Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Love Affair with Coconut

I love coconut. In fact, I might go so far as to say I'm obsessed with it.

Number one, it is SO FREAKING good for you! It's full of lauric acid, which is a medium-chain fatty acid with anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. It's a great immune booster. Its oil is perfect for stir frying because it has a smoke point (unlike olive oil, which is actually NOT good for cooking at high heats, because the oil goes rancid). The oil can also be used as a skin moisturizer and has been shown to have AMAZING results, and as a hair conditioner (I can attest to the fact it works AAAAAAAA-MAZINGLY for this!) It is great in smoothies, baked goods, stir fried dishes......basically, I use it in EVERYTHING.

So you can imagine how much I was in heaven today when I made this Raw Coconut "Tapioca," inspired by Elana. Ohhh yes, you heard me right. COCONUT...TAPIOCA....mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!

Here's the low-down:
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 15 oz can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tsp or so vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp or so honey
  1. Put cashews and coconut milk in blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla and honey to taste.
  3. Put chia seeds in a large mason jar, add coconut milk mixture, shake vigorously, and refrigerate.
In a couple of hours, you should have what is the equivalent of a dairy free, raw, coconutty, absolutely divine "tapioca" pudding! It really is amazing how much the consistency is like real tapioca....and the coconut milk and cashews make it SOOOOOOOO creamy and delicious......WOW. I LOVE THIS STUFF. And it's so easy to make!

I highly recommend it :-)

Have a lovely day....hope the weather for you is as GLORIOUS as it was here today!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Papaya, Papaya...

I made these recipes a while ago and hadn't gotten the chance to post them yet...but then I made one AGAIN today, and decided I must post it :-)

I found this recipe for Papaya Salsa at one of my favorite blogs, Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. The first time I made it, I added pineapple, and it was lovely - a huuuuuuuge hit with my roommates! This time, mangoes were on sale, so that's what I added! This is also SO good!

(I changed the original recipe a bit here and there :-)
  • 3 cups diced fresh papaya (about half of a large papaya)
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup or so diced fresh mango
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 to 2 limes, juiced
  • dash extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Add all ingredients together, stir, and allow to sit for a few minutes for flavors to incorporate. I think I'll make a salsa chicken bake for dinner tonight.....mmmmmm!!!!

Since this recipe only took up half of the big honkin papaya I bought, I made a Stuffed Papaya Bake also.

I took the halved papaya, scooped out the seeds, filled it with ground buffalo cooked with onions, garlic, some tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes, threw in a bit of greens, and sprinkled mozzarella cheese on top. I put the papaya skin side down in a glass baking pan filled with water up to about 1/2 inch from the top of the papaya. I baked this at 350 until the papaya was tender, about 30 minutes. Adapted from

(You like how my laptop is in the background of the picture, don't you? Classy, I know.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Comfort Food :-)

I have been craving macaroni and cheese like CRAZY.

Luckily, that guy in my class gave us each huge blocks of cheese! And I had quinoa noodles! So I used the leftover cheese sauce from the chicken parm I made the other day, added some more almond milk, and made mac and cheese. YUMMM!!!

I also have the finished product of that banana cream yumminess I was dreaming of last post...

First, I made a pecan crust:

  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 5 dates
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
  1. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and pulse - should still be slightly chunky.
  2. Press into bottom of pan and bake at 350 for approx 8 mins.
Then, make the ginger cream from my last post - I also added cinnamon to it this time.

Take 2 bananas and slice them. Spread one layer of ginger cream over crust, then make one layer of banana slices. Add another layer of cream, another layer of bananas, then cream. I garnished with a few chinese cut banana slices (sliced at an angle, so they are long) in the shape of a flower and sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon.

Voila! Delish! Me likey :-)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Career as a Pastry Chef? Mayhaps...

So yesterday I got voted "Best Presentation" again for my dish... :-D The 2 women across the counter from me just stopped and watched me, and they were like "Wow..I'm just SO impressed with Karen today...I just see all this energy exploding from within her, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!" lol It was pretty exciting.

My dish was a Citrus and Green Tea Kanten with Ginger Cream. Our class was on sea vegetables, so all the dishes had seaweed in them. Kanten is basically just healthy jello. You make the gelatin out of agar agar, which I spent my whole undergrad plating bacteria on in labs......who woulda thunk I'd be cooking with it now! Haha so bizarre...

Anyway, I made the kanten and gelled it in small glass teacups with grapefruit supremes at the bottom. Once it hardened, I put the Ginger Cream into a pastry bag with a star tip, and did small dollops in the middle of each cup, and then placed orange peel shavings on top of the cream. I served all the cups on a white platter with an orange slice with a mint sprig in the middle, on the corner of the platter. :-) I didn't get a picture this time...but I think it's pretty self-explanatory.

