I wish I had a brownie for every time I’ve been informed that eating naturally is simply too hard. While making fancy shmancy meals can be a fun project, uber delicious healthy food doesn’t have to be complicated. Some of my favorite “recipes” are not recipes at all. Take, for example, a fig. Bite into it and . . . whoa! All those little seeds and colors and textures are like whole universe of magnificent complexity tucked inside a shriveled-looking edible fruit package. Imagine if the fig didn’t exist, and some company “invented” the recipe for one: would the fig not be the most amazing “product?” So much of our food experience comes down to mindset.
There’s a style of Japanese brush painting called shodo – a form of calligraphy with an abstract offshoot that attempts to capture energy and kinetics through a few simple brush strokes. Whereas most styles of painting take days, months, even years to complete, shodo takes just a few calculated moments. A swish. A swash. Maybe one last accoutremental zing . . . and then, the decision to end. And within this philosophy of “less is more,” the biggest challenge becomes when to step away and recognize perfection in “just enough.” It’s an empowering judgment call – a kind of discipline in a way – embracing simplicity in this funny world of ours that is obsessed with faster, newer, hotter, and anything that begins with “now with more.”
I find natural foods can take us back to a Tao-like state — appreciating beauty in simplicity.
Poor ol’ “less.”
In the realm of food — for the most part — modern cuisine teaches “just enough” is never enough. Our perfectly lovely foods are processed, packaged, mixed, mingled, extracted, added and bastardized until they’re pretty much unrecognizable. Then we process them again, add healthyish-looking colorings, artificial vitamins and preservatives, and reshape the result into forms that pass for food-like. I don’t think most people would be too impressed if I took a beautiful shodo painting, sprayed graffiti all over it until it turned grey, covered it in white-out to get to a white page again, and then drew a couple of lines mimicking the original painting in magic marker. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Today I’ve got a tasty ice cream dessert recipe to share, which has the added benefit of the medicial chaga mushroom (although it’s optional). I did a post on chaga last year and included a Chaga Maple Frosty recipe in addition to mentioning some of it’s benefits. I’m fortunate to live in an area where chaga grows in abundance all year around.
I made this ice cream last week, since a friend was over for dinner and I wanted to do a little something special. What to do with a few young coconuts, some ripe mushy persimmons, fresh ginger, and a bunch of soaked irish moss?! Here’s what I came up with. It would also be great with a chocolate sauce, or orange segments in place in place of the persimmon jelly. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
This six seed spelt soda bread is almost like a corn bread in its sweetness and density. It’s also just as easy to make. Try this one out for your next party, guest will love it with a little olive oil and sea salt sprinkled on top.
Feel free to experiment with other combinations of seeds you prefer or what you have on hand. If a wheat allergy isn’t a problem with you, you can also make this with whole-wheat flour in place of the whole spelt flour and unbleached all-purpose flour in place of the white spelt flour.
I don’t know when it happened, but ever since Autumn began I have had an obsession with chili. I started ordering it from Curly’s Lunch, and became shamelessly addicted to the very cheap and hearty meal. Feeling intimidated to re-create one of my favorite cold weather meals, I knew I had to throw in some special flavors. The white corn kernels, as time consuming as they are, and the nutmeg make this stew really special. In the winter months, like most, I crave warm, filling one-pot meals that I can make on a Sunday and eat throughout the week. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how long this batch will last!
I am not one to use canned beans or vegetables. I most always cook with fresh seasonal produce. But sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do and use what you got. Like when you are stuck inside cause there is a snow storm and you forgot to go to the market so you got slim pickin’s to work with to make dinner. I open the pantry and my eyes fall upon a can of fire-roasted organic tomatoes. Hmmmmm…my mind is a flutter… I’m gonna make us some soup and a loaf of six-seed spelt bread.
My CSA keeps getting better and better. A few weeks ago, we have received watermelon, several types of fresh herbs and bountiful amounts of different greens. No offense, but I was getting so sick of summer squash and cucumbers. I finally got over my summer squash boredom, but there is only so much I can take!
As I mentioned, we finally started getting some sassy greens in the mix. This week I got arugula, spicy greens mix and mesclun greens. They are currently taking over my refrigerator. I love nothing more than feeling like I’m drowning in a fridge full of produce, let me tell you. I am the worst food shopper ever, and by that I mean I never ever get necessities. I am always browsing my local store, and farmer’s markets just to find anything fun and inspiring to cook with. Therefore, I always have too much food on hand. It is literally a race to finish it all.
