creamy vegan watercress and leek soup – recipe

This evening I made a dieter’s dream version of one of my all time favorite soups, watercress and cream. I’ve made it once before, here, but this version is just as tasty with more benefits and less calories. To substitute for cream, cauliflower makes a surprisingly smooth base. Potatoes also help eliminate dairy from the recipe, but unfortunately, they are extremely high in carbohydrates. In this recipe I leave out the potatoes and add in some leeks. I also doubled the amount of watercress I normally use.

A member of the mustard family, watercress is one of the most ancient leafy greens around, dating back more than three millenia. Hippocrates, the sage healer responsible for his iconic advice to “let food by thy medicine” was particularly fond of watercress as a natural cure all. It has more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk and three times more vitamin E than lettuce. It is extremely detoxifying for the blood, anti inflammatory, and can aid in treating cold symptoms. You can read all sorts of whacky and useful facts about watercress here. Watercress tastes crisp and slightly spicy. I find it has a very unique and subtle flavor. The whole peppercorns in this soup pair nicely with the watercress. When the soup is blended the peppercorns will be broken up into tiny chunks, just big enough for an occasional nibble here and there. You can add ground pepper at the end if you want more kick.

Vegan Watercress and Leek Soup 

what you need:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 small yellow (not sweet) onion, chopped
  • 2 bunches of leeks (should be three stalks per bunch), chopped with dark green part removed.
  • 2 bunches of watercress
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorn
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbl. grapeseed oil
  • 8 cups of water

what you do: 

In a large soup pot, add grapeseed oil with onions, garlic and leeks. (Leeks are always packed with muddy slush, so make sure you was them very well before using. Only use the bottom white part of the leeks.) Eventually, everything will get blended, so don’t worry about cutting your vegetables too precisely. Add in thyme and whole peppercorns and  saute on medium high heat until onions and leeks become tender, about 5-8 minutes. Add in your cauliflower, chopped into large florets. Again, everything will go in the blender, so don’t waste time with perfect, small cuts. Add 8 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until cauliflower is very tender. About 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash your watercress well. I usually let mine soak in cold water while I’m prepping the rest of the soup. De-stem as much as you care to (watercress leaves are small, so I do a crude job at de-stemming to save time) and set aside.

In a high speed blender (I love the vita mix) add half of the soup with half of the watercress and puree. Repeat with the rest of the soup (it won’t all fit in the blender at once). Return pureed soup to pot and simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes or so, stirring to make sure both batches are incorporated into each other. Let cool before eating. As the soup cools it thickens which gives it more of a creamy texture. Add extra salt or pepper to taste. Personally, I think this soup is extra delicious the next day. Makes 14 cups.

If you’re not on a diet I highly recommend these variations:

  • Drizzle truffle oil over your individual bowl of soup – divine!
  • Top with a dollop of sour cream
  • Top with a few crumbles of soft goat cheese

Do you eat watercress? Share some of your favorite watercress recipes below and let me know how the soup turns out!

peace, love, and leafy greens,




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indian style tomato and cabbage soup – recipe

Day 1 of “operation health, happiness and wedding dress” and I wanted to post the recipe for the tomato cabbage soup.  I’ve done OK today. So far I’ve had 1 cup of herbal tea with honey, 1 grapefruit, 1 juice made with apples, ginger, and lemon, and I’m about to eat some soup. I have not done a good job drinking water today and I wasn’t that hungry so I skipped my vegetable juice. Tomorrow and moving forward, however, I will be sure not to skip juices. When you’re doing any kind of juice fast or cleanse it is VERY IMPORTANT not to deny yourself. Drink a lot of juice! One juice a day is simply not enough. You will put your body into starvation/survival mode which can have a negative effect on weight loss. Plus, every time you have a fresh fruit or vegetable juice you are hydrating your body.

