March 2012

This recipe is a piece of cake, but your guests won't have to know. A single slice in a pool of maple syrup--simple, elegant, delicious!

I originally came across this recipe a while ago in my search for wheat-free apple cake recipes. It won’t take any more time to make than a regular batch of muffins or chocolate chip cookies, so it’s really pretty easy. I made a few minor adjustments to my taste, but essentially it’s the same recipe.

This wheat-free cake is perfect for a Sunday brunch, with your morning coffee, or afternoon tea. Shredded apples keep it moist, while a toasted topping of pecans and maple syrup add sweetness and crunch. Convert these to cupcakes for a portable breakfast or healthy snack on-the-go.

Apple Spice Cake

1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (reduce by half for table salt)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 cups grated apples, with about 1/3 cup juice squeezed out (drink it, it’s delicious!)
1/3 cup vanilla soy milk (or equal amount of juice squeezed from grated apples)
1/4 cup chopped dates (optional)
1/4 cup chopped and toasted pecans or walnuts
maple or amber agave syrup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ pan or 8″ square cake pan. If making cupcakes, line 12 baking tins with paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in shredded apples and dates until well distributed. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients, mix well by hand. Add remaining dry ingredients, making sure to incorporate dry ingredients without over mixing.

Pour batter into pan, bake on middle rack in oven for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. If making cupcakes, bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

While cake is baking, toast pecans or walnuts on cookie sheet on top rack of oven for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from oven, cool until easy to handle then chop. Set aside.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes on wire rack. Invert cake onto plate, then flip over again onto serving plate (so top side faces up.) Before serving, garnish with toasted nuts and drizzle with maple or agave syrup. Cake serves 6-8.

You'll go nuts over this moist apple cake that's spiced just right!


Mini Turkey Bean Burgers - skip the buns and eat it salad-style. Sammy looks on wistfully.

Whenever we’d get together with friends for a barbecue or potluck, I’d usually bring one of my favorite easy-to-make dishes: turkey burgers. For those who may have had bad experiences in the past, I would like to reassure you that delicious turkey burgers do exist, and, with the right seasoning, anything is possible!

Basic Turkey Burger Mix

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/3 cup diced onions, sauteed with 1 or 2 garlic cloves (omit for Turkey Bean Burgers)
1 piece of bread, cut into small cubes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil or ghee
Add-in seasoning (below)

Directions: In a bowl, add sauteed onions, garlic, bread cubes, and salt, if using. Toss with fork to distribute evenly. Add the oil or ghee, toss with fork to mix well. Crumble raw turkey into bread & onion mixture and add in one of the seasoning options below. Mix gently until combined. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cooking.

Asian Style Turkey Burgers (most unique) – Omit salt from basic turkey recipe. Add 1 tablespoon nampla (fish sauce); 1″ piece ginger, peeled and grated; 1 stalk lemongrass, white part chopped finely (discard the green part or save to make tea); 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes . You can serve this with a cole slaw tossed with nampla, fresh lime juice and cilantro.

Indian Spice Turkey Burgers  – 1 tablespoon Indian seasoning mix such as Garam Masala or your own special blend. I like to use  “Chef Johnny’s Korma Powder” from the cookbook, Eat, Taste, Heal. It’s a fragrant blend of cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, mustard, cardamom, poppy seeds, ginger and tumeric.

Italian Seasoning Turkey Burgers – 2 teaspoons basil, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes or 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. Add 1/3 cup finely diced or shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bean & Turkey Burgers (my favorite) – 1 cup cooked & drained beans (I use a black & pinto mix), 1/4 cup finely chopped celery, 1/4 cup finely chopped & sauteed onion, 1 teaspoon chili seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Mash everything with a potato masher or mix in a food processor or blender just until beans are smashed and mixture is still chunky (if you over-blend, it’ll turn into a refried bean paste consistency. Still tasty, but the texture will be very different.)

Freshly baked, the blueberries look like they’re ready to burst!

