Friday Favorites (Links I Love)

This is where I share inspiration from the week–podcasts, books, music, art, movies, food, and more!

FOOD

Alan and I made a fantastic new vegan gluten free soup recently in the Instantpot. Although I’m not much of a gadget person, since my mom gave me an Instantpot, (thanks, Mom!) we gave it a try and the soup was amazing. Honestly, I probably could’ve made the soup just as quickly on the stovetop. It’s not “instant” at all.

First you have to wait for the pressure to build (about 20 minutes), then it cooks (about 25 minutes for this particular soup), and then the pressure slowly releases (another 15 minutes). But it would come in handy if I was cooking several dishes at once and needed an extra burner.

Here is the soup recipe for Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup from Gimme Some Oven. This is one vegan soup that is so creamy and delicious it can fool the dairy eaters in your life.

BOOKS

I have four great books to share with you and I recommend all of them. Yes, all of them! They are like vitamins that will boost your nutrition in different ways.

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon can be read in about an hour. If you’re an artist, maker, entrepreneur, influencer, etc., grab this book and prepare to be encouraged. Kleon’s ten ways are so helpful to be reminded of: The first one is that “Every Day is Groundhog Day”, meaning every day we start over. Have a to-do list and work through it.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra is also a shortish book. This book was the first I’ve read by Deepak Chopra, and it won’t be the last. The Laws include The Law of Pure Potentiality, The Law of Giving, and The Law of Intention and Desire. At the end of each chapter are several ways to practice and act upon what you’ve read. If you know you have inner work to do in order to develop a more mature character who can handle success, start with this book.

Body Thrive: Uplevel Your Body and Your Life by Cate Stillman is a 10-week introduction to Ayurveda. Since I am studying Ayurveda with Yoga Veda Institute, I absolutely wanted to read this to see what I was in for. In her straightforward, no-nonsense way, Cate shares ten ways to take your life to a higher level.

Where does she start? With earlier, lighter dinners, moves on to go to bed early, and start your day right. Ayurveda is super practical and gets right to work dealing with your habits and what needs to change in order to have a better life. If you need a wellness boost or want to learn more about Ayurveda, here is practical place to begin.

Emergence: Seven Steps For Radical Life Change by Derek Rydall is one of two books by this author I purchased this summer. There is so much in this book that was new to me and many things that aligned with what I learned while living much of my life in a Christian culture.

Some of the many valuable pieces of wisdom he shares on are: giving, generosity, visualization, and acting from where you want to be, not where you are. This book is great if you recognize you need to develop a more positive, grateful mind and attitude and if you have goals you are working toward but have a feeling it all starts with you. This book will show you the way!

PODCASTS

Brendon Burchard had a few recent podcast episodes that I listened to several times over: Developing Momentum helped me stay productive right before school started, and Take Back Your Morning are all about morning routines. This has been a theme in my life since starting Ayurveda school: I wrote about this topic in Monday’s post and did a Live video on Facebook about it last week.

OK, that’s it for now. I would love to hear about what’s inspired you this week.

Kale Pesto (It’s a Thing)

One of my favorite parts of summer is fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Especially those which are grown nearby. Our local CSA farm, Sweet Land Farm, is now bursting with goodness from the earth (and the hard work of the farmers).

What I love is walking into the distribution shed every Tuesday afternoon, breathing in the heady, spicy scent of sweet Basil mixed with all the other veggies and the artisan bread that a local bread business sells. Even though I can’t eat “real” bread, I love the aroma! This CSA is where I learned to know so many greens–Kale, Swiss chard, Arugula, Broccoli raab–and, thus, learned to cook with them.

We all know by now how good for you Kale is, (and read here if you don’t) but not everyone gets as happy as I do about eating it. Have you tried making pesto with it? I’ve made delicious pestos with Arugula and Parsley, and, of course, Basil, so I’m not sure why I waited this long to try Kale pesto. You can use it just like any other pesto on pasta, zoodles, added to soups or marinara sauce, to name a few.