This soup is based on a recipe my mother in law makes that I absolutely love. I believe it’s called “rasam.” There are lots of different recipes for this based on personal preference, region your family is from, etc. It’s a very thin, light soup, usually eaten with other food as an appetizer. Here’s my “souped” up version. And the bad pun award goes to . . .

This is basically an Indian vagaar with tomato added to transform it into a soup. Now, you may think 4 tbl. of oil seems in excess, but this makes much more than one serving of soup, so you won’t be ingesting it all at the same time.  The standard way to make this uses canola oil, however, I’m trying to get more coconut oil into my diet. Contrary to the coconut hating bigotry that happened in the 80s,  coconut oil is an outstanding source of lauric acid (found in breastmilk), is the sworn beauty secret of many supermodels, and can actually help with weight loss.

This soup is low calorie, very satisfying, and full of beneficial ingredients such as the coconut oil and turmeric. Perfect diet food and I don’t seem to get sick of it.

what you need: 

  • 4 tbl. extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow (not sweet) onion
  • 1 c. frozen cut yellow corn
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 16 ounce can of plain tomato sauce (low sodium is best)
  • a small handful of curry leaves (available at Indian groceries)
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbl. black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tbl. whole cumin seed
  • 2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp. dhana jeera powder (mix of ground cumin and coriander)
  • 1.4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1.2 tbl.  smoked sweet paprika (gives it some extra flavor, but if you can’t find it use regular sweet paprika)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 -3 tbl. adoo lasan paste (ginger garlic paste, instructions on how to make here )

what you do:

In a large soup pot heat the coconut oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves on medium-high  heat. Wait a minute or two until you hear a distinctive “pop” sound and then add in your chopped onions. Cook onions over medium heat for a few minutes until they start to turn translucent. Add in adoo lasan, cook for another minute or so. Add cabbage, turmeric, dhana jeera, chili powder, paprika and salt. Cook for two minutes or so until the cabbage starts to wilt. Add in tomato sauce and water. I used the 16 ounze can as a guide and filled it with water 3.5 times. It’s really up to you based on preference. Add frozen corn. Cover and bring to a boil, simmer on low heat until cabbage is completely tender, about 30-45 minutes. Serve with freshly chopped cilantro leaves on top.

Just to give you an idea of how much soup this made, here’s a photo. Not pictured is the large bowl I already ate.

If you want to make this without the additions use canola oil instead of coconut oil, leave out the cabbage, leave out the turmeric, leave out the paprika, and put a hot pepper in with the onions instead of using chili powder. You can use a smaller 8 ounce can of tomato sauce if you are only serving 1-2 people. Reduce everything else accordingly. There aren’t any “real” recipes in this family, just eyeball it, taste it, and cross your fingers.

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adventures in accountability



I am sad to report that in the past three years I have gained 20 pounds. Once a raw food starlet making regular appearances at the farmer’s market and ample instructional youtube videos, I have no found myself loathing the skin I’m in. Since late high school I’ve always worn a size 8 pant, fitting into a few size 6s and even one or two size 4s when I was at my slimmest/healthiest. Now, I am down to two pairs of jeans that fit and they are size 10s. They do not fit loosely either, I’m afraid.

What happened? My educated guess is a combination of hormonal imbalance, stress, major life changes, not consistently taking my hyperthyroid medication, and completely snubbing regular exercise. I’ve tried countless times to return to my prior shape so that the 30 plus pairs of jeans on my closet floor in a laundry basket (some with tags still attached) can finally see the light of day. The reality is I lack either (or both) discipline and consistency.

I’m changing this, starting tomorrow. This has little to do with a post New Year’s glow and more to do with the fact that I am almost always tired and miserable and I have a wedding dress to wear in 3 months.  I decided to put my plan on the blog for accountability purposes and also in case anyone else is on a similar look-good-feel-good mission. I’ve been a vegetarian for 14 years now and during that time I’ve tried everything from morning star soy substitute addict to homesteading vegan. The one thing I’ve learned is not to set unreasonable goals for myself, as that will just leave me feeling further humiliated and disappointed.  I think the following plan should be very easy to follow, especially after the first week. As long as I can say no to culinary based social outings, politely but forcibly turn down home cooked Indian food, and watch Doctor Who while on the elliptical, I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to lose 5-10 pounds and hopefully get into a size 8 by mid-February. If I slip up on accident or out of necessity  I’m OK with that, the important thing for me is that I’m aware of my actions and intake and proactive about moving more. Another thing I’ll be focusing on is improving my posture — it’s deplorable!

