Aug 082013
 

I confess.

Dilled Chickpea Salad

Dilled Chickpea Salad

I miss tuna fish sandwiches and chicken salad – but substituting chickpeas with the same flavors is just as satisfying on a plant based diet! I love that clean and fresh taste of dill – so distinctive – paired with nuts or seeds.

Dilled Chickpea Salad

Dilled Chickpea Salad

As soon as I saw this recipe from my friend Alissa I knew exactly how I was going to use the Nasoya vegan whipped spread called Nayonaise I was asked to review. A little goes a long way in this recipe. I enjoyed the tangy flavor with just a hint of lemon and the mild seasonings of turmeric, paprika and garlic. Thanks Nasoya!

This versatile salad is perfect as an appetizer, quick lunch or over greens for a complete and satisfying meal.

If you are on a plant based diet are there any recipes you miss?  Have you been able to recreate them in a satisfying way?

Dilled Chickpea Salad

Dilled Chickpea Salad

Dilled Chickpea Salad

Inspired by Connoisseurus Veg 
Serves 2 dinner portion or 4 appetizer portion
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe
**On sale now at Native Sun Natural Food Stores August 7 – September 6, 2013

Ingredients

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans/chickpeas** (or 1 14.5 oz can will work too)
2 Tbsp chopped onion
1 Tbsp black and/or white sesame seeds
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp whipped Nayonaise
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds**
1/8 tsp coarse grind sea salt

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl; crush chickpeas a bit with a fork.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 195.4
Total Fat 7.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.9 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 404.2 mg
Potassium 254.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 26.3 g
Dietary Fiber 5.6 g
Sugars 0.2 g
Protein 7.4 g

Vitamin A 0.9 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 28.3 %
Vitamin C 7.4 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 18.0 %
Calcium 6.1 %
Copper 20.1 %
Folate 22.2 %
Iron 11.2 %
Magnesium 11.8 %
Manganese 41.7 %
Niacin 3.8 %
Pantothenic Acid 8.1 %
Phosphorus 19.0 %
Riboflavin 3.4 %
Selenium 12.4 %
Thiamin 3.8 %
Zinc 11.0 %

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

Jul 182013
 

 True or False – you will save money if you make it from scratch.

True. Sort of.

Kale Spa Salad

Kale Spa Salad

I think back to my days before children, when I could gallivant about the city going to weekly wine tastings and dinners.  I was young, professional and thought I was hot stuff.  Several co-workers and I would leave work on each fine Thursday, drive to the Grotto Wine Bar in San Marco to nosh on appetizers and drink wine; afterwards we would head to Pom’s Bistro (which sadly is no longer there) and I would order the Pad Thai- damn good Pad Thai at that. I can’t say I’ve had better since. But…it was expensive at $18 dollars.  I was sure I could make it at home cheaper.

So I went and bought all the ingredients, many I would most likely not use very often……to the tune of $40!  I spent about two hours getting all the ingredients measured out, cooking it and plating….and for the grand finale….the taste testing.

It was ok at best. Ug!

I learned an important lesson though.  Sometimes it is cheaper and less work to simply buy a smaller portion of a pre-made item and can be just as healthy as from scratch with just a few tweaks.

The key is to read the INGREDIENTS on the pre-made item. If there are 300 ingredients, or you have no idea what the ingredient is, run for the hills.

Kale Spa Salad

Kale Spa Salad

The pad thai experience all came back to me when I returned home armed with groceries from Native Sun including kale, some green onions, red onion and a cup or so of their premade Kombucha Spa Salad.
[edamame, orzo, peaches, strawberries, carrots, yellow peppers, kombucha, olive oil, OJ, scallions, ginger, agave, cider vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic]

Now how much would it have cost me to gather and prep the Kombucha Spa Salad?  Probably a lot for what my needs were. So I simply grabbed the fresh ingredients I had on hand and put those together, added some avocado for additional protein and threw the spa salad right on top – thereby making it a WOW salad that was both cheaper AND much faster!

Though you may not have the Kombucha spa salad available to you – is there a local restaurant in your area that carries anything pre-made like this?  You can purchase that and use it the same way I did here! Native Sun has LOTS of options and coming soon KyV Farm should be adding some pre-made options at next year’s CSA!

