Chickpea and Carrot Pitas with Tahini Dressing

I got a pocket, got a pocketful of flavor.
I got a love, and it’s all mine to savor.
Oh, oh whoa-oh-oh…

In the Middle East, flatbread – known as pita – was made by mixing together flour and water, then letting the dough sit out to gather yeasts from the air. When the dough showed signs of life with little air bubbles forming and popping, the pita was then baked at a high temperature, causing the moisture to evaporate. The steam from the evaporation forced the dough to split into two layers, forming the signature pocket.

Practicing the art of eating like the French: a little salad, a little bread, a little protein, a little sauce, a little wine, and very importantly – enjoying it!

Beans, beans, the musical fruit,
The more you eat, the more you feel full and get to benefit from all the nutrition inside of these little legumes…
That’s not how the song goes – I know – but these garbanzo beans are pretty awesome. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have been shown to regulate blood sugar, thereby decreasing the risk of diabetes. They contribute to bone health from the iron, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K – all necessary in building and strengthening bones. They also contain selenium, a mineral that aids your liver enzymes in decreasing inflammation and inhibits tumor growth. And amazingly, they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber that feeds the good bacteria in our intestines! Soluble fiber blends with water and increases the amount of good bacteria, helping to reduce the risk of IBS and colon cancer. Insoluble fiber makes its way, all the way down to the colon. The bacteria residing in the last segment of your digestive tract metabolize the fiber, producing short chain fatty acids that provide food to the cells lining your intestinal walls – lowering the risk of bowel issues and colon cancer.
The Word’s Healthiest Foods –

This pita will not be overshadowed by your wine selection.

But before you pour the pounds of chickpeas into your mouth, it is good to be mindful of sensitivities some people have. If you have autoimmune disease of the bowels, such as Crohn’s, you may consider starting off slow. Make sure you drink adequate amounts of water with your fiber intake, and consider reading up on the benefits of adding prebiotics(digestive enzymes) and probiotics to your diet.

Ingredients for two:
2 large carrots, 1/2 inch diagonal slices
1 and 1/2 Tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 Tbs maple syrup
1 lime, cut in half
1/4 cup tahini
3 oz baby arugula
2 whole grain pitas, split in halves for toasting and stuffing
3 Tbs dry-roasted pumpkin seeds
salt and pepper
1/4 cup white wine*, optional
avocado oil*

Here, we do want to glaze over. 😉

In a large pan over medium heat, warm oil and add carrots, 1/8 Tsp salt and pepper, and half the cumin. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring about every minute. Add chickpeas, maple syrup, 1/4 cup white wine or water, 1/8 Tsp salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover , and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until the liquid has formed a glaze. Remove from heat. While chickpeas and carrots cook, in a small bowl, add tahini, half the lime juiced, the other half of the cumin, and 2 Tbs of water. Stir until smooth, adding 1 Tbs of water as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, mix arugula with the other half of lime juiced, 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, pumpkin seeds, and 1/8 salt and pepper. Toast your pita pockets lightly if you like them warm and soft, or toast them more if you like crispy.

Stuff it!

Stuff those pita pockets with as much tasty goodness they can hold. Then stuff your mouth with tasty goodness.

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

Detoxing with Salad

Gettin’ crunk with cruciferous vegetables!

Everybody knows, when family comes in for a visit, healthy eating usually takes a backseat. AND everybody knows, no one likes a backseat driver. (I’m looking at you, healthy eating. Don’t tell me what to do!)

What’s at the end of this rainbow? A pot of salad!

After enjoying a wonderful visit with family and indulging some cheats and splurges in the snack aisle, it was time to slide back over into the slow and steady, healthy lane. Some times I’ll do a veggie juice detox. The vitamins and minerals are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, and the extra hydration from the juices help cleanse the kidneys. But sometimes, juice-cleanses are really hard to do. When the body feels deprived, the messages our brain receives are urgent. “Eat now! Eat a lot! Don’t starve!” seems to be the message my brain reads from my stomach during a juice cleanse. And towards the evening, I’ll grab whatever I can shove into my mouth. If nothing is to be had – if I’m really feeling desperate – I’ll take a trip to the closest convenience.

