Fall Flavors

Something that can’t be said enough about fresh, organic food is how amazingly delicious it is as is. A simple addition of some oil, fresh pepper, lemon juice or spices is all I ever need to take any meal to the next level. I am eating the best food – and it is all minimally prepared right here in my own kitchen. I’m not biased, I swear.

There are two new vegetables in season right now that have quickly become my new favorite juice staples… sweet potato & cabbage. Yep, taters & cabbage! Even though I absolutely love eating these two foods, I never thought I would enjoy them juiced. In fact, I still think the sound of it is slightly off-putting. However, like I say in so many other situations – don’t knock it ’til ya try it. So I did just that and no longer knock it. I strongly believe you should try these too!

Trial Uno:

Trial Dos (unpictured… drank too fast while video chatting with the folks):

Green Fall Tonic

1/2 napa cabbage
3 bartlett pears
1/2 lemon
1″ piece of ginger

The cabbage & pear combo is surprisingly smooth & light. Enjoy!

Both these juice recipes are well-representative of fall. Southern Ontario has had such a lovely fall – I have been enjoying the intoxicating spreads of color…

crisp temperatures, warm fires, new perspectives…

the sound of crunching leaves beneath my feet…

and reflections of  all the hard work we have put in this season as we slow down (relatively speaking).

Aside from juicing, there are three other simple recipes I am here to share that are sure to please your palate, while nurturing your god pod.

Steamed Kale & Garlic

1 bunch dino kale
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil, coconut oil, or coconut butter

It takes me more time to walk out to the cooler or garden to harvest the kale than it does to prep this dish. This is an excellent option for someone who doesn’t have much time, or is simply feeling lazy, to eat healthy in a flash.

Bring 2-3 cups of water to boil on the stovetop or in a tea kettle. Gather a handful of dinosaur kale and roughly chop or rip into large chunks (read: I’m lazy = less cleanup). Place kale in a colander & pour enough boiling water over for kale to lightly wilt. Allow kale to drain. Transfer kale into a bowl, press garlic onto kale, toss lightly with oil and voila!

This kale dish pairs well with my favorite beet hummus too. It adds a nice touch to the bowl and produces a lovely sea of green & purple. In effort to save on prep time,cleanup, & to continue to incorporate more raw foods – I made a raw version of this beet dip. Yum, yum, and yum!

Raw Beet Dip
3-4 medium red or golden beets
1 tbsp whole cumin (1/2 tbsp ground cumin)
1/2 lemon, juice of
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
pepper to taste

Wash, peel, and roughly chop beets. Add beets and remaining ingredients into food processor and process away until smooth. That is it! Enjoy on salads, in wraps, smeared on sandwiches, as a dip with veggies, or by itself straight out of the bowl…

Coconut Infused Roasted Sweet Potato

So simple, so delicious, so healthy!

Tonight I chopped up leftover roasted sweet potato wedges and tossed them with some coconut butter in a small pot over low heat. Once the coconut butter was warmed, I removed it from the heat, gave it a good stir and topped a bowl of arugula with this buttery, sweet concoction. With a dollop of raw beet dip… total satisfaction!


Saturday Mornings In Toronto

There better be a darn good reason to wake up at 4:45 on a Saturday. This morning, I had a good reason indeed. I nearly jumped out of bed pre-dawn excited as the dickens to head to Toronto’s farmers’ market! to sell produce from Whole Circle Farm. <– where I now work and live (more on this soon).

Just after 5 am Courtney and I loaded the van up with sunchokes, beets, carrots, potatoes, greens, and herbs and drove into Toronto. It was a bit chilly – I spent most the day in two jackets & under the warmth of my hat- but at least the expected rain held off. The market was wonderful! You can read more about The Stop Community Food Centre where the Stop Farmers’ Market is held here.

All the customers were so friendly and the 5 hours flew by, as I knew they would. There were tons of eclectic vendors selling breads/pastries/baked goods made with locally grown grains, produce, cheese, prepared foods, meats, chocolate, honey products, maple syrup, and other various fun things.

I tasted my first “sea asparagus” – which is essentially a teeny tiny version of asparagus, harvested from the sea – thus being an incredibly salty, crunchy veggie. Yikes! I prefer land asparagus, thank you very much. I also had my first true whiff of fiddleheads. ew? Those too smell like the ocean yet sound delicious. I’ve been wanting to try these for awhile but couldn’t bring myself to buy them simply as their their smell was so off-putting. Not a fan of fishy smells. Maybe next time.

