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So – I successfully made the switch from a WordPress hosted blog to my blog being self hosted! Yay  – for Tasty Yummies growing up! You can see the newly updated site here: Tasty-Yummies.com. Everything is the same as always, many of you won’t experience any changes, except the newer look – but if you happen to come to this old WordPress specific link (which rarely was used, as I had the Tasty-Yummies.com address over-ridding it) – it will no longer be updated. Please make sure that if for some reason you had the WordPress link stored as your bookmark, that you change it to Tasty-Yummies.com. Most of you should already have that as your bookmark, as that was the main URL of the site all along.

Additionally, if you previously signed up to receive emails or to follow the blog through your WordPress dashboard – you will have to resign up to receive emails on the newly updated site Tasty-Yummies.com, you can also grab the RSS feed from there as well.

If you are having any problems or issues with the new site, please let me know. I hope to be updating and changing more and more things as the weeks go on, so look for the site to be a bit more user-friendly, easier to search, better organized, etc. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog, it truly means the world to me to know that people are not only reading this blog, cooking from it and even coming back for more! It puts a smile on many face daily! Thank you!

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Maybe Some Down Time…

Just wanted to let you know there may be a bit of an interruption on my blog as I am attempting to migrate to my own server finally. It is proving to be a bit more difficult than I had expected, so in the mean time just use this link directly https://tastyyummies.wordpress.com instead of www.tasty-yummies.com. Hopefully very soon tasty-yummies.com will be on it’s own server and prettier than ever and easier to navigate and all that good stuff.

So just bear with me in the meantime, in case the site goes down. Thanks.

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It's The Most Wonderful Time...

It's The Most Wonderful Time...


Happy December everyone! I guess that title should really say – “It’s The Most Busy Time….”

Well as you may have guessed, the shortage of posts on here this week is due to the craziness of my life right now, once again. We are getting all geared up for the holidays both at home and with the business. I am a total holiday junkie, I love it all! I get insanely excited about the music and listen to it as much as possible, I wake up to it, I drive to and from yoga with it on the radio and I listen to it sporadically throughout my work day, at my desk! I cannot wait to really get into the thick of my gift shopping and we got the tree up this past Saturday after driving out to the country to cut it down. Last night I even took a break from all the work and I sewed some colorful felt bunting for our tree.

Honestly, if I had my choice, I would take the entire month of December off, not because I don’t enjoy my work, but more so I can just take it all in and savor every moment of the holiday magic. If I could, I would just go to yoga every morning and make Christmas gifts for everyone all afternoon listening to music and watching old Christmas movies and in the evening I would sit around in the dark with just the lights from the tree sparkling, drinking some delicious nog probably with a little rum in it, if I am being honest!

It's The Most Wonderful Time...
Speaking of nog, is anyone else as obsessed with So Delicious’ Coconut Milk Nog as I am? I cannot get over how amazing it is and I rarely get excited about things like this. Seriously, if you can find it, buy it and try it. It is only 90 calories per 1/2 cup and it is just as thick and delicious as the dairy version. I swear no one paid me to say this, I am just honestly obsessed with it. I wonder if I can make my own?

It's The Most Wonderful Time...

Anyhow, unfortunately for me, the month of December cannot all be Christmas songs, nog and crafting – our month is full of events, travel, lots of end of the year client work and tons and tons of shipping. SHIPPING!!! We just shipped off a huge order of our posters that we had with Urban Outfitters that was taking up every inch of our lives (yay – those will be in stores soon), plus 100 posters to Andrew Bird for his show in Minneapolis and we are shipping web orders from our site and etsy daily! I am certainly not complaining, I love it all and I am insanely grateful, but I am having to stay up late each night just so I can take in as much of the holiday spirit as I can, before it’s gone.

We are leaving bright and early tomorrow morning for Chicago for the Renegade Craft Holiday Sale, it runs Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 6pm. If you are in the Chicago area, you should come check it out, it’s an amazing event filled with hundred of vendors, all selling their handmade goods. It’s a wonderful way to support small independent businesses while buying unique holiday gifts. I get a ton of my own Christmas shopping done there with the other vendors, there is so much amazing stuff. The Hero booth is #65 on the first floor in gym #2. We will have a ton of posters and prints, greeting cards, pillows and more. Come see us!

Hopefully after we get home on Monday from Chicago, I will have a bit more time for cooking and baking. This week we were living off of our Thanksgiving turkey, I made an incredible gluten-free turkey pot pie and a creamy turkey, brown rice and sage soup. Sadly I will not be posting about either of these, as I did very little measuring so I have no clue how I would even write up the recipe and I made no time for photos. I guess I will just have to make them both again so I can share with you. Honestly though, the pot pie was so amazing I am definitely going to be making a vegetarian version with lots of yummy vegetables very soon, so keep an eye out for that. And also be on the lookout for some holiday cookie recipes when I get home and hopefully some other stuff, too. Hope everyone is enjoying the start of the holiday season and happy December to you all! See ya next week 🙂

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Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Having a creative job means that sometimes you just can’t work. I know that sounds like an excuse, but when you are supposed to be creating something and you just don’t have any ideas, it’s quite hard to “work”. I am very lucky that we now work from home, so some days when that “creative block” happens – if I can’t find some silly administrative task like updating our webstore, shooting photos of new products or responding to emails, I can just walk away from my computer and get into any number of different things that are completely unrelated to work, like taking the dog for a walk, heading to a yoga class, watching TV, reading a book or magazine and my most favorite distraction from work… cooking! This week I have been feeling a bit stressed and the ideas just haven’t been flowing as freely. It has been a bit frustrating to say the least. We have a ton of work on the books right now, so it is no time to screw around or to just stare at a blank sketch pad. Wednesday, I decided rather than sitting at my desk with my sketchpad, that I would make our dinner early, so we could enjoy it for lunch and I could take photos when it was freshly cooked instead of trying to shoot them without daylight or shooting the leftovers the next day!

