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.
The internet is a safe haven for people to act nasty, but it is also representative of cultural opinion at large. Based on this knowledge, I am extraordinarily dismayed that with all the PSA’s for Lyme Disease and new info circulating around it, it still doesn’t “count” as a serious illness to many people.
Of course all the details about my late stage neurological Lyme, like how I had fibromyalgia so bad I couldn’t move my limbs for a spell, were cut from Chopped, and the CO poisoning was played up because it made me look insane that a stove tried to kill me. The reactions from people, though, were still shocking: I didn’t have cancer, how could I call myself a survivor? My illnesses didn’t compare to cancer. The other two contestants had cancer, and I need to GET OVER MYSELF. Never mind that my CO poisoning– which I have very real blood work and medical records from, just like my Lyme– involved a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s by a Cedars Sinai neurologist, and the gas killed my ex’s cat, it was considered “trite” compared to cancer.
Lyme disease has a tendency to keep people laid up for years, and many simply never get well. There is no “cure,” only methods of treatment that very thankfully work for some, like me. My family and I did intensive research to find holistic treatments for both my illnesses when they each occurred, and thankfully, I successfully moved past both. My mom had cancer, and was mortified when I told her yesterday about people’s statements of my illnesses being “nothing” compared. Pain and suffering are pain and suffering, and one thing that can kill you is no less bad than another thing that can kill you.
There is simply no need, ever, to compare illnesses and minimize the suffering of others. People used the hashtag “#killerstoves” to mock my experience as minimal compared to cancer. Some even said there is no way it happened, because I’d be dead, which is clearly untrue: the ventilation problem was real, and was fixed by real HVAC people. The exposure was slow and low and not detectable on an alarm designed to only detect life threatening levels. It left me with a huge array of brain damage related troubles, all of which I have recovered from fully via holistic methods. (And most definitely NOT only with avocados, that was some fun editing.)
Our culture is rife with judgment, and social media fuels our ability to depersonalize others. We are all critics from our couches. I write this not to say I feel I was perceived unfairly (that’s a whole different blog!), but to ask people to realize that being laid up for years is a nightmare, whether or not one is sick with cancer. Period.
This week I was on a quest to make quinoa cakes for the first time, and wanted to put a veggie topping on them that would be a refreshing, bright contrast to the sauteed cakes. I invented a “salsa” that fit the bill exactly:
2 small Persian cucumbers
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 small avocado
juice of one large lime
4 leaves fresh mint (dry would be fine if you don’t happen to have it on hand fresh)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp olive oil
Slice cucumbers lengthwise into eight long pieces, then cut crosswise into a small (1/8-1/4 inch) dice. Slice tomatoes into rounds, which will help keep the juicy centers from escaping. Cut avo halves within the shell both horizontally and vertically in 1/8-1/4 inch dices, then scoop out. Add lime juice, herbs, and oil, and mix. This tasted so fabulous that I didn’t have any need for salt, which helped it keep since salt leeches liquids out.
This is the salsa on its own:
And this is it on top of the quinoa cakes, on a bed of pink lentil puree:
While I was very happy with the taste of the quinoa cakes, they were a pain in the butt to cook because they were so crumbly and I don’t want a post a recipe until I’ve refined it into something a little more user friendly. This veggie salsa could be used as a lively alternative to guacamole for chips, as a dip for veggies, or even on sandwiches.
I tend to be of the opinion that if something isn’t good, avocado can make it better, and if it is good, avocado can take it to unforeseen heights. When I first heard about avocado pesto, it made perfect sense to me; pesto is damn tasty, and the creaminess, richness, and depth of flavor from avocado could only improve it. Last night I decided to test that theory…. and improve pesto, avo sure did.
For some reason I often don’t look up recipes when I make new dishes, so that my version is truly my own. I basically made my standard pesto, switching out some of the lemon juice for lime, and added the fruit right along with the other ingredients.
This is the full batch; total yield is about 2 cups.
(All ingredients save for oil can be put in blender together. I say blender rather than processor because I prefer a smoother pesto, and by blending it on low, this is a creamy sauce with a few nice little bits and pieces.)
4 cups fresh basil leaves
5 whole garlic cloves
1/3 cup raw nuts (I used cashews because I had them on hand, but have used pine nuts, walnuts, etc.)
2 medium avocados (I used one small and one large Bacon. You could use one large if Haas, as they are richer.)
juice of two large lemons
juice of one large lime
2 tsp nutritional yeast (you could use raw cheese and it won’t be vegan, or regular parmesan and it won’t be raw or vegan.)
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
I drizzle a small amount of oil in at the start to help it begin blending, let it get pretty broken up, then slowly add the remainder of the oil. You can use more or less to taste. I like sharp flavors, so this amount of garlic and citrus may be considered too heavy to some.
For dinner, I served the sauce atop roasted veggies and quinoa, but it is thick enough to use as a dip, and is an interesting offshoot of both guacamole and pesto.
The Mexicola I’m referring to is a varietal of avocado, and it is a unique and heavenly piece of produce. The skin is edible, with a flavor very reminiscent of olives. The flesh itself is rich like a standard Haas, but has a little bit of sharpness. These avocados are small- smaller than your average Haas, and definitely a drawf in comparison to Bacon or Zultano avos. You must wait until they are soft and almost spoiled looking to eat them.
Never seen one in a grocery store? That would be because, sadly, they never make it there. This little gem is in season for only a couple weeks out of the year, sometime between late November and January, and therefore can only be purchased fresh at a farmers market. I frequent an array of markets, but have found them just at my favorite one, Hollywood. An avocado, persimmon and citrus vendor on the Selma Ave. side has them first in the fall for several weeks, then a citrus, avo, and assorted other random items like mulberries and apples vendor who is close to the Sunset Blvd. entrance carries them for only one or two weeks in January. Both vendors are organic and on the left side if you’re walking North.
I’ve never used these in any recipe, as they are so completely delightful on their own. Plus, they have such a short season, and it seems a shame to cover their unusual flavor with any others, so I’ve been content eating them as a fruit. If you like avocados, you will likely fall as deeply in love with Mexicolas as I have. If you don’t like avocados, what in the world is wrong with you? 😉
These are the recent ones bought last week, which I paid $3/lb for. I did intentionally make them into a bit of a shrine on my kitchen table.
This is me at Ace's work with a Mexicola and Chessie, back in November when she was a tiny baby.