Just when I think I have gotten a handle on label reading (and I read most labels), I realize how deceiving they can be. Have you ever bought anything that contained “yeast extract” or “soy protein”? I sure have. As a matter of fact I have encouraged my clients to buy the Better Than Bouillon veggie base. It is organic, gluten free, economical and cuts down on the waste of the cardboard containers that stock usually comes in, oh and I bought it at Whole Foods, a seemingly safe zone. Continue reading
Composting is the latest rage- en vogue if you will, kinda like having the urban chicken coop. Some folks I know have been doing it for as long as I can remember, hardly trendy- just plain smart, eco-friendly and easy. My parents (both sets of them) have fabulous composting systems that dubiously feed their prolific gardens year after year. Many of my friends now also have their own systems some of which are simply acting as a decomposition factory for natural waste, not necessarily going back into food production. Some have been hand-fashioned out of wood and chicken wire or old up-cycled city trash bins with the bottoms cut off and some are the fancy version available at hardware stores and on line. Our friends in faraway lands just prefer to dig a big hole in the backyard, dump all the stuff in and hope for the best. Continue reading
Bees pollinate 80% of all flowering crops, which makes up one third of our diet. Without the honey bee, we would have much less food. Bees pollinate dozens of the plants that produce what many Americans eat. From almonds, apricots, avocadoes and beans, to cucumbers, melons, pears, asparagus, zucchini, and the list goes on. Bees also pollinate many of the grasses that feed the animals we eat. These include alfalfa and clover which in turn fuel the beef, poultry, lamb and dairy products industries.
The growing use of insecticides and pesticides for agricultural pest control has created the side effect of killing the bees necessary for maintaining our crops. Such environmental stresses have devastated honeybee populations in the United States beginning in the 1980s. This has made it necessary for farmers to rent bees from keepers in order to get their crops pollinated in order to sustain food production. In recent years commercial honeybee hives have suffered from colony collapse disorder, which has left many bee boxes empty of bees.
What can we do to help save the honey bees?
- Plant nectar plants in your gardens so your local bees have the food they need.
- Reduce the amount of pesticides you use.
- You can support companies that support bee research and breeding programs.
- Go to Save The Honey Bees for more info
- You can go to this FREE screening of The Vanishing of The Bees and learn ALL about it!
One of my favorite go-to “pasta” recipes. It is raw, vegan, full of nutrients and yummy! I think we are all trying to be a bit more carb conscious. Though I am an avid carb lover, I try to pick and choose, white flour pasta is not usually in the list anymore (every once in a while though!). You can make this recipe as is or use the zucchini method for pretty much any sauce, works especially well with a warm sauce as it will wilt the “pasta” just enough. If you are trying to sell it to fussy kids; peel off the dark green part of the zucchini, they will never know what hit em!
The sauce itself is divine just on a spoon!
Zucchini Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce
4 large zucchini, ends trimmed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
a few pinches of dried oregano
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ cups sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1/2 cup raw cashews
4 medium pitted dates
(Place all 3 in a jar together and soak at least 4 hours or overnight)
3 medium cloves garlic
1 ½ cup tomatoes, quartered
A good handful basil leaves
1 Tablespoon lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Makes about 4 servings
Place the zucchini into a bowl with the lemon juice, oil, oregano and garlic and toss well. Set aside to marinate; do not use any salt yet.
Drain the jar of soaked items and then place into a food processor and pulse until well broken down. Add the remaining ingredients for the sauce and blend well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary; may need a bit more lemon juice depending on how sweet the sun dried tomatoes are.
Lightly salt the zucchini and toss well. Pile onto a large platter or plate individually and top with the sauce. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil if desired. Be sure not to salt the zucchini too far in advance as the liquid will drain out and make the “pasta” watery.
Tips & Notes~
Add some capers or chopped green or kalamata olives to the sauce after it’s blended.
This sauce also works well over whole wheat or quinoa pasta or as a pizza sauce.
These tasty treats are always a big hit. They are raw, vegan, gluten free and packed with amazingness. I teach them in classes, do them for parties and keep them in my freezer at all times for a late night treat that satisfies the sweet tooth in a truly healthy way. Once you learn the “formula” you can play around and get creative, so many fun additions to make them unique. They are also wonderful because they travel well, can be left unrefrigerated and give you lots of nutrient rich energy!
