Black Lentil Hummus

Hummus is a great way to get satisfying protein that can be enjoyed with bread,  spread on roasted zuchini or on sticks of carrots and cucumber, as a spread for a sandwich, or licked off of a spoon.  Most hummus recipes are simple and easy, and this one uses black beluga lentils, which are much easier to digest (and faster to cook) than chickpeas.  I created this recipe being 2 months post-partum , when large beans (like chickpeas) can still be difficult to digest for mama and baby (taking in breastmilk).  Variations of hummus were great during pregnancy as well, when I needed to increase my protein intake to reduce morning sickness and increase nutrition. Lentils, being small legumes are much easier to digest than larger beans such as chickpeas and kidney beans.  This recipe uses black beluga lentils, but really any cooked bean can be used to create a hummus spread.  You can vary it (see below) easily.

Black Beluga Lentils
Black Beluga Lentils

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 Cup roasted tahini
  • 1 Cup cooked black beluga lentils (see note below)
  • Salt to taste

Note – to cook the lentils, rinse about 1/2 cup until water runs clear.  Cover in a pot with water, bring to a boil and then cook on simmer until lentils are cooked through (about 30-45 minutes) with a bay leaf and a dash of salt.  Check periodically to see if you need to add water.  If you can’t find black beluga lentils, try french lentils or brown lentils.

Method

  1. In a food processor or blender, blend the olive oil, lemon juice and tahini together until creamy.
  2. Add the lentils and salt to taste and blend until creamy.

Alternatives

  • You can replace the lentils with chickpeas or any bean you like.
  • Remove the beans  and add water for a tahini dressing.
  • Remove the tahini and add herbs such as rosemary, dill, tarragon or thyme for a  bean dip.

I served this hummus with a  quinoa tabouli (recipe to come) – husband enjoyed it with chips and a side of heirloom tomatos.

Hummus served with quinoa tabouli
Hummus served with quinoa tabouli

Macadamia Pink Salt Cookies

 

Macadamia Pink Salt Cookies

These cookies are buttery, but vegan 🙂

A simple recipe, that can use any kind of nut you like, these cookies can also work as a chocolate chip cookie.  I adapted this recipe from the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

All sweets in Ayurveda should be had in moderation, and when your agni (digestive fire) is balanced and you are healthy.  The sweet taste balances vata (dry, light type) and pitta (hot type), but can increase kapha (cold, damp, heavy type).  The nuts in these add a crunch that pitta-type constitutions love, and a bit of protein.  You can make these cookies gluten-free by replacing the flour with gluten-free all purpose flour (note that some of these tell you to use a less amount of flour than if you were using regular flour, so the recipe is not dry).

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (heaping) cane sugar
  • 1/2 Cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 Cup almond milk, coconut creamer, milk or cream
  • 1 TB tapioca flour or organic corn starch
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 Cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp himalyan pink salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped macadamia, hazelnut, or almond (or 3/4 cup chocolate chips)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Combine sugars, oil, milk and tapioca flour or corn starch in a large mixing bowl and mix well with a fork for 2 minutes.
  3. Mix in the vanilla
  4. Add 1 Cup of the flour, the baking soda and salt and mix to combine
  5. Add the rest of the flour and combine.
  6. Fold in the nuts or chocolate chips.  The dough is a little tough and dry, so you can use your hands to mix if you want.
  7. Roll the dough into walnut or pingpong size balls and place on the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  8. Flatten the cookies with your fingers or the bottom of a mason jar (kids can do this)
  9. Bake for 8-9 minutes (until just starting to turn golden)
  10. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then move to a plate or wire rack.
  11. Store in a glass or stainless steel container.

Fig & Olive Tapenade

 

 

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Little is better than good bread schmeared with a delicious spread.  A few days ago I made a simple lentil soup and then prepared several spreads to go with a good flat bread as a middle eastern mezze platter.  This fig and olive tapenade is based on something we purchased years ago at a health food co-op.  It is very simple to make, and because it is not cooked, is a rare food that you can keep in the fridge for 2 days.  

This tapenade is rich, with a great black color.  It is great on bread or breadsticks, and is tridoshic – good for vata, pitta and kapha and in any season. 

“The fig is the most useful of all the fruits which grow on tress” – Athenaeus. 

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Figs blossom on the ficus tree in warm climates, like California and the Mediterranean. They are particularly balancing to vata and pitta, and therefor ideal in dry and / or warm climates. When fresh, the skin is thin and soft and either green or black, and the inside is like a pinkish jelly filling.  Dried figs become quite firm and leathery, and have been used since ancient times as a sweetener. One of the first edible plants to be cultivated by humans, figs play a key role in many ancient stories, religions and philosophies.  

