For those of you that follow me on social media, you likely see that I spend a fair amount of time at the Terranea Resort here in the LA area. (Full disclosure, I was selected as one of 5 influencers to be a 2016 Terranea Resort Social Media Ambassador, but my love for this place runs deep and far beyond that title.) I truly feel that Terranea is one of Southern California’s best kept secrets, yet it really shouldn’t be. Terranea sits on the coast in Rancho Palos Verdes, about 15 miles from our front door in Long Beach. The 102-acre private peninsula paradise, is like stepping into a whole new world – minutes from the bustle of Los Angeles. Surrounded by the tranquil waves of the Pacific, the coastal setting of Terranea embraces the California lifestyle and it’s Mediterranean heritage. Regardless if you are a guest at the resort the sprawling land is all open to the public, so you are free to walk the ocean-side trails, dine at the many restaurants, plan a spa day or just enjoy the views.
If you have been reading Tasty Yummies for sometime, you know since moving to California 3 years ago, my
infatuationlove of figs runs very deep. The beautiful, big fig tree that we were blessed with, when we moved into this home, is one of the most magical gifts mother nature has ever given to me. The fig tree is a actually a long-standing symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness, which is obviously quite fitting. Boy, does this tree produce in abundance! The only bad thing however, is just how short the season is. It’s over in a flash. Middle of the summer and that’s it.
While we are still a month or so off from fresh figs, it doesn’t mean that I don’t crave those lusciously sweet fruits. Which is why California dried figs are the very next best thing. Available year round, from Valley Fig Growers, you can stay stocked up on your California dried figs throughout the off-seasons and continue to reap all of the many benefits of this super fruit.
As we usher in the New Year, like so many others I find myself reflecting on the year we are leaving behind. While I love the practice of looking ahead and setting goals for the new year that awaits me, I have never been one for resolutions or other conventional traditions.
Instead, I prefer to reflect on the year passed, honoring the various accomplishments and acknowledging the many challenges that shaped me, preparing me for an even better new year ahead. For me, 2015 was a year focused on gratitude, I learned to honor myself and not get lost in other people, I rose and accepted my constant draw towards balance and I finished the year with a new practice focused on non-attachment, learning to let go of attachment, aversions, fears, and false identities that are clouding my true Self.
I think rather than setting unattainable goals or planning huge resolutions for major change, that at times can actually set us up for failure, it is so much more meaningful to honor the new paths, celebrate the beautiful transitions and the growth that awaits us, by constantly practicing gratitude for what we already have. Every single day!
Ultimately, whatever you manifest for the new year, whether you set intentions or prefer to cultivate gratitude, none of it has to make sense to anyone but you. Entering this new year with mindfulness, cultivation of gratitude and compassion for yourself and everyone around you – there is absolutely NO WAY 2016 could be anything other than amazing!
Removing my trip to Mexico last week and that day I had too many margaritas at lunch, this lady does very little drinking these days. My body just doesn’t love it. I enjoy a glass of wine now and again, don’t get me wrong. That being said, 1) I am all about balance and enjoy the holidays and 2) it just wouldn’t be the holidays without a signature cocktail for Tasty Yummies.
One of my all-time favorite winter and holiday indulgences is a steamy hot mug of mulled wine. However, living in California, a toasty mug of booze isn’t always what the weather gods have in mind, so I decided to get crafty and combine my summertime favorite, sangria, with the wintery, holiday flavors of mulled wine.
I’ve got a lot for you today. I have the first-ever pancakes on Tasty Yummies, a few life lessons, a #virtualpumpkinparty and one of my favorite healing superfoods! Here we go….
Have you ever had a day, or a stretch of days where you are overloaded with life lessons, messages and moments that stop you dead in your tracks, to smack you upside the head with a little nugget of goodness, before sending you on your way, again?
