27 April 2017

Sunset Moon and Wellness Superfoods Cafe, Bryn Mawr PA

I finally made it to Sunset Moon and Wellness Center in Bryn Mawr, PA.

I was really looking forward to it since the entire menu is gluten-free friendly and vegan!
Whoop Whoop! Thank you for offering a dedicated menu for people like me - wanting and needing to eat in a healthy manner!

BUT, just because it is healthy, I always question:

  • The atmosphere, is it warm and comfy - like you could sit and stay all day or is it cold and damp?
  • The service, are the "uppity"? You know what I mean
  • Does the food actually taste good?
  • Is the cost crazy??
  • Would other nongluten-free and vegan individuals want to join me?
I am slightly disappointed that they do not open to 8 am. This is 100% selfish of me, as I like to get into work early so not starting breakfast and tea time until 8 am can be a struggle for me. 

So I arranged to meet a couple friends for breakfast and we all entered the lobby area and immediately complimented that the atmosphere was very organic and welcoming. 
     Check on atmosphere

We were the only guests the during our visit, so there was plenty of opportunities for us to have great service.  I will say that the service was a bit spotty - but our waitress was pleasant.  I would have appreciated a bit more of a welcoming demeanor but all is well. 
     I'll give a check on service, but could use a bit of improvement

How was the food? Funny, the entire table went with a french press coffee, coconut sugar, and fresh in-house almond milk - I went with the recommended love tea and we all selected oatmeal for breakfast. The entire table found the oatmeal to be delicious! We had one missing the real dairy-filled cream for her coffee but all others seemed just fine with the offerings. I think I would have liked my love tea to steep a bit longer, I was looking for a bit more robust of a flavor, but it was delicious. 
     Check on food flavor

How was the cost? I would say average - especially being a local sustainable cafe - beverages were under $3.00 a piece and the oatmeal was $7.00. 
      Check on being affordable. 

Would other nongluten-free and vegan friends want to join me? I don't think they would choose to visit every day but to keep it as an option from time-to-time, sure.
     1/2 a check :)

If you have not yet visited the Sunset Moon and Wellness Center, please do! 
They have an extensive tea and herb list! Their mugs are adorable: elephants, bumble bees, and frogs!

23 April 2017

Vegan and Gluten Free Turmeric Honey Jackfruit Salad

 When you purchase an entire fresh jackfruit, you have no other choice but to become creative!

This time around, I went with a honey-turmeric seaweed salad! Same basic ingredients I have been using (seaweed, ginger, garlic, turmeric) for most of my jackfruit concoctions, but this time around I added some local raw honey at the end.

The honey added a nice sweetness to the dish - making it a bit more warming to the soul.

21 April 2017

Gluten Free and Vegan Easter Jackfruit Pot Pie and Avocado Zoodles

Jackfruit Pot Pie

For the Stuffing
  • Fresh jackfruit (both the white string-like pieces and the fruit flesh)
  • Dairy-free milk (I used almond)
  • Agar Agar
  • Tumeric
  • Black Pepper
  • Fennel
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Frozen Peas
  • Gluten-free Soy Sauce
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Seaweed
  • Lemon Juice
  • Water
  • Vegetable bouillon

For the crust
  • 2 Plantains
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Lemon Juice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar

Process: I soaked the fresh jackfruit in a mixture of:
  • Vegetable bouillon
  • Dairy-free milk
  • Agar Agar (used as a thicking agent)
  • Celery
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Seaweed
  • Lemon Juice
  • Touch of water
  • Tumeric
  • Fennel
After setting overnight, I then added the carrots and begin cooking over medium heat for about 40-minutes or until carrots became soft. I added the frozen peas just in time to steam. 

I then turned the heat off, covered, and let sit while prepping the plantain crust. 

For the plantain crust, I made it simple on myself and added all ingredients to the Vitamix to blend well. 

I then scooped out my filling into my muffin pans (you can use ramekins) and then added a scoop or two of the plantain mixture. 

What I had leftover, went into a muffin tin of its own to create a plantain dinner roll! 

