Sunday, December 20, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

This soup is really worth blogging about. I tried to find a similar recipe but ended up having to create my own to get the flavoring just right. I hope you will enjoy it as well.

I love this time of year and the warmth a good soup brings. This is one of my favorites with the combination of both apple and butternut squash. The roasting process adds a lovely caramelized richness and the aroma in the kitchen is out of this world. The secret ingredient is curry. It adds a robust flavoring that even this non curry fan can't deny. It's so subtle you won't detect it but without out it, it's just not as good. The garnish of toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and fresh pomegranate seeds is both festive and flavorful. You'll savor them in each bite!

I have made this vegan because that's how I prefer to eat and the flavor does not disappoint but you may substitute as you wish.

To make this simpler and quicker I used freshly prepped ingredients from Trader Joe's. For those without a local Trader Joe's, my apologies but many grocery stores are catching on to the convenience of prepped ingredients and of course freshly prepped at home is always best.

Butternut Squash prepped and cubed- got to love it!
Onions, carrots and celery- diced! No more tears.
Fresh apple juice and organic vegetable broth and diced apple

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Makes about 8-10 cups  Print Friendly


4 12 oz bags Trader Joe's peeled and cubed Butternut Squash or about 3 lbs *
1 apple cored and diced, Gala or your choice
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup Carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup Celery, diced
1/2 cup Onion, diced
2 -3 cups Vegetable Broth, organic preferred
1/2 cup Apple Juice, I used fresh flash pasteurized from TJ's
1/2 cup unsweetened Almond Milk, optional
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp CurryPowder
1 Cinnamon stick
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil, optional
Pomegranate seeds


Preheat Oven to 450 degrees
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil if you like to prevent sticking
Place squash cubes in single layer on baking sheet
Sprinkle with salt (optional), pepper and cinnamon
Roast 30-45 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until tender and caramelized to taste
Remove and let cool

In a large pot, melt coconut oil or use a splash of broth
Cook garlic until lightly cooked but not brown
Add Mirepoix mix of onions, carrots, celery, coriander, curry powder and cinnamon stick  Cook until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes
Add in roasted squash cubes, apple, apple juice, and enough broth to cover ingredients starting with 2 cups.
Bring to a boil then cover then reduce heat and let simmer until all ingredients are cooked through and flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick.

Use a hand held Immersion blender or place the soup in batches in a blender or food processor to puree. Make sure to remove top cap on blender top and cover with a towel to let the steam escape while blending and only fill container half full. You don't want to scotch yourself! Add in Almond milk for more creaminess if desired. Rinse pan and return blended soup to pot to keep warm while serving. Season with salted pepper to taste. If you would like a thinner soup add in more broth and stir until you reach your desired consistency. 

Toast Pepitas in a dry skillet over medium heat until oils are released and the seeds are slightly crispy. Bowl up the soup and scatter the pepitas and pomegranate seeds on top.

Serve with your favorite bread or salad or both and enjoy!
Try it out and let me know what you think.

Until next time,

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Home Made Laundry Detergent Update- Almost 2 years later!

It's been almost 2 years!!! since I switched from my previous store brand laundry detergent ensemble to this home made and healthier version and you know what? We still haven't gone through all I made!

Amazing! As I started to write this I thought it was almost 1 year but no, it's almost 2 years now. How much have you spent on laundry detergent in the last 2 years? Because I spent only $33.20 making this and I said goodbye to harsh chemicals and irritants in the process.

Bet your laundry products look like this.

My original batch and "fabric softener"- I still have 3/4 of a pitcher left of the detergent.
This is what mine look like now.

Our clothes get clean, even better than soap because the baking soda and vinegar rinse cleans the soap residue out and cleans the washer in the process too. No more itchy skin from detergent in clothes, sheets or towels. And I never would have thought that vinegar could make our laundry so soft but it does and no perfumey smells!

So almost two years later, I can say I'm really happy with this little experiment. Next time I will order the white Zote to get away from the coloring altogether. It just takes a little pre planning for ordering.

There are lots of these recipes floating around Pinterest but this one really steps away from the chemical based products without sacrificing cleaning power.

So want the recipe?

Check out my old blog for all the details.

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Until next time,

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash Salad with MacIntosh Apples

This delicious salad was the main dish of our Thanksgiving meal and thoroughly enjoyed!

Butternut squash, spiced with clove, cinnamon and allspice and roasted then tossed with a mix of kale and spinach, red onions, chopped apples both dry and fresh, a handful of pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries and then tossed in mild creamy dressing of apple juice, sage, garlic and onions with a slight sweetness of added dates.

