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I’m Dawn – a health food nut, yoga lover and camping aficionado. I develop and test plant based (and mostly gluten free) recipes, research food allergies, plan events for a local farm, promote holistic living products, and coach people on how to run their own whole foods business.

Jul 102014
 

Fresh summer produce gave me the idea for this Easy Vegan Three Bean Salad. There is nothing better than vine ripened tomatoes, hearty edamame and garbanzo beans, and crisp-tender green beans dressed simply with olive oil and sea salt.

Perfect Pot Luck Salad!

Perfect Pot Luck Salad!

For cookouts, beach days, and everyday life, this is the PERFECT summer base salad. What is a base salad? Something you can add to; sautéed tofu, cashew cheese, or any protein or cheese you like.


July 4th was a whirlwind.

There was lots of time for fun and a few points of reflection.

The holiday kicked off with a cookout, followed by a beach day complete with paddle boarding and body surfing, and later that evening we watched our daughter see fire works for the first time on the boat….now THAT was cool.  There was even an unexpected limo ride the next day!

We were at our second cookout of the weekend, when suddenly there was a limo at the front door. Our friend’s landscaper/part owner of a new restaurant had sent a limo by to fetch us to enjoy food and drinks at his new place.

Then the unthinkable happened.  I got a call from my mom who had been rushed to the emergency room with chest pain.

With thoughts of my Dad‘s sudden passing in my head, I drove to the hospital. After many tests and a weekend of hospital food, she was diagnosed with severe gastrointestinal issues (not from the hospital food, but that’s a whole other story). Since she never complains about aches and pains, the pain must have been really bad at the time.

On the way home I reflected how fragile life is. After losing Dad so suddenly, I could clearly see the possibility of losing both my parents, and what was left was devastating. It made me so grateful that she is ok and back home and that I have been able to make the changes I had yearned for – leaving Corporate America, becoming self-employed, loving every minute with my small daughter and relishing the ability to be creative. Every. Day.

Has it been easy? Not always. But worth it? Yes.

I further reflected on what kept me where I was for so long.

Fear.

Fear that I might fall flat on my face, fear that I might be embarrassed, fear that I would have to work so hard and hate it, fear of failure.

There’s an old saying, if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. 

It is SO true. Yes I work hard, but I enjoy every day now.

And guess what else I found out. Failure is part of success.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. ~ Wayne Gretzky

This is my wish for you. Live every day as if it is your last. If you don’t like where you are in life now, begin to take steps to change it. Don’t stay where you are out of fear. Turn off the TV. Read books that will help you in life, like How to Win Friends and Influence People. Study people like Marie Forleo and Tony Robbins. Get up early, start dreaming, planning and taking action. Take a chance, let yourself fail, get back up and keep on going.

Don’t wait.

And while you’re dreaming, I have the perfect salad to fuel you.


Are you where you want to be? Do you have changes you need to make in life? What is holding you back?


Easy Vegan Three Bean Salad

Easy Vegan Three Bean Salad

Three Bean Salad

Serves about 10 rounded 1/2 cup servings
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
12 oz fresh green beans
12 oz shelled edamame
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup red onion (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp coarse ground sea salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 to 3 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

1. Steam green beans until crisp-tender; about 10 minutes; remove from steamer and run under cold water and let drain. Cut into bite sized pieces.

2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well.

Nutrition Facts
10 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 151.6
Total Fat 5.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 234.8 mg
Potassium 233.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18.7 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 7.3 g

Vitamin A 13.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 14.1 %
Vitamin C 18.2 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 3.9 %
Calcium 6.2 %
Copper 6.7 %
Folate 12.6 %
Iron 9.7 %
Magnesium 6.6 %
Manganese 20.1 %
Niacin 2.7 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.6 %
Phosphorus 6.5 %
Riboflavin 4.0 %
Selenium 2.4 %
Thiamin 4.2 %
Zinc 4.2 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Three Bean Salad 

Jul 012014
 

My sunny state of Florida is such a great place for plant-based food lovers to indulge. Those of us that live here know this well; however, I have many followers that live outside the state and I encourage you to visit and taste what we have to offer! Tasting Florida


This part of the world is a real melting pot for different cultures, which presents itself in the richly varied types of dishes that can typically be found in Florida. There are tons of inexpensive options for traveling to Florida, many times last minute deals are readily available, and securing one of these flights means that visitors to Florida will have extra money to spend sampling the state’s many delicious dishes.

Seafood Alternatives
The Florida Keys region is famous for its seafood; however, there are lots of options for those of us on a plant based diet that are concerned about ocean sustainability. Try delicious black beans and rice, fresh salsas, and vegan options such as tofu or tempeh. Ballyhoo’s in Key Largo has a entire vegan menu!

Ballyhoo's

Ballyhoo’s

Photo credit to Ballyhoo’s

Swamp Cabbage
This simple yet delicious vegetable dish is made from the core of the sabal palm tree, which can be found growing all over Florida. The vegetable is boiled with cabbage and served with tomatoes and cream; however, soy or coconut creamer could be easily substituted here and would be even more delicious!