Week 1: January 7th – January 13th

  • breakfast: fruit based juice
  • lunch: vegetable based juice
  • dinner: low calorie, low fat vegan soup
  • elliptical 20-25 minutes 5 x a week
  • 72 ounces of water
 acceptable snacks: fresh grapefruit, 2 cups of coffee per week
 absolutely NO refined sugar, no dairy 

Week 2: January 14th – January 20th 

  • breakfast: fruit based juice
  • lunch: healthy salad or quinoa
  • dinner: low calorie, low fat vegan soup 1/4 avocado
  • elliptical 20-25 minutes 5 x a week PLUS a 10-15 minute walk
 acceptable snacks: fresh grapefruit, kale chips, 2 cups of coffee per week
 absolutely NO refined sugar, no dairy 

Week 3: January 21st – January 27th 

  • breakfast: fruit based juice
  • lunch and dinner pick from: low fat vegan soup, baked tofu with EVOO or grapeseed oil, healthy salad, quinoa, or roasted vegetables with EVOO
  • elliptical 20-25 minutes 5 x a week PLUS a 20-25 walk
 acceptable snacks: fresh grapefruit, kale chips, 2 cups of coffee per week
 absolutely NO refined sugar, MINIMAL dairy allowed but only on top of salad, must be vegetarian rennet based

When February hits, I’ll evaluate where I’m at and come up with a new or similar meal plan. I’ll also post photos and recipes as the month progresses.

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diy thanksgiving banner


Super easy. Super cheap. Super cute. Travelling to family’s house for the holiday and I wanted to bring along some decorations that would be quick to make and a breeze to travel with. I purchased the paper at Michaels on sale for 16 cents a pop. I cut what appeared to be a somewhat evenly shaped triangle, used it as a template and cut more. I used a cup to trace out a circle for the letters on the lighter paper. They aren’t all even, but who cares? I bought the glitter letters (with adhesive on the back) with a 40 percent off coupon. They were originally 6.99 and I still have a ton left. I then punched holes in the flags, attached the circles with some washi tape, and cut out some cute leaves. I used a bone folder to crease the leaves for dimension, added a bit of dollar ribbon and called it a day.


Happy Thanksgiving!

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holiday holly garland DIY

Apple cider. Electric space heaters in the bathroom. Christmas knee socks. I find the holiday season cozy and charming, albiet a commercial venture. Until now, I’ve never really decorated during the winter months. Once my mom retired our beloved plastic  tree, in part due to its high maintenance assembly and also because the cats had eaten 15 percent of its components, I gave up on Christmas kitsch. This holiday season, however, marks my first as a homeowner and because I have to clean all this square footage, I figured I might as well make it pretty. And, to top it off, I am getting a head start by being one of those obnoxious people who decorates for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Don’t worry, it’s not like I have a snow machine in the kitchen or anything, I just made a paper garland for the fireplace.

My inspiration was this kit, sold at Paper Source. The kit is much smaller than the photo shows in the sense that the holly is very thin in width and would definitely look dwarfed on a large mantle. This kit is super cute but a) it’s 10.50, b) it’s too small and too short  c.1) it’s not exactly a creative project as all you have to do is glue together precut shapes and c.2) THERE’S NO GLITTER. Totally lacking in the embellishment department, right?

Unable to turn a blind eye to the artistic and financial flaws of this kit, I decided to make my own. At first, I was a little intimidated, but I’m extremely pleased with how my garland turned out.

