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.



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!



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
Printable Recipe


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


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.

Jan 212014

One bite of my Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce will have your taste buds dancing.

Layers of flavor create balance in this dish; aromatic, fresh ginger, cooling coconut milk, sweet mango, a little heat from the chili sauce, and salty, savory miso ~ all tied together in a neat bow by Ume Plum vinegar.

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Have you seen the show the Taste?

The Taste “features no-holds barred chef Anthony Bourdain, British food star Nigella Lawson, expert chef and author Ludo Lefebvre and restaurateur Brian Malarkey. Each of the four culinary superstars and “Taste” mentors – Bourdain, Lawson, Lefebvre and Malarkey – will coach a team of four competing pro and amateur cooks chosen from a nationwide casting call as they vie to create the best tasting dish.”

My five year old daughter and I have been watching this season and rooting for our favorite Vegan, Cassandra Bodzak.

As you watch the judging of each dish, it is interesting how the judges lean towards two things: fat and balance. Many times the dishes that lose are too dry or lack one of the elements of taste, most often sour/acidity or heat.

As I created this dish, the subject of acid became very apparent at first taste. Many times, without acid a recipe falls flat, lacks depth and seems to be missing something.  Think about the dish ~ could you add tomatoes, vinegar or citrus….google to see what goes best in that type of cuisine. In this case I didn’t have lime on hand so I used Ume Plum vinegar. Ah ha! Perfection!

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Umeboshi are traditionally made by harvesting ume fruit when they ripen around June and packing them in barrels with salt. A weight is placed on top and the fruit gradually exude juices, which accumulate at the bottom of the barrel. This salty, sour liquid is marketed as umezu (梅酢; often translated as “ume vinegar”), although it is not a true vinegar.

I searched for quite a while to find this ingredient because it is often used in one of my favorite recipe books ~ Clean Food by Terry Walters. I finally found it locally at Native Sun; however, if you don’t live in the area, check on line or visit your local natural food store.

I can’t wait for you to try this dish! It is going down in my “favorites” and even my husband who is not a fan of Indian inspired dishes complimented this one. Enjoy!

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Serves 7-8 3/4 cup servings
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup red lentils
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
1 cup mango (the fruit of about 2)
1 sweet potato, chopped (do not peel)
2 tsp miso
1 can full fat coconut milk
3 dashes organic chili sauce or Sriracha (Plus extra for garnish if you like it hot like I do!)
2 tsp Ume plum vinegar
Cilantro for garnish (optional)


1. Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat; add onions, sauté about 5 minutes; add garlic and ginger sauté an additional minute; add lentils, toast for 1-2 minutes; add curry powder; add vegetable broth, mango and sweet potato; bring to a boil reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils and potato are soft, about 30 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk, miso, chili sauce and vinegar.

3. Garnish with cilantro and serve over cooked quinoa such as Pereg Quinoa with Vegetables.

Nutrition Facts
7 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 154.8
Total Fat 10.9 g
Saturated Fat 9.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 588.1 mg
Potassium 134.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 14.5 g
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g
Sugars 5.3 g
Protein 1.8 g

Vitamin A 50.5 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 5.7 %
Vitamin C 17.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 1.6 %
Calcium 1.3 %
Copper 4.6 %
Folate 8.1 %
Iron 4.3 %
Magnesium 2.6 %
Manganese 8.0 %
Niacin 2.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.1 %
Phosphorus 3.7 %
Riboflavin 2.6 %
Selenium 1.3 %
Thiamin 3.4 %
Zinc 1.8 %

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

Bonus tip: 

For a WONDERFUL breakdown of the different types of lentils visit about.com.

Oct 102013

For anyone looking to cut gluten naturally this holiday season try this Apple & Mushroom Stuffing Hash! It has all the flavors of Thanksgiving but with all natural veggies and no bread.

Apple and Mushroom Stuffing Hash

Apple and Mushroom Stuffing Hash

There are so many of us that want to eat healthier but over the holidays it almost seems impossible – we love our traditional comfort foods and going without seems unimaginable.

