Monthly Archives: March 2014

Cocoa & Cashew Truffles

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.                     -Roald Dahl

My magic cocoa & cashew truffles

2 cups pitted dates

1 cup dried figs

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup cocoa nibs

1 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup raw cocoa powder

Optional: 1/2 cup  Vanilla Vega protein powder ( I always add it!1)

using the blade of your food processor and the pulse setting

pulse the dates until well chopped.

add the figs and pulse to combine.

Add the cashews,pulse well to combine.

add the coconut and cocoa powder, pulse again,

add the cocoa nibs last and combine well…

roll the dough into 1″ truffles and roll in an equal mix of coconut flakes and cocoa powder ( I used a 1/2 cup of each.)

so delicious.. Add the protein powder to the last pulse  before you roll it in the cocoa coconut dust, to make a protein packed truffle to satisfy your sweet tooth and as a post workout snack!

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Spring is your chance to BLOOM!

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Socrates

My husband  planted an amazing  Spring garden for us. I have been getting handfuls of gorgeous greens for our salads. We garden organically so you have to look for extra goodies that might come in on the lettuce, things like spiders, grasshoppers, ants etc. Yesterday I found a tightly spun caterpillar web on the underside of a crispy leaf of Butter crunch lettuce.I wish I would have taken a picture of it before I transferred it back to the garden. I will never interrupt the process it takes to become a butterfly. (I also don’t want to eat caterpillars, a little squishy for me!)

Each one of us is so tightly wound ,like that cocoon, or attached snugly to something. 

What are you hanging onto that is keeping you from being a butterfly?

Today is a great day to begin. Just like all of the birds, bugs, plants & animals in nature we need to get started today. We now have 31 days until Easter Sunday.  Have you started your Spring cleaning yet?

I am not talking about your closet or garage. Let’s clean your pantry and physical body. You are worth it! 

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My Meyer Lemon blossoms. The honey Bees are buzzing around raiding the pollen. I wish I could find their secret stash of honey!

I had so many thoughts today as I was watching the activity in my garden but the biggest one was that all of the creatures out there looked so light.

floating, flitting, soaring, gliding and dancing in the new growth. Leaping from stem to stem or flower to flower Such freedom in their movements. Can you feel it, that energy? I could and it encouraged me and empowered me to be my healthiest self.

This salad tasted just like Spring with the crisp lettuce, arugula, beets, pea shoots, basil, tarragon, chives heirloom carrots, Thumbalina bell peppers,blueberries& mango. I also crumbled some bacon on top for some crunch and salty goodness. A drizzle of California olive oil and Banyls vinegar finished it.

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Sweet potatoes & The @Whole30

Sweet potatoes saved me during my 30 days on the @Whole30! I made then anyway they could be cooked. …..sauteed, mashed, grated, cubed or baked,they made it to my plate at least 4 times a week. When I put some of their magic on my plate I felt like my meal was complete. One little bite of grated sweet potatoes mixed with fresh chives and sauteed with a TBSP. of ghee and my tastebuds said “ah, thank you!”

So a quick little recipe to get you started, especially  if you have only had sweet potatoes at holiday time with marshmallow topping and you think you hate them!

Sweet potato fritter

1 organic sweet potato, peeled

2 TBSP. fresh chive, minced

pinch kosher salt

pinch coarse ground pepper

1 tsp. dried chipotle flakes

1 egg white. beaten

2 TBSP. almond flour

3 TBSP. ghee or clarified butter

 

Using a hand grater or your food processor, grate the sweet potato. Mix it a medium bowl with the salt,pepper, chipotle and chives.

next toss the grated potato with the almond flour to distribute evenly.

mix in the beaten egg white and mix thoroughly.

melt the ghee in a saute pan over medium high heat .

drop in large spoonfuls of the potato mixture and let it sizzle for about three minutes .

Flip it over and let it sizzle some more.. they should have a little crust top and bottom.

Serve these with your protein and lots of fresh veggies for dinner or with your eggs for breakfast..you will never miss mashed potatoes or pasta, I promise ♥

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Shown here with guacamole & bacon burger with a garden salad

Drinking Of The Green for St. Patrick’s Day

If you are planning on indulging in a Guinness (or two) today then a good start to the day would be a green juice.

All things green today, right?

Here is my favorite ….makes 32 ounces.

2 organic cucumbers

2 cups organic Italian parsley leaves

1 cup of Kale

4 stalks celery

1 apple

 

1/2″ piece fresh ginger root

1 lemon

Put all of the vegetables through the juicer and enjoy!

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Pasture Raised Eggs and other goodies on The Whole30

I grew up on a small farm in Northern California. I use the term farm loosely but we did have chickens, a garden and my beautiful  Quarter horses.

We grew( at various times and with various success) potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, melons etc……just enough to feed our large family of 8 kids and two adults.

