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Crazy over kale!

December 8, 2011

Kale chips are among the easiest (and tastiest!) healthy snacks on the planet to make—not to mention much better alternative to Lay’s potato chips.  And despite their ubiquitous presence in the HLB (Healthy Living Blog) world, my own humble, plant-strong tumblr just wouldn’t be complete without them. (:

Fun fact: In much of Europe, kale was the most widely consumed leafy vegetable until the Middle Ages, when cabbage surpassed the greens in popularity.

Today, kale remains one of the most nutrient-dense leafy greens available (click here for the WF nutritional profile).



Although there are many variations, the classic kale chip recipe requires only 3 ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of organic Curly Kale or Lacinato (also known as Dinosaur Kale)
  • 1-2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • sea salt or seasoning of choice (I like garlic)


1.  Wash and dry the kale thoroughly (may also want to de-stem).  This can be somewhat labor-intensive in my experience, so if you can buy a prewashed package such as the kind they sell at Trader Joe’s, that will simplify the process.  Or if you have a salad spinner for drying, that will also save you some time. Just be sure the kale is WELL DRIED before baking, or you will end up with soggy chips!

2.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

3.  Lay kale leaves out on a pan, like so:

4.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle seasoning (sea salt, garlic, nooch, etc) on top.

5.  Bake for about 30 minutes until the leaves are crunchy.

Shown here with some carrot-flavored flax crackers. Warning: these chips take much longer to make than they take to consume!


Looking forward to attempting these in a dehydrator after the holidays…(Santa request pending of course).

Lastly if you prefer to purchase your kale chips, that is an option as well; kale chips are becoming increasingly popular and widespread these days.  I’ve sampled many of the packaged varieties, and Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale is one of the best brands on the market.  In fact on the Today show just a few weeks ago, Brad’s variety were publicly praised by Hoda (good or bad endorsement?!).

Calming Banana Chamomile Smoothie

December 6, 2011

I discovered the following Banana Calm Chamomile Smoothie recipe via the Vega team.  (Sadly, it appears I mistakenly deleted the picture of my own rendition, so I cannot take credit for the lovely Vega photo above).

Chamomile is known for its natural calming and nutritional properties, and is classified as an anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-bacterial herb.  The recipe also calls for a Vega supplement powder, called the Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer (available at WF).  Described as a “synergistic collection of plant-based superfoods,” the supplement is filled with protein, fiber, omega 3s, vitamins, and probiotics.  All together the smoothie has a refreshing, earthy-like texture that was delicious as it was soothing!


  • 1/4 cup chamomile tea, deeply steeped
  • 1 cup almond milk*
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp raw cashews
  • 1 ripe banana, 1/2 sliced and frozen
  • 1 packet Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer (Natural flavor)
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

*I made my own almond milk, but you can also use store-bought. If you’d like to make your own, you can follow this recipe:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sweetener

Blend together, and then strain if desired for a smoother texture.


Smoothie steps:

1.  Make the chamomile tea first.  After steeping 5-10 minutes, place in the fridge to cool for at least 10 minutes.

2.  Combine all the ingredients in a blender, serve, enjoy, and relax!

PS…  Let me know what you think of the new header image! (Did you notice?)

Rise Energy Blueberry Coconut Bar

December 1, 2011

I recently discovered this new organic vegan flavor of PranaBar while shopping at Akin’s Natural Foods Market.

Apparently PranaBars have revamped their look and rebranded themselves, now simply known as Rise Bars. (A much improved change by the way). The energy bars come in a variety of flavors, however, I am OBSESSED with the Blueberry Coconut one!

Check out the all-organic ingredients: almonds, coconut, dates, tapioca syrup, brown rice syrup, wild blueberries (sweetened with a less processed sweetener), raisins, amaranth, and sea salt. That’s pretty dang healthy for an energy bar that also tastes amazing.

IMO the ingredients of “health” bars usually do not taste as good, nor are as healthy as they proclaim to be. In this case, however, Rise Bars prove to be the exception. It’s a pretty filling bar, which also happens to be under 190 calories and packs 3g of fiber. Not too shabby for a snack on the go!

Caveat: Please note that I do not believe eating a lot of packaged bars to be necessarily healthy in themselves. But when on-the-run or taking breakfast to work, these are a great option. Much better than SKIPPING breakfast all together anyway (craziness)!

Looking forward to making a raw version of these blueberry beauties myself soon!

Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! Hope everyone had a great holiday.

For a veg-friendly tgiving dessert this year, I decided to try this raw cupcake recipe from the Pure2Raw twins. As it requires many steps, this was probably my most ambitious raw cooking experiment to date.

