Thursday, December 29, 2016

Gluten-Free Vegan Jackfruit "Chicken" Noodle Soup

The holidays have worn many people out, both physically and emotionally. The is a cold drizzle of rain outside, and the few people who have made it to the office today pose a viral threats. I refuse to let their cold or flu symptoms ruin my upcoming long weekend. Luckily, last night I had this wonderfully comforting un-chicken noodle soup. Soy-free, gluten-free, plant-based, vegan... I only wish I had doubled the batch last night so that I had leftovers today.

Obviously, this is a coooked recipe. Modification could be made to make it raw. I have decided an entirely raw diet just doesn't work for me through these East Coast winters. I do look forward to eating a higher percentage of raw foods again once it warms up a bit. If you want to adapt this recipe for a raw diet, don't cook it (haha, but seriously), chop the carrots more finely or grate them. Also, if you are 100% dedicated to being raw, sorry, no jackfruit. Unless of course you have access to fresh unripe jackfruit, because the canning process does mean higher temperatures.

I hope this recipe gets many of you through the cold nights. It is a comfort food, and brings me back to childhood memories of my mother taking care of me when I was sick. Get the healing feeling this time with ingredients which can really heal you.

4 cups filtered water
2 cups corn (frozen or fresh, non-gmo)
1 can jackfruit (packed in brine or salt with lime)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 medium carrots
1/4 a red onion
2 stalks of celery
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons coconut aminos
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of gluten-free brown rice pasta
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
dash of white pepper
dash of dried (or fresh) parsley or bouquet garni
pink himalayan salt to taste
dash of hemp oil (optional)

Open canned jackfruit and drain liquid. In a small frying pan, melt coconut oil and add jackfruit. Add coconut aminos and cook on medium heat until very slightly browned.

In a blender, combine water and corn, and mix until smooth. Transfer into a large soup pot and set to medium-high temperature. Chop carrots, onion and celery and add to pot. Stir in nutritional yeast, turmeric, parsley, white pepper, and salt (you will need more salt than you think). Add pasta 8 to 10 minutes before serving, or until cooked. Add cooked jackfruit. Stir and serve in bowls. Add a dash of hemp oil, if desired.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Re-Inventing My Old Life

If you have followed any of this blog, you may be aware that my family sold the majority of what we owned, including our house, to move to the Big Island of Hawaii and pursue a new life. And we did it, for one year. During that year we faced a great many logistical and financial struggles, though we also experienced a plethora of beautiful and inspiring images which will stay with me my entire life. In the end we were called back home to Maryland, but did not return the same as we left.

I explored my employment opportunities upon our return and found myself working for the same company. Wasn't this what I had been trying to escape? But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a new position open for me which I find more stimulating and where I can work with my favorite individuals in the company. Another big change upon our return has been that my son is now being homeschooled by my husband. The first year into this change is a big learning experience, but I am already happy with the results. My son needs as much one-on-one time as he can get because of some of his special needs, and the public educational system simply cannot address this. Before our move to Hawaii we lived in house built in the 1980s that had a yard so small that it was one step away from being a townhouse. True, we we homeowners, but I had bought the house before meeting my husband and it did not really reflect our personalities or beliefs. After accepting the position at my old work a coworker helped us find our new home... a historic house built in the 1800s which backs right onto the Patuxent River. Odd as it may sound, I feel more comfort and joy observing the beauty here than I did even watching the sunsets in Waikoloa.

So as you can imagine, there has been a lot of activity, a lot of adjusting, and a lot of re-inventing. And that includes our diet as well. At my job in Hawaii I was given free rice, as much as I could eat, so we drifted away from a 100% raw diet. Returning to Maryland we are getting used to the fluctuating weather patterns. In a drafty historic house I have found myself drawn to more soups and stews, and the occasional oatmeal cookie. We enjoy lightly steamed vegetables and healthier grains. I am still focusing of trying to make hardy, gluten-free and vegan meals that avoid processing as much as possible.

I do not want to subscribe to any exact ideology of what health is, or what a good life is for that matter. As I see it we should all be life-long learners experiencing what we can of different methods, cultures, and elements, and from that point adopt the practices that are best for ourselves and those around us. Most people would think a move from Maryland to Hawaii and back to to Maryland was a failed experience, but if we stayed as we were ours lives now would not have progressed as they have. I am thankful and grateful, and hope there are readers who are interested to see where this new chapter takes us.

