Refreshing and Energizing Indian Lemonade

Simple, refreshing lemonade perfect for cooling off on a warm day.

Description

Looking for a quick, simple REFRESHING drink to make to drink on a hot day or when you have friends over?  This lemonade is just the thing because it has only a few ingredients, it’s likely that you have them at home AND guaranteed.  It’s energizing and hydrating – perfect to sip while lounging by the pool or getting ready to have a challenging game of tennis!

Nani or NaniMa is mother’s mother in our Indian language, Gujarati.  My mom makes the most delicious and best best BEST lemonade or limbu pani.  It’s fresh, contains just the right balance of tart and sweet, with the added flavor profile of the cumin seeds.  It’s simple to make and makes that perfect summer day THAT MUCH more perfect.  Not only good for you, it tastes FANTASTIC as well. How about that – a two for one that we can all celebrate.

Even if you aren’t sitting poolside at a fancy resort enjoying a relaxed and wonderful Sunday afternoon, reading Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri — this can put you there energetically. Take a moment to let your mind really go there – beautiful blue sky, the sun shining at JUST THE RIGHT amount of brightness – perhaps a slight breeze – a deep blue infinity pool.  You – under an umbrella, legs long, immersed in a book, perhaps the latest Ann Patchett, with this cold, refreshing drink in your hand.  Dreamy sigh…..You are really living life!

I always feel like a heroine when I make fresh lemonade — but truly, it really is the embodiment of the saying –” easy peasy lemon squeezy!”  It’s THE reason to have a large glass pitcher and a serving tray — how Perfect Hostess will you look when you serve friends a beautiful pitcher of this delicious lemonade?

While store-bought lemonade can be easy to have on hand and lasts a long time,  it’s loaded with bad sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, food coloring, stabilizers, and other unhealthy things we don’t want in our bodies or in our children’s bodies.  I encourage you to try this recipe.  It lasts a week in the fridge – so you can keep it on hand…if you, your kids, and friends don’t drink it all in one afternoon!  

My kids still prefer when Nani makes it – so do I.  She makes it so effortlessly and her flavors are always perfectly balanced.  I make it often – but I must admit, I still have to taste test it multiple times to get the flavor exactly how we love it.  NO matter.  It’s such fun to make and even more fun to drink and EVEN that much more fun to share with your family and friends. I even love beginning with the rolling of the lemons.  Touch is so important and adds to our cooking.  Here, simply rolling the lemons connects us to the main taste in this refreshing.

I remember having it in India when visiting our extended families during the oppressively hot and humid summer.  My mom or favorite aunt, Shama Mami would always serve it as soon as we arrived.  She was such a loving person and would remember all of my favorites – snacks, drinks, and meals.  I still recall with wonder how touching that kind of love is – caring enough to really consider what another person loves to eat.  How that balance of the sour with the sweet was always able to bring up my energy from the journey and the heat.  

If you don’t want it to taste “Indian”,  simply leave out the cumin seeds and you will have fresh homemade lemonade! Do still add in the tiny pinch of salt as it subtly balances the lemon flavor.

Take a moment to close your eyes.  Grounding through your feet, take a deep, smooth inhale.  Let your mind go back to a favorite childhood memory.  Remember the childhood joys of summer and RELISH this moment.  Smile. Find a way to add PLAY and wonder to your day.  Share the story with your kids or friends.  Feel grateful for childhood happiness and memories.

Equipment

  • Lemon juicer, if you have it
  • Strainer if you don’t have juicer, to catch the seeds
  • Tall glass pitcher
  • Tall spoon to stir
  • Mason jar
  • Bowl

Ingredients

  • Juice of one lemon
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • Pinch of black salt or himalayan salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey, or more to taste
  • 8 ounces of water
  • Ice
  • Optional: fresh mint or basil from the garden.

Steps

  1. Roll the whole lemon on the counter with the palm of your hand.  Additionally, this helps you to connect to the lemon, which I think makes the juice that much sweeter.  Juice a lemon and remove the seeds.
  2. In a mug, put in a few tablespoons of warm or hot water, add honey, stir to combine well.  You are making a small batch of very simple, simple syrup! 
  3. In a mason jar, add all the lemon juice, cumin seeds, cumin powder, himalayan salt. Mix well.  This is now your magical base.
  4. In a tall glass, add 1 tablespoon of the fresh lemon juice BASE, 1 Tablespoon of the honey simple syrup.  Fill with the desired amount of ice and water. Stir quickly three times.  

