Living by the motto, "a lifestyle inspired by nature," I could not help but fuse the beauty and sweetness of strawberries, rhubarb, freshly picked flowers and a recent estate sale find - a vintage butterfly nature book.
Butterflies are a symbol of summer; a social and sunny season that leads to many affairs, whether with a good book, a cocktail or a soul mate.
"Butterflies are graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable. Butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine."
I experimented with a different type of a strawberry-rhubarb recipe. A clafoutis is a traditional French baked flan-like dessert often made with cherries. There are no rules with vegan French baking so any fruit will do. Tofu replaces the egg and upon sitting and cooling, the clafoutis firms, making it easier to cut slices.
Short and sweet, just like this dessert, I recommend trying something new. Don't forget about your pies and crisps, but discover a new dessert that is light and airy, just like summer and it's beautiful butterflies.
Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Clafoutis
Makes: 1 8-inch pie
Total Time: 40-45 minutes
1/2 cup rhubarb, chopped
1 heaping cup strawberries, chopped
1 12-oz. Mori nu Silken Tofu (firm)
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tbsp. corn starch (or flour)
1/3 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Wash and prep the strawberries and rhubarb. Set aside when done. Pour all the ingredients, except for the fruit, into a blender and blend until smooth. Place the fruit in the bottom of an 8-inch tart pan.
(If you want some fruit to be visible on top, leave some on the side). Next, pour the tofu mixture on top and use a spatula to even out the top. Place some of the remaining fruit on top as a topping. Bake for 33-36 minutes.
Love rhubarb? Check out our other rhubarb recipes:
Vegan, GF & Refined Sugar-Free Blueberry Strawberry Rhubarb CrispLet's Connect!
"The root of suffering is attachment." - Buddha
Thoughts of attachment have come and go lately in my brain. And the irony of posting a vodka recipe with thoughts of attachment is comical in its own way. Not that I am telling people to detach from their situation via the consumption of alcohol, but the fusion of Buddha and Buddha's Hand, well, goes hand in hand with each other.
Humans have issues with attachment, mainly material goods.We find ourselves attached to so many things that we lose ourselves, or our happiness along the way.
Life is like a beautiful flower. The petals don't last forever and continue to go through the death and rebirth cycle. The natural world contains countless metaphors and lessons that we humans can take to heart. Attachment should not be confused with love. Attachment occurs out of fear and dependency, which many use alcohol to cope with their problems. A spirit (alcoholic beverage) can either enhance a situation or make it worse. It depends on the intention and the use.
Okay, enough of the deep thoughts and lets get to the point of the Buddha's Hand.
The Buddha's Hand is an exotic citrus fruit that crosses between the scent and the favor of an orange and lemon. The fruit is native to China and the Himalayas and not commonly found at all grocery stores.
The Buddha's Hand shape is the most puzzling. Because of traveling in Thailand and various regions in Asia, the hand is symbolic and looks "identical" to the real hand, just in a deformed citrus fruit type of way. Sweet like candy, it is unique in every way.
The most magical part of the Buddha's Hand is the scent. It is the most pure citrus scent you'll ever smell. It is a reminder that heaven is on earth. My kitchen smelled like the after effects of a citrus cloud crying sweet tears of lemon all over my kitchen. To say the least, scent is a powerful thing, like nirvana.
Buddhas-Hand Citrus Infused Vodka
Makes: 3 cups / 24 ounces / 800 ml
Time: 3 weeks - 4 months
What You Need:
1 Buddhas hand
3 cups / 24 ounces / 800 ml or more of vodka
1 mason jar
How to Make:
Cut the fingers of the Buddha's Hand off the base. Wash the Buddha's fingers and base as dirt sticks in between the fingers. After washing, cut the fingers length-wise, removing the excess white pith. I just removed enough and didn't go crazy over it. I used as much of the base as possible, mostly the peel. Place the Buddha's Hand and vodka in a mason jar.
Seal the jar and store in a cool and dark place. You can infuse for several weeks or several months. The longer it infuses the stronger the flavor and the vodka will turn yellow.
Prior to serving you may need to strain the vodka to remove any small pieces of fruit.
Asparagus season is here. I love this stalky green vegetable but adopted deeper appreciation for asparagus after living in Germany. The peasant and pagan roots of Germans have long celebrated this seasonal vegetable, with spargelsuppe being my favorite.
Besides Germans, many ancient cultures have prized this nutrient-dense vegetable. Legend has it that Roman Emperor Ceasar Augustus united a military army in search of asparagus. The Greeks connected this stalk to fertility and with Aphrodite, the Goddess of love. Even French monasteries planted asparagus over 600 years ago where the beloved second wife of King Louis XIV, Madame de Maintenon gathered asparagus recipes and compiled them into a book. It was send in order to please King Louis (also known as the Sun King) one would bring asparagus to his wife.
