Nutty Coconut Granola Recipe

Before I dive into this delicious Nutty Coconut Granola recipe, I’d like to share a quick announcement. At last night’s MoveWith Zumba class on the Cambridge Center Roof Garden¬†(the perfect hidden gem) I shared about two events in Harvard Square this summer. Here’s a pic from last night…

And now, the announcement… I’m teaching Zumba and Yoga Barre at the gorgeous¬†Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. Sign up for Zumba at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 26, and/or Yoga Barre at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 11. I vote we all go for a coffee date afterwards. Who’s in?

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Now, the reason you came…

Every week or two, I like to make a big batch of nutty granola¬†to¬†store in the fridge. Homemade is the way to go because…¬†1. You can control the ingredients, and 2. granola a great option when you need a quick breakfast, snack or smoothie topping. My go-to ingredients are oats, maple syrup and coconut oil. This Nutty Coconut Granola recipe also has almonds, shredded coconut and other goodies. Check ‘er out and make your own!

Nutty Coconut Granola

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 cup oats (gluten-free)

2 cup brown rice cereal

1 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed or chia seeds

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 maple syrup or honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325¬įF. Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix melted coconut oil with maple syrup/honey. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, grind 1/2 cup raw almonds to a fine powder. Add the remaining 1/2 cup and pulse to chop lightly. Add to the mixing bowl of oil/sweetener.
  4. To the same mixing bowl, add the oats, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and flaxseed/chia seeds. Stir until everything is well-coated. If you need more liquid to coat, add a touch more sweetener (1 Tbsp at a time).
  5. Pour granola onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper in one mound. Using the back of a spoon or spatula, start to pack the granola down tightly so that it spreads out and is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Packing tightly will ensure you get coveted clusters!
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, turning the rotating the pan after 10 minutes. Granola is done when the edges start to reach a darker brown and the center is golden.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Break the granola apart and store in an air-tight container for up to a week. I store mine in the fridge to keep that freshness and crunch.

granola

Stay healthy, stay happy!

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Mint Cacao Smoothie Recipe

Summer, where have you been all my life? ¬†When the weather is warmer, my smoothie game is on point. There’s nothing better than an ice-cold, refreshing smoothie on a hot day — especially a filling one.

When it comes to creating a good smoothie, it’s about including¬†something frozen + something creamy + something slightly sweet. After that, the world–err–fridge is your oyster. For me, my base is almost always a frozen banana (creamy and cold), 1 cup of almond milk and 1 tbsp of chia seeds. From there, I’ll usually add whatever greens I have on hand, plus some berries or flavor booster.

This particular mint cacao smoothie recipe came about for two reasons:

  1. I love raw cacao. (I buy TruVibe Organics.)
  2. My mint plant is out of control.

My stepdad built an amazing vertical planter for my porch and the herbs are thriving to the point where it’s becoming overwhelming. I pick mint regularly for minty lemon water (thanks for the idea, Lisa), but I need another use. I thought, mint chocolate smoothie… then thought, mint cacao smoothie. Um, yum!

Raw cacao mint smoothie

(serves 1)

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao nibs for garnish

Directions

Place bananas, raw cacao, milk and other ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth! Add more milk or ice to alter the consistency. Tip for freezing bananas: Peel, chop into 4s and freeze in a ziplock bag.cacao smoothie

Optional: If you need something more filling, add a handful of spinach, 1/4 cup oats, or 1/2 cup of berries, etc. Other good add-ins are more chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp hearts or a dollop of granola.

Try some of my other favorite smoothies:

How to meditate: For beginners and skeptics

Cultivating healthy routines is hard, but cultivating morning routines is even harder. During the month of March, I set out on a personal challenge to meditate every morning. On day 1, I had visions of what day 31 would look like. I saw myself sitting on a pillow or yoga block in my sundrenched living room meditating for 5, 10 — heck, maybe even 15 minutes. Turns out, most days, I didn’t even get out of bed. Read my meditation diary.

meditation

When I started brainstorming tips for how to meditate for beginners I thought, “Did I really learn anything in these 31 days?!” Yes! I learned that what we typically perceive as the¬†right way¬†to do something might not be¬†right¬†for us. I learned that you cannot¬†let predictions and expectations jeopardize the progress made during challenges or personal journeys. Success doesn’t always look the same for everyone. The journey to success looks very different for everyone.