Remember the childhood joys of summer and RELISH this moment.  Find a way to add PLAY and wonder to your day.

Tip:  Roll the lemon and the lime on the counter with the palm of your hand three times to help release more juice.  Then, wash the lemon, slice in half, and watch the juice FLOW!

Substitutions

If you are out of lemons, you can certainly use limes.

Storage

This will store well in the mason jar for a week.  It will be very simple to mix up a fresh glass at your whim.  If you make a pitcher of lemonade, it will last in the fridge for 2 or 3 days.  But again – if it’s HOT – it’s unlikely to make it for very long before being consumed.  It’s that good!

Lucky Leftovers

You could add this to freshly made ice tea for the most delicious Arnold Palmer.  As well, this would taste FANTASTIC for cocktail hour with gin, tequila, or vodka.

CCF tea – AKA Your Digestion’s Bestie Tea (Cumin, Coriander, and Fennel Tea)

If you are seeking an herbal tea to adopt into your routine to aide and soothe your digestion track, Cumin Coriander Fennel Tea is the perfect elixir. Quick and simple to make with good, whole ingredients, this tea will ensure everything is running smoothly and at an optimum level.

Did you overeat? Are you feeling bloated? This is a simple, quick herbal tea infusion to make for yourself to get your digestion back on track.  When used regularly, it helps your digestion work at an optimal level. It’s the simple and powerful trick that you always wanted!

This herbal infusion is an old ayurvedic recipe to aid in digestion. I remember my mother making it for us whenever we had a stomache–usually after too much Halloween candy or too much COTTON CANDY from a carnival. 

I started incorporating it into my life again when I began my Ayurveda studies in my 40’s – having completely forgotten how powerful it is.  I won’t lie.  It was certainly not love at first sight.  The first time I thought….hmmmm.  This isn’t what I want to be drinking.. However, SHE PREVAILED, as we now know say! 

I love how it promotes healthy digestion, and helps with the discomfort of indigestion, or too much eating.  I try to live a balanced life — but I am very human and NOT PERFECT.  I have eaten too much at that delicious restaurant I have been trying to go to for months!  You know the one…that makes the delicate pasta by hand.  Or had a few too many bites of my mother in law’s flavorful chicken biryani. Or too many bites of my daughter Anisa’s homemade chocolate pudding…it is so silky and luscious. 

It’s this magical potion that saves me EVERY TIME.  This tea has so many benefits that make it worth adding to your daily habits. Or, you can also just incorporate it when you “need it the most”, for example after a too heavy to digest meal or a meal that you indulged in too much!  CCF Magical Tea to the rescue.  Even too much of a balanced and healthy meal can cause digestive distress. This Ayurveda tea is here to save the day by doing wonders for your gut health.

Confession —  It may take some getting used to the taste, it’s a very different taste than most of us are used to.  It is not going to taste like your usual mint tea!  But it really does the JOB!  Believe me – it’s a gamechanger.  An easy new habit to add into your daily practice, have this tea daily for 7 days and see how you feel.  You will feel lighter and less bloated, I promise.  

I know it sounds strange…these are spices I cook with (or don’t cook with! Ha ha!).  How can this be tea? Technically, it’s more of an infusion.  The combination of these three spices come together and create something bigger with profoundly healing properties.  It’s one of those, wow! If I had known it could be so easy, I would have done it years ago. 

Healthy Hint to make your life easier – Once I mix a jar of this, I  keep it right there with all my teas. Let them be tea Besties!  It makes it much quicker to have it when I need it and it lasts several months.

In the beginning, I advise you to try it a few times, maybe make it a few different ways as your taste buds adjust.  I drink this many afternoons, it’s especially comforting during the first chilly days of Fall.  I like to add a tiny taste of local honey and some fresh lemon, especially in the beginning as you get adjusted to this taste.  You can also add a sprig of fresh mint from your garden.

