Framer’s Market Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce

The west coast gets me. Gluten free beer ON TAP. Separate gluten free menus. Explicit knowledge of what is actually in the food I am eating. I have never found wait staff so willing to help find food that I can eat.

It’s nice to feel like someone cares. Like you’re not in this alone. It’s funny how simple gestures can be the most profound.

Our first day in san francisco was exhausting. We walked for miles. I got grumpy (unavoidable when I have inadequate sleep and/or food. In this case both). I was in search of Cafe Gratitude. What we found was Gracias Madre, a sister restaurant, and I didn’t hide the fact that I was pissed. Until we got inside.

We caught the last moments of happy hour, and I was brought a $3 glass of organic sangria, with fruit from a local farm. The farm where they grow ALL of their produce. All organic, all vegan, all sustainable, mostly gluten free goodness. When that sangria hit the table I felt my shoulders relax and my temper settle. I was suddenly home. Because I love mexican food, but generally end up ordering off the a la carte menu, still wondering if I am doing some harm to my body. Not here. Here I was safe in a delicious blanket of nourishment.

This is a long story to say that we returned to Gracias Madre on our last day in San Francisco. It was that good. And I came home on a mission to recreate their seasonal vegetable tacos.

My first attempt, in all humility, was pretty damn good. Jump below the photo for the recipe.

(at Gracias Madre for the second time)

 

Farmer’s Market Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce (dinner for two)

Because I don’t currently have a productive garden I call these Farmer’s Market tacos, as this was the source for my vegetables. Note that this is not a quick meal to prepare, especially if you make the tortillas yourself, which I highly recommend. Each element takes time and attention, but it is well worth it.

The beauty of these tacos, like the rest of the menu at Gracias Madre, is that the vegetables can change with the seasons. Use summer or winter squash, broccoli, different peppers, or even try roasting fruit (peaches, yum!) depending on what season you are in. Keep it simple, and nourishing, and local. Love the food you eat.

Ingredients:

6-8 handmade corn tortillas (in lieu of a tortilla press I used two flexible cutting boards and my dutch oven)
6 medium collard leaves sliced into 3-4″ strips
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 small serrano pepper, halved
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ rounds
olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 cup cashew cheese sauce (see recipe below)
1 small handful raw pepita (pumpkin) seeds
salsa verde for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 500F
  2. If you haven’t ahead of time, prepare your cashew cheese sauce
  3. Place eggplant on an oiled pan, brush with a coat of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste
  4. Roast eggplant in oven, approximately 5-7 minutes per side
  5. Once eggplant is in, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat
  6. Saute the onion with a bit of salt and pepper in the heated oil
  7. Add the serrano pepper and greens, bring heat down to low and cover, stirring frequently until greens are wilted and tender, approximately 7-10 minutes. Don’t forget about the eggplant!
  8. Remove the greens from heat, and discard the serrano pepper. Keep covered until ready to plate
  9. When the eggplant is finished, remove from oven and dice into 1/2″ cubes
  10. In a smaller oiled pan individually heat the corn tortillas

Assembly:

To assemble the tacos, place the heated tortillas flat on large serving plates. Place a small amount of one of the fillings on each tortilla, and drizzle on desired amount of cashew cheese sauce. Sprinkle pepita seeds over the tacos with sauteed greens. Serve with a side of organic refried black beans. Rice could also be served, but we find the tacos and beans to be more than filling. Keep salsa verde and extra cashew cheese sauce on the table with the meal.

 

 

Cashew Cheese Sauce (thanks to Cafe Gratitude for the base recipe)

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)

Directions:

Place ingredients in a high speed blender and blend for 1 minute. Taste for flavor and texture, and adjust accordingly. I had to blend mine several times before I got away from the grainy texture of the cashews, but I also don’t have the best blender.

 

I hope you enjoy as much as we did!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long absence. A trip. A return.

I haven’t been present here recently for a few reasons: -I lost interest in food and ate a lot of frozen broccoli -I replaced breakfast and lunch with smoothies -I was working a lot, and burning myself out along the way.

But then, at the end of September, my husband and I took a ten-day trip through the pacific north west. We drove the California and Oregon coasts, the latter of which was the single-most beautiful experience we have shared. We’ve discovered that we are at our best spending most of every day together. We ate SO much food and we thrived. It was all such a restorative process of remembering how we want to live and who we are. We were also able to reconnect with a dear old friend, and make a few new ones.

I returned home to a part-time job, allowing myself the needed time to teach art at the hospital, play in the kitchen, and focus on self-care, cooking more in the last week than I had in the previous two months. I am reinspired.

