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! 

 

 

Sunflower Sprouts

I absolutely love growing my own sprouts. They're very cost effective, easy (they grow on their own with little supervision), they give you an indoor gardening when you don't have the outside space, and they provide unparalleled nutrition. They are the epitome of nutrition, in fact, loaded with fiber, antioxidants, chlorophyll, protein, and abilities to support the body through detoxification. In many instances, they are exponentially more nutritious than their grown counterparts (for example, broccoli sprouts contain more nutrition than broccoli itself!)

Some sprouts are grow in ball jars, need to be rinsed, and then they develop tails in about 3 days. More on those later, article coming.

These particular sprouts, along with wheatgrass, grow in dirt. The benefit of these is that there's very little chance of mold, at least in my experience. And they require minimal babysitting. 

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, organic, soaked overnight

2 cafeteria trays

enough organic soil to fill one cafeteria tray

something heavy, like a 1 pound weight or a plate

a sprayer with water, and extra water

First, take one of the trays, and pour the dirt inside. Brush it to the edges, leaving 1 inch of space before you hit the edge (this helps water pool). Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top. Then using a slow stream of water, drizzle some water over top of the sunflower seeds in long lines. Turn the tray once and do it again (creating a criss cross pattern). If there's extra water in the 1 inch edge, then pour that out. Cover with the second cafeteria tray, and put a weight on top. Leave it away from sunlight, but indirect sunlight is ok. Wait about 3-4 days until the sprouts themselves push up the tray (and they will!) Next, spray the emerging sprouts with water daily until they reach about 3 inches, trim, 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! 

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. 

 

 

 

Light Breakfast Bowls

Breakfast is a funny thing. Sometimes I wake up and don't have to eat until 11:00 am. Sometimes I'm ravenous at 6:30 am. Most of the time, I keep it simple and just have a satisfying protein smoothie, but there are some days when I want something light and refreshing.

These are two of my signature bowls that I've made over and over and they fit the bill perfectly. The first is tart, sweet, and just the right thing when I need something to hold me over, but I'm not starving. The second is a little more substantial and holds me over for longer...but it still follows the same formula. Some fruit and almonds. Love the both and hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Interestingly enough, they're sweet enough (but low-glycemic) to pass for a dessert. 

GRAPEFRUIT ALMOND BREAKFAST BOWL:

1 grapefruit, cut in half, flesh scooped out

1 banana, sliced

a handful of pumpkin seeds.

Combine ingredients and enjoy.

 

COCONUT YOGHURT BLUEBERRY BOWL

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut yoghurt

1/2 cup blueberries

a handful of slivered almonds

Combine ingredients and enjoy.

 

Enjoy! And let me know what you're having for breakfast! 

Five Essential-Oil-Infused Nourishing Hair Serum

I hosted a haircare DIY class last summer, with the idea being that our hair needs the most support in the summer ~ there’s damage from pool water, sun, etc. However, this winter I’ve come to realize that our hair needs all the help it can get, especially in winter months: think hat head, and forced hot air, and extra hot showers which help you warm up but do a number on your hair and scalp.

While there are a lot of recipes that I use (like a shine spray and a scalp spray to tame that “hot-shower-angry-scalp!) The hair serum is something I do between washing days and I have fly-away’s. But you can use it to moisturize curls and strands in general, and even weigh down hair (just a little) that has a mind of its own. Think “bed head” that’s unruly. Unless that’s your type of thing, and if it is, more power to you!

Without further ado, I think this receipt is just as relevant in March as it was last August, and here it is….

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Five Essential-Oil-Infused Nourishing Hair Serum

15 ml dropper bottle (I used these)

Grapeseed Oil or Jojoba Oil

40 drops Jamaican Black Castor Oil (I used this one)

10 drops each: Copaiba, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Lavender, and Cedarwood Essential Oils


Combine all essential oils into the bottle and swirl to blend. Add 40 drops of Jamaican Black Castor oil and top off with the Grapeseed (for straight or fine hair) or Jojoba oil (for coarse or wavy/curly hair). Swirl bottle to blend. Use 2-5 drops. Rub hands together to warm up the oil and apply to the ends of hair first, working your way up to mid-shaft. Do not apply to roots or top of head. Use the small leftovers to gently pat down flyaway hairs. (Recipe adapted from Jen O’Sullivan. Her books can be found here).