Some pics from today. enjoy!

earth & city: raw foods table!

and whole circle! …

Markets are such a wonderful place to saunter, coffee & breakfast in hand, and converse with people from your neighborhood. Nothing beats the warming atmosphere of friendly, smiley folk who share in the same enthusiasm as you about local foods. Even for the visitors who don’t know about local food – but pop by for various reasons – it’s always a pleasure to share with them what local and seasonal food means. Getting someone to try something new is always so exciting!

My own purchases for today included coffee, ginger cider, kale, apples, strawberries, and a few maple syrup candies. I can’t wait to start my Sunday with some fresh kale & apple juice. Yum!

Aimee, This One’s For You!

As my friend Aimee liked to bring to my attention today – I haven’t shown much love here lately and her ability to stalk me has been severely hindered. So here is what I have been up to since the day I ran the city of bridges.

-Two weekends ago I moved out of my tiny dollhouse apartment into Jeanne’s – a mere hop, skip, & jump away in Squirrel Hill. Temporary roomie until I head to Toronto and permanent roomie come December. Living with Jeanne means I’ll be able to enjoy many more walks with Edison & flowers!

My favorite pic from an early morning walk a few weeks ago –

-In the last week I officially became an omnivore (a picky one). Yep, this girl ate a burger last week (thanks to Jeanne’s local, grass-fed meat from her CSA) and am looking very forward to the bison I will be dining on come Wednesday with my fam at the Heartland Cafe. In addition to that burger, I’ve enjoyed some eggs, raw milk, organic yogurt, wild-caught salmon and pasture butter. I wouldn’t go as far as saying “I’ve been missing out” but I cannot deny that I have enjoyed these foods entirely. More blood work showed I’ve hit a scary level (you can go ahead and read this as nearly zero) with my hormones and vitamin B12 – so instead of not working out which was recommended by the doc – I decided to introduce pristine quality meat and raw dairy into my diet while continuing to workout. The fact that I’m craving red meat again speaks volumes – I clearly need the nutrients. More on this to come.

-Flew into Chicago last week and have been enjoying the amazing weather, relaxation, catching up with friends, reading the Hunger Games, going to my first Cubs/Sox Crosstown Classic game, visiting the always beautiful Chicago Botanic Gardens, and watching movies with my momma.

Being home has meant I’ve even been able to witness the first ripe strawberry from my plants of last year – my mom and I went to harvest our one berry this evening and some stinker already got it! You snooze you loose apparently. This week I’ll likely do lots of reading, yoga, running, projects with my mom (soap, sauerkraut, more lotions, yada yada yada), and go see The Hunger Games before heading to Milwaukee this weekend for another Jagel wedding. Cannot wait to see Ryan & Maggie get hitched and to hopefully check out Growing Power Saturday am. I have a lot to pack in before I go back to the burgh Sunday & Canada Monday!

-Today I made homemade lotion and chapstick! Easiest. projects. ever. and both incredibly cost efficient. For just a few cents I have a few mason jars full of lotion and 6 tubes of chapstick. Here’s how to DIY:

Homemade Lotion

1/4 cup olive oil (note: not extra virgin)
1/4 cup emulsifying wax (purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs)
1 1/4 cup hot water
essential oil(s) of choice

Directions: In a glass pyrex measuring cup combine 1/4 cup emulsifying wax & 1/4 olive oil. Heat these two until wax is entirely melted either in microwave (~1-2 minutes) or double broiler style in a pot over medium heat. Once the wax is melted add 24-36 drops of essential oil(s) if desired. While adding oils, heat 1 1/4 cup of water for about 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave. Add hot water to oil/wax mixture. Immediately the combination will turn milky white. Stir and pour into a 16 ounce mason jar. Cover and allow to settle & cool.

That’s it!! So quick, easy, and eco-friendly.

Homemade Chapstick

1 1/8 tsp cocoa butter
1 7/8 tsp coconut oil
3 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp beeswax
3 vitamin E capsules
6-7 chapstick tubes (reuse old ones or purchase for cheap Mountain Rose Herbs)

Directions: In a pyrex glass measuring cup combine melted cocoa butter, coconut oil, beeswax & olive oil. After these four liquids are well combined, add the contents of three vitamin E capsules. Stir and pour into empty tubes. Allow to cool and harden and there you have chapstick that smells like honey!

