Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vegan Malted Frostie and Kale Lemonade

I've been experimenting with juice and smoothie combinations lately.  Here are two that are packed with antioxidants but taste like decadent treats.

Despite the fact that the weather was a bit frosty on the day I took this photo, one sip of this green lemonade had me dreaming of summer days.  Even those who don't usually like greens will find this refreshing..

Kale lemonade

2 servings

3 kale leaves
3 sweet apples
1/2 lemon, unpeeled

Juice the 3 ingredients and serve over ice.

This vegan smoothie is thick and creamy thanks to the raw cashews and the maca root powder gives it a malty soda shop taste.

Vegan Malted Frostie

makes 2 servings

1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup cold filtered water
1 banana (frozen if you have it, but fresh works too)
1 cup ice cubes
1 tablespoon maca powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cardamom or nutmeg
2 tablespoons maple syrup, agave nectar or stevia to taste
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
small handful of spinach (you'll never know it's in there, I promise)

In a high speed blender, blend the cashews, filtered water and banana until smooth.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend again until smooth and frothy.  

I hope you try one or both of these recipes.  

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How I Get Things Done

I'm a list maker...without a doubt.  I have daily to-do lists, yearly goals, project lists, grocery get the idea.  These lists help me focus and bring me back on track when I get distracted.  They also help keep me organized so I have everything that I need to complete a project or work towards a long-term goal.  I use a blend of techniques and tools to keep everything orderly so I don't have to remember it all.  This frees me up to think creatively about how to accomplishthe projects and tasks on my lists. Here are some references:

If you like to make lists:
Getting Things Done by David Allen - a detailed method so you can be the most productive at whatever you want to do
Planner Pad - flexible calendar system
Tranquility du Jour Day Book - art filled pink planner to help you organize all aspects of your life
Idea Mapping - non-linear list making

If you are of the mindset that no goals are the best route try:
Zen Habits - the best goal is no goal

Tools for keeping my life organized:
Evernote - an electronic tool to make your own personal reference library that can be synchronized on your computer, smart phone and online so you have access to your information anywhere you need it.
Instapaper - saves webpages you want to read for later

Goal setting tools:
Vision boards - a way to get your dreams from your head into a visual format

Hopefully you'll find a tool that will make getting things accomplished a bit easier for you.  If you have a favorite tool, reference or tip that helps you stay organized, share it below in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Daffodils pushing their way up in February

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Feast of Love - Penne a La Vodka and Chocolate Hearts

 Chocolate Hearts

On a day devoted to celebrating love, I treated my family to a healthy vegan feast.  This meal is simple enough to make on a weeknight and perfect if you want a special dinner on short notice.  It is beautiful to present and amazingly tasty.  In about 30 minutes you will be ready to be serve up an elegant meal that will serve 4-6 (leftovers are amazing too).

Chocolate Hearts

This recipe was adapted from one for Raw Chocolate Hearts at the Reboot with Joe website.  I added peppermint oil for this batch for a cool refreshing taste after a rich meal.  I think my next batch will be orange extract with hazelnuts.

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar

1/3 cup coconut oil (softened, but not melted)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5-6 drops of peppermint or orange extract
2 tbsp finely chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, etc) or cherries (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients except the nuts or dried fruit together until smooth.  Add in the nuts or fruit if using and mix thoroughly.  Spread onto parchment or waxed paper on a cookie sheet as thick as you'd like.  Place in the freezer until firm - approximately 30 minutes.  Cut into shapes with cookie cutters or cut into cubes.  Makes 6-10 treats depending on the size of your cutter and how thick you want the fudge.  Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to eat. 

These also  make a great gift tucked into a small box or a cellophane bag.

Now that dessert is made, it's time to make the main course.

Vegan Penne a La Vodka

While your chocolate mixture is firming up in the freezer, you can put together this pasta dish.  I was inspired by a recipe at Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Wellness website to make this elegant dish that uses your favorite jarred sauce as a base.  You can also save about 3 cups of your next batch of homemade sauce in the freezer for this recipe. I used a homemade canned sauce from last year's garden harvest.  The addition of fresh tomatoes brighten up the jarred sauce and the cashew cream adds a luscious richness while keeping it healthy.  

