Probiotic Cleansing Soup

Once every few weeks, it can feel rejuvenating to eat the same thing for a day. This practice gives the digestive system a chance to re-calibrate and rest. Since a large part of our stress response is triggered by the enteric nervous system in our gut. this day-long cleanse helps to reduce anxiety and depression as well.

In traditional nutritional philosophies such as Ayurveda from India, this concept of periodic meal simplification is common and often takes the form if eating kitchari, a simple meal made up of rice, lentils, spices and vegetables.

This spring, try eating this cleansing and nourishing probiotic soup for three meals a day on a day off. You will move forward feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and energized.

Probiotic Leek Soup

You will need:

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  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 5 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 large leeks, rinsed and chopped

  • 2 large zucchini, sliced

  • 1 bunch chard, chopped

  • 1 cup artichoke hearts

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 inch kombu seaweed

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 bunch fresh basil

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the leeks and celery. Cook, covered, until these are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add zucchini and sauté for 5 more minutes.

Add the chard and artichoke hearts.

Add the water and kombu and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Add the basil. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender.

Enjoy! Feel free to eat as much as you want during your one-day cleanse.

Beet Brownies

Beets are rich in minerals and aid in liver detoxification. As we prepare for spring, they are an excellent ingredient to include in roasted vegetable dishes, soups, and in baked goods, too. They lend an earthy sweetness to any dish.

These beautiful root vegetables come in red, pink, yellow and striated varieties. They are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. These plant nutrients provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. They are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, which support nervous system health.

Foods belonging to the chenopodium family — including beets, chard, spinach and quinoa — are also high in carotenoids, which support eyesight.

Beets are high in betaine, an essential nutrient made from the B-complex vitamin, choline. Choline reduces inflammation in the cardiovascular system by preventing unwanted build-up of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound.

Here is a beet-based recipe to inspire you. I love making these for both children and adults. The beets blend so well with the chocolate that a deep, rich taste comes through and it's nearly impossible to guess what the "secret ingredient" is.

Red Velvet Brownies

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour or millet flour

  • 2 eggs or 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 cup boiled, blended beets

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond or rice milk

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coarsely chop beets and place them in a pot. Cover them with water and boil for 15 minutes, or until fork tender.

Strain off water and place beets in a blender or food processor with almond/rice milk. Blend well.

Add all other ingredients and blend well.

Oil a glass baking dish or pie plate with coconut or sunflower oil.

Pour batter into it and bake for 30 minutes.

Cool for 20 minutes, slice, and enjoy!

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Food for Liver Renewal

Today marks the last full moon before March 21st, the Spring Equinox. The earth is rife with purpose, ready to push up the myriad of seeds that will green our landscape for the season to come. Similarly, our bodies are ready to eat more green foods and move more to harmonize with the coming change of season. Mornings and evenings may feel chilly, but the sun shines longer each day and brings the warmth that heralds this season of renewal.

In my native Italy, the word for spring is 'primavera', meaning 'first truth'. May you find time to slow down as you eat, listen to your body's messages for nourishment, and savor the green flavors of the coming spring.

Here are some recipes to inspire your dietary transition from winter to spring.and to support the liver's natural renewal process.

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Beet Sauce

You will need:

  • 3 medium-sized red beets, sliced in half

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil1 shallot, minced

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • ½ cup water

  • ½ teaspoon each: allspice and salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ginger, coriander

In a small pot, boil beets for approximately 20 minutes or until tender. Once done, drain them and set aside to cool.

In a small sauté pan, over low-medium heat sauté shallots in olive oil and add spices and salt. Once shallots look caramelized, set aside.

In a blender, combine beets, shallots, vinegar, and water. Blend until smooth.

Use as a topping for millet bread.

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Millet Bread

You will need:

  • 1 ½ cups millet

  • 4 cups water

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaf

  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder

Place millet in a cooking pot with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat. Simmer until millet begins to thicken (about 20 minutes). Stir well, as though cooking oatmeal.

Add all the other ingredients and stir well. Cook on low heat and keep stirring until millet thickens.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour millet into a baking dish and flatten it evenly. Bake it for 15 minutes.

Slice and eat as you would polenta. Let the millet cool before slicing it.

Add toppings! If spread out in a thin layer on a baking sheet, this also makes an excellent pizza crust.

Click this link for more spring recipes.

Green Lasagna

Spring is finding its way into summer here in Vermont. As we approach next week's new moon and the possibilities that it brings, consider ways to bring more vegetables into your life. This shift offers a host of benefits: from improved digestion and immunity to healthier skin and balanced weight.

Try this vegetarian lasagna recipe to bring more green into your next meal.