My recipe is simple and adjustable–add more garlic, lemon, salt, or olive oil to suit your taste.

Kale Pesto

3-4 cups of Kale leaves, rinsed, stems removed

1/2-1 cup Basil leaves, rinsed

2-4 garlic cloves

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans

1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put everything (except the olive oil) in the food processor, place the top on (with veggie chute removed), and turn it on while adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Stop, remove top, scrape with a spatula, and process until smooth. Repeat as necessary. Add more oil if needed and adjust salt, garlic, lemon, and pepper to taste. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Strawberry Scones, a Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Recipe

My mom came over this week for a belated Mother’s Day lunch and as I always do when anyone comes over, I wondered (worried about) what I should make. When planning a meal, I almost always think of dessert first because that’s the fun part. I hadn’t baked scones since last summer, and I had a few cups of organic strawberries in the fridge I needed to use up, so the scones definitely had to be strawberry. This is a recipe I’ve baked many times and it’s adapted from this recipe on the blog Sarah Bakes Gluten Free.

Strawberry Scones

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend, plus more for dusting the counter

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of scones

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

5 Tablespoons of chilled Earth Balance soy free vegan butter, or another dairy free alternative such as palm shortening

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, plus more for tops of scones

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the vegan butter with a pastry cutter until butter is pea-sized. Pour in the almond milk and vanilla extract and knead with hands until combined. Fold in the strawberries.

Turn out the dough onto a floured countertop. With floured hands, shape and flatten the dough into a 12 inch diameter circle. With a floured knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 8 wedges and place onto lined baking sheet. With fingertips or pastry brush, moisten the top of each scone with almond milk and then sprinkle sugar over the moistened tops.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly and enjoy.

Note: To warm up a day old scone, place in a toaster oven for a few minutes. These freeze well.

Oh, and if you want to know what else I made for lunch when my mom came over: Shallot, Portobello, and Spinach Crustless Quiche (dairy-free) and a tossed salad with homemade vinaigrette. (Plus watermelon and cherries.)

How to Make Cashew Milk

I am going to show you how to make the easiest nut milk available! As someone who lives dairy-free, I have attempted to make my own nut milks before. Almond milk is great, but it requires the dreaded nut milk bag to strain the bits of nuts out of the milk. Which requires cleaning said nut milk bag, which is quite tedious and a definite mental hurdle to me making almond milk on a regular basis. 

Enter cashew milk: it requires no nut milk bag and no straining, which makes it a breeze to make. The only equipment necessary is a high speed blender such as a Vitamix or Ninja so that you won’t have bits of nuts floating around in your milk.

This makes an amazing coffee creamer, as well as a treat with a gluten free graham cracker or biscotti!

So here is the recipe:

Cashew Milk

(yields approximately 6 cups)

2 cups raw cashews, whole or pieces

4 cups filtered water

2 Medjool dates (optional)

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract (optional)

pinch of sea salt

Place cashews in bowl and cover with water. Place a clean dishcloth over bowl. Let sit on counter for at least 4 hours. (It was more like 10 hours for me because that’s when I got around to making the milk.)

In a colander, strain out the water and rinse cashews. 

Place cashews in blender with 4 cups water, dates and vanilla (if using), and sea salt. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes.

Place in clean mason jars or glass pitcher in fridge and drink it up within 4-5 days.

You can always cut the recipe in half if you can’t drink it as fast. And you can always add more water to the recipe to thin it out if it’s too creamy for you.

Let me know what you think! 

 

Sweet Potato-Leek Soup for Spring

Last Friday afternoon, my dear friend Britt came over for lunch and, as I usually do, I served soup and a tossed salad. Soup is a favorite of mine because it’s easy to make and fits in with my lazy cooking preferences. Alan laughed when I called myself a “One Bowl Johnny” last week, but if I could be that minimalist in the kitchen, trust me, I would!

