Thursday, August 25, 2011


Every Sunday evening my husband and I meet with two other couples to check-in on the various happenings of the week, study scripture [and continually be challenged by it], pray, and more than anything, journey through this thing we call life - together. Balance does not come through food alone, although making healthy food decisions is a significant piece. It is important to remember that food is just a portion of the larger picture. Spirituality, family, community [large and small], work, emotions, thoughts, sleep, and exercise all play an equally important role in bringing peace and wholeness to your life.

I urge you to find ways to bring joy to each part of your life. If you need to, put the dirty dishes back in the sink, let the sponge sit in that soapy standing water, find the nearest good book [this may be the Good Book that has gotten a little dusty over time], put on a pot of hot water, grab a tea bag, sit down in a quiet place [yes, that cell phone does have voicemail - you don't have to answer it], and read for a half an hour. Walk, do yoga, meditate, garden, or just stare out the window if you are being indecisive. Give yourself time to breathe, relax, and loose yourself in something larger than those tasks that take up so much of your time. Don't feel guilty, and if you do, remember this time is as important as sitting down for a meal - only now you are feeding your soul. Most people are aware of missing dinner. Try to bring that kind of awareness to the other places of your life.

Now, back to Sunday night. On one particular Sunday it happened to be about 85 degrees with a humidity level of 220% [okay, maybe that's not possible but heat tends to bring out the dramatic in me]. That being said, I was in no mood to cook yet I had a dessert to prepare. I hopelessly looked around and decided if we were going to have dessert it was going to be raw, period. This decision made [which I was quite proud of at the time - indecisive had been my constant companion that day], led me to the coolest spot in the house - the freezer. Blueberries, check. Opening the refrigerator I found fresh black berries and a can of homemade peaches [not raw but I wasn't making a dessert for purists], check. Something was still missing. It needed something...something floral...lavender! I love lavender paired with berries and peaches. The flavors compliment each other so well. Ten minutes later, freezer cupcakes emerged and ended up being a delicate, cool treat for our evening together.

Alright, here's the dirt:

Blackberries nourish the liver and kidney, are a blood tonic, and rich in vitamin C and pectin.

Blueberries are a cooling food [perfect!], help eliminate toxins from the body, and support the lungs, spleen, stomach, and eyes. They are one of the best sources of antioxidants, especially when compared to other fruits. These little berries are a really good source of vitamin C and fiber.

Lavender is both an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory herb. It's uses include indigestion, depression, anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, headaches, and bronchial upsets. It improves digestion, has a relaxing effect on spasms, may lower fevers, and improves circulation.

I hope these raw frosty little babies will become a nice alternative, especially on those hot summer days, to their baked cousins. And the best part is, you can alter these in any way to suit your tastes and momentary cravings!

Indulge well!


1/4 c. cashews, ground
1 1/2 c. walnuts, ground
1/2 c. coconut flour
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. coconut oil

Place silicone cupcake holders in cupcake pan [I haven't tried this with paper holders so you would need to experiment if that is what you have in the house. You can also make this is a greased glass baking dish.]

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and mix until soft dough forms. Press small chunks of dough into prepared cupcake molds to make a crust about 1/4 - 1/2" thick. Set aside.


3 c. blueberries + blackberries [you can also add peaches]
1/4 - 1/3 c. raw unprocessed honey
1/4 tsp. lavender flowers
pinch of Real Salt sea salt
1/2 c. unrefined coconut oil, melted [to melt, set bowl of oil into a larger bowl of warm water or set in sun and let it work it's magic!]

In blender combine all of the ingredients except coconut oil. Blend on medium until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. With the blender running, slowly pour in melted coconut oil until mixture becomes thick and creamy and all of the oil is incorporated.

Gently pour filling over prepared crust. Freeze 30 - 60 minutes or until filling is firm but not solid [the oil will help with this]. Remove and serve immediately.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Summer brings so many joys: long warm days, sunshine, swimming, open windows, color everywhere, kids playing outside, birds chirping, lazy afternoon naps [okay, maybe in a perfect world], summer camp [ie. vacation for parents] and best of all fresh foods! If you find yourself craving more salads, veggies, and sweet melons, dive head first into those cravings.

