Thad’s Favorite Seasonal Sweet Treat

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The other morning as I was pulling out breakfast ingredients, Thaddeus informed me that the time had come for sweet pecans. These tasty spiced treats have been a regular part of our wintertime nomming the past few years and apparently, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I needed to hop on it!  Bossy indeed, but it’s hard not to love a man with such a sweet tooth. ;)

Spiced pecans are a delightful addition to oatmeal, granola, salads or even sprinkled on a bowl of creamy squash soup. They are so easy to make and the perfect tidbit of something sweet and satisfying when you need a little pick-me-up on a cold winter day.

Recipe:

4 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Oil

3/4 Cup of Organic Turbinado Sugar

1 Tsp of Cinnamon Powder

1/2 Tsp of Cardamon Powder

1/2 Tsp of Ginger Powder

1/2 Tsp of Nutmeg Powder

Melt oil in a large saucepan on the stovetop.

Turn off heat and then stir in pecans until they are all lightly coated.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar and spices, leaving just a touch of sugar out on the side.

Then add the oily pecans to the bowl and mix gently.

Spread out the pecans on a large cookie-sheet and dust with a light coating of the remaining sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

Allow to cool and then dig in!

Happy (almost) winter!

Love Frances

Autumnal Apple Bread Recipe

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Last night I returned from five long exhausting but inspiring days of hard wedding work up in Aspen. As I drove home last night, I went through massive rains and over two snowy passes. It’s the end of September and the sight of snow made me beyond excited. I also passed at least 25 vintage 1920’s era Rolls Royces, which was quite superb. A sight to be seen only in Aspen!

Today I’m having a lazy day, nesting and recovering from the lack of sleep, regular meals or asana practice. I slept in late, went to a gentle yoga class at 10am and then settled into a day of cooking and resting, slow walks and snuggling with my little pup Artemis.

I made a wild rice and mushroom dish, roasted sweet potatoes and a spicy and delicious apple quickbread. I am fully embracing the tastes, smells and feelings of fall. It’s crisp and breezy outside with clear blue skies. I am one happy girl.

I love fall foods. For me, apples (and squash!) truly epitomize the autumn harvest.

This recipe is wheat-free, vegan and uses coconut sugar instead of cane. The moistness comes from apple sauce as well as from the chunks of fresh apples themselves.

It’s sweet and cake-like, but not too sinful to be ruled out for breakfast in my book.

;) Enjoy!

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Squash and Greens Vegan Casserole

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To be perfectly honest, casseroles do not make a regular appearance in my culinary repertoire. I was not raised eating many casseroles per se, but my dear Pennsylvania-born husband was and he is always happy to welcome one onto our dining room table.

This casserole is a creation of mine, inspired by other random vegan recipes I’ve perused on the interwebs. It’s creamy and slightly cheesy tasting because of the cashews and nutritional yeast. It’s quite filling too – very satisfying and nutritious. The sweetness provided by the butternut squash is quite lovely. I’m already excited for fall and all the deliciousness of squash, pumpkin and root vegetables.

This recipe is certainly up to your interpretation, particularly concerning the specific vegetables in it. I chose three different textured green veggies, but next time I make it, I think I will add some mushrooms as well.

I made this yesterday when I had some free time so that all I had to do for lunch today was pop it in the oven – easy peazy!

Give it a whirl and see what you think.

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Almond + Brown Rice Crispy Treats

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These simple, healthy, no-bake treats are super tasty without being overly sweet or rich. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free and cane-sugar-free, so basically, totally guilt-free in my book!

I love how satisfying these crispy chewy little nuggets are and how quick and easy they are to make. I modified this recipe from one I found in a Macrobiotic cookbook. I added the millet, made it slightly sweeter, spicier and less macro, because, well, that’s what I do. ;)

Enjoy!

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Healthy Apple Almond Muffins

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I felt like baking this evening. I didn’t want to go to the grocery store so I decided to shop in my pantry instead and come up with something tasty.

