The Crux of the Matter

I was just about to hit publish on a fluffy little post with a green juice recipe at the end of it. Then I got an email from my sweet cousin, and had to redirect. You see, she hit on the exact nature and purpose of A Life Delectable, and I couldn’t help but share it with you.

She wrote to ask me whether:

1: I’ve ever done a cleanse and would I do it again.

2: Did I actually like the taste of whole foods when I started eating them so long ago.

Ha! She had no idea what she was in for with those questions. Yes, Debra, I’ve done every cleanse on the planet. And I have a variety of thoughts on them. It really depends on the person, where they’re at emotionally and physically and what their goals are.

DId I like the taste of whole foods when I first started? Hmmm, that’s complicated.

You see, I had a certain idea of what they were at first. I ruled out all kinds of things it would have been fine to eat. I put myself in a very tiny dogmatic box. And after a while I felt deprived. 

But, cousin, and everyone else, you don’t have to! I have already been there, done that, for you. Also, the world has come a long way in 11 years and whoa, there are so many delicious indulgences in the “whole food” category now.

But more than that, I think people are scared of the term “whole foods” without knowing what they are. Like whole foods will have to taste like grass clippings or sawdust. Yes, you could include raw kale salad in that category, but no, you don’t have to. I imagine you already love lots of whole foods you don’t really recognize.

Eggs? Free range, organic ones qualify. Sweet potatoes? Lay em on me! Salad. Roasted asparagus or roasted roots. Grilled portobello mushrooms. Cream of mushroom soup with cashew ‘cream’. Lentils. Chickpeas. Avocado (OMG Guacamole!). Fruits. Nuts. Seeds. Nut butters. Oats. Olives. If you eat animal protein, that can be a whole food (just eat it sparingly and please get it local, humanely raised, and antibiotic/hormone free, grass fed).

Did you hear anything in there that you actually already like to eat? I can’t possibly list the entire range of whole foods. It’s everything that doesn’t come in a box! But if you need more convincing, check around my web site a little.

Here’s an example of a whole food treat that knocks even “omni” “regular” eaters’ socks off (and I’m talking about my dad and husband here). Cream Filled Pumpkin Muffins. Do they say 1970s hippie to you? I think not.Muffins Close Upkichari and millet mashPB Balls

IMG_0257If that’s not good enough think cashew based pistachio ice cream, coconut macaroon raw key lime tartlets, coconut based salted caramel, dates stuffed with almond butter and preserved orange peel, chickpeas braised in red wine with sun dried tomatoes, toasted almonds and apricots all stuffed into chickpea blini. A lasagna made with cashew “ricotta” and basil pesto.

All of this can be yours. All you have to do is step away from the low fat, sugar free chemical laced packaged goods.

I can help. These questions are exactly what I set out to help people answer. How do I enjoy a whole foods lifestyle? How do I jumpstart my new habits? How do I “clean up my story” without punishing myself? How do I reset for the season?

Contact me we’ll work it out together. And, oh my goodness, it’s going to be delectable!

Landed (Plus, a sweet recipe)

Payasam Overnight OatsI’ve been home for over a week now, and yet I feel like I’ve just landed. For the first bunch of days, I just felt like I wasn’t quite here. My timing was all off. I wasn’t sure what to eat. I felt all floaty, sort of. And, it was delicious. READ MORE >

Just when you thought I was done with pumpkin…

You may have noticed a decided lean towards the food aspect of this blog of late. As I mentioned before, I’m enrolled in a culinary nutrition program with Meghan Telpner Inc. and wow, it’s been a little more engrossing than I’d anticipated. So while I’ve been studying food constantly, I haven’t had as much time to share my recipes with you. Also, we’ve been cooking a lot of recipes we’re not at liberty to share.

BUT, I finally have a winner here of my own. And, I’m excited to share it with you before pumpkin season is over.

