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’ 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 broth 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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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. 😉

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. 😛 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

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. 😉 

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. 😉

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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Supermarket Musings and Beet-ganoush

Supermarket Musings and Beet-ganoush

We love Whole Foods around these parts. Yes, I mean the brick and mortar establishment. I assume the nourishing whole foods that we eat on the daily go without saying. 🙂 I can get utterly lost in Whole Foods. Their produce is absolutely gorgeous, their bulk section never ends and the layout is extremely visually captivating. The interior designer of that place needs a raise, immediately.

My love affair with Whole Foods is fairly superficial. I go inside, I look but I rarely buy. I mean who can afford those prices? Not me, not now anyway. So I longingly wander the aisles, sporting a big she boner and ultimately walk my proverbial blue balls straight on down to a place that I can afford, trusty old Berkeley Bowl.

If you don’t live in the east bay of California, it’s very likely you’ve never heard of Berkeley Bowl. Its an independent market that has only two locations. It’s nowhere near the eyegasm that Whole Foods is but dare I say, the produce selection is superior and at half the price! It’s a pretty rad supermarket and I feel lucky to have it so close, until I dump it’s ass for Whole Foods when I hit the mega jackpot that is. 😉

While I was perusing the cheese aisle of Berkeley Bowl a few days ago, I noticed an employee handing out free samples of some purple looking goop on gluten free crackers. I had my daughter with me so naturally she grabbed at it. She acts like a starved homeless child around other people’s food but at our dinner table, she often can’t be bothered. She may be single handedly responsible for my growing wrinkles. Anyway, after further inspection I realized the spread was made of beets. What an awesome idea I thought. The flavor was pretty good but I knew I could improve upon it. I was excited to get home and play.

Beet-ganoush

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Ingredients

  • 4 beets, boiled and peeled
  • 1/2 cup soaked almonds
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

Process

  1. Place beets in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy
  2. Add in all other ingredients and process until well combined
  3. Spread on crackers, cucumbers or use as a spread for a sandwich… this would be incredible on so many things, your imagination is the limit.

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Nom nom nom nom…

XO ~Sam

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DIY Willowbark Facescrub

DIY Willowbark Facescrub

My husband is Armenian. In his case this means beautiful luscious black hair, eyelashes that women would kill for and unfortunately for my cheeks, rough bumpy nose skin. Although he exfoliates, inevitably the roughness is back again the very next day. His exfoliant of choice is Burt’s Bees Willowbark and Apricot Scrub. I once thought that Burt’s Bees was an awesome, forward thinking company and I purchased their products regularly. I’ve since learned that although they started out using all natural ingredients in Maine 30 years ago, they have since sold their company to Clorox for 900+million and their integrity has started to waver. Mass production has diluted the quality of their products and now you may find pesky chemicals and preservatives where wholesome ingredients used to be. This is understandable for products that are expected to sit on a hot shelf for months, possibly even years. Understanding aside, I refuse to put that crap on my largest, most porous organ.

Here are the ingredients that I take issue with,

Sodium Borate- This is essentially Borax. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a chemical compound that is regarded as a ‘natural’ cleaner. It can be used for bleaching clothes, cleaning toilets… I personally use it as ant poison. Sound like something you want on your face? Didn’t think so. 

Fragrance- Fragrance, huh? Ambiguous much? I’m just assuming they aren’t using organic essential oils to make their scrub fragrant. 

Glucose Oxidase- This is a ‘natural’ preservative. It releases hydrogen peroxide which is harmful to bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide can also create free radical damage to the skin. According to MSDS sheets, it is also an eye irritant, a skin irritant a lung irritant and “prolonged or repeated exposure may lead to irreversible damage to health.” Lovely. Why the hell is it in this face scrub Burt’s Bees? Oh yes, because you are now Clorox and aren’t afraid of nasty chemicals. 

I decided that after doing my research, my hubby would no longer be slathering his sweet face with this stuff. I went to my laboratory AKA, kitchen counter, and got to work on making something superior. This scrub smells like a lemon bar. I kinda have a problem not eating it. Although many ingredients in it are edible, Willowbark wouldn’t feel very good going down, so I stop myself… just barely. After using my creation, the hubby proclaims it works way better than his ‘Burt’s Bees’ scrub. Take that Clorox! 

Willowbark Face Scrub
Ingredients 

  • 1 cup dried Willowbark 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unmelted coconut oil 
  • 1 tbsp rose hip seed oil
  • 1 tbsp carrot seed oil 
  • 20 drops lemon essential oil

Process

  1. Grind Willowbark in a clean coffee/spice grinder until a rough powder is formed 
  2. Empty ground Willowbark into a medium bowl 
  3. Mix in all other ingredients together with a spoon 
  4. Store in a airtight container for several months
  5. Use a clean spoon to dip into the jar for each application to extend shelf life
  6. Enjoy your soft smooth skin!

 

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