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!

 

Vegan Coconut Bacon

Sooo...who doesn't like bacon? Everyone loves bacon.

Who loves heart disease? Nobody loves heart disease.

There are some foods, like coconut in this instance, that really take on the flavors they are paired with beautifully. When you mix coconut with coconut aminos, liquid smoke and stevia, you get this amazing layering effect of flavors...umami, sweet, savory....and you really get the bacon flavor coming through. 

I used this particular recipe as a template, but tweaked it a bit so it's lower glycemic. Also I chose to dehydrate it instead of baking so you retain the coconut enzymes and it's essentially a raw food, and also opted for coconut aminos over tamari (which means they're soy-free!) So my take on the recipe is as follows:

3 cups large flaked raw coconut

3 tablespoons coconut aminos

2 tablespoons liquid smoke

1 full dropper of liquid stevia

Combine ingredients together, layer on a Teflex sheet and dehydrate overnight at 110 degrees. No need to flip. Store in air-tight canister and enjoy! 

 

 

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.

Butterfly Pea & Lavender Bath Salts

I want to begin this article by the desire to say: I’m not here to burst anyone’s bubble, I promise! Not all things that we read and see are true, and we have to follow through with looking at research whenever possible. In fact, I looked up the benefits of epsom salt to see if it was clinically verified, and found this article. Sigh.

It may not do everything people think it does, but that may be ok. I don’t take baths because I’m lacking magnesium, trying to treat pain, or trying to beat winter blues. Simply put, a warm bath with scented petals and aromas may just feel absolutely amazing and relaxing, whether or not the salts are the cause. That’s what I’m going for.

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A couple of things before we start: you can use Sea Salt, Epsom Salt, or Epsom Salt Crystals (seen here). Or a mixture. Play with it, have fun, and don’t stress too much about it. Use what you can find.

For flowers, I love using rose petals, lavender flowers, or blue Butterfly Pea flowers. The blue pea flowers are usually made into a tea, but I love using them in the bath because they make the water blue. All of these flowers can best be found at your local apothecary, herbal store, amazon, etc. (pea flowers pictured below, right).

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The essential oils you use here are also forgiving - if you don’t have rosemary, use sage. If you don’t have lavender, use rose, or jasmine. Play with combos you enjoy. Just remember that the citrus is photo sensitive, so you have to wait a while before going outside in the sun.

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RECIPE:

1 cup Epsom Salt (or Dead Sea Salt, or a combo)

2 tablespoons dried lavender buds

2 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence (the kind you cook with) ~ you can also sub dried rosemary

2 teaspoon dried Butterfly Pea flowers (something like this)

5 drops Rosemary essential oil

5 drops Lavender essential oil

Combine ingredients together. Add ½ or the whole batch of salts in a standard sized tub while the water is running to help them dissolve. I like being surrounded by the flowers, but if you’d rather have them in a tea bag (like this) to strain (or muslin cloth) and have less clean up, that works too. Just make sure that you squeeze the bag under running water to help it dissolve. Soak for 15-30 minutes. Use within 1 week, or store in a sealed glass jar and use within 6 months. *Recipe adapted from this amazing book.

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Warming Coffee Hand Scrub

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There’s something about winter time, getting cozy, making and creating beautiful things for the body, the home, the family, friends, gifting….I’ve seen coffee scrubs all around but have yet to find a recipe that speaks to me in very #hygge, cozy, perfect-for-winter ways, until this one.