Onto the list for how to meditate for beginners — and skeptics, too:

1. Define and acknowledge the benefits

What is meditation? You can scour¬†the web for¬†¬†hours reading different definitions and interpretations of what it means to meditate. In the simplest words: Meditation is awareness. Meditation¬†describes a state of consciousness, when the mind is free from the scatterbrained feeling. (Read¬†what meditation isn’t from Greatist.)

The benefits of meditation — and yoga in general — are boundless. Some include:

  • Mental clarity, peace of mind
  • Decreased anxiety and increased emotional stability
  • Creativity¬†boost, mental sharpness
  • Relaxation
  • Happiness

How can you say no?

2. Start small

Morning routines are hard to change. As humans, we fall into patterns so easily. Start small by moving your phone out from our of your pillow or further away than your bedside table when you sleep. Resist the urge to check emails, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter — whatever your vice — first thing in the morning. Shut off your alarm, sit up in bed, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths. Do that for a week or two and notice shifts in your body/mental state. If you’re ready for something a little more, move off your bed and sit atop a pillow or yoga block.

Bonus: I created this sequence for bedtime, but it will work in the morning too!

3. Practice pranayama

Prana = breath. Pranyama is the practice of controlling the breath. Think about it: Breathing and heart-beating occur throughout the day without any effort or thought. Unlike the heartbeat, the breath can be controlled (though some hXc yogis might argue the heartbeat can too).

Focussing on your inhale and exhale is the simplest way to start meditating. It forces you to focus on one thing and one things only. To learn more tricks, I recommend heading to the pranayama section of YogaJournal. Then, check out my quick video on nadi shodhana (alternative nostril breathing):

4. Download an app, take a meditation workshop

Check studios in your area for meditation or mindfulness workshops. Boston peeps, there are a lot! No time for workshops? I recommend the Headspace or Calm apps. You could also look into meditation on tape > CD > er, digital download.

5. Invest in meditation props

So you’ve set aside time in your day for meditation, but how do you make it a habit? Like with cute workout clothes, that expensive blender or a new party shoes, activities are more exciting¬†when you have fun toys. Personally, I am more motivated to workout when I have a cute outfit on and I’m more inclined to make smoothies now that I have a quality blender.¬†It sounds vain and materialistic, but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Remember: It’s not about¬†how you look¬†it is about¬†how you feel, and sometimes that rad outfit makes you feel great.

Right now, I’m coveting a meditation pillow like the ones in MariposaZen’s Etsy shop. What I do¬†have is a yoga block which you can find at Target, REI, yoga studios or your favorite sporting goods store. Take your meditation props and set up a space in your home to make meditating accessible and the process desirable.

Still need a little more guidance? Check out this great meditation infographic from MindBodyGreen. Also, another hot to meditate tip from me.

Miso Glazed Eggplant Recipe

This miso glaze recipe is bomb-diggity. Not only is it the perfect accompaniment to this roasted eggplant, but it also doubles as a dressing for your salad or buddha bowl.

Before even thinking about this miso glazed eggplant recipe, you will need to invest in light miso paste. You can find this at your local Asian market and in some grocery stores. According to Mind of ¬†Chef, buying in Japan is best — but buying one made in Japan might be the next best.¬†As for eggplant, regular or Japanese works!

Miso Glazed Eggplant Recipe

Ingredients

¬ľ cup¬†light¬†miso paste

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp water

¬Ĺ – 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped roughly

1 garlic clove

1 Tbsp raw honey (maple syrup or regular honey works)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 eggplant, mostly peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch thick lengthwise (*or 4-6 Japanese eggplant, skin on, sliced in half lengthwise)eggplant

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler. My broiler is particularly powerful, so I put it on the low setting. (The time recommendations below are for a standard broiler with one setting. But, as always, I recommend keeping an eye on things to avoid burning.)
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil (or parchment paper — I’m always afraid it’ll burn). Rub both sides of your eggplant strips with oil and arrange on the pan with no overlap (skin side down if using Japanese eggplant). Broil for 5 minutes or until tops are golden brown.eggplant
  3. While eggplant is broiling, combine miso, vinegar, water, honey, ginger and garlic in a food processor.eggplant
  4. Remove the eggplant from the oven and brush the tops generously with the miso glaze. Return to the oven for 2 minutes, or until caramelized. Remove from the oven, brush again with the miso glaze and return to the broiler, rotating the pan for even cooking for 2 more minutes.eggplant
  5. Serve right away! (Best if served immediately, will be mushier if reheating as leftovers.)

eggplant

Tofu Glass Noodles

Last week, I had this weird craving for these bean threads. You can find bean threads at an Asian food store — or in the international section of your favorite grocery store (usually you’ll see the Saifun brand I used here). Serve this dish hot or cold as a simple weekday lunch or dinner. From start to finish, it takes you less than 20 minutes.