Green Vegetarian Lasagna

You will need:

  • 2 packages gluten-free lasagna noodles, oven ready (I like De Bole's brand)

  • 1 stick butter

  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and oregano

  • 3 cups cremini mushooms

  • 5 medium zucchini

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • Two 15 ounce cans (canellini white kidney) beans (I like Eden Organics) or 3 cups cooked dry beans

I like this recipe because you can prepare the two sauces on a day off, assemble the lasagna whenever you have time, and refrigerate it for up to a day before baking it.

Chop the onions and saute them in olive oil for 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add thyme and oregano.

Coarsely chop and add zucchini. Saute for 5 more minutes and then set aside to cool. Blend with immersion or upright blender until you get a smooth sauce.

Then, prepare the second sauce.

Melt the butter in a deep skillet.

Chop the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and add them to the butter. Cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Mince garlic and add that to the mushrooms. Add cooked beans and milk. Stir well saute for 3 or 4 more minutes, then and turn off heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with olive oil.

Assemble the lasagna by first spreading a thin layer of the mushroom bean sauce on the bottom.

Place noodles on top and make sure that they do not overlap for even baking.

Spread the zucchini sauce over the noodles.

Cover with a generous helping of grated Parmigiano.

Add another layer of the mushroom bean sauce, more noodles, zucchini sauce, and cheese.

Repeat until you get to the top of the dish. I usually make 4 layers.

After you lay down your last layer of noodles, do not add more zucchini. Just cover them with cheese and then wrap the dish tightly with aluminum foil. It's ok if it mounds over. It will settle as it bakes.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Remove foil, turn broiler on high, and broil for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Serve immediately with a side salad.

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Spring Cleanse

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. 

Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables of all, and we’ll discuss their nutrition as well as many other health benefits. 

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and it cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring's flavor is sour. The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods include vinegar, horseradish, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, millet, fennel, and caraway seeds. Sourness has an astringent and consolidating effect in the body. It can control diarrhea and excess perspiration or help focus a scattered mind. Sour foods will help us harmonize Spring.

In India’s time-honored tradition of Ayurvedic Medicine, spring is known as the Kapha season. Kapha, the earth element, is heavy, grounded, and can feel stuck when it is out of balance. While spring waters are flowing and mud is everywhere, uplift your body, mind, and spirit, with a daily walk, deep breathing, and sour food.

I was raised in the Mediterranean tradition, where we harvested dandelion greens each spring to make a bitter and delicious salad with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and grated carrots. I remember how much my grandmother loved vinegar. She dressed our salads generously with this sour liquid. Thank goodness for the carrots to temper the sour and bitter flavors for an overall harmonious effect.

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Food-Based Cleanse

Spring is wonderful time to cleanse the internal organs with delicious fruit and vegetable juices. If you do not have a juicer, just use a food processor and strain out the pulp before drinking the juice. You can keep juice in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Juice recipes and health benefits:

  • To strengthen digestion - 1 granny smith apple, 2 carrots, 1 beet

  • To support the liver - beet greens, 1 beet, 3 stalks celery, 2 inches fresh ginger root

  • To cleanse the blood - 1 beet, 2 carrots, 1 granny smith apple, 2 handfuls fresh parsley

Enjoy! Drink a small glass of juice three times daily, from just after you wake up to times of low energy between meals.

Regardless of whether or not you are able to drink fresh juice, you can lighten your diet and include more lacto-fermented vegetables, bitter greens, lemon juice, and whole grains in your meals.

For a week, try to eliminate the following foods, which can tax the liver, gall bladder, and lymph over time:

  • alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages

  • meat: white fish is ok once during the week if it helps you meet your protein needs

  • cheese, cream, ice cream: choose avocados, coconut milk, roasted root vegetables, baked apples

  • popcorn, crackers, cookies

  • products containing sorbitol or xylitol (sugar-free gum and candies)

  • refined sugar: choose raw honey or maple syrup

  • gluten and processed grains like pasta/bread: choose spring grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet

Instead, enjoy the fresh nourishment of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains. Garnish food with high quality olive oil or flax oil and lemon juice.

Breakfast ideas:

  • Quinoa porridge with carrot spread and almonds

  • Baked sweet potatoes with hard-boiled eggs

  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and quinoa

  • Roasted roots with hard-boiled eggs

  • Baked acorn squash with tahini (roasted sesame seed butter), coconut butter, and cinnamon

Lunch and Dinner:

Use recipes from the "spring" category of this blog.

Keep these on hand along with chopped carrot and celery sticks when you need a snack as you are cooking! Remember that flavor, which comes from spreads and spices, is crucial to enjoying your food.

Snacks:

  • Miso broth

  • Granola bar

  • Smoothie or juice (more juice and smoothie recipes on my blog)

  • Apple or orange

Liquids:

  • Dandelion root tea and a glass of warm water with lemon juice in the morning

  • At least 3 quarts water daily

  • Herbal tea in the evening: Traditional Medicinals’ Detox tea is a nice choice

Would you like more specific guidance, meal plans, and recipes for your cleanse? Try my two-week, food-based cleanse.

