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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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I will start this post by saying I don’t know Jennifer. I just read her blog and have followed her on Twitter for some time. Jennie’s husband Mike passed away very, very suddenly this past Sunday night and for some reason it hit me hard, considering I don’t even know them. Part of me feels like a jerk for even writing this post, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I needed to share.

There is a massive group of wonderful well-known food bloggers who are great friends, travel together, go to different food, cooking or blog related events together, etc. Food has brought them all together and it is so inspiring and heart-warming. I admire and watch them all interact online on a daily basis. I may not be a part of that world, but it reminds me so much of all of the wonderful and ongoing relationships we have with our printmaking, gigposter and craft friends all over the world. It is incredible what technology and the age of the internet has done for relationships near and far. In the age of Twitter and Facebook, I find myself being able to stay close and grow even closer with the friends I have had for many years, some of whom are halfway across the world. It has allowed me to meet so many amazing new people I never would have otherwise met and I also find myself attached and connected to people who likely don’t even know I exist. It’s weird.

Over the last few days I have seen many posts to and about @jenniferperillo both on Twitter and the many food blogs I read regularly, filled with sympathy, sadness and a desire to help. Even though I have never met Jennie or her husband, Mike, my heart hurts for her and I cannot help but feel her pain. I also find myself thinking more about my single worst fear, of losing my own husband, Mark. In reading all of the beautifully written blog posts and twitter messages, I can not only see that I am not alone in the way I feel, but I have also witnessed the power of the internet amidst a tragic and personal event in a stranger’s life. In Jennifer’s sadness, we are all finding a need to take a step back from the craziness of our own lives to appreciate who we have, the love we share and how short life is.

I admire the strength and courage it must have taken Jennie to write this beautiful tribute to her husband. It is so real. Something as simple as his favorite pie. Please read it, even if you don’t know Jennie.

In Mikey’s honor, in addition to the peanut butter pie recipe that Jennie shared, I am going to make Mark the no-bake cookies he has been begging me to make for some time now. Admittedly, he has been asking for probably 2 years and I just haven’t made the time. There is always some other recipe I am testing or experimenting with that is “more important”. Nothing is more important than those we love. Nothing. Make Mikey’s pie on Friday or your own true-love’s favorite recipe and enjoy each day to the fullest. Life is too short and we are so blessed for every day and every bite that we share with the people we love.

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So here I am, after a very long and crazy month and the craziness continues. We went to Austin for SXSW and Flatstock, we closed our store, the big job we’ve been working on finally launched and my head is officially spinning. That being said, I honestly don’t know if I have ever been this happy. The only thing missing right now, which I am quite sad about, is the time to cook and more importantly to blog about it. I have been cooking as much as I can, which isn’t nearly as much as I would like and I definitely feel like life is just a bit incomplete without it. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel and I know once April is over, life will certainly calm down a bit and the time to cook will be there once again. Part of the reason we closed the store after nearly 5 years, was to be able to focus better on the things that matter most to us, both professionally and personally. We are only five days in on being without a store and I already feel more focused.

This month we are finishing up modifying our home to move the studio in – we have to gut the garage of all the junk and garage-items to be able to move in our presses, poster inventory and all the print-related equipment. We also converted the two additional bedrooms upstairs into home offices for each of us. We have to go through what feels like millions and millions of things, both at home and at work to donate, give away and sell to be able to consolidate everything in one place. It’s definitely a daunting and overwhelming task, especially with the deadline of May 1st looming overhead, but we will get through it all.

Part of what is keeping us going right now besides the excitement of what’s to come is all the traveling and fun things we have going on. We took the long and fun road trip down to Austin in the middle of March and that was incredible, the weather was beautiful, we saw so many great friends whom we missed dearly, we saw family (albeit too briefly) and of course, we ate!

As usual, I didn’t bring my camera to every restaurant as I would have liked, so I did the best I could. On this trip we decided to take our time driving to and from Austin, enjoying the drive as much as the rest of the trip. We tried to seek out the best local restaurants for our taste in each city we stopped in and we had so much fun figuring it out as we went and of course we loved trying out new places. We certainly weren’t disappointed by traveling this way.

I am going to do my best to give you a review of some of our most favorite restaurants from the trip, some will include photos (some of which are better than others) and with others you will have to use your imagination.

Travelin' Eats from Our Drive to Austin.

Travelin' Eats from Our Drive to Austin.

