Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dairy free chicken salad endive cups with homemade aioli

This is a perfect leftover recipe! Take your leftover chicken (or turkey leftovers this Thanksgiving) and boil up some quinoa to enjoy this easy, healthy, drool-worthy chicken salad.  This blood sugar balancing meal is high in healthy fats and protein.  I chose to soak my grains the night before I cook them.  When we don't do this, we are ingesting the grain's antinutrients, which prevent the grain from releasing enzyme inhibitors that break down the tough hull and bran.  Antinutrients, like phytic acid, combine with our body's necessary minerals and prevents the absorption of nutrients.  Bottom line: Soak and/or sprout your grains to increase digestibility and our body's ability to absorb their nutrient while preventing mineral deficiencies and bone loss. I have a grain and seed chart on soaking and sprouting here.

It is best to use a pasture-raised egg for the aioli (which, really, is just a fancy name for mayo), as you will receive vital nutrients including B and E vitamins.  The fat-soluable vitamins A and D, found in the egg yolks and chicken, will allow the body to absorb the amazing minerals quinoa provides us! If you choose to make this recipe egg-free, feel free to use the creamy base of a can of coconut milk as a substitute for the aioli. One of my mentors and former employers, Lisa Turner, is a culinary master, author, business owner, teacher.  When I presented this dish to her, she said it was the best chicken salad she ever tasted!  This is a tasty alternative to bland, cream-laden chicken salads that can leave you feeling bloated.  

Tools you will need: oven, saucepan


1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed (and preferably soaked overnight)
1 ½ lbs organic chicken breast
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 Tbs ghee or olive oil
¾ cup olive oil
1 egg yolk
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch of smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbs tarragon, finely chopped
¼ cup red onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
¼ cup golden raisins, chopped
¼ tsp poppy seeds
1 heads of endives
2 avocados, thinly sliced, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Rub salt, pepper, and ghee over chicken breasts.  Place in glass baking dish and roast for 45 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.  Set aside to cool.  Shred into bite sized pieces.
  2. In a medium saucepan, add quinoa, a pinch of salt and 3/4 cup water.  Cover and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Once cooked through, drain quinoa and set aside to cool. 
  3. While waiting for chicken to cool, prepare mayo.  In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and 1 Tbs lemon juice.  Once mixture turns bright yellow and begins to thicken, drizzle in olive oil 2 Tbs at a time.  The mixture will emulsify and have a creamy mayo texture as you slowly incorporate the oil.  Once your arm feels like it is about to fall off and you have added in all the olive oil, add mustard, cider vinegar, paprika, parsley and tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large bowl, combine chicken, quinoa, onion, celery and raisins.  Fold in seasoned homemade aioli, adding a little at a time depending on desired creaminess of salad.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Scoop salad into endive cups.  Top each with a sprinkle of poppy seeds and a slice or two of avocado.  Serve. 
Yield: 6 servings

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD. © 1999. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 17, 2014

You still have my heart, Colorado


Really missing Colorado this past week.  My friends in the mountains are posting pictures and sending me videos of the glorious 40" snowfall that started settling on the peaks for the first signs of silky winter riding.  I hate feeling jealous, but the selfish pow junkie in me wants to be in that right now.  This is my first winter in six years that I will not have a season pass.  This year, I will not be able to get a few laps in before work, or catch the bus to get first tracks on a tourist-free Wedneday morning.  My commute will no longer involve strapping into my gypsy and loading a chair lift to work as I gaze over nature's playground covered in silky white, glistening powder.  This year I will not even get close to 50 days.  I will not get to cruise down the familiar terrain of my favorite runs, sneaking away into the trees to pave my own hidden routes to the base.  The wind chilling my exposed cheeks as I grin ear to ear.  My shaky legs carving out deep tracks as I greedily devour as many runs possible before the powder gets torn up by all the other appreciative skiers and riders I share the mountain with.

Maybe I sound like a spoiled ski bum.  I don't care.  I lived people's weekend getaways. Their vacations.  And I got paid for it!  I am eternally grateful for what the mountains provided me.  They were my meditation.  Easing my mind and filling me with joy.  They gave me an appreciation for mother nature.  Getting pleasure for what we have been blessed with on earth.  Smiling and laughing with friends and strangers on and off the mountain.  It is something that everyone up there, visiting or living, has in common.  We appreciate the good and not so prime days.  We share our stories, show one another our favorite hidden tracks, make friends with the stranger next to us on the chair lift, grab a hot toddy after a full day of riding. 

I miss those mountains dearly.  I am grateful for every second I spent up there, for the days I lived and loved, the friends I made and have kept, the adventures that I cherish.  