Summer is a great time to help the body slowly and naturally detoxify itself, get vitamins and minerals in their purest form, and allow the natural enzymes found in each food to do their jobs. Eating raw foods, direct from the garden [or somebody else's - check out your local farmers market] is a fantastic way to do that. The best part is--there is minimal to no preparation time [if you are like my husband, the cherry tomatoes don't make it into the house!]

Salads are another fantastic way to get creative even if you aren't so handy in the kitchen. This post is more a "motivational speaker" moment and really my simple attempt at encouraging you all to eat more raw foods this summer!

Try these homemade salad dressings to dress up your inspired veggie endeavors:

Monday, August 15, 2011


With the abundance of produce flowing from our garden [I think the New International should read "the land flowing with kale and summer squash"], I am always looking for creative and tasty ways to get more veggies into my diet and use the fruits of my labor. Conveniently, this time of year I tend to be drawn more towards cooler foods, like fresh vegetables, so this salad really fits the bill.


Quinoa [pronounced KEEN-whah] is one tough little seed that can easily be substituted for it's grainy cousins [think rice, wheat, etc.]. It grows best at high altitudes and under extreme ecological conditions giving this tiny guy a big advantage in the protein, endurance, and energy departments. Even though it's digestibility makes it an ideal food for the young, it sure aint no baby! Coming in ahead of the grain pack in it's protein content, it is equal [if not superior] to milk in quality and completeness [Got Quinoa? Catchy I think.]. It exceeds milk in the calcium content [seriously, it does] and is quite high in the scarce amino acid, lysine. Iron, phosphorous, the B vitamins, and vitamin E all find themselves wrapped up in this over-achieving, nutty little bundle.

So, here is the recipe that, most of the time, becomes a meal in itself. The best part is, I can pack it for an on-the-go lunch and know that I'm getting a meal packed with energy-boosting nutrients [no re-heating necessary].

1 c. uncooked quinoa
2 c. vegetable [or chicken] stock

1 c. chopped raw vegetables [I used zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and cucumber]
1/2 tsp. Real Salt sea salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 - 1/4 c. olive oil [optional - this will make it softer but stickier]

Mix together all spices and set aside. In medium saucepan, combine quinoa and stock. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and let cook until liquid is gone and quinoa is light and fluffy [you could also sprout your quinoa and forgo the cooking option to make this a completely raw salad - remember to plan ahead on this]. Remove from heat and stir in spices [and oil if using, start with the smaller amount and add until desired texture is achieved], mixing well. Toss in vegetables and serve warm or refrigerate until cold.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Have you ever tasted something so delicious that the moment it touches your tongue you know it has forever become an emotional affair. You want to laugh, you want to cry. The joy is fleeting, of course - but is it? Like all beautiful moments in life, it sticks with you [and I don't mean to your hips]. Every bite solidifies a feeling, a memory - a time when life was innocently enjoyed, void of all ambition, selfishness, and vanity. This is what food can do. It has a way of taking an ordinary moment and making it extraordinary. It has the power to anchor you in the present. It sits you down and begs you to stay. Like a child, it desperately wants you to witness the abounding gifts it has to offer. And, in both cases, most of the time we miss it.

Have you ever had the privilege of making a meal wholly from scratch - taking care with each ingredient to ensure that every flavor is completely and fantastically represented? If you have, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

So, the next time a cool summer Saturday brings that sweet breeze through the window, breathe it in. Pull out your favorite apron, grab a glass of smooth red wine, put on some Italian music, and dance with your garden. It turns out it's a pretty good partner. And then, take someone you love on a date - compliments of la propria cucina [your own kitchen].

Oh, and please don't let this dissuade you but I have a small disclaimer: this recipe is a bit more time consuming than the average pasta dinner from a box so I recommend making it on a day that you have an hour or two to indulge in dinner. I promise you your efforts will be rewarded, and not in the form of edible cardboard. Make a double or triple batch and you have more than made up for your time [freeze the pasta uncooked].


1/3 c. tapioca flour
1/3 c. millet flour [or brown rice flour]
2 tbsp. potato starch or arrowroot
1/2 tsp. Real Salt sea salt
1 tbsp. xanthan gum
2 tbsp. ground flax seeds combined with 6 tbsp. of water [soak 5 minutes to form gel]
1 egg [or an additional 1 tbsp. of flax + 3 tbsp. water]
2 tbsp. olive oil

Combine all in glass mixing bowl. Using hands, kneed until a firm dough is formed. If dough is sticky, add a bit of flour. If dough is dry, add a little oil. On floured surface, roll out dough. If using a pasta attachment [KitchenAid], cut pasta into small rectangles and run through attachment per manufacture's instructions for ravioli. If you don't have a pasta attachment, simply roll out dough to 1/8" or thinner if possible. Cut into rectangles.

