Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Another year is upon us! 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days and billions and billions of moments are left behind.
Each moment passes so quickly.

As I reflect upon 2009 and look forward 2010, I'm overwhelmed with how grateful I am to be here at this very moment.
Even in the bleakest of times, we all have something to be thankful for.
I am thankful and most grateful for love. I have it in abundance.
We all do, but in harder times, it's more difficult to see it.

The love I've given and received is what carries me on to 2010.

Please share with me your thoughts on the New Year. What are you most grateful for and what are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookie Exchange

Every year for the past 3 years, we have had a cookie exchange at work.
I try to come up with a new vegan cookie each time. This time, I was so buisy working on other projects that I neglected working on a a recipe until the night before!
I decided to do a different spin on a chocolate vegan cookie I usually make and raid my spice cabinet for a chai spice cookie.
Here's what I came up with.

Chocolate Almond Cookies
(makes about 4 dozen)

4c unbleached flour
1c cocoa powder
2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1 1/2c coconut oil
2c vegan sugar or sucanat
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/2tsp almond extract
4tbs ground flax seeds
1c almond milk
whole raw almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix together first 4 ingredients
Cream together remaining ingredients, except almonds
Mix dry into wet ingredients until well combined
Roll into balls, flatten and put 1 almond in the middle of each
Bake for about 6 minutes

Chai Spice and Coconut Cookies
(makes about 3 dozen)

2 1/2c unbleached flour
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp cardamom
1/4tsp ground ginger
1/4tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp ground cloves
1tsp baking soda
2/3c coconut oil
3/4c coconut powder
(be sure to purchase the kind without casein, for a pure vegan cookie)
1/2c almond milk
1c vegan sugar
4tbs corn starch
1/2c shredded coconut

Mix together first 7 ingredients
Cream together next 5 ingredients
Mix dry into wet ingredients until well combined
Roll into balls, flatten and sprinkle with coconut
Bake for about 6 minutes

Soy Aromatherapy Candles

The holidays are well upon us and I wanted to put together something useful with a homemade touch for family and friends. With baby on the way, frugality is of the utmost importance, so I decided to use what I already have. I allowed myself a couple of outside supplies. I had been holding on to some fruit jars for awhile and decided to put them to use. Looking at them gave me the idea to do a citrus aromatherapy candle.
I made these in the microwave, but you can use a stove top as well.

soy wax
essential oils- I used sweet orange, lemongrass and grapefruit.
wax dye
wicks and wick tabs

*Before I start melting my wax, I position my wicks into my jars and hold them into place with chop sticks. They sell wick holders, but you can also use whatever you have on hand.
*I also make sure that my jars are clean, dry and warm. This makes for a more uniform look to the outside of the candle.

Melt wax according to specifications. Some need to be heated in a double boiler an some are o.k for the microwave.
Remove from heat and add essential oils.
Next add dye if you are using it.
Mix with a whisk very well to incorporate oils and dye.
Pour into jars.
Let the candles cool and cure for at least 24 hours.
Trim your wicks to about 1/4 of an inch.
Approximately 5c of wax chips melts ino 20oz of liquid wax
For every 40oz of wax I melt, I use 50 drops of essential oils and 3 drops of dye.
For a stronger scent and color, use more EO's and dye.

After letting the candle cure for a couple of days, I tied a recipe card around the neck using ribbon and lace. I combined these candles with my homemade granola to make holiday gifts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Granola, a great holiday gift.

A friend gave me a case of Kerr canning jars about a month ago.
I originally planned on using them for jams and jellies, but they were too big for that. Then, I thought about making those "cake in a jar" mixes, but I wasn't too sure my friends and fam would put those to good use. So, I decided to go with something they could just pop the top on and eat up!

Granola, a tasty treat for anytime of day. They could eat as is, use for cereal, sprinkle on yogurt...

2c oats
1/2c toasted wheat berries
1c seeds and nuts- I used flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pecans
1c dried fruit- I used apples and cranberries
1/4c brown sugar
1/4c coconut oil
2tbl honey
2tbl strawberry preserves
1/4tsp sea salt
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/2tsp almond extract

Combine 1st 4 ingredients in a large bowl
Melt sugar, honey and preserves together in sauce pan. Once it comes to a boil, remove from heat and add oil until well combined.
Add salt and extracts, then pour over dry mixture.
Pour mix onto baking sheet covered with foil.
Bake in a preheated 350degree oven until toasty.
Let sit until completely cool.

