February 2, 2019
Valentine’s Day is associated with flowers and chocolates filled with sugar and fat—certainly not a recipe for a healthy heart. Medical research shows that a diet high in refined sweeteners and fats can cause hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart-related illnesses.
What can be better than saying “I love you” by preparing a heart-healthy meal for your loved ones? This meal will warm his/her heart in more than one way.
Here is a partial list of heart-friendly foods and not-so-friendly foods, followed by two health-promoting recipes.
Here are two recipes. Upma, a traditional South Indian breakfast dish, is made with cream of wheat or cream of rice, vegetables and cashews. The other is a chutney (a spicy condiment) made with dried goji berries and cranberries. Both dishes are low in fat and sweeteners. Both are vegan and gluten-free.
Makes four to six servings
2 ½ cups very hot water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/3 cup raw or roasted cashews
1 cup cream of rice (the type that is sold in baby food section or Bob’s gluten free rice cereal)
2 tablespoons safflower or sunflower seed oil or vegan spread
½ teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon or less minced jalapeno pepper (after removing seeds and inner veins) (optional)
½ cup small cubes of a carrot
½ cup frozen (and thawed) or freshly shelled peas
Juice of ½ lemon or lime (about 2-3 teaspoons)
2 to 3 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
Heat the water in a sauce pot until it starts boiling. Add the salt and keep the water very hot over a low heat.
In a 10” to 13” stainless steel skillet or an iron pan, toast the cashews while stirring constantly. As the nuts start to turn color, transfer them to a bowl and set aside. (Roasted cashews do not have to be toasted.) Wipe off the skillet and add the cream of rice. Toast the cream of rice, stirring constantly. When the cereal starts to change color (3-5 minutes), transfer it to a platter and set aside.
Place the oil (or vegan spread) in the same pan and add mustard seeds. When the seeds sizzle and spatter, add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the time. When the onion becomes limp, add the optional jalapeno and stir fry for a minute. Then, add the cream of rice and continue to sauté the mixture for several minutes while adding the carrots, peas and nuts.
When the cereal is well mixed with vegetables and nuts, slowly and carefully add the water with one hand. Careful: it will splash. Using the other hand, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. Blend the mixture well, breaking lumps and spreading it out. Turn the heat low and continue to cook until all of the water is absorbed. Sprinkle on the lemon juice. Add the optional cilantro leaves. Cover the pan and allow the upma to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Next, transfer the upma mound onto a serving plate and pat it down gently, using your palm or a spatula to spread it out into a 8” to 9” circle that is about 1” thick. If you like, form the mound into a heart shape as shown in the photo. The circle or heart shape can be cut into individual servings. Serve upma with goji berry and cranberry chutney (recipe to follow).
Makes 2 cups of chutney
I never grew up with cranberries in India. But in the US cranberries are an essential ingredient, especially for a Thanksgiving dinner. For these holidays, I decided to jazz up the cranberry sauce by creating a cranberry chutney with spices. However, when I wanted to duplicate this red chutney for a valentine dinner in February, there were no cranberries available in the market. So I used dehydrated cranberries and goji berries to make the chutney.
Both goji berries and cranberries are excellent sources of vitamin C and antioxidants- nutrients that can protect us against chronic diseases and prevent growth of cancerous cells. In addition, goji berries can increase good cholesterol (HDL) in our blood and cranberries can enhance digestion.
½ cup dried goji berries
1 cup dried cranberries (sweetened with apple juice – sold in OA’s bulk dept.)
2 cups of hot water
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
¼ teaspoon (or more for hotter version) cayenne powder
½ teaspoon or to taste salt
Cover dried berries with hot water in a bowl and soak them for 30 minutes to an hour. Next, place all of the ingredients into a jar of a food processor including most of the water the berries were soaked in (reserving some water). Process mixture into a puree, adding more of the reserved water, if needed. Serve one or two tablespoons per person with Upma or any grain dish. If refrigerated, leftover chutney can keep for a week.
December 6, 2018
The traditional Native American diet included many seasonal plants, as our native ancestors understood the complex interrelationship between food and climate. Their farming traditions reflected that. They planted three major vegetables—corn, squash, and beans, also known as the “three sisters”—with ecology of land and water in mind; in this method, the corn supports the beanstalks and the squash enjoys the shade below. In addition to being grown interdependently, corn, beans, and squash complement one another nutritionally: corn provides complex carbohydrates, beans provide protein, and squash provides vitamin A and potassium.
-Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff
1 each: small butternut, kabocha, and acorn squashes
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped
12 to 15 thin strips red or green bell pepper (from one medium pepper)
1½ cups corn kernels, freshly scraped or frozen and thawed
1½ cups green beans, cut into small (1/2 inch) size pieces
1 teaspoon freshly minced or ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped finely
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional: ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese or vegan alternative for topping
Use a sharp knife to cut each squash in half lengthwise. Remove the fibers and seeds and rinse the squash. Arrange the squash halves in a vegetable steamer with the open sides down. If necessary, cook batches so as not to crowd the steamer. Steam the squash for about 20 minutes or until most of the inner pulp is cooked but the shells are still intact. Some squashes will take longer to cook than others, so check each of them after the first 15 minutes to be sure they are not overdone. Cool the cooked squash for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a frying pan heat 2 tablespoons oil and sauté the onion for several minutes until limp. Add the bell pepper strips and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the corn and green beans, and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a mixing bowl and set them aside.
Use a paring knife to carefully scoop out the pulp from the squash without breaking the shells. Cut the pulp into small pieces and mix with the vegetables. Add salt, pepper, oregano, and cilantro, and mix well.
Rub the remaining oil on the insides of the squash shells and on the outer surfaces. Stuff the shells with the vegetable mixture and arrange the “bowls” in two shallow casserole dishes or on a baking sheet that has been lined with a small amount of water (to prevent sticking to the baking sheet). Bake the bowls for 30 minutes (or longer), until they turn golden brown on the edges. Top with the optional Parmesan or vegan alternative.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
September 20, 2018
By Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff
The joy of cooking and sharing food outdoors is not to be reserved for carnivores only. Vegetarians around the world cook and enjoy open-air cooking, some while working in the fields, others while traveling or on pilgrimages. Sharing food in an outdoor setting is a very special experience especially for us city dwellers.
Outdoor cooking can be a satisfying change to host a party where you can get away from an isolated kitchen and share chores with your guests. A successful cookout can be a joyful cooperative effort with some careful planning.
Here are some tips to make your picnic or barbecue enjoyable and successful. Planning ahead is important.
1) Plan a varied menu with colorful, hearty dishes. Include relishes such as pickles, olives, sauces and chutneys. Bring plenty of beverages including water, juices and tea.
2) Make rice, pasta, and salad dishes ahead of time.
3) Pick a spot that is sheltered from heavy wind.
4) Bring folding chairs, blankets, ground cloths and necessary utensils.
5) Be familiar ahead of time with the grill or whatever cooking medium you plan to use.
6) Remember, grilled food is very hot! Be careful cooking and serving it.
7) Bring water to cool off the grill after you are done and bags to carry away trash.
A list of items you can find at Other Avenues to include in your outdoor party:
Read on for two recipes for an outdoor party: Vegetable Tofu Kebabs and Gluten-Free Tabbouli.
This dish can be made with a variety of many different vegetables. So feel free to include your favorite vegetables that are in season.
2 small Japanese eggplants, cut into ½ inch thick discs
Or 1 small global eggplant cut into bite-size chunks
10 to 12 cherry tomatoes
12 to 16 white or crimini mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, seeded, de-veined and cut into large pieces
3 small pearl onions or 2 small shallots, removed outer layers and cut into chunks
2 zucchinis, cut into ½ inch thick discs
2 yellow summer squash, cut into ½ inch thick discs
1 pound firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes after draining some water out
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon fresh herbs such as oregano, basil and thyme, minced
¼ cup Soy sauce or salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Prepare the vegetables as described in the list and place them into a large mixing bowl.
Drain water from tofu by standing the slab on a cutting board for ½ hour or gently pressing the surface with paper towels. Cut into bite size cubes and add to the vegetables.
In a separate mixing bowl combine all ingredients for marinade by mixing with a whisk.
Pour the marinade onto the vegetables and tofu and toss them gently to mix. Cover and set the bowl aside for at least an hour to allow the marinade to permeate the vegetables and tofu chunks. You can prepare the marinade and other ingredients hours or a day ahead of time, combine them and keep them covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Take the bowl of vegetables, tofu and marinade to the outdoor site where you will be grilling them.
When ready to grill, take out the vegetables and tofu chunks from the bowl using a slotted spoon and place them on a platter. Thread the vegetables and tofu pieces securely onto skewers by spreading out the colors and textures of the ingredients. Liberally baste the kebabs with marinade that remains in the bowl. Place the skewers on the grill above the hot coals. As the kebabs cook, turn them frequently while basting them several times with the marinade. The kebabs are ready when the vegetables look cooked and partially charred. Serve with tabbouli recipe below or a bowl of rice.
Bulgur, the main ingredient in tabbouli is a wheat product. Traditional tabbouli is made with bulgur. Here is a gluten-free option made with rice and quinoa.
