Mahlabi-Healthy Style

Last Updated on Tuesday, 4 December 2012 12:59 Written by Flax Tuesday, 4 December 2012 12:37

While the ingredients in this recipe, might be more appropriate for Tu Be’Shvat then for Hanukkah, this is an excellent dessert to eat post latkes and sufganiot.  This delicious, light, and creamy dessert, is  both egg free and gluten free, and it will also help you to metabolize the fatty foods that we so lovingly consume on this holiday of oil.  Whoops, I meant holiday of light,  not holiday of oil, then again…   Anyway, eating agar (seaweed gelatine), with your holiday meals,  can help you to incorporate both the elements of the light and the oil into your festivities.

Those of you who prefer ingredients that they know, simply replace the agar and kudzu with  five tablespoons of cornstarch.  In my opinion, if your weight, health, and appearance matter to you, it’s worth making a trip to the health food store to pick up these “exotic” ingredients.   Agar, like all seaweeds is used to help digestion and to help with weight loss, it also helps to remove toxic wastes from your body (ie. rancid oils used in deep-frying your latkes and sufganiot).   Other benefits to using agar- it is a great source of calcium and iron, and besides that it is anti-aging, it will give you great skin and hair as well.

While you are in the health food buying your agar-agar, pick up some kudzu (arrowroot) as well.  Kudzu is an excellent addition to any meal involving fried foods.  When consumed, some of kudzu’s complex starch molecules enter the intestines and relieve the discomfort caused by over-acidity and bacterial infection. Medical research has shown kudzu to be helpful in connection to, indigestion and heart burn, as well as numerous health conditions such as, high blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, chronic migraine headaches, shoulder and neck pain, high cholesterol, blood clots, sinus troubles, acid reflux, indigestion, heartburn, stomach ulcers, colitis, hangovers, allergies, alcohol addiction, bronchial asthma, skin rashes, heart disease and neurological disorders.

Women however have a special place in their heart for kudzu as it has been shown to have a strong effect on the body’s hormonal system and can help regulate estrogen levels – of primary importance to post menopausal women to help in preventing bone loss,  estrogen related disorders, and cancer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter (4 cups) almond milk (I used the organic Adama brand, which like most brands,  has some sugar in it)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp rose water OR orange blossom water
  • 3 1/2 tbsp kudzu
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 4 tbsp agar-agar
  • 1/4 cup shelled and coarsely chopped unsalted pistachio nuts (for garnish)
  • pomegranate concentrate

Dissolve the kudzu in cold water and allow to sit for five minutes.

Heat the almond milk in a saucepan over a low flame.  When the liquid reaches a slow boil, add the honey and the orange blossom/rose water.  Slowly sprinkle in the agar and stir continuously until the agar flakes have completely dissolved (approximately five minutes).  Stir in the kudzu and continue mixing for one minute more.

Pour half a cup of the mixture  into eight wine glasses or ice cream cups.  Allow to cool slightly, and then refrigerate for one hour.

To serve, garnish with the pistachio nuts and drizzle with the pomegranate concentrate.

Serves 8

Enjoy!

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Nutritional Healer and a Wellness Counselor.  For individual or group classes contact her at Sima@JustAddFlax.com

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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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