Hail, Caesar!

Enter salads! Not only are salads pumped up with all the fiber our microbiome needs, they’re a great way to scrape out the digestive tract and keep you fuller, longer. Loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients – you’ll find yourself back on track to healthy eating habits.

Rainbow Salad

Caesar Salad with Tempeh

Read this article if you’d like to find a plethora of detoxing salad recipes.

Most normal human beings (I’m looking at you, judgy eyes) indulge a bit every now and then. Don’t beat yourself up over it. You’ll only end up getting sad from a mental beating, which may make you want to eat more junk for a quick pick-me-up, OR you’ll feel down too long and give up. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at what you’re working at. And the more consistent you are, the quicker habits will form. Practice your art of healthy eating consistently, and your body, mind, and spirit will benefit from it.

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

Caesar Salad with Tempeh

8 oz tempeh, crumbled
1 romaine heart, chopped
1 large carrot, 1/4 inch diagonal slices
2 celery ribs, 1/4 inch slices
3 oz shredded kale
1/4 cup walnut pieces
salt and pepper
Caesar dressing:
Mix 1/4 cup almond milk, 2 Tbs cashew butter, 1 Tsp lemon juice, 1 Tsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tsp capers, 1 Tsp Worcestershire, 1/2 Tsp nutritional yeast, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 Tsp black pepper, 1/4 Tsp onion powder into a small blender, and blend until you get a thick dressing, adding 1 Tbs of almond milk until you get the right consistency.
Quick Parmesan:
Add 1/4 cup almonds and 1 Tbs of nutritional yeast to a small processor or blender and pulse until you get a fine meal.

Recipe for two:
In a large pan over medium-high heat, add tempeh and 1 and 1/2 cups of water, bringing to a boil. Stir occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until water is evaporated. Drain remaining water. Over medium heat, add 1 Tbs oil and 1/4 Tsp salt and pepper, and cook tempeh until golden-crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Toss all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 Tbs of parmesan.

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

Rainbow Salad

Ingredients for two:
5 oz baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage (I only used a 1/4 cup because of riffinose sensitivity)
1/2 cup dry-roasted cashews
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
3 scallions, sliced thin
4 sprigs of fresh cilantro, chopped
Rainbow dressing:
Mix 1 Tbs coconut oil, 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbs maple syrup, 1 Tbs tamari sauce, 2 Tbs cashew butter, 1/2 Tsp lime juice, and 1/4 Tsp red chile flakes until you get a thick dressing consistency, adding 1 Tbs of water at a time if necessary.

Toss all ingredients and dressing into a large mixing bowl.

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Party time!

Who doesn’t like a go-to spinach artichoke dip recipe?! If it’s not for you *Gasp!*, no worries. 😉 I do believe this one is a party winner, while bursting with flavor AND good nutrition.

With these ingredients, you will become elevated!

This is a conglomeration of recipes – I played around with a few of them – elevated by throwing in some key, fresh ingredients you shouldn’t miss out on. This recipe is sure to impress at any fun gathering.

One of the ways to up your game is by the incorporation of sauteed mushrooms. Mushrooms add a depth of savoriness to a lot of dishes. I go into a lot more detail on mushrooms in this post:
Mushroom and Cauliflower Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
Another way to boost a container of sauce or dip is by sauteing onion. “What is so magical about this bulb?” you may ask. Well, let me enlighten you, briefly. The onion bulb contains specific enzymes within its cells, and when these cells are damaged by the action of cutting and cooking, the enzymes are released to come into contact with other compounds that are present. This creates a chemical reaction which forms other compounds. One of the compounds born from the process of slicing and dicing these pungent treasures is PSO – this is what causes us to cry while slicing onions. Now the next part is really cool! When you cook the onion, you heat the PSO which is then converted into a new compound: MMP.
MMP is mmmmmmmMMP savory. The more you chop – the more onion cells are damanged – the more PSO is released – the more MMP savory is released when you cook it. So definitely chop it up!

