The Mom Was Back In Town

Start the day right

My mom was in town last weekend, on a last minute trip to spend Mother’s Day with each other. It was more motivation to clean the apartment, and get all domestic making sure she’d have everything she wants. I made sure she brought her walking shoes! I was so excited to have her visit, and to share my life up here with her. Plus, she always leaves  such positive energy behind. It must be all that love she has inside.

A breakfast fit for the Queen of Mothers

A baked sweet berry omelette topped with dried orange slices, strawberries, and Greek yogurt.

Baked Sweet Berry Omelette

I think I whipped the egg white too much though, since it didn’t come out quite as fluffy as the original recipe.

4 whole eggs
1/2 cup dairy-free milk
1 Tbsp coconut flour
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp goat butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.

3.Beat the egg yolks with the milk, flour, salt, and sugar. Beat egg whites ny hand, with a wire whisk or with a mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment until stiff but not dry.

4. Put the butter into an 8 inch ovenproof non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the butter melts, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.  Pour into the skillet and cook for 2 minutes, transfer to oven.  Bake until puffy and browned on top, 15-20 minutes.

5. Serve hot or at room temperature, sprinkled with your choice of toppings.  I opted for dried orange slices, strawberries, and Greek yogurt.

Variations: raspberries, blueberries, halved apricots, and peaches or nectarines before cooking the omelet. Substitute crème fraiche or sour cream for milk or cream, and add a pinch of ground cinnamon.

It was such a lovely Mother’s Day breakfast.

My mom, a lover of salmon, is so happy that I eat fish now…

We walked to the market together, since I wanted to show her the wonderful fish selection at Citarella. Also, I’m not sure if it varies by location but the one in the Upper West Side has very knowledgable and friendly fishmongers. I made grilled chili-lime salmon, which is a little spicy, sweet, and citrusy. I also tried lime juice with balsamic vinegar and it was so delicious… I’ll have to make a dressing including those two ingredients.

I also found caperberries at the store, and added them to the accompanying salad.

While my mother was in town, my friend was shooting a music video at my place.

It was so awesome to finally see it come to life!

Continue reading

Traveling in the Kitchen

Oh gosh! There’s so much catching up to do! I’ve been back in Florida for a couple of weeks, but I have some things that I want to share with you from before I even left for Toronto. So get ready!

And hold on tight

Let’s see… how have I been enjoying the summer’s endless heat?

By making water a more refreshing beverage.

Slicing up lemons, limes, cucumbers, and a handful of mint leaves, and letting it all sit for a couple hours in a jug of water is all it takes.

One of my mom’s friends gave us mangoes from her backyard!

You can tell how delicious these were just by looking at them.

I’ve also been making smoothies.

 I made this particular one with Greek yogurt, honey, almond milk, peaches, and cinnamon.

Taste testing… not quite there yet.
Passed the test.
Yowza that was good!
I’ve also been loving strawberries in the mix.
Sadly, coconut butter is too shy to mix and mingle.
Of course I’ve been keeping up with my weekly batch of raw vegan treats.

I’ve recently made Averie’s No-Bake Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites and Kelsey’s Cocoa Coconut Energy Balls. Both should be under your bookmarks if they aren’t already.

I’m serious.
This may not be a typical cool summer meal.

I sautéed some yellow squash, crumbled tofu, and diced sweet potato with Bragg’s flavorful Organic Seasoning. Drizzle some coconut butter, and I sealed the deal. By the way that sprinkle has 24 herbs and spices that add lots of flavor. Even if I don’t know what to cook I just use some of this and I instantly have a tasty dish. Thanks to my old roommate introducing me to this it’s now one of my secret weapons.

Taken out by the poolside while the weather was hopefully cooling down (not by much).
With a nice cold glass of refreshing water.
Ahh yes… the morning is another part of the day I can enjoy outside without melting into a puddle of sweat…
And drool.
I’ve also made up a recipe recently.

Can you guess what it is? Himalayan Zucchini Bread! This is an eclectic loaf of zucchini bread inspired by the Eastern world and 101 Cookbook’s Special Zucchini Bread. Check it.

Himalayan Zucchini Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

3/4 cup almonds, chopped

2 1/2 tbl poppy seeds or even chia seeds

2 tsp lemon zest

4 peanut ginger chews, finely chopped

1/4 cup goji berries

3 tbl shredded coconut, unsweetened

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut sugar, or brown sugar

1 large egg, or egg replacer

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 zucchinis, grated

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour mix

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tbl curry powder

*Don’t be daunted by the long ingredient list*

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan, and dust it with a bit of flour then set aside.
2. In a bowl combine the almonds, poppy seeds, lemon zest, shredded coconut, goji berries, and ginger. Set aside.
3. In another bowl mix the coconut oil with the honey, and then add the coconut sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and curry powder.
5. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
6. Fold in the almonds, poppy seed, lemon zest, goji berries, shredded coconut, and crystalized ginger mixture by hand. Set a bit aside so you can sprinkle on the the zucchini loaf before baking to add a little crunch. Avoid over mixing the batter, it should be thick and moist.
7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, and bake for about 40-45 minutes. Don’t over bake it though to keep it moist. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about ten minutes. Then let it finish cooling on wire rack. It’ll get moist and sweaty if you leave them in the pan.
Each ingredient is special in this recipe
That’s not all.
Wolfberries, also known as goji berries.
And somehow by the time this loaf was done baking I had flown to Asia and back.

So now that I’ve shared this recipe with you, here are some tips to go along with it. I soaked the almonds beforehand to add to the bread’s dense bite. I also thought of the recipes I’ve made where zucchini and almonds held hands in the most delicious way. I love coming up with kitchen experiments, being inspired by  places I want to travel to and let my mind go.

