April 28, 2017

Green, White, Red: Viva Mexico!

by Marjan
As an immigrant to the United States at the age of six, and now a citizen of a country I have call home for over forty years, I sympathize with my Mexican compadres as we wonder what will be the state of our affairs. As I scratch my head in the irony of truths and 'alternative facts', I'm stumped with our celebration of Cinco de Mayo, since this event has nothing to do with American/Mexican history. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Pueblo. I believe the reason for celebrating Mexico's victory here in American has more to do with ideals of separation of church and state along with freedom of religion (which was a pivotal strife for our Founding Fathers and Constitution). Mexico's Reform War was a civil war which pitted Liberals who believed in separation of church and state against the Conservatives who favored a bond with the Roman Catholic Church. When I questioned memorizing all the dates, wars, battles and treaties, my teacher assured me of the significance for studying history. Apparently, studying history enlightens us of the past, so that we may learn and make better decisions for our future. Unfortunately today, many places here and around the world, we have yet to learn from our past history or that of our neighbors down south.
.... Oh, yes! Cinco de May! Viva Mexico!

....I'm back on track! Ready to celebrate separation of church and state...I mean, Cinco de Mayo!
Any chance I get to enjoy Mexican food, I go for it. This year, I plan to serve Mexcan inspired dishes to my family and friends for Cinco de Mayo. You can count I'll be serving margaritas, freshly prepared tomatillo and avocado salsa, tortillas, and other fun bites. Since my expertise in making authentic Mexican food leaves much to be desired, I'm improvising with my heart and creating an appetizer dish designed to capture the colors of Mexico: green, white, and red; along with Mexico's staple grain, corn!
I'm using cornmeal to make a cornbread cake flavored with jalapeƱos, cheese, chorizo, and sour cream. Beautifully decorated with green cilantro, red jalapeƱos, and white cream, this appetizer captures my essence for celebrating Mexican flavors familiar to this Iranian/American Savorychick in love with Mexican food and culture. Creamy, sweet cornbread flavored with a little spice and rich chorizo, battles and wins my hunger for Mexican food. Easy to make a head of time, serve this cake for your co-workers and bring a little fiesta to your day!
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Viva Mexico! Viva Planet Earth! Peace!

April 21, 2017

Devotion, Cancer And Soup For The Soul

by Marjan
What inspires you to cook? For me personally, it is those I hold close to my heart.  My base ingredient is always love!
Lately, my inspiration is invigorated thanks to my beloved yoga master, friend, kindred spirit, and earthly angel, Diane. Many years ago, I posted an article sharing with you her favorite Paleo's recipe for Morning Glory Muffins. Therefore, our loyal readers know of my admiration for my angel on earth.

Recently when Diane shared with me her diagnosis of cancer, my heart was crushed. Why Diane? I did not want her to bare the challenges of this non-discriminatory disease. With demanding days ahead and knowing Diane as well as I do, I knew immediately abundant layers of enlightenment are to be seized for all who love her deeply. Diane's process with cancer has been an evolvement for me as well. Her delicate beauty, dignity and grace along with her balance of both inner and outer strength, give me courage to face my own personal challenges. Her spirit dances with this moment of time similar to a butterfly invigorated by sunshine...seeking, exploring, discovering, always evolving and most importantly gifting the rest of us with beauty and play.

A great master's light shines brightest on students thirsty to learn; even in her most challenged state, Diane continues to teach and give to those around her (doctors, nurses, family, friends) the meaning of true strength, resilience and most importantly, love. I can never thank her or show her my gratitude. My only contribution to her at this time is to nourish her body with Persian recipes my mother has passed onto me which are healthy, full of nutrition, and rich with antioxidants.