1 ¼ cup water
½ cup basmati rice
½ cup white quinoa
A large bunch or two small bunches (2 cups) finely chopped Italian parsley, stems removed
½ to ¾ cup finely chopped fresh mint, twigs removed
1 bunches of scallion, finely chopped, with some of the green tops
1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped in cubes (1 cup)
½ red or green bell pepper (1/2 cup) seeded and finely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice, freshly squeezed
½ teaspoon oregano dried or fresh and minced
½ teaspoons or to taste salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
First cook the basmati rice and quinoa. Wash and drain rice and quinoa thoroughly. Bring the water to boil in a saucepan. Add the grains and stir gently. Bring the mixture to a second boil and then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and allow to simmer gently for 10 minutes. Uncover and check to see that the grain is almost cooked. Cover again and turn off the heat. The steam in the pot will finish cooking he grains. Uncover after five minutes and spread out the grains on a platter to cool the cooked grains. Set the plate aside.
Prepare the dressing with the ingredients in the above list and place in a jar with a lid. Set the dressing aside. Next, prepare the vegetables as described in the recipe above and mix them with the cooked grains. Add the desired amount of dressing to tabbouli and save the rest of the dressing in the refrigerator for the future use. Serve tabbouli with cooked vegetables or the vegetables kebab (recipe above).
Makes about 6 to 7 cups tabbouli
Variation: To make a traditional tabbouli recipe, use ¾ cup bulgur (cracked wheat). Bulgur is a cooked product, so you do not have to cook this grain. Simply soak the bulgur grain in 2 cups of warm water for half hour. Drain completely. Place the grains in a mixing bowl. Prepare the vegetables and the dressing using the ingredients and method above. Mix the bulgur with vegetables and dressing and serve.
Copyright © Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff 2018
June 13, 2018
Kids Can Cook For Father’s Day
By Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff Author of Other Avenues Are Possible and Cooking Together
Home cooking can be a powerful tool. When you prepare food at home you can select your own ingredients. As food writer Michael Pollan says: “When you cook, you get to shop. You get to vote” with your pocket book. I go a step further and say that cooking together with friends and family members bring us together.
Food preparation played an important role in families not too long ago, when women reserved several hours every day to prepare fresh meals. This phenomenon has changed more and more as both partners need to contribute to the family’s finances. Packaged, frozen and grab-n-go foods have become popular as most of us work long hours and do not have time to cook. However, most prepared foods are costly and less nutritious than home-made food. With some planning and organized effort of task-sharing with family members (or house mates) we can take back the joy of nourishing one another.
Kids can cook. Parents are often too busy to pass on the important education of food preparation to their children. Most of us spend a lot of time transporting our kids to sports and extracurriculars that are important for their health, but do not see the importance of food related activities.
So, this year, for fathers’ day let us have kids prepare two simple dishes. These recipes have proven to be a hit among children and parents. Kids twelve-years-old and younger can make these dishes, with some supervision of an adult or a teenager who has had some cooking experience. This is the Joy of Cooking Together.
First, read the recipes and get familiar with the cooking process. Next, have your helper read them too. Then go shopping with your helper or give him/her the list of ingredients to shop for.
Get acquainted with ingredients before the day of cooking. Since both recipes take some preparation time, you can make the chili dish a day before (or a few days prior to) Fathers’ Day. Refrigerate the prepared chili, which can be easily reheated on the day of serving. And you can make the cornbread on Sunday. Have fun!!
Bowls of Chili
This is my friend Jim Sugarek’s vegetarian interpretation of his mother’s Tex-Mex chili recipe which contained meat. With an addition of a pound of tofu and a bunch of vegetables plus an option to add some beans (in variation version), your dad is sure to have enough protein. Also, the fresh organic vegetables will give him a boost of nutrients and fiber. This colorful, tasty and nutritious bowl of chili can be served with rice or cornbread, recipe below.
You will need these tools:
A large pot ( 1 ½ to 2 gallons size)
A sharp knife (and a food processor, but not necessary)
A can opener
An iron skillet or a pan with a sturdy bottom
A wooden spoon
Measuring spoons and cups
2 small mixing bowls
4 large or 6 medium sized tomatoes, cut into small chunks
2 green bell peppers (or 1 red and 1 green), seeds and veins removed and cut into small pieces
4 to 6 celery stalks, rinsed, trimmed and sliced into thin pieces (about 3 cups)
2 -3 zucchini or yellow squash (about 3 cups cubes), sliced into circles and them cut into cubes
3 carrots (about 3 cups cubes) first cut into 1” slices and then into small cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 15 – 16 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
½ cup of olive or sunflower seed oil
1 pound firm tofu, crumbled after draining water (or the compressed and shrink wrapped tofu)
3 tablespoon of good quality Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano ( same amount of dried and crumbled oregano)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon cooking oil (any type)
4 to 6 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
***For a gluten-free version, use garbanzo flour, or any finely ground gluten-free bake mix
½ cup water (at room temperature)
2 – 3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional for hotter chili)
First rinse all vegetables, except for the onion and garlic. Arrange them on a cutting surface or a cutting board. See, how beautiful they look! Then, cut them as described in the list. You can ask your helper if you do not know how to cut. Set the vegetables, in a platter in separate piles as they will be going in the cooking pot at different time in the process.
