Kitchari Kitcharee Kitchadee

This dish is as versatile as it is nourishing. Experiment with seasonal vegetables and various seasonings to tailor it to your dosha and taste preferences. Kitchari is a deeply nourishing and cleansing porridge that has been a staple comfort food in India for thousands of years. Ayurvedic practitioners tout this magical dish as an ideal meal to help those in need of purification and healing. Kitchari is very easy to digest, and thus allows the body to devote its energy to healing and detoxifying. It is also thought to balance any dosha, or bodily constitution. Don't know what your dosha is? Take this quiz and find out!

Traditionally, kitchari is made from mung dal and basmati rice, but this version uses quinoa and red lentils instead. It is equally as nutritious and delicious. This dish can be made as a meal any day of the week, but if you are more interested in partaking of a kitchari cleanse, talk to your local ayurvedic practitioner or see here for some ideas.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa (or basmati rice)

2 cups red lentils (or split yellow mung dal split yellow)

7 cups-ish water

2 tbs. ghee

2 tsp. cumin seeds or powder

2 tsp. turmeric powder

2 tsp. coriander powder

Pinch salt

Chopped fresh cilantro to taste

Seasonal, organic veggies such as butternut squash, sweet potato, cauliflower, greens, zucchini, etc.

Optional (and tougher to find) Ingredients

1 pinch Asafoetida (Hing)

2 tsp. fennel powder

3 tsp. Mmustard seeds

Method

Heat large soup pot and melt in ghee.

Sauté seeds and spices in the ghee for 1-2 minutes.

And quinoa and lentils and stir to mix.

Add water, bring to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or so.

In the meantime, prepare your veggies, and be sure to cut them into smallish pieces.

Add veggies to the pot. Stir to mix, adding extra water if required. Bring back to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until all ingredients are fully cooked.

Serve into a bowl and salt to taste, then garnish with chopped cilantro.

*NOTE: For a more filling meal, accompany with a ripe slice of avocado.

Happy Belly Tangerine Blueberry Smoothie

Introducing the "Happy Guts Tangerine and Blueberry Smoothie." And of course my dog, Luna, stretching in the background. She knew there was a photo shoot afoot, and decided to steal the spotlight. Ham. This week we have a plethora of greens in our farm share, so I decided to use them up via smoothie. In an effort to soothe my digestion (I've been misbehaving on the diet home front), I used some kefir (massive dose of probiotics!) as the base to promote healthy gut flora, with a splash of coconut water to calm any internal digestive inflammation. Top it off with an optional sprinkle of probiotic powder and two drops of tangerine essential oil, and voilá! You have a lightly sweet, tangy smoothie to soothe your digestion and keep you sated for hours to come.

On an interesting side note, there has been a recent uprising amongst the "green juice" and "green smoothie" community, wherein some folks claim that drinking such greens-laden beverages can be hazardous to your health. Their reasoning is that most greens are high in oxolates, which wouldn't be a big deal except that in mass quantities (like every day forever) they can manifest into oxolate stones (think kidney stone...ow.). But when consumed in moderation (they are found in lots of foods including spinach, peanuts, peppercorns, etc.) are probably just fine...Not to mention that you are benefiting from the other nutrients found in said foods. So, jury is still out.

As always, do your own research. Don't embrace a food fad until you know the basics. Probably anything (with the exception of crystal meth and elevator music) in moderation is just fine for your mind, body, and soul. Just don't overdo it.

Happy smoothie-ing!

Ingredients:

1 Cup organic berry-flavored Kefir (or you can make your own, which I haven't YET tried)

1 Splash coconut water

1 Large handful organic spinach

1/2 Cup organic blueberries

1-2 Drops doTerra Tangerine Essential Oil

*Optional: Can add a little sprinkle of additional probiotic powder, but ONLY if you have a good one. I like Jarrow-Dophilus.

*Note-if you don't have kefir, add 1/2 cup yogurt, 1-2 pitted dates, and use 1 cup of coconut water instead.

Method:

Put all ingredients into the blender and blend to smithereens (1-2 minutes)

*NOTE: Not all essential oils are created equal. I only use doTerra because their oils are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, which is suitable for internal, external, and aromatherapeutic consumption.