My Favorite Spring Treats

Spring is a time to lighten up, eat fewer refined foods, and move towards the whole, local ingredients that support the health of local farms, the bioregion, and your body.

May this practice of eating simple, seasonal, flavorful food help you connect with nature and welcome each day as an opportunity for rejuvenation and new discovery.

May day is honored in Northern traditional cultures as Beltaine, a celebration of passion, creativity, fertility and the resplendent sun, which shines warmer each day and lingers longer each evening. Spark your passion and creative impulse by getting in the kitchen and making these wholesome treats! They also happen to be vegan and gluten-free.

Sweet Potato Bars

For the crust:

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  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the topping:

  • 1 pound orange fleshed sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)

Chop and boil the sweet potatoes. Keep the skin on for maximum nutritional benefit. Drain them and allow them to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil an 8-inch square-baking pan with olive oil. Place all topping ingredients in a food processor bowl and pulse until mixture reaches a coarse meal that's evenly moist.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly and firmly into the bottom. Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven.

Place all the topping ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. There's no need to wash the processor between the crust and the topping.

Pour the mixture onto the crust and smooth the top evenly with a spatula. Bake about 25 minutes. Allow to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Enjoy!

Sweet potatoes: high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity; rich in carotenoids and omega-3s, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity; rich in B vitamins to reduce stress.

Almond Chocolate Chip Bites

You will need:

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  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup organic unsalted almond butter*
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs

*You can substitute cashew or peanut butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. 

Using a soup spoon, evenly space scoops of the mixture on the baking sheet. Press down with a spatula or back of the spoon to slightly flatten. 

Bake for about 15 minutes.

Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring and eating!

Almonds: high in monounsaturated fat, which promotes heart health, helps reduce LDL cholesterol, and aids in carbohydrate metabolism, thus contributing to weight loss; high in flavoproteins to balance blood sugar and improve energy levels; rich in vitamin E to promote cognitive abilities and protect the brain.

Thanks to Rebecca Katz for this inspiration!

Making Time To Cook

As Spring finds us with its fat buds ready to burst into fragrant flowers, I look ahead to the long days of Summer. Here on our homestead in Vermont, we revel in the warm months and take time work in the garden, walk in the woods, and sit outside to soak in the lingering evenings.

Summer will also bring a heightened pace of life. With so many daylight hours, the temptation can be to stay busy for the majority of the day! Now is the time to prepare the body, mind and spirit for this brilliant, abundant, and sometimes tiring time of year.

Spring brings the gift of rejuvenation, new life, and the opportunity to prepare for Summer. Start the season with a weekly meal plan, which allows you and your loved ones to keep eating whole, simple foods that are nourishing and delicious.

You can try creating a meal plan with friends or family.

Sit down together, perhaps after a shared meal, and talk about your favorite dishes.

Meal ideas

  • Taco Night

  • Casserole

  • Soup, Bread, and Salad

  • Pasta Night

  • Pizza

  • Breakfast for Dinner

It's easy to make these meals healthy and delicious! Just be sure to add plenty of vegetables to your sauces and soups. I made the pizza pictures her with an oat crust, pesto sauce, and toppings of steamed broccolini, walnuts, cooked white beans and a little Parmigiano cheese.

Savor your meals with inspiring spice blends, sauce and spreads to bring forward tons of flavor. Allow each person to mix and match the components of each meal so that everyone enjoys it.

Here are other options to inspire you. Click each link to learn more.

Be well and enjoy the art of cooking!

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Recipes for Spring Renewal

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables of all, and we’ll discuss their nutrition as well as many other health benefits.

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and it cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems.

In Traditional Chinese Five Element Theory (TCM), the flavor of Spring is sour. The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods include vinegar, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, fennel, and caraway seeds. Sourness has an astringent and consolidating effect in the body. It can control diarrhea and excess perspiration or help focus a scattered mind.

Sour foods will help us harmonize Spring. In India’s time-honored tradition of

Ayurvedic Medicine, spring is known as the Kapha season. Kapha, the earth element, is heavy, grounded, and can feel stuck when it is out of balance. While spring waters are flowing and mud is everywhere, uplift your body, mind, and spirit, with a daily walk, deep breathing, and sour food.

I was raised in the

European / Mediterranean tradition, where we harvested dandelion greens each spring to make a bitter and delicious salad with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and grated carrots. I remember how much my grandmother loved vinegar. She dressed our salads generously with this sour liquid. Thank goodness for the carrots to temper the sour and bitter flavors for an overall harmonious effect.

