Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Flax Cookies

It seems no matter where you go these days you will inevitably run into something associated with pumpkin.  Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin bars topped with copious amounts of cream cheese...It's pumpkin mania ladies and gentlemen; but what the H, tis the season, no?

Well, sorta....

The problem with these types of pumpkin "treats" is that they are loaded with refined sugar and not good for people with inflammatory illnesses, or those looking to shed a few pounds.  Remember: Refined sugar is not your friend-He's that creepy dude that sneaks his way into nearly everything that is packaged and processed and is one of the main contributors to the skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes in this country.   Refined sugar is responsible for major inflammatory responses and will leave you feeling like overall crap (that's a scientific fact, folks) When you see him, flash him the middle finger and run fast and run far.

I get it.  You're thinking I'm crazy when I ask you to give up your precious sugar, but don't you worry your pretty little head because you don't have to be tied to that loser anymore. Thankfully, I have perfected a recipe that will satisfy your sweet pumpkin craving without inducing inflammation and without adding an extra inch to your waistline. (I'm giving myself a high five right now which is extremely awkward.) 

Drumroll please.....BEHOLD...Pumpkin Flax Cookies! 

Made simply with pumpkin puree, raw almond butter, coconut oil, almond flour,  flax seed, ground cinnamon and a few tsp of raw honey, these little mounds of goodness will satisfy the most intense pumpkin craving.  Not only are they nutritious, but they taste like freaking Thanksgiving. 

I know you're going to be super excited, but be careful when handling these cookies right out of the oven because they will be fragile and not firm.  Put them in the refrigerator for a few hours to set.  I like to dehydrate mine for an hour at 115 degrees F which will give them a little more crisp. Either way, they are absolutely delish. 

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Pumpkin Flax Cookies
Makes 25 small cookies
2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie filling because that comes with added sugar)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup raw natural almond butter
2-3 tsp raw honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix wet ingredients first. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Spoon 1 TBSP of the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet making sure they are evenly spaced.  If you are creative, you should be able to fit all of the cookies on one baking sheet with a little bit of dough left over for bowl licking goodness. Nom. 
Bake for 15 min at 325.  
Remember: These will not be firm, so carefully transport them to your refrigerator to set for a few hours, or  if you are impatient throw them in the freezer. If you have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate at 115 degrees F for about an hour to give the cookie a little more crisp.
If you want to get fancy, you could even make these with sweet potato puree instead of the canned pumpkin.  Whatever blows your skirt up. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Breakfast Quinoa

Looking for a healthy warm breakfast food that deviates from your run of the mill (and considerably less awesome) oatmeal? Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah, not quee-no) is your bag baby! Referred to as "The Mother Grain" by the Incas, quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and contains a balanced set of amino acids making it a complete protein. It is also high in fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.

For those of you GAPS or paleo eaters and grain avoiders, although quinoa is not technically a grain (it's a seed), it is not considered "paleo-friendly" because of the high carbohydrate content and the fact that it may cause inflammatory responses in those who are looking to heal their gut.

For those of you whose gut is in tip top shape and have no intention of eliminating quinoa from your diet, mix in some sliced fruit, chopped nuts, and shredded coconut and you have yourself one hell of a balanced breakfast that will give you a healthy start to the day.

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Breakfast Quinoa

Serves 2-3

1/2 Cup quinoa, rinsed to remove powdery residue
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp raw honey

Heat coconut milk just to the point of boiling. Add quinoa and raw honey, stir until combined.  Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until quinoa is done-it should be fluffy.
Divide into bowls and add sliced fruit and nuts.  Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and almonds are my favorite.  If you want to make it a little more creamy add some extra coconut or almond milk when serving.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 LTD Farm CSA Member Dinner

Last November I reserved my LTD Farm CSA share for the 2013 season.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term "CSA", it's an acronym that stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a fantastic way to buy local, organic, and seasonal produce directly from a farmer in your area.  As a pretty diligent “clean eater” I was looking forward to the monthly box of organic, freshly pulled-from-the-ground goodies that I would be able to use in creative and fun ways.

