Monday, August 27, 2012


Kitchiri is one of those comforting foods that I can't stop eating once I start. I forget to make it very often and it is so good for you.  In the Ayurvedic tradition, Kitchiri is a food that you eat to create rest from processed foods.  The mung beans in it are full of amino acids that are the precursors for protein and when combined with the rice cooked with it turns it into a full protein. Plus the spices used are supposed to be very good for your digestive system.  In any case, it is a wonderful dish that I make with  many vegetables in it to give it even more of a nutritional punch.  This is a very simple recipe that cooks much quicker than you think.  The total time of cooking was only 1/2 hour but it has the taste and feel of a long, slow cooked dish. I like to use browned onions and garlic for additional flavor, but other versions call for the use of Asafetida instead, a dried gum from India that smells quite bad when uncooked, but when added to foods and cooked tastes a bit like leeks. Kitchiri is traditionally garnished with extra shredded ginger and cilantro leaves and sometimes I garnish it with extra browned onions too.  It's really delicious, nourishing and nurturing too!


1 cup yellow dried Mung Beans (dehulled)
2 cups Basmati Rice
1 Serrano Chili, stem removed, deseeded and cut into a fine mince
8 cups water
2 Tablespoons Ghee or Butter

1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled, grated or minced very fine
1/2 Tablespoon dried Turmeric
1/2 Tablespoon dried Coriander
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds

1 onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove minced
2 Roma tomatoes, stem piece removed and cut into small pieces
1 small zucchini, stem removed and cut into small chunks
1 yellow summer squash, stem removed and cut into small chunks
1 large carrot, stem removed, peeled and cut into small chunks
Salt and Pepper to taste

For Garnish:
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves removed from the stem
2 inches of ginger, peeled and grated
Quartered Lemons to squeeze on the juice

Wash and rinse the Mung Beans and put into a pot with the 8 cups of water. Add in Turmeric and Serrano Chili.  Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Skim off foam and cook for a total of about 15 minutes or until the Mung Beans are just starting to get soft.  Add in the rice and vegetables and cook for an additional 15 - 20 minutes.  Taste to see if rice is done. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the Ghee (or butter) and add in the Coriander and Cumin Seeds.  Cook until they start to brown slightly. Add in the garlic and onions and cook until the onions get browned.  Add in tomatoes and cook until they break down into a sauce.  Add to the cooked Kitchiri and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the cilantro leaves and ginger.

Five Element Analysis

Mung Beans are an Earthy food and the squash and carrots and cooked onions add even more.  Rice belongs to the Metal Element and the garlic and spices make sure that Metal is fully present.  The Water Element is represented in the amount used to cook the Mung Beans and Rice and the butter. The Fire Element is found in the Tomatoes and Serrano Chili and the Cilantro and Lemon add the Wood Element.  As you can see, this is a very balanced one dish meal!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Guacamole with Corn

I love avocados and only regret that I don't have a big tree growing in my backyard like I used to in Southern California. While visiting my sister a few days ago, I ran across a roadside stand that was selling avocados for next to nothing, so of course I bought a lot! To me, avocados are one of nature's miracle foods. The oil in avocados is really good for your nervous system as it supports the health of the myelin sheath and avocados reduces cholesterol and help you digest the nutrients of other foods too! One of my favorite things is BLAT sandwiches as bacon and avocado are amazing together and I also like avocados on toast for breakfast with lots of salt and pepper.  But I have to admit that Guacamole is something that I just have to eat on a regular basis.  When my kids were young, they refused to try it as the green color put them off, but I volunteered at their school as one of the "Food Moms"and we taught the kids how to make Guacamole but we called it "Rainforest Chip Dip" instead. We had the kids make it with us and they all devoured it and begged for more.  From that point on, my sons were converted and we still call Guacamole by that name.  This version makes use of some leftover grilled corn that makes the dip slightly more substantial and the pop of the sweet corn kernels contrasts with the creaminess of the avocados really well.  What's different about this dip is the addition of little bit of mayonnaise that makes it even creamier.  We've tried it without, but we really like it better when it is included. Serve this dip with lots of good quality tortilla chips. If I have time, I fry them myself as nothing beats homemade tortilla chips.  But if I don't want to go to that trouble, I look for slightly thick ones (I got a good bag from Whole Foods) and then heat them in the oven for 3 - 5 minutes so that they crisp up and become perfect for dipping.  It's so good and so good for you that it's almost a meal!