To make it pretty, I wrote out a recipe card and tied it around the jar with some lace.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spring Rolls

So fresh, so easy and so versatile.

bean sprouts
shredded carrots
diced cucumber
spring mix or other salad greens
collard leaves
rice paper

(sometimes I add a little peanut butter or sesame oil to the sauce)
3tbl white miso
1/2tsp ginger
juice of 1 small lime
1tbl apple cider vinegar
1tbl soy sauce or nama shoyu
1 clove garlic
a dash sirachi or other chili sauce
water for thinning

To prepare sauce, mince garlic and mix with all other ingredients in a bowl.
Use water to thin out to desired consistency.

Be creative and try out different fillings and find out what you like. I've tried a number of things and these happen to be my fav.

To make assembly easier for myself, I wash and prepare all my veggies including the collards and store in a container in the fridge. I prep enough to last me for a few days. Right now I'm eating these at least every other day to help with my vitamin intake and of course because they're so delicious

Soak rice paper according to directions on your package.Layer a collard leaf on top of the paperPile up your veggies generouslyYou can either pour some sauce on the inside or just have some on the side for dipping. I like alot of sauce, so I do both.Roll it up nice and tight, tucking in the sides. Just like you would for a burrito. The rice paper keeps everything together in a neat package.If your not using rice paper, just make sure you have nice sized collard leaves to contain everything.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Golden Ave. Organic Outpost

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Stock up on body butters to protect you and the ones you love from the cold Winter months.

Shop natural, Shop Responsible!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Protein Packed Green Smoothies

Most mornings I start my day off with a green smoothie, green juice, fruit, dry cereal or nuts. Not all at once! It's usually 1 to 3 of these.

When I became pregnant and morning sickness hit me, green smoothies were no longer my friend. I could not fathom drinking them any longer. Just the thought alone took me to places I didn't want to go! How odd to me that something I've had almost everyday for the past couple of years was no on the up-chuck list. I've since learned that this is the way with pregnancy, sometimes your body feels as if it's not your own.

After a couple of weeks of sickness, I was determined to get back on the smoothie train. My body needed protein and iron even more now than ever and I wasn't eating much of it, so this was a must for me.

I started off slow and eventually worked my way back into my smoothie/juice routine. After overcoming that first hurdle, this has been a staple of mine throughout the day. If you've ever been pregnant you know that though nutrition is key, your bodies changes along with wants and desires sometimes don't match up. Having a variety of different smoothies and juices each day helps me know that my baby and I are getting all the nutrients I need and it keeps me fueled throughout the day.

Some days, I just don't feel like even getting all my ingredients together to make a smoothie, so I've made the process easier for myself. Here's a couple tips that may help you through those low energy mornings.

-Make sure that all fruits and veggies are washed and ready to go
-Precut any produce that you can, so you can just grab it and toss in the blender
-I blend up my greens and liquid 3 days in advance and freeze in an ice tray. I then pop them out and put in a freezer safe container

Try a variety of combinations. I just go with how I'm feeling that day along with what was available at the farmers market that week. The list of possibilities is endless!

Basic Smoothie
1 cup ice
1 cup fruit
*2 handfuls of greens (kale, spinach, dandelion, etc)
**protein powder
1 cup liquid (nut milks, water, juice)

Add agave, honey or your fav sweetner, if your smoothie isn't as sweet as you like.
Sometimes, I also add maca powder and/or flax seed oil.
Toss it all in the blender and blend until smooth.

*If you don't have a high speed blender, you may want to use greens that aren't so tough, such as spinach.

**Use as recommended. I use 1/2 a scoop in an 8oz smoothie. I use this one;

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Red Raspberry Leaf and Nettle Leaf Tea

So refreshing and good for you too! I love sipping on this tea over ice anytime of day. It makes me feel so good.

Before becoming pregnant, I had only used Nettles Leaf in my hair teas to cleanse and add shine. After conceiving, I found NL had even more to offer.

Nettles are wonderful for everyone, but are especially great during pregnancy. Nettles help strengthen the uterus, increase fertility and ease cramps and muscle spasms. What a great way to get needed iron and other nutrients into your body.
Brew some up to pour through your hair and enjoy internally!