*NOTE: All doTerra Essential Oils are extremely potent. I’d recommend 1 drop per dish. Otherwise, just know that you will have a VERY strong-tasting meal!

Click here to learn more about doTerra Essential Oils.

Benefits:

Blueberries: These berries should get their own cape. They are a superfood, packed with antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, meanwhile protecting your nervous system and brain health. They're rich with manganese, and Vitamins K and C, and are also a good source of dietary fiber. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Coconut Water: Coconut water is perfect for replenishing simple sugars, electrolytes, and minerals within the body. It contains cytokinins with significant anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic properties, and is very soothing to the digestive tract. But there's so much more! See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Kefir: This fermented dairy beverage abounds with healthy probiotics to promote healthy gut flora, and is packed with protein, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and D, as well as folic acid. It's also a good source of calcium, iron, and iodine. Some say that it is also easier for many to digest than regular cow's milk. It's tasty too! But be forewarned, the flavor is not for all palates. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Spinach: Spinach is a rich source of vitamin K (think blood builder/purifier!), vitamins A, C, B2 and B6, as well as manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Popeye apparently knew how to protect himself against inflammatory problems and oxidative stress-related issues, while promoting his cardiovascular and bone health. AND he got the girl! See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Tangerine Essential Oil: DoTerra's Tangerine Essential oil is an extremely powerful blood purifying agent, digestive aid, anti-septic, and relaxant. It can help improve blood circulation, and reduces internal inflammation. The neurological benefits abound as well. See here for a full description and uses for this amazing oil, and click here if you’re interested in purchasing any doTerra essential oils.

Best Chicken Salad I Ever Ate...

This batch fed a roundup of hungry ladies at a baby shower brunch, served with buttery croissants. Yum.

...Meanwhile the meat/no meat debate continues...

Ah, the endless debate: If you are a true yogi, can you eat meat? That is for you to decide. But I will say this: the concept of "ahimsa," or unconditional love for all beings (as defined by Nischala Joy Devi in her heart-centered translation of the Yoga Sutras) must be applied to oneself too. Yes, it makes my being writhe to think of animals being abused and "dispatched" for human consumption. But if your body is in need of certain sustenance that only animal flesh can provide, and you prepare and eat it with love and gratitude in your heart, then I personally think it is ok in moderation. Granted, there are likely yogis, vegetarians, and vegans who would vehemently disagree. And that's ok.

My best advice is to listen to your own body and soul's inherent wisdom. But if you decide to go for it, try this recipe. The extra time it takes to shred the chicken meat is totally worth the effort. It's nutritious and delicious, and can be made in large enough batches to feed the masses...as long as they're not vegetarian. (In which case make any of the other recipes on this site.)

Ingredients:

4 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken (about 1 3/4 pound)

*Note: 1) If you use breasts and thighs it tastes even better! 2) If you shred the chicken rather than cut it, it tastes even better-er! 3) Make sure chicken is completely cooled before mixing with other ingredients to make it taste the better-iest!

*Note: This is a GREAT way to use up leftover chicken and/or turkey meat.

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled

1 cup chopped fennel (can sub celery if you don’t have/like fennel)

3 sprigs finely chopped green onion

2 cups halved seedless purple grapes

1/4 cup mayonnaise (can use homemade Paleo-nnaise if that’s your bag, baby)

½ cup Greek yogurt (can use all Greek yogurt if you don’t like mayo)

2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint or 3-4 Tbs. dried

Hefty dash tabasco sauce

Hefty drizzle honey (1 Tsp.-ish)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl until combined well. Can be served immediately, but is even yummier if allowed to sit for a few hours or even overnight.

Can be served solo, in sandwich or wrap form. This chicken salad is heavenly on a fresh croissant, but is also tasty when served in lettuce wraps or radicchio leaves if you’re doing the grain-free thing.

Health Benefits:

Chicken: If you're looking for a good source of protein that's also low in fat try an organic chicken breast. The thighs have a richer (read: fattier) flavor, but both are great sources of tryptophan, selenium, and vitamins B3 and B6. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Fennel: In addition to its abounding phytonutrients, fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium. It also has a unique licorice-like flavor and a ton of crisp crunch. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Grapes: Grapes are packed with vitamin C and manganese and contain a variety of antioxidant phytonutrients such as beta-carotene and resveratrol (think red wine!). These tasty little jewels are thought to help support the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, and nervous systems. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is a thicker, creamier version of "regular" yogurt that boasts high protein, healthy bacteria which support healthy gut flora, and is a good source of calcium. It's a versatile addition to your diet and can replace higher fat dairy products. See here for more about the nutritional info and health benefits of yogurt.