This salad just screams fall harvest making use of seasonal vegetables and colors.

The recipe was adapted from the new book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live Cookbook, and like all the recipes of his that I have tried, is certainly a winner in our home. I'm looking forward to cooking my way through this book.

The best thing about his recipes is that I don't have to worry about them being healthy and I mean truly healthy not just some fad based on someone's opinion. Dr. Fuhrman puts so much emphasis on nutritional research that I don't think anyone else can truly compete in this area. He has enlisted the help of some top chefs to utilize his knowledge and guidelines and put together some winning recipes. I know that the recipes are designed for total wellness and having had such good results with every recipe tried so far, I also know that I don't have to worry about them tasting good. Two big thumbs up from here.

So on to the recipe:

Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash Salad with MacIntosh Apples

Recipe adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live- Cookbook

Serves 4

For the Dressing:

1 clove of garlic
1 tablspoon chopped shallots
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard (optional)
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice or water
2 tablespoons raw almond butter
1 Medjool date, pitted and stemmed
1/2 cup parsley
6 fresh sage leaves

Combine dressing ingredients in a high speed blender until well combined. Set aside.

For the Butternut Squash:

12 ounces butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch diced pieces
1 tablespoon coconut or date sugar (optional)
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
pinch ground allspice
pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup of unsweetened apple juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a big bowl, toss the squash with the sugar, spices and apple juice until well coated. Place the mixture in a roasting pan, cover with foil and roast until the squash is caramelized and slightly browned but still firm when tested with a fork. About 15 mins total but stir/toss about half way through.

Note: If you are fortunate to find fresh diced squash in your grocery store, usually in 32 ounce portions, go ahead and double this portion of the recipe. I guarantee the extra roasted squash will not go to waste. It's so good!

For the Salad:

4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 apples of choice, (Winesap is what was called for in the original recipe but I used MacIntosh)
2 tablespoons chopped dried apples
1/2 of a red onion, sliced into fine rings
3 cups spinach, sliced
3 cups kale, sliced

While the squash is roasting, combine the salad ingredients in a big bowl.

When the squash is ready, toss it with the salad dressing until well coated and then add to the salad, toss and serve right away. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. You can substitute sweet potatoes, parsnips or any other type of squash you desire as well. It's all good.

And if you are looking for a nice dessert for this meal, check out the previous recipe for the Cranberry Apple Tart!


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Monday, December 2, 2013

Cranberry Apple Tart

Well, I have to say the time has just flown since my last post and I must apologize. The good news is that this is the year my health has improved to the point where I could return to my passion, which is interior design and that has kept me very busy with deadlines these last few months. I have to say I think a great deal of credit has gone to my mostly improved eating habits. I can't say I'm above backsliding into some old habits now and then but for the most part, I eat quite a bit differently than I used to.

When it came time for Thanksgiving this year, we thought to our favorite recent Thanksgiving meals and decided that a plant based dinner, mostly raw is what suits us best. Because raw and plant based foods are so filling and there is only the two of us, we spread out the celebration over the weekend instead of all at once in one meal and that was very rewarding.

I'm starting here with sharing the dessert first because... well, you have to have priorities. ;-)

 Cranberry Apple Tart with a Caramel Drizzle

Very simple and also very delicious. Fresh apples, cranberries, a pear, dates, raisins, nuts and sweetener of choice and you've got a wonderful impressive tart in the bag. No one even has to know it's raw but your friends and family that want to avoid gluten, and dairy will surely appreciate it. The cranberries add a little tartness and quite frankly, the filling could be used as a cranberry apple relish/ sauce as well.

2 cups almonds
1 cup dates, pitted and stemmed- soft
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all the above in a food processor and process until crumbly and the mixture sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Be careful not to over process though to the point of creating a nut butter. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan or pie pan. Freeze until ready to assemble.

Tip: If you have leftover crust add a little dried coconut and some chopped walnuts and set aside for topping your favorite banana ice cream, cereal or fruit bowl. So delicious!

1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 apples, peeled and cored, reserve 1/2 an apple for topping
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup of dates, pitted, stemmed and soft (soak in water if necessary to soften)
1/2 cup of raisins, soft (soak in water for about 30 minutes until plump and drain)
1/4 cup coconut or agave nectar
pinch of cinnamon

Place all but 1/2 an apple and half the lemon juice in a food processor. Blend until well mixed but chunky. You can do a couple of things at this point: Rough chop the rest of the apple and stir into the mix or do like I did and slice thinly the 1/2 apple and toss with the remaining lemon juice and decorate the top of the tart right before serving.

