lemon-lime chia agua fresca

chia seed limeade agua fresca natural gatorade

It’s been a rough couple of weeks over here, hence the lack of posts.  Storms, eye infections, sprained toes + general pull-your-hair-out mayhem that comes with having two small children.

This week has been mostly sunny and fairly warm (up to 77 one day!!) and all the fruit trees are budding out.  It seems that spring has come, albeit early.

The warm weather has got me craving a some cool drinks and I have been making a staple of mine- chia limeade.  Chia has so many health benefits (calcium, fiber, omega-3s, antioxidants) and is great to fill you up a little in between meals.

I drink it a lot at work between food breaks.  This drink is easy to make and keeps well in the fridge for a few days.  It is fabulous to take on a hike or run or to drink during/after a workout as it has fiber, water, simple carbs and electrolytes (a great replacement for the artificial gatorade people at the gym like to chug)

chia seed limeade organic natural sugar free gatorade

chia limeade (makes 2 servings, 16 ounces total)

Juice of 1 lime + 1 lemon

3 soft medjool dates OR maple syrup to taste, or even splenda to make it sugar-free

2 cups of pure water

pinch of salt, or to taste (optional, this is for electrolyte value if using as a workout recovery drink)

2.5 T chia seeds

1. IF USING DATES, soak them in the water for 5 minutes.  Then pour the dates and the water, plus the citrus juice and salt into a blender and blend thoroughly until smooth.  If you are very picky about texture you may want to strain the resulting mixture.  If your blender is good it should be totally smooth though.  Pour mixture into a mason jar.  IF USING MAPLE SYRUP, simply mix it with the water, juice and salt in a mason jar.

2.  Add the chia seeds to your jar, screw the top on TIGHTLY and shake shake shake shake!  This is crucial to not getting any lumps.  Let it sit for a minute and then shake vigorously again.  Place in the fridge and leave it for at least 30 minutes so the chia seeds can hydrate.

3. ENJOY!  Shake thoroughly before you drink it.  Since it is totally natural the contents will settle to the bottom.

To switch up the flavors:

berry:  blend a handful of berries with the liquid before adding chia.

melon: blend a few chunks of melon with the liquid before adding chia.

coconut: use coco water instead of plain water

hibiscus: brew hibiscus tea, let cool and use instead of water (this makes a lovely pink red color and is full of anti-oxidants, you may be familiar with hibiscus through Starbuck’s ubiquitous passion tea.)

tamarind: add a teaspoon or two of tamarind paste to the liquid and mix thoroughly before adding chia.

Much love,

A.

mexican style chopped salad

vegan mexican radish chopped salad

I love chopped salads.  There is something wonderful about the differences of textures and flavors between the ingredients.  This one is Mexican style with cilantro, pepitas, radish, avocado, and a lime vinaigrette.  I’ve made it twice already-once for me and once for family and it is a favorite with all.  Watermelon radish is a mild radish with a green skin and a white and hot pink flesh, hence the name.

watermelon radish

I’ve grown them in my garden this year and they are super easy, just like other radishes.  They only take about 4 weeks to mature and they are a great cover crop.  Easy to grow in pots too!

Radish and orange chopped salad
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

1 avocado, pitted peeled and diced

large handful cilantro, roughly chopped

2 watermelon radishes or 5 red radishes, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds

1/2 a red onion, very thinly sliced (use less if you don’t care for onion)

1 cucumber, quartered and chopped

1/2 a small jicama, peeled and cut into match sticks

3 small to medium oranges, peeled and pith cut away, then cut crosswise into thin slices (take care to remove seeds)

1 small head romaine lettuce, washed dried and chopped

1/4c pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), toasted or kept raw if preferred

juice of 2-3 limes

3T avocado oil or other neutral tasting oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/4t salt

Combine lime juice, oil, garlic, and salt in a small bowl and mix well.  Let sit at least 5 minutes while combining all other ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour dressing over the salad, mix well, and serve immediately.  I served this with black bean soup and it was perfect together!

Since its Saturday, I’m making my meal plan for the coming week, which includes 5 easy healthy dinners:

1.Tempeh walnut meatballs with zucchini noodles and sautéed thyme mushrooms

2. Sweet and sour pineapple and red bell with cashews and sugar snap peas over coconut rice

3. Burrito bowls: Black beans, rice, guacamole, Pico de gallo, sautéed fajita veggies (red and green bells, red onion), lettuce.