Arsenal of raw materials

“Flour” Ingredients:

2 cups ground hazelnuts (purchase ground, or grind whole in food processor)
1/4 cup irish moss paste*
1 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp liquid stevia
1/4 tsp sea salt

The first step in the process—which I managed to do the night before—was to prepare the irish moss paste. Irish moss is a mineral-rich seaweed utilized by many raw pastry chefs as a thickening agent, owing to its gelatinous properties (for a full explanation, click the link).

As you can imagine, this requires extensive planning ahead, since you will most likely have to order it online (unless you’re lucky enough to live in a vegan-centric city). You will then need to soak it up to 24 hours to clean.

After first discovering and reading up on its splendiferous properties, I was intrigued and excited (if not a little daunted) to try it out. It also serves as a nut substitute, so is a good way to cut down on your nut intake (though nuts are healthy in moderation…in a vegan diet they can add up quickly!).

I went from this…

…to this:
Looks like
Looks like applesauce…no?

 *If you do not have the time or patience to deal with the irish moss (which I completely understand), you could simply add in more nuts or use coconut flour in its place. If you DO decide to make the effort, the good news is you can freeze the leftover moss for use in future desserts!

Pulse all ingredients together in a blender to create the batter. For the frosting, I used this coconut recipe, as well the following pumpkin carob sauce to top if off.

Coconut Lucuma Frosting:

1 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp lucuma powder*
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Pumpkin Carob Sauce:

1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp carob (can also use cocoa powder)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
splash of vanilla

*This was my first time using lucuma powder as a sweetener. It has a maple-like flavor and is naturally low in sugar, so I loved it! However if you do not own lucuma, you could use a few drops of stevia or sweetener of your choice as an alternative.

Finally, I blended the ingredients for the frosting in the Vitamix, and whisked the sauce together in a bowl. Pure2Raw recommends using reusable silicone cupcake baking cups, which I will definitely use next time as I made the mistake of using flimsy paper ones.

Below is my final product. In a last-ditch effort to make them look pretty, I added the coconut shavings 🙂

Sweet Potato Chips!

November 22, 2011

For this entry I wanted to get back to why I started this blog in the first place—highlighting my favorite vegan products!

With Thanksgiving coming up, it seemed like an appropriate time to discuss my appreciation for these Sweet Potato Chips by Rhythm Superfoods.

Sweet potatoes are considered a superfood as they are full of fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium and manganese.  Apparently the root veggies also help to stabilize blood sugar, making them a good choice for diabetics.  The company uses a dehydration process to make the chips, leaving more of the nutrients and enzymes intact. 


As you can see they come in a couple of different flavors, however, I am partial to the “sea salt.”  The ingredients are pretty simple: organic sweet potato, organic raw cane sugar, organic spices, and sea salt.  And get this—one bag is equivalent to only 100 calories!

Not that I am suggesting you substitute these for the real deal on Tgiving…but they do make for a great afternoon snack. Especially when paired with half an avocado!

You can find these super chips at Whole Foods or other health specialty retailers.

Raw Zucchini Pasta

November 11, 2011

One the best things about fall has to be the abundant supply of squash.  Whatever your squash of choice—be it acorn, butternut, or spaghetti—you really cannot go wrong for a wholesome fall dish. 

For a picnic I went on recently, I decided to make this easy and raw, tossed zucchini salad (or “pasta” substitute) derived from Whole Living magazine.


1 zucchini
8 oz cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
2 tbsp fresh basil (love!)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
pinch of sea salt

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, walnuts, basil, oil and garlic.  Season with salt and let stand 20 minutes.  Then chop the zucchini lengthwise into approximately 1/4 inch long strips.  You can also use a “spiralizer” (a veggie spiral splicer) for this part if you want to get fancy. 

Finally, toss all ingredients together and you have zucchini pasta for 2!

The picture looks almost as refreshing as it tastes.  At some point, remind me to recount the RAWsome dessert I also prepared for the picnic…

Green Spinach Burgers

October 9, 2011

Hi all! First off, my apologies for the recent hiatus. In August I started a new job working for an awesome nonprofit organization in San Francisco. Although it’s been going great, it also has been a huge adjustment schedule-wise, which alas has not allowed a lot of time for much else. (My sched is somewhat all over the place in that it involves working weekends and such).

So as much I have wanted to blog—especially since the Bay Area is such an inspiring place for herbivores—it hasn’t really worked out that way. Fortunately, things are starting to calm down a bit, so hopefully posts will not be so few and far between from here on out.

But enough about me. The following recipe is adapted from blog site Choosing Raw. The recipe requires a few steps, but is well worth it in the end. Not to mention makes for an excellent packed lunch…you hear that, working gals?!

