Ginger-Carrot Soup

Last Updated on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 11:55 Written by Flax Wednesday, 9 March 2011 11:51

Ginger and carrots, two of my favorite foods, being that I am a redhead.  I like this recipe because it is extremely versatile.  This creamy soup will warm you up on a cold winter day, or likewise, it can be a refreshing cold soup on a hot summer day.  Additionally, halve the amount of water and you have a bright and tasty sauce to perk up a rice or a quinoa dish. 

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1′ ” ginger
  • 1″ chilli pepper
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 10 cups water
  • 10 carrots, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Atlantic grey sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot.  Add the onions and sweat for 5 minutes.  Add the fennel, ginger, garlic,  chilli pepper, and spices and saute for 5 minutes more.

Add the water and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots, star anise, lemon juice, and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil again and then lower the flame and simmer for 45-60 minutes, until the carrots are well done.

Remove the star anise and puree.   Garnish with the chopped coriander.

Serve hot or cold.

Enjoy!

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Tu Be’shvat Pilaf

Last Updated on Monday, 23 January 2012 12:41 Written by Flax Thursday, 13 January 2011 01:27

quinoa with dried fruit and nuts

I ate this dish at  Rakel Berenbaum’s house last tu beshvat. Rakel Berenbaum is the author of Portion on the Portion, for Torah Tidbits and a highly acclaimed cook and torah scholar.   The platter that she served was gorgeous, delicious, and a conversation piece as well.

While I based my platter on her idea, I decided to do it a little bit differently. Rakel made her dish with white rice, reflecting upon the whiteness of the manna.  I chose to make my dish with quinoa instead.  If we were to follow the theme in Rakel’s dvar torah, we can say that the quinoa reflects the nutritional aspect of the manna.  Just as the manna supplied the Jewish people with all their nutritional needs in the desert, so quinoa can supply us with almost all of our nutritional needs today.  Quinoa was referred to as the “mother grain” by the Incas due to the fact that it is so high in nutrients.  Quinoa has the highest protein content of all the grains, it has more calcium than milk and it a  is a good source of iron, phosphorous, B vitamins and vitamin E.

Rice is sticky and is known for holding it’s shape.  In order for the quinoa to do this I needed to use ground  flax seed.  Flax seed works similarly to egg in that it can bind foods together and it really does work almost as well as the egg does.  It is also a much healthier alternative, cleansing the intestines and  lowering the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

Additionally, I cooked the quinoa together with spices.  Some people tell me that they do not like quinoa, often it is because they are not preparing it properly.  Here are a few tips to help improve the flavor of the quinoa.

  • Always rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter coating on the outside.
  • Remove the pot from the flame before the water is completely absorbed–if you wait until the water is all absorbed you will burn your pot.  Shut the flame when you see the holes made by the steam but there is still a drop of water at the bottom.
  • Quinoa doesn’t absorb flavor or liquid after it has been cooked.  If you want your quinoa to taste like something other than plain quinoa then add the desired flavors to the cooking water.

The recipe below contains a variety of flavors and spices.  The reason why I use such of large variety of spices in this dish is to help offset all the dried fruits and nuts.  Fruits are sweet in flavor and nuts are oily.  Sweet and oily foods cause expansion and dampness (mucus) and prevent our bodies from functioning at their maximum.  Oily foods cause our  energy levels to drop (slowing down and relaxing) and sweet foods induce weight gain.  In order to balance the fruits and nuts, and to help our bodies to better digest these foods, I use a combination of warming,  pungent, and bitter spices. These spices not only add another dimension to the flavor of the food, they also help our digestive systems to work better.

Ingredients:

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1″ ginger, minced
1 fennel, chopped
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp pistachio seeds
turmeric
allspice
5 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
salt and pepper
Variety of dried fruit, including: pineapple, apricots, prunes, craisins, figs, dates, etc.
pumpkin seeds

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan. Sweat the onion, fennel and spices for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft.  Rinse the quinoa in a colander and add to the pot along with the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, lower the flame and cook until the water is almost completely absorbed.  Remove from the flame and allow it to stand for 5 more minutes, until the water is completely absorbed.