Columbus, Ohio – zpizza

At the start of the trip we left Buffalo Saturday at a reasonable time and once we got to driving decided that our first major stop would be in Columbus for lunch. I did a little google searching for a fun gluten-free friendly restaurant where I could fill up and eat with assurance of not getting sick on the drive. I ended up finding a place called Z Pizza. It isn’t exactly “local” but certainly met all of our other criteria. Their pizzas are fire-baked on hot bricks and they even feature organic ingredients, additive free meats, daiya vegan cheese and most importantly gluten-free pizza crust. So we took a peek at their menu online and called ahead to order two small pizzas to share. (Please excuse the photos, my good camera was packed very deeply in the car at this point, so I made do with my iPhone). We went with the Tuscan and American pizzas. The Tuscan is a white pizza that features their homemade roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, feta, a variety of mushrooms, caramelized onions, truffle oil and fresh thyme. WOW this pizza tasted like something I would make at home, all the ingredients were very fresh, the sauce had so much flavor and the crust was perfectly thin and crisp. The American was just like it sounds, a classic. It featured their classic organic tomato sauce, mozzarella, bell peppers, red onions, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes. It was definitely a great pizza as well, lots of flavor with very fresh ingredients, though it really didn’t come close to comparing to the Tuscan. I am actually excited for all the drives we take to Louisville now that I know I have an easy and good lunch option along the way. For a chain restaurant I was thoroughly impressed with not only the quality of the food but also the service. It also didn’t hurt that they stocked gluten-free beer, always a plus for me!

Travelin' Eats from Our Drive to Austin.

Bowling Green, Kentucky – Greener Groundz

We continued driving after lunch on Saturday and stopped in Louisville to see Mark’s family and we got to have a short, but quality visit with his Momo (Grandma). After that stop-off we continued on to Bowling Green, Kentucky to spend the next two nights with our good friends Connie and Stacey from Print Mafia. Connie and Stacey took us to their friend’s restaurant for brunch Sunday morning before we headed to Nashville for a bit. Greener Groundz is an adorable little coffee shop / cafe right in Bowling Green that offers 100% organic fair-trade coffee, local and organic ingredients and they have a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options. They also cater to many food allergies! When I saw they had a breakfast pizza that could be made with gluten-free crust, I went for it. It had a delicious white sauce, you have your choice of scrambled local free-range eggs or tofu scramble, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onion, cheese and your choice of protein – ham, crumbles sausage, sliced italian sausage or vegan sausage. I had the local eggs and crumbled sausage. WOW this pizza was incredible and so filling. I had half for breakfast that morning and the other half the next day before we hit the road again. I was content all day! Everyone else at the table had Kentucky Hot Damns – a fun and creamy spin on the famous Kentucky Hot Brown. We all started with a serving of their homemade hummus that Connie and Stacey raved about. I love my own hummus so much that it is rare I care for other hummus (whether at a restaurant or store-bought), this time I was impressed, it was full of flavor, creamy and very well made. We had it served with tortilla chips but you can also get it with pizza crisps or gluten-free pizza crisps. I really cannot recommend Greener Groundz enough if you ever find yourself in the Bowling Green area, in fact it’s so good I would recommend stopping there even if you are traveling on to somewhere else. It really is the type of place that I wish every city and little town had, it really makes me so happy to support places like this. I knew when we pulled up and walked through the front door that this place that it was just my kind of place. I can’t wait to go back.

Travelin' Eats from Our Drive to Austin.

Travelin' Eats from Our Drive to Austin.

Memphis, Tennessee – Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

This stop was all for Mark. Since he had eaten at all these great organic and gluten-free restaurants for me, it was his turn. I started asking around on Twitter if anyone had recommendations on somewhere we could grab lunch in Memphis when we passed through. More than one person recommended Gus’s. Being the fried chicken-loving Southern boy that he is, we had to stop and get lunch there for Mark. I was happy just to eat sides and enjoy the smile on my husband’s face. Much to my surprise they even had bottled hard cider on their menu, even better! Mark got a classic plate of fried-chicken with sides. When I told our waiter that I was just gonna have a few sides he asked if I was vegetarian, I replied with “not exactly, I don’t eat much meat and I am also gluten-intolerant so either way the fried chicken wouldn’t work for me”. He leaned in really close to me and said “our fried chicken is gluten-free, I cannot tell you the recipe since it is secret but we use corn starch, not flour. My ex-girlfriend was very very sensitive to gluten and she ate it all the time”. As tempting as it was, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I have learned to trust few people who can’t tell me with 100% assurance that something is safe and though I am sure I would be OK I didn’t want to risk it with all the traveling we had ahead. Though I would definitely be curious to know how true this really is. So I obviously cannot give you a first-hand review of the fried chicken here but Mark did say it was the best damn fried-chicken he has ever had and that I can trust.

Travelin' Eats from Our Drive to Austin.

Travelin' Eats from Our Drive to Austin.

Travelin' Eats from Our Drive to Austin.

