Cooked Apple Pre-Breakfast
I just received my copy of Divya Alter’s beautiful cookbook, What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen. I am honored to share her contribution to my newsletter. Her wisdom and knowledge is based around her own healing journey with great compassion for her readers. She holds your hand and guides you, inspiring you to take small, sustainable steps that lead to lifelong healthy change.
How do you start your day in terms of nourishment? Do you drink a glass of warm water with lemon juice or a cup of coffee or skip breakfast all together?
The famous Ayurvedic remedy of warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning turns out to be not so Ayurvedic, after all. Lemons are quite acidic and sharp, and lemon water on an empty stomach is not recommended for someone with acidic digestion or blood. Too much water in the morning for someone experiencing weak, sluggish digestion will weaken one’s digestive fire even more.
Here is another way for you to start your day: with a cooked apple.
Single foods eaten at the right time can have the most profound effect on our health. When I first heard about the Cooked Apple from my teacher, Vaidya Mishra, I was skeptical—is it really so important to eat it first thing in the morning? Why cooked and not raw? After trying it a few times I loved it so much that to date, stewing an apple is part of my morning pre-breakfast ritual.
This is the easiest, fastest recipe in my book. Yet its benefits put to shame the most extravagant culinary creations in the world. I change my cooking class recipes seasonally, but I include Cooked Apple in every class handout. I am thrilled when students come back and tell me about their morning apple experience. So here is my challenge for you: if you are a beginner in the kitchen, start with this recipe—it will build your confidence. If you don’t have time to cook, make this recipe anyway—it takes only a minute to prep and you can shower while it’s cooking—it won’t interfere with your rushed schedule. If you want to create lasting family memories for your kids, make them Cooked Apple—they will always remember waking up to the heavenly apple aroma.
Try this recipe and see how it works for you. Remember that the key is to eat it first thing in the morning, as close to the time you get up as possible.
½ cup water
2 whole cloves
1 medium apple, preferably a sweeter variety such as Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Opal, or Pink Lady
For Fiery digestion: Make as is or substitute a pear for the apple.
For Earthy digestion: Add a 1-inch piece cinnamon stick in Step 1.
- Start boiling the water and cloves in a small saucepan. In the meantime, peel, core, and chop the apple into bite-size pieces. If you don’t have time to peel it, at least cut the apple into 4 pieces and remove the core.
- Add the apple pieces to the hot water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the apple is soft and translucent but not mushy.
- Drain, let it cool a little, and eat first thing in the morning.
Nourish: Slow-Roasted Tomato and Garlic Chutney
When we understand that food is our medicine, life changes. I was brought up with an awareness of the healing quality of foods, and I am fortunate to have spectacular cooks in my life to nourish and expand my horizons.
Recently I visited my editor and friend, Leda Scheintaub, and her husband, Nash Patel, at their popular South Indian food truck, Dosa Kitchen, in Brattleboro, Vermont. I had never had a dosa—a fermented rice and lentil crepe—before I met them, and now I wonder how I ever lived without them. Dosa Kitchen offers a variety of fillings, each one as delicious as the next. The hardest thing you’ll have to do when you visit is decide what to order. This chutney is one of the side dishes that complement their dishes perfectly.
Slow-Roasted Tomato and Garlic Chutney
The chutneys we are most familiar with are sweet, most famously the mango chutney served Northern Indian restaurants. But chutneys from the South of India are more on the savory side, and where Americans will reach for ketchup, South Indians might choose tomato chutney. This version of tomato chutney slow roasts the tomatoes in the oven with ample garlic to balance the tang of the tomatoes and two types of chiles for heat. Because the tomatoes shrink down so much, you’ll need a fair amount of them. As good local tomatoes can be costly, when you see seconds on offer, that’s the time to make this chutney!