Place small teaspoons of filling [see recipe below] on the end of each rectangle. Fold dough over and press sides firmly together using a fork [being careful not to poke the "pouches"]. Let stand
for 5 - 10 minutes to dry slightly. Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. Gently place each pouch into the water and let boil [gentle boil] for 10 minutes. Pour into colander and, once all of the water has drained, pour onto plates. Top with roasted tomatoes [see recipe below], fresh thyme leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil.


2 cloves of garlic,
1/3 c. of extra virgin olive oil
2 - 3 dashes of red pepper flakes
1 - 2 tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. Real Salt sea salt
1/3 c. toasted walnuts
3 large handfuls of fresh basil
1/8 c. goat cheese [I like chevre goat cheese]

Toast walnuts at 350 degrees for 5 - 8 minutes, checking often. In food processor, place all ingredients. Run processor until pesto in creamy.
[This pesto recipe is inspired by Heidi's recipe on]


appx. 20 cherry tomatoes [I love using a variety of colored ones]
extra virgin olive oil
Real Salt sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and halve each tomato. Place in small glass mixing bowl, drizzle with oil and toss with a dash of salt, using hands. Place tomatoes on parchment lined cookie sheet with cut side facing up. Bake for 45 minutes or until tomatoes are wrinkly but not browned.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This week I am bumming it at the beach. Actually, my husband is the chaplain for this amazing camp set on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, which means I get a taste of summer camp and have an excuse to visit the beach every day - you know, because it's part of the job of course [what drudgery]. This also means I have a bona fide excuse to forgo cleaning, dishes, laundry, or other chores of any sort and instead am required to relax with a good book, a cool drink and my favorite pair of sunglasses - Any. Time. I. Want. This is vacation! So, due to my sun-born, beach induced laziness [can you blame me?], I thought I would share a sampling of what I've been enjoying this summer. However, I must warn you that you may become as addicted to these as I have!


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle [I read this at least once a year, this year - twice - I love being inspired and challenged]
Jayber Crow [read the disclaimer at the beginning and you'll instantly love Wendell Berry]
Craving Grace [partial to this one as I know and love the author!]
Martha Stewart and Whole Living Magazines [who doesn't love Martha?]
Eat, Pray, Love [so excited to start this one that I added it here]
Food Network Magazine [love creating GF / DF meals out of the recipes they have]
This blog


Goji Berry Lemonade [seriously can't stop drinking this! - I use 1 tbsp. of powder if I don't have berries on hand or time to soak them]
Kombucha [I mainly make my own - try this site for a great how-to or Sally Fallon's recipe in this book. If you don't make your own try these]


I've been addicted to this smoothie combination [or some similar variation] adapted from this wonderful little book - handful of berries + handful of oats + some sunflower seeds + a little tahini + one or two stevia leaves + 1 frozen banana + 1 tbsp. chia seeds + a super food powder of
choice [ex. goji berry, acai, alfalfa, pomegranate, chlorella, spirulina, hemp powder]


Outside of the obvious raw garden foods that mainly fulfill my snacking needs, I absolutely love this seed butter [also try this - scroll down to "chocolate sunbutter"] over this bread recipe [toast the bread!]


Can't get enough of the veggies from our garden - one of the many blessings of these warm, mid-year months. Loving this meal! Follow it up with this dessert, or this one [use whatever berry or fruit is in season] or just cut some fruit up and top it with this coconut whipped cream [scroll down to bottom of post]!

Also loving those special visits to Marie Catrib's!


Swimming and boogie boarding in the big lake [referring to Lake Michigan]
Canning [this and this are my go-to books] and freezing [anything I might want during those obnoxiously long and frozen tundra months]
Gardening [and weeding, and trellising, and planting, and pulling bugs off plants, and planting some more....]
Making baby food [and more baby food - I have one hungry girl!]
Cooking [or throwing a bunch of raw veggies together - is that actually cooking?]
Blueberry picking [loving Irvine's!]
Traversing the local farmer's market
Yoga [loving this! disclaimer: I took a few classes prior to using a DVD and found it very helpful]


Pampering myself with these body care recipes while savoring this or this amazing dark chocolate - especially after a long day of chasing around the babe, cleaning and working in the garden.

