with “regular” whipped cream). Serve immediately.

If you have a whipped cream dispenser, blend all ingredients in a blender until just smooth and then pour into the whipped cream canister.

Let the mixture cool in the fridge for several hours, before adding the nitrous oxide, shaking the container vigorously and (carefully!) pressing the handle to serve. I found the canister a bit tricky to work with, the first few pumps came out with a lot of force!

Garnish your mini cashew cheesecakes or cashew cheesecake slices with whipped cream, fresh grated nutmeg and cinnamon, and enjoy!