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Healthy Living Recipes

Deb Morgan: This month I offer you a recipe for the Chickpea Tagine I served at my Moroccan dinner party (see my Foodie Friday post on Thrive, the Kripalu blog). We fed 10 with this recipe (but there was a lot of other food as well). Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you’re cooking for only 2–4 people. This one also freezes really well for future use. Serve over couscous, quinoa, or rice. Enjoy!

Chickpea Tagine

Serves 8–10

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 cinnamon stick
1 small onion, medium diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
4 to 6 cups vegetables, large chopped (potatoes, carrots, peppers)
2 cups cooked (or canned and rinsed) chickpeas
¼ to ⅓ cup golden raisins
2 pinches of saffron soaked in 2 cups of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro to garnish (optional)

Heat oil over medium in a large pot, clay pot, or slow cooker. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and ginger and stir for 15 seconds. Stir in cumin seeds; then add the turmeric, coriander, and paprika. Sauté 1 minute to open the spices and infuse the oil.

Add the cinnamon stick and onions to the spice mixture and sauté until onions start to tan, about 2–3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the tomato paste, and sauté another 2–3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, cut vegetables, chickpeas, and raisins, and stir to combine. When vegetables start to sweat, add a few pinches of salt and the saffron water. Cover pot, bring contents to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer.

If you’re using a slow cooker, pick the heat setting that will coordinate with your desired serving time. If you’re using a clay pot, place the pot in a 250-degree oven and allow to slow cook for 2 to 2½ hours. Alternatively, set the oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour. If cooking on the stovetop, reduce heat to low, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 45–60 minutes. In all cases, add more water to get the texture you want. Adjust seasoning to taste and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Read Annie Kay’s Nutritional Commentary: A Warm Bowl of Preventive Health.

When I see a recipe that’s pure plants, plus a nice list of aromatic spices, I know it serves up great taste and preventive wellness. Some of the most interesting and positive news to come out of the world of nutrition science concerns the protective aspect of whole foods, particularly plants. This tagine embodies that good news. The protective benefits come from phytonutrients—the compounds that are the source of the pungent aromas, flavors, and colors of plants. From the pungent allicin (a sulfur-containing compound in garlic) to cucumin (the powerful anti-inflammatory in tumeric), these nutrients are your allies from the bacterial, viral, inflammatory, and antioxidant perspectives.

The other key to plant-powered wellness is fiber, which optimizes your digestion and modulates sugar absorption (which in turn modulates hunger). Foods like chickpeas give you a combination of protein and fiber that seems to be a natural antidote to many health and digestive issues. Unfortunately, the average fiber intake among Americans is less than half of even minimal needs (remember: fiber is a plant phenomenon—there is no fiber in animal foods). A hearty serving of tagine, however, gets you closer to your daily fiber needs.