Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas

photo of polenta bowl with chickpeas and kale

I invited my former student Naomi Silverman, to contribute a recipe for my blog so that I could feature her work and let people know how awesome she is! She gave me this lovely recipe for a Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas. It is simple enough as is to make for a weekday lunch or dinner, but can be jazzed up for a dinner party with just a few additions–such as colorful quick ume pickles, a delicious tahini dressing, or some steamed, tri-colored carrots! Feel free to vary the beans, vegetables, or grains if you don’t have the same ingredients on hand, but keep in mind that the cooking technique for polenta is very different from other grains such as brown rice or quinoa (which steam rather than simmer). This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Chickpeas
  • 15-oz can or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • dash black pepper
  • dash chili powder (chipotle or other)
  • 1 teaspoon untoasted sesame oil
Polenta
  • 1 cup dry polenta (coarse ground cornmeal)
  • 2 cups spring or filtered water
  • 2 cups soy milk or almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • dash black pepper
Kale
  • 1 bunch curly kale, tough part of stems removed and chopped into one-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons ume plum vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Optional
  • 1 avocado, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large baking dish or sheet pan, toss chickpeas with oil, salt, pepper, and chile powder. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, stirring once after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, bring polenta and water to a boil, whisking frequently. As the liquid gets absorbed, stir in milk, little by little, until the polenta is smooth, creamy, and free of lumps, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. While polenta cooks, heat a large skillet, add coconut oil and diced onions, and sauté until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the kale and sprinkle on ume plum vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté for a few minutes until the kale is tender but still bright green.
  4. To serve, arrange all items in a bowl as desired and top with with diced avocado.

Naomi interned with me this year after completing her classroom hours at The Natural Epicurean. In the 10 years I taught there, I had dozens of amazing and talented culinary students intern with me. They assisted me in different aspects of my work, such as being a teaching assistant for my macrobiotic course or Ayurvedic cooking classes, assisting me with personal chef and catering work, testing recipes, or helping me create photos and videos for promotional materials. Naomi and I worked together for a few months this spring and came up with some beautiful materials for my web site and cooking class promotional materials. I am so grateful for her help, which came at a great time, when the cooking school had just closed and I was building my business and independent cooking classes. I miss working with Naomi now that her internship hours have ended, but hope we will get a chance to cook together again soon! Below is a video of us hard at work (and very well fed)!

Naomi has started her own personal chef business in Austin, Texas specializing in healthy, beautiful, plant-based (vegan) meals made with organic, locally grown produce. You can read all about her background, which includes an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Food Justice and a certificate in plant-based chef training from The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. Let her know if you need her help with your next dinner party or weeknight meals!

photo of Chef Naomi SilvermanI’ll be teaching a class on Nourishing Buddha Bowls and Dressings on Jan 6th in Austin, TX. For class listings and to sign up for classes, please visit https://cookloveheal.com/book-a-class.

Homemade Black Beans

I love homemade beans! Making your own beans from scratch has so many advantages over the canned varieties– the taste is superior, the cost is lower, you avoid packaging waste, they are more digestible, and you can freeze leftovers to use for soups, tacos, chili, or your favorite bean recipe. You’ll have a tough time going back to the canned variety once you’ve made a batch of homemade black beans!

I recommend making one variety of beans per week. They take some time to soak and cook, so make sure to soak at least 2 cups of beans each time. You’ll be able to use beans cooked in a basic way in a variety of recipes throughout the week, and can freeze whatever you can’t use right away for future meals. We love to keep a variety of beans in the freezer (stored in quart sized freezer bags), such as black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, and white beans to use in making refried beans, bean soups, or hummus whenever we like. What a deal!

Make sure to sort your beans before cooking them. This ensures you will not get a stray stone in your soup! You could actually break a tooth or damage a filling by biting into a tiny little stone. I like to sort about 1/2 cup beans at time on a plate with a contrasting color so it is easy to pick out broken pieces, stones, or other debris.

image of dry black beans being sorted

Soaking beans and then draining them before cooking helps decrease phytic acid by 60% (phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that decreases absorption of minerals). Skimming the foam off of beans while cooking and adding kombu and/or epazote further enhances digestibility.

image of black beans being skimmed

You may use this recipe for any type of bean, but you may wish to leave out the garlic, cumin, or cilantro for some types of beans, or depending on what you are going to do with them. Enjoy your delicious homemade beans!