Look at all that savory action. I’m feeling the chemistry, here.

Another ingredient trick up our sleeve I want to discuss is FAT. Yep, F-A-T fat. It turns out, human beings have fat “taste” receptors. And we have our big fat brains to thank for it. Because of our adeptness at finding food and adapting to our food sources, we have become what you see today: problem solvers. (What did you think I was going to say??) We are good at figuring things out. *You could also argue that we’re good at creating problems,
too! 😀 * Good fats are good(necessary!) for the brain. Our big brains got bigger because of the incorporation of consistent intakes of good fat into our diet. When we learned to cook, and stopped chewing raw food all day, our brains got even bigger. To read more about which fats we should consume more and less of:
If following a vegan/vegetarian diet, read: the different types of Omega 3 fatty acids and the importance of DHA and other sources of DHA.
The fat used in this recipe comes from creamy cheese.

Not all fats are created equal.

The principle I try to put into practice when choosing products is: the fewer and more simple the ingredients, the better. The closer we can get to whole foods, the more bio-available the nutrients are going to be. In the case between these two products I used, the cheese on the left – Treeline – uses 9 simple ingredients: cashews, sea salt, lemon juice, dried scallions, garlic, white pepper, onion powder, L. Acidophilus, basil, and oregano. The cheese on the right – GoVeggie – uses 11 ingredients(mostly refined/processed): coconut oil, sunflower oil, soy protein, cornstarch, sea salt, tricalcium phosphate, vegan flavors, locust bean gum, xanthan gum, guar gum, and vegan culture. Though lower in cholesterol, it contains a proportionate amount of Omega 6 (read the importance of Omega 3 to 6 ratio) and thickening agents. Do your own research, and make the most informed decisions you can in regards to your health. Ultimately, what we do with information is up to us. I like to think, using the tools of knowledge can lead us to making wise decisions. And when it comes to making decisions about our own health, we are our greatest advocate. Choose wisely.

From this… to this!

8 oz spinach artichoke base (see recipe below)
8 oz creamy cheese of your choice
half a red onion, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
8 oz shiitake mushrooms, diced
1 tomato, chopped
*1 jalepeno, chopped (optional)
*fresh spinach (optional)
salt and pepper
*avocado oil
Spinach Artichoke base:
2 cups chopped, fresh spinach, 1 cup drained artichoke hearts, 1/3 cup cashew butter, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 Tbs oil or water, 1/4 Tsp salt, 1 Tbs lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, 1 Tbs nutritional yeast, 1/4 Tsp red chile flakes, 1/4 Tsp onion powder – place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until you get a good stir-able paste. Add almond milk 1 Tbs at a time until you get the desired consistency.

Easy Spinach Artichoke Recipe:
Heat in a deep large pan over medium heat, avocado oil*. Add onions, walnuts, and 1/8 Tsp of salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring about every minute. Add mushrooms (and as much jalepeno you like, if you want a little heat) and cook for 2 minutes, stirring about every minute. Add tomato and cook for another minute. Add creamy cheese and stir until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Add spinach artichoke base, 1/8 Tsp of salt and pepper, (a handful of fresh spinach, if using) and stir until steamy, about a minute. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to your taste.

The Treeline brand French-style cheese we put to the board. It was excellent with crackers and carrots.

If you’re taking this to a party, have fun with it! If you’ve got a cute bowl, use that. What you dip with is up to you. My personal favorite is sourdough bread – it tastes amazing and is better digested by my sensitive tummy – but go for other crowd-pleasers like pita chips, tortilla chips(gluten-free), or crackers(I love Mary’s Gone Crackers which are gluten and corn free.) And most importantly, have fun and enjoy the time you spend with friends and family!