Next, ask your helper to chop the onion finely, using a sharp knife or the food processor if your family has one. (If you have dealt with chopping onions before, you may not need help). If chopping in a food processor, make sure you pulse the onion briefly as they get chopped in a couple of minutes. You do not want to puree the onion. Set the chopped onion in a small bowl and cover. Chop the garlic finely and set aside. Open the can of tomatoes and set them aside.
Over a moderate flame, heat ¼ cup of oil in a large pot and add the chopped onion. Stir fry for a few minutes until the onions look translucent and then add the garlic. Next, add the chopped peppers and stir fry them together for 5 minutes. Continue to stir, adding the fresh tomato chunks. Next, lower the heat and cover the pot. Allow the mixture in the pot to simmer for about 8 – 10 minutes, stirring and mixing once or twice to mix the ingredients. Then add the canned tomatoes. Lower the heat, cover the pot and continue to cook the tomatoes while preparing for the next steps. Check the cooking mixture from time to time to prevent from possible sticking.
Next, attend to the tofu. If the tofu is in a box of water, drain the liquid completely and slice the slob into several long slices. Stand the pieces on several thickness of paper towels to drain the liquid — for about half hour. Then crush the drained tofu into small crumbles. If you are using the compressed firm tofu, it does not need to be drained, as it crumbles easily.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet and add crumbled tofu. Stir fry for 10 – 15 minutes to evaporate liquid. If you are using an iron skillet the tofu pieces will start to stick to the bottom. Scrape them from the bottom and sides, from time to time, and sautee the tofu until it starts to turn to a beige/brown color. Add the cooked tofu to the cooking pot of tomatoes. Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin and salt. Stir the mixture well to distribute the spices.
Clean the skillet and heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Stir fry the remaining vegetables until they smell fragrant and are coated with oil. Add them to the cooking pot. Stir everything to mix the ingredients and cover again.
Lastly, you are going to make a thickening mixture with oil and flour to be added to the pot of chili. Clean the skillet and heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a low heat. Add the flour (or gluten free item) and stir fry with a wooden spoon, for several minutes, until the flour is well coated with oil. Transfer this mix to a small mixing bowl and add ½ cup water. Whisk the flour to form a gravy. Add this gravy to the pot of chili while stirring the mixture vigorously to mix. Cook the chili for an additional 10 minutes so the flavors are well blended. Serve with chopped cilantro and optional cayenne for those who want the chili to be spicier.
Makes 8 hearty servings
Variation: A 15 – 16 oz. can of canned kidney beans or corn kernels can be added to the chill before the last step of thickening with gravy. After adding this items, cook the chili for additional 10 minutes. (You may not need to thickener if you add the beans).
Note: This recipe was adopted from Shanta’s book, Ethnic Vegetarian Kitchen; Recipes with Nutritional Guideline, which is now out of print.
This easy-to-prepare cornbread goes well with any soup, stew, or bean dish. For a gluten-free version, cornmeal can be combined with a gluten-free alternative instead of with wheat flour.
Gadgets and Tools you will need:
A cast iron pan (preferred) or a deep dish pie plate (9” or 12” in dimeter)
2 mixing bowls
Measuring cups and measuring spoons
Flour sifter or a sieve with small holes
An oven mitt
A pastry brush
A knife to cut the cornbread
A metal spatula
1½ cup wheat flour
(or for a gluten-free version, use garbanzo flour or a finely ground gluten-free bake mix)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1½ cups yellow cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup yogurt (or soy yogurt) blended with ¼ cup cool water
Or 1½ cup water blended with 2 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
6 tablespoons of light cooking oil such as safflower or sunflower oil
¼ cup maple syrup, honey or agave nectar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch iron skillet or a glass pie plate. Sift the flour (or gluten-free alternative) and baking powder together into a mixing bowl. Add the cornmeal and salt. Mix these dry ingredients well.
In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Whisk them together to combine the sweetener with oil, yogurt and water thoroughly. Next, add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix everything briefly but thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into the prepared skillet (or pie plate) and smoothen the surface with a spatula.
Bake the cornbread in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the cornbread is crusty and begins to turn golden. Next, for an extra crusty top, you may want to set the heat to a broil.