From white, purple to green, foodies today still enjoy asparagus. Although we don't connect to the roots often of our produce, I believe it is important to respect the process of nature's gifts and the hard labor of our ancestors who provided our lives with such nourishment.
I craved something savory yet creamy. Buttery and delicious, this will be the next level asparagus recipe that will have you craving these stalks year round.
Vegan Creamy Garlic Butter Asparagus Orzo
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
3 tbsp vegan butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lb. of asparagus, washed and chopped (discard ends)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)*
16 oz (1 lb) package of orzo
salt + pepper to taste
Wash and prep the vegetables. Discard the last two inches of the asparagus ends and cut the remaining stalks to your desired length.
Melt the butter on low heat in a deep pot and cook the garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add the onions and cook until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Add the asparagus and lightly saute for a minute. Add the remaining ingredients and bring the liquid to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer until the orzo is edible.
Orzo cooks quickly so keep your eye on the pot. Remove from heat and once the orzo cools, it'll soak up the liquid. Salt and pepper the dish to taste. When reheating leftovers, add milk or butter to the pot to maintain creamy consistency.
*You can use any type of nondairy milk but soymilk handles high heat the best.
Sweet potatoes and black beans go together like peas and carrots. Nourishing and packed with nutrients, sweet potatoes and black beans satiate vegans vegetarians with its heartiness, The combination of protein and carbohydrate makes these nachos filling without the bloatedness of eating too many chips.
If you’ve followed any of my posts, I am an advocate for reducing food waste and often grocery shop in my cabinets and pantry. I made this wonderful version of vegan cilantro lime sour cream, using Tofutti sour cream. I felt this would be the perfect topping to nachos, but not just any plate of chips and toppings. It needed something different.
I had a pack of Daiya’s vegan cheddar cheese shreds, which Daiya provided me a box of goodies to taste test and provide feedback about their products. I continued my experiment of using this cheese in a way that is easy yet compliments various spice and cream flavors. And there is no better use for vegan cheese than on a plate of nachos.
I love Daiya cheese and find that it is the most meltable dairy-free cheese on the market.
Between the spices on the potatoes, Daiya’s vegan cheese and the cilantro lime sour cream, your taste buds will burst will South of the Border flavors.
I usually make my dishes flavorful, but not spicy. I recommend if you want to add heat to this dish, incorporate jalapenos or some chili powder to the sweet potatoes.
There are various ways to make sweet potato nachos, but I find the most optimal way is to bake the sliced and seasoned sweet potatoes first prior to adding on the topping. A bit time consuming compared to regular nachos, but well worth every bite.
Vegan Sweet Potato Nachos featuring Daiya's Cheddar Cheese Shreds
Bake Time: 45-60 minutes
2 medium/large sweet potatoes, sliced (left skins on)
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 cup black beans, washed and rinsed
1/2 cup Daiya Cheddar Cheese Shreds
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp taco seasoning
vegan cilantro lime sour cream recipe as needed
Pre heat oven to 425 degrees.
Wash and slice sweet potatoes. In a bowl mix the sweet potatoes, olive oil and taco seasoning. Mix until well coated.
Layer the slices on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30-42 minutes total, flipping the sweet potatoes about half way. (Note the thinner the slices, the quicker it bakes).
Remove from the oven and place the sweet potatoes in a smaller baking dish. Add the toppings, except for the sour cream. Reduce the oven's heat and bake for 13 minutes at 350-degrees.
Remove from the oven, let it cool for a minute and add sour cream as needed.
Daiya provided the cheese product but did not compensate me for this post. All opinions are my own.
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Even though Cinco de Mayo is over, there is always time and tastebuds to enjoy the South of Border flavors. With left over vegan sour cream, I decided to grocery shop in my refrigerator to create a Mexican-inspired sauce/dressing for nachos and fiesta bowls.
The one thing I love about this recipe is that it reduces food waste. Whenever I buy herbs, I seem to use 25-30 percent, while the remaining rots in the fridge.
With a bundle of cilantro, I reduced the waste of the cilantro while using up the sour cream. You can use any brand of sour cream, and I'm an advocate for limiting processed foods, but here is something quick, easy, tasty and fun to dress up your tacos, burritos and bowls with something different and flavorful.
It's the perfect sauce or dressing for the upcoming summer season where Mexican food is the life of the party.
Vegan Cilantro Lime Sour Cream
Cook/Prep Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1-1.5 cups
1 cup vegan sour cream
1 3/4 cup cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
5 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
splash of apple cider vinegar
pinch of cumin
Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust flavors accordingly.