Keep in mind — any of the veggies can be swapped out for what’s in your fridge. As you’ll see in the photos, I added some mushrooms (I needed to use them up), but mushrooms are not 0n the ingredient list.noodles

Tofu Glass Noodles

Serves 3-4
Ingredients

5-6 ounces dry glass noodles (I used Saifun bean threads)

2 Tbsp sesame oil

 3/4 package of firm tofu, cubed (How to Prepare Tofu)

1 Tbsp ginger, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 large carrots, sliced into thin sticks

1 red bell pepper, sliced thing

1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped

sesame seeds for garnish

Sauce for spicy noodles (this one is my favorite)

2 tsp garlic chili paste

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 lime, juiced

Sauce for sweeter noodles

2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 lime, juiced

Directions
  1. Noodles: Bring 6 cups of water to a boil (use an electric tea kettle — so easy!). Break the noodle bunches in half, place them¬†in a large bowl and cover with boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and divide into 3 or 4 serving bowls.
  2. Tofu: In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil (other oil works) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add cubed tofu and let it crisp. Fried it on each site until golden brown.noodles
  3. Veggies: In a separate skillet, heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil and then add ginger and garlic until fragrant. Add carrots, peppers and 1 Tbsp water. Cover and cook until they start to soften (like steaming them). After about 5 minutes, add kale and cook until it wilts.noodles
  4. Sauce: In a bowl, whisk together your sauce ingredients. If serving your dish hot, add your sauce to you veggies to warm it up in the next step. If serving cold, put sauce to the side for now. noodles
  5. Remove your veggies from heat and mix in the cooked tofu. If serving hot, mix in the sauce and tofu before removing from the heat. If serving cold, add sauce and let everything cool.
  6. Add the skillet ingredients to your noodles, toss gently and serve!
Stay healthy, stay happy!

Vegan Matcha Oatmeal

I finally got my hands on some Japanese matcha powder a couple weeks ago and experimentation has begun. Last week I made matcha muffins, but concluded that they needed more matcha (stay tuned). On Monday, I made a green tea latte but struggled to get it right without a milk frother or bamboo whisk (birthday present ideas, people). FullSizeRender (11)

Also, I have a high standard for this beverage in particular after sipping on matcha lattes in Japan. Lucky for me… WE ARE GOING BACK TO JAPAN IN JULY. Downside,¬†the last thing I’ll want in the 100-degree whether is a hot matcha latte.¬†But, who knows!

This morning, I thought, why not marry two of my fav things — matcha and oatmeal — to make a yummy breakfast. Here’s what we got!

image1 (1)

Invest in some high-quality matcha powder and make this alternative vegan breakfast yourself!

Matcha Oatmeal

Ingredients

1/2 cup oats

1 cup dairy-free milk

1.5 tsp matcha powder

2 Tbsp hot water

sweetener*

toppings**

*I used liquid stevia. Brown sugar, raw honey, maple syrup or other sweeteners work too!

**I recommend going the coconut route and opting for coconut milk as your non-dairy milk. Then sprinkle your oats with shredded coconut, banana, etc.

Directions

  1. In a small pot, heat 1/2 cup oats and 1 cup dairy-free milk to a simmer. Stir constantly and cook until oats are soft and milk is mostly absorbed (about 5 minutes). Before removing from the heat, stir in sweetener of choice.
  2. Stir 1.5 tsp of matcha powder in 2 Tbsp of hot water until it dissolves. Add this to your cooked oats.
  3. Top with shredded coconut, nut butter, raw cacao nibs, chia seeds — what have you.

oatsEnjoy!

#SHSHtravel: Our California Roadtrip

We had a GREAT time in California! We lucked out with the weather because not only did we escape superstorm Juno, but Cali temps were¬†in the 60s and 70s the whole trip (except a few chilly nights) and we didn’t encounter any rain (except for one afternoon while driving through Beverly Hills).

Our trip took us from BOS to SFO where we rented a car and drove down to Los Angeles. From LAX we flew home to a few feet of snow. Reality check much? Ha ha!¬†The major¬†sights…

  • City of San Francisco
  • Carmel/Carmel Valley
  • Big Sur
  • Los Angeles

… and a lot more in between.