Spring is a wonderful time to engage in a food meditation while cooking. As you chop, stir, and smell, try to be quiet and pay attention to the alchemy of cooking. This practice, along with the inclusion of sour foods and bitter greens, will help you feel more patient, calm, assertive, flexible, and alert.

Creamy Green Sauce

You will need:

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

  • 1 large bunch kale, collards and/or chard

Chop onions. 

Add oil to a skillet. When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover. Add a splash or two of water. Add salt and black pepper.

Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water if onion is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a medium stock pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.

Rinse and chop  kale, collards and/or chard. Add greens to the pot, cover, and reduce heat to low. Braise greens for 5-10 minutes.

Add greens to onions. Stir well to incorporate and purée with immersion blender or food processor. Enjoy as a condiment for grains, as a delicious sauce for salmon, and as a sandwich spread.

Walnut Leek Paté

Chop one large leek into crescents and place in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes on low heat. Add a splash of lemon juice and turn off heat.

While leek is cooking, place ½ cup walnut halves/pieces in a skillet.Toast on medium heat, tossing often with a spatula, for about 3 minutes or until walnuts are lightly browned.

Once leeks and walnuts are cooked, place them in a food processor and add 3 Tablespoons olive oil. You can also place all ingredients in a deep bowl and blend with an immersion blender.

Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes. Taste for salt.

Serve and enjoy with biscuits or savory breads or as a dip with steamed broccoli. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

Dandelion Pesto

In Italian, ‘pesto’ simply means ‘stomp’. You can ‘stomp’ any fresh herbs or greens you like into pesto. Get creative! Try a combination of parsley and cilantro, basil and parsley, or dandelion and nettles.

Harvest as many fresh, tender dandelion greens as you can. Aim for about 3 packed cups. Rinse well.

In a food processor or blender, blend into a thick paste:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • ¼ cup best olive oil (labeled with acidity of less than 0.5%)

  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Add dandelion greens. Pulse to incorporate.

Freeze large batches or enjoy with sourdough rye bread, over freshly cooked quinoa, or as a topping for poached white fish or white beans. Keeps in the fridge for one week.

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Spring Tonics

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables available.

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and its cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine systems.

Rejuvenating Nettle Soup

You will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 large shallots

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon each: coriander and turmeric

  • 2 large zucchini

  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground brown mustard

  • 4 cups freshly harvested young nettle tops

  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock

  • 1 cup chopped green olives

Peel and dice shallots.

Place oil in a soup pot, warm it to medium heat, and sauté shallots for 5 minutes.

Add spices. Sauté for a few more minutes.

Dice zucchini and add to the skillet. Add mustard and olives.

Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the water / stock and nettles.

Bring everything to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.

You can add marinated tempeh or roasted chicken to the soup for a delicious meal.

Nettles (Urtica dioica): warming and drying, nettles alleviate water retention, boost our body’s stores of iron and offer many other nutritive minerals. Gently cleansing, they can help mitigate the effects of seasonal allergies.  Use the young, fresh leaves in soup, pasta sauce, or as tea.

Olive oil: monounsaturated and liquid at room temp., first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

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Rhubarb

Spring is here. In many gardens, rhubarb patches are flourishing. This amazing food is perfect for this season. 

It features the sour flavor, which, according to Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, renews our digestive systems after eating the heavier foods of winter.

Indigenous to Siberia, its leaves are so high in oxalic acid that they are somewhat toxic. Only eat the fresh stems before they become woody and stringy.

Try it!

Rhubarb is high in fiber and thus soothes stomach ailments and relieves constipation when eaten. Used topically, it makes an effective poultice to reduce swelling.

One serving provides about half of the daily value in vitamin K, which supports healthy bones and strong memory. Rhubarb contains vitamin C for healthy skin and resistance to infection. It is also high in iron, potassium, and calcium.

Rhubarb Coconut Milk Custard

For the tart:

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 cup spelt (wheat-free) OR millet flour (gluten-free)

  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil, spooned out in small chunks

For the custard:

  • 2 cups coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 3 teaspoons arrow root powder

  • ½ pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch thick pieces

  • juice of 1 lemon

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together all the tart ingredients in a large bowl. Add the coconut oil last and toss it with the flour mixture so that each chunk is coated with flour. Mix gently with your hands until a thick dough forms. Flatten dough into baking dish and set aside.

Then, using the same bowl, mix all the custard ingredients together. Whisk well to incorporate. Add the rhubarb and pour mixture into crust.

Bake for 40 minutes or until custard doesn’t jiggle when you give it a shake. Cool, slice and enjoy topped with fresh strawberries if you like!


Raspberry Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding

You will need:

  • 1 cup pearl tapioca (not instant)

  • 2 cups milk (cow or almond)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup honey

In a large saucepan, combine the milk, tapioca, vanilla, and rhubarb. Cook for 30 minutes on medium heat or until the tapioca looks translucent.