The last time I was particularly crafty was way back in late high school/early college when my bestie and I went through a serious scrapbooking phase. As hard as it is to stomach, scrapbooking and paper crafts were not always synonymous with hipster fonts and chevron prints. Before Etsy, before the resurgence of vintage cameos, in a pre-washi tape era devoid of mainstream mustache stickers, there were soccer moms and there were die cuts.

Enter “Scrap Happy,” the local scrapbooking store in the burbs that hosted a bimonthly “crop night” where, for a small cover charge, you were granted access to a whole new world of paper cutters, ingenius glue products, and gilded photo corners. Not to mention a paltry discount on any other supplies you needed to immortalize your memories into an acid-free, cloth bound book. It was a glorious tradition I still treasure.

After college I purged my closet and got rid of a bunch of my craft supplies, so for this project I had to stock up on a few things. At the end of the post you’ll see a breakdown of my supply cost and how it compares to the original Paper Source kit. I hope this inspires you to do something creative! Disclaimer: I never measure or plan anything, so while it just so happened that this worked out for me, you want might to do some more rigorous recon before you had to the craft store.

what you’ll need:

  • ribbon of any color, length depends on your preference
  • adhesive– I highly recommend Thermoweb super tape
  • card stock in assorted colors
  • red glitter paper
  • gold glitter paint with a fine tip applicator, I used “stickles”
  • a hand made holly leaf template
  • hand cut circles or a circle boot punch
  • scissors

1) Make a template. I just googled “holly leaf” and quickly drew something out on a piece of card stock. I am by no means good at drawing and my holly leaf is totally uneven. Once you piece everything together, though, it won’t really matter. Wine is recommended for achieving that special “hand made” quality.  *wink, wink*


2) Trace your template onto your green card stock and then cut out more leaves. I ended up using all the card stock I purchased. I could get six holly leaves per sheet and I had 6 sheets in various shades of green.


3) Using your adhesive, start to group your leaves together. I just went with whatever I grabbed, grouping them in 2s and 3s. Supertape is extremely sticky and just a little goes a long way. It’s basically a double sided tape on steroids, it’s all I used for everything in this garland. After your leaves are grouped, and adhered to each other, take your glitter glue pen and use it to draw veins on the holly. I think this really adds dimension to the garland.



4) Use a medium and small boot punch to make berries out of red glitter paper. If you don’t have one of these you can buy one for about 5 bucks, or you could just cut out berries with scissors. I used glitter paper and also a normal red colored paper.


5) Attach the berries in random patterns to the holly leaves


6) Attach the holly leaves to your ribbon. I made the mistake of getting a thin ribbon, so I ended up having to double up with it. Here you can see the view from the back, it’s not the prettiest, as I had to adjust it here and there, but from the front, it looks fine. You could also use super glue, but the supertape I had was actually 1/4 of an inch wide and fit perfectly on this ribbon. This is where measuring might come in handy. I should have measured my mantle to see how long to make the ribbon and I also should have figured out how many leaves I needed to cover the length of the ribbon. Thankfully, it still fit on the mantle. I also ended up using some more tape to attach some of the overlapping holly leaves together and pin them down so they didn’t flop around.


7) Hang your garland! Now, here is where I slightly screwed up. My garland, having been made of thick card stock, was really too heavy for the delicate ribbon. When I hung it the first time, from the mantle, it was too heavy to sit properly and instead folded over.

It needed to be taut, so I moved it from the mantle and instead hung it directly on the brick so it could lay flat against the surface. I just used some clear packing tape to hold it up on the sides. I had intentionally left around 3-4 inches of ribbon on each side of the garland for hanging purposes. It worked much better this way and still look nice.

That’s it! I’m sure with a little more forethought you could make an improved version of this, but I usually lack the patience of planning. My garland was just a tad bit too long, but stretched out, I made it work. I had one small piece of ribbon left over and one leaf cluster, so I made mistletoe and hung it in between the living room and the dining room.


