Deb Morgan

Deb Morgan

Deb, Kripalu’s Former Executive Chef, draws on more than 25 years’ experience in the world of natural foods, including owning and running an organic restaurant and tea shop. Deb is an enthusiastic chef and is author of the Kripalu Seasonal Recipe Book series. Her approach to food and cooking is grounded in a deep belief that love is the main ingredient in a healthful diet.
Posted on December 7th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Healthy Holiday Cookies

My kids grew up in a natural-foodie household—that’s all they ever knew. Brown rice, tofu, stir-fry veggies, and a variety of comfort-foods-gone-natural were their bread and butter, so to speak. Given that I was pretty successful at making it all taste good, everyone was generally eager for dinnertime to roll around.

Until, that is, I’d bring out the desserts. Eschewing white flour, white sugar, butter, and eggs (and lacking any talent in working with their whole-grain vegan counterparts), my desserts in those days left a lot to be desired. I remember the fateful day when I produced yet another dense under-sweetened square I was trying to pass off as a cake, and my daughter looked at me and said, “Mom, just stop trying.”

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Posted on November 23rd, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Ask and You Shall Receive: My Mushroom Nut Burger Recipe

“Dearest Chef Morgan,” the letter began.

“We can handle this one of two ways:  You can surrender the recipe for the Mushroom Nut Burger, or I can circulate a petition asking for same. I imagine it would take me about 10 minutes to get 200 signatures. Let me know if you need more. I suppose there is a third option. I can hazard some guesses, and have a bunch of unhappy experiments in my own kitchen. I could do that, and will, if you are unable or unwilling to meet my request. “

The letter concluded:  “Please advise! I will be here until Friday and will ask at every meal if my ship has come in.”

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Posted on November 9th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Culinary Inspiration

I sit at my kitchen table smiling as I gaze lovingly at my newly acquired collection of cookbooks. With titles such as Jerusalem, Turquoise: A Chef’s Travels in Turkey, Mourad New Moroccan, and A Mediterranean Feast , each recipe- and photo-filled volume must weigh at least five pounds. These books are souvenirs that I brought back from my visit this past weekend to the Culinary Institute of America’s annual Worlds of Flavors conference near San Francisco. This year’s theme was Arc of Flavors: Re-imagining Culinary Exchange, from the Mediterranean and Middle East to Asia, and indeed we explored much of the world and its fabulous flavors.

The conference was quite the experience: Imagine 700 chefs watching 70 other chefs and restaurateurs from about 30 countries sharing their interpretations of the food and cooking styles of their region. And then we ate. And ate. And ate!

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Posted on November 2nd, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Whole Grains for Hearty Vegetarian Meals

One of the things I love about cooking with whole grains—in addition to amazing nutritional value—is the versatility and the myriad possibilities of creating great new dishes from leftovers. This month I’ve taken one large pot of plain brown rice and turned it into six meals. Here’s how:

First, make an extra-large batch of plain brown rice (short or medium grain). Start with 3 cups of dry rice and 5½ cups of water; you’ll end up with close to 9 cups of cooked rice. Enjoy the brown rice the first night with stir-fried vegetables and a protein of choice (tofu, nuts, organic chicken, or fresh fish)—this is meal number one.

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Posted on October 26th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Relationships and Food: Compromise in the Kitchen

Every relationship has its milestone moments—the ones that not only change the course of one’s life but also perhaps even more significantly for a chef, change the look of one’s kitchen! Yes, I did it. I made the ultimate sacrifice for love this past weekend as I bade a fond farewell to my beloved six- burner, deep red Bertazonni range (and having total control of my kitchen) and moved in with my fiancée, Jim.

We’d decided on the plan months before, and for the past few weeks I’ve been clearing out the old: organizing and packing up a life lived 16 years in one place. And then came moving day. In a blink of an eye every knife, pot, pan, bowl, spatula, whisk, and tea accoutrement was packed away out of site only to reappear hidden deep inside a box stacked high in the middle of what was to be their new home– at least for some of them.  Ah, mergers! Unlike our previous cohabitating experiences with our first spouses when we were each young and less encumbered with stuff, Jim and I faced the daunting equation of adding one home to one home and producing “one” home!

