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I Realized That Black Mustard Seeds Can Save The Dolphins

There are so many ecologically-friendly, plant-based sources of omega 3 and DHA

Dr. Padma Garvey/The Plant-Based Doctor Mom

I Realized That Black Mustard Seeds Can Save The Dolphins


video link to recipe pictured above

I wrote this blog after watching Blue Planet II.  For those of you who have not seen the series, I highly recommend it. 

The vitamin industry is making a lot of money by convincing us that we need omega 3 and DHA supplements to survive.  The sources of these supplements are marine life.  Over-fishing for omega 3 is contributing to massive destruction of the marine ecosystem.  It is totally unnecessary.  Something as simple as a tablespoon of flax seed sprinkled over your morning oatmeal would do the trick.  And as it turns out, there are great South Indian recipes that will help you get all the omega 3 you need in some fantastically tasty ways.

When I started to learn about nutrition, a subject that is actually NOT taught in medical school, I began to examine various culinary traditions from around the world.  Omega 3 fatty acids are absolutely essential, in small amounts, in a healthy diet.  Traditional plant-based foods rich in omega 3 include walnuts, greens, tofu, chia seeds, and flax seeds.  In fact, regardless of what part of the world they came from, our ancestors’ traditional diets would have had to have included a healthy source of omega 3 fatty acids. 

India has a long tradition of plant-based foods.   Turns out that black mustard seeds are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids.  Black mustard seeds are used in almost every single South Indian dish.  This fact makes it even more unnecessary for a South Indian to take an omega 3 supplement!  The key to using black mustard seeds in South Indian cooking is to roast them in a little bit of hot oil first, to get them to pop.  Heat causes a chemical reaction to occur in the mustard seeds resulting in more omega 3 fatty acids.  This gets released into the oil and can be distributed throughout the entire dish.  You can certainly try popping the black mustard seeds without any oil at all but they tend to get scorched or burnt easily and this can affect the taste of the dish.  As a general rule, when I am making a dish with 6-8 servings, I use one teaspoon of oil.  Thus I minimize the amount of oil I use without compromising on the taste of the dish.  If I were cooking only 2-4 servings then I would spray the skillet with a touch of oil.    

A simple vegetable curry can be as easy as heating one teaspoon of oil and adding 1-2 tablespoons of  urad dal first.  After the urad dal starts to brown a bit, add two teaspoons of black mustard seeds and a teaspoon of cumin seeds.  Once the mustard seeds start to pop vigorously, add a generous pinch of hingh powder.  Then add whatever vegetable you like.  Some options include Swiss chard, cabbage, zucchini, green beans, peas, kohlrabi, cauliflower, or my childhood staple, frozen mixed vegetables.  Add a little salt and toss well.  Add 1/3 cup of water to allow the vegetables to cook while covered.  For even more flavor, add 1/4 cup of soaked mung dal and a tablespoon of unsweetened, grated coconut.  When done, add one teaspoon of turmeric and some curry leaves or bay leaves.  Traditionally these types of curries are eaten with brown rice.

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