Crispy Asparagus with Lime Mayo

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Crispy Asparagus are coated in ground pumpkin seeds and spices!

10-12 thick asparagus spears
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ t ground coriander
½ t dulse or kelp flakes
¼ t ground fennel
¼ t kosher salt
¼ t black pepper

1 ½ T mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
1 ½ T fresh lime juice
zest of ½ lime
2 sprigs fresh thyme

Garnish Recommendations:
1 radish
2 springs parsley, basil, sage or cilantro


Rinse, trim the bottom ½” and remove the skin from the lower third of each asparagus spear with a vegetable peeler.

Evenly coat a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of oil and place in an oven set to 350º.

Grind the pumpkin seeds into a fine powder in a coffee grinder. (Add coriander and fennel here, if spices are whole seeds.) Pour ground pumpkin seeds and the remaining spices into a rectangular baking dish at least as long as an asparagus spear and tap it to one of the longer sides. Roll each spear in the pumpkin seed and spice mixture and reserve at the empty side of the dish.

When all the spears are evenly coated, place them on the hot baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes before turning over each spear. Continue to bake for 10-15 more minutes or until the asparagus is tender and the coating is golden brown.

Zest ½ a lime in to a cup and stir in lime juice and mayo until smooth. Arrange the asparagus in a serving plate and pour a thin stream of the limo-mayo sauce over it. Sprinkle the white sauce decoratively with fresh thyme leaves and garnishes before serving.

Tip: For once, fat is better than thin!
Thin asparagus spears aren’t more tender than the big fat ones. It’s the insoluble fiber in asparagus’ skin that’s the tough part and overcooking it just makes it stringy and bitter,not more tender. Preferred are asparagus with a larger circumference. Then the ratio of tender soluble fiber beneath the skin is higher for a more chewable, flavorful experience. So go for the big ones!


Summer Travel and Healthy Portable Foods

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Christina and her family, who I’ve met through, are embarking on a low budget, two month road trip called Blank Canvas Tour. She asked me to suggest some good options to eat on a budget. Finding healthy food on the road is a real challenge, but with a little prep and some guidelines, you can zoom past all those unhealthy, high-calorie, processed food burger ‘n fries fast food joints. So take heed, my friends and remember, it’s bikini season!

Hi Christina,
Right off I would say easy on the sandwiches, because white flour is almost like eating white sugar. It’s high glycemic index causes spikes in blood sugar and that could mean cranky passengers. I know you read labels, but remember, even bread labeled “whole wheat” or “rye” has primarily white flour. It’s lack of fiber and the immobility of driving long distances in a vehicle would slow elimination. That’s a nice was of saying people are apt to get constipated.

Instead I would advise a big bag of crudité. Stop at any market and stock up on unwaxed cucumbers, radishes, red bell peppers, celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes. You can put them in a big bag and pass them around. 

Fruits are great for travel, too. Their naturally occurring packaging makes them easy to handle. Fruits provide hydration because they are water dense. They seem like a treat because they are sweet, yet they are full of fiber, vitamins and nutrients. 

Most supermarket fruit is extremely under ripe, so think several days ahead. Whatever you leave in a brown paper bag in the car will naturally ripen. Putting a few apples in the bag is a great idea, because they expel a gas that helps other fruits and veggies ripen. Apples are also appetite suppressants, especially good when you have a long trip and don’t want to to stop a lot for meals or you feel you are ingesting more calories than you can burn on days when you need to mostly be in the car.
You wil save lots of money if you pack a cutting board and one big sharp knife to do the cutting up yourself. Pre-cut over-packaged fruits and veggies are tremendously more expensive. A jar of peanut butter from one of those machines that freshly grinds the peanuts is a good companion to the fruit, because it adds flavor and protein.Try not to eat regular processed peanut butter. Often a tremendous amount of sugar is added, plus hydrogenated fat, because manufacturers don’t want the peanut oil to separate. Get the natural one from the machine where you can and stir it when you need to. It’s good to get the kids accustomed to things that aren’t loaded with sugar. 

Additionally, I like raw nuts and sunflower and pumpkin seeds for travel. They pack a lot of energy. If nuts are “roasted”, there is a lot of bad, added fat and the naturally occurring fat changes in structure to be very unhealthy. Salted is ok because its plain table salt, not a sodium chemical compound, but do be sure the nuts and seeds are raw. 

Google ahead and find out where on your path the local farmer’s markets meet. Most urban areas have a market set up nearly every day. Its a good place to meet locals and shop for vine or tree ripened fruit that is organic and local. If you also bring a cooler, you can spring for a bag of ice a day (99cents) and keep the ripe stuff fresh, and things like milk and cheese fresh, too. 

You might also find some tuna with flip top lids to eat right out of the can. Every thrift store has old silverware. I recommend getting a cheap set for each passenger, that will be used again and again. If you spring once for Voss water, which is available in glass bottles that fit nicely in car cup holders, you can refill that same bottle again and again over the whole trip, which will be quite a savings. I’ve recently taken to putting a sprig of mint, basil or thyme in my water bottle. Just that little bit of flavor has me hydrating more. Maybe a lemon or a few cherries would do on the road.  Then you won’t be temped to drink sodas along the way and overall, the glass is a much better option than plastic. It doesn’t matter how hot it gets, you won’t be infusing petroleum into the water you drink. Particularly soft plastic bottles in summer are not recommended in hot cars. Just be sure to wash out the bottle every few days with soap water and fill it up for free everyplace you can.
Lastly, bring a big blanket and opt for setting out your own spread in a local park for a picnic. After long hours on the road, its good to get some fresh air and stretch out, instead of sitting in a restaurant.
I hope all of that helps you keep slim, perky and in a good emotional state. Happy travels!
If you want to donate to Christina and her family’s trip, please go to the crowd funding site. The Enlightened Cook will have a project there very soon, too!