Nettles Leaf (Urtica dioica)

-rich in iron and chlorophyll
-contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, silicon, sulphur, copper, chromium, zinc, cobalt, potassium and phosphorus
-vitamins A, C, D, E, and K as well as riboflavin and thiamin

Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)

RRL is used before pregnancy to regulate menstrual cycles and decreases heavy bleeding. During pregnancy, many midwives recommend it throughout 2nd and 3rd trimesters as well as post partum. It is known to tone the uterus, decrease nausea and ease labor pains.

-rich in iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium
-contains vitamin A. C, E and B complex
-aid fertility
-tone and strengthen uterus
-minimize bleeding

*If you are pregnant, be sure to do your own research and check with your health care practitioner before brewing up a batch.*

How I make mine;
I use 1 part NL and 1 part RRL.
I use 2tsp of this mix per 1 cup of tea.
I always make a large batch of about 6 cups, using 3 cups of hot water to brew and then adding 3 cups cold water. I brew my leaves for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Sweeten it to taste and enjoy over ice.

I drink about 8oz every other day. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less :)

"Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year" by Susun Weed

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The 8th Annual Walk For Hope
The Walk for Hope is this Saturday, Oct 17th at El Dorado park, Long Beach, Ca. Don't miss out on an opportunity to take part in this life changing event!

This will be my 3rd time attending the WFH and my second time volunteering. Three years ago while looking for some competitive race events to sign up for, I came across a posting for the walk. After perusing the website and reading about it, I thought I would attend. That was one of the best decisions of my life! Little did I know that the organization that puts on the event, Be The Cause, would become such a huge part of my life.

The purpose of the Walk for Hope is to spread Love. Such a simple idea manifested in a unique way. The walk itself is not a competitive one, but an opportunity to stroll through nature and stop at the various activity stations to perhaps reflect, give pause or even look ahead. It's an amazing journey that ends with a delicious lunch and camaraderie with family, friends and fellow walkers.

One of the most amazing things about the walk is it's made possible all through volunteers and donations. Registration is free and all participants receive a free t-shirt, free lunch and memories that last a lifetime.
Be sure to register if you haven't already.

H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

I was blessed enough to be able to attend the teachings of H.H. The Dalai Lama last month. My husband, a friend and I attended the 2 day event. It was enlightening, warm and energizing. The Dalai Lama gives several talks and teachings throughout the year around the world. This past month, His Holiness tought over 2 days at The Long Beach Convention center.

To hear His Holiness teach in person was amazing. He is extremely personable and passionate and explains things in a way that makes it very accessible to everyone. I've always been so moved when I've seen His Holiness speak on television or read his words, but hearing him speak in person with much passion and conviction, gave those words such profound meaning.

If you ever have a chance to go see The Dalai Lama speak or teach, I encourage you to do so. No matter what religion you are, you will find it very enlightening. We all could learn to be kinder, respect and love all living things, and cherish the planet on which we live. In my humble opinion, It's the basis for our existence here on Earth.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Quick Raw Breakfast

Delicious and filling porridge that's great for breakfast or anytime!

about 8 medium pitted dates(I used medjool)
1/2 handful almonds
1/2 handful walnuts
1/2 handful raw oat groats
2 apples, peeled and cored
1/4tsp almond extract
1/4tsp vanilla extract
1tsp lemon juice
1/4tsp cinnamon
1/8tsp ginger
1tsp maca powder*optional
pinch sea salt *optional

Put first 4 ingredients in food processor and process until nuts are in small pieces.
Add the rest of ingredients and process until well combined.
Serve by itself or with some almond milk drizzled on top.
You can even "warm" it a bit in the dehydrator if you like.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spanish Brown Rice

Today, I had an intense craving for spanish rice. I threw the following things into a pot and out came some of the most flavorful rice I've ever eaten!

2 cups of brown rice
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup yellow onion
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup green chilis
1 heaping tbs tomato paste
1/2tsp chili powder
1/2tsp smoked paprika
1/4tsp celery seeds
1/4tsp cumin
1/8tsp salt (depends on how salty your veggie broth is)

Bring water and vegetable broth to boil and then add all ingredients except tomatoes and lemon juice.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
Stir in lemon juice just before serving.

