Heirloom Tomato & Corn Salsa Fresca

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July is glorious because it means TOMATO SEASON! I'm loving this time of year....the garden is in full bloom with crazy looking heirloom tomatoes, corn, scallions, kale, collards, peppers, jallapenos, and so many greens! 

One of the things I'm passionate about is non-gmos, and I'm happy to say that we've successfully grown organic non-gmo corn! Of course, they're a little smaller than your average ear of corn, but they are delicious raw, juicy, and absolutely sweet.  They pair very well with this salsa fresca, and uses the bounty of the garden for a delicious meal!

Eat this up with a big spoon as is (almost like a gazpacho) or sop it up with some toasted crunchy sprouted organic corn chips, like you see here.  Either way, it's sure to be a late summer staple in your home!

 

Corn, taken from 2 ears of corn with a sharp knife, raw

1 heirloom Red tomato diced small

1 heirloom Yellow tomato diced small

1 small chocolate-colored bell pepper, diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup Vidalia onion, minced

1/2 cup Cilantro, minced

1/2 Lime juiced

Cumin, red pepper, salt to taste

Optional:  1/2 mango, diced small

 

Combine all ingredients together well and enjoy!

 

 

Hemp Peppermint Patty Smoothie

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I'm pretty obsessed with chocolate (good chocolate, like cacao powder) and mint together. Especially for summer, when the garden is growing up beautiful stalks of spearmint and peppermint (you choose), and you pine for something cooling and refreshing, this hits the spot. Plus it has the secret added benefit of anti-inflammatory (and protein rich) hemp seeds, kale greens, and antioxidant-rich blueberries. It's easy and absolutely delicious. 

3 tablespoons shelled hemp seeds

10 oz water (around 1.5 cups)

3 heaping tsp raw cacao powder

One large handful kale

1/2 cup mint

1 and a half frozen bananas

1/2 cup blueberries

In a high-speed blender with a tamper (preferably), blend hemp and water to create "hemp milk". To this mixture, add in the remaining ingredients, blend well and serve with cacao nibs, unsweetened shredded coconut and pumpkin seeds. This is enough for one with leftovers throughout the day, or two pretty hefty servings. 

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Coconut Blueberry Love Bowl

There is just SOMETHING about bowls. It might be linked to my "mild" obsession with wooden boxes, shoes, bags, other things that hold other things...I think it's their nurturing aspect, of holding something, taking care of something, taking that something special with you... that I really just love. But bowls are in a field of their own ~ they are regal, majestic, beautiful, and so the food we put inside of them should also be majestic and beautiful.  And most of all, nurturing. 

"Love Bowls" are also something that we can all make that just look beautiful ~ and as long as you layer different colors of nutritive foods and play with your "art", play with your food, they pretty much create themselves and the delivery system is just two hands, holding a bowl, and noshing. I've even just thrown stuff together and didn't necessarily care how the food landed, and it's always beautiful. It doesn’t get better than that! I love it. 

For me, I really need to chew something in the morning, and it has to be high in protein and fiber and low-glycemic. Smoothies are great, but I bore easily with them ~ not so much the flavors {since those are endless} but more so for the texture - it's predominantly smooth and I wanted something that was more gritty, something that would make my jaw work and "wake me up". That's why bowls are just perfect....

This pretty much is my new favorite thing ~ blueberries are just the bomb, every which way, the coconut yoghurt and the protein power are both very filling, lightly sweet, and taste indulgent in the morning, and the crunch from chia, flax, coconut can't be beat! Mix it up any way you want, grab a big spoon and dig in!

 

The basic template for this love bowl is:

Bottom: could be coconut yoghurt, granola, etc.

Fruit: berries are my faves but you can add kiwi, oranges, etc.

A good fat/crunch: coconut, chia, flax, walnuts, etc

 

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup probiotic coconut yoghurt

1 tablespoon protein powder (I love Sunwarrior Classic Chocolate)

1/2 cup blueberries

1 tablespoon each: ground flax, chia, unsweetened shredded coconut

Sprinkle of walnuts, optional

Combine the coconut and powder together until it's mixed well. Just know, different protein powders differ in sweetness ~ I tried this with a whole scoop of protein powder (one whole serving) and it was just too sweet, so I added only 1 tablespoon powder instead, but you be the judge on how much you like. Place the yoghurt mixture in the bottom of the bowl and layer with the blueberries, flax, chia and coconut (and walnuts, if you're adding them). Enjoy! 

