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Wilted Spinach and Dandelion Greens Salad with Beets

DandelionSpinachSalad (1)
Try this tasty Spring Salad and enjoy the bright colors and balance of flavors! Make it: 1 roasted beet, sliced; 1 small red onion, thinly sliced; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 2 teaspoons maple syrup; 2 tablespoons cider vinegar; 2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried; 2 cups dandelion greens (washed and dried, stems removed; tear or chop into bite-sized pieces OR reduce to 1 cup and mince -- increase spinach to 3 cups); Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste ************** Saute the red onion slices in a skillet until they soften, but not so much that they lose their color. Stir in the maple syrup and cider vinegar. Pour the hot dressing over the greens and beets, tossing everything to coat with dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. If dandelion is too bitter for your taste to start, increase the baby spinach from 2 cups to 3 cups and then try reducing the dandelion greens to 1 cup and mince them before adding to the spinach. Let me know what you think! xo,Sarah

Sarah Lawrence

Simple Detox Recipes ~ because I love you <3

Special Waves and Warm Welcome to all you new Blog followers!  So glad to have you here.  I can't wait to hear from you and get to know you.  Please join me over on Facebook too --- click the link on the right side of this post.  I just can't get enough of all you lovelies!  xoxo ********** So, last week I completed a 10 Day Detox with a great group of people.  I designed the Detox to be gentle by reducing stimulants like caffeine and sugar before cutting them out, then using a clean dietary approach to support the body’s natural detox pathways.  Gotta tell ya… my Detoxers were ROCKSTARS!  Most lost 4 pounds during the 10 days and one SuperStar dropped 7 pounds and was absolutely glowing.  I confess that I feel a bit guilty to have kept the 10 Day Detox on the hush, but I’m ready to share a secret with you --- (you’re truly the first to know!)  --- On March 4th I am launching my next program:  “10 Weeks to a Healthier You!”  Because I work really closely with my clients, I am only opening 15 spots in this exclusive program.  I will be accepting applications from people who are ready to make some healthy habits a reality, so if this is you, be on the lookout for an update with all the deets tomorrow.  I have great bonuses and goodies for all you Early Birds who want to jump right in!  Just think --- you can be on your way to achieving any of your New Year’s weight loss resolutions in time for Mother’s Day!  Build on the momentum of love from Valentine’s Day and give yourself this gift.  Promise I’ll be back tomorrow with more so you can get in on the goodness.  (You’re totally worth it!) Phew!  Now that I’ve let my secret slip, I feel much better!  (Here’s the song in my head --- “I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it…”)  Back to business ~ I meant to post and share the love before Valentine’s Day, but life got busy with classroom parties and lots of valentines to prepare.  I want all of you to feel the love so this post is a host of pics and recipes from the detox.   Simple meals make me happy and keep me healthy and they can do the same for you!  Foods that support detoxification are tasty, colorful and filling, but don’t take my word for it… try it yourself and let me know what you think!   Breakfast = Breaking the Fast Liquid nutrition in the form of smoothies and juices is a fabulous way to FLOOD your cells with nutritional love! Mixed Berry Blast 1 cup frozen mixed berries 1 frozen banana 3 kale leaves, stems removed A big handful or two of baby spinach, washed (go for two cause you're a rockstar!) 1 - 1½ cups almond milk Put everything in the Vitamix or blender and whiz 050until quite smooth. My Beeting Heart Juice 1 large organic beet, scrubbed 1 large organic cucumber 3 kale leaves, stems removed 6 swiss chard leaves, stems removed 3 large carrots, peeled 1 red apple Cut all the veg in pieces that will fit in your juicer.  Juice according to your juicers directions or blend in a Vitamix and strain using a nutmilk bag or several layers of cheesecloth. [caption id="attachment_706" align="alignleft" width="256"]Juice shots for my boys and the pint glass for me! Juice shots for my boys and the pint glass for me![/caption]   043 [caption id="attachment_705" align="alignright" width="300"]Juicy Smiles from my 6 year old! Juicy Smiles from my 6 year old![/caption] Mid-day and Evening Meals Go for 80% raw and 20 % cooked whole foods for your lunch and dinner meals.  Raw foods provide live enzymes and accessible nutrients.  Cooked whole foods provide the comfort of warmth and variety in texture. Simple Salad for 4 8 cups of mixed salad greens (mesculin greens, kale, romaine, spinach, chard, frisee, red or green leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, endive, mustard greens, beet greens, dandelion greens) 4 cup diced veg of your choice (tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, red or green onion, celery, carrot, mushroom, beet) 1 diced avocado 1/4 cup of hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds or sesame seeds ¼ cup chopped cashew, almond or brazil nuts ¼ cup fresh herbs (dill, basil, cilantro, parsley, mix of thyme/oregano, mint) 2 cups mixed fresh fruit (optional, but great for variety) The possibilities with salad are never ending.  I use a variety of greens for lots of color and texture. Family Friendly tips: 