Check it out!

Now take a bite into a slice of this and you’ve got a spiced and moist bread, with some crunch and the most unique flavor.

Enjoy it for breakfast with coconut butter.

Recently, I’ve been letting a bag of green tea steep in a glass of cold water overnight.

And beautiful fresh mission figs, medjool dates, bee pollen, and honey over some Greek yogurt.
I hope you all have a relaxing weekend… 
Or one packed with adventures!

The Meaningful Ones

Thinking about the warm weather, and coming back to cold weather has been on my mind lately. I try not to let the weather bring me down, but sometimes it’s hard! Something I thought about the other day is that weather is humbling for me. Weather and mother nature are greater than our expectations of it. Wind can make fun of me when it pushes me forward or gets me eating my own hair. The breeze welcomes me to relax into it. When it rains sometimes I imagine that clouds are just giant sprinklers and I can run through them. Whatever it may be like outside, it’s bigger than me and I’m okay with that.

I loved being able to have the windows open in the morning and breathing in fresh air.

Stepping outside and feeling warmth on my skin.

Brötchen for breakfast.

My parents frequent the several German bakeries in their area and always bring home things that are nostalgic for me.

Hopefully soon I’ll be back over in Germany walking to the bakery and bringing home some freshly baked rolls!
Over the break I also tried some local bee pollen.

This had such a curious taste, and I can’t really explain it but I’m not complaining.

I had to buy another bar because little Matilda ate the entire bar one night!

By some miracle she did not get sick at all! That whole bar is twice the amount that is toxic for her, and I don’t know how she managed to eat something that is almost as long as her. She’s a supa freak! [Supa freak, supa freakayyy! Ow!]

Chilled oatmeal, incognito chopped dates, diced apple, Greek yogurt, honey, bee pollen, and…
Toasted hemp seeds with sea salt-yum.
We went to a place where you could browse through a long list of beers.

I am all about options, and I chose a pear cider. This was so yummy, and tasted like an “older kid’s” version of pear juice in a box.

Followed by the one blurry picture before my camera died.
Threw together a random lunch

Raw red Russian kale with dressing, leftover yellow split pea soup, and…

During the week I made a batch of refried beans and coconut-sesame seed rice.

The coconut-sesame seed rice recipe is from my “Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners” book, and I’ll give you a brief description so maybe you can give it a try! Cook some basmati rice with ghee and salt. Then when the rice is done cooking, heat up some ghee in a small pan and fry equal amounts of shredded coconut and sesame seeds till they’re lightly browned. Mix in with the cooked rice, salt to taste, and garnish with cilantro. I’ve posted about this recipe before. It’s so simple and incredibly flavorful!

Guess who joined us halfway through the week!

Emily was staying a few hours away from us for a few days, and then she decided she was ready for girl time!

Ohh the beach, how I love you!
One of the days after soaking in some sun I wanted to share, in my humble opinion, one of the best ice creams.
Mmm vanilla island coconut ice cream

This is going to sound corny, but this really is coconut bliss.

And they all agreed!

Apparently Coconut Bliss has come out with four new flavors, and one of them is on my radar–ginger cookie caramel!

During my break I wanted to take on a culinary challenge.

I had bookmarked Marni’s White, Red, and Green Italian Braid recipe awhile ago, and I thought this was a good time to finally make it!

Mix it well!
My fillings of choice: homemade pesto, tomato sauce, (all marinated) roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, mozzarella, and goat cheese.
No parchment paper made this step a bit tricky.
But the challenge was completed!
Delicious! You could make this bread on a free night and have slices throughout the week when you’re on-the-go.
We also spent some time strolling along and people watching.
Found charming streets
A hideaway perhaps?
A special dinner was in order–to celebrate my mother’s recent promotion.

She’s such an intelligent woman and is so dedicated to what she does! Hearing her stories from work and her benevolent attitude towards the people that work for her makes me proud.

My mom had fun taking pictures of us girls goofing off, and I’m pretty sure she was being silly behind the camera too.
Coconut curry bursting with tofu, pineapples, and vegetables.

I hadn’t gone out for Thai food in such a long time! I requested that they also add some grated ginger, and much to my delight I saw AND tasted that they actually did. I’m never afraid to make special requests. If you’re polite about it then why not? I was left feeling satisfied and with yummy leftovers.

There was a special dinner the next night as well.

I steamed a bundle of asparagus and sprinkled on sea salt, drizzling of lemon juice, and a pat of butter. For the mushrooms I sautéed onions and garlic, then I turned down the heat and threw in the mushrooms with some salt and herbes de provence. Once the mushrooms softened I turned the heat down to low and mixed in a splash of balsamic, a few spoonfuls of goat cheese and Greek yogurt, and some cracked peppercorns. Let it simmer for a bit so the flavors blend together. Now the mashed potatoes were just a basic recipe but there was a special ingredient: black truffle salt. I served that with a pat of butter as well.

Filled with lots of love…
For my friends and family!
We were sad to leave and so was Lone Duck.
But I hope they come down with me again soon!
I love my friends with all my heart.

Spending the week with them in paradise was wonderful. I live with Emily right now, and we just have such a great understanding and appreciation for each other. I always feel funny just calling her my roommate because she is so much more than that to me. She is someone that I can stand in flamingo stance with while talking about our thoughts on life and the world around us. Sway is also one of the coolest ladies that I’ve ever met. She lives further up north so I don’t get to see her that often, but it’s always really nice when we do. We’ll have the same thoughts or do the same things as each other and it can be really freaky sometimes, but I love it! Actually, there was a week where I was eating lots of roasted beets and grilled goat cheese sandwiches, and when I told her that she told me that she had been making them too! It’s so awesome to be so connected with someone. These ladies are so easy to be around, and I can’t think of a time where we felt like making a fuss towards each other. I bet that the people they encounter in their lives can’t help but feel touched and graced by their presence. Both of them are so special and  thinking about them and that they are in my life brings me peace.

I think we all have those special people in ours lives that seem to complete us.

Sharing the Sun with My Friends

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. It’s been a little while since my last post, and a lot has happened in the world, hasn’t it? Before I jump into my post I just wanted to share some links with you all that help towards the relief efforts over in Japan. When the news kept unfolding during the first couple of days my mind couldn’t help but wonder how the people in Japan were handling the situation. I know that Eastern thought is very different from the western mentality. While some in the west may be frantic, I had a feeling that the people in Japan were trying to be calm and collected about the situation. I think they already have a sense that the world is much bigger than they are, and that catastrophic things in nature are a part of it. Well, that’s just my thinking. Here are some links though that you all may be interested in:

Charity Navigator

American Red Cross

Search Dog Foundation

Direct Relief International

Last week I was in Florida with two close friends of mine for spring break. Oh my goodness, I wish we could all go back, but life doesn’t always work out like that. Atleast we have memories and pictures to look back on though, right?

We were ready to leave the cold weather behind.
A good way to use up the last of some Greek yogurt.
Pit stop for munchies.
Pit stop to escape a major creep that was harassing us on the highway.

We finally made it home after a lot of scary incidents. By the time we got my parents house all we wanted to do was go to sleep.

The next morning I woke up and I knew I wanted something refreshing.
Chilled oatmeal, diced apple, Greek yogurt, mixed nuts, and honey.
Papaya from our tree and an arepa de choclo from the local Colombian bakery
Then I found this gem in the cupboards.
My parents got honey from a local beekeeper.

This was one of the best honeys I’ve ever tasted. It was thick and had such a wonderful unique flavor. Whenever I get honey I try keep it local as it also helps with allergies. Later on we strolled along Mizner Park, an outdoor place for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

We stopped by a heavenly store.

As soon as I saw the words “Spice & Tea Exchange” I knew we had to go in. After oh-ing and ah-ing at all the wonderful blends of herbs and spices we settled on some to take home with us: almond cookie tea, blood orange smoothie tea, berry white tea, and black truffle salt. All of these things smelled deliciously potent, and my imagination started to get carried away.

After dinner we enjoyed some treats my step-dad brought back from the German bakery: cherry quark küchen and rhubarb quark küchen.
The next day involved the beach!
Packed some rye bread, homemade hummus, and some other goodies.
For dinner I made a cous cous, bean, and vegetable salad.

Add some goat cheese for the final ‘pow’.

Dinner was followed by spooky beauty treatments.
That was also the night before Matilda would shrink down to three times this size.

Despite it being warm, I felt like making yellow split pea soup.

You can click over here for the recipe. It’s simple and delicious.

Especially when you've got buttered rye bread for dipping.

One of my favorite parts of this trip was getting to hang out with some of my best friends.

They are the kind of people that are okay with sitting in silence, and don’t mind when I want to vent. Plus, they know how to have fun! Here’s a quote that sums up what I love about these ladies:

Your friendships should be low maintenance. Life is stressful enough with work, relationships and family. You don’t need someone in your life that you dread contact with.

-J. Harvey

Speaking of friends, I’d like to give a shout out to the beautiful, Jen! She used to write a food blog, and now she is back with a new blog! She’s also attending culinary school so it’ll be exciting to read about what she’s learning. Check it out here.

Oh and Matilda wanted me to show you guys her new look.

Stay tuned for the next recap!

p.s. my mother nominated me for a contest on Perricone’s site on Facebook, and I’d greatly appreciate it if you click this link and “like” my picture! But first you have to have “like” the Perricone MD page on Facebook. Thank you very much!

Simplicity in Nature

I noticed that a lot of new people have been leaving comments, so I just wanted to say hello and thank you for stopping by! You know one of the  things that I really enjoy about blogging? Is that we each get to read about all of the things we appreciate, and how beautiful it is to see how others views the world.

Don’t forget to vote for the RVA Internet Awards. I was actually nominated for the Best Blog category, so exciting! Check out some of the comment threads while you’re over there.

What could this be?

Earlier this week I made Root Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie. When I first stumbled upon this recipe I marveled at all of the wonderful rustic ingredients, and how comforting this sounded. This is a vegetarian version, and the “crust” is made out of a sweet and russet potato mash. However, instead of using flour for the vegetable mix I used cornmeal. I thought it would give the recipe a more “down-home” taste.

I love recipes with delicious hidden surprises!

Stuffed pastas, pies, dumplings, you name it.

So flavorful that it had me scooping up every last bit.
Breakfast… on-the-go

Awhile back I bookmarked some recipes from Martha Stewart’s quick and easy breakfast ideas. The banana-oat smoothie is basically like a bowl of oats, but in smoothie form. I also added almond butter and chia seeds to the mix.

Sliced almonds for the final touch.
My breakfast sometimes likes to smile back at me.

This was also another recipe I bookmarked from the quick and easy breakfast ideas: whole-grain toast bagel with yogurt and pistachios.

My lovely roommate read my mind and gave me a jar of honey from the area where she’s from!
While I was having this dainty breakfast, lavender honey crossed my mind.

Lavender honey on toast with pistachios would’ve been a breakfast fit for the Greek gods.

Aren’t pistachios beautiful?

They have the same vibrant green of a perfect avocado, then some painter must’ve dabbed pinks on their skins.

Delicate candies
Pistachios were still on my mind.
And so was lavender.

Awhile back I was browsing through recipes, wondering how I could use my package of coconut cream. I found a recipe for Vanilla Coconut Cream Candy on Tropical Traditions‘ abundant recipe site. You can make it vegan by using agave or maple syrup instead of honey. Actually, when I make this again I want to use pecans and maple syrup. Perhaps, I’ll add a splash of bourbon as well. This recipe was quite simple. The only ingredients I used were coconut cream, pistachios, honey, vanilla extract, and lavender. I added the lavender as an aromatic and delightful touch. Now I have lavender and honey in one beautiful candy. Perhaps these could’ve been enjoyed by Aphrodite herself.

Not as sophisticated as a Greek goddess, but something that can make anyone smile nonetheless–marshmallows!

I remember when I was younger I’d sleep over at a friend’s house and we had a wide selection of cereals to have at breakfast.

These are Marshmallow Oaties!

I was recently sent Three Sisters Cereal, which some of you may have heard of, to try and review. Did you know that their cereal is made using renewable wind energy? That’s pretty awesome if you ask me! Their motto is: natural, sensible, and sustainable cereals. They don’t include unnecessary additives in their cereals to get colors or taste. There are some ingredients in some packaged foods that are questionable, and I know they don’t need to be on the ingredient list so I like how Three Sisters Cereal doesn’t do that. A company with a conscience… I like that. Anyway, their flavors remind me of cereals that any kid, or big kid for that matter, would love! Flavors like Honey Oaties, Cinnamon Sweets, and Graham Crackerz. I got to try the Marshmallow Oaties, Sweet Wheats, and Honey Oaties. These were all so tasty and I felt like a little kid again.

Honey Oaties: These reminded me so much of Honey Nut Cheerios, but had a more wholesome aftertaste . Honey covered O’s are a classic. Crunch, crunch, munch. In fact, I brought a jar of Honey Oaties with me to munch on as I went about town. Whose baby am I? My mom will answer that for us.

Marshmallow Oaties: I went after Lucky’s charms! “Hearts, Stars, and Horseshoes, Clovers, and Blue Moons, Pots of Gold, and Rainbows, and me Red Balloons.” Well, this wasn’t a bowl of Lucky Charms, but it brought me back to when I’d eat bowls filled with colorful marshmallows. It’s got these neat shapes, and those little marshmallows we all love.

Sweet Wheat: Letting them soak in a bowl of milk is what I like to do with shredded wheat cereals. The frosting for the Sweet Wheats wasn’t as thick and sugary as other similar cereals I’ve tried. I enjoyed this since too much sugar, especially in the morning, can give me a headache. If you like denser and grainier tasting cereals then this is a good bet.

Donation of $1.00 for every cereal package sold in April will support emergency relief work by Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee; Whole Foods Market to support with in-store effort.” to support relief efforts in Haiti.

Would you like a chance to be a big kid too?

You can win a month-supply of Three Sister’s Cereal in the form of four freebie coupons! Please note that you can only find their cereals at Whole Foods Markets. Here’s what you can do to enter:

1. Visit the Three Sisters Cereal website and let me know the name of a product you’d like to try.

2. Link back to this giveaway on your next post, and please make sure to comment letting me know you did so.

The giveaway ends Friday February 11, 2011 at midnight EST.

Oh Dear Sweet Tooth, Don't Steer Me Wrong

I’ve been meaning to post a review, but I didn’t want to write it up in a post that had too much going on. But first I have some exciting news to share! This past Sunday I went to a casting call for Richmond’s Fashion Week with a dear friend of mine. Well guess what? We both made it!

Glad we did it!

I’ve got to work on my walk though so I’m going to put my heels, my legs, and books (for balance) to use. Anyway, back to the review… here goes!

Awhile ago, a wonderful little company kindly sent some samples over for me to try!
Feed my body royally. Why yes, yes I will!

Hail Merry is a company that makes raw organic snacks. Raw food chef, Susan O’Brien came up with these recipes because she wants “… to bring awareness to the powerful benefits of healthy oils, which we must obtain from our diets.” She finds that the less heat the food goes through, the more nutrients are preserved. Interesting thought, don’t you think? Although I do know that in some foods certain enzymes are actually only available if the food is cooked, i.e. the lycopene in tomatoes.

First up was the Grawnola.

I love when there are clusters in granola.

And this one definitely had them!

Now the taste? First off, I take texture into great consideration, and the Grawnola had one that was very much to my liking. If you like to have crunch and chew, then this may be for you. The cinnamon flavor was spot on, and the natural flavors were able to shine through with just enough sweetness from the maple syrup and fruits. The packaging makes it great for an on-the-go snack as well, and since it’s so clustered you won’t make a mess. Not to mention, this is gluten-free so all of you out there with this sensitivity can still enjoy some delicious granola!

A blonde and a chocolate… MACAROON!

I just love saying that word. Anyway, I knew I’d be in for a treat because I just had an inkling that these would be fantastic. Any raw vegan macaroons I’ve tried in the past have been nothing short of insanely delicious. These did not disappoint! In fact, they kicked it up another level. I was surprised at how fresh and moist these were. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better. The chocolate macaroons were rich and had a great balance of coconut and dark chocolate. The blonde macaroons simply melted in my mouth.  These could cure any sweet tooth that’s for sure… until you find yourself wanting more!

You can check out more about Hail Merry over here, and make sure to check out their snacks!

Speaking of sweet tooths…
I baked some coffee cake muffins… that completely overflowed.

Too bad I didn’t have a muffin tin so I could have jumbo muffins like Kelsey’s. The coffee cake muffin recipe actually says that it makes 12 jumbo muffins, alas I didn’t have a jumbo muffin tin.

They still managed to look lovely though.
And rather delicious if I do say so myself.

They were moist and fluffy on the inside and crumbly on the outside. Sadly, things with granulated sugars have been giving me headaches and making me nauseous so I’ve been trying to keep these kinds of sweets to a minimum. I still recommend trying this recipe though! It’s such a perfect thing to start off your day.

You don’t say?
I rang in the new year with one of my best friends!
And some other special people!
People who like to take silly pictures.
New year, new oatmeal in town!

These oats are thicker, and actually cheaper than the usual Quaker’s old-fashioned oats I buy. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve been let down by any Bob’s Red Mill products, and they’re very fairly priced as well.

I was eager to recreate a recipe for a tasty granola I had seen at the store.

I made a nice big batch of Banana-Coconut granola–two of my favorite things in one bite!

Glorious cluster!
This is probably the best batch of granola I’ve made, definitely not burnt to a crisp!
My spilt milk bowl making another appearance, and one of my favorite ways to eat granola…

Here with Greek yogurt + chia seeds, a sliced banana, and Artisana’s Cacao Bliss.

I finally decided to use something I’ve had in the pantry for quite some time.

Over the summer I bought some of Justin’s Nut Butter squeeze packets since they’d be perfect for on-the-go. Well, I finally used them and I wasn’t on-the-go. Nope, I was very much sitting on a chair, enjoying my bagel spread with Justin’s cinnamon peanut butter, banana slices, and some banana-coconut granola to boot! And I just found out that they don’t sell this kind anymore! Darnit, because I really liked it. Oh well, I guess it wasn’t popular with most folks though.

Well these won’t be discontinued, that’s for sure!

Awhile ago I had bookmarked Averie’s Raw Vegan Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes recipe. So I finally made a batch, and rolled them in shredded coconut as she suggested. These were a tasty change to the usual raw vegan treats that have dates (although I’m not complaining)! But like Averie said “I need variety in my dessert life, I tell ya!”

My first time making waffles and I was excited!

My winter intersession course was finally over, and I finally had time to make a special breakfast. So what kind of waffles did I decide to make?

Well, I attempted to make vegan spiced pumpkin waffles.

I’m not sure what happened, but atleast it was salvageable!

Enough to turn my frown upside down.
No, definitely not a failed attempt.

I topped these waffles with vanilla Greek yogurt, Canadian maple syrup (aka the dark infinite abyss), almonds, and a pear, apple, and cranberry compote. Lastly, I dusted it with nutmeg confectioner’s sugar.

Ah yes, taking time for breakfast.
While I’m at it, I’ll share my burnt banana pancakes too!

I used Katie’s banana pancakes for one recipe. Although they came out rather burned, I still enjoyed them!

Next time I think I’ll stack them for their photo-op.
Keep the special breakfasts coming!
Here’s the compote again: made with apple juice, lemon peel and juice, whole and ground spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg) , honeycrisp apples, Asian pears, and dried cranberries.
What are these little jewels?

When I started reading blogs again I knew that I’d be bookmarking recipes galore. Well, one of those recipes happened to be Jess’s Orange Date Cookies. Unfortunately, I don’t the date syrup she used for this recipe so I had to sub in honey. It’s amazing how all of the flavors stood out and complemented each other just the same. The texture  was also very much to my liking! Chewy with enough bite, and not crumbly. Nothing was overly so, just the right balance. Not to mention, these little treats did not give me a headache!

I especially love how you can see the dried fruits!
I recently got a nice little planner to help me complete my to-do lists, and better organize my schedule.
Here are some clues as to what I made in the next post!

Having a physical planner in my hand is a lot more effective than the one on my laptop. There’s something about my to-do list written in ink staring back at me that just motivates me to just get things done. So one by one I cross off the list. Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead! Classes start today for me, and I am heading into an intense semester. It’ll be my final semester: 18 credits of hands-on studio! Wish me luck.

p.s. today is the last day to enter my giveaway!

The Extra Special Things

Oh my goodness! I made it into the third challenge! Thank you so much for supporting me. Honestly, the amount of support and encouragement I’ve been given has floored me. I’m very much looking forward to the next challenge. It’s actually coming up very soon, but I’m trying to not let it stress me out to the point where I feel like it’s a daunting task to face. Nope, won’t go there. Moving on is incredibly exciting, yet humbling at the same time. I think it’s because I know that it’s not just all me. So yes, I just want to express again how grateful I am to everyone: the panel, my fellow contestants, and of course all of my friends.

Remember the tasty little bites I posted in my last entry?

Some of you were asking if I made them, and indeed those muffins are homemade! I just used my secret oat-bar recipe that I’m continuously experimenting with, but made them into scrumptious little muffins instead. Also, topped with coconut butter makes them extra tasty! Actually, doesn’t it make anything tastier?

Bubbling kitchen experiments?

This adventure was quite a simple one, but hadn’t been done! I looked up recipes using the keywords: figs and apples. That’s when I stumbled upon this delicious apple-fig compote recipe. The smell was incredibly comforting; Imagine the scent of a fruity elixir dancing through the air. Well, it really felt like it was an elixir because when I served it over some oats in the morning, I was so happy to be awake and enjoying that delicious meal. I enjoyed it so much that I found myself boasting about my wonderful breakfast throughout the day.

The most delicious thing I've ever served over a bowl of oatmeal!!!

Then topped with Greek yogurt, chopped walnuts, dates, and ground cinnamon.

Seriously go make a compote to add to your breakfast, or simply to enjoy alone--you will be so happy you did!

I got myself a tub of mascarpone and used it instead of cream cheese on my bagels.

I smeared one half with mascarpone & honey, and the other half with mascarpone & fig preserves. What a special ingredient for something as simple as a bagel, but who says you’ve got wait for a special occasion to enjoy the things you love. What’s something extra special to you that you like to enjoy on any occasion? I also had a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with a medley of fruits, granola, walnuts, tahini, and honey.

I made a deconstructed version of Veganomicon's BBQ Seitan and Coleslaw Sandwich.

I was risking a bellyache by eating raw cabbage, but I love slaws and it was a risk I was willing to take.

I think my taste buds were way too happy for my belly to even notice because I felt a-okay.

Oh my beautiful beets...

I loosely followed this recipe for “caramelized beets with caraway seeds & walnuts“. I didn’t have caraway seeds on hand so I used cumin instead, and I tossed in some roasted butternut squash as well. The fall harvest is something I definitely don’t mind. What are some of your favorite things about fall?

I felt like using one of my special bowls for this soup!

The other night I made a big batch of roasted butternut squash and sweet potato soup. Oh me oh my! Roasting the vegetables beforehand really does add flavor to this recipe, and it turned out so thick and creamy–my favorite! I served it with some chickpeas roasted in coconut oil & cinnamon, and a bit of tarragon.

Gosh, I have really been treating myself with all of these tasty dishes! I’m glad that I can share the recipes with you all… well except for my secret oat “bar/muffin” recipe of course mwahaha. Maybe one day… maybe. Anyhoo, I hope you all enjoy this crisp and chilly weekend. Just thinking about Sunday makes me all giddy inside; you’ll know what I mean by tomorrow! Is there anything exciting going on for you?

On the Topic of Food and Blogging

Hi everyone! Remember when I mentioned that I would be participating in Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog challenge? Well, the time has arrived! The first challenge is to make a post about what defines me as a food blogger, and why I have what it takes to be the next food blog star.

Where to start? I’m a foodie because I find myself frequently mentioning how wonderful food can be throughout the day. Food is truly nourishing for the mind, body, and soul. I am a food blogger because I love sharing that same appreciation with people all around the world. Actually, because of blogging I’ve had the honor of having a friend’s mother’s secret baked ziti recipe passed down to me! As a food blogger I’m constantly being introduced to new ways of trying and preparing what I eat. Sometimes I’ll include a goofy step by step tutorial on how to enjoy some of the delicious things I’ve stumbled upon. Moreover, the artist inside of me flourishes when it comes to making magic in the kitchen. Looking back on my posts I can definitely see that I pay attention to the way things look. I firmly believe that we eat with our eyes first. When you go out to eat, doesn’t the meal just seem that much better when it’s presented well? I figure that I don’t have to go to a restaurant to feast on food that looks nice; I can do that myself! And you bet I’ll be taking a picture of it!

As far as having what it takes to be the next food blog star… I can try to express how my heart and eyes light up at the mention of this coveted title! Part of the reason I blog is because I care. Some readers have expressed to me that my blog has the ability to put them at ease or given them inspiration; these things alone remind me why blogging makes me happy. Each post is a piece of me, and when someone can sense my spirit through my words and pictures, well I’ve done my part. Also, since I am a conscious eater, I like to inform myself and others of observations, philosophies, and other useful information that I’ve found. I enjoy giving my readers “food for thought”, and vice versa. As people we learn something new everyday, right? Which brings me to another reason. I have this… illuminated curiosity that leads my taste buds to uncharted territories. Picture a young lady sitting at the table with countless ingredients out, taste-testing different flavor combinations. My journey with food has sparked some exciting culinary experiments, strange but delicious combinations, and recently using food to heal. No matter what though I never feel alone on my food adventures because I get to share them with you all!

Bagels for breakfast!

One half of the bagel was topped with tahini + honey, and the other had ghee + fig preserves. Both were sprinkled with cinnamon, naturally! May I also mention that these multi-grain bagels from Rudi’s Organic Bakery were so yummy? Okay, good because they were!

I also enjoyed some fresh figs and dates with Greek yogurt and cinnamon
More comfort food!

I made a spiced red lentil dhal, served over a sweet potato with ghee. On the side I stir-fried some red cabbage and yellow onions, then threw in some mango chutney and fresh thyme.

I also recently tried out a new-to-me Coconut Bliss flavor, Pineapple Coconut.

You can tell by my face that me and this pint are up to no good, mwahaha! Well, that is if being bad means not sharing. I still can’t get over how Coconut Bliss gets their dairy-free ice cream to be so creamy!

I made a granola the other day–inspired by two beauties.

After seeing Averie’s granola re-created in Kristie’s post, I felt compelled to finally make some! I haven’t made my own batch in awhile, and I had been craving granola for a couple of weeks. I knew that buying just any old granola wouldn’t satisfy me though. Does anyone else have that problem? It’s not that I’m a picky-eater, I just know what I want. And sometimes what I want cannot be found in stores. Anyway, on Averie’s recipe page I saw Bekah’s recipe for her Coconut Chia Granola. I actually had the pleasure of tasting this before, since this lovely lady sent me a delicious batch she made herself! Looking at the two recipes had my mouth watering, and I knew that I just had to combine them. Especially since I had just won a big of chia seeds from one of Averie’s amazing giveaways!

