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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‘Wine tasting in Burgundy’ DIY Lipstick

‘Wine tasting in Burgundy’ DIY Lipstick

Health is something that I don’t often fully appreciate until it’s compromised. I guess that is one perk of not being well; when you get well again you are so grateful for your vitality that you vow to take better care of yourself from then on. With my health being less than optimal these last few months I decided I needed to get myself back on track. I took myself to a naturopathic physician to find a solution. A bunch of tests were taken and a few things were discovered. First discovery, I have borderline hypothyroidism, which I will get more into another day. Second, my cortisol levels are too high, which I am now controlling with magnolia root. Third, I tested in the high range for a few toxic metals; aluminum and lead. High levels of aluminum in the body has been linked to Alzheimer’s. High levels of lead in the body has been linked to nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems and muscle and joint pain. The aluminum is from using aluminum based non stick cookware and the lead is from using store bought makeup. Crazy isn’t it? I have since thrown out all my cookware and replaced it with either stainless steal or cast iron to reduce my aluminum exposure. I started making my own makeup a few months ago but I didn’t replace everything. Now that I have these results back I am newly committed to replacing all of the toxic makeup in my makeup bag. The only makeup that I use is lipstick, concealer, mascara and very occasionally blush/bronzer for a little sparkle. I made my own organic blush from beets and hibiscus a few months ago so I’ve got that covered. Next and arguably most importantly on my list is lipstick. I wear it nearly everyday and the store bought lipsticks contain unnatural dyes filled with lead. Considering the fact that this stuff goes on your lips, it is safe to assume we ingest a bit of it every time we put it on. I’m done poisoning myself. I can give my lips the color I love without sacrificing my health to do it. I measured, melted and mixed some of my favorite natural ingredients and created a really beautiful, deep red lip color with a hint of purple. I’m simply in love and frankly I’m never buying a lipstick again.

‘Wine Tasting in Burgundy’ DIY Lipstick

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Ingredients – makes about 2-3 lipsticks depending on size of container. I used .15 ml Chapstick tubes

  • 2 grams beeswax  (I use a scale here because hard beeswax is easier to measure this way)
  • 1 tsp mango butter
  • 1 tsp Shea butter
  • 1/2 tsp meadow foam seed oil
  • 1/2 tsp sweet almond oil
  • 1/4 tsp vitamin e
  • 3/4 tsp Australian red reef clay
  • 1/4 tsp bentonite clay 
  • 6 drops essential oil (I used Ylang Ylang)

Process

  1. Melt together butters/oils in a double boiler or in a glass bowl atop a boiling tea kettle
  2. Take off heat and add in vitamin e
  3. In another bowl mix together red reef and bentonite clay 
  4. Add melted oils/butters to clays and mix until well combined 
  5. Add in essential oil and pour into tubes
  6. Let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes to harden
  7. Apply to lips
  8. Leave natural lipstick marks on a lucky lover

DSC_1066 The rich burgundy color evoked images of me with a wine stained mouth in the rolling green hills of France; hence the title of the lipstick. If your lip color can transport you all the way to Burgundy, you know you’ve got a winner. 😉 If you like your lip color a little less dramatic, just use a little less red reef clay. Enjoy your gorgeous red lips without sacrificing your health. XO ~ Sam

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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Raw Lemon Cheesecake Bites with Coconut Whipped Cream

Raw Lemon Cheesecake Bites with Coconut Whipped Cream

Flexibility is the personality trait that I covet most. Luckily, I am offered opportunities to practice my ability to be flexible nearly every day. Every morning I am armed with a list of my very best intentions and by the end of the day life has undoubtedly gotten in the way, repeatedly. Intentions are good, even necessary to create the things we want but without the ability to bend with the winds of change, we will find ourselves fighting a losing battle against the reality of the moment. Okay, I think I’m done waxing poetic for now. 🙂 I only bring this up because I started out intending to make a lemon caramel shortbread cookie bar, don’t even ask me what that is because I don’t know, never had one. All I know is it sounded good in my brain, so I went to work on gettin’ ‘er done. Without divulging the literally messy details, I’ll just say, it wasn’t my finest creation. Instead of scratching the whole thing and wasting expensive ingredients, I decided to go with the flow. I let my unsuccessful concoction tell me what it yearned to be. ‘Lemon Cheesecake Bite’ it whispered softly. When food talks to me, I listen. Don’t you?

Armed with my new game plan, I threw some cashews in hot water to soak, processed them in and 30 minutes later was delighting in my succulent lemon cheesecake batter. As totally scrumptious as it was, I decided a light whipped cream would really bring it all together. Oh boy, did this ‘mistake’ ever turn into a triumph. Thank you universe for yet another opportunity to practice my ability to change course when needed. This time I have some seriously rockin’ treats to show for it.

