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Meatless Monday: Red Lentil, Yam and Ginger FALL SOUP

meatlessmondayyyEating seasonally is best for the body and the planet (and Lord knows, she needs some love right about now). Michael Pollen, longtime advocate for local, slow, seasonal food, is also a huge proponent of cooking at home primarily because we as consumers make better health choices by planning in advance and home-cooking is proven to be better for the environment.

That all being said, FALL IS MY FAVORITE FOOD SEASON. Most every season I participate in a yogi seasonal cleanse with one of my fabulous teachers. She is trained in Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, the Dharma Yoga diet and raw food cuisine – she has combined these principles to create a compassionate and updated diet that will bring radiant health to the body and mind. I have learned SO MUCH from these cleanses; it’s unreal. What we choose to eat is loaded – politically, emotionally, socially – so we all must do our best to make personal upgrades. Another message that has seeped into my heart-mind: we all deserve the best ingredients to support the best health possible. This notion is especially potent when coupled with mindful buying, paying attention to labels, fair trade products, etc. I think it’s also important to note (I can’t write this blog post with this left unsaid), you can eat well within your price range! Make a few updates at a time – for example, smoothies for breakfast – using fruits and vegetables, even if you can’t afford the organic variety (check out the dirty dozen list to help you decide what to buy conventional or organic).

Okay, so what’s on the menu for fall? During this windy, dry season, it’s good to bring balance and grounding with nourishing soups and stews, seasonal root vegetables and squashes, and as always, LOTS of greens. I want to share a recipe that was shared with me via the cleanse group. This soup is perfect in every way (especially with the fresh ginger and turmeric root) and sooooo easy/inexpensive.  Check it::

1 cup red lentils

5 small garnet yams, peeled and chopped

2 Tbsp fresh turmeric, grated or finely diced (if you don’t have fresh, 1-2 tsp powder will do it)

4 Tbsp ginger, grated or finely diced

1 Tbsp coconut oil

6 cups vegetable broth

¼ cup coconut milk

1 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

Garnish with A TON of chopped cilantro

Add coconut oil to soup pot at medium heat. Get the pan nice and hot, then add grated turmeric, ginger and lentils. Saute for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and then add yams. Toss until coated and slightly caramelized. Add stock and bring to gentle boil, then simmer until yams and lentils are soft. Turn off the heat and add coconut milk and cilantro. (When I made this soup, I also added chopped kale for extra greeeeens).

A tip from a friend: when you reheat this soup, add a ton more fresh cilantro!!!

Meatless Mondays: Drink your greens and ALKALIZE

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Growing up, my mom had a book called “Alkalize or Die”. She would push cantaloupe and cucumbers on us, always making sure to let us know “it’s alkalizing!” It wasn’t until years later that I appreciated her efforts. Our bodies’ pH is an important indicator of health, and an acidic environment is a breeding ground for various diseases, including cancer. Most foods that comprise the “standard American diet” are acidic, e.g. meat and dairy products, sugar, breads, pasta, coffee, tea. Other the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables, almonds, and sea algae are some examples of alkaline foods. An alkaline diet ensures good health at the cellular level and energizes your system with nutrient dense, high fibrous, low sugar and magnesium rich foods. Check it out – the pH of the body is analogous to the pH of a pool – if too acidic, the water turns green from bacteria growth!

Alkalizing in the morning is a great way to reset and start the day. Drinking warm lemon water upon waking is suggested by the ancient food science of Ayurveda (you can add a touch of maple so the lemon doesn’t wear away the enamel of your teeth). Common sense would lead you to believe that lemon is acidic, but through the digestive process lemon becomes alkaline! Drinking greens in the morning is another fabulous way to energize and alkalize. If you don’t have a juicer, investing in a good green powder is a good way to take in nutrient dense greens rather than creating biological deficits through sugary drinks, coffee, and tea.

Play with these concepts, integrate, be easy on yourself and find your rhythm!

My teacher, Sri Dharma, recommends this green juice:

Half a bunch of celery
1 lemon
1 cucumber
1 green apple (optional for sweetness)
Make it your own, add parsley or other greens!

There are so many good green powders available on the market. I’ve been turned onto and highly recommend Vitamineral Green powder, a very potent blend that will knock your socks off.