4. Spicy Thai coconut soup with mushrooms and edamame

5. Black eyed pea succotash and sautéed kale.

Love, A.

mandarin sesame dressing

creamy raw vegan citrus cashew dressing low fat oil free salt free

Today is day 7/21 of the low-fat raw vegan challenge I’m participating in.  Its been pretty easy so far, not even one craving until today actually!  For some reason I’ve been dreaming of sushi and ramen and pizza and pho [all vegan of course] all day.  But, I digress.

The main 2 challenges I have experienced thus far have been: (1) Not being able to get as creative or varied in the kitchen.  I LOVE cooking, baking, presentation, and eating food.  I love seeing food in restaurants, magazines, online, or on Instagram and then recreating it at home.  Its been hard being so limited with dinner, and cooking a seperate dinner for my 5 year old.  (2) The amount of time involved in eating this way.  Planning how much food I will need, buying all the food, preparing the meals, and just the sheer volume of eating has been tough, especially with the kids.  My salad at night (I split 3 HUGE heads of lettuce with my husband) takes me about an hour to eat….but at least I have found this great recipe (adapted from Low Fat Raw Vegan Chef) for dressing that makes it enjoyable.

I posted about it a few weeks ago on Instagram but never got around to blogging about it.  This dressing is technically not great food combining (acid+sweet fruit=no no, also fruit+fat is generally a no too) but its delicious and makes eating a pound and a half of greens enjoyable.

Baby steps, right?

Creamy mandarin sesame ginger dressing. (yields about 2c)

1/3 c raw cashews, soaked for a few hours and then drained

3/4c fresh squeezed mandarin, tangerine, or orange juice

3 medjool dates, pitted

1 small pinky of ginger (add more if you desire)

1T raw sesame tahini, or 2T of raw sesame seeds

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender.  If you have a regular blender, I recommend soaking the cashews overnight and soaking the dates for an hour, as well as finely mincing the ginger with a knife before adding it to the blender to ensure smooth creamy results.

I’ve been loving this combo with romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, and jicama.  Crunchy and savory.  Yum!

Personally, I have not felt too many differences during this week of 80/10/10 low-fat raw vegan than my normal diet of fruit for breakfast, mostly raw for lunch, and a cooked vegan meal for dinner.  I probably will not continue to eat 100% low-fat raw vegan after this challenge as it is: expensive, time-consuming, and makes me think about food all the time (ie inputting what I ate into Cronometer and weighing stuff to make sure I’m getting enough calories).  I don’t know…thinking so much about food seems counterintuitive to me.  Mostly I listen to my body and decide what to eat based on that, which works well for me!  Nothing against the diet itself, I think its great and applaud the people who are successfully following it.  It’s just not fully compatible with my life at this point in time…just food for thought.

raw kelp noodle pad thai

raw vegan gluten free pad thai kelp noodle

I’ve been wanting to try kelp noodles for a while now, but it was something that I held back on for fear it might taste funky.  It is made out of kelp, you know.

I’m happy to report that kelp noodles are completely neutral in taste.  They are slightly crunchy in texture, but not weird and rubbery like shirataki noodles (blegh).

The longer that you let them sit with the sauce, the softer they will become.  I made a Thai inspired coconut milk sauce for them and added lots of raw veggies, avocado (duh) and served it all in a cabbage leaf.  Simple and beautiful.

I take extra care in how I present meals to my daughter because I want her to eat as much fruit and veggies as I can get her to!  I have found over and over that the prettier/cuter/more fun you make food for kids, the more likely they are to eat a variety of healthy foods.

This is especially true if you give them a little bowl of dipping sauce.  Kids LOVE to dip veggies.  We eat with our EYES before any food reaches our mouths.

Kelp noodle pad Thai. (serves 2)

1 package kelp noodles, soaked in cool water for 15 minutes and then drained well

1/4-1/2c coconut milk, depending on how thick you’d like it

3T almond butter (you could use peanut if you prefer)

2T tamari (or soy sauce)

1 finely diced jalapeno with seeds (adjust to your liking)

1T maple syrup

1T minced ginger

Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon

1t white miso (optional)

Whisk all ingredients except kelp noodles together.  Pour sauce over noodles and let sit while you prepare the veggies:

2 leaves red cabbage, left whole

1-2 carrots (I used one julienned orange carrot and one yellow carrot cut into slices)

3 stalks celery, cut on the diagonal

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

1/2 an avocado, cut into thin slices

Thai basil and cilantro, as much as desire, roughly chopped

Green onion.

Raw sesame seeds

Mix all veggies except avocado with the kelp noodle mixture, reserving some veggies to garnish the plate if desired.  Divide kelp noodle and veggie mixture evenly between the two cabbage cups.  Arrange avocados on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Now devour and be happy!