Vegan Penne a La Vodka

1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce or 3 cups of a homemade sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3/4 cups slice cremini mushrooms
1 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2-2/4 cup water
1/8 cup vodka or approximately 2 capfuls
red pepper flakes and salt to taste (optional)
1/4 nutritional yeast (optional - for a non-dairy cheesy taste)

3/4 lb of penne pasta

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the mushrooms and garlic until fragrant.  Stir in the pasta sauce, tomatoes, capers and peas and simmer while you cook the pasta and make the cashew cream.  To make the cashew cream, in a high speed blender or food processor, process the cashews with enough water to make a smooth, thick cream.  To the sauce, add the cashew cream, vodka, pinch of red pepper flakes and nutritional yeast if using.  Stir and heat through.  Cook the pasta to al dente and drain.  Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and serve with a small salad of mixed greens dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

Thanks for reading - enjoy your feast of love!

Recipes shared with Keep it Real Thursdays.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sources of creative inspiration this week

Lavender harvest 

I get inspiration from all kinds of places. So when I have a spare moment I troll through lots of blogs looking for eye candy, things to inspire me to create and words of wisdom.  I thought I'd share with you some of what's inspiring me this week.

Zen Habits - Leo Babauta shares information to help you lead a more zen lifestyle in his blog.  In this article, The Power of Habit Investments, Leo shares some simple tips for creating lasting habits.   With this information, you'll find it easier to complete that project, learn something new or make progress on anything that you want to accomplish.

photo courtesy of Design Sponge

Design Sponge is one of my favorite places for creative inspiration.  You can find a little of everything, from interviews and DIY, to design eye candy galore. I'm definitely going to make some of this Lavender Linen Spray from the DIY section of their website.

Meyer lemon red grapefruit marmalade
Photo courtesy of Local Kitchen

Citrus is in season (yum, Meyer lemons), and Food In Jars posted plenty of links to get you cooking with lemons and other citrus in the post Eight Ways To Preserve Meyer Lemons.  There are also other helpful kitchen hints and recipes to get you creating in the kitchen.

Photo courtesy of Green Kitchen Stories

Green Kitchen Stories - beautifully photographed vegetarian recipes that featured Coconut and Lemon Bars in a post this week.  I did mention that citrus was in season, didn't I?

My Bohemian Style 

Turquoise bracelets by Greg Thorne.
photo courtesy Greg Thorne Turquoise via ThatBohemianGirl

And finally, for all things delightfully bohemian, check out ThatBohemianGirl.

Feel free to share links for websites or blogs where you find inspiration in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vegetable Soup with Saffron Tomato Broth

Vegetable soup with saffron tomato broth

What's better than a bowl of steaming soup on a cold winter's day?  This vegan soup was inspired by a seafood soup in a tomato broth that a friend ordered when we were at a Latin fusion restaurant recently.

This comforting soup is fragrant with saffron and filled with bits of hearty vegetables and beans. I've listed what I used to make this soup, but you can use whatever vegetables and type of beans you have on hand.

Vegetable Soup with Saffron Tomato Broth

Feel free to substitute any vegetables you like to make about 6 cups of cut up vegetables. Try turnips, parsnips, leeks, sweet or white potatoes, golden beets, cabbage, fennel, Brussel sprouts, peas, etc.  Here is what I used for the soup pictured above: 

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, small dice
1 stalk celery, small dice
1 extra-large radish, small dice
1 rutabaga, small dice
1 large onion, small dice
3/4 cup of sliced cremini mushrooms (or your favorite variety)
1 small sweet red pepper
1 medium winter squash (acorn, butternut or the like) peeled, deseeded and cut into large chunks
2 cups of peeled and chopped tomatoes (squeeze out the seeds if desired, but not necessary)
6 cups of vegetable broth
pinch of saffron threads
2 tsp dried herbs de Provence (or Italian seasoning)
1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (any variety of bean you like will work)
salt and pepper

In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and saute all the vegetables except the squash and tomatoes for about 10 minutes.  Add in all the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the vegetables are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve as is or garnish with some chopped parsley, croutons or crispy tortilla strips.

Serves 6.

This recipe has been shared on Keep It Real Thursdays.

Thanks for reading!