recipe: zucchini quinoa pizza.

Here is a creative way to reintroduce dairy (cheese, sour cream) into your meals tomorrow on Day 11.  By using quinoa to make a pizza “crust,” you create a high-protein, gluten-free vegetarian base upon which to scatter thin slices of zucchini (or another thinly shaved vegetable) and goat cheese!  Feel free to try any variety of toppings that suit your Dosha and taste preferences.

Did you know that there is quinoa grown right here in Manitoba?  Look for Tamarack Farms‘ quinoa sold at Organic Planet (877 Westminster Ave).

Zucchini goat cheese pizza with a quinoa crust
(adapted from Raw: Recipes for a modern vegetarian lifestyle, by Solla Eiríksdóttir)

makes 1 pizza

For the crust:
¾ cup (115 g) quinoa, uncooked
½ tsp sea salt flakes
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
¼ cup (20 g) grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:
½ cup goat cheese
¼ cup sour cream
½ zucchini, very thinly sliced
Hemp seeds (for sprinkling)
Olive oil (for drizzling)

Soak the quinoa overnight in water, covered.  The next day, drain the quinoa and blend it with ¼ cup water, salt, garlic, pepper, and oregano, until it is smooth.  Pour the batter into a bowl and stir in the cheese and oil.

Put a 9” tart ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pour the batter into the ring.  Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for about 20 minutes, and then remove.  Wearing oven mitts, cover the crust with another baking sheet, and flip the baking sheets over with the crust between them.  It is a daring maneuver, but if you feign confidence you will be fine.  Bake on the second sheet for another 5-10 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and lower the temperature to 350°F.  Mix together the goat cheese and sour cream, and spread it over the crust. Lay out the zucchini slices, and bake for another 10 minutes.  Right before serving, sprinkle over some hemp seeds and olive oil. Slice and eat.

This makes one pizza, but I think if you double the recipe you could forgo the tart ring situation and have enough batter to spread across an entire baking sheet to make a rectangular pizza crust.

Quinoa zucchini pizza

recipe: butternut squash and wild rice salad.

Spring can start and stop a few times in our part of the world, which can be confusing for our bodies and minds to adapt to.  If you are feeling a little ungrounded, try making this: the earth nature of the butternut squash and wild rice can help keep our feet on the ground when the wind changes direction.  This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and is suitable for all days of the cleanse except Days 4-8.

Butternut squash and wild rice salad

makes 4-6 servings

1 butternut squash
1 cup dry wild rice, soaked overnight in cold water
1 small yellow onion
1 large handful button mushrooms
1.5 cups chopped sugar snap peas or frozen green peas
1 large handful of fresh parsley
a few leaves of fresh mint
olive oil
1 lemon
sea salt

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place cut-side-down in a roasting pan that is at least 2 cm deep and pour in enough water to come up about 1 cm.  Roast in a preheated 375 F oven for about 20 minutes, or until a knife easily slides into the flesh.  Let cool before handling.  When you are able to touch the squash without squealing, cut off the skin and dice the flesh into small cubes.

butternut squash

Meanwhile, bring the wild rice to a boil in 3 cups of water.  Cover and turn the heat down so it simmers for 40 minutes or until tender.

When the rice is almost done, prepare the other vegetables: dice the onion and fry in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan or skillet.  Let it grow translucent and gain some colour.  While waiting for that to happen, roughly slice the mushrooms.  When the onions are soft and touched with brown edges, throw in the mushrooms and sugar snap peas (or green peas), and continue to cook until tender.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add everything together: the diced squash, the cooked wild rice, and the veggies.  Roughly chop the parsley and mint and add those as well.  Squeeze over the juice of the lemon and add a few glugs of olive oil.  Toss and taste, adding enough salt to your liking.  I like eating this at room temperature, but eating it warm is pretty good too.  You can also replace the butternut squash with another kind of squash or even beets – feel free to try different iterations of this recipe to suit your tastes and your Dosha!

squash wild rice salad

food for thought: ebb and flow.