This was DELICIOUS. The Ginger Cream was to DIE for. I ended up just eating it by itself! Then I went to the store to buy cashews and make it for myself...I'm thinking of something....perhaps a pecan/date crust, banana slices, cashew cream...we'll see what comes of that tomorrow evening when I have a bit of time to spend in the kitchen ;-)

Here is the recipe for this LOVELY kanten! Be sure to dissolve the agar agar completely, and use the exact amount it calls for - if you use too much agar to water, you will get a very hard, rubberlike the stuff you plate bacteria on ;-)

  • 1/4 cup agar agar flakes
  • 1 quart water
  • 3 large pink grapefruits (or some other fruit you think sounds lovely, but apparently pineapple doesn't work)
  • 3 Tbs loose leaf green tea
  • 1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice (from supremed grapefruit)
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey
  1. In saucepan, combine agar flakes and water - let stand for 15 mins. Supreme (slice the grapefruit w/o the membrane on the slices) grapefruit over bowl, reserving juice. Cut into chunks and set aside.
  2. Put saucepan on high heat - bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil for approx 1 min, then reduce heat to medium and stir until agar is completely dissolved.
  3. Turn off heat and stir in green tea. Cover and allow to steep for 5 mins.
  4. Strain mixture through fine mesh strainer into large measuring cup with pouring spout. Stir in maple syrup or honey, 1/2 cup reserved grapefruit juice, and orange juice.
  5. You can arrange grapefruit at bottom of glasses, but they all float to the top when you pour in the liquid
  6. Pour agar mixture into glasses and put in fridge to set.
Ginger Cream
  • 1.5 cups cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1.5 tsp ginger juice (to get this, you have to grate ginger on a microplane, place the pulp in a nut milk bag/fine mesh strainer, and squeeze the juice out. A pain, YES - worth it, ABSOLUTELY!)
  • 1 maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 Tbs water (ok, this was a bold-faced lie. I used at LEAST 1/4 cup I'd say...the freakin Vitamix would NOT blend and I was getting soooo frustrated...just put in water until it will whip into a cream-like consistency)
  1. Drain cashews and place in blender w/other ingredients and blend until smooth, adding water as needed.
  2. Spoon or pipe onto kanten with pastry bag.
  3. ENJOY!!!

Also, I had to share what I had for dinner tonight, b/c I was in HEAVENNN!!! It was SO easy to make, but SO good....I made a chicken parm with a cheese sauce, and it was sooo ridiculously flavorful...OH my gosh! A guy in my class apparently received this like 20 lb cheese wheel as a so he gave out huge wedges of it, and I needed to use it up, soooo this was born!

Basically, I took a chicken breast, stuck it in a pan with some homemade spaghetti sauce under and on top of it, sprinkled some grated cheese on top, stuck it in the oven at 375 for about 20 mins, and BOOM, that was done!

For the cheese sauce, I melted about 1 Tbs butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, added 1 Tbs buckwheat flour (yeahhhhh gluten free!), stirred that until it was incorporated, added, probably ended up being like 1 cup of almond milk....maybe a little less...I would add 1/2 cup and add more as needed. Anyway, I let that simmer and stir for a minute or 2, then added the cheese and stirred. I added a dash of garlic powder, some salt and pepper aaaaaaaand there you have an amaaaazing cheese sauce!

I served the chicken over spaghetti squash (WHICH, by the way, does NOT freeze and reconstitute well when case you were wondering *cough*) and drizzled the cheese sauce on top.


Enjoy :-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Shall Take This Opportunity to Brag :-D

Today in class, we learned about salads and sprouting.

My group made a Moroccan Quinoa Salad with Minty Yogurt Dressing.

Can we say YUM??

AND.........I'm so excited and proud........we finished this recipe in really good time, so I actually had time to THINK and not be insane, and plan out the presentation for it this time. And it definitely paid off! I think it came out really well, and everyone was SUPER impressed. Actually....not to brag TOO much....but it was voted "Coolest Plating Technique" AND the Kitchen Manager brought it out to the table and said, "I just want to show you guys this. This, I think has perfect presentation, because it has height and depth, it takes up a perfect amount of the plate, the contrast between the dots of dressing and the smoky paprika and the white plate are very pleasing to the eye......." etc. :-D :-D :-D

Here's a picture I snuck of it (sorry about the horrible quality, I just took it with my phone!)

I'm not gonna lie............I WAS SO PROUD!!! I've felt more or less like a retard in the kitchen so far, so that definitely made me feel a LOT better!! And OH my gosh, was it delicious too!!! I felt like a REAL.LIVE.CHEF.

