4 large tomatoes
2 jalapeño chilies
3 garlic cloves
Grill tomatoes, chilies, garlic, and onion on medium heat until charred—approximately 7 minutes, turning often during grilling. Remove and transfer to a plate when charred.
Remove stem and core from chilies and tomatoes. Combine chopped tomatoes, chilies, garlic, and onion into a food processor. Blend until desired texture is reached. Blend in chopped cilantro. Add salt, pepper, and lime to taste. Enjoy!
I’m a big enchilada fan. They’re fun, and you can go with a more traditional take, or fill your enchiladas with whatever you like. There are no limits. Now that summer has officially hit, it’s time for summer enchiladas. Did someone say a black bean and zucchini filling? Yes, please! How about with corn, green chili, and cheeses? You bet! But to get these tasty enchiladas on the table, you need an equally wonderful enchilada sauce. This is the recipe that got me to leave those canned enchilada sauces sitting on the shelves, where they belong. It’s easy, and also freezes really well. I recommend making it in big batches. I normally double or triple it when I make it.
0.5 cups vegetable stock
3 cloves of garlic
12 dried New Mexico chili peppers (roughly 3 oz), stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 corn tortillas, torn
In a large, thick-bottomed pot, combine broth, onion, and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add peppers and tortilla pieces. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes. In batches, blend the sauce in high-powered blender or food processor. Strain blended sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any chunks. Once all the sauce is strained, return to pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened. Season with salt.
Banana Blossom is the flower of the banana tree. It has a lovely pinkish maroon color on the outside leaves, and as you peel them off, it reveals a light pale yellow inside. The outer leaves and parts of the floret are not edible. However, the remaining parts of the floret and the tender heart of the flower are edible. The banana blossom has a lot of health benefits, particularly for women, related to menstrual problems and uterine health.
Making the Choice
Banana blossoms can be found in most Asian supermarkets. Choose a banana flower that is small to medium in size with all outer leaves intact. You can even flip an outer leaf to take a look at the florets inside. The florets should be a pale yellow with a pink hue to it. If the florets are too dark and have a dark maroon/black tinge to it, it is not the right one. My suggestion is to not go for the bigger banana blossoms; they are more mature, and might not taste good.
Cleaning the Blossom
Let me tell you that cleaning the blossom and separating the edible from the non-edible parts takes the most time. As peeling the florets and the leaves might stain your fingernails (watch out, those who have pretty nails!), I would suggest that you apply some olive oil to your hands before you get them dirty!
As I mentioned earlier, the dark maroon leaves that peel off to reveal the florets are non-edible. In addition, there is a pistil and a transparent, petal-like cover on the lower end of the floret that are non-edible. As you split open each floret, remove the pistil and the transparent cover, and discard them. Clean each floret the way described above, and keep it to a side. Every time you open a new leaf, you will have to clean all the florets found underneath it. Repeat this till all the maroon leaves are removed and you see only pale yellow inner hearts. Don’t give up yet on cleaning; we have to start prepping it for cooking! There is no gain without pain!
Prepping the Banana Blossom
If you keep either the floret or the pale yellow heart of the blossom outside for a long time, they tend to discolor. For this reason, take a large bowl and fill it with cold water. Add a generous amount of salt and the juice of one lime (not a lemon). Dice the florets and add them into the lime water. Remove the stalk of the banana blossom, and discard. Dice the fleshy part (heart), and add it to the lime water mixture. Let the diced banana blossom be immersed in the water for about an hour.
1 banana blossom, cleaned and diced
1 yellow onion, diced small
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cardamom pods
2 green chilies, split
7 small cloves of garlic, diced small
2 tsp. chili powder
4 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tbsp. tamarind paste
¼ cup coconut milk
Salt, to taste
Oil as needed
Method of Cooking
- As this is a delicate vegetable, care should be taken that it not get burnt. Always have the stove on simmer or on a lower setting.
- Add oil to a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the cinnamon sticks, cardamom, and cloves.
- Once you get the aromatic smell of the spices, add in the diced onion, green chilies, and garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic till they become a golden brown. Take care that you do not burn them.
- Squeeze all the water from the diced banana blossom with both hands, and then add it along with the onions and garlic. Add a little salt, and close the lid. Allow it to cook on a slow flame.
- After about 7 to 10 minutes, add the chili, coriander, and turmeric powders to the mixture in the pan. Gently mix everything together. Close it and let it cook for another 5–7 minutes. At this point in time, the mixture gets a little dry; you may add a pinch of water to get the flavors well blended.