 

  • Adam and Eve were said to have clad themselves in fig leaves
  • The Buddha discovered enlightenment under the bodhi tree (tree of knowledge), which is large sacred fig tree (ficus religiosa)
  • The Ancient Greeks were said to have received from India, a request for dried figs, along with grape syrup and a philosopher. 
  •  Mohammad, in the Qu’ran, says that the fig is a fruit of paradise because it contains no pit

Figs are sweet, rich in calcium and fiber and can be used to gently treat constipation. They cleanse the mouth and rebuild vitality and sexual energy. Thus, they may be symbolic of abundance. 

 

“Thy children, like the olive branches, around thy table” – The Bible

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Like figs, olives appear in both black and green varieties and grow on trees in warm and dry climates. They are harvested in the fall, and are now used throughout the world. 

 

  • The olive branch is extended as an act of peace.
  • Olive oil was used by Israelites for both cooking and sacred lighting
  • In Ancient Greece, the olive was sacred to Athena, olive branches were made as crowns to symbolize victory in both games and war and olive oil was used in ancient greece to anoint Kings
  • The olive is mentioned many times in the bible and the quran. 
  • In the middle east, olives and olive oil are used abundantly, including using the oil for massage

Once prepared for eating, they are salty, astringent, and oily, making them particularly balancing for vata and kapha. They are both rich, and light. 

 

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Ingredients

You can vary the ingredients to taste. 

  • 1 and 1/2 C. dried black mission figs, rinsed in warm water, and hard stems removed. 
  • 1 C. kalmata olives (without brine)
  • 1/4 C. olive oil
  • 1/4 C. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 C. pine nuts (walnuts work as well)
  • 1 heaping TB capers (optional)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 packed TB fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dried tarragon (or 2 TB fresh parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper corns (or 1/4 tsp ground black pepper)

Instructions

  1. Soak the figs in hot water for 10 minutes, to soften them
  2. Place all the ingredients in a blender (such as a vitamix) or food processor (beware, with a food processor, the liquid may press out of the sides, so cover it with a towel).  And pulse repeatedly to begin combining.  Eventually you can blend until smoothe.  You may need to add more olive oil, lemon juice, or a little water to get it to blend, or turn off the blender to mash around the tapenade. 

Serve with bread or breadsticks along with other spreads or as a side with a soup, salad or pilaf. 

 

Ghee!

“I nourish you gods, who are everywhere present, with yogurt, with butter, and with milk” – Rig Veda

I grew up with ghee… my mother and her mother made it for baking traditional middle eastern sweets… and I re-discovered my love for ghee when I found Ayurveda.  Ghee is considered a primary “rasayana” in Ayurveda – that means it is rejuvenating and promotes longevity as well as virility.  Ghee is used in vedic rituals and has many kitchen-based medicinal and nourishing qualities and is wonderful for cooking, spreading, baking, and even as a vehicle for  taking herbs.  Below is a simple ghee recipe, followed by a short article about ghee. It is very simple to make, and mainly requires organic butter plus your attention 🙂

Like I said, I learned ghee making from my mom… and she still uses it too.  Here’s her photo response to my telling her I had just made ghee…

Ingredients & Tools

  • Organic, Unsalted Butter (1 lb or more) – 1 lb of butter will take about 15-20 minutes… as you increase the amount of butter, the clarification time can increase.
  • A clean, dry, glass jar, like a mason jar.
  • A stainless steel or silver spoon.
  • A heavy / thick-bottomed stainless steel pot – large enough that there will be room at the top.
  • A fine stainless steel strainer – I use this one from Far Leaves Tea in Berkeley – or several layers of fine cotton cheese cloth.

Instructions

  1. Place the butter in the pot. 
  2. Melt the butter at medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Once the butter is liquified, turn the heat down to a low setting – just high enough that there is some gentle, slow, quiet bubbling… not so low that it is still & silent and not so high that it is sputtering or boiling. 
  4. Keep the ghee at this low temperature, stirring occasionally. 
  5. Check it frequently at the 12 minute mark (for 1 lb) as it starts to become more and more golden-translucent, so as not to burn it. Remove it from the heat if it starts to darken.  You can use the spoon to pull away the foam at the top to see the color and quality beneath. 
  6. It is done when it is a golden-clear color… you can also tell if it’s really clarified by turning up the heat, and putting your ear over the pot… if you can hear a scouring sound – like the sound of that sucking thing that vacuums your saliva at the dentist – there are still solids being clarified… if the only noise is the noise of the liquid itself bubbling, then the ghee is done!
  7. Remove from heat. 
  8. Transfer the ghee to your clean and dry glass jar while it’s still hot. 
  9. Pour the ghee slowly through your sieve or cloth. 
  10. Cover the jar
This is the strainer I use – from Farleaves.com

Here is some information about Ghee from my friends at Ancient Organics:

In India, ghee has always been a sacred and celebrated symbol of auspiciousness, nourishment and healing; especially in the daily rituals of cooking and worship.

