Following "Orders"

You know what I’ve noticed lately? I haven’t been posting about the foods that have tickled my sweet tooth. To be honest, for the most part they haven’t been worth mentioning from the usual “oats-in-a-jar” for morning classes, bowls of cereals, or date-balls. But there is one thing that is extra-special to me and makes me antsy whenever I run out, and that’s homemade granola! I munch on granola all day: with meals, between meals, before meals, after meals. You get the point. Most of the time I end up finishing a batch before I think to snap a picture.

Clumpy & Crisp Applesauce Granola

Clumpy and crisp are two things that I love about granola. I was perusing through Kickpleat’s blog, and as soon as I saw this recipe I clicked on it to see what it entailed. Hmm.. I could check off the entire ingredient list! That was a nod from the heavens to make it happen! However, I did make a few changes. Rather than using olive oil I used almond oil, used half oats/half cornflakes, and I also threw in some cashews to the nut mix.

Delicious and addictive

Much like these chewy coconut flapjacks.

What a fun name for these! If you are oat-obsessed like the title of the recipe’s post says, then these are for you. Well, if you love sweet, chewy, and sticky delicious things in general then these are for you too; they are also what the British call “flapjacks”. I know some of you may be thinking, “but those don’t look like pancakes.” That is correct. These are definitely not pancakes. No offense to them because I love those kinds of flapjacks too!

For serious oat lovers!

I snuck in some cornflakes to these as well. I swear ever since I tried the Bakery on Main granolas, I’ve been adding cornflakes even to recipes that sort-of resemble the tree-hugging snack. But who doesn’t want to eat tree-hugging snacks when they taste like baklava?! When my roommate pointed that out, my eyes lit up and suddenly I could taste it. She was right!

Don't believe me?

You need to make these as soon as possible, and try for yourself.

Now moving on to more sweet things, shall we?

I spy poppy seeds...

But not just poppy seeds! When I had spied Katie’s recipe for these Lil’ Lemon Muffins, off to the kitchen I went. These scrumptious little treats didn’t stick around for very long. With this warm weather it was nice to have something baked that tasted light and uplifting.

This was a recipe I had been seeing in a lot of posts recently.

Heather’s famous Cookie Dough Smoothie  recipe caught my eye because of two words: cookie and dough. I usually am not in the mood for smoothies for breakfast unless I had a long night or if that just happens to float my boat that day. When I saw this recipe, my boat decided to come in the next day.

It was surprisingly filling for a smoothie...

but it didn’t quite taste like cookie dough to me. Maybe something was off in how I made it? I didn’t use coconut milk, but I mixed in some coconut shreds to try and make up for it. Oh well, who knows.

More cookies!

These were inspired by a lovely lady I mentioned earlier and a delicious cookie–samoas! I saw Katie’s recipe for Samoas Larabars and next thing I knew I was wiping drool off my chin. There’s only one Girl Scout cookie that I love and I think it’s pretty obvious which one it is. I pretty much followed her recipe, but I crushed up some Three Sisters Cereal Graham Crackerz and mixed it in with the batch after the other ingredients went in the food processor. So that was supposed to be the “cookie” part in a samoa.Then I rolled them in shredded coconut, and took a most delicious bite into one of these. Me oh my, my obsessions list just keeps getting longer!

And now, since I always eat my vegetables...

This was a very simple recipe that I threw together, wanting to use the newly purchased jar of herbes de provence.

Provençal Potato Salad

Ingredients

-1.5 lb. bag of assorted fingerling potatoes, diced

-2-2 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans

-cooking oil of choice

-1 yellow onion, sliced

-2 garlic cloves, minced

-10 oz. mushrooms, sliced

-1 zucchini squash, sliced

-2 tbl white cooking wine

-1-2 tsp herbes de provence

-sea salt and pepper, to taste

1. Boil the potatoes till tender, but make sure not to overcook them! The last thing we want are overcooked veggies… or overcooked anything for that matter.

2. Heat the pan, and then heat the oil. Cook the onions and garlic till the onions are translucent. Once they are cooked you can add the potatoes and cooking wine. Cook for about two minutes.