Aloo Gobi

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Aloo Gobi & Wooden Ganesha


1 medium onion
3 T. sesame or safflower oil
2 T. curry powder
¼ t. cumin
¼ t. chili powder (optional)
2 cloves garlic
2 ½ t. salt
3 large thin-skinned white potatoes
1 large head cauliflower
1 cup vegetable stock
3 T. fresh cilantro
2 T. lemon juice




Peel and coarse-chop the onion. Heat the oil a large saucepan and sauté the dry spices in it, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds on medium heat. Stir the chopped onions into the spiced oil. Press 2 cloves of garlic with the broad side of a knife to remove their skins and add to the pot with the onions. Stir thoroughly and cook for 3 minutes.

If you have bought thin-skinned white potatoes, keep the skins on. If they have thick, brown skins like an Idaho potato or red skins, peel the potatoes. Then cut the potatoes into 1” cubes, add them to the pot with half the salt, mixing thoroughly into the onion and spice mixture.

Discard the leaves from the cauliflower head and break off whole florets. Cut any florets in half that are larger than 1” around. Add the cauliflower to the pot 5-10 minutes after the potatoes with 1 cup of vegetable stock. Cover with a lid and continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chop the cilantro and add to the pot with the lemon juice when the cauliflower can be pierced easily with a knife. Stir again, now being careful not to break the softened cauliflower. Cook 5 minutes longer.

Serve with papadums (Indian wafers) and prepared coriander chutney.

Chop the cilantro and add to the pot with the lemon juice, when the cauliflower can be pierced with a knife. Stir again, being careful not to break the softened cauliflower. Cook 5 minutes longer.


Serve with papadums (Indian wafers) and prepared coriander chutney.


Photo and text by Marlon Braccia © 2008

First Enlightened Cook app is being submitted to iTunes!

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Thanks to Roger Wickes, my tireless app developer, and a lot of long days and late nights at the keyboard and on Skype, we are finally ready to launch. We’ve looked at everyone’s cooking apps and tried to go one better on all levels. Great photos, videos, elegant formatting specific to the iPad device, native content and all the great recipes and healthy tips you’ve come to trust from me. We’ve seen cooking apps for as much as $14.99, but we reasonably priced ours at $3.99.

The Enlightened Cook Logo

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The Enlightened Cook Logo

The Enlightened Cook’s first iPad app is coming!

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Coming Soon!

The Enlightened Cook: Protein Entrees iPad App is being created to provide everyone, including diabetics, with the means to naturally engage in the popular concept of a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. To do this best I’m advising one choose meats, poultry and fish that are raised without antibiotics, artificial feeds and hormones. It remains a sore reality that these products do need to be sought out in natural food stores at a high price, but remember you vote with your dollars! Growing is the trend to return livestock to their natural, free roaming habitats and chemical-free feeds paving the way to health and deliciousness. Spend on organic now and save on medical bills later!

Cookbooks at the Silverlake Green Fair on Saturday, April 23

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This coming Saturday, April 23 is the first annual Silverlake Green Fair. I’ll be there with amazing brownie man Philip Horowitz of Phlip ‘n Nic’s. He’s peddling his amazing brownies and I’m there with my cookbooks and some cool terrariums and organic body oils. Come on down and meet the funky people. You know that Silverlake crowd is too cool!
4356 W. Sunset Blvd, LA 90029, right in front of Akbar.

Plant seeds now for a summer of fresh herbs.

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With the new moon just passing and it’s gravitational pull increasing until it’s full, it’s the best time to plant seeds. If you start seeds now and pinch the sprouts back, you’ll have a bushy crop by July.

This weekend I planted summer savory, dill, parsley and chamomile. (I started my basil and oregano on the new moon last month) If the danger of frost isn’t gone, plant the seeds in peat pots or in 3-4″, soil-filled sections of left over cardboard form from a roll of paper towel. Keep them in a baking dish for easy watering and place them outdoors until the lowest overnight temperatures is 40º or higher.
Most herb plants like full sun, which could dry the seedlings out, so be sure to keep them well-watered until they develop their root systems.

Herb Seedlings in Peat Pots

The Serious Aspirant’s Yoga Reading List

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My students have asked me to compile a list of essential books for becoming a yogi. As many of you know I sometimes vehemently protest to American classes that too often consist of 50 minutes of standing poses and little else. Don’t miss out on the wonderful pranayama, mantra, bhandas, kriyas and multitude of techniques that comprise yoga, and bless you all in your pursuits of divine yoga.


How to Know God Swami Prabhabananda & Christopher Isherwood
The Path of Fire and Light by Swami Rama
Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies byVasant Lad L.A.S.
Astanga Yoga by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Moola Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
(yes, spelled Moola in this title)
The Upanishads translated by Eknath Easwaran
Bhagavad Gita
translated by Swami Prabhabananda & Christopher Isherwood
Bhagavad Gita translated by Barbara Stoler Miller
Bhagavad Gita translated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Integral Yoga Hatha by Sri Swami Satchidananda
The Science of Pranayama by Swami Sivananda
Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
Light On Pranayama by B.K.S. Iyengar
Chakras by Naomi Ozaniec
Chakras: Tools for Transformation by Harish Johari
Tools for Tantra by Harish Johari
Perfection of Yoga by A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Swara Yoga by Swami Mukti Bodhananda

Glossy, soft-cover books delivered to your door!

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In addition to immediate downloads of the The Enlightened Cook: Protein Entrees, beautifully glossy, soft-cover books are now available in the column immediately to the right for $11.99. Order directly from this site to save off the bookstore price and support the author best! Your book will be printed and mailed to you within 48 hours directly from the publisher! Now that’s modern publishing!!