Over the next week expect to see some recipes inspired by our travels, along with a falafel recipe with vegan tahini yogurt dressing.

It is good to be back.

Microwave {banana coconut} muffin

My new favorite evening snack is a microwave muffin. With coconut flour of course. Tonight I made a banana nut muffin with coconut flour, oil, and milk. Yum.

Ingredients
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 banana, mashed
1 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp almond milk
1 egg white
1 tsp baking stevia
1 1/2 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

Directions
1. Select your favorite microwave-safe mug
2. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave in mug (50% power, ten seconds at a time)
3. Mix the wet ingredients, banana, and stevia in with the oil
4. Thoroughly combine the flour and baking powder with the wet ingredients, breaking up any clumps of flour
5. Microwave batter for 1:33. Check and add time if necessary

Simple nourishing and delicious.

You are {more than} what you eat

I over think. I read articles with breakthrough health claims that debunk everything I’ve thought was okay to eat, or I notice that just that one time my body felt a little weird when I ate that one food, or I need something to control so I count calories. Food allergies make this over thinking even easier. Hand it to you on a silver platter, really. You understand, don’t you?

Nourishment is really important. Because we are what we eat. The vitamins and nutrients we do (or don’t) get from our food help to determine our energy levels, the strength of our immune system, and our vitality. The fresher and less processed the food, the more likely it is to be full of things you need to live, beyond some right ratio of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Food allergies is a lot about taking things out of your diet. Restrictions. Recently though I’ve started trying to focus on what I want to add into my diet, instead of what I need to take out. When I do this, what I add inevitably replaces what I wanted to take out. For example, on the relatively infrequent occasion I reach for a grain or pasta based meal, I automatically reach for the mason jar of quinoa versus the brown rice. Not because I don’t allow myself to eat brown rice, but because I have chosen to add quinoa, I have loved it, and I now prefer it. When people peering into my life focus on what I can’t eat they grow alarmed, and sometimes I allow their hype to seep into my being. But then I breathe deep, remind myself of how much better I feel without the foods I’m allergic to or the processed foods I used to default to. Of how much I love spinach, and quinoa stuffed peppers, and green smoothies.

We are also more than what we eat. I draw energy from my food, but also from yoga and pilates, from time spent in close community, from creating, and from deep breathing exercises. These are three activities that restore my sense of well being. And when I get too caught up in food, I have less time for the more. For the living.

You are {more than} what you eat.

 

the value of local, the value of community

I feel I value them equally. Community does not always mean local, and local does not always imply relationship. It, along with all other things in life, is a balance.

Which brings me to my lunch today. No recipes. Just an appreciation of how much better eggs taste off your friend’s farm, spinach out of a local garden, hummus made with caring hands, and muffins inspired by sisters’ recipes. Thank you Amanda, Janet, and Ali for making my lunch so simple and delicious.

Sometimes I over think what I eat, but I have not had that luxury. Simple, fresh, fast. Sometimes that means tiding yourself over on the smoothie left over in the blender during a 10-hour shift. Sometimes it looks more like making one of these muffins in the microwave. Or scrambling eggs instead of making a frittata.

Simple, fresh, inspired.

Blueberry Peach Muffins {with chia seeds and coconut flour}

It took me this long to buy a pound of coconut flour. I don’t quite know from where my reluctance stemmed. Or no, not reluctance, and not disinterest either. Complacency?

Whatever it was, I got over it. I knew I wanted to make a recipe where coconut flour was the only flour. Grain-free goodness. Aside from the occasional quinoa, I have fallen out of love with grains pretty hard. And coconut flour has reassured me that that is okay. I started out to make just blueberry muffins. Then I added peaches. Then I added chia seeds. They turned out delicious. Moist and almost like a sponge cake. Joshua ate one and loved it until I told him there was stevia present. Should have kept my mouth shut.

So this will be my first of many baked experiments with coconut flour. For those of you less familiar, you can get coconut flour at your local health-oriented supermarket. Bob’s red mill makes it along with a few other companies. It is high in fiber, low in other sources of carbohydrates, is a good source of protein, and of course is gluten free. Many gluten free recipes will combine it with other flours, but I loved the texture of the flour alone in the muffins.

