Monday more musings… the rest of the story

It’s July… mid summer, full of sun, thunderstorms and finishing lines for me. I set out over the last year to tackle Yoga teacher training (11 months), and then added in an online Plant Based cooking class (6 months).

The weekend of July 12th was my last yoga teacher training weekend. It was a weekend full of taking classes from each other, laughter, sharing and just celebrating the journey we had all taken together. What a journey it was, and I am still processing all that. Each one of these people impacted my life in ways that are a forever presence… namaste to each one!

Circle of friends, fellow yogis
Circle of friends, fellow yogis

This past weekend, as part of my final work for Rouxbe I hosted a 5 bites party. Hospitality is supposedly a gift of mine, and with my Momma as a guide, it really should be. I am not always so comfortable with being hospitable, I truly think I am an introvert for the most part. However I do enjoy hosting, sharing, honestly I enjoy sharing food, fun and life. Whenever I have opened my home and shared it and myself, it has always been more of a gift to me, than my gift of opening my door to others has been. Friday was a little different in that I shared only plant-based foods, remember, wine comes from grapes, and chocolate is also starts as a bean! lol

The goods!
The goods!

Here are a couple close-ups

vegan sushi, with Asian dipping sauce, the sauce made it a 5 star dish!
vegan sushi, with Asian dipping sauce, the sauce made it a star dish!
Watermelon gazpacho spicy shooters, yes in baby mason jars!
Watermelon gazpacho spicy shooters, yes in baby mason jars!

It really was a fun time. Everyone seem to enjoy the food and I am happy to say that I passed my class and have my official Plant Based Certification from Rouxbe! Ya! now to really hone my skills and keep sharing with all who will listen, how great it is to eat well, and live well… Body, Mind and Spirit.

One of the dishes that I have made twice in the last few weeks is a chocolate torte. Wikipedia describes a torte as: A torte /ˈtɔrt/ or /ˈtɔrtə/[1] is a rich, usually multilayered, cake that is filled with whipped cream, buttercreams, mousses, jams, or fruits.[2] Ordinarily, the cooled torte is glazed and garnished. A torte may be made with little to no flour, but instead with ground nuts or breadcrumbs, as well as sugar, eggs, and flavorings.

Well, if you have read any of this blog you realize quickly that I don’t use most of those ingredients. So get ready to be dazzled by an eggless, creamless, jamless… yumminess of chocolate.

I am so grateful that chocolate is plant-based, because truly I don’t think I would give it up. Of course I am talking real chocolate, the dark, rich not “your hershey candy bar.” This ganache torte works with the dark flavor or real chocolate and can be dressed up with some sweet berries on top, or cool ice cream or sorbet (vegan of course!). You won’t be disappointed with trying this treat!

The crust can be used again in many applications (think graham cracker crust) for summer dishes of berries and fruit, but if you use it for those, you may want to omit the chipotle, but I challenge you not to with the chocolate, it adds such a layer of flavor your taste buds will be thanking you.

the mixing of the filling
the mixing of the filling

The Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups raw pecans
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder

Blend all together in food processor till it becomes crumbly and starts to come together, like gram cracker crust. Press into a 9 inch fluted, or round pan. Let chill out till filling is ready.

The Filling

  • 1/2 cup raw almond butter
  • 1/2 cup date paste
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (or substitute maple syrup)
  • 3-4 tbsp coconut butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 cup raw cocoa powder
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • approx. 1 cup filtered water

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in food processor until smooth. Add the water as blending, I didn’t use a whole cup, but maybe 3/4. You can use a high-speed blender, just stop it every once in a while and scrape sides, adding water to again get the smooth consistency, and spare your motor on the blender.

Pour the chocolate filling into the crust. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm, or in the refrigerator for about an hour to fully set. I suggest the freezer, just don’t do like I did the last time I made it for the yoga group and a bag of beans fell in the middle! lol

The finished torte
The finished torte

See, no cream, no eggs, but oooohhh, so much goodness. This piece was finished off with a simple cherry coulis, fancy word for a reduction of fruit into a sauce. If you are a chocolate lover like me, you might not want/need much of an extra touch to this dish, but it is nice to have something to compliment this rich dish! So maybe a coulis, or maybe some simple berries, your choice! I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to Chad Sarno, and all those at Rouxbe for introducing me to all this deliciousness! If you ever decide to try out Rouxbe let me know!

