YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Pumpkin Chili

If you are looking for something warm, toasty and filling to make for dinner next weekend, give this pumpkin chili a try. Try to make it the previous day if possible, or maybe in the morning. If there’s time to let it simmer on a very low heat for a few hours, do so. When it’s done, just turn off the heat, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and then serve. It is a perfect October meal-in-one, the cornmeal is already built in, and it’s rich in beans and veggies, my two favorite foods!

  • 3 lb. butternut squash or pie pumpkin
  • 2 medium turnips
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. finely ground whole cornmeal (NOT “degerminated”)
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 c. vegetable broth
  • 2 10-oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 16-oz. can kidney (red) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16-oz. can cannellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 c. frozen corn
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Peel squash (or pumpkin) and turnips, cut into 1-inch cubes, and set aside. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, whisk in cornmeal a little at a time until smooth. Add warm water 1 Tbsp. at a time if it starts to get too thick. Stir in pumpkin, turnip, bell peppers, onion, garlic and tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Add broth, tomatoes, beans and corn. Stir in chili powder, cinnamon, cumin and turmeric. Reduce heat, return to simmer, and cook 1 ½ – 2 hours or more until squash (or pumpkin) and turnip are tender.

Season with salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Taste and add more if desired. Serve with bowls of chopped green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream if the spirit mo-oo-oo-ooves you. Serves 8-10.

Original version from thekitchn.com — thank you!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Pumpkin Harvest Rice

Take all your favorite fall flavors, and mix them up in a big beautiful bowl! This is a wonderful dish for company, but the leftovers (if there are any) the next day are even better.

  • 1 3/4 c. brown rice, cooked
  • 1 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small hard apple (Granny Smith and Honeycrisp are nice), diced small
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. organic golden raisins
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 c. almonds, chopped coarsely
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 + 2 Tbsp. olive oil (separated)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)

In a frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil until shimmering, and add chickpeas. Fry, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are warm and mostly dry. Remove from pan and set aside.

Mix together the pumpkin, maple syrup, cider vinegar and pepper. Warm in microwave, mix again, and pour into a large bowl containing the rice. Mix together lightly.

Add raisins, apple, onion, walnuts, remaining olive oil and salt, and stir gently until combined.

Top with chickpeas and almonds, sprinkle with parsley, and serve. Serves 6-8.

Thank you, Happy.Healthy.Life, for the original version of this recipe. Yum.


On #Commodity and #Terroir

Today we’re going to talk about commodities. What is a commodity? When goods and services are traded on the grand scale for other goods and services, they become “commodities.” One characteristic of a commodity is that its price is determined not by quality, but by demand. The greater the demand, the greater the market. That’s what determines whether an item is a commodity.

Examples of commodities include coal, salt, sugar, tea, coffee beans, soybeans, rice, wheat, aluminum, gold silver, iron ore, crude oil. Commodities from different producers are considered of more-or-less uniform quality, and are therefore equivalent.

The concept of commodity lies 180 degrees opposite from the concept of “terroir,” in which a food item is so profoundly influenced by the place from which it originates that its location is an integral part of its identity and flavor. It simply cannot come from somewhere else. Note how terroir [French] resembles territory and terrain [English] and tierra [Spanish], all of which are derived from terra [Latin], or earth. Components of terroir include climate, soil type, elevation, landscape, and even other plants growing nearby.

The identities of foods and drink such as cognac, champagne, oolong tea, Iberian ham, heirloom tomatoes, heritage wheat, chocolate, hops and Parmigiana cheese are so closely linked to their places of origin that they are actually a part of them. You could try to grow the raw materials and create the finished product elsewhere, and it might even be similar, but it would never be the same. In that one small corner of the world, it’s all about the angle of the sun, the direction of the rain, the particular characteristics of the soil, and the oak that grows there, along with the acorns it produces to feed the pig or goose who lives there.

Terroir is a joy, a special occasion, a treat, a memory. It would be unusual to have access to this level of food on a daily basis. But you can use the concept to understand better why commodities are less likely to be a quality product. How could they be?

Terroir is all about quality-over-quantity and cannot be duplicated; commodity, in contrast, is more accurately described as quantity-over-quality, without regard to the source. Commodities are defined not by some underlying quality specific to the product, but by a standard stated in the contract to supply that commodity. They are not about quality, value or taste. They are not about nutrition.

To the extent that you can decrease the amount of commodities you eat (in the form of large-scale production of processed wheat, soy, corn and rice products) and replace them with foods for which quality is a higher priority, you should expect to reap the benefits.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Cauliflower-Pumpkin Swirl Dip

Nothing like recipes for the season! I’ve got 3 perfectly beautiful pumpkins on the table outside just waiting to be turned into something yummy and Octobery. This recipe goes together very nicely, but I do recommend that you measure out all your ingredients in advance. Continue reading


Thoughts on mind and body…

Many of us, particularly those of us from Western cultures, are in the habit of considering the mind and body as entities separate one from the other. Sir Ken Robinson, for example, in one of the most widely watched TED talks, describes an academic as an individual who employs the body to move their head from one meeting to another. In a less amusing example, this from medicine, mental illness is considered different, somehow, from physical illness, and the many aspects of care, coverage and chronicity reflect this. Has Descartes’s mind-body dichotomy outlived its usefulness? Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Tuscan Kale & Bean Soup

You may find that, except for the kale, you are lucky enough to have all these ingredients in your home already! If that’s the case, then run over to the store and get some kale so you can make this soup! And consider using this recipe as a guide for some ideas for good things to keep in your cupboard (and freezer) at all times. Thank you to Gluten Free Vegan for the original version of this gem of a recipe. Continue reading


Your Summer Plan, Your Winter Plan

Wellness is based on three major pillars: eating patterns, rest & relaxation patterns, and activity patterns. Today’s post focuses on activity patterns. There’s no need to train for the Olympics. Your goal is simply to increase opportunities to move. And for that, you need a plan. Continue reading



Scoop at the Coop – September 2014

The night before last, as I stepped outside to round up the girls and tuck them into the coop for the night, I saw something quite magical, something I had never seen before. Under the fading autumn light, the girls were quietly pecking at their day’s last portion of grass, and right in their midst, relaxed and apparently enjoying their company, was a young buck, contentedly munching his share. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Spinach & Shiitakes

Dark green leafy vegetables are like taking a multivitamin! They are rich, rich, rich in so many of the nutrients that you need to build a healthy body! Consider making Spinach & Shiitakes for that special someone whose healthy body may be of personal interest  to you. :) Continue reading