"The mountains are calling and I must go"  -John Muir

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Homemade deodorant that actually works

Homemade deodorant?? Hmmmm…. you skeptics out there may think this sounds suspicious. On the contrary! This works so well, you can even wear it as a fragrance, and it doesn't leave marks on your clothing or residue on your skin.  Over the past couple years, I have been sifting through my beauty products, getting rid of most items with ingredient names I can't pronounce.  There is a lot of inconclusive evidence regarding aluminum and it's effect on our health. I personally try to limit my use of chemicals if I can avoid them because who really knows how we are affected by them.  According to Dr. Mercola, many antiperspirants and deodorants contain aluminum and other chemicals and preservatives like parabens and propylene glycol that are easily absorbed by the body.  These chemicals mimic the hormone estrogen, and therefore can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer.  While I have used many "natural" deodorant brands like Toms or Alba Botanica, I found that I personally have to reapply these products throughout the day to get the results I want.

When it comes to anything health and beauty, I often turn to my gorgeous cousin Audrey, a health-conscious esthetician, animal-lover and business owner.  Her super successful spray-tan business Sweetheart Tan was voted best spray tan by Allure Magazine this year! Audrey visited me in Vail last year to experience real powder riding. This badass chick is not only careful about what she puts in her body, but on her skin too.  This summer Audrey introduced me to her own inexpensive homemade deodorant which I have adapted here.

Check out this site for more natural deodorant options: http://www.reviews.com/natural-deodorant/

What you'll need:

1 shooter of Everclear® alcohol (or a 750 if you want to make your own limoncello too)
1 2-4oz spray bottle with cap, like this
Optional: a few drops of doTERRA essential oil
  1. Clean spray bottle.
  2. Fill with Everclear® leaving a little space at the top.
  3. Add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil.  I like doTERRA's lavender oil which you can find here
Penny Blensdorf from doTERRA turned me onto these oils.  You can find her Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/pennysessentials.  I like to use doTERRA's lavender essential oil as it's soothing for my skin and the fragrance is really calming.  If you use this spray everyday, twice a day, it will last for several months.  


Friday, November 7, 2014

Grain free rosemary crackers with mission fig and caramelized onion tapenade

Crackers adapted from Chef Christine Ruch.  Tapenade is an original recipe by Katie Ring

Scaled for 10 people 


1 ¾      cup almond meal
½         cup sunflower seeds, coarsely ground
1 ½      Tbsp ground chia seeds
2 ½      Tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
1.5       Tbsp chives, chopped (extra for garnish)
1          tsp salt
4          Tbsp water

½         cup fresh mission figs (or reconstituted figs)
½         cup dates
¾         medium onion, thinly sliced half moons
1          Tbsp balsamic
½         cup olives
2          tsp olive oil, plus more for sautéing
1 ½      tsp thyme, finely chopped
½         cup water
½         cup crème fraiche (optional)


For Crackers
  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Add all ingredients to food processor, keeping out water.
  3. Add water a tablespoon at a time, or until a slightly wet ball of dough forms.
  4. Roll ball between two sheets of parchment until dough is ¼ in thick.
  5. Remove top layer of parchment. Using a ruler, measure dough into 1 1/2 in squares.  Cut away any excess dough to roll out after.
  6. Once all the dough has been used, bake for 20-25 minutes, checking every 7-10 minutes.  Remove from oven once crackers have hardened and are crisp.

For Tapenade
  1. In a medium saute pan, caramelize onion over medium low heat in 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Saute onions until golden brown and soft, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently.  Then remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place figs and dates in food processor, pulse for 30 seconds until well chopped and paste forms.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, including onions.
  4. Spoon onto crackers.  Top each with crème fraiche (an alternative would be cashew cream if you can't have dairy) and a piece of chive.

Don't cut yourself off completely! Using mindful eating practices when traveling

I love to travel!! It's my favorite way to explore, learn about other cultures, enjoy the scenery, meet interesting people, and of course, indulge in flavorful, authentic cuisines. When I was employed by the ski resort in Beaver Creek, I would work my ass off all winter season (while slayin' that fresh pow of course) to then travel in the spring during the mud season.  I repeated this cycle in the summer so that I my Aunt Ellen and I could go on a food and art extravaganza through Paris in the fall before ski season started back up.  Even though I don't have the same means to this luxurious lifestyle, I have been fortunate enough to travel a lot lately, for my own enjoyment and for family support.  A couple weeks ago I ended up in Cleveland for my grandfather's funeral, Atlanta visiting my Teton lover C-Pat, Ft. Lauderdale to see Kyle and a cruise out of Miami for Megan's bachelorette party.  I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family that I am able to visit.  We all cherish the time we get to spend together.  I try to take care of my mind, body, soul so I can feel my best and in return, share my best self with my friends and family.

Doing some vintage shopping in my nana's closet
During this crazy 10-day adventure, I found it difficult to stick to my typical way of mindful, healthful eating, but I made it work under the circumstances.  I packed a lot of my own snacks, including teas, powdered coconut milk, epic bars, single serving nut butter packets, green apples, and plantain chips.  I call myself Mary Poppins because I always have approved snacks wherever I go.  This came in handy when I was at my grandfather's funeral.  My family in Cleveland has Italian roots, so you can only imagine all the delicious and heavy pasta sauces and breaded chicken dishes followed by rich desserts that were provided to our family.  I ate mostly simple foods that I knew would not cause my body or mind pain.  I was following a strict elimination diet with autoimmune protocol during this time, however after seeking support from one of my mentors, I made the personal decision to accept coffee, a few cocktails, and some sweet treats.  I did this, without feeling guilty, because I didn't want to deprive myself or feel left out of my family gatherings and bachelorette festivities.  I am learning that it's important to not only notice how one's body feels after eating certain foods, but how emotions can affect one's physical state as well.  Was that chocolate and glass of wine really worth the lethargy and headache that preceeded? Probably not, but I am still figuring that out!