Homemade Black Beans
 
Author:
Recipe type: Beans
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dried black beans
  • spring or filtered water
  • 1” piece of kombu
  • 1½ teaspoons unrefined sea salt
  • 1 white or yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 tablespoona olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons organic ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. Sort and wash the beans. Soak the beans in enough water to cover beans by 2-3 inches of water for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Pour off soaking liquid. Place beans in heavy pot and add enough water to cover beans by 1-2 inches.
  3. Bring to a boil, uncovered, skimming off the foam as if forms for the first 10 minutes or so of cooking.
  4. Add kombu, and simmer for an hour (or more) or until beans are soft. You may also use a pressure cooker to save time and aid in digestibility. After skimming foam, add kombu, and place lid on pressure cooker. Bring up to pressure, then turn to low. Pressure cook for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and let come down from pressure naturally.
  5. Meanwhile, sauté the onions in separate pan with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
  6. Sauté until onions are soft and then add garlic cumin powder.
  7. When beans are soft, mix together the beans and sautéed onion mixture, and add sea salt. Simmer for another 15 minutes.
  8. Garnish with cilantro.
Variation
  1. Use 1 teaspoon dried epazote instead of or in addition to kombu to aid in digestibility.

 

 

Make Your Own Sushi Dinner Party!

One of my favorite meals to make with friends and family is make your own sushi. Everyone enjoys choosing their own fillings, being creative, and making their own custom rolls! Kids especially appreciate being able to build their own sushi roll because they know exactly what it is in it. So make your next gathering into a make your own sushi dinner party!

Step 1. Make your sushi rice.

I prefer white sushi rice, as it is lighter and goes with all fillings, although once in a while I make pressure-cooked brown rice for more hearty vegetarian rolls. Here is my fool-proof recipe for making sushi rice without sugar! Make sure the rice is not still hot when making a roll, so it doesn’t “melt” the nori sheet or making the fillings warm.

Step 2. Prepare your fillings.

I like to fold a nori sheet in half (with stripes going vertically) and cut filling ingredients to the length of the half sheet width. I usually slice ingredients fairly thinly so that I can put multiple fillings into each roll. Almost anything can go into a sushi roll, but you might try:

  • cucumber (deseeded)
  • spring mix (no need to slice)
  • carrots (raw, blanched, or sauteed)
  • sweet potato (sautéed)
  • avocado
  • edible flowers
  • red bell pepper (raw or roasted and peeled)
  • snap peas
  • fresh herbs- mint, cilantro, basil, shiso
  • mushrooms- shiitake, oyster, portobello (sautéed and seasoned)
  • tofu or tempeh (pan-fried and seasoned with shoyu or tamari)
  • pickles (red or green sauerkraut, red radish pickles, daikon pickles, etc.)
  • umeboshi paste
  • condiments- shiso powder, gomashio, ao nori flakes
  • toasted sesame seeds- tan and/or black
  • Dijon or whole grain mustard

Step 3. Prepare an awesome dipping sauce.

There are all kinds of sauces that go well with sushi, such as shoyu-ginger, wasabi mayo, and various spicy sauces. Try this simple and delicious recipe my husband created called insanely delicious miso dipping sauce or my sweet and savory almond butter dipping sauce.

Step 4. Make a 5-minute miso soup.

Use my basic vegetable miso soup recipe to make a delicious start to the meal. The soup can be warmed up at the last minute and garnished after serving in individual bowls.

Step 5. Prepare your sushi rolling station and roll your sushi!

If making hand rolls, you can all sit around a table and make one at a time from your seat. Watch my Facebook video for tips on making regular nori rolls and inside out rolls.