Set the oven at broil. Using an oven mitt, carefully take out the skillet or pie plate and place it on a safe surface, as the skillet is very hot. Next, brush some oil on the surface of cornbread, which will give it a shiny finish on the crust. Return the bread to the oven to broil, just for a few minutes. This is when the adult helper will need to watch carefully so that the top is brownish but does not burn. Take out the bread, using an oven mitt and place it on a surface that is lined with a thick kitchen towels. Allow the cornbread to cool for a few minutes. Then cut the pie into 8 wedges. Remove the wedges carefully using a metal spatula and serve.
Serve corn bread with beans, a soup, a saucy vegetable curry or a bowl of chili.
Makes 8 servings with ten wedges
Note: This recipe is adopted from Shanta’s book, Cooking Together: A Vegetarian Co-op Cookbook, available at Other Avenues Food Coop.
May 6, 2018
By Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff
KIDS, LET’S MAKE A CHUTNEY FOR MOTHER’S DAY!
Every culture worships its mothers. Historically, African, Indian, Greek and early Christian civilizations had specific rituals dedicated to worshipping the Mother Goddess. In the United States, Mother’s Day began in 1872 when Ann Jarvis, an anti-war activist, called for Mothers’ Peace Observance Day, urging all mothers to rise up for peace so that their young ones will not be sacrificed. However, later on, Mothers’ Day became commercialized with flowers and gifts.
Food, cooking and nurturing have all become synonymous with motherhood. Our mothers are loved, feared and praised, but they are often not nourished by other family members. Therefore, kids, this year on Mother’s Day, make your mom an edible and enticing gift — a jarful of chutney! It is an easy to make, delicious and nutritious! And all the ingredients are available at Other Avenues. You may need to get your dad, an elder sibling or a guardian to help out in the process of making this dish. Happy Mothers’ Day!!
Equipment you will need:
A small knife
A food processor or an electric blender
A mixing bowl
A Mason jar
Ingredients (makes about a pintsize jar):
1 cup dried goji berries
1 cup dehydrated cranberries
2 cups of hot water
1 ½ tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
Few pinches of powdered cardamom and cinnamon (available in Other Avenues bulk herbs section)
One pinch of ground cloves (also available in Other Avenues bulk herbs section)
½ teaspoon salt
First of all, what is a chutney? Chutney is a popular condiment in Indian cuisine. No meal goes without a chutney and every meal becomes more interesting with a dab of a chutney. There are two types of Indian condiments—chutneys and pickles. Pickles are often salty, oily and/or sweetened, and they take a long time to prepare. On the other hand, chutneys can be made quickly.
Place the goji berries and cranberries in a bowl of hot water and let them soak for approximately 30 – 40 minutes. During this time the berries will get soft and plump. Remove the berries from their soaking water and reserve the water. Next place all ingredients in the jar of a food processor or a blender and add a few tablespoons of the reserved water to the mixture. Puree the mixture adding more water, if necessary, to obtain a consistency that is close to a crunchy peanut butter. Allow the chutney to stand in the food processor or the blender, without opening the lid, for few minutes to half an hour to settle the flavors. Then, transfer into a mason jar (or two) and wrap with gift paper or a ribbon.
Note: If refrigerated, this chutney will keep for a few weeks.
February 1, 2018
Recipe adopted by Shanta Nimbark Shacharoff from her new book: Cooking Together: A vegetarian Co-op Cookbook, (Nimbarka Press 2018)
The month of February is coined as the “American Heart Month” by the Congress since 1963, to raise public awareness regarding heart health as coronary heart diseases are one of the major causes of death in the United States. The risk factors associated with heart disease can be due to internal and external factors. Family history of heart illness and genetics are some of the internal risk factors whereas sedentary life style, stress, smoking and poor diet with excessive fats and refined food are the external risk factors. The internal factors are difficult to control, but the external factors such as the diet can be modified. Heart disease tends to progress with the elderly, but the young people too need to educate themselves regarding a heart healthy life style as youth obesity correlates with coronary illnesses later in the life. Stress management, regular exercise and a heart healthy diet are important factors in keeping your heart happy.
A common form of heart disease in the US is arteriosclerosis in which the arteries are hardened partially due to high levels of undesirable Law-Density Lipoproteins. Medical research shows that one’s LDL level can be greatly influenced by his/her diet, although other factors affect its elevation. Saturated fat found in animal fat (include dairy) and trans-fats raise the LDL whereas antioxidant properties of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and their oils reduce LDL. Research has indicated that most vegan population (those who refrain from all animal products) have lower LDL than their omnivore counterparts. Vegetarians may be unaware that even a meatless diet containing too much dairy and fat can be unhealthy resulting in increased LDL.