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

Quick Chickpea and Cashew Sauce

with Baby Kale, Peas, and Carrots on Rice

Okay, so this post is about cheating… In the kitchen!
Let me start over…
This post is about shortcuts in the kitchen. Much better.

Occasionally, we all find ourselves extra busy. Life can be a little crazy – maybe a little chaotic from time to time. When ever you can add a little convenience, you can lessen the load a bit. If you find yourself in moments of overwhelm, it helps to step back from the situation. Find your breath. Find your calm. If that means stepping into the bathroom or closet and closing the door for a few minutes, then allow yourself that. If the phone is ringing off the hook in your office, turn the sound down, or put that busy message up, and close the door for a few minutes. Maybe step outside, and breathe the fresh air. We sometimes forget how important it is to catch our breaths in the busy of the day. There are many things going on in our lives. Let us not set aside ourselves in the pursuit of accomplishing all the tasks we have. You are important! Those tasks don’t get done without aYou! And you cannot do those tasks as well if you don’t take care of You. Let us not forget the most important function of *you* – living and living well.

Those boxes to be unpacked can wait! I’m enjoying my time in the kitchen right now.

We also sometimes forget how important nutrition is in these busy times. For the sake of convenience and lessening the load, we opt for easy meals that are pre-packaged and full of preservatives – or we drive through the fast-food lane and grab that bite that will get us on our way, making us feel good in the moment… though we might regret those choices when we step on the scale at the end of the week or month. In times of stress, I have done this many times. But the unhealthy choices added up. I later found that not only did the weight gain add to my burden – the poor nutrition made me feel worse and more depressed and anxious.

Break out that old Pampered Chef that’s been sitting in the back of your cabinet or the Slap Chop you purchased from the TV ad. 😀

But over the years – as we have learned more about nutrition – healthy food companies have been born to meet that demand. Other companies compete with them and offer more choices. You can now find options that are free of preservatives and added sugars. You just have to read the labels. Yes, read the labels. The time it takes to scan over a food label while you’re pushing your cart down the food aisle may seem like a burden at the moment – maybe you have kids pulling on your shirt and pointing at all kinds of goodies – but I assure you that the second or two it takes will pay dividends later. You’ll remember which containers you can go back to – becoming staples in the pantry or fridge. You can give kids the option of helping you choose between two good options you find so they feel they are contributing their thoughts and opinions to the family. They’ll feel they’re heard and matter. If unhealthy habits are needing to be broken, use those opportunities to let them know what added sugar does to the body and ask them, do they want to be unhealthy. My guess is, more often their answer will be that they want to be healthy and strong.

Unless you make the naan yourself, you’re probably not going to find too many healthy options. Homemade always gives you more control over the ingredients. The recipe stands on its own, and naan isn’t necessary; we enjoy the occasional splurge from time to time. Do your own research, and listen to your body.

1 container of red pepper hummus, enough to equal 8oz (look for simple ingredients free of preservatives and sugar)
1 jar creamy cashew butter (the brand I use has one ingredient: dry-roasted cashews)
bag of baby carrots
small bag of frozen peas
small container (5oz) baby kale
small bag/container of of dry-roasted cashews (Back to Nature brand is one I rely on that has zero oil – simply cashews and sea salt)
harissa spice
salt and pepper
1 cup dry rice *Be mindful of the type of rice you use. I use white rice in most of my dishes, which is usually done cooking on my gas stove in roughly 10 to 12 minutes.*
avocado oil, optional
*naan bread, optional

“Bam!” was already taken.

Recipe for two:
Start your rice per instructions. Measure out 10 baby carrots and slice on the diagonal, 1/4 inch slices. Measure out half a cup of peas. Chop a quarter cup of cashews. Measure out 1 to 2 Tbs of harissa spice. Scoop out about a quarter cup of cashew butter. Fill a liquid measurer with 1 cup of water. Heat a large pot with about 1 Tbs of oil over medium heat. Add your carrots, about 1/8 Tsp salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring about every minute. Add to the pot 1 cup of hummus, the cashew butter, 1/4 cup of water, and peas. Stir until the cashew butter melts and the sauce thickens. Every time the sauce starts stiffening and sticking to the pot, add another 1/4 cup of water. Keep doing this until you get a desired consistency. 1 cup of water for my pot yielded a thick sauce consistency, almost like a gravy. Turn the heat to medium low, and add the baby kale and roughly 1/8 Tsp of salt and pepper. After the leaves have wilted into the sauce, add 1 or 2 Tbs of harissa. We prefer more harissa spice for lots of flavor. Add salt and pepper to your liking.