Makes about 3 cups
4 pounds medium to large tomatoes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 unpeeled garlic cloves
4 fresh green chiles, stemmed
2 tablespoons unrefined sunflower oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
3 dried red chiles, stemmed and broken into pieces
1 teaspoon urad dal (a small, tan-colored lentil)
Handful of fresh curry leaves
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Quarter the tomatoes or cut them into sixths or eighths if they are large. Place the wedges on a baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Scatter the garlic cloves among the tomato wedges and season lightly with salt. Place in the oven and roast until the tomatoes are a bit shriveled and mostly dried with a little of their juices remaining, about 6 hours. Squeeze the garlic from the peels, transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a blender, add the green chiles, and blend until smooth.
In a medium saucepan, heat the sunflower oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. One by one, add the spices without stirring: first the mustard seeds (they will start to pop, and if they threaten to pop right out of the pan, cover and lower the heat a tiny bit), followed by the cumin seeds, then the red chiles, urad dal, and curry leaves. The goal is for the red chiles and curry leaves to darken a couple of shades, taking care not to let them burn. Add the blended tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season with salt, let cool, then serve or spoon into a jar and place in the refrigerator, where it will keep for about 1 week.
Pretty In Pink Radishes
Terry’s cookbooks are a staple in my kitchen. She organizes her recipes by the season, which makes them a valuable reference.
My garden is overflowing with bright pink radishes right now, and it’s hard to know what to do with all of them. In this recipe, Terry shows us how to ferment radishes, heal our intestinal tract, and bring this seasonal beauty to our table to enjoy. This is just one of the many recipes from her recent book Eat Clean Live Well.
Pretty In Pink Radishes
There are three reasons to ferment foods. The first is for healthy intestinal flora. The second is to preserve the harvest. And the third is because they’re delicious. This process varies slightly from those used to make sauerkraut and kimchi, and will work for most vegetables.
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 2-inch sprigs fresh dill
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3 bunches globe-type red radishes, such as cherry belle
2 small watermelon radishes
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups water
2 pint-size canning jars with lids
Weights (anything that will fit inside your jar to keep radishes submerged)
Cheesecloth and rubber bands
Divide garlic, dill, peppercorns and pepper flakes between canning jars. Wash radishes well, trim and discard roots and greens, and slice radishes into ¼-inch rounds. Pack firmly in jars so varieties are mixed and jars are two-thirds full.
In separate bowl, make brine by combining salt and water and stirring until salt is completely dissolved. Pour brine into canning jars until radishes are just covered (you may not need all of the brine). Leave space at the top of each jar to prevent brine from overflowing when you press radishes down below level of brine. Place weight in mouth of each canning jar to hold radishes down so they are fully submerged in brine. Cover with cheesecloth, secure with rubber bands and set aside to ferment.
Check radishes daily. Should brine evaporate and expose radishes, make more using the same salt to water ratio above. Any mold that appears can be skimmed off and discarded (this is possible if pieces are not fully submerged in brine). Radishes will be lightly pickled within 24 hours and will become more sour the longer they are left to ferment. When taste is as desired, cover and refrigerate to slow fermentation.
Note: I refrigerate my radishes after about 7–10 days of fermentation.
Makes about 2 cups
Spring Onion and Quinoa Soup with Roasted Asparagus
My friend Terry Walters has brought food to another level of healing in my life by showing me that cooking can be a meditation. I recently attended a sourdough workshop with Terry and experienced firsthand the mindful experience of preparing and cooking food together. Enjoy her beautiful seasonal soup, and don’t miss her latest book.
THIS SOUP IS EVERYTHING I WANT FROM A SPRING MEAL. Its broth is infused with the sweetness of spring onions, and high-protein quinoa adds just enough body to satisfy. I roast the asparagus first and add it last so that it retains its taste and texture, adding another dimension to this soup that always hits the spot.
