Category Archives: Dahlia’s Recipes

Wild Rice Adventures

Grain of the Week: Wild Rice!

Grain of the Week: Wild Rice!

This week’s *whole* grain is Wild Rice.

As I mentioned last week, grains are a vital, unrefined source of plant-based dietary fiber needed for optimal digestive and metabolic function.

Now the Paleo folks like to rag on grains because they were not part of some archetypal hunter-gatherer diet … and can be inflammatory in nature when refined (white rice) and consumed in excess.

The thing is, the growth of human civilization as we know it is only made possible by the agricultural innovations of our ancestors, including the cultivation of grains.

Wild rice is one of the healthiest, least inflammatory grains out there (learned that from my mentor of yore, Nicole Mires of Pekoe Acupuncture in Shaw). And the secret is to rotate out your grains… keep it fresh, keep it moving so your body doesn’t develop sensitivities.

With that, wild rice stars as the foundation of week’s adventures.

The Mighty Grain Bowl

The living's easy...

The living’s easy…

Grain bowls are an awesome meal, any meal. And very easy to put together. If the grain is already prepared and on hand, say cooking on a Sunday, on a Tuesday, you could sautee fresh greens and seasonal veggies to go on top and have a meal in 10 minutes. Seriously  :-)

Say… like Brussels sprouts take about 5-7 minutes to sear.

I like to use the same skillet to heat up the wild rice.. efficient, picks up seared bits of veggies, and no *microwaves* passing through your food.

Green: Brussels Sprouts
Grain: Wild Rice

Cheese: Yogurt

Sprinkles: Za’atar from Bazaar Spices
Swirls: Black truffle olive oil from The Mediterranean Way

The Soul-Satisfying Salad

And sometimes it’s nice to throw in a handful of whole grains to your salads to make them heartier, full meals.

Salad, Funkified

Salad, Funkified

Green: Russian kale
Grain: Wild rice
Fruits: Apricot and candied ginger

Sprinkles of lavender salt from Bazaar Spices
Squeezes of Lemon
Swirls of Black Truffle Olive Oil from The Mediterranean Way

Grain Bowl, Part Deux

Final offering of the wild rice LD series.. another mighty grain bowl with collards & fresh English peas. This was breakfast  ;-)

With fresh Engligh Peas from the Far Mar

With fresh Engligh Peas from the Far Mar

Greens: collards & English peas
Grain: wild rice

Sprinkles: smoked paprika & pink Himalayan salt
Squeezes: lemon
Swirls: olive oil

 

Live Deliciously: A Formula

Greens for the Week: Chard, Kale, Dandelion

Greens for the Week: Chard, Kale, Dandelion

The LD system for healthy eating is an easy, indulgent, & inspired 5 step formula with Mediterranean sensibilities. And it starts with Greens, Beans & Grains.

I always like to start the week purchasing no more than three dark leafy greens that I keep fresh in the fridge – this week I chose Swiss Chard, Dandelion Greens, and Kale.

From there I’ll prep one whole grain and one bean or legume for the week. This week I chose French lentils and Red Himalayan Rice from Bazaar Spices… These are my ingredients for unscripted culinary adventure.

For the lentils, my trifecta of cooling, anti-inflammatory Mediterranean spices I typically use for legumes are: cumin, coriander, and turmeric.

For the red rice, my trifecta of spices I’ll typically use for grains are: cinnamon, allspice, and turmeric.

Find them at Bazaar Spices and build your own blends from there!

Grain and Bean for the Week

Grain and Bean for the Week

LD Formula in Action: Take ONE

Continuing on with LD formula for culinary adventure and super easy meal planning.
I’ll always prepare a bean or legume for the week as I rely on them for chief source of protein and nutrient-dense plant-based fiber to support functional & digestive health.

In this meal, I paired lentils with side salad of shredded Swiss Chard and chopped peaches. Easy peasy.