Beautiful and fresh tomatillos for the Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Roasted butternut squash for the Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Tomatillo's cooking down for the sauce for my Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

So, I got up at my usual 7am and started prepping the squash and the tomatillos for the sauce. Then I went upstairs for a few hours, it was the perfect boost that I needed and I started working on a poster design that I was stuck on and I made some major headway! It felt great. When lunchtime came, I scooted downstairs, preheated the oven, heated up the sauce and started assembling the enchiladas. I popped them in the oven and went back upstairs to work for a bit. When the buzzer rang, I ran down, took some photos and served my husband and our assistant the best lunch we’ve had since we moved the business home. It was actually really fun to eat a bigger meal in the middle of the day. It felt like the right time to eat that way.

These enchiladas, besides being a burst of beautiful colors, are so full of delicious and bright flavors. The squash has a bit of a rustic nuttiness, the tomatillo has a bright almost citrus flavor to it, with a little bit of heat from the lemon drop peppers I added. I thought about adding black beans inside of the enchiladas, but ended up deciding against it since I thought they would just be bursting open. I think even though it would taste incredible, it would be too many things inside with the big hunks of squash. But I will likely make them that way at some point. I used a simple traditional Mexican crumbly white cheese called queso fresca, it was the perfect compliment and didn’t make the dish too heavy and gooey cheesy, which can be a bit too much for me, sometimes. They were delicious topped with a fresh squeeze of lime juice, fresh green onions and cilantro and a little dollop of organic low-fat sour cream. If you are vegan, you could definitely leave out the cheese or substitute Daiya for the queso fresco. Or if you can’t find queso fresco, you could go with a small amount of good quality sharp cheddar cheese.

I have made homemade tortillas in the past when making enchiladas and it is most definitely worth it, but since I didn’t really have an unlimited amount of time to make these, I decided to go with a high quality corn tortilla from the store. The key to making enchiladas keep their shape, is to steam the tortillas first, otherwise they will break apart a bit. I know this and I steamed mine, but I think they should have been steamed a bit more, some definitely fell apart just a tad when I rolled them up. I decided to just go with it, since I knew it would all taste the same, but some would just fall apart when I served them. Of course, the two that I decided to take a photo of did just that when I served them, but I kinda liked how rustic they looked and I love how you could see the color from the squash exploding out. So I said, screw perfection and just went with it! Life isn’t perfect, I’m not perfect and my enchiladas aren’t perfect – and I am OK with ALL of it! I embrace it.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce
Yesterday afternoon I had another one of those moments where I hit a creative road-block, for some reason this one hit me harder than ever. I actually felt sad over it and I let it beat me, a bit. I was working on a project that is seemingly very simple and should have an easy solution, but I was struggling. It broke me! I cried. I decided to take a step away “virtually” and move over to another project and then to editing the photos for this post. It definitely helped and today I am looking at it again with fresh eyes and I am ready to tackle it again. So I wanna hear from you….

What do you do when you hit a creative roadblock?
Do you find cooking and baking to be a good escape from everyday life and your work or does it stress you out too much?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you get through when you are feeling stumped with a problem, creatively or otherwise. Share away!

Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce
serves 6

Tomatillo Sauce
1 1/2 pounds of fresh whole tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 hot chiles of your choice, stems removed (I used dried lemon drop peppers from my garden) – you can skip this or just use one if you want it less spicy
enough water to cover the tomatillos
3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 handful of fresh cilantro (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Add your tomatillos and chiles to a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for approximately 5-7 minutes until the tomatillos are soft but still whole. If they aren’t all totally soft, no worries, still remove them from the heat and drain. Add the tomatillos and chiles to a food processor and add 2 cloves of garlic, fresh cilantro and salt, puree all the ingredients together and set the sauce aside.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

1 – 2lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
6-8 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (you can skip the cheese or use Daiya to make this vegan) – reserve approximately 1/4 cup for the topping
12 corn tortillas

fresh lime wedges
fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
fresh green onions, thinly sliced
organic sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400º, place the squash cubes on a rimmed baking sheet toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place into the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes until tender and lightly browned. Set aside when done.

While the squash is baking, add the onion, garlic, red bell pepper and a dash of salt to the teaspoon of olive oil in a medium pan over a medium-high heat, sauté. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the onion is translucent and both the onion and pepper are tender. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

Use the same pan from the onion and pepper mixture to heat up your tomatillo sauce. Bring it to a simmer over a medium-heat and allow it to heat through and slightly thicken. Just about 5 minutes.

Once the squash is done, you are ready to start assembling your enchiladas.

Start by spooning a small amount of the tomatillo sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (I used an 8.5 x 11 pan and it was a bit crowded, but it worked) – just enough to cover the bottom with a very thin layer.

