Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Ahhh Cranberry Sauce! The ultimate Thanksgiving condiment. Lovely on your holiday table, but in my opinion, even better on a day after sandwich or spooned atop a dollop of goat cheese baked in puff pastry. But however you enjoy it, homemade is ultimately better than the one from a can. Though I do have friends who will oppose that statement...
Over the years my tastes have moved from super sweet mostly sugar sauces to versions boosting the cranberry flavors which bring with them loads of health benefits.
Did you know the cranberry outranks nearly every fruit in disease-fighting antioxidants with only the blueberry ranking higher? Filled with vitamin C and fiber, cranberries have been associated with lowered risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancers, improved immune functions and decreased blood pressure.
But how did Cranberry Sauce come to be a Thanksgiving tradition? A native to northeastern North America, the pilgrims most likely had cranberries available to them, however sugar was much harder to come by. As such, cranberry sauce probably did not accompany the first Thanksgiving. But, the Native Americans mostly likely taught the new settlers how to use cranberries and their natural preservative power - cranberries were mixed into dried meat meals to extend its shelf life. The beginning of cranberries at Thanksgiving?? Perhaps.
Whatever the origin, cranberry sauce is here to stay and making your own couldn't be simpler. Making a no refined sugar version this year I think I've stumbled upon a new favorite with the addition of rich pure maple syrup and sweet, freshly squeezed orange juice. The splah of Grand Marnier?? Just adding a dash of heaven to tie it all together.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends, may your holiday be filled with delight!
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Time has made the emptiness easier, but my boy is never far from my mind. I know he's happier than ever... seriously, who wouldn't be living the college life in Santa Barbara with fraternity activities and a beautiful, smart girlfriend? But I miss him each and every day.
First up, these Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Spice Cookies. Crisp yet tender, the spice shines in these beauties, but it's the sweet glaze that really shoots them into the irresistible category.
These cookies travel well and bring the sweet life with you where ever you choose to take the. I'll keep you posted how well they pair with the beer. :)
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
I'm usually quite the rule follower, but today I broke the rules and I have the sweet Kate from Kate's Kitchen to thank!
With this installment of Blogger C.L.U.E, our group's prompt for November is "Pie". Now I have to admit I'm not much of a pie person. Not that I would turn away a warm slice of sweet Apple Pie, but I really don't like making it. Pie just seems to take so long and needs to be planned ahead.
Enter dear Kate. A blogger I've been following since the Foodbuzz days, Kate hails from Indiana and cooks with her sous chef extraordinaire (and husband!) Connie. Cooking in a new kitchen (decked out with white cabinets I can only dream of!) Kate and Connie bring spectacular dishes to the table and truly love creating and then enjoying the bounty. A girl after my own heart, I'd love to share a Pineapple-Chili Margarita with her.
Which brings us to the pie. Kate is a little like me and doesn't have many pies on her blog ( that Pear Frangipane Tart ? Divine!), but a post from a prior Blogger C.L.U.E Installment brought a lovely Blueberry Icebox Pie. Filled with bright blueberries, yogurt, cream and a dash of my beloved Grand Marnier I found my recipe!! However... my family is dairy-free. And plant-based.
Our Blogger Clue Group likes our post recipes to remain as close to the original as possible with a goal of introducing new bloggers to our own readers, and here's where I broke the rules. Going off-grid, I took Kate's recipe as a base and turned it into a dairy-free recipe that has just made our Thanksgiving menu.
Cheesecake has been my sons favorite dessert since he was little and he asked for it for his birthday right up until the moment he became lactose intolerant. Even after the intolerance began, he would enjoy a few bites along with some lactose pills and still be ok. But as time passed his intolerance has become severe and now he simply foregos anything with any dairy, and cheesecake has become a thing of the past.
Now I've seen those cashew "cheesecake" versions and while I've wanted an alternative, I've always turned my nose up at them - just too weird. Basically, if we can't have the real thing we just won't have it. But my poor son... could there really be a substitute?
Searching the internet for advice on how to turn the heavy cream and yogurt into something dairy-free for Kate's icebox cake took me time and again back to frozen cashew cheesecakes. "Fine... I'll try it," I thought - doubtful of the result.