I can tell you from personal experience that the first time you make a change from those once-a-year foods is a bit weird.  I made a walnut-tofu loaf and I remember eyeing the turkey thinking I really wasn’t sure I wanted to give it up so I took a little taste.  (Shh…don’t tell anyone.) Since I had already been eating a plant based diet for a while I was surprised that the taste of turkey was not as satisfying as I had remembered it in my head.  The only way I can explain it is that the thought that came to my head was…..muscle fibers.  I was biting into muscle and it is a firm texture that is unique and tough to duplicate in the plant world. Frankly it wasn’t as pleasant as I remembered.  Then I took a taste of my walnut loaf. It was moist and had a delicate crust on the outside with a nutty, semi-firm texture on the inside and had all the flavors of thanksgiving – sage, thyme, rosemary. When this was paired with some tart-sweet cranberry sauce and roasted veggies just like in this recipe I was in absolute heaven.  Even the leftovers made awesome sandwiches.  All it took was opening my mind that not only would a plant based food be an ok substitute, but that  I could like it even better and not have that stuffed, heavy feeling at the end of the meal!

Apple and Mushroom Stuffing Hash

Apple and Mushroom Stuffing Hash

This dish is the perfect cool-weather accompaniment for both every day dinners and Thanksgiving feasts.  Many stuffings traditionally have mushrooms, aromatic herbs and apples – so with this dish you will get all the flavors without any of the bread.  You can even throw some nuts in there to add an element of crunch – or, if you can’t go without any bread, make a panzanella out of this and throw a few toasted bread cubes in there so that the bulk of the recipe is veggie but you have the toasty bread you love.

Apple and Mushroom Stuffing Hash

Apple and Mushroom Stuffing Hash

Apple & Mushroom “Stuffing” Hash

with Roasted Root Veggies

Serves 6 (about 1-cup each)
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

**Ingredients on sale now at Native Sun Oct 7-Nov 6, 2013


1 Tbsp avocado oil (or other high-heat stable oil)
1 onion, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
2 apples, cored and chopped**
1 10oz pkg button mushrooms, sliced
6 fingerling potatoes, chopped**
1 Tbsp salt free poultry seasoning mix
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 beet, greens removed and chopped**


1. Preheat oven to 400F. Mix oil through fresh ground pepper in a large baking dish; top evenly with beets without stirring too much. (This will prevent the vegetables from turning pink.) Roast for 1 hour, gently turning half way through.

Nutrition Facts
6 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 129.0
Total Fat 2.7 g
Saturated Fat 0.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.8 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 217.4 mg
Potassium 514.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25.4 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Sugars 9.0 g
Protein 3.3 g

Vitamin A 87.1 %
Vitamin B-12 0.3 %
Vitamin B-6 9.8 %
Vitamin C 25.1 %
Vitamin D 9.0 %
Vitamin E 1.0 %
Calcium 1.9 %
Copper 11.8 %
Folate 11.2 %
Iron 4.8 %
Magnesium 4.9 %
Manganese 9.9 %
Niacin 12.3 %
Pantothenic Acid 8.9 %
Phosphorus 7.6 %
Riboflavin 14.7 %
Selenium 6.6 %
Thiamin 6.8 %
Zinc 3.3 %

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

Oct 092013

Today is my three year bloggiversary! To celebrate I am posting a creamy Autumn Sweet Potato, Pumpkin and Lentil Soup with Aromatic Fresh Sage will put you in the mood for fall. Savory and comforting with all the traditional holiday flavors will have you giving thanks that Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

Autumn Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Lentil Soup with Fresh Sage

Autumn Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Lentil Soup with Fresh Sage

The good news is that the amount of fiber will trim our waistline before the heavy meals make their way into our diets. This mouth-watering soup is only 100 calories, naturally (almost) fat free and has 6 grams of fiber so eat to your heart’s content!
As an added bonus, this recipe is great for both you and your kids. My daughter loved the rich but mild flavor and the sweetness of the potatoes and pumpkin.

Autumn Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Lentil Soup with Fresh Sage

Autumn Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Lentil Soup with Fresh Sage

 I’d also like to take this time to express my gratitude for each of you that comes to visit me here. When I started this blog I really wanted to simply catalog my recipes and practice my photography skills.  As this blog grew and I got feedback from people that it was actually helping them I knew that I had a responsibility to change and grow and provide useful content.  By doing this for you, it in turn makes me feel fulfilled. Blogging takes many hours and is a lot of work – you really have to love it, but isn’t everything worth doing a lot of work?  It is a creative and fun outlet where you can really connect with people.  Many thanks to each of you that has joined me on my journey as I learn about SEO, blogging do’s and don’t (I’m sure I’ve broken ALL the don’ts) and grown both in photography and writing.

