Friday, August 21, 2015

A Big Announcement and Banana Cream Pie Smoothie Recipe

It's been three months since my last post.  Oops!  I didn't mean to be gone so long, but life gets in the way sometimes.  Between work, chasing a toddler with a teenage attitude, rescuing animals, and trying to enjoy my few moments of free time each week by reading, doing yoga, and learning Spanish, I've just been plain busy.  I'm going to do my best to post more often, but I can't make any promises because I'm adding one more big responsibility to my life...

I'm going to yoga teacher training!  That's right, yours truly is enrolled for the winter session at the Sanctuary for Yoga in Nashville starting in late September.  By April, I'll be a licensed teacher and can start making a living doing something I love.  I'm extremely excited about taking this next step. I'm also terrified, but that usually means I'm right where I need to be.  It's going to be six months of dedication and crazy schedules, but I'm doing it.  It'll definitely be a lesson in balance.  I'll try to keep everyone posted on my progress as I go.  It's going to be a blast.

In the meantime, I've got a new smoothie recipe for you.  Charlotte and I have been loving this one lately.  Creamy and sweet, it's great any time of day, but especially for breakfast.  It gives us tons of energy for yoga and running errands or jumping on the trampoline.  I hope you enjoy.

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (we like coconut milk best)
1/2 cup water
3-4 dates
4 frozen bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbsp flax meal
Optional:  any green of choice (celery is great since it won't change the color.)

Add everything to the blender in the order listed and blend until smooth.  Enjoy it topped with coconut or raw cacao nibs for a serious reminder of your favorite banana pie.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What We've Been Up To- Spring Gardening, Mother's Day, and Things to do in Middle Tennessee

Warning:  This is a very long and picture-heavy post.  I hope you enjoy. ;-) 

I've been overwhelmed with joy since the weather finally changed from the cold, dreary, rainy days of a Tennessee winter to the warm, sunny, dry days of late spring.  I don't know if I'm imagining things, but it seems as though every winter gets worse and worse around here.  I'm one of those people who gets down and depressed during long periods of gray and cold weather, and I spend every January and February trying to convince my husband that we need to move south, like WAY south.  So far, he's not taken me up on the offer, but I don't give up easily.  Thankfully, though, spring arrived with gusto this year.  It went from rainy and cool to down-right hot and sunny over the course of a week!  (Not that I'm complaining.) As soon as the ground was warm, I was itching to start gardening.  

We removed everything from last year's garden bed and tilled it up really well.  Other than a slight mishap with the irrigation lines (Oopsie!), everything went smoothly.  Charlotte had a blast helping me lay out new landscape fabric and re-spread the mulch.  (A friend has recently introduced me to the ideas of permaculture, and I'm going to do some more research on it.  Maybe I can figure out a way to not need to do so much work next year.)

We worked our tushies off, but we've got a nice little area going.  So far, we've planted herbs and some greens in that bed, plus the beets and carrots that I planted today.  I also have seeds started in containers that will be moving over there in a very short while.  We ordered a bunch of heirloom seeds from Baker Creek this year, and will be growing some neat, unique varieties of vegetables.  Aside from the more tame scarlet kale, lacinto kale, purple teepee beans, and golden sweet peas, we're growing five varieties of tomatoes, red okra, wonder berries, and kamo eggplant.  It's going to be so fun to see how everything turns out this summer.  I hope to have an incredibly colorful garden.  

We also tilled a new spot in the back yard, and I've planted three varieties of heirloom and non-GMO corn, crookneck squash, butternut squash, and sweet peas.  My husband LOVES corn, so I have to keep him happy.

I've planted plenty of lettuce and kale in my raised bed this year.  When we pulled up the old garden, we discovered several tiny purple kale plants that had volunteered to regrow, and we moved them into the raised bed.  I tell ya, this stuff will grow anywhere.  Since that day, I've found more of those tiny plants in the old garden, even after it was tilled and recovered!  And of course, I moved them to be with their friends. ;-) 

Volunteer kale after its move and few weeks of steady watering.

I feel like gardening has become my escape.  I'm at my happiest when I'm out there in the dirt, talking to my plants, and nursing them along.  I may have missed my calling as a farmer.  

The strawberries we planted last year have come back with amazing zeal, also. We've already picked and eaten several, and there are a bunch more waiting to ripen.  Charlotte has been excited to check their progress every day.  She tries to sneak and eat them, but I have to explain that they'll taste better if we wait. The whole "patience is a virtue" thing is lost on a two year old.  

Yes, gardening has taken over our lives in recent weeks, but I absolutely love it.  Being outside in the evenings brings me immense joy, especially when it's spent with my little one, showing her how to grow her own food and care for such delicate items.  Starting things from seeds has been a wonderful lesson for her.  She asks to water them every night when we get home, and she loves to pinch small pieces of lettuce or kale leaves and nibble them.  She's appreciative of fresh food in a way that I didn't think possible at her age.   