Swamp Cabbage

Swamp Cabbage

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Key Lime Pie
People who have a sweet tooth are sure to love this local dessert, which originated in the Florida Keys. Normally this dessert is made with lime, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolk, which is whipped together and then cooked in a pie crust. After cooking, the key lime pie is topped with meringue, but you can save your arteries and try a delicious VEGAN version at the Café in Key West.

Vegan Key Lime Pie

Vegan Key Lime Pie

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Snacks
Locally grown fruit and vegetables such as strawberries, boiled peanuts, grits and okra are popular snacks in Florida that can be eaten at any time of the day or night. They are sold at roadside stands throughout the state of Florida.

Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts

Creative Commons Photo Credit

One of the most exciting parts of travelling to new countries and exploring new cultures is trying all of the authentic food and culinary delights from the independent local outlets. Florida certainly has plenty to offer.

 Posted by at 7:12 pm
Jun 262014
 

 It is not often that you are greeted with a hug upon entering a restaurant. Love and passion for living foods is what sets the Present Moment Cafe apart from any old restaurant venue.

Prensent Moment Cafe ~ Native Sun Night on the Town

Prensent Moment Cafe ~ Native Sun Night on the Town

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of co-hosting our fourth Native Sun Night on the Town event along with Yvette, the founder of the Present Moment Cafe in St Augustine. Native Sun is a natural food store in North Florida where I plan events, run workshops and perform cooking demos. What a career right? It is as amazing as it sounds.

the Present Moment Café welcomes us!

the Present Moment Café welcomes us!

 My mom and I arrived 30 minutes early to place the special event menu cards and to chat with the PM team. We enjoyed fresh French press coffee as we waited for the first of our Native Sun group to arrive.

Enjoying fresh French press coffee

Enjoying fresh French press coffee

Steaming Coffee

Steaming Coffee

the Present Moment Cafe

the Present Moment Café

Beautiful Stained Glass

Beautiful Stained Glass

 Meet some of the Present Moment Cafe’s staff.

Kirsten and Morgan

Kirsten and Morgan

Jaryn

Jaryn

 We were seated together, family style at a long row of tables. Fitting for this group; everyone was in a jovial mood and enjoyed each others company.

Native Sun Customers ~ Ready to eat!

Native Sun Customers ~ Ready to eat!

Native Sun Customers James and Rhonda ~ Both Animal Lovers and New to Veganism!

Native Sun Customers James and Rhonda ~ Both Animal Lovers and New to Veganism!

The Night on the Town events are the brainchild of Aaron Gottlieb, owner of Native Sun. His passion for whole foods and strong sense of community are what “sprouted” (no pun intended) this idea to connect with local venues and build relationships with valued customers and friends.

Native Sun Owners Aaron and Erica Gottlieb

Native Sun Owners Aaron and Erica Gottlieb

Before the start of the meal, Yvette shared with us a very personal story. She is battling a family history of cancer – having now lost all three of her dear sisters to the disease; because of this she changed her diet and followed the urge to help others do the same – hence the founding of the Present Moment Café.

Remember to be present!

The founder, Yvette

The founder, Yvette

The first course was this creamy delight of an appetizer. A raw cashews were used to add a richness to this hummus. Traditional hummus is made from chickpeas; however, Yvette shared that sprouting chickpeas can add a bit of bitterness which is why the cashews were chosen.

If I could have licked the plate without embarrassing myself I would have.  I did consider it.

Raw Cashew Hummus

Raw Cashew Hummus

Next I chose the Kale Avocado salad. Each bite was better than the next. I almost felt a little naughty devouring it. Almost.

 To make this salad, avocados are massaged into the kale with a bit of Himalayan sea salt, garlic and spices to break down the fibers before adding a light sprinkling of nuts and a topping of fresh sprouts.

Kale and Avocado Salad

Kale and Avocado Salad

Pizza is too simplistic of a word for this next creation. My mom ordered this, and I ordered the Pad Thai so we could try both. With the amount of time and love that went into this dish, it should be called Confessions of a Scandalous Seed Pizza – or something of the like.

The seed based crust was surprisingly crispy, hidden underneath a well balanced sundried tomato and spinach sauce, dotted with mushrooms to add that unique umami (savory/meaty) flavor, and topped with a mozzarella/cashew cream.

Pizza

Pizza

 Delicate kelp noodles are tossed in a variety of crisp-tender marinated vegetables in traditional Pad Thai flavors – spicy, sweet, tangy and savory all the same time. One of the best versions of Pad Thai I’ve ever had – raw or not.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

 Finally, to round out the meal, I ordered the Pea “Not” Pie made with sunflower seed butter. The best way to describe this is mellifluous – smooth, silky, sweet – oh my! One can never go wrong with chocolate and pea “not” butter.

Creamy Pea Not Pie Cup - Made with Sunflower Seeds

Creamy Pea Not Pie Cup – Made with Sunflower Seeds

Thank you for reading my review and for visiting my blog. Please share this review and do come back soon!

Dawn and her mom, Diane

Dawn and her mom, Diane

Many thanks to the Present Moment Cafe!

Present Moment Cafe on Urbanspoon

Jun 162014
 

Tender sweet potatoes, rich curry and toasted bread are the feature ingredients in my crunchy, delicious Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto.