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Green: Chard – versatile green kept raw in salads or sauteed
Bean: Lentils
Fruit: peaches

Sprinkles of Lavender salt from Bazaar Spices over salad
Squeezes of lemon on everything
Swirls of olive oil

LD Formula: Take TWO

I’ll always prepare one grain for the week because it is a nutrient-dense source of plant-based fiber that is vital for metabolic and functional health. Yes, grains are a carb. And no, not all carbs are bad. Seriously. Get that sensational mid-90s nonsense out of your head.

Our ancestors typically enjoyed diets that were 75% carbohydrate including whole grains and vegetables.

Not all carbs are created equal. And when you think of whole grains think of actual kernels of grain that have the natural bran intact. It is the bran that holds the grain’s nutrients and fiber. This means whole grain breads and other products don’t count.

When a grain has the fiber stripped off… say in the case of white rice, that grain is essentially reduced into a simple carbohydrate that is metabolized in the body in the same way that sugar would be… increasing insulin resistance and fat storage.

Ok… onward. So I took my red rice and tossed it into a simple salad.

Sometimes just toss a grain into a salad... bonafide, hearty meal!

Sometimes just toss a grain into a salad… bonafide, hearty meal!

Green: Kale
Grain: Himalayan Red Rice
Fruit: Medjool Date

Sprinkles of Za’atar and Rosemary Salt from Bazaar Spices
Squeezes of Lemon
Swirls of Black Truffle Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic from The Mediterranean Way

LD Formula: Take THREE

Next up in formula inspiration.. Sometimes there is nothing quite like beans and greens.

Green & Bean

Green & Bean

Meld

Meld

To make magic

To make magic…

Green: Dandelion Greens
Bean: Lentils

Sprinkles of Urfa pepper from Bazaar Spices

LD Formula: Final Take

Alright alright last meal inspiration in this week’s LD series. One of my favorite uses of leftovers… Lazy Poached Eggs.

I went through kale, dandelion greens and chard with all my entertaining this week. A friend left behind collard greens so I used them in the mix.

Crack egg over, add a *little* water to edges, cover with lid, steam. Voila!

Leftovers are always mighty fine for breakfast

Leftovers are always mighty fine for breakfast

Green: Collard Greens
Grain: Red Rice

Sprinkles of Ethiopian Berbere pepper blend from Bazaar Spices.

 

Amaranth Tabbouleh

Fresh, Simple Ingredients

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

1 bunch of fresh curly parsley, well rinsed, dried, and minced
½-3/4 cup of cooked amaranth
¼ cup of mint, rinses and chopped
1 tomato, diced, strained of excess juice
½ yellow onion, diced
2 lemons, squeezed
½ cup of olive oil
Salt to taste

Directions

1) In a large mixing bowl add parsley, tomato, onion, and amaranth.
2) Swirl in olive oil, squeeze lemon, salt to taste, and thoroughly mix.
3) Enjoy.

Sumptuous Lentil Soup

Sumptuous Lentil Soup
Lentils are such a staple of the Egyptian diet and lentil soup in particular. This recipe is a twist on my mama’s in which I incorporated turmeric – that magical, cancer-fighting yellow superfood – lots of it. For the full Middle Eastern experience, serve with whole wheat pita bread and be sure to squeeze some lime juice. To your health.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6-8

6-8 cups of water
1 cups of red lentils (rinsed)
1 cup of brown lentils
5-6 carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
5 celery stalks coarsely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander
salt
olive oil
lime slices

1) In a large pot, heat 4-5 swirls of olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add carrots, celery and sautee for 3 minutes.
2) Add lentils and spices continue to sautee over medium high for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3) Add water and bring to boil. Allow to boil for about 8 minutes on high.
4) Reduce to low and simmer for another 25-30 minutes.
5) Remove from heat. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy.

 

Aztec Gold

We’re living out of rhythm. Our ancestors enjoyed substantial nutrient-dense, protein rich breakfast dishes of warm grains, legumes, aromatic spices and herbs to begin an honest day’s work. Now we’re lucky if we can squeeze in a sub-par breakfast that comes out of a box or package as we rush off to work in our automoboxes, or squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder on a bus or metro car. This month’s offering is a delectable, protein-rich, soul-satisfying – and might I add gluten-free – breakfast offering designed to warm your belly and get you centered and energized for your day. Kick off your new year with intention and nourishment. To your health!