You will need to steam the corn tortillas so that they don’t break when rolled. Moisten two paper towels, working in batches of 3 or 4 tortillas at a time, wrap the tortillas in the damp paper towels and microwave them for approximately 30-45 seconds. Once microwaved, dip each tortilla into the tomatillo sauce, one at a time, making sure both sides get coated in the sauce. Scoop a small amount of butternut squash cubes (probably about 2 tablespoons), the onion and pepper mixture and cheese, keeping in mind how much to use so that you can roll the enchiladas shut and also so you have enough to fill 11 more. Place the enchilada, seam side down, in the baking dish. Repeat until you’ve made as many enchiladas as you want or have filling for (this recipe made 12, with a small amount of squash and pepper mixture leftover).

Spoon the remaining tomatillo sauce overtop all of the enchiladas and top with the remaining 1/4 cup of queso fresco.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the cheese is slightly melted, golden brown and everything is bubbling. Pull it out of the oven, sprinkle a bit of fresh cilantro on top to make it even prettier and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Serve your enchiladas warm with fresh cilantro, fresh green onions and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, you can also add a dollop of organic sour cream, if you wish.

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Hey everyone – just wanted to give you an update on life right now and also check in with you all before Thanksgiving. We were in New York City at the end of last week for the opening of a gallery show of our work in Brooklyn, we attended Creative Mornings in D.U.M.B.O. with swissmiss and Jessi Harrington and we had another meeting with our clients at the Metropolitan Museum of Art regarding a new project in a few weeks. It was a very busy and very inspiring trip to the city, as usual. I love going there.

In addition to our usual stop for dinner at Risotteria in Greewich Village, my favorite gluten-free restaurant in the city, I also accidentally stumbled upon Fabiane’s Cafe and Pastry shop on Bedford Ave and N. 5th St. in Williamsburg, on our way out-of-town. We stopped to grab a quick morning bite plus some coffee and tea. I assumed that the best I could get would be some type of egg dish, so I ordered at the counter what turned out to be a delicious organic baked egg dish with smoked salmon and potato and went to sit down. Once I sat down at our table, I looked up and saw a HUGE gluten-free menu that I didn’t see while standing at the counter, the menu included gluten-free waffles, french toast and so much more. I didn’t change my meal, but I changed my side of toast to be gluten-free and started eyeing up the pastry case for a road-trip treat, which was also loaded with beautiful gluten-free goodies. Besides all of the breakfast and pastry options, Fabiane will also make any of their sandwiches with gluten-free bread. I couldn’t believe I had never heard of this place before. They make all of the baked goods right there and each and everything was absolutely delicious. The toast was some of the most delicious gluten-free bread I had every tried. I, of course, had to snag a gluten-free banana chocolate chip muffin from the pastry case for the car ride, because I didn’t think I could sit 6 hours in the car and not salivate thinking about all of the sweets I had just seen.

One final gluten-free friendly restaurant recommendation, if you find yourself in Brooklyn, is Caracas, a Venezuelan Arepas bar in Williamsburg that I have fallen in love with. We’ve been there a handful of times this year. Caracas is very knowledgable about gluten intolerances and arepas are naturally gluten-free, so I can indulge guilt-free, enjoying each and every bite with confidence. In addition to arepas, they also have a bunch of other traditional authentic Venezuelan treats like empanadas, tostones, etc and they have a wonderful cocktail menu, the dark and stormy is my favorite!

As usual, I am always happy for a trip to the city, to get that rush of inspiration, the surge of creativity and just an overall feeling of being alive. There really is nothing like it. I love the people, the food and the hustle. Of course, I also love coming home to my own kitchen, my healthy food and my own bed. I definitely realize for as much as I like the pace of New York, I also really appreciate the serene quiet of my life and more importantly I love having a kitchen that allows me to create huge meals. I think if I were to ever move to NYC, sucking it up and having a tiny kitchen may be the biggest sacrifice and toughest challenge for me. When we got home Saturday afternoon, we just made do with what we had in the pantry and then I woke up yesterday morning and headed to the grocery store to stock up for the week. Last night I made a big pot of my tortilla soup and a new version of my apple crisp. I cannot wait to share both of those recipes with you guys. I plan to make lots of other fun dishes this week, but I also need to start thinking about my Thanksgiving menu for next week. I am working on a plan for what I am going to serve and hopefully making a few dishes ahead of time, so I can share them with you all.

I wanted to ask you guys if there are any dishes that you wanted recipes for before your Thanksgiving? If it is your first gluten-free holiday, it can seem a bit overwhelming and I’d like to help however I can. There are hundreds or probably thousands of recipes online for anything you can think of for your Thanksgiving dinner, made gluten-free. Is there something specific you are looking for? Need some suggestions for healthy dessert options or a way to make your mom’s famous stuffing gluten-free? My mom’s stuffing is the one things I was devastated about no longer being able to eat. It actually saddened me. I have managed to be able to enjoy it every single Thanksgiving since I found out I was gluten intolerant, so believe me when I say, if there is a dish you love I am sure it is possible to make it gluten-free!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? What is the one dish that you cannot go without on Thanksgiving? Do you try to make your Thanksgiving healthy or do you allow yourself a day of indulging on all the things you never have?

Here are a few of my favorite fall dishes that would be great for any Thanksgiving feast. Look for more this week and next and please let me know if there are any other recipes that you’d like to see.

