Archive for January, 2011

Currant Spiced Flax-Seed Muffins (gluten-free)

I have become obsessed with muffins in the last year. They are such an easy thing to whip up and put together, you can eat a few fresh out of the oven, then freeze the leftovers and have breakfasts for a week! What I love about muffins is that I can make a batch and freeze them all just before going on a road trip. I always pack a cooler and these take up little room and then eating both on the road and when we get to where we are going is so much easier for me. We leave bright and early tomorrow morning for Kentucky to see Mark’s family, so I thought making sure I have some healthy options while we were away was smart.

It’s wonderful how versatile this muffin recipe is, there are so many flavor combinations that you can play with. I have found that the almond flour yields the best results with gluten-free muffins. They are fluffy, light and aren’t dense as some gluten-free baked-goods tend to be. This time I decided to add in some flax-seeds for some fiber and other healthy goodies like Omega-3 fats. They gave these muffins a great crunch and brought a nice nutty flavor. If you are thinking you wouldn’t like the whole seeds, you could certainly grind them up first and add them in with the flours, ground up.

This is my first time baking with Sucanat and I am pretty happy with it. Sucanat is dried pure cane juice, it works great as a substitute for brown sugar in most recipes. Unlike refined processed white sugar, it retains it’s natural molasses content and is a true unprocessed sugar. It has a lower sucrose levels and it is believed that it is healthier than other sugars.

I always have dried unsweetened currants on hand, they are great in salads, with grains and in baked-goods. They currants pair very well with the spices in these muffins, they have so much flavor. If you wish to skip the eggs to make these muffins vegan, replace the egg whites with 1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 cup warm water till frothy.

Currant Spiced Flax-Seed Muffins (gluten-free)

Currant Spiced Flax-Seed Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1 1/3 cups almond flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch or tapioca starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup organic sucanat (dried cane juice)
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 organic free-range egg whites (depending on the size, you are looking to get 1/4 cup of liquid), beaten until frothy*
1/2 cup warm water, more as needed, up to 3/4 cup
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup organic flax seeds, (I used them whole, you could certainly grind them first)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup dried currants, no sugar added

Preheat oven to 375º F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together the first 7 ingredients (up to and including the xanthan gum). Beat in the sugar, olive oil, vanilla, egg whites, warm water and lemon juice. Beat until it is smooth and like a thick cake batter.
Add in the flax seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and dried currants. Stir briefly, until thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. A wooden pick inserted into the center should emerge clean.

Cool the muffin pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Gently pop the muffins out to continue cooling on the rack (don’t cool them longer than 5 minutes in the hot pan- they’ll definitely get soggy). Enjoy a muffin after they have cooled 10 minutes, you know you want to.

Freeze any leftover muffins in tightly sealed freezer bags and pop one out for a quick and easy breakfast.

*See above note about making these vegan.

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew


This is what winter is all about – spicy, hearty and healthy! This was a delicious one-pot dinner for a very frigid winter night. I made this for dinner on the second to last day of my cleanse and it was hard to believe this was not only healthy, but cleanse-friendly. I had been avoiding corn throughout my entire cleanse, though I just couldn’t resist adding it to this stew, not only for taste, but for the lovely “pop” of the bright sunshine color in an already beautiful dish. Though this dish is vegan, it would satisfy the most ravenous of meat eaters, Mark was raving about it, which can be hard to get him to do sometimes without meat. It is reminiscent of chili but is a combination of flavors unlike any chili I have ever had. The subtle sweetness from the sweet potatoes is so perfectly unexpected. I personally love spicy, so I kept the seeds in on both the jalapeño and chipotle pepper, this stew had a pretty nice kick to it. If you don’t like spicy, you can certainly choose one over the other on the spicy peppers or leave out the seeds. The splash of fresh lime juice is such a perfect compliment to all the flavors and really brings a nice brightness to the dish. If you don’t like black beans or don’t have any on hand, so many other beans would work well in this dish, kidney, pinto, navy, etc. I also think this stew would be great with butternut squash or pumpkin, as well. If you aren’t vegan or on a cleanse and you love your cheese, grate some nice extra-sharp cheddar cheese on top of this stew when you serve it. It would be incredible. Avocado or sour cream would also be great on top. And, if you really like the heat, a few squirts of your favorite hot sauce when serving, would give you another kick of spice. Please do yourself and make this super easy and hearty stew before winter is over and you regret it.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew
serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small-medium organic sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes (you basically want about 1 1/2 pounds of sweet potato)
2 small onions, peeled and roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 jalapeño, diced (I left the seeds in, I like spicy, take them out if you don’t)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 dried chipotle pepper, roughly chopped, again seeds left in
3 cups organic low sodium vegetable broth
1 – 15 ounce can organic black beans, no salt added, rinsed and drained
1 – 28 ounce can diced organic fire-roasted tomatoes
1 1/2 cups frozen organic sweet corn
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more for serving
3 green onions, thinly sliced

