Zippy Beans and Rice

After my spice classes a couple of weeks ago, I've had lots of pots of spice mixtures to use in my foods. Each night I open their lids, take a smell and decide which I think will go best with what I am cooking.


I found a great combination - using Panch Phoron with a beans and rice dish.  Panch Phoron is an indian spice mix, made from 5 different seeds (Phanch meaning 5, and phora meaning seeds).  Here is the recipe:

Panch Phoron
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds.

The key ingredient is black cumin seeds which I absolutely love. I use them everyday.



The blend is used with the seeds whole and you traditionally heat the seeds first so they release their fragrance either in a dry pan or with a little oil, as the start of a dish.  The mix is typically used with lentil dishes and to flavor vegetables and potatoes but I find it very versatile.

In my dish I had black beans, green garbanzo, brown rice, fire roasted corn, edamame, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes...and I can't remember what else.


The spice mix gave a real zip of flavor, turning a bland dish into exciting flavors dancing on the tongue.

But the spices do more than just add flavor, they also have phytonutrients and volatile oils that have healing effects on the body.

Black cumin - Nigella Sativa - which isn't cumin - is known as a "cure-all".  One of its key benefits is in strengthening the immune system.  In one study, people having black cumin oil showed a 30% increase in natural killer cells. Studies also show potential for helping prevent and/or treat the following:

  • age related immune issues
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • colitis
  • dermatitis
  • eczema
  • high blood pressure
  • MS
Mustard seed is consider advantageous against cancer, as the mustard plant is a cruciferous vegetable, and also helps with heart disease and cholesterol problems.
Cumin seeds may be important for fighting diabetes, in fighting the formation of advance glycation end products, which play a role in diabetes complications.
Fennugreek again is associated with defeating diabetes. More than 100 studies show that fenugreek can balance daily blood sugar levels, lower A1c levels, increase the enzymes that help regulate blood sugar and activate insulin signaling in cells.
Fennel seed is helpful in calming cramps so useful with menstrual pain,  and colic.  It is also a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.


All the more reason to make up some spice blends and use them every day. Try and think about adding at least one spice to every meal.  Your taste buds will appreciate it, as will your health.
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Vibrant Quinoa Salad

I made this lovely green quinoa salad for some friends last week, when they visited for lunch.


It is very easy to make and seems so perfect for springtime with the lovely green colors.  It tastes nice and fresh with the lemon juice and mint.

Give it a try and let me know what you think:

Ingredients:
1/3 cup quinoa
2/3 cup water
4 scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup frozen green garbanzos
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
1/4 cucumber, diced

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve to remove the bitter coating.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the quinoa.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. When its cooked, the quinoa should still have a little crunch.  Rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.  Place in a large bowl.
  3. Put the green garbanzo beans and peas in boiling water and cook briefly for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.  Add to the quinoa.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well. Serve.
  5. Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Can be made in advance.
You can obviously add whatever vegetables you like to this dish. I like the green garbanzo beans - as they are new in the stores here, so its good to find a nice dish for them...but you could use sugar snaps or edamame or another vegetables instead.  You could also try celery, or green pumpkin seeds or green pistachios.


The dish provides a good protein source and calcium from the quinoa, and plenty of different phytonutrients from the vegetables and lemon.  The cumin is rich in phytoestrogens and may help with osteoporosis and diabetes.
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