Here is a partial list of foods available here at Other Avenues that good for your coronary health;.
Here are two healthy heart recipes using some of these ingredients. Bon appetite!!
Malabari Red Curry with Beets and Coconut sauce
The Malabar coastal region of South India (which includes the state of Kerala and Karnataka) represents an interesting mix of people: the Christian and Muslim settlers who blended their cultures and cuisines with the Hindus. In Malabari cuisine you can find the traditional, crepe-like dish made with fermented rice and beans fermented served with a Syrian or Moghul dish. And you will witness a variety of seasonal vegetables cooked with an array of locally grown spices and ever -so-present fresh coconut milk.
Here is one of my favorite Malabari “Valentine’s Day Curry”. It is uniquely red because of the predominant beets instead of the usual yellow curry.
1 bunch of red beets, reserving a cup of beet leaves
3 medium size beets with a cup of any leafy greens such as spinach
1 large or two small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into halves
2 carrot, cleaned and cut into thin slices
3 tablespoons freshly made tamarind sauce using 3 to 4 fresh pods, following the direction below
Juice of ½ lemon combined with a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped finely
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced or finely shredded
1 fresh green chili, minced (after removing seeds and inside veins)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ cup coconut milk, freshly made or canned
¼ teaspoon finely ground cardamom seeds
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
First, cut off the stems from the bunch of beets reserving one cup of the green portion of leaves. Rinse, drain and chop the leaves into bite- size portions and set them aside. Discard rest of the stems and leaves or save them for a soup stock. Clean the beet roots and peel them gently to remove dirt but not too much of the exterior. Cut the beets and potatoes into halves.
Place 2 quarts of water in a sauce pan with the beets. Boil them for 15 minutes and then add the potatoes. Keep boiling the two roots for another 10 to 15 minutes until cooked but not too soft. Add the carrots and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the boiled roots from water, discard the water and set aside and cooked roots.
While the roots are boiling, prepare the tamarind sauce. Remove and discard the brittle outer shells and the stingy fibers of tamarind. Rinse the pods and place them in a small bowl. Add a cup of warm water and allow the tamarind to soak for 20 minutes. After soaking, rub the pods with your fingers to extract as much of the pulp into the water as possible. When the water becomes a thick sauce, strain the mixture through a colander with large holes into a bowl. Discard the seeds and the membranes that will end up in the colander. Set the tamarind sauce aside. (If you do not have tamarind, simply mix the lemon juice with sugar and set aside.)
Cut the beets and potatoes into bite size chunks and mix with the carrots. Heat the olive oil over a moderate flame in a shallow pan or a wok and sauté the onion for five minutes. Add the garlic and ginger root and sauté for another minutes until fragrant. Add the chili and stir fry for two minutes. Then sprinkle the cumin seeds a roast them for a minute. Next, add the chopped leaves and stir fry the ingredients for another minute. Next, add all the boiled roots and lower the heat. Stir fry the mixture for five minutes. Then add the coconut milk, the prepared tamarind sauce (or lemon juice, water and sugar mixture), cardamom and salt. Gently mix all the ingredients while they simmer. Taste and adjust saltiness and hotness. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with the rice/quinoa pilaf, recipe to follow.
Makes six to servings
Basmati Rice and Quinoa Pilaf
In the pilaf method of cooking grains, the rice (or other grains) is first stir-fried briefly in a small amount of oil or butter (and sometimes with herbs, spices and nuts) and then hot water or stock is poured over the sautéed mixture. This technique of cooking grains obtains a fluffy and delicate texture in the final product.
2 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup white Basmati rice, rinsed and drained
½ cup white quinoa, rinsed and drained
½ teaspoon cumin
Juice of ½ lime or lemon
Boil the water and salt in a stock pot with a tightly fitting lid. While the water is boiling, heat the oil in a skillet and stir-fry the nuts for 2 -3 minutes. Next, add cumin seeds and continue to sautee for a few more minutes; don’t brown. Add the content of the skillet to the boiling water. Bring the mixture to a second boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer the grains at a low/moderate heat for 10 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Turn the heat off and keep the pot cover for a few minutes. Then uncover and gently fluff the grains with a fork and serve with the Malabari Curry (recipe above) or any curry.
Makes Six Servings
December 18, 2017
The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions started some 4000 years ago in Babylonia, and even today, in many cultures, the first day of the new year is considered an auspicious time for a new start. What is more important for a happy new year than improving your health? This year, let us resolve to cook more, and to share food and cooking more often with our loved ones.
Why does cooking at home and sharing food lead to better health? Because most packaged foods contain too much salt, fat and sugar, and home-made food can have select ingredients. And, a special time set aside with your loved ones to prepare food can add to quality of life.