I have had a lot of those lately. Little lessons and hidden reminders, that bubble up to the surface within the most mundane of moments and oftentimes coming out in the midst of the most frustrating challenges. It could be that I have been attempting to be more aware in the present in the moment, being open to what’s around me, rather than living in my head and getting caught up in letting my mind wander (which is something I often do). Whatever the cause, these little reminders have been exactly what I need, lately, exactly when I needed them.
These beautiful and delicious, Grain-free Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, they were the culmination of so many reminders for me this past week. The first attempt at making these, I found myself swearing and angry. I had wanted to make waffles but they just weren’t working out, so I attempted to just make pancakes instead, as long as I had the batter. Pancakes weren’t what I had wanted and it wasn’t part of the plan – so, at first I really let it bother me. After a few deep breaths and in realizing that I had inadvertently created really delicious pancakes, I found myself really grateful for the mistake. On the second creation, I was super happy with how the pancakes came out again, but in editing the photos I realized that I should have chosen a smaller plate, the pancakes were getting lost in a sea of pattern from the large plate. I nearly scrapped the entire recipe and I found myself in tears, at my computer! In hindsight and in writing this out, I realize just how silly and insignificant this all seems and how ridiculous I may sound, but, as usual I am finding, in the simplest of moments, the biggest lessons are learned, so I wanted to share some of these sweet lessons that were brought to me this week.
1) Be OK with the Imperfections in Life.
I have to admit something to those that may not know me personally, I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times. Part of why you have never seen a pancake recipe here on Tasty Yummies, is my need for certain things to be perfect (in my own mind, that is). I worried that my pancakes wouldn’t be perfectly round and that people wouldn’t make them if they weren’t big and fluffy. I feared if I didn’t have the perfect shot of the perfect stack of pancakes, the syrup ever so delicately dripping over the edge, they would be a failure. So, although I make pancakes at home all the time, I had opted, in over 5 years of sharing recipes here on TY, to not share any of my pancake recipes, for not wanting to have to photograph them, worried that they would be wonky and imperfect.
As I was asking my food blogger friends for tips on making perfectly round, pristine pancakes, I was reminded by my dear friend Sherrie, to just ’embrace the imperfections!’ I recalled in her beautiful reminder, that I myself am drawn to the social media feeds and the blogs where life isn’t illustrated as “perfect”. To me, the authenticity of the creator shines through in the imperfections and those are most often where I find myself relating and connecting with someone vs. the perfection so often carefully crafted and curated for viewing in the public light.
I decided that like me, no one else reading this blog is “perfect”. You probably have lumpy, not-so-round, imperfectly perfect pancakes all the time at your house. I’d be willing to bet, however, even in their imperfections, like my homemade pancakes, that yours still taste incredible, and everyone that you serve them to are happy to eat them, just the same.
2) Less Really Can Be More.
It doesn’t always have to be about the big stuff in life. Bigger and more, they aren’t always better. Take these tiny, cute little pancakes – they may be dwarfed by the pretty patterned plate, they may be smaller than a traditional pancake, but these orange-hued, subtley-spiced, seasonal pancakes, they pack a punch, both in flavor and nutrition.
The Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, like these pancakes, it too packs a punch. With just one ingredient, in my mind, it beats out all other “superfood protein blends” you’ll find at most stores, often loaded with synthetic ingredients, unnatural “flavors” and colors and who knows what else. Collagen Peptides are not only a great source of clean protein and essential amino acids, they are also great for your skin, hair, nails, immune system, digestion and since I have added to my daily diet, they have played an integral role in healing my gut and my overall health, this year. This powerful, healing superfood doesn’t need anything added to it to boost it, it is tasteless and can be added to smoothies, baked goods, or simply to a glass of water.
3) It is Not Happiness That Makes Us Grateful. It is Gratefulness That Makes Us Happy.
Finding gratitude in the challenging moments of life, this can be hard at times. Next time you are in the midst of a challenge, stop to recognize that every moment is a given moment and that moment in itself, is a gift. We can’t buy moments, no one gives them to us, they are there for us and within each and every moment we have an opportunity to be grateful.
