Greetings from the mountains and the woodlands. I must convey my deepest sympathies to those who were affected by the fires in Tennessee last week. So close to home, it was scary. I can’t even imagine what my dear neighbors went though. Thankfully, we’ve had a lot of rain … it just wasn’t in time.
Well, Thanksgiving came and went and now most of us are gearing up for the next holiday deluge of rich and sumptuous foods that perhaps we don’t normally eat. I did pretty well at Thanksgiving in that regard, but it was just TOO MUCH overall consumption, as is usually the case during the holidays. Top that off with some recent dental work… anesthesia and I really don’t get along. I mean, I never even take an aspirin so any drug will just knock me out. So I faithfully took handfuls of activated charcoal… if you’ve never heard of this, getcha some! It’s good for food poisoning and will take out any other impurities in your system. Still though, I was weary. THIS SOUP to the rescue. And rescue it did.
This dish is healing, nourishing, grounding, balancing and downright delicious. My body LOVED it. I wanted to go back and finish the pot but, well, that’s not the idea here is it? Less is more always when it comes to food. So I behaved myself. 😉
Okay, maybe you don’t have all these ingredients to hand. Some of them are pretty obscure—things you won’t find in an “ordinary” cupboard. But I always have them around. Maybe you’ll want to as well!
About those ingredients… chaga mushroom. Yes. Medicinal and healing on many levels. In case you missed it, check out my post and video here which tells you all about chaga and how to brew your own mushroom “tea.” By the way I found a GREAT source for ground chaga online here.
Hatcho Miso. Another wonder to keep on hand. What’s so special about this particular miso? Lots. Hatcho (or Hacho) is a very concentrated source of nutrition. It contains eighty percent more protein and twenty to twenty-five percent less salt than other misos. I love the less sodium aspect of it. The flavor is also very unique. You have to taste it to see what I mean. It lasts forever in the fridge, too, so I’m never without it.
You may think daikon radish is uncommon, but I find it in my regular grocery store all the time. And for sure it’s easy to come by in any health food store that carries fresh produce.
I also added some dried sea vegetable that I always have on hand for my regular miso soup, called wakame. Easy to find in any Asian grocery store or online here.
So besides the chaga mushroom base and the Hatcho miso, the rest of the ingredients are pretty straightforward and readily available. Oh, oops. I did also add some tekka, which is a concentrated form of flavoring common in Japanese/macrobiotic cooking. But you could certainly leave this out without altering the result of this fabulous blend of flavors.
I hope you will try this magical, healing soup. It’s wonderful for these cooler winter months and for when you’ve eaten too much, or the wrong foods, or when you just feel “off.” It will balance the body’s pH and bring things back to stasis. Enjoy!
Winter Woodland Wellness Soup
A healthful, grounding bowl of bliss!
- 1 pound sliced mushrooms (I used crimini-aka baby portabella)
- 3 tightly-packed cups chopped kale
- 1 cup sliced daikon radish
- 1 medium shallot, chopped
- 1 TBS Hatcho miso
- 1 TBS mellow white (also called sweet) miso
- 1 tsp dried wakame sea vegetable
- 1 tsp Spike salt-free seasoning
- 1 tsp Bragg Organic Sprinkle (or other dried spices of your choice)
- 1 tsp tekka (optional)
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup chaga mushroom "tea"
- sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- Combine the mushrooms, kale, daikon, shallot, spices and wakame in a pot with 1 cup of chaga tea and three cups of water.
- Simmer on low until the kale is tender (about 10-15 minutes).
- Make a slurry out of the two misos. I used a small blender to do this. Just add enough water to be able to blend and get rid of any lumps. Set aside.
- When the kale is soft, remove the soup from heat. Add one cup of COLD water to the soup. Stir and add the miso slurry. (see notes)
- Serve topped with sesame seeds if desired.
Make sure you never "cook" your miso. It contains very healthful, LIVE probiotics that will die if cooked to over 118° F.
Oo la la! This is the best damn French dressing I’ve ever tasted! It’s creamy, tangy, slightly sweet and has NO OIL! I say, YES. But wait… why is French dressing called “French” anyway? It didn’t originate in France at all.