This recipe be Slammin!

When your hummus cashew sauce and vegetables are done cooking, what you do next is up to you. If you want to be fancy with your plating – go for it! Garnish with chopped cashews and a pinch of harissa. If you want to dump the rice and garnish into the pot and mix it all up – go for it! Let everyone grab a plate or bowl and relax, knowing that you just quickly provided a meal full of nutrition, and will leave everyone full and satisfied. No shame in these shortcuts. And no feeling bad for this “cheating.”

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

Mushroom and Cauliflower Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

A little sweet, a little spice, and everything nice – that’s what these tacos are made of.

These tacos hail from the North Shore, a place known for it’s laid-back vibe, sugar-sweet pineapples, and famous for big waves. This stretch of coast is on the north side of the Hawaiian island, Oahu – known as “The Gathering Place.” The flavors in this recipe reflect the meeting of Baja, Mexico and Hawaii. Traditionally made with shrimp or fish, we’ve swapped in savory mushrooms and teriyaki sauce to give it a full satisfying flavor.

Not only do mushrooms add a depth of flavor through their earthy savoriness, but they are packed with vital nutrients. The mineral, selenium – which is not present in most fruits and vegetables – is proven to aid in liver enzyme function, decrease inflammation, and detoxifies cancer-causing compounds. They provide vitamin D and essential B vitamins. When mushrooms are exposed to the sun or UV light, because of the high amount of vitamin D precursor they contain, it is then converted to the bio-available form.
Most mushrooms provide us with vitamin D2, which is shown to stabilize healthy blood levels of vitamin D. Shiitake mushrooms not only produce D2, but D3 and D4! Adding vitamin D is proven to lift your mood if you’ve got the winter-time gloom.
National Institute of Health

A very important note: if you have a glutamate sensitivity – have an autoimmune disorder – suffer from anxiety and/or depression and/or migraines and/or chronic fatigue – be mindful of how many foods you consume that contain high amounts of natural glutamate. The reason for the savoriness of these little nutrient-dense fungi is that they contain a good dose of glutamate – a neurotransmitter which is a chemical that nerve cells use to send signals to other cells in the brain. *High* amounts of glutamate – both natural and *especially in the form of MSG* – may over-stimulate the nervous system and contribute to cell-toxicity and cell death. This leads to degradation in the Blood Brain Barrier (Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s – see and degradation in the intestinal lining which leads to intestinal inflammation (celiac, Crohn’s, IBS – see The health of the gut and the health of the brain – known as the Gut-Brain Axis – is being studied by scientists (see The Microbiome Center).

The art of love – is it a battlefield or beautiful mess?

After knowing all this about glutamate, I can confidently tell you that I am not afraid to add mushrooms to my meals. 🙂 This recipe only used a little tamari and 3 mushrooms. Knowledge is a tool in your belt. Ignorance doesn’t always lead to bliss. Use the tools of knowledge, and it will lead you to wisdom in your life. Always do your own research, listen to your body, make informed decisions, and vary your diet. It is always best to not rely on one food source for all your nutrients. At the end of the day, you can do your best! Now, let’s get to cooking!

6oz cooked cannellini beans
3 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, cut into half-inch pieces
teriyaki glaze(1 Tbs maple syrup, 1 Tbs tamari sauce, 1 Tbs rice vinegar, 1 Tbs toasted sesame oil)
salt and pepper
avocado oil* optional
6 100% corn tortillas

Recipe for Two:
In a large pot, heat your oil over medium heat, adding your cauliflower and seasoning with about 1/8 Tsp of salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, until starting to brown, stirring about every minute. Add 1/2 cup of water and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add beans and cook for one minute. Add mushrooms and about 1/8 Tsp of salt and pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the teriyaki glaze and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir. While your vegetables are cooking, prepare the pineapple salsa.