  1. Let you kids choose the veggies and fruits for the salad. 
  2. Once your greens are washed have your kiddos tear the leaves into fork friendly pieces.
  3. Fill it up!  We have a large oval platter that is great for serving salad family style.  How much salad do you need?  It is really easy to judge once you’ve served salad family style a few times because you will be able to eye-ball it based on your experience.  I know that if we fill up the platter with greens, pile on the veg and add the toppings that the whole thing will go… so all I need to say is “Fill it up” and my people can have fun while practicing a healthy habit.
  4. Let your kids serve themselves if they are old enough to manage a fork.  It’s a life skill.  I find that my kids take what they need and it’s usually more than I would have put on their plates. 
  5. Pour on the props!  Praising the kiddos (and any reluctant adults at the table) is a great way to ensure that they will feel good about making healthy choices.  Praise builds confidence, so when they try a new combo, give them credit and ask them how things taste and if they would make the same salad again.
*** Just think, it’s as easy as P-I-E ~ Praise Involve Encourage! [caption id="attachment_704" align="alignleft" width="640"]Simple Salad for 4 Simple Salad for 4[/caption] [caption id="attachment_711" align="alignleft" width="640"]Simple Salad for 4 with Beet Hearts and berries Simple Salad for 4 with Beet Hearts and berries[/caption] Raw Bowl with Beans 1 cup raw mushrooms, sliced 2 cups kale or spinach, stems removed and leaves sliced into strips ¾ cup raw sauerkraut (homemade or one like Bubbies) 1 cup cooked beans of your choice (homemade is great; no sugar if using canned beans) 040 Triple Nut Veg Burger 1 large onion, quartered 2 stalks celery, quartered 1 clove garlic 1/2 cup almonds 1/2 cup cashews 1/2 cup walnuts ½ cup hemp seeds 1 bunch parsley, stems removed 2 slices gluten free, dairy free millet bread or GFV breadcrumbs ¼ cup nutritional yeast 1/2 tsp sea salt ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper 1/3 cup lemon juice ½ cup white beans (optional, makes patties a firmer texture) Put onion, celery, garlic, nuts, seeds and parsley into your food processor and pulse until everything is fine but not a paste.  Tear the GFV bread into pieces or add the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and pulse again.  Add lemon juice a little at a time to get the mixture to a consistency that you can shape into patties. Heat a cast iron skillet (or your favorite skillet) and place ½ cup size patties on until one side is golden, then flip.  Serve. An alternative to cooking these bad boys is to shape them and pop them into your dehydrator.  The flavor remains bright and the texture becomes much firmer than what you get in the skillet, even with the bean option.  I like the non bean burger, dehydrated and crumbled into lettuce leaves with salsa for a tasty taco like yum. ***Depending on the size of your veggies you should get at least 6 patties, likely a few more. [caption id="attachment_712" align="alignleft" width="640"]Triple Nut Veg Burger Triple Nut Veg Burger[/caption] Tomato Vegetable Soup  ~ you may want to double this one and freeze half 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 cup chopped red onion ¼ teaspoon sea salt 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup shredded carrot 1 cup chopped celery 1 24-ounce jar diced tomatoes or 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, diced 5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (gluten free) 2 cups cooked white beans, drained and rinsed ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper ½ tsp cayenne, chipotle or smoked paprika (optional) fresh parsley leaves, garnish Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley just before serving. 026

Sarah Lawrence

Spanakopita for Gluten Free Vegan Me (and you!)

The Greek flavors in traditional Spanakopita are a knock-your-socks-off combination.  Going Gluten Free means no crispy filo… such a bummer, really (let's keep this real!).  So instead of trying to make a miracle and recreate that flaky, crispy, buttery shell we are going to make the filling our superstar.  It really stands on it's own.  Now, if you’re okay with sheep's milk Feta or if you have access to a vegan artisanal Feta then go ahead and crumble some into your cooked spinach.  But if you’re dairy free, like me, embrace the amazingly briny bite of some green olives instead.  Capers are another great choice if you don’t have access to olives.  Because feta is such a briny, salty cheese choosing something with similar attributes makes this free version satisfying while honoring the flavors of the original.

