Friday, February 13, 2015


It's the eve of Valentine's Day and I've found that there are two camps of thought about this holiday: love it and hate it. The first dives head first into all things Hallmark and pink and floral and sweet. The second live in complete denial this holiday even exists and intentionally wear all black, silently screaming "if you even glance at me in a lovey, syrupy way, so help me....!"

I get it. The love. The hate. V-day either allows us a day to exploit the love we have or is a brutal reminder of what we seem to be missing.


What if this specific day isn't about romantic relationships, or the lack there of, at all? What if we've all been hoodwinked in believing this day is about external love and have been blinded from seeing the day for what it is?

What if this day was about loving you - this messed up, crazy, never-has-it-all-together, beautiful, wonderful you?

Could you do it?

Could you believe you are worth a whole day to celebrate simply loving you?

It's so hard. So, so hard to believe all the unique things that make us who we are are worth celebrating. Most days we screw up. Most days we hurt those we love. We fail and cry and gossip and hate and fall into the trap of understanding life as meaningless. We believe the worst things we think about ourselves are actually true and everyone else is thinking them too.

And then February 14 comes around and our failures or successes in a certain relationship area are broadcasted. Or we're given 24 hours to reassess what we believe. We're given an entire day to repeat over and over again "I love me. I'm beautiful. I'm worth it. I'm perfect."

One day to shelve all the negative voices in our head that try so hard to trap us in living a life far less grand than what we were created to live. Voices that keep us small.

So maybe this Valentine's day you write a love letter to you. Don't hold back. Jot down everything you love about yourself or think you could love or dream you could be. Even if you don't believe it, write it down. Even if it scares you, write it down.

And then read it over and over again until may you begin to believe in the beauty that is found in every single ounce of you.

Because here's a secret: if you start to believe you're worth this kind of love and live from this place of acceptance and grace, others will too.

And you'll begin to find beauty and connection in everything.

So go on a date or spend time with friends. Rent a movie, go outside, watch the stars, or indulge in as many chocolate somethings you possibly can. Scream into a pillow or cry if you need to and then smile because you let yourself feel. Celebrate in a way that makes you feel most alive and loved by no one other than you.

But please. Please don't bash or banish this day. Please don't allow any bit of loathing to taint what could be. And please don't gloat. Please don't shamelessly flaunt whatever love you think you have and flash it around like a stack of 100s or diamonds or fancy clothes. Because all of this is simply that, glitter and glam that dies away. And because every time you do, every time you hide or deny or hate or gloat or flaunt, each time you miss the opportunity to give this special day a new name, a new purpose. And you miss the chance to completely revel in you. This unique, no-one-quite-like it, absolutely wonderful you.

No matter what, where you stand or think you stand, please celebrate. Because if nothing else, this world could use a little more celebration.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Now, a little about this recipe. In my head I think all I need to say is "you have to try it" and you will but somehow that's, rightfully so, not quite enough so I'll say a little more.

I was curious about combining molasses and cacao and found that the flavor combination is deep and rich and almost smoky. Sort of bitter but also sweet. A little like Valentine's Day if you think about it.

Here's the nutrition deal.

Blackstrap molasses is one of the few sweeteners with an abundance of minerals packed in. Calcium? Check. Iron? Check. Potassium? Check.

Translation, if you are pregnant or post-partum [even years after having your last baby] this is an awesome food to add to your diet as it gives you the minerals you and the baby need to maintain health and acts as a blood tonic after you've given birth, replenishing what has been lost.

Molasses works to reduce dampness and cold in the body which means if you're experiencing winter cold right now this might just help you warm from the inside out. A great treat after outdoor winter fun!

In addition to all this goodness, if you take a bit [1 - 2 tablespoons] of molasses in warm water an hour or so prior to bed it will aid the bowels and soften things up first thing in the morning. Super helpful for issues surrounding constipation. I'd nix the cacao though as it can be stimulating - not exactly what you want prior to catching some Zzz's.

Good for almost every digestive organ in your body, adding molasses really providess more than simply flavor to this hot drink.

Serves One

2 c. boiling water
1  T. molasses
2 tsp. cacao or cocoa powder [or carob if you can't do chocolate]
2 pinches of each: sea salt, Ceylon cinnamon, ground ginger

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan or tea kettle. While the water is warming, place the remaining ingredients in a large mug. Pour the boiling water into the mug and whisk until everything has dissolved into water. Top with marshmallows and enjoy!