In the car three days ago, in a moment of stressful errand-running after the failed waffle debacle, I flipped the radio to local NPR affiliate and I caught the end of the TED Radio Hour, this past week’s theme was “Simply Happy”. I heard the end of this beautiful speech from David Steindl-Rast, that I have heard so many times before and the feelings of gratitude for the timing of this story, immediately flooded over me. Suddenly where I was struggling with feelings of failure and feeling stressed about the imperfections, my focus shifted to being so grateful and so happy that I get to do what I love every day, even in the moments of stress and challenge. When I left the house I was agitated and frustrated and by the time I returned home, my face was filled with a smile and my heart nearly exploding out of my chest.
Sometimes, I find the hardest thing about having restrictions on my diet is the uncontrollable cravings for a dish that is simply off-limits. Try as you might to quiet them, but I can promise you your Pinterest feed and Instagram feed will be filled with that very food, for days on end, mocking you until you either give in or find an alternative! (Not that I know from personal experience, or anything) Regardless of retraining your brain to look at food differently to cater those thoughts to your current needs, oftentimes we just can’t help those random hankerings. We are, after all, human.
I find this breakfast porridge to be the perfect stand-in for traditional oatmeal, while still being free of grains, dairy, nuts and seeds. It’s warm, comforting and creamy and the texture is spot on. I tend to alway have a spaghetti squash on hand, so if I cook one up for dinner the night before, I will save half to make this breakfast the next morning.
This time of year while most folks are looking for holiday cookies and sweets, I find myself seeking out comforting, healthy foods that I feel good about eating. Don’t get me wrong, I do indulge a little here and there, but generally speaking I find myself craving fresh fruits and vegetables and foods that will give me the energy I desperately need this time of year.
I had an abundance of fresh cranberries on hand from our Thanksgiving feast, so I thought a seasonally-inspired smoothie was the perfect way to use some of them. We have beautiful, juicy fresh oranges ready to be picked from our tree and I always have bananas and Medjool dates in the freezer ready for smoothie-making, so this sweet and tart, creamy, vegan, spiced Orange Cranberry Coconut Smoothie was born. Read the rest of this entry »
I have said it once and I will say it again, apples do not get nearly enough love in the fall. It’s all – pumpkin this and pumpkin that. Apples are the red-
headedskinned step-child of the autumn.
Life has been a tad busy as of late, so that has meant that baking has been totally out of the question. Beside that fact, it’s been so summer-like in Southern California that turning the oven on sounds quite miserable. In an effort to enjoy the amazing spiced flavors of a homemade fall apple pie or crisp, I decided to simply take some of the many beautiful apples we had from our farmer, the market and our own yard and make some yummy, healthy, cinnamon apple chips.
This simple tutorial works great with a dehydrator, but if you don’t have one, you can even make these in the oven. Easy. The best part about these cinnamon-dusted apple chips is how the whole house ends up smelling like you have an apple pie baking, the entire time they are dehydrating.
Your farmer brings you a bunch of Asian pears and apples, I mean really, what else is there to do with them then soak them in some booze? OK, yeh, I know, predictable – another blog post that I start out talking about my CSA. Snore! But, to be honest, every single week that box of goodies that shows up on my doorstep, delivered by my farmer himself, and it inspires me and my cooking in so many ways. Every Wednesday, I feel like I am on a game show, where a mystery box shows up and I have to get creative with whatever I am given.
Sure I could have just eaten the apples and pears straight up, but where is the fun in that? Plus, I have to assume if I am getting apples and pears in my weekly box, other folks are too, and they might want some fun ideas on how to prepare them. It doesn’t get much more fun than these Red Wine Poached Apples and Pears with Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream.
A friend of ours, John, works in the “wine biz” up in LA. What he exactly does, I am not 100% totally sure, but what I am sure of is that he gave me a huge case of some really nice wines the last time I saw him – so he is A-OK in my book. These days I don’t do a ton of drinking, if we have guests or it’s a special occasion, maybe, but generally I drink very little at home. But, cooking with wine, that’s far more my speed.
