Homemade Holiday Eggnog that Will Knock Your Stockings Off

While this recipe doesn't call for kale or inflammatory-reducing spices, we figured every now and then it's good for the soul to live a little. This one's just pure, warm, creamy, full-indulgence deliciousness.

So put on those cozy socks, press play to your favorite Christmas playlist, put on a fire, and enjoy the creamy, warm and comforting flavors of eggnog with your favorite people this holiday. And if you find yourself this Christmas getting sore from whisking the eggs for eggnog (which may or may not have happened), don't fret. That's what New Years resolutions are for, right? So go ahead, treat yo'self.

Happy holidays, everyone! 

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Pumpkin Persimmon Smoothie with Chia Pudding

Fall rolls around every year, and like clockwork, pumpkin gets its 15 seconds of fame. And for good reason. Between pumpkin carving for Halloween and pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving, it's hard not to love that lil' som'n-som'n it adds to the season. But somewhere between the pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin flavored ice cream, we tend to forget about another important (and delicious) autumnal gift we get when those cold months roll around: Persimmon. 

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The Best Fall Drink: (Anti-Inflammatory) Hot Pumpkin Turmeric Milk

Let’s get real for a minute. It’s fall, and although I hate to admit it, I love anything and everything pumpkin. And yes, that includes PSLs (Pumpkin Spice Lattes for those unaware of this growing phenomenon. And yes, it’s so basic, it has an abbreviation.) Pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, pumpkin granola, you name it: Get at me. I was even recently informed that Trader Joe’s is now carrying pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds. No kidding. And the sad part is, I would probably buy them.

The thing is, even I need to add a little spice (no pun intended) to my pumpkin flavored items. That’s where turmeric comes in. I didn’t get onto a turmeric until recently, but now I’m ALL ABOUT IT. Here’s why.

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Need more GINGER in my life, PLZ!

I been really into ginger lately. Perhaps, its because I’m moving to the land of the gingers (IRELAND) in 25 days. So, I’m sharing two of my favorite ginger flavored concoctions. :)

Tropical Iced Green Tea

Why yes, that is a reusable straw!

Why yes, that is a reusable straw!

Bring large pot of water and a few chunks of ginger to an almost boil and turn off heat. Green tea will burn if the water is too hot or if it steeps for too long, creating a bitter taste. Tips for the ALMOST boil: Look for steam wafting from the pot and small bubbles sitting on the bottom of the pot. Add 6-10 spoonfuls of loose leaf tea or matte (used lemongrass, ginger green tea). Let sit on stovetop for 2-3 minutes, filter out leaves, and let cool. Fill up a large glass with ice and a few frozen pineapple chunks. Add cooled tea, maybe a touch o’ honey, AND sip on that! Repeat and be stoked you brewed extra :)

Use at least this this much ginger. Good for digestion, inflammation, and immunity!

Use at least this this much ginger. Good for digestion, inflammation, and immunity!

The Gingaloupe Drink! 

This one is a bit different. I tested this on my grandma, who loved it. She hates all things healthy, and usually complains about cantaloupe too. Serves 1-2 or as many as you are willing to share with

Blend  and enjoy:

  • Half a cantaloupe
  • 1 cup of carrots (I used baby carrots as they were readily available in my fridge), 
  • Ginger, peeled
  • 5+ ice cubes

How I Ate My Way Across Four Countries: Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Denmark

For Semana Santa, or Easter break, I packed a small bag and made my way to the mainland for a little adventure where planes, trains, and cars would take me to some of the most incredible foodie destinations I’ve experienced thus far. While pictures and carefully packaged words can only go so far to truly capture the experience, I will try to do the countries and the food justice by detailing a few tidbits from my recent travels. Bon appetit!

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Homemade And Healthy: Peanut Butter Cups

Has a more perfect duo than that of peanut butter and chocolate ever existed?  Nope. It is, simply put, perfection. I could eat Reese's peanut butter cups for every meal, if they were remotely healthy.   

Unfortunately, they're full of nasty, weird ingredients and chemicals you don't really want to ingest. And I'm pretty sure the "peanut butter" filling isn't real peanut butter at all.  Scary.  

But never fear! Because it's crazy stupid love...um, I mean, easy to make your own at home! 