These delicious muffins are wheat free, dairy free and naturally sweetened using apples and brown rice syrup. They are full of fiber, protein and healthy fats from the almond butter and coconut oil. I think these are going to be the perfect post-yoga treat in the morning.

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The Perfect Vegan, Gluten-free Cookie Recipe

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I love to bake. Mostly because I love to eat baked goods.

Baking without cane sugar, eggs, butter, milk and wheat is quite the adventure. It can often be a treacherous experience of bad texture and clumpy gooey messes.

But occasionally, after enough trial and error, something magnificent can arise.

This cookie, in my humble opinion, exemplifies that glorious experience of vegan and gluten-free baking victory! Soft, chewy, nutty, caramely sweet and satisfying.

I love coconut and chocolate, so that is the predominant flavor of this cookie, but I think that you could easily use this recipe as a template for other varieties, such as cranberry and pecan, macadamia nut and white chocolate, almonds and raisins, oatmeal, on and on.

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Kitchari: Healthy and Nourishing Cleansing

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Whenever I come home from traveling I like to do a gentle cleanse. I find that it helps me get back on track to my normal at-home diet. It’s also a great way to give my digestion a little break from all the hard work of eating food in a foreign country like India.

There are many different ways to cleanse so it’s important to find what’s right for your body, environment and the current season. I personally can’t do intense stripping cleansing like the Master Cleanse or multi-day juice fasts. I get terrible headaches, anxiety, chills and totally spaced out from these kind of cleanses. I’m not a health expert, but in general I do not recommend people try these long intensely restrictive fasts while maintaining their regular work/home life – this can be too stressful and that would be counterproductive! In certain controlled environments, under guidance and for a specific health condition, more restrictive cleanses can be incredibly healing, so I’m certainly not writing those off completely, I just don’t find they are the best choices for householders of good health.

So then how do I “cleanse”?

I eat simple cooked foods in moderate amounts, hydrate like crazy, take extra good care of myself and supplement with cleansing herbs and extra fiber. I sometimes use those 365 brand “Complete Body Cleanse” kits or take capsules of the Ayurvedic medicine, Triphala, as well as detoxifying herbal teas.

The method for cleansing I want to share with you today is a mono-diet. This means you eat only one type of food for each meal. The recipe I use for this cleanse is called kitchari. It is a staple of Ayurvedic diet and healing. It’s a wonderful meal for cleansing, but also for any time you are feeling a bit under the weather. It is nourishing and very soothing. Kitchari is served in India to people who are sick because it is so simple and easy to digest. The vegetables, legumes and rice provide a balanced meal of an easily assimilated protein while the spices are full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and digestion-boosting properties. Onions, garlic and ginger –the trinity of roots, as Yogi Bhajan called them – are stimulating to the digestive fires and beneficial to the immune system.

A kitchari cleanse can be done for one day or many. I’ve done this mono-diet for up to a week before and I felt amazing afterwards. For severe illnesses, people have done kitchari mono-diets for weeks on end with very positive results. I find that even one day of kitchari makes me feel very light and balanced. Kitchari is very good for cleansing the colon so it’s especially beneficial for people with trouble digesting and eliminating their food in a healthy manner.

Each time I make kitchari it’s a bit different depending on whether I use brown or white rice and what spices and vegetables I use. Kitchari doesn’t’ have to be boring – mix it up!

If you are totally turned off by the idea of eating the same bowl of food multiple times a day, here’s a great modification:

Eat kitchari for lunch, dinner and an afternoon snack. In the morning, eat a bowl of cooked gluten-free cereal such as a steel-cut oats or millet. I flavor and supplement my hot cereal with warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamon and nutmeg and sweeten it with cooked fruit like apples or pears and a dash of molasses, maple syrup or brown rice syrup.