3. Add the sliced zucchini, and cook for a few minutes until the squash starts to get tender. That’s when you throw in the mushrooms, beans, and the herbes de provence. Let everything cook together for a couple more minutes–mushrooms don’t take that long to cook.

4. Now ask yourself how salty and peppery would you like your dish, and then enjoy!

Note: on second thought I decided to throw in some avocado and French green beans, and served it cold as a salad.

Much better.

Do you ever have that recipe in a cookbook that you keep meaning to try, and the page is permanently creased because you still haven’t gotten around to it?

Well, I finally made this one: chickpea and sweet potato curry.

My mom’s friend gave me William Sonoma’s vegetarian cookbook a couple years ago for my birthday, and I’ve slowly been checking off the recipes I wanted to try. This particular recipe always stuck out to me, but I never seemed to have all of the ingredients on hand. Okay so I have something to tell you. I love to cook, bake, follow recipes, make my own… the whole shebang! But I usually don’t go out of my way to get all the ingredients I need for a certain recipe. The recipes I gravitate towards are based off of things I already have, not things that I need to go out and buy. There is the rare occasion though when there’s a recipe that I’m just dying to make and I will go out and buy the 3 tubs of mascarpone for it! This may come to a surprise to some of you, but I’m actually a very practical person (who knows how to have fun). I like to keep things simple. I’m a one block of cheese at a time kind of person. Definitely not a hoarder, and I rarely have the impulse to buy something on a whim. However, when I do get something on a whim I don’t feel bad about it–hello balance! Anyway, I think that kind of practicality has led me to get creative with the things I do have on hand, or maybe that childlike sense of wonder just never left. What kinds of sandwiches can I make with this cheese? How can I prepare something in a new way? With a new flavor? In an unexpected cuisine? I do have a lot of ingredients on hand though, but they’re all things that I use–not to be left in the cupboards to collect dust. You’d find all sorts of spices, dried herbs, legumes, oils from almond to avocado to truffle, a 10 lb. bag of basmati, nuts, a 2 lb. tub of dates… those are just a few of my kitchen staples. Perhaps, I will do a post on my kitchen staples. I know Holly has expressed interest in that a few times.

My taste buds were happy that I finally had all of the ingredients on hand.

Speaking of new ways to eat things...a new way to eat red lentils!

I usually eat red lentils as a dhal, a soup, or curry. I’ve been wanting to venture out though so last week I made a hummus, and this week I prepared them as part of a salad… an Indian inspired Rice Red Lentil Salad. I don’t have peanuts so I used pistachios instead, and it turned out wonderfully! Refreshing, slightly sweet, full of flavor, and just what I’ve been in the mood for. When you make this recipe you can’t forget to make the dressing! That would be like yin with no yang, which is impossible.

I know I always share recipes with you all, but this one is an order!

Come to think of it, this post is full of “orders”. I’ve been quite the queen when it comes to cooking up delicious recipes and coming up with some of my own if I do say so myself. I hope you’ve all enjoyed feasting with your eyes, and will soon head to the kitchen to create something tasty to eat! Who knows… maybe you’ll follow one of my “orders”? Or maybe you have one that you’d love to share.

Friends, Food, and Family

Good morning everyone! I wanted to give you all a heads up that from now on I will be answering your questions in the comments section, so don’t forget to check back if you asked one! I use to do that, but somewhere along the line I stopped. It’s a lot easier to reply right on the post rather then sending out e-mail, especially because I want to get back to you guys. But if they are in-depth or personal questions, then of course an e-mail would be sent.

Last weekend my step-dad and I paid a visit to a place we hadn’t been to in years.
The Jefferson is a historic hotel in Richmond, which also has beautiful dining rooms.
I’d like the Southern Comfort spiked brioche French toast, please.
We take our food seriously…
but only for a minute!
Sherried Winter Squash Bisque

As some of you may know, thick soups are my favorite! Especially ones involving butternut squash. This recipe caught my eye awhile ago and me oh my, my taste buds saw fireworks! Imagine your grandma’s most comforting specialty soup… times ten!