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Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 25-35 min
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup Quinoa, soaked for 5 min
  • 1 cup Amaranth, soaked for 5 min
  • ½ Cup Almond Milk
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup or Raw Honey
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Raisins
  • Almonds

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add grains and spices and toast mixture about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add water, bring to boil and simmer on low heat about 15-20 min until grains are thoroughly cooked and porridge is translucent.
  3. Add almond milk and maple syrup to porridge.
  4. Serve with raisins, carrots, and almonds.

First Soup of Autumn

I love soup… It’s the perfect, nourishing, comfort food this time of year. It’s cost and time efficient- one batch can keep you stocked and fueled for days. And it’s so darn easy to make. I always like to make a huge batch and freeze half for later when I’m in a pinch and haven’t made it to the grocery store yet or planned for dinner. Most soups do well with a standard base for broth of celery, carrots, and onions. From there you can play and experiment with ingredients… Root veggies and dark leafy greens and grains and beans to throw in. Whatever you have really… For my first batch of soup this season, I had my heart set on white beans… and I took it from there.

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Words to the wise: Take this recipe as a template for your own culinary playtime and prowess. Don’t have collards? Use kale or chard or spinach. Don’t wanna soak your own white beans? Use any canned bean you please. It’s that easy. Just play. I swear, you can’t eff up soup. Breathe. And have fun you crazy kid!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serves: You, Your Friends, Your Neighbors… for days

Ingredients

  • 6-8 cups of water
  • 2 cups of dry white beans, pre-soaked for an hour in salt water and rinsed
  • 5-7 medium carrots peeled and sliced
  • One head of celery, rinsed and sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of shallots, diced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of collard greens
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • Optional: 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. In a large dutch oven, swirl in olive oil and sautee shallots, garlic, celery and carrots over medium high heat. Add spices. Give it 2 minutes or so, stir frequently.
  2. Add white beans and stir in, allowing them to meld into veggie base. Give it another minute or so and stir frequently.
  3. Add water. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes
  4. Reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add collard greens. Allow to simmer for another 10 minutes
  6. Enjoy!!! Serve with bread if you’d like….

Mediterranean Outro

Sage tea with Istar and Jen on our last day in Bodrum, Turkey

It’s been 10 days since I’ve been back from my Mediterranean sabbatical.

Folks ask about the trip.  What did I do out there? What was the highlight? What did I learn?  Truth is, it was a lot.  And I’m still digesting it all..

I went to steep in the traditions of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle long celebrated in  the preventative healthcare community. To learn about the food traditions, rich with heart healthy fats, fresh fruits and veggies, grains and legumes. To immerse in a lifestyle in which communities gather over food, a key factor, according to researchers, in promoting longevity and wellness.

Lebneh Drying in the sun in the sun at Sawsan's in the mountains of Aley, Lebanon

Lebneh Drying in the sun at Sawsan’s in the mountains of Aley, Lebanon

It was a tremendous experience to be away for almost two months exploring and connecting in the region.

I worked and taught. I volunteered and wrote. I enjoyed the company of family and friends and complete strangers over incredible meals in beautiful places. I followed healers and foodies and mystics down rabbit holes and learned from their teachings and insight in the cultivation of a healthy eating practice & lifestyle. And dipped my toes in the sand and sea along the Mediterranean shores from Egypt to Lebanon to Israel and Palestine to Turkey to Spain.

Georgina's Kibbeh in Zgherta, Lebanon

Georgina’s Kibbeh in Zgherta, Lebanon

I’ve come back with my kirsh- Arabic for that resilient part of a woman’s belly back in its full glory. Fattened with beautiful experiences and all of the rich Mediterranean meats and dairy and gluten.

But I was also visiting a really traumatized part of the world. I knew this of course going in.