I baked at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until the tops become golden brown. 
I have been trying to recreate pot pie for some time now and I always seemed to fail. I was making delicious dishes, just not the chicken pot pie that I wanted. Well, I finally did it! This dish was creamy, heavy in flavor, moist, and oh so delicious! 

The plantain bun needed a bit longer cooking time, but still came out delicious! 

In addition to my pot pie, I made an avocado zucchini noodle salad.

This dish was super simple. I added the below ingredients into the Vitamix - mixed until smooth and then slathered everything onto the zucchini noodles to enjoy. I topped with some fresh cilantro and fresh steamed peas.

  • 1 Avocado
  • Lemon Juice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Black Pepper

19 April 2017

Vegan Jackfruit Chicken Salad (Allergy Free)

If you have not yet read about the new buzzworthy vegan meat option, here is another plug for the jackfruit.

The jackfruit, to my understanding, is in the fig tree family. The pulp is about 70% water, 20% carbs and a bit of fat and protein mixed in.

I choose to purchase the fruit itself rather than the canned variety - fresh is always better in my book!

I had no idea what I was doing! The woman at the store did let me know it would be on the sticky side, but I didn't know just how sticky!

When cutting into the jackfruit, it is coated with a sap-like consistency, thus making it necessary to cover your prep area and I also choose to wear some gloves.

I watched a couple youtube videos and off I was!

Man! This was a task, carefully cutting away the brine, peeling the white flesh, scooping out the fruit pulp and preserving the seeds (which can be boiled or steamed and consumed).
     **Please note, if you wait to cut out the fruit pulp until you are ready to consume, the flavor seems to hold better. I cut the entire fruit at once and later realized that the fruit was no longer as flavorful.

After a couple hours of prep work, I was ready to begin!

I took the jackfruit and began adding ingredients. Sorry, no measurements here, it was pure experimentation and just guess work so have fun with the ingredients and adjust the portions to your liking.

  • Lemon Juice
  • Water
  • Tumeric
  • Black Pepper
  • Seaweed
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Gluten-free soy sauce
  • Lots of fresh minced garlic
  • Some chopped celery
  • Ginger
  • Frozen peas (to be added at the end)
  • Cilantro (to be sprinkled at the end)

I realized that just soaking the fresh jackfruit (I was using the white flesh and the fruit pulp) was not creating the consistency I wanted - so I tossed everything in a pan and cooked/boiled for about 30-minutes on medium heat. At the tail end of the cooking process, I added the frozen peas, cooked until tender and then added to a bed of zucchini noodles and fresh cilantro. 

Overall, the texture became less chewy, resembled shredded chicken and picked up all of my ingredients flavors! It was a meal I had enjoyed and I couldn't wait to experiment
with jackfruit some more! 

18 April 2017

Wildfoodies, Dandelion Tea

As I sit on my parent's couch, forced to watch the morning news - something I truly try to avoid. Let me explain: It is not avoided as a means ignorance to current topics, but because I truly think there is enough negativity in the world that I would like to start my mornings slow, quite, peaceful and with nature as much as possible. Thus, avoiding the news until at least after I have had a cup of tea!

Anyhow, as we sat watching the morning news and of course, a shocking new report came out with a title something like, "CAUTION: Your Shrimp is now fake". This was no surprise to me! Of course, the shrimp you purchase at a local grocery store is fake:
-It is cheaper for them to mass produce,
-You are likely addicted to the addetives (hence you purchase more and more and more)
-It looks visually more appeal and let's face it, people purchase on what their food looks like (I love ugly fruit, the poor neglected, usually discounted items are delicious).

My mother was in shock and in complete disgust! While led me into my speech of my do you think I spend some much time, energy and money on creating my own dishes from scratch as often as possible (which is still never as much as I would prefer)? the additives in our food system today is alarming - but I will save that for another blog post.

Back to my story, I still had not had my cup of tea and figured, I could use a walk to clear my head after all of the heated discussions that morning. While on my walk, I tried to take in all of my surroundings and found myself fixated to the young spring dandelions. I began to recall my younger years when we would wait for the seasons to change, close our eyes and blow all of the dandelion's seeds into the wide-open air!