Sunrise on the Patuxent River.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Spicy Oregano Quick Pickles

When you think of foods that are prevalent in Hawaii, you probably aren't thinking of cucumbers. But the truth is that while pineapples and mangoes are only seasonal on the Big Island, delicious mini-cukes can be found year-round! My son eats so many cucumbers sometimes John and I don't eat as many as we'd like, since we are saving the for school lunches instead. This time at the market I decided to be a bit smarter and buy them by the bagful.

And what does one do with a surplus of cucumbers? Make pickles! The idea of pickling always seemed a bit intimidating to me when I would look at cook books. Sterilizing jars and canning seemed daunting. But if you are making pickles for home use and not to store for months on end, you don't really have to worry about that other stuff. These quick pickles can last for about a month in the fridge, but you will have to take my word for it, because I eat mine in less than a week!

Of course any cucumber can work for this recipe, but the mini cucumbers are strongly recommended, They are sweeter and more tender and less likely to go mushy. Eat these pickles in raw wraps, salads, or just on their own!

5 to 6 mini cucumbers
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (unpasteurized, with mother)
1/4 cup sea salt
1 small handful fresh oregano
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
filtered or distilled water to cover

Cut cucumbers to desired shapes (slices or spears) and pack tightly into a pint jar. Remove oregano leaves from stems and add to jar. Add red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, and salt. Pour in apple cider vinegar. Cove with water so that all cucumbers are submerged. Place lid loosely on top of jar and leave on counter for 2 to 3 days. Eat or refrigerate up to a month.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Vegan Guide to Big Island Eats (Whole Food, Raw, and Gluten-Free Grinds)

My family has been on the Big Island for nine months now, and life out here hasn't always been exactly as we have anticipated. We thought we would have some land and be growing a lot of our own food, but ended up moving into a condo on a golf course. We still grow food on our lanai, but mainly just herbs, tomatoes, and a few avocado plants which have a few years before they will be ready to produce fruit.

Luckily for us there are some wonderful businesses out here that keep my family fueled, so I thought it might be nice to highlight some of what is out there for any travelers with plant-based diets. Not all of these restaurants are strictly vegan, but all have vegan, and even raw vegan options (don't be afraid of your smoothies and juices) available. We are based in Waikoloa, so we have more recommendations for the Kona side than for the Hilo side, but hopefully I will have more advice of where to go in Hilo after a few more visits!

Under the Bodhi Tree- A Waikoloa-based MUST for raw vegans visiting the Big Island, as it is more or less the only place to get raw gourmet meals, although after hearing talks given by the owner/ head chef on nutrition, I trust the cooked gluten-free/ vegan options as well. Under the Bodhi Tree offers a raw pad thai, salads, and soups, as well as cooked veggie burgers and stir-fries. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, but not everything is vegan, although this can be helpful when traveling with family and friends that may not cater to your exact diet. Don't forget to check out the raw dessert options, and if you go for dinner get there early. They close at 7 PM, but there is a hula show that starts in the same shopping center then on Mondays and Thursdays.

Racha Thai- All organic, gluten-free, dairy-free Thai food stand in Waikoloa Village that has many vegan options. I asked for an order of several dishes to be made without fish sauce (as I have gotten in the habit of doing at Thai restaurants) and the said they never use any! Also of note, this stand has the BEST smoothies I have had in my life, my favorites being banana ginger and chocolate mac nut.

Lotus Cafe- Another AMAZING Thai restaurant (there are several out here, and it is tempting to list them all) that is all organic and can make anything on the menu vegan at your request! Even if you aren't in the mood for Thai food it is worth stopping in here if you are hanging around Kona to taste their delicious coconut milk gelato.

Sea Dandelion Cafe- Run by a kind and community-driven family, the Sea Dandelion Cafe offers vegetarian food with many vegan options. Delicious juice options and kava evenings highlight this locale, but the vegan poke (the only vegan attempt at traditional Hawaiian flavors I have seen) is a tasty dish which introduced me to sea asparagus. I'm a big fan! Also the veggie burger sliders are nothing to shy away from. This cafe is the heart of Honoka'a, and a great stop if you decide to visit the beautiful Waipi'o Valley (pictured above).

Sweet Cane Cafe- If you are in Hilo, get a smoothie here! Why here, when you can get smoothies almost everywhere on the island? Two words: Durian Cacao... drooling!!!

Farmer's Markets- Honestly there are WAY too many to list here. There are 4 that happen in Waimea on Saturday alone! Luckily, I have a link right here that should help you find one where you are! Many of these markets offer prepared food, as well as familiar and unfamiliar fruits and vegetables.

Hope you find something on this list to help you on your travels!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Candy Twizzle Juice

Even adults can get some not-so-adult cravings. And just because a candy is vegan does not mean it is healthy. Certain food colorings (especially red and yellow) have been linked to ADHD. Processed sugar can rot your teeth and lead to overgrowth of yeasts, molds, and fungus inside the body. But there is always nature's candy!