What we learned on this trip is that we are really, really active vacationers. We like to be on the move, see everything possible, oh, and revolved the day around good food. Over 8 days, we traveled 61 miles BY FOOT. Outlined below. :)

Day 1

In San Francisco we did the most walking of our trip.¬†Our first day there, we started at the Ferry Building and ate breakfast at the farmers’ market. After that, we took the ferry to Alcatraz and then walked around the entire city. We clocked in 11.2 MILES¬†on foot according to Ryo’s Vivofit!FullSizeRender (11)

Our eats…

4505 Meats: Get a gosh darn breakfast sandwich here!cali

Greco Cafe: Nice salad for me, panini for my partner in crime. It was a nice place to break in the heart of Little Italy. Perk: It was warm enough to eat outside!

Ryoko’s: A Japanese¬†restaurant¬†with amaaaaazing food and a bar feel. Tip: It seems like it’s always packed, so¬†be prepared to wait. Oh, and it is a do-it-yourself list.

Day 2

This was our Muir Woods day! We hiked among some giant trees, visited Golden Gate Park and watched the sunset at the Sutro Baths. Lunch on most days was an on-the-go or snacking affair. Then, on a few days we ate breakfast at home or while navigating to our first destination.

Distance traveled by foot: 11.2 miles

FullSizeRender (12)FullSizeRender (13)caliEats included…

Equator Coffee: A nice little joint (packed with cyclists) right over the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Slanted Door: I was SO excited to eat at the Slanted Door! No pictures, but a must-eat restaurant by the Bay Bridge!cali

Day 3

Time to¬†start our road trip down the coast! But first… breakfast in SF and a quick trip to SF’s Japantown (kind of lame after you’ve been to the real thing). In Japantown we grabbed mochi, rice balls and other snacks for the road. While driving we¬†stopped by Pacific Beach, Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz before arriving in Carmel Valley.

Distance traveled by foot: 6.25 milescali

Day 3 eats…

Brenda’s French Soul Food: This was on every list of “places to eat in SF,” so we had to.¬†cali

Blue Bottle Coffee: A popular spot where I got a perfect almond milk cafe au lait. 

Day 4

We had all day to spend in the Carmel area, so we wandered¬†the¬†Monterey Bay Aquarium,¬†did¬†the¬†“17-mile drive” through Pebble Beach, shopped¬†at¬†Carmel-by-the-Sea and then made a little stop in Carmel Valley center. Our two-night stay in Carmel was probably the most relaxing part of the trip — I mean… just check out this view/sunrise!

Distance traveled by foot: 4.8 milescali

Carmel eats…

La Bicyclette: This was a cute, french-inspired cafe with pretty delicious salads and a mega/delicious burger. We at lunch here with a lot of empty nest moms who drive Mercedes and lovebirds honeymooning — or something. Read reviews for the restaurant for hilarious¬†explanations¬†of¬†the “regular crowd.”

Carmel Coffee House: Another day, another almond milk latte. 

Cafe Rustica: This food stop was highly-recommended by our AirBnB host. (BTW, we did AirBnB the whole trip and had amazing experiences all around!) We split a pizza and some other goodies. 

Day 5

Back on the road… TIME FOR THE BIG SIR! First, we hiked around Point Lobos Nature Reserve — so breathtaking. Then, we started down US-1 again and made stops at¬†Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Falls, McKay Falls, San Simeon (sea lions), Cayucos and Morro Bay State Park (big, big rock).

Distance traveled by foot: 6.9 milescalicali

Our next AirBnB was about 10 minutes inland from Morro Bay. On the way we grabbed some practical groceries. By that I mean, restocking on snacks and grabbing ingredients for breakfast-for-dinner and breakfast the next day.

Day 6

Back on the road — next stop LA! We stopped in Santa Barbara on the way, then relaxed at our AirBnB in Santa Monica until it was time for dinner and the¬†LAKERS GAME! (We were only a little bummed about not seeing Kobe. Bad timing for an injury, sir.)

Distance traveled by foot: 5.2 miles

Eats included…

Natural Cafe: A hot Santa Barbara spot with foods for vegans and meat-eaters alike. Fresh ingredients and a lot of locals. We ate outside and soaked in the sunshine!cali

Yojies: Shabu shabu and other goodies here! It was right near the Staples Center which was perfect for us!

Day 7

One of my bucket list items was hiking up to the Hollywood sign¬†— so awesome!¬†We hiked¬†right after breakfast, did a quick change in the car, and then walked around Hollywood. If you’ve been to Hollywood, you know it’s over-rated… But it’s a must see. We also took some time to drive through Beverly Hills, where people casually parallel-park their Maseratis on busy streets. We ended the day with dinner at Umami Burger, a stroll through the 3rd Street Promenade and a stop by a recommended ice cream shop. We like to party.

