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.


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


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


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.

Apr 222013

Let me take a personal journey for a moment in hopes that I will help someone else be able to say, I won the battle with depression and got off antidepressants.”  

Sunny Mila (Chia) Dreamsicle Smoothie

Sunny Mila (Chia) Dreamsicle Smoothie

I felt like a three ton weight was pressing on my shoulders and wanted to just lie in my darkened closet and not come out.

One of the hardest parts was that I looked normal.

It is not easy to share the details of my life in a public forum like this, in fact I’ve had this post written for a while and continued to put off posting it because I just wasn’t sure I wanted to put it out there, but I’m going to do so in the hopes that I might be able to help someone else.

My life was (and is) seemingly perfect. I have a supporting and loving family, husband and daughter, a wonderful home, a job, I have figured out my passion, I have all my limbs and hey, I live in Florida, how bad can things actually be?

I was suffering from major depression. What made it worse was that I should NOT be depressed, right?  I should have felt only happiness and gratitude.  And I DID, but I also had a cloud that hung over my head and no matter how much I tried to talk myself out of it, read positive books, think positive thoughts, it would still be there.  It was so bad that I would cry almost every day on the way on the drive to work and many days on the way home. When I got to work I would blow my nose, put some cover-up around my eyes, slap on some powder and put my glasses on to cover it up.  I was exhausted all the time, so much so that it felt like physical pain.  I would tell my mom this almost daily. Mom I’m so tired it hurts.

I had an aging (and very noisy) Labrador, Madison, that would wake me at night and afterwards I wouldn’t fall back to sleep which made the exhaustion worse.  One particular weekend stands out in my memory.  Some friends, Matt and Stephanie, came in town and several couples were going out for dinner. My hubby was busy doing something that I can’t recall so I was going to go myself.  I put on a beautiful new dress that had the colors of the ocean, blues and greens, and drove to my friend Justine’s house 45 minutes away from mine to see them.  Everyone was chatting and gathering their things to head to dinner. I tried to put on my game face but I was so worn down that I was wrestling with myself.  Just suck it up and go, you’ll be fine. And the next thought, I’m so tired it hurts. I just want to sit at home and wallow. The exhaustion won. I said I’m so sorry, I can’t do it. I have to go home. I’m exhausted.   I envisioned everyone mentally rolling their eyes at me.  Of course they weren’t, but I was so embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed about that day and sad that I missed seeing Matt and Steph. I was too young to be that tired. Anyone is too young to be that tired.

That memory always fades into another; my husband and I were staying in St Augustine to celebrate the “February Birthdays” with about five other couples, and I was so worried about even making it to dinner, never mind out afterwards for drinks and music.  I was so tired that I wanted to forgo dinner at the Floridian and just stay in my hotel room at the Edgewater by myself. I drank two red energy drinks and one and a half of those little energy bottles and was still exhausted.  I was so embarrassed that I would resort to drinking such chemicals when I have a food blog about eating a healthy, plant based diet.

The story of how I won the battle with depression and got off antidepressants.

The story of how I won the battle with depression and got off antidepressants.

I was on the highest dosage of Bupropion I could be on and I had tried many of the other antidepressants. Nothing seemed to work.  My poor mom is a saint for listening to me through all the crying.

On a particularly dark day I said enough was enough and called my physician to see if she would increase my dosage again. I told her I just want to be a zombie. Get through the day. Go home.  I don’t want to feel this weight any more.  She said no. You are on the highest dosage.  It can not be increased any more, Dawn.  I cried about that.

My hair was falling out so I fired my hair dresser thinking that he had over-processed my hair.

Then one day I got an email from my mom’s neurology nurse practitioner, Megan.  (My mom has Multiple Sclerosis.) Megan, asked me if I would do a talk on food, nutrition, recipes and my CSA (KyV Farm) for her MS group she runs and I told her of course, I would love to.  She said my mom had been telling her about my food blog and she got very excited because she is vegetarian.

Things would come up and I didn’t get around to it, but we continued to talk and become friends. She became a regular follower of my blog and we would occasionally discuss recipes offline.

A while later I did a few posts about flax and chia seed.  Once again she contacted me and said she saw I was eating chia seeds. I said yes, and told her how I was eating lots of organic chia and freshly ground flax daily.  She asked if I had tried Mila, a raw seed blend.  I said no and asked if it is organically grown and non GMO.  She said yes to organic and no to GMO. She said I’d be happy to share some with you.  I said as long as it’s one ingredient and is a whole, raw food, send it on over. I’d try it.

A few days later I got a large bag of seeds. Being the health nut that I am I cracked it open and began eating it.  About three weeks into it I noticed better digestion, more energy and I was falling back to sleep after Madison woke me up at night. Hmm…well that was nice.  The seeds I was eating before hadn’t had the same effects.  I started getting low and asked her for more.  About three months into eating it I noticed something about my depression. Not that I wasn’t getting upset, but that I wasn’t crying all the time. I seemed to be able to get over the hump easier.

Eager to get off any pharmaceuticals, I decided to cut out one day a week of taking them, after a week or two I cut out two days. And so on and so forth.

After a few months I was completely off pharmaceutical antidepressants, and for some reason I didn’t put two and two together.  But I finally thought about it and the ONLY thing I had changed was this food.

I did some research.  I found many studies about high amounts of Omega 3’s helping the symptoms of depression.  The blend I was eating has 3000mg per serving, I know other brands do as well, but for some reason the organic kind I was eating before didn’t touch the depression.

The fact that I had no idea this was one of the “side effects” of eating this whole, raw food until after I was off the meds was what really moved me.

My hair started growing back in.  I didn’t realize that many people experience hair loss on high dosages of antidepressants, so now that I was off them, my hair started growing back.  Now, over a year later, I don’t even take one medication, my weight is lower and I have more energy. I can’t remember the last time I drank a disgusting red energy drink or took those little energy bottles.  I have a cup or two of coffee in the morning because I enjoy it, and that’s all I need. I get up between 4:15 and 4:40 am and typically get to bed around 9 or 10 pm.

I’m so thankful that Megan sent me that purple bag of seeds that was so different than everything I had tried before that I think of her daily with gratitude.

The best part is that the three ton weight is gone.  And I’m happy to say I finally did do that talk for the MS group and had a great time.

This is my story. I’m not embellishing or exaggerating.  I still absolutely do get upset about things but am able to deal with them a bit better and find my moods much more even.  I did join the business with Megan in order to share information about my story and the food that helped me so much and I’m so proud to represent it.  I tell people about it like a good movie or good restaurant. If they want to try some, great and if not, that is fine too.  I am NOT by any means saying that what I found will cure anything whatsoever, and I’m NOT giving any advice on how to get off antidepressants, all I know is my own experience and how it helped me. Everyone’s bodies are different and react differently to foods.  Please also notice that I said it took THREE months. If I had been expecting the effects of this food I probably would have gotten impatient. Because I didn’t know this was a benefit of this food, it was like an added bonus. And what a bonus!

All I ask is that you treat yourself with love and consider the side effects of taking any sort of pharmaceutical BEFORE you start.  Your doctor will most likely NOT try to treat any ailment through food and nutrition before going to pharmaceuticals.  There are a very few like Megan and if you have found one, hold on to them like gold.

I have no idea what other ailments my body was suffering from those high dosages of antidepressants, not to mention the energy drinks but I am so thankful, every day, that I found this food.

I am so blessed to be able to say “I won the battle with depression and got off antidepressants!” If you have questions about my experience please contact me at chefdawn (at) hotmail.com.

“If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.”
Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Sunny Mila (Chia) Dreamsicle Smoothie

Sunny Mila (Chia) Dreamsicle Smoothie

Sunny Mila Dreamsicle Smoothie

Serves 1
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


1 cup vanilla almond milk
2 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
1/2 frozen banana, chopped
1 scoop (2 Tbsp) Mila
**If using unsweet vanilla almond milk, you can add a bit of agave, honey or sweetener of choice


1. Blend everything together and enjoy!

“While it is true that many people simply can’t afford to pay more for food, either in money or time or both, many more of us can. After all, just in the last decade or two we’ve somehow found the time in the day to spend several hours on the internet and the money in the budget not only to pay for broadband service, but to cover a second phone bill and a new monthly bill for television, formerly free. For the majority of Americans, spending more for better food is less a matter of ability than priority. p.187”

― Michael PollanIn Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Nutrition Facts
1 Serving
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 252.4
Total Fat 6.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 184.5 mg
Potassium 460.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 43.9 g
Dietary Fiber 11.2 g
Sugars 28.2 g
Protein 6.5 g

Vitamin A 10.8 %
Vitamin B-6 14.6 %
Vitamin C 7.7 %
Vitamin D 25.0 %
Vitamin E 50.7 %
Calcium 53.3 %
Copper 4.6 %
Folate 2.4 %
Iron 10.9 %
Magnesium 7.7 %
Manganese 20.9 %
Niacin 1.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.3 %
Phosphorus 14.0 %
Riboflavin 5.0 %
Selenium 0.8 %
Thiamin 1.5 %
Zinc 0.6 %

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

Everyone knows pills are the answer and wants to be able to say “I got off antidepressants“. If you want to try mila for yourself click this link and then click “shop” and use US11065661. Mila is retail $55 and wholesale membership club $45 for a monthly supply.