Lately, I'm into all things spicy, so I enjoyed mine with black beans and jalapenos!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Women for Wellness

Short notice, I know...
I will be teaching a Vegan/Raw Vegan cooking class Thursday, May 27th for Black Women for Wellness Los Angeles. BWWLA is a wonderful organization filled with many resources and tools to improve womens health and wellbeing. They offer everything from dance and fitness classes to spiritual and emotional support.

Thursdays 3 hour class is interactive and will focus on increasing fruits and vegetables into your diet. By the end of class, you will have learned the basics of maintaining a healthy vegan diet and be armed with many recipes and samples to help jumpstart your journey into vegan cooking and raw vegan uncooking.

If you miss this one, no worries! There are still 3 classes available in June.
All information can be found here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Essential Oils vs Synthetic Fragrance

When you know better, you do better and now I know better.

Up until last year, I was still open to using some fragrance oils, but not anymore. I've been making my own beauty and hygiene products at home for awhile now, but only recently started scenting them. I was never too concerned with them smelling like anything other than what I was using. Sure, I would throw in some of my standard essential oils, but that was more for its properties and benefits than smell.

Last year, when I began making products for my family, my interest in smell was piqued. So, I dived deeper into fragrancing. I quickly learned that it's not so easy to find out what makes up a "fragrance". After researching further, I figured out why.
According to the FDA, fragrances fall under the trade secret formula law. This means that manufacturers don't have to disclose the ingredients of their fragrances. In short, you and I will never know exactly what makes up a particular scent. Fragrances can have 100's of ingredients and because of the trade secret law, it's often used as a facade for harmful chemicals and preservatives.

The FDA has said that they regulate what exactly is allowed, but that is far from a guarantee of safety. Some of the ingredients allowed are harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, parabens and phthalates. Many of these ingredients are known to cause reproductive system toxicity, cancer, allergy/asthma flare ups, migraines and other negative health issues.

So, why in the world would anyone ever want to use synthetic fragrance or products with synthetic fragrance in them?
Firstly, fragrance oils are much cheaper. Just like with many things harmful to the Earth and its inhabitants, it boils down to money. Synthetic fragrances filled with phthalates that make them last longer, are much cheaper than organic essential oils. Given the choice, I think people would choose to pay a little more now, than pay even more in health bills, pain and suffering later.

Secondly, there are some scents that can't be mimicked naturally. For example, have you ever smelled a banana scent or eaten a banana flavored candy? It smells and tastes "good", but not truly like and actual banana. It's more of an exaggerated version of what a banana smells and tastes like. Unfortunately, people have gotten accustomed to these synthetic scents and flavors and strayed away from what nature has given us.

There are other alternatives to using synthetic fragrances to add wonderful aromatics to your products. Some of which are absolutes, attars, hydrosols, infusions, extracts and essential oils.

An essential oil is a liquid that is most frequently steam distilled, cold pressed or extracted from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant. Essential oils contain the true essence of the botanical it was derived from and are highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Essential Oils offer a myriad of therapeutic psychological and physical benefits and are great for use in aromatherapy and skin applications when diluted.

A few of my favorites are, chamomile, fennel, frankincense, lavender, lime peel, patchouli, sweet orange...
I will be highlighting these and others in follow up posts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Health Freedom Expo

I happened to read about this expo on the internet a day before it began. I'm really glad that I did, because I gathered a ton of great information and met some truly inspiring people! A few of my favorite vendors there were Animal Acres, Leaf Cuisine, Natural Solution and Bragg Live Foods.

Animal Acres: You know how you keep meaning to get in contact with a person or group and never have? That's me with Animal Acres. I have loved them from afar for so long and was extremely excited when I found out they had a booth at the expo. What a blessing!
I enjoyed chatting with the volunteers about the animal sanctuary, veganism, volunteer opportunities and the Veggie Pride Parade.
I am so excited to get started helping Animal Acres rescue and rehabilitate abused farm animals. I hope to get a group together soon to go take a tour and lend a hand wherever it's needed.

Leaf Cuisine: I've tried quite a few of their raw food offerings through Whole Foods and have been pleased. It was nice to see them there preparing fresh food and educating expo goers on raw and living cuisine. I stopped by and grabbed some "Kickin' Kale Crisps". They were delish and I plan on loading up my dehydrator with my own version soon!