Important Note: This is a slightly bitter drink until you add the marshmallows. If you forgo the marshmallows you may want to add a touch of raw honey or maple syrup until you reach the sweetness you desire.


I was visiting a friend of mine and found these on her counter. I haven't had a marshmallow in years for a host of reasons, mainly because on a basic level they are puffed chemicals. Admittedly delicious but still, disgusting.

And then there's these little babies. Simple, whole food ingredients without an ounce of chemical or processing. So, so good.

Because I love adding medicinal herbs to just about everything, try adding 1 tablespoon of marshmallow root powder to the gelatin and water. Marshmallow root is great for gut inflammation and adds an authentic mallow-y taste.

Head over here for the recipe!

Monday, February 9, 2015


So a little disclaimer. This is absolutely the opposite of a local winter meal. Fresh lettuce in winter? No. Cucumbers in the snow? No. Water chestnuts in the mitten state? Not that I can find.

And so it is what it is and the beauty of discipline in any area of life is that there is room for exceptions and straying from the rules actually keep us balanced and in a healthier place than stubbornness and rigidity.

I love this recipe because it reminds me of PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps and beyond that it reminds me of being in Chicago with my husband, newly married and newly gluten-free. Many people have memories surrounding food and this particular dish is one of the first I ate out after learning I had an allergy to gluten. 

If you've had such a staple food like gluten removed from your diet you know the helpless feeling of looking into a menu and realizing a salad, hold pretty much everything, is the only answer. But then. Then you enter a restaurant that takes gluten free seriously and everything about the meal is suddenly transformed from desperate to beautiful and permanently impressed on your being. 

Now I don't know how the higher ups at PF Chang's feel about GMO's or organic food or supporting local farms or animal confinement. 

I hope they care. 

What I do know is that in this one particular area they made a difference for me in a very hopeless situation and for that I am grateful. 

This recipe was an absolute hit in our family. Most nights I come to the table with food prepared having no idea what the response will be. Translation, I have no idea how hard I'm going to have to fight to have said food consumed by a particular two and four year old. And by fight, I mean how creative I'll need to get. Obviously.

Coming into this meal was no different and truth be told, I expected the worst. Instead, both kids ate the equivalent of four wraps each [albeit running to and from the table]. Either way, a clear and delicious success!

Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe

1 lb organic, pasture raised ground turkey or chicken
1 - 2 T. extra virgin coconut or olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon of peeled and minced ginger
1 8-ounce can of water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 T. raw honey
1 cucumber very thinly sliced [using knife or mandolin]
raw apple cider vinegar
sea salt
1 large head of bib or butter lettuce, rinsed and laid on towel to dry
cooked [and sprouted if possible] quinoa or rice, optional
green onions / scallions, chopped, optional

Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until well done, breaking into very small pieces while cooking. Once the turkey is thoroughly cooked, add onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute over medium heat until onion is soft and transparent [5 - 10 minutes]. Stir in the garlic powder, tamari sauce or coconut aminos, honey, and brown rice vinegar. Let mixture cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to one third of the original. Add water chestnuts at the end and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. While the turkey filling is cooking, slice cucumbers and place in a glass bowl. Toss with enough cider vinegar to coat and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. Mix well and place in refrigerator until food is prepared. 

Once the meat is ready, either place meat, lettuce cups, marinated cucumbers, and quinoa or rice on the table or scoop filling into lettuce cups and top with cucumbers, quinoa or rice [if desired], and serve immediately. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015


This past year I've found so much beauty and healing in slowing down, demanding less, giving up pushing and pulling and worrying and controlling, and instead quieting my mind in an effort to really feel my body and hear my soul.

When you're in the "health world" or routinely pick up a health-based magazine or see a fear-based health post or wonder which diet is actually the best, it's so easy to quickly become immersed in food-based fear and anxiety. Most of us want to feel good and live healthfully and we educate ourselves and change our diets and start working out. All good things. And yet there comes a point where the line between making some healthy lifestyle choices shifts to wanting to control it all and simply caring turns to obsessing. And fear of whatever the opposite of health is, or could be, becomes the driving force.

Here's what I've learned: no matter how healthy we eat, how much knowledge we gain, how many supplements we take, how much we care and do and give up, if "being healthy" causes anxiety and stress and fear, health will continually allude us.

Here's what I've also learned: it's okay.

