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The Midlife Foodie

The Midlife Foodie

I love real, whole food, the stories about it, the people who produce it, the places it comes from and the way it brings people together. I am a food writer and educator (I also do copywriting on the side), I mother three millennials, I practice yoga and meditation, and, yes, cook a lot.
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Most recent posting below. See other blog postings in the column to the right.

Black is the New Green

What is your New Year’s Resolution? If it’s taking good care of yourself, read on because I’ve got some good advice for you. (And there’s a recipe, too.)

Because so many of us try to eat better this time of the year, I asked my friend Csilla Bischoff to write about winter wellness. When you look at Csilla, a holistic nutrition counselor, the words that come to mind are “shining health.” She walks the walk of living a wholesome, balanced life, and it shows. No wonder her business name is, appropriately, Shining Health.

I expected Csilla to write about winter detox and juicing, but Csilla surprised me with Black Foods. It turns out that the chinese medicine approach to winter is eating Black Food. Here is what Csilla has to say about it, and my recipe follows.

How to Nourish the Main Organs of the Winter Season

By Csilla Bischoff, Holistic Nutrition Counselor, Shining Health.

According to ancient Chinese Medicine, you achieve health when you live in balance with nature and the seasons. Winter is the time to slow down, to reflect, and to conserve your energy.

It is also time to pay a particular attention to the kidneys, the bladder, and the adrenal glands. This time of the year they are most active and accessible. They are also most receptive to nurturing and are quickly restored. On the flip side, this is the time when they can easily be depleted.

According to Chinese Medicine, kidney energy is incredibly important to our health. The kidneys govern our vital life-force energy. They hold the fire of life, our vitality. In a way, they are like batteries. Batteries that cannot be recharged.

Our body and mind pull from this reservoir whenever we are under stress. Whenever we eat inferior quality foods or whenever we make less-than-ideal lifestyle choices, every action we take draws on this source of power. So it’s your choice - exhaust it, or nurture it with the right foods and actions.

What can you do now to nourish your kidneys?

  • Eat black foods. Since the color of the kidneys is black, focus on black beans, black rice, black sesame seeds, blackberries, hijiki seaweed, etc. Other kidney-nourishing foods are asparagus, cucumbers, and celery.
  • Stay hydrated. The kidneys are associated with the Water element, so drink plenty of water at room temperature.
  • Stay away from raw and cold foods (who wants them in the winter anyway?). Eat warm, hearty soups, stews, whole grains, roasted nuts (walnuts and chestnuts are especially useful for nourishing the kidneys), squashes, root vegetables, and dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Eat bone broth, which is considered a vital part of a winter diet. Eating bones via bone broth is an optimal way to nourish our kidneys. I prepare bone broth with raw apple cider vinegar. It absorbs minerals and nutrients from the bones and any vegetable matter that you add to your broth. These nutrients are absorbed and digested with ease. If you have never made one, we will feature advice and tips from Bam Bam Broth.
  • Dress warmly and cover your kidneys and extremities. Don’t forget your winter gear or keep some extra in the car. Wear warm hats, mittens, warm socks and make sure always to cover your lower back (the sitting place of your kidneys).
  • Rest. Winter is the time to relax and rejuvenate. It gets darker earlier and the nights are longer. If we didn’t have electricity, we would be spending a lot more time sleeping and resting. This is the ideal time to give yourself a break from a fast-paced, stressful life. Do that and you might even notice your back pain fade away, if you have it.


Black Rice and Black Lentils Mujaddara

photo, courtesy of Wikipedia

I adopted this recipe from the Jewish Food From Minsk to Marrakesh, a book I co-wrote with Janna Gur. You can also make it with brown rice and green lentils. The onions are optional, but they upgrade the dish from good to addictive.

(serves 6-8)

2 cups brown lentils
2 cups black rice
Olive oil for frying
Three onions, chopped
One tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Two onions, thinly sliced
1 cup olive oil for frying the onions.

  • Soak the rice for 30 minutes in hot water. Rinse and set aside.
  • Cook the lentils in 4 cups of water until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan until suitable for cooking the rice. Saute the onions until golden. Add the lentils and season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the rice and stir-fry for a minute or two until the rice grains turn opaque.
  • Add 3 cups boiling water and 1 cup of reserved lentils cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 30 minutes. Check the rice for doneness - it should be soft and all the water absorbed. You may need to cook longer.
  • Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, cover and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Before serving, fry the onion rings in oil until brown and crisp. Drain on a paper towel and scatter over the mujaddara.

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