So, dear friends, may you find yourself in a place where you can kick back and relax. May you shed all of those stresses and worries that you have been carrying with you and enjoy, maybe for the first time in a while, just living. May you take in the sights, sounds, and smells around you. May you breath in the energy that comes simply from stepping outside and being present in the world. And may you enjoy the feeling pure contentment.


I was recently introduced to this book by my friend Kim and have since used it just about every day. I don't think I can recommend this book enough! The recipes are simple, take minimal ingredients [and the ingredients used are typically well known and easy to find], and delicious. In addition, the title doesn't lie - these recipes do provide a nice pick-me-up! I especially recommend reading through the entire book. There is a lot of helpful information.

Happy reading!

Friday, August 5, 2011


When I needed to remove dairy from my diet my two greatest losses were ice cream and cheese. I think, on the front end, I probably dreamed about these two foods a night or two [okay, maybe more than that]. So far, I have found cheese difficult to duplicate [however there are some good alternatives out there and you can try this dip with crackers as an easy homemade craving-buster].

Thankfully, with time, my midnight cheese cravings really have gone away [if you are newly dairy-free, you truly can live happily without milk and cheese!]. On the other hand, life should not be without ice cream and in my life it has, compared to the dairy-plus store bought versions, just gotten better. Each time I make ice cream I tweak the recipe a little, all in the name of finding the perfect blend [that secretly I sometimes hope I never find because the experimenting is so much fun and most of the time delicious!].

Even more than the experimentation process, I love trying to create something that is appealing to the palate [because lets be serious, if it doesn't taste good why bother?] and healthy enough to give your kids. That being said, this ice cream is full of life-giving nutrients.

For example,

Cacao is a good energy booster, aphrodisiac [oh la la!], and aids in reducing free radicals [those pesky little molecules that can get out of hand, causing tissue damage and, say it isn't so!, premature aging].

Coconut has a host of good stuff packed in that tough, exterior shell. It supports the heart, spleen, stomach, and large intestine, soothes internal membranes, and can have a mild laxative effect. It is an excellent source of lauric and medium-chain fatty acids and is somewhat high in iron, phosphorus, and zinc.

[If you are interested, here is my source.]

Below is my current chocolate ice cream recipe. I hope you will fully exploit your artist's [or chef's] license on this, molding it to fit your taste buds and any anxious mouths you may be feeding.

1-15oz. can regular coconut milk, chilled
2 tbsp. raw cacao powder powder
2 tsp. maca powder [optional, adds a "malty" flavor]
2 tbsp. cacao nibs or dark chocolate chunks [optional]
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Real Salt fine sea salt
1 banana, frozen
1/2 c. walnuts pieces [optional, or other nut chunk]
1 vanilla bean [optional]
2 tbsp. raw unprocessed honey [to make vegan use maple syrup]
1/2 c. unrefined coconut oil, melted [to melt, set bowl of oil into a larger bowl of warm water or set in sun and let it work it's magic!]

Place, in blender, all ingredients except cacao nibs / chocolate pieces, walnuts, and oil. Blend until creamy and well combined. With blender on medium, slowly pour [or drizzle] in oil until smooth, thick and fully incorporated. If using an ice cream maker, pour into frozen ice cream maker, adding cacao nibs or chocolate chunks and nuts as you pour, and run according to manufacturer's instructions [this is usually about 30 - 45 minutes]. If using the freezer method, pour into container of choice [I like using glass whenever possible] and gently fold in cacao nibs or chocolate chunks and nuts. Place in freezer, checking every 30 minutes or so until desired consistency is achieved. Serve immediately.

This will store in the freezer however, you may want to take out 15 - 20 minutes prior to serving so allow softening.


*Note from Tina: to make this vanilla, remove the cacao powder, nibs or chunks, and cinnamon. Add fruit if desired. You can also make a spiced ice cream by adding an dash each of nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves [remove cacao powder and nibs or chunks]. Top with anything your imagination can come up with!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I want to start this post by saying I don't claim either a vegetarian or vegan label. In fact, I don't particularly stick to any one way of eating at any given time and, lets be honest, labels only stunt creativity and growth. That being said, many of the meals I make tend to be void of one thing - meat. For the most part, I just don't prefer it and therefore don't think of it when meal time comes around. Now, the more I go without meat the better I tend to feel thus directing my eating style. On the other hand, my husband is a carnivore through and through. He views meat as one of life's greatest blessings [this is currently confirmed by the 1/2 organically raised, pasture roamed cow in our freezer]. So for him, I add meat to at least one or two meals a week. He has been an amazing trouper about giving up his daily allotment of animal and that has made cooking much easier on me.