Bragg Live Foods: This was one of the busier booths at the expo. I passed by several times and they were always overflowing with curious people. Patricia Bragg was there speaking with everyone about the benefits of the Bragg line and living a healthy lifestyle. I was able to get in and grab a few samples and purchase some of their new salad dressing. They had several new items to check out and try. I've been a fan of Bragg's ever since I discovered their Apple cider vinegar. It's truly the best tasting and most nutritious on the market.
While there, I was given a bottle of their new ACV drink. Wowza, it was good! I've mixed up my own at home before but they must have the ratio just right because it was wonderful. I will be purchasing this again as soon as it's available in stores.

Natural Solution: There were several vendors selling Himalayan salt, but none were the brand that I am familiar with. I happened to see a friend from my raw foods group while I was there and he recommended I try Natural Solutions. He said that the quality was wonderful and the prices were great. He was right and I stocked up on some at whole sale price!
There is nothing like using HS in your food preparation or body applications. The health benefits are remarkable for both the inside and outside of your body.

Before leaving the expo, I received a coupon to The New World Fair in Pasadena, May 16-17, 2009. There will be exhibitors, live music, speakers and even an open drum circle!

I won't miss this one! If your interested, check out the website for more info.


I made a quick stop through the farmers market on Friday and walked up on a table full of these fluffy bunches of greens. Curious, I inquired about them and was told that they are called, quelites. I asked if I should juice them or throw them in a salad. The vendor told me that they are most commonly sauteed. Hmmm...I didn't have enough time to do my usual chatting away about the veggies and such, so I grabbed a huge bunch and away I went.

I'm sad to say that they sat in the fridge for a couple of days before I even looked at them again. Sunday night, I reached in the bag and ripped off a handful to quickly prepare a late dinner. Wow, they were dusty!

I tried to get away with just rinsing them, but these puppies were down right gritty. I had to soak them and really get into the nooks and crannies to release the sand. After they were cleaned and dried, I lightly sauteed them and gave them a try. I was in love!
They have a firm texture like kale or mustard greens, but not as sharp a flavor. Comparable to spinach, but with a different taste all their own. I mean it ya'll, I love them!

I haven't been able to find much information on quelites other than they are Mexican greens. Quelites could mean any of the many varieties or a mix of them. I'm unsure which type I had, but you can bet I will be back at the FM this Friday for some more!

I enjoyed my handful so much that I prepared the rest of the bunch with some tempeh on Monday. Here's what I came up with.

*This recipe makes 2 medium size servings or 1, I love quelites so much I would eat 2 more bunches if I had them, no way am I sharing type servings.

The Sautee
1 bunch of quelites (I soaked them in salt and baking soda for awhile and then rinsed)
2tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Coat the bottom of your pan with the EVOO.
Once heated add in garlic and sautee until just soft.
Add red pepper flakes and quelites on top of that.
Sautee until just wilted.
Once they start to wilt, remove them from the heat. You want them to retain their texture. Set aside.

The Tempeh
1/2 block of mixed grain tempeh
juice of 1 orange
1/4tsp garlic
1/4tsp ginger
1tbs mushroom sauce
1tsp maple syrup (you can also use brown sugar, jam, etc)
pepper to taste

Slice tempeh about 1/4 inch thick. Sautee on both sides until brown.
The evoo from the quelites should be enough, but feel free to add more if you need it.
Once brown, remove tempeh and set aside.
De glaze the pan with orange juice and remaining ingredients.
Reduce down until you have a lightly thick sauce.
Serve over tempeh along side of quelites.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Curry Collard Wraps

Here's what I threw together to take to work today.
Quick, easy, flavorful and filling!

