COOKING AS A MINDFULNESS PRACTICE
Cooking is one of the most grounding and satisfying practices I know of. Might be because I grew up in a culture where food is communal, it is family, it is heritage, it is wisdom.
When the world outside seems overwhelming, or I'm feeling a little off, sometimes just placing my hands on raw ingredients and working with spice and temperature to create something nourishing brings me into a state of much-needed connectedness.
When we are in this mindset, we begin to notice deeper meaning in the process. In this place of enlightened motion, seemingly mundane ingredients suddenly begin to meld revealing their subtle secrets.
SOUP AS HERITAGE
Soup plays a significant role in African culture and cuisine. In many African countries, soup is a staple food that is cooked and consumed on a daily basis. It is often prepared using locally-sourced ingredients, such as vegetables, grains, legumes, and meats.
In addition to its cultural significance, soup is also valued for its health benefits in many African communities. Soup is often seen as a nourishing and healing food that can help boost immunity, aid digestion, and provide essential nutrients.
Overall, soup is an integral part of African culture and cuisine, and it continues to be an important part of daily life for many people throughout the continent.
Similar to our ancestors, at KOKOBÉRNA, we are currently exploring modern food culture using easily accessible ingredients in this iconic recipe for Soothing Lentil + Carrot Soup with Lime. Adapted from Divya Atler's "What to eat for how you feel," this recipe is not only straightforward, delicious, and superbly nourishing, its protein- and iron-rich content is sure to be a crowdpleaser during sluggish winter days.
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 cup red lentils, soaked for 30 minutes, drained and rinsed
- 2 medium-sized carrots or beets, peeled and diced into cubes (about 2.5 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 large or 2 small bay leaves
- 1 small green Thai chile, sliced
- 1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Himalayan sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Lime slices, for serving
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Cool and grind them to a fine powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and set aside.
In a large pot, combine the lentils and 4 cups of water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove any froth from the surface (this will reduce the gassiness of the lentils).
Add the ground coriander and cumin, the carrots, turmeric, bay leaves, green Thai chile, ginger, and ghee or olive oil and mix well. Bring to a boil again, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer until the lentils and carrots are soft and cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Turn off the heat and leave the pot uncovered to allow the soup to cool down a bit. Remove the bay leaves and add the salt, olive oil, and black pepper.
Pour the soup into a blender and blend to a more chunky or smooth consistency; you may also add more warm water if you like - in this case, adjust the salt to taste.
Serve hot, garnished with chopped cilantro and lime slices.
Coriander seeds: Coriander seeds contain antioxidants that can help improve digestion, relieve gas, and prevent inflammation in the gut. They may also help with hormonal balance, which can be beneficial for reproductive health.
Cumin seeds: Cumin seeds have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with digestive issues and boost immunity. They may also help with lactation for new mothers.
Red lentils: Lentils are high in protein and iron, which can be beneficial when recovering from surgery, illness, childbirth, or a tendency to have cold fingers and feet due to existing anemia conditions. They also contain fiber, which can help with digestion.
Carrots: Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is important for skin health and immune function. They also contain fiber, which can help with digestion.
Turmeric: Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and may help with healing after surgery or illness. It may also help with skin health and immune function.
Bay leaves: Bay leaves contain antioxidants and may have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with digestion and immune function.
Green Thai chile: Spicy foods like green Thai chiles may help with digestion by increasing the production of digestive enzymes. They also contain vitamin C, which can boost immunity.
Ghee or olive oil: Both ghee and olive oil contain healthy fats that can help with absorption of nutrients and support overall health.
Himalayan sea salt: Himalayan sea salt contains minerals that can support digestive health and improve hydration.
Freshly ground black pepper: Black pepper contains a compound called piperine that can help with nutrient absorption and improve digestion.
Chopped fresh ginger: Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help with digestion and reduce nausea. It may also help with lactation for new mothers.
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves: Cilantro may have anti-inflammatory properties and can help with digestion.
- Lime slices: Limes are a good source of vitamin C, which can help boost immunity and improve skin health. Lime also enhances the taste and helps with protein digestion and iron absorption.
In summary, this soup is a great choice for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike and especially when recovering from surgery, illness, or childbirth because it contains protein and iron-rich lentils, as well as a variety of ingredients that can support digestion, immune function, and overall health. The coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, bay leaves, green Thai chile, ginger, black pepper, and cilantro can all help with digestion and have anti-inflammatory properties that may be particularly beneficial during recovery. The carrots and limes also provide important vitamins and minerals that support skin health and immune function. Finally, the ghee or olive oil in the recipe provides healthy fats that support overall health and nutrient absorption. All in all, this soup is a nutritious and delicious choice for anyone looking to support their recovery and overall health. To feel grounded. To warm you up and brighten your table on a cold and gloomy day.
SOURCES + THINGS TO NOTE
This recipe was adapted from Divya Alter's book, "The New Ayurvedic Kitchen: What to Eat for How You Feel". The original recipe called for beets and is titled Red Velvet Soup. However, we at KOKOBÉRNA love substituting carrots for beets in this recipe. Beets generally contain more iron than carrots. A half-cup serving of cooked beets contains approximately 0.7 milligrams of iron, while a half-cup serving of cooked carrots contains approximately 0.3 milligrams of iron. However, it is important to note that the amount of iron in beets and carrots can vary depending on factors such as the variety of the vegetable, how it is prepared, and the soil it is grown in. Additionally, the bioavailability of the iron in these vegetables can be influenced by other dietary factors, such as the presence of vitamin C or other nutrients that can enhance or inhibit iron absorption. Either vegetable you choose, may you be nourished.
May you be #kokobernabeautiful.
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US Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release. Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/. Accessed on 14 February 2023.