I’ve always been one of those people who love the smell of coffee more than the taste. Don’t get me wrong ~ there’s nothing like really good, organic, (decaf for me) coffee….but depending on where you get it, it doesn’t fulfill me quite as much as simply smelling it (and perhaps I’ve been jaded by bad coffee!). I love that this scrub brings that amazing aroma to my senses. It’s sort of perfect.

It’s quick to make, and completely delicious to smell. I primarily use it for the hands, but you can easily use it for elbows, feet, legs, etc. Just make sure you rinse well as it may stain your hands a little, (but don’t wash with soap since it will wash away the oils that are meant to make your hands soft). It’s a bit abrasive, so I wouldn’t use it on the face.

The cinnamon and nutmeg are very wintery aromas, and warming too…makes you feel like you’re drinking a cozy cup of cinnamon & nutmeg coffee.

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Here we go:

1/2 cup ground organic coffee (since this is going on the skin, you’ll want to use organic)

any liquid carrier oil of your choice (almond, grapeseed, fractionated coconut, olive, etc.)

3 drops nutmeg essential oil

1 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 drop cinnamon essential oil) ~ watch it with this oil, as it can be very hot. Only add in one drop.

Combine ingredients in a small glass jar and mix well. The mixture will want to look like wet sand, but you can add as little or as much oil as you’d like (I typically 1:1 ratio, but I never measure).

Enjoy and use within 3 months (but it never lasts that long). Take about 1 tsp, massage into hands, then gently rinse off with warm water. Pat dry. Your hands should feel super soft and smell amazing!

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Did I mention it also makes great gifts for the coffee-aficionado?

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Smooth Greens Soup with Rosemary

The chillier nights are on their way as we soon enter November, and I long for soups that comfort and calm. Creamy soups have always been my love, but I don't always feel good eating them since they tend to be heavy and very fattening. Back in my dairy-eating days especially, soups were considered a light meal, but when you add in the cream and butter, they're anything but light! Inspired by one of my favorite chefs and authors Terry Walters, I've added in a few secret ingredients to thicken up the soup while still maintaining a lightness that I'm looking for.

It's all about the oats.

Terry taught me to use oats to thick soups and it works wonders in this recipe! Also I've added in just a few cashews to make it a bit heartier, but the whole fat is still light: there's only 1/4 cup in the whole soup pot! Hope you enjoy it. And if you want to add in curry, italian spices, anything you'd like ~ this is just a template so feel free to play with your food.

A little side note: We love buying heads of broccoli instead of the precut broccoli bags. The stems are great for juicing, munching on, and they're loaded with nutrition. The other day I realized I had collected 6 stems, so I I peeled and chopped them all and used them in the soup. They're a great way to use up the stems that few people know what to do with. Just get to the inner core that's sweet and crunchy and avoid the thick exterior. If you don't have stems this time around, just substitute with more broccoli florets.

one yellow onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, diced small

1 tsp coconut oil

6 broccoli stems, peeled and chopped (or just add more broccoli)

florets from one head of broccoli, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup cashews

water to cover veggies by 1 inch

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried rosemary

plain unsweetened coconut yoghurt, optional

Sauté the onion in  1 tsp coconut oil for about 2 minutes. Add the sea salt so that the onions sweat a bit, then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add in the broccoli stems, broccoli, zucchini, oats, cashews, rosemary and enough water to cover the ingredients by about an inch, cover, and cook for at least 25 minutes on medium. Stir occasionally and when the veggies are tender, use an immersion blender to blend the soup well. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Serve with crushed pepper and a tsp of coconut yoghurt if desired. Enjoy! 

 

Fire Cider

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I've been enjoying fire cider for some years now, and have had the joy of teaching a workshop at Kula Farm for the past two years. We all gather around, cut up ingredients, fill our jars and add cider vinegar, and then we wait. For a while. Strain, add honey, and just in time for the cooler months when we want a sip of something warm, spicy, and also immunity-boosting.