Luckily, we live in a world where many spices are available at local supermarkets.  Most likely, you will be able to find all three spices at your Whole Foods, Kroger’s, Ralph’s, Gristede’s or wherever you market. You will certainly save yourself money by visiting your closest Indian store.  These spices are versatile and long lasting, so do yourself a favor and pick up a larger bag of all three.  Or, you can always order online.  If you feel so inclined, there are smaller spice purveyors who are making sure working conditions and wages are fair that I highly recommend looking into for the future, including Diaspora Co., Curio, SOS Spices, and Zameen spices, among many others.  I love spending time at SOS Spices in the East Village of New York.  Atef Boulaabi’s shrine to  spices and cooking is tiny, crowded, and beautiful.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Most often there, she is welcoming and ready to talk cooking whether you are a celebrated chef, or a home cook looking to try something new.  I love sharing what I’ve been making, what I want to try, and what I am afraid to try!  Single source spices are super fresh, and she also makes blends that I love.   

Take a smooth, deep breath.  Close your eyes.  Feel the warmth inside you.  Connect to that love that you have for yourself.  Self care can look many ways.  Take good care of yourself.

Equipment

Kettle or pot to boil water

Ingredients

  • -1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • -1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • -1 tablespoon fennel seeds

Steps

  1. Add one tablespoon to a mug of just boiled water.  Cover.  Let steep for five minutes. 
  2. Set a timer and meditate for 5 minutes.  
  3. What a relaxed and focused afternoon you will have!
  4. Strain into a mug, using your strainer.
  5. Add local honey to taste.
  6. Breathe it in and toast your health!

Substitutions

You really can’t substitute – but, if you only have fennel, just chew on that.  A handful or two will help.  

If you only have two out of three, give it a steep – a little is better than nothing.

You can certainly ADD things – ginger, mint, chamomile, tulsi, to round out the flavors and add additional benefits.

Storage

Mix up larger quantities in a glass mason jar.  It will last for several months.

Healthy Hint:  I mix a jar of this and keep it right there with all my teas.  It makes it much quicker to have it when I need it and less to put away.

Healthy Hint: Add a small spoon of local honey and a juicy squeeze of lemon to help you adjust to the taste.  

Beef Keema

Looking for a simple, healthy Indian recipe to throw together any night of the week? Beef Keema is the perfect dinner with its flavorful spice and sauce, quick prepare-time, and versatility with ingredients, diet restrictions, and picky eaters. 

When my kids have friends staying over for dinner, this is my go-to recipe. Well, second to dal, that is. Beef keema is a gateway into what we eat at home–the fastest and surest way to invite guests to LOVE Indian food immediately–with all its subtle spices and fresh ingredients. 

As with most things I cook, this is so versatile and flexible.  Not too many spices — not a problem.  Hate peas (that’s for my little perfect child!) — skip the peas.  Add some spinach.  Not into ground beef…try ground lamb…or ground turkey…or ground chicken.  It’s really all so easy and so doable.  I usually serve it with rice and possibly some quickly chopped, crunchy cucumbers.  I love sprinkling everything with loads of cilantro — but if the littles don’t, leave it out or on the side. We usually serve it with warm rice.  If you are limiting rice for yourself, this dish is perfectly satiating without the rice.  Or, you can make cauliflower rice as well, see my recipe for a seasoned and FLAVOR-packed cauliflower rice. 

This was a go-to in my husband’s house growing up, and still a favorite of his even today.  It is saucy and rich but without the heaviness. Funny story, my sweet mother-in-law, who is an incredible cook, would sometimes call her beef keema “Italian meat sauce” to convince her kids that she could cook “American” food.  While she WOULD serve it over spaghetti noodles, she didn’t switch out the flavors!! My husband and his siblings were not amused!

Additionally, when friends ask me to teach them how to make something or want to experiment with an “easy” recipe, this is the one I share the most often.  It doesn’t have too many spices involved, many are likely to be in your larder for other cuisines, and it really isn’t labor-intensive. I am pretty sure I have a 100% success rate! With both the cooks and the eaters. Bold but true!

This one is saucy and thick, so if you are not eating rice, you honestly won’t miss it.  Give the spinach or kale you are cooking a little bit extra love and serve yourself up a heap of veggies to balance it all.  Another great thing about this beef keema is that it lends itself easily to a variety of eating preferences.  Are you serving kids with different eating styles?  Kids want nothing touching anything else? No Problem. You want a big, spicy bowl with everything tumbled together? No problem.  You are a MAGICIAN!

By now, your house should smell amazing— you likely won’t even have to call the children to the table — they will come running. Dinner is served!

Take a moment to ground yourself with one full deep breath and say a very specific in-the-moment gratitude.  I am so grateful for these friends around my table tonight, I value their support and their kindness.