Most of the gluten free, dairy free, from-scratch food I make tends to require many bowls, spoons and pots with plenty of steps. So when I find a recipe that is simple enough to use only one pot, I rejoice. This is why I love soup so much! Well, that and the fact that it’s such comfort food if one is feeling a bit under the weather.

This particular soup was created because, like most other home cooks, I am frugal and wanted to use up the ingredients in my pantry and fridge. And I had a hankering for the combination of sweet potatoes (yams, and yes, I know the difference!) and leeks. Get ready for one of the easiest soup recipes in existence!

Sweet Potato-Leek Soup (serves 6)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 really large yams (or 4-5 smaller ones), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

2 leeks, trim off the bottom and the tough green stalks. Use the 3 inches of white part, cut in half lengthwise, slice across, and rinse thoroughly before using.

6-8 cups water with vegan bouillon (I use Not Chick’n brand)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 can coconut cream (open a can of coconut milk and use the solid fatty part and save the water for a smoothie)

In a large soup pot, sauté the leeks on low-medium heat for a minute or two. Stir often and watch them–leeks burn quickly!

Add the water with bouillon and the yams. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until yams are tender.

Turn off heat, add coconut cream, and using an immersion blender, purée the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

See, I told you it was easy!


Marinara Sauce for Mondays (or Any Night of the Week)

Here is a reprise of my weeknight mealtime go-to. I’m Italian-American and no matter what diet fads come and go, I’m never giving up pasta. Mine is gluten-free, of course, and drowned in Marinara. (This is my favorite brand.) It is such a fast, easy recipe, there is no need to purchase that sorry excuse for pasta sauce from the market ever again!!!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

This sauce can be made in about 15 minutes, start to finish, which is probably quicker than it’ll take your pasta water to boil. When I’m feeling tired, lazy, or like I need some comfort, I make this recipe. Pasta, salad, vegan meatballs from Minimalist Baker (or your favorite store bought version), and dinner is on the table.

It’s also great to dip pieces of gluten-free bread sticks, or vegan meatballs into at a party. I served gluten-free focaccia from Sarah Bakes Gluten Free and vegan meatballs from Minimalist Baker with a bowl of Marinara at this year’s Super Bowl Party, and all of our meat/dairy/gluten-eating friends couldn’t get enough!!!

Easy Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup of water, approximately
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, chopped (optional)

In a thick-bottomed pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil, add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds until it turns golden, stirring and watching it carefully to prevent burning.

Add water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any garlic that might be sticking.

Add tomatoes and the salt through milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring gently to combine. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and remove from heat.

Adjust seasonings. Add fresh herbs if desired.

Notes and Options:

This lasts for about a week to ten days in the fridge.

It can also be frozen and thawed for a later time.

Feel free to add dried fennel, basil, thyme, or other dried herbs you prefer.

The One Italian Cookie You Need to Bake (Recipe)

I wish I could remember exactly when I began baking biscotti, but it was definitely when my kids were very small. Even though I grew up in an Italian-American family, I knew no one who actually baked their own. My Grandma Corriero bought hers at the supermarket and those were the only ones I’d ever tried. (They definitely tasted store-bought.) But one of my Moosewood Cookbooks had a recipe for them, so I made them on a whim once and have loved biscotti ever since.

My two favorite aspects of biscotti are: you pretty much can’t ruin them and they are so easy!!! I am an impatient, lazy cook and baker, so I go with easy recipes whenever I get the chance.

Here is my biscotti recipe, adapted from Moosewood.

Biscotti

1/4 cup vegan butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoon freshly grated orange (or lemon) peel

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans

2 1/4 cups gluten free flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the vegan butter and the sugar, add the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and grated orange peel. Fold in the nuts.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to wet and and mix until blended and dough holds together when pressed with floured hands. This dough is meant to be on the stiff side.