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper and jalapeño, stir well to coat. Sauté until onion and peppers are slightly soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the chili powder, cumin, salt, and chopped chipotle pepper, still well to combine. Add in the vegetable broth and diced tomatoes (including all the juice in the can). Bring the stew to a boil, stirring well to combine all the ingredients and remove any stuck bits or spices at the bottom of the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer, add in the frozen corn and allow it to cook 15-20 minutes longer or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.

Just before serving add the fresh cilantro and lime juice to the stew, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in large soup bowls, top with a bit more fresh cilantro and green onions, you can add an additional squeeze of lime, if desired. Enjoy.

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Coconut Quinoa and Spinach Salad

I came across this recipe on Sprouted Kitchen earlier in the week and was so excited that I had every ingredient on-hand to make it. I was happy I had time to put this together last night. It has been a very busy week with a lot of quick meals and leftovers, though I have still been able to stick with the cleanse, which I am proud of. I am feeling incredible, today is day 12 of 14 and I feel light and so much less weighed down and “blah”. It definitely helps that in the last 12 days I have been able to make it to six 90+ minute yoga classes and I will be getting to 2 more in the next 2 days. Starting this new year out as healthy as I can be, has made me so happy and ready for everything that lies ahead. It is incredible what a cleanse does, not only for your body, but also your mind. The brain fog is lifted and you are left with an exorbitant amount of energy. You can’t believe it until you try it for yourself.

Beyond being beautiful to look at with all the colors, there are so many wonderful flavors in this salad and all of the textures work great together, the crispy crunch from the pomegranate seeds and pistachios finish it so nicely. The coconut flavor is subtle and the crispy shallots? OH MY! This recipe calls for salt in a few places, I still included it but went very light. I made this as a main course for dinner last night and had it again for lunch today, though it would make a great side dish or starter.

Coconut Quinoa and Spinach Salad
Serves 6 as a side, less as a main dish
Via Sprouted Kitchen

1 cup organic quinoa
1 cup light organic coconut milk
1/3 cup vegetable broth or water

2 large shallots
2 tablespoons coconut oil (If you don’t have coconut oil on hand, canola oil will work as an alternative, which is what I used)

1 cup fresh organic pomegranate seeds
4 cups (ish) organic baby spinach
1/2 cup toasted pistachio nuts

2 tablespoons orange juice (Lemon or lime juice will work here as well)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the quinoa, coconut milk, water and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, this will take about 10-12 minutes. Empty quinoa into a bowl and allow to cool. If you want it to cool quicker, you can spread it out on a cookie sheet in a thin layer.

Slice the shallots width wise into thin slices. Heat up the oil in a medium saute pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add in the shallots. They will begin to move around in the pan, once the edges turn golden flip them over or gently toss them around, they can burn quickly so watch them. Set up a double layer of paper towels, remove the shallots just as they turn brown and drain on the paper towels.

In a small bowl, mix the orange juice, thyme, olive oil and a few small pinches of salt and pepper.

Before you assemble the salad, be sure your quinoa is room temperature or it will wilt the spinach. In a large salad bowl, spinach, the cooked quinoa, the pomegranate seeds and pistachios with the dressing. Leave a bit of the pomegranates and pistachios to garnish the top with. Garnish the top with the rest of the pomegranate seeds, pistachios and all of your crispy shallots. Top with fresh ground black pepper and enjoy. You will love it.

* If you aren’t going to eat the salad in one sitting, which I didn’t, you can mix it up half at a time and leave the rest of the elements separate, this way you can mix it again the next time you serve it and it won’t be soggy.

How beautiful is this pomegranate?

By the way, I am fairly certain a pomegranate is one of the most beautiful and tasty things that nature has to offer.