While on my Food Challenge last month, I stocked up on chocolate bars on sale at Whole Foods, fully intending to devour them all in one sitting on March 1. However, now the challenge is over, my sweet tooth is in remission, and I am left with a sad collection of lonely chocolate bars in my pantry.  I couldn't just leave them there, though - that would be a waste.  Thus, this non-sweet "treat" was born to satisfy any sweet tooth.  


-high-quality dark chocolate bars (I used Theo brand

-sugar/crap-free nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, sunbutter, etc.) 

-OPTIONAL: coconut oil, maca powder, vanilla extract, sea salt, stevia

I am the Barefoot Contessa.

I am the Barefoot Contessa.



-double boiler

-muffin pan

-donut-print apron - because obviously.




Theo Chocolate - I used both 70% and 85% dark.


Clean ingredients!

Clean ingredients!

1. Set up your double boiler. I do not have a "proper" double boiler, so I MacGyvered it and used two sauce pans, filling the larger with water.  The heat should be no higher than medium-low, and the water should never boil. Note: you can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. To do this, set the temperature at 50% and melt in 30 second intervals, stirring each time. Chocolate burns VERY easily, so be watchful. Don't say I didn't warn you.


2. Carefully melt the chocolate. This will take a few minutes. Stir every minute or so to make sure all pieces get melted. If you are using coconut oil (optional), add a tablespoon or two here. Coconut oil will make the chocolate a bit more pliable and more "candy-like," while keeping the chocolate solid at room temp. But it's by no means necessary.

3. Once your chocolate is melted, remove from heat. Slowly pour chocolate into muffin molds, until about half of chocolate recipe is left. Note: I didn't line my muffin tins. Again, it's not really necessary.  I am also very lazy and apparently love to do dishes.  If you're concerned or are creating these as individual cups to gift (you're such a good friend), you can use silicon liners or cupcake liners. 

4. Pop your muffin pan into the freezer for about 5-10 minutes. 

5. While your chocolate is solidifying, move on to your center. Take your nut butter and melt it a bit in the microwave. Depending on how much chocolate you're using, you'll need about 1/4-1/2 cup.  Go nuts. Get it?

6. Optional step: I jazzed up my peanut butter a bit. Original ingredients were: peanuts, salt. I added a hefty pour of vanilla extract, 1 tsp. maca powder (thickened up the "batter" a touch), and a whisper of stevia. Yes, a whisper. Use your indoor voice with sweeteners. If you're anti-Stevia - it's cool, I get you - use raw honey or REAL maple syrup. Not Aunt Jemima's. Sorry, Jemima, we'll always have our memories. 

7. Remove your muffin pan from the freezer. Your chocolate should be solid now. Dollop your nut butter mixture into the center of each mold. Flatten it out a bit with your spatula or fingers, if you're not sharing.  Mmm, fingers (s/o to Kels).


8. The other half of your chocolate should still be liquidy. If not, melt it again over the double broiler. Nbd. Pour the rest evenly over each little pillow of peanut butter. 

9. Pop your muffin pan back into the freeze for a minute or two. If you're fancy, take it back out once the chocolate is semi-frozen and hit the tops of each cup with a dash of sea salt. Major points if you use pink salt. We should be friends if you do. 

10. These only take about 10 minutes until they're rock solid. If you used liners, removal is a piece of cake. If not, slice along the edges with a thin knife. They should pop out very easily. Do not eat straight out of the freezer unless you want to break a tooth.  I'm just speaking from very-near experience.

The final product.

The final product.

These little bites are so dreamy and rich, even half of one will kill a craving, and they're totally customizable and easy! Enjoy!

The February Food & Fitness Challenge (FFC)

It's the second month of the new year! So since everybody (probably) already abandoned their resolutions, why not make new ones now?

It's super trendy to start a new diet or do a 30-day food challenge at the start of the year.  It's a natural time to want to make changes in your life and start fresh. However, as I'm a contrarian, I'm doing a challenge this month instead!

For the (short) month of February, I am participating in my gym's Food and Fitness challenge (FFC). The rules are: 

-no gluten

-no soy

-no added sugars (even honey!)  - though stevia is allowed 

-no processed foods

-avoid funky oils (seed oils, canola oil) 

-dairy is optional

-you must exercise at least 4 times a week, but only up to 8 times (all types of exercise count!) 

-you must also drink at least 8 glasses of water per day and take a quality fish oil once a day (here's the fish oil our challenge is using) - kombucha and herbal teas count as well

As you can see, this is not a Whole30®. It's not a 21-Day Sugar Detox. It's not a Paleo challenge. It's just about making better choices for one month of your life, maybe changing your way of thinking about food beyond the 28 days. 