Arugula, Fennel and Orange Salad
Arugula, Fennel and Orange Salad


Gluten-free Vegan Apple Cobbler
Gluten-free Vegan Apple Cobbler


Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Walnuts
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Walnuts

Apple Spice Cake

Gluten-Free Apple Spice Cake


Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)
Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)


Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Pine Nuts
Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Pine Nuts


Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

Flourless Carrot Cake
Flourless Carrot Cake


IMG_2322
Gluten-Free Cheddar and Green Onion Cornbread

Sautéed Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts and Cranberries

Sautéed Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts and Dried Currants

Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey
Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey


Tofu, Wild Rice and Hazelnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

Tofu, Wild Rice and Hazelnut Stuffed Acorn Squash


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Besides cooking, I rarely share with you the other major love of my life, design. My husband and I work for ourselves and we run, Hero Design Studio. We specialize in hand crafted design, illustration and print making. In addition to created limited edition posters for bands and cultural institutions, we also have an extensive line of our own products, from art prints to greeting cards to t-shirts, all hand silkscreen printed, by us in our home-based studio. So,when I’m not in the kitchen creating, I’m creating somewhere else. We both feel quite fortunate to do what we love every single day, with the person we love more than anything. I wake up every single day feeling blessed to have a life full of passion.

I honestly could carry on and talk about what we do and the love we have for our work, all day long, I think this is partially why I love cooking and keeping this blog so much, it’s a great way for me to escape that part of my brain and my emotions for a while and it allows me to create, but a completely different way.

There are obviously many similarities and crossovers between my design career and my love of cooking, baking and blogging about it, some of which you can see visually, like the kitchen and cooking related art prints I have created for our product line. I decided, even though it feels a bit like an advertisement, to share with you a sale we have going right now on Fab.com. It features some of the cooking and food related prints I’ve created, so I thought some of you maybe interested. For those of you that just want recipes and food stuff, sorry for this post 😉

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What is Fab.com, you ask? Fab.com is an amazing member-only website thats features daily design inspirations and sales at up to 70% off retail.

Our sale started today, Tuesday, October 25 at 11am EST, it will last for just 72 hours and it’s available only to Fab.com members. Not a Fab.com member yet? It’s FREE and invite-only, so just go ahead and use this invite link to become a member.

With special discounts to Fab.com members of 30% – 40% off of our regular retail prices, our sale will feature a ton of our hand silkscreen printed rock posters and art prints, our city art prints, greeting cards and more. We are also debuting four brand new exclusive art prints at Fab.com discounted rates, available only to Fab.com members.

The sale is over in just 72 hours and some quantities are very limited, so don’t wait. The sale will be live here and again, if you aren’t yet a Fab.com member, just sign up here.

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Vegan Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

 

I have to be honest with this post, I have been a little sad this week. I’ll tell you why in a moment, but first I have to preface with this – I try really, really hard to not complain. I despise relentless complainers and people who are negative. I have realized how hard it is to be around people who are constantly in that state, it’s both draining and sad. I have hit that point in my life before and I truly think it’s a downward spiral, it can affect both your mind and spirit and I firmly believe it affects your health. Nowadays, when I start drifting in that direction, I try to acknowledge when I am feeling sad or negative, to pinpoint where it is coming from, deal with it, let it out privately (and maybe a little to Mark) and move on. Sitting around and complaining about things you are unhappy about doesn’t change them or you, it simply makes it all seem so much worse. It also starts to push the people who love you, away. You are the only one that can control your life and the decisions you make, if you are unhappy with a situation, a person or how you are feeling, doing something to change it. Even what seems to be the littlest, most insignificant action is better than doing nothing at all.

So back to why I am feeling sad, Saturday afternoon I was in my kitchen at home, baking pumpkins from the market, so that I could puree and freeze the flesh and toast the seeds for a yummy fall snack. As the last pumpkin was finishing baking, I was loading the dishwasher with all the dishes I had used, I hate a messy kitchen. As I was bent over the dishwasher and was standing up, I sneezed so violently at that same moment and instantly felt pain in my low back. It was excruciating. So much so that I had to call Mark into the room to help me down to lay on the floor of the kitchen. I don’t think I am a wuss about pain, I try really hard to be tough. Prior to this, probably the worst injury I can recall is when I broke my foot in college and I cried much, much harder when this happened to me on Saturday afternoon. Saturday and Sunday were quite rough, I needed help standing up, sitting down and getting up the stairs. I couldn’t roll over in bed. It sucked, there really is no other way to say it.

I emailed my amazing chiropractor, Elyssa, shortly after it happened, who is also one of my yoga instructors and she gave me some instructions on what to do to ease the pain and get through the worst of it and I made an appointment to see her first thing Monday morning. By Monday morning I was already feeling a bit better, though with every sneeze, I took two steps backward again (if you know me, you know how much I sneeze, so this part sucked). After the appointment with Elyssa, I already felt a bit better, some of the muscular tension around the pain had lessened and I just felt less stressed and sad. I have been doing some gentle cat and cow poses along with baby cobra. Each day it’s a bit better and I can tell I am on the mend. The hardest part right now is that I can move and twist, I can even get into downward dog, I am sleeping better, but I still can hardly bend forward at my waist, it is just so painful.