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Posted on October 12th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen, Nutrition

Tea for Two and Happiness to Go

A few weeks ago, I came across an article from The Atlantic called “New Reasons to Drink More Tea.” Though I didn’t really think I needed more reasons to enjoy my daily green tea, I read on just to see how science was catching up to what us tea devotees already know: A cup or two of tea a day not only keeps the doctor away, but it also keeps us in tune with the joyous rhythms of life.

The article says that scientific studies are, in fact, starting to show all kinds of health benefits from drinking a few cups of green tea—and in some cases black tea—a day. Benefits range from weight loss to heart health to increases in bone and muscle strength. Plus, as Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science at Tufts University, points out in the article, “It’s really important to remember that tea is a plant.” He explains that the flavonoids extracted from tea leaves are similar to the beneficial phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables. So if we can’t eat the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables, he suggests, why not count tea as one or two servings?

When I read this, I instantly thought of my 16-year-old daughter. Though she eats a basically sound diet thanks to the fact that we only have quality foods in the house, I have to say that she isn’t exactly a huge fan of kale. However, she loves starting her day with a cup of green tea.

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Posted on September 28th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Kripalu Kitchen

Balancing: Applying Love Life Lessons to the Kitchen

My fiancé, Jim, and I recently participated in a wonderful program at Kripalu led by David Deida called The Sexual Body and the Yoga of Light. While we never talked about food or cooking during the program, I couldn’t help but draw some significant parallels. A large part of the discussions centered on recognizing and enhancing the natural polarities of masculine and feminine energies. We talked about what it’s like to have both strong and weakened states of polarity with our partners. For me, when the polarity was strong and we had a clear sense of openheartedness, the amount of vibrancy and energy between us felt most engaging and satisfying. When the polarity collapsed, or when it felt forced or came with an agenda (e.g. “I want something from you”), our energy felt unsatisfying.

After the program ended, it just so happed that I needed to go straight to the Kripalu Kitchen to cook a dinner for our Board of Trustees and our donors. As I pondered what to put in one of the appetizers and reflected on the program, I was reminded that cooking can simply be thought of as a dynamic dance of creating healthy polarity between foods.

The white halibut needed the richly colored charmoula sauce we drizzled on it. The Moroccan sauce, with its sharp cilantro and spicy paprika, needed the stabilizing flavor of the olive oil to balance it. The dense flourless chocolate cake was complemented by the light, citrusy whipped cream. And the list of how we used polarized flavors, textures, and ingredients went on.

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Posted on September 7th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: Pesto With Personality

I’m sure it goes without saying, but I love having dinner with friends. One of my favorite parts of going to a friend’s home to share a meal is that I get to experience flavors and flavor combinations that I may not include in my own cooking. I also get infusedwith a new energy that serves to wake me up in a way. I love experiencing how each person’s own energy becomes steepedin the food, from what they choose to make to how they make it and how they serve it. Each element becomes part of the meal’s flavor profile, creating an energythat I get to incorporateinto my own being.

I’ve always said that you can’t be truly healthy unless you cook for yourself. Cooking for ourselves is akin to all the other self-care practices we do, from brushing our teeth to getting a good night’s sleep. When we cook for ourselves, we are saying at the deepest levels, “I want to be alive.” When we cook and serve ourselves food filled with prana (life energy) we are declaring, “I really want to be alive and vital!”

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Posted on August 24th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

The Slow Down Diet

As the summer’s end begins its relentless march, the only mantra running through my head seems to be, Slow down, slow down, slow down. I yearn to savor more of the warm days, the outdoor fun, the farm-fresh veggies. I want the world to pause, to slow down, to give me more time to take [...]

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Posted on August 3rd, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: Let’s Fall in Love

You know you’re in love when it downpours on the day of your engagement party with 25 friends coming to you house, and it still feels like the sun is shining in all the right places.

Life has been busy (can anyone relate?) these past few months, and Jim and I have not been good at pulling together a dinner party on any regular basis.

Side note: Time is an interesting thing, isn’t it? Don’t laugh, but one of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to “master time.” Yes, somehow I have this glimmer of hope that it’s possible to enjoy life and all those opportunities that come our way with a grace and ease that make it seem as though there’s always enough time.

Despite the many days when I feel anything but graceful, this past weekend got me in one of those busy yet timelessness modes. On the night before the party, my two chef buddies, Jeremy and Sim, came over to help start the food prep. I had designed a fun menu featuring kabobs, spanakopita, lots of fun salads (see one of my favorites below), homemade grape leaves, roasted beets with chèvre—the list went on.

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