Ghee is a premium cooking oil celebrated for its taste, nutritional benefits, and medicinal qualities. Ayurveda, the ancient medical science of India, recognizes ghee as an essential part of a balanced diet, and considers it to be the best fat one can eat. Ghee is the very essence of butter; the end result of a long, slow, careful clarification process that removes all the moisture, milk solids and impurities. The absence of milk solids and water in ghee make it completely shelf stable. Ghee has one of the highest flash points (485ºF) which make this oil the best choice for high temperature cooking.

Ghee is comprised of full spectrum short, medium and long chain fatty acids, both unsaturated and saturated. Ghee contains Omega 3 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids along with vitamins A, D, E and K. Ghee made from organic butter of pastured cows is one of the highest natural sources of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). 9 phenolic anti-oxidants, as well as numerous other minerals are present in ghee.

Ghee is known as a substance that gives longevity, its elemental qualities balance the aging characteristics by enriching the living body.

Ghee has been used for centuries as a digestive and elimination aid, for energy, sexual vitality, skin and eye health, as a lubricant for the joints and for alkalizing the blood.

The purity of ghee allows it to be deep penetrating and nourishing as it passes it passes through the lipid membranes of cells. For this reason, the vitamins and minerals from food cooked in ghee will be drawn deep into the body where they impart the most benefit. The assimilation of the nutrients increases when suspended in a ghee matrix. When you add spices to ghee to cook with the flavor is carried deep into the food. Many herbal preparations use ghee as the carrier oil because of these characteristics.

(Bel0w) Me, holding a ghee lamp used during my wedding ceremony… my grandmother made the ghee that morning.

Summer Pilaf

The less time slaving over the stove on a hot day the better…!

Raw veggies and fruits are cooling, so best enjoyed in the summertime and in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its zenith point in the sky.  Ayurveda teaches that while salads and raw foods have their place, too much will increase the air and space (vata) qualities… so I often balance some raw elements with some cooked.

Today was a summer rice salad paired with thinly sliced baked squash…. sure, the oven was on for the squash to bake, but I didn’t have to be IN the kitchen for that part 🙂 so I let the squash bake whilst doing other things.  You can vary the pilaf like crazy depending on your mood & what is available in your pantry & at your market.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of any kind or rice or quinoa, cooked
  • 1 large cucumber (or two small) – peeled, seeds scooped out, sliced into long strips, and then chopped into tiny cubes
  • 1 large fennel bulb (or two small) – sliced thin, then carmelized over medium-high heat in olive oil until browned
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill, chopped (or any other herbs or combination of fresh herbs)
  • OPTIONAL – toasted sesame seeds

Directions

Toss ingredients together!

Dressing Ideas

  • Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Olive Oil & Balsamic, Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Thin almond butter dressing (blended almond butter, lemon, salt water and olive oil)
  • Mint & Yogurt dressing (blend plain organic whole milk yogurt with fresh or dried mint, olive oil, salt and black pepper)

Ojas Ladoos

These ladoos (a name used throughout India for any sphere-shaped sweet) are called “Mādoos” in our home! They are GREAT for pre-conception {especially for vāta mamas} and postpartum! All the ingredients are Mama superfoods. Great for toddlers over the age of two + āyurveda-athletes too. They are also a great to pack for travel to keep vāta {air + space elements in the constitution} at bay.

Ayurveda Stats: The main ingredients (almonds, ghee, dates & honey or molasses) of these ladoos build ojas – energy, vitality, strength, stamina, virility, resilience, immunity.  Ojas is the “sap of life” that supports and stabilizes the body and gives the mind a sense of calm.   The spices – cardamom & ginger balance the heaviness of the ojas-building ingredients by bringing lightness and the flame of digestive fire.  Rose tastes delicious… and is considered an elixir for the mind. Adding oats is a special bonus for breastsfeeding Mamas, as they help milk production.

*Note – The hone must be RAW (unprocessed, unheated)! Also, Ayurveda warns against combining equal proportions of ghee and honey by WEIGHT, however, equal proportions by VOLUME is recommended for building ojas… so keep the measurement of one TB the same… when in doubt, you can go over on the honey, as honey will always be heavier in weight than ghee.  Vegans – I recommend coconut butter in place of ghee.

I highly recommend these, or a similar version – experiment in your kitchen – for the following:

  • Kids (over the age of 2 because of the honey & nuts)
  • Men & Women planning a pregnancy
  • Pregnant women
  • Nursing women
  • Athletes
  • During travel  – especially air travel
  • Those with a very busy / active life and schedule who are “burning the candles at both ends”

PLEASE NOTE – you can completely re-work this recipe, remove items, or change them out! For example, omit the coconut or oats easily. You just want to have a consistency that you can roll into balls.