I mention all of this because, first, I believe that some people have bodies created to need meat. This could be due to a host of things: blood type, genetics, vitamin / mineral needs, physical exertion, and living within the constraints of our seasons and geography [for example, winter is
a much better time to eat meat than spring thru fall and if you are trying to eat more locally, meat is more readily available than other meat-less products]. If you have confirmed that meat is for you through diet testing and body awareness, then by all means, pay attention to your body and feed it what it needs. But please make sure it is organically raised, pasture roaming [and grassfed] meat. Don't compromise on this. If cost is an issue than eat a little less [which has been the point all along]! To understand why the emphasis on this, you can watch or read Food, Inc..

Secondly, in the same breath that I talk about some people needing meat, I believe that more people are better suited for a vegetarian-like diet. Originally the human species were hunter-gatherers who tended to gather more than they hunted. Today, this ratio has become quite skewed as we are more the driver-shopper types.

So what is the point of all this rambling? To encourage you to try to fit more meat-less meals
into your diet. If that starts with trading your breakfast eggs and sausage for a delicious fruit smoothie [try any from this book or start here and get creative] then you have already come
along way. Please hear me though - this does not mean that you need to eliminate all meal right now, or ever for that matter. I don't lead an entirely meatless lifestyle and would find it hard to do so, especially with multiple food allergies [including processed soy] and a family that enjoys meat once in awhile. Unless you are dealing with an immediate food allergy concern or diagnosis, diet changes will most likely take time, learning, a little creativity and some effort.

So, to get you started [because, well, we all have to start somewhere and lucky for us it's summer], below is a great and easy summer meal that is meat-free.


6 small new potatoes, cut into thin "fry" like sticks
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
splash of vinegar [any kind will do, I used champagne vinegar]
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
Real Salt sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients [using your hands works well] and mix until each fry is thoroughly covered. Spread onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake 15 - 20 minutes, or until fries are soft. Switch oven to broil and cook on high, until browned and slightly crunchy. Flip fries and repeat broil.

For the dip:

1 can regular coconut milk
1 - 2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. dill
1/2 tsp. Real Salt sea salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Gently separate coconut "cream" by skimming the thick white coconut off the top of the can [you will be left with a more translucent, water-looking liquid - use this in your smoothies]. In a mixing bowl, combine cream with remaining ingredients. Whisk, using mixer, on high until mixture is fluffy and soft peaks form. Refrigerate before serving. The longer you refrigerate the thicker the dip will be.

*Note: this dip will still have hints of coconut flavor, even after mixing. If this is undesirable, Greek yogurt can easily be substituted. If using yogurt, cut the amount of lemon juice in half.


Handful of mixed cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 - 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
Real Salt sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Mix all in small bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes [to allow tomatoes to marinate] and then serve.


2 c. fresh green beans, ends removed
1 tsp. tarragon, chopped
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Real Salt sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In cast iron skillet, heat oil on medium. When oil is hot, add beans. Saute until beans are just
beginning to get a bright green color, 2 - 3 minutes. Add tarragon and saute an additional minute or two. Remove from heat and lightly season with salt and pepper. Beans should still be fresh tasting and crunchy.


fresh corn cobs, husked
chili powder
Real Salt sea salt
extra virgin olive oil

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Using hands, lightly coat each cob with oil. Sprinkle with paprika and chili powder and rub into cob kernels. Lightly sprinkle with salt.

Place on grill and cook 12 - 15 minutes or until kernels begin to be brightly colored, rotating often.

Monday, August 1, 2011


3 tsp. lemon juice + enough rice milk [or other non-dairy milk] to make 1 cup
1 c. organic mayonnaise or veganaise
1/4 tsp. Real Salt sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
1 tsp. coriander powder [or a handful of fresh cilantro]
2 tsp. chile powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. paprika
handful each of fresh dill, parsley, and chives [or 1 - 2 tsp dried of each]

Place all in blender and blend of medium until smooth and creamy. Adjust to taste. This is wonderful served over taco salad.