Kale Spa Salad

Kale Spa Salad

Kale Spa Salad

Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten free (If pre-made salad contains no gluten. This particular one does because of the orzo.)
Printable Recipe
**Ingredients on sale now at Native Sun Natural Food Market, July 7 through August 6, 2013

 Ingredients

1 bunch kale, detemmed, washed and torn into bite size pieces
1/4 red onion, sliced very thinly
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette (such as Annies**)
1 green onion, sliced**
Coarse sea salt & Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 avocado, pit and skin removed and chopped
1 cup Kombucha Spa Salad (or premade salad of choice)

Directions

1. Mix the kale and onion in a large bowl, top with dressing; massage dressing into kale to break down the fibers, about 2 minutes. Top with green onion, avocado and pre-made salad. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (Before adding the pre-made spa salad)
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 215.9
Total Fat 15.0 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 144.4 mg
Potassium 722.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.2 g
Dietary Fiber 7.5 g
Sugars 4.8 g
Protein 5.0 g

Vitamin A 532.5 %
Vitamin B-6 21.8 %
Vitamin C 143.5 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 11.4 %
Calcium 15.3 %
Copper 20.0 %
Folate 17.7 %
Iron 11.7 %
Magnesium 12.8 %
Manganese 46.3 %
Niacin 9.3 %
Pantothenic Acid 7.7 %
Phosphorus 9.0 %
Riboflavin 12.1 %
Selenium 3.1 %
Thiamin 10.1 %
Zinc 5.5 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
I hope you enjoy this spa salad made quick, easy and cheap!

 Posted by at 9:45 am  Tagged with:
Jul 042013
 

Gently sweet, a little salty and a little spicy.
Is your mouth watering yet?

Strawberries, Agave and Ginger

Strawberries, Agave and Ginger

Anyone that follows my blog knows that I tend to keep things simple. As soon as I the ingredient list climbs above 7 items I know the likelyhood of people making it goes way down.  We just don’t have the time any more!  We all know we should get more veggies and fruit in our diet but sometimes grabbing an apple can be a bit monotonous.  By just adding a few flavors that compliment that produce we can take it from ho-hum to WOW!

Strawberries, Agave and Ginger

Strawberries, Agave and Ginger

There is a book I’ve mentioned in the past called the Flavor Bible.  When I’m stumped on one ingredient I like to crack it open and search for flavors that not only compliment, but are also unexpected.  If you love cooking and are at any level – from novice to expert -the is a must have resource and makes a wonderful gift for anyone in your life that loves to cook. (My second Christmas idea!)

Strawberries, Agave and Ginger

Strawberries, Agave and Ginger

 When it comes to strawberries what do you think of? Various dairy items? Chocolate? Shortcake?  Had I not opened my Flavor Bible I would never have thought ginger – but what a compliment it was! For those people that eat honey – check out your local farmers market and choose a local bee-keeper and ask about his methods to ensure they are sustainable. Vegans should choose a quality agave (I buy mine at Native Sun!)

Strawberries, Agave and Ginger

Strawberries, Agave and Ginger

Strawberries, Agave and Crystallized Ginger

Serves 1
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe
**Ingredients on sale at Native Sun Natural Foods Market, June 7 through July 6, 2013

Ingredients

5 strawberries**
2 ginger chews (crystallized ginger)
1 tsp agave (or honey for non-vegan)
Dash of coarse sea salt

Directions

1. Slice strawberries and ginger chews; top with agave and sea salt.

Nutrition Facts
1 Serving
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 92.2
Total Fat 0.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 161.7 mg
Potassium 152.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 24.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.3 g
Sugars 15.2 g
Protein 0.6 g

Vitamin A 0.5 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 2.7 %
Vitamin C 85.1 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 0.6 %
Calcium 1.3 %
Copper 2.3 %
Folate 4.1 %
Iron 2.0 %
Magnesium 2.3 %
Manganese 13.3 %
Niacin 1.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.1 %
Phosphorus 1.7 %
Riboflavin 3.6 %
Selenium 1.0 %
Thiamin 1.2 %
Zinc 0.9 %

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

Jun 162013
 

There are four reasons I choose Mila.

Chocolate Chia (Mila) Meal Replacement Bars

Chocolate Chia (Mila) Bars

WHY is it better?   A fair question.  Over the years, I have been approached with many various products – from skin care, to food, to pills and shakes and this is the only product I have chosen to support.