So there you have it my friends. Another recipe, some ramblings of life of late, but I would be remiss to not mention my family in here too. As you know my family is a big deal to me… and one of my favorite spots is my Mom and Pop’s backyard. Yesterday was no different as we celebrates my grand-niece Lilly’s second birthday! We missed the Jones gang, but they are always in our stories and hearts even while creating their memories in TN.

It's a family thing
It’s a family thing

From my favorite back yard to yours, I am sending you thoughts of peace, love and laughter. Choose to enjoy the simple moments in life, for they become your life, making memories to hold in your heart forever…

enjoying the passing of time

peace

 

 

Monday Musings… Chocolate torte, celebration

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

3john2

Hello my friends. So, a week ago I had another birthday. As birthday’s go at my age, it was a good one. Actually it was better than good. I presented my yoga practicum, I toasted with my yogi’s, watched an old movie at Victoria theatre and continued celebrating a little the next day too.
As birthdays go, I am always surprised at the number, because I really don’t know what it means. Should I act different? Change how I dress? I mean some birthdays have there built in rights of passages, but others don’t, and they just are… so there you have it.
What I can say is that when my birthday happens, I often think about the fact that basically half the year is over, and soon we will be in the holiday season. I know! I can hear you all telling me to be quiet.
I hear you telling me there is still summer to be had, and you all are correct, and well living in the moment is what I have been pondering lately.
In my yoga practicum we were to present a theme. Our music and such were to match said theme. I did… I pulled out one of my favorite songs from High School… “The Secret of Life” by James Taylor. It was a special song to me then, and it just keep coming up in my head, so I went with it, he sings about enjoying the passage of time. We often don’t do that. We worry about time, we ask for more time, we regret time, we ponder time, but do we just live?
Live in the moment, that was my theme. To truly be present right were you are, right now.
So easy to say, so hard to do. Why, I wonder?
I am trying to be more present. To savor the moments. Like the laughter of my family, like the vegan shindig I hosted with friends the other night for my Rouxbe cooking class final.
The cool breezes we have had this summer, hugs and words that go deep.
Really savoring all the flavors too of summer. The first berries from Dad’s berry bushes, and strawberry’s. The bite of that first tomato, or corn on the cob.

I hope that you are savoring the flavors and moments of the summer. The everyday, and the not so everyday moments that build a lifetime of memories, that shape us into the people we are.

This is just a quick post, I hope to blog more about my doings of late and share with you all a recipe for chocolate torte! There are so many recipes to share from my Rouxbe journey, but this one is yummy and the one I shared at our last day at Yoga training, creamy goodness and a real treat in summer!

So there you have it friends, 2 post in one day… maybe to make up for the last month of craziness!

Enjoy the moments
Peace
Debbie

Monday Musings… Summer goodness

Two weeks ago craziness was happening at my Mom’s as all the grandkids were around for VBS.  This was one of the little faces that kept us busy, Nova Joy aka Rainbow as she has informed me she likes to be called. Love my family!

Nova Joy... being a unicorn!
Nova Joy… being a unicorn!

There was slip and slide, multiple trips to the store to feed this crew, watching thunderstorms from the garage, playing in the rain, swimming, euchre, uno… well you get the idea. Oh and somebody turned 7, ya Tori!

She likes helping, little sous chef!
She likes helping, little sous chef!

I asked her if she wanted a birthday cake, and she said no, her Mom was going to make her a blue velvet cake, funny, not sure what a blue velvet cake is, and I know my sister likes to stay away from too much sweets and such, and this girl, she’s my veg eater. I had to make her a cake!

Watermelon... as cake!
Watermelon… as cake!

So we had watermelon, as a cake. I was happy with how this turned out and really anyone can do this! just cut off the top and bottom of a watermelon, carve off the sides and add other fruit with toothpicks. I used regular cookie cutters to make the shapes! It was a hit with all, and a lot easier than I thought. This was our 3rd watermelon of the week and it was only Thursday.

Watermelon is definitely a sign of summer, although I miss the little black seeds and having contest to see who could spit said seeds the farthest. Watermelon is a great treat, but also good for you. The water content is great for added summer hydration, not to mention being a wonderful source of Vitamin A, which is good for the skin, eyes and immune system and of course it is low in calories, so don’t worry if you eat a whole one! lol!