After the long-awaited excitement of the initial box in June, the first Tuesday of each following month became like Christmas.  Duck eggs, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, many varieties of lettuce, carrots, beets, peppers, beans, tomatillos, eggplant, herbs, wild flowers, homemade apple sauce and goat milk soap-just to name a few of the things we so gratefully received; and when I opened the email inviting us to their member dinner, I was thrilled. I had been regularly following their journaled farm life on their Facebook page, and was excited to meet the couple whom worked so hard to provide us with the best produce imaginable. 

As we navigated the country roads that led from the city to the home of my beloved CSA, I couldn’t help but sit in awe of the beauty that surrounded us.  Rolling hills peppered with treetops of emerald green, small streams tucked in a lush colorful landscape that gently held nature’s bounty.  It was a far cry from city life, and the peacefulness of what laid before us was mesmerizing. 

Upon arrival, we were immediately welcomed with a smile and hug from Khaiti, our beautiful and gracious hostess.  The farm dogs, Belle and Javier were also there to give us a sniff and a tail wag that let us know we were welcome to join the party (Little Blue was up on the hill keeping watch over the pastured birds).  To the right of the farm house and past a glorious apple tree, Khaiti's husband and partner in permaculture, Andrew, was sitting with guests around a long dinner table decorated with burlap runners on top of white linens and topped with beautiful flowers setting the stage for the feast…which was nothing short of amazing.

The Mexican-inspired buffet prepared by Andrew and Khaiti themselves, was filled with fresh goodies from the farm. We dined on homemade salsas, heirloom tomatoes, chipotle herbed chevre, Spanish rice, beans, and the most tender, flavorful goat meat.  That’s right, goat meat.

 For those who know me (and are also aware of my love of goats, which makes this even more shocking), you know that I am not a meat eater.  I began my journey as a vegetarian when I was just shy of 15 years old after learning about the horrors factory farming and animal processing.  My aversion towards meat continued when I learned more about how “conventional meat” is raised and how the use of antibiotics had become the norm.   Although I eat a mostly plant-based diet, I respect and support the farmers who feed their animals the kind of feed they are meant to eat, and who give them a good life with respect and dignity, something I believe all living beings should receive.  So the short of the long of it is, I tried the goat meat and it was delicious. 
The dinner conversation involved subjects you would expect from conscious CSA members; recipes, wellness, and with the dawn of the new school year in mind, thoughts on local school lunch programs from concerned parents. We even had a couple special guest appearances when Khaiti brought out two baby chicks to join the fun.

After dinner, our generous hosts led us on a tour of the farm.  We followed a winding flower-lined path through orchards and pastures that held goats, ducks, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and turkeys as well as a thoughtfully planned vegetable garden. We learned about the trials of raising pastured animals and the predators that seek them, some of them as unlikely (maybe unlikely to me as a city girl with limited predator knowledge) as blood-sucking weasels and chicken-snatching owls.  As dedicated farmers, they have gone so far as to camp out with their birds to discover how to best ward off the predator and protect the animals they are raising.

Josh and Me
The evening was not only lovely, it validated my decision and continued efforts to support my local farmers, which to me, has become an important part of mindful eating and conscientious living. It’s difficult to put into words the hard work and dedication it takes to be an organic farmer-to stand up for what you believe in when the odds are often stacked against you.  To say their efforts are admirable and inspiring is not even scratching the surface of the amount of respect I have for the two of them and everyone like them.

I encourage everyone who reads this who is not already a member, to seek out a CSA farm near you and participate in what may be one of the most beneficial things you can do for not only the environment and your community, but also your health.  There are national websites available where you can peruse different CSA farms and their offerings such as Local Harvest, or for those of you who are local to Minnesota or Western Wisconsin, you can visit the The Land Stewardship Project.

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy...And support your local farmers! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cinnamon Banana Waffles AKA: I Have a Fridge Full of Duck Eggs

I have a fridge full of duck eggs from my marvelous CSA share.  So, I do what any well-respected CSA participant would do... I scour the internet in search of fun and delicious ways to prepare and serve them.

A word on duck eggs: Duck eggs are larger, richer, and more flavorful than chicken eggs, which is why bakers love them...They make baked goods that much more decadent!

I came across this recipe from paleOMG via the folks at Just Eat Real Food.  Both great resources for those that are on a paleo diet, gluten-free, or trying to cut out refined sugar.