These can store in your fridge for about 4 days – if they last that long! Warning to breastfeeding Mamas – your significant other or visiting guests my sneak these.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cups Whole, Raw Almonds (or you can use sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts or cashews or a combo)
  • 1 Cup of shredded coconut
  • 1 Cup of rolled oats, toasted on a cookie sheet in the oven, or in an iron skillet on the stove top, until slightly browned / aromatic {toasting makes oats lighter and easier to digest}
  • 1 tsp fresh ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger powder or cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp of rock salt
  • About 10 majool dates, pitted (equal to just under a cup)
  • 1 TB Ghee (clarified butter) – or coconut butter for vegans
  • 1 TB RAW Honey or Molasses or Maple Syrup
  • 1 TB Rose Water (make sure it is real rose water, not perfume or “scent” of rose – I use Cortas brand) or Rose Syrup or Rose Jam (check that the ingredients are pure & simple, otherwise, omit)

Instructions

  1. Make sure your hands are VERY clean… as these do not get cooked
  2. Toast the oats
  3. In food processor, grind the nuts, oats, and coconut with the cardamom, ginger & rock salt until you have a sandy consistency… don’t turn into a flour or a nut butter
  4. Add the remaining {wet} ingredients and pulse in the food processor until combined. It will turn into a big ball in the food processor… if needed use your hands to separate the ball into pieces and pulse again. It’s okay if you don’t get a totally smooth result.
  5. When combined, use your hands to roll into walnut / TB sized balls with CLEAN HANDS.

Store in the fridge, and enjoy!  You can make these super smooth, or choppy in texture… and feel free to experiment with the recipe, as long as you keep the ghee & honey equal by volume.

Chocolate Nut Dreams

In India, any sweet treat that is in the shape of a ball is called a “ladoo”… you’ll see them in iconography of the Elephant-Headed lord Ganapati, who is said to adore them! This recipe is made with raw and healthy ingredients, in a very simple combination.  The results are astoundingly yummy…  This recipe is super nourishing because of the dates and almonds (both of which build healthy tissue and support the nervous system).

Ayurveda says, chocolate is bitter, stimulating and aphrodisiac. It is not recommended in excess, and should be balanced with cooling, sweet and nourishing tastes to ground the bitter and stimulating qualities.  The fact is, folks LOVE chocolate… and rather than take it away (we don’t want Ayurveda to be an excuse to be become pickier and narrower and more hyper-sensitive), learn to have it in small doses, when one is relatively balanced, and to combine it with the right ingredients.  Cardamom in particular is considered a balancer for caffeine and stimulants as well as sweets… so a pinch of freshly ground cardamom in your tea, coffee or in chocolate recipes is delicious and ayurvedic! It’s a fantastic surprise ingredient in chocolate chip cookies!

Dates are sattvic, nourishing, sweet, and grounding and balance vata & pitta dosha.  Coconut is cooling and nourishing and balance pitta dosha.  Nuts are warming, heavy and nourishing and balance vata dosha. Poor kapha dosha – does best without sweets in general… however, these are so satisfying, kapha types can eat just one, and walk away!

Make these Chocolate Nut Dreams if you are:

  • Vegan or Gluten-Free
  • On a raw foods regimin – only recommended for short periods of time in Ayurveda – use raw cacau powder or raw carob
  • Cooking with kids: they can press the button the the food processor and add ingredients and watch as it turns to a paste! Then they can help roll the balls and roll them in coconut or coco powder.  MAKE SURE THEIR HANDS ARE CLEAN (and yours are too) – since this is an uncooked item.
  • Wanting a super delicious treat that will be made fast!
  • Want to sneak in extra protein wherever you can.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Nuts of any kind – I used 1/2 Almonds and 1/2 Walnuts (Brazil nuts would work great!)
  • 1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder (or Roasted Carob Powder)
  • 2 tsp Cardamom Powder
  • About 2 cups Dates – remove the pits!
  • 2 TB Maple Syrup
  • Dried shredded Coconut

Instructions

  1. Clean your hands thoroughly!
  2. Grind the nuts in a food processor until they are like a flour (not too long or you make a nut butter)
  3. Add the cocoa powder, to make as chocolatey as you like
  4. Add 1 cup of the dates plus the maple syrup
  5. Blend together in the food processor, adding more dates until you get a “breakable” dough (not to goo-ey and not too dry like sand) that can form into balls
  6. Form into walnut sized balls in your hands
  7. Roll and gently press the balls in the coconut.
  8. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days… if they last that long!
Lots of Ladoos!