Yummy Belly Fun, The Edible Fruit Puzzles by GreenChefs Golubka

golubka edible fruitrollup puzzles 06 Yummy Belly Fun, The Edible Fruit Puzzles by GreenChefs GolubkaPhotography Golubka

Paloma loves to eat. In that way, we are very fortunate. It’s quite a rarity for her to turn down food, and she’s always eager to try anything I put in front of her. I’ll never forget an impossibly bitter dandelion smoothie that I made. No one could drink it, except for Paloma, who joyfully slurped down a whole glass. I dearly love to cook and feed people, especially family and friends, and her approval makes me one happy mama.

Our days usually start with me cooking breakfast and impatient Paloma sitting at the kitchen table, spoon in hand, narrating my preparations and hurrying me on. It’s quite humorous. She is not the calmest of children (a little tornado to be exact) and becomes very excited when food is in sight.

This is where the idea for the edible puzzle stemmed from. I imagined a game that would occupy Paloma, and, since she puts everything in her mouth, be safe and tasty to eat. I thought about the obvious educational qualities of puzzles such as teaching about shape, colour, size, structure, and included two more – flavour and nutritional value.

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I Bought The $10 Mast Brothers Chocolate Bar, So Why Am I Not in Chocolate Heaven :(

mast coffee chocolate 02 I Bought The $10 Mast Brothers Chocolate Bar, So Why Am I Not in Chocolate Heaven :(Photographer V Blak

Let me start this post with an UPSIDE DOWN smile :( Okay now that I have that out of my system, lets focus on the title of this post: I Bought The $10 Mast Brothers Chocolate Bar, So Why Am I Not in Chocolate Heaven. What the hell is that suppose to mean right? Well, this is what it means. I sooooo badly wanted to LOVE, I mean butterflies in my belly, love this Chocolate Bar. Why why chocolate fairy did you still my joy!

Let me start at the beginning. I was in the big NYC for a little work and a whole lot of Loving (wishful thinking I know) a few weeks ago. I started off the visit by seeing my friend Dan, who has an office just around the corner from the newish Ace Hotel in Manhattan. Yeah, that cool hip salvation army looking hotel chain. The one out of Portland Oregon. It’s an awesome place and they even have a Portland styled espresso bar just off the main lobby of the Hotel. Since we were so close, we decided to make the Ace our morning espresso destination. Wow, it did not disappoint. The entire lobby is a wifi free hang out zone, featuring a completely black 40 foot ceiling with massive roman style white columns holding up the place.

I think I must have passed out. When I woke, there was a large chunk of this dry bitter bar still stuck to my tongue.

We headed into the espresso bar and order up a few soy cappuccinos. As I am paying for our brews, what quirky little thing catches my eye on the counter? The one and only Mast Brothers Chocolate Bars. I couldn’t believe it. I just wrote a post on the Mast Brothers a week or so before heading to NYC. The post included a few amazing videos about the two brothers and their dedication to the old world craft of chocolate making. Their Brooklyn based store in the videos looked like a mini chocolate heaven to me. So, seeing these Willy Wonka type bars right there, on the counter was just too much to resist, I grabbed one and told the barista, add this to my bill. First words out of his mouth were, are you sure, they are $10. The number echoed in my head. $10 Doooollllaaarrrssssss. Time seemed to stop. Everything was in slow motion. I could hear the hiss of the steam escaping the espresso machines, the slurping sound from all the hipsters sucking down their espressos and my own breath rushing out of my lungs… and then these words leaving my lips, of course, no problem, let me have it. And oh did he! $20 or so dollars later Dan and I strolled out with two espresso’s and my new shiny heaven in a bar of Mast Brothers Espresso Dark Chocolate.

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The End Of Gourmet, The Demise Of An Old Friend, And My Shattered Heart

end of gourmet magazine sarma 01 The End Of Gourmet, The Demise Of An Old Friend, And My Shattered Heart

Looking back at the demise of something so dear to my heart. I wrote this post last year as the end was blaring out of the TV, but something this big this important should be shouted from the roof tops, so here is my tribute to not just a magazine, but to an old friend, who for reasons beyond belief, is no longer with us.

Why? Why why why…? It was October 5th 2009, about two weeks ago, I was at the gym, on the treadmill. Loud music blasting in my iPod earphones, CNN on the screen in front of me, both meant to distract me from dwelling on the fact that I’m running on a conveyor belt alongside other people running on conveyor belts. Then I saw it. An image on the TV screen of the cover of the latest issue of Gourmet magazine, and the printed headline, “Gourmet magazine closes after 70 years.” WHAT!? No Way! How is that possible? I’m frantically looking around, for… what… ? I think I was expecting others must have seen this headline and also stopped running out of shock and disbelief, like me. I was thinking I’d see people hugging, comforting one another over the news, shaking their heads. But no, I only saw people still running, pedaling, and the usual sea of heads bobbing up and down in the elliptical section.

