Whole foods and other things for optimal living.

Whole foods and other things for optimal living.

T is for Fall

Seasons are sort of a foreign concept in California. As a result, when the weather finally drops below 80 at the end of October, this girl books it to Trader Joe's to hoard canned pumpkin and cinnamon brooms as if they are only available to the public during certain temperatures.

Tonight, the "cool" Fall weather inspired me to make this thick, creamy, vegan chai and I could not keep it to myself. Give it a try, or a chai, depending on how much you like puns.

Creamy Pecan Pumpkin Chai (serves 4)

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3 cups water
2/3 cup pecans
1 banana
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
8 chai tea bags (I used Red Rooibos Chai)
honey (optional)

Directions:
 
1. Blend the water, pecans, banana and pumpkin until completely smooth.

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  2. Pour through a sieve, strainer, cheesecloth, or muslin bag (depends on how smooth you want it). 

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3. Add liquid mixture to a pot along with your chai tea bags and bring to a boil.  

 

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4. Remove from heat. Take out the tea bags and add vanilla. If you're looking for a more decadent treat, drizzle in some honey.

 

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5. Pour into your favorite mug, curl up by the fireplace channel on your TV and try to pretend it's not going to be 90 degrees this weekend. Also, sip cautiously (it's hot, yo!).

 

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Lavender Cream Eclairs (wheat free, vegan)


This recipe was sort of inspired by my boyfriend. He's not a "sweets" person (I know, I try not to judge him for it), so I often find myself trying to coax him into indulging so I'm not alone in my glutony. If the sweet is in donut form, there's a 50/50 chance he will be into it, and those are good odds. Eclairs were as creative as I could get within these confines and they also happened to conform to my criteria for sweets as well, which is "pretty much anything". Did I mention they are amazing?

After many failed attempts I have finally made this whole food treat completely vegan. A puffy pate a choux-based pastry without eggs?? Don't ask me how, but I've done it. Ok, go ahead and ask me...here's the recipe.

Lavender Cream Eclairs

Pate a choux (dough)
12 oz. water
1 oz. coconut
oil
6 oz. spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 oz. potato boiled, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional)
pinch of salt

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Combine flour and baking soda, set aside. 

Whisk together mashed potato and 3.5 oz. water, set aside.

Bring 8.5 oz. water, coconut oil, salt and coconut sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour mixture all at once while stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together to form a ball. Cook dough over low heat while stirring. Remove from heat and slowly mix in mashed potato mixture.

Place dough in pastry bag/plastic baggie and pipe mini eclairs onto baking sheet. They aren't going to spread, so make sure they're the size you want them when done. 

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for approximately 20 more minutes.

Filling

Lavender Pudding, omit pistachios

When the pastries have cooled, there is a nifty little break around the edge. Gently slice along one side of the pastry and pipe the pudding inside. Don't be stingy. Pipe until it starts to ooze out.

Chocolate Glaze:

Melt your favorite dark chocolate, or combine 1 part coconut oil with 1 part cocoa powder and sweetener to taste and melt.

Don't pour the glaze over the eclair. Simply dip the top of the filled eclair in the chocolate and lay face-up to harden. This will create that flawlessly smooth chocolate coating

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Eggplant and Balsamic Brussels Sprout Tacos

eggplant balsamic brussel sprout tacos

If you're from Los Angeles and/or you frequent the Eastside, you most likely know what Best Fish Taco in Ensenada is. It's an eclectically decorated hole-in-the-wall restaurant with a weird name, whose clientele is strangely diverse. They even host a random standup comedy night on their tiny patio, which has attracted the likes of Aziz Ansari, Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt and many, many more.

Well, I live really close to Best Fish (we locals don't have time for that "Taco in Ensendada" nonsense). So close that if someone is coming to my house for the first time, I just tell them to go there. The temptation is right at my doorstep to mack on some $2 tacos when I'm feeling lazy, so I set out to make something equally as delicious. I can't say these take care of the laziness factor, as they do require me to do more than throw on a hoodie and step outside of my house, but the effort is well worth it!

I give you my vegetarian alternative to fish tacos.

These have baked, almond crusted eggplant slices instead of battered, fried fish and  glazed brussel sprouts instead of cabbage. Add a creamy spread and top with whatever your heart doth desire.

Besides being full of vitamins, brussels sprouts are  are great for lowering cholesterol and maintaining good blood health. As if that weren't enough, this cruciferous vegetable contains a high amount of glucosinolate and other important phytonutrients that help protect against cancer.

Also, don't even think about peeling the gorgeous, glossy purple skin off of those eggplants. That's where some of the best nutrients in this dish are found. Although, found maybe isn't the best noun to describe these guys, since that flashy, vibrant coating is anything but hidden. Nasusin is an amazing phytonutrient located within the eggplant skin that is a potent antioxidant and a protector of the lipids found in brain cell membranes. So it's good for your brain, dummy.

I'm sorry I called you a dummy. I didn't mean it.

Eggplant and Balsamic Brussels Sprout Tacos (serves 4)

8-10 small tortillas (these rustic homemade tortillas work great)
10 brussel sprouts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 cup ground raw almonds (almond meal works too)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup water
1/2 eggplant, sliced and cut into triangles
cashew cheese or hummus (highly recommend making your own cashew cheese, like this recipe over at Oh She Glows)

optional toppings: walnuts, salsa, sour cream, avocado

Directions: Preheat oven to 375.

1. Get 3 bowls (shallow bowls are best for bowl 1 and 2.  In bowl 1, combine ground flax and water. In bowl 2, combine ground almonds, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. In bowl 3, combine brussel sprouts, balsamic vinegar, pinch of salt and pepper, olive oil and garlic.

2. "Bread" the eggplant slices by dipping them in the flaxseed "egg" mix, then giving them a good roll in the ground almond mix and laying them on a greased baking sheet, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (don't use wax paper!).

3. Bake eggplant slices for about 7 minutes on each side until golden brown.

4. While eggplant is baking, grill the marinated brussel sprouts (with all liquid from balsamic marinade) in a shallow pan until liquid starts to evaporate. Deglaze with 1/4 cup of water and cover. Cook on low heat until sprouts are tender. Set aside.

5. When eggplant is done, prepare the tacos by spreading cashew cheese or hummus on each tortilla and filling them with eggplant and sprouts. If you'd like, top with salsa, avocados/guacamole and/or sour cream.