March 22, 2012


Vernal Equinox marks the balance point between winter and spring, day and night, darkness and light. Take this opportunity to celebrate the change! In honor of the new moon, I created a black and white cupcake to warm your heart and soothe your body. 

Literally, the chocolate batter stimulates cardio-vascular function and the coconut cream icing relaxes muscles and lubricates joints. The best news of all: this delectable cupcake is free of gluten, refined sugar, and dairy!
Try this easy recipe and let me know what you think.

Chocolate cupcakes topped with coconut cream
For the cupcake batter, melt  these ingredients over low heat in a small pot or double boiler:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ripe, mashed banana
4 Tablespoons coconut sugar (I like Madhava brand)

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together: 
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened almond, rice or soy milk
1/4 cup coconut flour (I like Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Allow melted chocolate mixture to cool for 5 minutes. Then, whisk it into the rest of the batter.
Pour into greased muffin tins. Fill each one 3/4 of the way.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

As cupcakes bake, make the coconut cream icing. In a small pot, melt together:
1/4 cup coconut butter or, if you can find it, 'coconut manna' (I like Nutiva brand)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
4 Tablespoons coconut sugar (I like Madhava brand) 
1/4 cup unsweetened almond, rice or soy milk

When cupcakes are baked, remove them to a plate and cover each one with creamy icing before it cools. Allow cupcakes and icing to cool and harden before serving.

Happy New Moon Spring Equinox! May this wholesome sweetness bring balance to your day.

March 15, 2012

Spring Awakening

During this time of spring when sunlight and starlight are equal, find balance between the slow weight of winter and the quickening freshness of spring. According to Traditional Chinese Five Element Theory, spring is the time of the liver and the wood element. By adding sour flavors to our daily meals, we adapt to the changing climate, prevent seasonal colds, aid digestion, soothe inflammation, and release the heaviness of winter. Sour foods include: lemons, limes, oranges, apples, celery, garlic, leeks, mung beans, rye, teff, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. Add some sprouts as a garnish to your grains and use apple cider vinegar and olive oil as a condiment for braised greens.

Ginger 'pickles'

I recently learned this recipe from Dr. Vasant Lad at the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, NM. These spicy treats stimulate digestion and balance overall metabolism. You can make a jar of them and keep them in the fridge for 3 days. Enjoy one before each meal.

You will need:
a thick piece of fresh ginger root
rock (coarse) salt
1 lime

Make ginger root slices as thin as possible with a sharp knife. Place them on a plate in one flat layer. Sprinkle them with rock salt. Cut open the lime and squeeze it onto the ginger. Let the slices sit for 5 minutes or so before eating.

Spiced mung bean stew

You will need:
1 cup mung beans, soaked overnight
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or sunflower oil (choose the one that’s local to you)

2 large onions, diced 
5 stalks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced 
1 inch fresh ginger root, minced

2 Teaspoons each: ground coriander, ground cumin, salt
1 teaspoon each: ground turmeric, paprika, black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cardamom and cinnamon

7 cups vegetable broth (make your own or choose a sugar-free, low-sodium variety)

Juice of 1 lemon

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 

Rinse the soaked mung beans. In a medium-sized stock pot, bring the soaked mung beans to a boil, using four times as much water as beans. Cook for 45 minutes on medium-high heat, skimming foam as it rises to the top of the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the celery, garlic, ginger, and powdered spices. Cook for another five minutes or so. 

Add the broth and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes or so.

Once the beans are soft, place a fine mesh strainer over the sink and pour them through it. Rinse beans and add them to the soup pot.
Stir in the lemon juice, parsley, and cilantro, cover, and cook on high for 10 minutes. Serve hot with injera, sourdough rye bread, or cooked millet.

Teff pancakes or injera, ethiopian skillet bread

Teff is a gluten-free grain in the grass (poaceae) family. It is rich in iron, fiber, and calcium. When fermented for 24 hours in this recipe, it acquires a sour flavor, which awakens the taste buds to spring’s arrival.
You will need:             
        ½ cup teff flour
        ½ cup millet flour
        1 cup water
        1 teaspoon salt
        vegetable oil
Mix the teff and millet flour in a bowl. 
Slowly add the water, whisking to avoid lumps.
Cover the bowl with a thin cloth napkin and tuck the corners under the bowl. Set it aside for a day and allow it to ferment. In this time, your injera batter will start to bubble and acquire a slightly sour flavor or tanginess.
If your batter does not ferment on its own, try adding a teaspoon of baking powder.
When you are ready to cook the injera pancakes, stir the salt into the batter.

Place a thin layer of vegetable oil in a nonstick or cast iron skillet. Heat until a water drop dances on the surface.  Keep the heat at medium temperature.

Coat the pan with a thin layer of batter. Each pancake can be thicker than a crêpe, but not as thick as a traditional pancake. It will rise slightly as it heats.
Cook until holes appear on the surface of the bread. Once the surface is dry, remove the bread from the pan and let it cool.

You do not need to flip it. By keeping it thin, each pancake will cook all the way through.

Serve with stew, sauerkraut, and other spring vegetables that appeal to you.

Grapefruit-braised endive with apple cider vinegar

You will need:
     1 Tablespoon honey
     1 garlic clove, minced
     1 inch fresh ginger root, minced - about the same quantity as the garlic
     Juice of 1 small grapefruit
     1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
     2 cups water
     1 Tablespoon rock (coarse) salt
     5 endive hearts (inner portion)
     2 Tablespoons local vegetable oil (olive or sunflower)

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, garlic, ginger, grapefruit juice, ginger and vinegar. Set aside.

Bring the water and salt to a boil over a high heat in a large skillet. Add the endive hearts and allow them to cook for 3 minutes. Drain them and slice the endives into ½ inch rounds and set them aside. 

Add the honey mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook it for 3 more minutes (or until it thickens). Return the endives to the pan, turn off the heat, and stir gently to coat them with the sauce. 

Place the endive rounds on individual serving plates. Drizzle them with the pan sauce and olive oil.

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