Scoop the dough onto a lined baking sheet and shape into a log, about 12 x 3 inches. Press down and flatten until it’s about 14 x 4 inches.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until dough is firm and just starting to brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then transfer log to cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slice crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces. Lay each piece cut side up on the baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

The biscotti will last in an airtight container for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for a few months.

You can add fruit or chocolate chips instead of nuts. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Gluten Free, Dairy Free (Recipe)

Last year, right before our birthday (Alan and I share the same day), I began looking for a cake recipe that I would actually like. I’m not much of a cake person–I like not-too-sweet chocolatey, creamy or fruity desserts and pies–as long as they are free of gluten and dairy. I started thinking about flourless chocolate cake and came across several that looked tempting. I decided on one from The Spruce Eats and gave it a try.

It was so easy to make and IT WAS DELICIOUS!!! I made it again at the end of September when some friends came for dinner and again at Thanksgiving. Then I forgot about it until last week when I suddenly wanted dessert and couldn’t think of anything to make, until, suddenly, the vision of flourless chocolate cake danced in my head! It was just as delightful as I remembered, so I am sharing it with you. (Recipe slightly adapted from The Spruce Eats)

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 cup or 6 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate bars broken into chunks or chips

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup sunflower or other mild-flavored oil

1 Tablespoon brewed coffee or just use water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 large eggs

1/2 cup of cacao or cocoa powder

About an hour before, set eggs on counter so they’ll come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 F and oil either an 8-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper or a 8 or 9 regular cake or tart pan (if you’re feeling lazy).

Carefully melt chocolate in the microwave or stove top on super low heat, stirring often to prevent burning/scorching. (Yep, I’ve done it!)

Transfer melted chocolate to mixing bowl, add sugar and blend with mixing paddle. Add in the oil, coffee or water, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.

Add in the cocoa powder and mix well.

Pour batter into pan, even out with a spatula, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top has a thin, shiny crust and toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Place pan on wire rack to cool. When cool, if using a springform pan, unlatch the side and invert the cake onto a plate. If using a regular cake pan, just serve and enjoy!

It’s really good with Coconut Whipped Cream and/or raspberry sauce!

I forgot to take a picture before I dug into it–it’s that good!

Turmeric, Two Ways (Recipes)

Some of my readers may remember my post from last year, when I wrote about living with Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome (RCES) and how juicing is one of the main ways I keep that beast under control.

The importance of juicing is primarily about lowering inflammation in my body, but I don’t rely on juicing alone to do this job. Enough sleep, exercise, proper overall nutrition, and managing stress levels are also factors. In the past six months, I’ve been regularly drinking green tea and taking Turmeric to assist with inflammation reduction. I actually buy Turmeric by the pound both to use in cooking and to fill veggie capsules myself–it’s much more economical this way.

I love simple ways to incorporate Turmeric into my diet, so today I am sharing two quick and easy recipes: one is a Thai Yam-Carrot Soup recipe and one is Turmeric Hot Cocoa recipe. I’m guessing by now, you’ve heard about Turmeric’s amazing benefits, but in case you haven’t, here’s a link to get you started.

Thai Yam-Carrot Soup

Serves 8, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions or combination of onions, shallots, leeks (basically whatever you have on hand)

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 2 teaspoons

1 Tablespoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

4 cups broth or water ( I used Not Chick’n bouillon cubes)

1 large or 2 medium-sized yams, peeled and cut into half inch pieces

2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can coconut milk

Juice of 1/2-1 lime, depending on taste

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional

Heat oil in pan, add onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking/burning.

Add ginger, salt, and curry powder and stir to coat onions. Add water or broth, yams and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until yams and carrots are soft. Turn off heat. Add can of coconut milk.

Blend with an immersion blender or regular blender. (Make sure you take the center out of the blender lid and cover with a towel if you blend while the soup is hot!!! Otherwise the top will burst off and hot soup will fly everywhere. I learned this the hard way).