Distance traveled by foot: 6.2 milescali

The eats…

Egg Slut: Be prepared to wait for 30-45 minutes in line here — even longer on the weekends! Ryo got the sandwich below, and I got “The Slut,” a coddled egg over potato mash with a small baguette.¬†FullSizeRender (5)

Beard Papas: A cream puff place we like to stop at in every city, haha. Coming in Boston mid-February… so they say.

Umami Burgers: Recommended by friends, this place did not disappoint. There are tons of locations up the CA coast. I got a turkey burger, Ryo got this truffle-everything nonsense. FullSizeRender (8)

Sweet Rose Creamery: We are all about dessert — especially love when there are dairy-free options. Coconut banana for me, and some sinful double chocolate something for Ryo.

Day 8

Our last day! What?! I started the day with the highly-rated mint mojito ice coffee from Phillz (with almond milk). It lived up to the hype. Then, we rented bikes and pedaled down to Venice Beach. We took in all the weirdness and I got to meet up with a great, long-lost friend! We ate lunch on the beach, saw some more weirdness, then headed back to Santa Monica for another sunset.

Our flight wasn’t until 11:45pm, so we had the whole day!

Distance traveled by foot: 9.2 miles (but some of that might be from biking)

Eats…

Philz Coffee: Just go. There are locations in SF and LA.cali

Cafe Gratitude: Jason Mraz supplies the avocados — or something like that (I haven’t done my research). Go there to enjoy vegan eats that are both tasty and moderately-priced.¬†

Japadog: Finally! We haven’t seen this food cart in NYC yet, so we were happy to stumble upon it while walking down¬†Santa Monica Pier. I took a few bites of Ryo’s¬†delicious dog. Om nom nom.

Blue Plate Taco: It was conveniently DineLA week while we were in LA. We booked a table at Blue Plate Taco a couple days in advance for dinner. Great deal, great food. Categorized as California Mexican.cali
cali

A lot of these pictures don’t do the trip justice. If you can, definitely plan to make this drive while you are still young (or young at heart). The views are breathtaking, the food is incredible and the people watching is¬†prime.

Do you have favorite spots in California? Any of these sights on your bucket list?

Japanese Meatball Miso Soup (Niku Dango Miso)

I returned home after a sunny California vacation to a couple feet of snow and my car frozen to the earth. Welcome back to reality, eh?!¬†I don’t dislike snow, but it sure is difficult to keep up with shoveling when there is no where to put the snow. This is one of the small sacrifices city dwellers¬†make. Alas…

California was fantastic. We lucked out and only had one afternoon of rainfall (on our second to last day). My favorite part about the trip >> we were able to eat fresh, good-for-us food the entire trip. Usually I come home from vacation craving greens or fruits, but not this time!

Something I did start craving the minute my face hit the cold Boston air was soup. Plus, there is nothing better than a nice bowl of hot soup after coming in from shoveling snow (well, hot chocolate is up there too).

I made this soup before heading to California, but decided I’d make it one more time before taking pictures and sharing it with all of you. It is a detoxifying Japanese meatball soup or, niku dango miso (according to Ryo). The recipe is simple, but requires a few Japanese pantry staples: wakame, light/mild miso and hondashi. There are images of the products I buy below (you can get them at any Asian market like H-Mart in Cambridge/Burlington or Super88 in Allston).

Niku Dango Miso

(serves 2, or 4 if eating as a side dish)

Ingredients

Mini-meatballs

1/2 lb lean ground beef

1 tbsp soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

1 large garlic clove, grated*

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated*

1 Tbsp sesame oil

*Invest in a ceramic grater like this Kyocera one

Soup base

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 larger garlic clove, minced

1-2 large carrot cut into circles

1 Tbsp soy sauce

4 cups water

2 Tbsp light miso paste

1 Tbsp hondashi

1 Tbsp dried wakame (fueru wakame)

2 handfuls of chopped kale (or other greens)

As always, add more or less of ingredients like ginger, garlic, or miso to satisfy your tastebuds. Taste the soup base as you add the miso. You might find that you want an extra tablespoon.

Directions

Meatballs

  1. In a small mixing  bowl, combine all ingredients except the sesame oil.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of seasame oil over medium heat. Using your hands, roll small meatballs (smaller than a ping pong ball) and place them in the skillet one at a time. *Tip:I was able to make 20. A melon scooper is a good gauge for size. soup
  3. Let them brown on the outside — tossing them in the pan every minute or so. Once they are brown on all sides, slice the biggest one in half to check doneness. Cover, remove from heat and set aside.