While I was up in the loft taking the photo of the fireplace, Sebastian jumped up on the ledge. I thought he looked poetically noble on his perch.


Happy holidays, ya’ll!

Price/Supply breakdown  before tax (I purchased almost everything at Michaels and  a lot of it was on sale, but things are *always* on sale at Michael’s):

  • 6  large sheets of green card stock @ .49 each =  2.94
  • 1 small sheet of red card stock @ .29
  • 1 small sheet of red glitter paper @ 1.49
  • 1 spool of red ribbon @.50
  • gold “stickles” glitter glue @2.89
  • roll of super tape @ 2.49
  • small boot circle punch @ 2.39
  • medium boot circle punch @ 4.79

Cost of raw materials: 10.60

Additional cost of boot punches (which can be used again and again): 7.18

This is a HUGE savings over the 10.50 Paper Source kit because the PS kit doesn’t include the cost of tape, which was included in my cost (there is at least half the roll leftover). Also, it doesn’t come with glitter glue (there was plenty of this left over as well) PLUS my garland is much bigger and longer than the one from Paper Source.


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gluten free, vegan, mini banana muffins – recipe

While I’ve never been a baker, I was struck with the sudden urge to make muffins this week. Maybe it’s the changing season. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m now a homeowner. Maybe it’s just an inherent muffin gene that somehow activated and is slowly changing my DNA, causing me to evolve into a higher species. Whatever the reason, this urge hit right in the beginning stages of my healthy eating/Jillian Michaels Body Revolution quest so I wanted to make muffins that were vegan, gluten free, and as healthy as possible. Now, that being said, don’t fool yourselves my friends, muffins are NEVER the healthiest option out there because they always require flour. Whether that flour is made from rice, or nuts, or oatmeal, or pixie dust, it is still not the best thing you could be eating. An apple or a zucchini or celery is way healthier than a muffin any day, so don’t let yourself make these and eat the whole plan just because you’ve classified them as health food. You should not eat more than 3 of these at a time, in my opinion. I will say that these are a much better option than conventional muffins and even though you shouldn’t gorge yourself, you can feel good about eating these in moderation or as a treat, or, if the temptation becomes to great, bringing the entire batch to the office break room.

If you’ve never seen, you’ve been missing out. I’ll sample one for you. Quite relevant, don’t you think?

what you need

  • 3 very ripe bananas, we’re talking brown spots galore bananas
  • 1 small 6oz tub of plain, coconut milk greek yogurt. Here’s a link so you know what to look for at Whole Foods. This will be our egg substitute.
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil. This is our butter substitute
  • 2 tbl. maple syrup
  • 3/4 c. coconut palm guar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. gluten free all purpose flour

what you do:

Place bananas in a large bowl and mash. I used a handheld blender like this one  but you could also use a food processor. Mash the bananas well, but leave a few banana chunk here and there as they are yummy to bite into later on.

Add the tub of coconut greek yogurt to the bananas. It is important to get the greek yogurt because it is thicker than the plain and makes for a better consistency. Also add the rest of your wet ingredients: coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Mix together by hand.

In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients: GL flour, coconut palm sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and xanthan gum.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and blend by hand. If you WANT, you can fold in semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips. Add 1/2 c. This makes these muffins absolutely KILLER, but it does increase the calories and sugar. I compromised and added 1/4c. of the chips to only half the batter. This way I had a version without chocolate for breakfast and snacks and a version with chocolate for dessert.

Fill the mini muffin pans almost to the top (they don’t rise that much and I think they look prettier if the muffin tins are full, it gives the distinctive “muffin top”).

Baking at 375 degrees for 11 minutes. Don’t over bake or they won’t be moist.

This recipe made 37 muffins for me, using this pan. The muffins slide out of the pan without adding any extra oil, and it washes clean in seconds. I love it!

And, for anyone interested in why I chose coconut palm sugar and coconut oil, check out this quick video I made about their health benefits.