Pecans: Pecans protect your brain, heart, and body. They're high in vitamin E, oleic acid, vitamin B1, thiamin, magnesium, protein, and an array of other vitamins and minerals. They are also great sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (read: good fats), and are very low in saturated fat. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

You Say Tomato, I Say Caprese

Tomatoes, fresh mozza and basil, with a hint of truffle salt and olive oil. I could live on this combination in the summertime. Hi. My name is Celestia, and I'm a caprese-aholic. I love tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella in just about any form....From slabs of heirloom tomato with hunks-o fresh mozzarella and chopped basil, to an open-faced caprese sammy, I'm a sucker for any dish that resembles that magical combination of ingredients. It's an ultimate summertime favorite, so I had to throw this recipe in here before the chilly air takes the tomatoes away until next season. Enjoy...

Ingredients:

Heirloom tomatoes, sliced into thick slices

Fresh mozzarella cheese, torn or cut into pieces (to match the size of your tomato slices)

Fresh basil, julienned (Or homemade pesto)

High quality olive oil for drizzling

Pinches of salt (to taste)

*Optional: truffle salt OR truffle oil (but not both), balsamic vinegar or reduction, other types of cheese to replace the mozzarella such as goat or brie.

Method:

Arrange tomato slices on a serving plate or platter.

Carefully administer pinches of sea or truffle salt.

Arrange cheese on tomato slices.

Add julienned basil.

Drizzle with olive oil (and optional balsamic).

Keep your hands and arms away from the platter as each bite disappears.

Health Benefits:

Basil: Basil contains flavanoids called orientin and vicenin, which protect us at a cellular level. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also high in vitamin K, so is great for our blood health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Olive Oil: Olive Oil is packed phytonutrients including polyphenols. Most of the polyphenols in olive oil function as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body. When eaten in moderation, olive oil can be very beneficial to our gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Mozzarella Cheese: Dairy products are not for everyone...but for those of us who can eat a bit of dairy, Mozzarella is a great source of  vitamins (such as niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, biotin and vitamin B6), minerals (such as calcium and phosphorus), and is high in protein. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Tomato: Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain high amounts of manganese and vitamin E. Multiple studies have shown that tomatoes are wonderful for heart health. See here for more health benefits of tomatoes. Heirloom varieties of any flora and fauna are dear to my heart. I’ll write more about this later. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Caprese with brie and balsamic reduction.

Local, multigrain bread with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, avocado, olive oil, and sea salt. Best summer lunch I can think of...

Zucchini Avocado Carpaccio

For this "simple man's" zucchini carpaccio, I used a potato peeler to create paper-thin zucchini ribbons. I've always been a glutton for delicious words like "kumquat" and "soliloquy." Diving into the world of culinary arts has opened up a treasure trove of new words that make me tingly just to say them. One such word is "carpaccio." I love the way it rolls off my tongue, especially when in the same phrase as multi-syllabic words like "zucchini" and "avocado." Call me a word nerd, but I don't care. I take almost as much pleasure speaking the names of these dishes as I do tasting them. So I present this beautiful dish, which was spawned from food icon, Patricia Wells' cookbook Vegetable Harvest, but I found and adapted this version from food52.com. It takes a few minutes to assemble, can marinate anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours, and is absolutely divine. The tartness of the marinade is rounded out by the fat of the avocado and the salty creamy crunch of the pistachios. I didn't include lemon thyme in this version, but that would surely elevate the tasting experience even more. Enjoy!

 Ingredients:

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1/2 Tsp. fine sea salt, plus additional as needed

1/4 cup high-quality pistachio oil, almond oil, or extra virgin olive oil

4 small or 2 medium zucchini

1 ripe avocado, peeled and very thinly sliced

1/4 cup salted pistachio nuts, chopped

4 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, preferably with flowers.

Method:

Combine lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil in small jar. Cover and shake to blend.