Green Spinach Burgers:

2 cups green juice pulp (spinach, kale, romaine, celery, cucumber, broccoli, etc)
1 cup sunflower seeds
3 tbsp tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos (my personal pref)
1/4 cup flax meal
2 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried oregano

The first step is to make the green juice pulp. If you’re lucky enough to own a juicer, this part is easy — just save the pulp leftover from a green juice drink. However, for those who have yet to invest in a juicer but want one really really badly (aka moi), you will have to settle for using a blender to whip up the green pulp.

Blend spinach, kale, parsley, and whatever greens you happen to have in your fridge and blend until you have a gloriously green, pulpy mixture. Make sure to use enough greens to make two cups worth.

Next up, you want to process your sunflower seeds. Then add the remaining ingredients and process until well mixed.

Finally, shape the green mixture into a “burger” like shape, and place onto a lined pan to bake. Bake for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees. (Or for those true raw foodies who have a dehydrator dehydrate at 115 degrees for 8 hours, flipping midway).

No dehydrator yet, as you can see.

Lastly, enjoy your green burger over a fresh salad with tomatoes, onions, basil, and any other accoutrements of your liking. I have to say that I’m a huge fan of this recipe. So tasty…and satisfying!

Blueberry Blissfast

August 16, 2011

Considered by many to be the most important meal of the day, breakfast also happens to be my absolute FAVORITE meal of the day. Fresh fruit plus some type of grains is pretty much a morning staple for me.

And whether in oatmeal or granola, blueberries make an excellent addition to nearly any AM meal. Not only are they delicious, but they are also brimming with antioxidant goodness…(and considering that I just turned another year older a few weeks back, I’ll take as many age-fighting antioxidants as I can get).

So when I found these blueberry-walnut with flax granola packets from Back to Nature in stores not long ago, I had to give them a try.

The single-serve packs are good for on-the-go, or portion control. I combined one of the pouches in a bowl with fresh blueberries and banana slices, and drizzled a little almond milk on top. I also added a little cinnamon and nutmeg.


Some Like It Hot.

August 7, 2011

Or not. This week the temperature actually reached 114 deg. in my hometown. Ridiculous, right?

I also watched the Marilyn Monroe classic this week (which I’ve been wanting to see for awhile), and now finally understand the meaning of its namesake.

…but if classical music isn’t your thing, try cooling down with a FREEZER POP!

Pops are the personification of a fun, healthy summer snack. Here is a recipe for a Pineapple Nectar Pop, borrowed from Akin’s publication The Healthy Edge. It’s so simple, just combine the following 3 ingredients in a blender, and pour into a freezer pop mold (makes 8 servings).

1 cup pineapple nectar
1 frozen banana
1 Tbs. lime juice

I’d never bought pineapple juice before, and settled on the Lakewood brand (which was delicious on its own, by the way).

The frozen banana takes just a little preparation. Peel one banana, cut into chunks and place into a ziplock bag or container to freeze.


Allow the mixture enough time to freeze in the pop mold, and then voila ~ ready to enjoy!

Thanks to Ryan for being a fantastic hand model & taster 🙂

veg-happy travels

August 4, 2011

Pardon the recent hiatus as I have been traveling for the past week or so, which is also the impetus to this entry…

Whether it’s due to delays or missed connections or BOTH, flying is stressful enough these days without having to worry about one’s dietary needs. Health gurus and raw foodies alike however know the difficulties of finding fresh, healthy fare in airport terminals. Save for a few major airports (i.e. JFK, ORD, & SFO), natural and vegan food sightings are rare.

Thus in one of my recent jaunts across the country, I was pleased to discover a solution provided by a company called GoPicnic*. The innovative brand offers an assortment of all-natural, ready-to-eat boxed meals, now found in many airports nationwide. Available in 4 varieties, the vegan option is the ‘hummus & crackers’ one.

The combo includes Wild Garden hummus dip, multi-seed crackers, a dry-roasted edamame packet, a ‘baja blend’ of fruit & nuts, and last but not least an organic, dark-chocolate square by Terra Nostra.

Although it seemed too good to be true at first, the package contents and ingredients are clearly labeled, so there can be no denying its preservative-free goodness. While not the tastiest hummus I’ve ever had, its easily portable design and quality ingredients more than make up for it. 

Another perk is that the meal cost only $4.99, which is a steal compared to most ludicrously-priced airport products (FACT: I once unwittingly paid the same amount for a 16oz bottle of San Pellegrino).  

Obviously packaged meals cannot replace the nutritional value of fresh food, but this is a viable alternative to the usual highly-processed airport offerings. One last recommendation is to pack a baggie of fresh veggies to go (such as celery or baby carrots) to pair with the hummus…to ensure you’re getting at least some raw nutrients! However, lest you forget to plan ahead—gopicnic is a practical means for refueling the next time you find yourself trapped in an airport with no provisions.

*Just thought I should mention that these reviews/opinions are my own…no endorsements here!