August 28, 2013

Natural Foodie: For sensitive stomachs, a different kind of comfort food


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Kirsten Scarcelli photo

click image to enlarge

Kirsten Scarcelli

Elizabeth Dranitzke photo


Servings: Six

For the sweet potato hummus:

1 15-ounce can (no salt added) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

½ to 1 soft baked sweet potato, skin removed

½ to 1 tablespoon tahini

1 to 2 cloves of garlic, pressed

Juice of ½ lemon or more to taste

4 to 5 sundried tomatoes, (soaked in warm water for approximately 30 minutes), chopped (kitchen scissors work well here)

Generous dash of cumin to taste

Generous dash of coriander, to taste

Dash of cayenne, to taste

Sea salt to taste, use sparingly

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend to desired consistency. If more liquid is needed, add water, low sodium vegetable broth or soaking water a little at a time.

Tip: Save soaking water, to use if you need extra liquid

For the collard wraps: Spicy sweet potato hummus

6 collard leaves, destemmed

1/2 small jicama, peeled and julienned

2 large carrots, julienned

1/2 bunch of chives

1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced

Lightly steam collard leaves for 60 seconds or less, pat dry. Place a leaf in front of you, spoon 1 to 1½ tablespoons of hummus on lower half of leaf, facing you. Top with carrots, jicama, chives and avocado slices. Fold in sides first, then fold over bottom and roll up tightly. Cut diagonally in half.


Plant-Based Cooking for Optimal Health

WHEN: 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 19

WHERE: MaineHealth Learning Resource Center,

5 Bucknam Road, Falmouth

HOW MUCH: $15, registration required

INFO:; (866) 609-5183

Healing Comfort Foods

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 26

WHERE: Cancer Community Center, 778 Main St., South Portland

HOW MUCH: Free, registration required

INFO:; 774-2200

FMI: Contact Kirsten Scarcelli, Nourish Yourself Now, at 749-5451 or

Her cooking classes cover everything from ingredients to recipes to knife skills. In all her interactions with clients, she encourages cooking from scratch.

"We've been sort of taught or influenced to get away from cooking or eating together as a family," Scarcelli said. "We need to learn to get together and use food to nourish us."

Noting that dairy processors invest heavily in ad campaigns, Scarcelli said "there's some big myths out there (about food) such as the ones about dairy and calcium."

One of the most familiar claims, she said, is that milk is necessary for strong bones, when the science shows consuming large amounts of dairy products actually leaches calcium from our bones and makes us more susceptible to breaks. Many vegetables and nuts contain significant amounts of calcium in a different form, which we can absorb more readily.

"I don't think there's a broccoli lobby out there yet," Scarcelli joked.

Her easy-going and light-hearted approach to plant-based eating is one of the things most appreciated by clients like Freedman.

"Kirsten is just a lovely, warm women you can talk to so easily," Freedman said. "She's a great listener and she's a great teacher. She really cares." 

Avery Yale Kamila lives in Portland, where she enjoys plant-based eats and writes about health food. She can be reached at

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


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