041The spinach bowl comes together quickly and makes a lot which is perfect for leftovers.  Try the puffs and pancakes or top a polenta pizza crust with caramelized onions and leftover spinach.  Want another one?  Mix equal amounts of leftover spinach with cooked quinoa and about ½ as much finely chopped walnuts and parsley; Roll this mixture into balls and bake for some tasty spinach balls.  If the mixture is too dry, add a few tablespoons of prepared hummus to bind it.  TOTALLY yum!  You can’t go wrong with a batch of Greek inspired spinach!  Because we love this I use the BIG bag of organic spinach from our warehouse club store.  Scale it back if you're using less... the quantities I use make the math easy (and it's a fun exercise for my kids to do so maybe yours will like it too!)

~ Go get in the kitchen and love it up!

Vegan Spanakopita Bowl 3.5 lbs frozen leaf spinach (in a bag, not box if you have a choice) 3 large white onion, minced 3 cloves garlic, minced 4 oz green olives, roughly chopped into a small dice 3/4 cup raw cashews, chopped 3/4 cup fresh parsley, minced 3/4 cup fresh dill, minced zest of 1 organic lemon juice of 1 organic lemon 1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg salt and pepper to taste In a very large skillet heat a tsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Sauté the onion until translucent.  Add garlic and cashews and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to keep this from burning. Add spinach, herbs and nutmeg and cook for about 5 minutes until the leaves are soft and any water has cooked off. Turn off the heat and stir in the olives and lemon.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Serving options – serve with cooked rice or pasta of your choice.  I like to serve it with a salad of tomato and fennel. Spanakopita Puffs and Pancakes 004 3.5 cups all-purpose GF flour 1 tbsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 1 tsp cracked pepper 1 tsp granulated garlic (omit if you cook the spinach with 2 cloves of minced garlic) 1/2 cup plain coconut milk 2 tbsp flax meal or chia meal + 1 cup water 1 tbsp olive oil 1/3 cup lemon juice 1 cup cooked spinach (leftovers work great!) 1 cup olives, chopped 1/2 cup sun dried or dehydrated tomatoes To make puffs, set the oven to 400 degrees F and spray or rub a muffin tin with oil (recipe will make 18 muffin size bites).  To make pancakes just pull out a cast iron skillet or griddle pan and lightly coat with oil. Mix the dry ingredients in a 2 quart bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut milk, water, oil, lemon juice and flax meal.  Set this aside and allow the flax or chia to swell. Add cooked spinach, olives and tomato to the dry ingredients and stir well to break up the veg and coat them with the flour mix. Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine. For puffs, scoop the batter into each muffin cup.  Fill each section, but don’t overfill.  Pop the trays into the oven and bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For pancakes, heat the cast iron skillet/griddle and pour 1/3 cup of batter at a time, just as you would pancakes.  Tops will get a little dry and edges will set.  Flip and cook for another few minutes before plating.  Serve with Creamy Onion Dressing for drizzling or dipping.   Creamy Onion Dressing 1 cup raw cashews 1 cup hot water 2 Tbsp onion powder ½ tsp salt minced chive or green onion for garnish (optional) Put everything into Vitamix and blend until smooth and creamy.  If you are using a different blender, soak the cashews for 20-30 minutes prior to blending.  This extra step will soften the cashews and ensure a smooth dressing. (Want to know a secret? This dressing is fabulous drizzled on baked potato or mixed into mashed potato.  You’re welcome!)

Sarah Lawrence

Spanakopita in a SNAP! (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nutrient Dense)