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life.  I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking.  I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plan will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell

When we do a cleanse, it is about so much more than just food and eating.  Our cooking/eating practice becomes a way for us to dig a little deeper: to cultivate gratitude for what we have, and to fully appreciate that meaning and fulfilment comes from struggle.  It’s okay to find things difficult; it’s okay to “fall off the wagon” or feel stuck in a rut.  Things will change once again, for better and worse!  When things are going well, enjoy them, and when things are challenging, perhaps there is a lesson to learn from which we can flourish.

recipe: shiitake miso soup.

Mushrooms have a wide range of health benefits, from supporting cardiovascular health to preventing cancer – but most importantly, they are delicious, and come in so many interesting forms!  Shiitake mushrooms are most often found in East Asian cuisine, and if bought dried, are a convenient pantry item to turn to when you are at a loss for what to make for dinner.  To use dried shiitake mushrooms, you simply let them soak in room temperature water for at least an hour (or even overnight) so they hydrate and soften for cooking.  Fresh shiitake mushrooms are an option too, but they are harder to find (try Sun Wah Supermarket at 303 King St); dried ones can be found at Sun Wah and Superstore.

The soup recipe below balances all the Ayurvedic tastes: sour from the rice vinegar, salt from tamari, sweet from carrots/sweet potatoes, astringent from cabbage/bok choy, subtly bitter from the mushrooms, and pungent from ginger.  To marry it all together is the rich flavour of miso paste, which is a mix of soybeans, barley, brown rice and several other grains that have been fermented using a fungus, Aspergillus oryzae.  Being a fermented food, it is an excellent probiotic that improves digestion and promotes gut and immune health!  Miso paste also contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein – which is very handy for vegetarians/vegans looking for a high-quality source of protein.  If that wasn’t enough, it is also a great vegetarian/vegan source of vitamin B12, which is necessary for hormonal balance, mood, energy level, nerve function and more.  It is easiest to get vitamin B12 from animals sources, so vitamin B12 deficiency is something to be careful about if you follow a plant-based diet.

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and worthy of being eaten any day of the cleanse except Days 4-8 – or even on a non-cleanse day.  Enjoy!

shiitake veggie soup

Shiitake miso soup

makes 6-8 servings

12 (58 g) dried shiitake mushrooms
6 c. water for soaking
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 c. onions, finely diced (about 1/4 large onion)
1 cup carrots, chopped into half moons (about 2 carrots)
2 cups sweet potatoes or 1/2 acorn squash, peeled, chopped into small chunks
1 large handful Chinese cabbage, finely sliced, or baby bok choy (I prefer the bok choy, it’s just so pretty, and also delicious)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup tamari (gluten-free) or soy sauce (careful; some brands are really salty and not gluten-free)
1/4 cup brown miso paste
2 tsp rice vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup green onions, finely sliced (garnish)

Let the mushrooms soak in the water for at least an hour, or perhaps overnight.  Save the soaking water for making the soup, and slice the mushrooms.

In a large stockpot, gently saute the onions in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  When they start to soften, add the carrots and sweet potatoes (or acorn squash).  Stir occasionally, letting the vegetables grow bright in colour.  Add the sliced mushrooms and soaking water.  Top off with additional water if required to just cover the vegetables, and bring to a boil.  Cover, and reduce heat to a simmer until the vegetables are just cooked through.  Stir in the Chinese cabbage or baby bok choy, and let cook for 5-10 minutes longer until the greens are tender.  (I tend to leave the bok choy whole; they shrink a lot when they are cooked, and their slender shape is beautiful to behold.)  Just before you are ready to serve, stir in the ginger, tamari, rice vinegar/lemon juice and miso paste.  Scatter over the green onions and soak up the nourishing flavours of this light but satisfying soup.