Collard leaves- Vit A, K, phytonutrients
Take out the stem and wash these well by submerging them in a bath of salt water.
Rinse and let drain in colander or on a towel.
If you want more pliable greens, let them sit for awhile or even over night. They become more limp, the longer you let them sit. I like mine crunchy, so I just rinse and drain.

large carrots roughly chopped- high in fiber, Vit A
1/2c cashews- high in magnesium, rich in oleic acid
1/3c raisins- antioxidant, boron rich
1 clove garlic- can regulate blood pressure and increase immune system
2tbs extra virgin olive oil- rich in oleic acid, regulates cholesterol levels
1/8tsp ground cumin- aids in digestion, high in iron
1/4tsp ground ginger- antioxidant, settles upset stomach
1tsp Bragg's liquid aminos- Non GMO amino acids
1tbs lemon juice- Vit C, potassium, bioflavonoids
1tsp curry powder
sea salt and pepper to taste

Pulse first four ingredients in a food processor until broken down.
Add next six ingredients and blend until well combined. Don't over mix or you will have mush. You want the mixture to still be chunky.
Add s and p to taste.
Wrap in collard leaves and enjoy!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Long Beach Museum of Art

The LBMA is situated on top of a grassy hill overlooking the shores of Long Beach. It just might be one of the most picturesque spots in the city.

I have driven, ran and walked past this museum many times. I've even tried to visit a couple of times, but they were renovating or closed. This time, I did the smart thing and used the good old internet before venturing out. Finally, Sunday was the day that I would get to enjoy all that LBMA has to offer!

The view itself, is an exhibit all it's own. You can have breakfast or lunch at the outdoor cafe, while savoring the unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean. They offer limited hours, so be sure to check the website before planning to dine.

There are currently three exhibits at the museum along with their permanent collections, California Seen 1930-1970, Modernism and the Wichner Collection and David Simon: Dark Forest. I enjoyed them all, but one in particular stuck with me well after I left the gallery, David Simon's Dark Forest. This exhibit was truly awe inspiring. The realness of the sculptures both physically and emotionally, is just as haunting as it is beautiful. Dark Forest is on display until May 31st, 2009.

33 Earth Years

I've been here on this planet for a little over 33 years now. I've anticipated being 33 for a couple of months, so it feels really good to be actually claiming it! I'm so pleased and appreciative to have made it to this year. With all my life's lessons and experiences, it's been a beautiful journey and I'm ready for some more!

I spent the day with a few of my favorites.
In the morning I hung out with my 2 favorite fur heads, Merlot and Lucy. They keep me on my toes and always seem to bring a smile to my face even when I'm feeling far from joyful. I feel blessed to have them both, especially considering the events of this past year.

My afternoon was spent with my favorite person, my husband. We cruised the beach on our bikes, chatting the whole way and stopping every now and again to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. Our last stop was an impromptu visit to the Long Beach Museum of Art. I've wanted to go for quite some time now, so we played hookey from running and went there instead!

My evening was spent at my favorite place, Seva Cafe. I don't know that my birthday would have been complete without being able to serve, laugh and love at Seva.

Cheers to everyone who came into the world on March 29th! I wish you many more years of love, laughter and enlightenment!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Raw Fruit and Cream Pie

I'm in dessert heaven today...I've been dreaming about this pie for some time now. I had all the ingredients layed out in my head and I imagined it was going to taste divine. I was not one bit disappointed. I had been waiting until I was able to get some more Bautista Farm Organic Dates and I finally got some yesterday. So, today was pie day!

makes 4 small pies
1c almonds- lowers cholesterol, has antioxidant Vit E
1/2c pecans- lowers cholesterol, protein
3/4c ground oat groats- high in fiber lowering cholesterol
1/2C dates (I used Deglet this time)- fiber and potassium rich, natural sweetener
1/4 of a vanilla bean
pinch sea salt
Mix all ingredients in food processor until nuts are in small pieces and crust sticks together.

Cream Filling
2c strawberries- rich in antioxidants, Vit C
about 4 soaked dates- fiber and potassium rich, natural sweetener

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Use a little of the date soaking liquid if cream is too thick.

2 peaches- potassium, Vit A, C
1c strawberries- rich in antioxidants, Vit C
agave syrup to taste

Slice fruit and add agave. I let it sit overnight, so that the fruit releases it's juices and gets nice and soft.
Mold crust on 4 serving plates or 1 large dish. Make sure to mold a lip around the crust to hold the cream. Pour in cream and top with fruit.

Welcome to dessert heaven!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Strawberry Tomatoes

These tomatoes grow in clusters on the vine and have a shape similar to a strawberry. Besides being beautiful and delicious, they are an excellent source of Vitamin C, A, K and the powerful antioxidant, lycopene.