Then I thought to myself, these have to be edible...dandelions are used in.........??? What do I use that has dandelions in it???? Ah, tea! So I picked a bunch and sprinted back up the hill to my parent's house.

I rinsed the flowers in its entirety, boiled some water and then dropped them into to soak for a good 10-minute bath. When I returned I closed my eyes and took a sip - not bad! It could use a little honey to make it perfect, but no bad!

"Take a quiet walk with Mother Nature. It will nurture your mind, body, and soul." 

10 April 2017

The Chilly Banana Food Truck and Other Gluten Free Philly Food Truck Options

Food festivals can be less than amusing for those of with food allergies. Most vendors aren't worried about catering to everyone's needs and/or they do not have the space to ensure a safe option for those with food allergies.

However, with the demand growing, I am noticing some vendors are trying their best to accommodate - I still fear the contamination possibility, but applaud them for trying to provide an option for all!

While attending the Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival this past weekend, I was daring enough to try The Chilly Banana food truck. While their entire menu was not 100% gluten free, the base ingredients were and I figured this would be my safer of the options.

First time around, they were temporarily closing up (around 12:30-1:00 pm) because their machine was overheating and they needed to allow it sometime to cool down. HMMM, okay! isn't your machine suppose to crank out a mass amount of whips in the dead of the summer heat?!

Anyhow, I went on with the day and decided to come back later. When I returned, they had reopened, however, the lines were chaotic, slow, and the staff was actually a bit short with the clientele. I was truly disappointed already and I had yet to even try the $4.00 whip I was paying for. I just kept noting in my head, this better be better or at least on par, with what I could have made for free back home.

A good 7-10 minutes later my whip was ready. I will note the texture was almost perfect! The coconut whip cream was also a nice addition to the whip! Was it worth the $4.00 - perhaps, since I was starving? Not sure if I would return though, just because I really didn't appreciate the way they were treating their clients (scolding them for not hearing their name when their order was ready, providing a snipping comment back when asked for an additional spoon, etc.)

While strolling around the festival, here are some of the other food trucks I noticed might be able to accommodate gluten-free (keep in mind, this may not include contamination).

08 April 2017

Cheezy Zoodles (Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Oil Free)

Like many of you, I was getting home late, was tired and had no idea what I was going to make for dinner.

I ended up doing what I do often, opening up the fridge and grabbing this and that and just rolling with it. 
I noticed I had the following:
  1. Homemade Vegan Acorn Squash Cheese
  2. Zucchini
  3. Delicata Squash (one of my favorites)
  4. Golden Beets
  5. Mushrooms
  6. Celery
  7. Red Onion
  8. Garlic (I mean, I am Italian so this is a given)
Moving out of the fridge and into my cupboards, I found:
  1. Turmeric
  2. Fennel
  3. Ginger
  4. Seaweed
  5. Black Pepper

I decided to stir-fry most of the vegetables and to steam the squash and beets.
I took some of the zucchini and added it to the stir-fry but most of it was spiralized for pasta.

As I started to stir-fry (or essentially steam) my vegetables, I figured I would get brave and try melting my new acorn squash cheese.   

I placed two pieces of cheese on top, sealed it with a lid and walked away.

A couple minutes later (more than I anticipated, or I should say, more than I remember regular cheese taking to melt) and the cheese was showing signs of melting!

I waited a couple minutes longer, until my hangry-state of mind said "Forget it! Serve this baby and let's eat already!" 

Good thing the cheese continued to melt and by the time I sat down to eat, it was perfect!

What would I change about this dish?

I would likely toss the steamed vegetables into the stir-fry as well. I think I might add a little apple cider vinegar to the dish as well.
Did my stomach like the dish? Nope! Not at all! I think it was the difficulty of digesting beets. It might have also been that I was asked not to consume too many mushrooms, onions, or garlic.

     BUT, you won't know your growth until you try. So I enjoyed the dish and I will continue to withhold mushrooms, onions, and garlic from my dishes, or at least not make the star ingredient!