Each person will need:

  • A sushi mat and a little space to roll
  • A bowl of water to dip hands in and a hand towel
  • A plate to set their finished rolls

Have accessible for everyone to share:

  • A platter or two of fillings, pickles, condiments, and sauces
  • A stack of nori sheets (I usually use half sheets that I half myself) and/or soy wrappers
  • A cutting board and sharp knife for slicing sushi (link to Japanese veg knife)
  • Platters for displaying sliced sushi

For making a basic nori roll, lay the sheet of nori (i usually use a half sheet but you can also use a whole sheet) on a dry bamboo mat with lines on nori sheet going vertically. Wet hands in bowl of water and shake off excess. Take a handful of sushi rice (about 1/2-3/4 cup) and very gently spread out over the lower 2/3 of the nori sheet, all the way out to the edges. Do not put pressure on rice, as it can tear the nori sheet. The sushi rice will easily stick to the nori sheet without any pressing. Take several fillings and place horizontally over the rice on the lower 1/4 of the sheet (almost to the bottom). Start rolling the nori from the bottom, enclosing the fillings into the first turn. Keep rolling, using the bamboo mat for support, until you reach the part of the nori without rice. Dip your index finger into the water bowl and wet the edge of the nori to help seal the roll. Keep the roll intact until ready to serve. Slice just before serving.

Step 6. Set a beautiful table.

Place sushi platters on table and garnish with fresh herbs or edible flowers. Serve up miso soup into individual bowls and garnish with thinly sliced scallions or some fresh herbs. Have an assortment of drinks off to the side to sample such as green tea, iced green tea, warm or cold sake, or a crisp, dry white wine. Give everyone a plate, dipping sauce bowl, and chopsticks.

Enjoy your meal… Itadakimasu!  いただきます!


Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil

creamy butternut squash soup

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup… this is what talked me into becoming a macrobiotic chef! It is sweet, savory, comforting, and delicious! As a child, the only way I saw butternut squash cooked was in a baked casserole with sour cream, onions, and a corn flake topping. I didn’t like it. But when I tried this soup, I was in heaven! I have recently revised this recipe to include a long, slow caramelization of onion, carrot, and celery (mirepoix) at the beginning, which gives the soup a very sweet, complex, and delicious flavor.

By Pigup – I made the mirepoix at home and took a picture of it on my cell phone., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18688674

Creamy vegetable soups help stabilize blood sugar levels, so help prevent sugar cravings when eaten regularly. When using organic squash, there is no need to remove the skin. This makes it much faster to make, and adds beneficial dietary fiber. These days, finding food that is naturally sweet and nutritious is so important, to nourish the body while curbing cravings for refined sugar. I recently listened to a news story on NPR’s “Here & Now” about how the food industry engineers processed and prepared food items (including pasta sauce, yogurt, and other processed foods not thought to be “sugary”) so that they reach a person’s “bliss point.” Children are especially susceptible to getting hooked on these foods since they are naturally attracted to the sweet taste (which is needed for growth in mild, natural forms). Try making this soup for your children, and try substituting other vegetables for the butternut squash, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or sweet potato. It makes a great kids’ lunchbox item when carried in a thermos.

The only trick with making this soup is learning how to cut the squash without cutting yourself. You need a good, sharp chef knife and a large cutting board. I suggest trimming off the stem, cutting off the “neck” of the squash, then cutting the resulting pieces (neck and bulb) in half so that you have four pieces you can put down flat on the board. From there you can remove the seeds from the bulbous part of the squash and chop the squash into small pieces.

Enjoy this soup and try some of the variations suggested at the bottom of the recipe. They are all delicious!