Our Ayurvedic (science of long life) ancestors noted that a satvic (well-balanced) diet leads to good health, whereas tamasi (not nourishing) foods with too much fat and additives cause sickness. Even the best packaged foods often contain ingredients that are not nutritious. Any boxed lunch sitting on a shelf for a few days is certainly less nutritious than freshly prepared food. And why cook together? Social interaction is a necessary ingredient for good health and long life. Sharing our well-intended resolutions makes us all more likely to succeed. As I like to say: “people who cook together, stay together!”
In the past, food was grown locally, without chemicals and fertilizers. Food was also prepared with minimal salt, oil, spices, and sweeteners because they were scarce and precious. Modern technology has freed us from hard work, but has also threatened our health by reducing the nutrients in our food. What is more, our busy lifestyles require many of us to work away from home and the kitchen for most of the day. Our children spend their days in school or child care, so it’s not always easy to have home-made meals!! Instead, we often grab prepared fast foods to get through the day, and choose from the deli to feed our family dinner!
Vegetarians follow a plant-based diet, which would suggest that they select healthy food, but this is not always true. I have met many vegetarians who don’t eat vegetables!! They live on starchy, sugary, fried food; some out of economic necessity, others out of lack of knowledge regarding food and nutrition. As Raj Patel says: they “are overfed and malnourished”.
Diets rich in fat, dairy and sugar have been directly linked to elevated rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and tooth decay. A modern diet (even a vege-based diet) is often laden with saturated fats and sugars and foods containing these products are aggressively pushed by false claims of ‘natural food’ and alluring advertisements.
In my opinion, the two areas of our diet that need modification are: appetizers and desserts. Deep fried appetizers and munchies are laden with calories and devoid of nutrients. Cooking vegetables with hot oil destroys most of the nutritional value of the vegetables and the oil.
Sweet treats are a sign of good hospitality and good luck and should be spared for special occasions. Because most desserts — even the “healthy” desserts are laden with unhealthy ingredients and some of them are deep-fried as well. With some education about food and thoughtful weekly planning, working people can come up with recipes to improve their diet and health.*
Sweets play an import role in celebration, but your daily menu balanced with a variety of food and presented attractively need not be followed by a dessert containing sugar and fat. Instead, serve fresh fruit or a fruit salad and reserve more detailed desserts (made with reduced sugar) for special occasions.
Refined and bleached cane sugar is the most commonly used sweetener for desserts, and is very harmful to our health. Refined sugar raises blood sugar levels, increases heart beats, impairs the immune system, and raises hyper-activity among kids. Honey and maple syrup, also high in calories, contain only micro-nutrients, and agave, once touted as a good alternative natural sweetener is now also considered unhealthy. Stevia, a natural sugar substitute has an unpleasant after-taste. Date sugar and coconut sugar have the lowest glycemic index, but they are high in calories as well. So instead of looking for a perfect sweetener, which does not exist, I suggest using less sugar whenever possible, and using all sugars in moderation.
To minimize unhealthy dairy and fats in dessert, try cutting down the amount of butter or ghee, or use a vegan spread instead, and use it sparingly. In desserts such as the rice pudding, described below can use coconut milk, or almond milk, both a vegan option. Nut meals are also valuable ingredients for preparing gluten-free desserts.
Fruit Salad Boat or Mixed Fruit Salad
California is blessed with fresh fruit year-round. Fresh fruit is always packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants that prevent us from getting sick. A Fruit Salad Boat is an attractive centerpiece for any party or a picnic. Fruit Boats can be made using papaya, cantaloupe, or watermelon, whatever is in season. This one, for fall and winter, includes seasonal berries and chunks of fuyu persimmon, fuji apples, grapes and pineapple.
1 large ripe pineapple, to make two fruit boats
2 fuyu persimmons (the ones that can be consumed while they are hard),
peeled and cut into chunks
or 1 fuji apple, cut into chunks
½ cup seasonal berries, washed, hulled and sliced if they are large (such as strawberries)
½ cup peeled and sliced banana
½ cup peeled and sliced kiwi fruit
Juice of ½ lime, freshly squeezed
Juice of 1 orange, freshly squeezed
¼ cup sliced, raw almonds
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup to offset the tartness of some fruit (optional)
Cut the whole pineapple, leaves and all, lengthwise using a sharp serrated knife. Cut out and discard the thick middle stem. (For papaya or cantaloupe, slice the fruit in half and remove the seeds.) Next, using a paring knife, scoop out the pineapple pulp in chunks, leaving the outer rind intact and strong enough to make a fruit boat.