Enjoy the beauty around your HEALTHY family table! 

Equipment

Medium pot or saucepan, whatever your preference

Wooden spoon to stir

Ingredients

2 tablespoons ghee, butter, grapeseed oil, coconut oil

1 pound of ground, grass-fed beef or lamb

1 cup peas

1 or 2 small shallots, chopped

2–4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 — 2 inches Ginger, grated or finely chopped

½ medium green jalapeno, chopped  (omit if you don’t have and add more red chile)

1 Tablespoon Tomato paste

1/c cup pureed tomato or freshly chopped tomatoes.

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 Tablespoon cumin

1 Tablespoon coriander

1 Tablespoon red chile powder 

Small cinnamon stick

Fresh Cilantro

Salt to taste

Steps

  1. On low, heat a large saucepan or pot, once warm, add the ghee or oil.  Once that is warm, add onions  to begin caramelize, cooking the onions low and slow for 15 minutes, stir, but not too often.  Take a deep breath — the onions will smell sweet and fragrant. MMMMMM….Add the garlic and ginger, stirring, so the garlic doesn’t burn and turn bitter. Sprinkle all the spices and the cinnamon stick.  Stir slowly but continuously to not burn the spices.  Once the spices have bloomed — about 30 seconds or so, add the tomato paste.  Sitr frequently so it doesn’t burn–adding a little water if you need to.  We aren’t cooking as much as trying to expand the flavor profile of the paste and make it taste less “tinny.” 
  2.  Now, add the pureed tomatoes.
  3. Add the ground beef, sprinkle with some sea salt and continue to stir to brown the meat.  Add more water as necessary.  You want it to be saucy but not too thin and soupy. Cover to let the flavors come together and the sauce to become integrated.
  4. After 10 minutes, check and add the frozen peas, if using. Let that cook for just a couple minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, wash and chop the cilantro.  Sprinkle liberally!

By now, your house should smell amazing— you likely won’t even have to call the children to the table — they will come running.

We usually serve it with warm rice.

Substitutions

If you are vegetarian, you can substitute garbanzo beans, kidney beans, or your favorite beans, or whatever you have on hand!  This would then be similar to chole or rajma, also a delicious and hearty meal.

You can substitute tofu as well.  It will be a saucy spicy scramble, which would be lovely served with sauteed greens or warm rice.

For a low carb option, substitute with cauli rice, broccoli rice,  or serve over a bed of sauteed spinach, steamed broccoli, and cauliflower, or our sauteed mushrooms.  If I am not having rice, I actually love eating it without rice.  It’s just as warming and so filling in all the best ways. 

I have made this countless times with other ground meats.  Lamb is traditional, ground chicken is fantastic, ground turkey absorbs the flavors well.  

Storage for Beef Keema

This dish stores really well – in fact, it’s one of those magical dishes that continues to taste better as the flavors continue to come together.  Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

Lucky with Leftovers

Beef keema is delicious wrapped in a corn tortilla, cauliflower wrap, whole wheat tortilla, or roti. Throw on some fresh arugula and some warm veggies.  Lunch was never so good.

Recipe: Cilantro Chutney

Cilantro Chutney

The Healthy Family Table

There are certain non-negotiables in life.  For me, to have homemade chutney in the fridge is a MUST.  I love all sauces, but this is my all time favorite.  I love it with Indian food, of course, but I also love how it can LIFT up a bland bowl and make it sing. Add it on top of fresh tomatoes….mmm.  A perfectly toasted piece of bread with butter and chutney is a tiny taste of  heaven.

I keep my chutney recipe simple and often not too spicy. I find that mine lasts well in the fridge, about a week, if we don’t all use it up before!

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh organic cilantro
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 inch jalapeno or more depending on spice level
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of water

Wash the cilantro thoroughly.  There is often much dirt and debris.  Chop off the very bottom couple inches where the roots may be.  Discard.  Roughly chop the cilantro, including most of the stems. 

Add to a blender, with jalapenos, sea salt, juice of the lemon.  Start by adding as little water as possible.  Start blending.  Add more water if necessary to keep mixing.  Taste for balance of salt and spice.  It should taste spicy to suit your taste.

Mmmmm…and enjoy!