Being on a anti-inflammatory diet for my RA, I have to be careful with eggs, but I find I am okay with them in moderation.  Given these waffles are also gluten free and refined sugar free, I was really excited to give them a try and I'm glad I did, because not only were they delicious, but I am able to share them with you right before the weekend!

I made a few small changes from the original recipe, by adding 2 TBSP of maple syrup instead of three and substituting duck eggs for the chicken eggs. If you're making this for 2 people, you can definitely cut the recipe in half and you will have more than enough, and if you are making these in a waffle maker remember: less is more.  This will help you avoid any waffle explosions like the one I experienced in the first batch-The waffle maker and I needed to re-familiarize ourselves with each other...It was awkward at first, but now we're cool.

Enjoy your weekend and most importantly...

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Cinnamon Banana Waffles
Recipe from paleOMG

  • 2 medium bananas, very ripe
  • 2 eggs (I used duck eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ cup coconut or almond milk
  • 1 cup almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt

  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Mash the bananas and place them along with the, egg, maple syrup, coconut oil, and milk in a large bowl and mix either by hand with a wooden spoon, or with a hand mixer until smooth.
  3. Add the almond meal, shredded coconut, arrowroot flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and mix well to combine.
  4. Pour mixture into waffle iron (if you don't have a non-stick waffle iron, make sure to grease yours before)
  5. Top with fresh fruit, and real maple syrup. Serve warm

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

CSA Time: What's in the box?

Today I received my first CSA share of the season and I have to tell you, words can't describe the sheer anticipation that lead up to the moment I walked into the Co-Op to pick up my box of goodies. For those of you who are unfamiliar with CSA's, the acronym stands for Community Supported Agriculture and they are a fantastic way to buy local, organic, seasonal produce directly from a farmer in your area. Once or twice a month (depending on the type of share you purchase) you pick up your box of goodies at a designated drop location where you bring home the freshest organic produce available. Not only are CSA's a great way to ensure you are receiving the freshest organic produce, you are also supporting your local farmers who are doing things the right way-And that's good for everyone!

Another fun aspect of a CSA is the exposure you get to things you have never tried before...Like stinging nettles.  I received a big bunch of this questionable leafy green in my share today and I am extremely curious and somewhat excited to figure out a way to prepare this outcast...So stay tuned!

What else did you receive in your share you ask?

Sorrel (I had no clue what this is.  Turns out it's a tart lemony green, delicious in pasta salads and it's lemony flavor also compliments lean meats such as fish)
Spring onions
Red radishes
A beautiful head of leafy green lettuce
Spring salad mix
Bundle of herbs-Sage, oregano, and thyme
Honey applesauce
3 dozen freshy laid duck eggs (I am now the envy of every serious baker imaginable)
Handmade goat milk soaps
                                     Seasonal wildflower bouquet

If you are at the point where you are totally jealous of all of the awesomeness I just listed, I completely understand.  The good news is, you too can sign up for a CSA!  Simply visit Local Harvest, a website dedicated towards the education of the importance of locally grown produce that happens to have a fantastic list of CSA's across the country.  You can also visit your local Co-Op or Natural Foods Store who will often have a list of participating farms in your area.

And for fun, check out the amazing farmers who provide my CSA share at L.T.D. (Living the Dream) Farms and follow them on Facebook!  They post impossibly cute videos of baby goats, geese, rabbits, piglets and show you what daily life is like on the farm.  I respect these two immensely in regard to the way they humanely raise their animals-If you are going to eat meat, these are the people you should be buying it from!

Stay tuned for fresh new recipes from my CSA share as well as monthly updates of "What's in the box?"

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cauliflower: Three Ways

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Sweet Jesus, she's writing a post on cauliflower...She's done gone and lost it." And there was a time in the not too distant past that I would have been right there with you. For me, cauliflower was always just kind of... "meh" and I more or less considered it broccoli's bastard cousin...less flavor, less pizazz, less likely to be invited to grandma's for dinner. But before your eyes glaze over and you write this post off as one that would put even the most caffinated person into a comatose-like sleep, just give me a chance.