C-Pat and Ring Ring enjoying the gorgeous panorama of Hotlanta on…Climax St.  No joke.
Even though I "cheated" on my cleanse, my traveling diet included lots of green veggies, fruits, deli meats, and healthy fats like olives and avocados.  I like to drink occasionally with friends, but when you are headed to your best friend's bachelorette party, you know the alcohol is gonna be a-flowing! An inspirational health coach and teacher of mine explained to me that I should make informed choices, laying out my options as good/better/best.  For alcohol, she explained that white tequila and potato or grape vodka are best choices, as they are least allergenic and low in sugar. Best combined with fresh juice and soda water, rather than sugary daiquiris.  Staying hydrated and drinking lots of water helped too.  Lets just say I had a great time with all the girls without spending all my money on $10 drinks or the craps table at the casino :)

Dancin' till the wee hours of the morning with Fish Out of Water
Look at that perfect pyramid!

Sad to be leaving the cruise with all these wonderful ladies (and Michael!) 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Rich and creamy coconut milk using only ONE ingredient

I work at an LA-based yoga studio here in the Bay Area.  Right next to our yoga studio there is a local juice company that sells their unpasturized bottled juices and nut milks.  The other day I saw a woman come into the studio with a thick, creamy bottle of nut milk.  It made my tastebuds dance a little, thinking about how I wanted to enjoy that beverage at this very moment.  After work, I walked past the juice stand and noticed how EXPENSIVE these nut milks are! For just a few ingredients and a lot of calories, I thought, I am going to replicate that in coconut milk form as soon as I get home!

Coconut milk is one of my absolute favorite indulgences! I'll drink it alone, put it in my tea or coffee, over fruit, in soups, in desserts…..basically the options are endless.  I chose coconut milk over alternative nut milks because coconut is the least allergenic nut milk around and for me, it's the easiest to make. When making many nut milks, you need to soak the nuts in water for at least 12 hours prior to blending, in order to soften them and yield the best result.  There is a lot of controversy around the environmental impact of consuming nuts and nut milks, so here are a couple articles showing both sides of the argument: Lay Off Almond Milk Ignorant Hipsters  and Almond Milk Bad for Environment?

I want to show you how easy it is to make homemade coconut milk, with just.one.ingredient.  Let's Do Organic Creamed Coconut is my favorite.  You can buy it Whole Foods and natural food stores. This creamed goodness comes in a vacuum sealed pouch and only costs $2.80! (Half the price of a carton of coconut milk at the store).  Not only that, but it has no additives, unlike most store bought coconut milks and cans that contain added preservatives or thickening agents like carrageenan, which studies have shown causes inflammation.

One Ingredient Coconut Milk
Adapted from plant-based Chef Julia Hellerman Yield: 1 super-thick quart

1 package of Let's Do Organic Creamed Coconut (found above)
1 quart boiled water

1 quart glass measuring pyrex or large glass bowl
high speed blender
1 quart ball jar

  1. In a 1 quart glass pyrex, soak sealed package of creamed coconut in warm water until soft, about 10 minutes.  
  2. Squeeze 1/2 the coconut cream into blender and pour in about 2 cups of water, careful not to fill the blender more than 3/4 full.  Blend on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until liquid becomes frothy.  Since the liquid is very hot, be sure to carefully let some steam out of the blender while blending. Using a towel to cover the smaller cap on the blender's lid, carefully lift the towel just a bit to let some of the steam out.
  3. Once mixture is frothy and thick, pour into 1 quart ball jar or other large glass storage container.  Continue this blending process with the rest of the coconut cream and hot water.  
  4. Let the mixture sit out to cool for a bit before storing in the refrigerator.  Will keep for 7 days.  
  5. Sometimes I like to add vanilla bean, dates, and cinnamon to my coconut milk.  If you prefer to use the coconut milk in cereal, add more water to your milk for a less thick, longer lasting product.  
Warming up the coconut cream.  I try not to use boiling hot water as I do not want the plastic to leach. 
Even though I have never been a huge milk fan, my body does not do well with dairy.  Although there was one time when I worked on a secluded farm in the hills of Tuscany where I was able to drink fresh goat milk with no problem….Anyway I know that we can take the baby steps to slowly change our habits and improve our health.  Sometime just knowing how easy it can be done, or how much fresher the homemade dreamy goodness tastes in comparison to the chemical-laden varieties at grocery stores or the $7.00 bottles of fresh "pressed" nut milks at the local juice stand.  Show yourself some love, get in the kitchen, and whip up your own batch of fresh coconut milk.  You will get totally hooked!

Here I combined orange juice, almond butter, orange zest, cinnamon and a date to make a coconut citrus buttercup smoothie