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Well known as the home of the controversial Paula Deen, Savannah Georgia is one of my favorite places on earth. It is rich with history, has a great food scene and an amazing farmers market in Forsyth Park.

I visited last week, camping in my mom’s new camper at Skidaway Island State Park. If you ever stay in the area, definitely plan on the market Saturday morning. It runs from 9am to 1pm.

The mission of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market is to promote understanding and participation in a local food system that supports sustainable production and increases access to local products.”

Forsyth Farmers Market

Forsyth Farmers Market

Last week’s market held a special surprise through a gentleman named Michael Maddox; the manifestation of my dream to build a community around an organic farm. TRUE community supported agriculture. Think of the possibilities! A school, homes and families all focused around health, food and a connection with nature.

I can’t help but wonder how many of us could grow our own food if we needed to. How many kids know where vegetables come from, or even what many vegetables even taste like?

Green Bridge Farm

Green Bridge Farm

Meet Michal from Green Bridge Farm, about thirty minutes northwest of Savannah. I spoke with Michael and he is now selling lots around his organic farm, with a school just nearby. This land has been in his family since the 1700′s and he is personally funding this project.

A Sustainable Community Project

An ecologically-friendly development of twenty five wooded acres in Effingham County, Georgia.

An existing 20 year old organic farm is the center piece and shared community space on this otherwise wooded acreage. Lots for sale in sizes of 1.2-1.6 acres each, priced at $50,000.00 per lot.

Green Bridge Farm

Green Bridge Farm

There is even now a Tumbleweed home for rent! Tumbleweed homes are small homes, sometimes on wheels, that help people live simple, inexpensive, uncluttered lives. To me – that sounds like real freedom. The blog notes state,“We now have a Tumbleweed house for rent. Anyone interested in visiting the farm and staying overnight can now stay in this little home for  small fee.  Call me for details. 912-667-1118.” 

Here are the details of the main lots.

Community Space

There are approximately four acres set aside for community space including existing organic vegetable gardens and fruit orchards. Gardening is not mandatory but this project provides a unique opportunity for those interested in growing their own food. The four acre lot and gardens will be maintained by the neighborhood association.

CSA

CSA

I would love for projects like this to begin popping up all over the US. Pure utopia. It would be amazing to live in small communities, utilizing solar power if possible, and spending spare time learning how to self-sustain. No produce from Chile and Argentina, no trucks from halfway across the US. Think of the energy savings!  My next dream is to build lots that have gone vacant and build tumbleweed communities – where one family once was, now there are five, with a garden in the middle. Sort of like this one in Somoma but with the organic garden in the center.  America’s “bigger is better” mentality is unsustainable, this would be a solution to this problem. No trees would be cut down to clear new land, and families would still have the joy of owning their own space. Who wants to join me with this project?!

Forsyth Farmers Market

Forsyth Farmers Market

Back at the campground we created a lovely meal from the fresh produce we got at the market as the children played at the playground. What I love best about camping is the family time – no technology distractions. It is an inexpensive and fun way to take lots more vacations throughout the year!

Camping

Camping

One of the last days we were in Savannah we tried to visit our favorite Green Truck Pub, but much to our dismay, it was closed that day! We resorted to a small café next door to a natural food store and my mom happened to order the most delicious looking sandwich.

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

A sweet potato on ciabatta with a creamy pesto. It was VERY heavy, but I loved the concept and it simply had to be recreated at home….so here it is! Crunchy, sweet, delicious and with a little twist of curry on fresh baked, organic bread. Nothing better!

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

   Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Serves Estimated 8-10
Vegan
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes
1 baguette
1 10 oz pkg baby lettuces
1/3 cup raisins

Curry Pesto
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp melted curry coconut oil (such as Ziggy Marley) + extra for greasing baking sheet and potatoes
1 clove garlic
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450F; grease baking sheet with coconut oil and rub additional on potatoes; poke holes evenly over skin of potatoes with fork; rub with salt; bake for 30 minutes; flip and bake additional 20 to 30 minutes; remove from oven, let cool and slice.

2. Meanwhile blend curry pesto ingredients; slice and toast or grill baguette.

3. Layer 1 slice baguette, spread 1 – 2 tsp pesto, a few raisins; two slices sweet potato; a few lettuce leaves, top with second baguette slice.

**Please note: un-flavored coconut oil works just fine. Feel free to use that as well!

Estimated Nutrition Info
**There may be some pesto left, so calorie count may be lower. When I created the calorie count I had to include the calories and fat from all the pesto.
10 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 225.6
Total Fat 4.7 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 348.2 mg
Potassium 152.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 32.8 g
Dietary Fiber 2.6 g
Sugars 5.8 g
Protein 5.8 g

Vitamin A 67.5 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 5.4 %
Vitamin C 41.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 1.9 %
Calcium 3.2 %
Copper 5.1 %
Folate 1.7 %
Iron 11.7 %
Magnesium 3.8 %
Manganese 8.1 %
Niacin 3.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 4.1 %
Phosphorus 4.5 %
Riboflavin 2.4 %
Selenium 0.6 %
Thiamin 2.7 %
Zinc 1.8 %

*Percent Daily Values for Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Jun 062014
 

My Summer Coolers with fresh fruit and herbs are perfect to bring with you on the go. They will leave you feeling light, refreshed and are 35 calories or less!

