Chewy Squash Blossom Fritter Yuminess

squash blossom fritters

“Vegan-Paleo Squash Blossom Fritters” is about as complete a description as I could get for these very interesting, chewy-yet-crisp treats that were basically an experiment. But I guess that is how it’s supposed to work on here, right? I started thinking I was going to make a gluten-free, vegan squash blossom pancake, but the texture of these, coming from the tapioca flour, is definitely more “fritter”- like. These seem best right out of the oven, but I’ll bet they would be great cold or reheated also. The problem is, I gobbled them up so fast I didn’t have any to save for later, so now I have to wait until I get some more fresh squash blossoms on my hands.

Technically, these only fulfill the ingredient guidelines of being “Paleo.” In order to be truly paleo from a macronutrient standpoint, they wouldn’t be so heavy on carbs. But, they are gluten, grain, dairy free and totally vegan as well. So enjoy these as a healthier indulgence and as a great way to enjoy the season’s squash, zucchini and other blossoms from the garden or the Farmers Market. I’ll bet the chewy texture of these is unique from many things you have tried before.

vegan-paleo squash blossom fritters

1/2 cup hazelnut flour 
3/4  cup tapioca flour
1 1/2 cups organic, full-fat coconut milk (from can)
20-25 fresh squash blossoms Read More


Roman Slow Cooker Artichokes, an Easy Spring Appetizer

slow cooker artichokes

Every year the artichoke root system in our garden pops out an abundance of fresh artichokes. For the first few years this is really fun and rewarding, but after a while, one yearns for some new ideas and ways to gobble up all those artichokes, without adding a lot of prep time. This recipe for slow cooker artichokes is super easy, with just about 15 minutes or less of prep time. Then you just set the cooker, get on with your day, and return to a crock pot full of tender, moist artichokes loaded with flavor.

roman slow cooker artichokes

4 artichokes, stems removed
1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced (slivered)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh oregano
Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper Read More


Nasturtium Pesto & Endless Possibilities

nasturtium pesto

Are you a pesto-file? Always looking at different ways to make pesto? Here is one you quite possibly have not tried yet, and it is very versatile. A couple weeks ago, I taught a workshop on edible common garden flowers at Fig Earth Supply, the edible nursery in my neighborhood. And, it got me thinking of all the delightful, delicious ways we can get the most nutritional bang from our outdoor spaces. Enter nasturtium pesto!

This pesto’s uses are pretty much endless! Top it on some eggs, spread it on vine ripened tomatoes, dollop on fresh caught trout, spread it on crostini, mix it into Alfredo sauce, heck I’ll bet it would even make good ice cream if done right! My favorite, and the most nutrient dense way to enjoy it is as a simple, stand alone dip for colorful, raw vegetables, like peppers, asparagus, cucumber, and celery.

And what’s the  best part about this pesto? It is, in fact, made of a leaf that would otherwise become byproduct in your garden- the edible leaves of the nasturtium flower. The main nutritional components found in nasturtium are glucosinolates, mustard oil, flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin C.

There are a few recipes for this pesto out there, but this one is 100% vegan and raw, for added nutritional value and plant-powered nuance. So, if you feel like having some pesto, but don’t have any basil around, just run out to your back yard and grab some nasturtiums, and go to town!

vegan cashew nasturtium pesto

2 cups of nasturtium leaves (about 30 leaves of varying sizes)
About 20 nasturtium flowers
NOTE: Try to pick the stems with the leaves, and reserve them as an optional ingredient
1/2 cup raw cashews
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly sliced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil Read More


Shrimp Cocktail and Nopalitos Are Good Friends

shrimp cocktail

The nopales of Los Angeles are sprouting up everywhere! This may seem completely insignificant unless you have explored the special nutritional benefits of nopal and how much it is enjoyed in Mexican cuisine. This recipe for Shrimp Cocktail with Nopalitos takes the Mexican classic shrimp cocktail and combines it with the classic Mexican Nopalito Salad. Nopal, also known as cactus pad, is very low in saturated sat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, iron and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese. And with an amino acid score of 71 the protein content isn’t bad either– for a vegetable! I must give credit to my partner Ricky who makes the bomb-est shrimp cocktail, and came up with this awesome combination.

shrimp cocktail with nopalitos

2 pounds of shrimp with peel
1 onion, chopped, separated in half
1 lemon, cut in half
10 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced, separated in half
2 quarts water or vegetable broth
2 tsp. each sea salt and pepper (for seasoning shrimp boil water)
8-12 nopales, depending on size (cactus leaves), peeled of thorns and cut into squares (nopalitos)
3 tomatoes, diced with seeds Read More


Tuna Salad on a Mission

Used to be that tuna salad was considered the “healthy choice.” But now who knows? Is the tuna wild? Is the mayo used to make the salad healthy? What about the bread for the sandwich? Is it gluten free? We can drive ourselves bonkers trying to keep up with all the information. And, this may  be part of the reason why tuna salad has lost popularity lately.  So, if you ever just get a taste for a tuna salad sandwich, why not just try it from a different angle? This recipe combines a dairy-egg free variation of tuna salad with Life Changing Bread, to bring you a clean(er) nutritional powerhouse of a tuna sandwich, with fiber, complete proteins from the fish and also plants, healthy fats, and other vitamins and minerals.