On busy school nights, quick dinners are helpful.  This comes together in a flash and is full of flavor.  My cheat is using frozen organic cut leaf spinach.  It is loose in a bag rather than a frozen block so it thaws in about 2 minutes in the pan rather than 15!  You can absolutely use fresh greens, fresh onion and garlic if you have the time; using fresh vs. dried and frozen adds about 20 minutes onto the cook time. Want raw?  No problem!  I make a raw Spanakopita Salad using the same recipe and fresh raw ingredients.  Beacuse I find raw onions difficult on the stomach, I choose sweet vidalia onions when I can get them or red onions. While I love raw food and am about 90% raw, it just so happens it's a cool New England night and something warm feels good to me!  Without further ado, here you go... (try it for yourself and let me know how yours turns out!) Quick Vegan Spanakopita Sarah's Spanakopita 2 lbs frozen organic cut leaf spinach or fresh, minced 1 lb frozen kale or fresh, minced 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, minced 2 Tbsp dried garlic or 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced 2 Tbsp dried onion flakes or 1/2 onion, minced 1 cup hot water Combine ingredients in a cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat until the spinach is thawed, the mix is fragrant and most of the liquid is gone. While the spinach is cooking, grab your blender or food processor and whiz this up: 1 cup raw unsalted cashews 1/2 cup nutritional yeast 2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar 1 tsp dried oregano 1 Tbsp dried dill 1 tsp dried garlic powder 1 tsp salt This quick nut cheese is nothing like feta's salty briny flavor, but it is tangy and has great flavor. To plate, spoon out about 1 cup of the spinach mixture and top it a spoonful of the nut cheese and a good sprinkle of sesame seeds. Enjoy with white beans(go for canned if you don't have home cooked ones in your fridge) dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of tarragon or oregano and add a cup of berries for a sweet, fiber-rich and nutrient dense meal that has all your essentials -- Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds A refreshing drink with this meal is Cucumber water --- if you have a juicer, go ahead and juice a few big cukes, then add to a pitcher of water with a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon.  If you don't have a juice, slice a cucumber and put it into a pitcher of water with the mint and lemon.  Mild, fresh and good for you! My question of the day:  (Talk to me!  I love reading your comments!) What are your favorite tips and tricks for making quick, nutrient dense, meals?


Coconut Mocha Smoothie

I love a good smoothie in the morning.  There's nothing better than knowing that I am starting the day with a healthy nutrient rich sip.  My boys generally have some smoothie with me as well, so I know that they are getting at least one serving of fruit and veg right out of the gate! Using Tropical Traditions large coconut flakes, I find this smoothie to be really nice.  If you want to intensify the coconut flavor and you have access to fresh coconut, try subbing fresh coconut meat for the flakes.  Want to go over the top?  Sub coconut milk for the water.  You will increase the fat content in a big way, but if coconut flavor is what you need, it's okay to go for it from time to time.  According to recent science, the fat in coconut oil has considerable health benefits.  As with all fats, moderation is key. Wondering how this smoothie tastes?  Surprisingly, with all that spinach, you might expect it to taste "green", but it doesn't.  The cocoa and coconut flavor is dominant and the blueberry provides an undertone.  I like using the berries because of their antioxidant punch.  I make another version of this smoothie minus the berries, but that one feels more like a guilty pleasure than a nutritious start to the day! [caption id="attachment_404" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Coconut Mocha Smoothie"]Coconut Mocha Smoothie[/caption] Coconut Mocha Smoothie (serves 2, yields 4.5 cups) 1 cup frozen blueberries 1 cup water 4 cups raw baby spinach  3 Tbsp cocoa powder ¼ cup large coconut flakes or fresh coconut meat 1 tsp powdered stevia or 1/2 dropper liquid stevia Blend everything in the Vitamix until smooth.  Serve.     Here's a peek at my lunch today.  Fresh romaine, arugula, kale, escarole and endive + fresh berries and apricot, leftover roasted red pepper and BBQ tofu that I cubed + a luscious dollop of white bean hummus.  A nutritious salad doesn't have to be greens and tomato and traditional veg.  Use what you have.  Use what you love... and you can't go wrong!  (The highlight of this bowl for me were the amazingly sweet peppers that I roasted last night paired with bites of kale and berries.): [caption id="attachment_405" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Salad with berries, apricot, roasted pepper, BBQ Tofu and white bean hummus"][/caption]


It's all in a day...