I would love to tell tales of how I always enjoy tomatoes sliced with evoo, fresh cracked black pepper and a touch of Himalayan pink salt, however that's just not true. Though I've prepared them that way before and thoroughly enjoyed it, these beauties rarely make it past the passenger seat of my car.
*sad face*

It's an addiction. The funny thing is I never liked eating tomatoes straight up until I started purchasing the many varieties I find at Farmers Markets. Now, I simply cannot get enough!

This time I thought ahead and purchased some extra, along with some asparagus, fingerling potatoes and fresh herbs. Sounds like a delicious dinner to me!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Garden Sauce

This sauce is very hearty without being heavy.
Once you gather the ingredients, it's a cinch to put together. There is a nice balance between tang and sweet and it goes great with many things.
I've had it with whole wheat pasta, rice and couscous. I imagine it would go wonderfully on top of bruschetta. Enjoy it anyway you like!

Garden Sauce
About 6 servings
extra virgin olive oil
1 small green bell pepper- small diced
1 small yellow onion- small diced
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1tbs dry oregano
1tbs dry rosemary
1/2tsp ground sage
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 small eggplant- bite size chunks
2 28oz cans chopped tomatoes
1 14.5oz can roasted tomatoes
12oz vegetable broth
4oz diced sun dried tomatoes (If you use the kind packed in oil, drain before adding to the sauce or omit the extra evoo at the end.)
2 14.5oz cans artichoke hearts-drained
1 bunch swiss chard sliced
4oz kalamata olives
1c fresh basil chopped
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Coat bottom of pot with evoo.
Saute first 6 ingredients until garlic is light brown.
Add in next 3 ingredients and saute until veggies are just soft.
Add canned tomatoes, veggie broth and sun drieds.
Bring to a slow boil and cook until eggplant is tender.
Add remaining ingredients and remove from heat.
When the swiss chard has wilted, stir in the remaining evoo.

Your sauce is now ready to serve!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Making Coconut Cream/Milk

I've gone coconuts and I don't intend on ever coming back!

I use coconut meat, oil, milk and cream on my hair, body and in my cuisine daily.

The health benefits of coconuts are astonishing! Yes coconut milk is high in saturated fat, but it's a naturally occurring fat and is easily metabolized by the body. Coconuts contain lauric acid which is the same type of saturated fat found in breast milk. The powerful antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties of lauric acid helps your body fight off a myriad of viruses and bacteria.

Coconut cream/milk is surprisingly easy to make at home. The best part is you are left with pure cream and none of that extra stuff used in commercial cans of coconut cream and milk.

For this you will need:

strainer, cheese cloth or nut milk bag
hammer and nail (or other way of getting into the coconut)
brown coconut
filtered water

Begin by using the hammer and nail to poke a hole in the "eyes" of the coconut. drain all of the coconut water into a cup. Enjoy this immediately or you can freeze to use later. If the water smells or tastes rancid you will need to use another coconut.

Next crack the coconut open using the hammer. Get it into small enough pieces for you to handle and extract the meat from the shell. Once it's cracked open, I use a spoon and/or knife to pry the flesh from the shell.

Don't worry about taking off the brown skin. Put your pieces into a blender and cover with warm filtered water.

Blend until coconut is finely broken down.

Strain. Squeeze or push down on coconut to extract all of the liquid.

Use right away as coconut milk or let it sit until the cream rises to the top.

Chocolate Festival and Dessert Competition

Last weekend I participated in the 5th annual Belmont Shores Chocolate Dessert Competition. This was my first time competing and it turned out to be alot of fun!

The competition was filled with all types of deserts. From bon bons to layer cakes to ice cold hot chocolate. With the addition of my vegan and raw treats, there was something there for everyone.

I baked vegan coconut cream cookies for the cookie/brownie category and prepared raw super food chocolates for the unique treats category. If I had it to do over again, I would have entered just one category. It was a bit too stressful running back in forth between sections to try and speak with the judges and serve my desserts.

No, I didn't win or even place, but it sure was a wonderful experience. I will definitely compete in a cooking competition again.

Chocolate Festival 2010, here I come!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Corazon de Vida Fundraiser

My husband and I were blessed enough to spend our Valentines day with the wonderful people of the Corazon de Vida Foundation. This foundation helps to fund orphanges throughout Mexico. The fundraiser was held at Vegan Village in Los Angeles.

