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)


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)

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


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



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



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.



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!).



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
6 oz. spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 oz. potato boiled, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional)
pinch of salt


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.


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


Sweet Lentil Porridge

"Sweet lentil porridge!"


...may sound like an exclamatory phrase your grandmother or Paula Dean would use.

In this case, however, the phrase is to be taken very literally, but don't let that scare you away. Sweet Lentil Porridge could be the next new staple item in your kitchen! Think of the first time someone invented oatmeal: roll some oat groats, steam them, then boil them in water until they are at maximum sogginess. You can make anything sound weird and gross if you try hard enough. So try to keep an open mind.

Take the ever-so-popular quinoa. Still fairly new to the mainstream, it's already starting to lose its savory stigma. People have realized its mild, absorbent character serves as a perfect blank canvas for a variety of flavors. 

Lentils aren't much different. 

I got the idea this morning after I was craving oatmeal and realized I was out of oats. I am known to get pretty creative when I'm too lazy to go to the store (to a fault, some might say), so I scoured the kitchen for an alternative. I had a little bit of quinoa, some millet, buckwheat, barely and...[sweet lentil porridge!] some of the new red lentils from Trader Joe's. This particular brand cooks extremely fast and is hard to cook without getting mushy. Sounds like porridge to me! I then proceeded to combine my oatmeal skills (hey, I eat a lot of oatmeal) with my newly found TJ's red lentil-cooking skills and got to work. 

The cool thing about this porridge vs. most grain porridge is that its got:
  - a few less carbs
  - a bit more fiber
  - almost double the protein

As a vegetarian, it's always nice to sneak some protein in my diet whenever possible. Especially when I'm craving something sweet for breakfast. 

I am happy to report the lentils remained soft and hearty in texture while absorbing all of the delicious, naturally sweet flavors I added to the pot. Success was had by all (me) and a new staple in my kitchen was born. 

I give you...


Sweet Lentil Porridge
1 banana, mashed
1 cup red lentils (I'm sure any lentil would work)
1 cup milk (I used homemade almond)
1 1/4 cup water (for a richer porridge, milk may be used instead)
raisins or any dried fruit
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon/toppings to taste
sweetener to taste (the banana is where you get most of the sweetness)



1. Combine banana, lentils, milk, water and dried fruit in a medium sauce pan. It's good to add the dried fruit early as it becomes rehydrated and plumps up in the cooking process. 

2. Bring to a boil, all the while stirring. 

3. Reduce to a simmer and cook for as long as your lentil package directions advise, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir often. Mine took about 10 minutes to cook. Your package will probably say to leave the pot covered for this duration, but DO NOT do this. There are fats and sugars in your liquid and they will burn if left unattended (I am reminded of my own dreadful quinoa porridge incident earlier this year). 


4. Remove from heat, add vanilla and additional sweeteners/spice, and let sit for a couple minutes. 

Serves about 4 fairly small portions.

There you have it. I think next I may try my hand at a <em>savory</em> oatmeal...