Me thinking “mmm this is the best butternut squash soup ever!”
Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and some thyme (and coconut oil if you’re so inclined).
With my lovely friend and curator of a show this past First Friday.
And a video of mine was a part of it–I was so excited!

As part of Foodbuzz’s Tastemakers program I was generously sent a loaf of Nature’s Pride Hearty Wheat with Flax to try out.

The bread was great for sandwiches!
Especially ones filled with homemade hummus, Vegenaise, and veggies.
It can also be enjoyed with banana slices and chocolate hazelnut butter.

You can go sweet, savoury, or simple with this bread–say if you’re just in a toast and butter mood. I also think it’s neat that they thought of incorporating flax into the bread, a good way to get in some Omega-3’s!

In other news, I went to the Hispanic Gala that my friend helped organize.

I glamorously biked to the event in this gown… just this gown. It was quite a liberating and exhilarating experience, and that’s not counting actually being at the gala! I met a lot of wonderful people from all over the world, and I was so proud of my friend for playing such a vital role in making it all happen.

Picture courtesy of my dear friend’s cell phone!
And a pro one from another friend!
Another blue moon came around and I went to the hot bar at Whole Foods.

I love that hot bars let you get a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Now if only everything were as light as lettuce then I think blue moons would come around more often.

I finally got my hands on purples potatoes!

I’ve had a very peculiar ingredient sitting in my kitchen forever, but I hadn’t used it until recently. One day I decided to look up recipes that called for pomegranate molasses. That’s when I came across this recipe on one of my favorite sites for cooking: lentil hummus wrap with pomegranate molasses. I also made the red lentil hummus that went along with the recipe, and loved the idea! I have been cooking a lot with red lentils lately, but it was a nice change to what I usually make out of them.

I got a special treat for my step-dad and I to try…
This was a vegan version of one of my step-dad’s all time favorite candy bars: Almond Joy.

I don’t think he’s had one in awhile, so I thought it’d be interesting for him to try a vegan version. We both thought these were delicious, and had just the right amount of coconut with a bite int0 a crunchy almond to top it all off.

Speaking of coconut…

Remember I mentioned the new Super skincare line in my last post? Well, I’ve been trying out their products and seeing how they make me and my skin feel. First up. Lush Lips. Can you believe they got their inspiration for soft skin from coconut oil? Finally, a skincare line that catches on to that! This lip moisturizer has a subtle coconut smell, and doesn’t leave your lips feeling sticky. Last thing I want is to be eating my own hair because it gets stuck on my lips.

The Face + Eye Cleanser

In my last post Allison asked me what I thought about the cleanser, so I thought I’d share my thoughts. Since the product uses the famous superfood, açaí, it has a bit of a sweet smell, and it feels soft and milky on your skin as your washing it. The cleanser was gentle enough to use on the eyes to remove any makeup. Actually, the smell and texture made me want to indulge in the whole experience of washing my face. Yes, it actually felt like an experience! So how did my skin feel afterwards? It felt hydrated, fresh, and soft. A wonderful feeling to have at the beginning of the day and at the end don’t you think?

And the weekend will be spent celebrating this little lady’s birthday!

She’s been one of my best friends since the days of… peculiar fashion whims. Who am I kidding? We still have those! The point is that she’s a true blue friend, and I’m so happy to be able to be right there with as she adds one more year to her repertoire as Soul Sista!

I hope you all enjoy your weekend. What are you looking forward to?

Super from Inside, Out

Hello there again everyone! Remember how I said I would be walking in Richmond’s Fashion Week? Well that took place the week before, and I thought I’d do a little recap of the shenanigans. So let’s jump right in, shall we?

So begin the long days...

Beauties all bundled up in the tent that was put up for the finale show.

Inspiration boards and look books made many appearances.

And so did some tasty meals throughout the week…

Spaghetti squash with roasted brussels and chickpeas.