Recipe: Healing Kitchari

Image from Real + Vibrant

Kitchari / Kichadi

Healing lentil and rice vegetarian stew

The Healthy Family Table

We grew up eating kichadi  almost every Sunday night.  For years, I thought it was because we had eaten through everything fresh in the fridge and our poor mom was exhausted.  She probably was, indeed with three kids and a full time job.  In reality, my mom was helping to reset us and nourish us for the week to come.  Many of the things my mom cooked incorporated healing ayurveda tricks.  Often, we hated it, but we were so lucky.

I love to eat khichdi at least once a week for dinner to stay balanced, for lunch AND dinner after an overindulgent week. Every season, I eat kichadi for a full day or two, to help gently detox my body. I end feeling light, nourished, and that my digestion is that much stronger.  In my meditations, I can feel my body thanking me.

The beauty of kichadi is to master the ratios, and then you can add any spices and seasonings that make your taste buds happy.  Once you have the ratios down, you are living on a street called EASY and can make kichadi very quickly, whenever the need or urge strikes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup split moong dal (the split is important for easy digestion)
  • 1 cup short grain rice or a mix of rice and quinoa
  • 2 Tablespoons  ghee
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric (if you love the taste, like I do, add more)
  • 1 — 2 inches of ginger (I love ginger) grated or chopped
  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon of hing, asafoetida
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2  to 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • Fresh cilantro
  • More ghee for serving on top
  • Fresh lemon for squeezing on top

In a large bowl, add the rice and dal.  Rinse the mix.  I always like to rinse mine three times.  

Take the time to really be present and take deep, grounding breaths. 

Soak the mix for 20 minutes or as long as you have time for, I always find this quickens the cooking process.

On medium heat, warm a  large pot or dutch oven, then add the ghee.  As the ghee warms and melts, add the cumin seeds.  As the aromas of earthiness fills your being, add the turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, and asafoetida.  Continue stirring,  so the spices do not burn.  Add the grated ginger.  Stir so everything is uniformly colored–one nameless dark color that smells like fresh earth and warm rain.

Add the rice and dal along with 4 to 6 cups of water.   I like mine on the more watery porridge side, but if you want it to be more like fluffy rice, stick with 4 cups of water.  Season generously with sea salt.  Add the bay leaf.

Raise to medium high heat to bring the kitchari to a gentle boil, then lower to a medium low.  Add the lid, but keep it a few inches open to allow some steam to escape.  Continue cooking until everything is a tiny bit “overcooked” to maximize digestive ease, usually about 20 minutes.  Stir a few times so nothing sticks to the bottom or sides.  The kichadi will look creamy.  

Taste the kichadi to test the doneness and flavors.  You may need more water or salt.

Squeeze plenty of fresh lemon and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.  

Say a super  specific gratitude, and enjoy healing your body and spirit.

I know I grew up eating this, but this always feels like a hug and a supportive conversation.  

I hope you make this often and feel the LOVE!

Notes

*********

In Indian cooking, the spices need to “bloom”, what we call a “vagaar” in gujarti.  Simply, this means heating ghee or oil, adding the ground spices together to open up.  Next, this is added to the main dish.

  •  You can play with  the proportions of spices. I generally add much more turmeric when I am trying to reduce inflammation, more ginger in the winter, but much less in the summer.  Please note when using kichadi as a reset, I don’t recommend onions, garlic, or chili pepper.
  • For a fun change in flavor profile, but still easy on the digestion, I have made Meditterean Kichadi.  I include the fresh herbs of Italy, adding fresh parsley, basil, fresh pressed olive oil on top with plenty of juicy lemon. It’s delicious!
  • You can make this without all the Indian spices, if you don’t have them.  It will still help gently cleanse your digestion.  It may taste bland, so make sure you are using good quality sea salt and lots of fresh squeezed lemon.  Don’t let not having cumin and coriander stop you from experiencing the healing properties of kichadi.
  • Hing or asafoetida is a common ingredient in traditional Indian and Ayurvedic cooking.  Full warning — it’s an INTENSE smell, but fear not,  the smell disappears in the cooking.  It’s wonderful to help with digestion and you can use hing in all sorts of recipes that involve lentils and beans.  

Summer Cool

While the thrill of summer and summer vacations never goes away, the glare of the sun can be taxing.  Keep your temper low and your energy high by incorporating these tips.  Since summer is hot, bright and sharp, this is the time to balance our bodies with natural coolness.  Simply change the diet to cool and pure foods to enable our bodies to feel naturally fresh and light.
Continue reading “Summer Cool”