Thursday, December 20, 2012

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Nuts

The holidays always bring an abundance of parties, dinners, and festivities. When you’re planning to host a party it so nice to prepare as many things as possible in advance. These Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Nuts can be made the day before and they are super quick, inexpensive and easy to make. If you’re not a fan of Moroccan spices, you can also easily use whatever flavors you prefer instead.

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a legume and a great source of protein, fiber, zinc and folate. Oh, and I’ll add that they are also low in fat. They can be made into hummus, added to grains and veggies, packed into falafel or in this case, eaten as crunchy little nuts.

* I suggest using two cans right off the bat because they shrink in size and are super addicting!

2 cans of organic chickpeas (or garbanzo beans)
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Moroccan Spice Mix:
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of coriander
½ teaspoon of chili powder
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain the garbanzo beans in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Let them sit in the sink to drain to about 5-10 minutes. If they still look slightly wet, transfer to a few sheets of paper towel and pat to dry. (If you’re feeling motivated, you can slip them out of their little skins).

While the chickpeas are draining, make the spice mix. Please note, you will have more than enough for this recipe so place the remaining mixture into a tightly sealed container for future use.

Next toss the chickpeas, olive oil, and spice mix (use your personal judgment) together. When the beans are evenly coated, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Roast for 35-45 minutes (or until golden brown and crunchy), stirring and rotating every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. These can be served warm or cool. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (a.k.a Nutella)

I could eat Nutella on almost anything. It is smooth, creamy, delicious and…oh yeah, I almost forgot, highly addictive and far from healthy.  I have seen numerous healthier-at home versions of Nutella and thought I’d share my take on the recipe. While this chocolate hazelnut spread is delicious, it is NOT Nutella. So, please don’t make this expecting the same results. This recipe uses 70% (or greater) dark cacao chips, dairy-free milk, and a fraction of the sweetener (notice I did not say sugar J).  In addition, I have eliminated all processed, refined, and artificial ingredients. Oh yeah, this is the real deal!

What I love even more about this chocolate hazelnut spread is the fact that it makes a fantastic DIY Christmas gift! I packaged it in cute little mason jars, tied with a twine bow and a homemade gift tag. Love!

One suggestion I have is to soak the hazelnuts overnight, let them dry and then continue with roasting in the oven. I did not do this but think it may give you an even creamier consistency.

2 cups of raw unsalted hazelnuts (sometimes called filberts)
1 cup of coconut milk (almond, hazelnut or evaporated would also work)
1 cup of dark cacao chips (70% or greater)
¼ cup maple syrup (add more if you prefer it sweeter)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted (hazelnut oil would also work)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a single layer, spread the whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 8-10 minutes, until slightly fragrant and skin is cracking. Remove from oven and let cool.

Once the hazelnuts have cooled, place them on a kitchen towel and begin to rub the nuts together to remove the skin. Don’t worry if there are a few stubborn skins that won’t come off.

Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and begin to pulse and grind until you have something that resembles nut butter.

Mean while, heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Slowly add the dark cacao chips and stir until you have a smooth, creamy chocolate sauce.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the food processor, along with the other ingredients, and continue to process until you have a lovely chocolate hazelnut spread. Mmmm good!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Last February, a dear friend of mine gave me Heidi Swanson’s “Super Natural Every Day” recipe book for my birthday. Though I’ve tried quite a few of the recipes, there is one specific recipe that I have been waiting to try – baked oatmeal. I knew the recipe would make too much for just my fiancé and I so I have been waiting for the right opportunity to test it out. Last weekend, three of my girlfriends made the drive up to LA to check out our new digs. They spent the night, which means I finally had enough people at my house for breakfast! There was no contemplating what to make – Baked Oatmeal it was!

I did make a few changes to the recipe due to dietary restrictions and personal likes and dislikes, but overall, it was a hit! I love that based on the season this dish can vary so much. For example, in the spring you could toss in raspberries and coconut and cinnamon and apples in the fall. Oh yum! It is super easy to whip up and easily serves 6 people. I actually served it with a side of fresh fruit and everyone’s belly was happy J.