Pineapple Salsa Ingredients:
1 cup pineapple, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 lime, juiced
4 or 5 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
1/8 Tsp smoked paprika
*1/8 Tsp cayenne pepper, optional
salt and pepper
Stir all ingredients into a bowl, salt and pepper to taste, and stir occasionally as you are cooking your vegetables.

If you can’t take the heat… No, No! Don’t leave the kitchen! Use just a little, or try another spice. Trying something new just might add a little spice to your life. 😉

I like the addition of the cayenne as it adds a little heat to the sweet. The use of cayenne, as well as other spices, has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain, boost your metabolism, lower blood pressure, among other benefits. So if you don’t mind the heat, get in the kitchen and crank it up! 😉

The flavor from these tacos knocked my and my husband’s socks off! The combination of umami savoriness, sweet, and spice made us wish there was just one more taco for each of us! I can see these being a huge hit at any summer-time gathering. Or, just selfishly – I mean self-lovingly – enjoy these babies all to yourself. So grab a napkin, and see if you can keep your socks on after taking a bite. 😀

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

Arugula and Pasta con Pesto alla Trapanese

Pesto is a sauce that originated in Genoa, the capital city in Leguria, Italy. Traditionally made with basil and pine nuts, this variation is influenced by the Sicilian coastal city of Trapani, swapping in almonds and vine-ripened tomatoes.

I love using what’s in season because you get to experience fruits and vegetables at their best. The closer to the source you can get them, be it a farm stand, farmer’s market, or grocery store that focuses on locality – you’ll be able to experience the full flavor of the season. As we are in the middle of summer, you will find squash readily available. I know I can’t think of a summer dish with out it. Having grown up on a farm, I also can’t imagine summer squash without squash bugs! My hat, I take off to the growers that manage to keep their plants healthy without the use of pesticide and other measures that are strenuous to the environment.

I love to sneak in as much leafy greens into my dishes as appropriate to the flavor or texture addition to a meal. One of my favorites to use with Italian, whether it’s pasta or pizza, is arugula. Arugula belongs to the same Cruciferous family as kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. And for someone who has a sensitivity to the riffinose in some of these other veggies, arugula is a happy alternative. It provides ample dietary nitrate – which studies have shown that high intakes lower blood pressure and reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise.
Eating Cruciferous vegetables has been associated with lower risk of cancer, particularly lung and colon cancer. They contain sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that is being studied for its ability to delay and/or impede cancer by its ability to impede the enzyme HDAC which is known to be involved in the progression of cancer.
Consuming more leafy greens will help you achieve not only your very important fiber needs, but will help you get essential vitamins and minerals such as K, A, C – which aid in the prevention of collagen breakdown – and calcium and chlorophyll which aid in the production of collagen.

7 oz pasta (here, I’ve used fresh cavatelli, but use what is readily available – I more often grab a box of Jovial gluten-free rotini or penne)
2 zucchinis, sliced into quarter-sized half-moons
4 or 5 sprigs of fresh parsley
Sicilian spices(1 Tsp onion powder, 1/2 Tsp garlic powder, 1/2 Tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 Tsp turmeric)
3 oz or 2 handfuls of arugula
salt and pepper
avocado oil* (while weighing the pros and cons of cooking oil, read this regarding the Omega 3 to 6 ratio and the benefits of using avocado oil over others)

Pesto alla Trapanese:
6oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 Tbs parmesan*
1 garlic clove
1/4 Tsp salt
Add all ingredients to a processor or small blender, adding 1 oz of water at a time until you get a thick sauce.

If you’d prefer not to use dairy parmesan, add to the pesto 1 Tbs of cashews and 1 Tsp of nutritional yeast.