Muffins Close UpI have always loved fall-spiced muffins, from way back in the day when my Dad and I used to breakfast together. We’d order them at a local diner, cooked on the griddle then slathered with more butter (OY!). So, when a certain coffee company came out with the cream cheese frosting filled pumpkin muffins that appear every fall, I had a little issue with self control. I’d go into one their many locations for my morning coffee, and even though I knew they were bad for me, even though I knew they weren’t really that tasty, each fall for a couple of years I’d just give in and order one. And feel icky after. And disappointed with the taste.

These sweet and healthy treats are my attempt to upgrade my fall craving. You’ll never want another scary commercial pumpkin muffin again.

For the Cream:

There are two options here. The first is best in a high-speed blender, and tastes a little like a vanilla cream cheese frosting. The second is the coconut whipped cream trick that’s been around the blogosphere for ages, and doesn’t require anything more fancy than your mixer. Either way, trust me, you’ll be happy.

Be sure to read all the way through the instructions even before shopping for ingredients, to make sure you have enough time and ingredients to insure great cream!

 

Option 1:

Ingredients:
1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk (organic and BPA free)
1 Cup Raw Cashews (soaked 1 hour and drained)
¼ Cup Unrefined, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup (or more to taste, or add stevia if you like)
1-2 Teaspoons vanilla extract (I like 2)
Squeeze lemon juice

Optional:  3 heaping tablespoons prepared Irish Moss gel. This will make the cream a little fluffier and add a nice digestive healing component. See Meghan Telpner’s blog for instructions. Completely not necessary for the cream to turn out!

Directions:

  • Start at least 24 hours ahead of time, or more if you can. Place the coconut milk in the refrigerator to get cold. After at least 12 hours, or 24 hours if you have the wait time, open the can and scoop out the white cream, which should be on top. If it does not seem to have firmed up, place it in the freezer for one hour, then try again! When you get down to the water, stop scooping. Try not to get any of the water. Save this for yummy smoothies!
  • If the white cream is still more liquid than solid, place in the freezer for ½ to 1 hour to firm up.
  • Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Return to the refrigerator to chill.

Option 2:

The coconut whipped cream trick.

Ingredients:
1 Can full fat coconut milk (organic and bpa free please)
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 Teaspoons Vanilla extract

  • Start 24-48 hours ahead of time. Place the coconut milk in the refrigerator to get cold.
  • Open the can and scoop out the white cream, which should be on top. It’s great to put it in the bowl of your stand mixer if you have one! If it does not seem to have firmed up, place it in the freezer for one hour, then try again. When you get down to the water, stop scooping, even if there appears to be cream mixed in to the watery liquid.
  • Add all ingredients except coconut oil to the bowl of your stand mixer or a medium bowl. Whip with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer on high speed, or with a hand held mixer.
  • If you have a properly thickened can, it will eventually look like medium/firm peaks. Put it in the fridge to thicken further and chill while you make the muffins.

Notes/Solutions:

  • You may get a watery can. They’re out there. Keep two in the fridge at a time for best probability. I like Native Forest as I have had best “thickening” results with that brand.
  • If you do get a watery can that won’t thicken, put the cream into a blender with ¾ cup cashew butter or 1 cup cashews and 1/4 cup coconut oil to make something more like option 1.

For the muffins:

Spices

Ingredients:
3 Large Eggs
¾ Cup Pumpkin Puree (if you make your own, be sure to strain it over a sieve for at least an hour to remove excess moisture)
1 Cup Almond Butter
1/3  Cup Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon plus 1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (or 3 tsps. Cinnamon plus ½ tsp. ginger and ½ tsp. nutmeg)
2 Teaspoons Blackstrap Molasses (optional, but very nice for added spice)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Baking Powder (make sure it’s aluminum free)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Line a standard muffin pan with paper baking cups.
  • In a medium bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the eggs well. Then, combine all remaining ingredients except baking soda and baking powder, and blend well. Finally, add the soda and powder and blend to mix.
  • Let the batter rest for a few minutes. Do not skip this step! The resting gives the soda and powder time to react.
  • Distribute the batter evenly among the cups.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the muffins feel fairly springy when pressed lightly with a finger.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To fill the muffins:

Ready to Fill 2Insert a ¼ teaspoon measure or a small melon baller into the center of your muffin and turn it in a full circle then remove it pulling out the section of muffin and leaving a gap. Be careful not to go all the way to the bottom, I’d say scoop down about 2/3 of the way. Save these crumbs for tasting so you don’t devour the whole batch of muffins right away. Very important!