Slice zucchini lengthwise as thinly as possible, using mandoline or very sharp knife...I used a potato peeler and had pretty good (albeit not perfectly even) ribbons.

Spread slices on platter and drizzle with lemon mixture. Tilt platter to evenly coat slices. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.

Alternate zucchini and avocado slices on your platter (or individual salad plates), slightly overlapping each slice.

Sprinkle with pistachios. Season with salt to taste, garnish with lemon thyme, and serve.

Health Benefits:

Avocado: Avocado is an excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, folate, vitamins K, C, and B, and potassium. It also contains a wide spectrum of inflammation-fighting nutrients. Avocado also helps increase our intake of two key carotenoid antioxidants—lycopene and beta-carotene—when eaten with romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Lemon: Lemons are vitamin C powerhouses. Great for immunity, vitamin C can also be helpful for preventing the development and progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Pistachios: These nuts are rich with antioxidants, phytosterols, unsaturated fats, vitamin B-6, and thiamin. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Zucchini: Excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, and is a good source of vitamin A. Summer squash also retains its nutrients when eaten raw, lightly steamed, and/or frozen. And make sure to eat the seeds! Summer squash seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids which are helpful in the prevention of inflammation. The seeds are also thought to contain anti-microbial properties and are still used in some parts of the world to treat intestinal parasites. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Nectarine and Heirloom Tomato Salad

This 5-minute salad was one of my favorites of the summer...Sweet, tart, and tangy, I'm drooling a little just thinking about it. Nectarines and tomatoes might not seem a likely pair, but oooh, they are. Sweet yet savory, tart but smooth, the ripe flesh of both of these fruits (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit) are a sultry match, like a tango in my mouth. I had to make an instant salad to go with dinner, and ended up enjoying this way more than the main course. So I offer it humbly, and hope the results are equally as satisfying to you.

Ingredients:

2 large or 5 small/medium RIPE heirloom tomatoes (I like the smaller ones as their flavor is more concentrated)

2 RIPE nectarines

2 Tbs. julienned basil

High quality olive oil and sea salt for marinating

*NOTE: This recipe can be made with ripe peaches as well for a similar effect, but I recommend using nectarines. If using peaches, peel them for less "mouth fuzz."

*OPTIONAL: If you're craving dairy, try a few crumbles of goat cheese for a nice variation on taste and presentation.

Method:

Slice tomatoes and nectarines into a bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste. Toss.

Sprinkle with basil and allow to sit 5-10 minutes (if you can wait that long!)

Serve and enjoy.

Health Benefits:

Basil: Basil contains flavanoids called orientin and vicenin, which protect us at a cellular level. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also high in vitamin K, so is great for our blood health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Nectarines: Nectarines are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta carotene (read: high in cancer-fighting free radicals!), and are high in fiber. They are also a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps maintain healthy blood pressure. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Olive Oil: Olive Oil is packed phytonutrients including polyphenols. Most of the polyphenols in olive oil function as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body. When eaten in moderation, olive oil can be very beneficial to our gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Tomato: Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain high amounts of manganese and vitamin E. Multiple studies have shown that tomatoes are wonderful for heart health. See here for more health benefits of tomatoes. Heirloom varieties of any flora and fauna are dear to my heart. I’ll write more about this later. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Avocado Lime Coleslaw

The perfect heart-y companion to any summer or autumn meal!

The perfect heart-y companion to any summer or autumn meal!

Adapted from http://anutritionisteats.com

I've never known what to do with cabbage. But one fateful Saturday morning, a cabbage appeared in our farmshare goodies, so I realized it was time to get creative. This recipe is perfect for the last summer barbeques and dinner parties as a side dish. Or nestle some in a corn tortilla with some fish and create some gourmet-ified fish tacos. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 cups cabbage, shredded

*Optional 2 Tbs. red or white onion, minced

1 cup + 2 Tbs. cilantro

1 small avocado

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbs. honey

2 tbs. olive oil

Water to thin dressing  (as needed)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Combine cabbage, onion, and 2 tablespoons of minced cilantro. Set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Add water as needed.