My favorite breakfast was the delicious free range eggs our chickens provided us with. The yolks of a sunny side up egg looked like bright sunshine on the plate. I loved them scrambled with Vella dry jack cheese and chives from the garden.. makes me hungry to think about it. I still make scrambled eggs that way, just without the  Vella dry jack for now.

If you have to buy eggs at the farmers market or the store it can be very confusing..  Natural eggs?? aren’t they all natural? Organic Eggs? Again the confusion. Is the egg organic or the feed the chicken eats ?

free range?another one that’s really misleading… gets me thinking that the chickens are all running around and getting their pecking order on..but in reality they are probably moved from spot to spot in a portable pen on a small patch of ground.

Here is the deal.. buy pasture raised eggs if you can. That means that the chickens get to roam around freely in a pasture and eat grubs and stuff , as well as any organic feed they might be supplemented with.

But if you can, buy them from a farm that you have checked out yourself.. I get mine from a neighbor friend  who has chickens…. Illegally of course, but without the Rooster strutting around and looking for attention from the hens , it is a pretty quiet enterprise.

I also buy my pasture raised eggs at Whole Foods if I need to.  (like when the snooty neighbor who never eats, let alone an “OMG egg with butter!”, complained about my friends egg business and tried to shut it down)

Pictured is a great simple recipe for breakfast on the Whole30 or just because you want to start your day healthy and satisfied.

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 In order to make this the correct way you need to have Ghee or Clarified butter prepped. Here is the easy way to do that,

The night before... melt 4 sticks( 1 pound) of grass fed organic butter ( I love Strauss dairy) in a medium sauce pan on medium/high heat, let the butter melt completely and turn to simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until it starts to crackle. This is the water evaporating out of the butter. The cream foam will rise to the surface( you may skim off if you like) and you will see the gold liquid start to separate on the bottom of the pan. It is okay to have some brown bits but do not let the butter burn.

note to self…..Do Not get sidetracked by your Instagram while melting the butter!

Turn off the heat and pour the liquid butter into a  small rectangular glass container with a lid. Let it chill overnight in the frig and then in the morning before you cook your breakfast, poke a large hole in the butter and pour off the milky liquid. These are the milk solids that cause burning when you use a pat of unclarified butter in a hot pan!

This clarified butter or simple ghee (There is a slight difference that you can research ) is now ready for the next weeks worth of cooking. I also refrigerate the clarified butter liquid it in a small ice cube tray so that I have  the proper portions already to go.  One cube is perfect for my big saute pan and is about a thumb size of good fat!

Back to the breakfast recipe:

Salsa  poached eggs with spinach and leeks

Ingredients for two servings:

2 portions of clarified butter

4  illegally raised pasture raised eggs

4 cups organic spinach

2 organic leeks, white part only, rinsed clean of sand

1 cup hot ,organic salsa of your choice, If store bought make sure it has no sugar!

salt and pepper to taste

prep the leeks .. cut them in half lengthwise and slice then thinly.

Using a large saute pan, turn on medium heat and pre heat the pan,

Add the butter and let it melt completely.

Add the leeks….. saute them until the start to get crispy edges.

Add the salsa and stir well.

Add the spinach and cook down. It will rapidly reduce in size and water will be created from the spinach leaves.

Crack your eggs over the  top of the spinach mix , sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover with a glass lid to poach the eggs with the steam.Poach the mix for approx. 5 minutes, Until  you see the egg white start to cook and become white.

When the white start to harden flip the mixture over gently.

Cook for three more minutes.

Devour and Have a delicious day!

Are you ready for some Whole30?

Okay so now you know I am a football mom!

I am hoping that while I was away this weekend you have cleaned out your cluttered pantries and decided to follow along. If your not sure yet you have a few more days to get ready. A couple ideas about starting the plan. Unlike what many people are doing on paleo, do not modify the plan to fit your old lifestyle. I say this because people keep trying to keep their old habits with a new eating plan.. that does not work. You will not see results if you start baking with Almond flour instead of wheat flour.. The solution is to clean your digestion with whole foods. I have a client who started eating paleo and gained weight. She started baking snacks( with healthy ingredients now, nothing refined or white) but it was too many empty calories. Sugar is still sugar! It  comes in so many forms that it takes extra effort to chase it down and get rid of it..think of sugar as kitchen termites, almost invisible but capable of lots of damage!

The pantry list is really great that the book provides and I bought most of it. I have really enjoyed using all of it in a variety of different ways. Even a seasoned chef like me can learn new  kitchen tricks!

I am a Whole foods junkie because they have so many of the products I trust in one place. So go shop and tomorrow I will write about the good fats we are going to eat ♥

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MY husband and son, after Scotty was drafted by the New York Jets!

Day 30 on the Whole30 ..Spring Cleaning Truth.

I am on the last day of The Whole30 food plan but it is not the last day for me. This professional chef and celebration artist is a believer!

I have to say that in the past I have been very protective of my profession and very skeptical of any so called “diet” that limited any food to anybody. I have always preached “moderation” not “elimination”but that is part of the change I am embracing. I have clients that eat every trend going: raw, vegan,paleo, Whole30, vegetarian and the list goes on… with many variations.