 

Jackfruit Pulled Pork

Maybe you've heard of this new phenomenon involving jackfruit, imbibing it in glorious barbecue sauce, on a whole wheat bun with some creamy and crunchy cole slaw.... I wanted to take a stab at it, but there were so many recipes to use and I didn't want to be disappointed, so I went with one of the best online chefs around: Minimalist Baker. You can find her recipe here. 

These are some reflections on making the pulled pork that I thought might be helpful....In essence, you pop open the can, rinse the jackfruit pieces, sprinkle them in spices Minimalist Baker recommends, sauté them in some oil to brown, add in the barbecue sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pull the fibers apart with two forks and Voila...vegan barbecue pulled pork that not only tastes but looks like the real thing. Easy peasy. 

Since I had bought 6 cans of jackfruit, I felt like I could experiment a little bit. When you first pull out the jackfruit from the brine, it looks almost like pineapple triangles, with a soft outside and a harder inner core. Minimalist Baker suggests that you cut that core out and only use the soft shred-like outside of the fruit. I did this the first time and certainly it was very easy to use a fork to separate all the fine fibers so it looked like legitimate pork, but I wasn't as keen on having to throw out all of those little hard triangles...I thought maybe there could be a better way?

Second time through the recipe, I cut the hard bits off, and added them to the pot (and they were hard to chew). So finally, I realized why she mentioned to throw them out ~ it required effort to chew! 

Third time I made the pulled pork was perfect: I sliced off the hard bits but then sliced them super small so they were easier to chew. Nothing was discarded, and the pulled pork came out great. Highly recommend this version!

I really enjoyed having leftover pulled pork salads too (I like them even better on a roll)...super filling, with veggies, rice, and avocado. 

DIY Outdoors Spray

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I absolutely love the outdoors ~ gardening, hiking, going to the beach, reading in the grass, playing frisbee....breathing in fresh air is the best medicine for me. However, I'm finding that sometimes it's not always totally pleasant, depending on where you go, and depending on how many outdoor pests follow you along for the ride.

I wanted to share a DIY Outdoors Spray that not only smells amazing, it's also a safe, non-toxic, natural barrier against such situations. I hope you love it as much as I do! I tend to spray it on my shoes, ankles, wrists, neck, and any other exposed skin. Plus it has a little peppermint in there for a little cooling sensation, which is great in super hot weather. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 cup witch hazel (original or other scents are fine ~ I used Lavender, see below)

1/2 cup purified water

8 drops Geranium Essential Oil

8 drops Citronella Essential Oil

5 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil

5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

5 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil

3 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil

1/2 tsp salt (helps the oils disperse better)

Pour into a 1-cup spray bottle and shake well before use. 

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Low-Glycemic Mushroom Risotto with Peas & Rosemary

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Who doesn't love creamy, robust risotto with savory mushrooms, sweet peas, and herbs? Give me a plate! But if you've read my blog by now, you know I love low-glycemic foods so that I don't fall asleep after a meal. This meal is packed with fiber and that prized "umami" flavor from mushrooms (which literally means "deliciousness"), sweetness from caremelized onions and peas, a little kick from your favorite herbs.

The pasta itself is the brilliant part: it's low glycemic rice called "Miracle Rice", which is gluten free, soy free, and has zero calories. It's also made from....get this...konjac flour, which has also been used as a vegan gelatin, completely plant based, and doesn't spike blood sugar (but if you're checking blood sugar, be sure to check this one anyway as results are individual). Konjac is a root and has been used in Asian countries for over 2000 years! It's also high in soluble fiber, which we all need,  and they absorb the flavors of your dish (so on their own, they're pretty tasteless). 

Now, I want you to know that I'm not big on low-calorie foods in general, the processed kinds. I want food that's filling, whole, real and genuine. But I find that risotto rice is white, has a high carb content, and can spike blood sugars if you don't watch it. Who wants that? This is the best of both worlds: have your risotto and eat it too. 

You do need to read the package instructions to know how to prepare the rice. Initially when you open the bag, they smell a bit funky. That's totally normal, and the following procedure will take care of the smell. Rinse rice well, then soak in a bowl of boiling water for 2-4 minutes. Rinse again, and add in to the recipe below. 