Add raspberries, lemon juice and honey. Stir well and cook on low heat for 3 to 4 more minutes.

Serve in wine glasses or decorative bowls. Top with slivered almonds if you like.


Rhubarb Compote

You will need:

  • Juice of 1 orange

  • Zest of 1/2 orange

  • 1 cup maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into half-inch pieces

  • 1/4 pound strawberries, topped and chopped

To prepare:

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the rhubarb forms a thick paste, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Store in jars in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.


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Rhubarb Ginger Muffins

You will need:

  • ½ cup rhubarb compote (use recipe above)

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • ¼ cup coconut oil

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 ½ cups spelt (wheat-free) or brown rice (gluten-free) flour

  • 1/2 cup milk (cow or almond)

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with oil or line with baking cups.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together coconut oil and maple syrup. Add the egg and whisk well. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed.

Fill muffin cups two thirds full of batter. Using a spoon, make a slight depression in the center of the batter. Place a tablespoon of the rhubarb jam into the center (the jam will fill the cupcakes as they bake).

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

Spring Smoothies Make Terrific Breakfasts

Life is full. As the days grow longer and we start to be more active, it's as important as ever to start our days with a protein-packed breakfast. Try these smoothies to ease digestion, strengthen the body, mind, and spirit for the day ahead, and embrace spring.

These smoothies are also an ideal way to refuel after a workout, hike, or bike ride. For those of use who need extra protein to support healthy pregnancy or maintain long-term energy during physical activity, add organic hemp seed powder.

Each of these smoothies provides beneficial pro-biotic bacteria with ingredients such as kombucha. They also contain pre-biotic ingredients, such as papaya and flaxseed meal, to nourish that good gut bacteria.

Food is medicine. Learn to use it wisely. Breathe into the present moment and appreciate life for a moment before you sip your healing beverage. 

Digest-Ease Smoothie

Blueberries are high in antioxidants, spinach is rich in fiber and minerals, almond butter provides protein and is pre-biotic, kombucha is pro-biotic, and spirulina micro-algae help to cleanse the lymphatic system. Here's to your health!

You will need:

  • 2 cups blueberries - fresh or frozen

  • 2 cups spinach

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

  • 2 tablespoons almond butter

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon spirulina powder

  • 1 cup kombucha

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender.

Pour into 2 glasses and enjoy!

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

Turmeric stops the body's inflammatory response, ginger warms the digestive system, papaya provides potent digestive enzymes, walnuts are rich in ellagic acid to nourish the brain, and flax seed is pre-biotic.

You will need:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk

  • ¼ cup dried, unsweetened papaya, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes

  • ¼ cups walnuts

  • ½ inch fresh ginger root

  • ½ inch fresh turmeric root

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ cup flaxseed meal

Boil a bit of water and soak the papaya in a bowl.

Chop ginger and turmeric.

Drain papaya water.

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend well.

Pour into 2 glasses and enjoy!

Do you have a smoothie recipe to share? #showusyoursmoothie

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Wonderful One Pot Meals For Spring

Give yourself time to rest and rejuvenate.

Make a simple meal that can be re-heated in the oven and served at dinnertime with enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

During the time you would spend cooking in the evening, try doing one of these things.

Go for a walk. Sit in the sun. Talk with a loved one. Hold someone's hand. Breathe deeply, in and out, offering gratitude for another day on the planet.

Quinoa Casserole with Spiced Roots

You will need:

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and oregano

  • 3 red potatoes, chopped into cubes

  • 4 carrots, chopped into ½ inch rounds

  • 2 sweet potatoes, chopped into ½ inch rounds

  • 1 beet, chopped into cubes

  • 1 bunch kale, spinach, or chard, chopped

  • Sea salt to taste

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

  • ½ cup walnuts

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the spices, stir and sauté on low heat for 2 minutes.

Add chopped roots. Raise heat to high for 2 minutes.

Add lime or lemon juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Add spices. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop greens. Add to skillet. Add water if anything is sticking to the bottom.

Meanwhile, cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water.

Add nuts towards the end of cooking.

Grease a casserole dish with vegetable oil.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

When roots are soft, place in the contents of the skillet bottom of the casserole dish.

Once quinoa and nuts are cooked, spread it on top of the vegetables.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Enjoy! Serve with sesame lemon sauce if you like.

Sesame Lemon Sauce

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

  • ½ cup water

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

Use as a salad dressing or garnish for casseroles.

Millet Leek Casserole with Tempeh

Start with the millet.

Soak 1 cup millet for 2 hours or so. Strain and rinse millet.

You can also cook without soaking. This process removes phytic acid, making millet more digestible.

Pour into a cooking pot with 3 cups water.

Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer.

Simmer until millet begins to thicken (about 20 minutes). Stir occasionally, as though cooking oatmeal.

Add:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 carrots, grated

  • ½ teaspoon each: thyme and nutmeg

Cook on low heat and stir occasionally until millet thickens.

Meanwhile, chop 2 leeks.

Place in a deep skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Sauté for 5 minutes.

Chop 1 8-ounce package of tempeh into cubes.

Place tempeh in a bowl and add:

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

  • 1 teaspoon tahini

  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon coriander

Mix well.

Pour contents of bowl into the skillet with leeks.

Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, until tempeh is browning slightly.

Meanwhile, chop kale – about 2 packed cups.

Add kale and ½ cup water to the skillet.

Cover and cook on medium low heat for 5 more minutes.

Set aside.

Grease a glass baking dish (9x9) with olive or sunflower oil.

Pour one third of the millet into the baking dish and flatten it evenly.

Cover with half of the vegetable mixture.

Add another layer of millet, followed by vegetables.

Finish with millet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the top is turning golden.

Buckwheat Cauliflower Casserole

Place 1 cup dry kasha (buckwheat groats) and 2 ½ cups water in a stock pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until kasha begins to thicken.

Add ½ teaspoon each: salt, coriander, nutmeg

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop 1 large head cauliflower into florets.Chop 3 large carrots into crescents.

Oil a rectangular baking dish.

Add carrots and cauliflower to the baking dish.

Season with ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon.

Toss well to coat.

Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Mix as many peas as you like with the cauliflower and carrots. Remove from baking dish and set aside in a bowl temporarily.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of cooked kasha.

Cover kasha with the vegetables.

Cover vegetables with the rest of the cooked kasha.

Bake for 15 minutes, cool and enjoy!

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Eggs: Incredible, Edible ... Allergens?

Happy Egg Moon, Sap Moon, Passover, Easter, Hanuman Jayanti, and more!

In many cultures, the first signs of spring are cause for celebration of life's renewal.

The full moon tomorrow morning will be marked by a lunar eclipse visible in the Northeast around 5:45 am. If you do not want to set the alarm and rise before dawn, take a moment when you do get up to honor this transformative time

.As spring comes on, chickens start laying more eggs. This perfect protein is nourishing, balanced and vital for many. However, with the advent of large-scale agriculture and grain-fed chickens raised in contained settings, the nutritional value of eggs has declined.

All pastured animals can eat grass, which is high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. The animals kindly convert the fatty acids in the grass into a bio-available form that humans can digest. However, when these animals, from chickens and turkeys to cows and lambs, do not graze on grass, no one receives the omega fatty acid benefit.

What does this mean?

Without the crucial presence of these fatty acids, the body doesn't recognize the egg as food. Eventually, our systems begin to treat eggs as allergens.

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In short, know your food sources! Meet the chickens that lay your eggs. It will help your body to digest and assimilate this potent protein.

Try making eggs poached in beet greens to celebrate the full moon of spring.

They make a great brunch dish alongside shredded carrot and zucchini bread

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Miso Soup

Soothing, cleansing, and delightful, this gentle soup helps to balance our springtime need for a little extra salt and liquid.

It goes well with vegetarian sushi. Try it.

Miso Soup

You will need:

  • 8 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon tamari

  • 1/4 cup miso paste

  • 1 tablespoon dried seaweed (kombu, kelp, or wakame)

  • 1 clove chopped garlic

  • 1 inch chopped ginger root

  • 1 carrot, grated

  • ½ bunch chopped kale or chard

Pour the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the seaweed. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chop and grate vegetables and herbs. Add these to the pot and simmer for 10 more minutes.

As soup simmers, spoon the miso paste into a bowl. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot broth into a bowl and whisk with chopsticks or a whisk to mix and melt the miso paste so that it becomes a smooth mixture.

Turn the heat off, add the miso paste to the pot and stir well. Taste the soup - if it needs more flavor, whisk in another tablespoon or two of miso paste. Serve immediately.

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Spring Greens

Now is the time to enjoy the savory, bitter, and sour flavors that prepare our bodies for spring.

Try these wonderful greens in your meals.

Broccoli

This wonderful vegetable is a favorite of kids, who tend to think it looks like little trees. It's high in fiber for digestive support. It contains B vitamins for heart health and helps the lymphatic system to cleanse itself.

Break it into florets, or 'trees', steam it for 3 minutes, and season it with pesto or lemon tahini sauce. Toss it with cooked spaghetti for a quick dinner or use it as a pizza topping once it's steamed.

It's much easier to digest when cooked, and steaming doesn't affect its health benefits.

Mustard Greens

This spicy cruciferous green is high in fiber to support elimination and vitamin K to promote healthy bones. The phytonutrients that make it so spicy are the same ones that encourage the body to cleanse and shed winter's heaviness.