Did you know that blueberries rank only second to strawberries in popularity of berries? As they should! Not only are they delicious but also full of antioxidants and phytonutrients. In fact, blueberries contain more antioxidants than most fruits, vegetables and spices. Why are antioxidants important? They protect our bodies, cells and DNA from the damages caused by free radicals and have been shown to improve memory. Blueberries also have a lower glycemic index (GI), a way of identifying the impact a food has on our blood sugar level once we've consumed and digested it. Basically if you’re not eating blueberries – you should! J

2 cups of rolled oats (not quick-cooking oats)
1/2 cup of raw sliced almonds (substitute any nut here based on preference)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon
A dash of sea salt
2 cups of unsweetened almond milk (soy milk, coconut milk, or dairy milk)
1/3 cup of pure organic maple syrup
1 large egg
3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Melted coconut oil or butter)
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla
1 ½ cups of blueberries (or other fruit)
2 ripe bananas cut into small slices (I left these out)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease or spray the inside of an 8-inch square pan or baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the almond milk, maple syrup, egg, EVOO and the vanilla.

If using bananas, arrange them in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle 2/3 of the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the oats. Slightly jiggle the baking dish so the liquid seeps through the oats evenly. Scatter the remaining berries over the top.

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, until the top is nicely golden brown and the oat mixture has set (no more jiggling). Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

* Drizzle with more maple syrup if you want it a tad sweeter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spicy Arrabiata Sauce

I LOVE pasta! In fact, I love all pasta! Ravioli, spaghetti, lasagna, manicotti, and gnocchi – the list goes on. What I don’t love is paying for pasta because it is one of the easiest and most inexpensive dishes to make at home. Sure, there is the wonderful ambiance of an Italian restaurant: the wine, low lighting and candles, the music, intimate seating, and of course there is the amazing smell of garlic! Well folks, I have good news for you! You can easily recreate this atmosphere in your very own home! AND…since you are in the privacy of your own home, you can even spice the romance up a notch J.

This arrabiata sauce is thick, spicy and oh so delicious! I always like to hide extra veggies when I can, so I’ve tossed in some chopped carrots and celery. Feel free to leave these ingredients out if you’d like. However, you cannot leave out the fresh tomatoes, handful of basil, and garlic. The fresher the ingredients – the better!

Once you taste this sauce and realize how easy it is to make, I can promise that you’ll never buy a jar of sauce again!

Most of us probably think of basil as an herb and nothing more but basil actually has unique health-properties that are very beneficial. The two main areas are basil’s flavonoids and volatile oils. The flavonoids in basil actually provide protection at a cellular level. They protect the cells and chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. The volatile oils on the other hand possess anti-bacterial properties and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show that when produce is washed in a solution containing either basil or thyme oil that the number of infectious bacteria (that causes diarrhea) is reduced. So the next time you make a big salad, whip up basil vinaigrette to ensure the produce you’re about to eat is safe.

2 pounds of ripe tomatoes
½ of an onion, chopped
½ cup of diced carrots
½ cup of diced celery
Chopped basil, (I used a good handful)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the whole tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for just a couple of minutes, or until the skin starts to crack. Transfer them to a colander and gently remove the skin. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

In a saucepan sauté the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery for approximately 5 minutes.

Next, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes until thickened. Serve over your favorite pasta or spaghetti squash (or a healthier, lighter twist!). Bon Appetito!

* If you prefer your sauce less chunky, transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender for a few seconds and voila!

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Untraditional Shepherds Pie

Sometimes when it’s cold outside I just want to warm up with some homemade comfort food. Bust usually comfort food equals butter, cream, carbs, cheese, sodium and fat! How about a comfort food dish that is healthy?! Now you might be thinking that this isn’t possible but it is! I’ve created a “healthy” version of Shepherds Pie and it is absolutely delicious! I came across a couple of different vegan shepherds pie recipes and combined bits and pieces of them to come up with this awesome creation! Oh and for those of you who receive my To Be Nourished Monthly Newsletter, this recipe features the Sweet Potato Parsnip Mash that was published last week! Yum!