It wasn't until I discovered the culinary versatility of this underrated vegetable that I began appreciating how much it has to offer. Upon learning about the nutrient content, I was surprised to find that it is not only low in sugar and carbohydrates, it's also high in dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and contains several phytochemicals that are extremely beneficial to our health.  These phytochemicals are known to slow the growth of cancerous cells, while a high intake of cauliflower has even been associated with a reduced risk of aggressive prostrate cancer.  So how boring is cauliflower now, huh?  Cauliflower can SAVE YOUR LIFE...Kinda like how T.C. always bailed Magnum P.I. out of trouble...Cauliflower is the T.C. of vegetables, ladies and gentlemen.

So now what? How do I eat the stuff?

I'm glad you asked.

Besides, chopping it up and throwing it raw into a salad (which is an excellent idea),  I've outlined three different ways you can enjoy Cauliflower in all of it's ass-kicking glory.

1). Garlic Cauliflower Mash:  Think mashed potatoes without all the carbs and starch.  First, grab a head of cauliflower, remove the greens, and cut off the stem.  Cut the cauliflower into florets and throw them in a steamer, covered for about 15 minutes or until soft.  Place the steamed cauliflower into a blender with about 1 TBSP of olive oil, 1 tsp of sea salt and two cloves of pressed garlic. Pulse until blended to the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Be careful not to puree too long or you will have cauliflower soup, which although sounds interesting is not what we're going for here. In the corresponding photo I served the mash with baked cod and roasted asparagus.  The fun part about a mash is you can get creative, add some rosemary, or  if you really want to get fancy schmancy, use a dash of truffle oil to give a different spin and and make others think you're too hot to trot.

2). Cauliflower Rice: This recipe also calls for one head of cauliflower. Prepare the cauliflower much like you would in the previous recipe, but instead of steaming, pulse the raw florets through a food processor until they reach the consistency of rice.  This is where the magic happens.  I like to use my cauliflower rice in a stir fry, so I simply add whatever veggies I have available.  In the photo above, I used red onion, red pepper, garlic, and lacinato kale. To prepare, saute the chopped onion and pepper in about 1 TBSP of coconut oil over medium heat until the onion is nearly translucent. Add the chopped garlic and saute for another few minutes.

 Now, it's time to add in the cauliflower and the kale. Just a quick note: One head of cauliflower makes a lot of rice, I used about 2 cups for 2 servings of stir fry and froze the rest for use at a later date...I seasoned the stir fry with Bragg's Liquid Aminos and a little bit of coriander and pepper, but feel free to add whatever spices you like...Stir the mixture together, cover and turn heat to low.  Let simmer for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft like rice. Serve warm and wonder how you were able to live so long without such a fun and simple way to eat your veggies!

3). Korean Fried Cauliflower: This little gem was the spawn of my husband's urge to satisfy an intense craving after a two-hour marathon of "Diner's Drive-Ins and Dives"...For those of you who watch the Food Network, you know exactly what I'm talking about, Willis. Since, I wasn't privy to the entire process, and although I'm not a huge fan of fried foods, I've decided to provide you with the link and let you do the rest-. Like everything in life, moderation is key and if you get to the point where you're jonesin' for something naughty, then a little fried cauliflower is probably better than a lot of other things. So knock yourself out. 

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Miso Dressing.

There are few things as frustrating as when on April 13th you look outside from your blanket-wrapped cocoon only to see grey skies and...snow. A lot of people would take this time as an opportunity to curl up with a book, maybe venture out to see a movie.  Me?  I've decided to remind myself that it actually is spring, and write a spring-like post on a dish that makes me want to throw on my flip flops and take a spin around the lake on my cruiser.

Introducing; zucchini noodles.

I've professed my love for kick-ass kitchen appliances in the past, and I'm going to do it again as I write about my newfound love: The julienne peeler. Gone are the days of meticulously slicing carrots into tiny matchstick-like pieces for salads...Now, I just whip out this bad boy and it's done.  The best part about this peeler?  It turns vegetables into NOODLES!  That's right. Noodles. Honestly, what's more fun to eat? Pieces of plain old zucchini, or zucchini that's been turned into a noodle?  (Do you even need to answer such a silly question?)

You can create any sauce or dressing to dress your noodles and incorporate other veggies, nuts, or lean proteins for a healthy, filling dish.

