Thursday, December 19, 2013

Seasonal Eats

I try to keep my grocery shopping and diet in line with seasonal, local ingredients whenever possible. Summer and autumn may seem like the most exciting seasons for fresh produce, but I personally love winter! Winter is harvest time for cruciferous and root vegetables that I absolutely love, like brussel sprouts, kale, and beets. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of delicious veggies are available at this time of year. Below is a recipe for a super simple, super yummy beet soup that will warm (and fill) you up on the coldest of days.

I came up with this yummy creation yesterday, while experimenting with some Japanese black garlic I had bought. Black garlic is fermented and delicious, with a mild roasted garlic flavor and the sweetness of molasses. It can make an amazing salad dressing or aioli, or in this case, add tangy, earthy notes to round out my soup.

Roasted & Spiced Beet Soup

1 medium (3.5") beet, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks
1 red onion, quartered
1 bell pepper, red or yellow, sliced into 1" thick strips
2 cloves raw garlic, sliced thinly
2 cloves black garlic (optional- substitute w/ 1 tsp molasses)
cumin (I toasted and ground whole seeds, but powdered is OK if it is fresh)
chili powder
turmeric (optional - I added this for health benefits, not necessarily for flavor)
chili flakes (optional - I like a little spice in everything!)
olive oil

Place all of your vegetable, except garlic, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil just enough to coat all vegetables evenly when mixed together, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until beets are caramelized (shown below). Check on them frequently, as the peppers and onions may burn around the edges. If you need to turn the oven heat down to 350 to prevent burning, do so; the roasting will simply take longer.

Remove veggies from oven and transfer to large pot on stove.
If you are using whole spices, toast and grind 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds with 1 tsp chili powder, pepper flakes, peppercorns, sea salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric. If using ground spices, mix all together in ramekin or other small dish for easy addition to the soup.
Add 1/2 of your spice mixture to the vegetables and toss with  a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Over low heat, saute the vegetables while adding the raw and black garlic.
Once the aroma of the garlic begins to bloom, add filtered water the top of the vegetables. Do not completely submerge - some tips and ends of the veggies should be poking out of the water.
Cover and let simmer over low medium heat until the beets are fork tender. Taste the broth after about 10 minutes and add the remaining spices, or additional salt/pepper, to taste.
Once everything is well incorporated and cooked through, remove from heat and prepare to blend.
I used a stick (submersible) blender, but the blending could also take place in a high-powered blender or food processor, though the soup will have to be left to cool first before blending.
Try to use a deep pot for the blending, or you will be painting your kitchen walls beet red!
Blend until it is a creamy, thick soup without lumps. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water, if some liquid evaporated in the cooking process.
Garnish with fresh parsley, sour cream, or horseradish cream (sour cream or yogurt with horseradish mixed in).
Bon apetit!

Let me know if you tried and enjoyed this recipe, or if you have any other seasonal recipes you'd like to share, in the comments or by emailing me at!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Let it Snow

With another fluff shower on the forecast for tomorrow, I thought I'd share some snaps of the fun we had this past week when snow dusted the city. As soon as those clouds open up, I'm a kid again. And my husband? Well, apparently they don't get much snow in England, because he was like a toddler on Christmas eve. Despite the anatomically correct snowmen he constructed, I'd say our first frolic in the snow was a success :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Attempting Ayurveda

My recent  birthday has given me a bit of a new perspective. Sometimes I affectionately refer to it as a "quarter-life crisis"; turning 25 seems like a good mile marker to look back at the past years and learn to grow and adapt from them in the next 25. My health is one of the biggest aspects of my life that I want to continue to focus and learn more about, and I was wonderfully excited and honored (after months of waiting) to be chosen as the Brooklyn ambassador for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Foundation. I cannot wait to be a part of this organization and help to raise awareness and bring about change in my new home city, but more on that later.

The most interesting topic of health and wellness I'm exploring at the moment is the Ayurvedic diet. Basically, it is the principle of everything you ingest and do being a part of your overall well-being (which is a ridiculously simple and true concept in itself to understand and accept). Instead of a diet itself, it is a concept of balancing elements of your diet and lifestyle for the best health and physical wellness possible. If you'd like to learn more, one of my favorite starting points has been Joyful Belly - free assessments, recipes, and lots of easy-to-understand information about Ayurveda.

While scrolling through Instagram, I came across several mentions of a recipe called Kitchari, a super detoxifying and easily digestible dish of basmati rice, lentils or mungbeans, vegetables, and a wonderful variety of delicious spices and herbs that I already love to cook with. It was this recipe that initially lead me to learning more about an Ayurvedic diet, which is based on traditional Indian medicine (which is probably why the recipes taste so darn good - I'm a sucker for good Indian food).

Throughout various assessments of my Dosha, or body type, I've found that when I listen to the cravings and needs of my body, I've been drawn to the foods, herbs, and spices that would traditionally be used to treat whatever ailed me. It's making me more aware of my own body's signals and needs altogether, something that I think humans have lost over the years thanks to technology and modern comforts. 

Every day is a new adventure lately, and I know that it has been difficult to not be discouraged by concerns about money or the future (I still haven't found a full-time day job in the past 2 months). I just have to believe that I can be healthy and happy even in uncertain times, and stay positive, and learn and grow in the process. I figure that life's a gift, and I don't intend on wasting it. You never know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at make each day count.