Raw Lemon Cheesecake Bites
Crust ~

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 2/3 cup dates

Process

  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until they form a sticky dough
  2. Press into the bottom of bread loaf pan, making a 1/2 inch crust
  3. Place pan in freezer to set for 30 minutes

Filling ~

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cashews soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 6 dates soaked in 1/2 cup water for 30 minutes
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, more for topping
  • 3 tbsp mesquite powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Process

  1. Drain cashews and place with all other ingredients including date water in a high speed blender
  2. Blend until consistency is smooth and creamy
  3. Pour filling on top of crust and spread out evenly
  4. Place back in the freezer for 6 hours or more
  5. Once set, using a shot glass, press little circular bites out of your ‘cake’ and top with whipped cream and lemon zest.
  6. Enjoy immediately!

Coconut Whipped Cream ~

Ingredients

  • Coconut cream from 1 can of coconut milk.
  • 1 tbsp psyllium husk
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Process

  1. Refrigerate the coconut milk overnight or in a pinch, throw can in the freezer for an hour or so. Without tipping or shaking the can, remove from refrigerator/freezer and open immediately. Scoop out the cream from the top of the can which should have separated from the coconut milk underneath it
  2. Place this cream along with all other ingredients into a cold mixing bowl
  3. Using a beater, whip ingredients together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes
  4. Serve immediately on top of cheesecake bite, top with lemon zest
  5. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge

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Vegan Butter Pecan Ice Cream with Raw Caramel Sauce

Vegan Butter Pecan Ice Cream with Raw Caramel Sauce

Are you salivating yet? Just typing out the title got my mouth watering. Butter pecan is my all time favorite ice cream. Wait, that’s not totally true, coffee is pretty damn high on my favorite list too. Okay, butter pecan and coffee are my two favorites. Hmmm…. but what about salted caramel? I looooooove salted caramel. Then of course there’s trusty vanilla, with it’s simple unpretentious flavor that transports you right back to the good old days of Chinese jump rope, cassette tapes and chasing ice cream trucks in the summer. Ok scratch that. Butter pecan is ONE of my favorites but honestly if it’s cold, creamy, sweet and fits nicely stop a crusty cone, I’m scarfing happily, enjoying my good fortune.

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks back, my darling bought me an ice cream maker for Christmas. Since then I’ve pulled it out twice and attempted to create a vegan chocolate ice cream. Both times the flavor was spot on, and both times the texture was a disaster… well, as much as chocolate soup can be a disaster. It was still sweet, it was still rich, it was still chocolate and we still slurped it right up. Still, a tasty chocolate soup was not what I was after. So after realizing that my instructions were missing (damn trolls!) I looked them up online and got to work a third time on making some killer vegan ice cream. This time…. Success!! Turns out my freezer wasn’t cold enough. Easily remedied and now that it has been, check out this rich, decadent dairy free ice cream right here. You want, right? Of course you do. 😉 Here’s the recipe, lovelies.

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Vegan Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for 4 hours
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp psyllium husk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup pecans

Process

  1. Soak cashews for 4 hours. If you don’t have that long, you can heat the water before you soak the nuts, that will soften them quicker.
  2. Place all ingredients, except the pecans, in a high speed blender and blend until thick and creamy
  3. Transfer to a mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled – 3-4 hours.
  4. Once chilled, pour into pre-chilled ice cream maker bowl and make according to directions.
  5. While ice cream mixture is chilling, toast your pecans.
  6. Roughly chop pecans and place in skillet.
  7. Heat until pecans just become fragrant

I think we can all agree, ice cream is plenty good enough on it’s own but I think it’s exponentially better with the right topping. It just so happened that I had a jar of caramel sauce sitting in the fridge waiting for the perfect vehicle to showcase it’s brilliance. What better vehicle is there for caramel than ice cream? None other than my mouth maybe and my mouth got plenty of it during the creating process. My mouth really has the best job! This caramel sauce is pretty epic. I’ve been dipping into the jar more often than I’d like to admit. I just can’t help myself! It’s rich and creamy and the flavor while touting the obvious caramel notes, also reminds me of a gourmet nougat. I die! So good. I hope you will all enjoy this as much as I do. I have other delicacies in mind to create with this caramel in the future. There are no limits to what it can do. 🙂

Raw Caramel Sauce

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 almond milk
  • 4 dates soaked in 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp mesquite powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt

Process

  1. Soak dates for 30 minutes to an hour
  2. Place all ingredients including date water in high speed blender
  3. Pour on ice cream, use as a dip for fruit or just use a spoon and dig in!
  4. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container
  5. The coconut oil will solidify in the cold so let it sit out in a warm area to get all melty again, or use a double boiler to gently warm

 

Get to work on making your tastebuds happy.
XO
Sam

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DIY Beach Day Texturizing Hair Spray

DIY Beach Day Texturizing Hair Spray

I was fortunate enough to grow up in sunny Southern California, where the weather is always perfect. During the summer, I spent most weekends at the beach, soaking up yummy rays and swimming in the ocean. My skin was always sun kissed and my hair always boasted that effortlessly tousled, perfectly set waviness. In the winter when the beaches were a chilly 60 degrees, 😉 I’d have to find alternative ways to mimic that beach day hair. The first hair product that I ever purchased was a beach blonde salt spray by John Frieda. I looooved that stuff. It really did achieve that perfect bouncy beach wave that I got organically from a day of swimming in the ocean and lounging in the salty sea air. The problem with John Frieda? I mean I’m sure he’s a nice enough guy but just look at the ingredient list for my favorite spray,

WATER, MAGNESIUM SULFATE, ALCOHOL DENAT., PROPYLENE GLYCOL, SALICYLIC ACID, SODIUM BENZOATE, FRAGRANCE, PVP, CITRIC ACID, SEA SALT, BENZYL ALCOHOL, BENZOPHENONE-4.