Remove tart crust from freezer and remove the tart from the pan. It should be well set. Spoon mixture into the tart, and either decorate top and serve or return to the freezer until serving.

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup of dates, seeded and stemmed, soft
2 tablespoons coconut butter
3 tablespoons coconut or agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons filtered water

Blend until well combined and to desired consistency. I actually start this in the food processor and then finish in the Vitamix to get it really smooth.

Poor into a nozzle tipped container or use a plastic bag with the corner snipped off to get control over the drizzle. 

Serve up your tart with a drizzle over top and don't forget to add a little on each slice.

This cuts much easier when frozen so I recommend cutting into slices and then defrosting to serve. The tart will keep about 3 days covered well in the fridge or for longer keeping, freeze.

I hope you give this one a try. It's a nice twist on the old standard apple.

Keep an eye out for the rest of our holiday dishes from the weekend. They are great for this fall time of year.

Happy Holidays!!

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Middle Eastern Salad- Eating on the Road

We were watching of all things a show about fast food in foreign countries a while back. (Yea… I know) and were surprised to hear that in the Middle East this was something that big chains like McDonald's and even Subway, needed to add to their menus to catch on locally. (Sad that they are there at all but that's another topic.) This salad is a staple in some countries and especially for breakfast, an idea I rather liked. It caught my interest and I did some researching, even before the show was over.

It goes by different names: Israeli Salad, Arabic Salad, Palestinian Salad and probably others I am not aware of but rather than get into this hot bed of debate I decided to call it just Middle Eastern Salad.

It has some very simple fresh ingredients like tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, and herbs like parsley and mint and of course there are many variations as well. I decide to whip this up to take on our trip and it filled in quite well for many snacks and meals.

Although you can eat this as is as a salad, I also made up a no bean Raw Red Pepper Hummus (I have posted something similar here) to have on hand and the two worked out nicely to fill pita bread for a heartier meal as well as to use for chips and veggies. For all raw, you can use endive lettuce as scoops, something we often do.

We cleared out our mini bar fridge and stocked it with things like fresh fruit, smoothies, the hummus and salad, along with veggies and of course water. This really helped us to keep a lid on eating out too much while away from home. The hummus lasted about 5 days and the salad about 3-4. The chips, not that long at all.

In Room Dining- (sorry the lighting wasn't the best.)

Middle Eastern Salad

3 large cucumbers peeled and seeded and then diced
4 medium tomatoes, seed and diced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 small red onion, diced or about 5 green onions chopped
1 medium lemon zested and juiced
salt and pepper to taste 

(I omitted the salt so just know that you might want to add this when serving and not before. It will make the cucumbers sweat and it will become watery as it sits.)

Mix all the above in a bowl and let sit at least 15 minutes or store in a sealed container and chill. 
It makes about 2 quarts and will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

As a side note, I have discovered a great substitute for store bought chips- Pita bread. 
Most often you can find pita bread that is free from preservatives and sometimes salt and oil as well. Gluten free would be a bonus but I have yet to discover that. I find that I don't react too much to pita.

I just cut them up into triangles and pop into the oven at about 325 degrees for 7-8 minutes until desired crispness. The hummus I made had quite a bit of garlic so I left these plain but for garlic flavored you can spritz with water and dust lightly with garlic powder. As an alternative you can spray with olive oil and do the same but I'm watching the use of oil and don't miss it at all.

On a Personal Note:

We had a great trip and although we tried to stay with our eating routine, we did stray while eating in restaurants and with friends and family. We both have decided that a cleanse or detox is definitely in order to feel our best again. 

So we are back to high raw food, salads, juices and smoothies for a while.

I can't wait to get back in the kitchen.

Until next time….

Friday, July 12, 2013

Raw on the Run- Lara Bites

I have to apologize. We are away from home at the moment and due to an overcrowded hotel internet service, I have not been able to post as I had planned. I have been trying at different times during our stay to edit photos or even upload them from my camera but my connection keeps getting lost. In a last ditch effort, finally I was able to connect tonight and nearly 12 am! I guess everyone is going to sleep as I should be. I was afraid it could have been my computer so it is a relief but since this is a working trip, this is not very feasible for posting, so this may be my only post until I return home. So sorry.

Before leaving home, I made an effort to stock us with some food for the trip. We were able to keep most of it in the hotel mini bar fridge and it has saved us from dining at unpredictable restaurants for the most part of our meals.

One of our favorites is this recipe, which I have to confess was one of my very first attempts at making raw food several years ago. It's a staple in the raw food community, known widely as Ani Phyo's Donut Holes. Since it really does not compare to sugary donut holes other than by looks, I prefer to call them "energy bites" as that seems more fitting.