Autumn Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Lentil Soup with Fresh Sage

Autumn Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Lentil Soup with Fresh Sage

Gratitude is such a beautiful thing. It puts things in perspective and gives us peace.  Once we are at peace we can share this calmness and love with others.  I can’t completely express how changes in my life have given me a bit of this peace. Even though my life is so crazy (still) – much more than I thought since leaving Corporate America – I’m moving in the direction of being able to do what I’m passionate about each and every day.  I can blog, spend time with my daughter, husband and family, help people through my business, coach others in need, work with amazing businesses in my community and even take some classes.  Continuing education is so important. I encourage you all to wonder about the world. Ask why something is.  If we all dove deep into why things are the way they are the world would change for the better very quickly.  Once the hard part of figuring out WHAT I was passionate about was done, I could then laser focus on WHY I wanted to make a course correction and move in that direction. The why is what gives me the power to continue getting up each day at 4:30 and get that worm!  Though I’m not exactly where I want to be I am now enjoying the journey.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret. Being at peace with the journey is what it is all about.

So on my third bloggiversary I leave you with these thoughts for the day.



Good Health


Autumn Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Lentil Soup with Fresh Sage

Autumn Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Lentil Soup with Fresh Sage

Sweet Potato, Pumpkin and Lentil Soup with Fresh Sage

Serves 8 generous 1 1/2 cup servings
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/3 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp salt free poultry seasoning blend
1 cup pink lentils
2 cartons (8 cups) low sodium veggie broth, divided
1 tsp fresh sage, minced
1 14oz can pumpkin (not pumpkin filling)


1. Heat 2 Tbsp of the veggie broth in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and celery; cook about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, sweet potatoes, bay leaf, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning; cook 3 minutes.

2. Add the lentils and veggie broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes; stir in sage and pumpkin; cook an additional 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

3. Remove bay leaf; puree ingredients with an immersion blender for a thick and creamy soup.

Nutrition Facts
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 105.4
Total Fat 0.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 249.1 mg
Potassium 337.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22.3 g
Dietary Fiber 6.0 g
Sugars 3.7 g
Protein 3.7 g

Vitamin A 291.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 10.2 %
Vitamin C 20.5 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 3.7 %
Calcium 5.9 %
Copper 9.5 %
Folate 15.8 %
Iron 12.6 %
Magnesium 7.0 %
Manganese 19.0 %
Niacin 3.8 %
Pantothenic Acid 6.1 %
Phosphorus 8.2 %
Riboflavin 6.2 %
Selenium 2.1 %
Thiamin 6.1 %
Zinc 3.7 %

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

Oct 022012

Kale, Carrot, Sweet Potato and Bean Soup

I am convinced that most of what is thrown at us in life is to teach us something – to teach us an appreciation for what is to come. Why does this happen? Because if it came easily then we wouldn’t really appreciate it when we got to our destination. Every experience, the struggles, the unknown, and the anticipation, are part of the joy of reaching our goals.  Instead of feeling despair and desperation, we need to celebrate where we are and make peace with it but at the same time keep sharp focus on our aspirations.

There will be bumps in the road that will try and derail us, but we need to hold fast to those things that we seek, put the “bumps” behind us and leave them there. Don’t dwell on the bumps.  In fact, we NEED those bumps because otherwise we are like the child that is given everything he could ever want and more.  When he does get that thing he wants, it took no work and in fact, it doesn’t even make him happy. He just asks, well where is the next thing?

How am I supposed to make peace with where I am now?
By stopping to smell the flowers.  Enjoy and have grattiute for the little things in your life now. Maybe you have your health, there is a roof over your head, you can see a beautiful sunset, your home has running water or you step into a pair of fuzzy slippers each morning. Whatever it is, stop. Think. Be thankful.

The moral of this story is; the path to true happiness is to make peace with where you are now but to not lose site of your purpose; continue driving along but stop every now to enjoy some fuzzy slippers. And when you hit that bump in the road, let it go, and make calming soup. I promise you will feel better.