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gluten free, almost vegan pumpkin hempseed mini muffins – recipe


Scarves, boots, cardigans. Cool night time walks. Warm, ruddy leaves falling. Holiday cheer. Beaujolais Nouveau. And most of all, pumpkins!! I have a major crush on pumpkins. They are both adorable and delicious, a shining example of aesthetics wedding practicality. You can put googly eyes on your pumpkin and name it Stan, make it into an intricate lantern, and then eat it later on in the evening.

Pumpkin lattes. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cookies. It’s all tasty but it’s NOT all healthy. After carrying extra weight for over two years now, I am at a serious breaking point with my body image and energy levels. Inspired by my closet full of wonderful, beautiful clothes that no longer fit—-I’m looking at you, linen, striped Missoni pants— I am on an all out fitness and wellness mission. No, not mission, I’m on a fucking crusade! KILL THE SATURATED FATS! LONG LIVE WELL EARNED VANITY! PROCESSED SUGAR WILL NOT COMPROMISE MY LONGEVITY!

So anyway . . . last week I started Jillian Michaels 3 month program, Body Revolution and my sister in law offered to start a food diary with me so we can track exactly what goes into our bodies. I don’t do well when I try to give myself extreme dietary restrictions, so instead, I am trying to eat by some basic, broad principles. One of my guidelines is to drastically limit the amount of dairy and gluten I eat. I wanted to make some pumpkin muffins, but with all of this in mind, I wanted them to be as healthy as possible. Now while I consider myself a pretty good cook, I rarely bake. Mostly this is because I equate baking with sugar and sugar with cocaine and cocaine with sudden death. You can see the downside to this logic.

Today I decided to go for it and make my own muffin recipe. I read a few recipes online to get a general idea of proportions, but mostly I just crossed my fingers and licked the spatula. These muffins are not very sweet and they hempseed and molasses gives them more of an earthy, hearty flavor than a “can i have a slice of starbucks pumpkin bread to go with my latte” flavor.  That, however, is exactly what I was after. They are moist as is but also delicious with a little butter on top. I used a mini muffin pan so as to keep myself from over eating.

pumpkin hempseed mini muffins

what you need: 

  • 2 c. all purpose gluten free flour
  • 1 c. coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tbl. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (i used pink himalayan)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg (i used fresh nutmeg and grated it)
  • 1/2 tsp. all spice powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 tbl. agave nectar
  • 4 tbl. plain rice or almond milk
  • 2 tbl. blackstrap molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can of pumpkin (just pumpkin, don’t get the kind that says “pumpkin pie filling”)
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil
  • 1/2 c. hempseed hearts (shelled hempseeds)

what you do:

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. This is the first time I’ve used coconut palm sugar, hailed by Dr. Oz as the next big thing. I picked this because coconut palm sugar has a low glycemic index. Agave nectar is the same way. The slow release of energy helps curb your appetite and keep you from experiences those “sugar rushes.”

In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients together including the pumpkin, agave, egg, coconut oil, vanilla, molasses and rice or almond milk. I used an old school manual hand mixer to blend everything together. The coconut oil is taking the place of butter and like coconut palm sugar, coconut oil has a long list of health benefits. Blackstrap molasses is a wonderful source of iron, and being a vegetarian, that’s something I can always use more of.  Blackstrap molasses is not as sweet as regular molasses but it has way more benefits. In addition to iron it’s high in calcium and magnesium, and potassium.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until smooth. Fold in the hemp seeds. Shelled hemp seeds are rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin e, and  also help boost your immunity. They give these muffins a nice earthy flavor and provide a bit of texture. Spoon into mini muffin pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 9-11 minutes depending on your oven. This yielded exactly two pans worth of mini muffins, which is 48 muffins. I’ve calculated the nutrition facts for you. Each mini muffin has 72 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 1 gram of protein. And remember, those calories are coming mainly from coconut oil, coconut palm sugar and hemp hearts. . . not things you want to eat all the time, but definitely preferable to calories coming from white refined sugar, chocolate chips and butter, in my opinion.



