Sooooo, I tried getting back into blogging awhile ago…but talking to the air just didn’t thrill me the way talking to your inbox does! My newsletters are full of recipes, culinary and happiness tips, and general feeding-you-well fun, and many people email me in response after each is sent out, telling me what they enjoy. It feels more interactive and enjoyable, and like most people, I prefer enjoyment to a lack thereof! Please sign up on the main page of my site to keep up with everything delicious and healthful that I can offer!
When eggnog hits the shelves, my life gets complex. Do I get the dairy one, which is organic but not grassfed, and has a perfect texture bc of gums? Or the grassfed one that has no binders and is subsequently too runny? Or the non-dairy one that is as delicious as the branding implies but has multiple gums and binders? And why the *%&$*# do they all have SO MUCH SUGAR, no matter which I pick?
So, it’s DIY time. In the past I’ve made everything from raw vegan nog to eggy custard cream, and I love them all. This morning I decided it was go time, and I wanted a sugar free version that I could use to make a latte out of without starting my day on a sugar high. What I created is therefore paleo, low glycemic, vegan, and raw if you are using fresh/unpasteurized almond milk.
Coconut butter is an awesome ingredient to work with. It’s just ground organic coconut meat, and it makes liquids thicker without having to add more nuts. Sometimes nut milk + nut butter = too much nuttiness, so this gives things a different flavor. Any brand is fine, just make sure to stir well before using because the meat and the oil tend to separate.
3 cups almond milk (either homemade or a fresh / no gums or fillers one, preferably)
1/3 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup Swerve or other erythritol
1 dropper liquid stevia (I used toffee)
1/4 tsp lecithin, optional, to emulsify
1/8 tsp nutmeg, or more to taste
1/8 tsp turmeric, for color
Blend all ingredients until creamy. Shake before using once stored in fridge.
Yield: 4 cups
As individual people, it is easy to forget the collective impact we have with our purchases. “Does my dollar really make a difference?” is a question we often ask when deciding between a small brand we’ve never heard of or a larger one we “trust.” We rarely pause to reflect that our spending greatly impacts the lives of others throughout the planet. This holds particularly true with purchases for items that involve slave and child labor; we are so removed from the origins of what we consume, it seldom crosses our minds to consider whose life created our purchase.
As the Starbucks red-cup story hit the news this week, I was shocked and a bit appalled that for all the talk about Christmas and freedom, nowhere in the conversation did the topic arise of how awful Starbucks actual PRODUCT is. There are several reasons we shouldn’t be giving our money to Starbucks: their coffee is the result of child slave labor, their dairy is GMO & hormane laden / antibiotic filled, and they don’t use organic beans. You may not be aware that coffee is actually one of the most pesticided items on the planet.
When you want your next latte, why not try out a local shop that uses fair trade, organic beans and local– or at least organic– dairy? Wouldn’t you rather know that in drinking a cup of coffee, you’re helping others in foreign countries make a living, instead of suffer? And wouldn’t you rather enjoy a drink that wasn’t filled with 250 lbs of chemicals per acre? Currently, Starbucks says that most of their coffee is “ethically sourced” through a program they themselves created– about 90%— yet only 3% of their coffee is fair trade certified by the actual, real, fair trade organizations who are NOT part of Starbucks. And as for organic, about 3% of the coffee is.
Let’s make the conversation one that actually matters: it’s what’s IN your cup that you should be devoting your thoughts, and your money to. If you oppose slave labor and factory farming, vote with your coffee purchase, no matter what color the cup is, and choose to drink happiness.
This past weekend I spoke at The W.E.L.L. Summit
, a new wellness event that took place in Boston. Similar in process to other conferences I’ve presented at, I was able to attend sessions myself when I wasn’t leading them, and to mix and mingle with other presenters and attendees alike. To say it was mind-opening is an understatement; my conversations with the female-centric group of wellness warriors at the Summit was nothing short of transformatory.
What I walked away with were precisely the pieces of advice I needed in order to forge on in my path in the most potent, positive way possible. Oddly enough, these pieces of advice didn’t come from the sessions themselves, but from my conversations with others in the off times. This may not seem significant, but to me, it’s huge. Why? Because my goal for the weekend was not to lead amazing sessions; I’m confident enough at this point to know I could do that. My goal, simply put, was to socialize.