Carrot, Kale, Sweet Potato and Bean Soup

Calming Kale, Carrot, Sweet Potato and Bean Soup

Serves 4, about 1 ½ to 2 cups each.
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe
**Items on sale now at Native Sun Sept 7-Oct 6th


1 Tbsp olive oil
½ small onion
2 large carrots**
1 sweet potato
2 cloves garlic
4 cups (1 carton) vegetable broth, for salt free use homemade
1/4 tsp Cajun Seasoning
2 cups cooked red kidney beans (or 1 14.5oz can, rinsed and drained)**
3 curly kale leaves
Optional 1 cup cooked white beans


1. Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium high heat; chop onion, carrot and sweet potato; remove kale leaves from stem and chop stems; mince garlic finely.  Add vegetables to heated oil and sauté until softened.  Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning; add vegetable broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft but not mushy, about ten minutes.  Chop kale and stir in chopped kale leaves and beans.  Simmer about two to three minutes or until kale is softened.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 197.3
Total Fat 4.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.6 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 1,393.1 mg (to cut back on this use home made salt free broth)
Potassium 620.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 32.9 g
Dietary Fiber 10.3 g
Sugars 4.1 g
Protein 8.4 g

Vitamin A 384.1 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 12.7 %
Vitamin C 78.3 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 7.2 %
Calcium 11.1 %
Copper 18.3 %
Folate 19.3 %
Iron 15.9 %
Magnesium 13.5 %
Manganese 39.9 %
Niacin 6.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.8 %
Phosphorus 14.9 %
Riboflavin 12.0 %
Selenium 3.7 %
Thiamin 13.2 %
Zinc 6.5 %

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

Apr 192012
Welcome back to Wine Down Wednesday where I review a vegan dish paired with two different wines.
To pair wines with a meatless dish we must look at the spices and main flavors of the recipe.

For an ideal pairing we look for wines that that compliment Sweet Potato and Tahini Burgers Citrus, Mango and Avocado Salsa we look at the tahini, sweet potato, citrus and mango.

The Wines selected to taste are Warwick ‘First Lady’ Cabernet Sauvignon and Barboursville Viognier.

Sweet Potato and Tahini Burgers
with Citrus, Mango and Avocado Salsa

These sweet-spicy burgers are super easy to put together – only six ingredients. They can be baked, grilled or pan seared.  The mango salsa a spur of the moment inspiration that compliments the burgers so well it is a match made in heaven.  Mangos are on sale for a dollar and avocado is super cheap right now, too.  I had a jalapeno on hand to add a kick and some fresh Florida oranges and limes to add a nice tang.  For a side, I a added some nice steamed edamame with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

Time Saving Tip: To save time for the salsa, simply buy a quality store bought mango or citrus salsa in the refrigerated produce section of your grocery!

From 1791 through 1902 Warwick Wine Estate in South Africa was originally known as  ‘De Goede Sukses’, the Good Success farm.  It was later renamed Warwick after being purchased by Colonel Alexander Gordon of the Warwickshire regiment.  In the 60′s the winery traded hands again when it was purchased by Norma Ratcliffe and her husband Stan.  After initially selling the grapes wholesale to other wineries, Norma studied the art of winemaking and began producing her own wine in 1984.  She was the first female wine maker in South Africa, thus the ‘First Lady’ Cabernet Sauvignon is named as a tribute to Norma.

The winemaker’s notes, “The wine has a deep and intense ruby red colour. The nose reveals lots of red berries and sweet black cherries, complemented by sweet vanilla and chocolate oak background. The smooth ripe, round tannins make this wine easy to drink while still retaining a full body. The balanced acid creates a firm finish that is complemented by a lingering sweetness.”

Barboursville vineyards reside along side the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, owned by Gianni Zonin of Gamnbellara Italy who is a 7th generation winemaker. This Viognier Reserve is grown by the general manager-winemaker Luca Paschina who has a degree in oenology; the study of all aspects of wine. 

It looks like I have found my calling – I must go back to school for an oenology degree. I wonder if this is an offering at FSU.  If not, I will simply have to attend the the Instituto Umberto in Alba Italy as Luca Paschina did.
Gregg from Broadbent Selections sent me some additional information on the vineyard that I thought was interesting, “this second-generation estate house at Barboursville plantation was designed by Thomas Jefferson, one of only 3 residences he designed for his friends. The Barbour family continued to occupy this residence until it was destroyed by accidental fire at Christmas, 1884, and returned to the elegant Georgian villa next door for several generations, now The 1804 Inn”

The Viognier, pronounced Vee-‘O’-nyaaay, is fermented in steel with tropical and floral tones.  It does well with aging of 4 to 5 years.  The photos of the vineyard are gorgeous-I would love to visit and take some of the cooking classes offered at their restaurant.


Category #1 – How well my dish turned out.
Category #2 – How well I like the wine.
Category #3 – Pairing notes – How well this wine pairs with the dish.