1 tsp coconut oil

1/2 red onion, diced

a few pinches sea salt

2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms

1/3 cup peas

one package Miracle Rice, prepared according to package instructions

a few pinches rosemary, fresh or dried

black pepper, to taste

Heat a skillet and add in coconut oil, onion and salt. Sauté over medium heat until the onions sweat and release some water (sometimes I do this with the lid on to help it along). Add in the mushrooms and allow them to release their juices, a few minutes, covered, over medium heat. Once the mushrooms are soft, add in the peas, rice, and rosemary. Cover and heat through over medium low heat, a few minutes. Season with black pepper, and enjoy. 

Sour Cherry Berry Breakfast Bowl

Recently, I was gifted the most beautiful sour cherries by my friend Carolyn, who is also a chef herself (check out her site here!). She mentioned she turned around for a minute, and her kids ended up harvesting 13 pounds in no time, which makes me the lucky one...since she ended up sharing with me. 

Little did she know that sour cherries are very dear to my heart. They are very popular in Romania and I remember growing up eating them every summer...sometimes, picking them as a little girl, from my grandmother's cherry infused liquor (I ended up just fine, never got drunk, I promise), in glorious vanilla pound cakes, or straight from the tree (and everyone seemed to have one). But in all of these, I ended up isolating the cherries, dismissing anything that was around them, and just enjoying their pure taste.

I have to admit, I had to force myself to make something with them. My desire was two eat them straight out of the bag, but I had to come up with something more interesting than that. Also the whole low-glycemic thing came into play...if I made pound cake, well, there's not enough stevia to make pound cake palatable. But here's what eventually did happen:

1. I made a berry crumble for my boys, and they loved it (not pictured) with the crumble topping from Minimalist Baker found here. (I also cut the sugar in 1/2 and mixed cherries with peaches, gooseberries, blueberries and strawberries...a potentially weird combo, but it rocked!)

2. I froze some for my sister (since she has to taste them, but she's returning from a trip in July), and gave some to my mother (who was beside herself, since she obviously spent more time in Romania than I have and she remembers sour cherries fondly). 

3. I made a yummy raw hazelnut vanilla torte with sour cherries and chickory flowers, which I'll be using in my wild edibles book (out whenever I get my act together...currently working on two others now). 

4. And last but not least, this sour cherry berry breakfast bowl. In love with the last sweet tart tastes of these beauties, and breakfast is complete. 

1/2 cup coconut yoghurt (plain or unsweetened vanilla)

1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/2 cup sour cherries, pitted

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1 scoop chocolate classic protein powder (Sunwarrior, vegan, raw)

sprinkles of blueberries, unsweetened coconut flakes,  cacao nibs, and chia

Blend yoghurt, milk, berries and powder until smooth. Pour into your favorite bowl and decorate with blueberries, coconut, cacao and chia. Enjoy!

Fresh Coconut Acai Love Bowl

You've probably seen the glorious photos of Acai Bowls everywhere...on instagram, Facebook, even in some healthy restaurants, made at home by those of us who want to eat healthy. Why do we need ONE more, you ask? Well, this one is loaded with good healthy fats (that keep you satisfied, help your hormones, etc.), and it's also low-glycemic ~ that's the important part! Many of our common Acai Bowls contain sweeteners and are loaded with sweet fruit. While this works for some people, I'd like to make the sugar down a bit and increase the healthy fats. You'll enjoy this delicious bowl of superfood goodness, giving you energy while keeping you away from the blood sugar rollercoaster! 

Acai is a berry that's touted as a superfood, containing fiber, heart-healthy nutrients, Vitamin C, healthy fats, antioxidants and capacities to help us detox (Because the benefits are just SO HUGE and too long to list in this post, here are two super useful and fun articles to read to further your knowledge on Acai : HERE and HERE).  But the bottom line is: Acai berries are delicious, and that's reason enough for us to eat them! Eat more of the good and less of the bad. This fiber-rich antioxidant bowl works really well as a morning breakfast or a mid-afternoon pick me up. 

Also, I've recently ordered fresh frozen coconut meat from Exotic Superfoods in hopes of making low-sugar raw desserts, but I haven't even gotten to that part yet ~ I've just been eating it straight out of the bag and it's absolutely delicious! I did buy the case, which can get expensive, but cutting into regular young thai coconuts and not knowing if they're fresh or not, sprayed with formaldehyde to keep the outside white, or low-yielding, then you have to clean the meat....It's a lot of work! I figured this saves me time, hassle, it's all clean, and I can taste the purity. 