I was very pleased with all the products I ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs – just be sure to purchase everything at once to keep the price of shipping down.

Let’s see what else… while teaching Jeanne to juice last week we pumped out one of my typical green juices while also making a watermelon-strawberry juice. Delicious. A few days prior I had juiced some remaining watermelon that was in my fridge so I didn’t have to pack it for my move. Why had I not done this before? Simple watermelon juice is so refreshing and hydrating. A perfect summer beverage. So this morning I decided to start my day not with green but with red juice and opted for a pineapple & watermelon juice:

1/2 pineapple
2-3 cups watermelon
1/2 lemon, peeled
1 1″ nub of ginger

So good and rehydrating. I’ve been in desperate need of liquids after a weekend of too much salt however water wasn’t appealing. This really hit the spot.

Off to read more Hunger Games, do some yoga, and perch with Ma & Pa.

Source: etsy.com via Jo Ann on Pinterest

Attention Meat Eaters

Unless you have been living in a bubble recently, I am certain you are at least somewhat aware of the myriad of food concerns these days. So many come and go, perhaps highlights of a few days’ worth of breaking news stories. We may shun the purchase of spinach or peanut butter due to a recent E. Coli or Salmonella outbreak – but two or three weeks down the road they are right back in the grocery cart. With an immediate threat no longer in sight we somehow feel “safe” again and resort back to our old habits.

Not knowing where our food comes from needs to change. And it needs to change fast. Or else Superbugs such as “Pig MRSA” that has been found in nearly half of all meat sampled in U.S. commerce, may soon appear on your very own plate.

Read this article and consider where you are purchasing your next food item. Especially if it is a meat, dairy or egg product. Not to lessen concerns facing produce (there are plenty). But the livestock industry is really causing some concerns for both humans and the environment. Even if “staph found in meat can be eliminated by cooking food well”, who wants staph in their food in the first place!?! And I certainly would not want a whole extra dose of antibiotics & hormones lingering from forced maturity on livestock to grow larger & quicker.

We all deserve clean, healthy food.

Next time you are at the store – ASK. Ask the butcher where the meat is from. Ask the grocer where the cheese, milk, butter, eggs, and yogurt are from. READ labels! Do your research online before you head out to the market. Call local farmers. Visit farmers’ markets. Invest in a CSA. DEMAND free-range, hormone & antibiotic free meat, dairy & eggs. It is the least we can do as consumers who rely on producers we don’t even know.

Don’t just stop your inquiry at the store. Ask next time you are out to eat. The waiter(ess) may think you are a pain in the @ss, and/or your company, but your body will thank you when you pass on meat that came from who knows where. Rule of thumb: if they don’t know the name of the farm – don’t eat it.

The more WE care about where our food is from and how it is produced, the more WE will begin to change the way our food system operates. Unless our voices are heard through our purchasing powers – superbugs & much worse will be a guaranteed threat to our futures.

Highlights Of My Week

A few of my favorite things this mid week of February:

Simple juices… real simple. Like 1 to 4 ingredients and I’m done.

Top favorite??



I woke up this morning not really looking forward to my day that set to begin at the doctors office. I turned my sleepy frown upside down immediately with the help of three grapefruits. Peeled & juiced to perfection. Not too sweet, not too bitter… and just so happens to result in the prettiest shade of pink. A mason jar full of pink juice is certain to make anyone smile :)

Another fave: the quintessential OJ!


My friend Anna just introduced me to frozen, unpasteurized OJ from Whole Foods. Put it in the fridge overnight and wake up to a half juice/half slush beverage that is wonderfully hydrating.

Spin class. Love, love, love! Yet I’m convinced spin instructors are on crack. I don’t know how they lead these workouts while dancing (bike style) & singing simultaneously. Waving their hands around in the air… I’m lucky if I don’t face plant with both hands holding on and my feet strapped in. Crack or no crack though, I’m glad they are up there kicking my behind.

Night bike rides. Chilly but invigorating.

Multi-colored popcorn.

Farm fresh eggs in my fridge. Complete with feather remnants stuck on the shell.

Class outing to the Heinz History Center. So much history packed into this place! Another Pittsburgh gem.

NYC next week!

Chicago in two weeks!

and this song.