Rating Scale

Bleck -This wine is pretty bad.
Ho Hum- I could drink it if I was at a football game and there was nothing else in the cooler.
Nice -Good table wine. I would keep this in the wine cooler if it was a good value.
Yum – This is good, I would pay a fair bit more and have it for a special occasion.
Damn that’s Good – Self explanatory.
** We will use the same terminology for how the dish turned out and how well it paired.

Category #1 The Dish

Rating of Nice.  I would definitely make these burgers again as long as I could make the salsa with them.  I think that is what really made the dish.  It had all the elements I love - sweet from the mangos and sweet potato, aromatics from the cilantro and a spicy kick from the Cajun seasoning and jalapeno peppers.  The tahini wasn’t a prominent flavor, it just added enough to give it a nutty hint in the background. These were awesome with a bit of Arizona Gunslinger hot sauce on the side. 

Category #2 The Wine

Warwick Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 gets a rating of Damn That’s Good.  I’ve started a little wine journal now so I can sit down and write the first things that come to mind.  I’m still amazed when I go and look at reviews afterwards and the reviews actually coincide with my perception.  For this Cabernet the first thing I wrote down was chocolate/cocoa and no aftertaste. After sitting and swirling a bit I added perfect balance of dry and sweet, not too heavy.  Smoky mesquite.  Great with grilled foods.  My husband happened to be cooking on the grill at the time which may have had some influence there.

Virginia Voignier Reserve, 2010 also gets a rating of DAMN THAT’S GOOD.  I had to write that one in caps for emphasis.  On first taste I wrote honey, mango and tad sweeter than Chardonnays, higher percentage of residual sugar ?  I loved the honey-lemon color.  I also wrote down grass reminiscent of summer fresh cut grass which is interesting because in a review of the wine I read “herbal frame” – I wonder if my interpretation was the grassiness.

Category #3 The Pairing

Both get a rating of Yum.  Each brought the dish up to another level in it’s own way.  If I had rated the dish higher, the wines would have elevated the pairings to a DTG. 
The smoky-cocoa cabernet brings out the spicy elements of the dish and has a light enough body to not overpower the sweet potato burgers. 
The Viognier complimented the sweetness of the mango and sweet potato; the wine acquired an added layer of a lemony-citrus flavor when paired with the dish-refreshing and smooth.

Where to buy

All the wines will be for sale locally at the Grotto in San Marco. Please call first to ensure they are in stock.  You can contact Mitch Woodlief, grottomitch@aol.com with questions and pricing.  Anyone outside the Greater Jacksonville area can contact E-MAIL: info@broadbent.com PHONE: US +1 415-931-1725.

Sweet Potato Tahini Burgers

with Citrus, Mango and Avocado Salsa

Inspired by Lunch Box Bunch
Serves 6
Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free


1 can of sweet potato
2 cans cannellini or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 heaping Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/3 cup oats, pulsed in magic bullet, blender or food processor to grind it a bit

1 mango, seeded and chopped
2 oranges, peeled and chopped
1 avocado, seeded and chopped
1/4 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
Juice of 1 lime
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Add all burger ingredients to a food processor and pulse a few times, so just mixed.  Form into patties and place on a baking tray rubbed with oil.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through.  Turn on broiler to high at the end to crisp outside – about 1 to 2 minutes or until browned.

2. Meanwhile mix the salsa ingredients in a small bowl. 

3. Top each burger with a generous heaping of salsa and serve with Barboursville Viognier or Warwick First Lady Cabernet.

Nutrition Facts
6 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 381.5
Total Fat 8.2 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 113.4 mg
Potassium 1,199.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 67.5 g
Dietary Fiber 14.4 g
Sugars 8.3 g
Protein 15.8 g

Vitamin A 185.7 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 20.7 %
Vitamin C 65.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 5.8 %
Calcium 18.3 %
Copper 35.7 %
Folate 42.5 %
Iron 36.5 %
Magnesium 31.7 %
Manganese 78.9 %
Niacin 8.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 12.9 %
Phosphorus 27.3 %
Riboflavin 14.1 %
Selenium 5.2 %
Thiamin 25.9 %
Zinc 19.1 %

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

Please note that as an ammendment to the Black Bean Soup post I would like to change my rating of the Pares Balta to a Damn thats Good. I’ll definitely be ordering more of because of it’s summer drinkability factor as well as the new information provided that this wine is produced with absolutely now animal products so it’s perfect for a plant based diet.