Try them braised in coconut milk with garlic, ginger, and turmeric. I also like to add them to stir fried dishes. Their mild pungency decreases with cooking, so do not worry about them being too spicy for you.

Arugula

This delicious salad green is hearty and grows well in the cold spring months. It's high in vitamins A, B-6, C, K, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, which help maintain balanced mental health and detoxify the system. Arugula also contains copper and iron, which contribute to a balanced metabolism and reduction in cravings.

I like to serve it raw in salads, over grains, or tossed with cooked beans or chopped apples.

Bok Choy

This green, originally cultivated in Japan is high in omega-3s for brain function and rich in Vitamin K to strengthen bones and decrease inflammation. 

It cooks up quickly and has a nice tang. Cut heads in half lengthwise and sauté in a small amount of olive oil for 5 minutes. Dress with lemon, salt and black pepper.

Serve with white beans or white fish.

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Fresh, Fruity, & Fabulous

Smoothies are not just for breakfast! Enjoy them as snacks when the afternoon blues hit or serve them in a little cup as dessert when visitors come to dinner.

With the coming new moon and spring equinox on March 20th, these recipes will uplift you and inspire you to sow seeds of intention for the season to come.

Each one of these recipes features coconut, which helps to tone and nourish your hormonal and digestive systems and bring the balance that's synonymous with this time of year.

Coconut

Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, coconut is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility. Its anti-bacterial action makes it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites. This food is considered sacred by people from the Indonesian Archipelago to the Indian Sub-Continent because of its potent healing properties. 

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Coconut Cream Pie

You will need:

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 banana

  • ½ orange

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend until smooth.


Decadent Chocolate Cherry

You will need:

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 cup water

  • ¾ cup of frozen cherries

  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Blend until smooth.


Soothing Delight

You will need:

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and de-seeded

  • 2 dates, fresh or dried, chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Blend until smooth.

Whole Food + Mindfulness = Health

Food For Thought

Much of the body's total digestive response to any meal starts with the mind. If we are distracted before we begin to eat, and if we are not fully aware of what and when we are eating, we are not stimulating the full beneficial digestive response.

On the contrary, mindful eating requires being fully present with our food. It's a meditation practice that brings our thoughts to the food and our experience of the food.

In Eating Mindfully, Susan Albers describes:

"Eating a mindful meal means completely focusing your mind on the 'process' of eating. You take it moment by moment and focus on the here and now. You begin by looking at the food, noting the different colors and shapes. You really see what is in front of you. You also become aware of the manner in which you reach for the spoon and fork. Food doesn't automatically end up in your mouth. Your entire body is involved in getting it there... from ingredients to atmosphere, whether appealing or appalling, both the psychological mood and the physical accessories that surround you when you eat may influence the way in which you metabolize food and in turn your health and well-being."

You can cook and eat whole food, as close to the source as possible, to reduce your risk of illnesses from the common cold to cancer. Many doctors maintain that food is the best way to prevent and treat obesity, diabetes, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and depression.

Choose one food to be your health ally this spring. I am choosing black pepper. What about you?


Black Pepper

Although it’s known for making you sneeze, black pepper can actually help to ward off the sniffles. Black peppercorns are high in piperine, a compound with anti-inflammatory qualities that can reduce swelling in joints. Piperine also helps you absorb the benefits of other spices.Try for 2 teaspoons of both black pepper per week to boost your immunity.

By including your healthy food ally in your diet each week, you can contribute to your own long-term well-being. Remember that it takes time a commitment to notice these changes. Be patient.

Most of all, enjoy your meal!

Here is my favorite black pepper recipe.


Healthy Stir-Fried Vegetables

You will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped

  • 3 carrots, rinsed and chopped into matchsticks

  • 1 large head broccoli, chopped

  • 2 zucchini, rinsed and chopped into matchsticks

  • 1 small purple cabbage, rinsed and chopped

  • 1 hanful snap peas (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari (low sodium)

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, cumin, and coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: fenugreek and cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

  • Juice of half a lime

Heat oil in a skillet.

Add ginger and garlic. Stir well.

Add vinegar.

Sauté on medium heat, with the lid on, for 5 minutes. Add water if anything is sticking.

Add carrots, zucchini, broccoli and cabbage in layers with carrots on the bottom, then zucchini, then cabbage on top.

Add ½ cup water, soy sauce, and spices. Do not stir. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Cook with lid on for 5 minutes.

Add snap peas if you have them.

Stir, increase heat to medium, and cook for 5 more minutes, or until carrots are just tender.

Squeeze lime juice over the top and mix well to incorporate.

Serve over rice with chopped hard-boiled eggs or enjoy with rice flatbread

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Liver and Skin Renewal

As we move towards the sweet delight of spring equinox, the chickadees are crowding into our crab apple tree, looking for berries. Despite the cold nights, sunshine feels more potent than ever.