04 April 2017

Vegan and Gluten Free Acorn Squash Cheese and

I recently attended the CHOP Celiac Day (April 2017) and The Greater Knead (formally Sweet Note) was there providing us a hearty gluten-free breakfast option! I love these bagels because they are not only gluten-free but:
It is a women-owned company
Peanut and Tree Nut-Free
They taste pretty awesome
They are not as hard as a brick (you know how some gluten-free bread products are)

I went with the plain bagel and smeared it with some sunflower butter and honey! It made for a great breakfast!

I am really eager to try some of their additional flavors. Hop online and order yours or find them locally (including CVS). 
  • Cinnamon Raison
  • Blueberry
  • French Toast
  • Tomato Basil - I could make a mean sandwich off this!
  • Poppy
  • Sunrise Swirl
  • Unicorn! 
CHOP, thank you for putting on such an amazing event that allowed a number of newly diagnosed celiac members the opportunity to network, create a support group, and find plenty of delicious options!

Round 3 on working to create the best vegan cheese option!
This time I went with the below ingredients:
  • Acorn Squash
  • Tumeric
  • Agar Agar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Water
  • Spices
Each round I am getting a bit closer to the melty gooey cheese I am looking for in a grilled cheese sandwich - however, it is still missing something.
Trial and error will create perfection! 

12 March 2017

Em J's Cafe, Berwyn, PA Gluten Free and Vegetarian Friendly

I suppose I have known about Em J's in Berwyn, PA for some time now. I was always intrigued that they offered gluten free on their menu - including pancakes, waffles, bread, muffins, etc. but always worried about the potential contamination and their mixed reviews.

Some online reviewers would say, ...Em J's passed with flying colors - great food, service, and price!
Others would say, eh food was okay, the service stunk and price is not worth it.

Still, Em J's stuck in the back of my mind and when my sister suggested an all day breakfast place on a Saturday afternoon, I only knew of two Em J's and Nudy's and I knew without a doubt that Nudy's Cafe would be packed - so voted for Em J's.

It was a bit further than I had anticipated but parking was readily available and it was a straight drive down 30.

The owner himself greeted us upon arrival and helped squeeze two tables together for our 6 top.

We were placed right at the door on a very windy and cold winter day so I was anticipating freezing - BUT somehow or another, I was actually comfortable enough to take my coat off and all - which is rare for me in a restaurant.

Drinks were ordered first. I went with an herbal tea. I have to say, I was rather disappointed with the options of their herbal tea - but figured they likely don't serve nearly as much tea as they do coffee.

I had reviewed the menu over and over and over and over again - but after having just been contaminated earlier in the week and still feeling the repercussions, I was VERY nervous to order anything that I was not making for myself. Those darn lemon poppyseed pancakes were on special and I couldn't stop staring at them.

I let everyone else order first and then asked the waitress close to 100 questions on what gluten free products they had, their brand, what could be made gluten free and vegetarian ( I knew I wouldn't get away with vegan), and the questions went on and on. Thank the lord my waitress was very patient and didn't mind running back and forth from the kitchen.

On a whim, I ordered the lemon poppyseed pancakes but asked to omit the toppings.

A moment or two later and my stomach pains reminded me why I was nervous about ordering food I don't prepare for myself so I sort of sprinted off to the open-kitchen to cancel my order - while the Chef quickly eased my mind. Noting he was more than happy to clean all the utensils, pans, etc. and walk through the entire process with me and make any adjustments I needed. I apologized for being a bit difficult and he said, "No! I get it, you have to take care of you! But I am happy to help." His assurance and patience eased my mind and I left my order as-is.

The food was delivered not too much longer after our conversation. My dish was one of the first to come out and then came round two immediately after and for some reason, the last dish (which I believed to be the most simple plain eggs, toast, and sausage) came out closer to another 5 minutes. This is a big deal when everyone else is starving and staring at their plate waiting for the last one to come out.

I then requested some peanut butter, jam, syrup whatever toppings they had for my pancakes. The waitress brought out an array of options for me and informed me that she opened a new container of peanut butter and used a clean knife. THANK YOU!

The pancakes were fluffy, lemony, and pretty delicious. I do think that the 11.00 for two pancakes is a bit high!

