Perfect Lentil Soup

Perfect Lentil Soup

Although autumn arrived last month, Northern California clearly hasn’t gotten the memo. In late October we were still enjoying the spoils of 70+ degrees. I’m sure you are appalled at someone complaining about such ‘perfect’ย weather but hey, sometimes you just want to layer! I love summer as much as the next girl but just like a house guest over staying their welcome, one soon tires of being sweaty. Every year around early September I eagerly await the changing colored leaves and smell of pumpkin bread wafting out of my kitchen. But much to my chagrin, this year it seemed that summer just didn’t want to let go… Finally on one glorious morning a few days ago, I woke to a brisk 50 degrees and excitedly brought my knit scarves and cozy boot socks out from hibernation.

As the chill in the air grows ever stronger and the nights grow ever longer I am inspired to stay home, cuddle up to my family and enjoy hot soup out of well insulated mugs. A tried and true staple in my home is lentil soup. I’ve been playing with this recipe for years and with each little tweak it further evolves into one of my favorites. As with any good recipe you can use the bare bones of this to experiment and make it your own. Spices and veggies can be tweaked to your liking and you can puree a lot or a little depending on your preference. I prefer mine heavy with tomato and spice and pureed just a little so I can still experience the texture of the ingredients.

Perfect Lentil Soup

Ingredients

DSC_0735

  • 4 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
  • 1 yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 2 organic carrots, chopped
  • 2 organic stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups dried lentil soaked for 12-24 hours
  • 1 quart (4 cups) bone brothย or veggie broth for a vegan option
  • 1 large organic heirloom tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch organic Swiss chard, de-stemmed and torn into manageable bites

Process

  1. Place coconut oil or ghee in a large dutch oven over medium heat until oil is hot
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt and cook for about 5 minutes
  3. Add lentils, broth, tomatoes and spices, increase heat and bring to a boil
  4. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes
  5. Add Swiss chard and with pot uncovered gently cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Take soup off heat and using an immersion blender, puree soup ever so slightly to add a creaminess without losing the texture of the lentils and vegetables.

DSC_0781 (2)

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Carrot Muffins

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Carrot Muffins

Hot muffins right out of the oven. Is there anything better? That smell that permeates your kitchen and any other room with door left ajar… simply heaven. I make sure to close all windows and open the door to my bedroom while I bake so that when my head rests on my pillow that night I am lulled to sleep with the delicious scent of baked goods dancing in my nostrils. These muffins are to die for. The sweet earthly flavors of the sweet potato and carrot are a perfect match with the cinnamon and garam masala. Throw in some eggs, coconut oil, almond milk, coconut sugar and a dash of honey and you have a winning muffin. These taste reminiscent of carrot cake. With crispy edges and a moist and fluffy inside, my husband, daughter and I quickly gobbled them up. Breakfast dessert never tasted so good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Carrot Muffins

~Makes about 18 muffins~

DSC_0031 (2)

Ingredients

  • 1 baked organic Japanese yam or any variety or sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 organic shredded carrots
  • 2 farm fresh eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose gluten free flour blend, I used this
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 oz dark chocolate chips, I used ghiradelli’s 70% and loved the slight bitterness

Process

  1. Bake sweet potato on 400 for 40 minutes, once cooled, peel skin off and discard
  2. Lower oven to 350 degrees
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, honey, sweet potato, coconut oil and almond milk until smooth
  4. Add carrots and gently mix in
  5. In a medium bow, whisk dry ingredients together
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until combined
  7. Fold in chocolate chips
  8. Grease muffin liners and fill 3/4 of the way full with batter
  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean

I enjoyed these best in the morning with a cup of coffee or tea, they were also a delicious mid day snack, and absolutely scrumptious for dessert… I guess what I’m saying is these muffins are perfect just any old time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

DSC_0015 (2)

DSC_0051 (2)

Vegan Strawberry Banana Sherbet

Vegan Strawberry Banana Sherbet

It’s starting to feel like summer in Fremont. Temperatures have been hitting 90 nearly every day and the sun has been relentless. I got a burn after only 10 minutes in my backyard! It’s true I am pretty pasty but usually I can go at least 20 minutes before becoming a lobster. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What do I crave on hot summer days? An ice cold beverage, maybe a dip in the ocean and always ice cream. I’ve been staying away from most dairy lately as I’ve noticed it stuffs me up and makes me a little sluggish. I do however still enjoy my butter/ghee. It is one of my favorite things on this earth and I must have it on my toast in the morning. It makes me too happy inside to give it up. Besides, I believe good quality grass fed butter is a health food… in responsible quantities of course. Butter is loaded with the vitamin K-2 and the anti-inflammatory fatty acid, Butyrate. These are very important nutrients for heart and bone health.

That was a bit of a tangent wasn’t it? … you can tell I love my butter. ๐Ÿ˜› ANYWAY, since I’ve been avoiding most dairy I have been satisfying my hot day ice-cream craving with homemade vegan sorbet instead. It is so easy and delicious you guys, if you haven’t tried it, you MUST. All you need for homemade sorbet is any combination of frozen fruit and a blender. Seriously. It’s amazing.

Lately though I’ve been craving more of a sherbet, something with a little creaminess to it. So… I just added a little coconut cream to my frozen fruit and voila! A vegan sherbet with no refined sugar and a whole lot of hot day ice cream craving satisfaction. My ice cream maker is in storage so I needed to use a little elbow grease to get this creamy but I’ll tell you it was well worth it.

Vegan Strawberry Banana Sherbet

DSC_1491

IngredientsMakes about a pint

  • 1 1/2 frozen bananas
  • 15 frozen organic strawberries
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (I skim the cream off the top of a chilled can of coconut milk) 
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Process

  1. Add all ingredients to food processor and process until combined and creamy. This took me about 5 minutes because the strawberries were so hard.
  2. Pour sherbet into mixing bowl and place in freezer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Take bowl out of freezer and vigourously whisk for a minute,
  4. Place back in freezer for another 30 minutes
  5. Repeat the process another 2-3 times
  6. Let sherbet harden in the freezer for another 2 hours or so
  7. Using an Icecream scoop, doll out your deliciousness!
  8. Keep sherbet in an airtight container in the freezer

I would recommend taking your sherbet out of the freezer about 15-30 minutes before enjoying (depending on the temperature of your house) The consistency is softer and creamier when it’s a little less frozen. Just make sure you don’t let it become a smoothie. Unless of course you feel like one! โค

XO ~ Sam

DSC_1451

DSC_1455

DSC_1478

Raw Chia Cardamom Cocoroons

Raw Chia Cardamom Cocoroons

I love cookies. Who doesn’t right? If they weren’t so void of nutrition I’d likely be popping them all day. I used to be able to eat like that. In fact I used to eat so poorly that I’m surprised I didn’t have a coronary by my senior year.

In high school, I’d polish off an entire medium sized dominoes pizza for dinner and about 10-12 chips ahoy cookies for dessert. All.by.my.self. This was only after my McDonalds breakfast of 2 egg, cheese and ham McMuffins with 2 hash browns and my lunch of a double quarter pounder with cheese with a large fry and soda.

Yes… I’m serious. I ate like that nearly every day until I was 18. I was an active teen, playing water polo and swimming and I have good genes so I never gained any weight, regardless of the fact that I rarely ingested anything green or with much fiber. Although I didn’t get fat externally, my organs were obviously bearing the brunt of the abuse. I suffered from rampant infections; bladder, kidney and yeast, had intense heart palpitations, crippling headaches and I was sick 6-8 times a year. All the while I was never able to connect the dots. I had no idea that what I was putting into my body was affecting my health. Nutrition finally came to my rescue after highschool. I became a more aware individual in every facet of my life; I started reading more, expanding my consciousness and quickly concluded that I would die if I kept eating this way. I completely changed my diet for good by age 22, cutting out soda, fast food and gluten and I’ve never looked back. Now when I crave cookies, I make my own.

These little babies are bursting with healthy fats, fiber, phosphorus, calcium and manganese. They are still cookies and calorically dense so try your hardest not to eat the whole batch in one sitting. I managed to keep my hand out of the cookie jar after my first two. My little one was not fond of my restraint. She unarmed all of her big guns in trying to get cookie after cookie into her little hands. She’s a master manipulator, this one. She should really teach lessons in ‘getting what you want.’

Now that I’m a mama, I hope that I can strike a balance between guiding my daughter on her own path of healthy eating and letting her indulge once in awhile. Forbidding things seems to be the surest way to get children fixated on them.  Plus, I believe that life is about pleasure. These cookies allow my girl to satisfy her sweet tooth all while I inject her with some much needed nutrition. Everybody wins. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Raw Chia Cardamom Cocoroons

DSC_1210

 

Ingredients – Makes about 12 golf ball sized cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Seeds from one cardamom pod, grinder

Process

  1. Grind cardamom seeds in spice or coffee grinder
  2. Throw all ingredients in a food processor and process for a few seconds, until batter starts to stick together
  3. Press batter into little macaroon sized balls (or whatever shape tickles your fancy)
  4. Enjoy a few now with a hot cup of tea and save the rest in an air tight container for future taste bud pleasing

DSC_1220

XO ~ Sam

Individual Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Cherry Sauce

Individual Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Cherry Sauce

I’ve never been very good at sharing. I am the oldest of 4 children, so I had my fair share (ha! see what I did there?) of practice. Nonetheless when I started dating my husband and he often recommended we share our dishes at restaurants, I experienced an inner battlefield of indignation. I agreed because I was on my best behavior in this new incredible relationship but inside I was a petulant child; No, it’s MINE!!! It didn’t take too long for him to discover my true selfish colors. When he asked to share my Icecream one day, my pretenses crumbled. I can put on a happy face and share my salad but Icecream is where I draw the line my friends. I do not share things that I lick. Will.not.do.it. No Icecream, no Popsicles, no lollipops and no cereal for that matter. Something about the milk dropping out of your mouth back into the bowl gives me the heeby jeebys. We all have our idiosyncrasies. Thankfully, he loves me anyway and we get along just fine. He stays away from my Icecream and I share nearly every other acceptable meal with him. Relationships are all about compromise people.

Now, on to cake. Thankfully you don’t have to share this cake. You are not going to want to. You can have your very own ramekin and slurp it down greedily in the corner if you wish. I tried to do that but Marvel’s sweet little face made it impossible. My sharing muscles have been getting a major workout since getting married and having our girl. I just can’t escape the inevitable big blinky eyes coaxing me to give them a bite.

Individual Flourless Chocolate Cake with Cherry Sauce 

Chocolate Cake – Serves 4 

DSC_1106

Ingredients 

  • 4 oz cacao butter
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder, more for dusting ramekins
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, more for greasing
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3 farm fresh eggs
  • 1 tsp freshly scraped vanilla bean, approximately 2 vanilla beans

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Grease and lightly dust 4 6-8 oz ramekins
  3. Place cacao butter, cacao powder, honey, vanilla and coconut oil in a double boiler or in a glass bowl atop a boiling kettle.
  4. Once cacao butter is completely melted, stir and take off heat
  5. Using a beater by hand, beat sugar and egg until just combined.
  6. Add in chocolate sauce and combine
  7. Pour batter evenly into 4 ramekins
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes
  9. While cake is baking, make cherry sauce

Cherry Sauce

DSC_1122

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups halved and pitted cherries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp arrowroot starch

Process

  1. In a saucepan, bring all ingredients except arrowroot starch to a boil over medium heat 
  2. Stir a few times 
  3. After about 3 minutes add arrowroot 
  4. When sauce starts to thicken, 2-3 minutes later, take off heat
  5. Let cool slightly, pour onto cooled cake and enjoy – by yourself or with others if you’re feeling generous ๐Ÿ˜‰

DSC_1145

 

DSC_1135

 

DSC_1155

 

 

My little Marvel is 2, let’s eat cake!

My little Marvel is 2, let’s eat cake!

Tuesday was my little love’s 2nd birthday. Yes, I had a precious little Cinco de mayo baby. Poor thing will always have large groups of adults getting wasted on her birthday, a burden she shares with my hubby, born on the 4th of July. Partiers aside, it was a beautiful day full of smiles, sweets and celebrations. ๐Ÿ™‚ Marvel has been spoiled silly this year; the celebrations began a few weeks ago at my mother’s house in LA and continued on until last night when we sat down with my in laws for dinner and more cake. I’ve eaten more birthday cake in the last three weeks than I have this entire year. I can’t complain though, I mean really, who complains about cake? The grinch maybe, or fascists? Perhaps nazis would complain about cake. Thankfully I’m none of those things. I absolutely love me some cake.

This delectable cake is a welcome reprieve from the traditional slathered in frosting, chocolate layer cake, that most birthday parties are sporting; which I totally made this last weekend for yet another of Marvel’s birthday parties. This cake is an orange and lemon bundt cake. My mother in law made this in a big flower cake pan so technically the cake you see in the pictures is not a bundt cake but it’s meant to be one. The edges are slightly crusty and taste of caramelized sugar. The inside is moist and spongy with bursts of citrus in every bite. It is an AWESOME birthday cake. Frankly, it is an awesome anytime cake. I ate a small slice after my breakfast this morning. If you haven’t had breakfast dessert yet, let me say, you are sorely missing out. It went absolutely perfectly with my green tea. I made some coconut whipped cream to serve on top and couldn’t have been happier with the pairing. I strongly suggest you serve this cake with some sort of whipped cream. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Triple Citrus ‘Bundt’ Cake

Adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe

DSC_1106DSC_1102

 

Ingredients

Cake

  • Coconut oil for greasing
  • 2 3/4 cups flour (I used a gluten free blend of sorghum, teff and white rice flour)
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 cup coconut sugar, processed super fine in a spice grinder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut cream
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut oil

Syrup

  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup coconut sugar, processed super fine in a spice grinder

Process

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a bundt pan with coconut oil
  3. With a sharp knife, cut away the peel and the white pith of a lemon. Holding the lemon over a bowl, cut between membranes to release segments in the bowl. Here is a handy video on how to do this.ย Squeeze juice from remaining membranes into another bowl. Repeat with remaining 2 lemons and 2 oranges
  4. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl
  5. Add coconut cream and using an electric beater, beat until combined
  6. Add eggs one at a time beating to combine
  7. Beat in coconut oil and citrus juices
  8. Add citrus segments and beat on low just to combine
  9. Transfer batter to pan and bake rotating pan once until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes. (If you are using a flatter, larger pan like I did, it will take about 15 minutes less.)
  10. When cake is done, set on a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes
  11. Transfer cake to a shallow dish
  12. Brush top and sides of cake with syrup below
  13. Add some sort ofย whipped cream and make your mouth happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Syrup

  1. Bring citrus juices and processed coconut sugar to a boil in a saucepan stirring until sugar is dissolved, boil for 30 seconds more

DSC_1170

DSC_1130DSC_1137DSC_1145

 

 

 

 

 

Raw Energy Balls

Raw Energy Balls

The clan and I have been doing quite a lot of traveling around these last few weeks. Moving, visiting friends, flying to LA to spend a few days with my family, driving to the beach an hour away for some fun in the sun… all of our little excursions require that we have handy sustenance for the road. Fruit and nuts are our go to car snacks but sometimes it’s nice to have a special treat to nosh on to make that hour fly by more quickly. 

These bite sized date balls are that perfect special treat. They are sweet enough to feel like an indulgence yet healthy enough to gobble up 6 of them without feeling those all too familiar pangs of regret. I whipped these up in just under 5 minutes. How groovy is that? Groovier than bell bottoms that hug John Travolta’s perfectly sculpted butt in Saturday Night Fever, I reckon. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

You can dress these up with any of your favorite extras. I rolled a few of them in raw cacao powder for an elegant antioxidant boost. You could dip them in melted chocolate if you wanted a more decadent dessert ball. I found that these satisfied my ever present sweet tooth just fine as is.

Raw Energy Balls

DSC_1007
Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Dates
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Process

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor 
  2. Process until ingredients are finely chopped and starting to stick together
  3. Roll into bite sized balls and decorate however tickles your proverbial pickle. DSC_1033

XO ~ Sam