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watermelon lemonade with moscato – recipe

As penance for spending my holiday weekend doing little other than sleeping, drinking, and watching the extended version of Lord of the Rings, I decided to do some much needed yard work today. The malbar spinach I planted in my earthbox  just a short month or so ago has become so overgrown that I have yet to actually harvest and eat it because I am half afraid there is a small child slowly suffocating under the Cousin It-like vines. Yesterday Samir and I made a Home Depot run and picked up a vining stake for the spinach and also a wooden trellis for my cucumber. I was in a rush to plant things this year and didn’t really have time to plan out a garden. Instead I just threw things into my earthboxes and watered, watered, watered. The cukes are doing really well, four large ones so far, but the makeshift stake I made out of remnants from the neighbor’s trash was not holding up. I lost a few blossoms transporting it, and it looks a little stressed, but I think with some positive words of encouragement and miracle grow it will prevail. Samir has been busy at work too, doing much more than I have in the yard, and in this 100 degree weather we needed something cool to drink ASAP. Enter watermelon lemonade with Moscato. It is FANTASTIC, and quite easy to make.

what you need:

  • fresh watermelon, cut into large chunks
  • a bag of lemons
  • light agave nectar
  • moscato

what you do:

Squeeze approximately 1 cup of fresh lemon juice and pour it over a strainer into a large blender. I used my Vita-Mix, which holds 8 cups of liquid. Next put the chunks of watermelon in with the lemon juice and blend. You might have to do this in rounds, waiting for the watermelon chunks to liquify before you have room for more. I’d say I used about 1/4 of a huge watermelon. Just blend and check the measurements imprinted on your blender. You want the total to be 6 cups— 1 cup of lemon juice and 5 cups of watermelon puree. After everything is blended, get a large bowl or a large pitcher and pour the watermelon lemonade through the strainer to eliminate any seeds and slush. I saved the slush left from the strainer. It’s good to eat plain or makes for great smoothie fodder.

Next add 2 cups of Moscato and agave to sweeten. I used 2 tbl. of agave nectar and it was perfect, however, depending on the bottle you buy, Moscatos differ in sweetness. If you have a super sweet Moscato you might want to add less agave. I recommend stirring in the Moscato and agave nectar by hand, otherwise the power from the blender will make it all frothy and your cocktail will look like rabid animal foam. I used Voga moscato, primarily because Samir and I fell in love with the bottle design when we realized it was just the right combination of swanky and douche-y.

That’s it! Serve chilled. If you want an extra kick add a few shots of Limoncello.  All my ingredients were previously in the fridge, so everything came out cold in the end. This recipe made two champange glasses worth of lemonade, and also enough to fill up the small pitcher pictured. Oh yeah, and then there’s the 4 oz or so I spilled on the floor. Oops. 🙂

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“awesome eggplant explosion” – recipe

“Eggplant Awesome Explosion” is the name Samir has enthusiastically given this dish and, all modesty cast aside, I can’t say the title is misplaced. After eating eggplant out at chinese and thai restaurants I wanted to recreate a similar meal at home and this is what I came up with. It’s extremely tasty and easy to make. Give it a try! I highly recommend watching episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation while cooking. There’s nothing like seeing Captain Picard get it on with Vash in a cave or start macking on Commander Daren in the astrometrics lab to add some real heat to the kitchen. Oh, Patrick Stewart, please come sit at my table and I will make you finest damned cup of earl grey you’ve ever had before bewitching you with my intellectual charm and stately beauty. And then, my husband will come home. And maybe we will have a dance party to this gem of a remix:

When our three minutes of electronic space trekking are up, there’s always this to fall back on.  MESMERIZING.