It’s very easy to make and it’s especially fun to make with family and friends (communal is best). It’s spicy, pungent, sweet, and for me, I’ve found it to be a great way to get my bronchial airways cleared. You can take a tsp or so with a meal, diluted or not, of you can add a splash to rice, dressings, soups, sauces, etc.

I first learned about Fire Cider from Rosemary Gladstar, a wonderful herbalism teacher and master. You can find a video of her making it here. Mountain Rose herbs also has a great recipe that I typically follow, and you can find it here.

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While this is a folk recipe, and the amounts (and even which) ingredients you use tends to vary and change with your mood, locale, season, etc…..I do like to use the base recipe above, and then you can spruce it up with whichever additional ingredients you want.

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The base is typically horseradish, onion, garlic, chili, and ginger. In the past, I’ve added cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, lemon, turmeric, rosemary, herbs….maybe all of them at the same time, maybe a select few. Enjoy the process, and let me know which add ins are your favorite! And remember to shake it daily, burp it (release some of the gas), strain after about a month, and then add a little bit of honey if using.

Happy Fire Cider Making!

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Cinnamon & Pumpkin Seed Baked Pears

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It’s not uncommon to want sweet things during the colder weather ~ puddings, baked goods, breads, etc. But the flour/sugar equation isn’t always the best for us. I was hoping to remedy the sweet with something healthy, and for certain, these baked pears fit the bill. They’re a synch to make, and they’re beyond delicious and a great way to appease that sweet tooth without the flour (and dessert coma) afterwards. Plus I love that just with a few simple ingredients, these pears get transformed into a luxurious dessert you can even offer to guests, for a light post-meal sweetness.

Serves 2-4

Two pears (Bosc preferred but green are also fine)

1/2 small lemon, juiced

cinnamon

4 tsp pumpkin seeds

coconut nectar

Slice pears lengthwise in half. Cut a small slit on the round outside belly of the pears so they can sit flat in the casserole dish. Scoop out the seeds using a melon baller or a spoon. Place the pears in the casserole dish, and squeeze the lemon over them. Add 1 tsp pumpkin seeds to each middle of the pear, sprinkle with cinnamon, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When they are done, drizzle a little coconut nectar on the top and serve. These go great with some vanilla coconut yoghurt, or your favorite dairy-free vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

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Raw Hazelnut Mocha Cheesecake Bites

I often think we're at war - with desserts. First, we love them, we crave them, we make them, we share them, we delight and ooh and ah over them and then it happens (for me, at least, and I know for many others..)....it's the "wow, I'm sleepy" post-dessert coma. For me, it's even with say two bits of ice cream or a date-rich raw brownie. Yes, I said it. All those raw desserts that we think are good for us in fact may not be so good for SOME of us, and I'm part of that population. Now, for someone coming from a binge of eating Dairy Queen and Ho Ho's, yes, raw desserts are a step up since they actually contain good fats from nuts, seeds, and even the dried dates have minerals and fiber in them that we need. But for some of us, even those dried fruits are too sweet for us. 

So I've created a preverbal white flag that (1) gets us what we want (that sweet goodness) and (2) doesn't put us to sleep. GET OUT, you say! But no, I'm not kidding. It's that good and in fact, it's even safe for people like me who have insulin resistance. Give it a whirl and see what you think. The best part is that these are good for ANYONE, even for those of us who may not need a nap after dessert. Kudos to you, and you should be proud if that's you! But for many of us, that nap, heavy feeling after dessert is a feeling we know all-too well, and well, it jus doesn’t feel good at all.

Oh, and yes, these do take some finesse and time and babysitting and you might say "but I don't have the time SHE has to make these". Let me tell you something, you. I don't have the time either! In fact, I don't have the time NOT to make these, since with one fell swoop (maybe 1/2 hour) I have dessert for the rest of the week. These are filling and rich and you don't need that much, honestly, to make your head spin with delight. Cook once, enjoy for a looooooong time. Promise. 