I love it too, because I've always LOVED art, and I think I have an eye for it. Majoring in Biology, that wasn't incorporated so much, so art had kinda fallen by the wayside. Now though...I'm combining my passion for health and natural healing and cooking WITH art and it's just.........*sigh* SO WONDERFUL. :-)

Soooo...I figured I'd go ahead and give you guys the recipe too :-)

  • 1.5 cups quinoa, soaked overnight
  • 2 tbs raisins
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin (we added an extra 1/8th at the end too)
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 medium orange, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, or unsweetened dried cranberries, minced
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • 1 head lettuce to make "lettuce cups" (iceberg might have worked better than the romaine we had, but it has almost no nutritive value, and the darker green of the romaine looked nice)
  • (We also ended up adding about 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper at the end, to give it a little kick. It could have even taken a bit more, I think)
  1. Drain and rinse quinoa. Place in med saucepan with 2 1/4 cups water or stock, bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook, covered, for about 20 mins or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa tender, not mushy. (We cooked ours 12 mins, but we're also in CO so cooking time tends to be longer. You don't want to overcook it, b/c then it will be like quinoa mush instead of individual quinoa grains). Remove to sheet pan and fluff out grain to cool.
  2. Place raisins, coriander, cumin, lemon juice, orange juice, yogurt, red pepper flakes, salt, and mint in blender. Blend on high, scraping sides as needed. Add olive oil slowly to emulsify. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
  3. Place cooled quinoa into large bowl and fluff with fork. Add dried fruit and pistachios. Drizzle with enough dressing to coat and flavor.
  4. Place lettuce cups on large beautimous platter. We used an ice cream scoop to scoop out a serving and place it in the center of each lettuce leaf. We then garnished with a twirl of carrot shaving, dressing drizzled, and a sprinkling of smokey paprika. YUM! and BEAUTIOUS! :-D
Hope you all enjoy..........just had to share my exciting news :-D

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Flourless Walnut Brownies, Healthy Pudding, and Healthy Fudge!

I made these to gorge myself on after Easter Vigil - THEY ARE AMAZING AND I HAVE BEEN CRAVING THEM SOOOOOOOO MUCH!!! And they're healthyyy!!!!!

Chocolate Walnut Flourless Brownies

makes 24 brownies

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. unsalted butter (I used half butter and half coconut oil, but all coconut oil would work)
3 T. instant decaffeinated coffee (I omitted this)
1/4 t. kosher salt
2 c. black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 banana
1 T. vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs
1/3 c. light agave nectar (I used ¼ cup honey and about 5 drops stevia)
2 c. walnuts, chopped and divided

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan with parchment paper. Spray pan and paper with oil.

Melt chocolate and butter (or coconut oil). Stir in instant coffee and salt. Mix well. Set aside.

Make sure that your black beans have been well-rinsed and drained. Fit a food processor (or use VitaMix) with a steel blade, add beans, banana, vanilla extract and one egg. Process until completely smooth, about 2 – 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Add chocolate mixture and process again until smooth.

In a separate bowl, place remaining 3 eggs and beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy, 1 -2 minutes. Add agave and mix for another 1 -2 minutes, until light. Put bean mixture into bowl with eggs and mix on medium thoroughly incorporated. Mix in 1 c. of chopped walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Top with remaining walnuts.

Bake for 25 – 35 minutes until a toothpick clears the center. Let brownies cool before cutting them. Store in refrigerator.

Mocha Cream Cake (this makes awesome FUDGE if you leave out the eggs!!!) And you can use the frosting as pudding or to top the brownies)

-15 oz can black beans (rinsed and drained)

-3 eggs

-1/4 c butter (or coconut or grapeseed oil)

-1/2 cup of light agave nectar (or honey/stevia)

-6 tbs cocoa powder

-a couple pinches of salt

-1 Tbs vanilla extract

-1 Tbs of instant coffee (I omitted this)

-1/2 cup of pecans

-2 tsp of baking powder

Mocha Cream Avocado Icing

-2 ripe avocados

-1/2 cup of agave nectar

-4 Tbs cocoa powder

-1 Tbs + 1 tsp of instant coffee (I omitted this)

*Optional -1 Tbs of hazelnut liqueur


*Preheat the oven to 350*F

*Place the first seven ingredients in a food processor set to "high". Puree until smooth (about 2-3 minutes).

*Add in your pecans and baking powder. Set the food processor to "low". Pulse until the nuts are cut into pea sized bits and the baking powder is mixed throughout.

*Line an 8X8 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick oil. Fill the pan with cake batter and place it in the middle rack of your oven.

*Set your timer for 33 minutes. It is ready when the mixtures is slightly puffed in the middle (with some cracks) and does not deflate when brought out of the oven.