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As many of you know, my husband Mark and I, own our own graphic design / illustration studio, Hero Design Studio, and we also have a storefront here in Buffalo where we sell all of the things we make by hand. Beyond all of our client work and having a storefront, we sell our wares online in our web store and our etsy store and we also travel the country attending different music festivals and craft fairs. I feel blessed every day to be able to do what I love most with the person I love most. Besides cooking, getting up and going to work is one of many joys in my life, I love being able to be creative everyday and to make what I love. There are so many similarities between cooking and a creative job, both come from the heart and are so personal. They are so unique to each individual and when you give yourself fully and honestly to your craft you are also (hopefully) bringing that love and happiness to others, as well.

I recently combined my love of design and illustration with my love of cooking and designed a kitchen measurement conversion print and a flour sack tea towel. The print is 8″ x 10″ and available in 4 different colors, Vintage Blue, Lemon Yellow, Retro Red and Green Apple and it was hand silkscreen printed by us. The 22″ x 38″ flour sack tea towel is available in Vintage Green and Retro Red and was hand silkscreen printed by our good friend Tom from Pavlov’s Togs. I have had a number of different food, wine and cooking projects on my mind for sometime now and I decided to make this the first of hopefully many, as it is not only fun to look at, but it is also functional.

I am giving away a towel or print to two lucky readers!! The contest starts today and runs until Thursday, January 27. I will choose two winners at random (using random.org) on January 27 at noon EST.


In the comments section below, leave a comment and tell me which Tasty Yummies recipe that you have made is your favorite or if you haven’t yet made one, tell me which you are most looking forward to making. That’s it. Please make sure to include your email address in your posting information so I am able to easily contact you to let you know you have won and to arrange shipping. I will choose two different winners and each winner will have their choice of a flour sack tea towel or 8″ x 10″ print.

Contest participants may reside anywhere, this is not limited to just US Residents. Anyone is eligible to win (even friends and family, hi guys!). If you are chosen as a winner and do not respond to the email notification within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.


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Banana Almond Butter Smoothie

You all know by now that I am on a two-week cleanse and have become obsessed with smoothies in this time. I have been having so much fun experimenting with different flavor combinations and new ingredients. This past week, the first week of my cleanse, I discovered the magic of dates!! Now I know why they call them “nature’s candy”. Sweet enough to pop in your mouth whole to conquer any cravings, but all natural, fresh and cleanse friendly. My new-found love of dates came by accident, I happened across a container of something called “organic date coconut rolls” in the bulk section at Lexington Coop and became intrigued when I noticed they looked like little cookies and had only two ingredients: organic dates and organic coconut flakes. That’s it. Both ingredients are cleanse-friendly, so I bought them. They are incredible and so delicious, so much flavor and perfectly sweet. I have enjoyed maybe one a day or one every other day and they have been the perfect way to handle any sweet cravings I may have. Yesterday, when I went to the Coop to stock up on some things I needed for this week, I grabbed a pound of fresh organic Medjool dates to use in smoothies, eat on their own and to possibly experiment making my own date coconut rolls with. I thought tossing one date in a smoothie would be a nice natural and whole way to add a bit of sweetness. I was right. It was the perfect bit of sweet in this delicious smoothie. If you don’t like dates or can’t find them, you could certainly substitute a tablespoon of maple syrup, honey or agave syrup to your smoothie.

I also bought a jar of unsweetened almond butter for a recipe I am excited to try after my cleanse is over, but while in the shower this morning (yes, I think about food in the shower) I thought it would be great in a banana almond butter smoothie. So, I decided to experiment a bit this morning and wow, I am glad I did. This smoothie is the best one I have made yet, it has the perfect amount of sweetness and it is so wonderfully creamy that you actually feel like you are having a milkshake. I had meant to freeze a banana last night but forgot, so I just added a handful of ice cubes, if you use a frozen banana you can leave the ice cubes out. Frozen bananas are amazing in smoothies, such a brilliant way to get the chilly frostiness!

Do yourself a favor and make this smoothie, you will be amazed that something so good for you can taste so sinfully delightful.

Banana Almond Butter Smoothie
serves 1

1 cup organic unsweetened almond milk
1 organic banana (preferably frozen)
2 tablespoons unsalted, unsweetened organic almond butter
1 fresh Medjool date, pit removed and cut in half
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
Whole nutmeg, grate a small amount into the blender just before blending
A small handfull of ice cubes (if your banana wasn’t frozen)

Add all the ingredients to your blender and process until smooth!