Summer Guacamole

4 Avocados
1 Serrano Chili, stem removed, deseeded and minced finely
4 medium Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 White Onion, minced fine
1/2 cup cooked corn (cut off the cob)
Juice of 1 small Lime (can also use lemon) - about 2 Tablespoons - or more to taste
1/2 Teaspoon New Mexico Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Best Foods (Hellman's Mayonnaise)
1 teaspoon salt
Handful of washed Cilantro leaves

Slice avocados in half, remove seeds, scoop out the flesh and put into a bowl and mash.  Squeeze lime or lemon juice over to keep from browning.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix to blend.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Five Element Analysis

Avocados belong to the Water and Wood Elements and the lime juice adds even more Wood so that element is covered.  The Serrano Chili, Tomatoes and Chili Powder contribute the Fire Element.  The corn and the tortilla chips contribute the Earth Element and the Onions, Mayonnaise and Cilantro add the Metal Element.  The Water Element only has the salt to represent it so it needs a little enhancement to actually make this a balanced snack!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thai Coconut Pudding in Kabocha Squash

I'm visiting my friend and she just harvested her first Kabocha squash.  We were gathering vegetables from her amazing garden and there were a lot of people coming over for dinner so I made a special Thai dessert that involves steaming the squash after being filled with a coconut pudding. It's really simple and quite spectacular looking when served.  Like most Asian desserts, it is not too sweet and really nourishing.  It's also surprisingly simple to make - the only trick is using enough eggs to make it a firm pudding so you can slice it.  I used Sucanat for the sweetener as I think it tastes more like traditional palm sugar so the pudding was a lovely caramel color, but if you want to make the pudding white, use regular sugar.  It's a fitting end to a Thai meal and delicious!

Thai Coconut Pudding in Kabocha Squash

1 Kabocha Squash
1 cup Coconut Milk (use the creamiest part from the top of the can if possible
3/4 cup sugar (I used Sucanat)
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Wash the outside of the Kabocha Squash thoroughly.  Using a sharp knife, cut one inch around the stem to cut a hole. Remove top and using a metal spoon, scoop out the seeds and scrape out the strings so that the walls of the squash are smooth.  Pour water up to at least 2 inches in the bottom of a steamer and bring it to a boil.  In a small saucepan, cook Coconut Milk and Sucanat (or sugar) until just boiling and turn off hear.

Whisk eggs in a ceramic or glass bowl that will fit into the steamer and add in a few Tablespoons of the Coconut mixture, beat in and then add in a few more.  Then add all the rest of the Coconut mixture.  Put the bowl into the steamer and steam for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Then take it out and stir again and pour into the Kabocha Squash that is on a plate that will fit into the steamer. Add more water if necessary. Place the plate with the Squash into the steamer.  Cover and steam for 45 minutes and be sure to check the water periodically and add more boiling water if necessary.  Check the pudding by inserting a toothpick or small knife into the center.  It is done if nothing sticks and the squash is tender.  Take out of the steamer and let cool until you serve. Cut into 8 sections to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Squash, being orange and sweet is representative of the Earth Element and the Sucanat sugar and Coconut Milk adds even more. The eggs bring in the Water Element and the vanilla brings just a hint of the Metal Element so this dessert is a perfect accompaniment to a meal that contains Wood and Fire Foods and something that adds a bit more Metal too.