Jan 262012
Can I just ask whose idea was it to take a perfectly good foot and decide that the heel of it needed to be four inches taller?  In fact, the toes are too wide. Let’s stuff them into a pointy shape like a gnome hat and call it fashion.

Furthermore, why is it that we continue to subject ourselves to such torture day in and day out at the office and out on the town in the name of fashion?  Well I say no more for me! 

Bring on the slouchy opaque stockings and orthopedic shoes.  I’m now all about comfort. 

Does anyone know of any hot orthopedic shoes?  Cause I like to wear them from day to night.

 And then there is the skinny jean, surely invented by some sadistic Victoria‘s Secret model as derision at all us 5’3 gals.  Nevertheless, we buy them in our current size and bring them home only to find the seamstress misread the size.  She must have mislabeled these pants that should have been a size smaller.

 Screw it we say, these darn things will be worn because the label says they are the right size, ignoring Stacy and Clinton’s admonishment that the fact it is made in our size, doesn’t mean we should wear it.  What the heck do they know anyway?

No, no, no my friends.  We prefer to cut off all circulation to our feet by stuffing ourselves into shape-wear that will enable us to actually be our correct size.  Luckily loosing feeling in our feet has a dual role.  We can’t feel the pain from the gnome-hat shoes.

Why do we put ourselves through this?!  Again I say no more

Enter the cabbage soup diet.  You’ve heard of the cabbage soup diet right?  Where you boil a bunch of cabbage and choke it down?  Well the suffering ends here.  Try my very sexy cabbage soup.

Oh yes, cabbage soup can be veeery sexy.

Sweet little bits of sweet potato, luscious butternut squash, steamy broth…I will make fitting into those skinny jeans comfortable and delicious.  Especially for 40ish calories, almost no fat and a good dose of vitamins A and C.

As for the sexy orthopedic shoes…I haven’t figured a recipe out for that yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.
Sweet Potato, Butternut and Cabbage Soup
14 1-cup servings
Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free


1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, I used Nappa cabbage
1 quart vegetable broth
6 cups water
2 tsps dried thyme
1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning (optional, taste for saltiness prior to adding)


1. Spray a Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add butternut squash, sweet potato and cabbage; stir well.

2. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft

Nutrition Facts
14 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 47.3
Total Fat 0.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 289.8 mg
Potassium 289.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 10.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 1.5 g

Vitamin A 24.8 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 7.5 %
Vitamin C 32.7 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 0.4 %
Calcium 3.9 %
Copper 2.8 %
Folate 7.6 %
Iron 5.9 %
Magnesium 4.8 %
Manganese 9.4 %
Niacin 3.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.1 %
Phosphorus 3.5 %
Riboflavin 2.0 %
Selenium 1.0 %
Thiamin 3.6 %
Zinc 1.5 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Mar 282011
Today’s Eat. Live. Be. for a better 2011 is about lunch; which actually ties into my new little poll (look over there to the left). Is lunch your favorite meal? 
I have to admit I love lunch because this one is easy for me. I work out on my lunch break four days a week so each prior weekend I make a big salad or pot of soup to bring with me. It is perfect, no planning or thinking. I already have it done! Today is a perfect example. This week I will bring a cup of lentils with me as well as a few snacks such as sliced veggies with hummus, a fresh apple, an egg or even a few squares of dark chocolate.
The day I do go out to lunch is another story. I usually tend to splurge a bit more on that day, but, within reason. We go to a local Mediterranean restaurant called Mandaloun a lot. I typically get the fattoush salad and order a side of hummus. Sounds pretty virtuous right? Nope. Restaurants go above and beyond to make the food taste good; typically without regard to your waistline. Even though the salad is super fresh with tons of aromatic herbs, it has a very generous amount of dressing as well as little crispy fried pita strips. And boy, are they oh so good. On top of that I might eat an entire pita with the hummus. This all adds up to far more than I would typically eat at lunch, but it is my once a week treat so I figure every now and then is ok.
What is your typical lunch?
 I was on a quest to do something with my CSA cabbage that I would actually look forward to.  I figured I was just not a fan.  I mean, it is OK but I’m never really like Yes!  We are having CABBAGE TONIGHT!  In fact, I had already used half the head on fish tacos with cabbage slaw but I didn’t post that one as I wasn’t really excited about it.
This, on the other hand, is a cabbage recipe I can really look forward too.  Yes it is labor intensive but you will not be disappointed if you like spicy and flavorful Indian food.  I promise.