 

Mung Beans and Rice Kitchari

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil

1 cup of mung beans

1 cup of basmati rice

9 cups water

4-6 cups chopped assorted vegetables (carrots, celery, kale, broccoli, sweet potato, zucchini, etc.)

2 onions, chopped

1/3 cup minced ginger root

8-10 cloves of minced garlic

1 heaping tsp. of turmeric

1 tsp. of black pepper

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. crushed chiles or cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. of coriander powder

1/2 tsp. of cumin powder

1/2 tsp. of mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. of cardamon powder

2 bay leaves

sea salt to taste

 

Directions:

Soak beans and rice for at least 2 hours and then rinse. Add water to beans and rice and boil over a medium flame. Add vegetables to cooking beans and rice. In a large frying pan, heat ghee/oil. Add onions, garlic an ginger to hot oil and saute. Add spices. When done, combine onions with cooking mung beans and rice and continue to cook until well-done, stirring often. The consistency should be rich and thick. Add salt to taste when finished cooking.

 

How to make the most of your cleanse:

Get some extra Zzzzzs – Switch off and get a little more rest. Be lazy – your body and mind will benefit from the extra sleep.

Sweat and soak – End your day by soaking in an Epsom salt and essential oil bath. If you have the opportunity to go to a sauna, steam bath or hot spring, go soak your bones and sweat yourself clean.

Move your body and breathe deeply – Cleansing is not the time to bust out Third Series or run a half-marathon. Take it a bit easy in your exercise routine but still get some good movement. Perhaps a gentle yoga session, a good walk, some tai chi – something to move your blood and lymph and keep the joints lubricated will make you feel better as you’re cleansing and processing.

Start your day right by tongue-scraping to clear off the amma that collected overnight, detox your skin by dry-brushing before you shower and be sure to drink a big glass of warm water to encourage elimination before eating.

I like to take a cold shower in the morning to dilate the blood vessels, flush my body of toxins and wake up. After yoga practice I normally take a hot shower to soap/shampoo etc. and then I rub my skin with a vata-pacifying oil like sweet almond or sesame.

Drink herbal tea – Make a large pot of Yogi Tea which is a blend of boiled cinnamon, ginger root, cardamon pods, black peppercorns, turmeric and cloves. I drink this tea multiple times a day with a splash of unsweetened almond milk. It’s very detoxing and beneficial for the digestion. It’s also warming so I find it to be very comforting when I am cleansing. I’m also a huge fan of tulsi tea. Tulsi (holy basil) is warming as well, so it’s a great choice for the cooler months. It is incredibly healing and great for building a strong immune system.

Stick clear of all intoxicants/stimulants – This means no coffee, booze, or drugs (except for necessary rx, if you take any), no caffeine or sugar. Give your body a break from these substances that are so hard on your liver and adrenals.

Break your fast intelligently – Don’t go out and order a big pizza and ice cream! Stick with a low-inflamation and healthy diet.  Slowly introduce more diverse foods. Use your cleanse as a way to bring healthier, plant-based foods into your routine.

 

Hope you find these suggestions helpful.

Blessings,

Frances

Recipe – Almond Love Cake.

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I’m calling this “almond love cake” because that sounds more enticing than “vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free almond cake”, right? And what’s not love about this cake?

It’s simple to make. No complicated ingredients or procedures. It’s moist and squishy and tastes like marzipan and caramel. It’s healthy and versatile in terms of topping, and it’s cake. I love cake.

And….I made it for my old man, who I love ever so much, making the “love” a necessary ingredient in the recipe.

Thaddeus is having a birthday next week. His parents are coming down to celebrate it with us and see our new home in Denver. They have not been with him for his birthday for many years.