Blueberry Peach Muffins {with chia seeds and coconut flour} (makes 6 small-medium muffins)

Ingredients
2 eggs
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (coconut oil would be even better)
1/8 tsp almond extract
6 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp baking stevia
1/4 cup sifted organic coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4-1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen white peach slices, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Beat together the wet ingredients
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients
  4. Thoroughly combine the two sets of ingredients
  5. Fold in the frozen fruit
  6. Spoon into muffin tins, and bake for 15-17 minutes

Cool on a rack and enjoy. I always keep my muffins in the refrigerator, and these were gone within 24 hours, so I’m afraid you’ll have to figure out the best way to store for yourself. If you don’t eat/share them all first.

Pineapple Protein Popsicles

I love the sweet combination of fresh fruit with yogurt, and the warm weather these last couple of weeks has left me craving all things summer. So you won’t judge me too harshly for buying that pineapple on sale at the market that was just ripe. Sometimes seasonal loses. And that’s okay. All things in moderation. Unless you’re highly allergic to that thing. And then moderation factors out of the equation.

Thank God I am not allergic to pineapple.

Every morning I put my breakfast protein shake in the freezer for thirty minutes or so before consumption. I make it at the same time as my chai tea, and then the freezer improves the shake while the tea improves my ability to socially interact. This daily act became the inspiration for this recipe. That and a craving for a creamsicle.

Pineapple Protein Popsicles (makes 5 popsicles)

Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened soy yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup orange juice (or pineapple juice)
2/3 scoop pea protein (unsweetened)
2-3 packets stevia

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in blender. Blend on low for 15-20 seconds. You want the ingredients to be integrated without completely breaking down the pineapple.
  2. Pour mix into popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze and enjoy.
Of course, if you’re like me, you don’t always have the patience to wait for something to freeze. I poured my fifth popsicle over crushed ice and consumed immediately. Perfect afternoon snack.

Two Juices {Grapefruit Ginger Green & Apple Carrot Collard Kale}

8:44 am- I need tea before I begin this post. I will return.

9:01 am- All is well with the world.

I’m not sure what happened. Since about September I have had very few problems with food, but the week before last things got rocky again. My energy dropped, my complexion changed, and my stomach killed. So this past week I’ve simplified my diet a lot with the hopes that my body will realize that food is friend and not enemy. That my existence is friend and not enemy. It seems to be helping.

I have subsisted on plenty of water, Vega protein shakes with extra pea protein mixed in, juices, and lots of fruits and vegetables. And one legged yoga. And lots of sunshine.

I’ve had a juicer for several years, but shied away from green juices until fairly recently. Now my favorite greens to juice are collard greens and kale. I combine these with sweeter vegetables or fruits, and almost always a piece of ginger. I love ginger for it’s anti-inflammatory properties as well as for its taste.

Two rabbit trails about juicing. The first is that I’ve finally been able to get a slow start on our garden. Slow due to this fracture boot and the pair of metatarsal fractures held within. But a slow start is better than no start, and I am loving the excuse to be outside. I’ve started composting some of my juice pulp (while trying to come up with recipes that use the rest of it), and I am excited to use our own soil-enriching compost this summer.

The second is that I will be supervising the coffee/juice bar at Whole Foods Market when it opens here in Greensboro in a few weeks time. I, as you have discovered if you have brought up Whole Foods within my earshot over the past seven years, am a Whole Foods Market enthusiast. Not just for the quality products they offer, and how much easier they make it to have food allergies, but also for the integrity with which the company is run, and the way in which they treat their employees. But the juice. I was informed on Wednesday that we will have four vitamix blenders at the juice bar for making every sort of green organic nourishing smoothie. I cannot tell you how I have missed my childhood vitamix. Smoothie love. Raw love. The recipes I’ll be able to post here soon. It all just makes me so damn happy.

I have two juice recipes for you this week. One is new and one is my go-to juice. One is spicy and one is sweet. Both are delicious, in my humble opinion. Let me know which you prefer, and what your favorite juice recipe is as well!


Grapefruit Ginger Green Juice

This juice has quite a bite to it thanks to the combination of the grapefruit and the ginger.
Juice in the order listed.

Ingredients:
1 large handful fresh kale
1 small d’anjou pear
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1/2 red grapefruit, rind/peel and all

Apple Carrot Collard Kale Juice

This is my staple morning juice. You can adjust the sweetness and the amount of juice you get by playing with the ratio and amount of apples and carrots used.

Ingredients:
1 large handful fresh kale
1 large handful fresh collard greens (try to get stalks without jumbo-sized leaves)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (optional)
1 small golden delicious apple
2 medium carrots

Drink it outside. It will taste better.