This post is part of my restricted diet series on the Free People Blog BLDG 25
Since my daily yoga practice is as important to me as the food I eat, I try to plan ahead with my meals, to make getting to the studio as easy as possible. Lately I have been enjoying daily 6am vinyasa flow classes, so that means getting to bed at a reasonable time and being up at 5am. I don’t eat before I practice yoga, but the minute I come home and walk through the front door I am starving – so I love easy, simple, quick, and healthy breakfast options.
After moving out here to California, from New York last year, the list of things that we love about living out here just continues to grow and grow. There really isn’t much to complain about when you live less than a mile from the ocean, the sun shines every day and you are living the life you always dreamed of. That said, the one major draw back to being here in California, is being away from family. After living 15 miles or less, away from my family my entire life, being roughly 2,500 miles away from them this past year has been the only thing I don’t love about being in California.
This is something that bothers me most of the time, but for obvious reasons with the holidays it is the hardest. Even the smaller holidays, like memorial day or labor day. Because I know if we were living at home in New York, no matter what we had going on, we would all take a break from our busy lives to get together at my parents house for an entire day, brunch in the morning, cocktails and snacks in the afternoon, playing with the kids and of course, a huge dinner. Since living in California, Mark and I haven’t gone home for any of the holidays and we have done out best to make the most out of them together. Both Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years were full days, planned with friends and majorly delicious meals and we made brand new traditions and memories. Walking barefoot on the beach on Christmas day, definitely didn’t suck. That said, both last year and now likely this year too, we didn’t plan a thing for Easter. It kinda crept up on us.
Easter isn’t a big holiday for my family, by any means, but we would always get together with the family, the kids would have some sort of easter egg hunt, we would often times have brunch with the extended family and then we would have a traditional dinner or ham or something similar back at my parents house.
Read the rest of this entry »
I was supposed to be in San Francisco for the weekend, our final show of the holiday. Sadly, the dog got sick which meant I had to stay home, since we didn’t feel comfortable boarding her. Hubby had to go to the event without me, so that equated to some unplanned time off this weekend. I actually didn’t know what to do with myself, we have been going non-stop for the past month and a half or so. I seriously actually made a list Friday night of what I wanted to do to relax. That’s how tightly wound I was.
Saturday morning I got up bright and early headed to a yoga class to start my unwinding and relaxing. I really cannot think of a more perfect way to kick off a weekend of no plans. By Saturday afternoon I found myself getting a relaxing pedicure with Meg and after that I curled up on the couch with my furry baby, watching Christmas movies and I decide I should whip up a quick seasonal cocktail. Gingerbread felt appropriate given that we are just a couple days away from my favorite day of the year.
This cocktail is spicy and has a strong molasses flavor, it tastes just like a traditional gingerbread cookie. If you want it sweeter add a bit more maple syrup or honey, or use a smidge less molasses. The fresh ginger is optional, but I personally love the little bits of it floating in the cocktail, such a great taste. Read the rest of this entry »
*The following post is sponsored by Grimmway Farms. All content and opinions are my own.*
It is a rare thing that I serve carrots as a side dish with meals around here. My hubby Mark tends to be quite vocal about his disdain for carrots, if they are served any other way than raw. However, I have been on a mission to get him to enjoy carrots other than just being dipped in ranch, blue cheese or hummus. So, when Grimmway Farms contacted me to create a simple holiday side dish with their amazing baby carrots, I was very excited for another opportunity to win my hubby over with this nutrition-packed veggie!
Carrots are a nutrition powerhouse and they are just so darn good for you, which is why I am always trying to get Mark to eat them. Carrots provide over 15 essential vitamins and minerals along with phytonutrients and fiber that are important for good health. One serving of baby carrots (85 grams; about 9 medium baby carrots) provides just 35 calories and is a source of over 15 vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, including vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin. Read the rest of this entry »
It has been a very busy few weeks for us, we have had shows every weekend, we have been trying to get our Christmas shopping done as early as possible since we have to ship ALL of our gifts this year. On top of all of this I have had a lot of work to do and I just can’t seem to get it all done. It’s been madness. I am looking forward to Christmas eve when I think all of this craziness will be over and I can truly just enjoy the holidays. My favorite time of year.
