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.
I’m not generally much of an in-between kind of girl. My hair is black, or it’s white. (Or, currently, it’s black and magenta, which is, again, kind of serious looking, in a really fun and unserious way.) Either I’m working 20 days in a row, or I’m twiddling my thumbs for equally as long. I’m in love with and deeply attracted to extremes, in all facets of life. In line with my character, I vacillate between making the most ridiculously complex food ever, and the simplest. Lucky for you, dear reader, today I came up with a granola bar that is stupid easy and also AMAZINGLY tasty. Better yet, it’s gluten free, grain free, paleo, high protein, and vegan. These would be good with any nut or seed butter, but the chocolate Nuttzo adds a killer dessert-y flavor, plus a bunch of nutrients and omegas via flax seeds.
To make these awesome little guys, throw all of the below in a bowl, stir until combined, pour in a pan, and put in the fridge or freezer. Get back to it in an hour, cut into bars, and knock yourself the hell out never buying granola bars again.
1 cup nuts (I used raw almonds), whole or broken, doesn’t matter
1 cup coconut flakes (exchange for dried fruit if you don’t like coconut)
1 cup sprouted dried buckwheat (buckwheat is a seed, not a grain, fyi, and it’s now delightfully inexpensive sprouted and dried in the bulk section of health food stores)
3/4 cup chocolate Nuttzo
3/4 cup date puree (puree dates, or buy dates pureed)
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup coconut nectar, honey, or maple syrup
3 scoops protein powder of choice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Like I said: mix together until it’s all gloppy and uniform, spread in a pan, and refrigerate. That’s it. If you have no patience, like me, put them in the freezer and they’ll be ready in a half hour. If you have patience, put them in the fridge and it’ll be more like an hour or two. Keep them in the fridge so they stay hard until eaten, or keep frozen if you plan on having one as a grab-n-go snack later in the day.
The buckwheat gives these a Rice Krispie treat texture, so I wouldn’t omit that, but beyond that you can basically change out any ingredients here you want to keep flavors current. Add dried fruit, add more nuts, change the nuts, change the protein powder, add cocoa powder, do whatever you want because you’re not baking these so you’ve got nothing to worry about. What you see is what you’ll get when you make the batter, only it will firm up a bit once cold. If by some change you add too much stuff and the mixture isn’t spreadable, just add more nut butter until it is, and taste to make sure they’re still sweet and salty enough.
When it comes to dressings and sauces, I typically maintain a close and strong relationship with mustard. Any savory food + mustard = better tasting food, I feel, and I usually construct my salad dressings and dipping sauces around it. However, just because I have monomaniacal tendencies doesn’t mean I’m a total bore, and lately I’ve been very into tamarind. In the past I’ve bought whole dried beans and soaked them, but I’m often unsatisfied with the flavor and texture of that, so I tend to get jars of tamarind paste instead (which has no other ingredients, just the fruit).
Tamarind, in all its goodness, doesn’t particularly get along with mustard, so my sauce experiments of late have had different bases. Through the trial and error of fridge and cupboard random ingredient exploration, I have come up with a salad dressing/dipping sauce/stir fry sauce, aka SuperSauce, that is rich, creamy, sour, sweet, salty and spicy. The only thing we’re missing here is bitter, and I pretty much hate bitter, so this to me is a perfect combo of flavors that I have been using in everything from salad to spring rolls. It also works for basting veggies or proteins with before baking, or as a sauce for noodles (kelp, brown rice, soba, or if you’re totally retro, flour) or other grains, and can be thinned with water if desired.
Tamarind SuperSauce: (makes enough for 6-8 servings)
1/2 cup almond butter
3 tbls coconut nectar or honey
3 tbls tamari or nama shoyu
1 1/2 tbls tamarind paste
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
5-8 drops liquid stevia
Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Ratios can be changed depending on your preference, though too much more tamarind will make it unpalatably sour. (As is, the tamarind flavor is quite prominent.) For a more typical Asian-sauce flavor, you could substitute almond butter with peanut butter.
Tamarind SuperSauce dressing a winter salad of dino kale, shaved carrots, apples, and radishes.
Everyone always talks about kale being one of the healthiest foods on the planet, but for some reason, you don’t tend to hear nearly as much about colored kales, like purple and red. Something many people don’t know is that while greens are EXCELLENT for you, and very vital to health, red and purple foods actually contain MORE antioxidants. In fact, what gives purple foods their color is actually the antioxidant anthocyanin, which fights heart disease/cancer/stoke/diabetes and boosts memory. Dark red fruits also contain anthocyanin, and have lycopene too, which helps eyes and immune systems. SO when you take a vitamin-powerhouse veggie like kale and add the properties of a red or purple food to it, you get some serious healthy power.
I tend to make smoothies with red and purple kale because after years of murky green and brown shakes, I want ones that look appealing these days. The smoothie I made this morning is a perfect example of a breakfast that is both beautiful AND beautifying.
Purple Protein Shake:
2/3 cup blackberries (I used fresh bc they’re in season right now, frozen is fine)
1 1/2 cups purple kale
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1-2 scoops protein powder
Optional: 1/3 dropper grape stevia. If you add this, the smoothie will have an overall grape-ish flavor that marries perfectly with its purple color.
Chessie decided to take a break from my neuro-rehabilitation notebook she was napping on and give a good sniff to this deliciousness.
Recently I heard about adding beets to smoothies, so since I had some cooked ones in the fridge this morning I decided to try it. And WOW, do beets gorgeous up a drink! I also added chia kombucha to this for extra fruitiness and tang.
This is the smoothie I made:
And this is how I made it:
1 1/2 cups purple kale leaves
3/4 cup frozen raspberries
1 small cooked beet
1 white nectarine
a 1 inch piece of frozen banana
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup black chia kombucha
1 scoop protein powder
1 tsp camu camu powder
stevia to taste
Camu camu intensifies the sweet tart fruitiness, coconut milk mellows it out a little, and I swear, you can’t even taste all that kale! I prefer purple kale for red smoothies because besides the additional antioxidant benefits of purple foods, it’s nice to sometimes to have normal looking/not swampy smoothies.