What did the remainder of the table think? We had two orders for the special La Mancha Omelette and both were very pleased. We had a couple side orders of the sausage, which appeared to be a big hit. We had a burger, some pancakes, and eggs and everyone enjoyed their dishes and finished them clean.

Service was bit slower - we had to ask for coffee refills a couple of times and they forgot to bring butter and jam for everyone's toast.

We stayed just chatting with one another for a couple of hours so Em J's does a great job of creating a home-like atmosphere.

All in all, I do think Em J's was a bit expensive for breakfast. I do think the food was delicious. I do think it was gluten free friendly (just let them know it is for an allergy and they will clean everything) and I do think service was friendly, but a little slower - so I can see how during peak hours, others might think service is poor. Although, I wouldn't say poor because all of the servers were rather cheerful and happy to serve.

I will be back and bring more with me!

10 March 2017

Green Soul Vegan & Gluten Free Friendly

We have all heard my rants and raves about companies make accommodations for us allergy-free folks, and we are well aware that these accommodations are less expensive than their menu items, and yet they still up-charge us! 

In this case, I ran into the complete opposite issue and I was shocked and thrilled!

I called Green Soul, in Chestnut Hill, PA earlier in the day and explained some of my issues or concerns. The employee on staff noted that she would leave a note for the later shift and that I would have no problems upon arrival. 

I thought I was in for it because there was no note to be found. I started rediscussing what I was looking for and some of my concerns (Contamination, glute-free....) and the manager on staff, without hesitation, removed his gloves, washed his hands and started creating a simple steamed vegetable dish for me. It was he that brought my dish directly out to me when it was ready. 

The vegetables were served warm - which, I know this sounds simple, but most restaurants making this accommodation serve cold vegetables and was exactly what I was looking for. Now, for the cost, I was prepping myself for a $10.00+ veggie bowl, but the company charged me, get this, exactly as they should! I was charged about $.50 per item for a total of a little over $3.00. 

Green Soul, thank you! Not only did you provide an outlet for a gal like me to eat, it was affordable! 

I will certainly be back! My only suggestions, perhaps keep more whole vegetables for more steamed option son the menu (i.e. whole steamed sweet potato, pumpkin, etc.). 

06 March 2017

The Rachel Way - Gluten Free & Dairy Free Food Pantry

The Rachel Way is a gluten and dairy free food pantry in the Plymouth Meeting, PA area.

The pantry was established and is run solely by Heather, her family, and volunteers - and was established in 2014 after their daughter Rachel was diagnosed as gluten and dairy intolerant.

This pantry is an opportunity for the family to give back to others in need - because, let us be honest, not only is the diet change a bit overwhelming at first, it can also be costly. A loaf of gluten and dairy free bread can cost upwards of $6.00+. Peanut Butter and Jelly no longer looks so affordable!

While we all get caught up in ourselves and our own needs, it is always good to take a step back and remember that while we may not have a lot of extras, there are others that having even less and we need to share what we can.

I joined the board of The Rachel Way earlier this year and have taken an initiative to try and purchase an extra item or two when I am out shopping - I have been collecting for a little bit and finally decided to make the donation.

I know that others ask a lot from us, but I am going to add to that list and ask that if you have any extra food (shelf stable or produce) around - please consider donating it to someone in need, be it the Rachel Way or another food pantry!
I ask that you do NOT toss food that is "ugly" as it might still be a gem to someone else. For example, it drives me crazy to see people waste bananas because their color has changed. You can do so much with this banana:
1. Eat it
2. Freeze it
3. Bake with it
4. Heat it up with a little honey for a delicious treat.

In summary, I am just asking that we all take a moment to be a little less selfish and waste a little less.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” 

03 March 2017

Fiorino, East Falls Exclusive Cooking Class

Fiorino, in East Falls, PA is Franco Faggi's little baby. It is essentially a hole in the wall -tucked into the corner of Indian Queen Lane - to me, it resembles an older, more rustic home turned restaurant.

The restaurants strives for three turnovers per night and seats just under 25 comfortably. I am told reservations are a must, and at times, can be difficult to get.

Even more exclusive are Franco's BYOB cooking classes. The cooking classes are offered but only 5 times a year and maxes at 12 participants. The cost you ask? Just 10.00 per participant! No need to tell you how difficult it is to land a spot in Franco's cooking classes!