Ingredients:

One packet of unsweetened Acai Berry Puree, defrosted (I like the Sambazon brand)

a few drops liquid stevia 

slivered almonds

blueberries

1/2 cup fresh raw coconut meat, sliced

chia seeds

bee pollen

In a bowl, pour out the Acai puree and stir in a few drops of the stevia. Start with three and taste as you go, making it sweet enough for you. Add in the rest of the ingredients, and enjoy. 



Coconut Raspberry Ice Cream

Soon are the days when we get to go to the beach, enjoy the sunshine on our backs, make cooling drinks and refreshing desserts. It's a normal April day, at 77 degrees! Spring is still here but this past week has felt a lot like summer, so we've needed to try out some fun new dessert recipes to cool us down. Of course, it goes without saying, this is low-glycemic and diabetes friendly (although you should still check your blood sugar if you're sensitive). The only sugar here comes naturally from the raspberries, which happen to be the lowest sugar berry around (even topping the superstar blueberry!)

This ice cream has a medium firm body, tart raspberry flavor, and has a mellow sweetness from the stevia - the texture actually almost like a sorbet ice cream mixed together. Is there such a thing? Now there is. 

This is pretty heavy on the coconut, which I love, but the taste will change with whatever brand to use. You can also decide to use half coconut milk and half almond milk for something a little lighter, although it will alter the flavor. Feel free to play around with this template! 

Also, if you like this recipe, you may want to check out our low-glycemic dessert book, found here. 

One 12-ounce bag frozen organic raspberries

1 can of your favorite coconut milk (or switch 1/2 out with almond milk)

2 full droppers of liquid stevia (start with less and taste for preference)

Combine all ingredients together in a full-powered blender (like a vitamix) and use the tamper to push everything down together into the vortex. You might need a bit of elbow grease here, as it won't be easy. It should turn out to be the consistency of soft serve ice cream. If you'd like it a bit more firm, feel free to then transfer it to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. 

 

Glorious Lavender Peppermint Lip Balm

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We're getting all DIY over here for so many reasons, including that it's fun, cheaper than the alternative and a GREAT way to get creative with your hands and mind. I'm all for all of the above.

This lip balm is also super easy to make and makes a LOT to share with friends and family, so I tend to make them around the holidays and birthdays....

Of course you know this, but when you're using and making products for your body and skin, please only use the very best. And know that not all essential oils are created equal. Especially if you're trying to go chemical free, you may not know that store-bought essential oils are not always reliable and in fact contain chemicals themselves. Well, that's a conundrum. If you ever have any questions on where you can get your oils, do reach out and I'll give you the inside scoop!

So without further ado...

Recipe:

2 Tablespoons Coconut oil

2 Tablespoons Beeswax

2 Tablespoons Sweet Almond Oil

Melt the above in a double boiler, then set aside and add:

3 drops Young Living Lavender Essential Oil

3 drops Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil

Pour into lip balm tubes (I love to use tubes that come with a holder ~ like this one ~ since they sit up straight and cause less mess).  Let sit at least 30 minutes to harden.

Just a couple of notes:

1. You can easily double or half this recipe, as needed. 

2. I bought some cute labels such as these, on Amazon, but I'm sure you can find loads of other ones too. 

Enjoy and pucker up!

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Rosemary Gladstar's Perfect Cream (with Geranium and Lavender)

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I have to start out saying two things: 

1. Rosemary Gladstar is my hero. If she knew me, we'd be best friends. She just doesn't know that yet. 

2. Because of my deep respect for her, I cannot share with you her copyrighted recipe by giving you all of it.... Duh. That's like giving your hero's magic out for free. It doesn't work out like that in anyone's favor, karmically speaking. The way I'd honor her most is if I led you to buy her book, where not only do you get this incredible recipe, word for word, proportions, and details the way she'd have it set...but then you have an amazing encyclopedia of all of her body care recipes and more. Win, win, win, I think.  You can find it here. 

What I DID want to do was share my experience in making the cream, and to show you some minor adjustments I made to make it "mine".

So it's called, ROSEMARY'S PERFECT CREAM because, well, it IS perfect. Silky, smooth, relatively cheap to make, but it requires a few magic tricks: like patience, scoping things out, waiting, waiting some more, not being scared of loud blenders, and a little more waiting. It's also tricky because basically you're combining oils and water and they don't like to mix. I've never NOT made it in a vitamix, so I can't advise those of you who don't have one, and you do need the tamper so make sure you have that. There rest is in timing. And don't rush the process. 