My husband and I have been busy packing and moving into our new home, very exciting! I knew there wouldn’t be much time for meal preparations, so earlier in the week I made a batch of buckwheat muffins filled with shredded apple, dates and cacao nibs. I would normally make these amazing little muffins with blueberries, but ran out so used whatever was on hand, and it tasted great that way, too!

The original Buckwheat Blueberry Muffin recipe is from Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s Cook Right For Your Type. The combination of dark, hearty buckwheat and sweet blueberries are really quite wonderful, and taste even more incredible with tart raspberry preserves.

Buckwheat Blueberry Muffins

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup spelt flour
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt (or 1 tsp kosher salt)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 – 3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup warm soy milk (to help dissolve honey)
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease muffin tins or line with paper liners. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. In another bowl, stir together honey, warm soy milk, oil and egg. Lightly combine dry and wet ingredients, do not over mix. Fill each muffin cup with 5 blueberries. Add batter until 2/3 full. Top with 3  more blueberries. (Alternative: mix blueberries into batter…much faster, but you may get an uneven berry count!)  Bake 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Makes about 18 delicious muffins. (NOTE: for mini-muffins, you can put 2 blueberries in each muffin tin, pour in 1 tablespoon batter, then top with 2 more blueberries. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes about 36 mini-muffins.)

The cocoa powder will dull the otherwise bright green smoothie, but the flavor it brings will brighten your day.

I started experimenting with smoothies a few weeks ago to introduce more raw foods into my diet, and to hopefully perk up my energy and overall well-being. Strangely enough, I found smoothies made mostly of fruits made me extremely tired, and only after drinking a cup of coffee was I able to get back to work! I read several recipes for green shakes, all sounding pretty gross until I came across one that used greens, fruits and avocado. I found this the most delicious and versatile, and you could add flavors like blueberry, banana, chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, etc. The avocado–and the addition of the different flavors–seemed to help tame the leafy green taste, and you still get a nutritious, vitamin-packed smoothie.

Here is what I made this morning using my favorite green smoothie ingredients: kale, apples, avocado and dates (it is not entirely raw because of the roasted cacao nibs, cayenne and cocoa powder.) I prefer the more nutrient-dense kale over spinach, and the taste is mild enough to let the other delicious flavors come through. I added just enough banana for additional creaminess and sweetness. Feel free to adjust any of the ingredients to your liking:

Green Morning Smoothie with Cocoa and Banana

1/2 apple, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 kale leaves, chopped (about 1 cup packed)
2 dates, soaked for an hour or overnight
1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
1 two- or three-inch-piece ripe banana (the riper, the better!)
1 packet of Stevia, or 2 teaspoons sweetener of your choice
2 teaspoons cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon broken cacao nibs, plus extra for garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon hemp seeds (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 -3/4 cup soy or almond milk
1 cup water, plus more, if needed

Add everything in a blender, add enough water until it reaches 3/4 of the level of your ingredients. Mix on medium-high speed until blended, adding more water if needed. Pour into glasses, garnish with ground cacao bits. Makes about 20-24 ounces.

Chocolate Avocado Shake
This shake is more chocolatey. The sunflower seeds and cacao nibs give it an extra crunch!

1/4 avocado, chopped
1 stalk celery
2 kale leaves, about 1/3 cup packed
1/4 apple, chopped
1 pitted date, chopped
3 inch piece frozen banana, sliced (about the length of your index finger)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (optional)
2 roasted cocoa nibs (about 2 teaspoons ground, optional)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1 teaspoon agave syrup (or leave out and use all stevia)
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 – 3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup water

Put everything in a blender, pouring liquids last. Blend until nice and thick, adding more water and sweetener to taste.

Don't let the name fool you, no fearsome creature hides in this bottle. Just a clean, crisp (yet soft) Chardonnay.

In addition to food, I also enjoy trying all kinds of low-budget wine. Normally my husband and I are red wine fans, but we also occasionally enjoy an unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blancs, dry Rieslings or sparkling wines.