It's been a tasty day here.  Unfortunately, my 8 year old had a rough night of tummy trouble after having some dairy products at school yesterday and so was home taking it easy.  I needed to keep things fresh, mild and mostly raw for him since his stomach was tender.  Easy to do.  Nourishing and light for the rest of us.  Hope you enjoy the 2 smoothies, soup, spring rolls and sorbet that I made today. I made this smoothie for my 8 year old and his tender tummy: Creamy Banana Coconut Smoothie (serves 1) 1 banana ½ cup coconut milk ½ cup almond milk 1 Tbsp chia seeds 1 Tbsp lucuma powder, optional Blend everything in the Vitamix until smooth.  Serve. ************************************************** This one was for me and my 5 year old: Creamy Chocolate Cherry Goji Berry Smoothie Creamy Chocolate Cherry Goji Berry Smoothie (serves 2) 3 bananas 1 cup almond milk 1 Tbsp cocoa powder 2 Tbsp chia seeds 1 tsp vanilla powder 1 cup frozen cherries ½ soaked goji berries 3 cups raw baby spinach Blend everything in the Vitamix until smooth.  Serve. ************************************************** Lunch was a mild miso soup:Miso Happy Kale Soup Miso Happy Kale Soup (Serves 4) ~ 15 minutes ~ With miso in your fridge you can have a richly flavorful, light soup in minutes.  White miso is very mild and my kids love it.  Millet miso is a bit heartier.  Choose a miso paste that you love and you can’t go wrong… 1 onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 carrot, thinly sliced 1 cup torn kale 4 cups water 3 Tbsp miso paste Put all ingredients except the miso into a small pot and get things simmering.  Let the pot go for 10 minutes then shut off the heat and stir in the miso paste.  Make sure you stir until the paste works into the soup so no one gets a clump of salty miso.  Serve with a salad of mixed greens, thinly sliced cucumber and a splash of rice vinegar.  ************************************************** Dinner took a little time to prep tonight, but it worked out because my guys were needing a bit of cuddle time.  While the tofu marinated I had quality time with my family.  Doesn't get better than that.  One note about the tofu is that it is a bit salty because of the Braggs in the marinade, but it works with the sweet raw veggies and bite of chili and garlicky goodness in the dipping sauce.  My 8 year old chose not to use the dipping sauce because of the chilis.  I added a slice of avocado to his spring roll to cut the saltiness and give his recovering system some healthy fat. Spring Rolls with Curried Tofu (Serves 4 as a main dish with salad) ~ ready in about 1 hour and 30 minutes, including time to marinate tofu ~ Spring Rolls with Curried TofuThis is a light and tasty meal for a warm evening.  If you don’t have time to make your own curried tofu you can purchase a flavored baked tofu instead.  Using purchased tofu will save you more than an hour in the kitchen, so if you’re short on time, it’s a decent option.  Alternatively, prep the tofu a day or more in advance.  Doing this will allow you to pull out the cold tofu, put the veg into the wraps and be good to go in a matter of minutes. Curried Tofu: 1 block extra firm tofu, sliced into 3 slabs and then each slab into 3 pieces 3 cloves garlic, minced 5 Tbsp Braggs 1 Tbsp sesame oil 2 Tbsp curry powder Wraps: lettuces or greens of your choice thai basil cucumber carrot avocado (optional) rice paper wrappers Dipping Sauce: 2 garlic cloves, finely minced 1 thai chili 1/2 lime, squeezed 1 medool date, pitted 1 teaspoon rice vinegar 1/4 cup braggs or tamari 1/4 cup water Let’s start by prepping the marinade for the tofu since the tofu needs to sit a while to absorb some gorgeous flavors.  In a large ziplock bag, combine 3 cloves of minced garlic, the Braggs, sesame oil and curry powder.  I use Spice Island hot curry powder which contains chilies… so our curried tofu sucks in a big kick of spicy flavor.  Use your favorite and adjust the spice level to suit your taste.   Give the bag a little squish to combine the ingredients then place your tofu slices into the bag, seal it and set it in the fridge for about an hour or up to a day.  The longer the tofu sits, the more marinade it will absorb. While the tofu is marinating, prep the dipping sauce.  The longer this mixture sits, the better the flavor becomes, so it’s a natural next step.  I like to pound the garlic, chili and date in my mortar and pestle to get a paste.  You can mince these ingredients super fine and then work them into a paste on your cutting board using the back of a large spoon if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.  Combine all of the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and let them marry while we wait for the tofu. When the tofu is done marinating take it out of the fridge.  Pull out your skillet and give it a spray or swirl of cooking oil, get that hot and place the tofu slices right on in.  This should take no more than 3 minutes per side to get a nice golden color on the tofu.  The curry powder helps things a lot as well because of the beautiful golden turmeric.  Flip the slices and let the other side crisp up.  Now remove the slices to clean paper towel so we can drain off any excess oil and let the slices cool at the same time. Once the tofu has cooled we can assemble to wraps.  This step is really quick if you have your ingredients ready.  I often let my kids assemble theirs because it’s easy and fun and kids are more likely to eat something that they’ve made themselves! I set out a 9x13 glass baking pan with about ½ inch of warm water in it.  Next to this I lay out a clean linen dish towel that I’ve wet and wrung out so it’s just damp.  Slide one rice paper wrapper into the warm water and let it soak for about 5 seconds before removing it carefully and laying it on the damp towel.  Layer some lettuce, cucumber slices and shredded carrot, then top with a slice of cooled curried tofu and a sprig of thai basil.  Bring the bottom edge up over the filling, fold in the sides like you would a burrito, then roll her up!  Move on to the next one and continue until you are out of tofu or until you’ve made as many spring rolls as you’d like.  The curried tofu makes an excellent sandwich filling and is also great diced up and tossed on salad greens.  So, if you are making only one or two spring rolls tonight, don’t worry about the leftover tofu!   Heck, invite me over and let’s have lunch! Serve with the bowl of dipping sauce, some fresh veg, and a light salad for a complete meal.  Serve them on their own for a light lunch or snack. ************************************************** Our cool and refreshing dessert. Creamy Pineapple Sorbet Creamy Pineapple Sorbet (Serves 4) 2 ripe bananas 4 cups frozen pineapple (1 lb bag from your freezer section) ¼ cup coconut milk shaved coconut for garnish, optional fresh raspberries, optional Put everything in the Vitamix, other high powered blender or your food processor and blend until smooth.  The advantage of using the vitamix is that you can use the tamper to push the fruit into the blades for a super quick blend.  I’m done with this guy in 30 seconds using the Vitamix.  If you’re using another appliance, you may need to stop and stir to get chunks of the fruit to blend.  If the mix gets too soft after blending just pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm it up before serving. Top with shaved coconut and raspberries and serve!