 

Crust Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts/brazil nuts mixed (you can also do just walnuts)

2 dates (that’s it!)

two pinches sea salt

2 heaping tablespoons raw cacao powder

1 heaping tablespoon of dandy blend powder (herbal coffee)

2 dropperfulls (you can even do 1.5) of hazelnut liquid stevia

1 tablespoon vanilla and/or hazelnut extract

1 tablespoon water

 

Creamy filling:

1 cup cashews, soaked, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 tsp hazelnut extract (may substitute vanilla extract)

1 dropperfull of hazelnut-flavored liquid stevia

 

Crust: In a food processor, process crust ingredients until they start to stick together between fingers when pinched. Don’t over process, or it will get oily. You want it just enough so it looks fudgy, but nothing more.  Feel free to use another tablespoon water to get it there. Plop out the dough onto a teflex sheet, wax paper, even a silicone baking liner and press it out using your hands (you can also do this with another wax paper sheet on top and use a mini-rolling pin). You want a uniform thickness, with tight edges. I find that ½ inch is a bit thick but ¼ inch is too thin and it breaks, so aim for somewhere in between. The end product should look like a rectangle.  Pop it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. After that, you may store it in the fridge.

Creamy filling: Combine all ingredients in a vitamix or strong blender until smooth. Pour out into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Cut the crust in two pieces (which will be the top and bottom layer of the cheesecake bites). Place the creamy filling onto one of the layers and spread to the edges. Carefully take the second crust and place it on top. Cut it into squares using a sharp knife. Keep refrigerated and enjoy.

 

 

Batch Cooking: Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus & Spicy Chickpea Tabouilleh

I'm finding that as a mama, a chef, a teacher, I'm always looking for ease....and for many of us that literally means "open can, pour in pot, heat, eat". What we forget is that it takes time to drive out to the store, get the can, bring it home...and many times it's actually just easier to make a huge pot of something, freeze leftovers, and have your "higher self" remember to defrost it in the morning to eat for supper. That saves you a trip to the store and only takes the 15 seconds it takes for you to get said frozen item out on the counter before you leave for work. 

So, enter hummus. For many years, I used to buy it. And then I'd get frustrated when we ran out since we had to do without, and then again, drive to the store on the prescribed shopping day, buy the hummus, bring it home, and sometimes, (ugh) sometimes it wasn't even GOOD...it had foreign ingredients and an air pocket which would lead to spoiling of the entire batch. Then, you'd have to drive BACK to the store, give them the container, get your refund, and then drive back. What a waste of time, and moreover, what a lack of inspiration and trust in your own abilities to make the best lip-smaking humus you've ever had! That's right, I said it - you're a hummus goddess in the making, and you didn't even know it.

But hold your horses - before we even go there, you must understand batch cooking since it will save your life.

Batch cooking....Here goes:

1. Make something

2. Divide it in two

3. Make two recipes

4. Freeze leftovers

5. Hug yourself since you just saved some serious $$$

6. And have your family hug you for the culinary goddess you are.

 

So for this particular case, we batch cooked chickpeas (or garbanzos) and the steps are as follows:

1. Take 3-4 cups of dried chickpeas, and cover with 2 inches of water, let sit overnight.

2. In the morning drain and rinse. 

3. Place in pressure cooker, cover with fresh water 2 inches above beans and add in 3 inch piece of kombu seaweed

4. Place cover on top, secure in place, and raise pressure until the knob lifts (although this depends on your machine).

5. Lower flame to medium-low and cook for 29 minutes.

6. Turn off the stove and walk away, letting the pressure lower naturally.

Enter in two amazing recipes with the batch you just made. Make sure once the chickpeas cool, you drain them but retain the cooking water for later. You can discard the Kombu.

Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus:

2 cups cooked chickpeas

1 inch cubed jalapeño pepper

1 lemon, juiced

1/3 cup tahini

1 tsp cumin

3 shakes chipotle pepper powder

1 heaping tsp sea salt

3 cloves crushed and chopped garlic

Combine all ingredients together in a food processor and process well, adding just a little bit of chickpea water to smooth out into your desired consistency. Taste for seasonings and texture, and then pour into an airtight container and refrigerate. Serve with pumpkin seed oil (optional), pumpkin seeds and crudités.