One of my favorite ways to enjoy this summer treat is making it into a tasty cooling beverage.

the players
the players

It’s best to freeze for a little bit, a bunch of cubes of watermelon, 1 1/2 cups worth or so. Juice of 1 lime, a dash of sea salt and some mint. If your watermelon is lacking enough sweetness for you, you can always add a touch of stevia or honey. Blend this all up, adding a touch of water if needed, but not too much you want it slushy, pour and enjoy!  You can tweek this to your liking, but I am telling you this is one refreshing summer drink! This mix can also be used to make popcicles. Don’t freeze the watermelon first and just blend the ingredients again play with combinations, or add blueberries before pouring into molds, so many healthy options!

yum!
yum!

So this was my cooler, that I sipped on sitting in the sun, while I finished up studying outside this past Saturday when the sun was warm, the breeze was cool and life was good.  I hope you will try drinking some watermelon this week, and enjoy the summer… because guess what the year is half over! In the blink of an eye! Oh and hug someone today, share the love!

Birthday fun
Birthday fun

Peace

Monday Musings… pondering much

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
3john2

IMG_9271

Maybe I am more wiped out from the weekend than I think. I woke up early, but was enjoying the chirping of birds, the cool breeze through the window, that I must have fallen back to sleep thinking it was still May, and spring, and there was still… time.

This past weekend I had my next to last class of yoga teacher training. Saturday was our written final and learning to spell Sanskrit and words like Paschimottanasana, which is basically a seated forward fold, or in English Intense Western Stretch. If you have ever taken a gym class, then you have done this pose, I had 27 to spell… not to mention many other questions, like Pranayama (breath work). We also started our practicums. Each of the students teaches a one hour class in which we all take the class. That’s 7 hours of yoga practice in 2 days… not something westerner’s usually do, and not this chic. So my friends, here’s the question for you today: What are your thoughts on yoga? Do you see it as a physical practice only, a religion, a cult community, crazy hippies lol? Just curious as I finish up the training, and have been teaching some, I wonder what the thoughts are of others, I value your all’s feedback on so many things, so please share.

In my head a lot is swirling around as usual. Much of it isn’t ready to put out there, but I am thinking of the lessons I have learned over the last year taking this class. The changes that have happened in my body and in the way I “view” my body. I have always seen the body as the beautiful, intricate masterpiece that God created it to be, but even more so now. In this fast paced world, yoga has taught me to slow down if only for a few moments a day to really tap into that and be thankful for the gift I have been given. Were I see faults… or should I say what I call imperfections, I now see grace (I am working on this when it comes to cellulite lol). Seriously though, like the scar from my roller blading accident, grace that I wasn’t hurt worse, didn’t poke an eye out, that I fell just right, not to snap my neck. My bum knee… through yoga I feel like I am strengthening that knee, and that twinge of pain if I go to far, reminds me that my physical body might have limits, but not the spirit of God in me, this keeps me humble. I have had the privilege of meeting people from different ages and stages of life who I would have never met, moving me out of my comfort zone. It’s opened my eyes to hearts that are open, hurting, needing, searching, thriving… it’s been cool.
Just a few thoughts.

Could I have done this with some “other” activity? Running group, cycling? Sure I suppose so, and I have in the past some. So where am I going with all this? Get out, step out of your comfort zone, take care of your body by moving it, and don’t always make it an alone journey. Join in with someone, take the journey together and discover new and wonderful things about life and yourself.

No food recipe this week, sorry, I was pretty basic in eating just big old salads, topped with last weeks dressing recipe, which by the way keeps it’s color pretty good for at least 3 days especially with the lemon juice. I have drank lots of green juice and smoothies too for the busy week. Hoping to dig back into Rouxbe this week and sharing with you more from that. If you follow me on FB I have been reposting some of the video clips from some of the doctors that are teaching in this course too.