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Peaches and Cream Smoothie

I have really been loving smoothies while I am on this cleanse. They have been the perfect morning breakfast, light, but still substantial enough to keep me going until lunch. A lot of mornings I get up and I am out the door before 7am for Mysore yoga (a self-led Ashtanga yoga practice) and I don’t eat beforehand. When I get home (or to the studio) I am hungry but pleasantly relaxed and not ravenous for a large breakfast. The smoothies are perfect. I have been playing around with all the different fresh and frozen organic fruit and fruit juices I have, some have almond milk, others don’t and I have added in the ground flax-seeds when I think I could use it (these can certainly be left out in this recipe or any of the others). This smoothie was so delicious. I am so obsessed and amazed with almond milk. I have never been a big milk drinker, but I really don’t care much for soy milk either, when I tried almond milk I knew that was the one for me.

This was yesterday’s smoothie, cleanse day number 7! I am now in week 2 and excited to experiment with new smoothies and other breakfast options. Got any smoothie recipes to share?

Peaches and Cream Smoothie
serves 1

1 cup organic unsweetened almond milk
1 cup frozen organic peaches
1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla
1 tablespoon ground organic flax-seed
small drizzle of honey (you can add more if you wish, I am trying to go very light with the sweeteners during the cleanse)

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until frothy and smooth.

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Roasted Winter Vegetable Ragout

I made such a big batch of Roasted Winter Vegetables last week that I have been enjoying them lots of different ways ever since. Because Mark refuses to eat beets, I have been slowly making a dent in them all by myself and I have been loving it. I had about half of them left, so, I decided to take the remainder and make this ragout over the weekend, I served it over some brown rice with a lot of freshly ground black pepper, for a nice hearty and hot winter lunch. There was enough that I also enjoyed it served over some organic brown rice linguine last night for dinner. There is still one small serving left and that will be a great lunch tomorrow. There really are many ways you can do this, the main point is to create a quick and easy chunky tomato sauce. I didn’t have diced or whole canned tomatoes so I just used the crushed tomatoes that I had and then I added some sun-dried tomatoes slices in. Because there are onions and garlic in with the roasted vegetables you really don’t have to add much. I added baby spinach for some green crunch. This was great over the brown rice and brown rice pasta, it would also be great over polenta, quinoa or millet.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Ragout
serves 3-4

3 cups leftover roasted winter vegetables (or however much you have)
1/2 of a 28 ounce can organic crushed tomatoes (put the remainder in a leftover container in the fridge for another meal later in the week)
2 cups organic vegetable broth, low sodium
Pinch or two of dried herbs de provence
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes sliced
2 cups organic baby spinach

Add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth to a large pan over a medium-high heat, bring to a simmer. Add in the herbs, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted vegetables, cook over a high heat about 15 minutes. Stir in the baby spinach and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, spoon over rice, pasta, polenta, etc.

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Creamy Broccoli Soup (Vegan)

This soup was incredible! So much flavor and so very simple. It was a very quick throw-it together meal after we got home from the studio. I came across a recipe in Whole Living Magazine’s January/February issue where they featured their “28-day Action Plan”, a sort of cleanse / detox and fitness plan for the New Year. Their plan isn’t as limiting as the cleanse I am on, so I took this recipe and altered it slightly to make it vegan/cleanse friendly. The original recipe calls for chicken stock and shavings of fresh parmesan cheese, both of which I am sure would be delicious. I substituted vegetable broth for the chicken stock and left off the cheese. I also had Great Northern beans on hand and the recipe called for Cannellini beans, these worked just as well. Since the recipe called for salt and pepper to taste on each serving it was nice as I could easily leave out the salt for mine and Mark could add a sprinkle to his, as he wanted.

The soup was so thick and hearty, the creaminess achieved from the beans made it impossible to believe there wasn’t a bit of dairy in there. The toasted pine nuts were the perfect addition to complete this soup, those little guys have so much flavor and when toasted they just explode with taste. To top it all off, this dish is loaded with fiber and is very low in fat and calories. It took about 30 minutes to make from start to finish. This soup is very thick, which I loved, I actually ended up adding in a bit more vegetable broth than the recipe called for, if you like a thinner soup you could certainly add more stock to get the consistency to your liking. This really was a complete meal in a bowl and not only cleanse friendly, but hubby approved, too. (Though he couldn’t resist putting a light sprinkle of shredded extra sharp cheddar on top) I am telling you, if you love broccoli, you absolutely need to make this soup.

