Crockpot Minestrone

Last Updated on Monday, 6 February 2012 12:44 Written by Flax Monday, 6 February 2012 12:44

I really do love using my crockpot in the winter.  Not only do I come home to a warm nourishing meal, I also come home to a house that smells great.  Crockpot cooking is also a much safer way to cook large beans as you don’t have to leave the stove on for long periods of time.  (Maybe it’s my own anxiety, but I’m always afraid that I will forget that the stove is on and accidentally burn down the house.)  Smaller beans, such as the adzuki beans and the mung bean are wonderful summer beans as they require under an hour cooking time.  Larger beans such as the kidney  bean, garbanzo bean,  and of course the fava bean require much longer cooking times and are much more appropriate for the winter where it is appropriate to keep a dish simmering for even an entire day.

Crockpot cooking also happens to provide an excellent solution for “working mom’s” who are sometimes the last ones to walk through the door.  Either prepare the food in the morning before leaving, or if your morning are just too busy, prepare all of the ingredients the night before and then just plug-in the crockpot the following morning.  It’s like magic!  Your family has a  healthy nourishing meal without your even being home!

The recipe below is for minestrone.  Minestrone is a hearty Italian vegetable soup which is essentially a whole meal.  The soup has red kidney beans which are a wonderful winter food as they nourish the kidneys, the organ that should be strengthened in the winter.  Please note how the recipe includes, white, orange, and  green vegetables.  When all  three colors of  vegetables are in a dish, you can be sure that the dishl will be balanced, both with regard to nutrition, as well as with regard to flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup lentils
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 parsnips, diced
  • 1 celeriac (celery root), diced
  • 1 broccoli stalk, peeled and diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 4 liters water
  • 1/8 cup brown rice
  • turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • pepper

Pesto:

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

To prepare the soup, place all of the soup ingredients, other than the salt, in a crockpot.  Set the crockpot to  low and allow to cook for 8-12 hours.

Prepare the pesto by pureeing all of the ingredients together in a food processor until you have a smooth paste .  Set aside.

Add the salt and the pesto to the soup a few minutes before serving.

Serve hot.  Serves 6-8.

Note:  When beans are cooked with salt the skin doesn’t soften and they remain hard.  It is preferable to add the salt only after they are at least slightly cooked.

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

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Stuffed Trout with Pomegranate Seeds for Rosh Hashanah

Last Updated on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 01:09 Written by Flax Monday, 5 September 2011 11:20

I love the holidays.  Yes, they are a tremendous amount of work, but they are also a wonderful time to refresh, to count our blessings, and to connect to G-d, ourselves, and to our families.  The special traditions and foods associated with the holidays always serve to remind me of my childhood and connect me to my roots.  Yet, I am no longer a child and I no longer live in the same way that I did as a child.  I live in a different country, far from where I grew up, my husband’s traditions are different from those of my father, and my children are sabras–along with everything that entails.  Like all families do, we have blended and merged and now we have new traditions that sit alongside the familiar old ones.  This is a dish which has become a tradition in our family and a way of combining both the old and the new.  Here I retain the idea of serving a stuffed fish (gefilte fish), but I no longer stuff  carp with carp but rather trout with pomegranates.  The flavor of this dish is Oriental. The spice that I use in this recipe is cardamom, the same spice commonly used in Turkish coffee and one which I naturally associate with Israel.  Thus this recipe symbolizes to me the fusion of the old and the new, where I came from as well as where I am now.  I am using the same symbols as my parents (ad meah ve’esrim) use,  but in a completely different fashion.

This dish uses two of the Rosh Hashanah symbols, the pomegranate and the fish.  The fish is a symbol of luck as well as of fertility. We serve a fish head  on Rosh Hashanah and ask to be larosh veloh lazanav (to be the head and not the tail).  Pomegranates are  eaten with the blessing sheneheye melaim mitzvot karimon (that our good deeds should be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate).  Another ingredient in this recipe is pine nuts.  Some Ashkenazic Jews don’t eat any nuts on Rosh Hashanah because the hebrew numeric value for nut (egoz) is the same as the numeric value of  misdeed (chet).  Others hold that the prohibition against nuts applies only to walnuts.  If your tradition excludes all nuts then pumpkin seeds are a good alternative.

As a nutritional counselor as well as cooking instructor I always look at the health benefits of a dish as well as at the flavor. The nature of a holiday is one of excess.  Holidays are a time when we strive to reach beyond the ordinary, to set ourselves new goals, and to appreciate all that is special and holy in our lives.  While I am a big believer in reducing the amount of animal products that we eat, I think that holidays are the time to eat it.   The richness of the animal products corresponds to the general holiday atmosphere and emphasizes our celebration.  When asked to choose between animal products, fish is of course the healthiest.  Fish is the animal product that is lowest in saturated fat and cholesterol and also a source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Pomegranates are a great health choice as well. They are high in the Vitamins A, C, and E and contain folic acid, niacin and potassium.  They are rich in anti-oxidants, beneficial in healing breast and prostate cancer, help prevent hardening of the arteries and help to lower blood pressure.  They are used in remedies for bladder disturbances and are also used to strengthen gums as well as soothe ulcers of the mouth and throat.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pomegranate
  • 2 fresh trout
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Scoop out the seeds of the pomegranate and set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the onions with the salt, pepper, and cardamom.
  4. Clean the fish and set on a lightly oiled ovenproof dish.
  5. Mix the fried onions with the remaining ingredients and use it to stuff the fish.  If necessary, use a toothpick to keep the trout closed.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  7. Serve on bed of lettuce and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Note:  To make for easier eating, ask your fish-seller if he will fillet the fish for you without removing the head.

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine.  She is also a cooking instructor and a nutritional counselor.

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Stuffed Artichokes

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 09:43 Written by Flax Tuesday, 22 February 2011 05:21

Photo Credit, Gail Saks

This recipe is probably a little more time-consuming than most of my recipes, it is definitely worth it though.  For those of you who would like to make it but time is an issue, I recommend baking the artichokes, with the chokes still in and serving the pesto sauce on the side.  While it is not as good as the recipe below,  it works, and it takes much less time.

In the recipe below I stuff the artichokes with a pesto made with basil, garlic and pine-nuts.  In last weeks blog I discussed the health benefits of artichokes so in this blog I will talk about basil. 

The word basil comes from the Greek word for king – ‘basileum’, either because basil oil was used to anoint the king or because the smell of basil is fit for a king’s house.  Basil is used therapeutically to treat digestive disorders and respiratory infections.  Basil’s ability to help a with stomach aches is due to the antispasmodic qualities.  It is also a decongestant which explains it’s ability to help open the breathing passages.  My favorite use for basil is for its cephalic qualities.  Like rosemary, basil has a clarifying effect on the brain.  I associate this with the mucus decongestant qualities which open up the breathing passages and increases oxygen flow to the brain.

No matter the reason why you chose to use basil, always remember to feel like royalty when you eat it. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 artichokes
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp pine-nuts
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Cut off the top third of the artichoke and level the base.  Blanch the artichokes in boiling water for 2-5 minutes.  Remove from the water, pull out the choke and scoop out the thorns with a spoon.  Arrange the artichokes in a dutch oven and pour the water into the bottom to prevent the pot from burning.

Roast the pine nuts for 2-3 minutes until golden.  Place with the remaining ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Use a spoon to fill the artichokes with the pesto.  Cover the dutch oven and bake for 1 hour.

Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Enjoy!

Photo Credit:  Gail Saks

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