How you ever had lentils? Lentils are legumes but much easier and quicker to prepare than other dried beans. Generally you can whip up a batch of lentils in 30 minutes. They come in many different colors and are often sold split in halves. Lentils are an excellent source of protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber. In addition, they contain significant amounts of folate, magnesium and iron. This means that lentils are heart-healthy and excellent for energy!

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
4 medium-large parsnips, peeled and chopped into cubes
½ cup of almond milk (may require more based on your preference)
1 ½ cups of dried lentils
1 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic gloves, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
6 oz. of cremini mushrooms, sliced (button or baby bella would also work)
1 bag of fresh organic baby spinach
3 ½ cups of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of EVOO
2 tablespoons of dry red wine
2 tablespoons of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (soy sauce or tamari would also work)
2 tablespoons of Ghee (or butter)
2 tablespoons of arrowroot or cornstarch
1 teaspoon of rosemary
½ teaspoon of thyme
¼ teaspoon of sage
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Place the cubed parsnips and potatoes in a large stockpot of cold water. Salt the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain and return the vegetables back to the pot or a high-speed blender. Add the almond milk, Ghee, salt and pepper to taste and blend or mash until smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.

While the potatoes and parsnips are cooking, bring 1 ½ cups of lentils and 3 cups of vegetable stock to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Approximately 30 minutes. Set lentils aside.

Drizzle the EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and golden. Add the celery and cook until tender. Next add the mushrooms and continue to cook until tender. Add the lentils, spinach, herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage) and remaining ½ cup of vegetable stock, red wine, and Bragg’s. Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally.

Now combine the arrowroot or cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Add it to the mixture to thicken the sauce.  It should become a gravy-like consistency. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the lentil mixture in a round oven safe dish and delicately top with sweet potato/parsnip mash. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the top of the mash starts to brown.

Scoop and serve!

*Option to add a fresh rosemary spring as a garnish.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Oh my goodness! The last couple of months have been a complete whirlwind. I apologize that the posts have been few and far between; that is all about to change. Two weeks ago, my fiancé and I left our sunny San Diego beach cottage for a (much larger) bungalow in the Greater LA area. On top of that, I left my full-time corporate career to follow my dreams of being a full-time Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor, Yoga Instructor, Food Blogger and Business Owner!!! Ahh! Someone pinch me! 

I have finally had the time to get back in the kitchen to create fun, fabulous food! And…since pumpkins will only be around for another two weeks, I must take full advantage of their deliciousness. This Spiced Pumpkin Soup is smooth and creamy and complemented by warm flavors of cardamom and coriander.  Its rich decadence will leave your taste buds begging for more!

Pumpkins are a great source of fiber and are actually rather low in calories. This vegetable contains 3 grams of fiber per 1 cup of pumpkin and 49 calories - which means that this beauty keeps you feeling full longer and fewer calories! It is also chock full of antioxidants and a vitamin powerhouse. Pumpkin is great for healthy vision and healthy skin. The carotenoids are sure to give you a beautiful glow, and may I add, anti-aging properties.

If you choose to roast and eat the seeds, which I highly suggest (they charge $16.99/pound for pumpkin seeds at Whole Foods), then you can also count on the benefits of phytosterols, shown to reduce LDL levels “bad cholesterol.” The moral of the story is…eat pumpkin!

*This recipe makes 4 small cups of soup or two large bowls.

2 medium sugar pie (baking) pumpkins
2 tablespoons of EVOO (plus a little extra if you’re going to roast the seeds)
1- 14 oz. can of coconut milk (I used full-fat; cream would also work)
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon of coriander
1 teaspoon of cardamom
½ teaspoon of sage
Sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut both pumpkins in half. Scoop out the flesh and seeds and set aside for later use. Drizzle the fleshy part of the pumpkins with EVOO, place cut side down on a parchment-lined pan and roast for approximately 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle.