I understand that doesn’t sound like much of a feat, but for me, it’s pretty huge. As skilled as I am at talking TO people in a formal context, the idea of talking WITH people I don’t know– of any age, any gender, in any setting– is terrifying. I’m one of the shyest people I’ve ever met. In the past, that has repeatedly led others to presume I’m stuck up and/or uninterested in them. When people give me compliments, I say thank you and spend critical time trying to think of a retort that is interesting, engaging, and not self-deprecating (as women are known for being when complimented). Typically, by the time I come up with a good response the moment is over. The oddest aspect of these endless occurrences is that for every other life situation, my brain works at lightning speed. In problematic or chaotic situations, I typically remain the calmest person, the one who comes up with a solution the fastest and then orchestrates, delegating appropriate tasks to others involved. But small talk? Dear God, save me from it.
And that is why it was my goal for the weekend: to step far outside my comfort zone, into the magical place where change occurs, and just see what happens. I didn’t just engage with others when they approached me, I straight up introduced myself to strangers. I asked to join them for meals, I walked over and said hello, I complimented something I enjoyed about them. And WOW, did it yield incredible results!
Had I not consciously decided to do something for myself that was distressing and uncomfortable, I wouldn’t feel nearly as empowered as I do right now about my game plan for my next career steps. As much as I encourage people to do what makes them happy, sometimes we need a little kick in the butt to get to our next level of happiness, and there is no one better suited to do that for you than you are!
Here is my challenge to you: today, do one thing that embodies the person you WANT to be. Forget how you’ve never been “that type” of person. Forget that it isn’t your go-to behavior. Forget, above all else, the identifiers and quantifiers you’ve placed on yourself, like “shy” or “two left feet” or “not good at cooking.” Just dance. Just try making a new dish. Just talk. Just go BE exactly who you want to be, and I promise, after you get over the shock of it, you’re gonna love it. You’re gonna love you even more, and everyone in your world will then get that extra love toppling over onto them. All the magic in the world is in you, just waiting for you to set it aflame with your growth.
P.S. I offer weekly culinary and lifestyle “I’ve Been in Your Kitchen” tips in my newsletter, which you can subscribe to here
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My love for chocolate avocado mousse is a well documented one, and I didn’t really think there was anywhere further to go with my basic recipe for it… until I discovered Zuddha coconut oil. It is the lightest yet most succulent coconut oil I’ve come across, and I love that it is cold processed in small batches. Over time I’ve simplified and refined my recipe, so I’m posting my newest version now. =)
Chocolate Avocado Mousse
2 large or 3 small avocados
3/4 cup raw honey OR maple syrup OR 3/4 cup water + stevia & erythritol to taste
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/3 cup Zuddha coconut oil
1/4 cup water, or more if needed to blend
1 tbls vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
Blend all ingredients until creamy. Eat immediately as a pudding, or refrigerate as a mousse. Decrease water for frosting or truffle consistencies.
A healthier take on the classic dessert: paleo, grain free, gluten free pistachio-orange shortcake with a strawberry kumquat filling. Strawberry pairs beautifully with citrus, and the added crunch of pistachio enlivens the shortcake.
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free, Grain Free, Paleo Baked Goods: Lemon Coconut Muffins, Garlic & Herb Mini Scones, and Cinnamon-Ginger Cookies
How I got into making marshmallows is a long story, the short version of which is that I got some gnarly food poisoning over the holidays that left my stomach in a major state of disrepair. As I’ve spent the last month since trying to rebuild my insides, I’ve been craving gelatin like mad. I’m not someone who tends to eat many animal products (though I cook them regularly for clients), so the craving has been super weird for me. I’ve made and consumed gallon upon gallon of bone broth and I’ve plowed through over a lb of grass fed gelatin. In the search for foods that contain as much gelatin as possible, I came across marshmallows. Yes, those gloopy gloppy sugary childhood chunks of sin that most of have not eaten in MANY a year. They can be re-vamped into a healthy treat, they are freaking delicious, and I’m placing bets that once bone broth hits critical mass and the general public becomes aware of its endless health benefits, gelatin based derivatives like marshmallows are going to be huge.