Give me your feedback on what makes you get out and move? What are your thoughts on yoga? Do you have a good relationship with your body? I know weird question, but seriously if you don’t love your body today where it is, then will you really take care of it? Will you feed it well, or self sabotage? We take care of what we love, love your body imperfections and all, because you are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Peace,
Debbie

Monday Musings… I choose

It’s been a little bit since I have taken time to write. I miss it. I don’t know if anyone in cyber space misses hearing from me but I won’t dwell there :)

It’s June! I am really trying not to feel overwhelmed with that thought. June means that soon it will be July, which means 2 things that I have been heavily committed to, and  will be wrapping up 2 classes I have been taking. This weekend I will take my final written test for my Yoga teacher training. July I will do my practicum, and Lord willing turn in all my homework!1796666_669435899766066_1977222720_nWow, really? But I’m not there yet, and, this post isn’t about those accomplishments… yet. My online cooking class at Rouxbe also ends the middle of July, about 70% done there. I am excited and nervous, and left wondering what will I do with my newly discovered and honed skills and knowledge! Lord only knows, seriously!

I want to share with you all a recent discovery while working on Rouxbe stuff. By choice I have not eaten bread/pasta made with white flour or even wheat in a long time, only whole grain. Pretty much gluten free, again by choice. Recently I have had a few episodes where I have had such “food” only to notice some allergy like issues. The worst being when I was making seitan for my class (this is made with vital wheat gluten and it is a meat substitute). I had hives while making it-stopped to take some Benadryl and only tasted one bite. I was miserable and itchy. Since I know I had yeast rolls at Thanksgiving and even probably pizza with gluten crust since, this made me wonder if it was just the level of gluten. On I went with life, without gluten.

This past week I decided to tackle the making of manicotti, this task centered around learning the process of homemade pasta. I was a little nervous for lots of reasons, but as I was working with the dough I didn’t experience any issues.IMG_9585See how nice and not evil at all it looks… and believe me since it took 2 tries to get the dough right (this was vegan/no egg pasta), I was getting hungry. So when this came out of the oven I knew I would eat some.

the finished product
the finished product

And eat I did, not a lot, but a serving. It was yummy. The noodles were just right, and the tofu “ricotta” spinach stuffing was so good. I opted for my spicy marinara… oh ya!

Well I was having trouble sleeping so I took a Benadryl tablet, just one and tried to sleep. Friday morning I woke feeling yuk, but I had to go to work… get up I kept saying. I walked into the bathroom having trouble getting my eyes open, but was thinking I was just tired, when I looked in the mirror I had a freak out moment! My eyes, really my face were so swollen (I will spare the picture I took). I have to laugh because I thought if I wore my glasses no one would notice! Needless to say I called into work lest I freak people out. The only time I ever remember having a food reaction like this was back in college after eating Chinese for the first time, I almost went to the ER with that event, when you start wheezing you know its bad.  I decided it was MSG, and never had any problems… until the last few months. Of course I have tried to research it a little and haven’t gotten far. I think it is strange that I would develop an “allergy” after all these years. The other thing is that by choice I have eliminated these things, but now it’s not a choice, it’s a need to stay away. So for now I will be sticking to what my body seems to like, veggies, fruit, whole foods and foods as close to original as possible :)

So now that I have shared my horror story of food lol, let me get on with sharing a recipe that I made on Rouxbe that is NOT made with noodles. It’s a creamy dressing that can be used for dipping or drizzling over a summer salad. Made with avocado, this dressing has no oil in it! Yes avocado has fat, monounsaturated fat. An average avocado has about 4 grams of protein in it too! Not to mention essential vitamins and potassium. Mix you up some and enjoy the benefits and taste. There is a little chiptole in here for kick so if you don’t like spicy you can nix it, but I suggest trying a little first.

Avocado Ranch dressing/dip

  • 1 to 1-1/2 cup plain Non–Dairy Milk (ie. almond)
  • 1 avocado, pitted and flesh removed
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 of garlic
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder, or more to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
  • 3 tbsp chives, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (optional, but highly reccommend)

Place all ingredients, except the chives into blender and combine until smooth, adding only 1 cup of non-dairy milk at first. Depending on whether you are making as a dip or dressing will depend on how much liquid you will want. Once blended, add additional milk as needed. The dressing should be thick but still somewhat pourable if using as a dressing, thicker for dip.

Taste for seasoning, add more salt and/or pepper as needed. Stir in chives. If desired, add fresh lemon juice. ( I say yes add the lemon juice it adds another layer of wonderful flavor)

Fresh herbs are best, but I did use dried dill as I didn’t have any in the garden. Just remember dried herbs are concentrated so use less, and always taste!

ready for lunch!
ready for lunch!