While the pumpkins are roasting, sort through the pumpkin seeds separating the stringy pumpkin from the seeds. Rinse the seeds and place them in a small bowl. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with sea salt. Spread them evenly on a pan and roast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin* and transfer to a blender (I used my Vitamix) or large food processor. Add the coconut milk, maple syrup, all remaining spices and puree! The soup should be thick and creamy. If you’re not going to eat it right away, or if you like your soup piping hot, place it in a saucepan over low heat until desired temperature is reached.

*Serve the soup in the leftover pumpkin half’s or small bowls. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds and enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lemon Coconut Tart Truffles

One of my dear friends, Megan (check out her blog here!), sent me a link to these tasty treats a couple of weeks ago. She said they were so good that they fall into her top 5. You see, my friend and I, we are very similar in many ways…especially when it comes to our appreciation for good food! Therefore, it only made sense to give them a fair try. Let me tell you – they were wonderful! In fact they were so scrumptious, that they were blog-worthy.

These little lemon tart treats contain to wheat, dairy, or sugar! You can whip them up in less than 20 minutes AND they look so feminine and beautiful! These would look fantastic in a little box wrapped up with a yellow bow. Think thank-you gift or birthday gift.

Hope you enjoy them!


1 cup of chopped and pitted Medjool dates
1 cup of raw walnuts
1 cup of sesame seeds
¼ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons of lemon zest
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (finely shredded)


Place the sesame seeds and walnuts into a high-speed blender or food processor. Pulse until you have a flour-like consistency.

Add the lemon juice, zest and dates. Pulse again until the ingredients are completely mixed. The mixture will be thick and sticky.

Roll the dough into one-inch balls and place on parchment or waxed paper.

Sprinkle the coconut flakes onto a plate. Roll each ball through the flakes until they are fully coated. Place them back on the parchment paper and chill until ready to serve.

Eat up!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chilled Minted Pea Soup

I shared this recipe in my newsletter last month; however, this soup is so tasty that I wanted to make sure that all my readers could try it out! This recipe is wonderful served chilled but I have a hunch that it would be equally delicious served hot.

Most of us don’t think of peas as an exotic food – but the nutrient composition should convince us otherwise. Peas contain a rare phytonutrient called coumestrol. This polyphenol has been shown to lower the risk of stomach cancer while providing us with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Green peas also belong to a category of crops called “nitrogen fixing” crops. With the help of the bacteria in the soil, peas and other legumes can take nitrogen gas from the air and convert into more usable forms. The fact that this crop is environmentally friendly, nutritious, and delicious makes it a winner in my eyes!

2 ½ cups of sweet or English peas (fresh or frozen will work)
2 ½ cups of organic vegetable stock
1 cup of mint leaves (plus a few extra leaves for garnishing)
4-5 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of Ghee (clarified butter) or EVOO
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Sea salt

Heat the Ghee, or EVOO, in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the green onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes.

Next add the mint and peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the stock to the saucepan and bring to a low boil for 10 minutes. Add cayenne pepper and salt to taste.

Puree the mixture using a high-speed blender, immersion blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to come to room temperature or place in the fridge.

Once the soup is cool, add the Greek yogurt and stir until well mixed. Serve chilled with a fresh mint leaf on top. Enjoy!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Chai Truffles

I am a member of the Slow Food Urban San Diego Food Justice Committee. As a committee we try to meet once per month to discuss projects we’re working on, what the community could use our help with, upcoming events and of course food! Each member generally brings a treat, beverage or dish to pass. These meetings are always a great excuse to spend time whipping up something new and exciting in the kitchen. Last week I made these delicious chocolate coconut chai truffles and they were (not to toot my own horn J) Ah-MAZING!

16 oz of organic dark chocolate chips, chopped (70% or darker)
1 cup of coconut milk (full fat not light)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 teaspoon of cloves
½ teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more if you would like them spicier)
2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut
Small muffin wrappers

Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a double boiler. Have the chocolate in the top part of the double boiler, but not over the heat yet.