Changes I've made to suit my taste, all of which will be explained below: 

Replaced coconut oil with Shea Butter

Replaced distilled water with floral waters such as hydrosols

Added in essential oils

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So here we go:

Part 1, you heat over a double boiler some almond oil and coconut oil ~ however, lately I've been getting into Shea butter instead of the coconut oil. I love to cut it thin and add it to the pot to melt. 

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Additionally, you'll add beeswax to the oils, to melt right along (again, exact amounts of each in her book). Note: I used the pellet beeswax because it was easier to measure (see pictured below), but feel free to cut into bars if you need to. 

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Once these ingredients become liquid, you pour the mixture into the vitamix vessel and let cool until it looks like petroleum jelly, opaque, and creamy. Don't be fooled by the top layer, dig a spatula in to make sure it's that consistency throughout. While this is cooling in the vitamix container, go to part 2.....

Part 2, she creates a blend of "waters" to be mixed in to the wax mixture above. I like to doctor it up a little bit in my own way by using hydrosols or floral waters in place of distilled water that she calls for. You'd also be adding in some aloe vera (this is the one I used), 1/2 tsp vitamin E, and I personally added the following oils for an amazing aroma:

1 drop Young Living Geranium essential oil,

5 drops Young Living Lavender essential oil,

and 5 drops Young Living Elemi essential oil (also known as "poor man's frankincense"). 

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THE MESSY & LOUD PART: This is where you blend in the waters to the beeswax mixture. Mind you, oils and water don't mix well, but somehow this cream works ~ almost like an emulsification. So here goes....when the beeswax mix is the right texture, start the vitamix (it will sound a bit violent, but rest easy and just work up slowly), and then slowly add in the waters mixture in a small stream (as the motor is running). Run it for about 20 seconds, using the tamper to help it along, then stop and scrape the sides down. Run it again until everything is smooth, well blended, and the color changes from yellowish to white. And you're done. 

I like to pour the whole mixture out back into my glass measuring cup so it pours into the small containers easier, as pictured....

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That's the gist of it, but Rosemary has some pretty awesome details and tips to make this work well, because the truth is, it doesn't ALWAYS work. Again, timing is everything. If you look at step 1, when it says make sure the beeswax mixture looks a little like petroleum jelly throughout ~ one time I didn't wait long enough, and I ruined the whole thing. 

Parting words:

1. I would like to say that for my skin type (oily, mostly), I would not put it on my face - it's too rich, so it goes best for my hands, feet, knees, elbows, and legs. But do as you'd like, as you know your skin best. 

2. I won't lie, cleaning the vitamix container is a pain in the butt. At the same time, I make this cream twice a year and that pain in the butt is totally worth it. One thing I've found is, if you remove the blade completely and scrub everything with a pasty mixture of: 1 cup baking soda combined with a few tablespoons dish soap and a sponge, you'll get it clean in under 2 minutes. Just use as little water as possible. Then spin it in the dishwasher for good luck and you'll be amazed. But if you want to wash it just with dish soap, you'll basically never get it clean. 

And most of all, have fun making it year after year!

 

 

 

 

Lavender Grapefruit Foaming Hand Soap

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I've always been conscientious of what we throw away, and even more importantly, what we can choose to up-cycle and use in additional ways. So if you've had some foaming hand soap dispensers laying around (or even better, if you thought you needed to buy another), then this post is for you. For under 2 minutes and for a handful of change, you can have yourself a brand new replenished bottle of foaming hand soap, and it smells terrific too.

I can't claim the template as my own recipe, and I give credit to watching this beautiful Youtube episode all about castle soap....but I did think blending lavender and grapefruit was a pretty groovy idea. 

So here's what you'll need:

1 empty foaming hand soap dispenser (reuse an old one preferably)

5 drops Lavender Young Living Essential Oil

5 drops Grapefruit Young Living Essential Oil

1/2 tsp sweet almond oil

1 tablespoon Unscented Dr. Bronners Castille Soap

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our the essential oils, sweet almond oil, and castle soap to the empty bottle. Fill almost all the way up with filtered water (not all the way to the top so that the pump can fit). Put the pump on, close, and shake to combine well. Label as you wish!

How easy was that? I like to fill up multiple bottles at one time so that I can do it and be done with it. Easy peasy. 