Soup base

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of sesame oil in your soup pot. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté until fragrant.
  2. Add your carrot and cook for 1 minute.  Add soy sauce and 4 cups of water. Bring it to a boil for 2 minutes, and then reduce to a simmer. soupsoup
  3. Next, add your miso paste. Trick: Place the miso paste in a ladle and then fill the ladle with hot water from the soup pot. Stir the miso paste in the ladle until it dissolves and then add it to the pot. Be careful not to bring the soup broth¬†to a boil — it’ll jeopardize the miso flavor. Taste the broth and judge whether or not you want more miso.
  4. Add the hondashi, wakame and kale. Keep the soup at a low simmer and cover for 5 minutes. soupsoupSAMSUNG CSC
  5. Serve hot! Divide meatballs in 2 or 4 bowls, then add broth over the top. Want it spicy? Add a dab of garlic chili paste.soup

Enjoy! I topped mine with a toasted mochi. :)

soup

Raw Cacao Banana Oats (or Pancakes)

Breakfast, I love you. Raw cacao, I love you too.

Raw Cacao Banana Oats

Ingredients

1/4 cup gluten-free oats*

1 banana, sliced

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

3/4 – 1 cup almond milk**

Toppings: Sliced banana, raw cacao nibs

*Any oats work

**This depends on how thick you want your oats; you can always add more milk

Directions

  1. Add sliced banana, oats and 1/2 cup almond milk to your bowl.
  2. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 second to soften the banana and oats. Remove from microwave to stir and smush the banana.
  3. Add the¬†raw cacao powder and the rest of the almond milk (1/4-1/2 cups). Place back in the microwave for 2 minutes (watch so that it doesn’t overflow while cooking).
  4. Stir, let cool and them top with your favorite toppings (cacao nibs, extra banana, a scoop of nut butter).

oatsFeel like pancakes? Instead of putting the bowl back in the microwave during step three above, pour the oat batter onto a warm skillet and cook like pancakes. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

Why whole wheat? To fill you up and keeping you from eating 10 cookies. Why vegan? Because I’d rather eat my eggs scrambled, boiled or cooked over-easy.

Most of my dessert recipes use whole wheat or gluten-free flour and a flaxseed egg to sneak in extra health benefits. When possible, I also¬†use raw honey, pure maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of the white granulated kind. But, all of this comes down to¬†who¬†I’m cooking for. If¬†it’s me, desserts are healthy as possible and just sweet enough to satisfy my taste buds. If I’m cooking for a crowd, I aim to please.

This recipe is easily manipulated. Make it as healthy or unhealthy as you want by playing around with your ingredients. Comment below if you have questions!cookie

Whole Wheat Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

(makes 18-24)

Ingredients

1 Tbsp of ground flaxseed
3 Tbsp water
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup peanut butter*
1/2 cup sugar**
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 + 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

*I opt for crunchy, unsalted PB

**When baking for a crowd, I use white granulated. At home, it is coconut sugar or another 1/4 cup maple syrup.

Directions

  1. To make a flaxseed egg, mix ground flaxseed and water. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. It will start to take on a gel-like consistency.
  2. Add coconut oil, PB, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract to the flaxseed egg. Blend well using an electric mixer or whisk (I recommend electric).
  3. To the same bowl, at your flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt. Stir everything together (using an electric mixer if you have one). Cookie dough will start to come together after a minute or so.
  4. Place cookie dough in the freezer and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Once the oven is preheated, take dough out of the freezer and start rolling your cookies into balls (no bigger than golf balls). Flatten them gently by pressing with a fork twice in two different directions (to make a grid-like pattern).
  6. Bake cookies for about 10-12 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  7. Remove and let cool.

Enjoy!cookies

Detoxifying Daikon Chicken Soup

Before we dive into anything recipe-related I must share…

Today, December 30th, is one of my favorite days ever! Why? Because it’s this guy’s birthday!

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I’m so lucky to have such a supportive significant other — someone who motivates me to be¬†the best version of myself every single damn day. Keep pushing my limits and keep me dreaming big. I promise to do the same for you. <3

~

My recent¬†recipe development¬†has been heavily influenced by what I’ve learned about Japanese food and culture. We can chalk that up to living with a Japanese S/O — oh, and binge watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown episodes where he says again and again, “Not many chefs can out-cook culinary masters of Japan” (or something of that nature). However, if my S/O and I¬†hadn’t crossed paths, I do feel as though I would have eventually stumbled upon the delectable culinary creations of Japan. Not only are they tasty, but so good for you.