It's okay to release all of the fear. It's okay to release all of the stress. It's okay to say no to the worry. It's okay to get to a point where we say enough is enough. It's okay to think we've failed. It's okay to not feel our best every minute of every day. It's okay to sit in the discomfort of life and experience the emotions that come with. It's okay to get sick from time to time. And it's okay to ask for help when being okay seems unbelievable.

So close the diet books. Discontinue the health magazines. Turn off the sound and chatter of the voices out there and begin to listen to the voice within. I know from experience that the voice of our true, honest, ego-less, projection-less self is infinitely wise and grace-filled and honest and compassionate and vastly inclusive and forgiving. Find someone who can help uncover this voice.

Give up the chatter and noise and meditate. Practice mindfulness. Breathe. Listen to really awesome music. Completely loose all sense of time doing something you love. Go outside. Seriously, even in the winter go outside. Connect with people you care deeply about. Be open and honest and vulnerable. Laugh. Laugh a lot. Let yourself stay up too late and sleep in too long from time to time and don't for a second regret it. And be present. Take all of the energy wasted on worry and fear and being anxious and focus on just being present. Right now. This second.

And forget about food. And health. And whatever you think you should be doing.

Because food matters. But it only matters as one small piece of the great big, beautiful, unique puzzle that makes up you.  

So Crock Pots.

And dinner.

Let's be honest, Crock Pots are one of mankind's most amazing inventions. Well Crock Pots and electricity. And air travel. And indoor plumbing. And pacifiers. You get the point. I affectionately think of ours as Ms. Chef, getting dinner done when I don't have the energy, motivation and/or time to do so. For me, there is something about having dinner prepared before 9am that brings a sort of ease to my day. Feeding my family well demands a decent amount of my time and using a Crock Pot allows me to spend elsewhere the time I would be standing at a stove - hopefully on things that fill me up and give me life and allow me to be present.

Here is a week long meal plan using just the Crock Pot. Some meals are meat-less, some use meat, and all are based on whole, un-processed foods. You can choose to serve with the sides listed, create your own sides, or stick to whatever is in the pot. These recipes are great for cooler temperatures and the winter season.

May you find a little extra space in your life to slow down, take in beauty in whatever way you find it, and forget about food. 

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
*prepare lentils for Monday by placing dried, uncooked lentils in a large glass bowl and covering with double the amount of water and a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar.

Lentil Soup
Serve with oat baguette, seed bread, seed crackers, or bread / crackers of choice.

Whole Chicken
Serve with steamed or roasted vegetables.

Butternut Squash Risotto
Serve with steamed or roasted vegetables.
*prepare black beans for Thursday by dried, uncooked beans in a large glass bowl and covering with double the amount of wate and a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar.

Black Bean Soup
Serve with fresh cilantro and roasted sweet potato or parsnip chips.
Modifications: Rather than cooking over stove, simply put all of the ingredients [including uncooked, pre-soaked black beans] in Crock Pot on high for 6 - 8 hours.

Creamy Chicken Soup using leftover chicken from Tuesday [click on link and scroll to "Meal 6"]
Serve with roasted cauliflower [click link and scroll down for recipe].

Fish Tacos
Serve on a bed of quinoa or rice and top with fresh cilantro, avocado, and freshly squeezed lime juice.
Recipe modifications: I used Cod in place of Tilapia and seasoned with freshly ground cumin and coriander seeds.

Friday, January 30, 2015


So pudding. We love pudding in this house. I mean all caps and in italics LOVE pudding. For the longest time I tried to find a pudding recipe that maintained the texture and flavor of the traditional but with a bit of added virtue. Meaning I wanted a pudding I could eat any day, all day without an ounce of guilt. Okay maybe not all day but definitely without the guilt. At the time I couldn't find any so, in frustration [desperation?], I started experimenting.

From this came two recipes. And we love them both.

The first I created specifically for my youngest child who is allergic [hives and all] to cacao / cocoa / chocolate. I know, the horror right?! No way was I going to make pudding for the rest of us and keep it from her. Come to find out it's delicious and we all love it! It's sweetener free, using dates in place of syrup, honey, or sugar. I add coconut oil to boost the healthy fat content but this isn't necessary and can be cut if fat is a concern. Oh and for the record, this is not a low-fat treat. But "low fat" has become a bit of a swear word in some circles anyway and it is packed with healthy fats!

The second recipe is for any pure chocolate lovers [or in my 4 year-old's words "chocolate monsters"]. Adding less maple syrup and / or more cacao will place it in the realm of dark chocolate and adding more syrup and less cacao brings it closer to milk chocolate in flavor.