As I researched and learned during Diane's nutritional counseling while undergoing chemotherapy treatment, diet is a pivotal ingredient towards healing (along with drinking plenty of water, rest and sleep). It is imperative for patients to eat small proportion meals 4-6 times a day while maintaining an average intake of 1,500 calories with approximately 70 grams of protein daily. Of course, numbers vary for most patients based on weight, gender, and health history. Patients undergoing treatment generally have diminished energy and desire to eat. Therefore, it is imperative to design meals which are delicious, easy to make, low in calorie, high in nutrition and protein.

As a student of life, my education has broadened through this process with Diane. We improvise many of our meals, however, some are proven recipes within my repertoire such as nargeci (spinach and caramelized onion in a base of turmeric), dahl-addass (soup of turmeric and red lintels), kookoo sabzi (frittata of herbs, eggs, onion and turmeric) and baghalee ghatogh (stew of beans, garlic, dill and turmeric). What is the common ingredient here? Yes, you guessed it, turmeric!

Within the last decade, turmeric has become the new 'discovery' of superfoods; so much so, it is readily sold in easy to swallow pills! However, turmeric's nutritional value is released upon heat when cooking and with other ingredients such as black pepper and cooking oil. The American Cancer Society published an informative article which further supports incorporating turmeric while cooking in order for it to be effective and deliver antioxidant benefits to the body.
Brilliant! I am constantly impressed with Persian cuisine as it combines turmeric, salt, black pepper and healthy oil as the base component for a majority of it's recipes.
Here is a quick list of some of our Savorychicks' Persian recipes ideal for patients undergoing cancer treatment who can benefit utilizing combination of turmeric, black pepper and cooking oil:
Dahl Addas
Kookoo Sabzi
Golden Soup
Baghalee Ghatogh
Other healthy Persian recipes using turmeric can be found here.

Of course, it always begins with having quality turmeric. For those of you who are purists like me, make your own turmeric. Time and somewhat labor intensive, it is well worth quality and taste. Most of my recipe posts center on providing healthy recipes along with either history or nutritional information of ingredients used. Currently, I am searching through my collection of Persian recipes looking for whole foods high in nutritional content, protein and taste. As I study closely Persian cuisine, I begin to appreciate more deeply the natural wisdom of our ancient traditional recipes.
A new addition to my repertoire of healthy recipes is mung bean soup made with basic ingredients yet complex with nutritional value and potency.

Creamy, delicious, easy to make and nutritious, this soup of five ingredients has become one of Diane's favorites! A vegetarian's delight, the nutritional benefits include: rich source of manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc and vitamin B. A filling food rich in protein and low on carbs, mung bean helps defend against several chronic, age-related diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. This is the perfect soup to help sooth mouth soars commonly experienced with chemotherapy treatment while delivering low calorie and high protein intake. With the addition of turmeric, black pepper, onions and garlic, this soup is the perfect antioxidant rich meal.

I hope these recipes will help you or anyone you know undergoing cancer treatment. Make a pot full of mung bean soup and deliver it to someone who can be nourished by it; or enjoy this soup for yourself and family even if not faced with health challenges as it is delicious, filling, easy to make and nutritious.

I bid all those strong and courageous men and women faced with cancer a steady and full recovery.

April 14, 2017

Heavenly Persian Cake

by Marjan

...and it is Gluten-Free! Unlike most recipes for a 'healthy gluten free' cake which incorporates more 'unhealthy substitutes' in the mix, my recipe for Heavenly Persian Cake promises to deliver healthy, whole food ingredients which are natural and delicious. This multi textured and flavored cake will romance your taste buds with pistachios, almonds, walnuts, halva, dates, barberries, chocolate, and a hint of rosewater.

What's missing? The guilt! After one bite of this rich and satisfying cake, you can feel good about making a healthy and sweet snack choice. Instead of grabbing a protein/energy bar filled with sugar and carbs, or using a gluten free recipe which tastes more like cardboard than cake, bake this aromatic nutritious cake to please your body and taste buds.

My afternoon coffee and cake just became a little more sweet with a light ambrosia of rosewater and natural decadence; I have more energy to finish the day satisfied and strong.