Recipe adapted from www.comfybelly.com

Turmeric Hot Cocoa

Serves 1, dairy free, gluten free, vegan 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • A pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend well. 
  2. In a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, whisking often, remove from heat, taste, and adjust sweetness if desired.adapted from https://www.natalieshealth.com/cacao-turmeric-maca-hot-chocolate/

If you make either of these recipes, I’d love to know how it turned out! Or if you have favorite anti-inflammatory foods you recommend, feel free to share in comments.

What is Saving My Life Right Now

How was your Monday? I felt like I didn’t move very quickly from one task to another today. My theory is that my body gets to the point where it just has enough and purposely slows down. The weekend was full with late work hours and going to see my daughter in The Addams Family Musical at her high school on Friday and Sunday.

On Sunday evening after the show, Alan and I made a Vegan Shepherd’s Pie and Gluten Free, Dairy Free Irish Soda Bread while listening to Celtic music in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day. It felt good to return to a tradition I enjoyed with my children when they were younger and had let go of in the past few years. I am looking forward to the rest of this week and to another celebration– the first day of Spring!!!

So here is where I follow several bloggers who have taken a cue from author Barbara Brown Taylor to answer the question: “What is saving your life right now?” Here is my list of current or ongoing lifesavers.

My Bullet Journal Notebook: I’m not going to stop singing the Bullet Journal’s praises, so if you’ve never heard of it, here’s an in-depth delve from Lazy Genius into the Bullet Journal world. (It really is the ultimate guide and will answer lots of your questions.)


The Bullet Journal is this ridiculously simple analog method of keeping your life together in one place. It works for everyone, is completely customizable, and once you start using it, you will be lost without it. This year, I got Alan on the Bullet Journal train and he’s enjoying using it to keep his life organized. This is my fourth year and I am continually finding new ways to entrust my life to its pages. The good news is, you can start it anytime. Check out the Bullet Journal website for short videos showing what it is and how to use it. Once you start, you won’t look back.

My diffuser: I haven’t been sick once all winter and I credit my diffuser, as well as my diet full of whole and green foods and low in sugar! I have several essential oil blends I’ve made and tested to keep me healthy. I’ll be sharing a few blends this week on Wednesday’s post.

My Blackwing Palomino 602 Pencils: as a left-handed writer, my hand tends to cramp up and get tired fairly quickly. There is a fluid elegance and ease to these pencils that have earned them high praise from many famous creatives.

Glo, formerly YogaGlo, is the primary way I practice yoga. In early December, I signed up for the free trial and never looked back. From 5 minute meditations, to 90 minute yoga classes, from super chill restorative Yin and gently Hatha to a sweaty Vinyasa Flow, there are choices for everyone.

You can search by time length, by instructor, by style, by body part you wish to focus on, by time of day, etc. As I work toward my goal of yoga and meditation everyday, Glo provides me with a feast of opportunities to practice.

Barre3 is the other exercise life-saver that I am in love with. It is a combination of ballet, Pilates, cardio, and yoga and is always low-impact. You will sweat, but you will never jump. Even their Barre3 Burpees are slow and much attention is paid to proper alignment, so my wrists and knees have never been sore afterwards. My butt and legs have, though!

It is a workout unlike any other I’ve experienced and the Barre3 message is body-positive and affirming. They’re never pushing you through a workout so you can look great in a bikini. Their language is aimed at building strength, confidence, and feeling good in your own body. They encourage people to pay attention to how they’re feeling (example: “If there is any tension in your neck, lower your arms, etc.”) and to modify each move to make it their own. Here is $10 off if you decide to join!

I’d love to hear what is saving your life right now! Please share in the comments below. Also, I will be giving away my copy of The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll and a couple other goodies on Instagram this week. So head over to my Instagram tomorrow Tuesday March 19 to enter. (US only)