The night was filled with beautiful stories, beautiful music and beautiful people! One of my favorite musical performances of the night was by Elephants with guns. They use musical instruments from around the world to create a wonderfully eclectic sound that you have to hear to beleive.

There were many smiles and the evenings tone was light, although the message was a very serious one. After a recent trip to Casa de Paz orphange in Baja, they learned that the orphanage would be closing soon. The orphanage doesn't have the funding to sustain all of the children and remain operational. A disheartening message indeed, but one that can be turned around. To learn how you could help please visit their website.

Green Chips

Kale chips are a favorite of raw newbies and veterans alike. They are nutritious, fairly quick and very easy to prepare. Collard greens are also excellent in chip form. You can purchase these from many stores that sell raw foods, but they are pricey. Whenever I get a good deal on greens, I grab a few extra bunches and then prepare them at home for a fraction of the cost.
These can also be stored, but mine never make it that far. We enjoy them fresh from the dehydrator!

Basic Recipe

any of your favorite greens- Vit A, K, phytonutrients
extra virgin olive oil- rich in oleic acid, regulates cholesterol levels
sea salt

Remove stems and break the greens up into chip size pieces. Toss in evoo and salt. Dehydrate on 110 degrees until crispy (about 5 hours).

You can use all kinds of combinations to flavor your greens. Here are some of my favorites.

evoo, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, sea salt

apple cider vinegar, agave syrup, sea salt

evoo, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, sea salt

tahini, apple cider vinegar, sea salt

These are really fun to eat. I feel like I'm snacking on fall leaves!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Indian inspired Spinach and Corn

This dish would be excellent with Quinoa or Brown rice. I limit the amount of cooked grains that I eat, so I had it alone and it was delish!

Serves 2
1/4 of an onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1 clove garlic minced
1/2tsp ginger minced
kernels from 2 ears of corn
2 bunches of spinach
1tbl coconut oil
1tsp turmeric
1/2tsp cumin
dash cayenne pepper
1/2tsp sea salt
1/4tsp black pepper
juice of 1/2 a lime

Saute first 4 ingredients in coconut oil until softened.
Add turmeric and cumin and mix well.
Add corn and saute about 1 minute.
Next add spinach and cook until wilted.
Mix in coconut milk, cayenne and s and p.
Cook until corn is tender and everything is well combined.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Avo Hummus Salad

So simple, yet so delicious and very filling.
The flavor combination of the peas, swiss chard and hummus is dynamite!

Makes 1 large salad or 3 side salads

1 carrot thinly sliced- high in fiber, Vit A
1 roma tomato chopped- vit C and lycopene
1/2 of green bell pepper chopped- Vit C
2c sugar snap peas- Vit C, A
3 leaves swiss chard sliced- high in fiber Vit A, K
back pepper
Avo Hummus

Toss everything together with the hummus and enjoy!

Avocado Hummus

I am quite a hummus aficionado. I will eat hummus with just about anything. Falafel of course, but then there's on salad, with fruit, atop raw breads and crackers, rolled up in any green and even right off of the spoon.
When I started eating raw I tried out various methods of making a tasty raw hummus. I found that I was not fond of using soaked garbanzo beans, but I was very fond of using zucchini.
I came across this wonderful recipe and have been spring boarding off of it ever since.

My avocado version has become a favorite because the avo provides a wonderful creamy texture that you miss without the use of beans. Avo also adds a pleasant background flavor to the tahini and spices.

Avo Hummus

2 large peeled zucchini- Vit A, folate(Vit B9), potassium
1 medium avocado- oleic acid, folate(Vit B9), potassium
1c raw tahini- rich in minerals and high in lignans
juice of 2 lemons- Vit C, potassium, bioflavonoids
1/3c extra virgin olive oil- rich in oleic acid, regulates cholesterol levels
3 cloves garlic- can regulate blood pressure and increase immune system
handful of cilantro- Vit A, lutein, stimulates digestion
1tsp ground cumin- aids in digestion, high in iron
dash of cayenne pepper- Vit A, capsaicin
sea salt to taste

Place all ingredients in high speed blender or food processor and mix until creamy. Experiment with different add ins. Red peppers, olives and sun drieds are some of my favorites.