And, of course, who could resist imagining what would happen if Skrillex loved Star Trek as much as I do:

So. About that eggplant. Here’s how to make it.

what you’ll need:

  • 1 large regular purple eggplant, or 2-3 long japanese purple eggplants
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 ginger garlic cube
  • 2 tbl. grapeseed oil or coconut oil
  • ½ tsp. dhana jeera (combination of ground cumin and coriander powder. If you don’t have this, just do ¼ tsp of each cumin and coriander)
  •  ¼ tsp. – ½ tsp. of red chili powder (I do ¼ but if you really want some heat go with ½)
  • 3 tbl. soy or tamari sauce
  •   2 – 3 tbls. corn starch
  • 1 tbl. agave nectar
  • 2 tbl. ume plum vinegar
  • thai (also called cinnamon) basil – one large handful or bunch
  • filtered water

what you do:

Cut the eggplant up into odd, incongruent shapes rather than cubes. This is supposed to help the eggplant from getting stuck on one side and thus cooking unevenly. I’m not sure how much validity there is to this so I say do whatever you want! Express yourself. Put the eggplant into a wok or any pot/pan with a lid and add enough water to cover most of the eggplant. I’d say maybe an inch or two. It’s not precise because as long as you don’t chuck in a whole pint of agua the leftover will mix with the sauce and cook together.


Cover the eggplant and turn the heat on medium-high. You are basically steaming the eggplant. You eventually want it to turn white and become tender.

Once the water gets hot and starts to bubble a little you can turn the heat down to low. Leave the eggplant to cook while you make the sauce. It’s pretty low maintenance but you might want to stir it every so often.

Onto the sauce. In a small pan put in 2 tbl. oil. I recently used coconut oil with this recipe and will continue to do so in the future, however, if you don’t have coconut oil or don’t like the slightest hint of coconut flavor, go with grapeseed. I, and probably everyone else in America, usually use olive oil in my recipes, however, olive oil is really a horrible cooking oil. It’s not designed for high heat. Grapeseed oil and coconut oil are excellent for high heat and coconut oil in particular has many fantastic health benefits. Chop or mince the garlic cloves and at them to the oil. Add the ginger garlic cube and sautee for a minute. Then add the agave nectar, soy or tamari sauce ( I use Nama Shoyu, an unfermented soy sauce because I love the bold flavor) and the plum vinegar. I have tried other vinegars with this recipe and they just don’t recreate the same distinctive flavor. If you’re having trouble finding it, check Whole Foods.

Add in 1/4 cup of filtered water and bring to a low boil. Turn down the heat to low. Keep uncovered. You want it to simmer for about 6 minutes or so, while the eggplant finishes cooking.

Your eggplant should look something like this– still solid enough to stay together but tender and white so it melts in your mouth. Can you see the left over water in the first picture? That’s fine, it will cook into the sauce.

Now you want to take the sauce and poor it into the wok with the eggplant and remaining water. Add in your spices, the red chili powder and the dhana jeera. Stir everything together. Keep the burner on a low to medium heat. Let it cook uncovered for 1-2 minutes.


The above photo is what it looked like when I added the garlic sauce and spices.

Now you want to thicken the sauce and make everything stick together in delicious, starchy, harmony. Add the 2 tbl. spoons of organic corn starch and stir in thoroughly. The sauce will begin to thicken. If you need to, add a little more. Just make sure you mix it in well or you might chomp down on a gooey ball of corn starch. It tends to clump on your mixing spoon, so you might want to wash that utensil before you serve the eggplant.


Now that the sauce is thickened add in the thai basil. The thai basil is the star of this dish so DON’T SKIMP! Don’t use the stems, but throw the whole leaves in there. I have a huge thai basil plant in my back yard but if you’re not growing it look for it at the Asian grocery or a speciality store like Whole Foods. It will be easier to find, and cheaper, at an Asian store. Fold it into the eggplant so that it has a chance to get some heat and wilt.

It’s done! Remove from heat and serve over your choice of rice. We mostly use basmati around here but any kind will be just fine. Feel free to salivate.

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uncanny similarities

On the left, Samir. On the right, Butthead. Draw your own conclusions, friends.

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