Well, I was lucky enough to land a spot and decided to roll with it, without even being aware if he could accommodate gluten free ( I do strive to be on the vegan side as well, but I can make acceptions from time to time).

When we got closer to the day - I called and spoke directly with Franco, he confirmed no problem at all - he would make all the necessary recommendations for a gluten-free experience.

I arrived early - I wanted to have the opportunity to walk around the area and get to know Franco one on one. Arriving around 8:30am, I had no problem with the street parking.

I walked in and Franco welcomed me! He quickly instructed me to get comfortable and serve myself the drink of choice (coffee, tea, water, etc.).

I spent a couple moments in silence before others arrived. It was beautiful. I enjoyed the sun-made rainbow on my table which was a product of the colored front windows.

As others began to trickle in, we all introduced ourselves and got ready for a morning of cooking some Italian classics!

The day's menu:
Penne alla Puttanesca
Eggplant Rollatini
Panna Cotta with fresh berries

Eggplant resting in salt
While Franco runs the show and adds in some educational details along the way (i.e. don't be afraid to use enough oil - this will help with more consistent cooking) he encourages student participant and tastings!

Franco was very attentive to gluten free needs and contamination.

Franco also ensured me that he always keeps gluten free pasta on hand so - for my gluten-free folks - fee free to visit anytime!

The kitchen is run by just Franco and two side-kicks. The front of the house is run by just two others - so the Fiorino family is a nice small family - with a passion to serve.

A quick snap-shot of Franco and I ready to start cooking!
 All in all, we started around 9:00am, had lunch around 12 noon and left around 2-2:30ish.

It was a magical day spent with someone who clearly lives a life of passion and enjoys sharing it with others!

The Final Product

This was one of the favorites

25 February 2017

Letting Go

While the past couple of years have brought us some mild winters, this year, well, this year has been a gift to some and curse to others. 

Here we are in Central Pennsylvania and at the end of February, we have yet to have an actual snow storm. The evenings have been mild and the day winds to a minimum. 

We have had but one "snow-fall" where we awoke to a tiny bit of snow on the ground and then later in the day it changed to rain and thunder. By dusk, the snow had disappeared as if it had never come to visit us. 

While many are enjoying the lack of winter weather, some are still hopeful for at least one good snow storm. 

I was born in a small town of New York where winters came as early as late September and the snow accumulated well past the Easter season. The first snow of the season was ceremonially christened with our traditional hot cocoa, marshmallows (holiday-oriented of course, I mean, you all remember these right? -They had pumpkins, Santas, Easter Bunnies, etc.) and the secret and most cherished ingredient - a hidden Hershey's Kiss at the bottom of the mug. 

Then quick bathroom breaks before mom stuffed all four us munchkins into our snowsuits! 

We would spend hours and hours playing in the snow - making forts, snowmen, sledding, and just having fun trying to walk around in the snow which had piled just as high as us. 

Our noses would turn a slight red and our toes and fingers would begin to feel numb before we would "allow" mom to call us in for the day and of course another cup of hot cocoa! 

It's memories like these ones that remind us that we all need to latch on to some child-like behaviors - ignorance to some things and joyous to others! 

More importantly, we need to live more free-like. Less anxiety. More hope. More love. 

For the past 5 or so years, I have made my parents a yearly scrapbook and each year it is stuffed with month-to-month adventures that we do together as a family. I think it helps my sisters see that despite noting how much they hate each other, they really do love one another.

This past Christmas was a hard one for my family. The baby sister decided to announce that she wanted nothing to do with our family - I think most of us have since been trying to respect her request. I don't think she realized how much it would trickle down through the family and how it divide us even more. 

I have always tried to stand in a more "middle-man" space and love each family member for who they are. We all have our flaws, but we also all come with our own set of beauty!

While we are almost 3 months into the year, I am finding I don't have as much material as I accustomed to for the family yearbook. 

I am finding that I no longer care or stress about trying to bring the family together and I quickly learned, it was me - it was me nagging them, it was me chasing them, it was me... and I can't drain myself trying to make something happen that others don't want - family or no family. 