Chocolate Cherry Berry Smoothie

Ah, it's a good morning!  The leaves are bursting from the trees, the grass is greening and the air carries the heady scent of waking soil.  It's an overcast morning here in NH, a beautiful grey morning.  My morning smoothie reminds me of the rich brown mulch that so many gardeners are spreading out these days.  The color is deep purply brown and the taste is very chocolately with a cool cherry tone.  The blueberries really fade into the background, but they add great nutrition.  And the spinach, well, you won't even know it's there.  This is a great intro smoothie for anyone leery of the green smoothie.  This smoothie is also a great cloak for probiotic powder, fish oil and flax seed.  Get all your goodies in one sip without the ick factor. [caption id="attachment_344" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Chocolate CherryBerry Smoothie Poured"]Chocolate CherryBerry Smoothie Poured[/caption] Chocolate Cherry Berry Smoothie (Yields about 3 cups of smoothie ~ enough for 2 to share or 1 to savor) 1 cup frozen cherries 1 cup frozen blueberries 2 Tbsp cocoa powder or 1 Tbsp raw cacao powder* 1 cup almond milk or alternative milk of your choice or water 3 big handfuls of baby spinach, about 2 cups Additions: 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal or 1 Tbsp chia seeds, any powdered supplements you use, etc
*Cacao contains caffeine and is a stimulant so I don't use it if I am sharing my smoothie with my children.  However, if I need a little pick up in the morning, 1 Tbsp of cacao in a smoothie works just like a cup of coffee.
Put everything in your Vitamix or other blender and whiz on low speed for a few seconds until the spinach starts to work into the mix.  Use the tamper to push down the spianch as needed.  Increase speed to high and blitz the mix to a smooth and luscious smoothie! [caption id="attachment_343" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Chocolate CherryBerry Spinach Smoothie in the blender"]Chocolate CherryBerry Spinach Smoothie[/caption] If the smoothie is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out with more almond milk.  You can also thin it out if you need more servings, but I would suggest adding more berries and a bit more cocoa powder if you're going that route.  My general rule is at least one serving of fruit and one serving of veg per person being served.


Citrus Salad with Beet, Blackberries and Avocado (Raw Gluten Free Vegan)