Creamy Broccoli Soup (Vegan)
adapted from Whole Living Magazine, January/February 2011
serves 4

1 head organic broccoli (1 pound), cut into florets, stems thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
One 15-ounce can organic Great Northern beans, drained (Cannellini beans would work here as well)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

Steam broccoli florets and stems until tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly. Reserve 1/2 cup florets for garnish.

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add beans and broth and bring mixture to a simmer. Remove from heat and add broccoli; puree in batches in a blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with broccoli florets, toasted pine nuts, and shaved Parmesan or cheddar cheese, if you wish.

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Green Smoothie

I have to say, I am having fun experimenting with different things for breakfast. I am actually excited to get up in the morning and cook or prepare something. So many mornings I tend to feel stressed about what to have for breakfast and I get frustrated. This smoothie may be a turn off to some of you due to its color, though I think it is quite beautiful. Don’t be fooled, it is so much tastier and sweeter than you could ever imagine and such satisfying breakfast. Such a nice way to start your day, with that beautiful green color and a healthy drink. Again, you could really change this around so many different ways, it probably doesn’t need the peaches but I thought rather than ice cubes a few frozen peaches would be nice for another layer of flavor. The parsley gave it such a bright and fresh taste, certainly this can be left out too if you don’t have parsley or don’t care for it.

Green Smoothie
(serves 1)

1 cup loosely packed organic baby spinach
3/4 cup organic white grape juice (no sugar added)
1 small organic granny smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 small handful frozen organic peaches (about 5 or 6 wedges)
1 handful fresh parsley
(add water if necessary to thin)

Add all ingredients to your blender, process until smooth. Add more ice or water as needed to get desired thickness.

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Sweet Potato with Pomegranate, Coconut and Lime

This was today’s lunch and wow what a treat. I almost always bring lunch to work, usually leftovers from whatever I had made the night prior or a simple salad, etc. Today I decided to try something a little different. It required a bit more planning and assembling, but it was definitely worth the extra work. I deseeded the pomegranate at home and premeasured out the coconut milk, shredded coconut and cilantro. I packed those up with a whole lime, a raw sweet potato, a nice plate and a fork and knife. When lunch rolled around, I pierced the potato and tossed it in the microwave, when it was cooked I just topped it with all the goodies and enjoyed it! It was pretty nice for a lunch at the studio and it felt good to eat off a real porcelain plate with real silverware, and on top of all of this, it was absolutely delicious. Far better than I could have imagined. I am not always a fan of fruit with savory dishes, but there are many exceptions to this and more often than not lately, I find I end up liking the fruit and can’t imagine the dish without it. This is how the pomegranate seeds were for me in this dish, I was a little unsure but very excited to try it out. They were perfect, so bright and so much flavor. The coconut taste was perfect and the lime and cilantro finished it all off very nicely. You could easily make 4 of these for a delicious side-dish for dinner.

For cleanse day 3, I have to say I am eating really well and I don’t feel deprived of a thing. I am already feeling less weighed down and sluggish, too. I am so glad I decided to do this cleanse. I have been trying to really experiment with new things on this cleanse and today (admittedly) was the first time I ever deseeded a pomegranate. Not sure why I never have before, I guess because I thought I didn’t know how. It was simple and now I will be buying them all the time since they are in season.

Sweet Potato with Pomegranate, Coconut and Lime

Serves 1

1 sweet potato
2 tablespoons organic coconut milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened organic coconut, shredded
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Fresh lime juice from half a lime

Baking the sweet potato in the oven: Preheat oven to 400º. Pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork, place on a baking sheet and bake until tender, approximately 35-45 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Baking the sweet potato in the microwave: Prick the potato in 5 or 6 places with a fork. Place on microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 6 minutes, turn over and microwave another 6 minutes. Let cool slightly. (time will vary based on your microwave oven and the size of the potato)

Slice the potato in half and slightly mash with a fork. Top with coconut milk, shredded coconut, chopped cilantro, and pomegranate seeds. Squeeze lime juice over top. You can add a light sprinkle of kosher salt if you wish (I left this off since I am on a cleanse).

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