I am sad because all of this means at the minimum I have to take at least a week away from my yoga practice and cooking has been slowed down quite a bit, it’s hard to stand over the kitchen counter and cut vegetables and it’s quite painful to bend over to get stuff out of the oven. Don’t get me wrong, I still managed to make a huge pot of vegetable soup Monday night and I roasted a batch of Roma tomatoes to freeze last night, but I have had to slow everything down and not overdo it and make things worse. I know I am lucky that because of my daily yoga practice and the way I eat, I am healing much quicker than if I was without these things, but it is still hard for me to have to sit still and not be active. Over the last few days, not only am I thankful for all the leftovers we have in the fridge, but I am super thankful that I have an amazing husband that makes everything easier. He has had to pick up the slack on doing dishes (I am a little afraid of that dishwasher now), cleaning cat boxes and other things. Because my job requires me to sit at a computer all day, I have had to suck it up and just power through all of this. We have too much work on the books for me to just go lay in bed all day and feel sorry for myself. I am just working with a big pillow behind my back, lots of ice packs and making sure I get up often and move around and stretch. I am getting there.

The reason I decided to share this with you is because when this happened, I was on day 6 of my cleanse. I instantly wanted to just quit the cleanse, have a glass of wine, something sweet and maybe some cheese, yeh cheese would make me feel better. I wanted comfort and sadly I actually thought for a bit that food would give it to me. Thankfully, I sat down and really thought about it, I know that alcohol, sugar are dairy are all inflammatory foods and no matter what they would or wouldn’t do to me physically, I knew it wouldn’t fix this, if anything it would make it worse. (Read this list of the top 10 inflammatory foods, strangely all things I am avoiding while on this cleanse, so luck is on my side in that sense, I didn’t have to remove anything from my diet to ease the healing.) Ultimately, I ate some leftover vegan fettucine alfredo for dinner that night and made my way to bed before 9:30pm, since I knew a good night sleep would do me good.

Sunday morning I was still wanting something more than fresh vegetable juice, so I decided to make this smoothie. It felt naughty, but it was totally cleanse-friendly and with my extreme obsession with all things fall, I knew it would lift my spirits. And, that it did.

It actually tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass. It’s creamy, thick and full of the perfect pumpkin pie spices. It was so filling that I went right through lunchtime and never felt hungry. I love to eat and hate missing meals, so I knew this smoothie was magical. It’s thick just like a milkshake and the sweetness from the dates is incredible.

As much as food can be comfort and this isn’t a bad thing in the least, it’s also quite exciting when you can shift your mindset away from the really bad stuff to find that comfort in other, healthier foods. I made it through the worst of this back pain, I stuck with my cleanse, I didn’t take a single medication and I am proud of myself. I have another appointment with my chiropractor tomorrow and I am hoping that maybe next week I can get myself to a gentle/restorative yoga class.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
serves 2

3/4 cup cooked pumpkin (you can use canned, but fresh is much better)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened organic vanilla almond milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
2-3 Medjool dates, pits removed (soak first if they aren’t soft)
(You can add honey or maple syrup if you wish for it to be sweeter)
*you can experiment with adding a small handful of raw pecans to make it even more creamy and to get a nice lovely taste. I have done this when I have them on hand and it’s so delicious.

Add all of your ingredients to the blender. Puree until smooth and creamy.

If your pumpkin and/or almond milk isn’t cold, you could add a handful of ice. I decided not to, so it would stay as creamy as possible. You can also add a splash of water or additional almond milk if your smoothie is too thick. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

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Lentil Soup

Well it is official, this past Friday marked the Autumn Equinox, so that means we are officially amidst my favorite season – Fall! Besides all the beautiful weather, cooler temperatures and lovely leaves – we are also blessed with some of my favorite foods of the year. Squashes, pumpkins, apples, brussels sprouts…pies, crisps, soups, stews, roasts…the list goes on and on. As much as I want to enjoy every single one of these things, after a long summer of traveling and the indulgences that goes along with it, I decided to once again mark the shift of the seasons with a cleanse. We were in NYC this past weekend, so rather than starting my cleanse on the equinox as I would have liked, I started on Monday. That was our driving home day, so it was definitely a bit tricky, but I was able to pack some snacks ahead of time for the car rides, like kale chips, roasted chickpeas and unsalted cashews. Plus our gracious hostess in Brooklyn, Karen, made me a delicious glass of fresh kale, apple, celery and cucumber juice before we hit the road. I made a delicious batch of kitchari (recipe coming soon) as soon as I got home and was able to make it through day 1, without a hitch.

I am doing a minimum of 2-weeks this time around, but definitely shooting for a full 28-days if my schedule allows. As with the cleanses I have done in the past, I am loosely following the Ayurvedic traditions, along with the items I tend to have issues with, personally. I am very excited to have a group of 25+ friends on Facebook that are all following along and participating in their own matter. It’s so amazing to have other people to motivate me and as a support system, it makes it even easier. Since I have had quite a few people ask me about how I cleanse, I thought I would put a very loose description of what I personally do in this post. If you have any additional questions about what I am doing, please contact me and I will do my best to help.