I usually don’t add dressings to my salads, just a squeeze of lemon juice/splash of balsamic, pinch of salt, but so many people do use dressings and bottled dressings are not always what they appear. It’s so easy to whip up your own so I really encourage you to make this good choice and give this recipe a go!

Peace

Monday Musings… dipping is a sweet thing!

beautiful... and no beer for this girl... being goofy!
beautiful… and no beer for this girl… being goofy!

I am a little late in posting my blog this Monday. Speaking of the blog, I suppose I should have done a drum roll about a month ago as I have posted over 100 times here. I know, doesn’t sound like much to some bloggers, but for this recovering, well trying to, procrastinator that is something to celebrate!

Speaking of celebration… today is my niece Olivia’s birthday, sweet 16! This is the most recent pic I have here on the computer! This girl is like any growing teen, although she eats her fair share of fruits and veggies, she likes sweets and MEATS! ahhh lol, I love her anyway and one day I may win her over. She once blogged for me, and if you go back, you may enjoy her wit!

May kicks in birthday’s for me, and in the next couple of months I will also celebrate finishing my yoga teacher training and my classes on Rouxbe! Lot’s going on, but all good. At training this weekend, we did a little vision boarding, aka cut and paste therapy, dreaming. Influenced by the magazines on hand this was my vision board:

Vision board!
Vision board!

Not quite sure what it says about me, but I am pretty sure no one else had as much food, or a picture of a dark beer being poured into a mason jelly jar!

Okay, enough of the family and update on the weekend, let’s get to the sweet stuff! As I shared last week a friend of mine had asked me to help make some snacks for an open house she had a couple of weeks ago. She told me about a 2 ingredient sweet fruit dip her daughter- in- law had made. That sounded great to me, so I made it… well, that and I increased the dip ingredients by a couple. Still super easy, and has been a huge hit… so much so that I have failed to take a picture!! Needless to say as spring moves into summer and things heat up we all need a quick recipe for picnics and what better way to get more fruit eaten than serving up a dip with those apples!

Coconut Date Dip

1 can full fat coconut milk

8 oz. package of dates pitted

1/4 – 1/2 teas almond extract (can sub vanilla)

pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in food processor or high speed blender and mix till desired consistency.

I told you it was easy! This makes a lot, but will keep well for about a week in the fridge. I was thinking that if you froze it, it might be like an ice cream treat. Worth a try!

So there you have it a no excuse to I don’t have time for a little extra to put with that fruit. You could even use it to make a parfait! Use your imagination and get dipping!

Peace

Monday Musings… Bar up, a simple snack

As the weather starts improving… although as I type this it is raining. I start to spend less time at home. Which means I start making more “mobile food.” My smoothie intake ramps up (salads I can drink). I make more green juices of different kinds, and I am always looking at recipes for simple snack bars that can sub as breakfast or an energy bar after yoga or a run (hoping I will get back into my running soon).

Really snack bars are so easy to create. To buy them you spend way more money than needed and often times there are ingredients in there you may not want. I confess that I do indulge in a pinch, but always kick myself knowing how easy they are to make and have on hand. I actually stepped out on a whim and made my own a couple of weeks ago from scratch and all at HC really liked them, but need to do the recipe again before sharing here. I am gaining confidence in the kitchen and realizing that a recipe really is just a guideline with most dishes.

This past weekend a friend of mine was having a pottery open house to sell her art to fund an upcoming mission trip to Kenya.

Unfortunately I took pics only AFTER most of the stuff was gone!
Unfortunately I took pics only AFTER most of the stuff was gone!

She asked if I would help prepare snacks for the event! Now while this makes me a little nervous, I enjoy making food that is good and good for you, to surprise people with, so I was on board!

I found an easy snack bar recipe and set about to ramp it up a little in the making!

