Wednesday, July 7, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Comfort of Coconut Milk

"I love comfort food - it's the basis of everything."

                         --Katie Lee



I only order green curry with vegetables and tofu at my favorite Thai restaurant.  There is a peaceful feeling that comes over me from the first bite to the last. I don't know if it is the flavor or the curry or the coconut milk.  I am pretty sure it is the coconut milk because of the deliciousness and comfort it puts into a dish.

There is always a can of coconut milk in my pantry.  Cooking with coconut milk is something I have wanted to learn how to do.  I don't think cooking with coconut milk is hard.  Is it because I associate coconut milk with Thai foods that I think learning how to cook with coconut milk seems exotic and foreign to me? I have finally reached a point where I want to learn how to cook with this comfort food ingredient, no matter what!  I really want it to be an easy ingredient for me to use, just like knowing how to use zucchini or mushrooms in a recipe is easy for me. 

This week I worked on a new comfort food recipe that turned out really great -  red lentil and coconut milk soup.  Part of the legume family, red lentils are very fast cooking and are a comfort food in their own right.  The combination of red lentils and coconut milk is delicious!  This recipe will be going into regular rotation at my house.  Here is my new recipe for you to enjoy! 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  our recipe collection

RED LENTIL and coconut milk SOUP


·      INGREDIENTS:  

1 teaspoon olive oil 

1 large onion, chopped

·         2 garlic cloves, minced

·         ½ teaspoon coriander

·         1 teaspoon ground cumin

·         ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

·         1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

·         1 Tablespoon curry powder

·         1 Tablespoon tomato paste

·         4 cups vegetable broth or water

·         1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

·         3/4 cup dried red lentils, rinsed

·         1 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

·         1 can full fat coconut milk

·  DIRECTIONS:

1.    In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion.  Sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic, sauté another minute. 

2.    Stir in spices and tomato paste.  Sauté for 2 minutes.

3.    Add broth, diced tomatoes, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then partially cover pot and turn heat to simmer. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Add salt and coconut milk.

4.    Use an immersion blender to purée soup.  Serve with your favorite bread or over brown rice.   

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Affordable Foods

 "If you have some potatoes, green beans, and cauliflower, you have a heck of a dish that can feed an entire family."

                                                                       --Chef Jose Andres


When I am grocery shopping and see other shoppers with carts filled with packages of red meat, I am always astounded by their total bills vs mine. How do they feed families week after week when their food bills are so high?  

Years ago, when I consciously stopped eating meat because of the relationship between meat and its cardiovascular health risks to my family’s health and my desire to act to prevent heart disease, I never thought about how that decision would affect my pocket. My choice was based on looking at our family’s health issues and wanting to not develop “hardening of the arteries”, a heart attack, or Alzheimer’s. 

When I shifted away from animal foods and towards eating primarily vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, I started noticing that my food bills were much less than meat eaters.  MUCH less.  With a bag of lentils costing about $1.20 and making several meals and soups, I spend much less than people who eat meat every day.  A $2 butternut squash, with just a few other ingredients, can make a delicious soup for 6 people.  

Lentils and beans, the common denominator of the Blue Zones studied by Dan Buettner where people live very long lives, are affordable foods as well as some of the best sources of dietary fiber. Look for ways to incorporate lentils and beans, plus fruits, veggies, and whole grains, into your daily food plans and enjoy the benefits, health and financial! 

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Celebrating Farmers and Chefs

"We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist."  

                                                                                          --Wendell Berry


Most Saturdays, I am at the local farmers market. I love to see what is in season, what farmers are growing and selling, and then create beautiful, delicious, and healthy dishes using those treasures.  Those who get up hours before dawn to pack a truck filled with freshly harvested salad greens, summer squash, cabbage, and cheddar cauliflower, to drive an hour or two to the farmers market to then unload, display, and sell their agricultural treasures to waiting fans are my heroes.  When summer’s heirloom tomatoes first appear, it is always a miracle – nothing tops a Purple Cherokee tomato for summer freshness!  The first time I discovered organic wasabi arugula, I was in heaven with this new flavor and the possibilities it offered in summer salads.  Surprises always await at the farmers market. 

On those occasions when I choose to eat out, I seek restaurants whose chefs feature locally grown seasonal foods on their menus.  I will never forget dining in Asheville, NC while attending a local growers conference and having grilled maitake mushrooms served on a bed of pureed parsnips.  What a great meal!  One of my personal beliefs is to always buy the best ingredients you can afford and so eating out is always a treat when chefs do the same. 

Every day I honor the farmers who grow food and the chefs who create amazing ways for it to be enjoyed.  Good food is an essential ingredient for health.  My life is so much better because of those who grow our food and those who create masterpieces in the kitchen. Thank you!  

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect