Saturday, July 30, 2011

Farmers Market Find

 

I love stumbling upon new produce as I make my way through the farmers market each week. It encourages me to research or ask how such things should be prepared and also give my palate something new to experience. This past Wednesday I found myself standing over a bin full of lemon cucumbers. How is it possible I've never heard of these before? Feeling like I should know, I purchased one to try. Not knowing if it was going to be more like a lemon or cucumber on the inside, I searched for a recipe online. Have Knifes Will Cook shares a yummy lemon cucumber and tomato salad recipe. Only having one cucumber, I cut this recipe in half and used an heirloom tomato also purchased from the farmers market. The basil was some I picked up at the health food store this morning. For the dressing, I used apple cider vinegar and Udo's DHA oil blend. Udo's offers an awesome vegan sourced DHA from algae. It is this algae that fish consume to obtain their levels of omega 3's.

  

The end result... delicious.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Breakfast Bars... kind of

Another reason why I love Mondays... I have the whole morning and early afternoon free. This gives me time to play around in my kitchen and create what ideas and recipes I think up in my head. As you know, I love all things sweet. For breakfast I usually try and stick with veggies. Just ask my boss. She always makes fun of me (in a joking way of course) for bringing my steamed kale to the kitchen in the mornings. I always feel better starting out my day eating that way but sometimes I just want something sweet for breakfast. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as it's prepared using wholesome ingredients and no sugar. Thank you stevia and yacon once again for making this possible. This morning I attempted to make no bake breakfast bars I had been thinking about. 

Cinnamon Carob Almond Breakfast Bars


They didn't come out exactly how I imagined... Revisions will be made for these.  Being a bit on the crumbly side they made a great topping for my yogurt. Here is the recipe if anyone would like to try them out. Modifications or suggestions are always welcome : )


1/2 cup blanched almond flour
2 Tablespoons ground flax
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
2 Tablespoons almond butter
2 Tablespoons cinnamon flaxseed oil*
15 drops stevia
1 teaspoon yacon syrup
1/8 cup unsweetened carob chips
In a bowl combine almond flour, flax, and chia seeds. Mix in almond butter.  The mixture will start to get crumbly. Add in remaining ingredients except for carob chips. Once the mixture turns into a ball of dough you can add in carob chips. 

*I use Barleans cinnamon flax oil. This stuff is amazing in smoothies. If you just have regular flax oil, add in 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon... I think that would work just fine.


Place on cutting board and form into a rectangle "bar" shape.


I placed in the fridge to let sit. This was only for about 5 minutes because I was so hungry. This recipe does contains a lot of fat from the nut flour, butter, seeds, and flax oil so you don't need much. This recipe yields 4 servings.

Happy Monday everyone! Enjoy your week.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Food for your Skin

We nourish our bodies by eating healthy foods but what about the outside of our bodies? The skin is our largest organ. It is important to feed it healthy foods as well. So many body care products contain unhealthy chemicals, preservatives, and synthetic fragrances that can be irritating or harmful to our delicate skin. We should feed our skin a healthy diet, with clean and natural ingredients. Here is an easy sugar scrub recipe that your skin will love.
 
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Sugar Scrub
 
What you will need:

1 cup organic sugar

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

flavor extracts or essential oils

In a bowl combine sugar and grapeseed oil. Add 5 drops of dark chocolate extract and 5 drops of hazelnut extract. Medicine Flower Extracts are my favorite. They are organic food-grade extracts for culinary, scent, and cosmetic applications. They smell so amazing and fresh. I always add them to my tea and mineral water. 
Save the scrub for yourself or place in a glass jar and dress with a pretty bow and give to a friend.





Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lunch at Adama

Today was lovely. I met up with a friend I haven't seen in over a year... I really missed her. We met for lunch at Adama in Santa Barbara. She and I are big lovers of food so we were both excited to eat here after hearing great things about it. Adama offers vegan comfort cuisine. Everything on their menu looks delicious... and their bakery case is amazing! I wanted to try everything. Once I'm able to include sugars back into my diet, I will go there to pick up a treat.  We ordered the sweet potato fries to start with. They were crisp and crunchy on the outside and mushy on the inside. When I say mushy, I mean it in a good way. You could feel the texture of the potato and tell how fresh they were. We also ordered the salads below. I will definitely be going back here to try more yummy food.


Sweet Potato Fries

 CAESAR
cajun-spiced tofu, pumpkin seeds, parmesan, croutons

BABY GREENS
tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, red onion,
carrot, sunflower seeds with a lemon vinaigrette

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sugar Free Desserts are Possible


When people are faced with certain health issues, it's imperative to avoid foods that will proliferate their condition.  For some, this can be the hardest thing. Many people resort to foods that are convenient... not paying any attention to what they are putting in their bodies. When told they must avoid these foods, they are clueless on what to eat. This is how I felt two years ago when I was told I had a sensitivity to soy and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a type of yeast. Also having candida, I had to give up sugars. My diet was healthy at the time except for all the sweets I was eating. Desserts are my favorite. When I look at menus online for restaurants I want to try, the dessert section is where my eyes wander first. Okay, I needed to follow a diet free of yeast, sugar, and soy. The yeast seemed easy to avoid but the soy and sugar not so easy. These are two ingredients that are added to what seems like everything. 
Stevia and yacon syrup became my two new favorite ingredients. I needed to get my sweet fix somehow and these two alternative sweeteners made it possible. Many know about stevia but yacon syrup isn't that commonly used. The only place I've found it is at Whole Foods or online. Yacon contains a healthy type of sugar called fructooligosacharides or FOS. It is not digested by the body so it doesn't spike blood glucose levels, making it safe for diabetics, people with candida overgrowth, or even people who just want to watch their weight.
As of now I can include small amounts of soy into my diet. I've been on and off sugars for the past two years and recently went sugar free again. I do feel so much better eating this way and it allows me to be much more creative in what I prepare for myself.  When you can't have sweets all you want is something sweet, right? Which brings me to the photo above. The other night after dinner all I wanted was something sweet. I'm a sucker for cookie dough so I've been playing around with different variations. I based the idea off this recipe found on spark recipes. I love the idea of this recipe because it's the perfect portion size and you won't be tempted to overindulge. Here's my most recent variation.

Gluten free Sugar free cookie dough
2 heaping Tbsp blanched almond flour
2 tsp yacon syrup
1tsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp soy free Earth Balance
pinch of salt
a few drops of vanilla extract

mix everything together and you have a delicious cookie dough. 
I topped this with a little bit of peanut butter and unsweetened carob chips. It was just like eating a chocolate chip peanut butter cookie.






Monday, July 18, 2011

Breakfast


Happy Monday! I love Mondays because I get to sleep in and spend my morning in bed drinking tea and catching up on writing. Once my appetite set in I had to get out from under my cozy blankets and make my way to the kitchen. Now I'm back in bed working on this. I swear my whole day won't be this lazy. I always feel like I'm craving something in particular in the mornings but once I see what I have to work with, I create something entirely different. This morning I made steamed apples with cinnamon, almond butter, Greek yogurt mixed with flax seeds, and topped with chopped apple peel. There were a lot of different textures in this dish but that's what makes food so interesting.

Bamboo steamers are probably my favorite thing to cook with. I use them at least once a day. Chinatown is a good place to find them.


I have to share this photo. On Friday we had a really busy day in the kitchen. I was filling our syrah cupcakes with fudge and as I pulled away the pastry bag this little face was smiling back at me. It  happened completely by chance and totally made my day. It's definitely a reflection of how I feel when I'm there. Having a job that you love and enjoy is the best feeling in the world.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Healthy Lunch

I feel like those fashion bloggers who post photos of their daily outfits. Instead, I post about what I cook and eat. For my lunch today I made an almond cheese omelette and veggie hash sprinkled with hemp seeds.
Veggie hash consisted of broccoli florets and stems, zucchini, onions, garlic, kale, red chili flakes, dried oregano, and ground chipotle powder which I found here, The Secret Garden Organic Herb Shop. This cute little shop in San Luis Obispo has so many interesting herbs, spices, and tea blends. I need to make another trip up there soon.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend : )

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Experiments in the Kitchen


One of my favorite things about food and cooking are the endless possibilities of creativity. I once heard someone say "let food be your canvas." This rings true for me. I love throwing together ingredients and seeing the end result. Using different flavors and textures can create many interesting dishes. Rarely do I follow recipes. Every once in a while I will make a dish that my brother turns his nose up to but that's what experiments are all about, trial and error... I still eat it and generally like it.
After work this morning, I was craving some of the fresh fruit I purchased at the farmers market yesterday. This time of year is awesome for all the stone fruit in season. I made myself a salad consisting of an apricot and peach, feta cheese, and mint. I also added a little lemon juice. This recipe is something I want to recreate and work on a dressing that would pair well with it... maybe with some basil too. I just had to post the photo because I thought it looked so pretty. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer and staying cool.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kettle Corn... With a Kick



I would like to share my version of healthy kettle corn. I thought up this recipe out of desperation for something sweet tonight. It was sweet, spicy, and satisfying for my sugar craving without actually giving in to eating sugar. This snack is also suitable for vegan and gluten free diets.
Yesterday was the first time I made popcorn on the stove. I can't believe I've never made it before. It's so easy and fun. I found a recipe online which I based mine off of from NovelEats
Samantha is a vegan food blogger and shares lots of yummy recipes. 

For my version, I cut the quantities in half using 1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil, 1/6 cup organic popcorn kernels, and a pinch of salt.
Add one packet of truvia sweetener to the oil and salt.
Once the popcorn is popped and ready, transfer into a bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon and cayenne. I used generous amounts of both. Toss to mix well and enjoy your sweet treat.