I didn’t invent a paleo recipe for marshmallows; thankfully the internet was already full of them, and they ‘re all comprised of water, either honey or maple syrup (you can find recipes for stevia but they just don’t hold up well), gelatin, and maybe some vanilla. Not much of a vanilla girl, I set forth straight away to the land of better and more interesting flavors. On this ride I’ve made cinnamon maple, salted bourbon butterscotch, and now the best of all: cara cara orange and Levity red asparagus root extract. Not only are these crazy yummy, they are also full of feel good chemicals to create a joyful mindset. I used some sweet orange essential oil to up the orange flavor and health benefits, as orange oil is good for everything from mood to digestion. Longevity Power Levity is something I’ve spoken at length about: it tastes like caramel and it feels like magic. Together these ingredients combine to create a delectable dessert that is as good for your gut health as it is your mental health.
All the recipes I’ve found for paleo marshmallows proclaim repeatedly, “These are so easy to make!!!” so I am going to be the first honest human to tell you, these guys are a pain in the butt. They are messy to make, messy to clean up, and messy to cut, they take about a half hour, and timing for each step is critical. They’re just damn good tasting enough to be worth the effort.
Cara Cara Orange & Levity Marshmallows
If cara cara oranges aren’t available near you, or it isn’t winter when you’re reading this, regular oranges will work fine. If you prefer all maple syrup or all honey, that’s fine too. If you’re familiar with paleo marshmallow recipes, you’ll notice that mine is a 50% increase over the standard. One reason is because this quantity fits perfectly into a 9×13 pan, and another is that if you are going to go through this effort, you should have as much to show for it as possible.
1/2 cup boiling water
juice of one cara cara orange, approximately 1/4 cup
1/3 cup grass fed gelatin powder
2 tbls Levity powder
zest of one orange
pinch of salt
4 drops sweet orange essential oil (organic, therapeutic grade only!)
Pour boiling water over remaining ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and stir well. Gelatin will lump up, which is ok. Leave to soften as you work on the next step, and return every few minutes to stir gently and help gelatin break down. If after you’ve completed the below syrup making you still have any gelatin chunks that can’t be smushed down, just remove them.
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup maple syrup
Combine in a saucepan over medium heat and boil until soft ball stage, 240 degrees. Do not stir. As bubbles arise, poke them down with a fork.
Once you have soft ball stage syrup, remove from heat and begin pouring over ingredients in mixing bowl in a slow stream with mixer on low. Once combined thoroughly, move mixer up to high and beat until mixture looks like marshmallow fluff, 8-10 minutes.
Grease a 9×13 baking sheet with coconut oil, and if desired, coat with a dusty powder such as arrowroot, corn starch, cinnamon, or cocoa powder, and/or additional orange zest. Pour marshmallow fluff into pan and refrigerate until firm and ready to cut, 3-4 hours.
It’s no big thing for me to singe a little skin. In fact, it happens so often while working that I barely ever bother to stop my flow and check out the damage a corner of the oven may have caused. Up until recently, I had no burn protocols in place, no special sauce for said singed skin, no nothing, because I’d never needed to take the issue too seriously.
Then, one night recently, an eggplant exploded on my arm, and everything changed.
I was making dinner at home, roasting up some seemingly innocuous baby heirloom eggplants: super cute fig shaped purples, long white skinnies, and stripy circular ones. I’d made them enough times before to not consider the veggies a hazard, but when I heard a “BOOM” from the oven, I knew trouble was amiss. Clearly, one had popped, so I went to go poke holes in them so that no more had to suffer as they cooked. I pulled the cookie sheet out, and as I began poking around with a knife, one of the skinny white eggplants exploded ALL OVER my arm, from thumb to armpit.
It was bad. It was real bad. It was, stop the presses, what the hell am I going to do now, I’ve got 375 degree burning eggplant in my armpit, and on my dominant side no less, superbad. The blisters began forming at once, from thumb to armpit, a collection of them shaped like eggplant blobs and strings. (I took pictures, which I emailed to my mother for sympathy, but I’m nice enough to not post them here for the public. Also, I got enough sympathy from her that I don’t need any more.) They were scattered abroad my entire left arm, and they hurt like holy hell.
In recent months I’ve gotten very into essential oils, because they pretty much tend to fix everything. So I asked my girlfriend to look up what essential oils help burns, and she did, and I made an ointment of them mixed with aloe and calendula. And all my burns magically stopped hurting within about half an hour. I reapplied religiously for the week, and now, two weeks later, the marks are faint and hardly scarring. And the entire experience, which could have been a nightmare of infection and pain, was less of a big deal to experience than it has been to bother blogging about it, which I am doing for the sake of sharing my easy, and outrageously effective, burn salve.