I couldn’t keep going. I had to know what happened, so I ran home and checked online and yes, indeed, Conde Nast was shutting down Gourmet. Along with 3 other titles: a cookie magazine and two bridal magazines. I don’t get it. Isn’t there another silly magazine they could shut down? How about Golf World or Golf Digest? Does the world really need both? (or either?) Immediately I emailed my Mom, my Stepmom, and chef Neal, among others, like “OMG, did you hear???” They too were saddened. I wanted to call people and talk about it. I wanted to pull out a bottle of good wine and sit on the floor with all my old issues spread out around me, flipping through them and getting drunk and nostalgic. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Bonzai Makes Homemade Vegan Yogurt Via Crock-Pot

bonzai home made vegan yogurt 01 Bonzai Makes Homemade Vegan Yogurt Via Crock PotPhotographer: Sayward Rebhal

Yogurt is an ancient wonderfood, brimming with beneficial bacteria to keep your gut running good ‘n healthy. But standard yogurt is made with dairy milks – blech – which contain hormones and carcinogens and acids and allergens and irritants. Oh my! But no worries, making your own alt yogurt is *super* easy and totally fun. It also saves a small fortune versus buying prepackaged products (which contain a slew of additives as well).

If you already have a yogurt maker you’re super stoked – and you can still use this recipe, but follow your machine’s directions when it comes time to culture. If you’re interested in making lots of yogurt at home, a yogurt maker may be a good investment for you. They’re really quite cheap – especially if you can find one secondhand (check Craigslist!).

But, a yogurt maker isn’t necessary! I make yogurt in my crock-pot, which is one machine that’s worth the money for all sorts of reasons. (I <3 my crock so much!) But even if you have neither a yogurt maker nor a crock-pot, you can *still* make yogurt at home! Just see the note at the end of this post. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Retreating To Noci And The Abate Masseria Resort | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

retreating to noci Aria italian journey 011 Retreating To Noci And The Abate Masseria Resort | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

My cooking school has ended and now I have a few free days before I go back to Roma to meet my sister who will be joining me for the last two weeks of my Italian journey. Hmmmmmmm…what do I wanna do after a decadent week of abundant food and wine and socializing and lack of sleep…how about a silent retreat and f-ing cleanse! Ha.

I was looking on line at a bunch of different towns and hotels and then, after many searches, I found it: Abate Masseria Resort in the town of Noci. This place sung to me through the computer. I asked Silvestro what he thought about Noci (which means Walnut in Italian) and he said, “Noci? Why would you want to go there? It’s a farm town in the countryside and there is nothing to do.” Perfecto. That’s exactly what I want. Nowhere to be, nothing to see, no one around, no espresso, no wine, not a lot of food, just the sound of birds singing, wind blowing, farmers working, ahhhhhhh… bliss. So I took the train from Lecce north to a town called Bari, got into a cab and drove 45 minutes into the mountains, arriving at Abate Masseria Resort in peaceful Noci.

retreating to noci Aria italian journey 02 Retreating To Noci And The Abate Masseria Resort | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals
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Olives / Not Just The Best F@ckin Fruit In A Jar

olives notjustthebestfuckinfruitinajar 01 Olives / Not Just The Best F@ckin Fruit In A JarPhotographer: Dan Shouse

I will say it again, Not Just The Best F@ckin Fruit In A Jar, not by a mile. Olives, in my opinion maybe the greatest fruit of all-time. Olives have been described in biblical and other historic texts and are often associated with good health, goodwill, happiness, and peace. In Greece you could actually be put to death for harming an olive tree, while over in Rome is was considered a highly “sexual” fruit, and used as an aphrodisiac. Romans would eat them by the hundreds in single sittings, and were also the first civilization credited for the perfection of olive oil by using a stone press. The more you study olives and their history the more you begin to see how amazing they truly are. I am not talking about your black olives in a can either, I mean REAL, big juicy ripe olives that are fresh and magical.

Most of you know from reading my stuff that I am a big fan of eliminating toxins and getting the toxic mucus out of your system. With olives you seriously hit the jackpot in accomplishing this. Olives have a greater ability than oranges to dissolve toxic mucus in the system, and that’s saying a lot, because oranges are actually great for that. According to Ragnar Berg’s table which lists different foods ability to bind with acids it shows olives having the highest propensity to do so, actually THREE TIMES GREATER than oranges. The higher a foods acid-binding ability, the better it is at dissolving toxic mucus and removing cooked food residues from the body. It turns out that the olive comes it at a rating of 30.56, with figs coming in at 27.81. There were no other foods on the list that even topped a score of 20. Oranges came in at 9.61 and it is considered one of the very best toxic mucus dissolvers. Olives are pretty powerful little fruits!