Some time ago, any dressing that was akin to a vinaigrette was broadly called French, but the creamy, orangey dressing we call French is certainly NOT a vinaigrette. As far as I could find out, doing a little research, it’s just a name that an American food manufacturing company came up with for their concoction of a tomato-based dressing that contained vinegar. Yep, it was the Kraft Cheese Company that created its very first pourable dressing, which they called “French.” I would have loved to have been at the meeting when they decided on the name. Perhaps we will never know the thinking process. But leave it to Americans to add ketchup to something and say it’s new and improved! 🙂 … and then call it French! My apologies to any French culinary connoisseurs out there. You must cringe at this one.
So, yes, I did use ketchup in this recipe, only because I was out of tomato paste. But it worked wonderfully and I’m keeping it this way. It will remain on my salad dressing menu rotation as a staple. It’s very easy to put together and I think you will love it, too!
A deliciously tangy version of a classic American dressing called French!
- 1 cup chopped, cooked carrots
- ¼ cup ketchup (see notes)
- 1 TBS paprika
- 1 TBS cashew butter (or almond butter)
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce (I found a good, organic brand called "The Wizard's")
- 1 tsp tamari or other low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 cup water
- Combine all ingredients in a high powdered blender and blend until smooth.
Make sure to use a good quality ketchup-- organic if possible and without high fructose corn syrup!
This is truly plant-based heaven in a bowl! If you’re a tomato soup fan, you will love this kicked-up version with the smoky flavor of roasted red peppers and the nutritional power of kale.
FALL. It’s finally here. The weather gods have been on drugs this year! I’m so happy to finally have some cool, crisp air… now all we need (desperately) is some RAIN. Please?
Are you as happy as I am that this crazy election is OVER? I’ve really never seen anything like it and also have never seen so much division of our country with regard to candidate support. It was intense. Still is, I guess, based on my Facebook visits. I wish we could all just come together and, instead of perpetuating all the hate, name calling and dissension, actually foster an attitude of unity and love. It is still our country after all. And we have more in common than in contrast. It’s time to get back to life and living without all the negativity. It’s not healthy. For anyone. That’s all I’m saying on the subject.
On another, MUCH happier note, Mountain Man and I finally did it! We are officially Mr. & Mrs. Yay! We had a very small and intimate ceremony atop a glorious mountain at our favorite spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway at sunrise. Yes, it was magical, delicious and ethereal. I hired a pro photographer and I guess it takes 4-6 weeks to get all the pictures back. Can’t wait. In the meantime, here are just a couple of photos…
Creamy Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Kale Soup
A delicious and nutritious tomato soup... a.k.a. a bowl of comfort!
- 20 oz. strained tomatoes (I used Pomi brand, my favorite)
- 2 cups tightly-packed, chopped kale
- 1 cup roasted red pepper (about 2 peppers)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup unsweetened, plant-based milk of your choice (I used soy)
- 3 TBS nutritional yeast
- 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp tamari or other low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ cup sherry or white wine (optional)
- Combine all ingredients (except the sherry, if using) in a large pot and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.
- Add the sherry/wine and simmer another 10 minutes to cook off the alcohol.
- Serve! So easy.
Think you need a ton of oil to cook hash browns? Heck no. You don’t need ANY! Not with these cute little haystacks you don’t. I’ve been wanting to make these for months! Easy to make and so much fun to eat. They will definitely be on my regular meal rotation plan for breakfast now. Especially as the cool weather continues to grace us with its invigorating freshness… I don’t know about you but I just love turning my oven on in the fall and winter. Any excuse to bake something!
These guys are filled with yummy, crispy crunch in every bite. Go ahead. Bake some spuds.
Hash Brown Haystacks ~ Vegan & Oil-free
Yummy, crispy potato stacks for a special brunch or breakfast!
- 1 large potato, shredded (about 1.5 cups) - I used a russet potato
- 1 TBS arrowroot powder (you can sub with tapioca starch or potato starch)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- SEE NOTES
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Shred the potato using a hand-held grater or use a food processor.
- RINSE well and squeeze as much water from the shreds as possible. This is a very important step unless you want soggy stacks!