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Drink eight glasses of water.

Eat your fruits and vegetables.

Don’t drink sodas or diet sodas.

Hey, we all know the rules. We know we need to stay hydrated and eat our fruit, but drinking water all day gets boring, and reaching for a granola bar or diet soda is easier.

I’ve found a delicious way to get your water and fruit in – that is so refreshing, you’re freezer will be filled with mason jars.

Why are we supposed to stay hydrated anyway?

I’ve got a few good reasons. Are bodies are made up of mostly water. We need it to cushion organs, flush toxins and cool our bodies.

Speaking of cushioning our organs – think of what happens when our brain is dehydrated. Hello headaches and fatigue.

Many times we think we are hungry, but we’re actually thirsty. I can’t tell you how many time’s I’ve read a blog post or tip that tells me to drink a full glass of water before each meal to keep me fuller. Do I do it? No. Why? Because that glass of wine is calling my name.  But THIS recipe is a whole other story. I drink it morning, noon and night, and after one taste, I bet you will too.

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

A few other luscious ideas:

Herb Coolers

Herb Coolers

Blueberry, Thyme and Grapefruit Essential Oil (Or use fresh grapefruit juice)

Strawberry, Cucumber, Basil and Peppermint Essential Oil (Or use fresh peppermint)

Mint, Basil, Blueberry, Thyme and Lemon Essential Oil (Or use fresh lemon juice)

**Please note, use can absolutely use fresh juice in place of any of the oils – it just won’t be quite as fragrant or potent.

**If you are using oils, do NOT use just any old oil. See below for tips.

**If you would like to try the certified organic oils I use, visit my essential oils page.

Tips

Stay cool!

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Refreshing Summer Fruit Cooler

Serves 2
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

*Certified Organic Lemon Essential oil (or juice 1 lemon)
1 cup fresh fruit (I used berries and peaches)
Filtered Water
2 Mason Jars

Directions

1. Spoon 1/2 cup fresh fruit into each mason jar; cover with filtered water; drop two drops of lemon essential oils into each of the jars; freeze Mason jars overnight.

2. Fill remaining space in mason jar with water (and additional fruit or herbs if desired) and drop two additional drops of lemon essential oil into each jar; cover, shake and enjoy.

 

Nutrition Facts
2 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 35.0
Total Fat 0.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 7.5 mg
Potassium 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 8.5 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Sugars 5.5 g
Protein 0.5 g

Vitamin A 1.0 %
Calcium 3.0 %
Iron 2.0 %

*Percent Daily Values for Refreshing Summer Coolers with Fresh Fruit are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

May 292014
 

Created just for you - Cleansing Life Classes! Let me tell you a little story about how these came about and share a video of what they are.

Cleansing Life

Cleansing Life

(Beautiful Photo Source)

See all the info here, the calendar of dates and recipe at the Cleansing Life Page

I think back to when my daughter was born. Her brand new skin soaking up everything she came in contact with.

Diligently I cleaned the bath tub with Tilex, Comet, Clorox or other cleaning products – thinking that I needed to keep germs away from her.

TUB

Little did I know, many cleaning products contain chemicals such as chloroform, formaldehyde and benzene – linked to reproductive disorders, asthma, and even cancer, and the likelihood of completely rinsing these toxins away is very low. My daughter was then soaking in a warm bath – essentially absorbing any of the remaining toxins like a sponge.

sponge

(Source)

The next time I cleaned, I stepped into the shower and inhaled that clean smell, thinking it smelled….clean, right?

Have you heard how many toxins we absorb through our feet? Any cleaning chemicals that the shower was rinsing down the drain was ending up right at my feet and I was breathing in the fumes.

Later at the grocery store I remember standing in the cleaning product aisle at the grocery. Before turning down the aisle I could already smell the chemicals.  When I stood there, staring at the dozens of options, a second fact hit me (other than almost passing out from the fumes). The price. Have you seen the prices of cleaning products nowadays? Outrageous!

And finally, the environmental impacts of these toxins are vast.
I just got back from a trip to Manatee Springs State Park last weekend. There had been some flooding so there was no swimming allowed. This spring was literally black with grunge. We were allowed to go kayaking and the sludge stuck to the kayaks when we got out took 20 minutes to scrub.  The rangers said the grunge was from pesticides, fertilizers, toxic cleaning products, oils etc. that leeched into the waterway.

beautiful-manatee-springs

(Source)

According to the EPA, “Ingredients containing phosphorus or nitrogen can contribute to nutrient-loading in water bodies, leading to adverse effects on water quality.”

I started researching. As I did so, I became more and more upset – wondering how can these toxins be allowed into our grocery stores? Not just cleaning products, but beauty products with coal tar, somatic cells in dairy, toxins in sunscreen, formaldehyde in new carpet and furniture….the list goes on and on. When I found out what many of these toxins do in our body I decided something has to be done. The current state is unacceptable.

I furthered my research for months and months, compiling the information took even longer. I edited and experimented and found the answer. Cleansing Life Classes!

You may have seen my simple guide to organic essential oils….that was one of the top read posts ever on my blog.
There is a huge need for this.

Let’s do this! Learn the realities! Become outraged! Join my crusade against companies lining their pockets by taking the easy and cheap way out and let’s make the world better for our kids and future generations.

See all the info here, the calendar of dates and recipe at the Cleansing Life Page

I need your help!

What times and days work best in your schedule?
Which classes seem the most valuable in your life?
I may even consider doing some hands on webinar recipe classes. Participants in the small group would get a grocery list and would be able to have active participation in the webinar. Would that be valuable?

Post your comment here or email me at dawn (at) floridacoastalcooking.com

It’s a LOT of information to absorb in a short amount of time, so my goal is to keep them as simple as possible, with lots of real life stories interspersed within!

Welcome to the Cleansing Life class series!

May 142014
 

My Teriyaki Tempeh Lettuce Wraps are as simple to make as they are delicious. Whether you put them in a tortilla to make a taco, or chop the tempeh and throw it over some salad – this is a versatile, filling and scrumptious meal.

Teriyaki Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Teriyaki Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Summer is on the way and sometimes we want something lighter for lunch or dinner. For this dish I swapped out the tortilla for some fresh lettuce from KyV Farm to lighten things up.  In fact, these Teriyaki Tempeh Lettuce Wraps can be made outside on the grill during a BBQ or picnic. Instead of cooking the tempeh slices in a skillet, simply oil and place on the grill – cook each side for about 5 minutes, or until char marks appear, then toss in the Teriyaki and you are good to go!

Try as a taco too!

Try as a taco too!

If someone still wants theirs in taco form (as you can see my daughter couldn’t wait to grab her taco – that is her little hand in the photo), bring along some tortillas to change it up. Another option is to chop the lettuce and make a salad by adding the red onion, cilantro and maybe some sautéed mushrooms and broccoli or grilled asparagus.

Teriyaki Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Teriyaki Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

 Teriyaki Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 block tempeh, sliced into strips
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce
8 fresh lettuce leaves (I used fresh from KyV Farm, but any Bibb or Romaine will do)
4 tsp Spicy Red Pepper Miso Mayo or Vegenaise
Sliced red onion
Handful fresh cilantro

Optional
4 tortillas

Directions

1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat; add tempeh and cook 5 minutes; flip and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add Teriyaki sauce and stir until both sides of tempeh are coated.

2. Place two lettuce leaves on each of four plates; divide tempeh over servings; top with 1 tsp each Miso mayo or Vegenaise; sliced red onion and fresh cilantro.

Turn into tacos by layering fresh lettuce, tempeh and remaining fixings over tortillas!

Nutrition Facts 
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 187.8
Total Fat 12.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 727.9 mg
Potassium 352.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 9.5 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Sugars 2.8 g
Protein 11.9 g

Vitamin A 20.2 %
Vitamin B-12 0.8 %
Vitamin B-6 14.4 %
Vitamin C 2.5 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 3.0 %
Calcium 18.6 %
Copper 23.2 %
Folate 16.1 %
Iron 26.3 %
Magnesium 33.2 %
Manganese 39.8 %
Niacin 14.6 %
Pantothenic Acid 5.0 %
Phosphorus 37.4 %
Riboflavin 18.6 %
Selenium 0.3 %
Thiamin 7.0 %
Zinc 5.7 %

% Percent Daily Values for Teriyaki Tempeh Lettuce Wraps are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

May 082014
 
Me, the Food Blogging Ninja

There are TONS of tips out there on blogging.  Write quality content, don’t make spelling mistakes, be authentic….but what are the APPS we use? What about all the technical stuff? How the heck do I ever make money blogging? Here are my Top Secret Ninja Tips for Food Blogging as well as some tips from a few of my successful blogging friends.

 Let’s start with the basics. How do we even get started with this crazy thing called blogging? What IS a blog?

According to the on-line dictionary a blog is the following:

noun: blog; plural noun: blogs
  1. 1.
    a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.
verb: blog; 3rd person present: blogs; past tense: blogged; past participle: blogged; gerund or present participle: blogging
  1. 1.
    add new material to or regularly update a blog.
    “it’s about a week since I last blogged”

 Ok great. So lets get on to……

Getting Started

I’ll start off with Joanne Bruno who writes Eats Well With Others. Fabulously funny, Joanne adds humor to her innovative dishes. A girl after my own heart, she has multiple passions. Not only is she has been a featured blogger in Cooking Light, she is a marathon runner and MD/PhD student in New York City!

Joanne Bruno

Joanne Bruno

 Start out on WordPress! My biggest mistake was to start out on Blogger and then it was expensive and really stressful to have to switch after almost five years of blogging. WordPress offers much better SEO tools and helps make your blog look more professional!

Alissa from Connoisseurus Veg Alissa is a yogi-artist-intellectual property attorney that just so happens to also be a food blogger! She shares TONS of delicious and easy plant based dishes. I am always astonished at what she comes up with. Whether you are new to eating healthy or an established health nut, you will enjoy her blog!

Alissa

Alissa

My number one tip for anyone that wants to start a food blog is to just do it. I literally decided to start a food blog one day, and was photographing my dinner the next night, despite having no idea what I was doing, getting frustrated with my camera, my food and the entire process of writing down every step of my recipe.  I did this because I knew it would be easy to talk myself out of it/procrastinate/try to learn everything before getting started, but the truth is, the best way to learn is by doing, and getting started without hesitation will get you started on your learning journey faster than anything else. (My first post, by the way, is still up there and it’s pretty bad, but who cares? Lots of food bloggers can probably say the same.)
Web design: If you use Blogger or WordPress you can find lots of free and inexpensive templates online. It’s relatively easy to learn to design your own as well. If you want help from someone who really knows what they’re doing, check out Etsy (that’s what I did) – there are lots of talented designers on there that can help you for a reasonable fee.

  Me

Yours Truly

Yours Truly

Ok so now I have a tip for ya! My first and most FAVORITE secret of my Top Secret Ninja Tips for Food Blogging is how I have grown my email subscribers from 1,000 to over 1,000 within a matter of months is a little plugin called Squirrly.

A Plugin is sort of like an app on your cell phone. You can search out there for something that would be handy, find a good fit and plug it in! Not only have they helped me generate TONS of new traffic from Google. I can also make money now as their affiliate. This is one way you can monetize your blog. Remember the old catch 22. How can I get experience if the only businesses that are hiring want experienced workers? This solves that. They grow your traffic and you recommend them because they grew your traffic and then you get paid. WIN WIN WIN.

Photography

Instead of buying Photoshop, I use a website called PicMonkey for $30 bucks a year. SUPER user friendly and SO fun!

Be SURE to invest in a digital SLR and great light source such as a Lowell ego. The camera I have is a Canon 30D body that I got refurbished off ebay for around $300 and I bought a new lens separately. Since I mostly shoot at night, I finally caved and bought a Lowell Ego light for around $100. Those two tips helped me revolutionize my photographs.

Susan Voisin, FatFree Vegan Kitchen Susan writes a revolutionary blog that features DELICIOUS plant based AND fat free recipes. Why did she become Vegan? To better her health and the health of her family. In fact, she lost over 100 pounds by changing her lifestyle! For any delicious low fat, vegan recipe under the sun, she is THE resource with over 1400 recipes!

Susan Voisin

Susan Voisin

 My tips would have to do with photography: Find a window with bright but indirect natural light, and set your camera and a table up there–even if it’s in the bathroom! Natural light looks so much better than even the most expensive photography lights. Don’t forget to use a reflector, a simple piece of white poster board, on the side opposite the window to soften the shadows and even up the light.

 What does she do for photo retouching? Her answer: I use Lightroom to do most of my photo editing and then resize and save in Photoshop because I like the control it gives me over file size and quality.

From Cara Lyons, Caras Cravings Fabulously creative dishes and a personal friend of mine. She loves lifting weights and anything with pumpkin (need I say more?). She has been featured in Clean Eating Magazine and Southern Living and is a writer for Gluten Free Magazine. I’m so proud to call her my friend!

Cara Lyons

Cara Lyons

 I am absolutely going with photography on this one! After all the time you spend developing a recipe and lovingly arranging it on a plate, it deserves more than a poorly lit phone pic. You don’t have to spend a ton, but definitely invest in a good light source. With great light, even a moderate camera will take better photos. Edit to brighten backgrounds and enhance colors, but don’t go crazy with filters. Save those for fun candids on your instagram account!

Alissa at Connoisseurus Veg

Photography: I use natural light as much as possible. During the winter months this might mean photographing breakfast or lunch instead of dinner, making dinner early in the day, photographing it and then reheating for dinner, or when possible, photographing dinner leftovers the next day. For photo editing I use Picasa (free) and an old version of Corel Paintshop that has many of the same features as Photoshop but only cost me fifteen bucks on Amazon.

Social Media

Create social media for your site – a facebook page, twitter and Instagram are musts. Check out Bloglovin – not really social media, but a great way for people to follow you.

I use a free application called “bufferapp” that lets me pre-load posts for facebook and twitter and disperses them intermittently throughout the day.

Vine is the next upcoming social media. Learn it!

Hosting/Website Design/Technicalities of blogging

I use ipage for my hosting. I get 24/7 service and it is very inexpensive. The 24/7 service is so, so, so worth it as you begin to compile hundreds of posts equaling LOTS of hours of work. Should your site go down for any reason, iPage will be there to help. I remember when I didn’t have anyone to go to after 600 posts and I went to post a killer blog post and my entire Blogger blog was GONE. It was like the bottom dropped out of my stomach. Not a nice feeling.

SparkRecipes is an easy way to get nutrition info onto each post. I encourage you to use the nutrient information. It just gets people thinking.

A great way to make a clean “printable” recipe is Google Sites. Yes I make a little site for each and ever recipe and link to it.

The recipe catalog page I use is Recipage (Also used by Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows. Thanks Angela, for this tip.) The hard part is having to copy and paste the recipe into yet another site, so I’ll admit, I’m a bit behind, but I like the clean format.