Austin, Texas – Frank

This wasn’t our first time at Frank, in fact I have actually lost track of how many times we’ve eaten there. A poster/designer friend of ours from Austin, Geoff Peveto, opened Frank with a couple of his buddies and their wives. Normally you wouldn’t find me excited about a hot dog / sausage restaurant. It’s never really been my thing, plus having a gluten-intolerance and being mostly vegetarian makes this all even less fun. Frank, however, really caters to everyone – they carry gluten-free rolls, homemade vegetarian sausage and dogs and plenty of house made sausage from local meats and ingredients. Though I wanted their homemade veggie sausage, I couldn’t have it as it contained gluten, unfortunately. So I make sure to always go with one of their homemade sausages since they never disappoint. To be able to eat a sausage or a hot dog on a bun feels like a luxury after 6+ years. We usually eat there at least two times when we are in town and I like to try something different each time. On this visit I had the Texalina served on a gluten-free bun which is their housemade local pork and beef sausage covered in a grilled coleslaw and topped with a Carolina mustard BBQ sauce and shredded white cheddar. It was so incredible and tasty, it had a nice subtle spicy heat and the crunch from the coleslaw is what makes this sausage really stand-out, in my opinion. Though I am not a huge BBQ sauce lover – I am always down for a mustard based sauce and it was perfect on this. The Texalina is definitely messy, but something I was willing to deal with. I, of course, washed this incredible treat down with one of Frank’s deliciously fresh house margaritas (ok well maybe, two). Besides having delicious food, Frank is one of the most aesthetically pleasing restaurants I have ever been to, complete with hand painted signage and well though out menus and decor. A must see if you are in Austin.

Austin, Texas – Fonda San Miguel

One of our favorite things to do while we’re in Austin is to eat as much Mexican food as we can. Living in Buffalo there really isn’t much authentic Mexican food and I certainly crave it. What isn’t there to love about Mexican food, the spices, the margaritas, etc and it is so very gluten-free friendly. We definitely have a long list of classic taqueria style Mexican joints in Austin that we like to visit, but this time we decided to try out something a bit different that a friend recommended. Fonda San Miguel is an upscale restaurant that features fine interior Mexican cuisine, something I had never really experienced. It’s classic regional cuisine prepared authentically using numerous ingredients from their on-site organic garden.  I really didn’t know what to expect, but I can honestly say it is one of the best Mexican meals I have ever had. So different from the classic taqueria’s that I have become accustomed to. I decided to go with the Camarones en Crema De Chipotle, gulf shrimp in a spicy chipotle cream sauce. I am a big fan of the gulf shrimp and when I saw this dish, I knew it was right up my alley. It had a wonderful smokey heat that was balanced by the creaminess. Once we returned home to Buffalo I promptly recreated this dish myself so I could enjoy it again. I plan to make it again really soon so I can share the recipe here. I don’t have access to delicious gulf shrimp so my recipe was definitely lacking there, but otherwise I think I came close. I also had an incredible martini style cocktail that featured mezcal, tequila and fresh lime juice, this was my first time trying mezcal and I loved it. The strong smoky flavor from the mezcal was so unique and special, I am certainly going to have to keep an eye out for this at my local liquor store. I cannot wait to go back to Austin next year so we can go back to Fonda San Miguel and try even more things on their menu. I am sorry to say I had my camera with me, but was far too happy, relaxed and involved with both incredible food and wonderful company, to take any photos of the meal, so you will have to use your imagination on this one or get your butt to Austin and visit Fonda San Miguel yourself.

Travelin' Eats from Our Drive to Austin.

Austin, Texas – Juan in a Million

Last, but certainly not least, is Juan in a Million. Though simplistic in many ways, it is one of my favorite grub spots in Austin. There’s no organic garden or gluten-free breads, it is just straight-up, classic Mexican food, perfected. We always try to hit Juan in a Million at least twice for breakfast while we’re in town – they have amazing breakfast tacos and THE best migas, probably my favorite breakfast dish of all time. It is a simple concept, scrambled eggs with various veggies like peppers, onions, tomatoes and it also has strips of fried tortilla. Then it’s all topped with fresh grated cheese. Don’t ask me why it’s so much better than every other ‘ol scrambled egg dish, it just is. There is something about it. Juan’s migas with a side of their delicious beans, some fresh warm corn tortillas and their super spicy salsa? That really is heaven. Unfortunately the terrible iPhone photo that I took, really doesn’t do the food any justice, but you get the idea. If you are a Travel Channel junky then you probably saw Juan in a Million featured on Man Vs Food. Oh and Juan in a Million consistently wins the award for best handshake in all of Texas – so if Juan is there, make sure to shake his hand, it is not only award-winning but it’s also epic (your hand will burn afterwards)!

We obviously ate at other great restaurants along the trip, but these are the ones that most stick out in my mind. I always try to remember to bring my camera but somehow this part of the blogging process always alludes me. That being said, I plan to do more of these types of posts with all the traveling we have coming up, so I hope you enjoy it. I would also love if you shared any restaurant recommendations that you have for me. This weekend we will be in NYC and Brooklyn for a gallery show our work is in and some meetings and next weekend we’ll be in Pittsburgh for Handmade Arcade. We are home the rest of the month finalizing our move home and getting the new print studio all set-up, after that we are off to a week-long vacation on the beach on South Padre Island, which will certainly be needed. If you have any restaurant recommendations for any of these places, definitely post them.