Eatin her fresh fruit at a friend's birthday party.

We have managed to fit in a few other activities aside from gardening, though.  We've had birthday parties to attend, and we even visited the Renaissance Festival a couple of weeks ago.  She didn't seemed interested in much besides the castle, where she thought she should live.  

She is a princess, after all.

We've been to farmers markets and eaten at the newest plant-based, health-oriented restaurant in our area, too.  

I had the raw pad Thai with a kale salad and raw cacao mousse for dessert.  Charlotte shared my meal and had the raw apple crisp for dessert.  Everything was delicious. 

Thrive is amazing, if you're ever in the Franklin, TN area.  Pam is a genius.  She offers several raw items, along with gently cooked whole foods.  The restaurant has been so successful, that they'll be expanding soon.  I just love when a business offering healthy food is successful!  

And what would spring be without getting outside for some relaxation?  We've been walking or jogging as often as possible and doing yoga in the back yard whenever we can squeeze it in.  

Charlotte is dying to do head stands and  tries to do everything else she sees me demonstrate, even attempting meditation.  It's pretty entertaining, to say the least. 

As you can see, it's been an awesome spring, so far.  Mother's Day was no exception. 

My husband arranged for his mom, dad, sister, Charlotte, and myself to all tour Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.  I'd been once before, but this time was so much fun.  Watching Charlotte explore was the highlight of my day.  She loved to smell the flowers and touch everything (that she was allowed to touch).  They even had a train exhibit where several trains ran all over a massive wooden "town", some overhead, even.  I bet we spent an hour looking at them.  Train obsessed, this kid is.  

Banana in-hand, always.

The Japanese Tea Garden is my favorite part, but I didn't take my phone in with me.  It definitely brings a sensation of calm over me when I enter.  I could spend all day there.  

At one of the ponds, we met some snapping turtles and bull frogs.  As you can imagine, these were all the rage for a toddler. 

It was such a fun day spent with family.  I can't wait to do it all again.  

Last night, we met some friends at Arrington Vineyards for a raw food potluck, which was a really nice time.  My brother and niece even tagged along.  The kids had a blast chasing each other and digging in a mud puddle they found. The forecast had called for rain, so not many people showed up, but it turned out to be a fantastic night.  The weather was perfect, and we had a prime spot on the hillside overlooking the vines.  No complaints here.

I think we're off to a fantastic start to an amazing summer!  I am excited to see what the next few months bring, and I'll be sure to update you all as things happen.  

Until then, here are a few more pics from our recent fun...

Pics from our photo shoot with the incredible John Meyers Photography

"Werk it gurl!"

Seeing a REAL train at daddy's work.

Saturday morning silly faces.  She's a pro.

Our newest family member, Finn.  He's very friendly and active, two things I never expected from a betta fish.  Aren't animals amazing?

Our other babies, Riley and Abby, basking in the warmth of spring.

State park fun!  We had our photo shoot at Edwin Warner State Park, and I highly recommend checking it out.  Gorgeous place!

More garden fun!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Recipe: Raw Cacao Cardamom Smoothie

This smoothie is one of my absolute favorite afternoon snacks, especially if I'm going to the gym or for a run after work.  It gives me tons of clean energy.  Cacao and cardamom come together for a lovely complex flavor.  The bananas are full of clean-burning carbs, and the hemp seeds are loaded with plant protein, perfect for building muscle.  I hope you enjoy it.

Raw Cacao Cardamom Smoothie

2 tbsp hemp seeds
1 1/2 cup water
3 dates
4 frozen bananas
2 tbsp raw cacao, or cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Add the hemp seeds, dates, and water to a blender.  (Since I mostly make this at work, I used my Nutribullet.). Run the blender until the dates are blended smooth.  You should see them breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces as you blend.  This liquid will be the "hemp milk" base of your smoothie.  Next, add the bananas, cacao, cardamom, and vanilla.  Blend until creamy and smooth, and drink immediately.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Recipe: Simple Raw Spring Soup

Mother's Day brought along with it some heavier meals than I'm used to, and I was not feeling so great today.  My digestion didn't seem to be on-par, and I was very tired.  When I feel this way, I go back to eating lighter, simpler, raw foods in order to give my body a rest.  With that in mind, I decided to have juice for breakfast, a smoothie and some fruit for lunch, and this delicious green soup for dinner.  It's savory, creamy, and filling without weighing me down.  Made with simple, fresh ingredients found at any grocery store, this one is perfect for everyone and tastes like spring in a bowl.  Give it a shot and see what you think. 

