Monday, March 17, 2014

Norah's Lemon Lemon Cookies

Norah's Lemon Lemon Cookies
A delightful burst of lemon sunshine 

I received Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new cookbook, Isa Does It, for Christmas this year.  Everything I have made from this vegan cookbook has been pretty spectacular.  I have now made the "Norah's lemon lemon" cookies about a half dozen times.

For the past two years during Valentine's week I have made cookies for all my yoga classes. My students raved about these lemony dream cookies. They are made with coconut oil and lots of lemon rind.  The coconut oil, sugar, and flour combine to make a dense shortbread like cookie.  Top them with the ultra lemony frosting drizzle and I bet you can't eat just one!

Here's the recipe.  

Norah's Lemon Lemon Cookies
from "Isa Does It"
page 283
(buy this cookbook now!)

For the cookies:
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons almond milk
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
(I used the zest from 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon organic cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, melted

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two baking sheets.

2.  In a large bowl, use a fork to beat together the coconut oil and sugar - about a minute.  Add the almond milk, lemon zest, and vanilla, and beat another minute or so until it resembles applesauce.

3.  Add about half the flour, as well as the cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.  Mix well.  Add the remaining flour and mix until a soft dough forms.

4.  Scoop the dough onto the baking sheets in rounded spoonfuls.  Flatten the tops gently with your fingers. I also pressed a fork into the cookies so there were grooves to catch the yummy lemon glaze.

5.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. In my first couple batches I cooked too long because the tops remain fairly white. I let the tops brown a bit and the cookie was really too dense for my liking. You really need to check the bottoms of the cookie - light brown is good while the top remains pretty white.

6. Let cool on the sheets for a few minutes or so, then transfer to cookie racks to let cool all the way.

7.  For the glaze, place the confectioner's sugar in a bowl.  Sift it if it is really clumpy.  Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and coconut oil and stir vigorously until a thick and smooth but pourable icing forms. 
Note:  I think 2 cups is too much for one batch.  I used less this last time and had none left over. Play with it for consistency and taste.

8.  While the cookies are on the racks, spoon the glaze over each one, letting it drip down the sides. This will make your counters very sticky unless you put down parchment paper first.  You can also sprinkle with lemon zest. Let the glaze set for 10 - 20 minutes (yeah, right.)

This is the coconut oil and sugar beaten together.

Added the almond milk, vanilla, and a bunch of lemon zest.
Listen, if you don't own a "zester", go to the store and buy one. It's a must have in the kitchen!

All beaten together and ready for the flour and baking powder, etc.

Nothing to do with the cookies, except maybe you'll serve these cookies while playing this game at your next Games Night Party.  This game is super raunchy and absolutely hilarious.  We just played it for the first time the other night and laughed our heads off. Your cheeks and jaw will hurt the next day from laughing and grimacing!(and maybe from chewing too many cookies)

 You can see the lemon glaze in this photo.
These are super duper yummy treats!

Be well, everyone!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Monday Evening Supper

Monday Evening Supper

Baked Yam, Red and White Quinoa, Adzuki Beans, Garlic Cashew Sauce, Stir Fried Vegetables,
and Kimchi

Eating a plant based diet doesn't have to be really difficult.  I sometimes cook very complex and involved meals but usually we eat large quantities of simple foods.  Much of the food we eat is prepared ahead of time, on the weekend when I have more time, and then re-heated with additions made for a meal.

On Monday we ate the adzuki beans and quinoa I had cooked on Sunday.  We drizzled those beans and quinoa  (please be aware that quinoa is a complete protein - one of the best in the vegetarian/vegan world) with a garlic cashew dressing/sauce.  I had lots of red peppers, carrots, broccoli and kale (from our garden!) in the fridge so I sauteed those up with garlic, ginger, and shallots.  We added a baked yam and some prepared kimchi that I buy from the Farmer's Market. (Kimchi is great for your digestive health because it is fermented and full of probiotics) Huge plant based meal full of protein, carbohydrate, some good fat, tons of vitamins and minerals and full of phytonutrients (just look at the color on that plate and think HEALTH!)

Many people won't cook vegetables because they have to actually chop them up.  It cracks me up how many washed and cut up vegetables you can buy packaged in the grocery store.  I always wonder about how long they've been there, who cut them, how clean the surfaces were... can't help myself. Really easy to wash and chop your own vegetables.  A benefit of chopping vegetables is that it can be a mindful practice of concentration and breath.

These are the greens from my garden - about three kinds of kale and some collards.