We picked this out randomly (and based on price,) and the 2008 Dragon’s Hollow Chardonnay from China was pretty much what we like in a Chardonnay:

1) NOT oaky
2) clean
3) delicious with or without food
4) cheap

Simple criteria, but isn’t this all anyone really wants in a good wine? :) It’s pretty clean and a little on the light side, but also has red apple and soft vanilla-ey characteristics. At around $8 a bottle, this was an incredible bargain. And aside from what I use for cooking, it is my first Chinese wine!

The main ingredients: shiro (white) miso, sesame oil, and lemon.

Miso is a fermented soybean paste that can be used to add rich flavor to soups, as a flavor-enhancer for burger mixes, smeared on fish and broiled to a carmelized crust, or as a savory dressing or marinade.

Here is a recipe for a tangy dressing I like to use on salads or as a marinade for chicken. Do you like deviled eggs? Try mashing hard-boiled yolks with a bit of miso-lemon dressing and you’ll be surprised at the results!

Miso-Lemon Dressing, serves 4

2 tablespoons shiro (white) miso paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lemon, plus zest (zest the lemon before you cut it in half, it’s easier!)
2 teaspoons yellow mustard OR stone ground mustard
1/4 cup water (more, if needed)
1 teaspoon golden flax seeds (optional, but good for nutrition content)

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl, adding enough water  to thin to desired consistency. Makes approximately 4 oz dressing.

For salads: put mixed greens in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon dressing. Toss well, a little goes a long way!
As a marinade: smear miso-lemon dressing on meat, seal in ziploc bag and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
Miso Deviled Eggs: mash 2 teaspoons with 4 egg yolks, adding more dressing to taste. Fill hard-cooked egg whites with mixture, sprinkle with sesame seeds or flax seeds and chopped green onion.

Tossing a mixing bowl full of greens (about 4 cups) with just a tablespoon of miso-lemon dressing is more than enough to flavor your favorite salad. Ingredients here: mixed greens, chopped apple, chopped dates, raw beets, sliced grapes, hard-boiled egg, strawberries, soaked almonds, and goat cheese.

The mild winter has finally given way to an early spring. Warmer sun-filled days  are becoming more frequent and our cats have begun to venture outdoors to sun themselves on the flagstones and harass our neighbor’s cat, Duchess. It’s all good, she also does her fair share of harassing our cats on their turf.

One day it was particularly grey and blustery, perfect saimin weather for Hawaii, but in Upstate New York? Now it’s time for something completely different! Though I never made potato leek soup before, I envisioned a silky, creamy texture with savory bits of leek and chunks of steamy potato. Oh, boy, was I hungry! The recipe normally calls for cream or milk, but I decided to be kind to my dairy-unfriendly stomach and use an unripened avocado I ‘accidentally’ cut the day before. I didn’t want to waste and figured I would have a use for an unripe avocado. And, wouldn’t you know it, I did! :)

Creamy, savory deliciousness in 30 minutes or less

Potato Leek Avocado Soup

1 cup diced potatoes
1 leek, white part only, sliced thinly
1 avocado, ripe or unripe
3 cups chicken broth
1T oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cook potato and leeks in oil on medium heat about 7-8 minutes, don’t brown the potatoes (but it’s okay if you did a little.) Add about a cup of chicken broth, simmer low for 5 minutes. Add remaining broth, low simmer 10 more minutes or until potatoes are tender enough to be mashed with a fork. In a separate bowl, mash the avocado until just a few lumps remain. Add some pieces of potato and a tablespoon or more of soup and mash into avocado until smoother in consitency (option: blend avocado and 1/3 soup in blender on medium speed for 20 seconds or until smooth.) Turn off heat, stir in mashed avocado mixture. Add salt & pepper to taste.1 1/2 lbs potato, peeled and chopped

Avocado Trivia: One day at work my friend Suzi decided to looked up the definition for ‘avocado’ . After flipping through her handy dictionary, she started smirking and giggling.  “Avocado,” she began.”From the Spanish word, aguacate, meaning ‘testicle’!”  Ewww, what did she eat?!


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