Quality.

We need to eat Omega 3′s, our bodies can not produce them.

There are so many benefits of Omega 3′s including:

Protection against:
heart disease
stroke
rheumatoid arthritis
inflammatory bowel disease
lupus
autism
depression, bipolar, eating disorders
joint degeneration
asthma
Many other diseases caused by inflammation (Google “Omega 3′s, any condition and medical studies” and you will see if Omega 3′s help that condition)

Chocolate Chip Mila Bars

Chocolate Chip Mila Bars

First let me back up and start with why I choose chia in the first place.

Fish Oil: I do not take fish oil pills because of several discoveries during my research over the years; the first being cancer-causing “fish oil lipid peroxidation“, secondly, contaminants such as PCB’s and mercury may be present and thirdly, the side effects such as gas, bloating, belching and diarrhea.  Fish oil is a man made supplement and I prefer to eat mostly whole raw foods because of the multiple benefits that come along with it – fiber, protein, calcium, vitamins and nutrients.

So that leaves me with plant based sources – chia and flax.

Flax: For the same reasons that people are scared of soy, flax is on my “consume less” list – flax is a phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens can change the hormone balance in the body and there has been some evidence that it can promote the growth of cancer tumors. The jury is still out on whether high amounts of soy and flax can help or hurt, but I eat a fair amount of soy so I choose to limit the amount of flax I eat. Flax can also go rancid very quickly and many of the sources are genetically modified – therefore banned in several countries.

Mila vs other brands Chia: Chia grows best in climates along the equator with nutrient dense soil. Lifemax has connected with several farms in these regions and ensured they only grow organic, non-GMO seed.  As each harvested crop comes into the warehouse it is randomly sampled by independent laboratories to ensure that the quality of the seed is the same from scoop to scoop.  The various crops are blended together to guaranty the high amounts of fiber, Omega 3′s, protein etc. The seeds are then cleaned in a five step cleaning process housed in a facility that ensures there is no wheat or other contamination and therefore is certified gluten free, and finally the seeds are micro-sliced to ensure maximum absorption without damaging the contents of the seed.

Results from scientific study from the North Carolina Research Institute on Mila vs other brands of chia.
Results from scientific study from North Carolina Research Institute on absorption of micro sliced chia

After finding Mila I asked myself – how DO the other brands clean their chia seeds? Have you ever tried to clean a chia seed? They are about the size of the head of a pin, so the likelihood is high that most brands are not being as thoroughly cleaned for dirt, mold and salmonella.

Chocolate Chia (Mila) Bars

Chocolate Chia (Mila) Bars

I experienced the difference personally.

For years I ate organic chia until my mom’s neurology nurse practitioner sent me a month supply of Mila for my personal review. After eating it for three weeks I noticed better energy and better digestion and three months later won my battle with depression.
I have also seen the difference in my mom with her Multiple Sclerosis – she has much more energy and it helps keep her weight down, thereby making it easier to get around. There are so many stories I’ve come across from people that have been helped by this food that I can’t ignore the fact that it is different.

Chocolate Chia (Mila) Bars

Chocolate Chia (Mila) Bars

100% FAIR TRADE – this company gives back. This is one of my most favorite reasons! 

The small farmers that are taught to grow this organic seed are located in some of the most impoverished countries in the world.  Not only can they consume it for their nutritional benefit but also are given a way to make an income for their families though fair trade standards. Fair trade is so important for any product you consume.  These standards ensure ethical working conditions for the farmers, prohibit child labor and ensure sustainable farming practices.  This comes at a higher price – but is absolutely worth it.

Our long-term world vision is to educate families in villages to sustain themselves by teaching them to grow the healthiest whole, raw food. Our access to this extraordinary seed gives us the opportunity to affect the well-being of those around the world. Our goal is not only to change their health but also to create an economical infrastructure for the benefit of future generations.”

Genesis Pure gives people a way to not only get the food for free but to create a real asset for themselves and their family

I agree with my friend Mikaele at Green Your Spirit.  In today’s economic climate people are definitely looking for additional sources of income and this is a food that everyone from your grandmother to your children to your pets needs in their diet.  The reality is that most people are now at least aware of Omega 3′s but are not necessarily consuming what their body needs.  What a gift to be able to offer people!  I love the fact that I’m creating an asset for my daughter in the future.