My husband and I will be doing FullyRawKristina’s 21 day raw vegan challenge so instead of a meal plan this week I will just post our grocery list.  Why 21 days?  It takes 21 days to make a habit.

165 bananas@.19cents ea=31.35

1 case young coconuts@8.99ea

2 pineapples@2.99ea=5.98

4 pounds of medjool dates @7.99/2lbs=15.98

3 (3 lb) bags of a peach-strawberry-mango frozen fruit blend@6.50ea=19.5

1 (3 lb) bag frozen mixed berry blend@9.99

10 hachiya persimmons=3.00

1 case pomegranates@12.50/case

10 pounds braeburn apples@1.63/lb=16.13

1 large bag baby kale=4.50

21 heads assorted lettuce @ 2.00 each=42

9 cases mangoes @ 3.99 each=35.91

2 pounds baby spinach @3.50/lb=7.00

2 heads celery@1.25ea=2.50

10 cucumbers@2.99/5=5.98

10 zucchini @.85/lb=5.32

20 kiwis=3.00

2 jicamas=3.00

2 dragonfruit@4.99/lb=10.00

2 large red bell peppers=4.25

unlimited oranges from our orange tree in the backyard=FREE

TOTAL=247.28!  About 100 more than my regular cooked vegan food budget but I would say worth it.  All quality produce and the mangos, apples, and bananas should last into next week too.  I could have cut down the budget by not buying the extras like dragonfruit and pomegranates, but I wanted to have something fun to look forward to.

It sounds like a lot but raw foods are lower in CALORIES and higher in WATER than cooked foods.  That is why they digest faster and easier!  That means you have to eat a much larger volume of them to get enough calories/nutrition.

This morning I made a apple cranberry pomegranate orange juice that was unbelievably delicious.  I usually make smoothies because I like to eat whole foods and create less waste, but fresh cranberry juice?  Yes please!  Link to recipe HERE.fully raw kristina wine apple cranberry pomegranate orange juice

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rainbow bowl + tahini-soy dressing

macrobiotic bowl vegan

This bowl is seriously amazing.  Its fast, nutritious, vegan, gluten-free, and can be raw.  Best of all, you can use whatever veggies you have in your fridge to make it.  If you want it totally raw, omit the rice.  It’s all good- the more, the merrier.  What unifies it all together is an amazing tahini-soy dressing with LOADS of umami flavor.

I had leftover sauce and ended up dipping raw veggies in it the next day.  YUM.  Both my kids were loving it too.  Enough said.  The sauce recipe comes from a website that I love for raw vegan inspiration: rawfoodrecipes.com

In the bowl:

Julienned carrots

Pea shoots

Red cabbage

Microgreens

Wakame seaweed

Brown rice

Avocado

Other things that would be amazing: kale/spinach, legumes, kelp noodles, zucchini noodles, sweet potato, kimchi, sauerkraut, cucumber, asparagus…really anything.

“Knock-off Dragon Sauce”

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic

Blend all ingredients until smooth and drizzle over your bowl!

Arent these turnips and carrots just gorgeous? (this photo is completely unedited by the way!  Nature in all her glory.)

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I packed them for a snack at work and dipped them in the leftover sauce.

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apple-herb vinaigrette and citrus salad

citrus salad raw cucumber rolls

Its winter here.  ITS FREEZING COLD.  I was finding myself quite sad as I scrolled (on Instagram) through lots of beautiful pictures of tropical fruit and watermelon from all the people I follow in Australia and Hawaii.

At the moment, we in California are experiencing a cold snap that is out of character for these parts.  My baby grapefruit tree that I planted this summer is dead, along with almost all my lettuces, ginger, snap peas, and most everything else in my winter garden.

So bummed.  I need to figure out some indoor gardening.  Anyways, I was just really needing some vibrant color in my food.

I came across a recipe in an old Bon Appetit for a Granny Smith apple vinaigrette that looked interesting.  I made it, but decided it definitely needed a little punch to it.

Enter herbs!  Parsley, cilantro, tarragon, thyme-any herb you desire would probably be good with this.  I chose to use cilantro because of the salad I used it on.

Herbs also offer TONS of health benefits.  They are loaded with minerals and micro-nutrients, anti-oxidants and detoxing qualities.  Cilantro chelates and binds with heavy metals in your body and carries them out of your digestive tract.

My salad was everything colorful- orange slices (pith cut away and oranges cut crosswise), watermelon radishes from the garden (or your local farmers market), pomegranate arils, and cilantro.