Water, I know that stuff! And sea salt sounds familiar, awesome. Fragrance… well that’s vague. The other stuff? Can’t pronounce it, don’t want it on my body. Period.

Although it’s raining today here in the east bay of a Northern California, I woke up craving the beach. These last few weeks have been hard for me, my mood has been low and my energy non existent. I’m going to get some thyroid testing done on Monday to investigate whether an under active thyroid may be the cause of my issues. For now, I think I just need some more Vitamin D in my life. My hair, straight and listless is begging for some bounce. I decided that some natural, chemical and preservative free hair love might turn that frown upside down. I’ll tell you, it certainly helped. John Frieda’s got nothing on this stuff. 🙂

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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Hot filtered water
  • 1 tbsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable glycerin
  • 1 tbsp Meadowfoam seed oil
  • 1/2 tbsp Argan oil
  • 1/2 tbsp Jojoba oil
  • 1/2 tsp Vitamin e
  • 5 drops Rosemary essential oil
  • 8 drops Lemon essential oil
  • 1/4 tsp mica powder (*optional)

Process

  1. Using a glass bowl on top of a tea kettle, heat up water.
  2. Add sea salt and mix until dissolved
  3. Add glycerine and stir until incorporated
  4. Next add all oils and mix together
  5. Take bowl off of the heat
  6. Add in mica and essential oils and stir to incorporate
  7. Using a funnel, pour contents into an airtight spray bottle and store in the refrigerator for several months.
  8. Shake bottle before each use.

*The mica in this recipe gives a really beautiful pearlescent shimmer to the hair, I love it. If you don’t have it on hand and aren’t interested in purchasing it, just leave it out, it is completely optional.

Another note- Meadowfoam oil is full of long chain fatty acids. It’s great for hair because it adds moisture without that greasy feeling and adds a beautiful shine. If you don’t have it on hand however, just use melted coconut oil, more jojoba or argan.

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Look at this lovely ‘just spent a day at the beach’ texture! My hair is naturally pretty stick straight so this is an awesome result.

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My little Marvel just had to try some too. Her hair naturally waves due to her Daddy’s curly, absolutely luscious black hair. This spray definitely defined and enhanced what she was already graced with. Just look at those curls!! ❤

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No bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

No bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Happy Sunday all! Oh what an immensely luxurious weekend I’ve had. My daughter spent the last 2 days with Grandma so the hubby and I got to indulge in adult time. We watched a movie in the theater yesterday. I don’t even remember the last time I saw a movie, out of my robe, off of the couch, without a baby on my lap. We ate lunch at our favorite Pho spot in Oakland and then we just walked around the city leisurely… all day. I left my phone at home and didn’t even acknowledge it’s existence for a whole 24 hours. It was AMAZING. Being completely disconnected gave me such a lovely internal reset. I feel renewed, rejuvenated. I’m so ready to see my beautiful girl in a few hours but it’s been oh so invigorating to connect with my husband like this again. 🙂

On to my super yummy recipe- Thursday night I got to have one of my best friends over for dinner. She lives in Tahoe so I don’t see nearly enough of her. She is one of those special people that everyone adores. She’s down to earth while simultaneously frolicking among the clouds. She’s fun, she’s quirky, she’s outlandish, her heart is as vast as the grand canyon. I love her so and she loves pumpkin pie… so when she told me she was coming I knew I would recreate my raw pumpkin pie cheesecake for her. This time, I made sure to take a few photos before devouring it. 😉

Raw Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Crust ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots soaked in 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • Seeds of 1 cardamom pod – ground in a coffee grinder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Filling ingredients

  • 2 cans pumpkin purée
  • 2 cups cashews soaked in water
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp melted ghee (use coconut oil to make vegan)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Process

  1. After soaking dried apricots for an hour or so place both the apricots and the water in a food processor with all other crust ingredients and process until the mixture starts to stick together
  2. Press ‘dough’ into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan to form a crust/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/712/73322791/files/2014/12/img_4754.jpg
  3. Place crust in freezer to set for 3 hours
  4. Meanwhile place all filling ingredients into the food processor and process until smooth and creamy
  5. Once crust is set pour filling onto top of crust and place back in freezer to set for at least another 6 hours./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/712/73322791/files/2014/12/img_4684.jpg
  6. Bring pie out of freezer and let defrost a bit before serving.

This pie is best served when very cold in order to keep it’s consistency cheesecake like 🙂 Sending you all love and yummy holiday treats until next time… /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/712/73322791/files/2014/12/img_4748.jpg