So here's what I did for the vegetable saute':

1 hunk of ginger, peeled and minced into little tiny pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced up small
2 shallots, sliced and chopped up small
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
3 or 4 carrots, cut into matchsticks
4 - 6 cups kale and some other greens from the garden, rinsed and chopped into small pieces
2 or 3 handfuls of broccoli, rinsed and trimmed

1.  Take out big cast iron skillet and pre-heat it, then add one heaping tablespoon coconut oil
2.  Add the shallot, ginger, and garlic and stir until translucent - maybe 3 or 4 minutes
3.  Add the matchstick carrots and cook another minute or so
4.  Add the red bell pepper and cook another minute or so
5.  Add the kale and stir in to the mix and cook another couple minutes
6.  Add broccoli last and cook until tender, stirring often

You can, of course, substitute any vegetable.  Do try to add some cruciferous stuff if possible, though.  Kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, etc.

(oh, wait, that isn't cashew garlic dream sauce, that's Harry who is the same color!)

The cashew garlic dressing/sauce is called "Garlic Dream Sauce" and is, once again, from one of my new favorite cookbooks  ---- The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen by Talya Lutzker (our local Santa Cruz Ayurveda cooking specialist)

Garlic Dream Sauce

1 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups very cold water
1 tablespoon miso
2 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

Put the cashews and the cold water in the blender.  Process on high speed for 3 minutes or until smooth and consistency of heavy cream, stopping occasionally to scrape down the blender jar.  Set aside.

Combine the miso with the hot water in a medium bowl until the miso has dissolved.  Stir in the lemon juice, salt, coriander, pepper, and dill.  Add the cashew cream and garlic and mix well.

(I put the dissolved miso and other ingredients right into the blender with the cashew cream and gave it a 20 or 30 second blend.)

The garlic dream sauce will thicken a bit if you refrigerate it.

It is a light delicious dressing or sauce for grain and beans.

Look at the color of the sunset we saw the other evening after the storm while out walking the cliffs.  It must be related to yams!  Nature is great.

And, finally, the baked yam.  Easy peasy.  Wash and scrub the yam.  Poke it with a fork a few times.  Put it in the oven and bake it at 350 or 400 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes.  Check it every now and then so it doesn't get too mushy.

May I sing the praises of the health benefits of sweet potato/yam? These wonderful little packets of color and flavor are full of fiber, low in fat, a good source of protein, high in potassium and manganese, full of vitamin C and a great way to get tons of beta-carotene/Vitamin A.  

Recent research has shown that sweet potatoes/yams should be eaten with some amount of fat in order to increase the beta carotene benefits.  In other words, if you add fat like the cashew cream, some olive oil, or even avocado, it will significantly increase the uptake of Vitamin A into your system.

Despite the fact that yams are very high in carbohydrate content, they are low on the glycemic index and some studies have shown that sweet potatoes can help stabilize blood sugar levels and increase insulin resistance.

Perhaps we should be eating more yams and sweet potatoes?

Be well!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Chopped Salad


I woke up last week, made my coffee, and opened the computer. I read somewhere online, perhaps on a blog I follow, that someone had made a chopped salad that week. Memories of a trip to Maui came up for me.  We had eaten in a pizza place that had the best chopped salad.  Romaine and vegetables chopped into 1/2 inch bits or so.  I think this particular salad had chopped hunks of cheddar cheese in it - I was still eating dairy at the time.  I decided to attempt a vegan chopped salad. Could I make something as delicious without dairy?  Yep.  I could.

I assembled a bunch of different things on my counter in preparation for chopping -  walnuts, cucumber, olives, apple, watermelon radish, carrots, orange and red bell pepper.

Garbanzo beans are the perfect size for a chopped salad and I just happened to have some that I had sprouted that week.  Sprouting beans is easy.  Soak them for 6 hours or so, rinse, and then put into a sprouting pan or even a colander with a plate underneath it and a towel to cover.  Rinse the beans a couple times a day and in about 2 days you have sprouted beans.  Sprouting creates a "live" food and supposedly "ups" the nutritional quality of the food.  The beans are a bit crunchy and great to add to salads or stir fry.  I think they are easier to digest when sprouted.

These sprouted garbanzo beans were a fabulous addition to the chopped salad and upped the ante for protein and fiber!

I had sprouted broccoli seed too.  I buy my sprouting seeds online at Mumm's Sprouting.  The link is:
You can visit their web site for lots of information on the how's and why's of sprouting.  If you are local to Santa Cruz you can also buy an amazing array of sprouts at the local Farmer's Market.  Sprouts are super nutritious and can be added to salads, sandwiches, wraps, topping a stir fry or soup, and you can juice them or add them to smoothies.