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a boil and then pour it over your chopped chocolate. Using a wooden spoon, stir the chocolate mixture and then set it over the heat. Continue stirring until the chocolate has melted completely and has a smooth creamy texture. 

Add the vanilla and spices and stir again until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until cool enough to handle. This will take approximately two - three hours.

Rolling Truffles:
Time to get your hands dirty!

First, pour some of the coconut on a large piece of parchment paper. Make sure to allow yourself plenty of space to roll the truffles through the coconut.

Now that your truffle mixture has cooled, and is firm enough to handle, grab yourself a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. The goal is to make one-inch, spherical truffle balls - working as quickly as possible. The warmth of your hands will melt the chocolate making this a rather messy, but FUN, process.

Once you have created your spherical truffle, roll it through the coconut, and then place it on the lined cookie sheet. Keep rolling until all of your chocolate mixture is gone.

What’s next?! Lick your hands! You wouldn’t want to waste all of that delicious chocolate!

Place the truffles in the refrigerator for approximately thirty minutes…or until they firm up again. Once you can handle them, transfer them to individual muffin/truffle cups. Store in a sealed container.

These truffles will keep in the refrigerator for approximately two weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.

* This recipe makes approximately 24 truffles.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stuffed Balsamic Portabella Mushrooms

The other night my fiancé had to work late. When he works late, that means I get to cook, create, and eat anything that I want! Since he despises mushrooms and figs I decided to enjoy this one without him :)

You see, I absolutely LOVE figs! They can be added to sweet and savory dishes. They are wonderful fresh and dried, warm and cold. Figs are just tasty no matter what you do with them. I actually just read an article about figs and one man's mission to save unusual figs. Did you know that there are more than 100 varieties of Figs?! Check them out here.

* This recipe is for two servings

2 large Portabella mushrooms
2 cups of fresh baby spinach
½ cup of quinoa
¼ cup of raw whole hazelnuts
5 black mission figs cut into small pieces (fresh – if you can get your hands on them)
¾ cup of water or stock
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (approximately 1 ½ tablespoons per shroom)
2 tablespoons of EVOO + a little extra
Sea salt

Remove the stem from the Portabella mushrooms and place them on a large plate. Drizzle with EVOO and the balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle the mushrooms with sea salt and let them rest so the balsamic can seep into the mushrooms.

Start the grill. Once it gets nice and hot, place the portabellas on the grill, top-side down. Let them cook for approximately 5 minutes. Using a tongs, flip the mushrooms and let them cook for an additional 5-10 minutes – or until tender and “meaty.”

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa, cover, and simmer for approximately 15 minutes, or until no water remains and the quinoa is tender but slightly crunchy.

Add the hazelnuts to a hot skillet and toast them for approximately 3 minutes. They should start to smell “nutty.” Transfer the hazelnuts to a small dish and set aside.

Place the spinach in the hot skillet (that you just used for the hazelnuts), drizzle with EVOO, stir and cook until spinach is slightly wilted. Spinach wilts quickly so try not to overcook it.

Add the spinach to the quinoa and stir.

Place the portabella mushrooms on two separate plates. Spoon the quinoa and spinach over the mushrooms and then top with figs and hazelnuts. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Farmer's Market Salad

There is a new restaurant in town called True Food Kitchen and the menu was created based on Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet. I have been to the restaurant twice and both times had to wait 20-30 minutes. It fills every cell in my body with joy to know that a “healthy” restaurant is in such demand! We are moving in the right direction folks!

The menu is filled with delicious salads, grains, wild-caught fish and organic grass-fed beef. Additionally, the kitchen uses seasonal ingredients so the menu is bound to change frequently. The first time I dined at True Food Kitchen I enjoyed the farmer’s market salad. The second time I dined at True Food Kitchen I ordered the Farmer’s Market Salad again because I fell in love with it the first time! Next time I will try something new. For now, I will share this magnificent salad with you (that I whipped up in my own kitchen).