Today we are going to make, Brown Rice Cakes with Calimyrna Figs, Arugula And A Thyme-Infused Balsamic Reduction. Now doesn’t that sound good?
I mentioned before that I have a hard time eating figs. It isn’t that I dislike them, I just find I’m always eating them plain. I also always tend to eat them with sweet things (like tarts) , and this time I decided to do something a little more savory.
The pumpkin pictured below, Is that not the purtiest, most perfect pumpkin you’ve ever laid your eyes on?! Now I’m not normally one to brag, but I growed that big beauty up there and man, I am proud! It’s my first successful squash, my garden’s inaugural gourd. The primary pumpkin! And apparently when I get excited, I alliterate!
I was so enamored of this precious pumpkin. I knew I had to do it justice, to create something really special. Lucky for me, a pumpkin goes a long way! I spent the whole weekend carving, chopping, blending, juicing, and otherwise altering the darling orb into all manner of delightful delicacies. But first things first, the prep work:
The heavy melon was washed and halved, the innards removed. The seeds were cleaned and set aside for roasty toasty. From there, it’s a blank canvas . . .
Merry merry jolly jolly to you all! Almost time to celebrate. The tree trimming, the lights sparkling, the festive decorations hanging, the fireplaces crackling, the soups simmering, the stews slowly brewing, the spiced apple cider steaming, the rich hot chocolate warming, the bread baking…mmmmmm I could go on and on….love the holiday season. Always have. And I especially love love love to bake, to brew, to stew and to create something new everyday in my warm toasty kitchen.
When I was a vegan (yes, I said ‘was’) I decided to take the 6 month chef’s training program at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in NYC to learn how to cook vegan style. The focus was on cooking with whole foods and how important it is, especially if you are vegetarian, vegan or RAW to learn about how to eat a balanced diet. For example, when I was RAW for over a year I felt great for awhile but then I became totally imbalanced, tired and even lost my period. I was eating a tremendous amount of dried and fresh fruits or raw desserts to try and gain energy. I later learned it was a sign my body was craving protein. It took me a bit to get over my militant RAW food obsessions and transition out of that diet but when I did, I immediately felt better. I just did. I didn’t want to admit that eating a little organic animal protein balanced me out but it did. And it still does. So now, I like to call myself a Flexatarian — which is roughly translated to mostly vegan sprinkled with raw goat dairy, some organic meats and eggs. But I am getting off on a tangent now, so back to the holiday meal! Jeeezzzzzzz….. :)
One of my teachers at the Natural Gourmet was chef and cookbook author Myra Kornfeld. She wrote one of my favorite vegan cookbooks “The Voluptuous Vegan” A cookbook I always seem to go back to time and time again. I bring Myra and her book up because truth be told, this recipe is heavily inspired by a recipe of hers, which I have made many times over the years, for my family and friends. Not only does it look beautiful but it tastes incredible.
All of your guests (vegan or not) will be unbelievably nourished and satisfied. I am not a fan of serving up a veggie meal ladened with all those fake processed vegan meats. Tempeh is a whole food yes, but tofu is not and who the heck knows what’s in those vegan sausages and that damn Tofurky, right? If ya ask me, it’s a bunch of man made crap that will cause much unfortunate digestive upset… ;)
So….try this recipe out for a delicious whole food holiday meal alternative. Believe me, your vegan, vegetarian, and yes, even carnivore friends will be feeling the delicious holiday spirit and will leave your table very jolly!
with Macadamia Ricotta Filling and Cherry Tomato Marinara (raw)
If you don’t have a juice capable of homogenizing nuts, you could try using store bought raw Cashew-Macadamia nut butter. It has to be thick though, otherwise the ricotta mixture will be too runny and will leak out of the manicotti rolls.
I tend to use cherry or grape tomatoes in all of my recipes, except during heirloom tomato season. They taste the best and don’t have that mealy texture that most tomatoes have (even the organic ones) especially in winter.
Our friend Brendan Brazier, the vegan tri-athlete, author and formulator of the Vega food products, stopped by to show Sarah and Boise how to make a raw energy bar. This is one of the first products Brendan created during his early days of training.
Red Kuri, Buttercup, Kabocha or Delicata are my favorites squash’s to use for this simple and delish recipe. This is a beautiful festive compliment to any meal; mix it into a mixed winter green salad, put it over cooked grains, sautéed greens, sprinkle some toasted pumpkins seeds over it…basically anyway you wanna serve this, you gotta wonderful sweet seasonal treat… :)