Sesame Roasted Vegetables

Did I mention Prestogeorge Coffee & Tea when I posted about Pittsburgh? This great shop resides somewhere in the middle of the strip district. The walls are lined with jars of coffee beans and loose leaf teas. Intense, pungent, fresh. There are coffee roasters in the very back of the shop, the shop actually being named after master roaster John Prestogeorge, but just before these is where we lingered; tea.

As I shared in my about page, we have repurposed our french press to brew loose leaf teas. Joshua gave up coffee with me. He is a good man. In Prestogeorge, I did not flinch nor grimmace walking past the wall of coffee beans. The aroma is still one of my favorites, but feeling healthy is completely worth resisting this once favored beverage. And the tea. Oh, the tea. There were sections of black, white, green, matcha, white, and chai. There were whole cloves, catnip, and orange rinds. There was so much more.

During our first visit, I purchased a couple of ounces of classic chai (this being the morning staple), coconut black, and herbal double mint. Sister purchased a mango green. We returned the day before I left Pittsburgh so I could purchase additional chai, and a mango matcha.

I sit drinking the mango matcha, in perfect contentment. Just a pinch of stevia. Perfect. I bet it would be great iced too in these upcoming warm months. I love that the sun has returned to the evening hours now.

But to the vegetables.

I’ve posted a recipe with roasted vegetables before. I go through seasons where I make them nearly daily. This is a slight divergence from my normal routine. The addition of sesame oil and sesame seeds. A delicate nutty flavor. A whim.

Enjoy.

Sesame Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:
1 large handful baby bok choy
1 handful baby carrots
1 can baby corn, drained
1/2 yellow onion, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
salt and red pepper flakes, to taste
sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F
  2. Wash and prepare the vegetables. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Add oils to the bowl and coat vegetables evenly.
  4. Lay vegetables out on a baking sheet, with minimal overlapping.
  5. Season the vegetables to taste.
  6. Roast for approximately 25 minutes, or until the bok choy leaves crisp, and the other vegetables begin to brown. Turn vegetables every 7-10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve hot.

Serving suggestions: These vegetables could be served over brown rice, quinoa, or rice noodles. They would also make a great side dish, or go nicely on a salad.

Oh, and don’t forget to follow me here, on facebook, and on pinterest for more recipes and resources.

Carrot Muffins with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

What is your relationship with stevia? In my baking and sweetening, stevia and I have gone steady. It is a bit romantic, I won’t lie. This little herb provides sweetness without the calories or the crash, and I swear my unending devotion.

It’s not a perfect relationship.

My husband really cannot get past the bit of bitter in stevia. And as with every other sugar replacement, I am sure I will awaken one day to discover stevia is as safe and natural as sweet ‘n’ low. For now, we keep dancing, and I make separate desserts for Joshua.

I don’t pretend I don’t notice the bite that stevia sometimes delivers, it is especially prevalent in the cream cheese frosting I made today. You could use agave nectar or another low glycemic sugar substitute in it’s place, but I honestly don’t mind the taste. I don’t feel it overpowers the other flavors, and I swear the muffins are all the better for it.

Enough of my defense.

This afternoon I baked up a batch of light and nourishing carrot muffins. I like my muffins to be slightly sweet, and not too cake-like. The textures of coarse grains draw me in, and I almost always include a vegetable in my baked goods. Sometimes four. My major beef with many gluten-free mixes and pre-baked goods is the overwhelming ratio of starch to any other ingredient. No thanks.

These pair perfectly with a cup of coconut black tea.

Carrot Muffins (makes 12 medium muffins)

Ingredients:
3 large free-range eggs
3/4 cup cup-for-cup stevia
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or apple juice (if you like sweeter muffins)
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/3 cup mighty hot cereal (Bob’s red mill)
1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
2/3 cup sorghum flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder (GF)
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup ground coconut (grind unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor for 2-3 minutes)
1 1/2 cup finely grated carrots (can be chopped in a food processor)
1/3 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Slowly beat in the stevia, and the following ingredients.
  3. Set beaters to a lower setting, and add the flours, leavening, salt, and coconut.
  4. With a wooden spoon, fold in the carrots and raisins.
  5. Spoon batter into non-stick muffin pan.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time.
  7. Cool completely before frosting.


Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:
6 oz. vegan cream cheese (CHECK FOR YEAST)
2 tbsp. vegan spread (I used smart balance light)
3/4 cup cup-for-cup stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp coconut milk (or addt’l tbsp almond milk)

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and vegan spread.
  2. Slowly beat in remaining ingredients.
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

 

The carrot muffins can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours. After that store in the refrigerator. I recommend storing the frosting and muffins separately, and frosting just before serving.

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