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil
 
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Serve this soup at lunchtime to curb sugar cravings later on in the day. Or start your dinner meal with a cup of this soup to warm digestion and stimulate appetite.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Macrobiotic
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup carrot, finely diced
  • ½ cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • 5 cups butternut squash, seeded and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 cups spring or filtered water or light vegetable stock
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly (chiffonade)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup organic pumpkin seeds, toasted, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a 4-quart soup pot, sauté onion and pinch of sea salt in olive oil over medium-low heat until translucent.
  2. Add carrot and celery and another pinch of sea salt. Sauté another 15 minutes, until vegetables start to caramelize.
  3. Add butternut squash and rosemary and coat with onion mixture. Add enough water or vegetable stock to barely cover the squash (about 3 cups), cover, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover. Simmer until squash is soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Puree with blender or immersion blender. If soup is too thick, add a little more water or vegetable stock. Season to taste with sea salt.
  5. Simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes.
  6. Serve in bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Note
  1. If using vegetable stock, try to find one without tomatoes (such as Imagine brand Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth) or make your own, to avoid overpowering the flavor of the squash.
Variations
  1. Substitute kabocha squash for butternut squash. The color will be darker but it is very delicious.
  2. Substitute carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potato, or sweet corn for the butternut squash.
  3. Use herbs and spices of choice instead of rosemary, such as thyme, basil, or fresh ginger.
  4. Roast butternut squash tossed in olive oil and sea salt in 425 degree F oven until soft. Add to sautéed onions and proceed with recipe.

Bon appétit!

 

Delicious Macrobiotic Brown Rice

Brown rice is flavorful and delicious when made in the macrobiotic style. First the rice is washed and scoured, then soaked for a minimum of 6 hours. Then the rice is cooked in fresh water over low heat with sea salt or kombu until rice is simmering. Next, the rice is boiled at medium-high heat, turned to low, and cooked with a heat diffuser or flame tamer for 50 minutes more. Lastly, keep the lid on the pot for 15 minutes after the heat is turned off. The rice will continue to steam. This sounds like a long time to cook rice, but this method ensures that the rice is fully cooked and chewy rather than crunchy and unevenly cooked! See video below for more instruction.

Delicious Macrobiotic Brown Rice
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Grain
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups organic short or medium grain brown rice
  • spring or filtered water
  • pinch unrefined sea salt or 1 inch square piece kombu
Instructions
  1. Measure rice into glass bowl and wash with filtered water three times. Scour the rice with your hands to remove dust and debris with each wash. After third wash, drain completely and pour in 3 cups fresh water. Soak for 6-8 hours or overnight, covered with a plate or towel.
  2. Drain soaking water into a measuring cup and note amount of water. Discard soaking water and measure the same amount of fresh water.
  3. Transfer rice to heavy-bottomed pot with heavy lid. Add measured fresh water and pinch of sea salt or kombu. Put lid on pot, turn flame to low and let cook gently 15 minutes.
  4. Turn heat to medium-high until rice is boiling, then turn back to low, place flame tamer (heat diffuser) underneath pot, and simmer for another 50 minutes without removing the lid.
  5. Turn off heat and let rice sit covered for about 10-15 minutes before opening pot.
Variation
  1. Add ½ cup toasted, chopped pecans sprinkled with shoyu or tamari to cooked rice.

 

Macrobiotic-Style Giant Peruvian Lima Beans

The macrobiotic way of making beans involves washing, sorting, and soaking dry beans, cooking slowly with kombu until soft, then seasoning with sea salt and sauteed vegetables (if desired) and simmering a while longer. These steps ensure that your beans will be soft, flavorful, and digestible. Once you master this technique, you can make any kind of bean from scratch. Just vary your seasonings depending on the bean. For example, try pinto beans with garlic, onion, and cilantro, garbanzo beans with garlic and parsley, or black-eyed peas with bay leaf, onion, celery, and carrot.

Macrobiotic-Style Giant Peruvian Lima Beans
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Bean Dish
Cuisine: Macrobiotic
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups giant Peruvian lima beans
  • spring or filtered water
  • 2 inch piece kombu
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  • zest of ½ lemon (optional)
Instructions
  1. Sort through beans, 1 cup at a time on a large plate, Discard any pebbles, broken beans, or other debris. Rinse beans and drain into a colander.
  2. Place rinsed beans in a large bowl and cover with at least 2 inches of spring or filtered water. Let soak for 6-12 hours (or overnight).
  3. Drain water from soaked beans and place in heavy-bottomed pot with enough water to cover beans by 1-2 inches.
  4. Bring beans to a boil. Let simmer uncovered for about 10-15 minutes and skimming foam that comes to the surface with a fine mesh skimmer.
  5. Add kombu and garlic, turn heat to low, and put lid on pot. Leave lid cracked a little so that the pot does not boil over. Periodically check the water level to make sure beans do not cook dry. More water should be added as needed to keep water just above the level of the beans.
  6. Cook beans for about 60-90 minutes, or until soft throughout.
  7. Add sea salt and simmer another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve in a bowl garnished with parsley, red bell pepper, and lemon zest, if desired.
Variations
  1. Add sautéed onion to the beans during the last 30 minutes or so of cooking.
  2. Pressure cook beans for creamier consistency.
Notes
  1. Serve with corn polenta and homemade pesto.