Sometimes I forget just how much colorful produce is in the winter.  I am a huge believer in making food look beautiful.  If its beautiful, it will get eaten, especially by children.  I’m pretty sure that’s why both my children love almost all fruits and veggies.

apple cider vinaigrette herb

Anyways, the dressing recipe!  Makes about 1 and 1/4 cups.

1 chopped Granny Smith apple, cored but unpeeled

1/4c raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1T fresh lime juice + 1t lime zest

1/4 parsley, cilantro, or combination of whatever herb you desire

1T minced shallot

1/2t raw sugar (omit if desired)

1/4c avocado* or other oil, adjust to how oily you like it (you could probably omit it too if you follow a low-fat diet)

salt +pepper

Purée apple, apple cider vinegar, and lime juice + zest in a blender, occasionally scraping down sides of blender with a spatula, until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing down on solids with spatula to extract all juice; discard solids. Return to blender and pulse with herbs, shallot and sugar. Whisk in oil until well blended. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Some of my ombre watermelon radishes that I used in the salad: (aren’t they just gorgeous!)

ombre watermelon radish

I used this as a dressing on my citrus salad, to dip my cucumber rolls in, and also on my green salad later that night.  It was fresh and simple and didn’t overpower any of the flavors in the salad.  Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Love, A.

*I get my avocado oil at Costco and i love it!  It has a totally neutral taste, is cold-pressed, and it withstands high temps without oxidizing and burning unlike olive and other oils.

snickers + salted caramels (v+gf)

date caramel healthy dessert

I love caramel.  Like, really love it.  My favorite candies used to include Snickers, Rolos, and Twix.  The gooey, toothsome texture and deep flavor of it are just so good.  Unfortunately traditional caramel is loaded with disgusting and unhealthy ingredients…cream, white sugar, butter, and other such gut bombs.  So what’s a girl to do when a hard candy craving hits?  The very term “healthy candy” seems like an oxymoron.

Enter…dates.  They’re super sweet, soft, and naturally caramelly-tasting.  They are also loaded with nutrients: fiber, potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium, vitamins B and K.  They have been found to be high in antioxidant phenols which protect the body from free radicals.  Basically, they are like little vitamins disguised as candies.  Kind of like those Flinstone chewable gummy vitamins weird pediatricians want you to give your kids.  Wait, what?  No thanks.

Anyways, when dates are blended with vanilla and almond butter…they taste like HEAVEN.  They form a thick, caramel paste that becomes chewy when frozen.  Yes please.

A word on varieties…there are A LOT of different types of dates.  I only have experience with two varieties because that’s what is readily available to me: Deglet Noor and Medjool.  I find Deglet Noors to be hard, tough, fibrous and generally undesirable compared to Medjools.  Medjools are soft, gooey, large, and delicious.  They are easy to blend in recipes.  They are also sold at Costco…8 dollars for 2 pounds, which is very reasonable.

*A note:  I find the combination of sweet and salty especially irresistible.  If you don’t, feel free to omit the salt! (although I will be judging you)

Date Caramel

12 Medjool dates

1T peanut or almond butter

1/2t vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until a smooth, thick paste forms.  I just let mine run until it looks fully combined.  You might need to pause it to scrape down the sides a few times.  Scoop it into a bowl and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes so that it is a little easier to handle.  Sometimes I make a double batch just so I can eat some straight, with a spoon.  YUM

Salted Caramel “Snickers”*

1 recipe date caramel, above

1c bittersweet vegan chocolate chips, melted

1/2c peanuts or almonds, roughly chopped

pinch of flaky sea salt for sprinkling

loaf pan

Line your loaf pan with parchment paper.  Pour half of your melted chocolate in the loaf pan and place in the freezer until fully hardened.  Take it out and place your date paste in the pan, squishing the paste over the layer of chocolate until you have an even layer.  If your hands get sticky, get a little water on them to make the paste easier to handle.  Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the caramel.  Pour the rest of chocolate over and sprinkle with sea salt. Return to freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, until fully set.  Cut into squares with a sharp knife and serve! *recipe adapted from the gorgeous One Hungry Mami who is amazing in every way.

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 Salted Caramels

1 recipe date caramel, above

1/2c bittersweet vegan chocolate chips, melted

pinch of flaky sea salt for sprinkling

wax or parchment paper

Shape date paste into small bite size balls and dip into chocolate, rolling to coat evenly.  Place balls on parchment and sprinkle each with a little salt.  Place bites in freezer at least 10 minutes.  They have the best texture straight from the freezer!

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See how thick and caramelly it is?  *Drools*  Craving satisfied.