Friday, September 30, 2011

Celebrating Togtherness with Food

 Food has that ever so magical way of bringing people together.  Okay, so maybe it’s not so magical.  There is no mystery surrounding the fact that we all love to eat!  Sharing food is a gratifying means of serving others and connecting socially.  When communities unite, food is almost always a central part of the gathering.

The next gathering of community will occur in October at Thanksgiving.  Families and groups of people  come together at this time to enjoy a big meal and each other’s company.  I searched through my recipe collection and put together a tasty vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner….an alternative to the usual “Tofurkey,”.

Enjoy this mouth-watering meal and the deliciousness that is found in belonging to a community of like-hearted people.

Menu for 8 people
Pumpkin Pie
Spinach Souffle
Green Beans and Almonds with Oil and Vinegar Dressing
Aduki and Shallot Dhal
Vegetable Quinoa Pulao
Beet Raita
Golden Milk 

How to do it

Pumpkin Pie (why not start with dessert first)!
(taken from “The Green Door Restaurant Vegetarian Cookbook”) 
Serves 8

2 cups soft whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup corn oil
½ cup cold water

In a bowl, mix flour and salt with a fork.  Add oil and water alternately while gently stirring with fork.  Do a minimum of mixing.  Do not worry if it looks marbled.  Roll out and line a pie plate.  Bake 7 minutes.  Remove from oven.

3 cups cooked pumpkin or squash
¼ block soft tofu
¼ cup arrowroot
½ cup rice syrup
¼ cup almond butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
½ cup maple syrup

In a food processor, mix filling until very smooth.  Pour into partially baked pie shell.  Bake for one hour at 350 degrees F.

Serves 8-10

Squash Subji
(taken from “Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing” by Usha and Dr Vasant Lad)

2 tablespoons safflower oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 pinch hing
4 curry leaves, fresh or dried
1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 small green chilli, chopped
4 cups any yellow winter squash
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp turmeric
1 cup water

Wash and peel the squash and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the oil, then the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and hing.  In a moment, when the seeds pop, add the curry leaves, cilantro, turmeric, chilli and squash.  Sprinkle on the salt and add the water.  Stir or shake to mix well, partially cover and turn down the heat to low.  Cook until tender, about 25 minutes.

(Squash helps to balance Pitta and Kapha.  It aggravates Vata, but with spices it is okay for occasional use.

Spinach Souffle
(taken from “A Life of Balance” by Maya Tiwari)

Serves 2
1 lb spinach
2 tbsp chopped, fresh parsley
3 tsp olive oil
¼ cup water
1 tsp fine black pepper
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp red chilli powder
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp pine nuts

Wash and chop spinach.  In a large saucepan, cook spinach and parsley in 1 tsp oil and water for 5 minutes, covered.  Drain.  Puree with a hand grinder. 

Preheat a cast-iron skillet and sauté spices, salt and nuts in remaining oil for a few minutes.  Add pureed greens to mixture.  Serve warm.

Green Beans and Almonds with Oil and Vinegar Dressing
(taken from “A Life of Balance” by Maya Tiwari)

Serves 2

1 oz blanched almonds
½ lb green beans

Blanch almonds by soaking in cold water for 8 hours.  (If time does not permit, you may use the fast method: place almonds in boiling water for 1 minute).  Trim ends of beans and leave whole.  Boil beans for 5 minutes.  Peel blanched almonds and sliver.  Drain beans and toss with nuts.

Oil and Vinegar Dressing:
½ minced garlic clove
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
½ tbsp rice vinegar

In a small frying pan, lightly sauté the garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil; add mustard seeds and roast until they pop.  Stir in rice vinegar and pour over the beans and almonds.

Aduki and Shallot Dhal
(taken from “A Life of Balance” by Maya Tiwari)

Serves 2

½ c aduki beans
3 c water
½ c thinly sliced shallots
½ tsp minced ginger
1 tsp sunflower oil
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp black mustard seeds
Garnish: minced, fresh parsley

Soak beans in 3 cups of cold water for 5 hours.  Drain and rinse.  Add beans and water to pressure cooker.  Cover without locking and bring to a boil.  Lock cover and bring to pressure.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow pressure to fall naturally.  (For conventional cooking, bring adukki beans to a boil in 3 ½ cups of water.  Cover and simmer over medium heat for 1 hour. 

Saute shallots and ginger in oil for 3 minutes, add to beans with lemon juice and turmeric.  Cover and simmer for 40 minutes over medium-low heat.

Dry-roast mustard seeds until they pop; add to dhal.  RemoBve dhal from heat.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Garnish with minced parsley.

Vegetable Quinoa Pulao
(taken from  “Annapurnas Prasad, Ayurvedic Cooking For Westerners: by Nibodhi)

Serves 2

1 c quinoa
3 c water
1 cup chopped vegetables: 1/4 c each of carrots, green peas, broccoli and cauliflower
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp clove powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp sea salt to taste or Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids
2-3 tbs ghee

Rinse the quinoa.  Bring water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a saucepan and stir-fry the quinoa for 2 minutes longer.  Add the quinoa and vegetables to the boiling water.  Return to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is soft and fluffy.  Add more salt if desired.  Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.  Serve alone or with other vegetables or soup.

Beet Raita
(taken from “Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing” by Usha and Dr Vasant Lad)

1 cup raw beets, peeled and grated
2 tbsps ghee
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch hing
1bsp cilantro, shopped
½ small green chilli or 1 large pinch cayenne
5 curry leaves, fresh or dried
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ tsp salt

Add the beets to the yogurt and stir gently.
Heat the ghee on medium heat in a saucepan.  Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing.  Stir until the seeds pop.  Ass the cilantro, curry leaves and chilli or cayenne.  Mix quickly and take off the stove.  Cook a little and add to the yogurt and beets.  Mix well.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish with meal, 1 or 2 spoonfuls per person.

The spices in this meal help to lighten the heavy qualities of the yogurt .  Beets are a good blood tonic and blood builder.

Golden Milk (goes nicely with Pumpkin Pie)
(taken from Amadea Morningstar’s book “Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners,” with a few modifications)
In a saucepan place:
                  1/8 - 1 tsp. turmeric powder (according to taste)
                  ¼ cup water
Bring to a boil and continue to simmer until a thick paste (about five minutes).           
Then add:           
1 tsp ghee
A pinch of cinnamon and/or cardamom (optional)
                1 cup almond, oat, or rice milk (depending on constitution)
                Bring milk to just to the boiling point, then remove from heat
                immediately (do not boil).

This is deliciously nourishing milk will calm the nervous system, increase the reproductive fluids and stimulate ojas.

Ayurvedic Nutritionist


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