I am avoiding the following things:
Dairy*
Eggs
Sugar
Excess Salt (I will use a very small amount when cooking)
Caffeine
Alcohol
Meat (chicken, beef, pork, etc)
Fish and Shellfish (shrimp, scallops, mussels, etc)
Gluten (wheat, barley, oats, rye, etc)**
Soy
Corn
Foods with preservatives, additives or chemicals, and foods grown in an environment laced with chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and canned, frozen or processed foods.**

*Ayurveda doesn’t restrict dairy, but I personally seem to have issues with it, so besides ghee, I am avoiding all dairy during my cleanse.
** these are both things that I avoid on a regular basis, but are very important to a cleanse

So you are probably wondering what exactly I am eating, then…

What I am eating:
Fresh organic fruit. I am going light on the fruit because of the sugar and I am focusing on suggested fruits that are best for digestion such as apples, pears, figs, prunes, papaya, etc.
Fresh organic veggies. Some of the best for digestion are leafy greens, cabbage, celery, brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc
Whole organic grains such as brown rice, quinoa, amarynth, buckwheat, millet
Beans like lentil, mung beans, etc
Vegetable juice and broth
Soups and stews made with vegetables, legumes and grains.
I am cooking with a small amount of olive oil and/or ghee (indian clarified butter that is GREAT for detox)
Raw honey (sparingly)
lots of luke warm water with lemon and/or ginger
detox tea (I like Yogi brand Detox tea)
I am also taking probiotics in the morning after breakfast

I plan to get as many recipes on this blog throughout the cleanse, so you can see a good example of how I eat when I am cleansing.

Here are some additional tips that I have learned along the way:

Some of the differences with an Ayurvedic cleanse vs a regular cleanse is that it teaches you to avoid or focus on foods specific to you and your body-mind type (or your dosha) and it’s needs. Also, although you should be eating TONS of fresh fruits and veggies, you shouldn’t eat them raw during this cleanse. Raw foods are harder on your digestive tract, so you should be heating and/or boiling your veggies and eating them warm.

Eat whole, fresh, natural foods, organic if you can get it. Buy your produce fresh, and consume it quickly.

Also avoid ICE cold water and beverages, it can disrupt the “fire” needed in your digestive tract.

Cook with digestion-enhancing, detoxifying spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, clove, ajwain, fenugreek, dried ginger, Chinese cinnamon and fennel. Add the turmeric to foods as they are cooking, and sauté other spices in ghee or olive oil and pour over prepared dishes for the best therapeutic benefit.

According to Ayurveda, each meal should be a feast for all of your senses. When your plate reflects an appealing variety of colors, textures, flavors and aromas, your digestive juices start freely flowing in anticipation and your body, mind and heart are all fulfilled by the eating experience.

As I mention above, normally I avoid raw vegetables and fruit since it can disrupt your digestive tract and it is harder to digest, however this time around, I am including juices that I am making from fresh, organic vegetables and fruit. I decided to include this, as most mornings I go to yoga from 9:30 – 11:00am, I do not eat before I practice yoga and by the time I get home around 11:30, I am not quite ready for lunch but I am slightly hungry. The juices have been a great and fast way for me to get much-needed nutrients without having to prepare an involved breakfast, plus it is light enough that I am ready for lunch a couple of hours later.

I made this lentil soup for dinner last night and served it with some roasted butternut squash with rosemary, on the side. It was so delicious and perfectly satisfying. I love lentil soup because it can be quite versatile, every time I make it, it is a bit different from the last. You can experiment with different spices and flavors, you can add many different types of vegetables, including leafy greens like spinach or kale and if you aren’t on a cleanse, you could even top it with a delicious homemade yogurt sauce.

When I made this particular pot, I wanted to make sure to include some cleansing spices and I also wanted to get some smokey spice from a couple of dried chipotles. If you don’t like the spices I used, experiment with your own, there are so many possibilities, you could use smoked paprika, yellow curry powder, chile powder, dill, etc – the flavor combinations are endless. For a real hearty pot of lentil soup, you could add some brown rice or other grains to this soup, which I have done in the past and it is delicious. Just add the uncooked rice with the lentils, and skip the pureeing at the end. You could also roast the butternut squash (recipe coming soon) with spices to match your soup and just add it to the pot just before serving. Honestly, I debated this for quite sometime, but ultimately I really wanted to savor and enjoy the crispy browned bites of squash on their own, it felt like such a treat.

Sometimes I like my lentil soup smooth with just a few whole lentils, which is how I made it this time. If you wish to have a chunkier, heartier soup, simply skip the pureeing step and serve the soup, as is.

Lentil Soup
serves 6-8

2 tablespoons of ghee or olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1-2 dried chipotle(s)
1 medium organic red onion, diced
2 cloves of organic garlic, minced
1 organic celery stalk, diced
1 organic carrot, peeled and diced
1 organic green bell pepper, diced
a dash of sea salt (I used very little since I am cleansing)
3 cups of lentils (you don’t have to presoak lentils, but I do as it is supposed to lessen the gassy after-affects)
8 cups of low-sodium organic vegetable broth or water (you may need to add more if your soup gets too thick)
1 large organic tomato, diced (you can just use a can of organic diced tomatoes here, if you wish)

For serving:
1 small tomato, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced

If you wish to soak your lentils, rinse them well, sort through to pick out any small stones and place in a large glass bowl. Cover the lentils in water and allow to soak a few hours. Once you are ready to make your soup, drain the lentils and rinse again. If you aren’t soaking your lentils, just rinse well, pick through to remove any small stones and allow to drain.

