Monday, February 4, 2013

Sugar-free Vegan Dessert Balls

Several months ago, my doctor put me on a 3-week cleansing diet.  Naturally, I was not allowed to have any sugar, only honey in small quantities.  I came up with several dessert alternatives in that time to satisfy my sweet tooth, but the best one happened to be a suggestion from my mom.  Apparently my Grandma used to make a delicious dessert consisting of 4 simple ingredients: peanut butter, honey, carob powder, and shredded coconut.

Equal parts honey and peanut butter. Add carob powder (or cocoa powder) to taste. Roll into a ball in shredded coconut.  Store in refrigerator.

1/2 c. wild/raw honey
1/2 c. all natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp. carob powder
1/2 c. shredded coconut

I love this recipe and have since experimented using crystallized vs. "runny" honey, all natural peanut butter vs. homemade almond butter, etc.  This recipe is so forgiving!  If the consistency of your honey is too runny, add more peanut butter.  Or if your honey is too thick, try softening it with hot water first.  I have also found that putting the dessert balls in the fridge for even 15 minutes helps them solidify.  Just use these 4 simple ingredients in whatever way you want, and you are sure to have a tasty dessert!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Heart Attack Grill

If you value your life/health/well-being/sanity/mental well-being....please do not ever, EVER cross the threshold of this God-forsaken place:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sore Throat Home Remedy

It's that time of year again...everyone bust out the over-the-counter crap with ingredients I can't even pronounce, much less know where they come from!  Instead I've found a quick and easy home remedy to help sooth my sore/itchy/coughing throat that decided to give out on me this week.

I came across it on a blog called "Good Food Matters" and decided to try it out.  Click here for the link to the original post and recipe.  The author uses this home remedy whenever she feels a cold coming on.  It only uses 4 common ingredients, so she keeps a jar on hand and swallows a tablespoon every now and then.

I, however, concocted the recipe with a slight adaptation and drank the whole thing like a nightcap.  All I did was add a little more water and a little more honey than the original called for.  Here's the modified recipe:

1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. organic honey
3/4 c. hot water

The directions are easy: dissolve spices in apple cider vinegar and hot water, add honey and stir.  Then drink up!

It is definitely a potent tonic, but my throat feels so much better now!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

We All Need a Little Color

Since different colors indicate different nutrients, I try to make my lunches as colorful as possible!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Italian Scones?

Have you ever met an Italian lady making English scones?  Neither had I....until I met Yvette from Ivéta Gourmet.

As I wandered through the Home & Gift Show at the Las Vegas World Market this past July, I happened to walk by a booth promoting a familiar looking product.  I stopped to take a closer look at the Ivéta scone mixes displayed on the table, and realized they were the very same scone mixes I purchase from my favorite little store in downtown Glendora, CA -- The Village Kitchen Shoppe.

Samples were available at the Ivéta booth for their gluten-free scone mixes, which I naturally had to try!  The scones were so moist and flavorful, that it's hard to believe how simple the ingredients are.  Listed on the packaging, the gluten-free scone mix consists of gluten-free flour, organic crystallized cane juice, dried fruit (apricot, blueberry, or cranberry), baking powder, vanilla powder, and salt.  They also have a vanilla or chocolate chip mix available as gluten-free.

The easiest part?  Add 3/4 to 1 cup heavy whipping cream (or cashew cream), and bake.  That's it!

In addition to the gluten-free scone mixes, Ivéta also offers a large variety of regular scone mixes including golden raisin, cranberry orange, ginger, pumpkin spice, and lavender white chocolate...just to name a few.  Other easy baking mixes are muffins, cupcakes, and biscuits.  And to go along with everything else, Ivéta makes their own clotted cream, lemon or key lime curd, and several fruit jams.

The name "Ivéta" is a variation on Yvette, who owns the company along with her husband John.  Yvette is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, with an energetic personality and an infectious laugh.  As I sampled her delicious scones, Yvette shared with me the unconventional story of how an Italian lady began making English scones.

Yvette and John used to live in Chicago, where they owned and operated an espresso bar.  After someone suggested they add scones to their menu, Yvette went to the gourmet food show to see what she could find.  There happened to be some graduate students who created a unique scone recipe that did not require eggs or butter, just cream.  This was perfect for the espresso bar, because they could whip up the scones quickly and easily.  After several years, the owners of the scone company went their separate ways, leaving Yvette and John the opportunity to purchase the company and create Ivéta Gourmet!  For the complete story, click here.

Since then, Yvette has added many mixes and developed new flavors to build the company.  Not bad for a biscotti chef, right?  But don't worry, you can still taste Yvette's espresso and biscotti (as well as breakfast and lunch) at the Ivéta Café in Santa Cruz, CA!

Yes, the Ivéta scone mixes are light, moist, and flavorful.  But I think the most important thing is that they use the best ingredients.  There are never any artificial preservatives, food coloring, or hydrogenated vegetable oil...yuck!  Just simple, regular, natural ingredients.  And it is oh so tasty!

Check out the Ivéta Shop for more info.  And if you want my personal opinion...go for the Gluten-free Vanilla Scone Mix with Organic Pear Ginger Jam.  Mmmm!

At the Gift Show with owners of Ivéta, Yvette and John

Saturday, August 4, 2012

You Say Tomato

Ever since I was a girl, my mom has had a cookbook called "You Say Tomato."  There are recipes for anything and everything you can think of to do with a tomato, even desserts!  What I appreciate about the book is that each page has a brief history of where the recipe came from and how it has been modified over the years.

In the summer season especially, my mom's house is bursting with tomatoes from her garden.  So naturally, we turned to the "You Say Tomato" cookbook a couple weeks ago when I was visiting.  We decided on the traditional Spanish cold soup of gazpacho.  But with our own twist!

Apparently what makes gazpacho, well.....gazpacho, is that it contains a slice of stale bread.  So call us untraditional, but we left out the stale bread (we're German, not Spanish).  Joanne's recipe in the "You Say Tomato" book also uses croutons and a garnish, as well as heavily puréeing the soup ingredients.  My mom and I like our gazpacho to be finely chopped, almost like pico de gallo.  Hence, we used the salsa maker instead of a blender.  Here is the modified recipe:

6 large red tomatoes
1 large bell pepper (we used 2 small green ones)
1 large onion
1 large cucumber
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c plus 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
dash of salt and pepper, to taste
dash of cayenne pepper (we added that for extra spice)

Place all the ingredients in salsa maker (or blender) and chop finely until desired consistency.  Place in bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.  This recipe is supposedly for 6 servings, but it's an easy one to modify for larger groups.  If you enjoy fresh food as much as we do, this cold gazpacho will go quickly on a hot summer night!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why Organic?

organic produce....homegrown
What is the #1 reason why people do not eat organic food? "It costs too much money."  People go on and on about how they don't have enough money to buy organic, and yet they somehow find enough money for a daily latte and a weekly movie night.

About 3 years ago, I made the decision to spend more money on what I put in my body than what I put on my body.  At the time, I knew next to nothing about organic food or why it is important.  I only knew that I wanted to invest in myself in order to live a healthy, ill-free, pain-free life.  And to me, spending more time at the grocery store and less time at the clothing store sounded like a good investment.

So what makes organic food,  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, organic food means "of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides."  In other words, organically-grown crops are not compromised in any way with the use of chemicals.  There are no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, so you know that your food is grown the way God intended it to be.

The United States Department of Agriculture has strict rules about whether a product is labeled "organic" or not.  According to the USDA website, "Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used."  For more information as a consumer, visit their website here.  If you see the USDA Organic label on a product, you can rest assured it has gone through rigorous testing to ensure the product you purchase is, in fact, organic.

Why is it important to eat organic?  When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden and instructed them to take care of the earth, I doubt synthetically-made chemicals and genetically-modified seeds were part of His plan.  The phenomenon of mass-produced crops and shipping produce to far-off distances is really something that came about in the past two centuries.  Even our grandparent's generation mostly grew their own food or purchased produce from their local farmer.

For me, the most important factor is that produce grown organically has to fend for itself, in a sense.  Because it does not have a protective layer of chemicals on it, the produce has to develop its own protective skin.  This means when we eat that protective skin, we are eating all the antioxidants that go along with it, and in turn, help protect our own bodies from disease and virus.

Today there is a growing movement of people growing their own gardens, so they know exactly where their food comes from.  But even if you are unable to keep your own garden or join a co-op, you should still strive to purchase a mostly organic diet from the supermarket.  When you purchase organic, you know that the farmer growing (or raising) your food cares about your well-being and the well-being of our environment.  You know that the food you're eating has significantly more nutrients than its conventionally-grown counterpart.  You know that no synthetic material went in or on your food.  And because we know that chemicals, pesticides, and antibiotics cause the majority of diseases plaguing our society (e.g. cancer, dementia, heart disease, etc.), why would anyone choose to knowingly eat that stuff?

Why does it cost so much?  Supply and demand.  According to the USDA, organic food makes up about "3 percent of total U.S. food sales."  Honestly, I think it's easier and cheaper for farmers to just spray their crops or inject their meat with chemicals, rather than having to deal with bugs or soil issues or whatever else comes there way.  While I understand the reasoning behind this, it makes me wonder if one day our society will reach the point when we just tell the computer what we want to eat and out pops a hot dish (Star Trek, anyone?).

In the past 20 years, there has been a growing demand for organic food, and even traditional grocery stores like Safeway have a separate organic section.  Besides your local health food store (mine is Vitamin City in San Dimas, CA), you can always count on Whole Foods or Trader Joe's to have a nice organic selection.  Like I said at the beginning of this post, spending $3.99 for organic strawberries instead of $2.99 for conventional ones is worth it.

Where should I start?  If you have never purchased organic food before, I recommend starting with dairy.  You can tell the difference between conventional dairy products and organic dairy products right off the bat.  The cows and hens producing your organic dairy products are able to roam around eating grass, minerals, and proteins from the ground.  They aren't shot up with growth hormones, and they aren't fed animal by-products (yuck!).  They produce a creamier, more flavorful product, in my opinion.  (Sidenote: Many people will say that raw milk or cheese is the best for you, and I agree.  But that's a whole other blog post...)

Next, you should print this off and take it with you to the store.  I keep a copy of it in my purse, so I can always refer to it when shopping.  This list is know as the "Dirty Dozen"--the 12 most pesticide-saturated items of produce.  These are the ones that you absolutely must buy organic!  Usually produce with thick skins like onions, avocados, and cantaloupes are okay to purchase conventionally, because their skin protects them from harmful pesticides.  But the Dirty Dozen are the ones you should make sure to only buy organic:

Dirty Dozen    
1. Celery             7. Bell Peppers       
2. Peaches           8. Spinach            
3. Strawberries    9. Cherries         
4. Apples            10. Kale/Collard Greens
5. Blueberries     11. Potatoes
6. Nectarines      12. Grapes

I think the average population knows that organic food is more nutritious and delicious, but they cannot get over the extra pennies it costs.  Personally, I would rather spend a little more on food now than a lot more on medical bills later!