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Sea Food And The Bottom Dwellers | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

Aria italian journey cooking school seafood 01 Sea Food And The Bottom Dwellers | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

Lets be honest, I am not gonna be eating shellfish when I get back home and if I wasn’t here in Lecce I would not be eating all these ‘shit’ eaters at all. Well…that is what they are! And, as you know, while I AM here, I say… f-it! But I gotta admit, it’s been a wee bit challenging for me. But, I’m doing the best I can with embracing the all the many crustacean meals we are making. And we do seem to be making a lot of them. I mean, we are along the Adriatic Sea and all, where the water is clear and blue and beautiful. It surely looks clean but as we all know, looks can be deceiving so while I am here, it’s better not ta ask or investigate if the Sea is, in fact, clean so….F-it!

Today was an easy peassy fish soup that surprisingly didn’t taste too fishy or was too stinky. Which is kinda surprising cause it’s clams, shrimp, mussels, scampi and cod fish in a pot with white wine, tomatoes, garlic, sea salt, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped parsley, basil and mint. It’s very quick to make. The soup takes, at most, about 8 minutes from start to finish. Thank god for the bread today cause I basically dipped it in the soupy part, avoiding the ‘shit’ eaters as much as I could…

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The Last Supper | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

last supper Aria italian journey 01 The Last Supper | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

Yes, friends, this is almost it. The Awaiting Table is coming to an end. It’s been so lovely but, I gotta tell ya, I am f-ing filled to the brim with food and wine. I need to stop f-ing eating and drinking! Ahhhhh… 1 dinner and 1 lunch to go…I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…okay…twist my arm…. :)

The temperature keeps rising here so we wanted to create the least amount of heat in the kitchen while making dinner. That was the plan anyway. But as you know, plans don’t always go as planned. Somehow I volunteered to make the eggplant over the hot stove. The dish shoulda been called eggplant with essence of Aria from all the sweat I dripped making them. And right next to me, Ted was sweating a big pan of yellow bell peppers and next to him Giuseppe was sautéing a pot of string beans…I mean…come on guys! This was probably the MOST heat we made in the kitchen!

The only thing that wasn’t creating any heat was a classic Leccese dish. It’s basically a bread salad with fresh vegetables. The difference is that they use a local dense hard bread to do it called, Frise Integrali. It’s cooked like a biscotti so it’s very hard and the only way they eat it is by soaking it in water to rehydrate it and then eat/use in recipes when soft. Am I the only one who finds that strange? I mean, why not just keep it soft in the first place? Well, I asked of course, and Silverstro informed me that this particular type of bread has been around for years and originally was eaten by field workers and those who travelled long distances because it doesn’t spoil. So they would pack the hard bread in their bag and when they got hungry travelling along the countryside, or working in the fields, they would forage some wild onions and tomatoes, what ever they could find and soak the hard bread in the fresh stream until soft and managia (that’s eat in Italian)! Well, I’ve tried it both ways and personally, I like it better crunchy. But then again, I’m American, so what do I know… :)

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My Life In Italy Attending The Awaiting Table Cooking School | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

cooking italian Aria italian journey 01 My Life In Italy Attending The Awaiting Table Cooking School | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

If my life in Italy wasn’t envious enough for you… and me for that matter …I’m gonna break down my days here in Lecce. Around 10am we all meet at the café for our morning espresso drink of our individual choosing. I first started out with an Americano but since it is so freaking hot here I have moved onto the iced espresso with the almond milk I talked about in my previous post. Oh and since I am being so honest with you all, I must admit, my one shot of espresso has moved onto two! It’s a pretty molto bene way to start the day, I gotta say.

So, after we all slowly enjoy each other’s company mixed with the gentle kick from the caffeine, we walk down the road to the famers market and buy all of our fresh produce and ingredients for lunch and dinner. After shopping we walk back to school in the hot summer sun and start our prep to cook lunch. Also, if we are making pasta, we will make 2 different shapes and we’ll enjoy one shape for lunch and the other for dinner.

This is the first time in a long time I have enjoyed eating pasta. It’s fresh and dense and chewy and light and hearty all the same time so less is more, which means you don’t need to eat a mound of it to feel nourished and get satisfied. And since it’s a blend of unprocessed whole grain barley and semolina flours, it gives it tons of fiber, which makes for lovely regularity for this traveler. Sorry…I’m just saying…

Ummmm…before I mention what we prepared, I just want to give a shout out to a very special particular G Monkie who informed me that I am the first and only one blogging on this site who is writing about non-vegan dishes. Thank you for allowing me to share my non-vegan ways!

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Fix Me Pumpkinseed Salad by GreenChef Sarma Melngailis

Sarma Melngailis pumpkinseed salad 01 Fix Me Pumpkinseed Salad by GreenChef Sarma Melngailis

On our menu it’s actually called the Pumpkinseed and Herb Salad, but otherwise referred to by me as my favorite breakfast salad. I wake up craving this salad. And yes, it’s meant to fix me. I started eating this specific green mix because I was told that I probably need more of the sexy mineral zinc in my system, among other things. I haven’t been feeling well (at all) so this salad is part of my healing plan. My books are all about how raw food makes you feel amazing. I used to feel amazing. Why do I now feel like shit? And how can I admit that? (Doing it now). More on the healing plan as soon as I can find more time to write about it. Back to zinc. Pumpkinseeds happen to be very high in zinc. And so my love affair with pumpkinseeds has been rekindled.

Years ago in another (not raw) restaurant, I put a pumpkinseed salad on the menu: lolo rosso and red oak lettuces, shaved bosc pear, shaved pecorino, toasted salted pumpkinseeds and pumpkinseed lemon dressing. While I love delicate fluffy greens like lolo rosso and red oak, what I really can’t get enough of are kale and herbs. I could eat bathtubs of kale.

So, I started making myself this salad at the restaurant. Kale plus a bunch of parsley leaves, cilantro leaves, and torn mint leaves. Add hempseeds (full of omega-3’s… good for so many reasons!). Then toss the whole thing in a dressing made of pumpkinseed oil and lemon juice, and plenty of salt (ideally Himalayan crystal salt). You can also use a mix of olive (or other) oil with the pumpkinseed oil since the flavor is strong, and good quality raw organic pumpkinseed oil happens to be super expensive. (ours comes from Austria, raw and organic). I love maxium pumpkinseed flavor so I use just that oil and lemon (and salt). Top this green pile with a handful of pumpkinseed macadamia parmesan.

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Lecce Forbidden Espresso | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

aria alpert lecce italy espresso 01 Lecce Forbidden Espresso | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

Well, I am here. In Lecce. The most quaint, glorious, Italian town I have ever experienced. Yes, I know this is the first time I have ever been to this country but I am still gonna stand by a statement like that. Lecce is everything I ever fanaticized an Italian town, along the coast would be. The friendly locals, the simple and rustic cuisine, the landscape, the vino and the…the…the (forbidden) ESPRESSO! Yep, my friends you read that right, I said it. I am proudly drinking it. It’s some good shit. I must say. I have missed you my espresso!

The espresso over here is totally different than in the states. Even the imported stuff doesn’t compare. I was talking to a local today about that and she says it has to do with the water here, which is loaded minerals and especially has lots of Iron. She says it balances the acidity in the espresso. And boy oh boy does it ever. Yum. Smooth, bitter, perfectly astringent and most importantly, it hasn’t given me the crazy cracked out feeling that I often get when I drink the stuff back home. This espresso just a nice little kick. A warm Italian embrace to get your day started out right. And while I am here in Lecce, or in Italy for that matter, I do believe I am gonna get into it. Well…I guess I already have.

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Coffee, That Dark Rich Demon In My Cup…Oh, Coffee!

coffee the dark demon inmycup juli novotny 01 Coffee, That Dark Rich Demon In My Cup…Oh, Coffee! Photography by V Blak (CC)

My uncle and I were talking the other day, he’s not a raw foodist by any means but he’s a health NUT and he owns a supplement company. He drinks green smoothies, makes everything fresh, eats only organic meat, goes on radical cleanses and so on as we do from time to time about health and food.

Our topic on this particular day was COFFEE! Yes, coffee, which I indulge in from time to time. The reason I brought up coffee was because I had read something that REALLY freaked me out. I mean, deep down I know that coffee is far from a healthy beverage. It’s a Fake-Out and a stimulant and bad for the kidneys and nervous system to some degree, it stimulates the bowls, and so on and so forth. Then you hear on the news sometimes that small amounts are actually “healthy for us”! Come on! I don’t believe that {although I listen in hopes that I hear something new and interesting as to why I should drink that espresso}. I mean, MAYBE the good {it’s a great pick-me-up when you are tired} outways the BAD sometimes and won’t really HARM us in a permanent way. Now that I can see!

But again, as with most things, we are always looking for an excuse to drink it or eat it! Right? We like to justify it. I mean come on, there are WORSE things, right?

Back to my story: the blurb I had just read that day was out of Sarma and Matthew’s Raw Food Real World. I had received the book as a gift about 5 years ago when it first came out and hadn’t really read much of it. Of course one of the first pages I turned to was the page on COFFEE and how bad it is for us.

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