Dinner tonight was inspired by a recipe that Annmarie Gianni prepared on the Renegade Health Show earlier this month.  I modified it to suit the ingredients I had on hand (some luscious blackberries and a ton of mixed greens) and also to meet my Father in Law’s dietary restriction; he can’t have grapefruit.  So unlike the Renegade recipe which features grapefruit, I went with citrus that my Father in Law can have… the amazing orange!  I tried the dressing per the Renegade recipe and while it has a super fresh zing that I loved... but I know that my kids prefer a creamy dressing.  So, I played around a bit and incorporated some avocado and a date to cut the tang of the lime juice vinagrette from the original.  I am SO pleased with the results and all 5 of us sharing dinner tonight enjoyed this salad.  I had a dinner portion and the guys had side salads with their meal. Let me know if you try this one.  The raw beets might surprise you with their sweetness.  So, so good.  Also, I can easily see the dressing as a dip for raw veggies of almost any variety.  It's a little tart and a little sweet, but the creamy factor is what makes it special. [caption id="attachment_320" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Citrus Salad with Blackberries, Beet and Avocado"]Citrus Salad with Blackberries, Beet and Avocado[/caption]   Citrus Salad with Beet, Blackberries and Avocado (makes 2 dinner salad portions or 4-6 side salads) Salad 1 ½ ripe avocados (you need 2 total for this recipe; the other half is used in the dressing) 3 organic oranges (you need 5 total for this recipe) 1 organic grapefruit (optional) 4 raw beets 1 pint organic blackberries 4 cups spinach 4 cups romaine 2 cups arugula
 6 fresh mint leaves 
 Dressing 2 organic oranges, peeled 1 medool date, pit removed 2 organic limes, juiced dash of sea salt a few grinds of pepper ½ avocado, pit removed 2 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil (optional) 
 To prepare the salad: Wash all of the greens and spin them dry in your salad spinner or lay them on a clean kitchen cloth for a few minutes to dry. Fold the mint leaves in half lengthwise and use your knife to make thin strips (julienne).  Alternatively, you can minced the leaves or tear them into very small pieces.  Just be sure not to leave big pieces of leaf because it can be a strong flavor! Zest your citrus fruits with a zester and reserve the peelings.  Next, remove the citrus peels and cut the fruit into bite size pieces.  How you do it is up to you.  I usually quarter the fruit and then slice each quarter into 4 pieces.  If you’re peeling the fruit by hand you can just add the segments… whatever works! Give the raw beets a quick wash under cool water to remove any sand or dirt.  Slice off the greens and then peel the beets.  This is a messy task that will stain your fingers (and anything else) reddish purple for a while.  Consider this your red badge of courage.  You’re trying a new salad and it is making you commit!  Once the beets are peeled you have a few options.  You can grate them using a hand grater (uber messy!) You can cut them into small pieces with your chef’s knife (also uber messy). Or you can employ your food processor and either grate, slice or chop finely depending on the nifty blade attachments that you have.  I chopped the beets into a fairly tiny shred using my food processor and we all loved them.  Do what works for you. Let’s deal with the avocados.  Slice each one in half lengthwise and twist to get the pit to release from one side.  To get the pit out you can either scoop it out gently with a spoon or, if you’re confident with your knife, you can tap the knife blade into the pit (it will stick in there) and twist the handle until the pit pops out.  You really need to be confident to do the knife tap, so please don’t try it if you’re nervous.  I don’t want you to get hurt!  I’m going to go with the notion that you’re able to get the pit out and all.  Time to score the avocado flesh in lines lengthwise and then again width wise so you end up with a grid pattern on each piece of avocado.  Take a soup spoon now and work it in between the skin and the flesh as you scoop out as much avocado as possible.  As you do this, the cute little pieces will pop right out!  Fun. [caption id="attachment_321" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Avocado Citrus Dressing"]Avocado Citrus Dressing[/caption] To prepare the dressing: Put everything into you blender and whiz until smooth.  It took me about 30 seconds of blending in the Vitamix to achieve a smooth and creamy texture. To assemble: Toss the mixed greens into a large bowl or lay them out on a platter.  Sprinkle with the minced or julienned mint.  Spoon some dressing over the greens.  Use the amount that makes you comfortable.  For my dinner portion, I used 1 Tbsp of dressing.  Next, top with shredded beets, orange pieces, grapefruit pieces and berries.  Serve!