So, forget about “whether a tuna sandwich is okay” and dig in!

niçoise tuna salad finger sandwiches

2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
About half a scallion, chopped
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, loosely chopped
Splash of unfiltered raw cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon (or more if you like strong mustard flavor) Read More


It’s a Radish Wrap

So, I guess I have thought in the past about slicing a daikon radish thin to use as a wrap. But for some reason, when my airbnb guests from Korea introduced this dish to me, it seemed like a totally groovy new thing. I think what did it was the fact that the daikon radish came already sliced into perfect round sheets, and packaged. At first, I thought it was a gyoza (pot sticker) wrapper, but when I saw that it was radish, I was pleasantly surprised. So, today we have a couple of unwitting guest bloggers,  Hyoungwoo & Silhui from Seol, Korea, and their super simple, daikon veggie rolls. I see these being very versatile, stuffed with shrimp, seared tofu, smoked mushrooms, all sorts of things. This recipe is just a basic veggie roll, just like the ones that were prepared in my home the other day.

The pickled radish has sugar, so if you want to avoid that, make your own and use a healthier substitute for the sugar, like stevia, or jaggery sugar. Besides that though, this is a great way to get some raw, nutrient density into your body in a very simple and delicious way.

korean daikon radish wrap with vegetables

15-20 slices of Ssam-Mu (sliced & pickled Korean or daikon radish)
NOTE: You can also find it packaged at a Korean and sometimes Japanese Supermarkets
1 bunch asparagus spears, trimmed and steamed or roasted
1 bell pepper, color of your choice, trimmed and julienned into slices
1 package enoki mushrooms, earthy base removed and cut into long, loose mushrooms
Your favorite Asian style dipping sauce

OPTIONAL OTHER FILLINGS: shrimp, sliced chicken, fresh herbs like basil, perilla leaves, Read More


Pumpkinseed Pesto Yumminess

If you raise basil on a regular basis, you will encounter those times when you get busy and kind of ignore the basil for a few days, and while you are busy doing other stuff, the basil goes nuts and produces an abundance of flower stalks and leaves. This happened to me the other day and in my rush to prune it all back, I ended up with a giant pile of basil. So, since autumn is just around the corner, I decided to do a variation of pesto using raw pepitas (pumpkinseeds). There is something about the pumpkinseeds’ earthiness and association with the impending fall season that just made it all seem right.

I am still getting some glorious heirloom tomatoes, although that season is nearly over, so I put together this sort of “summer-fall” transitional salad that is vegan, yet packed with high quality, raw protein and healthy fats. This vegan pesto is very versatile and I have been using it in a variety of ways beyond this salad. This recipe is definitely a keeper and a healthier alternative to traditional pesto.

Heirloom Tomato and Pumpkinseed Pesto Salad

2 heirloom tomatoes
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup avocado oil + extra for drizzle
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. raw pipitas (hulled pumpkinseeds) + extra for sprinkling
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice Read More


Fig & Shiitake Bacon Bites

Here is a fun and extremely easy variation on the bacon-wrapped fig. Actually, I wanted to see if I could wrap a fig in a shiitake bacon, but the bacon pieces aren’t quite big or flexible enough. Next time I will try making a portobello bacon. In the meantime, this is what I ended up with, and to my delight, it came out very tasty. Try this as a snack, or a vegan and Paleo-friendly summer hors d’oeuvre, if you go with the vegan cheese, or I would imagine that goat cheese would be equally amazing. You can google shiitake bacon recipes and experiment, or just use the one I came up with here. Making shiitake bacon is much easier than it sounds if you use this quick method.

fig & shiitake bacon bites

For the shiitake bacon:
4 or 5 large shiitake mushroom caps
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. tamari or liquid aminos
1/2 tsp. melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper Read More


Cheesy Stuffed Paquillo Peppers

Have you ever passed the tapioca starch at the grocery store and wondered what in the world people use it for? Well, as it turns out, it can lend a key hand at making an awesome, meltable vegan cheese that can be made on the stovetop, literally in minutes. The cheese sort of resembles burrata, and has a great stretchy consistency, thanks to the tapioca starch. Tapioca comes from cassava root, so it is basically nothing more than a clean, plant-based stabilizer. I put it to the test with some paquillo peppers, and came up with this healthful version of the ubiquitous jalapeño popper. You can use paquillos, baby bells, jalapeños, or other stuff-able small chile, just make sure you are ready for whatever heat comes with whatever chile you choose. For example, a habanero would be adorable, but so hot you might not enjoy the cheese part. Have fun!

cashew mozzarella-stuffed paquillo peppers

For the Cheese:
There are several recipes for this type of cheese. Until I create one of my own, I like this adaptation from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken the best:

¼ cup raw cashews, soaked for a couple hours
1 cup water
3 tbsp + 2 tsp tapioca starch (a.k.a. tapioca flour)
1 tbsp of nutritional yeast
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder Read More


Vegan Caprese Happiness

A couple weeks ago I picked up a gorgeous pine nut cheese from Blode Kuh, one of my favorite vendors at the Farmers Market. This cheese was screaming to be made into some version of a caprese salad. Voila! Most times, the simplest stuff using ingredients made with love, make the brightest and most tasty dishes.

vegan caprese with pine nut cheese & roasted pepper dressing

2 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced into fairly thick slices
1 small wheel of pine nut or other aged nut cheese
8-10 fresh basil leaves
1 red bell pepper
1 tbsp. (or more) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 small lime
Splash of balsamic vinegar Read More