Spicy Chickpea Tabouilleh:

3 cups cooked chickpeas

1 tsp each: cumin, pizza flavoring, chipotle powder, garlic powder, black pepper, poultry seasoning, and oregano

Combine all ingredients in an 8x8 baking vessel and stir well, making sure all beans are coated in the seasoning mixture, and bake at 350 degrees for roughly 35 minutes. 

Once cool, throw in 1 cup chopped fresh parsley, and serve.

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

This is probably one of my favorite go-to soups. In addition to eating high-raw in teh winter time, I really do enjoy a hot bowl of broth or soup to warm me up, and in some instances, really delicious creamy comfort food. This is one of the creamiest silkiest soups you'll find without all of the added guilt of cream, milk or butter! And it couldn't be simpler.

1/2 onion, fine dice

1 box mini bella mushrooms, sliced

1 box shitakes, sliced

1 small zucchini (optional), diced

cashew milk made with: 1/2 cup raw cashews blended with 4 cups water (do not strain)

You can make this an oil-free dish by simply sauteeing the onion, zucchini and mushrooms in a bit of broth or water until soft (or you can use a little bit of olive oil). Cook on low, covered, until the mushrooms release all of their juices and they're tender. Add in the cashew milk, and bring to a simmer to heat through. That's it - you're done! 

 

Coconut Cream of Butternut Soup

Many days I sit and try to think of unique combinations of foods that together would spark something new and unique, and then real life sets in...the life where we all have appointments, and to do lists, and we're just plain hungry. It would be nice to say I have all the time in the world to experiment in the kitchen, but I venture to guess that I'm someone very much like you: a working person, mom, wife, someone who tries to make time to exercise, clean the house and just get stuff done on a day-by-day basis. Showering would be nice. A bath would be even better. But just "get things done and enjoy life" mode....Enter simplicity. I simply can't make things complicated any more, and I'm not apologizing for it. Especially when there's THIS soup to be had.

I made this soup by accident, having found coconut cream (thick and solid) rather than coconut milk (I just didn't read the can well enough) at Trader Joe's. I opened up the can and inside was this glorious white coconut cream just screaming back at me with love and delight, saying, "hello best friend, nice to find you here". Little did I know that the cream over the milk would make this soup incredible. 

If you can find whole butternut squash, that would be best. Simply cut the knobby end, cut in half width-wise and peel. Scoop out the seeds, chop into 1 inch cubes and you're ready to go. Sometimes we can find ready-cut butternut, but for some reason, I really do enjoy cutting through these squashes...it releases tension and helps me unite the the food (something I don't get when I just tear open a package and add it to the pot). Additionally, whole squashes tend to be more fresh then packaged ones. 

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 butternut squash, cubed (or about 4-5 cups)

1/2 can coconut cream (I use the Trader Joe's brand)

water (or you can substitute broth) 

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté the onion in coconut oil with a few shakes of salt on medium heat. If you cover it, it will sweat better and start to release its own juices. Add in the squash and cover with water/broth about an inch over the squash. Bring to a boil, lower heat, simmer covered about 25 minutes or until done (when pierced with a fork). Add in 1/2 can of coconut cream and stir to warm through. Using an immersion blender, blend MOST of the soup (a few chunks are actually a really nice texture). Serve with some red pepper flakes, a LOT of crushed black pepper, and a nice salad. 

 

 

 

Winter Herb Aromatherapy Shower Tablets

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These days, when the weather brings its chill, I love to stay indoors and make things out of really good ingredients, to treat the body well. It’s a #hygge thing for sure, cozy and joyful. It’s also coming up to the holidays so by brain is always churning, looking for things to make as gifts. As a simple person, I know that gifts can add up and especially if they’re unwanted or re-gifted again (I mean, how many scarves do we really need?), I want to make sure I give something that’s purposeful and possibly after used, there’s nothing to “store" around. These are wonderful in that way. They’re healthy for the environments since they’re non-toxic, they smell delicious, are easy to make, are a meaningful hand-made gift, and leave no residue behind of boxes, or things they have to deal with after they’re used. Win~win~win~win…..