Green Lentils with Ginger, Coconut Milk, Sweet Potato and Cabbage

Altered from Smitten Kitchen and Madhur Jaffrey, Indian Cooking
Estimated 10 (1-cup) Servings
**4 WW Pts Plus
1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed and drained if necessary (truRoots Organic Sprouted)
6 cups water or broth (I used 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth 2 cups water)
1 sweet potato, chopped (Organic unpeeled)
1/2 heaping tsp ground turmeric
3 Tbsp vegetable oil, 1 Tbsp butter
1 heaping tsp cumin seeds
2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (or 3/4 Tbsp dried minced)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into fine slices
1/2 head finely shredded cabbage
1 to 2 fresh, hot green chilies, finely sliced
3/4 tsp salt
14.5oz can peeled to whole un-drained, tomatoes chopped (Muir Glen)
1 heaping tsp peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1. Pour water and/or broth, sweet potato and lentils into a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Add turmeric; stir to mix. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar to vent, turn heat down to low; simmer gently for 1 1/4 hours. Stir several times during the last 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds; allow to sizzle for 3 to 4 seconds. Add garlic; stir to combine and cook a few more seconds. Add the onion, cabbage and green chilies. Stir the cabbage mixture for about 10 minutes or until it begins to brown and turn slightly crisp. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Turn off the heat under the frying pan.
3. Stir remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, the tomato and ginger to the lentil pot (after the initial cooking time); stir to mix. Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Add the cabbage mixture; stir to mix and bring to a simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk.
Nutrition Facts

Estimated 10 (1-cup) Servings
**4 WW Pts Plus
Amount Per Serving

Calories 159.8
Total Fat 6.0 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.4 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 325.5 mg
Potassium 303.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22.2 g
Dietary Fiber 4.9 g
Sugars 2.3 g
Protein 4.7 g

Vitamin A 55.6 %
Vitamin C 68.2 %
Folate 19.8 %

Feb 172011
I don’t have a very clever post planned for the origins of this recipe other than coming across the Moroccan idea at Squash Blossom Babies (please check out this blog, it is fabulous!) and then thinking about how I could use the Moroccan theme for a quinoa dish to make it gluten free AND utilize some of my CSA squash and green onion. It was definitely a highlight of the night as it was easy and came out SO well. Very hearty for a vegetarian dish; sweet, savory, aromatic and, with the addition of cayenne pepper on my serving, spicy. I’m on a roll with paring my ingredient list down and it’s so perfect for busy people like me.
This pretty much covers the excitement of the night and goes to show you how easy this recipe is!
Dawn’s Evening Itinerary beginning at drive home from work:
Plan out recipe ingredient list in head on drive home.
Pick daughter up from school.
Let dogs out. Throw jeans and sneakers on. Feed dogs.
Cut up squash, potato and onion while daughter “does dishes” (aka gets spoon stuck in garbage disposal and makes large puddle of water & soap on floor.)
Put vegetables in to roast and bring child and dogs outside to play on new swing set. Chase Madison (dog) away from eating neighbor’s trash.
Come back in when it’s dark and throw quinoa on then do yoga in the pool (aka. jumping in daughter’s small bounce house conveniently placed in foyer so when guests come to visit they can immediately enter “the pool”.)
Add remaining ingredients to recipe.
Exit bounce house to try and take food photo as daughter “helps” hold tripod.
Try to wolf some of the dinner down before bath time occurs.
Bath time of joy (daughter does NOT like any drop of water near the eye area).
And then 8:00. Ah, me time. Try on new tops purchased for hubby’s b-day night in St Augustine this Saturday with bunch of close friends. (Can’t wait!)
Post beet recipe create this post.
Watch Modern family. Read two pages of The Reader.
Hit the hay and get ready to do it all over again the next day.
Moroccan Roasted Delicata, Sweet Potato and Quinoa
6 rounded 1 cup servings
***7 Pts Plus
Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Nut Free


1 delicata squash, seeded and diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 onion, diced
Coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic powder
2 tsp Garam Masala, from Penzey’s Spices
1 cup white quinoa, I used Ancient Harvest Organic
2 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 cup cranberries
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 green onion, sliced


1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the squash, sweet potato and onion on the pan.  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder; bake for 40 minutes.