And of course, as we know, I'm not one to back down from a challenge. I've never participated in a strict food challenge, so I figured, why the heck not?  What better way to face my food vices head-on than to participate in a group challenge, where I'll have the support of my friends and peers?

Food challenges are not for everyone. Some people can be obsessive, counting every calorie, every macronutrient, obsessing about exercise - all of which distracts from the point of the challenge in the first place.  

I, for one, do not, and will not, count calories. The #IIFYM ("If it fits your macros") trend is just - well, I won't go on a full-blown rant. But the logic behind it is flawed. A calorie is not a calorie.  Unfortunately, donuts do not make your body feel as good as veggies, healthy fats, and good proteins.  It's a sad, tragic fact.

For the most part, I eat a healthy, balanced diet.  I follow a mostly "paleo-ish" diet for health reasons, and it makes me feel great.  However, participating in this challenge will force me to confront those vices I never truly stomped out after going paleo - sugar, namely.  I had a habit of "treating myself" every few days to a sugary treat, but that habit became a daily one I couldn't shake.  On the challenge, it's easy - I have to say no to the Sugar, or else I lose points!* Prizes are a huge motivation, aren't they?

Challenges force you to find alternative ways to treat yourself.  Skip the mocha and go shopping instead.  Or, if you're trying to save those dolla bills, go to the beach, go on a hike, take a long bath instead. Food is usually the cure, but not in all cases ;)


If you're thinking about doing a challenge yourself, here are a few tips:

1) Do it together: Having a support system Is KEY. You don't have to struggle alone! It helps to have friends or peers participaing alongside you, and who will encourage you to keep with it (and slap your hand if you're reaching for that chocolate bar stashed in your desk...). 

2) Be realistic: What does your diet look like right now?  Are you eating bread, pasta, and pastries with abandon?  Then going 100% hardcore paleo right away probably isn't the best option for you.  Be flexible and realistic with your challenge "rules" - start out slow and see what you can handle for your first challenge.  Maybe you cut out gluten, but keep legumes and grains in.  You don't want to set yourself up to fail from the outset.

3) Prepare: Set aside a few hours each weekend (or whatever day/time works for you!) to "meal prep" for the week.  In otherwords, make a ton of food in big batches, so you'll have meals at-the-ready for the entire week.  Yes, you will be eating a lot of the same foods or "leftovers."  If you plan your meals well, you can repurpose your food and reinvent your meals each day so you don't get bored.  I recommend cooking up a ton of protein (roast a whole chicken, cook up a few pounds of ground beef, etc.) and chopping up a hefty amount of veggies to have on hand all week.  You can then throw together these basics into a number of delicious and creative meals all week.  Trust me on this one - cooking every day is not only draining, it's not realistic.  Ain't nobody got time fo' dat.  Instead, come home at night, put some meat and veggies on a plate, heat it all up, and eat.  Save some for lunch the next day.  Easy peasy.

4) DON'T BE HUNGRY - FEED THE MACHINE: So this goes along with #3...don't. let. yourself. STARVE.  How can you do that when your options are limited?  Prepare your meals (am I sounding preachy now?).  Food is fuel.  Your body cannot function without it.  If you're away from home and the only food option doesn't fit your meal plan (and you don't have backup snacks), for god's sake, forget the plan.  EAT.  Sometimes, eating a donut is better than eating nothing.  {I know, I know, there are times when eating a donut is not always the right choice.  It is tragic.  I LOVE DONUTS.}

5) Have a rewards system: It's funny how, even as adults, we need a "reward" for good behavior.  So often, we resort to food as our treat - "I worked hard all week, so I will have that cupcake!" A challenge forces you to find non-food related alternatives.  No matter what, don't deprive yourself of a reward.  We all need some type of motivation - after all, we're only human.  Maybe you treat yourself once a week, or you save up and give yourself a big reward a the end of your challenge.  Whatever keeps you going.

I'll provide a progress report on my own challenge later (spoiler alert: it's going WELL).  Until then, your challenge awaits!


*Yes, our challenge is points-based. If this seems nuts to you, don't worry, there's an after-party as well.  