When You’re Burned, Baby, Burned Salve That Fixes Everything Quickly
2 tbls aloe vera gel (don’t use the bright green stuff, that’s gross)
2 tbls calendula gel (double aloe if you don’t have this)
10 drops lavender oil
10 drops tea tree oil
10 drops chamomile oil
Mix together and feel better immediately. The tea tree acts as an antiseptic, promotes tissue healing, and prevents infection, the lavender relieves pain, prevents inflammation, and reduces scarring, and the chamomile is antibacterial, speeds healing, and alleviates pain.
For brands, I use Aura Cacia and Mountain Rose Herbs, both organic. Mountain Rose is a sound internet choice in terms of quality and price and perfect when you want to stock up ahead of time. Aura Cacia is great quality, also reasonably priced, available without the internet, and made by Frontier Co-Op, which are my very favorite spices and herbs.
Rather than include a photo of the ointment, which is just white and ointmenty, or of my nasty blistery arm, here is a pic of the dinner I still managed to plate after shredding up my arm, because even though I email my mother photos of my blisters for sympathy, I’m still a badass:
Some people are content to see the world exactly as they view it through their eyes and call it a day, every day. Other people yearn for more: brighter colors, deeper feelings, cosmic connection. I’ve always been the latter, and even as a small child I did things to get “high,” like push on my eyeballs with my fingers because it made me see flashes of pretty colors. I have multiple memories of my mother scolding at me to stop that, it can hurt your eyes. It became a late-at-night (read: after 8 pm bedtime) pleasure, pretty much until I was old enough to smoke pot and moved on to that instead. My college years were spent seeing A LOT OF PRETTY COLORS on a regular basis, and in the many years since my UC Santa Cruz haze, aka since “growing up” (while remaining a rainbow haired tattooed girl in DIY torn up tank tops), I’ve transitioned to finding euphoria in everything from farmers markets to herbal tonics.
Just because tonic herbs are legal, doesn’t mean they can’t get you crazy blissed out. Beyond that, of course, are their myriad health benefits, which include everything from reversing gray hair (thank you, he shou wu!!) to helping your body better adapt to stress. The only real issue I ever had with herbal tonics is the fact that though they are best absorbed eaten as a food rather than taken as a pill, they tend to taste pretty nasty. Enter Longevity Power, purveyors of outrageously effective– and delightfully palatable– premium quality herbs.
When I first tried LP’s “Levity,” which is an extract of red asparagus root (not related to normal asparagus, the veggie), I seriously felt like I was back in Santa Cruz partying like the type of rock star I am way too old to make my body be these days. It tastes like caramel, and it feels like ecstasy. And it totally helps your body adapt to stress, to boot. Add to that their Epic Reishi, which has an espresso flavor and provides support for your immune system, liver, and nervous system, and what do you get? Well, if you’re a culinary creative, you get ICE CREAM. Killer joyful mocha ice cream that is crazy good for you, being made predominantly of avocado and sweet potato, and is both vegan AND paleo, in addition to low glycemic. It is also super easy to make, the most difficult aspect of it being the do-ahead roasted sweet potato, and no one will know it isn’t full of dairy, soy, or anything processed at all. Because ice cream, like everything else, deserves to make you feel really, really good inside.
Magic Mocha Chip Ice Cream
1 small roasted sweet potato (any color)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk or other thick milk
1/4 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
2 tbls coconut nectar, or honey if not vegan
3 tbls Levity
1 1/2 tsp Epic Reishi
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate extract
3/4 tsp salt
stevia to taste: I like Sweet Drops toffee and use 2 droppers full
Blend all ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth. If you don’t have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, add additional milk as needed.
This is awesome eaten straight from the blender as a pudding, especially if you add a couple tbls of coconut oil before blending. But if you want to persevere and take it a step further to the land of frozen summer happiness, just chill the mixture until cold (about 1/2 an hour in the fridge, presuming your roasted sweet potato was cooled off) and then process in an ice cream maker.
Add 1/2 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips, or some of each, at the very end, and freeze until firm.
Serve with a sprinkle of extra reishi on top and subsequently confound your friends and loved ones when you give them some then let them in on the fact that the tastiest mocha ice cream they’ve ever had has not a drop of dairy, soy, or coffee in it. Whole foods and superfoods take the cake– hell, they take the whole dessert– every time.