Raw Sour Cherry Almond Bars

2 1/2 cups raw almonds

1/3 cup dried sour cherries

1 cup dates pitted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 teas. sea salt

juice of 1/2 lemon, no seeds please :)

1/4 ~1/3 cup dark chocolate chips/bar, optional but recommended :)

1/8 teas./ dash of chiptole pepper,  or cayenne, optional

pinch of sea salt to melted chocolate if using and optional

in the making
in the making

In a food processor combine all the ingredients except chocolate and process until it starts to stick together well. Place a piece of parchment paper in a 9×9 baking dish (makes for easy clean up) before spooning mixture into pan and pressing evenly into place with a spatula or clean hands. Place in refrigerator for about an hour to set up before cutting into bars. If you want to elevate this bar, right before taking the bars out melt the chocolate. I use a saucepan, with boiling water, and a metal mixing boil that fits over the saucepan (this is where the chocolate melts!), double boiler fashion, stirring til the chocolate is melted. If you are using chiptole or cayenne add in while chocolate is melting, and just a dash of sea salt too! If you prefer you can use the microwave. Take the bars out of the fridge and drizzle the chocolate over the bars before cutting. These bars are best kept in the fridge.

*notes and tips. My bars seemed to fall apart a little easier than I think they should. I might have needed to either spend more time in the food processor or add a few dates to the party. Like I said the consistency should stick together fairly easy, just don’t over process lest you make nut butter :) Have no fear though these mighty bites were eaten up, and I made a double batch! Also you will note that I added a little heat to my chocolate, but it’s my preference and if you only add a little people will notice a flavor change, an extra depth, but not necessarily the heat… it’s elevating  the simple to the next level and playing on our vast array of taste buds! I highly recommend unless you just have a strong aversion to heat or are serving up to little kids!

Ready for the party!
Ready for the party!

If you don’t like cherries sub another dried fruit, or cocoa nibs, for a decadent double chocolate treat! Don’t like almonds try another nut mixture, just realize that nuts do have oil, and if you blend too much you will have a nut butter… still highly edible and yummy, but no longer a bar!

So get your snack on, or the next time someone ask you to bring a treat… bring this one, they will never realize that they are eating something good for them… they will be too WOW’d by the taste! Here’s to your health and making good choices!

Peace

 

 

 

Family style

Monday Musings… inspiration, legacy and peanut sauce

A little late in getting my blog on! It was quite a packed Easter weekend. My younger sister sent a message out to the siblings a couple of weeks ago to surprise Mom and Pop for Easter weekend. So the prep began. For me that includes turning into a crazy woman making kale chips, crackers, dips, humus, salads, dressings and what will eat for our big meal on Saturday night. Both my sisters came up with Not so Crabby, Crab Cakes, my brother suggested the stuff with “that peanut sauce” and me, well I just want everyone to be healthy and try veghead food! However we still throw out some “other food” for the carnivores… and we like to keep it simple so it’s fun, so we can play… and we do! Just a few examples here!

slack line fun
slack line fun
throwing in a little yoga before cooking!
throwing in a little yoga before cooking!

So the menu for the big meal included spring rolls (those things with the peanut sauce) for my big brother. The Not so Crabby Cakes for my sisters, (recipe is on the blog) Momma and a few others! A citrus glazed salmon with avocado and orange salsa, hasselback potatoes, grilled asparagus and chocolate pie!! Oh somebody made some grilled chicken lol :)

yummo! Spring rolls
yummo! Spring rolls
After a full day of track meet, this was a nice snack for Bro!
After a full day of track meet, this was a nice snack for Bro!
the hasselback taters!
the hasselback taters! because they are pretty and fun like us!
PIE! Pa likes this!
PIE! Pa likes this!

As you can see we aren’t much for ceremony.

Family style
Family style

But we enjoy it all…

beautiful... and no beer for this girl... being goofy!
beautiful… and no beer for this girl… being goofy!

So as you can see we like our food and fun…

The title of this post, the inspiration… this crew (we are missing 3 beautiful faces in this pic) but these are the one’s who inspire me the most.

My inspiration
My inspiration

They inspire me to make food that they may eat amidst the carnivore and some processed food that shows up! They inspire me to be me, and to strive to be better! The legacy… my Momma! I grew up eating good real food 98% of the time! A wonderful cook who has served up more dishes than I could ever imagine! My Pops, who I don’t think I have ever seen him cook if a grill or camping wasn’t involved, but who despite chemo and a meat eater palate eats some of my creations and even likes them. So much more could be said about these people… but we will get on to the recipe!