How to make money blogging

Some great ways to make money blogging are through affiliate programs for products and services YOU love and use. Honestly being passionate about these items is how you will make money. I have many affiliate programs through Amazon, PicMonkey, iPage, Squirrily and I can honestly say I love them all so much if I wasn’t married, I would marry them all and consider switching to Polygamy.

Alissa from Connoisseurus Veg

Making money blogging: Check in with lots of different ad networks. Find out how they pay and how much. Keep an eye on your ad stats and if your ads aren’t making money, try another network. Affiliate links are great too. I link my readers to Amazon for any hard-to-find ingredients and earn a commission when they click the link and buy something – it doesn’t even matter if they buy something different from what I linked them too, as long as they click the link and buy something within 24 hours without logging out of their Amazon account!

Building a following

You must have a way to collect emails. They are going to be your best and most valuable resource. These are people that love your content and will share information about you and your blog. Right now I use mailchimp but I’m looking for some other sources. Any tips for ME out there?

Alyssa Queen of Quinoa Alyssa’s drool-worthy quinoa recipes are both creative and inventive – how one person can create this many quinoa recipes is beyond me! She lost 15 pounds by changing her diet and feels better than ever – now she is helping us do the same! She is the creator of the cookbook Baking with Quinoa that features everything from Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Bars to Gluten-Free French Baguettes!

Alyssa Queen of Quinoa

Alyssa Queen of Quinoa

Building an email list should be priority number one. As you’re growing your following and attracting new readers, you want to have an area where they can subscribe to your site for email updates. Once you have their email, you can work on building an even stronger relationship with them.

Another one of my great tips for food blogging is be sure to post your great photos to Foodgawker and Tastespotting to drive traffic to your site. Don’t be sad if they don’t use your first few photos. They have very high standards!

Alissa at Connoisseurus Veg

Building a following: Seek out different ways to promote your blog and share your posts. Foodgawker and Tastespotting are great, but there are lots of similar sites you might be ignoring. I also submit my recipes to Finding Vegan (www.findingvegan.com) and Potluck (potluck.ohmyveggies.com), both of which get me lots of pageviews and are easier in terms of getting photos accepted than Foodgawker and Tastespotting. The more exposure you get, the more followers you’ll likely get.

Consistency and Balance 

Be sure to post regularly! Readers will know what to expect and won’t be surprised to get more than the usual weekly email or be looking for additional content if you decide to post monthly.

Janet from the Taste Space My friend Janet is a runner, biker and whole foods, plant based blogger. When I was changing my eating habits I happened to come across her blog and started printing out recipes that I liked. After about 50 recipes I figured I’d better stop printing and just meet this crazy-awesome girl! We have become friends over the years and she always impresses me with her creative Indian and ethnic dishes.

Janet from Taste Space

Janet from Taste Space

My biggest tip is to keep everything in balance, real life and blog. Blogging is a minor part of my life but one that I have streamlined to be easier. I use Picasa for photo editing. I schedule posts. This helps for my sanity and readers likely appreciate the regularity. I aim for 2-3 posts a week. My time is precious and thus I don’t have duplicating social accounts on Facebook, twitter, etc. It is all about your priorities. Hope this helps! Smiling face (black and white)

I hope you enjoyed my Top Secret Ninja Tips for Food Blogging. As I come across new and interesting information, I promise to update! A BIG thank you to all of my food blogging friends that shared their juicy nuggets of wisdom!
Me, the Food Blogging Ninja with Tips for Food Blogging

Me, the Food Blogging Ninja with Tips for Food Blogging

What are YOUR top secret tips for blogging (even if it isn’t food blogging?)
May 022014
 

The secret is in the sauce with my Garlic Black Beans over Rice Pasta. Extra garlic, onions, Kalamata olive paste and sundried tomatoes are tied together with a dash of balsamic for pure perfection.

Garlic Black Beans

Garlic Black Beans

What is the first thing you are usually thinking about when you get up each morning?

If I wake up before my alarm, my brain tends to go towards what I need to get done that day and I automatically guide it towards what I’m grateful for. If it is my alarm that wakes me up on the other hand, I’m thinking how tired I am already before I can start directing my thoughts towards a more positive place.

I’m thinking about it this morning because I came across this amazingly eye opening video by Marie Forleo interviewing Arianna Huffington. Marie writes, “Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, has been wildly successful, but was working so hard at one point in her life that she found herself sick and burnt out, overworked, and boggled down with things to do.

In her book Thrive, Arianna Huffington shares the secret to how changing your mindset and a few habits in your daily routine can help you unlock your true wisdom, allow you to come up with your best ideas, and be your most creative self.

She’s learned from experience that following these simple steps can lead to a more productive, less stressful, and more joyful life where you’re not strangled by your to-do list and have enough time to actually accomplish (and enjoy) the things in your life that matter most.”

How to be more productive and less stressed? Sign me up! The most eye opening part for me was when she said if you start becoming fearful or stressed, change the channel.

What the hell does this have with Garlic Black Beans over Rice Pasta? Because this was a night that I was harried, stressed, tired and the last thing I could think of what to make for dinner. I had a bunch of things I needed to use in the fridge or it would be too late (and I loathe waste) so, as much as I wanted to, I didn’t go out and buy dinner. This choice would save time and money in the end.