Wild Olives off Aegean Coast in Turkey

My parents came from Egypt in the late 60s and early 70s.  And I know there is a bit of a trauma there as my parents look back at the country of their youth that has become more and more unrecognizable with intense political instability.

And I spent some time working in international development and conflict work in the region until, well… I couldn’t.

And this violence and instability is what most people outside the region think of when they do think of the Middle East.  But they don’t know the Middle East that I know. There’s always more to the story.

Afternoon watermelon salad with Jen in Tel Aviv, dusted with her's family's signature za'atar from Haifa

Afternoon watermelon salad with Jen in Tel Aviv: topped with Sawsan’s lebneh and dusted with the signature za’atar of Jen’s family in Haifa

In my time traveling I indulged in everyday celebrations of heavy lunches in the late Mediterranean afternoon with fruits, cheeses, and olives and bright salads. And legumes and greens simmered in generous amounts of garlic, cumin, and olive oil with truly fresh aish baladi or village style pita bread.  Served with sweetened hibiscus tea and other elixirs of dried apricots or tamarind or caroub.  And the buzzing nights and sleepy days of Ramadan. And families and neighbors gathering to prepare mouneh, and meze, and pick mulukhiya.

And it was educational and humbling to say the least to to go back in this new capacity, as a healer and a seeker…  And seeing and feeling the generational effects of violence and political insecurity and humiliation in entire communities.

But to immerse in a lifestyle in which families and villagers gather to prepare ingredients and meals and enjoy them together. In a rhythm or a ritual that is truly missing in the West. And how food tells the living, breathing stories of its communities.

Classic Andalusian breakfast of Tostada con Tomate y Aceite in Cordoba, Spain

Classic Andalusian breakfast of Tostada con Tomate y Aceite in Cordoba, Spain with Diego

And I’ve seen that while tradition can nourish communal or spiritual connections with food, I’ve also seen the weight of these traditions crush people and become a source of intense obsession and control.

I suppose what I’m saying is there is a lot to digest. Slowly digesting all that I have learned and applying it to my personal and professional practice.

The stories, the recipes, the teachings… they are coming.  More soon.

Shepherd’s Pie with Asiago Cauliflower Mash and Root Veggie Goodness

This dish proves that comfort food can be wholesome and nourishing.  And isn’t that what makes food so magical, so grand? Food is a vehicle to nourish our bodies and senses and this dish, a celebration of slow winter cooking is an opportunity to connect with the sensory and indeed sensual experience of working with whole foods to develop flavor, depth and soul.  In the process, transfusing love and creativity through your fingertips into the ingredients to craft a dish that will nourish you and loved ones on all levels.  The ingredients are easily accessible, seasonal, and affordable and with a little time, a little patience, and a healthy indulgence in wine & butter you can cultivate soul-satisfying flavor that will warm your belly and bones.  Cook with a good bottle on wine on hand, and enjoy a little for you, a little for the braise.  To your health…. and sensory indulgences.

Prep Time: 35 min

Cook Time: 45 min

Serves: 8-12

 

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Asiago Cauliflower Mash
1 head of cauliflower
2 cups of veggie broth*
1 cup of asiago and/or parmesan
¾ cup of organic cream
¼ cup organic butter, softened

1) In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven add broth & chopped cauliflower.
2) Bring into a boil. Allow cauliflower to steam and soften into broth, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
3) Use a potato masher to start… mashing- until smooth and blended If you have an immersion blender have at it.
4) Add butter and cream and mix thoroughly. Then fold in cheese making sure mash is well blended.