His mother wants to make him a chocolate cake, and I think mother trumps wife for this one, so I’m going to step away from the oven on the actual birthday and let her preside. But, I hate missing an opportunity to bake, so I’m feting him a week early with this little vegan number

 Almond Love Cake

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (I used an almond/coconut blend since that’s what I had around)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
1 cup of gluten-free baking mix (I use Bella’s brand)
1/2 cup almond meal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup organic coconut sugar
1/3 cup almond oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp almond extract

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread a thin layer of oil on your cake pan (spring-form pan works best). Whisk the vinegar into the almond milk and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the gf baking mix, almond meal, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut sugar, oil, almond and vanilla extracts and almond milk mixture – whisk thoroughly . Make a well in your dry ingredients bowl into which you pour the wet mixture. Stir lightly to combine until only a few clumps remain. Pour into the prepared cake pan and cook for approx. 30 minutes.  Let sit for about 5 minutes before removing from pan and cooling on a wire rack. 

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The final touches:

This cake would be sweet and simple with just a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Or you could do a full glaze or vegan icing and that would be scrumptious. I decided to whip up some vegan whipped cream and top each slice with almond slivers and rasberries too!

My absolute favorite vegan whipped cream recipe:

1 can of coconut milk, dash of vanilla extract, sprinkle of cinnamon powder and spoonful of maple syrup (or raw honey for you less-strict vegans out there, myself included!)

Pop the can of coconut milk in the freezer for a few good solid hours. Then, scoop the separated fat off the top, plop in a bowl and get your electric mixer or patient muscles out and whip it like crazy!

Give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

Blessings and Love!

Have a great weekend.

Frances

 

Healthy Hearty Pumpkin Bread.

Greetings from beautiful Boulder!

Thaddeus and I are loving life in Colorado so far. We even made an offer on a house yesterday in Capitol Hill in Denver. Very exciting stuff. I’m kind of feeling like an adult right now, minus the lack of a real job and the fact that I wear more colors in one outfit than the average 3 year old girl. Oh well, baby steps!

My brother’s shop, Cured, has these fantastic big pumpkins in right now. He brought one home the other night that I cooked up into a curried soup. Today the leftover puree was staring me in the face so I decided to make a little something sweet with it.

This recipe is pretty healthy as far as desert/quick breads go. I used a sprouted gluten-free flour, raw turbinado sugar and maple syrup to sweeten and obviously, no dairy or eggs. I had to toss some vegan chocolate chips in because, well, they’re tasty and I knew my brother and Thad would be particularly keen on that move.

The crisp cool air of early November seems like the perfect time for a little indulgence, especially with the seasonally appropriate and vitamin-rich addition of local pumpkin!

 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ c sprouted buckwheat flour (I use Living Intentions Super Flour which has chia, sprouted almonds in it, but any sprouted or gluten-free flour would be perfect.)
  • ½ c raw turbinado sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground vanilla beans (or vanilla extract)
  • 1 c pumpkin purée
  • ½ c oil  (I used part coconut oil, part avocado oil because that’s what I had available)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1½ cups of vegan dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly oil a loaf pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, syrup, and coconut milk.
  5. Add wet mixture to dry; combine until just moistened. The batter will be very thick; don’t worry!
  6. Add in chocolate chips.  Or nuts/raisins if you are crazy like that :)
  7. Pour into prepared pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes or until top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool 20 minutes; use a butter knife to gently loosen bread from sides of pan, then invert onto a cooling rack.

Note – The sprouted flour gives the bread a grainier and heartier texture and flavor. If you want something a bit fluffier and more delicate, I would suggest using a light gluten-free all-purpose blend or a white pasty flour if you want to go all out.

Enjoy heartily with some spicy chai or mulled cider. Yum!

Happy November dear readers. Thank you for your continued support. Please remember to LIKE my Facebook page and follow me on Pinterest!

 

Love and Light,

Frances

What To Do with Leftover Rice.

Waste not, want not.

I definitely adhere to this old adage, especially when it comes to food.

I hate throwing away leftovers!

But, (other than my beloved avocado on toast) I don’t really like eating the same thing two days in a row.
So, I like to give my leftovers a bit of a makeover.