Buh-Bye Veganism

I have finally come to terms with something nagging, really nagging the back of my mind for the past few months. In a sense I am straying against the belief behind this blog – to share raw recipes and follow a raw lifestyle. Vegan raw at that. I’ll still continue with my raw recipes BUT I’m changing things up a bit for now.

After much personal debate I decided it is in my best interest to begin eating yogurt & eggs again. Yep, as some friends said earlier “welcome back to the dark side”. Ha, yes… the dark side. However, I’m very much at peace with my decision and don’t see it as the dark side at all.

It isn’t so much the act of eating eggs & yogurt that I have thought would be difficult but the physical, mental, and spiritual acceptance of consuming animal product. Physically I feel there will be no problems. In fact this morning for breakfast I had a generous serving of full-fat organic yogurt & cottage cheese. I couldn’t wait to get to the breakfast spread at the PASA conference to eat some of the Seven Star Farms yogurt… I literally had spent my entire morning run thinking about how much I wanted yogurt & hard-boiled egg whites.

There are a two reasons I have decided to venture from my strict(ish) vegan diet. The first being how difficult it has been to stick to a raw diet, in Pittsburgh, in the winter. I decided I am done trying to force myself to adhere to raw, just because it worked for me at one point, when my body now has been craving other foods and protein sources. Recognizing this I finally decided I need to honor this during the winter months and feed my body what it wants. My hope with eating yogurt & eggs is to get in my protein without relying on nuts – my go-to source for raw protein. Nuts are delicious, too delicious if you ask me, and I have been eating an unhealthy amount to feel satiated. I haven’t been feeling one ounce of healthy eating this amount of nuts so I decided it’s time to hang it up. Yogurt provides an excellent source of protein without all the high amount of fats (regardless of them being healthy fats). There is a such thing as too much of a good thing.

My second reason is still in the works. But what I’m coming to realize is a sustainable diet looks different everywhere you go and I need to honor that while I live in a northern climate. Plus, with my vision to one day own my own farm (SOOONer rather than later) I’ll need to do something with the milk & eggs! So I guess I’m prepping my body for that :) I want to be an active part of my farm’s own closed-loop system. It just makes so much more sense to me.

I am sure I had my parents floored this morning when I sent my mom a message I was eating yogurt and cottage cheese for breakfast. My gosh. They were so incredibly delicious. And to add to the shock value I mentioned I may want to eat bison meat in the future! Yep, me! MEAT. Crazy! Eating meat may be a bit more of a hurdle to get over… if ever… but I am certainly becoming more open to the idea. Grass-fed bison meat doesn’t sound as appalling as it once did.

Regardless of what I decide I will be choosing the healthiest and most sustainable options. My eggs must be local, come from chickens that are truly free-range, and I must know the farmer. My yogurt must be sourced from a local farm that doesn’t use hormones, pesticides or rGBH. Just like I want the freshest, pesticide-free fruits & veggies, I expect my eggs & yogurt to come from the happiest & healthiest local animals.

I have to say I am truly excited about my latest “revelation”. It feels great. I feel great…

Adding dairy and eggs back doesn’t change my beliefs about raw foods. I still want to start each day with my green juice. The bulk of my diet will still be mostly raw fruits & vegetables… because nothing compares to that!!

>Dane Co. Farmer’s Market

>What better way to spend a Saturday than in one of the greatest cities -Madison, WI- at the Farmers Market!? That is how I enjoyed this past weekend after walking the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 5K with my Mom & good friend Elizabeth. After the walk we drove to the center of town, refueled at Barrique’s Coffee Shop and spent the next couple hours roaming the market & State St. First order of business……. HONEY! from Gentle Breeze Honey. This time around my Mom & I opted for the spun wildflower. More bitter in flavor and darker in color than our usual purchase from them.

There were so many beautiful seedlings and flowers!

There was a special cow event happenin’ off the main drag featuring lots of….you guessed it….cheeeeese! I loved this massive rotating grilled cheese making device. A grilled cheese lovers paradise.

After our quick detour to the street of cheese, we ventured back to indulge in more flowers, plants, and local veggies. Our purchases included radishes, asparagus, garlic onion, yellow tomatoes, pickling cukes, swiss chard, a rare red leaf lettuce variety, and popcorn.

What a gorgeous Capitol Building in the center of market!

This man has got the right idea…

…and these guys were certainly making some good beats!

