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 ūüôā 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 “MńĀdoos” in our home! They are GREAT for pre-conception {especially for vńĀta mamas} and postpartum! All the ingredients are Mama superfoods. Great for toddlers over the age of two + ńĀyurveda-athletes too. They are also a great to pack for travel to keep vńĀta {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.

Favorite Cake!

This is my favorite cake recipe… have made it with different variations… but it is super simple. ¬†Everyone who has sampled it has freaked over it… and the BEST way to make it is with yogurt in the cake batter… the cake is super moist.

***This cake is amazing the DAY OF… leftover, it is less than thrilling. Make it the same day you plan to eat / serve it… and it will be moist, spongy and full of flavor. ¬†The next day, it is quite dry.***

(Below) Cooling: Saffron-Rose Cake (added saffron to the cake batter and added rose syrup and shredded coconut to the buttercream frosting)

(Below) Warming: Ginger Cake with Gingerbread Frosting! (Added a tsp of powdered ginger to the cake batter, and a tsp of powdered ginger and blackstrap molasses to taste to the buttercream frosting)

Ingredients & Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter or oil a 7 or 8 inch pan or baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together and let sit 2 minutes:

  • 3/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk (rice or almond milk) – OR, my personal favorite, combine half whole organic plain yogurt and half water to equal 3/4 cup
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Add & whisk thoroughly:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup completely melted butter OR sunflower oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. almond or vanilla extract (or half and half each)
  • OPTIONAL – a pinch saffron threads – crush them in your hands over the bowl.
Add and mix just until blended (don’t overmix):
  • 1 & 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (I use Gluten Free all-purpose from Gluten Free Pantry or Authentic Foods)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • dash of ¬†salt
Pour batter into the buttered / oiled pan and spread evenly with a spatula.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 35 minutes (depends on your oven as true temp can vary). ¬†It will turn light golden. ¬†To check if it is done, insert a knife into the center to see if it comes out clean / with just a few crumbles on it (if it comes out goopy it’s not done).
Let cool for 40 minutes to an hour before slicing and serving it. ¬†It’s delicious a little warm.
Serving Ideas
  • Dust with powdered sugar, or cocoa powder or cinnamon and sugar.
  • Make a basic butter cream frosting.
  • Top with a dollp freshly whipped cream – this is my current fave!! Amazing when the cake is still warm and the whipped cream is cool.
  • Dress up a butter cream frosting with rose petal jam or syrup, or coconut, or saffron.
Note on Frosting: I’m not including a recipe for buttercream frosting, but here’s a link for it… note, that all recipes for frosting are HUGE… so I recommend reducing the ingredients down to 1/2 or even 1/4 the amount. It’s essentially softened butter, powdered sugar (you can get organic), and a little milk to get the consistency you want. ¬†I have added various things to vary frosting such as coconut, rose syrup, cinnamon, ¬†saffron, or even replaced the milk with whole plain yogurt to give it a sour taste, more like cream cheese frosting.
Crushed saffron before mixing it into the liquid ingredients.

PeaNOT Sauce

Sunflower Butter, or “sunbutter” is a fantastic alternative to peanut butter because:

  • Sunflower seeds are a nutrient-rich, high protein & easy-to-digest alternative to peanuts, which are heavy, difficult to digest, and hard on the liver.
  • Sunflower seeds have a bitter & sweet taste, very similar to peanuts.
  • Sunflower seeds are not a common alergen (unlike peanuts, which often have ¬†a mold that causes various degrees of immune system reactivity).
  • Great for kids.

You can use Sunbutter in any way you would use Peanut butter… making a protein-rich sauce or dressing is a great way to get more diverse protein into a vegetarian (yogic) diet… plus, blended up and thinned out with the digestive sour taste of citrus or apple cider vinegar, the seeds are even easier to digest & assimilate.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 TB Sunbutter
  • 2 TB maple syrup (or raw agave, or a “simple syrup” – dissolving organic sugar in warm water)
  • 1/4 Cup Shoyu (or Tamari)
  • 1/4 Cup water
  • 1/8 Cup apple cider vinegar (could also use lime juice)
  • Sesame oil (toasted sesame oil is great in this), or Sunflower oil¬†or Olive oil – to taste (OPTIONAL; reduce or omit the oil if you are adding this to veggies that are already cooked with oil – eg. in a wok)

Instructions

Blend it up! I use a hand held immersion blender from Cuisinart… you could use a regular blender, or do it old school with some arm muscles with a firm whisk!