We had a bunch of friends over last night for a little Christmas cocktail party thing. Nothing fancy, just some mulled wine, spiked egg nog, a hot cocoa bar and lots of snacks and treats! Sooo much food, as always! Mark ran to the store and bought a big tray of various gluten-filled Christmas cookies for everyone else, but I wanted to make a fun holiday-inspired cookie that both me and my friend Debbie (who is new to eating gluten-free) could enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »
African food isn’t something I have a lot of experience with, but after making a batch of preserved lemons recently, I have been dreaming up some tasty and creative ways to use them. Being a traditional Moroccan staple food, it felt right to pair them with the harissa.
Harissa is a bit spicy and it has such a robust and full flavor. So much more than your run-of-the-mill pepper blend. Harissa comes in paste form or as a dried blend, for this recipe I used a dry blend, but you could certainly use a paste, you may want a tad bit more, but use your judgement. Read the rest of this entry »
This simple salad is inspired by a snack I have had a few times from Trader Joes. Chile Spiced Dried Mangoes. I really love these, but I don’t love that they contain sugar, so I wanted to make something at home that has some of the same flavors but was a bit healthier and fresher
This salad is super simple to make, it takes longer to peel and cube the mango than anything else. The spice from the chili powder is so nice with the bright, fresh and sweet flavor from the mango and the coconut chips bring a great welcomed crunch to the salad. I like to add in a little dash of chipotle powder because that smokey taste is just so complimentary, but it is definitely optional. This salad is great on it’s own or it makes a wonderful side dish for a BBQ or picnic. To me this is just summer in a bowl! It’s so good. Read the rest of this entry »
Here it is, the first of, I am sure, many, many pumpkin recipes for the season. If you haven’t noticed in years past, or if I haven’t made it clear enough, I am an absolute autumn junkie! I love just everything about it. Well everything except the part about summer being over. Living on the East Coast the fall is by far the most beautiful season of them all, the colors are incredible, the air has a crisp, cool breeze that feels like a dream, I get excited to pull out the fall boots, scarfs and other various layers and I plan lots of fun autumn activities for us. Fall is definitely the reminder that we are all getting ready to hunker down and get all cozy for the long winter ahead and somehow no one around here really minds, in fact in some ways it is welcomed with open arms and even celebrated. We haven’t even sold our house yet but I am sure of the fact that I am going to miss Autumn almost as much as my family, once we officially make the move to California.
For me, nothing celebrates all of the lovely things about Autumn better than a spiced pumpkin treat, so when Danielle of Against All Grain contacted me to share a recipe with her readers, and she gave me the list of dates, I had to choose today, September 22, the Autumnal Equinox. The perfect day to celebrate all things pumpkin!
I am sure most of you are, but if you aren’t familiar with Danielle’s incredible blog, Against All Grain, you MUST get yourself acquainted. Against All Grain celebrates and shares wonderful recipes that are entirely grain-free (and therefore consequently gluten-free), free of refined sugars, and low to minimal dairy. Danielle’s site is great for those that follow the Paleo, Primal, SCD, GAPS, and Gluten-Free lifestyles. Danielle wrote to ask me to share a post with her readers while she is off working on her Against All Grain cookbook that will be on shelves in Fall 2013 and I am so excited for her, I definitely plan to have that book in my collection!
These pumpkin pie tarts are quite simple to make (although it may seem like a lot of steps when you read the recipe) and they will knock the socks off any pumpkin lover. The crust is entirely grain-free made with almond flour and it has a hint of spices that make the house smell so lovely when they are baking. The pie filling is creamy and rich but without any dairy, which is amazingly unbelievable. Of course, I had to top these treats off with a little whipped coconut cream to round out the flavors perfectly.