I thought about just making the peanut sauce for my brother, but hey, you have to dip something in it… or not! This sauce could be used as a dressing over a salad, or veggies. Also remember that you can make it to your taste buds… a little hotter, a little thinner, or chunky style depending on application. I have made this using either almond butter or peanut butter (just make sure you use the real stuff no Jiff allowed) so it’s up to you again to use your “inner chef” and go for it! You will not be disappointed!

Spicey Peanut Sauce

Gluten, dairy, sugar free and vegan!

1/3 cup peanut butter/or almond

1/4 cup sweetener of choice (agava, maple syrup or honey)

1/4 sesame oil (I have been known to cut this in half, but like a little of the sesame flavor)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. ginger powder or fresh is even better

pinch of red flakes (I have used here also a chili paste with garlic that has a nice kick Lan Chi brand)

pinch of sea salt

Blend all in a high-speed blender and season to taste or adjust heat as needed. At this point I like to add a couple spoonfuls of peanuts and make a chunky sauce. If needed add water if it is too thick for dipping! Yummo!!

Peace

 

Monday Musings… a few favorite things. Vegan Bechamel Sauce included

I sit here with windows open, listening to the birds chirping, breathing in deep the blessings of the weekend, and I ignore the weather forecast for tomorrow! (snow, of course, it’s April in Ohio).

Friday my lovely hairdresser left me a message asking if I might be interested in leading a yoga class for a group of cousins on their girls weekend… and maybe talk a little about food! Would I? You see this message arrived in the midst of quite a crazy Friday at my “day” job. Saturday a.m.? What kind of class? Do I have the right music, yikes, I am tired this day has been nuts, what will I talk about… before I could change my mind I called and booked the yoga/food gig. I am glad I did. The plan was for 9 a.m. on the patio, with maybe a little chat about food… I should have warned them I could talk of food and nutrition all day!

What a blessing. Yoga, outside on a beautiful spring morning! It was a little chilly as we rolled out our mats, the sun trying to peek out from behind clouds. These four wonderful women in fleece allowed me  to guide them in waking up their bodies for their fun day ahead.

A little table top dancer
A little table top dancer

As the sun shone on the patio, the music played, they giggled a little, gave each other jest as only family will. I gave them a few challenges…

Tree pose!
Tree pose!

But also guided them into some deep release…

Pigeon pose
Pigeon pose

By the time they relaxed in Savasana the sun was shining bright on the patio, fleece was shed, muscles were awakened, warmed and relaxed.

As we sat in lawn chairs I shared a little about my journey to health. It was relaxed, fun and good to see women taking control of their health and including it in a fun weekend! Thankful to Kendall, my hairdresser for the hook up, and Amy who let me share in their fun weekend.

So maybe that will be my new gig… Yoga, a little nutrition talk and maybe I could even serve up some carrot or green super juice! Ya, why didn’t I think of that one sooner! Seriously my wheels are turning as I finish up both my yoga teacher training and my Rouxbe course!

Speaking of food… my new addiction has become Bechamel Sauce over sautéed greens aka white sauce over dark greens! Yummo!

Cashew Bechamel

Spinach and Kale in white sauce
Spinach and Kale in white sauce

This sauce is so easy and so much healthier than the traditional white sauce. The uses for this sauce are also endless. Typical Bechemal sauce is made with butter, milk and white flour, none of which of course are plant-based. Funny I never really enjoyed Bechemal or white dishes much, not even Alfredo, they were always too rich or something, give me a tomato sauce.

This sauce though, made with soaked cashews, a few spices, white wine, and of course nutritional yeast is neither too rich, or heavy. Really you should give it a try!

The players
The players
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 4 to 6 cups warm water

Soak the cashews in warm water for 3-4 hours. Then drain and discard the water.

  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp onion granules
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (I didn’t have fresh, but it would be better!)
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt (optional)

*For no oil sauté:
Heat the pan to medium to high heat. Be sure the pan is heated properly. Add the onions to the dry pan and continue to stir well until the onions begin to turn translucent and stick. Try to keep the onions from browning, adding a little stock or water if needed. You can add the garlic to the onions or add directly into the blender. Remove from heat.

Transfer the sautéed onions and garlic into the blender.