We like to experiment with different natural flavors: almond, hazelnut, peppermint, and coconut. Adding toasted coconut flakes as a garnish is amazing. Top either pudding with berries, whipped coconut cream [see recipe below], or toasted nuts. Add a tablespoon of seed or nut butter for a peanut butter-chocolate blend. The options are endless which means you can try something different every day!

The beauty with simple recipes using versitile ingredients is once you've made them a few times over you can really get creative. For example, the other night I whipped up a key lime version [listed below] using many of these ingredients.


2 ripe avocados
8 - 10 dates, pitted
boiling water
3 - 4 T. carob powder
1 T. unrefined / raw / extra virgin coconut oil, soft but not melted [optional]
pinch of sea salt
pinch of cinnamon

Place dates in a glass cup or jar [Ball jars work great] and add boiling water until dates are just covered. Set aside for 10 - 20 minutes so soak. Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and scoop out flesh into a blender or food processor. Add carob powder, coconut oil, sea salt, and cinnamon. When dates are finished soaking and soft pour dates and water into the blender or food processor. Blend on high until mixture is thick and very smooth. Transfer to a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate to stiffen. You can also enjoy immediately!


2 ripe avocados
1/8 - 1/4 c. unrefined / raw / extra virgin coconut oil, soft but not melted [less oil makes a softer pudding, more oil makes a more fudge-like pudding after refrigeration]
1/4 - 1/3 c. maple syrup, local if available [start with the smaller amount and add to taste if needed]
3 T. raw cacao powder [or cocoa powder]
pinch sea salt
pinch of cinnamon

Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and scoop out flesh into a blender or food processor. Add coconut oil, maple syrup, cacao or cocoa powder, sea salt, and cinnamon. Blend on high until mixture is thick and very smooth. Transfer to a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate to stiffen. You can also enjoy immediately!

Note: If you serve immediately the texture will be standard pudding-like. If you refrigerate, the texture becomes more fudge like. Both are delicious!


2 ripe avocados
2 - 3 T. unrefined / raw / extra virgin coconut oil, soft but not melted [less oil makes a softer pudding, more oil makes a more fudge-like pudding after refrigeration]
1/4 - 1/3 c. maple syrup, local if available [start with the smaller amount and add to taste if needed]
1/2 - 1 whole lime, juiced
pinch sea salt

Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and scoop out flesh into a blender or food processor. Add coconut oil, maple syrup, fresh lime juice, and sea salt. Blend on high until mixture is thick and very smooth. Transfer to a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate to stiffen. You can also enjoy immediately!

Note: If you serve immediately the texture will be standard pudding-like. If you refrigerate, the texture becomes more fudge like. Both are delicious!


To make coconut whipped cream: place a can of regular coconut milk in the fridge to separate. To test, gently shake the can slowly. If you hear liquid, continue to refrigerate. If you don't it is ready.  When ready, carefully remove lid and scoop out just the solid coconut cream. Reserve the coconut liquid [water] for smoothies, jello, or another recipe.

Place coconut cream in a bowl and add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup [if sweet whipped topping is desired], the contents of a scraped vanilla bean or a large pinch of vanilla powder [optional], and a pinch of sea salt. Whip on high for a minute or so until soft peaks that hold their shape have formed. Place whipped cream in a glass bowl, cover, and refrigerate 30 - 60 minutes to set.

Monday, January 26, 2015


This past fall something came over me and, like a squirrel collecting acorns, I stashed winter squash everywhere. Garage, basement, upstairs bedroom, refrigerator - basically wherever I could find cool, semi-empty space. There are a few reasons I look forward to winter each year: the fires, the soups, the warm blankets and slippers, the slowing down-ness of life and movement, the holidays, and the squash.

Okay, its mostly the squash.

Over the years I've collected and created a number of disappearing squash recipes and it's been a while since I've assembled them all in one place. So, here it is. If you have squash on hand or have been eyeing it at the market or store grab it. This is your one-stop, you have it so flaunt it, here's what to do with squash post.