I had stumbled upon this recipe on Susan’s blog awhile ago, and I thought it was a great way to use spaghetti squash. Susan makes an interesting point about this wondrous squash, “Spaghetti squash tastes like–surprise!–squash, and if you sit down to a plate of it expecting to bite into a forkful of angel hair, you’re going to be disappointed.  But if you’re expecting lightly sweet squashy flavor in fun-to-eat strands of gold, you’ll love spaghetti squash in general and this recipe in particular.” Exactly why I wasn’t too crazy about this squash because I had only prepared it the same way I would eat pasta.

I took her suggestion and added some almonds.

This tasted so satisfying, and shed a new light on spaghetti squash. Two things actually in this dish that I’ve had to give a second chance to… brussels sprouts and now spaghetti squash.

Ive also been inspired by my roommate.

She cook a lot with coconut milk, and one day I had to exclaim how wonderful the kitchen smelled! She told me all she did was cook her vegetables in coconut milk with a bit of Bragg’s. So the next time I sautéed some kale and chickpeas, I added those other two simple ingredients and had myself a very tasty meal.

And I when I saw the words "cookies for dinner" I was immediately intrigued.

 These Trail Mix Cookies were a bit of an adventure for me. I had never actually cooked with buckwheat groats or tried buckwheat anything for that matter. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can really change it up to your liking, and they’re gluten-free for those who have sensitivities. You can make whatever signature trail mix cookies you dream up! The texture of these is really nice too because it’s moist and has crunchy bits as well.

Cooking this reminded me of when my grandma in the kitchen.

There are certain things like butternut squash soups or boiling milk that remind me of her. Green lentils are another thing that bring me back there. I just cooked some lentils with basmati rice, onions, and garlic in water. Then added random seasonings and sea salt to taste. When everything was almost done cooking I added the diced carrots and green beans. One thing that I don’t like is an overcooked vegetable. I actually don’t even really mind if I find a strand of hair in my food. I just take it out and it’s not a big deal. I mean we have hair on our heads and sometimes one may fall out. Now that I got sidetracked on to the topic of hair, we should get back to the fashion week recap.

Hair!

And makeup!

Incredible makeup might I add.

It was also fun to dress up for events.

Little details

Everyone looked especially beautiful the night of the screening of the films for a contest they were holding.

A really special place.

Byrd Theatre was built in 1928 as one of the Nations’s Grand Movie Palaces, and every Saturday night the Mighty Wulitzer Organ gets played before the movie starts!

And look who flew up here to support her one and only!

Silly moments...

Mixed in with vogue ones as well.

Ah yes there was a lot of vogueing.

And pose!

I was so happy to see that my other lovely lady came to the finale!

And of course this lovely lady too! She played such a key role in putting this whole special week together.

At the end of the night of the finale I was ready to come home to my little munchkin.

And get my fresh face on...

Super fresh!

Luckily, this package came in the mail just in time.

What goodies awaited me?

I know many of you have heard the term “super foods” to describe some foods that have natural properties that work wonders for the body. Maybe some of you have also heard of the renowned Dr. Perricone. He recently launched a new skincare line called Super that’s geared towards prevention, and combines the principles of food + science. I know I have mentioned ayurveda on my blog frequently, and I full-heartedly believe that we can find incredible medicinal properties in food. Remember when I was eating very liver-friendly foods over the summer to help my skin? Well, Super takes the foods that are known to have properties that help the skin, and uses them to inspire these wonderful products. Not to mention, the packaging is so vibrant (and eco-friendly!)! Kind of like the food I make, don’t you think?

Yes, please.

The day after the finale show my eyes felt so heavy.

And suddenly they felt more awake!

The first cream I decided to try out was their Bright-Eyed cream, and my eyes felt so refreshed afterwards. Usually they feel puffy and dim in the morning, but now that I’ve been using this cream they really do feel bright. So I can greet people not just with a bright smile, but also with eyes just as bright!

Then I went out and sported the cute tote I was also sent.

Oh and that big green apple? Did you guys know the green apples actually help fight blemishes? “Quercetin is a fortifying flavonoid that helps prevent eruptions and helps calm red, irritated and sensitive skin.” Since I have problems with my skin every once in awhile I thought I’d incorporate green apples into my diet.

So far so good!

Especially with hemp seeds toasted with sea salt.