The most that can be spent on Mila is $1.57 per serving  - preferred customer and distributors get it for less.   It is definitely worth it to me to spend the money on this blend.  Nutrition is the one thing I will not skimp on for myself and my family.  This is why I belong to KyV Farm, a organic, local farm share and why I shop at Native Sun.  I am willing to pay for the assurance that the food I’m putting into my body is quality.

To purchase a bag of Mila click here, then click shop and enter representative ID US11065661. $1.57 per serving.
If you try Mila and love it, join the wholesale membership club for $39 bucks and get the food for $1.43 per serving – along with 25% off all kinds of other products!
For details on joining the wholesale membership club, email me at chefdawn(at)hotmail.com.  

Chocolate Chia (Mila) Meal Replacement Bars

Chocolate Chia (Mila) Meal Replacement Bars

Chocolate Chip Chia (Mila) Meal Replacement Bars

Inspired by Wellness Mama
Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

8 pitted Medjool dates
Rounded 1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup Mila
3 Tbsp sunflower seed butter (or peanut butter)

Optional
2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life, vegan)
2 Tbsp roasted sunflower seeds

Directions

1. Place dates in a food processor and process into a paste; add salt, Mila and sunflower seed butter; mix by hand. (If needed add up to 1 additional Tbsp sunflower seed butter if mixture is too crumbly. This will adjust calorie content.) Mix in mini chocolate chips and sunflower seeds and form a large ball; press into a square shape and cut into four equal bars.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 256.8
Total Fat 14.5 g
Saturated Fat 2.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 125.3 mg
Potassium 198.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25.9 g
Dietary Fiber 8.4 g
Sugars 15.8 g
Protein 7.0 g

Vitamin B-6 1.4 %
Vitamin E 10.2 %
Calcium 9.8 %
Copper 11.1 %
Folate 0.8 %
Iron 11.1 %
Magnesium 11.2 %
Manganese 13.2 %
Niacin 5.6 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.0 %
Phosphorus 12.0 %
Riboflavin 0.6 %
Selenium 0.7 %
Thiamin 0.6 %
Zinc 4.1 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
I hope you enjoy these Chocolate Chip Chia (Mila) Meal Replacement Bars!

Jun 062013
 

Hen of the woods, bears head tooth, giant puffballs and the shaggy mane.

They aren’t names of characters in a children’s book – they’re names of edible mushrooms!

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Ever wondered how in the world people identify edible wild mushrooms?

Most of the store-bought mushrooms we eat today are grown on farms in sterilized environments – definitely my suggestion when choosing to nosh on these fanciful little fungi – but how interesting to learn about what folks do in the field when identifying edible mushrooms!

Most mushrooms have small gills under the cap where spores are produced.  These spores are released into the air beneath the mushroom, and are also one of the ways edibles can be identified.  The cap is placed on a white sheet of paper and the color of the spores examined – this is called a spore print. Some other methods that are used include color, odor, habitat and season, and in modern times, microscopically.

My suggestion, should you choose to try your hand at ingesting wild mushrooms, is to take a class on edibles, get a field guide to mushrooms in your area and to learn as much as possible prior to venturing out because eating the wrong type of mushroom can be deadly.  According to the experts- when in doubt throw it out!

There is only one type of mushroom it is VERY important to purchase. And that is the organic mushroom.  Mushrooms are so porous that they readily absorb pesticides, fungicides and any metals or toxins in their environment.  If you are concerned about the pricing of organic mushrooms – try your hand at growing them at home with a fun little box farm! Here is one example. 

Be sure to store your mushrooms in the fridge when you get them home because higher temperatures will result in the loss of nutritional value.  Many mushrooms have immune system boosting and anti-inflammatory properties, high amounts of b-12, and crimini (button) mushrooms in particular are a significant source of CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fatty acid that can lessen the production of estrogen that some breast cancer tumors rely on for growth.

As for the taste? Earthy, meaty and a touch sweet with the balsamic vinegar and tomatoes with just the right amount of acidity.

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Serves 3
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 10oz pkg button mushrooms
2 vine ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp oil (I used avocado oil that is heat stable.)
1/8 tsp coarse sea salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Wipe mushrooms clean of dirt and slice; slice tomatoes; toss mushrooms and tomatoes in balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and pepper; cook 25 to 30 minutes or until tomatoes and mushrooms are cooked through and caramelized.