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Of course, it’s a given that you want to use really high quality oils (which is why I use Young Living). After all, if you’re chasing the non-toxic life, you may as well buy non-toxic oils, right? That makes sense. But it helps to say it out loud, to remind ourselves that a lot of the oils bought out there are in fact not so non-toxic. It’s a sad situation for sure.

That said, the recipe is pretty simple….with a few adjustments from my own experience, detailed in the description below. Enjoy the process and enjoy the aromatherapy experience after!

Aromatherapy Shower Tablets: makes about 12 mini hearts

1 cup baking soda

1 tablespoon arrowroot flour

⅓ cup water

2 drops essential oils (I like Raven and Juniper) 

You’ll need a silicone mold, sort of like this one

Combine the baking soda and arrowroot, making sure there aren’t any lumps. Add in the water and make a thick paste. If it’s difficult to stir, which it often is, you can add a tsp of water or two to make it easier. Pour into a silicone mold, and let sit overnight. I’ve found that it helps to add an extra 8 hours to that as well (aim for about 1 and 1/2 days or so) I’ve also found that some water settles on the top, almost an hour after you’ve set them: if that’s the case, let it pour off gently as you tip the mold towards the side, making sure none of the actual white paste gets out. After they set, add in your essential oils to the top of them, two drops to each tablet (use the blend I suggested above or make your own!).

You can also try: Rosemary & Lemon, Peppermint & Lavender, Eucalyptus and Peppermint, Geranium and Lavender, etc.

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To use: Drop one or two tablets in your tub or shower away from the stream of water. Sprinkle a bit of water on the tablet to activate it. Breathe in the aromatherapy. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within the week, or store in an air-tight container and use within 6 months. You can also make this into a powder by eliminating the water: combing ingredients together, pour into a lidded glass jar, and sprinkle in the shower.

*Raven is a Young Living Blend that contains Ravintsara, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, and wintergreen.
Recipe adapted from Jules Aron’s Fresh And Pure book.

Calendula and Oat Botanical Soap

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At our most recent Make & Take, we used botanicals such as calendula and essential oils to create our own spa-experience DIY products. One of them was this amazing Calendula and Oat Soap. It’s super easy to make, hydrating and moisturizing the skin, and great for any part of your body, from face to toes. Gentle enough for most skin, and fun to make to give away as gifts, too! I much prefer making my own gifts to give away, vs. buying them, and these are especially purposeful since we love our shower and bath time!

I found that Calendula is not only amazing for the skin but also pretty to look at, but in a pinch you can feel free to use rose petals too. The oat is gluten free and acts as a nice exfoliant for the skin. All in all, a wonderful afternoon activity that will leave you with enough soap to last you for months!

Grapeseed oil or a neutral oil for silicone molds

Silicone molds (these would work)

16oz shaved/grated glycerin soap base (I got mine here)

¼  each organic calendula petals/flowers and rolled oats

8 drops Elemi Essential Oil

4 drops Palmarosa essential Oil

Grease your silicone molds with the oil. Grate your soap (or you can cut them super fine too, if you’re faster with a knife) and pour in heat-safe bowl, over a pan of simmering water (or double boiler, which is easier). Let the soap melt, and remove the heat. Add in the essential oils, and stir to prevent bubbles from forming. Arrange your herbs in the bottom of the molds. For these, I put a pinch of Calendula on the bottom of one, and a pinch of rolled oats in another) and pour the soap over them. Allow to cool and set for a few hours. Keep in a cool, dry place. For maximum freshness, use within 6 months. Enjoy!

This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe found in the book, Fresh And Pure, by Jules Aron.