Recipe for Two:
Bring your pot of water to a boil (I like to add a dash of iodized salt). Cook pasta according to instructions, reserving 1/3 cup of pasta water before draining.
In a large, deep pan over medium heat, add oil* and spices, until spices become fragrant after about 30 seconds. Add zucchini and season with about 1/8 Tsp of salt and pepper, cooking for about 3 minutes until slightly brown and softened. Remember to stir about every minute. Stir in the pesto, pasta, and cooking water. Add arugula, seasoning with about 1/8 Tsp of salt and pepper, and stir until the leaves become wilted. Chop your fresh parsley, plate your art, and garnish to your heart’s desire.

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

Quick Yuba Lettuce Cups

Yuba noodles are a great source of protein with a chewy texture, both delicate and resilient at the same time, with a nutty flavor. They soak up the flavor of sauces and dressings, adding a pleasing texture and a flavor bomb to any dish.
They come from the skin that forms on the surface of soy milk when it’s heated to make tofu blocks.
Now, there are vastly different opinions based on data from different pools when it comes to consuming tofu: how much one should eat and whether it should be considered a health food being some of the subjects of debate. I encourage you to do your own research, and always listen to your body. I personally believe in having as varied a diet as possible, not leaning on one particular food for your source of nutrients.

What I like about tofu is that it is a complete protein that is a good source of calcium, iron, and has zero cholesterol. It contains isoflavones that may help prevent some cancers, heart-disease, and osteoporosis. There are some studies that show that the over-consumption of soy products could lead to some adverse health effects – which is why it is good to vary your diet and consume as much whole food(minimal to no processing) nutrition sources as you can find available.

1/4 pound spicy yuba noodles (I use organic Hodo)
2 Tbs dried goji berries(cranberries are a good substitute if you can’t find goji)
3 oz sugar snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
3 sweet mini peppers, diced
1 head of baby iceburg
1 avocado, diced
2 oz shredded carrots
salt and pepper
2 Tbs lemon vinaigrette dressing(your favorite brand or make your own – recipe for homemade below)
*1 Tbs avocado oil, optional (see avocado oil and Rx status in France)

Recipe for Two:
Soak the goji berries in hot water while dicing and sauteing the stir-fry. Trim the root end from the lettuce and separate the leaves, combining two leaves together to make solid cups.
In a large skillet with about a Tbs of oil* over medium heat, add snap peas, carrots, and peppers. Add three shakes of salt and pepper (roughly 1/4 tsp of each), and cook for two minutes, stirring about every minute. Stir in yuba noodles and let them sit for about a minute. Remove from heat and stir. Drain goji berries and add 2 Tbs lemon vinaigrette. Stir the berry/dressing mix into stir-fry to incorporate. Fill lettuce cups with stir-fry or add to chopped lettuce. Top with avocado.

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing:
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 garlic bulb
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1/2 Tsp porcini powder or 1 Tsp white miso paste
1/8 Tsp of salt
1/8 Tsp of pepper
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Throw all these ingredients into a food processor or small blender. I use a Ninja, the individual blender cup for my small sauces and dressing. I use the food processor for bulkier ingredients or larger batches. Add 1 Tbs of water at a time if consistency is too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chopped Salad Variation

Alternatively, you can chop the lettuce to make this dish into a salad.
The original recipe does not call for stir-frying. My digestion has a harder time with raw veggies, particularly with ones containing a high amount of riffinose, an indigestible sugar – complex carbohydrate. Some people may have mild symptoms of gas and bloating, while others with food sensitivities due to autoimmune disease may have more uncomfortable symptoms.
Adding prebiotics ( and probiotics to your diet may aid your digestion in breaking down these harder to digest foods, allowing your body to absorb the nutrients better. Plus, prebiotics and probiotics will help keep your immune response healthy. More on the health benefits of probiotics and feeding your microbiome to come later! 🙂
Cooking the vegetables helps break down those tough cell walls in the vegetables. Enjoy the process of the cooking. Know that your body is about to receive an abundance of nutrition. Pause before eating to be thankful. Chew slowly. This kick-starts the digestion process which will help your stomach digest more efficiently.