Best of Both Worlds Granola

3 cups old-fashioned oats

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup pumpkin seed butter, or nut butter of choice

1/4 cup almond oil

1/2 cup brown sugar, or preferred sweetener

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon, to taste

2 tbl chia seeds

1. Melt the nut butter and brown sugar on the stove using a heavy-bottom pan. Turn the heat off.

2. Mix in the oil, coconut flakes, chia seeds, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Then add the oats.

3. Bake at 375 F for 25-30 minutes. I periodically tossed the granola around while it was baking to keep it from burning.

Check out the clusters!

I’ve been enjoying this plain, with yogurt, sprinkled over my oatmeal, and even almond milk. And on that delicious note…

Being in the kitchen can be fun!

Remember, voting opens at  6 AM Pacific Time, September 20th through 6 PM Pacific Time September 23rd. My profile can be found here! And don’t worry, I’ll definitely be reminding you all to vote hehe. It’ll be like leaving milk and cookies out for Santa to make sure I get some presents!

Summer Delights

Why hello there! First off, I’d like to announce the winner of the Kroeger Herb giveaway. Drum roll please… and the winner is Lauren! How exciting! You’ll be contacted ASAP to get your prize to you. Thank you so much to everyone for participating, and especially for sharing the little tidbits you all learned from their site. They were very interesting indeed.

This particular morning called for a special breakfast... for no particular reason, of course.

Usual bowl of oats topped with ground flax, frozen banana slices, a grilled peach, Greek yogurt, and I quickly made a syrup by combining honey with some pomegranate concentrate.

I just wish my breakfasts could last longer.

I was able to put my finger on it... toasted hemp seeds with sea salt taste like popcorn!

I finally got my own copy of "Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners", so of course I tried out another recipe.

The recipe was split mung bean soup, and I served it with rice and some flax oil. It’s important to make sure the balance of cilantro and cumin tastes right! At first I had too little cumin. This soup was actually refreshing, and I would recommend it even during the hot months because it felt very cooling. This was my first time cooking with mung beans, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just knew that this was calming for my dosha, and that it sounded interesting. I already had the mung beans on hand since I read that they were pacifying for pittas and vatas (my combination of doshas). I know I’ve mentioned what doshas are on here before, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it again. “It’s an essential biological energy or structure in Ayurvedic anatomy. There are three primary doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which sustain all life. They move cyclically on a daily basis, and act as transporters and communicators between the essential tissues, and the bodily wastes. Their balance is a key to health. They also determine our physical constitution at birth.” Very interesting, indeed!

Remember the tin brioche mold?

Well the mystery recipe I had in mind was Ani Phyo’s fig tartlets with almond frangipane kream. I finally got around to making these–and although the crust decided to crumble–I was able to enjoy them for their flavor! I loved the light sweet and saltiness of the crust, the citrusy, crunchy, and sweet fig filling… topped off with the fluffy kream–delicious!

Actually, this was still beautiful to look at.

My new roommate's family visited, and they gave me some vegetables straight from their garden!

Aren’t they sweet? Things with my new roommate are going really well! We’re both very excited to get the apartment straightened up, and it’s nice to see things coming together.

I was also able to replenish my cherry tomato supply at the farmer's market.

No person’s nose could miss their delicious smell. These are seriously bursting with flavor!

I also had a special friend meet up with me at the market... who could it be?

None other than the gorgeous, Rebekah!

Rebekah has an amazing blog filled with such insightful posts. I think communication and provoking thought are important parts of our lives, and she definitely addresses both aspects! When she first walked up to me, I turned around and my breath was taken away; yes, Rebekah is that beautiful! She also has an air about her that just makes her even lovelier.

After talking our heads off for a few hours, I left feeling uplifted; my admiration for her grew as well. She is such a strong young woman, and I can just tell that she is going to achieve her dreams!

Cheers to a friendship that will continue to grow!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. It seemed like a lot of people have been enjoying the remnants of summer. I’ve been listening to the cicadas, eating tons of peaches, sleeping with the window open, biking around the city, and admiring the colors of the sunsets when I walk Matilda. I’ve just been trying to be outside as much as possible before it starts to get chilly! How have you been enjoying the wonders that summer offers?

Looking Forward

Hello everybody! Recently, I’ve made some relieving discoveries in my life lately. Most of my past days have been spent researching… (and decorating)! Researching what? Well, it all started out with a painful pimple I got last week. The day after the nasty bugger popped up I had to think to myself, “what did I have the other day that might’ve been different?” Hmm… I’m pretty sure it was all of those cookies and chocolates I had when I went to Ikea. Over the months of observing what could be triggering breakouts… stress, periods, or even foods, I realized that it was mostly processed sugars triggered my breakouts. I definitely knew hard liquors did it for me, but when the next morning I woke up with a painful pimple on my cheek I had an inkling it was the all of the sweets I had the day prior. And that’s when Detective Katharina showed up. After reading many studies, books, and articles; I came to a possible answer. Let’s just say I was enlightened. I don’t believe it’s the sugars that directly trigger my breakouts, but rather that my liver isn’t as strong. Which is why the things that the liver normally processes out, pretty much come out on my face. I’ve dealt with this problem for years, and I’ve been longing for clear skin for so long. No matter how many creams I’ve been prescribed, they never seemed to tackle the issue. And I believe it’s because the doctors really only assessed the problem at a superficial level. The body is a wonderful thing, and communicates to us in many ways. Sometimes the real source of it is further than what meets the eye. I’ve been reading a book on Ayurveda–when am I not reading something about Ayurveda–and it makes so much sense. My approach to things in general is a very holistic one. Rather than only focusing on one component, I look at how it might be connected to something else, and maybe the solution lies within that. Gosh, I have so much to say on this, but I think my upcoming posts will give me more of an opportunity to talk about this more. Perhaps I’ll make a video post… yes? I wanted to share that with you, but let’s move on to some feasting for the eyes that will maybe inspire you to create a feast for you taste buds and belly!