And in this time, as I have learned to essentially treat my family as I would any other acquaintances - I have learned to focus more on myself. I have learned that I still love my family with all of my heart, but to essentially let them fly their own path. I have learned, in this world, it is you and you only. You need to think of you first, be brave, do the things you want to do and fly your own rhythm. 

With this, I am beginning to find my own peace, my own growth, and my own healing journey. 

I am smiling more - thank you :)

The past month has been a very transformative month for me. I have started to emerge from my cocoon a bit more. I am leaving my strictly- at-home yoga parctice and moving back to some studio time. It's good for me to get out and surround myself with others. 

When my anxiety kicks in - I say to its face: "GET OVER IT", and I move on. I am upping my game at work, letting go of some of my routines and just taking in some more fresh air. 

I have found that I have begun baking more - something I used to spend a great deal of time on and always enjoyed experimenting with new recipes and creating new masterpieces as well as failures. The failures always seemed to teach me more than the successes. 

Flourless Banana Bread
Bananas (6 overripe)
1/2 teaspoon Bake Soda  
Splash of vanilla 
Toasted coconut
Handful of soaked and mashed dates 
1/2 teaspoon carob powder

Bake at 350 for almost an hour and then immediately set in the fridge to continue to settle for another 2-3 hours. 

Enjoy with some homemade jam, honey, nut butter - get creative! 

I prefer it served warm - but room temperature is just as good. 

Oh - and it freezes well! 

Here is to continued growth - 2017!

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." - Maya Angelou



23 February 2017

Returning to the Juice Merchant

I've been a little off-grid and actually had forgotten I had been to The Juice Merchant once before.

I was reminded of the cute little shop during the annual Mardi Gras Mummers Parade in Manayunk, PA.

Here we are in mid-to-end of February and the weather is peaking at closer to 60 and sunny here is PA! What better way to enjoy the beautiful gift than with some fresh pressed juice!

Planning a lunch meeting up on Sunday, a couple of options had been discussed, but the weather really moved everyone's vote to The Juice Merchant.

We walked into a confetti-filled floor (just a simple reminder of some of the glorious Mardi Gras festivities from the day before), hustle and bustle of students studying and the drums of the employees moving at the speed of light to keep up with the current demand.

Honestly, it was a magically beautiful day that their food specials just didn't even stand a chance. It was straight to a fresh pressed juice and a whip of some sort.

My lunch date went with the, what he refers to as the most popular item on the menu (later confirmed by The Juice Merchant employees as false accusations ;) ), Banana Rama Whip. The cafe was currently out of their granola topping and subbed some slivered almonds instead.

He seemed rather fascinated with the fact that you can turn fruit into such an enjoyable dessert-like dish! He also enjoyed the Twisted Apple Juice.

I went with the Acai Superfood whip (minus the toppings and substituted fresh orange juice for the milk).

Here is where I am reminded of the past visit - why is the Whip not consistent in delivery? Mine was served with a number of large ice cube chunks and not the smooth clean whips that I am used to preparing for myself. Perhaps it is the machines they use and the Vitamix really is a key component, or perhaps it is that the employees were busy and just trying to keep things moving - I'm not sure..but heck, it was a nice cool treat on a gorgeous day with great company.

I couldn't help but go with the Beet It fresh pressed juice. Beets, carrots, turmeric, pineapple, ginger - oh my!

Now, this was amazing and most definitely satisfied my need for a cool refreshment!

13 February 2017

Gluten Free Vegan 2 Ingredient Brownies

2 Ingredient Healthy Brownies

  • 3 Bananas
  • 1/4 cup Carob Powder
Simply cut up and mash the bananas. I actually tossed the banana coins into the microwave for a bit to soften them and make the mash a bit easier. 

Once mashed, I mixed in the Carob powder. 

Place in the over at 350 for about 20 minutes. 
The center may possibly still look a bit undercooked, but so long as the sides are firming up - you are good to go. 

Set in the fridge to continue to firm up - I would say an hour or two is all that is needed. 

These turned out fabulous! 

Next time, I will add in some coconut and almonds!