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Potatoes are one of nature's most amazing foods. They have a bad rap in America, partly due to French fries and being a starchy vegetable, but most Americans don't realize its not the potato, it's how you cook the potato.
When I lived and traveled in Europe, I noticed the deep connection between our ancestors and the potato. It's a hearty vegetable that nourished our ancestors for generations.
Could you imagine farming the land while fueled solely on kale salads with carrot tahini dressing?
Our European friends cook simply and the "peasant-friendly" meals use potatoes. Sure, most of them are meat and potato consumers, but from boiled potatoes to potato pancakes, the potato is part of our history's dietary past. The Irish, Germans, Hungarians and Eastern "block" countries are still to this day potato connoisseurs.
Post Europe, I've made decisions to avoid food waste and grocery shop from my cabinets and refrigerator. I had chives and didn't know exactly what to do with them.
Mashed potatoes with chives sounded delicious, but my body doesn't crave that while the spring flowers blossom outside. The Seattle air filled with an aromatic floral scent and fluffy white petals flowing with the wind, I decided to try something creamy, rich and different.
With a mix of butter and soy milk, here is an affordable and peasant-friendly side dish inspired by nature. I eat like a bird so sometimes I find the heartiness fills me up as a main dish alongside a side salad. Enjoy!
Vegan Creamy Chive Potatoes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
1 russet potato
3 large golden potatoes (or use russet)
1 cup soymilk** (see note)
3 tbsp vegan butter
1/2 cup chives
salt to taste
Prep the potatoes and chives. Melt the three tablespoons of butter on medium heat in a large skillet. Add, mix and cook potatoes for 1-2 minutes on medium to low heat. Add the milk, chives and salt and cook until the potatoes are edible. It is normal for the soy milk to thicken. Stir frequently.
**Note: I recommend soy milk because of its properties, it has a higher tolerance for heat and will not coagulate.
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My soul yearns for the Mediterranean life; an experience that integrates good food, historical culture and a fun in the sun lifestyle. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the sun is shining and spring is more beautiful than ever. The cherry blossoms are in bloom and the salty sea mist from the Puget Sound whafs in the air.
The inspiration from nature ignites a craving for something light, airy, healthy and fresh. And with a box of Explore Cuisine Organic Red Lentil Penne, something Mediterranean, and fun under the sun, would be on the menu.
Explore Cuisine is a brand that inspires the world to consume more plants. As one of the leaders in producing plant-based pastas, they transform legumes, beans, rice and peas into a hearty pasta packed with fiber and protein.
And the best part is, their pasta is naturally gluten-free and vegan.
Protein is an obsession in the diet industry. Thanks to our understanding of the interconnection between man and plants, we now know, and have sophisticated cooking methods, to use plants as the main source of protein fuel.
Packed with 11 grams of protein per serving, this pasta contains a healthy balance of the macronutrients. The pasta contains hearty servings of protein and carbohydrates where the olive oil contains the healthy fats.
As a personal trainer and a health coach, I believe in eating healthy on a budget and in a timely manner. This six-ingredient pasta is something that even busy moms have time for during the work week.
Inspired by nature and the brand, never stop exploring yourself and your cooking skills in the kitchen. Each time you cook, your intuition guides your palate and opens you up to a whole new world of understanding your mind, body and soul. Enjoy! And don't forget to check out Explore Cuisine's Instagram page!. And how about mine too?
Dairy Free Mediterranean Pasta with Explore Cuisine's Organic Red Lentil Penne
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
1 box Explore Cuisine Organic Red Lentil Pasta
1 cup sugar plum tomatoes, quartered and deseeded
1/2 cup packed basil, chopped
1/3 cup purple onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil + more
Pinch of salt + Italian (or Greek) spice
optional: squeeze of lemon or fresh parsley (this drastically changes the flavor)
Cook the noodles according to the package. Drain and rinse lightly when complete.
In a pan, cook the onion, garlic, salt and Italian spices for 2-3 minutes on low heat. Next, add the tomatoes and basil and cook for one minute. Add the pasta and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add additional olive oil if necessary or readjust spices to please your palate.
If you use the lemon juice and parsley (parsley decreases the taste of basil) stir it in at the end. Serve warm.
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*Note: Explore Cuisine provided product for this post but no compensation. All opinions are my own.
Are you looking for an internal spring clean? If so, fresh juice aides our digestion and cleanse of the intestinal tract. Juice is quick and easy to digest since it is broken down from its whole food state. Thanks to its fiber, juice "hits the system" quicker resulting in detoxifying affects.
Spring is the season of rebirth. Internally, we need cleansed on a physical, emotional and mental level.
And fresh juice helps that process.