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
- Portion onto a parchment lined baking sheet into 6 equal sized stacks. Build them a little tall and DON'T press them down. You want air to be able to circulate through to cook them properly. Just shape them lightly into stacks.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
I don't use salt. If you do, you can simply add about ¼ tsp to the mix before you shape your stacks. Enjoy!
Hello, hello dearest readers. Yes, I am finally back. It’s been a whirlwind of a month. In a good way! My son is now married to his beautiful girl, company is finally gone—it was great having so much family and extended family to cook for—and now my life can return to semi-normal (because it is never really normal by most people’s standards).
I’ll be posting more often now, probably about once per week. Still not as often as previously only because I’ll be working more on my art and my writing. Gotta have balance after all 🙂 We don’t have the official (pro) photos back from the wedding yet, but here is one of my favorites that a friend took of my son, his new bride and my dear friend, Mandy, who performed their ceremony. It was truly a wonderful event!
So… it is FINALLY FALL. Yes. 46 degrees on our mountain this morning. Yay!!! And, of course, you know what that means… the oven is ON. Therefore, I thought I would start off posting again with an ultra yummy muffin that I’ve been dying to make. These apple-spice gems and a perfect way to ring in the cooler temps and stunning fall colors! They’re soft and light in texture and not too sweet. And they will make your house smell wonderful as they bake. I used my trusty light buckwheat flour for this recipe, which is so perfect for gluten-free baking. Of course, you can use regular buckwheat flour, too. I just like the lighter color for certain recipes. P.S. If you order from this company, use the promo code HD101 for a 10% discount.
Healthy trails, Happy Fall and Fun Baking!
Apple Spice Muffins ~ Gluten-free, Oil-free and Vegan!
Warming, cozy muffins for a cool, fall day!
- 1½ cup buckwheat flour (I used light buckwheat)
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup minimally processed granulated sweetener (I used coconut sugar)
- 1 TBS tapioca starch
- 2¼ cups chopped apples (reserve ¼ cup for topping)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground clove
- pinch sea salt (optional)
- 1 cup unsweetened, plant-based milk (I used soy)
- ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Prepare a muffin tin using paper liners or a very light coat of oil.
- Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl, reserving ¼ cup of chopped apples.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until well mixed.
- Portion batter into muffin cups, filling each cup almost to the top.
- Spread a few apple bits on top of each muffin and push them down slightly into the batter.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Hi all! I’ve been experimenting just a little bit more with aquafaba lately and you know what? It seems there is nothing this ingredient cannot do! Like make an omelet really fluffy. What is aquafaba? Here is the ultimate site that talks all about it: AQUAFABA
You can put anything you like in your omelet, of course. I just sautéed up some veggies and used a bit of vegan cheese. Yum! One thing to know about this recipe is that the consistency is not very similar to an egg omelet. This one is drier and more caky. No worries though. it’s still super good and worth making. But just wait… I have something in the wings that will blow your omelet-loving mind! 🙂
Side note: yep, I’ve been very neglectful of my blog these days… there is just so much going on in other areas of my life at the moment. One such event is my son is getting married in a few weeks! My only child and I am so happy for him. My Mom (a.k.a. Nonna) is here visiting us for the month with more company on the way. I’ve been helping the soon-to-be-newlyweds plan things and will be doing the food—of course! So I haven’t forgotten about you. Just otherwise engaged (no pun intended).
Has it started to cool off in your neck of the woods yet? We are finally starting to feel like fall here. Yay for fall baking coming soon, soon, soon!
Fluffy Vegan Omelete with Aquafaba!
A yummy, fluffy, vegan breakfast treat!
- 3/4 cup chickpea flour (also called besan)
- 2 TBS nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp minimally processed sweetener (I used coconut sugar)
- ½ tsp kala namak (see notes)
- 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
- 3/4 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
- ½ cup aquafaba + ½ tsp cream of tartar
- Blend all ingredients, except the aquafaba and tartar until smooth.
- Pour into a medium-sized bowl.
- In another bowl (med-large) beat the aquafaba with the tartar until stiff peaks form.
- Fold this into the chickpea batter until well combined.