So I soaked my cashews and then blended them up with the other ingredients. Hesitantly taking a taste, the maple syrup and vanilla brought a delightfully sweet flavor to a surprisingly creamy concoction. Not at all bad.
Freezing them into my favorite Mini Cheesecake Pan (we gave up full size cheesecakes years ago and I'm ever so thankful not to have to cut the cake anymore!) I cheated again and added a bit of cranberry to the blueberry topping for a holidayish (and healthy) addition.
Popping the minis out of the pan I have to say they looked pretty darn cute. Letting them thaw as I did my photo shoot, they ended up just about the perfect consistency at about 30 minutes out of the freezer - so note to self, remove them as you sit down to dinner and they will be ideal when dinner is finished!
But the true test came with my taste-testers, Liv and my husband. Now Liv is not a fan of cheesecake in the first place, and for her Kate's graham cracker crust was her favorite part - but I noted that she did eat an entire mini cheesecake. Not something she's done in the past.
Asking my husband to take a bite he said, "You know I don't want to eat dairy." I told him to just try it, it's for a post and I needed an honest opinion. Taking a bit he thought a minute, then took another. His comments were as follows:
"Nice and creamy, and I love the tartness. The blueberry is awesome. But you know I don't want to eat dairy. Why did you even make that?"
Smiling, I call that success. Even more fun was his face when I told him the cheesecake didn't actually have any cream cheese in it and that it was totally plant-based.
Thank you Kate! I haven't told my son yet, but my boy will be having cheesecake when he comes home for Thanksgiving this year, and he will be ever so thankful. We owe this success all to you!
Check out what the rest of our C.L.U.E member made this month!
Friday, November 6, 2015
I love a good success story, don't you? And I can't wait to tell you about the latest I've found! Filled with inspiration and motivation Vanessa Chamberlin's book, The Fire Driven Life, is one of those success stories that sticks with you. Exuding health and a penchant for living life, Vanessa's book has the potential to be life changing as it creates a simple foundation for igniting health and happiness in your own life.
With The Fire Driven Life, Vanessa lays out a way of eating, not what I would call a diet perse, but more of a lifestyle paving the way to passion for a healthier life. Mixing a recipe of science, common sense and culinary creativity, Vanessa shows how living a plant-based lifestyle is not only easy to do, but also budget friendly.
For anyone on your holiday list thinking of moving to a healthier lifestyle, this book is what they are looking for. Jumping right in, the first chapter lays a foundation to help you figure out why you would want to eat a plant-based diet in the first place (Food over pills, anyone??). From simply feeling better and more energetic to reversing heart disease and diabetes, a plant-based lifestyle has been proven beneficial and life saving for many people.
Moving on, Vanessa's next chapters help you understand that eating plants is more than just salad. Identifying the best foods for health, Vanessa calls them "Green Fire Foods", she's splashed the pages with lists of go-to foods and ingredients that you can (and should) eat to your heart's content.
From there Vanessa takes you through "Yellow Fire" and "Red Fire" Foods (foods to be consumed in moderation and those that should be avoided), and then she helps you revamp and set up ingredients and pantry staples in your own kitchen. Seriously, it's all there and figured out for you.
Once you are ready to start Vanessa brings a support section where she coaches you through some of the challenges in transforming your diet. Being plant-based myself I understand how difficult change can be, but once you begin down the plant path it gets easier and easier and then simply becomes a preferred way of life where you will hopefully feel better than you ever have.
Next Vanessa completes the whole lifestyle by including exercise and stress management along with a frequently asked Q and A section. For example... did you know that you don't need dairy products for calcium? (Actually the most usable sources of calcium are found in plant based foods like many greens and other veggies).
And then, of course, my favorite part of the book... the recipes!! Featuring delectable entrees along with sides, appetizers and snacks (including smoothies and juices) , soups and salads, condiments (and sauces and spreads) and a collection of tempting Happy Endings (how about a few Chai Spiced Cookies or Cocoa Cupcakes?), Vanessa's recipes are clearly written and easy to follow.
With beautiful photography her recipes tempt and motivate you into the kitchen to create a little bit of awesomeness for yourself. And that's just what we did!
