April 30, 2016

My Favorite Spring Treats

Spring is a time to lighten up, eat fewer refined foods, and move towards the whole, local ingredients that support the health of local farms, the bioregion, and your body.

May this practice of eating simple, seasonal, flavorful food help you connect with nature and welcome each day as an opportunity for rejuvenation and new discovery.

May day is honored in Northern traditional cultures as Beltaine, a celebration of passion, creativity, fertility and the resplendent sun, which shines warmer each day and lingers longer each evening. Spark your passion and creative impulse by getting in the kitchen and making these wholesome treats! They also happen to be vegan and gluten-free.

Sweet Potato Bars


For the crust:
1 cup rolled oats
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup almonds
1/4 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the topping:
1 pound orange fleshed sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1/4 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)

Chop and boil the sweet potatoes. Keep the skin on for maximum nutritional benefit. Drain them and allow them to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil an 8-inch square-baking pan with olive oil. Place all topping ingredients in a food processor bowl and pulse until mixture reaches a coarse meal that's evenly moist.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly and firmly into the bottom. Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven.

Place all the topping ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. There's no need to wash the processor between the crust and the topping.

Pour the mixture onto the crust and smooth the top evenly with a spatula. Bake about 25 minutes. Allow to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Enjoy!

Sweet potatoes are: high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity; rich in carotenoids and omega-3s, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity; rich in B vitamins to reduce stress.

Almond Chocolate Chip Bites


You will need:
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup organic unsalted almond butter*
1 cup dark chocolate chips
¼ cup cocoa nibs

*You can substitute cashew or peanut butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. 
Using a soup spoon, evenly space scoops of the mixture on the baking sheet. Press down with a spatula or back of the spoon to slightly flatten. 
Bake for about 15 minutes.
Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring and eating!

Almonds are: high in monounsaturated fat, which promotes heart health, helps reduce LDL cholesterol, and aids in carbohydrate metabolism, thus contributing to weight loss; hig in flavoproteins to balance blood sugar and improve energy levels; rich in vitamin E to promote cognitive abilities and protect the brain.

Thanks to Rebecca Katz for this inspiration!

April 18, 2016

Making Time To Cook

As Spring finds us with its fat buds ready to burst into fragrant flowers, I look ahead to the long days
of Summer. Here on our homestead in Vermont, we revel in the warm months and take time work in the garden, walk in the woods, and sit outside to soak in the lingering evenings.

Summer will also bring a heightened pace of life. With so many daylight hours, the temptation can be to stay busy for the majority of the day! Now is the time to prepare the body, mind and spirit for this brilliant, abundant, and sometimes tiring time of year.

Spring brings the gift of rejuvenation, new life, and the opportunity to prepare for Summer. Start the season with a weekly meal plan, which allows you and your loved ones to keep eating whole, simple foods that are nourishing and delicious.

You can try creating a meal plan with friends or family.

Sit down together, perhaps after a shared meal, and talk about your favorite dishes.

Meal ideas:

Taco Night
Casserole Fun
Soup, Bread, and Salad
Pasta Night
Pizza

It's easy to make these meals healthy and delicious! Just be sure to add plenty of vegetables to your sauces and soups. I made the pizza pictures her with an oat crust, pesto sauce, and toppings of steamed broccolini, walnuts, cooked white beans and a little Parmigiano cheese.

Savor your meals with inspiring spice blends, sauces and spreads to bring forward tons of flavor. Allow each person to mix and match the components of each meal so that everyone enjoys it.

Here are some other options to inspire you:

Three-day meal plan with recipes

A week of plant-based lunches - $10

Weekly meal plans and recipes delivered to your inbox - $15

Be well and enjoy the art of cooking!




April 15, 2016

Recipes for Spring Renewal

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables of all, and we’ll discuss their nutrition as well as many other health benefits.

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and it cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems.

In Traditional Chinese Five Element Theory (TCM), the flavor of Spring is sour. The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods include vinegar, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, fennel, and caraway seeds. Sourness has an astringent and consolidating effect in the body. It can control diarrhea and excess perspiration or help focus a scattered mind.

Sour foods will help us harmonize Spring. In India’s time-honored tradition of Ayurvedic Medicine, spring is known as the Kapha season. Kapha, the earth element, is heavy, grounded, and can feel stuck when it is out of balance. While spring waters are flowing and mud is everywhere, uplift your body, mind, and spirit, with a daily walk, deep breathing, and sour food.

I was raised in the European / Mediterranean tradition, where we harvested dandelion greens each spring to make a bitter and delicious salad with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and grated carrots. I remember how much my grandmother loved vinegar. She dressed our salads generously with this sour liquid. Thank goodness for the carrots to temper the sour and bitter flavors for an overall harmonious effect.

Spring is a wonderful time to engage in a food meditation while cooking. As you chop, stir, and smell, try to be quiet and pay attention to the alchemy of cooking. This practice, along with the inclusion of sour foods and bitter greens, will help you feel more patient, calm, assertive, flexible, and alert.

Creamy Green Sauce


Choose 2 large yellow onions.
Chop off top and bottom, peel skin and slice each one in half width-wise.
Place two halves flat on cutting board and slice each one into thin crescent moons. Follow the ridges of the onion when chopping.

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet that has a matching lid.
When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover.