This…

with the sweet addition of my long forgotten lavender honey…

All together now… yum!

When was the last time I had a bowl of “carrot cake” oats?

Oh, it’s been too long!

I spy something golden…

It’s all in the details.

Next thing you know I was transported to someone else’s living room.

Ikea’s living room that is.

It was also the day before I had my “epiphany”. But back to my day at Ikea… After hours of looking and shopping around we went back to my friend’s house.

Isn’t her kitty adorable?

And kind of crazy too!

My friend wanted to surprise her mom with a newly decorated and rearranged home!

A little more to the right…

Look what I did! Her little sister let me use her glow-in-the dark marker set.

It’s a blind contour drawing of her kitty when she was sitting on my bags, if you couldn’t tell hehehe.

Eventually I came home and I was inspired and still in my zone…

My friend had given me decorating fever!

Check out the new bowl! Banana and peanut butter is a classic combination.

With coconut? I think you can already guess what I’m going to say.

I went to the store and recruited my army.

Together, I think we will be victorious!

Here are some foods that your liver will be giving you extra thanks for: broccoli, watercress, kale, celery, artichoke, carrots, turmeric, garlic, onions, mango, beets, berries, oranges, spinach, Swiss chard, and the list goes on! Also, fresh squeezed lemon juice in warm water first thing in the morning helps produce bile. How could I almost forget! Papaya is also on that list. Hooray for having a papaya tree in my backyard! I’m so happy that there are so many foods that will help strengthen my liver.

Omega-3′s are your friend.

Since I’m a vegetarian I did some research on ways I can get great sources of plant-based Omega-3′s. It’s also important to note that the ratio of Omega-3′s is higher than the Omega-6′s in your source. Some examples would be flaxseed (ground or oil), chia seeds, and hemp seeds.

Also got a new plate and placemat as well.

More importantly, what’s on the plate?

Kidney beans cooked and mashed with spices and herbs like cinnamon, oregano, a bit of chili, and cumin. I served it with a fresh salad, rice, avocado, and cilantro. I also poured on some flaxseed oil–my liver said thank you!

A grateful liver breakfast… that sounds gross actually, but this wasn’t!

I purchased some golden flaxseeds at the store the other day and ground them to reap their benefits. Mandiee has this all the time, and it definitely sparked my curiosity! I served it over oats mixed with another ingredient which is now apart of the “usual”. Enter maca powder, known for its hormone balancing properties. I’ve known that my hormones have been out of whack since last summer when I went through a long period of medical testing. Come to think of it, I don’t remember mentioning it on my blog. I decided to bring this issue to the forefront though because you know what? You never know who may be going through something similar, and it may help them out! Anyway, this bowl was incredibly delicious with all the cherries, blueberries, kefir, pumpkin seed butter, the whole kit and caboodle. Surprisingly, the maca powder did not make this bowl of overnight oats taste icky.

Such a delicious soup and calming as well.

As soon as I read the words “Butternut Squash Pear Soup” from Joy’s list of fantastic recipes, I knew I had to make it. Not to mention, this was incredibly easy to make. Just the simple addition of pear took this soup to another level. I also served it at a temperature that felt comfortable for the warm weather–not completely chilled and slightly warm.

An incredibly creamy hummus… and it’s homemade?

I added in a special ingredient to this classic hummus recipe. Actually, I added in a few! While making the artichoke hummus I kept a reader’s comment in mind. Awhile back when I posted my sun-dried tomato hummus recipe, I remembered that Phoebe had shared this greatly appreciated tidbit with me: “the secret to amazing hummus is blending your together the lemon juice , oil, garlic and tahini in the food processor to make an emulsion, before you add in the chickpeas, then (this is the secret bit) you add a tablespoon or two of plain greek yoghurt, its typical of turkish hummus, and absolutely delicious!” So I did just that. You must take her word for it!

A “snacky” lunch

I finally decided to pick up a box of Mary’s Gone Crackers when I was at the store the other day. The fact that they have flax seeds in them is just another incentive! Have any of you tried them? I was thinking of getting the black pepper or caraway flavor, but I opted to stick to the original since it was my first time trying them. I just steamed some kale and broccoli, cut up a carrot, some cherry tomatoes, and marinated artichokes. Served with artichoke hummus and flax seed oil drizzled on everything! Honestly, it’s amazing because I can already see changes in my skin, and I’m not the only one commenting on its noticeable clarity.

Since I like to keep things light, airy, and fun–not dark, dreary, and dull; the mentality of focusing on what I can have versus what I can’t have will make this easier. No strict regimen for me! Not to mention, I’m so excited about clear skin and new recipes that I think my positive outlook will help greatly on my little journey. By the way, if you have any recipes that you’d like to share that crossed your mind when reading this post, please let me know! Just because I’m going to have to be more concentrated on certain foods, doesn’t mean my eats have to become boring and routine. I like to add that “spice to life” no matter what may come my way.  Plus, in the end I know that once I reach the light at the end of the so-called tunnel, it’ll all be worth it. Afterall, it’s not something that is going to take forever.

What do you have to look forward to?

p.s. any advice is always greatly appreciated!