Spicy Raw Tomato Sauce, Act 2

We're all busy, right?!  I know I am.  So anytime I can make something work for me in different ways I do!  I especially like working with leftovers and consider them somewhat of a personal challenge. That said, let me fill you in on my kitchen adventures today.  The Spicy Raw Tomato Sauce that I made yesterday was a truly fabulous dressing for my raw kale salad.  Exactly what I was looking for yesterday.  Today I wanted to change it up and it was easy to do considering the recipe makes 5 abundant cups of raw goodness.  When I packed things up yesterday I split the leftovers into 2 containers, each holding just shy of 2.5 cups of raw sauce.  I knabbed one of those bad boys around lunch time today and used it to make a warm sauce for my take on Palak Paneer.  Traditioanlly made with pureed spinach and firm mild cottage style dairy cheese cubes, Palak Paneer is fragrant, spicy, creamy and delicious.  Making it vegan isn't much of a challenge so I encourage you to give this a try.  Don't let the tofu deter you even if you don't normally like it.  In this recipe the tofu is fried and crispy and it is enveloped by the luscious coconut milk enhanced tomato sauce.
Sarah's Vegan Tofu Palak Paneer
(makes 1 serving of tofu, enough sauce 5 servings)

raw spinach topped with warm coconut tomato sauce and crispy tofu
1/4 block firm tofu* 1/4 cup olive oil for frying the tofu 2.5 cups Raw Spicy Tomato Sauce                2 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp chili powder 2 tsp tamarind paste 1 cup coconut milk (canned, fresh or made from coconut creme concentrate)
Let's start by pouring the coconut milk and tamarind paste into a saucepan.  Begin warming the mixture over low heat.  As you do so, take a wooden spoon and mash the tamarind paste into the coconut milk until it is incorporated.  Most tamarind paste has pulpy bits, and that's okay.  Just do your best to blend the paste into the coconut milk so we avoid a bit of pungent paste.
Once the paste is incorporated go ahead and add the raw tomato sauce, ground cumin and chili powder.  If you are not a big fan of spicy heat this is the time to make your own adjustments and cut down or cut out the chili powder.  The raw tomato sauce is a bit spicy, but the cooking process mellows it considerably so I like punching up the heat with chili powder.  You might not... know that you won't hurt my feelings at all if you don't... I think making recipes your own is exactly what you should do.  You have permission to experiment. Whisk the sauce over medium heat and enjoy the delightful aroma in the air around you.  This is not a pot that you need to watch or whisk constantly, so after that first few minutes go ahead and turn the heat down and leave things to simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes.  You're going to taste the sauce at that point and decide if the onion and garlic are cooked and mellow or if they still have their bite.  If you like where you are, shut off the heat and move on to the tofu.  If you don't... well, keep simmering until you get it there! Onto the tofu:  I heat up my oil in a very small saucepan since I am using so little oil and frying so few pieces of tofu.  Get your oil heating up over medium heat while you prep the tofu.  1/4 of a block of tofu works out to about 2 slices off the block that are 1/2 inch thick and maybe 3 inches long.  I slice each of the slices in half and then into 8 cubes so I end up with 16 cute little cubes of tofu.  It is very important to dry the tofu before you fry it.  Mark my words, DRY BEFORE YOU FRY or you'll regret it!  Splatter city baby... no lie.  Ouch!  My recommendation is to place the cubes on a clean kitchen towel and press them a bit to push out some of the water from the packaging. When your oil is hot and your tofu is cubed and dry go ahead and drop one cube into the oil.  Hear sizzling and see bubbles around the cube?  If you do you are good to go!  If not, bump up the heat a little and wait a minute.  Once you're at a hot temp go ahead and drop in your cubes 4 at a time.  Any more than 4 and you are going to cool the oil and create soggy tofu.  So, take your time and fry these guys 4 at a time, turning them with a slotted metal spoon so they brown a little and get crisp on all 4 sides before you pull them out.  Rescue your tofu and transfer it to a cooling rack to drain or set the little cuties onto paper towel or a clean brown paper bag while you continue the process until all of your tofu is fried.
Time for the spinach.  Palak Paneer is traditionally made with a pureed, almost creamed spinach.  I prefer raw elements in my meals so keeping the spinach raw is a no-b rainer!  Grab a few handfuls of raw baby spinach and give it a quick wash and spin in the salad spinner.  Run your knife through the leaves to chop them up a bit and them pile them in your serving bowl.  Top with about 1/2 cup of sauce and the warm, crispy tofu cubes.  Grab your fork and dig in! 

this is how I get into it... no shame in mixing it up!
  *Note about TOFU: I buy non-GMO organic tofu.  Because soybeans are such a heavily modified crop, the non-GMO designation is really important.  Genetically modified food creeps me out, frankly.  I'd rather not eat something that's been messed with at a cellular level.  Now, in the case of tofu, I choose organic as well when I can because it is also a processed food... it definitely doesn't look like a soybean anymore!  Since I wasn't able to judge the quality of the beans that went into the product, I at least want to know that they were pesticide free and as natural as possible.