Warm Dranks

I LOVE warm drinks. My warm drank options became limited, as I recently gave up coffee. During February, I'll be attending a one month yoga teacher training in Baja, where we will only be served herbal tea. So, I decided to cut the coffee habit now. It was never an addiction, but DAMN I love me a good cuppa joe to start the day. Or after an early ocean session, nothing beats a dark roast. In the meantime, I'm trying to get a little more creative with my options, and have been experimenting with teas, matte lattes, turmeric milks, and cocoas.

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ThriveMarket.Com - A Toasty Avocado Official Review

So we Toasty Avo gals like to eat...a LOT.  A lot a lot.  Whether we're training for an Ironman (whaddup Kristine), working with kids on the beach and surfing all day long (holla Kels), sailling or SUPing on the open ocean (yo Ari), or Crossfitting and trying to keep up with my awesome gal pals (lil ol' me)...we need good food to fuel our activities.  And a lot of it.

Too bad fueling yourself the right way isn't really that cost-effective.  Grassfed meat is three times as expensive as regular meat!  Avocados aren't a dime a dozen, even in beautiful SoCal.  And those fancy extras like hemp seeds and cacao powder - it's either the seeds or you pay rent, pick one.

Luckily, Kels recently filled me in on this awesome online store, Thrive Market.  It offers organic and natural products at wholesale prices - generally 25-50% off retail prices!  What a steal.  They carry non-perishable food items, beauty products, household items, supplements, and deliver directly to your door. 

I was beyond impressed with the service.  First, they carry all the funky items I have trouble finding in stores, and at even lower prices than Amazon - impossible right?  Nope.  Real life.  AND, here's the best part, in my humble opinion - you can search for items based on your diet.  Paleo, raw, gluten free, vegan, they've got you covered.

Here's what I picked up on my first order:

1. Purity Farms Organic Ghee: An awesome dairy-free alternative to butter!  This brand uses butter from grass-fed cows.

2. Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrosylate: I prefer the hydrosylate versus normal gelatin, as it dissolves into hot and cold liquids.  Perfect for dumping into your smoothies, coffee, tea, even just water for a gut-healing boost.

3. Chlorofresh Liquid Chlorophyll: Post coming soon about this awesome little liquid.  It works as a natural internal deodorant.  Nature is so nuts sometimes.

4. Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar: This stuff is so multi-purpose I can't even write down all of its uses here.  That might need to be a separate post.  I use this to make salad dressings (I like 'em tangy), in water to soothe an upset tummy or a sore throat, as a cleaning agent, mixed with clay as a face mask, in a spritz bottle as a toner...etc. etc.

5. Aloe Vera Juice: Another great gut-healer.  I like to add to smoothies or fresh juice.  Or plain ol' water, when I'm lazy.

6. Traditional Medicinals Ginger Aid: Man, this tea is awesome.  Ginger is awesome.  This BRAND is awesome.  Ginger is so wonderful for soothing the gut (can you see a theme with my purchases?) and has a nice spicy kick.  I love drinking herbal teas, and this is by far my favorite flavor.

7. EPIC Bison Bars: Don't be weirded out by these.  They're basically just jerky in bar form - with added extras, like nuts and dried fruit.  I love having these stowed in my purse for days when I'm super busy AND super hungry, and don't have any good food options around. Plus - they're paleo!

8. Green Pastures Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil Capsules: So, I have a lot of issues with most "fish oil" supplements.  In short, they're sketchy, and aren't providing you with much nutrition.  This brand provides the highest quality oil, with the purest forms of Omega-3s and vitamin D.  It's pricier than most fish oils, but it's 100% worth it.

9. Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter: I am allergic to nuts, and peanuts aren't paleo (why, world...why), so seed butters are the perfect alternative!

10. Olive Leaf Extract: So this was an impulse buy.  I read somewhere it's helpful in detoxing from all sorts of stuff.  Might have been a waste of money, but we shall see!

All of that, for less than $100!  That's a pretty darn good deal.

The only downside: you have to purchase a membership (annual fee of $59.95).  Womp womp.  You get a 30-day free trial, so I recommend hopping over to their site and ordering weird stuff to heart's content for 30 days straight!  I mean, how can you pass up those prices?


Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Thrive Market in any way.  All the above comments are my own.