Toss with cabbage mixture with dressing and let chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Health Benefits:

Avocado: Avocado is an excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, folate, vitamins K, C, and B, and potassium. It also contains a wide spectrum of inflammation-fighting nutrients. Avocado also helps increase our intake of two key carotenoid antioxidants—lycopene and beta-carotene—when eaten with romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Cabbage: Cabbage is a powerful cancer fighter and lowerer (new word?) of cholesterol. It contains massive amounts of Vitamin A and is a good source of Vitamin C. While purple cabbage is more nutrient dense than the lighter green varieties (due to their added phytonutrients), all varieties are nutritional powerhouses. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Cilantro: Cilantro is a powerful cleansing agent which helps remove heavy metals and other toxins from the body. It's also beneficial for the digestive tract due to its production of digestive enzymes, acids, and juices. Its essential oils stimulate peristalsis, relieve gas, and aid with digestion. Cilantro also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and helps to increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Lime: Limes are vitamin C powerhouses. Great for immunity, vitamin C can also be helpful for preventing the development and progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

Delicately sweet with a little kick of basil, this take on agua fresca is thirst quenching and über tasty. Enjoy! To show my appreciation to our landscapers, who have been working tirelessly for the last few weeks arranging boulders and moving the earth in our backyard, I whipped up a batch of this agua fresca. They were forced to retreat out of the rain by an afternoon cloudburst, so I presented them with this pink drink. Cooling, summery, and infused with my heartfelt thanks, they slurped each sip like the last few drops of the remaining summer. Hope you enjoy it too.

Ingredients:

8 cups watermelon (preferably seedless), cubed

2-1 cup fresh basil leaves (depending on how adventurous you're feeling)

Juice of 1 lime

*OPTIONAL: Honey or agave to taste (if you like it sweeter, but if you have a totally ripe melon, there's really no need.)

Method:

Place all the ingredients into a blender.

Puree until smooth.

Strain through a fine chinois.

Serve over ice and garnish with basil.

Health Benefits:

Watermelon: An excellent source of vitamins C and A, as well as beta-carotene and lycopene. All of these are powerful antioxidants which help neutralize free radicals in the body. See here for more health benefits and nutritional value.

Basil: Basil contains flavanoids called orientin and vicenin, which protect us at a cellular level. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also high in vitamin K, so is great for our blood health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Lavender Macadamia Chocolate Bark

This chocolate bark makes and excellent Valentine's Day Gift...If it lasts that long. I recently made the dangerous discovery that it is extremely easy to make one's own chocolate bark. I find myself fantasizing about all the different flavor combinations one could make, all the toppings and essential oils one could include, to create supremely delectable confections. The possibilities are truly endless. I've tried a host of combinations and this one is a favorite. What's better is you will make someone's day (and save your burgeoning buttocks) if you hand deliver it to a friend's doorstep. Enjoy and they will too!

Ingredients:

8oz dark chocolate mini chocolate chips

1 bar 70-88% organic fair trade bar chocolate, broken into small pieces (*note: the higher the cocoa content, the less sweet your finished product will be)

2/3-ish cup macadamia or hazelnuts, skins removed and coarsely chopped

1 drop doTerra lavender essential oil

*Optional: edible dried lavender blossoms and/or coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Method:

Line a 9x13 baking sheet with wax paper.

Heat a small saucepan over low heat. Place chocolate chips in the pan and melt slowly, constantly stirring to ensure even melting.

Add the chocolate bar pieces and stir until completely melted and smooth. Turn off the burner.

Add the drop of lavender essential oil and stir until well-blended. Mix in half the nuts.

Immediately pour onto prepared baking sheet. With flexible rubber spatula spread into an 8x10 rectangle about 1/4 inch-ish thick.

Sprinkle with remaining nuts and optional blossoms and salt.

Refrigerate (or put outside in the snow!) to chill until firm (about 30 minutes)

*Refrigerate up to 5 days (if it last that long…which it won’t).

*NOTE: Not all essential oils are created equal. I only use doTerra because their oils are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, which is suitable for internal, external, and aromatherapeutic consumption.

*NOTE: All doTerra Essential Oils are extremely potent. I’d recommend 1 drop per batch. Otherwise, just know that you will have a VERY strong-tasting snack!

Click here to learn more about doTerra Essential Oils.

The Easiest Homemade Hummus Ever...