 

Maple Roasted Wild Salmon with Fresh Rosemary

We make Maple Roasted Wild Salmon at home when we want something easy, hearty, and delicious. It is also great for dinner parties because it can be cooked at the last minute after everyone has arrived.

This recipe is quite simple. It has only 6 ingredients, including olive oil and sea salt! There are many variations on this recipe, but one of our favorites is to add toasted pecans.

When selecting your salmon fillet, make sure it is wild caught. The taste of wild caught salmon is unparalleled, and is higher in minerals (including potassium, zinc and iron) than its farm-raised counterpart. Wild caught salmon contains about half the fat as farm-raised salmon, so it is important to use some oil if baking or roasting in the oven.

Maple Roasted Wild Caught Salmon with Fresh Rosemary
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1¼ lb. wild caught salmon fillet (coho, sockeye, or king)
  • sea salt
  • about ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lightly oil a 9" X 9" glass baking dish or roasting pan with a thin coating of olive oil.
  3. Cut salmon into 4 equal pieces. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Place salmon pieces in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle evenly with sea salt (a few large pinches). Alternatively, leave the salmon fillet whole to have a nice presentation the table.
  4. Roast salmon in the oven for 8 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, sauté garlic in olive oil until garlic is soft but not browned. Remove from heat and stir in rosemary, maple syrup, and a large pinch of salt.
  6. After salmon has roasted for 8 minutes, remove from oven and spoon garlic-rosemary oil over each fillet. Return salmon to the oven and roast for another 3 minutes, and then check for doneness.
  7. Serve with a fresh salad, sauteed greens or broccolini, or other vegetable side dish.
Variations
  1. Maple-pecan version: Toast up to 1 cup pecan pieces with the garlic until fragrant, but be careful not to burn the garlic. Keep the rest of the recipe the same, or omit the rosemary for a pure maple-pecan flavor. This variation is especially good in the fall and early winter when pecans are fresh.
  2. Maple-balsamic version: Add 2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar (or balsamic reduction) to the garlic-olive oil mixture. Omit rosemary.
Note
  1. To check for doneness, plunge a small sharp knife all the way through the thickest part of one of the fillets and hold it there for 5 seconds. Pull it out and carefully touch the flat side of the knife to your lower lip, which is very sensitive to temperature. If it feels warm, the fish is just cooked through and ready to serve. If the knife is still cold or cool, the fish needs more time.
  2. Another way to gauge doneness is to watch for the appearance of a white substance that starts forming on the outside of the salmon. Usually this indicates the salmon is close to being done.

Some ideas for completing your menu:

  • With basmati, jasmine, or sushi rice and a green vegetable.
  • To top your favorite salad.
  • With Niçoise Salad.
  • With sushi hand roll fixings like cucumber, carrot, avocado, toasted nori, and a dipping sauce.
maple-roasted-salmon-6
Salmon with sushi rice, toasted nori, and steamed green beans

Try other seafood recipes from Cook Love Heal:

Brazilian Fish Stew (Mocqueca)

Crusted Halibut with Caper White Wine Sauce

Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps

 

Enjoy!

Miso Vegetable Soup

Miso soup, a Japanese tradition, is an integral part of a healthy, modern diet, and can be made with all-American ingredients. My family loves to make this soup for breakfast, as it is light and easy to digest, soothing to the stomach, and chock full of minerals. Miso soup is a great start to any meal, as it stimulates digestion and prepares the stomach to receive food. Miso soup, which contains wakame seaweed, is long known to be good for air travelers because it is alkalizing, hydrating, good for regularity, and mitigates the negative effects of radiation you are exposed to at high altitudes.The good news is that miso soup can be made simply in just 5-10 minutes, after a little bit of practice. Make your soup fresh each time, as it loses its vitality if it sits for a day or longer.