 

 

 

Low-Glycemic Lime Mint Smoothie

I feel in love with this smoothie when I first saw this video, titled "Limey Love Shake" by Chef Shelley of PH Miracle. It's literally the perfect smoothie: only veggies, lime and stevia as the sweeter, and it's so cool and refreshing from the mint and ice! It's literally a dream, the first time I had it. I alternate the greens, but for the most part, have something like this almost every other day. 

I also came across Chef Shelley through the writings of her husband Dr. Young of the PH Miracle. They've done amazing work together to heal acidic states in the body through raw, alkaline foods. I noticed a huge difference when I took their advice and added green powders to most of the water I was drinking through the day, and incorporating this smoothie into my diet. 

Of course, I can never do the same recipe exactly the same way: I decided to alter the recipe a bit in my own way, based on my tastes. Here's my take on the "Limey Love Shake":

1 long english cucumber, sliced

1 large handful of kale, torn

2 limes, peeled

2 full droppers of liquid stevia

1 large handful mint (I put in about a cup)

1 full tray of ice

1/2 avocado

Toppings: cacao nibs and/or unsweetened coconut shreds, optional. 

Blend the cucumber, kale, limes, stevia and mint with enough water to cover ingredients about halfway. Add in the ice and the avocado last, and give it a fast whirl (you don't want to blend the avocado too much as it can turn foamy.) Top with toppings, if using, and enjoy! 

 

 

Raw Vegan Fudge In A Jar

This was a vamp off a frosting recipe that inspired me, I tweaked and then refrigerated and then voila - it hardened into fudge. I went with it. Happy little accident, and Bob Ross would be proud. 

It couldn't be easier.  It's low-glycemic (I used stevia), loaded with healthy coconut fats, high in antioxidants from the cacao powder (or carob if you choose to use that), and just plain delicious. Depending on whether or not you actually like the flavor of coconut manna, you can opt for 1/2 coconut mana and maybe 1/2 melted cacao butter. More chocolate flavor, less coconut. Either way. Just make it, love it, and enjoy. Honestly, I have this covered in plastic in the fridge and eat about a tablespoon at a time with some fruit and it really hits the spot when I want some chocolate. It also keeps well for about 5 or 6 days, so it's perfect in that regard, that you don't really have to think about dessert: it's already waiting for you!

1/2 cup softened coconut manna/butter (do not use coconut oil though)

       (You can also do 1/2 and 1/2 with melted cacao butter)

1/2 cup hot water

1 dropper full hazelnut stevia

1 tsp hazelnut extract

2 tablespoons cacoa powder

1/2 tsp reishi, maca, maqui, or other medicinal powder (Optional but fun)

pinch sea salt

Blend ingredients in a mini personal blender, pour into a ball jar, cover and refrigerate. After a few hours, the coconut will harden and turn into a soft fudge: hard enough to spoon up and devour! You can also change this up and add in some cinnamon, nutmeg, go crazy...make it your own. Enjoy! 

Life Changing Cashew Ranch Dressing

When I first started eating vegan (as with many people, you'll find) the hardest thing to give up was anything creamy, ooey gooey, cheesy, buttery, anything from the dairy department. Especially in the summer, when you don't necessarily want a hot grilled cheese (actually, anything hot for that matter), but rather, a cooling salad with something extra special on top: like ranch dressing.  Is there anything more perfect than cool ranch with a hint of onion or garlic over, well, anything: greens, veggies, cardboard? It can make anything taste out of this world.

While there are so many vegan ranch dressings out there (some use macadamia nuts, some pine nuts, some a mixture of sorts, add onion, don't add onion, add basil, don't add basil, salt, no salt, sheesh...), the variety and options can give you a headache, for real. 

So I wanted a recipe I can easily remember (since, as some of you know, I never duplicate the same recipe twice and in fact, my husband asks if I can make "that one thing you made the other day" and I frown since, well, I just can't remember what I put in it, so I make another batch and it comes out completely different). I'm that girl. The one who perpetually reinvents her recipes.

Fret no more! This one is the only cashew ranch recipe you'll ever need, and the one you'll remember since: (1) it's life changing and (2) its' all about 1 ~ 1 ~ 1 ~ 1. That's easy.

The "one of everything" idea actually came from my romanian mother and grandmothers, who, when I was a child told me many times: don't follow a recipe. Just do one handful of this, one handful of that. It caught on. 