1 bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 medium spring onions
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
6 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon mirin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bend asparagus near bottom of stalks to break off dried ends at natural breaking point. Discard ends and cut remaining stalks on an angle into 2-inch pieces. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and spread on baking sheet. Roast 20 minutes or until asparagus is tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside. Trim spring onions and slice white bulbs and light green stems into thin rounds (discard dark green stems). Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add sliced onions and garlic. Sauté until onions start to soften (about 2 minutes). Rinse quinoa, add to mixture and toast 2 minutes to lightly toast. Add stock and mirin and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered until quinoa is tender (about 20 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that soup will get saltier from roasted asparagus. Top each serving with a scoopful of roasted asparagus and serve. Note: Spring onions can be hard to find, not because they’re not available, but because grocery stores tend to label them inconsistently. Look for slightly overgrown scallions with a rounder white bulb.
Recipe credit: Eat Clean Live Well, Sterling Publishing, 2014 ©Terry Walters
Fiddlehead Fern Curry
Nature guides us in the rebirth it brings forth each spring. Our native flora and fauna provide an effortless example of this transition. The efficiency of nature to produce exactly what we need to flourish is an undeniable brilliance. Fiddlehead ferns are a perfect example. Ascetically, they tease the senses with their unfurling beauty, beckoning the sunshine, rain, and air to open them to their full potential. And they are a nutritional powerhouse, filled with vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, making them a fantastic spring energizer.
Enjoy this beautiful recipe from my editor and cookbook author Leda Scheintaub.
The fiddlehead fern, the magical furled fronds of a young fern, looks like the scroll at the end of a violin. The taste is grassy, with hints of asparagus and artichoke. They are available only for a short time during the season, and they are a true wild food, only found through foraging. (Note that many varieties of fern are poisonous, so make sure you’re well informed before you decide to search out your own, and do not eat them raw, as raw fiddleheads can cause gastric upset.)
I had no idea that ferns were also savored in Southeast Asia until I flipped through my copy of James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor to find his recipe for an Indonesian fern curry. This recipe is adapted from his, with some added Indian flavor notes to tailor the dish to the menu of our South Indian food truck, Dosa Kitchen, based in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Serves 6 as a side dish
1 pound (about 6 cups) fiddlehead ferns
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 2 small fresh green chiles, or to taste
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon jaggery or unrefined brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Clean the fiddleheads: Brush away as much of the light brown papery sheath from the fiddleheads as possible, then wash the fiddleheads in several changes of cold water.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the fiddleheads, return to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, then rinse the fiddleheads. Rinse the saucepan, dry it, and return it to the stovetop.
Meanwhile, combine the red onion, garlic, chile, and ginger in a food processor and process to a paste, scraping the sides of the machine as needed and adding a little water if necessary to loosen it.
Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and leave for about 30 seconds, until they start to pop. Add the red onion paste and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the paste thickens and no longer smells raw.
Add ¾ cup of the coconut milk, 1 cup water, and the fiddleheads. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the fiddleheads are tender and a darker shade of green, about 10 minutes.
Add the salt and jaggery and stir in the remaining ¼ cup coconut milk. Return to a simmer to heat through. Turn off the heat, add the lime juice, taste, and adjust the seasonings with salt, jaggery, and lime juice if needed. Stir in the cilantro and serve.
Spring Season Ginger Lemon Tea
Welcome to kapha season! In Ayurveda, this late winter/early spring season brings with it so much possibility. After a long dormant period, kapha season is a time of rebirth and growth, a time of shedding old habits and emotions. It’s when we begin to lighten up, dry out, warm up, and move, balancing kapha’s earthy qualities: heavy, moist, cool, and dull. This invigorating, pungent, and slightly sweet drink will assist in detoxifying your body and clearing allergies as you transition into the new season.
- 4 cups hot water
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
- 1-inch piece turmeric root, chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 to 2 tablespoons raw honey
In a blender, combine the hot water, ginger, turmeric, and lemon juice and blend until the ginger and turmeric are broken down. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into mugs, pressing on the solids to extract all the liquid. Stir half of the honey into each mug. Sip and enjoy throughout the day.
Janelle Salzman, contributor