BRAN MUFFINS [sub fruit puree for squash puree]
PANCAKES OR "SNEAKY CAKES" [sub fruit puree for squash puree]




SIMPLE BREAKFAST [sub delicata squash or peeled and cubed winter squash for sweet potato]


SPRING SALAD [sub delicata or peeled and cubed winter squash for the sweet potato]


PUMPKIN-GOJI SMOOTHIE [enjoy this warm for a nice winter twist]



Monday, January 19, 2015


Today I'm simply going to connect you to one of our favorite treats these days. I have a pile of stored winter squashes to work through and it's hard to think of a better way to use them up [well besides hash browns, chili, and soup of course]!


Against All Grain Pumpkin Pudding [Dairy-Free, Egg-Free]

Note: The recipe calls for pumpkin puree however I've had great success with a variety of winter squash so simply use what you have on hand or can find at your local [winter] market. I also up the quantity of squash / pumpkin puree to 2 - 3 cups, adding an additional 1 - 2 teaspoons of gelatin to compensate. You can opt to sweeten with applesauce in lieu of maple syrup for a sweetener-free option. Make it as the recipe dictates once and then adjust as you wish!

Monday, January 12, 2015


Disclaimer: If you're my wonderful husband who thought, "Maybe I'll give this post a read", please stop and do us both a favor by exiting out of this blog immediately. I'd rather not spoil this soup you love with a list of ingredients. Thanks and love you!  

Phew! That was close.

I shamelessly try to trick my husband in a number of meals. Okay, most of them. If you've been a guest around our table, chances are I've whispered to you the ingredients and begged you not to say a word. My husband has so many amazing qualities and one major Achilles heal - he has this thing about squash. Essentially he hates them. All of them. Which of course simultaneously breaks my heart and encourages me to see how often I can get him to eat them without his knowing.

Recently I've been working on how to do chili without tomatoes and beef and including [a lot of] winter squash. I've been mulling over different combinations and finally landed on the one you'll find here. The true test for any recipe I post is: will the man of the house eat it?

Guess what?

He emptied his bowl.

AND said the soup was amazing - maybe his favorite.

AND I remain at large, squash secret safely withheld.

So, if you're looking to change up your chili give this recipe a try! Below I provide a variety of add-in options and note the version I use at home.

May you survive these short, cold, snowy days with a bowl of warm goodness in hand and a mischievous twinkle in your eye.

And please, please! don't tell my husband.

Serves 6

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 T. extra virigin, unrefined coconut oil
3 large garlic cloves [or 5 smaller ones], minced
1 lb. ground turkey [or omit for vegan/vegetarian and add more beans further in recipe]
3- 4 c. chopped vegetables of choice [peppers, carrots, daikon radish, sweet potato, corn, greens. I typically use carrots and daikon radish]
1 T. cumin-coriander blend*
1 T. dried cilantro
1 T. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
2 - 3 tsp. sea salt, to taste
few grinds of black pepper
1 quart bone or vegetable broth of choice [homemade lamb bone broth is my favorite]
2 - 3 c. water or vegetable broth [start with 2 cups and add more if needed]
4 c. butternut [or other winter squash] puree
4 c. cooked Northern white beans [or 2, 15-ounce cans. I like Eden brand as they are one of the few who soak their beans overnight prior to cooking and canning]

Garnish options: fresh cilantro, cheese of choice, Greek yogurt, corn chips.

Saute onion in coconut oil over medium-low heat until onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute an additional minute or two. Add ground turkey and cook until meat is not longer raw. Stir in cumin + coriander blend, cilantro, chili powder, oregano, sea salt, and pepper. Saute for a minute, stirring frequently. Pour in broth, water, chopped vegetables, and squash puree. Bring to boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add white beans and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly [5 minutes] and serve.

*In a dry blender, food processor, or spice grinder blend into a fine powder 1 part whole coriander seed to 2 parts whole cumin seed.

This may be my two-year old's favorite veggie these days. A good friend of mine has us hooked on her Tahini Roasted Cauliflower. This got me thinking about other flavors that might be nice. Turns out chili spice is fantastic. This is a real no-fuss, "anyone can do it" recipe. Enjoy!


1 large head [or 2 small heads] cauliflower
2 T. coconut oil, melted
appx. 1 tsp. chili powder
appx. 2 tsp cumin-coriander blend*
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1- 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut cauliflower into medium-size chunks. Rinse and pat dry. Place cauliflower chunks on stoneware baking sheet or parchment-lined cookie pan. Toss with spices, salt, and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. If cauliflower is beginning to brown and becoming crispy along the edges and bottom, remove from oven and serve. Otherwise continue to bake for up to 15 more minutes [in 5 minute increments] or until browned and beginning to get crispy.