I am pausing to feel the awe that comes from looking up into the sky and feeling the expansive nature of consciousness.

Take a deep breath and bring brightness your next meal with this white fish dish.

Burdock and kelp cleanse and soothe the lymph and skin while promoting liver rejuvenation to prepare for the warmer months ahead.

Vegetable Ragout with White Fish

You will need:

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 1/2 inch ginger root, chopped

  • 1 inch burdock, peeled and chopped

  • 1 bunch kale or collards, chopped

  • 2 handfuls kelp

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 Tablespoon coriander powder

  • ½ Tablespoon cumin seed powder

  • ½ teaspoon garam masala

  • Salt to taste

  • 1 pound Atlantic cod or haddock

Chop onions.

Heat coconut oil in large skillet.

Add the spices, stir and sauté on low heat for 2 minutes.

Add onions, stir, and raise heat to high for 2 minutes.

Add lime juice, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Peel and chop burdock. Add to skillet.

Chop greens and ginger. Add to skillet. Add water if onions are sticking to the bottom.

Add ½ cup water, kelp and white fish. Cover and cook for ½ hour more.

Enjoy! Try it with kasha biscuits

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Spring Soups

Prepare these soups ahead so you can enjoy a simple meal when you get home after a long day in the green beauty of the blossoming world.


SPRING TOMATO SOUP

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 2 potatoes, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: rosemary and thyme

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes OR 1 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Chop onions and garlic.

Add to a soup pot with olive oil.

Sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add carrot, potatoes, salt, rosemary and thyme.

Sauté for 10 more minutes, then add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.

Add 2 cups water.

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, or until flavors have incorporated.

Blend with immersion blender if you prefer a creamier soup.

Enjoy! Garnish with unsweetened yogurt if you like.

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CREAMY CHERVIL SOUP

inspired by Nadia Hassani

You will need:

  • 6 ounces fresh chervil, stems and leaves separated1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

  • ½ cup milk (cow, rice or almond)

  • 2 egg yolks

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring chervil stems and stock to a simmer in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat

Simmer, covered, until stems are tender, about 10 minutes.

Strain stock, discarding stems; return to pan and keep warm.

Purée chervil leaves, milk, parsley, yolks, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth.

Whisk in the broth until smooth.

Enjoy with a garnish of fresh parsley if you like.

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CARROT SOUP WITH HERBED YOGHURT

For the soup:

  • 6 medium carrots, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the yoghurt sauce:

  • ¼ cup unsweetened, whole yogurt or soy yogurt

  • 1 chive, minced

  • 1 handful fresh parsley, minced

  • 1 handful fresh basil, minced

  • pinch salt

For the soup: Put carrots, oil, water, and spices into a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid has evaporated and carrots are very soft, about 1/2 hour.

Purée carrot mixture with immersion blender and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Serve with yogurt sauce.

To prepare the sauce, mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Serve a spoonful as garnish in each bowl of soup.

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Picnic Time

As the weather gets warmer and the brilliant shades of green decorate the countryside, take time to sit outdoors and enjoy a meal. Bring your favorite foods, and remember to drink plenty of water.

Here are some recipe to inspire your next picnic.

TAHINI DATE COOKIES

Tahini, roasted sesame seed butter, is one of the best vegan sources of calcium to promote healthy bones, teeth and heart.

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup tahini

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/3 cup dates, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups oats

  • pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom

3 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

In a food processor mix together the dates, water, tahini, and maple until creamy and blended.

Pour into a bowl and mix together with the oats, salt, spices and olive oil.

Scoop out spoonfuls of the batter on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, to desired crispness.

TACOS

This is a nourishing and creative way to enjoy a gluten-free feast and honor the gastronomic traditions of Central and South America.

For 6 people, you will need:

  • 12 corn tortillas

  • 1 cup queso fresco or any cheese you like

  • 1 quart cooked beans -  I like pinto or black beans

  • 2 fresh limes, cut into quarters

  • 1 cup purple cabbage, shredded

  • salsa fresca 

To prepare salsa fresca, chop:

  • 2 ripe tomatoes

  • 1 red onion

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 2 handfuls cilantro or parsley if you prefer

  • In a bowl, mix these together with:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • juice of 1 lime

Assemble tacos, drizzle with salsa, and enjoy!

AVOCADO HUMMUS

This Middle Eastern dish is full of vegan protein and fiber from the chickpeas and polyunsaturated fat from the avocados.

You will need:

  • 1 ripe avocado, cut in half, skin and stone removed

  • One 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

  • One clove garlic, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon tahini

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • ½ teaspoon each: paprika, coriander, and cumin 

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 6 pieces of pita bread for serving

Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Chill in the fridge for one hour before serving with pita bread.

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