My Healthy Mint Chip "Milkshake" Brings all the Boys to the Yard

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things in this wonderful life is mint chip ice cream. There is just something about the peppermint/chocolate/neon green combo that is just so satisfying. As a lanky active kid I would eat tubs of this stuff on the regular, so naturally, my older (somewhat more mature) and much more health conscious self, wanted a way to be able to still enjoy this delicious treat. After experimenting with a few different recipes and sampling similar treats form my favorite healthy local cafes, I have finally found (drum-roll please), not only a replacement for mint chip ice cream, but a total upgrade! This mint chip milkshake not only tastes like the real deal but it will also leave you feeling much better than if you just polished off an entire pint (or tub) of ice cream!


Mint Chip Milkshake

Serves 2

1/2 ripe avocado (because really what recipe is complete without)

3 bananas (frozen & sliced)

3 plump dates (if you don't have dates, honey/maple syrup/agave works just fine!)

1 large handful of kale

1/2 cup of cacao nibs

2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil (make sure it is 100% pure, I use DoTerra oils) or peppermint extract or even better fresh peppermint leaves!

1 cup almond/rice/soy/hemp/cashew milk

4 ice cubes


Blend up all the ingredients together, minus the cacao nibs, then once the mixture is smooth and creamy add the cacao nibs so they still remain slightly chunky in the mixture (like chocolate chunks in mint chip ice cream). Depending on how powerful your blender is you may need to add more or less liquid.

Pour your milkshake in 2 large glasses, sprinkle top with extra cacao nibs, then enjoy outside with some of your favorite company!

Butter Coffee - Don't Knock it Til You Try It

Mmm...doesn't that title alone make you salivate? Butter and coffee on their own are both delicious.  But when their forces combine? What a TREAT. 

Buttered coffee is becoming pretty trendy lately, but it's nothing new. Most people refer to it as Bulletproof Coffee, coined by Bulletproof founder and exec Dave Asprey (P.S. Have you listened to his podcast? Interesting stuff).  I don't use all of his products so I'm refraining from calling my version truly "Bulletproof," but you get the idea. 

Classic "Bulletproof" coffee consists of the following: 

-fresh coffee from organic, high-grade coffee beans

-unsalted high-quality butter from grass-fed cows

-unrefined coconut oil or MCT oil (Medium-Chain-Triglycerides, derived from coconut and palm oils - basically, a more potent fat source)

Soo ok you're like probably like, wait BACK THE EFF UP.  Butter in coffee?  Doesn't that immediately clog your arteries?  No, you fool.  I'm sorry.  That was harsh.  It's really delicious, and fat makes you phat (even Time said so).  Repeat after me: butter is good for you.

Still sound weird? It's actually not at all. The idea is that combining high-quality fat sources with caffeine gives you a more stable energy boost, thus providing greater mental clarity.  It's science: The fats feed your brain and body, and as a result keep your blood sugar stable, which prevents you from getting the caffeine jitters from typical sugar-and-cream laden coffee, and therefore makes you a much happier camper.  Cool, right?  The fats also provide an incredible creamy sweetness to your coffee, so you won't even miss the sweetener. 

The best part is, you can customize it to your liking. I'm always trying to get extra good fats into my diet, and what better than to drink them? Mmm. Fats.

Ingredients: Assemble!

Ingredients: Assemble!


-1-2 cups coffee* 

-1-2 T. unsalted Kerrygold butter (or ghee, for dairy-free**) 

-1-2 T. coconut oil or MCT oil (optional) **

-1/2 t. maca powder

-a few dashes turmeric powder

-2 T. collagen hydrosylate (I use this or this brand - also optional)

-1 t. Raw honey (optional) 

-a bit of vanilla, for taste

-any other mix-ins you'd like

Have fun with your add-ins. Want mocha? Add in cocoa or cacao powder. Want a pumpkin spice latte? Coupla shakes of pumpkin pie spice and maybe a dash of maple syrup in place of honey and you've got Starbucks beat. 

Every ingredient here has a purpose. Maca powder provides a natural energy boost and helps with hormone regulation.  Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory (been eating a lot of crap lately? Lifting a lot of weights? Sick? Yeah, you need this). Collagen is incredible for gut-healing (google leaky gut if you're scratching your head). Plus, it makes your skin look younger. Raw honey? That's just fun.

*Notes: Not a coffee drinker? You can also substitute matcha tea for coffee, and yield equally delicious results. Or even chai tea, for a yummy spiced caffeine-free alternative. Or try with plain ol' nut milk for a yummy soothing treat.