The broccoli sprouts added a slightly spicy taste to the chopped salad I made.

Talk about beautiful... have you ever cut into a watermelon radish?  They are stunning!  I sliced and chopped these into the salad for a bit of peppery flavor. Radishes are part of the Brassicaceae family, think cruciferous.  These are really important vegetables for us to eat.  Radishes contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals and have both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. They are have a high water content and are full of fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, folate, and a host of other minerals. And these happen to be so pretty!

Here are the chopped vegetables/fruit in our salad before I added the 2 heads of chopped lettuce.  

The salad before it was dressed.  This was a huge salad.  We  dressed half of it and put half in an air tight container in the fridge for the next day.  

I added chopped avocado after I separated the salad into what we were eating and what we were saving.  Avocado will turn brown if it is cut and refrigerated.  I found, though, that everything else, even the chopped apple, saved very nicely for the next day.  

I dressed the salad very simply.  I poured flax oil ( 2 - 3 tablespoons ) and red wine vinegar (3 - 4 tablespoons) onto the salad and added salt and pepper.  Tossed that baby up and that was all it needed.  There were so many amazing tastes in this salad - some bitter, sweet, salty, savory.  Each bite was a bit different because there was so much in this salad.  You can be creative and add whatever you love.  Some ideas:
chopped pressed tofu
snap peas
fresh peas
chopped cabbage (purple or green or Napa)
chopped kale
cherry toms
sunflower seeds
hemp seeds
cooked quinoa

We ate the salad for lunch with Potage St. Germaine (green pea soup) on Saturday and then for lunch on Sunday with Avocado/Tempeh bacon sandwiches on Ezekiel bread with local sauerkraut and pea sprouts.

This is a salad full of goodness and wonder.  You have to chew and chew which is good for your digestion and slows you down.  Patience when eating is a good thing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Exciting World of Phytonutrients 
What we ate for
Sunday Evening Dinner

Roasted Kabocha Squash
Sauteed Broccoli
Baked Potatoes with Toppings

My plate full of baked potato with topping, broccoli, and roasted kabocha squash.

I've been taking an online course on health, nutrition, and lifestyle.  This last week's topic was "Super Foods" and the lectures which caught my attention were on phytonutrients.  

Phytonutrients are constituents found in whole plant foods  which have antioxidant properties and play a role in reduction of disease.  Scientists have found and named over 2,000 phytonutrients to date and more are being discovered all the time.  

Some examples of Super Foods are:

Blueberries (and other berries)
Kale and broccoli and all cruciferous vegetables
Walnuts (seeds like chia and other nuts)
Oranges and Citrus Fruit
Pumpkin (and other winter squash and yams)

This is not a complete list and different sources list different foods as "super".  The thing about the plant based foods on these lists is that they have amazing phytonutrients in them.  For instance, orange foods like carrots, yams, winter squash and pumpkin, tomatoes and watermelon all have carotenoids and/or lycopene.  The potential benefits of these particular phytonutrients are cancer prevention, boosting immunity, and antioxidant coverage.  

These Super Foods have a function above and beyond nutrition because they have disease fighting aspects.  I think this is super cool!

Some of us are already eating a diet high in these types of food and reaping the benefits of many many phytonutrients in the food we choose and eat. I like to think of these thousands of phytonutrients as a little army of beneficial naturally occurring chemicals happily invading my body and making me a stronger vehicle for health and well being! If you don't eat a lot of these foods on a regular basis then you might consider just adding one "super food" per meal or snack so that you can begin to reap the benefits of all they contain.

Tonight's dinner was colorful and full of plant foods with lots of phytonutrients!  We had baked potatoes, sautéed broccoli, and roasted kabocha squash.

Here's the kabocha squash cut into moon shapes and coated with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. They are in a big mixing bowl I bought this week at a yard sale - reminds me of the bowls my Grandma used in her kitchen.

 The kabocha laid out on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper.

Roasted and ready to eat.  Yum!

Roasted Kabocha Squash

1 kabocha squash sliced into moon shape slices
Olive oil
Sea salt
Ground Pepper

1.  Carefully slice the kabocha squash in half and then carve slices off, about 1/2 inch thick. This is a squash whose skin you can eat and it is delicious! Toss in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, some sea salt, and ground pepper to taste.

2.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (this will make clean up so easy!).  Lay the moon shaped slices on the sheet and roast in the oven at 400 degrees.  Check after 15 minutes and see how the squash is doing.  It will get soft and the edges may begin to brown a bit.  It will take 20 or more minutes to roast completely.