You can find their products at Sephora, or one of their two flagship stores. Also, they will be going live with their site very soon so definitely keep an eye out for it, and I’ll be letting you guys know how the products are working for me. So far I feel like I’m nourishing my skin like never before without following a stressful regimen. Not to mention, they smell delicious, which is a very special treat for a food lover like me hehe. I’m just so excited to see the philosophy of food + science making its mark in the beauty world. Actually, I have a feeling that Super is going to be a part of a lot of people’s best beauty secrets. Secrets that, of course, you can share!

What nourishing foods have helped you with your outer-radiance?

Taking It In

Hey everyone! Sorry for pulling my disappearing act on you guys without a heads up, but as we all know sometimes life just sweeps you up off your feet and you just have to go for the ride. So I’m taking this moment to say hello!

Hello!

Awhile ago I was going through a “roasted beets and grilled goat cheese sandwich” phase. That’s pretty specific isn’t it? Goat cheese and beets are typically paired together so why not sandwich the wonderful duo in between two slices of bread?

I’ve also been enjoying red lentil curries.

Can you spy the curry leaf? Mix in some basmati rice and you’ve got yourself a tasty meal.

Enjoyed the last of this jar of tahini.

I don’t think I’ll find a jar of this discounted at $1.99 anytime soon. But that’s okay because…

Welcome to Buttermilk Pancake Mountain!
Home of the world’s fluffiest pancakes.
Enjoy it the old fashion way, stacked high with maple syrup and butter.
Mmm yes… maple syrup.
Baking powder is the trick to getting them so fluffy.
Half and half
I love options!

I had medjool dates on hand and there were two recipes I had in mind. Averie’s No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cake Bites and Almond, Date, and Coconut Energy Balls. Before I even looked at the ingredients I bookmarked Averie’s recipe, and they were incredibly delicious! Probably one of my favorite high-raw recipes I’ve made so far. The energy balls were sweet and salty with a nutty undertone that I absolutely loved. I’ve been using that recipe, but making small changes like using cashews/pecans instead of almonds. Making small treats like this are really convenient for any kind of lifestyle, especially if you’re busy, and they’re just my taste.

Recently, I completed something ambitious and that my heart really wanted to do. A lot of people helped make it possible so I wanted to give thanks in one of my favorite ways–food!

Rolled in shredded coconut the coconut-date balls also make great little gifts.
Or thank someone special with Gratitude Granola.
Wonderful clusters

Gratitude Granola (adapted from Jeaneatte Orda’s Everyday Granola recipe)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup rolled oats

1 3/4 cup corn flakes, crushed

1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seed
3 tbl ground flax seed
1 cup dried shredded coconut
1 cup combination of walnuts, almonds, and cashews, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 tbl cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/4 cup almond or coconut oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl stir the in the oil, applesauce, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla together. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, stirring well.

2. Lay the mixture out on a baking sheet, and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes, occasionally stirring it. Once it’s done let it cool and store in a container.

 

The honorable duty of taste-tester before you gift it to someone.
Seal of approval
The ambitious project involved driving out to the mountains…
To this retreat center…
Setting up at 5 in the morning with enthusiastic friends…
Running around to solve technical difficulties.
And finally it worked!

Whenever spring comes around I always think of Chip even more. Chip was my boyfriend during my last year of high school, but he was taken from this world in a very violent way. Since we never actually broke up so it felt really weird at first. He was a very special person and I don’t think I’ll ever meet anyone like him, but that’s okay. He ended up inspiring kindness and innocence in many who never got the chance to meet him, so I guess when he was once told that he’d be a great teacher… it was in a way that no one could ever imagine. The inspiration for this came from the idea of writing him a letter, but as a video instead. I believe in a higher power (although I’m not sure what it is) and that there is an afterlife, so the sky is a very meaningful thing to me. We were on top of a hill in the mountains and it felt like you were on top of the world. There was a white “screen”/sheet that I made so it was like the ceiling of an open tent. As the sun rose the projected video faded and the letter was sent. Chip helped me believe in some kind of heaven, and the goodness that’s deep, deep in our souls.

I think he got my message.

When was the last time you felt most alive?