There are just 5 components of this quick and healthy miso soup:

  1. Water or vegetable stock
  2. Wakame sea vegetable
  3. Sliced land vegetable(s)
  4. Unpasteurized miso
  5. Garnish

Miso soup (1)Wakame is the most common sea vegetable used in miso soup. Although sea vegetables are often associated with Asian diets, there are a number of great sea vegetable compnies on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. I usually buy Atlantic wakame (or Alaria) from Ironbound Island Seaweed (also locally available at Wheatsville Coop) where sea vegetables are hand harvested and sun-dried. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables and Maine Seaweed are also wonderful companies specializing in sustainably harvested seaweed.

Miso is a high-protein seasoning that offers a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, essential oils, minerals, vitamins, and protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. It is usually made with soybeans, cultured rice or barley, and salt. I look for miso that is traditionally made, as it is the highest in quality. It should be unpasteurized and produced with organic, non-gmo soybeans (or some other kind of bean), organic rice or barley koji, and sea salt. No alcohol or other preservatives are used in making this kinds of miso. My favorite brands that I can buy locally (or order online if I want a special variety) are South River Miso from Conway, Massachusetts and Miso Master made in North Carolina.

There are many delicious miso varieties to choose from when making miso soup. Some of the ones that I prefer to use in the hot Texas climate are chickpea miso, sweet white or yellow miso, or a combination of red miso and a lighter colored miso (stir together half and half).

Here is a compelling video about the miso making process at New England’s South River Miso Company which produces traditionally made, superior quality misos at their Massachusetts facility. Check out their web site for additional information and videos.

Before adding miso paste to your soup, dissolve it in a small cup with some warm water or soup broth. Whisk it until it is a smooth mixture, then add it into the soup at the point the vegetables are done cooking.

Any vegetables of your choice can be used in miso soup. I like to slice them thinly so that my soup will cook quickly. Some of my favorites include: shiitake mushrooms, celery, daikon radish, sweet potato, carrot, and baby bok choy. I usually choose about two vegetables to put into my soup each time. Including a garnish for miso soup is essential for having a fresh touch to an otherwise cooked soup. I like to use thinly sliced scallions, grated daikon radish, or fresh parsley to top my soup for color, texture, and flavor.

Miso Vegetable Soup
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Japanese, Macrobiotic
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cups filtered or spring water or vegetable stock
  • 2 strips wakame sea vegetable or pinch of wakame flakes
  • 1 cup thinly sliced vegetables
  • 1-2 tablespoons unpasteurized miso paste
  • 1 scallion, sliced into very thin rounds
Instructions
  1. Heat water or stock in small saucepan.
  2. Add wakame strips or flakes. Wakame flakes will instantly rehydrate. Wakame strips take a little longer. If using wakame strips, remove them from the pot and slice into small squares that are bite-sized and return to the soup pot.
  3. Add vegetables and simmer for a minute or two. If vegetables are sliced very thinly, this will only take about one minute.
  4. Whisk together miso and a little of the hot soup broth in a small cup or bowl until smooth. Add miso to soup pot, stir, and turn off the heat. Miso will appear to "bloom" in the pot, which is a sign it is ready to serve.
  5. Ladle a cup or so of the soup into a small soup bowl or cup.
  6. Sprinkle gently with scallion slices for garnish. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Some delicious vegetable combinations include: celery and carrot or daikon, shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy, or sweet potato or winter squash and baby bok choy.
  2. Miso varieties can include any light or dark misos. In warmer weather you may prefer a lighter miso such as chickpea, sweet brown rice, yellow, or sweet white miso. In colder weather you may want a stronger, saltier miso such as 3-year barley, chickpea and barley, red, or hatcho (the darkest variety).
  3. Other garnishes can include: grated daikon radish, pan-toasted mochi cubes, fresh parsley, or other fresh herbs.

