The church bells are chiming, the rain is teeming down, and my Turkey packing paraphernalia is strewn all over the house. And yet I’m in fine fettle and occupying an extremely happy place.
OK, so a two-week kind-of-holiday to Turkey while seeing one of your most cherished friends is enough to make anyone demob happy. But there is another cause to my positive frame of mind. But you’re going to have to wait until Wednesday to find out what it is. So there.
Today’s Soup Sunday has come round all too quickly again – where does the time go?
On the cyber-podium today is Health Educator, journalist and blogger Margarita, a native New Yorker, who now resides in Boston, USA.
Having said that, in between, she’s been a bit of a nomad, living in Puerto Rico for a decade (her parents’ homeland), as well as Rio, Brazil and four different states of America.
Unlike most of us, Margarita’s introduction to the principles of a healthful diet was in her teenage years; I can’t help but feel envious about that – if only I’d known then what I know now, etc, etc.
Margarita’s mother gave her a juicer, and from there, carrot, beet and celery juice became a regular part of Margarita’s weekly nutritional intake. And whenever anyone she knew was ill, she would juice garlic for them (I sincerely hope she didn’t make them drink it on its own.)
By the mid-‘80s, Margarita was eating organic foods, avoiding shopping for foods wrapped in non-recyclable packaging and shunning the good old supermarket plastic carrier bag completely.
She began attending gluten-free, vegetarian cookery classes. And it was actually in going gluten-free that Margarita unexpectedly freed herself from the daily plethora of allergy medications she’d been taking from the age of 13.
When Margarita moved to California, she began growing wheatgrass, although she’d been drinking it for several years by then.
And then something weird happened – although until this point, Margarita had classed herself as a “gung-ho” veggie, she started to eat meat again (at least she still stuck to the organic principle).
Then – equally as sudden – Margarita became vegan overnight, her incentive being a number of health issues: continual headaches, high stress and, as her doctor confirmed, cardiovascular issues.
“My doctor told me I was at risk of a stroke and I needed to take medication to prevent it,” recalls Margarita. “But I had other plans, since my blood pressure, cholesterol and all other readings were normal, except for one: fibrinogen.
“I had been taking calcium supplements, but stopped immediately when a holistic nutritionist told me this was contributing to my stroke risk factor.
“Immediately, I turned to a raw, vegan diet, since I was not willing to take medications. I took one baby aspirin for a few days, while I transitioned to a vegan diet.”
By the time Margarita arrived at Hippocrates to study on the Health Educator Program in Spring 2014, her blood test on arrival showed that her health problems had been corrected – and all with no meds, I hasten to stress.
Margarita says: “A good, healthy vegan diet has given me amazing health benefits, besides the fact that I’ve lost over 16 per cent of my weight. I am still following the 80 per cent raw principle of Hippocrates.”
In 2010, like me, Margarita decided to combine her passion for health with her profession, journalism. She founded a health news and gluten-free website – www.thehealthydish.com – full of non-raw vegan and vegan recipes.
“As a certified raw food educator and Hippocrates Health Educator, my plans are to continue teaching people through my website about the culinary art of how to prepare wonderful food that is not only gluten-free and raw, but also wholesome for everyone,” she says.
“At the present time, I volunteer, helping another Health Educator with classes in Boston.”
And as if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, Margarita has a book coming out later in 2014, featuring healthy Caribbean and Latin American recipes.
As well as her website, you can find out more about Margarita and her many projects at:
So, here’s the ultimate culinary cuddle: chilli – and a world exclusive, no less! Look out for it in Margarita’s book, the publication of which will be announced on her website in the Autumn/Fall. (I don’t get that – I mean, snow falls too, right?)
Margarita’s All-American Vegan Chilli
“A three-bean vegan chill with a (optional) wine kick and spicy chipotle flavour, merging western and eastern cooking traditions, with a little Latin American flair thrown in for good measure.”
WARNING: If spicy is not your thing, skip the jalapeno pepper, chipotle, and/or chilli powder.
16 oz (453g) organic black turtle, pinto and red dried beans (5.3 oz or 151g each). (Or one 16-ounce can of ready-cooked, organic black or red beans, no salt added, drained)
3 bay leaves
1 astralagus root (optional; if using this herb, read this link first
3-8 cups filtered water, soaking overnight, if using the dried beans
3 oz (85 g) vegan sausage or tempeh
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed for tempeh/sausage marinade
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced for sautéing
½ tsp jalapeño pepper, minced, or more to taste
¼ tsp chipotle powder, or ½ teaspoon chilli powder (optional, very hot–more or less to taste)
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp tomato sauce, your favorite tomato sauce for pasta, salsa or paste (NOT KETCHUP!! – ed)
½ tsp dried oregano, crush and rubbed between palms of your hands
2 tbsp Seitenbacher veggie broth or your favorite vegetable stock (UK – Marigold Bouillon, or home-made – ed)
½ cup red wine (optional)/ 1 tbsp soy sauce/ 1 tbsp gluten-free Tamari
Pinch Himalayan or sea salt (optional)
1 tsp dulse flakes
Handful cilantro (coriander) greens, minced
Ingredients for garnish:
1 ripe avocado
4 tsp white onions (spring onions), diced
8 whole cilantro (coriander) leaves, minus the stalks, two leaves per bowl
TIP: When you get to the blending bit, if you just want a wholesome chilli rather than a soup, don’t blend!
1. If using dried beans, screen the beans for any foreign debris such as stones. Rinse well and in a non-metal container, soak overnight in filtered water. Drain and discard that water the next morning.
2. Get another container to marinate your protein of choice (tempeh/vegan sausages). In this container, add the oil and one or two crushed garlic cloves for every 3 ounces of protein. Mix well, seal the container and refrigerate.
3. If using canned beans, skip the whole of this step and step 4: In a pressure cooker or medium-sized Dutch oven, place the pre-soaked beans. Add the bay leaves, the astralagus root and some filtered water. For a pressure cooker or normal pot, this will be 3 cups water per cup of beans, adding more if necessary. If using a pressure cooker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which might include less water. Cover pot or pressure cooker. Cook over a medium heat until the beans are done.
4. Note: In a pressure cooker, the beans will take about 15 minutes to cook, while in a regular pot, between 1 and 3 hours. There are various factors that affect the cooking time: the age of the beans, the size and type of beans. Once the beans are nearly ready:
5. Take a medium-sized skillet pan, sauté the next four ingredients (onion, red bell pepper, garlic cloves, jalapeno pepper) in the coconut oil for a few minutes until softened.
6. Add half of the chipotle powder or the chilli powder (if using) to the skillet pan, and the following six ingredients: cumin; oregano; vegetable broth; salt; dulse seaweed flakes). Continue cooking on a medium heat for another minute, constantly stirring. Only add the remaining half of the chilli/chipotle if it’s not spicy enough already.
7. Once the beans are done, discard the astralagus root and bay leaves.
8. Next, add the contents of the skillet pan into a suitable pot along with the beans, as well as the wine/soy/tamari and tomato sauce. Uncovered, bring to a boil. Towards the end, add a handful of chopped up cilantro (coriander) greens.
9. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover the beans for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
10. Using a blender or food processor, blend a third or half of the chilli (optional) for a creamier consistency and to make it more digestible. Pour the blended chilli back in the pot and mix the soup.
11. The garnish (per serving): 1 tsp white onions, 1 tbsp diced avocado. 2 pieces cilantro/coriander
12. Serve with brown, organic rice if needed.
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