So...one of everything:

1 cup cashews, soaked (measured before you soak them) and drained

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 handful dill (yes, hand sizes are different, but it's about 1/2 cup loose dill)

Combine cashews, water, salt and powders in a vitamix and blend until really creamy. Chop the dill loosely, add to the mix, and just PULSE to incorporate. Enjoy. 

This is literlaly, life changing. I've had it all week, it gets better as it sits, and is just a dreamy, creamy, loveliness you can't help...but....remmeber :) 

Peace and love, y'all!

 

Zippy Lentil & Tomato Salad

When you’re looking for lean & mean plant-based protein, lentil is one of the top winners in my book. It’s so versatile! You can make a stew, a soup, a “mash”, burgers, and today, even a cold salad to satisfy your craving palate! I’m all about “easy cooking” these days, especially that the weather has warmed up, I want to be in the kitchen less and less and more out in the garden, harvesting herbs, veggies, and eating easily assembled meals. More time playing, less time working, I say!

These lentils take about 25 minutes to cook, and you have an easy addition to your meals for about 5 days ~ how easy is that?

You can use green or red lentils, but they’ll turn soupy, so my “go to” for this dish are either French/puy lentils or black lentils. Both retain their shape really well, and are a delicious chewy texture you’ll love. Use it with any veggies that are in season, herbs of your choice, and you’ve got a meal you can make in minutes!

Ingredients:

1 cup black or puy lentils, rinsed, looked over, and boiled with plenty of water until done (about 25 minutes or so).  Drain, set aside and cool.

1 chopped tomato

¼ cup chopped onion

Dressing:

1 tsp your favorite mustard

1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

Pinch sea salt

As much black pepper as you can tolerate

In a bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix up with a fork. Add in about ½ cup of your cooked lentils and stir well. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Add in the tomato and onion, mix slightly, and enjoy. 

Tip: This salad is also very good, by the way, with ready made hot lentils also.

"Love Yo Face" Serum

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Last year, I had a Make & Take with my fellow team members and we made a face serum to LIVE for ~ this year, my schedule got a bit busy, so I wasn't able to host another Make & Take but I DID want to share with you a similar recipe that might put a little Valentine's pep in your stop and help you LOVE YO FACE. 

Also, I should say, that title does not belong to me - huge props to my sweet friend Jess who thought of it and is pure genius. All royalties go to her, of course.

The recipe is very forgiving and fun, so be sure to play. Add a little more of this, less of that. You get the gist. Also, it goes without saying that all of these Essential Oils are the Young Living brand, and I stand behind them 100%! They're my favorite and my life has changed in incredible ways since using them. To find out more, check out my other website here to get the inside scoop! 

Here we go:

1 oz bottle of Argan Oil (or your preferred carrier oil like jojoba, grapeseed, reship, etc.) ~ make sure it has just a little bit of headspace (meaning, it's not completely full) to allow the displacement of the oils below....

3 drops Lavender Essential Oil

4 drops Frankincense Essential Oil

3 drops Manuka Essential Oil

2 drops Geranium Essential Oil

4 drops Copaiba Essential Oil

Add the drops to your bottle of Argan Oil and shake well. Please note, this oil shouldn't be rubbed into the skin, but rather pat - the application should be gentle. 

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Dark Chocolate & Orange Coconut Macaroons

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As many of you may have guessed, my two loves are food and oils. And of COURSE, it seems about right that I'd combine them, all in due time. Actually, I've been pairing them for years, and only now decided to finally do something about it and write these recipes down. 

So, as a little treat for upcoming Valentine's, the only sensible thing to do is to make something decadent and ALL about chocolate. And you know what goes well with chocolate? Orange. 

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I only use the Young Living Vitality oils (the ones with the white label) since they have FDA GRAS status (generally regarded as safe) and are safe to ingest. In fact, Young Living made it super easy for you to know how to use them and even included directions in the label: add a drop or two to a capsule and ingest. For most of them, I just prefer to use them in foods since they're oh so delicious. Like tangerine in my Dandy Blend with coconut creamer, lime in my water, peppermint in my raw brownies. And this one, right here: 

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I'm writing this recipe in anticipation of a Valentine's Desserts class I'm hosting at Jus Organic in Atlantic Highlands. Be sure to check them out and definitely join us for the class this Saturday - it's going to be a winner. Details here if you are local. 

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So without further ado...here we go....