Choose a bowl that will be completely filled by the quinoa. Brush the sides of the bowl with olive oil.

Place a dried pineapple at the bottom of the bowl and press down. Stick dried apricots in a circle around the pineapple. Put the quinoa in the bowl up to the level of the apricots and press down.

Stick a row of prunes and craisins around the bowl, cover with quinoa and press down.

Repeat the process. layering different colored fruits, (figs, dates, etc.) and pressing down on the quinoa, until the bowl is full.

Boil a cup of water in a pot. Carefully insert the bowl into the pot. Cover the pot and steam for 45 minutes. Remove the bowl from the pot and invert it onto a platter. The fruit should stick to the quinoa and you should have a beautifully decorated dome. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Nutritional Healer and teaches Healthy Cooking Classes.

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Grilled Vegetables

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 12:15 Written by Flax Wednesday, 22 December 2010 12:15

As you might have understood by now, one of my goals in life is to encourage people to eat more vegetables. Why do I care if you eat enough vegetables? Because I believe that the path to wellness starts with good nutrition. And, the first step to good nutrition is eating enough vegetables.
The major problem with today’s eating culture is, that most people do not eat enough vegetables. Vegetables should be 60% of your diet. By having a diet that is based on vegetables, you are constantly reminding your body that it is alive.
While the subject is complicated and it involves biochemistry and ph levels of the blood, the way I see it is; when you eat things that are alive, your body knows that it is alive, when you eat things that are dead, your body thinks that it is dead. Slightly graphic, but you get the picture.
I am not vegan, vegetarian, fruitivore, or macrobiotic. Nor do I follow any of those fad diets that pop up every few months. I just believe that we need to eat vegetables. (Seaweed being the ideal vegetable, but that is a different blog.) An adults’ food triangle should be 60% vegetables, 30% grains and 10% protein (this includes animal and vegetable proteins). The top 1% should be fats and sweets. For all of you who are counting, I am aware that the sum is 101%. The top 1% doesn’t count as nutrition, it is your bonus points for being good.
Animal products should remain a luxury, something added to a meal to give it flavor and richness. They should never be the foundation of the diet. Consider the fact, that it is only because of enormous subsidies to farmers that dairy, meat and fowl are affordable on a daily basis. Perhaps we are better off eating the way G-d intended, instead of being influenced by political lobbies and crooked politicians.
Anyway, I apologize for the rant, back to the subject. The way I encourage eating more vegetables is that I make them delicious and beautiful. Vegetables come in three basic colors and flavors. Orange vegetables which are sweet. Green vegetables which are salty and bitter. White vegetables which are pungent and usually either bitter or sweet. Each type of vegetable strengthens a different organ and eating a variety of different color vegetables means that you are eating a balanced diet. Also understanding the flavors of the vegetables means that you can easily interchange between them, freeing you from needing to follow a recipe.
One method I use to encourage vegetable eating is that I serve them first. This is a dish that I serve for shabbat lunch as an appetizer. A type of anti-pasti if you will. While I list ingredients here, feel free to change them as you wish, using whatever you find in the market.

Ingredients:

1 leek, sliced into 4″ pieces.
2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 4.
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into rounds.
5 shallots, peeled and halved.
1 head cauliflower, broken into large pieces.
2 fennel, quartered.
1 celeriac, peeled and sliced.
1 box button mushrooms, bottom of stem removed.
olive oil
5 sprigs thyme, leaves removed.
salt and pepper.

Put the vegetables in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Mix well. Lie the vegetables flat, in a single layer, on an oven proof pan. Broil on medium setting until they begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Flip and brown the other side as well (optional).

Arrange on a serving platter.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Note: Since this dish does not have a dark green leafy vegetables, it should be served along with steamed broccoli or a lettuce salad.

Enjoy!

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