In a large stock pot, heat the ghee (or olive oil) over a medium-high heat, add the cumin seeds, turmeric and dried chipotles, stir until fragrant and the cumin seeds begin dancing around the pot. Add in the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bell pepper and a dash of salt, saute for approximately 7 minutes until the vegetables are translucent and soft.

Add in the lentils, vegetable broth (or water) and diced tomato, turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a medium-high, cover and allow to simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring often. Cook until the lentils are tender. This may take less time, it may take more time, it depends on the lentils you are using and it depends if you soaked them first. You also may need to add more broth or water if the soup becomes too thick. Salt and pepper the soup to taste. You can leave the soup chunky as it is, or if you wish for it to be smooth and creamy, remove the dried chipotle pepper(s) and puree 2/3 of the finished soup in batches, in a blender, adding it to a large bowl as you go and then adding it all back to the pot when you are finished. Stir to combine. Serve the soup topped with freshly diced tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro and green onions, or whatever your toppings of choice may be.

 

NOTE: the above information about my cleanse is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Every individual is different, this is just what I have found works for me. There are obviously different ways of thinking and a gazillion different types of cleanses. I have done this particular style of cleanse many times over the last two years and have always had great results. Please acknowledge what is right for you, your own body and health and take this all into consideration when embarking on a journey like this.

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Curry Kale Chips

I fell in love with kale chips last summer. I had grown kale in my garden and had an abundance, so I decided to try my hand at the healthy snack that I kept hearing about. However, I never really got to eat very many of the ones I made. Unfortunately the day I decided to make them was the day after we had to rush our dog Derby to the emergency animal hospital, she had to stay the night so they could run tests and give her fluids. At the time I started making the chips, I was waiting to hear some good news about our little girl, so I was trying to pass the time and keep my mind busy since I couldn’t help but think the worst and just sit at home crying. Cooking and baking always provides that escape for me, a great way to “get away” and just create in the kitchen. Little did I know that by making those silly little kale chips on that very day, I would never ever be able to look at them the same way again.

I have found, at least for me, that food is always a great reminder of past times. Good or bad. The simple smell or taste of a dish can take you back to being a kid, remind you of a loved one, an amazing dinner party and so many other things. While that first batch of kale chips were baking last summer, my phone rang and it was the vet, they told me Derby had taken a turn for the worse and that we should come right there. After a series of many, many tests and an emergency surgery, Derby passed away later that same night. It was all so quick and it was all so completely unexpected. The kale chips sat on top of my stove, on the very pan they were baked on, for days. I couldn’t eat them, I had no appetite, but for some reason I couldn’t throw them out either. They reminded me of a time when I had hope that Derby was going to make it, I was baking them to pass the time until the vet called to say I could pick her up. I eventually threw the chips out, but I had been unable to make them since, which I know sounds totally crazy, but it was true. The mere thought of making them could just bring on the tears.

I know this is a completely, ridiculously sad back story for a food blog post about silly old kale chips, but I didn’t feel honest telling some wonderful and happy story about how I came to make these kale chips, it just didn’t feel right. I honestly kept thinking about what I would write when I was making them. I finally made the chips now, because after the one year anniversary of Derby’s death passed us in July, I promised myself that I would find the time to make these again. It most likely sounds silly to you, but I just wanted to wait and do it when I felt like I could handle it. I didn’t want to get over it or forget, I just wanted to be able to handle it and grow from it. I know, they are just kale chips, but it was about the healing for me.

The other ironic part about the kale that I planted and grew last summer, is that it somehow lived under the 3+ feet of snow the covered my garden this winter. At the first major melt, this past spring, the plant peaked through what snow was left and it was still green somehow with leaves still on it and immediately began growing again. Once the snow had melted and our new puppy Seri could get into the garden, she made a B-line for the kale and would steal the leaves off the plant and run around the yard, eating as much as she could. That dog absolutely loves kale. So much so, that many times she prefers that to any fancy meat treats we buy her. The entire time I was cutting up the raw kale to make these chips, Seri was under my feet, looking at me, waiting for any bit to fall. It was exactly what I needed. Maybe it wasn’t irony at all.

These chips are a perfectly crispy and healthy snack that is perfect for all you chip lovers. I personally have always loved a good crunchy or crispy savory snack. I honestly could eat an entire bag of kettle chips in one sitting, if I didn’t know better. Thank god I do. The kale chips are light and airy and you don’t even get a hint of the bitterness that kale can be known for. They are a tad bit spicy, the flavor from the curry is so perfect and the coconut flavor is very subtle but I felt like it would round it all out nicely. If you don’t like spicy, leave out the cayenne pepper or you can even leave out the curry powder and coconut flour and just go with a little freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt. Honestly, the flavor possibilities with kale chips are endless. You could use garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, etc. If you aren’t vegan, parmesan cheese would also be delicious on these. Play around. You will definitely be addicted once you make these, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try different flavors.