 

 

 

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds

salad with fresh figs, avocado, marcona almonds

Mmmm… fresh figs! Late summer and early fall is the height of fig season. Right now in Austin, the grocery stores have been fully stocked with varieties of figs from California that range in color from dark purple to bright green on the outside, to various shades of pink on the inside. They are best when heavy, plump, unblemished, and slightly soft on the outside. Figs that are squishy are probably overripe. Check out this article to learn more about how to choose figs.

Varieties of ripe figs
Varieties of ripe figs. Photo Credit: Photo © Patrizia Savarese/Getty Images

In this recipe, I have chosen to marinate the fennel in citrus, olive oil, and salt before adding it to the salad. This slightly softens the fennel and makes it more flavorful. Fennel bulbs are easy to slice if you first trim the stems and fronds from the bulb, cut into quarters, and then thinly slice each quarter. If the stems are juicy and flavorful, they can also be thinly sliced and added to the marinade.

FennelTrim fennel root and stems. Cut in half.

fennel- quarteredCut each half in half.

Fennel-4Slice off the hard core from each fennel quarter. Slice thinly.

I recommend using a good quality, aged balsamic vinegar that is less acidic and slightly sweet. I used the Central Market brand Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Italy for this recipe. It costs about $16 and can be bought online or in the Austin Central Market stores.

balsamic vinegar

I used a tangerine-infused olive oil from Vom Faas specialty store. You can sub a good quality extra virgin olive oil if you can’t find this ingredient.

Be creative and try substituting ingredients that are seasonal in your area. For example, as winter approaches, pomegranates will be in season and can be used instead of figs. Mango can be used in place of oranges, celery for fennel, and toasted pecans for almonds.

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 small or ½ large fresh fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 cups mixed field greens with baby arugula
  • up to 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • up to 2 tablespoons citrus-infused olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 fresh figs, sliced in quarters
  • 1 small avocado, cut into chunks
  • slices of 1 orange or 2 clementines
  • ¼ cup Marcona almonds (toasted and salted)
  • black pepper, freshly ground (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together fennel, orange juice, olive oil, and sea salt. Allow fennel to marinate for at least 20 minutes. This step can also be done up to one day ahead, storing the fennel mixture covered in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the salad.
  2. Rinse and spin dry mixed greens. Spread evenly onto large platter or into large salad bowl.
  3. Drizzle greens with balsamic vinegar and citrus-infused olive oil. Top greens with marinated fennel, figs, avocado, orange or clementine slices, and Marcona almonds.
  4. Top with a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
Variation
  1. Use mango chunks in place of orange slices.

Salad at Sami & Lorraines (3)

Bon appetit!

White Sushi Rice

Making sushi rice is an art. I am still learning how to perfect it. This recipe works really well for making nori rolls, sushi, and rice balls. It lacks the sugar and preservatives that fast-food sushi contains, but is perfectly sticky (not mushy) and flavorful. Good luck making your first sushi rice! Soon I will post a recipe for a simple nori roll.

White Sushi Rice
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The first step to making delicious nori rolls is making a perfectly seasoned and pefectly sticky sushi rice!
Author:
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups organic white sushi rice
  • spring or filtered water for rinsing rice
  • 2¼ cups spring or filtered water
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoons umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
Instructions
  1. Start by rinsing the rice to remove some of the starch. Place rice in small to medium saucepan with a lid. Add enough water to cover rice by about an inch. Swirl water around until water becomes cloudy. Drain out water using fine meshed strainer.
  2. Add 2¼ cups spring or filtered water and sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When bubbles first appear, stir the rice with a wooden spoon and place lid on pot.
  3. When at a full boil, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and keep pot covered for 20 minutes. This gives the rice a chance to steam and absorb all of the cooking liquid.
  5. Transfer rice into a large bowl. Mix together umeboshi vinegar and brown rice vinegar in a small bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture evenly over the rice, cutting it into the rice with a rice paddle or wide wooden spoon, fanning as you go with a plastic lid or fan. Rice will cool quickly when using this method. Do not stir the rice, as it will become mushy.
  6. Set aside and cover with a damp towel until ready to use.

 

Questions?

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