**It is very, VERY important to use the highest quality sources of fats you can get your hands on.  Conventionally raised butter doesn't do a body good -  butter from grass-fed cows, on the other hand, has a completely different, and superior, nutritional profile.  Ghee has a much stronger flavor than butter (because it's pure butter fat), so less is more. If you're using 2 tablespoons of butter, replace with maybe just shy of 1 tablespoon ghee. I don't use MCT oil in my mix (I'm allergic to coconut so I'm a little nervous it might cause a reaction), but if you choose to do so, start out slow. Use 1-2 teaspoons, then build up to more. Too much and you'll have the Hershey squirts, if you catch my drift (sorry...).


1. Brew beverage of choice in manner of choice.  

2. Once beverage is brewed, gather all ingredients. Add coffee to a blender or large vessel (if using an immersion blender).

3. Add all ingredients to blender/cup. 

The Most Basic Green Juice (for Non-Basic B*tches)

It's twelve days into the New Year...How are those New Year's diets holding up? Need a cookie?  Can't stand another salad?  Already given up on the gym?

Never fear.  We've got some sweet detox drink recipes to sip on that will make you feel glorious from the inside out.  Drink a smoothie and tell yourself that cookie tastes like garbage.  And in case you're a beverage fiend (like me), here's yet another to add to your list.

This is your ultimate Basic B*tch Green Juice.  I should totally copyright that name.  It's wicked easy to throw together and is a perfect little punch of vitamins when you're not feeling your best.  Perfect timing for the start of flu season, #justsayin.  I got a brand-new juicer for Christmas and came down with a sinus infection days later, so I've been juicing like a mad-woman and reaping the bens (benefits...I'll stop.).

Of course since I live in Hollywood, everyone is alllllll about the juice.  Juice cleanses are like, so trendy.  Now, I'm not one to give up food in the name of "Detox," but I think fresh juices have a time and a place. 

My personal tips for those new to juicing:

1) Always pair juice with REAL food.  Remember, you need protein to remove toxins from the body.  Juice cannot provide you all the nutrients your body needs in day.

2) When juicing, avoid using fibrous or especially seedy fruits and veggies (bananas, avocados, strawberries, squash, to name a few)

3) Get creative!  This is a super basic recipe.  Switch out fruits/veggies for what you have on hand.

Basic Ingredients:



-romaine lettuce





How pretty is real food?

How pretty is real food?


Clean and trim all ingredients.  Don't worry about the amounts to use - just throw stuff in and juice away.  It's totally foolproof.  Save the scraps for smoothies later.

Don't like parsley?  Swap out for cilantro or mint.  In the summer, try with lime for a nice twist.  Want a sweeter juice?  Add green apple or fresh citrus (tangerines are excellent).  Drank too much last night?  Juice raw beets yo - they're great for liver detoxing. 

For an extra kick, I always add a few dashes each of turmeric and cayenne into the finished juice for more added benefits.  If you can track down fresh turmeric root, jooooce it.  Go wild and crazy, kids.



Best Post-Holiday Detox Drinks

If your holidays were anything like mine, your diet could probably use a reset button. After successfully eating my way through Italy for nine days with nothing but pizza and pasta followed by a trip through the holy land of meat and beer--Germany--my body saw very few fruits and vegetables the past few weeks.

If you're in need of a similar reset, I've included a few detox drinks/smoothies below to bring your A-game back to your mind and body after the holidays.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Rosemary

Canned pumpkin doesn't exist on Mallorca which is really putting a cramp in my fall baking style. But you work with what you got, so I got a butternut squash at the farmer's market yesterday for an attempt at fall cooking.

And people, this literally tastes like autumn in a bowl.

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Almond Pesto (GF/Vegan)

One item that has been difficult to find in Mallorca so far is good pesto. The large supermarkets have one brand (if they have it at all), and it's the kind that comes all packaged in bright colors and bubbly lettering, and you have to wonder how long it has been sitting on the shelf. Weeks, months?

So, naturally, I took it as a sign from the universe. Honey, stop buying the store-bought ones loaded with preservatives and start making the real stuff from scratch. (Don't ask me why the universe just became a Southern Belle, it just did.)

Almond pesto

Almond pesto

On Sunday I went to the farmer's market and stocked up on fresh basil. And, as it usually happens, as soon as I got home I realized that I had a ridiculous amount of basil leaves and didn't have any pine nuts. Or cheese.

But I was determined to make pesto without running out to the store again which only meant one thing: Time to get creative.