To finish the sauce, add the cashews, the remaining vegetable stock, white wine, garlic, nutritional yeast, onion granules, nutmeg, white pepper and salt (if using). Blend on high-speed until smooth. Add more liquid if you choose to have a thinner consistency.IMG_9009*you can saute your onions and garlic in a little oil if you want, I chose not to.

This makes a lot. I stored half in a container in the freezer, but I am sure it won’t be long before I have to take it out. I have been using it on everything this past week!

Yes, I licked the spatula clean!
Yes, I licked the spatula clean!

So as you are planning out what kind of food you might serve on Easter this year, you might just want to include this Bechamel sauce on your greens, or broccoli, or noodles, or… you get the idea!

Peace

 

 

Tuesday Temptations… Chocolate Cream Pie!

As I sit here the sun is shining bright outside and I realize my choice for title today is most fitting.  First, I am tempted to eat chocolate pie for breakfast and I am tempted to forget the to do list and go outside and play all day!

Alas, I am all about trying to make good choices, and seek a little balance soooo, I chose chia seed mix for breakfast and I WILL go outside for some Vitamin D once a few items are crossed off the list and temp rises slightly for total enjoyment!

One of the to do/want list was to get a post out to my faithful friends who like to see what I have been cooking up lately. Last week I spent much time in the kitchen with Rouxbe task. Mixing, making, taking pictures submitting eating and having my taste buds kicked into high gear. One of the many task was making my own nut milk… why have I never done this? Anyway that’s another post.

The section I am camped in now is using meat alternatives such as tofu, tempeh, seitan. Honestly my friends, I struggle with this. I have had little success with transforming tofu into something I would go back to. A couple of years ago on vacation with the family I did whip up a great marinade that we made grilled tofu with, but it isn’t something I buy a lot of. So when faced with the challenge I picked the pie recipe for working with tofu. Seriously, you put chocolate with something and you can’t go wrong, right? Tofu is made from soy curd and originated in Japan. I watched an interesting video on the simple making of this sought after and often used food in Japan. It has no flavor of its own, so it takes on marinades well, savory and sweet, or used in unexpected ways such as a breakfast scramble, or even desserts. Why eat tofu? Protein, Vitamin E, and calcium are a few of the perks. So don’t count it out till you try it, and what better way to try it then hidden in a pie.

Easter is coming, and families will be gathering and who doesn’t like a little pie after dinner? This is one you could feel good about serving up, and you need not let anyone know that there is tofu in it! The crust is made with pecans and don’t omit the little kick of chipotle powder in a pinch you might sub a dash of cayenne, but the chipotle has a little more smoke flavor to it. Go for the dark chocolate chips too. I didn’t have enough, but I had some chocolate bar and used it up! Also my other sub was coconut sugar. Just so you know as they say in Rouxbe, a recipe is a template, turn on your cooking brain. Here is a pic of my set up, we have to do this for class :)

The players to the party
The players to the party

This pie really does come together so well, and quickly. You could even do the crust ahead and keep in fridge. After melting the chocolate it goes in with the drained off tofu into the food processor…. mmm, yum, chocolate!

coming together
coming together

I didn’t have a pie pan so I used my spring form pan which made the pie a little thinner, so I think the presentation lacks a little, and berries on this as an accent as shown in the Rouxbe recipe (included at the end of post) really is prettier, but the taste… oh the taste, really I wish you could reach your fork in and snag a taste.

finished temptation!
finished temptation!

I took a piece of this to my Dad and Mom who I was meeting at a local pub for dinner. Dad’s taste buds are a little off (thanks chemo/not), but I thought I would give it a try. He ate all but a few bites,  my Mom was able to snag! He liked it! I don’t even know if he knew he was eating tofu, but it made this health nut daughter so happy to know her Pa got some good protein and dark chocolate that has cancer fighting antioxidants! win, win! This pie also received rave reviews from my yogi friends this weekend! This is a keeper for sure!

My recommendation is just don’t tell anyone what’s in it until after (of course unless there is an allergy). The creaminess of the chocolate, the sweetness of the nut crust and that little hint of heat makes each mouthful a dance on the taste-buds!

So I hope that I have managed to tempt you into making this treat! While this is a healthier version of a dessert, it is still a dessert and should be savored as such… and maybe a bite for breakfast!

Peace,

http://rouxbe.com/recipes/5195-chocolate-cream-pie

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