Nutrition Facts
3 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 79.9
Total Fat 5.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 111.1 mg
Potassium 388.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 7.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Sugars 1.8 g
Protein 3.3 g

Vitamin A 5.2 %
Vitamin B-12 0.6 %
Vitamin B-6 7.1 %
Vitamin C 10.7 %
Vitamin D 17.9 %
Vitamin E 4.1 %
Calcium 0.5 %
Copper 16.6 %
Folate 5.3 %
Iron 3.9 %
Magnesium 3.3 %
Manganese 4.4 %
Niacin 19.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 15.2 %
Phosphorus 9.0 %
Riboflavin 24.3 %
Selenium 12.2 %
Thiamin 7.3 %
Zinc 3.5 %

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

May 312013
 

 It’s gettin’ hot in here.

Coconut Berry Crisp

Coconut Berry Crisp

So heat up the grill instead of the oven!
(Although feel free to use the oven too – I tried both ways and they both work well.)

Coconut Berry Crisp

Coconut Berry Crisp

This was the dessert I made TWICE over the memorial day weekend.  Fruit crumbles and crisps are probably my favorite dessert because they are so fool proof.

Almost.

The first time I made this recipe I was at a friend’s house. I popped it into their top oven because we hadn’t heated up the grill; I set the timer for an hour and peeked in on it regularly – wondering why it wasn’t bubbling yet. FINALLY the timer went off, but strangely, the top still wasn’t golden as expected. Our friend Kyle opened up the oven and realized it was cold.

I had turned on the lower oven instead of the top oven.  Oops.

____________________________________

Like this? You may also like these!

Blissful Blueberry Bake
Curried Pear Crumble
Tropical Mila Crumble
Country Apples and Walnuts
Honey, Balsamic and Fresh Fig Tart

Coconut Berry Crisp

Coconut Berry Crisp

 The moral of the story is – go with the grill instead of your friend’s double oven. At least you’ll know it’s cookin’.

This dish is sweet but not too sweet, tangy from the berries and satisfyingly filling from the oats and chia.  It is absolutely delicious with a scoop of creamy vanilla coconut ice cream on top.

Coconut Berry Crisp

Coconut Berry Crisp

Coconut Berry Crisp – On The Grill!

Serves 6
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe
**Items on sale now at Native Sun Natural Food Stores, May 7 through June 6

Ingredients

1 cup gluten free oatmeal
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 cup unsweet shredded coconut**
2 Tbsp chia (I used Mila)
1/4 tsp coarse ground sea salt (plus a dash extra to sprinkle on fruit)
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 10-oz bags frozen organic fruit
2 Tbsp agave

Optional
Vanilla coconut ice cream

Directions

1. Preheat grill to medium high- about 350F.

2. Mix oatmeal through 1/4 tsp salt in a magic bullet or small food processor (a few pulses to create a coarse grind); stir in coconut oil.

3. Mix fruit, agave and dash of salt in a small bowl; spray jelly roll baking dish with cooking spray; add fruit mixture; top with oatmeal mixture; place on grill for 1 hour.

4. Top each serving with optional vanilla coconut ice cream.

What is Mila?  Here is my story.
Want to try some? Click here.

Nutrition Facts
6 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 200.7
Total Fat 6.8 g
Saturated Fat 4.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 97.8 mg
Potassium 66.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 35.0 g
Dietary Fiber 4.7 g
Sugars 22.0 g

Protein 2.6 g
Vitamin A 0.9 %
Vitamin B-6 2.8 %
Vitamin C 3.9 %
Vitamin E 4.8 %
Calcium 13.8 %
Copper 1.6 %
Folate 1.7 %
Iron 4.5 %
Magnesium 8.2 %
Manganese 7.0 %
Niacin 2.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.2 %
Phosphorus 19.4 %
Riboflavin 2.7 %
Selenium 0.1 %
Thiamin 5.3 %
Zinc 0.4 %

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

May 272013
 

One of my most favorite ingredients ever!