In the salad pictured above,  I used one yellow squash and one zucchini as the noodle base and incorporated diced red pepper, mango, scallions, sliced almonds, carrots, jalapeno and cilantro and dressed the whole shebang with an Avocado Miso Dressing. Sprinkle on some chia seeds, or flax seed, or even add a bit of wild rice-Just like any salad, it's up to you as to what you want to throw in.

I've also whipped up a creamy pesto by simply mixing my pistachio pesto with a little cashew cream, and mixed it with the noodles along with cherry tomatoes, red pepper, and pine nuts.

Just a few ideas to get you started with your zucchini noodle's cool...we don't judge here.

Remember: it doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be good!

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Avocado Miso Dressing:
1 avocado
1 lime zest and juice
1/2 cup zucchini (you can use the leftovers of the zucchini and squash after it has been julienned)
1 Tbsp yellow miso
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 small handful cilantro
1 scallion, white and half green
dash of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients until creamy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sweet Potato-Poblano Soup

One of the most disappointing things when cooking is when you find a recipe that you are super excited about, make it, and it turns out to be a total flop, which is what initially happened with this recipe.  Bound and determined not to give up on what I believed to have the potential to be a great soup, I decided to try it again with a few [major] modifications.

I first came across this recipe in an article about Dr. Andrew Weil that was published in Whole Living Magazine. The article introduced his new cookbook that is filled with healthy recipes from his popular restaurant "True Food", along with the recipe for this very soup.  Not only did the recipe look delicious, it also inspired me to head out and buy the book that very day. So, you can imagine my disappointment when I made the soup and not only did it look nothing like the photo in the book, it was severely lacking any sort of flavor.

The first red flag was that the recipe called for 3 quarts of water (or 12 cups for those of you that are conversionally challenged).  From my previous experience with making tasty soups that include coconut milk, I will use 1 quart vegetable broth, and one can coconut milk with the corresponding spices, which will usually lead to a flavorful bowl of goodness. For the first attempt, my hesitation (along with my lack of a large enough stockpot in which to fit a bunch of veggies and 12 cups of water) led me to cut the water back to 8 cups. Turns out I should have listened to my gut and gone with the 4.

Wood-fired veggies. 
Thankfully, I'm not one to walk away from a good soup, so I gave it another go.  In this updated recipe, I used one quart veggie stock (instead of the 3 quarts water), and I threw caution to the wind and used regular coconut milk instead of the light stuff...The way I look at it, if you're going to get fat from consuming too much coconut milk, you have yourself a problem-One 14-oz can in a large batch of soup is not going to make you bust out the elastic-waist pants.

Our snowy pizza oven-March in Minnesota!
Now let's talk about the roasted veggies.  I'm fortunate enough to have a husband who built a great wood-fired pizza oven in our backyard (I know...*swoon*), so I was able to roast the veggies in our outdoor oven which gave them a nice smoky flavor.  However, if you don't have access to a wood-fired oven, roasting them in a conventional oven is just fine-The purpose for roasting the veggies is to give a bit of that lightly charred flavor, but be careful not to burn-There is a pretty distinct line between "lightly charred" and "burned". 

At the end of the day, this soup ended up being chalk-full of flavor with a nice creamy finish and a bit of a kick-One that will warm you up on a cool evening. 

                                                          Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Sweet Potato-Poblano Soup

Serves 4
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 small bulb fennel, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 poblano chile, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 quart vegetable stock
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup white wine
1 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

1). Heat broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Toss veggies and oil in a large bowl and then arrange in a single layer on a prepared sheet and broil, tossing once halfway through, until browned-About 12 minutes. 

2). Transfer roasted veggies to a large pot and stir in spices, salt, wine and veggie broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.

3). Remove soup from heat and whisk in coconut milk.  Let simmer on low for 10 minutes or until heated through.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro and scallions before serving. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque with Lacinato Kale and Ezekiel Croutons

I am a Pinterest nerd. While perusing Pinterest last weekend, I came across a recipe for Rustic Tomato Rice Kale Stew.  After drooling over the pictures and reading the ingredients, I quickly determined that I liked the jest of the recipe, I was just craving something more creamy...And without peas, because to be perfectly honest, I'm not a fan of peas.  But that's the fun part of cooking!  You can take a recipe and make it your own by adding different ingredients and spices.  Unlike baking, cooking isn't fussy; it's all about exploring flavors and experimenting with new recipes. Sometimes you flop, sometimes you hit a home run-And thankfully, this recipe was a home run.