Macaroon base:

3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

4 tablespoons Coconut Nectar (may replace with maple syrup)

Pinch salt

13 drops Young Living Orange Vitality Essential Oil

 

Chocolate Coating:

½ cup Coconut Nectar (may replace with maple syrup)

¾ cup cacao powder

⅔ cup melted coconut oil

Pinch salt

7 drops Young Living Orange Vitality Essential Oil

Combine the macaroon ingredients in a food processor until the mixture resembles couscous and stays pinched between fingers. Using a spoon or a mini scoop, create 1 tablespoon-full macaroon “balls”. Refrigerate for about an hour.

After they are well chilled, combine the chocolate coating ingredients in a high speed blender. The longer this sits, the more it wants to thicken, so work fast. Coat each macaroon with the chocolate coating, and set them aside. Refrigerate another hour so they solidify even more. Serve cold, with some orange shavings on top. I bet you can’t eat just one! The bowl is fun to clean too :)

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Raw Carob Raspberry Brownies

Let's just be clear, there needs to be dessert in the house or I get cranky. Actually....scratch that. There needs to be CHOCOLATE in the house or I get cranky. But with insulin resistance (or on the mend from it!) there's not much dessert I can have....or so you'd think.

Lucky for you, I wrote a whole ebook (available here) on sweets that are low-glycemic with barely a drop of sugar in them (I can't say completely sugar free since I do use raspberries...but other than that, no dates, maple syrup, honey, sugar, raisins, none of that!) 

I've enjoyed raw brownies made with dates for a long time, topped with chocolate ganache (made with maple syrup) and raspberries...but I wanted to try something even better. Something you can eat without guilt!

Enter....The raw carob brownies...of your dreams. 

And yes, while carob doesn't necessarily make everyone's head turn or toes curl, this is actually a glorious marriage of dark beautiful chocolatey goodness. A blend you'd never suspect, but one that works perfectly.

Brownies:

3 cups walnuts

1/2 cup cacao powder

1 scoop sunwarrior protein powder, chocolate (optional)

pinch salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 dropper full of hazelnut or english toffee stevia

scant 1/4 cup water (or herbal coffee if you feel adventurous)

2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Pour the coconut evenly on the bottom of an 8x8 brownie pan. Set aside.

Pulse walnuts in a food processor until they resemble rice. Add in the other ingredients and process until mixture starts to crumble into even smaller bits. As machine is running, start to pour in the water little by little (you may not need all of it) until mixture starts to stick when pressed together between your fingers. Taste for sweetness and adjust with stevia. Pour this mixture in the brownie pan and press down to form a smooth surface. 

Ganache: 

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup cacao butter, melted

pinch salt

1/2 cup carob powder

2 dropper fulls hazelnut or english toffee stevia

Decorate: freeze dried raspberries and 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut 

Blend ingredients together in a high performance blender until smooth. You might add a few tablespoons of water if you need to get it running, but try not to if at all possible (it sort of separates)..... The ganache might look lumpy...that's ok. It's not going to be super smooth and that's actually a desired effect (more surface area means you get taste all of that ganache goodness!)

Pour ganache over brownies, and decorate with freeze dried raspberries and the remaining coconut. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Cut one out and enjoy it...eventually you'll want to tear them out of the pan like an animal, which is ok too (see the photos I enclosed). 



Mama's Green Beans

We all know that mama knows best, but honestly, I think MY mama knows best...she's offered wholesome, clean eating and recipes from the time I was a little tot, and I attribute my health journey to my upbringing. These green beans are her own recipe, and are a favorite in our household. No matter how often I make it, I swear hers still tastes the best. 

Best part is that these are hearty, low-glycemic, full of fiber, and super easy to make. Also, how sweet is this? She gave me the following recipe, and at the end, she wrote "...and love is a must". Of course it is. That's why hers are the best. 

3 large handfuls of green beans, cleaned (just the stem end), washed, broken in 2

1 yellow onion, chopped fine

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 tsp sea salt (or per your palate)

One 8oz organic tomato sauce (mom likes the thin kind but you can use crushed, about 1 cup)

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat a heavy pot (preferably cast iron) over low heat. Add the oil, onion and salt and stir. Cover and let the mixture soften, about 5 minutes or so. Add in the beans and water. Add a little black pepper, and cover. Cook on medium until done (bite one and test it). Then add in the tomato sauce. At the end, finish with the parsley.....And love is a must.