Scoop a generous amount of cream into a Ziploc bag, sandwich bag or pastry bag and squeeze it down toward the corner. If using a Ziploc/sandwich bag, snip the corner off.

Squeeze a generous amount of cream into each muffin opening then swirl it up and over the top, spiraling up to a peak.

Top with a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice.

The Last Muffin

Eat immediately or store in the refrigerator. If you have runnier cream, it will firm up in the refrigerator, even though it might be more of a smooth circle on the top of your muffin than a pretty peak.

These will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but I doubt they’ll last that long.

A Look Inside

 

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Can you hear it in your head? Good. It’s a good blog post if I get a song stuck in your head. Welcome to my world.

I’m writing today as a break from the three other kinds of work and homework going on over here chez Laura. weirdly, I can’t share my recent favorite recipe creations. Since they’re being tested by fellow classmates anonymously, if I post them here I may let the cat out of the bag! You’ll have to wait for that particular deliciousness.

So, as I was creating these delicious and healthy meals and treats, I was standing by the fridge, and what fell out of the sheaf of papers clipped to the side? My first recipe creation. The one that started it all.

IMG_0807Once upon a time, I was new to New York and unemployed and a new wanna-be foodie. While flipping through Food & Wine Magazine I ran across a contest to create a recipe that would be good with coffee using only 5 ingredients. Well, clearly I needed a project because I got right on it. I baked about a gazillion batches of brown sugar meringues with pecans and espresso powder and the BHH and I sampled them, and sat up and vibrated with sugar and caffeine into the wee hours. Ah, those were the sweet oblivious days!

Anyway, astoundingly enough, my Speckled Coffee Kisses won. One day I got a delivery of a bunch of gigantic boxes with $1,000.00 of Black and Decker kitchen tools inside. Every major appliance in their new line. A passion had begun. 

The funny thing looking at this recipe is that while I’m still proud of it, and while I may still make it for some party or other, it is so far from my lifestyle now. It’s not that it’s terrible (unless you’re diabetic), but I wouldn’t want to eat more than one of these speedballs every once in a great while. Looking back at it just points out how far I’ve come in my thinking. And how much things are the same.

When I created this recipe, I was more concerned with calories than with content. More concerned with fat than with whole foods. And more concerned with flavor than with health. What’s different? Well, today I would rather eat plenty of good fats, eat whole foods and not worry about the calories, and I’m still pretty concerned with flavor.  That’s right, I’m passionate about making healthy things taste really really good.

One of my relatives recently asked “why spend so much time and money making a ‘deal’ out of healthy food?” Why not just eat a plate of veggies and leave it at that? Isn’t it frivolous to spend so much time and money on food? And who cares? Good question. It made me re-examine and refine my own thinking.

It’s like this, if I can eat healthy food that tastes amazing or healthy food that tastes like sawdust, I will eat the great tasting version, and I think most people would prefer that. Also, many people would choose bad-for-you food that tastes great over healthy food that tastes like sawdust. And so, to get the most people possible eating healthily, I think it’s important to spread the word that whole, organic, healthy, immune boosting, nutrient dense, energy producing foods can taste even more amazing than all of the processed, fake, unhealthy foods of the world. And, if it takes a little more time to make them, I think the sacrifice of time on social media or watching tv or whatever little habits we all spend our “extra minutes” on might be worth it.

Most of us crave deliciousness, satisfying meals, and at least occasional treats. And I think the great majority of people need to connect to friends and family over holiday meals and weekend dinners and treats from time to time. Although it is also important to be able to enjoy the simple things, our human nature craves colors and flavors and textures and celebration. Wouldn’t it be great if we could indulge those cravings  without “eating away” at our health? I think we can.

Yes, I just went on a rant there. But this is the key point of A Life Delectable. You can have your cake and eat it too, from time to time anyway. And on the days that call for kale instead of cake, well, let’s make that taste amazing too.