*While the cake is cooking:

*Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and place it along with the next 4 ingredients in the food processor

*Process on high until the icing is smooth and thick (icing consistency-about 2 - 3 minutes)

*Cover and refrigerate until the brownies are cooled


*Allow cake to cool completely in the fridge for two hours or more. Otherwise you will have very crumbly cake :(

Monday, April 5, 2010


Can I just say..........

NUTRITION SCHOOL IS FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So I'm out here, and in my 3rd week and I.LOVE.IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All the people in my class are AWESOME and so fun and nice. We come in and tell each other about the latest article we read, or recipe we tried, and we recipe swap....and all the chefs who teach us are ALSO amazing! The first one who came is a raw foodist, which is very interesting. She's more of a hippie type, but she's an herbalist and very very knowledgeable and very nice. The second one owns a soup company here and is very sweet. The third one is HILARIOUS and so down-to-earth, and she's the hardcore chef-y one who has been teaching us basic cooking and chef skills.

And I must say I was SO ridiculously excited today when she whipped out NOURISHING TRADITIONS and asked if any of us were familiar with it. I almost fell out of my chair I was raising my hand and waving it around so enthusiastically (yes, I'm a nerd. I know). I was SO glad to hear her say this book sums up her nutrition philosophy and her life. I have been SO excited to learn more about this nutritional direction, and so far all the other chefs have been vegetarian raw-foods type people, which is totally goes against Weston Price's findings about nutrition. I was going to ask them how they reconciled their food philosophies with Dr. Price's, but I'm SO glad my favorite chef follows the same philosophy I try to :-) AND she has Celiacs, so she's also gluten-free! She's so nice, but hardcore and funny, and helpful and encouraging. I'm so excited for everything I'm going to learn from her!!!

So the first two weeks were kinda boring, b/c we basically sat in the classroom and listened to the different chefs and the kitchen manager (who, by the way IS JIM HALPBERT. Seriously...he reminds me of him so much IT IS SICK. If I hadn't already found the most incredible man in the world, I would TOTALLY be in love with this guy ;-)

This past Friday, however, we finally GOT IN THE KITCHEN. It was our knife skills class. We each had our chef knives, bamboo cutting boards, and a PILE of vegetables. I learned to supreme an orange, chiffonade mint leaves, julienne potatoes, properly cut an onion (never knew how, apparently!), Chinese cut celery, roll cut carrots, fine dice (the chef complimented me on my beautiful dicing skills :-D ) and so many other things!! I LOVE learning all these random awesome things about nutrition and cooking.

For example, did you know to get the tough part off asparagus, you just break the bottom off where it snaps easily? And, did you know you start building flavor for soup as SOON as you start making it? At home, we always threw everything in the pot and let it simmer, b/c that would "intensify the flavors." WRONG!!! Before you put in the vegetables and spices, you must caramelize them in oil. The oil and heat bring out the sugars and the full flavors of the vegetables, and open up all the aromatic properties of the spices. THEN you can add it to the soup, and it will be delicious and flavorful! I tried this out this weekend, and for the FIRST time, I had soup that TASTED like something!! And you know what? Just because I like you so much...I will share my basic recipe with you all ;-)

Indian Jerk Bean Soup
  • 2 cups dried bean/rice mix from bulk bins at store (soaked overnight or all day~8 hrs-ish)
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 turnips, sliced
  • any other veggies you like! Go crazy!
  • coconut or olive oil
  • cumin
  • cinnamon
  • allspice
  • salt
  • pepper
After the bean mix has soaked, rinse them thoroughly. Add water to pot (about 2 inches or so above the line of beans - you might want to add more depending on how liquid-y you want the soup). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for at least 45 mins (taste beans to tell when they're cooked).

Meanwhile, heat up a large cast iron skillet on medium heat with some oil in it. I use coconut, because it is better for high heats than olive oil. Add onions and carrots (hard veggies) and caramelize (about ten minutes) stirring often. Also add the spices, to give them a chance to permeate the oil and make it tasty goodness :-) As for amounts...I honestly didn't measure any of them. I added quite a bit of cumin and salt, and smaller amounts of cinnamon and allspice. Really you just have to keep tasting it and see what else it needs.
*Another interesting note..."It always needs more salt" according to my teacher lol. It brings out all the other flavors.
Add softer veggies and minced garlic and caramelize for a few more minutes. Veggies are done when they are goldeny and smell AMAZING.

Add everything to the beans and keep simmering until the beans are done. Keep tasting it and adding spices as needed.

My friend was here this weekend for Easter, and she LOVED this! I was so happy! IT TASTED LIKE SOMETHING!!!! YAYYY!!!

We also made flourless walnut brownies, and flourless chocolate cream cake! Which, interestingly enough, if you somehow forget to add the eggs or something, turns out as delicious fudge! (not that we'd know that from experience or anything....*ahem*)