1/2 cup of raw cashews
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 cup of desiccated coconut, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup pitted dates (soaked in water to cover for at least 4 hours & drained)
2 Tablespoons chia or ground flax seed (optional)
1/4 cup raw cacao powder, or more if desired
a small pinch Himalayan Salt
Makes about 20 medium balls
Place the nuts in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Add half of coconut and remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended. With your hands roll the mixture into small balls. Roll in remaining coconut and place the balls on a plate and refrigerate until hard. Store for up to a week in the refrigerator or a month in the freezer.
Tips & Notes~
Instead of the coconut, roll the balls in some finely chopped up nuts or some more cocoa powder. For a bright festive green; use pistachios.
You can trade any of the nut portion for other nuts such as walnut, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds or macadamia nuts.
Add some wheatgrass or spirulina powder to pack in the nutrients.
You can also add some finely chopped dried cherries or cranberries to add a sweet tang.
There are some items that you will always find in my pantry…no matter what. These are ingredients that make am appearance in my recipes often and are for the most part pretty easy to find. With a well stocked pantry and a few nice veggies you can always come up with something in a pinch. This will safe guard you from having to go to the store when you have no time or energy to cook and prefer not to order out (good choice). The items listed below however are nonnegotiables in my kitchen and always in stock. They store long term and will make whipping up a quick and nutritious meal a cinch.
~ Organic Plain Almond Milk
~ Soda Stream Bubbly Water
~ Pure Pomegranate Juice
~ Parmesean & Manchego cheese
~ Organic Miso Paste (mellow white and red)
~ Organic Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in oil (save the oil for salad dressing)
~ Organic Jarred Roasted Peppers
~ Kalamata & Green Olives
~ Homemade Vegetable Stock
~ Dijon Mustard Continue reading
This salad was inspired by a dear and talented friend of mine. Ellen Kanner recently released the fabulous book Feeding the Hungry Ghost. This is a woven tale filled with divine vegan recipes and creatively written memoirs that keep you engaged and make your mouth water. I highly recommend reading, it will fill your belly and your soul. Her version of this carrot salad is dee-lish, mine just has a few little twists. Either way you cannot go wrong!
Moroccan Carrot Salad with Miso
1-1/2 pounds of carrots, shredded
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2+ teaspoons smoked paprika
A good pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 Tablespoons sweet white miso paste*
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup raisins, chopped
1 medium bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Salt if needed
Serves 6 to 8
Coarsely shred the carrots in a food processor or with a cheese grater, place in a large bowl and set aside.
In a small pan heat the oil, cumin, paprika, and cayenne over low heat, stirring occasionally until spices darken and the whole thing turns fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in miso and apple cider vinegar and pour over the carrots.
Add the raisins and parsley and stir until the carrots are evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, it may need a touch more salt or vinegar depending on the sweetness of the carrots.
Tips & Notes~
Some toasted nuts or sunflower seeds make a nice addition to this salad.
Get creative and change up the parsley for some mint, basil or dill.
Substituting some of the carrots for raw broccoli that has been chopped finely in a food processor would be dee-lish!
If you do not have miso not to worry, salt and a touch of honey will do just fine.
This porridge is a great alternative to oatmeal. It is gluten free and the most alkaline of all grains. It is also quite versatile, read the “tips & notes” for more ideas. You can use stevia to sweeten it. for more neat info on this wonder herb click here.
Millet Breakfast Porridge
1 cup uncooked millet
2-3 cups almond milk or water**
2 cups of cut fruit of your choice (apples or bananas work well)
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of salt
A few drops of liquid stevia or in the powder form
For the top~
maple syrup or honey to taste (if not using stevia)
toasted pecans, walnuts or almonds
Dried fruit such as cranberries, raisins or chopped dates
Makes about 4 servings
Combine all the ingredients for the porridge together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 25 minutes until millet is cooked and tender. Stir and check occasionally while cooking, adding extra water as needed if you want it to be loose.
Remove from heat and serve with top with about 2 teaspoons coconut oil per serving, a drizzle of maple syrup and with any other desired topping.
Tips & Notes~
**You can cook millet light and fluffy just like rice (basically 1/2 ~ millet/liquid ratio). If you would like it to be a bit more moist and creamy you can increase the liquid accordingly. For a thicker consistency use 2 1/2 cups liquid for the above recipe, for a looser creamier texture use 3 cups liquid.