* Note, this recipe makes enough for 4 entrée sized salads (or 4 smaller side salads)

Salad Ingredients:
½ bunch of chopped romaine
½ bunch of chopped lacinato Kale (massaged with a drizzle of EVOO and sea salt to tenderize the leaves)
½ cup of cold yellow corn
½ cup of cold sweet green or English peas
½ cup of sliced artichoke hearts
¼ cup of fresh mint, julienned (click here for health benefits)

Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients:
*Makes about ¾ cup of dressing
½ cup of EVOO
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon of minced shallot
1 ½ teaspoons of whole Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of raw organic honey

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the Vinaigrette and set aside.

Add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl. Top with ¼ of the vinaigrette and toss. Continue to add dressing based on your preference and toss. (True Food Kitchen serves this salad with little squares of Manchego cheese. Feel free to add the cheese if you eat dairy). Dish up and serve!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lemon Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

Do you ever feel like there are flavors that are just meant to go together? Chocolate and caramel, tomato and basil, watermelon and mint, AND lemon and raspberry. After a wonderful, carefree day like today – this seemed even more obvious.

Yesterday was the kind of day that everything seemed perfect. The weather was absolutely amazing - perfectly sunny, 72 degrees, birds chirping, and a gentle breeze. It was the kind of day where you lay a blanket down in the grass, grab your favorite book, and enjoy nature’s beauty and all it has to offer.

After some much needed, and well deserved, vitamin-D I headed off to my favorite neighborhood food cooperative. The fresh, organic berries looked outstanding! Once the raspberries made it in my basket, my mind instantly moved to the ripe lemons growing in my backyard. Lemon and raspberry – a match made in heaven J. The question was what would I do with this lovely pair?  Muffins, smoothie, ice cream? The answer…lemon raspberry frozen yogurt! The best part? No ice cream maker needed! :)

* Serves 6-8 (depending on serving size)

1 – 12 oz. package of soft Silken Tofu
1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt (option to substitute cultured almond or coconut milk)
Zest from one large lemon
Juice from one large lemon
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3/4 cup of raw honey (or sweetener of your choice)
2 – 8 oz. packages of organic raspberries (for nutrition facts, click here)
¼ cup of water (option to use lemon juice or orange juice instead)

Add the silken tofu, Greek yogurt, lemon juice and zest, vanilla, and ½ cup of honey to a blender and mix until silky and smooth. Pour the frozen yogurt mixture into a large glass bowl and set aside.

Next place one package of raspberries, water and ¼ cup of honey into a small saucepan. Muddle or mash the raspberries until it resembles sauce or jam. Over low heat, simmer the raspberry mixture until it thickens and the water evaporates. Remove from heat.
Using a spoon, transfer small amounts of the raspberry sauce and swirl it through the frozen yogurt. You will begin to create pretty pink ribbons. Continue this fun artistic project until the entire saucepan of raspberry sauce is gone. Place the mixture in the freezer until frozen. I would estimate that it took approximately five hours for a soft-serve consistency. At this point we indulged.

 Top with a couple of fresh whole raspberries and a slice of lemon. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Raw Zucchini and Summer Squash Salad with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette

Summer is so wonderful! The days are warm and long. The food is light and fresh. But I do find that I have so many more obligations during the summer, which makes it a little more difficult to sit down at the computer. I am sure you find yourselves in the same predicament. With that in mind, I have decided that my posts from now until the end of summer (Labor Day) will be short and sweet. Still fresh, fabulous and nutritious – but they may contain a little less content. Think picture and recipe.

Todays post is a raw and delicious zucchini and summer squash salad with a lemon-dill vinaigrette. These photos have been waiting to find their place on my blog!!

2 medium/large zucchini
2 yellow summer squash
3 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill
Zest from 1 large lemon
Juice from 1 large lemon
¼ cup of EVOO
1 teaspoon honey
Sea Salt

Using a spiralizer or a vegetable peeler, peel the zucchini and summer squash into long ribbons and place in a large bowl.

Whisk the lemon zest, juice, EVOO, honey and salt in a small bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetable ribbons and top with dill.