My Speckled Coffee Kisses have been sent to the back of the “to make “ file. But that doesn’t mean I won’t make them some time when I have many many people to help eat them.

For now, here’s to eating our way to vibrant health together! Now, tell me, what decadent recipe would you like to healthify?

-L.

For the Love of Apples

Today I come to you with just a recipe. No musings. No yoga thoughts. Except, no, I’m trying to incorporate lots of seasonal veggies and fruits to really feel the season and set my system up to thrive. And yours too! So let’s say this is all about the yoga of nourishment and Ayurveda. Nothing is simple!

And yet, this deliciousness is simple to create and perfect for travel. If your apples are big, make two servings at once. It will keep for a few days so you have two “ringers” in the breakfast rotation for your week, all for a small amount of prep. READ MORE >

Rolling Into Fall

IMG_0246Happy Moon Day everyone! Did anyone get to sleep in? I didn’t. But that’s ok. Sleeping in just makes me groggy. Or so I tell myself…

So here we are at Friday, and I thought you might need a treat for the weekend. Happy to oblige! I wish I could drop these little gems off at all your houses and shalas, but sadly I’m just not that fast. Remember that cartoon guy who could run really really fast? What was his name? I need to be him. READ MORE >

More Things Beginning With [P]

IMG_0215I wanted to experiment with a very special pumpkin recipe for you. I wanted to practice with Tim Miller last weekend. I wanted to do a [P]anchakarma with Kate O’Donnel and the Boston yogis this week. But I didn’t do any of those things.

For one, I love yoga. I love Tim Miller, but I had to stretch myself in other ways last weekend. There was a workshop in food [P]hotography that was also kind of a “once in a very great while offering” and it’s time I started making those food photos sing! Also, I love the seasonal cleansing of body and spirit to prepare for the new weather and such, but I think my body is pretty cleansed just now, and it just didn’t feel right.

And so, this week I actually stopped to pay attention to what I really needed. As a good friend said to me, in total shock, “I am so f***ing impressed!” Me too.  READ MORE >

So, as some of you may know, I recently returned from the delicious gift of a week in the Outer Banks practicing mad yoga with David Garrigues. And I was all set to tell you all about it, share the trials and tribulations, but I find I can’t do it. Not this time.

READ MORE >

Cookie Dough is Health Food

Hello my little kale chips! I’ve missed you, and I know, I’ve been a little light on the blog posting. Sometimes a person needs to take a step back from the digital world. Don’t you think?

Anyway, while I’ve been away, I’ve been cooking more than ever, really connecting with my yoga community, and grooving on the yoga in general. Phew, I feel better.

So here I am in the Outer Banks. Actually, I’m leaving, and I’m really sad.

It’s been a great time. I got to practice and breathe and chant and study, every. single. day. But I’ll tell the truth, I was a bit nervous about it. We all know I’m…specific..about my food and habits, and well, going away to an unfamiliar place, with people I’ve never lived with before, I was bound to have a few jitters.

But here’s the great thing: in a house with a kitchen, I am always at home. The other day, as I was feeling a little windy, a little at loose ends, I decided to make dinner and dessert for the posse, and all of a sudden I was singing (and maybe dancing a little bit, but fortunately no one caught it on camera).

Dessert??? What??? Yes, we are all yogis, we are all trying to be healthy and somewhat moderate. But you know, there’s no use denying it, everyone loves treats! And this brings me to a key point of the A Life Delectable food philosophy: Treat Yourself Whole. You don’t want to punish yourself, but you don’t want your little indulgences to make you feel icky either. Eat delectable things and feel delectable after!

So, I got in the kitchen, and found my happy place, and treated the whole workshop to some chocolate chip cookie dough balls. Whole food. Sweet treats. Serious energy for the Mysore room. And no belly ache after. Score.

These are not my recipe, but I have a fall version in the works and coming as soon as I’m out of this southern humidity. In the meantime, hop on over to one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows and try these. You won’t be sorry. And maybe you’ll even have the energy to hold that Catwari.