>Some of Chicago’s Finest

>I believe in supporting local, small business, and fair trade in every possible way. Here are some of my go-to places in and around Chicago.

CHICAGO DOWNTOWN FARMSTAND : gotta represent my turf! The farmstand only sells produce and food products made/grown within 250 miles of Chicago; most vendors though are within Chicago limits. sweet! Located at 66 E. Randolph, right across from the Cultural Center, in the theater district, and kiddie-corner to MIllenium Park- it’s in a bangin’ location.

INTELLIGENTSIA COFFEE: Conveniently located across the street from the farmstand lies this beautiful coffeeshop (others in Chicago are in Lakeview & on Jackson). As direct coffee buyers and supporting fair trade, enjoying a morning cup of coffee doesn’t have to have you feeling guilty. One of their supports to local lies in their milk. From a kick ass farm in Illinois that treats their cows right- Kilgus Farms, you can rest assured your latte is brewed without rGBH & other yucky hormones. At this location be sure to admire the photography displayed throughout the store. In house barista and the city’s best photographer-I’m biased-Joe Lieske, has some of his incredible photos to keep your eyes pleased while enjoying your brew.

DOLLOP COFFEE: THE gem of Uptown. Serves local coffee and tea from Metropolis. They serve up the best chai lattes on this side of the mississippi. It’s a place with much character. The back room provides the finest of environments to loose yourself in whatever your coffee shop forte may be. Curl up on a couch or comfy chair and just enjoy in the joy of dollop.

UNCOMMON GROUND: Uncommon has it all: delicious, locally sourced food (Devon location even uses food from its rooftop organic garden), local brews, organic wines and drinks, beautiful art throughout, and local musicians can be heard just about every night. As members of Slow Food Chicago and Green Restaurant Assocation, their business practice and vision(s) are an excellent model for eco-conscious biz.

MARION STREET CHEESE MARKET: Go here if you want to get lost in a world of chocolate, wine, beer, cheese, and essentially the best of the best. It’s divine and they have a cafe that I cannot wait to try. Be sure to indulge in some truly amazing chocolate and wash it down with the best coconut water I’ve ever had brought to you by Taste Nirvana. Woah!

HEARTLAND CAFE: Love this place! I love even more that my Grandma used to eat here back in the day when she was a Chicago resident and my Mom was a little one. Their eclectic menu will have everyone from vegans to carnivores fully satisfied. Their cornbread is fantastic… don’t miss out!

GREENHEART SHOP: Right in the heart of Division street in Wicker Park… this fairtrade shop is full of awesome, awesome treasures! As one of their volunteers, I’m certain their practices are truthful and worth investing in. You’ll be sure to find something unique and funky!

>Family Farmed Expo & Local Food

>This weekend my mom & I attended the Family Farmed Expo at UIC in Chicago. It’s always nice to attend an event that showcases things I love: food, farms, and friendly faces. I enjoyed speaking with local farmers & sampling lots of sprouts! I left two hours later a happy owner of some tasty goods: raw honey, sprouts, kombucha, and homemade tofu. We also sampled some AWESOME nut butters. For real the most delicious take on walnut, cashew, pecan, and almond butter I have ever had. Naturally sweetened with a touch of raw honey, coconut oil for creaminess, and a touch of sea salt. wow wow wow. I am already soaking some almonds to make my own…

I was REALLY excited to find the kombucha… I left Hawaii without shipping my mother culture home so I could continue my brewing I started there. For those unfamiliar with kombucha… it is a fermented tea loaded with probiotics. It is really simple and delicious (some may disagree so I’d say it’s an acquired love). A local kombucha company hooked me up with one of their brews that I can actually produce my own mother from-never knew you could do this! Normally you wouldn’t be able to do this with the more commercial brands since they strain the drink so much. The mother culture, formerly called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast), runs the fermentaiton show-without it you’d be drinking regular tea. So I now have a jar with my brew in the cupboard waiting to grow a new SCOBY- I can’t wait to show my Dad in two weeks. I’m certain it will rank on the gross scale at a solid 9 or 10.

Besides the tasty treats I found… the expo reminded me to share resources to shop local, how to find local CSAs and farmers markets. I have always found Local Harvest to be an excellent resource for all these. You can search restaurants, coops, CSAs, farmers markets, etc. for the entire country. Not only is this helpful for finding all the great places local to your home but a great way to know places to eat & find fresh food when you are traveling!

Happy local eating!