Monthly Archives: August 2011

Good-for-ya Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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It’s Sunday. It’s a beautiful day outside. And my sweetheart comes home in three days after a 6-week stint up in Alaska. He has spent 8 of 11 weeks this summer up North. Yay for him. And at first it was a yay for me, too—who doesn’t like a little freedom to stay up until 4am watching an entire season of Friday Night Lights and doing whatever the heck she wants whenever the heck she feels like it?—but now I’m totally ready for him to come home.

So, let’s dish up some Good-for-ya ice cream to celebrate.

Now, let me just say up front that this ice cream is dairy-free (dairy doesn’t like me much), vegan and almost entirely raw. Instead of traditional cow’s cream it’s made with cashew nut cream. Does it taste EXACTLY like traditional dairy-based ice cream?

Heck, no. That would be silly.

But it does taste like ice cream, with a super creamy flavor and texture. It has a wonderful and very subtle flavor of nuts in the base.

Is it totally delicious? Heck, yeah! And does it completely fulfill my sinful desires for ice cream? Heck, yeah! Even better, I can enjoy every bite knowing that I’m being really kind to my body.

Plus, it’s super easy to make. Homemade ice cream that loves ya back.

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Good-for-ya Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Makes: 1 pint
Adapted from Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis

1 cup cashews, soaked in water 4 hours or more and rinsed
1 cup young coconut meat, fresh preferred but frozen also works
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup agave nectar
2T peppermint/mint extract
1T vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
1/8 cup coconut butter (my preference) or coconut oil warmed to liquid
1-2T raw cacao nibs, adjust for you taste

1. Mix everything but coconut butter and nibs on high in a blender until creamy and smooth. Slowly add coconut butter until incorporated.

2. Chill thoroughly in refrigerator.

3. Add in cacao nibs, mix and process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Yum!

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And just because I miss his face, here’s a picture of my sweetie on our wedding day, which was another beautiful Bay Area day.

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There’s lots to celebrate. Go hug your loved ones, whip up some Good-for-ya ice cream and enjoy!

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Consciousness is a funny thing

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Byron Katie – Turn It Around, The Movie by Jenny McCarthy from This That on Vimeo.

Is what you believe really true?

“The Ego’s job is to kill everything, but itself.” —Byron Katie

This video is long, but certainly worth watching if you’re at all interested in learning even a little more about yourself.

As always, enjoy.

Back to school treat: Guilt-free chocolate pudding

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This was my first week back at school and I really wasn’t ready to go back.

Given my reluctance to return to the books I decided to end my first week back with a little treat: chocolate pudding.

But not just any old choco pudding, we’re rockin’ out with HEALTHY choco puddin’. It’s non-dairy, super high in potassium and completely GUILT-FREE! Yes, that’s right! Guilt. Free. And it’s ridiculously easy to whip up. How much more of a treat can you get?

Guilt-Free Chocolate Pudding
Serves: 2 or 1 really greedy chocoholic

6 dates*, no seeds
2-4T agave nectar (to taste)
1/4 to 1/3 cup cacao powder (to taste)
1.5T vanilla extract
2 ripe avocados, meat only

extra: 1/2 banana

1. In a food processor mix dates, agave nectar and vanilla. Add avocados and cacao and mix until everything is creamy and smooth.

2. Extra: I threw in half a banana to give a little banana-y taste and sliced the other half to go on top of my pudding. Sprinkle with nuts and you’re done!

*Some people make this recipe without dates and instead use 1/2-3/4 cup of agave. I, however, don’t like using that much agave and prefer to get the sweetness from natural dates instead. Experiment and see which way you like best.

Enjoy!!

From the garden: Avocado lime soup

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I’m on a desperately-grasp-the-last-days-of-Summer kick. Did I mention that school starts in—gulp—two days? And I already have homework. How’s that possible? NO! I’m not ready! I’m still on vacation!

In order to prolong that vacationy feeling, I ask you, what says Summer more than avocados? Hmmmm? Even better: Avocados and margaritas. Oh, yeah. Life is good, my friends.

Here’s a super quick and easy recipe for avocado lime soup that is rich, creamy, and fresh. It has the perfect blend of avocados and margarita (also known as lime.) And it’s super healthy for you. Not bad, huh?

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Celebrating the end of Summer

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In an attempt to celebrate every last drop of Summer I met up with my friend, Karin, at Ardenwood Historic Farm to enjoy the Cajun/Zydeco Music Festival.