Serving Ideas

This sauce is great over steamed or sauted veggies & rice or rice noodles… This time I did it over veggies in a hot wok. ¬†You can vary the ingredients quite a bit… I never measure for this… it’s really just up to your taste! But I did measure before blogging it!

The veggies are wok-stirfried broccoli, celery & sweet potato in toasted sesame oil, shredded ginger & yellow mustard powder.  Topped with thinly sliced watermelon radish.  Served over jasmine rice,  with LOTS of PeaNOT sauce on top!  Kids will like it over plain rice, or as a dipping sauce with plain veggies, cooked or raw.

Simple Shortbread

Butter cookies are simple..and this recipe is super simple.  You can choose to do the whole thing in the food processor, and they are easily made gluten free with Authentic Foods Classical Blend GF Flour, or Gluten Free Pantry all-purpose flour.   A combination of Gluten Free and Oat flour makes a heartier butter cookie, and very Scottish!

This recipe is adapted from Heaven’s Banquet recipe for Scottish Shortbread. ¬†You can make these with ghee… which is going to have a lighter digestive effect than butter… with butter they come out a slightly more perfect short bread consistency… but they are truly delicious either way… they are just perfect with a cup of earl grey… or any warm beverage! ¬†Vary the recipe if you like, by adding some fresh ground cardamom, or using a combination of almond extract and vanilla extract… my husband wants me to drizzle chocolate over them next time… I’ve even added coconut to them, which was yummy but I really love them as simple as can be.

Ingredients

1 Cup Ghee (softened) OR 1 and 1/4 Cup Butter (softened)

1 Cup packed organic light brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 and 1/2 Cups flour (gluten free or oat flour works great!)

1.5 tsp vanilla extract, or almond extract (or a combination of both)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees

Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish (I use glass – but metal is fine)

Cream the butter & sugar thoroughly in a food processor (or with hand mixer)

Add the dry ingredients (stir by hand with wooden spoon, or pulse in food processor until combined)

Press evenly into the buttered baking dish – it will be “short” – only about 1/4 inch thick… don’t worry! ¬†Press evenly & gently with your hands (if it is too soft & sticky to handle, you can place the baking dish with the dough in the fridge for 15 min to firm it up)

Back 20-30 min for soft shortbread and up to 40 min for crunchier shortbread… they will become golden brown on top… careful not to burn.

Butter, according to Ayurveda is cooling and heavy. ¬†Ghee is light and kindles the digestive fire without being heating. ¬†Krishna, often called “The Butter Thief” was said, as a child, to steal beloved butter from the villagers in his community, as a blessing to them & their homes. ¬†His love for butter is also symbolic… Krishna is said to have given Arjuna the “cream” of the Vedas, in his teaching on the battlefield of the Bhagavad Gńęta. ¬†Butter and ghee are both symbolic of wealth in the Vedic tradition as well. While neither should be consumed in excess, both butter and ghee are extremely nourishing to the tissues of the body, and particularly nourishing to the brain, nerves, and reproductive tissue. ¬†Vegans¬†will get the closest to this effect from coconut butter… and in my next experiment with these cookies, I’ll try a combination of coconut butter and coconut oil. Will let you know how it goes!

Yogi’s Pesto

Oh my gosh pesto is SO delicious! ¬†The traditional recipe, which uses garlic and parmesan doesn’t quite fit with the yogic diet of my every day life, reflected in the recipes at Vedicook… but that doesn’t stop me. My mom made it for years without the cheese, because of my brother’s allergy, and that always turned out great.


Why no parmesan? 

While dairy is highly valued in Ayurveda (for those with no sensitivity to it) Parmesan is a hard, aged cheese… not recommended on a regular basis, because it is hard on the digestive tract and the liver, increases vata (because it’s dry & hard), pitta (because its salty and oily & the hardness means the liver goes crazy trying to break it down) and kapha (because it’s aged). ¬†On occasion, and in moderation it’s okay… but why not learn to make a pesto without it? ¬†Plus it’s great for vegans! ¬†If you must have cheese, go for fresh, white cheeses when possible (mozzarella, ricotta, feta).