Dates, dried pineapple, coconut, and almonds are about what you will find in a Lara bar, and since a bite size is enough to satisfy, "Lara Bites" it is!

This is very simple to make and with few ingredients, it makes a nice alternative to buying Lara bars.

Lara Bites aka Ani's Donut Holes

Donut Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups almonds
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 2 cups dried pineapple, chopped
  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup shredded coconut
Donut Directions
  1. In food processor, place almonds, salt, and vanilla.
  2. Process into a fine powder first.
  3. Slowly add chopped pineapple and dates, mix well.
  4. Place in a large bowl. Mix in 1/3 cup shredded coconut.
  • To serve, use an ice cream scooper or spoon to form donut holes.
  • Roll holes in ¼ cup shredded coconut. 
  • Will keep for over a week in the fridge.
From the book Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo
Rather than me showing photos of how to make these, (which I can't seem to upload anyway) I decided who better to show the process than Ani herself. So here is a video of Ani the amazing, making her delicious raw donut holes.

These little balls will keep nicely in your refrigerator for about a week. If you don't think you'll eat them that fast, I would suggest freezing them, which is what I do and they will keep for considerably longer.

I hope you consider trying these.  I will resume my blog posting when I return. I do have some lovely dishes that I created for the trip as well, mostly raw as that just worked the best for traveling. Hope you are all enjoying your summer.

Until next time, and when I return to better internet service...
Take care.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Frosted Raspberry Black Bean Brownies

No doubt this title sounds a little strange. I know it did to me when I first read about these. Black beans and brownies are never three words I would have put together without wincing. Probably what you are doing now.

But surprise! It works!

Over on Dr. Fuhrman's member site this is one recipe that everyone seems to love so I thought, hey! I love brownies so I'm game.

But why would anyone make brownies with black beans at all?

I hear ya. Well the benefits are many:

no processed sugar
no flour (aka gluten)
no dairy
no soy
no heavy amount of nuts like most raw desserts (although there is some nut butter)
plus lots of beneficial carbs and fiber from the black beans

Beans of all kinds are a dieters best friend as they fill you up, have great fiber and are a good source of calories when eating a high produce (and low calorie) diet.

I added raspberries because really what goes better with chocolate than raspberries?

I also decided to use a 12 individual cheesecake pan when I read that the serving size was 12. I cut the time down for mine because of the pan and frankly I could have cooked mine longer. They were not as fully cooked as they could have been. They came out more like a pudding cake, which was still quite good but for a crunchier outside, more time would have been better.

The frosting is optional and also vegan, sugar and nut free. Have you had "Chocomole" aka chocolate frosting made with avocados before? It's very good and even great as a pudding.

So let's get to it, shall we?

Raspberry Black Bean Brownies

Recipe adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's Black Bean Brownies from the website:

Ingredients for Brownies:

2 cups of no or low salt black beans, drained and rinsed or home cooked
10 pitted medjool dates, soaked until soft
2 tablespoons raw almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
1 pint of raspberries, divided.


Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Combine black beans, dates, almond butter and vanilla in a food processor or high-speed blender. I used my Vitamix for this and while you can, you will get quite a workout with the plunger as this batter is really really quite thick. I had to add a couple of tablespoons of water to get it moving at all. Next time I will use a food processor.

Once well mixed, go ahead and add the cocoa powder and the ground chia seeds and blend again.

(Sorry, about the lighting here. I lost my sunlight unexpectedly- darn clouds!) 
Spread half the mixture into a lightly oiled pan (8x8) or muffin/ cheesecake pan. Mine was non-stick so I did not use any oil.

Mash up 3/4 cup of the raspberries in a cup and then spread over half the brownie batter. Then add the remaining batter over the raspberry layer to the.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours at 200 degrees.
Cool completely. Apply topping if desired. Cut into 12 pieces or remove from cups.
Can be stored in the refrigerator covered for up to a week. (I froze mine.)

Chocomole aka Chocolate Frosting (optional)


1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao
5 pitted medjool dates, soaked until soft.
splash of vanilla

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Frost brownies if using and top with remaining raspberries.


Well are you game? I hope you give these a try. And if you do, please come back and tell me your verdict.

I'll be sharing this over at Healthy Vegan Fridays and also on Gluten Free Wednesdays over at the Gluten Free Homemaker's site.

Oh and one more thing:

When you have that blender all chocolateied (is that a word?) up after making the frosting use that left over goodness to whip up a smoothie.

Chocolate Raspberry Banana Smoothie:

Blender coated with chocomole
1 cup of almond milk
handful of raspberries
2 dates
2 frozen bananas


Until next time…

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