Ardenwood is a working farm and a part of the East Bay Regional Park District. It has orchards and crops, horses and livestock, demonstrations of old-timey tractors, a working train, and a beautiful historic mansion surrounded by darling gardens. There’s even a working blacksmith on site. It’s a fun place to visit, especially if you have kids. But it’s especially nice during the Cajun Music Festival. You can hear the bands playing throughout the farm so you are free to wander and explore. Or you can setup near the bandstand, break out your picnic, sit back and tap your toes to the tunes. Or you can attempt to squeeze onto the packed dance floor to twist and shimmy to the infectious sounds of the fiddle and accordion. (Free dance lessons are also a fun part of the festival.)

Any way you want to play it’s a relaxing and happy day.

To give you an idea here’s a YouTube video of Grammy-winning BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet playing earlier this year. They were just one of the four bands playing at the festival.

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Upcycling: Outdoor Scotch oil lantern

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I’ve got less than a week until school starts and have been busy finishing up the last of my outdoor garden projects. Jeez, is it me or did Summer slip by way too fast?

Anyway, the weather in the Bay Area has been remarkably pleasant this summer. It’s so lovely in the early evenings that I’ve taken to eating dinner in the backyard and relaxing with a good book until it’s too dark for me to read anymore. Jack hasn’t had a chance to hook up the electricity in the garden yet, therefore we don’t have much light out there right now. Annoyed at having to cut my outdoor evenings short due to darkness I started scouring the house for lighting options.

As it happens I recently cleaned up my pantry and had pulled out a bunch of these empty Scotch bottles that I tend to save and use for flower vases. I took another look at these Scotch bottles and realized that they would make terrific oil lanterns. They’re heavy and sturdy and can easily withstand a windy night. Excellent. I felt an urge to upcycle!

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These oil lanterns were super easy to whip up. Here’s what you need:
1. bottle (FREE. Use what you have.)
2. lantern wick (FREE. This package has 2 and coincidentally we already had it in the shed. Why? I have no clue, but I was using it! If you’re buying, it’s only a couple bucks.)
3. washer to stick on top of the bottle to hold the wick in place (FREE. I also found this in the shed, but the center hole was a little too small, so I made it bigger with 1/2-inch drill bit. Easy! If you’re buying, they’re ~$.50 each.)
4. Citronella lantern oil ($3.50)

Pour lantern oil into your clean bottle (I used 1/4 bottle of oil for each lantern.) Thread wick through washer and then insert into the bottle so that the wick rests easily on the bottom. Trim wick about 1/2-inch above the washer.

Voila! Two custom oil lanterns for the bank-breaking price of $3.50.

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I love that the lantern oil actually looks like Scotch. And because we’re a Scotch-loving family I think these lanterns are especially perfect for our home—a subtle nod to who we are.

Upcycling at its best.

P.S. They work great!

From the garden: No-dough, no-bake summertime tarts

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The most prolific tomato plant we have is our cherry tomato bush that sits outside our back door. And these little babies are so sweet and juicy; they’re perfect for a sweet-savory summer tomato tart.

I love tarts: fruit tarts, veggie tarts, layered lasagna tarts … mmmm. Plus, they’re the epitome of summer.

What I don’t like is the flour and butter of the traditional tart crust. If you feel the same then try out this No-dough, no-bake tart shell that is made from ground nuts and dates. It’s delicious! And bonus, it’s super fast and easy to throw together. Here we go >>

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Ch-ch-ch-chia! seeds

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What the heck are chia seeds and why do I care?

Well, they are the seeds of Salvia Hispanica, a member of the mint family and are native to Mexico and Central America. They are used in breads, sauces, drinks and most famously, in the sprouting Chia Pet. (Ch-ch-ch-chia! Man, I still remember that TV commercials thirty nine million years later. Brilliant marketing! I confess that I have had many a Chia Pet in my day. I love ’em.)

Anyway, nutritionally these babies are little powerhouses about which you can read more here >>. Culinary-wise they have a tapioca-like thickening property. Ah, food. This is where my interest really picks up.

If you, like me, love tapioca pudding then you will love chia seeds. Chia seeds will allow you to make a super healthy dessert-like dish that is low-calorie and so easy to make it’s ridiculous. Who doesn’t like that?

So, let’s make chia pudding.

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