Why no garlic? 

Garlic is considered both rajasic (increases agitation, anger, division, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, competitiveness) and tamasic (increases laziness, darkness, stagnation, attachment).  While it has a healing purpose (beneficial for those needing to stop a cold in its tracks), it is not ideal for everyday use in a yogic diet, because of the rajasic & tamasic effects on the mind.

I vary the amounts in this recipe all the time… but the ingredients stay about the same. ¬†Depending on season and availability, the ratio of basil to parsley will change quite a bit. ¬†I used to use pine nuts, however the price has significantly increased! Still, they are ideal Ayurvedically, because they are lighter and easier to digest than other nuts. ¬†If one has a very hot constitution, splurge on the pignolis! Just experimented with using 1/2 cashews and 1/2 walnuts – the cashews give a creamy effect to mimic cheese!


Pesto is such a striking almost neon green color, I love to serve it with something else bright – like the shredded beet salad (golden beet would be beautiful as well) …

Ingredients

  • 4 oz basil
  • 2 small (or one large) bunches Italian (flat leaf) parsley, washed.
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 TB Olive Oil
  • 1/2 heaping cup walnuts (or pine nuts)… or COMBINE cashews & walnuts for a creamier effect!
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste – it’s best to under-salt the pesto and add more to taste when eating)

plus one of the following:

  • juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon plus 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 ¬†whole milk organic plain yogurt
  • 2 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup cheese of your choice (parmesan, ricotta, feta, etc.)

Instructions

Blend all the ingredients in food processor.
Taste and adjust the recipe accordingly – if becomes too thin, add more nuts.

To Serve

Great with fresh ground black pepper when served.

Toss a generous amount with pasta – an aldente penne holds up to the heaviness of the pesto.

Spread over flat bread and bake with olives and veggies for a healthy flat bread pizza.

Serve over polenta

Great on rye toast, baked sweet potatoes, or whatever could use some intense green!

The color is even more striking aside something red or golden yellow in color…

Ginger Kale

I can’t get enough kale! I just adore it… nourishing, sweet, bitter, simple, colorful… great on it’s own or as a compliment to almost anything… my favorites are the tender types (tender = easy to digest) purple kale, dino kale, and red russian kale.

Purple Kale

Greens all fall into the “bitter” category of taste. ¬†I pretty much always make them with ginger… which balances the lightness & bitterness with the sweet, spicy and earthy taste. ¬†It’s a great way to get your green on, without relying on salad (which is too dry & cold to enjoy in the winter – especially for those with a lot of vata). ¬†The bitter taste is good for the heart ūüôā You can pair them with something orange (like sweet potatoes) and a heavier dressing like a tahini dressing for a well-balanced preparation for all doshas.

Here’s my favorite way to prepare it…

Instructions

  1. Stack several kale leaves into a neat pile.¬†Slice them cross-wise (perpendicular to the center vein) into thin strips, like skinny kale noodles. ¬†Repeat until you’ve done one or more heads of kale.
  2. Place the sliced kale in a big bowl in the sink and fill with cool water.
  3. Pour 1 or more TB of oil (I prefer coconut or sesame oil) in a pan or large pot.
  4. Shred lots of ginger into the oiled pan (1-2 inches).
  5. Heat the pan on medium to infuse the oil with the ginger for about a minute.
  6. Pull the wonderful kale strips from the water boil by the handfil and place in the pan… the water drips on the kale will help the kale to steam gently, so give ’em one gentle shake in the sink and then just toss ’em in the pan.
  7. Cover and cook over medium heat until the kale is tender (time will vary by the kind of kale – some are tougher than others) and the amount you are cooking.

This recipe will work with collard greens, mustard greens, chard, and bok choy.

You can enjoy them as is… or with a tahini dressing. ¬†I often serve kale with something bright orange – like butternut squash, red lentil dal, or sweet potatoes. Here it is below in a Spring season preparation – on cornmeal flat bread with a watermelon radish salad.