Love. All the time.

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Yep, love is a commodity. And while people everywhere spent time and money buying, selling and trading it last Friday, others simply embodied it, as they always have and always will. We are all love incarnate. So why do we all feel obligated to make a big deal about showing it on a certain day, in certain ways? Few are immune to the powerful cues that begin on February 1, manipulating our thoughts and emotions. Reflecting on our relationships, we may feel ashamed, guilty, obligate to pacify a perceived accusation, convincing ourselves that maybe we aren’t showing our love well enough. That we are not enough. Maybe an elaborate gesture can do it better, say more.

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As a daily practice of faith, I like to remind others, and most importantly, myself, that love is the constant current flowing under all of our skin, through all that we do, all of the time. To me, expressing love to others is the key to happiness, and is inherently impossible without self love. Or maybe for you, self-love is generated by loving others. No matter how you go about cultivating love, there’s no better time than the present to draw on this spring of happiness.

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How do I do this? There are many love languages…5 common ones are words, actions, quality time, gift-giving, and touch…but for me, in the day to day, it’s usually through food, which I think falls into several of these categories. It’s one of the best ways I know, and the most certain to get your message across. Well, unless I come on too strong and dump in enough hot pepper to make my lover cry at the dinner table (he secretly loved it…). The gestures of preparing, serving or sharing food are small and can seem mundane, but to me it’s the small gestures that, over time, mean the most.

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Anyone who knows me is probably aware that I am a firm believer in treating yourself. And yes, this means that for no particular reason, even though it happened to be Valentines Day, I baked myself love cookies on Friday! It may have had something to do with coming in from the cold after a day of riding powder and skipping lunch…but instead of simply eating, I decided to celebrate. And you can too…right now!

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Chocolate Cranberry Love Cookies

  • 1 cup whole spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, cooked down in coconut oil for 10 minutes, or 1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup sunflower seed butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup apple cider syrup (if you don’t have this… ¼ cup apple cider reduction, as syrupy as possible)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup almond milk

If using fresh cranberries, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a small saucepan until melted. Add cranberries and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until burst and soft, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, measure out your oats, chips, and coconut and set aside in a bowl.

Measure syrups into large bowl, and then add sun butter, almond milk and vanilla. blend with hand mixer until smooth. Turn mixer to low and add powders (flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon) until just combined. then fold in remaining ingredients  (cranberries, chocolate, coconut, oats) with a spoon.

Drop in tablespoon gobs onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet, spacing 2 inches. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes or until edges brown. Cool for 2 minutes on pans, then transfer to wire racks. Eat while gooey, lick your lips, and give yourself over to love. Share cookies widely, but save plenty for yourself.

Do you feel it? I thought so…♥

Healthy Living Blog: Juice at Home this February!

imageSo far, 2014 has this “outdoorsy” gal deep in hibernation mode. In Burlington’s arctic January, nothing imaginable seemed more appealing than huddling over my stove wrapped up in sweaters and cooking all kinds of things I don’t normally make, hoping that they would make feel warmer. Is that why they call it comfort food? Must be. 

imageAs February dawned, I finally realized that though winter is far from over, it was time to lighten up. While still in full swing of many epic kitchen projects, I am shifting my focus from heavy, filling meals and guilt-laden treats to simmering satisfying stocks and squeezing fresh juices at home.

imageThe ritual of washing and prepping the fruits and vegetables, feeding them into the juicer and watching the jewel-like droplets of juice fall into my glass on a bright and cold morning is *almost* as good as baking muffins. But guess what? You can use the leftover pulp from your juice to make delicious, high-fiber, vegan muffins! And you don’t even have to feel guilty about it. Not one bit. More about that great idea later. 

image If you are the proud owner of a juicer (if you aren’t yet…treat yourself!), then the Produce department has the perfect recipe for you to enjoy a potent, fresh juice in the warmth of your own kitchen. The Juice at Home bags we feature in the department are a little different from what’s offered at the Espresso & Juice Bar, but just as good. This is because our knowledgeable staff bags up their favorite combinations, and the results are a little different each time! 

imageYou can usually count on having carrots, apples and leafy greens, rounded out by a lemon or a lime, some citrus or pears, and a beet or two. Or you can use your imagination to dream up an infinite number of combinations…my most recent discovery of pineapple, spinach and meyer lemon, pictured above, was divine. Another favorite was blood orange and pomello. Kale pairs well with pears…And don’t forget ginger! Ginger is my favorite things to juice and this is one of the best ways to access its many benefits. This leads me to my all-time favorite juice blend: Carrot Ginger. 

imageClassic enough to drink daily, and so nutritious that you should, carrot juice is an excellent source of Vitamins A, K, and C, as well as biotin. While sweet, a glass of carrot juice only contains half the sugar of orange juice, and its earthy flavor shares none of the orange’s acidity, making it an excellent choice for breakfast. Ginger, besides its immediate sinus-clearing effects, reduces inflammation in the body and boosts immunity against colds. It also stimulates your digestion and improves nutrient absorption, making it a great catalyst in any juice. Drink to health!

imageWhile your glass of juice is pressed, the carrot pulp is squeezed dry and collected in another container—for what? Most people compost their juicer pulp, but I propose a better use for this nutritious fiber. And believe it or not, we’re going to take care of that muffin craving, too. 

imageUsing 2 cups of pulp from your morning juice, you can innocently whip up a fresh batch of Banana Cacao Tea Cakes. Yes, when you inevitably make your 3rd consecutive cup of tea one polar afternoon and need something hearty to nibble on, my Tea Cakes have got you covered. These dense, satisfying and delicately sweet treats are the perfect thing to warm up to. I used carrot-ginger pulp, but you could use the pulp from any juice including fruit, roots or greens. It’s all good to use in this recipe, and did I mention that they are vegan? Don’t take my word for it—try them yourself!

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Banana Cacao Tea Cakes

  • 1 cup whole spelt flour
  • ½ cup flax meal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups carrot ginger juicer pulp
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs, plus more for garnish

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mash the bananas with the honey and melted coconut oil until smooth. Blend in vanilla extract and almond milk, then gradually add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine. Then fold in the pulp, ginger, and cacao nibs, mixing evenly.

Preheat your oven to 400 while you grease a 12-well muffin pan with coconut oil. Spoon the muffin batter into the wells, garnishing each with a pinch of cacao nibs. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops start to brown. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Lighten up your routine and your winter kitchen with fresh juice, and let us do the work for you! Stop by the Produce department today and check out our feature display of Juice at Home bags, made specially for you. To your health!

Posted on the Healthy Living Blog on Thursday, February 12th 2014