They could call this "yummus." This week I had the absolutely delightful experience of hosting a few young cyclists at my house in preparation of the USA Cycle Pro Challenge, Tour de Colorado (which started in Durango this year...boo ya!). Long story short, I needed to find a way to feed some grande appetites without hours of preparation. One of my staple recipes for such an occasion is hummus. See below for the base recipe, but keep in mind that you can add whatever you want. This recipe is the standard hummus, dressed up with a few other fresh ingredients to kick up the flavor quotient. I added chopped Greek olives, basil, pine nuts and paprika to this batch, and it was gone in minutes. Happy creating!

In other news, I totally enjoyed being "cycle Mom." Who knew how much fun it could be to have four 20-ish-year old sons. I cooked a massive spaghetti dinner, they cleaned, and we all jammed out to Notorious B.I.G. Yes, Biggie Smalls is the illest, but team Bondrager/Livestrong, the feeder team for Team Radioshack, is pretty bad ass too. Good luck this week, guys!

Ingredients

1 clove garlic, chopped or pressed (or you can use a hefty sprinkle of garlic powder)

1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans (or soak your own and cook according to package directions which I think is waaay better)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon, or 1 drop doTerra lemon essential oil

2 heaping tablespoons tahini

1 heaping teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons-ish olive oil

Method

Rinse garbanzos and pour into blender, reserving a couple tablespoons for garnish.

Place lemon juice (and/or essential oil), tahini, chopped garlic, and salt in blender.

Blend until creamy and well mixed. (Add a little water and/or olive oil if not blending easily.)

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.

Sprinkle with pepper and pour olive oil over the top. Garnish with reserved garbanzo beans and other tasty and pretty items for an impressive flavor and presentation.

Serve with bread, crackers, crudite, or your fingers...kidding.

*Optional items to put in and/or on your hummus: paprika, Greek olives, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro, or rosemary, pine nuts...the list goes on. Just use your imagination.

*NOTE: Not all essential oils are created equal. I only use doTerra because their oils are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, which is suitable for internal, external, and aromatherapeutic consumption.

*NOTE: All doTerra Essential Oils are extremely potent. I’d recommend 1 drop per dish. Otherwise, just know that you will have a VERY strong-tasting meal!

Click here to learn more about doTerra Essential Oils.

Health Benefits

This bean/seed combo makes a complete protein, which means that all the amino acids your body needs are present in this combination. See here for other complete protein combos to get the most out of your nutrients. Enjoy!

Garbanzo Beans: Also known as "chickpeas," these beans are particularly high in insoluble fiber, which means you have a squeaky clean colon and feel fuller for longer when eating these legumes. They are also extremely high in lots of nutrients such as manganese, folate, and tryptophan. They are a great source of plant-based protein. If you find legumes make you gassy, try pre-soaking them for easier digestion. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Tahini: Sesame seeds (of which tahini is made) are jam packed with manganese and copper, and are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, and dietary fiber. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Olive Oil: Olive Oil is packed phytonutrients including polyphenols. Most of the polyphenols in olive oil function as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body. When eaten in moderation, olive oil can be very beneficial to our gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Lemon Juice: Lemons (and limes) are vitamin C powerhouses. Great for immunity, vitamin C can also be helpful for preventing the development and progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Lemon Essential Oil: Lemon oil has many properties including anticancer, antidepressant, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, and antioxidant. It is refreshing and invigorating, had can be used to help lower blood pressure, improve memory, ease sore throats and anxiety, help dissolve cellulite, boost energy, calm digestive problems, cleanse the lymphatic system, and promote a sense of well-being. See here to learn more about doTerra essential oils.

Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad

Moroccan Carrot Salad We had too many carrots. And I needed an excuse to get over my fear of the Cuisinart food processor that our chef friend thought would come in handy in our kitchen. And it only took me seven months to work up enough courage to plug it in. Then another half an hour and a few spare brain cells to put it together. But the results were totally worth it!

This salad makes a delicious side dish and packs a massive dose of beta carotene. Yum!

Ingredients:

1 pound-ish carrots, coarsely grated or food processed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

2 cloves garlic, mashed or minced (or more if you're really brave)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

Pinch of salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

*Optional ingredients: 1/4 cup raisins or currants, 1/4 cup toasted walnuts or pecans

 Method:

Mix all ingredients but the carrots in a large bowl.

Add shredded carrots and mix thoroughly.