Cut the pineapple chunks into smaller pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl. Prepare the other fruits as described and add them to the bowl. Sprinkle with lime and orange juices and toss gently. Fill the two empty halves of pineapple generously with fruit and decorate the top with nuts. Left-over fruit can be used to refill the boats. Chill until ready to serve.
Kheer (Rice Pudding)
This healthy, gluten-free and vegan rice pudding is made with coconut milk. You can also use soymilk or almond milk or low-fat dairy milk (for a non-vegan version).
1 cup short grain white rice (sold as sushi rice in Asian Market),
or jasmine rice, or any good-quality white rice,
2 cups water for cooking rice
4 cups low fat coconut milk
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground finely
¼ teaspoon saffron threads soaked in 3 tablespoons warm milk, soymilk, or coconut milk
2 tablespoons oil
½ cup unbleached sugar or honey
½ cup sultana (yellow) raisins
½ cup shelled and chopped pistachios or ½ cup slivered or chopped almonds
Rinse and drain the rice. In a large pot (3 – 4 quart size) bring the water to a boil and add the rice. Bring the rice to a second boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and oil. Then raise the heat to a moderate flame and cook the rice uncovered for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. It is important to stir the rice to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
While the rice
is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Grind the cardamom using a mortar and pestle and soak the saffron as described.
When most of the liquid seems to have evaporated from the rice, add the raisin, cardamom, the saffron with its soaking liquid and the sweetener. Stir thoroughly and continuously for about five or until the mixture takes on a pudding-like consistency. Correct for sweetness. Turn off the heat and keep the kheer covered for a few minutes. Then transfer it into a serving bowl and top with the chopped nuts. Kheer can be served hot, at room temperature or chilled.
Makes eight to ten servings
*Here are a few books that have valuable information about how to nutritionally balance a vegetarian (and vegan) diet and menu.
Robertson, Laurel, Carol Flinders, and Brian Ruppenthal. Laurel’s Kitchen: A Handbook for
for vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition. Berkeley, Ca. Ten Speed Press, 1986
Vesanto Melina MS RD, and Brenda Davis. The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide to A Healthy Vegetarian diet , Healthy Living Publications an imprint of Book Publishing Company, Summertown TN, Book Publishing Company, 2003
Sacharoff, Shanta Nimbark, Flavors of India, revised edition, Summertown TN,
Book Publishing Company, 1996
Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff , author of Flavors of India: Vegetarian Cuisine, and a new book Cooking Together: A Vegetarian Co-op Cookbook
November 19, 2017
This mixed-squash recipe is a convenient side dish for the holidays, as it can be prepared on the stovetop, while the oven is occupied with other entrées. Select small squashes that will cook quickly. During the summer, you can make this easy to prepare dish with summer squashes such as zucchini and cruck-neck or gold bar squash. The flavor of just a few spices makes this dish versatile enough to go with any menu year-round.
1 small pumpkin
1 small butternut squash or a medium delicata squash
1 large sweet potato
1 large or 2 small carrots
3 tablespoons oil or butter
1 cup water, or more as needed
A few pinches of ground cinnamon
Powdered cayenne pepper and/or freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Wash the pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, and carrot. Using a sharp knife cut the pumpkin and squash first into halves and then into quarters. Scoop out and discard all the stringy fibers and seeds. Without peeling, rinse and cut the pumpkin and squash into chunks a bit larger than bite-sized. Set them aside. Cut the sweet potato and carrots into bite-sized chunks and set aside.
Heat the oil or butter in a large wok or frying pan. Add the pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, and carrot pieces. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes over moderate heat. Add the water, cover, and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, checking after 10 minutes to see if the mixture needs more water. When the vegetables are cooked but not mushy, add the cinnamon, pepper(s), lemon juice, and salt. Stir well and cook for another 1–2 minutes. Serve hot or transfer the mixture to a covered casserole dish to be reheated before serving. When you serve, instruct your diners to remove the skin of the squash.
Makes six to eight servings
September 20, 2017
Have you just been dying to try some organic nopales, but feel a bit hesitant about cooking up a cactus leaf? Fear not! It’ll be easier than you think. This remarkable vegetable is loved for its lemony flavor and soft texture. Nopales have been used to improve digestion and metabolism, are praised for their high vitamin and mineral content, and can even be juiced raw into your next green drink.
For your basic nopales asados, just slice off the edges of the leaf and, to the best of your ability, each of the thorns. Nopales hold a lot of water, which make the cooked vegetable have a uniquely slimy texture. While not unpleasant, the sliminess can be mitigated by cutting small slits into the leaf, before pan-roasting over medium heat until toasty brown on both sides. Once done, cut the nopales into strips for some tacos, or dice them up to add to salsas, salads or anything!