- Now you can add the tamarind paste to the mixture and allow it to cook for another 5 minutes.
- Finally, add the best ingredient of all—coconut milk—to the mixture. Allow it to cook for 2–3 minutes with the lid closed.
The banana blossom curry is all done. Enjoy with side of rice, or even tortillas. This recipe is from my Grandma, who used to make it when I was young. However, she used to deep-fry onions and the banana blossom, and then mix with the other ingredients. Keeping in mind of the health-conscious generation we are in, I only sautéed the onions and the banana blossom, and skipped the deep-frying part of this recipe. Enjoy this new dish, and tell me about your experiences.
Cold and dark days need to be answered with a pot full of something comforting and fragrant, bubbling and steaming away on the stove. This chickpea curry is perfect as an everyday kind of meal—it’s healthy, it uses many ingredients that can be kept around in the pantry for ages, and it comes together quite easily-- but it fills your kitchen with the most intoxicating scents of distant, tropical lands (thanks especially to the garam masala). The coconut milk is added near the end of the cooking time, and it takes this curry from being a very tasty, traditional chickpea curry to being quite a luxurious dish. It’s exactly what I want to eat on these winter days.
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee
1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped finely
1-inch long piece ginger, peeled and grated or minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 cups cooked chickpeas
¾ cup coconut milk
A large pinch of salt
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a large frying pan over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds and mustard seeds until the cumin is fragrant and the mustard seeds are popping. Add the oil to the pan along with the onion, jalapeño, ginger and garlic, and sauté for five minutes. Add the garam masala, turmeric, and coriander to the pan, and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, tamarind, and chickpeas, and simmer for fifteen minutes on medium-low heat. Stir in the coconut milk, and gently simmer over low heat for five minutes. Season with salt, and turn off the heat. Scatter with cilantro, and serve over steamed basmati rice.
As many of us plan for upcoming holiday meals, it is a good time to rethink some seasonal staples and make revisions to eat more sustainably. Some of the best ways to eat more sustainably are to prioritize plants, minimize meat, and eat more mindfully. As far as eating more plant foods, there are unlimited ways to make substitutions that are delicious, versatile, and nourishing. All of our favorite dishes are still obtainable as vegan or vegetarian versions.
Eating mindfully is all about being more present and thoughtful about eating and preparing foods, always thinking about the bigger picture. Where did my food come from, and how is it nourishing my body? How does the way I eat make me feel, and what is its impact?
A great documentary to watch to help with mindful eating is Forks Over Knives. This film examines the idea that food can prevent illness, and explores the many ways that a whole-food, plant-based diet can improve the quality of life for all humans and their surroundings. It’s excellent, and I highly recommend it.
So when I was making a sustainable, plant-based dinner for my family at Thanksgiving, I found a wonderful recipe for a cranberry relish on the Forks Over Knives website. The dish included whole, fresh, organic fruits, and omitted sugar, processed foods, and animal products. Vegetarians beware: some store-bought cranberry jellies can contain gelatin, which is an animal product.
• 1 12 -oz. bag of fresh cranberries
• Zest and fruit of 2 oranges
• 1 cup Medjool dates
Pull dates out of the fridge and set aside so that they will be soft later to pit. Scrape away the outer layer of the orange using a box grater or a kitchen tool for zesting. If you do not have one of these tools, you could finely chop the rind up after peeling by hand. Wash cranberries over a colander and set aside. Slice each date the long way and remove the pit.
Place all fruits into a food processor with an S-blade. I use the food processor on the Oster Versa 1100-watt professional performance blender.
Everyone at my dinner really loved this bright, tasty holiday dish. It really has a lot to offer. As a leftover, it just became better and better as the flavors absorbed. It was great on toast and over the top of salads.
There are so many exciting new experiences to have with sustainable eating and living! This holiday season, I wish all the best to you, your health and to our generous planet.
Lacey Ray Althouse is a writer and content strategist for Forkful of Love, www.forkfuloflove.com, a plant-based nutrition and lifestyle blog that she co-founded with her mother, Janet Althouse. She specializes in plant-based-nutrition, illness prevention, non-toxic living and detox-centered diets. Lacey holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in conjunction with Cornell University. You can find her in Brooklyn, NY practicing yoga, or gathering friends for a hiking trip.