One of my favorite ways to spruce up extra rice is to make it into a sweet and spicy breakfast porridge.

I think this is most delicious with brown rice because of the nutty texture, but white rice is tasty too.

This is so simple and I make it a bit different every time, so what follows is more of a suggestion than a recipe per se.

 

Guidelines:

Dose your leftover rice in the pot with lots of almond or coconut milk.

Add a little dollop of coconut oil.

Turn on the heat, stir to break up clumps and then start adding spices like cardamon, cinnamon and nutmeg and saffron.

A bit of vanilla or almond extract is a nice touch too.

Chop up a few slivers of crystallized ginger for an extra kick.

Add a handful of cashews and golden raisins (my favorite additions, but almonds, dark raisins or currants would be a good alternative).

Sweeten with coconut nectar, turbinado sugar or honey.

Stir everything together and give it the chance to soak up the liquids.

You only need to cook this for a few minutes.

Voila! An easy and delicious treat.

 

What is your favorite way to spruce up leftovers?

 

This is our last week in Charlottesville so postings might be a bit sporadic. We’ve already packed up so many boxes and taken down all the art from the walls. I’m feeling a bit wonky in the midst of all this chaos, but it’s good and exciting and as my favorite Beatle wrote, “All things must pass”…

 
Love and Blessings,

Frances

 

Sprouted Sesame Super Green Tahini.

 

It is a dark, dreary and blustery day here in Charlottesville, perfect conditions for making a mess in the kitchen. Accordingly, please excuse the poor lighting in the photos!

This is a very adaptable recipe that I’ve been making in various manifestations ever since I first experimented with raw food while living at the Haidakhandi Universal Ashram in Colorado.  The original recipe was simply sesame, olive oil, lemon, hing and salt. But I seem to have trouble keeping things simple. When it comes to food, I want serious bang for my buck!

So, the tahini recipe that follows is definitely a souped-up, extra nutritionally-dense version of the ashram staple. I made 2 big jars full of it so that I easily reach for something healthy and green in my fridge every day for the next week. This will help me stay on track as I cleanse and fortify my health in preparation for the big day.

I plan to dump it on my salads, slather it on raw flaxseed crackers and dip celery sticks and jicama slices into it.

This recipe is merely a guideline. Use what you have available in your home/garden. Make it your own and then share with me your new and improved recipes!

Recipe and More:

The first step is to soak your raw, white sesame seeds. I did this for over a day and night so that they sprouted a wee bit.

Sesame seeds are so tasty and healthy. They are loaded with protein, fiber, healthy fat, calcium and zinc (a mineral that many of us do not get enough of). They are also tiny, very cute and have an interesting cultural history.

Once your sesame seeds are ready to go, rinse them and toss in a Vitamix blender or food processor.

Add 1 cup of water (or more for a thinner consistency).

Blend!

Add VEGGIES:

- 2 celery sticks

- 5 to 10 kale leaves (I used dino)

- 2 or 3 small green onions

- 2 or 3 small peppers (or 1 regular size bell pepper, red or green)   

- handful of parsley

- 10 or 15 dandelion greens (the bitterness is so good for your liver and digestion)

Blend well.

Add a little flavor:

- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

- juice from 1 large lemon

- 1 teaspoon of Himalayan Pink or Celtic sea salt

- Pinch of herb salt

- Hefty dose of cayenne pepper (good for stimulating agni and keeping warm as I eat mostly raw food  during this time of changing weather.)

- 1 tablespoon of kelp granules

- 1 tablespoon of spirulina or other super-green powder to get some extra alkaline goodness.

- 1 tablespoon of sundried tomato paste (adds a nice rich flavor).

Blend well and enjoy!

 

<3

Blessings,

Frances

 

PS – A sneak peek of the theme for our wedding flowers. This arrangement is made up of leftovers from the “mock up” we did the other day. A bit droopy by now, but still so pretty and romantic.