This post was originally shared on Against All Grain. If you are looking for my quick and easy recipe for making your own pumpkin puree at home see my post here.
[print_this]Grain-free Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts (Gluten-free, Vegan + Refined Sugar-free)
(Makes 12 mini-tarts)
- 2 cups almond flour
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup*
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- dash of ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight
- 1/4 cup maple syrup*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (see my post on how to make your own, canned will also do)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- a pinch of ground cloves
- a dash of sea salt
Whipped Coconut Cream:
- 1 can organic full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup (use more or less or none at all, or whatever your favorite sweetener is)*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
*Maple can be substituted 1:1 for honey if you follow SCD
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 12 cups in a muffin tin with paper liners (you could also use greased mini tart pans).
In a large bowl, add all of the crust ingredients and mix very well. Really get your hands in there to get it all together and work it into a nice dough.
Add the crust mixture to the muffin cups and press down firmly into the cup using your knuckles, going up the sides a tad bit.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then place the pan in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the tarts and serve. (Many times I make the tart shells the night before and keep them in the fridge until I am ready to serve)
Drain the cashews and add them to your food processor and give them a whirl by themselves for a bit, to break them up and start turning them into a paste of sorts.
Once the cashews are broken up add in the maple syrup, vanilla and coconut oil, process that a bit more until it is a smooth and creamy paste.
Add in the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.
Whipped Coconut Cream:
Make sure that your can of coconut milk is well chilled. I recommend leaving it in the fridge overnight. Open the can of coconut milk carefully, keeping it level. There will be a firm, waxy layer of coconut cream that solidified on top. Carefully scoop this off into a chilled glass bowl. Keep the leftover coconut water, it is great for smoothies.
Using a mixer, whip the coconut cream for 3 to 5 minutes until it becomes light and fluffy, with soft peaks. Mix in your maple syrup and vanilla, if you are using. Place the whipped coconut cream back into the fridge until you are ready to use. This may be more than what you need for all 12 tarts, depending on how much you put on top, but that’s ok, it keeps for several days, covered in the fridge.
ASSEMBLING THE TARTS:
Remove the paper liner off of the tart shells. Top each of the tart shells with a spoonful of the pumpkin filling and a dollop of whipped coconut cream, sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon. Serve immediately.
I like salty snacks. Many people crave sweets, but I crave salty, crunchiness. There is nothing like a good quality crispy potato chip (the kettle cooked are the best). Since I try not to eat that stuff these days, I am always looking for a healthy alternative. Spicy and/or salty nuts are always great, but I get bored with nuts. These roasted chickpeas are just as delicious as any potato chip or nut (if not more) and they have the perfect amount of crunch. The perfect toss in your mouth snack, great with cocktails and beers. I could sit down and eat so many of these. It’s nice they are so low in calories and they are a great source of fiber. I decided to make a big tray of these to have around during the holidays since the nibbling and munching is so much more prevalent this time of year. Now when I have that urge, I can just grab a handful of these and be totally satisfied.
You can play around with spices and flavors on these, there are so many possibilities. Curry flavors would be great, as would garlic and rosemary, cinnamon and honey, wasabi and soy, sage and garlic, etc. etc. etc. The combinations really are endless. Have fun and if you are like me, once you’ve made these, you will always want to have them on hand. I plan to have a batch of these in the pantry at all times, they are a great healthy snack option for us salty craving nibblers.
Roasted Spiced Chickpeas
makes about 4 cups
1 – 25 ounce can organic chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black and red pepper mix (I used a mix of Tellicherry black pepper and hot cayenne red pepper)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
juice from 1-2 limes
Preheat the oven to 400º F.
Pour the chickpeas in a colander, rinse with running water, drain very well and pat dry. Toss the chickpeas in the olive oil, pepper mix, salt and lime juice. Make sure they are well coated.
Spread the chickpeas out evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until browned and crispy. Turn and toss with a spatula every 10 minutes so they don’t burn or stick. Taste and add more salt or peppers if needed.
Serve warm or let cool.