Millet makes fabulous polenta. Cook with sautéed onions and vegetable stock until thick and creamy, then finish with a strong cheese such as Roquefort or Parmesan to make it extra creamy. Millet polenta can be served hot, or pressed into a pan, cut when cool, then grilled or sautéed.
My sweet tooth is my weakness. I do not use refined sugar in the house much anymore and I try not to imbibe out in the world either (I do cave sometimes of course…naughty). One must find a substitute. Avoiding these little blue, pink or yellow packets, a while back I started using organic stevia from Trader Joe’s. It is an acquired taste but I am used to it now and I love it. It also has many healing properties beyond a sugar substitute, read on!
It works well in some baking applications and especially well in this millet porridge, puddings, shakes etc. I add a bit to my green juice so it doesn’t taste so grassy. You can also use half and half so in Anthony’s coffee I sneak in a bit in place of the sugar he will not give up. When we lived in Peru we used to buy it in the leaf form but I had never seen it here….until now.
Enter Teena’s Pride a sustainable and impressive farming operation in the Redlands. This family farm produces some of the most beautiful and delicious vegetables and herbs that we have the pleasure of eating in South Florida….and they now grow STEVIA! I highly recommend checking them out and joining their CSA (community supported agriculture) program and get a weekly box of the most beautiful produce for your cooking pleasure.
Please read below for the article that Teena’s sent out this week announcing this new wonder herb. So excited to be able to get it fresh, thank you Teena!
Also known as sweet leaf and sugar leaf and is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar!
Stevia is used as a dietary supplement and sugar substitute. It has no calories, no carbohydrates, and a zero glycemic index which makes it a great natural alternative to sugar and chemical sweeteners. It also has many medicinal properties such as aiding digestion and lowering blood sugar levels.
The best way to get the most out of stevia is to dry the leaves and make your own powder. A home dehydrator can also be used, although sun drying in about 12 hours is the preferred method.
You can crush the dried leaves by hand using a mortar and pestle or using a coffee grinder. You can use the stevia in this powdered form, adjusting the amount you use to achieve the desired degree of sweetness
You can also make your own stevia simple syrup by adding a cup of warm water to 1/4 cup of fresh, finely-crushed stevia leaves. This mixture should set for 24 hours and then be refrigerated. It works perfectly for sweetening beverages.
Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Stevia:
- No Harmful Side Effects – Stevia does not have any of the negative side effects that have been associated with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
- Diabetes – Stevia is nurturing to the pancreas. It can be used by diabetics as a sweetener and also as a method for controlling blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that Stevia actually helps to regulate blood glucose levels in people with diabetes and hypoglycemia.
- Hypertension – Studies have shown that Stevia lowers high blood pressure and does not affect regular blood pressure.
- Teeth and Gums – Stevia will not cause cavities and actually helps to prevent them. It has antibacterial properties, inhibiting the growth of bacteria and other infectious organisms. Some manufacturers are adding Stevia to toothpaste and mouthwash.
- Skin Care – Stevia can be applied to the skin to treat acne and other skin ailments. It has also been shown to protect against premature aging. A few drops of liquid Stevia extract can be placed directly in a cut to help quicken healing.
- Digestion – Stevia has been shown to aid with digestion and soothe upset stomach.
- Weight Loss – Stevia does not have any calories nor carbohydrates which makes it excellent as a weight-loss aid. Some reports suggest that Stevia can help to minimize the sensations of hunger and cravings for sweets or fatty foods.
These cookies are fast, healthy and divine. They are protein and nutrient dense and gluten, dairy and sugar free…. what could be better!
Gluten Free Coconut Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup organic peanut butter (no sugar added, creamy or crunchy)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
⅔ cup honey
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup coconut flour
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
Pinch of salt
Coconut sugar for dipping
Makes 2 dozen
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare cookie sheets with either parchment paper or silicone bake mats.
Combine the coconut oil and peanut butter and honey in a small pot and heat gently until melted and well blended. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.
Mix the coconut flour, coconut flakes, baking soda and salt and set aside.
Mix the peanut butter mixture until creamy, either with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well. Add the vanilla and mix again. Add in the flour and mix until just combined. The dough will be sticky.
Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, scoop out a heaping tablespoon amount and roll into 2 inch balls and dip one side into coconut sugar. Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and press crosswise gently with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Remove from oven and cool.