2. Heat quinoa, vegetable broth and Garam Masala in a medium pot to a boil, reduce heat and cook to package directions.  Stir in garbanzo beans, raisins and cranberries.  Cook an additional two minutes.  Remove from heat; add roasted squash mixture and stir in vinegar and green onion.

Nutrition Facts

6  Rounded 1 cup Servings
**7 WW Pts Plus
Amount Per Serving

Calories 281.1
Total Fat 2.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 528.1 mg
Potassium 265.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 56.4 g
Dietary Fiber 8.5 g
Sugars 9.8 g
Protein 9.0 g

Vitamin A 113.0 %
Vitamin B-6 22.1 %
Vitamin C 20.9 %
Vitamin E 0.7 %
Calcium 15.0 %
Copper 10.1 %
Folate 14.1 %
Iron 22.7 %
Magnesium 7.4 %
Manganese 29.8 %
Niacin 1.9 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.7 %
Phosphorus 34.7 %
Riboflavin 60.7 %
Selenium 3.5 %
Thiamin 3.8 %
Zinc 6.0 %

Jan 192011
The night before the wedding I had everyone back to our place for a BBQ cookout that included some gorgeous roasted sweet potatoes.  We had about five left over so I pureed them and then went in search of what to do with them.  I found sweet potato cakes and muffins but then came across a biscuit recipe that did not call for eggs and seemed pretty easy.  I subbed the regular flour for gluten free baking flour and made my daughter some biscuits.  She really like them so I had her help me make another batch with some super ripe bananas we had on hand. 
Tip: For the banana version simply sub 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas which worked out to about three.
Tip: When forming the dough be sure to coat your hands in flour as well to prevent sticking.
Tip: Don’t add all the milk at once.  You don’t want the dough so soft you can’t form it into balls.  If this happens, no worries, just use a tablespoon to form a sort of cookie shape and bake normally.  Remove from oven when brown. (Even I couldn’t mess these things up).

Sweet Potato Biscuits
Both Standard and Gluten/Dairy Free options in printable recipes
***3 WW Pts Plus
(See full nutrition info below for both gluten/dairy free version and standard)
Gluten/Dairy free Printable Recipe
Standard Printable Recipe

2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill
6 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pureed roasted sweet potatoes (skins and all)
1/2 cup rice milk
1 tsp cinnamon
Additional turbinado sugar for sprinkling (optional)
1.Preheat the oven to 400F.
2.Whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon sugar and salt. Add the Earth Balance in small pieces and whisk to incorporate into dry mix. Add in the sweet potatoes, and enough of the milk to make a soft dough.
3.Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll into large ball.  Cut in half, then each of those in half, and so on until 16 pieces are formed.  Roll into balls and place on two baking sheets covered in parchment paper.  Press bottom of glass dipped in flour onto top of each biscuit to form a uniform round shape. Dust with additional sugar if desired.
4.Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.


Nutrition Facts for Gluten and Dairy free
***3 WW Pts Plus
16 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 110.1
Total Fat 3.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 306.3 mg
Potassium 0.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.5 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Sugars 4.9 g
Protein 2.1 g
Vitamin A 73.1 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 0.0 %
Vitamin C 1.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 0.1 %
Calcium 12.0 %
Copper 0.0 %
Folate 0.0 %
Iron 2.9 %
Magnesium 0.1 %
Manganese 0.0 %
Niacin 0.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.0 %
Phosphorus 3.8 %
Riboflavin 0.0 %
Selenium 0.0 %
Thiamin 0.0 %
Zinc 0.0 %

Nutrition Facts with all purpose flour, unsalted butter and 2% milk
***3 WW Pts Plus
16 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 110.7
Total Fat 3.0 g
Saturated Fat 1.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 8.4 mg
Sodium 277.0 mg
Potassium 21.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.9 g
Sugars 4.7 g
Protein 2.3 g
Vitamin A 75.6 %
Vitamin B-12 0.1 %
Vitamin B-6 0.0 %
Vitamin C 1.9 %
Vitamin D 0.8 %
Vitamin E 0.3 %
Calcium 11.9 %
Copper 0.0 %
Folate 0.0 %
Iron 6.0 %
Magnesium 0.1 %
Manganese 0.0 %
Niacin 4.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.0 %
Phosphorus 3.9 %
Riboflavin 3.1 %
Selenium 0.1 %
Thiamin 5.0 %
Zinc 0.0 %

***Please note that when I state “allergy free” this is my attempt at gluten, egg, dairy, soy, peanut and cod fish free which are the allergies my daughter has. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian.