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’Β 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

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  • 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 brothΒ 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.

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Turkish Cacik

Turkish Cacik

Hello loves! I feel like it’s been ages since I was last in this space, yet sitting down to write this post feels as natural as ever. I have been very busy these last few months! I am very proud to say that I manifested my hearts desire to move my family back up to Mendocino! It took about a year and a half to fully realize this dream but it has been worth every moments wait. We are staying with our beautiful and gracious friends until we find a place of our own. We are just so very grateful for them. Every morning I step outside to the sound of birds chirping and wind rustling through the leaves of towering redwood trees. My breaths are full and complete and the air that fills my lungs is clean, filled to the brim with oxygen. When the wind is blowing just so you can even taste the salty ocean from a few miles away. I’m blessed with a family of deer that graze in our front yard and a special secret clearing in the woods that Marvel and I visit many times a week. Life is good here. My heart is home. My heart is happy.

I have been filling my days connecting with friends, doing the occasional massage and mothering my little Marvel. I have also been working on an exciting new project. I won’t get into much detail until it’s farther along in it’s process but I will tell you that my husband and I are working together (which I’m just beyond thrilled about) and that we are creating beautiful Mediterranean food. This is something that we’ve been wanting since we first fell in love and we are finally making something happen. It feels damn good. πŸ™‚ I’d love to share a little recipe from the project with you. It is called Cacik, pronounced Jajik. It is the Turkish version of the Greek dish, tzatziki. It is often served as a dip or dressing but some people eat it on it’s own. I like to use mine as a sauce inside a falafel wrap or as a dip for chicken kebabs.

Cacik is traditionally made with yogurt but I find it a bit too soupy that way. We’ve substituted Labne, Mediterranean yogurt cheese which is very simply yogurt with the water strained out. Imagine sour cream and cream cheese’s love child. Have I peaked your interest? I thought so. It is as scrumptious as it sounds. It is a staple in our home and it is perfect in this dish.

Cacik is made with wholesome ingredients and although it has a rich creamy flavor, it is high in healthy fats, calcium, protein and vitamins A and C. Eat this and you are simply winning all around.

Turkish Cacik

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Ingredients

  • 16 oz labne (Mediterranean Yogurt Cheese)
  • 1/2 English Cucumber, grated
  • 2 tbsp mint, minced
  • salt to taste, I used approximately 1 tsp
  • olive oil, drizzled on top
  • paprika, sprinkled on top

Process

  1. Place labne, english cucumber, mint and salt in a bowl, stirring with a spoon to combine
  2. Drizzle olive oil on top
  3. Sprinkle paprkia on top
  4. Serve as a dip for pita bread, falafel, chicken… or simply eat alone as a snack
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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜› 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

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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! ❀

XO ~ Sam

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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. 😊

Raw Chia Cardamom Cocoroons

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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

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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 

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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

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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 πŸ˜‰

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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. πŸ˜‰ 

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

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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

Orange and Lemon Coconut Cookies

Orange and Lemon Coconut Cookies

My daughter has been talking up a storm these days. Her favorite words seem to be Mama, Cookie, Please and Thank you; she prefers to use them in this order. Since I am such a dutiful servant mama I made her some cookies today when she asked for them. If you read my last post you will remember that I have just moved in with my parents in law. I now have many old and beautiful cookbooks at my disposal. One is titled simply, ‘Cookies’. I opened it up this morning and skimmed through while nearly drooling all over the pages. I found a recipe I liked and substituted a few things, honey for white granulated sugar, coconut flour for all purpose. The result is a very crumbly, very delicious, very toddler friendly cookie… My husband came home and ate 3 of them himself. I guess they are pretty husband friendly too. πŸ˜‰

Orange and Lemon Coconut Cookies

~Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free!~

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup honey, sub maple syrup if strictly vegan
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, plus more for greasing

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper
  3. Grease parchment paper with coconut oil
  4. In a small bowl mix together all dry ingredients, set aside
  5. In a small saucepan, heat orange, lemon juice, honey and coconut on low heat until it becomes slightly syrupy
  6. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients
  7. Scoop out little balls onto cookie sheet and slightly flatten with a spatula
  8. Bake for 10 minutes
  9. Nom nom nom!

These sweet little cookies are best with a cold, creamy glass of milk. I enjoy almond milk, my little one prefers goat milk. Any kind of milk will complement this cookie perfectly.

XO ~ Sam

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