Simple Raw Spring Soup

1 zucchini, peeled if not organic
1/2 yellow bell pepper
3 cups spinach or any other green of choice
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh dill
2 tbsp red onion
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 avocado
Salt and pepper to taste

Roughly chop the zucchini, bell pepper, and onion, then add to a blender with the water.  Blend until smooth.  Add the greens, garlic, dill, vinegar, lemon, salt and pepper, and blend on high until completely smooth.  Next, add the avocado and blend on low just until creamy.  (Avocado will get frothy if blended too long, so be careful not to over-blend.)  At this point the soup is done.  You could eat it as is, or top with chopped veggies.  I topped mine with diced peppers, red onion, avocado, and radish sprouts that I grew on top of my hydroponic fish tank.  It was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Good Morning Sunshine Juice

When I was a kid, if we didn't get up with the alarm clock, my dad would wake us up saying "Good morning, sunshine!" as he sprayed us in the face with a mist of water.  It was a rude awaking, but something that has stuck with me.  In honor of my dad's twisted sense of humor, I've created this bright and cheery, lovely and sweet pick-me-up that will (hopefully) wake you up without a spray of water to the face.

Good Morning Sunshine Juice

1 large golden beet
1 medium zucchini
1 broccoli stalk
1/2 pineapple with core, peeled 
5-10 carrots, depending on size
1 lemon, peeled

Run all ingredients through a juicer.  And enjoy.  No instructions needed here.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Little Fairy Turned TWO! (Throwing a Plant-Powered Birthday Party)

**I know I've been away from the blog for a while.  Things have been busy in my life and I've been focusing on some other things, such as learning Spanish and reading lots of books.  Like seriously, I've read 22 books already this year.  (Mostly horror and supernatural romance.  I wouldn't want you thinking I was learning about the meaning of life or how the universe works.  Ha!).  Needless to say, I've just not been focused on the blog.  In the evening, I'm so strapped for time that I honestly forget to photograph my food or take the time to write down the recipes of what I'm creating, so I just say "never mind" and figure I'll find time later to share that dish on the blog.  Well, later hadn't been happening.  I'm going to make a point to do better in the next few weeks, so be on the lookout.  I've been creating some great quick and easy "Buddha Bowl" style meals at dinner time which are a big hit with the kiddo.  I'll be sharing some ideas for those very soon.**

The first sucker.

On March 30th, our little monkey turned two, and to celebrate, we had a fairy-themed, plant-based birthday party, complete with two kinds of raw vegan cupcakes!  It took a bit of work on my part and some planning ahead, but came together rather nicely.  We managed to please our tiny guests and their parents with some delicious, yet simple food, and organic, real-food candy.  So how did this all come together?  Let me walk you through it.

The Sunday before Easter, we donned tutus and fairy wings.  And smiles, of course.

Generally, I'm not a fan of giving candy as treats, but this was a special occasion, and I wanted the kids to have a goody bag to take home.  I scoured the Internet and found some vegan lollipops and gummy candy made using only pure cane sugar and fruit juice for flavoring.  These are organic, have zero artificial anything, and no animals were harmed in their creation, so they passed my test.  I have to admit, these lollipops are the best darned ones I've ever had.  Even my meat and junk food loving brother said they were better than any others he'd had.  That's quite an endorsement, if you ask me.  Once I'd selected the treats for the gift bags, I wanted to add some fairy-themed items. is great for finding obscure and inexpensive trinkets.  I picked out some small booklets of glittery fairy stickers.  I was really pleased that they were garden fairies, not the standard Tinkerbell stuff.  Not that there's anything wrong with Tinkerbell.  She's what got Charlotte on the whole fairy kick, but the party was based more on the book Fairyopolis: A Flower Fairy Journal. This is a beautiful collection of journal entries by Cicely Mary Baker featuring gorgeous illustrations and a scrapbook-style layout.  I think I enjoyed it as much as Charlotte.  So anyway, I bought a booklet of stickers for each child, and tried to think of something else creative and fairy-related. Then it hit me...  Flowers!  I ordered a bag of wildflower seeds and some small glass bottles with corks (think miniature "ship in a bottle" bottles).  I filled the bottles with seed mix, and added those to the gift bags.  

I used Amazon as my source for all of the paper items, too, that we'd need.  As a working mom with too many other things going on, it was great to have everything shipped to my back door.  The colors of the book, had me inspired to order everything in lavender and white.  I also found a cheap lace table cloth to go over the 1.99 lavender tablecloth that we'd be using.  This wasn't my most Eco-friendly idea, but I think I'll do better next year.  

Now, what you're really after... THE FOOD.  I planned a menu ahead of time and grocery shopped accordingly.  That went a long way to simplify things.  Hummus is always a hit at parties, so that was a given.  I made my favorite version using my homemade raw tahini and cannellini beans.  I'll post all of my recipes below.