Here are the potatoes baking!  Wash the potatoes, poke with a fork or blade of a knife.  If you are watching your fat intake and salt content then just put these bad boys into the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour.  If you are less worried about fat or salt in your diet at this point then rub the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Yep, this is the way to go if you can afford the extra calories and a bit of salt.

Potatoes get a bad rap in the carbohydrate world.  Yes, it's true, a yam may have more overall benefits, but a potato is a good food.  It really is.  It's a healthy choice depending on how you cook it and what you put on it. Did you know that the average American eats 29 pounds of french fries?  Let's keep it all in perspective, folks!

This is the "cashew cheddar cheese" spread we used on our bakers.  We also had some Tofutti sour cream, chopped olives, and soy baco bits.

The "cashew cheddar cheese" recipe is from a new cookbook called "The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen" by Talya Lutzker.  I am going to post the recipe but I really want you to go buy this book and support my friend Talya!  Talya is a yoga and foodie friend who lives here in Santa Cruz.  You can order her book at Amazon.  Here's the link:

Cashew Cheddar Cheese
Recipe by Talya Lutzker
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup water
1 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon raw tahini
2 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne or ground pepper

1.  Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the work bowl or blender jar.  

2.  Serve as a dip, spread, or topping.

Note:  If you are sensitive to bell pepper or vegetables in the nightshade family, substitute 1/2 small jicama for the red bell pepper.

I reduced the amount of cumin in our "cheese", as well.  1/2 teaspoon seems to suit us better.  This is the kind of recipe you can play with to better suit your tastes and needs.

We cut the baked potato open and dump a bunch of dollops of this cashew yumminess on top.  We've also used this cashew cheddar cheese as topping on enchiladas, vegetables, and plain quinoa.  It's really amazing.  I am so happy Talya made this delicious spread and shared it with the world in her cookbook.

Our friends, Deb and Bryce, served us broccoli we could not stop eating!  We have learned their secret and have been cooking our broccoli like this all fall and winter.  

Sauteed and Steamed Broccoli

A big bunch of broccoli, washed, heads cut off stems
1 - 2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons water
small amount of sea salt
small amount of ground pepper

1.  Wash the broccoli and then cut the heads off the stems.  (you can save the stems to juice or add to smoothies)

2.  Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons of high heat oil.

3.  Add the broccoli and cover.  Cook for 2 minutes on medium high heat.

4.  Lift the cover and add the 2 tablespoons of water with the salt and pepper mixed in.  Pour over the broccoli and cover tightly.  Cook for 2 minutes.  This will stem the seared broccoli.

5.  Eat it all up.  Yum.  Yum.

Here's our dinner plate.  A big baked potato covered with the cashew cheddar cheese (it's under the olives and soy baco bits), a big pile of broccoli, and a big pile of roasted kabocha squash.  Where are the phytonutrients?  The orange squash, the green cruciferous broccoli, the potato and skin, the red bell pepper in the sauce, and the cashews in the sauce.  


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

It's been an abnormally warm and weird winter in Santa Cruz thus far.  Although the sun has been fabulous and my garden is growing I miss rainy weekends where I feel like I have "permission" to stay inside and do some kitchen hibernating!

Saturday morning when I awoke it was cold.  Finally.  I decided that after I taught my morning class and ran errands, that part of my afternoon, even if the sun did come out, would be making a wintery warm filling soup. (and I'm glad I did because it rained today, Sunday!!!) If you follow my blog you know that I make a lot of soup and we almost always have a big pot of it in the fridge.  So, here's another one.

Split Pea Soup
with vegetables

3 cups split peas, rinsed and picked through  
3 quarts of stock or a combo of stock and water (add more if the soup becomes too thick)
1 - 2 tablespoons of oil
1 large onion, diced
4 large carrots, chopped
4 celery ribs, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 rutabaga (or parsnip, potato, etc), diced
2 - 4 cups of spinach, washed and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp tarragon
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat oil on low.  Add onions and saute' on low for about 3 minutes.

2.  Add chopped carrots and celery and saute' for another 3 or 4 minutes.

Did you know that your dogs love to be in the kitchen with you while you are cooking and they are happy to eat the ends of the carrots and then go back to sleep until the next tasty treat falls to the floor?

3.  Add minced garlic and saute' for another bit.  Basically, just watch your pot as you are chopping the next item and let everything saute' into a nice glistening mess.

4.  Add stock and water, split peas, rutabaga or other root vegetable, bay leaves and other spices.  Bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour or until everything is tender and mushy.