The fire roasted tomatoes, chili powder, garlic and cayenne pepper give this bisque bold flavors with a nice kick while the lacinato kale, carrots, leeks, cashew cream, and Ezekiel bread croutons make this a hearty dish worthy of the title "comfort food."  

Lacinato Kale

The cashew cream allows this dish to be reminiscent of the most dreamy bisque without the nightmare of the cholesterol and calories in your traditional heavy cream and roux bisque. This is just another example of how you don't have to give up your favorite flavors or foods when you make healthy changes to your diet. 

Speaking of healthy, for those not familiar with lacinato kale (also called Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale), you may recognize it as part of Italian dishes such as minestrone and robillita.  The great part about this type of kale is its not only nutritious (it contains loads of vitamins A, K and C, as well as a healthy amount of calcium and iron) it also retains it's firm texture when cooked allowing it to be a hearty component of any dish that's lucky enough to include this amazing leafy green. 

The Ezekiel Croutons that I included are basically just Ezekiel bread English muffins that I sliced in half, topped with a sprinkle of shredded Daiya "mozzarella" and baked at 375 for about 10 minutes and finished with 2 minutes under the broiler. If you don't have any Daiya, you could also coat the bread with olive oil rubbed garlic and fry in a pan until crispy.  I use Ezekiel bread because it is really the only type of bread I don't react to.  It is made of sprouted grains so it is easier to digest than your conventional wheat-based bread, and it is also super nutritious as it is a complete protein and contains 18 amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids . 

As we wind down the winter season, keep your friends and family happy with this belly-warming crowd-pleaser.  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Fire-Roasted Tomato Bisque with Lacinato Kale
Serves 4

28oz can fire roasted tomatoes-pureed in a blender until smooth. 
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cashew cream (see below)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large red onion-diced
1 large carrot-peeled and sliced
1 leek-sliced white and partial green
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 heaping Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
dash cayenne pepper. 

In a large soup pot, saute the onion, carrot and leek in the olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent.  
Add the vegetable broth and pureed tomatoes to the sauteed vegetables along with the spices and stir until well mixed.  Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 15 minutes.  
Add the cashew cream and season with salt (about 1.5 tsp) and pepper to taste.  Continue to simmer on low for 10-12 minutes, or until heated through.  

Ladle into bowls and top with Ezekiel bread croutons.  

Cashew Cream:
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
1Tbsp nutritional yeast
1tsp sea salt
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1cup raw cashews

Add the cashews and water to a blender.  Let soak for 20-30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Skinny on Juicing

Juicing; It's not just for feisty men in blue jumpsuits. So what's the hype?  I've been juicing for years, and there is rarely a day that goes by where I'm not drinking some sort of green concoction first thing in the morning.  I juice simply because it is super nutritious, gives me energy, and is a great start to my day. Some say juicing allows your body to digest the enzymes and minerals found in our fruits and vegetables more easily. It's also an easy way to benefit from consuming a wide variety of fruits and veggies in a relatively short period of time.

So why not just buy the bottled stuff available at your grocery store and call it a day? Although these drinks are fine in moderation, they are also pasteurized which means they are heated to kill bacteria which also kills the natural enzymes and healthy elements of the juice itself.  Many of the store-bought juices also contain unwanted ingredients such as added sugars and preservatives. Juicing eliminates these processes and unnecessary ingredients while giving you the freshest juice possible, right in your own home.

  I am often asked about juicing, and the conversations initially start with prospective juicers asking if I have any "good recipes."  For me, the fun part of juicing is running a bunch of fruits and vegetables through my juicer and coming up with new blends, but for those of you who are not quite ready to be so daring, here are a few tips and a couple recipes to get you started.

"Hot Toddy"

1). Buy organic. (I list this as number one because it's the most important.) First of all, any fruit or vegetable that you don't peel should be organic.  And don't kid yourself, washing and rinsing non-organic fruit (although helpful), doesn't get rid of the pesticides or herbicides that have been sprayed on the fruit or vegetable.