Look for some recipes in the next week or so, I hope to recreate the Camarones en Crema De Chipotle again for dinner tonight along with a gluten-free Chocolate Almond Pound Cake for dessert, if I can squeeze in the time to do it. And look for more travel/restaurant reviews very soon. Hope everyone is well!

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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.

HOW TO ENTER:

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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Happy New Year to you all!! I am so incredibly excited to dive head first into 2011! 2010 was a wonderful, blessed year filled with many great moments and though I experienced a few tough and trying moments in 2010, I have tried my best to look at all of those experiences as times where my strengths are tested and I learn just what I am capable of. I personally decided to make 2010 the year I tried to relax and not take everything so seriously, to take each moment for what it is and to love myself more. I have always made sure to see the positive in things and to realize things could always be worse, 2010 was the year I really made certain to keep that mindset in the forefront. I have also decided to focus on all that I have and how lucky I am to be healthy, happy and loved. I truly feel that each day is special and that I am lucky to have a loving husband, an incredible family, and a job and career that I not only love, but am immensely proud of. For us, both personally and professionally, 2011 is already shaping up to be an incredible year and I am elated for each and every moment to come!

One of the things I accomplished in 2010 that I am quite proud of, besides shedding 30lbs of excess weight, is the ability to be so in tune with my body and my health that I can sense when it is off-balance and needing a clean-up. I kept with my lifestyle and eating habits through the holidays, but it is inevitable that you are just consuming more food and drink than any other stretch of time throughout the year, at least for me anyhow. It is a week of excess, in all facets of life. I knew just before New Year’s eve, when I felt some sniffles coming on and I was feeling a bit more sluggish than usual, that I was in need of a good cleanse. I decided I would do a 2-week cleanse beginning today.

There are many different cleanses and detoxes out there, some are VERY intense and limited to just liquids, others aren’t nearly as strict, still allowing poultry and fish. I think the type of cleanses I practice, fall somewhere in the middle. I always avoid added sugar and salt, meat, fish, dairy, eggs, caffeine, and alcohol. Of course my cleanses also always include my usual no gluten and no processed foods. This time around I am also avoiding soy and corn. To most people this sounds limiting and difficult, but I actually look forward to it and think it is an exciting time. I love the focus on fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, herbs and spices. Life tends to get crazy and meals get rushed and these important elements often get forgotten and overlooked.

I find that these cleanses allow my body to not only detox but to also get back to a clear digestive tract that is able to do its job at it’s fullest. I have also done a bit of reading on Ayurvedic healing and learning to avoid or focus on foods specific to you and your body-mind type (or your dosha) and it’s needs. When I cleanse, I don’t follow the Ayurvedic cleanses per se, I just include that general focus on food types, herbs and spices and the importance of yoga and meditation when cleansing. There is big emphasis on digestion-enhancing, detoxifying spices in Ayurvedic healing such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, clove, ajwain, fenugreek, dried ginger, Chinese cinnamon and fennel. 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.

I am by no means an expert on cleansing or Ayurvedic medicine, I simply know my body and have tailored a cleanse to me and what I need, so please don’t take any of what I am doing as “medical advice” or anything more than me keeping a journal of my journey through this cleanse.

I plan to cleanse for 2 weeks, longer if I feel I need it. I will be posting many of the recipes here on my blog as I go. Hope it helps any of you looking to try out a cleanse or maybe you are just looking to add in some very healthy, clean detoxifying recipes! Happy New Year and happy clean eating to you all!

 

Banana Pom-Berry Smoothie

 

This recipe will be the first of many smoothie recipes I will feature. I think they make great breakfasts and if you include different ingredients each time, you won’t get bored. I decided to add flax seeds to this smoothie (and will likely do so often through this cleanse) to get some added fiber and healthy omega-3 fats, it is great for adding to smoothies as it tends to keep you a bit more satisfied, a bit longer. Flax seeds are also great sprinkled on salads, cooked vegetable or added to breads or cereals. This smoothie had a ton of flavor and it is now over 3 hours since I drank it and I am still quite satisfied. This is one I will for sure be making again.

Banana Pom-Berry Smoothie
serves 1

1/2 orange, peel and pith removed (I used a cara cara pink navel, any orange will work)
1/2 cup organic 100% pomegranate juice (no additional ingredients and definitely no sugar added)
1 organic banana, halved
1 tbsp ground organic flax seed (I buy them whole and grind them myself)
1/2 cup frozen organic mixed berries

Add all the ingredients to your blender, blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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