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:
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.
1 1/2 cups mung beans; rinsed
1 1/2 large onion; chopped fine
1 carrot; chopped thin
4 cloves of garlic; minced
1 teaspoon each turmeric, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cups water
In a medium size pot over medium low heat, sauté onions in olive oil until golden brown; stirring frequently preventing onions from burning on the edges. Add carrots, turmeric, salt, pepper and garlic. Sauté for additional 5 minutes until fragrant. Add 4 cups of water to boil. Add mung beans; bring to boil, and decrease temperature to low to simmer for 40 minutes until beans fall apart to create a creamy soup. If soup is too thick, add 1/2 cup of water at a time to dilute. Consistency should be like a hearty soup or runny oatmeal. Taste for additional salt. Serve with desired herbs for garnish.
Stores well in the fridge for 4 days.