Nutritional Yeast Vinaigrette

Nutritional yeast is a vegan support formula where yeast (a form of fungus/mushroom) is grown on molasses, heated to kill the yeast, and finally dried into the texture of flakes.  It may be fortified with B Vitamins and has about 70 calories and 8 grams of plant based protein in one 2 Tbsp serving. It has a delightfully cheese-like flavor and  I use it in place of any recipe that calls for Parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Yeast Vinaigrette

Some great uses for nutritional yeast, or “nooch” for short, are sprinkling it on popcorn, creating a cheese sauce for pasta, a thickener for soups, as a replacement for ground oatmeal in my favorite 10 minute, 5 ingredient black bean burgers or this super easy cheesy kale tomato sauce, I love sprinkling it on my daughter’s quesadillas for added protein and on her tortilla pizza for that cheesy flavor.

This perfectly balanced dressing is slightly tangy, a little sweet and savory at the same time.  It’s perfect to dress a salad or marinate tofu or tempeh.  Enjoy!

Nutritional Yeast Vinaigrette

Nutritional Yeast Vinaigrette

13 Tbsp
Vegan, Gluten Free
Inspired by one of my most favorite restaurants, the Manatee Cafe
Printable Recipe
**Ingredient on sale now at Native Sun Natural Foods Market May 7 through June 6


Ingredients

1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast**
2 Tbsp water
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp agave or honey
1 rounded tsp coarse ground, prepared mustard

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients together in a small jar or dish.

Nutrition Facts
13 Tbsp
Amount Per Tbsp 

Calories 55.0
Total Fat 5.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.8 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 21.6 mg
Potassium 29.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 1.7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.3 g
Sugars 0.3 g
Protein 0.6 g

Vitamin B-12 10.2 %
Vitamin B-6 36.9 %
Vitamin E 3.2 %
Calcium 0.1 %
Copper 0.6 %
Folate 4.6 %
Iron 0.6 %
Magnesium 0.6 %
Manganese 0.9 %
Niacin 21.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.8 %
Phosphorus 1.4 %
Riboflavin 43.5 %
Selenium 2.5 %
Thiamin 49.2 %
Zinc 1.6 %

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

May 182013
 

Gingery Pepita Bars – a little spicy, a little salty and a little sweet.

Gingery Pepita Energy Bars

Gingery Pepita Energy Bars

100% delicious.

Gingery Pepita Energy Bars

Gingery Pepita Energy Bars

These are so satisfying and EASY to make – you’ll never spend money on pre-made bars again.  I’ve been making tons of variations of these with whatever is on sale.  I simply add enough dates, raisins or prunes so that the mixture just stays together and then shape into bites or bars.

Bars are perfect to grab on a busy day when you just won’t have a lot of time to eat and make a great breakfast or snack.  The cashews and dates will give you tons of energy, ginger aids in digestion and has anti-inflammatory powers, and pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, are a great source of zinc, protein and iron.

Say no to store bought bars!

Gingery Pepita Energy Bars

Gingery Pepita Energy Bars

 Gingery Pepita Energy Bars

Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe
**Ingredients on sale now at Native Sun Natural Food Market, May 7 – June 6

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped dried dates
1/3 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (ginger chews)**
1/8 tsp coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp whole pumpkin seeds (pepitas)**

Directions

1. Place all ingredients except whole pumpkin seeds in a food processor and pulse until combined.  Mix pepitas in by hand and roll into a ball; press onto parchment paper and form a square; cut into four sections.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 156.4
Total Fat 5.8 g
Saturated Fat 1.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 77.6 mg
Potassium 221.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 26.8 g
Dietary Fiber 2.4 g

Sugars 17.3 g
Protein 2.5 g
Vitamin B-6 4.0 %
Vitamin C 0.2 %
Vitamin E 5.4 %
Calcium 1.5 %
Copper 15.5 %
Folate 4.0 %
Iron 5.1 %
Magnesium 9.7 %
Manganese 9.3 %
Niacin 2.8 %
Pantothenic Acid 4.0 %
Phosphorus 8.7 %
Riboflavin 2.4 %
Selenium 4.9 %
Thiamin 2.3 %
Zinc 5.0 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Enjoy my Gingery Pepita Energy Bars!

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Feb 282013
 

Two Bagel Toppings! Curried Cashew Hummus and Curried Cashew Cream Cheese

Remember some of the diets of the past? Go fat free, they said.  Peanut butter was the devil, nuts were off limits and you couldn’t even LOOK at an avocado. (Be still my heart.)