A couple of months back, I made¬†Asian Beef Stew. On that day in particular, I was craving something my mom used to make when I was growing up. This past weekend, I was craving daikon and chicken soup. Weird, I know. What came about is my delicious Daikon Chicken Soup. It’s packed with greens (good for boosting immunities) and daikon/celery (inflammatory and aid digestion).

This is a one pot operation. The less dishes, the better (IMO). soup

Daikon Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp sesame¬†oil
  • ¬Ĺ lb skinless chicken breast/thighs/tenderloin, chopped¬†into bite size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, cut into strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 tbsp cooking sake
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 cups low sodium (organic) chicken broth*
  • 1 cup daikon, sliced into half circles
  • 1-2 cups snow/snap peas
  • 2 cups spinach**

*Sub in vegetable broth if you don’t have (or don’t want) chicken broth

**Sub in kale, cabbage or other greens

Directions

  1. Heat sesame oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, celery and chicken. Sauté until the chicken is fully cooked.
  2. Add sake and soy sauce and cook for 1 minute. Then add broth, daikon and snow peas. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer (covered) for 15-20 minutes or until daikon is soft..
  3. Finally, add your spinach and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve hot.soup

This is the PERFECT winter detox soup. It has lean protein, leafy greens and digestive aids. If you need something sinus clearing, add a little chili hot sauce or chili garlic paste. Warning: Nose dripping will commence. Eat this soup while it’s piping hot — you won’t regret it.

Roasted miso chickpeas

I love garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Every week I buy one can of chickpeas to make hummus, add them to soup or roast them. This variation of legume is, much like its siblings, rich in fiber. What’s extra special about the fiber in garbanzo beans is that it’s insoluble. This means that the fiber passes almost all the way through the digestive track until the very end when it is broken down¬†into short chain fatty acids which are¬†absorbed by the cells that line our colon wall — helping them¬†stay active and healthy.

This roasted miso chickpea recipe is easy because there are only three necessary ingredients. Watch the video and read the recipe below.

Ingredients

1 can garbanzo beans

1 Tbsp miso paste

1 Tbsp oil

chickpeasDirections

  1. Preheat your oven to 350¬įF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Drain and rinse your garbanzo beans, and then pat dry. Put them into a mixing bowl.
  3. Combine oil and miso paste, adding a tsp of water if the mixture seems too thick. When in doubt, add the water. (*If you want to add a touch a sweetness to your chickpeas, add 1 Tbsp of honey/maple syrup instead of oil!)
  4. Pour miso over your chickpeas and then stir to coat each one. Spread chickpeas out on your baking sheet so there is no overlap and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
  5. After 25 minutes, remove from the oven and toss. Bake for another 10-15 or until they start to crisp. (More time might be necessary.)
  6. Let cool, then enjoy!chickpeas

 

Baked Japanese Sweet Potato Fries

It doesn’t get easier — or yummier — than this. Seriously. When you’re looking to switch to a “clean” diet, you don’t have to give up all of the good stuff.

I’m a sucker for some crispy fries, especially sweet potato fries. ¬†(I always¬†spend the extra $2 to swap my fries at the restaurant.)

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In this [geeky] video, I’m slicing up a Japanese sweet potato. This particular sweet potato variety has a yellow-white flesh. Japanese sweet potatoes are also¬†lighter and less sweet than the traditional orange sweet potato.

Below I have two recipes for you. One is a simple baked sweet potato fries recipe, and the other is seasoned with sesame seeds and aonori — a seaweed powder.

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Japanese Sweet Potato Fries

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Simple sweet potato fries ingredients

2 large Japanese sweet potatoes

1 Tbsp of olive or avocado oil

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Japanese-seasoned sweet potato fries ingredients 

2 large Japanese sweet potatoes

1 Tbsp of olive or sesame oil

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp aonori

1 tsp white sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450¬įF and line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.
  2. Wash your potatoes and pat them dry. Leave the skin on, or peel if you would prefer the skin off.
  3. Slice your potatoes into fries. Do your best to make them uniform in size so that they bake evenly.
  4. Add the potatoes to a mixing bowl, then add the oil and seasonings. Toss using your hands until the fries are well-coated.
  5. Line your fries on the baking sheet with no overlap.
  6. Bake at 450¬įF for 15 minutes, then turn your fries and bake for another 5-10 until they reach desired crispiness. ¬†Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Enjoy!

Vegan Chickpea Coconut Curry

Cooking is my meditation — well, one of my many meditative practices. For me, meditation doesn’t necessarily require sitting quietly (though, that is most effective IMO). The whole purpose of meditation, in whatever form it takes, is to cultivate awareness and compassion.