- Cook on the stovetop over medium heat, dropping 1 heaping cupful for each omelet. The batter will spread out on its own. Don't touch it until it starts to firm up around the edges. At this point, GENTLY push the edges in a little just to make them a little thicker. Then WAIT. The less you mess with it the better. It will firm up and become light golden brown on the bottom. This is when the batter is almost completely dry, and when you carefully flip it and cook until the the other side is golden. If it starts to get too dark too soon, turn your heat down a notch.
- After you flip it, pile on your fillings (one side only) and fold the other half over the top of them. Done!
If you haven't yet tried kala namak for your vegan egg dishes, you're in for a treat! It imparts that sulphur, eggy taste that is unmistakable. A little goes a LONG way so be careful. Here is a link to purchase it from my Amazon store if you so desire:
Woohoo! Nailed this one. Mountain Man and I often go to a local Indian restaurant beacuse they always have vegan options on their lunch buffet. And one of those options is a kale salad. But it’s massaged with OIL, of course, which is the usual way these salads are made because the oil does a great job of softening those tough, chewy, raw kale leaves.
Well, guess what? Tahini works just as well at softening the kale leaves and is so, so, so much healthier. Tahini is made from sesame seeds, which have the greatest amount of calcium of any food in the world, provide abundant amounts of naturally-occurring vitamin E and contain a unique antioxidant called sesamin. What’s so special about sesame seeds and their sesamin? There are so many health benefits that rather than list them all here, I invite you to check out this article: SESAME SEEDS
This is a fabulous dish to take to a potluck, or just to have on hand when you want something sumptuous and healthy to munch on. Make a double batch—it won’t last long!
Tahini-massaged Kale Salad
A great alternative to oil-soaked kale... this healthier version adds more flavor, too!
- 4 cups, tightly-packed chopped kale (center stem removed)
- ¼ cup tahini
- ½ cup orange juice (fresh-squeezed is best)
- ½ cup golden organic raisins
- juice of ½ lime
- 1-2 TBS liquid sweetener of your choice (I used maple syrup) -- see notes
- Add the tahini to your chopped kale in a LARGE bowl and massage with clean hands until completely distributed. It will wilt down a lot during this process.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.
- Refrigerate for several hours, overnight is best.
- Serve with some toasted sesame seeds or gomasio
It's up to you how much sweetener you want to add, or none at all since the o.j. is sweet. I prefer this salad on the sweet side so I used 2 TBS of maple syrup. Mountain Man said it might have been too sweet... WHAT? He has such a sweet tooth I was surprised. Anyway, it's up to you and your taste buds! 🙂
Oh, yum!!! Are you a fan of Thai food? This different take on Pad Thai is spicy, slightly sweet, creamy and loaded with fabulous Thai flavors. I used cabbage to make noodles instead of using traditional rice noodles and made the sauce from scratch. Thanks to my bff, Lynda, for the idea! She made it for a recent potluck and—you know me—I just had to make it for myself. Mountain Man calls it the “cruciferous version of Pad Thai.” Ha! We both found it to be wholesome, nourishing and very satisfying!
This Asian yumminess gets its full flavor from the peanut butter and the coconut milk. By the way, I found a REALLY good light coconut milk over at Trader Joe’s. It’s a new product of theirs and here’s the best part: it’s just coconut and water. No fillers, stabilizers or thickeners. Yes, please. Thank you. Be sure to use a good peanut butter without added salt, sugar and oil. I found a wonderful brand over at VitaCost here. Jeez, if I had a dime for every time I referred someone to T. Joe’s or VitaCost…. 🙂
Hope you enjoy this dish as much as we have!
Thai Peanut Cabbage Noodles
A wonderful alternative to Pad Thai, using cabbage noodles!
- 1 small head of white cabbage (about 2 pounds)
- 1 large carrot, shredded or finely julienned
- 2 green onion stalks, chopped
~ for the sauce
- 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 can light coconut milk (14 oz.)
- juice of ½ lime
- 1" knob fresh ginger, rough chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 pitted dates (or 2 TBS any minimally processed sweetener you prefer)
- 1 tsp light vinegar (I used coconut vinegar)
- ½ -1 tsp chili powder (depending on how hot you like it)
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp tamari or other low sodium soy sauce
~ for garnish
- chopped peanuts and sliced green onion
- Start by making your sauce. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a sauce pan and heat on LOW until warm, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken a bit as it heats. Don't boil it or it will become too thick.