Nov 172012

I was recently sent a sample of Aloic – an organic aloe vera drink to sample.  Many of the studies I found on aloe vera tested topical application; however, I did find some studies done at NYU where ingestion of aloe vera gel was tested.  This single blind study showed positive results in the treatment of diabetes, (“The results showed significantly greater improvements in blood sugar levels among those given aloe over the 2-week treatment period.” ) but a larger, double blind study would be needed to test it for the treatment of hypoglycemia. A second study on aloe used in the treatment of ulcers also showed promising – of 44 tested, 30% showed complete remission, but again, until more studies are done on a larger sample, the results are inconclusive.

Then I looked up phytosterols and medical studies.  Aloe contains phytosterols, plant based compounds that look very much like cholesterol but are different in the fact that they can reduce LDL cholesterol.  Oregon State University has compiled much information at their site if you would like to read more.

The taste….

 It was refreshing and light and has a mild grape flavor.  The aloe pulp adds a bit of smooth texture.  It sounds great in this aloe spritzer with white wine, lime and club soda.  There are only 60 calories per serving, so if you like to drink lots of juice – this might be a nice change and will cut down on a few calories.

If you want to try some or find out more go to their website at http://www.aloic.com/

 Posted by at 12:04 pm
Aug 192010
I’m sure you’ve been hearing about all the antioxidant benefits of pomegranate juice.  I did some research about the origins and found that the pomegranate is native in Northern India to Iran and was introduced in California in 1769 by Spanish settlers. 
What is the reason for all this talk of pomegranates?  Well, the lovely people from POM Wonderful sent me an entire case of 100% pomegranate juice sangria the first thing I made with it! 
Do you have a favorite recipe you use pomegranate juice for?
So cool and refreshing as we sat outside and watched the kids swim in the dinosaur pool.
Dawn’s Kick Ass Sangria
Sugar Free!
1 bottle merlot
1 1/2 cups clear rum
2 cups red grapes
1 lemon, sliced thinly
1 orange, sliced thinly
1 nectarine, sliced
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 cups POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
1/2 cup agave (or honey)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cans lemon/lime soda with Stevia

1. Mix the merlot through pomegranate juice and refrigerate overnight if possible. 

2. Heat the agave, water, vanilla and cinnamon to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce.  Let cool and pour into the wine mixture.

3. Add the lemon/lime soda and serve immediately over ice.  Be sure to add some of the fruit into each glass as garnish.

May 102010

TPC was here this past weekend.  For those of you that don’t follow golf, it’s a big golf tournament called The Players Championship. 

One of my big pet peeves is that people call it The TPC.  Technically that would be “The The player’s Championship”.  Please don’t do that.  OK? 

It’s not that I’m a huge golf fan, mind you, more of a TPC/people watching/relaxing in the sunshine with a cocktail fan (or maybe a few cocktails).   Once TPC weekend is over I’m very ready for a detox. 

Inspired by one of my new favorite bloggers, Amanda from The Grains of Paradise, I created an all organic, veggie/fruit smoothie.  I’ve seen many other blogger’s “green monsters” out there but I didn’t want this one to be too involved with all sorts of crazy caloric things so I stuck to my new keep it simple theory. 

Apple-Spinach Smoothie
Serves 1


1 apple
3 carrots
3 ribs celery
6 cups of spinach
2 truvia packets


1. Blend everything together.  (You might have to chop it a bit first…I’m just saying.)

Jan 032010

I came across this post for a chocolate chickpea spread quite a while ago and finally decided to try it this morning.  My goal for this year as far as weight goes is to lose 6 lbs in the short term and eventually 3 more ideally. 

I always want a small piece of chocolate right after lunch so I wanted to try this as a healthier alternative that would take care of the sweet craving. 

I got my wish, it definitely has a deep chocolate flavor and I only used two tablespoons of the Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder.  I tested it out this morning after I made it on the middle of my toast I had cut out.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chickpea Butter
(Altered from this recipe on BitterSweet)

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder
1/3 cup organic agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 – 4 Tbsp strong coffee


1.  Mix everything but the water together in a food processor.   Mix thoughroughly.

2.  Add coffee in a slow stream until desired consistency is reached.