2). Choosing your juicer: There are a few different types of juicers.  The first, and least expensive is a centrifugal juicer.  This type of juicer grinds and strains the fruit at high speeds-Some say this type of juicer is less efficient because the heat generated from the high speed can essentially decrease the amount of enzymes in the finished juice. I had a centrifugal juicer that I used for nearly 3 years until I upgraded to a slow juicer.  I gave it to my sister and it still works great.
The second, is a masticating juicer which "chews" the food...You most often see masticating juicers used for things like wheat grass.
And last, but certainly not cheap least, is a triturating or "slow" juicer.  This type of juicer is generally more expensive, but it is also more efficient as it presses the produce for maximum juice that allegedly contains more nutrients because of the process.
Bottom line, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg on your first juicer. Buy what you can afford and know you made a good decision as they all essentially do the same thing.

3). Experiment! As I mentioned before, creating new juice concoctions is half the fun, so experiment with your juicer! I usually add more vegetables than fruit because for me, the whole point is to incorporate as many green veggies as possible.  But the good thing is, it's totally up to you...The sky's the limit!

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

The Green Ginger:
Serves 2
4-6 large kale leaves
1 large handful of spinach
1 cucumber
2 inch piece of ginger
1 apple

Run ingredients through your juicer, mix well and divide between two glasses.

The Virgin Mary
Serves 2
2 ripe tomatoes
2 cups fresh spinach
2 ribs celery
2 large carrots
2 limes
1 cucumber

Line the rim of your glass with celery salt, garnish with a celery stalk and add a few drops of Tabasco or cayenne for an extra kick!

Hot Toddy
Serves 1
2 lemons
2 inch piece of ginger

Juice the lemons and ginger.  Add the juice to a large mug and fill the reminder with hot water, a tsp of honey and a dash of cayenne pepper-It'll clear your sinuses and warm you up on a cool day.

*On a side note, if you're in to documentaries, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead is a documentary about a man named Joe Cross who was unhealthy, overweight, and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease. Like me, Joe decided to take his health into his own hands and researched diet as a viable treatment option to achieve a balanced, more healthy well-being. The documentary is an inspiring tale of healing and how he was able to help others become more healthy through his own journey.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Homemade Almond Milk

When I first saw a recipe for homemade almond milk I thought "UGH! That seems really labor intensive."  But that's only because I didn't allow myself to get past the "soak almonds for 4 hours" part of the recipe, which is silly, because it's only soaking almonds in a bowl...It's not like it instructed me to "soak almonds in a bowl while resting it on your feet as you stand on your head reciting text from War and Peace in your best Sean Connery voice for 4 hours straight."  Seriously.  Talk about over reacting.

Anyway, I'm glad I finally gave it a try and I'm really glad I did because you will never find me buying the store-bought stuff again. Not only is it super easy to make, it's fresh and is also more flavorful and void of some of the funky ingredients/preservatives found in the store-bought milk.

Almond milk is great in cereals, smoothies, hot coco, and is an acceptable replacement for other milks in cooking and baking. I like to flavor my almond milk with a hint of vanilla, but if you're feeling particularily adventurous, you can spruce it up with cinnamon, or even make it chocolate by adding raw coco powder and upping the maple syrup for the corresponding 

All you need to create your own delicious almond milk (besides the ingredients of course) is a high speed blender, a nut milk filter bag (my husband hates it when I talk about my nut bag-But I do it just to bug him, naturally), and a container in which to store your milk.

Eat Healthy Stay Happy!

Almond Milk
1cup raw almonds-Soaked for 4 hours
4 cups filtered water
1Tbsp maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract

Combine almonds and water in a high speed blender, blending on high for about 2 minutes.  Pour the contents of the blender into a nut milk filter bag over a large bowl (or cheesecloth) and squeeze all the remaining water out of the bag.  (You can reserve the pulp for baking, or for smoothies)
Rinse out your blender, pour the filtered milk back into the blender adding the remaining ingredients.  Blend on low until mixed.
Pour your finished almond milk into a glass container.  Best when chilled-Will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days.