Sometimes there is a certain flavor that you just can't get by eating fruit whole, but if you own a juicer you are able to become a culinary Willy Wonka! Most candy flavors got their inspiration from fruit. Jackfruit is responsible for inspiring a certain famous gum... just try some fresh and guess which kind!

In this recipe I was inspired by a certain red licorice rope we are all familiar with. This is a great way to get kids into juicing! Ask them their favorite fruity candy and get creative with your interpretations!

1 small fennel bulb with stalks
3 red delicious apples (including skins and cores)
1 small beet (standard purplish color, but if red beets are available even better for color)
1 small handful of red grapes
1 1/2 inch cube of ginger

In a juicer combine all ingredients. Dilute with water to desired potency. Enjoy!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Raw Vegan Coconut Kimchi "Noodle" Soup

When you are sick or going through a detox, nothing hits you better than a spicy soup. When I first started experimenting with raw foods I thought cold soup sounded really unappealing, but the more I have the more I love it! Just because a soup is cold doesn't mean it can't warm your body up. Hot peppers are an easy solution, but I also get a warming feeling from the living cultures in this soup.

I make my own kimchi, but you can also use the juice from any store-bought living kimchi (just make sure it is vegan). If you don't have kimchi on hand you can also use sauerkraut juice and add extra paprika and cayenne.

I also made the coconut milk for this myself, which is easier than it sounds. Simply throw one part dried coconut flakes in the blender with four parts water. Let it soak and blend. Strain through a nut milk bag and you are done! Or you can short cut with some store-bought cocnut milk, if need be, but try and find one that is free of additives!

2 medium-sized tomatoes
1 1/2 cup kimchi juice (or substitute with sauerkraut juice with paprika and cayenne)
2 cups coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon coconut aminos
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
dash of cayenne
pink Himalayan salt to taste
1 zucchini
meat from 1 young coconut
1/2 an avocado
small handful of cilantro
sprinkling of black sesame seeds

In a blender, combine tomatoes, kimchi juice, coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut aminos, lime juice, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Blend until smooth. Using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler, strip zucchini into thin noodles. Add to stock mix. Scoop small bits of coconut (roughly 1" scrapes), and add to soup. Pour into bowls. Top with avocado, cilantro, and black sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Raw Vegan Soursop Banana Breakfast Pudding with Blueberries and Coconut Flakes

I know, it is winter. Many of you are looking out the window to piles of snow and menacing icicles. Seasonal fruits and veggies can be hard for anyone this time of year, so don't feel bad about falling back on a few imports.

Now that I am in Hawaii imports mean a very different thing than they used to. In this recipe my local stars are soursop, apple banana (tiny bananas with a slight tartness), and of course coconut flakes. Blueberries are now a very decadent splurge, but thanks to Costco I didn't exactly break the bank.

Soursop may be a new fruit to many of you. This green spiky monster looks similar to a durian, but tastes a bit like lemon-flavored ice cream. If you can find one where you live they are a great addition to smoothies, as they have a thick, creamy texture.


1 small or 1/2 a large soursop
1 apple banana or other small banana
2 teaspoons liquid sweetener (honey, agave, maple syrup, or coconut nectar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon coconut oil


1 cup blueberries
small handful of coconut flakes

Carefully cut open soursop and remove all large seeds. Cut away from the green skin and put into a blender. Peel banana and add to blender. Add remaining pudding ingredients and blend until smooth. Top with blueberries and coconut. Serve room temperature or chilled.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Raw Vegan Apricot and Orange Marmalade

Sometimes just some simple flavors are all you desire. You aren't craving junk food, but eating fruit and salad can get downright boring. Sauces, sides, and spreads are the answer!

It is citrus season and every farmer's market in Hawaii is loaded with oranges! They are great for eating alone or juicing, or for making this simple recipe. If you are eating completely raw and unsure of what to do with marmalade if you aren't spreading it on toast, no worries! It tastes great on sliced banana, as a topping for coconut-almond "yogurt", or swirled in a chia bowl. Top it on your favorite raw crackers or cookies for some extra hydration. Use it as a topping on your banana whip or even in your smoothies.

Break out the Paddington and the British accents, this not only tastes better than the real thing, but is much better for you! With only 3 ingredients you can enjoy this ever tea time, Enjoy!

2 oranges, peeled
1 1/2 cups dried apricots
2 tablespoons liquid sweetener (honey, agave, maple syrup, or coconut nectar)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.