The morning of the party, I glanced at the fresh pineapple sitting on my counter, and had an idea.  I created a delicious pineapple-mango salsa.  It was very simple to make, and worked great on a salad the next day, too.  

I've been making these savory sprouted almonds as of late, that have been a huge hit with my brother.  It's hard to put them down, and I figured they'd make great party food, so I added them to the menu.  Matt says they taste like kielbasa, which is a pretty accurate description.

I used a recipe from Kathy at to make some pink chickpea salad.  I love this stuff!  It's so colorful, perfect for a little girl's birthday party, and it full of healthy stuff.  Just look at that!  Yum.

I put out fresh veggies, such as carrots, cucumbers, celery, and peppers for everyone to dip, as well as some organic tortilla chips.  Everything went over well with my non-vegan guests, and I've been giving out plenty of recipes since.  I'd consider that success.  Of course, the big winners of the day were the cupcakes.  I made two varieties, one with nuts and one without, just in case food allergies were an issue for anyone.  The nut-less cupcakes were THIS recipe from  We've making these pretty much weekly since she posted the recipe.  They're very easy to make, low in fat, and full of fiber.  Plus, chocolate!  I make my own frosting using avocado, which comes out like a light and creamy mousse.

The recipe for carrot cupcakes does contain a few nuts, and I found it at  Kristina is awesome at recreating familiar flavors using simple fruits and veggies.  

I have to admit, I was really please with how everything came together.  And I was proud of myself for actually planning ahead for once.  I'm an A+ procrastinator.  Just ask my mom.  She waited ten days past her due date for my arrival.  Haha!  It seems appropriate, too, that I'm writing this post almost three weeks after the party.  Oopsie. 
The only shot of all the little ones together.  Ever tried to get four 2 year olds to sit still at the same time?  It's like trying to herd cats.  P.S. I love the mom hand on Chase's arm.  Total behind the scenes mom moment. 

The party went well.  The kids got along, no one hit anyone else, and house was left standing.  I'd call that a success.  Charlotte received some very thoughtful gifts and seemed to have a wonderful time playing with her friends.  I think my favorite part of the day was when she opened her gifts saying "Oh my goodness!" every time.  She's nothing if not animated.  I can't think of a better way to have celebrated the big 2.  


2 cans cannellini beans, preferably organic
4 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 cloves raw garlic
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt
Water, if needed

Drain and rinse the beans.  Add the beans and all other ingredients to a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.  If needed, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired creaminess is reached.  When ready to serve, feel free to drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle more paprika.  It makes for a lovely presentation.

2 cups raw almonds (soaked overnight and rinsed thoroughly)
3-4 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (gluten-free soy sauce)
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 tsp Liquid Smoke
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp rosemary 
Dash of cayenne pepper

Mix together in a bowl all of the marinate ingredients in a bowl with a tight fitting lid, then add the almonds.  Place the lid on your container and shake the bowl allowing the marinate to coat the almonds.  Allow this to sit for a few hours in the fridge so that the nuts can soak up the flavors.  If you think about it, toss them around a few times while they marinate.  Once ready, place them on teflex sheets in a dehydrator, and dry at 115 degrees for about 12 hours.  Alternatively, you could dry them in the oven on a baking sheet.  Just set the oven to the lowest temperate and leave the door cracked.  These could be toasted, also, if you don't care about keeping them raw.  Personally, I love the crispy texture of the raw dried version.  These nuts have been a huge hit in my house.  I have to hide them from my brother since he says they taste like kielbasa, and he'll eat the entire batch at once.  

1/2 cup dates, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes or more (retain the soak water)
1 avocado
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbsp raw cacao powder (or cocoa)
Stevia, if needed for extra sweetness 

Blend dates until smooth using just enough of the soak water to get them creamy, not runny.  Add the avocado, lemon juice, and vanilla to the date mixture and blend again until smooth.  Avocado tends to puff-up in the blender, so you may need to stop and scraped own the sides a few times.  Once this mixture is smooth, add the cacao powder and stevia (if you wish), and blend again until creamy and fluffy.  Use this as an icing for raw cakes or cupcakes, or just add it to a bowl, top with coconut flakes, and eat it with a spoon.  It makes a wonderful alternative to chocolate pudding.  Charlotte will eat her weight in this stuff if I allow it.


1/2 fresh pineapple, diced
1 fresh mango, diced
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped 
2 small limes, juiced
1 avocado, diced
 Sea salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

I'm a large bowl, add the first five ingredients and toss to mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Just before serving, add the avocado and lightly toss.  

There you have it.  A delicious and fun birthday party for a toddler girl.  We had a great time, and I can't wait see what next year holds.  Maybe she'll be into something completely different by then?  We shall see...