*Thoughts on recipe:
Next time I make this, I’m going to add a 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts or cashews to the stir-fry and 1 Tbs of ground flax seed to the dressing. Later that evening, I found I was a little hungry. Cashews, walnuts, and flax are great at satiating the appetite because of those Omega 3 fatty acids and the additional boost of protein. If you try adding nuts, just make sure you add a little more dressing. A little sauciness never hurt anybody. 😉

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

Lima Bean Skordalia and Rice with Sauteed Walnuts and Spinach

Skordalia is a Greek dip that is thick, traditionally made with garlic and a mashed, bulky base.

Here, I’ve used mashed Lima beans instead of the traditional potato and walnut or almond. For quickness and convenience in the kitchen, I often go for the canned beans because they’ve already been cooked, making them easier on the digestion. You can readily find canned beans without preservatives and sugar, being packed in only water and salt. If you have a pressure cooker, then definitely give these little treasures a try. I think you’ll enjoy the buttery taste they add to any dish!

The Lima bean is a power house of nutrition. Not only does it provide ample protein aminos, but it is high in molybdenum, an enzyme that detoxifies sulfites. They are rich in cholesterol-lowering fiber, copper, manganese(an essential enzyme in energy production), and a decent source of folate and iron.

By combining the nutrients of beans and rice, we get a complete protein with all essential amino acids.

Walnuts are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including a high amount of Omega 3 ALA.
Spinach contains a high amount of vitamins and minerals, including iron and calcium.

I’ve boosted the flavor and creaminess of the rice mash with my personal favorite, avocado! Avocado is my personal super-food. Whenever I eat a ripe avocado, I can feel the positive effects, like I’m gaining a super-power. Avocado is loaded with potassium, more than the banana, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
But what I love most about avocado, is that it helps regulate healthy hormone levels. It contains a high level of folate, which helps get nutrients to the brain and aids in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – mood, sleep, and appetite regulators.

1 can drained or 10 oz cooked lima beans
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tsp fresh lemon juice, or roughly half a small lemon squeezed
1 Tsp maple syrup, optional
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
Fresh spinach, roughly 5oz in weight (I buy a small tub of Organic baby)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small red tomato, diced
1 avocado, mashed with salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of dry rice
1 or 2 Tbs harissa spice blend(paprika, caraway, crushed red pepper, cayenne, coriander, cumin, garlic, peppermint, and salt)
*I use 2 Tbs and have a high tolerance for spice. If you have a low tolerance, try it first with 1. You can always add more later.*
salt and pepper
avocado oil for sauteing, optional

Skordalia Recipe for Two:
Mash lima beans, olive oil, lemon juice, syrup, and garlic in a small bowl until you end up with a thick paste. Some bean chunks are just fine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the rice as directed. I like to add a dash of iodized salt to my water for boiling the rice. My other go-to salts are sea and pink Himalayan. After the rice is simmering under cover, start the spinach and walnut saute.

Spinach and Walnut Saute:
Add about a Tbs of avocado oil to a deep pan over medium heat. Add diced onion, a couple shakes of salt and pepper(roughly 1/8 tsp of each), and stir when you hear that sizzle for two minutes, stirring about every minute. When the onion begins to get that golden color, add chopped walnuts and harissa spice, and stir. Let that sizzle for two more minutes, stirring about every minute. Add the tomato and spinach, and stir until the spinach begins to wilt. Add a couple shakes of salt and pepper, stirring until the tomato and spinach become wilted. Remove from heat. *Add salt and pepper to your taste.*

When the rice is done, add to the pan if there’s room, or mix into a bowl while it’s hot and steamy, the skordalia and mashed avocado.

How you plate it is up to you! That’s the beauty of creativity. This is your dish. The plate is your canvas. The ingredients are your palette. Enjoy your art and may you live well!