Mix well and serve cold. Light, fresh, and delish!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rainbow Kale Salad

Have you ever been to a potluck and passed by a dish that looked like a hot mess? Everyone is raving about this salad (or whatever it happens to be) but you can’t convince yourself to eat it because it looks awful? Maybe it happens in your very own kitchen. I have definitely whipped up a few things that taste great but look terrible. In fact, I even told my fiancé that something is not “blog worthy” because it does not look pretty J.

The reality is, when it comes to food - both sight and smell wins! If you cannot get passed the way something looks or smells, it is highly unlikely that it will make it into your mouth.

We were invited to a BBQ on the Fourth of July and asked to bring a dish to pass. I decided on a cold salad – something colorful! This is what I whipped up and it was yummy!

1 large bunch of Lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale, washed, de-ribbed and julienned
2 cups of shredded carrots
½ purple cabbage, chopped into ribbons
1 large red bell pepper, sliced thinly
2 cans of mandarin oranges, drained
½ cup of sunflower seeds
¼ cup whole Dijon mustard
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Zest from one orange
¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (juice from 1 large orange)
1 tablespoon of flax oil
2 tablespoon of EVOO
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
Sea salt

Place the kale in a large mixing bowl and add the apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of EVOO, and a dash or two of sea salt. Begin to massage the kale with your hands until it starts to wilt slightly. This process helps tenderize the leaves. Allow the kale to rest for approximately ten minutes.

Chop up all the remaining veggies and set aside.

Combine mustard, balsamic vinegar, orange zest and juice, flax oil, and EVOO. Whisk until well mixed.

Transfer the chopped veggies to the bowl containing the kale. Pour the dressing over the top, mix it together and top with sunflower seeds. Serve cold and enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Black Bean Chocolate Chili Cherry Cookies

I try to stay away from refined flours, sugars and processed foods for three reasons, 1) they do not nourish our bod or our health 2) they negatively impact the environment (think packaging and fuel) and 3) the real deal (unprocessed, whole-foods) is so much better! But…what’s a girl to do when she cannot deny her craving for fresh baked cookies?!

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I came across this amazing chocolate cookie recipe made with black beans! I know, black bean cookies don’t sound nearly as appealing as chocolate chip or snickerdoodle but I promise that no one will ever know they are loaded with beans. They look like regular cookies, smell just as amazing as regular cookies and even have a fudgy consistency (if you take them out a minute or two early like I doJ).

These cookies are gluten, dairy, and sugar free! Plus, they are filled with black beans, which means you are getting a boost of protein too! I just can’t think of anything better! The dough is really easy to whip up and by changing the spices and added ingredients you can easily recreate the recipe. I like the recipe as is but tried a batch with coconut and chopped almonds instead of chili powder and cherries to make an “Almond Joy.” Have fun and enjoy!


Black Bean Chocolate Chili Cherry Cookies
1.5-2 cups cooked black beans, very soft (or one 19 oz can, drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (no need to melt)
1/3 cup organic cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt, more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla (I scraped the inside of a vanilla bean instead)
1/3 cup organic maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
2 tablespoons of chia seeds (ground flax seeds OR two eggs)
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (80% or higher)
1/3 cup of dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Black Bean Almond Joy Cookies
1/3 cup of shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/3 cup of chopped raw almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
* Use the above recipe but substitute the coconut, almonds and almond extract for the vanilla, dried cherries, and cayenne pepper.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a baking stone.

Mix chia seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside (skip this step if you’re using eggs).
Place drained and well-rinsed beans, coconut oil, cocoa, salt and spices (depending on your variation) in a food processor and blend until well combined.

Add the liquid ingredients and pulse to incorporate. The batter will be quite liquid-y, but still hold together.  Remove blade from the food processor and add chopped chocolate and dried cherries (if using). Fold to incorporate.

Spoon cookie batter onto lined baking sheet. Using the back of the spoon, flatten top of cookies slightly, as they will not spread when baking.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt (important!). Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Cool and EAT! Store in the fridge.