Almond pesto

Almond pesto

I had just bought a big bag of almonds, so I decided to substitute the pine nuts for almonds. And as for the cheese - well, I had a bag of nutritional yeast that I found at a small health food store in town (Halleluah, one is in walking distance to me!). I was a little wary about all the substitutions, but it not only turned out to be delicious but super healthy too.

Almonds are a great source of protein and are packed with good fat - the kind that helps with brain function and has also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Holla for a super food! Pair that up with an extra dose of protein and the delicious flavor of nutritional yeast, and we're in business.

Pesto is one of those great items you can just throw into the food processor and bam - you have a delicious spread in minutes. For those on a time crunch but looking to add a little kick of flavor to your cooking, pesto is always a great option.

We have a small food processor at home which turns out to be perfect for a week's worth of pesto - great for a spread on sandwiches or on a lettuce wrap, mix in with pasta, or (my favorite) on GF veggie pizza (made with a garbanzo bean crust - recipe to come to the blog soon!).


Almond Pesto (GF/Vegan)

- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 tightly packed cup fresh basil
- 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup raw unsalted/non-toasted almonds
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 2 tbs water
- 2 tbs nutritional yeast

1. Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Note: For a thicker pesto, use less water.
2. Enjoy as a spread on a sandwich or lettuce wrap, mix with your favorite pasta, or use as a substitute for tomato sauce on pizza.


Breakfast Millet Bowl with Pomegranate, Banana, and Coconut

Since I'm still on the hunt for a good oats/whole grain and low sugar cereal, I've been trying to get a little creative in the mornings to add some variety to the typical avo toast while simultaneously curbing the temptation to get the 1 euro chocolate croissants on my walk to the bus station. I had some leftover millet from some wraps I made the night before, and while I've heard millet makes for a great breakfast, I've never tried it. 

I was sort of in a rush, so I just threw a bunch of stuff I had together in a bowl but it ended up turning out delicious (and super healthy)!

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Breakfast Millet Bowl with Pomegranate, Bananas, and Coconut

- 3/4 c cooked millet
- 1/2 c almond milk
- 1 banana
- 1/4 c pomegranate seeds
- 2 tbs assortment of seeds (mine was pumpkin, sunflower, flax, and sesame)
- 2 tbs dried coconut
- 1 tbs honey

1. Heat the almond milk in a pan until boiling.
2. Add the boiling milk to the cooked millet and stir (Note: For a more "quinoa texture," rather than a mushy oatmeal consistency, use 2 cups water to 1 cup of millet and do not stir when it's cooking; only fluff with a fork after it's done. For more of a "mushy" oatmeal consistency rather than a quinoa consistency, add more water when cooking the millet and stir frequently as it's cooking.)
3. Add the banana, pomegranate, coconut, and seed assortment on top of the millet and warm milk. Drizzle with honey, and enjoy!

How to snack plate. And yes, that's a verb.

The other day, after (surprise, surprise) jumping in the ocean for a swim, the girls and I all needed a little time to refuel.

After years of being together, and always being an active, hungry bunch, we’ve all gotten pretty damn good at snack plating which usually ends up in us throwing together what we have in the cupboard and fridge and adding an item or two picked from the backyard.

Now, here’s the key to snack plating: You need to have something salty, something sweet, and something random. If you just have cheese and grapes, it will be just like every other cheese platter you’ve ever had. You need to have something that stands out.

Vegan Beet Hummus - great to add to a snack plate for a splash of color!

Vegan Beet Hummus - great to add to a snack plate for a splash of color!

So first start with the basics: cheese and crackers, nuts, or olives that you have in the cupboards. Add some fruit if you have it: grapes, pears, or slices of apple. And then add in the “x factor”: homemade pickled or fermented vegetables, pomegranates or figs picked from your backyard, or homemade hummus made with infused olive oils (blog post to come soon!) or blend in beets for a beautiful fuscia spread.

Color is key. Always make sure to have a little green and a color that pops on the plate; beet hummus is great for this (recipe below)!

Add some white wine or homemade kombucha to the mix and, voila, look at you! You’re one step closer to mastering the art of snack plating.

Vegan Beet Hummus

-  1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 small red beet (Note: I use raw beets to keep the max nutritional value, but you can cook beforehand as well)
- 1 clove garlic
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- 4 tbs water (more if you like your hummus to not be as thick)

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Scoop out into a dish and enjoy with carrots, crackers, or toast, or use as a spread for a sandwich.