First off, Liv picked the Chocolate Monkey Shake featuring a few of her favorite ingredients (bananas, peanut butter and chocolate) and we had an immediate new favorite recipe (she even loved that it added spinach so she didn't have to eat it later!). Moving on to the Mexican Spaghetti (super popular with the men in our family) and then the Smashed Pea Soup with Barley, I'm thrilled with everything we've tried.
Only a few books on my shelf do I reach for over and over again, and The Fire Driven Life has quickly become one of them. This book will be on my holiday list of gifts to give for friends who are looking for health in the new year.
More than a cookbook, I love the inspiration jumping from every page, and after following Vanessa on Instagram I'm loving the motivation from her frequent posts as well.
Vanessa, thanks for sharing your story with the world, but more importantly for inspiring us and for igniting a passion for health in your readers!
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Oatmeal is a near daily affair in the Liv Life kitchen. Wholesome and filled with fiber, oatmeal brings low glycemic carbohydrates while also bringing a healthy dose of protein to the table. Said to help regulate blood pressure, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and decrease risks of colon cancer, oatmeal is an inexpensive breakfast (or dinner?) option we love.
But... I've been told oatmeal is "boring". Actually, it's "sooooo boring" (said with 16-year old eyeroll for full effect...). And while I love the oaty grains, I guess I can see how it can get a bit old day after day. Luckily, oatmeal is simply a blank slate just waiting to be adorned with the flavors of the season!
So today, we bring fall flavors and a dose of vitamin A-rich pumpkin to that blank slate.
Pumpkin - and it's pumpkin pie spice flavors - is also a favorite in the Liv Life kitchen, and as such a regular to our dishes year round (stock up on cans now for use in summer!). And while we've had pumpkin oatmeal in the past, I'd simply forgotten about it until today.
Pairing a version of our Power Oatmeal (oats, flax, chia and hemp) with a scoop of organic canned pumpkin brought a lovely orange hue to the bowl. Topped with a sprinkle of walnuts and banana as well as a dash of pumpkin pie spice today's breakfast was met with smiles all around.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Fall has finally made her way into our San Diego weather, and as the morning temps dip into the chilly 60's locals relish the warmth of jeans and sweaters. However by mid-morning San Diegans find themselves shedding those layers as the sun warms back to our normal 70's and life remains pretty much the same.
|Kona and Tavo|
Regular readers of Liv Life will remember our two Maltese pups, Kona and Tavo. Littermates, these little guys have brought undying love into our lives for the past six year.
But last weekend we lost our precious little Tavo. A severe allergy reaction led to incessant scratching around his neck and then moved into seizures.
With numerous vets and specialists shaking their heads saying the dreaded words, "I've never seen anything like this before, I really don't know what to do ...", they reached for every medicine in their arsenal.
Plowing through every allergy medication and then moving on to incredible doses of anti-seizure meds, little Tavo's symptoms never ceased and last Friday began to worsen. And when he began letting out little whimpers of pain we knew the time had come to let him go.
The first real loss in Liv's life, Tavo's death has hit her, and all of us, hard. With a huge hole in our hearts we've done our best to console Kona and keep him busy with lots of love and attention. He seems to be adjusting, but our hearts still hurt with loss.
Cookies help momentarily though, and I'm putting these Pumpkin Snickerdoodles from Cooking Classy up there with some of the best cookies I've ever had. Not in the mood to create, I followed her recipe exactly, only substituting Earth Balance Butter Alternative for the butter and adding a dash of nutmeg with the cinnamon sugar that the dough is rolled in before baking.
With a tender texture and warm Pumpkin Pie Spice flavors, the coating of cinnamon sugar pops a sweetness in your mouth that can't help but make you smile. Pure comfort bringing a moment of happiness into any day - even the bad ones - we've found a new fall favorite.
Pumpkin SnickerdoodlesTraditional snickerdoodle texture melds with warm Pumpkin Pie flavors for melt in your mouth happiness! I've found a new favorite cookie.
This recipe comes from Cooking Classy and I followed her recipe exactly with the exception of using Earth Balance Butter Alternative to make them dairy-free and then adding a touch of freshly ground nutmeg and a pinch of ginger to the cinnamon sugar that the dough is rolled in before baking. Click on the orange words below for this fabulous recipe:
In memory of our sweet Tavo (2009-2015). We miss you little dog.