Cover and let marinate in the fridge for a couple hours (or up to a couple days to let the flavors really cross-mojinate).

Served chilled or at room temperature.

Cobb-ish Salad

Have some leftovers? Put them in rows on a plate for a beautiful gourmet treat!

(A.K.A. Use Up All My Leftovers in a Pretty Way Salad)

Aah, the beloved Cobb...Vegans, plug your ears for the next sentence...This standard American favorite traditionally boasts the artery-clogging (albeit delish) combo of chicken, Roquefort cheese, bacon, hard boiled egg, and some vitamin-packed (NOT!) iceburg lettuce, just for good measure. But if you're not in the mood for a triple bypass heart surgery, then this salad can come in many delicious and flavorful combinations that your body will less likely to reject.

I like the Cobb salad because it's a nice excuse to play with your food, creating color and flavor combinations to suit your mood and dietary requirements. It can be tailored to any diet: paleo, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, fun-free, flavor-free...anyway, you get the idea. The ingredients below are just what I had on-hand this evening, so feel free to get creative! Kick it up a notch with meat, egg, or cheese, fresh or dried fruit, and perhaps a sprinkle of fresh or dried herbs to embolden all the flavors. Please share your favorite combinations. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 medium/large avocado sliced or chopped

1 medium large tomato sliced or chopped

2 cups chopped greens (spinach, or head lettuce)

1 cup shredded carrots (Or Moroccan Carrot Salad)

1 cup green peas or the legume of your choice

1 cup grain of your choice (I used black rice with chopped greek olives, olive oil and pepper)

Method:

Arrange all ingredients in clean rows on your plate to suit your color and texture preferences.

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, or your favorite salad dressing.

Admire the pretty rainbow of ingredients.

Then mix them up and eat!

*Note: If you’re a meat, egg, or cheese eater, those make welcome and tasty additions to this delightful salad. Otherwise the “grain and legume” combo makes a complete protein.

Health Benefits:

Avocado: Avocado is an excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, folate, vitamins K, C, and B, and potassium. It also contains a wide spectrum of inflammation-fighting nutrients. Avocado also helps increase our intake of two key carotenoid antioxidants—lycopene and beta-carotene—when eaten with romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Black Rice: Known as “forbidden rice,” black rice was only eaten by nobles in Ancient China. It contains high levels of antioxidants known as “anthocyanins,” which have been linked to decreased rates of heart disease and cancer. Black rice is also high in other vitamins, fiber, and protein. See here for more health benefits.

Carrot: Carrots are well known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient, beta-carotene, which is GREAT for our eye health. However, these root vegetables are also a great source of a variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K. Studies have shown their effectiveness in the prevention of colon cancer, and their benefits to our cardiovascular health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Green Peas: Green peas are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients such as Vitamins K, C, A, and B1, as well as manganese, folate, and fiber. As "nitrogen fixers" in gardening, green peas can provide the soil in which they are grown with nutrients, and thusly are considered an environmentally friendly food. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Spinach: Spinach is a rich source of vitamin K (think blood builder/purifier!), vitamins A, C, B2 and B6, as well as manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Popeye apparently knew how to protect himself against inflammatory problems and oxidative stress-related issues, while promoting his cardiovascular and bone health. AND he got the girl! See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Tomato: Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain high amounts of manganese and vitamin E. Multiple studies have shown that tomatoes are wonderful for heart health. See here for more health benefits of tomatoes. Heirloom varieties of any flora and fauna are dear to my heart. I’ll write more about this later. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Vegan Pesto

Farm-fresh vegan pesto!

Adapted From allrecipes.com

This pesto is dee-darn-licious. It is high in protein, thanks to the nutrtional yeast, and can be used to dress up soups, salad dressings, spreads (like hummus), or slathered in mass quantity on crackers or bread. You can also replace the nutritional yeast with Parmesian cheese if you're a pesto purist. This pesto can also be frozen in batches to bring summer flavors back in the wintertime. Try it with spaghetti squash or tossed with your favorite root vegetables for a summery tasting treat.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup pine nuts

2/3 cup olive oil

1-2 cloves crushed or minced garlic (more if you’re warding off vampires or a cold, less if you have a meeting in the following 24 hours)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 bunch fresh basil leaves

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method

Sprinkle pine nuts into a skillet over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted.