Root Veggie Goodness
8-12 carrots, peeled & chopped into rustic bite size chunks
1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas
1 ½ cups of cooked lentils
1 medium yellow onion
2 tbsp of tomato paste
2 shallots cloves, diced
5-7 cloves of garlic, smashed & minced
¼-⅓ cup of organic butter, softened
¾-1 ½ cup of red wine (I chose Bordeaux)

1) In a deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, melt ½ of your butter and slowly add onions, shallots, and garlic. Sautee, regularly stirring to prevent burning until onions sweat.
2) Add carrots, folding them into the onions. Then add tomato paste, thoroughly coating the mixture. If ever the mixture looks too dry, deglaze with small splashes of red wine, picking up all the browned bits. That’s where you develop flavor in the braising process, offering more depth and complexity with each swirl. You can always sneak in more slivers of butter as needed ;-)
3) Add chickpeas and lentils and continue the braising process, sauteeing in butter and using small splashes of wine to pick up browned bits whenever needed. Give it another 10 minutes to allow all the flavors to meld. Set aside

The Masterpiece
1) Preheat Oven to 400
2) Pour cauliflower mash over root veggie goodness in the cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, creating an indulgent creamy layer to bake over.
3) Bake for about 35-50 minutes until the cauliflower is golden brown. If desired, put the casserole under the broiler for that desired crispy golden brown texture you’re seeking.

BAM. To your health kiddos!

Heart Greek Yogurt? Make your own!

In sharing recipes for the BellySatva blog and newsletter over the past couple of years, I have in passing referred to using homemade lebneh or Greek yogurt as an accompaniment to many sumptuous dishes, including Lebanese dandelion greens, Turkish zucchini fritters, and smoky cocoa-infused Mexican chili.  I realize however that the process of straining  yogurt at home for that indulgently thick, creamy texture that has made bellies smile the world over may perhaps deserve more than a footnote.  This month’s recipe therefore is devoted to the art of straining your own yogurt at home. Aaaand, I might add, my first pictorial culinary how-to guide in the kitchen.  To your health!

Homemade Lebneh with Zaatar, Toasted Chickpeas and Drizzle of Olive Oil

 

Step 1: What You Need

 

  • Quality Organic Whole-Milk Yogurt (32 oz.) *if available, I recommend Brown Cow brand’s Cream Top Whole Milk Organic*
  • Mesh Strainer
  • Mixing  Bowl
  • Cheesecloth or Paper towels *cheesecloth is the purest of straining materials, but everyday kitchen towels will do just nicely :-) *

Step 2: Hook up your Straining Apparatus

Snug fit!

Hook the mesh strainer on top of bowl so it is suspended and excess liquid easily separates from yogurt solids.

 

Step 3: Commence Straining

 

 

Line strainer with cheesecloth or paper towels and gently pour in yogurt.

 

Step 4: Walk Away

 

Seal tightly and walk away :-)

 

Seal tightly with plastic wrap, store in fridge overnight to strain.  Typically 6-36 hours is ideal for creating that rich, creamy texture that has become a fan favorite in foodie trends.  When removing from cheesecloth/paper towel lining, be sure to slowly, carefully peel lining off the yogurt and serve immediately or store in airtight container.

Enjoy in a parfait with granola/honey/dried fruit/nuts, as a sour cream substitute, or a Middle Eastern style lebneh dip as pictured above with zaatar, toasted chickpeas, and drizzle of olive oil. As you begin to make Greek yogurt with frequency, you’ll find no shortage or ways to savor.

 

 

 

 

 

Uber-Simple Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is increasingly becoming a trendy item on DC restaurant menus and it’s easy to see why.  When done right – roasted or seared – this cruciferous veggie with incredible antioxidant, cancer-fighting properties, is a delicately-sweet, epicurean treat.   This recipe is based on the one that would always come out of my mother’s kitchen… aaaand would  never make it to the dinner table because my brothers and I would nosh on all of it beforehand.  And it’s just so dang versatile- throw it in salads, wraps, or enjoy it as a side. To your health!

 

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 35-40 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into bite size florets*

1/3 cup of olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp turmeric

 

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400

2) In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients until cauliflower is thoroughly coated in spices and pour in a large cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or casserole dish. Roast for 30-35 minutes uncovered until tender.

3) Optional: If you like it a little more browned, put cauliflower under broiler for 3-5 minutes (be sure to watch it!).

Serve immediately and enjoy!

*Cut a little larger than what you think bite size may be… cauliflower reduces significantly once cooked!