Boston yogi, Rebecca Pacheco, describes it well:

It’s not possible to be bad at meditation.  There’s doing it and not doing it.  That’s all.  If you want to try: try.  And be assured that it doesn’t always look, sound, or feel Zen.  Sometimes, it feels wretched or boring or like nothing much at all.  It doesn’t matter how long or where you sit, whether roused by an antique Buddhist gong or iPhone.

 

All experiences of meditation are good and valuable because they cultivate the skill of being present, of strengthening the mind.

How often do you focus your attention on¬†one thing¬†or¬†one task? When sitting in meditation, it’s about becoming still and maybe repeating a mantra to gain control of the mind and reach a heightened awareness.¬†¬†On your yoga mat, it’s a matter of staying present and keeping your physically body and attention in the room.¬†In Zumba class, it’s about staying engulfed in the rhythm, the movement and how your body feels as you move with the beat. In the kitchen, it’s about paying attention to the task at hand — slicing carefully, stirring thoughtfully and paying attention to the ingredients going into your body.

The goal of meditation is to become more aware of your physical and mental body — while also¬†developing compassion, patience, generosity and forgiveness. The intended outcome of all things you do should be¬†the same — to develop compassion, patience, generosity and forgiveness. This is especially true for the foods you fuel your body with, which is something I’ve been reading about in my Japanese home cooking book by Elizabeth Andoh, “Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen.” Rhythm and flow in the kitchen is important — so is cooking with compassion.

Oh, you came here for a recipe?

The point of all of this is… I have found so much joy in cooking lately and I attribute that to the recent meditative nature of my work in the kitchen. I’m always attentive about what is going into my body (for many reasons), but I didn’t always engulf myself in the process. This recipe is based off of one from VeganSandra.curry

Chickpea Coconut Curry

Ingredients

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 leek, just the whites sliced thin (or 1/2 white onion sliced thin)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp ground cumin

2 bay leaves

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can of diced tomatoes

1, 14 oz can of coconut milk (I buy organic, light coconut milk from Trader Joe’s)

  1. In your soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add thinly sliced leeks/onions and salt. Cook for one minute. Add curry, cumin and and bay leaves. Stir and cook for one minute. Add drained chickpeas and cook for another minute. Add the entire can of tomatoes and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
  3. Open the can of coconut milk  stir vigorously. Add about 1/2 of the can to your pot and simmer for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Final step: Taste test your curry and¬†add more coconut milk if it’s not coconut-y for you. Mine was plenty coconut-y without the rest of the can — but, everyone’s taste buds are different.

Serve alone or over a bed of rice with a drizzle of soy sauce (or tamari). Nom, nom, nom!curry

Pumpkin Millet Porridge

Fall is the best — but always so short-lived. I’m taking advantage of fall flavors and autumn-inspired meals before the season turns to winter.¬†Up first, we have a breakfast item.

If you know me at all (or follow me on Instgram), you know that I eat gluten-free oats almost every day for breakfast. They can come in any form: warm oats, cold overnight oats, savory oats with an egg on top, or even in a smoothie. I love how I feel when fueled by oats in the morning. But, there’s more to breakfast¬†— and the grain family — than just oats. For example quinoa, millet, rice and buckwheat are all gluten-free.

Each of those make a fine breakfast grain option believe it or not. The star in the millet porridge dish is certainly the pumpkin pur√©e. I buy the good, organic, as-close-to-straight-up-pumpkin as you can get. The toppings and sweetener are up to you — as always.

Pumpkin Millet Porridge

(serves 2)

Ingredients

1/2 cup dry millet

1 cup water

1/2 cup organic pumpkin purée (get the good stuff!)

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp cinnamon

*Optional: Sweetener of your choice (honey, stevia, maple syrup)

Directions

  1. If you are starting with dry, uncooked millet, add it to a small sauce pan with the water. Bring the millet and water to a boil, and then let it simmer until all the water absorbs (about 10 minutes). If you are starting with cooked millet, use 1 cup and start at step #2.SAMSUNG CSC
  2. To the saucepan add pumpkin, almond milk and cinnamon. Let ingredients simmer until everything warms to your desired serving temperature. Add in your preferred sweetener (optional).SAMSUNG CSC
  3. Split porridge into two bowls and share with a friend, or store half in the fridge to eat warm or cold the next day.
  4. Top with sliced banana, sliced almonds and/or — of course — pumpkin seeds!SAMSUNG CSC