Allow to cool.

Gradually mix the pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, nutritional yeast, and basil in a food processor, and process until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper.

Notes:

*You can replace the nutritional yeast with grated parmesian cheese if you eat dairy.

*This recipe can be frozen in ice cube trays, small ziplock bags or plastic Tupperware containers and used for future reference.

Health Benefits:

Basil: Basil contains flavanoids called orientin and vicenin, which protect us at a cellular level. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also high in vitamin K, so is great for our blood health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is a staple source of protein, particularly for vegans and vegetarians. It is one of the few non-animal sources of B-12, is rich in folic acid and other nutrients and amino acids. Nutritional yeast is free of the Candida Albicans strain, making it safe for those concerned with candida. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Pine Nuts: Pinenuts are excellent source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folate. They also contain healthy amounts of essential minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Olive Oil: Olive Oil is packed phytonutrients including polyphenols. Most of the polyphenols in olive oil function as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body. When eaten in moderation, olive oil can be very beneficial to our gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Black Sesame Encrusted Tuna and Heirloom Tomatoes on Arugula

Black sesame encrusted tuna and truffled heirloom tomatoes on bed of arugula. You might as well call this the "healthy heart salad." All the ingredients have heart helping properties, and as we all know, the heart is a pretty important organ to keep happy and healthy. So give it, and your taste buds, some love. And make sure to say a blessing to the fish who gave it's life so that you may be nourished. Happy eating!

Ingredients:

Salad:

2-4 cups arugula

1 large heirloom tomato, preferably something kinda dark and stinky like a black krim or ananas noire, sliced into thick slices

Truffle or sea salt to taste

NOTE: If vegetarian, sub avocado and/or your favorite cheese (like this yummy goat cheese, see photo below) instead of tuna. Yum!

Dressing:

3 tbs. grapeseed oil

Juice of ½ lime

Pinch salt

Teeny squirt agave nectar

Tuna and Marinade:

Two ahi tuna steaks (preferably sustainable, wild caught, and fresh)

¼ cup water

Healthy squirt of liquid aminos

1 tbs. sesame oil

1 tbs.-ish agave nectar or honey

½ teaspoon diced ginger root

1 clove crushed or minced garlic

½ cup black sesame seeds

Ghee for searing

Method:

Combine marinade ingredients and tuna steaks and allow to marinate AT LEAST 15 minutes…preferably more like 30.

While tuna is marinating, prepare salads: mix dressing, toss arugula with dressing and adorn with tomato slices, pinch truffle or sea salt over tomato slices.

Arrange black sesame seeds in a thin layer on a plate.

Smoosh tuna steaks on sesame seeds, flip and repeat on both steaks.

When ready to eat, heat pan and ghee to med-high heat.

Put tuna in pan and sear for 1 minute.

Carefully flip and sear other side for one minute.

Add tuna steaks to salad and voíla! Enjoy. (Or see vegetarian option below.)

Truffled heirloom tomatoes, goat brie, and avocado on bed of arugula.

Health benefits:

Arugula: Arugula is a rich source of folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and B-complexes (such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, which are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions). This is a low-cal lettuce leaf that packs a nutritional wallop, so don’t be afraid to ask for a second helping! See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Heirloom Tomatoes: Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain high amounts of manganese and vitamin E. Multiple studies have shown that tomatoes are wonderful for heart health. See here for more health benefits of tomatoes. Heirloom varieties of any flora and fauna are dear to my heart. I'll write more about this later.

Black Sesame Seeds: These little seeds are jam packed with manganese and copper, and are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, and dietary fiber. The black variety is also known in Chinese Medicine (as are all black- and blue-colored foods) as yin builders. More on this later, but see here for more nutrition facts on these mini powerhouses!

Tuna: I know, I know. Yogi(ni)s are supposed to be vegetarian. Don't even get me started. There are some times in life when flesh is a necessity for some beings...(to be posted about later, dude)...Anyway, IF you are partaking of animal flesh, tuna is a powerhouse of lean protein, tryptophan (the "feel-good" amino acid), and minerals such as selenium, magnesium, and potassium. Tuna is also packed with the B vitamins niacin, B1 and B6, and is a great source omega-3 essential fatty acids. See here for a more detailed look at the health benefits of this super fish.