Add a splash or two of water.
Add salt and black pepper.

Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water if onion is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a medium stock pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.

Rinse and chop 1 large bunch kale, collards and/or chard.

Add greens to the pot, cover, and reduce heat to low. Braise greens for 5-10 minutes.

Add greens to onions. Stir well to incorporate and purée with immersion blender or food processor.
Enjoy as a condiment for grains, as a delicious sauce for salmon, and as a sandwich spread.

Walnut Leek Paté


Chop one large leek into crescents and place in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes on low heat. Add a splash of lemon juice and turn off heat.


While leek is cooking, place ½ cup walnut halves/pieces in a skillet.Toast on medium heat, tossing often with a spatula, for about 3 minutes or until walnuts are lightly browned.


Once leeks and walnuts are cooked, place them in a food processor and add 3 Tablespoons olive oil. You can also place all ingredients in a deep bowl and blend with an immersion blender.


Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes. Taste for salt.
Serve and enjoy with biscuits or savory breads or as a dip with steamed broccoli. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

Dandelion Pesto


In Italian, ‘pesto’ simply means ‘stomp’. You can ‘stomp’ any fresh herbs or greens you like into pesto. Get creative! Try a combination of parsley and cilantro, basil and parsley, or dandelion and nettles.

Harvest as many fresh, tender dandelion greens as you can. Aim for about 3 packed cups.
Rinse well.

In a food processor or blender, blend into a thick paste:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup best olive oil (labeled with acidity of less than 0.5%)
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
½ teaspoon salt

Add dandelion greens. Pulse to incorporate.

Freeze large batches or enjoy with sourdough rye bread, over freshly cooked quinoa, or as a topping for poached white fish or white beans. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

April 7, 2016

Candida Cookies

As a breastfeeding mother of an infant of almost 2 months, I have been through many of the trials of what can occur during the early stages. After having a bacterial infection, mastitis, my breasts also developed a secondary fungal infection: candida. I have been working to clear it from my system for over three weeks.

For many years, I have been helping clients with chronic overgrowth of candida albicans yeast. Now, I'm truly starting to understand how difficult it can be to restore balance once the system is out of alignment.

Candida albicans is a yeast that lives naturally in small quantities in our digestive tract. However, like any beneficial microorganism, when it grows out of proportion and over-colonizes the digestive tract, it can create problems in the body. Systemic candida can include nail and toe nail fungus, digestive distress, cramping, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and a host of additional issues, including eczema and other skin rashes.

The best way to help the body return to balance is to eat pre-biotic foods, like onions and whole, gluten-free grains. These nourish beneficial probiotic bacteria as well as being part of a diet that does not allow the yeast to flourish. Yeast thrives on sugar dairy products and refined carbohydrates. These are the ingredients to avoid.

To reduce candida overgrowth, focus on eating vegetables, non-glutinous whole grains, animal protein, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats that are also antifungal - like coconut oil and olive oil. In addition, taking a probiotic like Mega Foods' Megaflora can be extremely helpful.

Because I love to bake creative treats, I decided to take all of the most healthful ingredients that also tastes the sweetest and combine them to make a cookie that still fits the parameters of the candida cleanse. I hope you will enjoy this recipe! My husband drizzles cookies with maple syrup for a sweeter treat.

Cinnamon is extremely powerful at stopping the overgrowth of candida yeast. Coconut helps with this process as well and is also pre-biotic due to its high fiber content. Berries are the only allowable fruit on this diet, so I decided to include those, too!


Blueberry Coconut Cookies - Unsweetened!


You will need:
11/2 cups almond flour
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 tablesspoons flaxseed meal
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup coconut oil, forked out into small chunks
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
A pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups almond milk

*For a sweeter treat, add 1/2 cup maple syrup and 2 additional tablespoons coconut flour to compensate for the extra liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed meal and shredded coconut together. Add cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Mix again.
Add the coconut oil and mix well so that small, pearl-sized pieces are evenly coated with the flour throughout the batter.
Add the berries and mix again.
Finally, mix, add the almond milk and mix one more time.

Place in golf ball sized balls on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten  each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand.
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Let me know what you think!

February 8, 2016

Kitchen Essentials

I love my chef's knife. It's a Chicago Cutlery knife -  not an expensive brand - that was passed down
to me by my parents about a decade ago. I chop almost everything with my chef's knife: from onions to apples.

The key to enjoying your kitchen knives is to sharpen them regularly. This is a very quick and simple task, which will make your food preparation much easier. It's not worth the work to struggle with poor quality, dull knives! You will enjoy cooking much more when you have a good, sharp knife.

To choose a chef's knife: make sure that the metal blade goes all the way through to the end of the handle. This will ensure that the knife lasts and has good leverage without bending its blade.

To choose a sharpener: go to your local hardware store and ask for a simple kitchen knife sharpener. Mine is small and yellow. It has criss-crossed ceramic edges that sharpen knives quickly and easily.

Now that you have a nice knife and a good sharpener, enjoy preparing food! When you return from food shopping, chop up a few days' worth of vegetables and store them in the fridge.

I like to make cubes of sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and potatoes. I use these either for roasting or for soups.

I chop kale, collards and chard for sautes or soups. I add chopped onions to add to almost anything, from pot pie to frittata.

Regardless of how you prepare food, please set aside time to cook and enjoy your meal!

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