I had to stop and tell myself that there is nothing else I can do in this moment while I’m making dinner – effectively “changing the channel”. I was able to refocus, look at what I had, and create this meal that came out deliciously, surprisingly well. Instead of traditional Cuban or Mexican spices, the olives and sundried tomatoes give this dish almost a meaty texture and taste and the balsamic vinegar at the finish adds a tangy layer of depth that simply makes the dish. We all went in for seconds – it is even going on my favorites list!

What is the first thing you usually think about in the morning? If you watch this video, what was your favorite tip?

Garlicky Black Beans

Garlicky Black Beans

Garlicky Black Beans over Rice Pasta

Serves 6
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 tsp EVOO
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt & dash fresh ground pepper
2 cups chopped kale
4 1/2 cups well cooked black beans (or 3 14.5 oz cans, rinse and drain only one, reserve liquid from second)
2-3 cups veggie broth or water (depending on how thick you prefer)
3 Tbsp Kalamata olive spread, such as Organic Divina
3 Tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes
2 tsp course ground prepared mustard
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
10 oz rice pasta, cooked to package directions

Directions

1. Heat a stock pot over medium high heat; add olive oil; sauté onion about 5 minutes (add a tbsp of water if onions begin to stick); reduce heat; add garlic; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute; add salt, pepper, kale, black beans, veggie broth, olive spread, sundried tomatoes and mustard. Simmer about 20 minutes or until soup has thickened. Stir in balsamic vinegar. Serve over rice pasta.

Nutrition Facts
5 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 426.4
Total Fat 7.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 766.1 mg (use water to reduce to 424 mg)
Potassium 670.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 66.6 g
Dietary Fiber 14.2 g
Sugars 1.6 g
Protein 16.1 g

Vitamin A 146.2 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin 6 9.8 %
Vitamin C 39.7 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.8 %
Calcium 7.5 %
Copper 17.2 %
Folate 41.2 %
Iron 20.1 %
Magnesium 21.9 %
Manganese 38.7 %
Niacin 17.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.5 %
Phosphorus 17.5 %
Riboflavin 6.7 %
Selenium 3.2 %
Thiamin 32.1 %
Zinc 9.2 %

*Percent Daily Values for Garlic Black Beans over Rice Pasta are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Apr 222014
 

Are you ready for a fiesta, but fresh (non-GMO) corn isn’t available? Grab a can of baby corn and try my Summer Grilled corn salsa with Baby Corn!

(Bonus – kids will love trying “baby corn” I’m surprised I had any left for the photo since my daughter kept grabbing some!)

Summer Grilled Corn Salsa with Baby Corn!

Summer Grilled Corn Salsa with Baby Corn!

Of COURSE I always say fresh is best – but when it comes to what is in season in your area, sometimes you just can’t get that ingredient. Try frozen, organic vegetables first; however, if those aren’t available either, it is ok to sub a can of veggies here and there, BUT, here are some of my tips.

If you can’t get salt free, be sure to reduce the salt in the recipe.
Don’t just plop a can of veg into a dish. Be sure to do something with it – like grill it. I’ll never forget when I ordered a tropical salad from a restaurant and they gave me iceberg lettuce with canned pineapple on top. I thought to myself – GRILL that pineapple if you can’t use fresh. At least put some effort into it. Sheesh.

 Look for BPA free cans. BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA.

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

What I love most about this salsa is it’s mixture of textures and flavors. It is simple to throw together and great as a topping for tofu or any protein you like. If you are having a Mexican Fiesta – this will be perfect or for any summer party where you are grilling up some delicious bean burgers and carrot dogs. The best part is it is just a little different from the usual tomato salsa and will be sure to have people exclaiming – Grilled Salsa! What a great idea!

Have you ever tried grilling ingredients in a salsa? What is your favorite salsa recipe?

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 can baby corn
1/2 sweet onion, quartered
2 tomatoes, cut in half
1 jalapeno
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
Olive oil mister

Directions

1. Preheat grill to medium high; place a grate cover on grill grates so corn will not fall through; spray corn, onion, tomatoes and jalapeno with olive oil spray or Misto; place on heated grill and grill until char marks appear; flip once and grill until char marks appear on second side; remove from heat; cool 5 minutes; chop veggies**; sprinkle with sea salt & cilantro and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime.
**For no heat, use grilled jalapeno as garnish, to add heat, add a small amount of jalapeno at a time until desired level of heat is reached. 

Nutrition Facts for Grilled Corn Salsa
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 49.0
Total Fat 1.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 82.1 mg
Potassium 232.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 8.9 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Sugars 1.0 g
Protein 1.4 g

Vitamin A 9.4 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 4.7 %
Vitamin C 21.2 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.2 %
Calcium 0.7 %
Copper 3.6 %
Folate 6.1 %
Iron 2.6 %
Magnesium 4.3 %
Manganese 6.3 %
Niacin 4.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.6 %
Phosphorus 4.0 %
Riboflavin 2.9 %
Selenium 0.6 %
Thiamin 6.2 %
Zinc 1.3 %

*Percent Daily Values for Grilled Corn Salsa with Baby Corn are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.