- Remove the core of the cabbage and slice it into "noodles" about ½" thick. Rinse well after slicing. Transfer to a pot, add ¼ cup water, COVER and heat on medium-low, stirring often. You don't need to add too much water, as the cabbage will leak its own juices.
- While the cabbage is cooking, shred your carrots and cut your onions.
- When the cabbage is tender, drain off as much water as you can and add the carrots and onions. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, until the carrots wilt a bit.
- Add the sauce and toss to combine.
- Serve with chopped peanuts and some extra green onion slices.
Happy Peach Ice Cream Day! This version of peach ice cream is so delicious, so refreshing, and a total breeze to make. Perfect for these sweltering summer days. All you need to make this (or any quick homemade ice cream) is a food processor, frozen bananas and fruit or other tasty, whole-food ingredients of your choice. Who needs store-bought vegan ice cream?? Not me! I’ve had my share of supposedly “healthy” ice cream. Most supermarkets carry a pretty good selection these days of vegan ice cream made from soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk and even cashew milk ice cream is now on the freezer shelves. Health food stores of course have an even wider selection.
But guess what? There’s still a bunch of “suspicious” ingredients in them, not to mention oodles of sugar. These ingredients are mostly in the form of stabilizers and thickeners. One common culprit is carrageenan. What the heck is carrageenan? Check out this informative VIDEO by Dr. Greger. In it, he states that this substance is a potential, but not proven, health hazard which can create inflammation and digestive problems. I say, why gamble? especially when you can make your own lovely, whole-food frozen treats right in your own kitchen with so little effort!
Carrageenan is also found in many plant-based milks sold in retail stores. You can, however, find some without it. As always, I urge you to check your labels. Or make your own: here, here, here and here. 🙂
3-Ingredient Peach Nice Cream
A whole-food, totally yummy ice cream to cool you off and make you smile!
- 2 sliced, frozen bananas
- 2 cups sliced, frozen peaches (organic recommended!)
- 5-6 oz. coconut milk (see notes)
- Place the bananas and peaches into a food processor and pulse until well chopped.
- Add the milk, a little at a time, and process until the ingredients form a smooth, decadent ice cream texture.
- Top with a little date syrup if you like. But it's great without it, too.
- Serve immediately as soft-serve or freeze for a harder ice cream.
I found a coconut milk at my local Asian store that is truly wonderful. It has NO stabilizers or emulsifiers. It's just coconut and water. Here is a link to the coconut milk which I have added to my Amazon store for your convenience: AROY-D COCONUT MILK
They also sell a coconut CREAM but it is very rich.
I’ve been drinking chaga tea for about two months now and I’m just loving it. So I thought I’d share a little bit about this mystical, magical, medicinal mushroom… as well as a yummy-licious smoothie recipe!
I was able to find some good quality ground chaga for you online so I put it in my Amazon store here. UPDATE: Found another good source for chaga here.
As I mention in the video, there is still a need for clinical trials on chaga. But I did forget to mention one thing about this amazing shroom… it has an abundance of melanin, which is the pigment found in our skin and hair. Melanin also helps to shield the skin from harmful UV effects of the sun. Speaking of hair color, if I’m not hallucinating, I think that my hair is getting darker—grays be gone! I also find that the tea gives me a pleasant, consistent energy.
There is still a lot to learn about this mushroom and its health benefits and I’m excited for future research. I hope you’ll try it for yourself!
Chai Chaga Smoothie + how to brew your own chaga tea
A delicious smoothie with the wonders of chaga and the great taste of chai!
~ for the tea
- 1/3 cup ground chaga
- ½ gallon water
~ for the smoothie
- 2 frozen bananas
- ½ cup frozen mango chunks
- 4 pitted medjool dates
- 1 tsp maca powder (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground clove
- 1-2 cups chaga tea (depending on your blender, use as much as you need for a nice, thick smoothie)
- To make the tea, simply place the ground tea into a slow cooker with the water and cook on low for 8-12 hours.
- For the smoothie, add all ingredients to a blender and blend to combine until smooth.