Curry Kale Chips

1 large bunch of kale, torn by hand into bite-sized pieces, stems removed
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut flour (if you can’t find coconut flour, just blend coconut flakes into a fine meal in your blender)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (you may need more or less depending on how large your bunch of kale is)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375º F. Clean the kale very good, after removing the stems and tearing into bite sized pieces, allow the kale to air dry or spin it dry in your salad spinner. Lay the dry kale pieces in a single layer on two baking sheets (you may need more or less baking sheets depending on how much kale you have). Since I had two baking sheets covered in kale, I drizzled one tablespoon of olive oil over each. Toss the kale around with your hands to evenly coat it all in the olive oil. In a small bowl mix together the curry powder, coconut flour, cayenne pepper and sea salt. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over one pan and half over the other. Toss the kale gently with your hands to evenly distribute the spices.

Place the pans in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes until the edges of the kale pieces are brown and they are crispy. Keep an eye on them. Be careful not to burn them. Once done, place the baking sheet on a rack to allow it to cool. I find storing the kale chips in a tightly closed paper bag, the best way to make sure they remain crispy.

FYI – kale chips are also wonderful crumbled up and sprinkled over popcorn.

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Our sweet baby, Seri.

Pooch Friendly Ice Cream

This is a little bit different of a post. It is still gluten-free, unprocessed and healthy, but this one isn’t for humans, it’s for our little furry baby, Seri, who turned one yesterday! I decided as a little treat, I had to make her something special to celebrate. In the past I used to bake different goodies for our last dog, Derby, like whole wheat peanut butter treats and one time I even made her a special dog-friendly birthday carrot cake. I decided to do something a little different this time because Seri is on a grain-free diet. Yes, even my dog is gluten-free. Also like me, she doesn’t eat any processed foods. In addition, she eats a fully raw meat diet all of the time. Seri has had some minor itchy-skin/allergy issues in the past, nothing major at all, but enough for us to want to make sure she was eating THE very best. After consulting with a holistic vet and our breeder and some trial and error with different foods and ingredients, we have found the things that work for Seri and those that don’t. We always make sure to avoid anything that could upset her little body, whether it be her daily food, an unnecessary medication or even a little treat. It’s incredible how much unnecessary processed junk is in most dry kibbles and biscuits, even the best brands are loaded with useless fillers and crap that they just don’t need. Just like us, it’s so bad for their health. Dogs are carnivores and they need meat.

Since Seri eats raw bison for breakfast and dinner every day and her treats are usually some other type of dehydrated raw meat, it was really hard to think of something super special for her birthday as a treat. Since I couldn’t really bake any treat from grain, I decided to experiment with ingredients that I knew were safe for her.

I didn’t want her to get a large portion of whatever special treat I was going to make, so I made small little muffin-cup sized portions, so I could control how much fat she would consume, since we all know what can happen if a dog gets a lot more fat than usual.

Since dog’s are unable to process the lactose in milk, I made the base of the ice cream from almond milk. (If you know your dog has a sensitivity to nuts, or you aren’t sure, you can just go with a simple chicken or beef broth.) I included the coconut oil because in moderation, it is so great for your dog’s health. There have been many studies and countless articles written about the healthy benefits of coconut oil, for both humans and dogs. Additionally, it is great for dogs with allergies and itchy skin. It can also be used topically on any hot spots they may develop. We alternate the coconut oil with salmon oil on Seri’s food each night. If your dog is sensitive to fats, consider skipping the oil or going with a very small amount. Seri goes absolutely nuts for coconut oil, she loves it! That and peanut butter. She rarely gets peanut butter so it was another nice treat for her birthday ice cream.

Seri absolutely loved her birthday ice cream. She couldn’t eat it fast enough! I love now that with having the individual servings, ready in the freezer, whenever I want to give her a little treat, they are ready.

I realize this post may make me seem like a crazy dog person, but in our family, our pets are our life, we would do anything for them and we are willing to make sure they get the very best. I know not everyone is like that, so you may think I am insane. I am pretty ok with that.

Pooch Friendly Ice Cream

Pooch Friendly Ice Cream
makes approximately 8 muffin-sized frozen dog treats

2 cups organic unsweetened unflavored almond milk (you can certainly use homemade here, just skip the sugar and vanilla when you make it)
1 tablespoon organic unrefined virgin coconut oil
2 tablespoons organic natural creamy peanut butter
(you could have fun with other dog-safe ingredients like shredded carrots, beef or chicken broth, pieces of their favorite unflavored/unspiced meat, etc)

Line a regular sized muffin tin with foil or paper muffin cup liners. Depending on how full you fill them, you can make more or less than this recipe calls for.

Combine all of your ingredients in a large mixing bowl. If the peanut butter was in the refrigerator and is a bit solid, microwave it for about 10-15 seconds to soften it up a bit, to make mixing easier. Using a hand mixer or stand-up mixer, thoroughly combine the three ingredients. Ladle the ice cream mixture into each muffin cup, filling to about 3/4 of the way full. (Again, if you want more, smaller treats, fill them up less or use a mini-muffin tin. If you want less, larger treats, fill them up more.) Place the entire muffin tin in the freezer and allow the mixture to freeze until solid, about 8 hours or so.

When the ice cream treats are frozen solid, you can pop one of out of the tin, peel of the paper muffin cup and give it to your dog. You can remove the remaining treats from the muffin tin and put them in a freezer safe ziplock bag or plastic container.

** Obviously I am not a veterinarian, so please don’t take any of what I am feeding our own dog as a medical advice for your pooch. We just know what works and what doesn’t with Seri. Every dog’s sensitivities are different. If you know your dog cannot have one of these ingredients, go with something else **

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