Foods from nature are high vibrational foods. Natural foods are a gift from the heavens. And the more we consume these foods the higher our spirits ascend. What we take in emotionally also affects us. Emotional digestion is just as important as our physical digestion. Packaged and processed foods keep us in the lower vibrational state - slow, sluggish and craving more salt and sugar.
Cheers to spring, the flowers, longer days and the beautiful rebirth of nature and all of it's magic.
Apple Fennel Pear Juice
Makes 2 cups
1 large Anjou Pear
3 small-medium apples (used extra-fancy)* see note below
1 3-4 inch stalk of the fennel
Wash, cut and place the produce through the juicer. *Note: Using 3 apples gives this a strong apple flavor. Using 2 apples balances out the flavor of apple, pear and fennel.
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Who doesn't love peanut butter? Peanut butter is a classic American staple food.
From PBJ to peanut butter cream pies, peanut butter is one of the most versatile baking foods. But, no two peanut butter brands are the same. And thanks to the IDEA blog fest, I established a friendly relationship with those "down under" folks from Pic's Peanut Butter.
Pic's Peanut Butter roots lay in the lovely land of New Zealand, a place that forever affected my mind, heart and soul. For those of you who don't know, I have lived abroad four times. I moved to Australia in 2005 to study abroad. And though the beaches were my playground, the mountains of New Zealand were my sanctuary.
It's a magical place with vast landscapes, unadulterated by development and industrialization. New Zealand is a place that proves heaven on earth exists.
And that is exactly how I feel about Pic's Peanut Butter.
But what makes Pic's different than the rest?
Located in Nelson, New Zealand, Pic's uses hi-oleic nuts from Australia, one of the purest and highest quality peanuts around. Hi oleic nuts feature an enhanced nutritional value of polyunsaturate oils, antioxidants and resveratrol, a biologically important stilbenoid. The Australian nuts contain a higher content of oleic acid compared to regular nuts (a 75% : 55% ratio). Pic's peanut butter is nutritionally special. Discover more at this Pic's blog post that identifies the lovely benefits of Pic's.
Life, and apparently Pic's peanuts, are full of fun surprises. For me, I enjoy Pic's straight out of the jar. Spoon and jar. That's all I need, but sometimes I also require pancakes to fuel my long days as a trainer and a coach.
These pancakes balance the macronutrients of healthy carbohydrates, protein and fat as well as fiber!
Thanks to Pic's, this dairy-free recipe is quick, easy and eager to please your brunch guests. I concocted this to balance all three favors; however, if you prefer more of one ingredient, you'll have to adjust the recipe slightly. Let your creativity and intuitive juices guide your palate.
The hardest part of this pancake journey is whether or not to use crunchy or smooth. And don't worry if someone has a peanut allergy, swap PB for Pic's almond or cashew butter.
Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Pancakes using Pics Peanut Butter
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 15 pancakes
1 flax egg (mix 1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water)
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1.5 cup non-dairy milk (almond)
1/4 cup Pic's Peanut Butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt + cinnamon
2-3 tbsp chocolate, either chips or cut from a bar
Place all of the ingredients, except for the chocolate, into a blender. Blend until smooth. Next, stir in the chocolate chips.
Heat a non-stick skillet, using either cooking spray, coconut oil or vegan butter for cooking.
Once hot, use a ladle and pour the batter onto the skillet in a clockwise manner. Allow the pancake to cook and once bubbles form on top, use a spatula to flip the pancake and cook until the pancake slides a bit on the skillet.
The following pancakes cook quicker because the skillet is hot. Reapply spray / oil / or butter and repeat the series.
Have you tried these pancakes? Let us know!
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Spring is almost here but part of the western world remains frozen under ice, snow and cold temperatures. It's still time to warm our souls with something pure and healthy derived from nature.
This soup contains a light and airy component that is packed with vitamins and nutrients. Fennel is a powerful plant that contains phosphorous, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, choline, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, and vitamin K. It also contains Vitamin B-6, which promotes the breakdown of carbohydrates and protein into glucose and amino acids.
Combined with carrots and apples, this is soup "boosts" metabolic processes to ensure healthy weight management. The metabolic process is a chemical process that releases heat. Foods packed with metabolic-friendly nutrients aide in weight management and weight loss goals. And this soup is no exception.
Although spring is around the corner, be sure to try something new, fresh and different. Let this soup guide you into the new season of rebirth, revival and renewal.
Vegan Carrot Fennel Apple Soup
Cook Time: 30 minutes
2 1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup purple onion, chopped
2 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup fennel, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 cups apple, chopped (used gala)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
3 sprigs of thyme
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper + turmeric
Prep the vegetables. In a soup pot, cook the onion and garlic in oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots and apples are edible. Next, puree the soup in a blender or with a hand immersion blender. Adjust any flavors and spices. Serve warm.
Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com