5.  Add more salt and pepper if warranted (that means if you want to!) Remove bay leaves.

6.  Take about a cup of the soup out of the pot and blend it (please be very careful to cover the top of your blender with a towel so that no HOT soup comes spurting out at you in a very dangerous way).  Add the blended soup back into the pot to make a creamier split pea.

7.  Add the spinach or other greens at this point and simmer for about 5 - 6 more minutes.  I forgot to do this but will add the spinach in today.  Never too late for more greens in your diet.

Now eat tons of it with toasted crusty bread or a big green salad! Or just by its lonesome in a big bowl by the fire (or here in Santa Cruz, on the beach)

And to prove to you that we do more than simply garden, cook, and eat (although those are all amazing things to do with one's time!), here's a photo of my husband's weekend project.  He took the chainsaw out to a big piece of redwood and made us a bear!

How cute is that??????

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hippocrates Soup

Hippocrates Soup

A few years ago I was introduced to a documentary about the Gerson Institute and the work of Dr. Gerson and his daughter to cure cancer and other diseases with a diet of fresh juice and raw and cooked plant foods. 

From the Gerson web site:
A patient on the Gerson Therapy receives the nutritional equivalent of fifteen pounds of fresh, raw produce in his daily consumption of 104 ounces of juice. The cooked food is intended for ease of digestion, to provide bulk and carbohydrates, to supplement mineral intake, and to serve as a buffer for the juices.

 It has intrigued me greatly and I have thought long and hard about how food is our most important "medicine" and tried to implement that concept into our daily eating lives here at home. We try to juice everyday, drink a green smoothie, eat a big salad, and lots and lots of cruciferous and green vegetables. We also eat nuts, seeds, beans, fruit, and grains daily.


“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

― Hippocrates

I know that the Gerson Institute serves a soup called 
"Hippocrates" soup. I believe it is served both at lunch and 
dinner. I have never studied at the Gerson Institute, although 
it is something I would very much like to do.  I felt very lucky 
when I ran across a recipe on Juicing For Health  http://juicing-for- for "Hippocrates Soup".  I am not sure this is exactly 
what the Gerson Institute serves but after making this 
amazing delicious soup I am a convert!

This soup is made with no oil and filled with vegetables.  It is

smooth, sublime, and has the "rich" taste of a cream of

 potato/tomato/and more soup. When my husband first tasted 

it he said, "This tastes like green looks." By the way, that was

 a huge compliment... like a beautiful field of green.

On busy morning I have been drinking a mug of Hippocrates

 soup on my way to work.  It's a great filling start to a busy

 day.  We have had big bowls with toasted Ezekiel bread for

 dinner, bowls and green salads for lunch... we are just eating

 bowls of this stuff.  Try it.  I don't think it will disappoint.

Hippocrates Soup
Use a large pot, dutch oven, or slow cooker

1 Celery Root (if you can't find the root, you can use celery stalks, instead)
Handful Parsley
2 Onions
1 large or 2 small leeks
2 - 4 Cloves Garlic
1 pound Potatoes
1 1/2 pounds Tomatoes
Pinch of sea salt

Wash the vegetables, scrubbing the skin of celery root and 

Chop the celery root, onions, leeks,garlic, parsley and stems, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Put everything into a slow cooker or a dutch oven.  Add water 
just to cover the vegetables.

If using a slow cooker turn on low and cook until the 
vegetables are very tender. I let it sit all night.

If using a dutch oven, bring to a light boil and then simmer on
 very low for about 2 hours.

Once cooked, puree the vegetables in a blender.  Remember
 to wait until the vegetables have cooled a bit before using
 the blender.

No way, tomatoes at the Farmer's Market in January!?  Yes! Using fresh tomatoes in this recipe is a bonus.  However, there are gallon bags of frozen tomatoes from my garden ready for when winter truly hits California.

What is this?  This is a celery root.  I cut off some of the bottom, cut the top off for juicing, and then washed and scrubbed the skin of the root.  I chopped it up for the soup, skin and all.

Here is the celery root, leek, onion, parsley, and garlic layered into my dutch oven.

And now the tomatoes and potato on top.  Just add water to cover, a pinch of salt, and cook on low heat for 2 - 3 hours.  Then puree once the soup is no longer boiling hot.  Unbelievably delicious!  Yum.

Bonus photos below!

My favorite very close to home walk with the dogs or Saturday morning run is "Top Of The World".  When I get there I look out over Delaveaga, the bay, and over to Monterey on a clear day.  I feel lucky every single time.

Here is the fabric I am using for the new quilt which will reside in my bedroom!  All 25 squares are now made.  The fun part is deciding how I will put those squares together to make a beautiful quilt top.  I'll post when it is finished.  

Be well!