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Spinach Toor Dhal – Autumn Recipe

Spinach Toor Dhal – Autumn Recipe

With coming of Autumn, people find themselves craving warm nurturing foods that are easy to prepare and boost immunity. This is one of my personal favourites, spinach toor dhal, or spinach lentil soup. It’s the perfect recipe for the season because it is delicious and contains many ingredients that support your immune system. It is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

There are many available lentils on the market, and if you are not familiar with the world of lentils they all seem to be the same.  That said, each variety of lentil has its own unique taste, texture and flavour.  Toor dhal (or split pigeon peas) is my favourite variety of lentil (although you can use other types in most recipes).  It has a rich flavour, smooth texture and minimal after taste.  Toor dhal is a rich source of protein and is considered both a lentil and a vegetable.  It is low in fat and cholesterol, a good source of  folic acid, fibre, and carbohydrates.  

Spinach is also an absolutely essential food.  It is rich in antioxidants and research has suggested that spinach, like broccoli is antic-carcinogenic. It is also a good source of dietary fibre. If you want to be creative with this preparation you can also add other vegetables to this mix, like zucchini, but this is optional.  Zucchini in rich in vitamin C, and contributes to overall respiratory health. These vegetables can be cooked separately and added at the end.

The tadka for this dhal is what is added to the dhal once it has been cooked.  Tadka can essentially be translated as the seasoning for the lentils.  This is made with sautéed chopped onions, garlic, and spices. This recipe uses turmeric, asafoetida, cumin powder and chilli powder.  Within the realm of kitchen medicine, turmeric is king. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and can be used both internally and topically. Asafoetida makes lentils easier to digest, and reduces flatulence.  Cumin not only aids in digestion, but improves immunity.  Onion, ginger, and garlic also aid in digestion increase your ability to fight infections. This trio of vegetables also improve cardiac health.  Mustard seeds are an aromatic spice rich in calcium, magnesium and phosphorous and they also boost your immune system, and contribute to overall respiratory health.

The dhal can be cooked with a pressure cooker or, if soaked for six to eight hours it can be cooked on the stove.  I prefer the later method as pressure cookers are sometimes cumbersome to use, but make the cooking time faster.

Enjoy this healthy and delicious Spinach Toor Dhal

Crunchy Seed Crackers (gluten-free)

Crunchy Seed Crackers (gluten-free)

– Alice Louey

Crunchy Seed Crackers (gluten-free)These Crunchy Seed Crackers (gluten-free) are my favourite go-to seedy crackers recipe. They are yummy, crunchy and loaded with seeds which makes them high in fibre and lower in carbs. They are perfect to serve with soup, cheese, pate, nut butter or Vegemite. This easy and forgiving recipe is adapted from https://www.deliciously-diabetic.com/recipe/seed-crackers/.

My current favourite herb mix is in the recipe (thyme, rosemary, caraway seeds and garlic) but feel free to add whatever favourite savoury flavours you have on hand. Another flavour combo is Italian herbs with Parmesan cheese; you can choose whatever your imagination and taste buds suggest.

These guilt-free crackers are laden with nutrients. Flaxseeds are naturally gluten free, high in dietary fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. Green banana flour is made from unripened bananas, picked before their sugar content and banana flavour has developed. As well as providing dietary fibre it also contains potassium and magnesium and imparts a subtle nutty taste to the crackers. If you don’t have this, you can substitute by adding more ground flaxseed or almond flour/almond meal. Tigernut flour has nothing to do with either tigers or nuts – it is made from a tuber and is naturally gluten free. It is high in dietary fibre, prebiotic fibre, and contains vitamin C and E, as well as calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and some good fatty acids. It has a nutty flavour. Alternatively substitute with ground flaxseed, ground sunflower seeds or almond flour/almond meal.

Easy Pumpkin Soup

Easy Pumpkin Soup

– Jason Callanan

This easy pumpkin soup is a very quick and nutritious one pot dish.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, Autumn is the season associated with harvesting what we have grown and storing produce for the upcoming winter. The days are still warm, windy and dry, but the evenings begin to cool more than in summer.

We want to take particular care of the Lung and Large Intestines during Autumn. Both these organs desire to be moistened so that the Qi can flow gently through them.

Root vegetables are usually abundant and my favourite pumpkin soup can help to warm and nourish the Stomach and Spleen, as well as moisten the Lung and Large Intestine.

It is a very quick, easy and nutritious one pot dish.

Mattar Paneer (peas and paneer with a tomato base)

Mattar Paneer (peas and paneer with a tomato base)

 – Vimala Kumar

Growing up my mother used to make this a lot, so I feel very nostalgic about this Mattar Paneer recipe.  My mother was into healthy cooking even before it was a trend and used to favour brown rice over white, whole grains over processed flour, and while our fridge was overflowing with fruits, bitter gourd and okra – chips, ice cream, cake and chocolate were never to be found.  So it doesn’t surprise me that she found a “healthy” substitute for paneer which is a very rich dense cheese made in India.  

For this recipe you can either use paneer, (found in any Indian store) or fresh low fat ricotta which you can find in any deli. While this dish is on the rich side it is healthier than what you could expect to find at an Indian restaurant due to the lack of cream.  Since this version is fairly spicy, you may want to reduce the quantities of clove, cardamom, chilli powder, and garam masala for a milder flavour.  

Shabash!

Banana and Cinnamon Ice Cream

Banana and Cinnamon Ice Cream

 – Nadia Gazzi

This delicious Banana and Cinnamon Ice Cream treat is vegan, as well as being gluten and dairy free. It’s a healthy, guilt-free treat for those times when you just want something cold, sweet and delicious.

As well as being full of flavour and natural sweetness, bananas are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. They are a natural muscle relaxant. They also help increase serotonin levels (a relaxing neurotransmitter) and melatonin (to regulate sleep). Cinnamon is one of the richest sources of antioxidants as well as helping to lower blood sugar, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation. As little as ½ tsp provides these benefits.

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