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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Quinoa-Veggie Bake

Last Updated on Thursday, 2 December 2010 03:34 Written by Flax Sunday, 21 November 2010 02:39

Seasonal cooking not only uses seasonal vegetables, it also uses seasonal methods. Autumn is the season for baking. Logically, this makes sense. Autumn is the time when the nights are getting colder and you want to slightly warm up your house. Having the oven on for an hour helps to take the chill out of the evening and to lightly warm us up as well. The longer food is cooked the “warmer” it is. Baked foods are more warming than a summer stir-fry, while they are not as warming as a winter stew which would cook on a low flame for hours.

Here I chose to use quinoa, not only because it is high in calcium and iron, but because I love the way it bakes, all soft and mushy, it kinds of melts in your mouth. You can just as easily substitute it with barley, rice, wild rice, or wheat berries, just adjust the amount of water accordingly.
Likewise with the vegetables. The vegetables I use are commonly found autumn vegetables but feel free to substitute any vegetables you wish. I use the color rule: orange vegetables, white vegetables and green vegetables. Orange vegetables are sweet, white vegetables are pungent and either bitter or sweet, while green vegetables are bitter and salty. When you look at the taste of the vegetables, it is easy to find a suitable alternative.

This recipe is one of my, all-in-one, make-it-easy, Shabbat dishes. You have a whole grain (the quinoa) your veggies, and the option of making it vegetarian or adding chicken or turkey. Plus, the fact that it is simple does not mean that it is not delicious. Another plus here, there is only one dirty pot at the end of the meal. 🙂

Ingredients:

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 bunch beet leaves, chopped
3 jerusalem artichokes, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
2 branches thyme, stems discarded
1 1/2 cups quinoa (rinsed)
3 cups water
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
salt and pepper

optional: 1 chicken, quartered, or 1 turkey roll

Preheat oven to 180c/350f.
Heat the oil in a large dutch oven. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and saute for 10 more minutes. Remove from the flame and add the quinoa, water and spices. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
If you are using chicken or turkey, then put it on top of the quinoa and bake 1 1/2 -2 hours depending on the size of the turkey roll. If the chicken/turkey is skinned then brush with olive oil and paprika to give it color and prevent it from drying out.

Enjoy!

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Buckwheat and Mushrooms

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 06:36 Written by Flax Thursday, 8 July 2010 10:20

Some twenty odd years ago, I had a room-mate who suffered from celiac disease.  Way back then, no one even had even heard of celiac disease, let alone knew what it was.  Unfortunately, this is no longer true.  The rise in the number of people afflicted with celiac disease is astronomical.  While a decade ago, gluten-intolerance levels were at 1 in every 2,500 people, today’s calculations put the number at 1 in every 133 people.    How can we understand why this is happening, and what can be done to prevent the dreaded gluten-free diet?

  • Recent developments and modern science have done much to change the foods that we eat.  Modern wheat no longer resembles the traditional varieties of wheat.  This is due in a large part to genetic engineering.  In developing a wheat which would have a greater yield and be more resilient to pests, scientists have also, apparently, developed a wheat that is impossible for a growing number of humans to digest.
  • Modern day preparation methods also play a role in the rise of celiac disease.  Grains were often fermented before baking.  This fermentation process would serve a function of helping in human digestion.  Researchers have learned that the primary culprit in celiac disease is a certain peptide strand in the gluten molecule.  The gluten itself is not the issue, it is the peptide in the gluten that is causing the problems.   The long, slow ferments, necessary for making traditional sourdough bread, severs the bonds of this particular peptide strand while leaving enough of the remaining gluten proteins intact to achieve a pleasant rise (without gluten, bread doesn’t rise at all).

While in some cases, celiac disease is quickly and easily diagnosed, other times it is it can go undiagnosed for a long period of time.  Many auto-immune disorders, specifically, autoimmune liver disease, thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes and Addison’s disease, can be an indicator of celiac disease.  If you suffer from any kind of digestive disorder, frequent sinus infections, environmental allergies, lactose intolerance, candida, alopecia (female hair loss), bloating, skin conditions, or just “flu-ey” all the time,  you might find significant health improvements, solely by eliminating, or cutting back on your wheat consumption.  The above conditions might be indicative of a slight allergy or just a sensitivity to wheat.  A little bit of caution and prevention can go a long way in preventing a full blown gluten-intolerance.

Take a moment to think about how much wheat you eat.  Many people eat wheat every single day.  Many people eat wheat at every meal.  Some people eat wheat at every meal and in their snack foods as well.  If you fall into any of the above categories, than you might just be eating too much wheat.  And yes, whole wheat is also wheat.  (The exception of course being, if the wheat is a fermented, whole grain wheat, that has not been genetically engineered.)  I often recommend that people go off of wheat for as little as two weeks to notice how different they feel.  The results are miraculous.  People report an energy boost, weight loss, and improved health.

Once you are aware of how much wheat you eat, begin by slowly reducing the amounts.  Try wheat-free meals, or even wheat free days.  Use spelt flour as a wonderful alternative to wheat and choose a sourdough rye bread over your normal bread choice.  Focus meals around other whole grains, examples of which include; oatmeal, barley, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, and rice.

Buckwheat, also known as kasha is a wonderful alternative to wheat.  When toasted, buckwheat becomes one of the few alkalizing grains.  Buckwheat contains rutin, useful in strengthening capillaries and blood vessels, it inhibits hemorrhages, reduces blood pressure, and increases circulation to the hands and feet.  Rutin is also an antidote against radiation.

The earthy flavors of the buckwheat and the mushrooms blend nicely in this dish. Add a salad on the side and you have a whole meal.

Ingredients:

Buckwheat (Kasha)

  • olive oil
  • 2 cups buckwheat
  • 4 cups water
  • Atlantic grey sea salt

Mushrooms:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved and then sliced into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 package button mushrooms or porcini mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Atlantic grey sea salt
  • pepper

Heat the olive oil in a pot and saute the buckwheat 2-3 minutes, until it browns, being careful not to let it burn. Add the water and the salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until all the water is absorbed, approximately 10-15 minutes. Remove from the flame and fluff with a fork.

Prepare the mushrooms while the buckwheat is cooking. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onions and stir for 1 minute. Add the garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper,  and saute over a low flame until the mushrooms become slightly limp, about 5 minutes.

Place the buckwheat on a serving platter and top with the mushrooms. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Nutritional Healer and a Healthy-Cooking Instructor.

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