Curried Cashew Hummus and Cream Cheese

Curried Cashew Hummus and Cream Cheese

(Don’t even get me started on the Atkins craze. That’s a whole post in itself.)

Fat free cheese, fat free cream cheese, fat free yogurt, fat free cookies – Snackwell’s anyone? We were swimming in processed, fat free but sugar filled foods as the obesity epidemic skyrocketed.

Curried Cashew Hummus

Curried Cashew Hummus

Thankfully, times are changing and people are beginning to learn that balance is the way to go and that we do need some fat, some carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and protein in the form of whole foods.

Cashew Cream Cheese

Cashew Cream Cheese

Meet the cashew.  Cashews can be turned into alternatives to almost any dairy you like – milk, sour cream, cheese, cream cheese, but have NO cholesterol and some of that healthy fat we used to miss.  Typically I use raw cashews, but in this case the curry ones were on sale at Native Sun Natural Foods Market, so I decided to give them a try.  I soaked them first so they would blend easier and voila!  Delish!

As for the hummus – this was a little sub I learned from my friend Suzanne.  A co-worker had brought bagels into the office and instead of eating it dry, since she had also cut out dairy, she topped it with some hummus. I tried it and LOVED it, so now it’s my favorite way to enjoy a bagel or baked bread and as the usual dip for crunchy, fresh veggies.

A dash of curry gives these two toppings a little hmm factor without being overpowering.  If you don’t like curry, simply leave out the curry powder, use olive oil instead of the curry coconut oil and use raw cashews instead of curry.

Curried Cashew Hummus

Curried Cashew Hummus

Curried Cashew Hummus

Serves 4 (Hummus serves 4-6)
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

4 GF bagels, such as Udi’s
2 Tbsp chopped curried cashews, soaked for 1 hour or overnight
1 can chickpeas, Tree of Life, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp melted curry coconut oil, Ziggy Marley (you can sub olive oil here)**
Dash of curry powder
1 Tbsp tahini
¼ tsp salt

Directions

1. Blend cashews through salt in a small food processor or blender, adding 1/2 Tbsp water at a time until creamy consistency is reached. Spread ¼ mixture over each of four toasted bagels.

Curried Cashew Cream Cheese

Curried Cashew Cream Cheese

Curried Cashew Cream Cheese

Inspired by this recipe
Serves 4 (Cream Cheese serves 4-6)
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

4 GF bagels, Udi’s
1/2 cup chopped curried cashews, soaked for 1 hour or overnight
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar, Bragg
Dash of curry powder
¼ tsp salt

Directions

1. Blend cashews through salt in a small food processor or blender, adding 1/2 Tbsp water at a time until creamy consistency is reached.

__________________________________

Nutrition Facts Hummus (without bagel)
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 231.5
Total Fat 8.9 g
Saturated Fat 3.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 510.3 mg
Potassium 302.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 31.4 g
Dietary Fiber 6.4 g
Sugars 0.3 g
Protein 8.5 g

Vitamin A 0.7 %
Vitamin B-12 16.6 %
Vitamin B-6 90.8 %
Vitamin C 11.1 %
Vitamin E 0.6 %
Calcium 6.3 %
Copper 19.5 %
Folate 29.5 %
Iron 13.4 %
Magnesium 13.4 %
Manganese 43.8 %
Niacin 37.3 %
Pantothenic Acid 5.8 %
Phosphorus 18.2 %
Riboflavin 74.7 %
Selenium 10.1 %
Thiamin 86.3 %
Zinc 14.1 %

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

Nutrition Facts Cream Cheese
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 99.6
Total Fat 7.9 g
Saturated Fat 1.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 255.0 mg
Potassium 104.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 6.1 g
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g
Sugars 1.1 g
Protein 2.6 g

Vitamin B-6 2.3 %
Vitamin C 2.3 %
Vitamin E 0.5 %
Calcium 0.8 %
Copper 19.1 %
Folate 3.0 %
Iron 5.8 %
Magnesium 11.4 %
Manganese 7.6 %
Niacin 1.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.1 %
P
hosphorus 8.4 %
Riboflavin 2.0 %
Selenium 2.9 %
Thiamin 2.3 %
Zinc 6.4 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Enjoy These A Fresh Takes on Old Favorites – Two Bagel Toppings! Curried Cashew Hummus and Curried Cashew Cream Cheese!