I have to say that most culinary training does not include in depth nutritional training. I am constantly educating myself; usually in the form of trial and error ( or in this case success) on myself. Today is about success and new beginnings which I think is appropriate on Ash Wednesday.

Whether you are religious or not Lent has always been a time of renewal.

40 days to challenge yourself to start something better in your life. There are always so many reasons not to start. Find just one reason to start.

I think that the number one reason people give themselves is that they do not cook so I am going to help with that if you follow along. I am thinking today that if you can buy or borrow the book “It Starts With Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig start there.. Before you do anything else , read it….. from cover to cover.

When I teach my cooking classes the first thing I teach is to read the recipe before you try to produce it. I know this sounds basic( I can hear your sarcasm right now) but how many times have you raced to the store to buy something you forgot for a recipe you want to make?

If you want to be successful you have to prep the right way.

Our chef mantra..prep prep prep and then prep some more!

I believe that in the next 40 days you could read this book, prep for the plan and finish it in time for Easter Sunday! I know it is difficult and I know there will be people you love who will tell you that you are crazy.. It has been happening to me for the last 30 days. That’s why I decided to start and finish it myself…

my promise to  you is that I will follow along with you for the next 40 days with my easy, delicious recipes that I have created to keep myself inspired along my journey.

1. Read

2. Prep

3. clear the clutter from your pantry and refrigerator

4. read labels, you will notice all of the hidden junk in food you thought was good for you.

5. thirty days later you will have some significant change in your life…….. actually it will be many changes♥

One that I have had that is so exciting for me is that for the first time in 10 years my ears are almost clear. I have had all kinds of tests and treatments to clear my ear canals but nothing has worked.. as a result I can be a very loud talker…this makes me smile because I am constantly being told how loud I am, Good  thing though. I never need a microphone when I speak to people. All kidding aside, I am so amazed and grateful. some times the pain in my ears was unbearable but now that is almost ancient history!

Let me know that you are following along and let’s help each other. 

today’s tidbit: If you think you can’t do this whole plan after you have read it in its entirety then just pick one place to start.. a biggie would be to clear all processed food from your life.. period! 

Have a Delicious Day……. I am on my way to my garden to shop for lunch ♦

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Organic grapefruit sections, blueberries, bananas & strawberries sprinkled with unsweetened coconut flakes. 

 

 

 

 

26 days into The Whole30 .

The book cover to “It Starts With Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig,  tells you that your life will change in unexpected ways… and it does.

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This was my breakfast today…… a delicious and unexpected mix of Romenesco, fresh homemade Pico de Gallo and Pasture raised, poached eggs. 26 days ago it would have included cheese and tortillas. Not now. I heard about this book from my friend and professional model Danika @danikabrysha. I heard about it from two professional athletes that I feed. I started making changes to their food plans and decided if I was going to cook it for others then I better try it for myself. All I can say is wow!

I am a professional chef right? and I have lived by the motto “never trust a skinny chef” for years. Suited me fine since I have probably gained and lost the same 40 pounds for the last 25 years. When you are cooking everyday for people’s celebrations it is easy to get lost in cheese paradise. What celebration dinner does not include the best wine, cheese, organic vegetables and heirloom raised meats and not  let’s forget a great slice, or loaf, of artisan bread. …and they should, just not everyday, which is easy to forget when you cook all day, everyday for work.

My journey with a healthy body began three years ago when I started my Ashtanga Yoga practice. About the same time I was dedicated to the farm to table movement which I had always been a part of. I was raised with a large garden and chickens that were free range, best eggs ever! When I was a young Chef my heroes were all of the slow food pioneers. Alice Waters, Jeremiah Towers, even Julia, my heroine. being a Northern California girl had its perks in the food world. San Francisco had a great food culture in the late eighties that is thriving today in 2014 in So Cal and beyond.

But lets get back to food, I think the real celebration starts with our attitude towards it. This book, The Whole 30, made me rethink my habits, which truly were not bad. I don’t eat much processed food, I use only organic vegetables form local farms or we grow our own in our garden at home. I only buy my meat from small farms who raise their animals the right way …in pastures, lovingly, no hormones no antibiotics. My cheese come from the best local farms, so does my  honey. My family and clients have always been fed this way, whether in my restaurant, catering or my home. so why change? Well for one thing I was carry around extra belly weight which is really unhealthy and I figured if I could attack that then it was a good thing. No more baggy chef pants and jackets to cover it up, time to get rid of it for good. Yoga clothes tell the whole story, right?

Long story short I started their eating plan 26 days ago and now I feel like I can talk about it from experience to my family, friends, clients and well really… to whoever has interest. I am not called Chatty Cathy for nothing! This is not about dieting, it is about eating whole foods for 30 days and thinking about it as you go along, Falling in love with the seasons and what they produce and introducing yourself to the small passionate farmers and growers in your community. More to come in the following days with recipes and thoughts!!