Pineapple Coconut Larabar bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

It’s race season again – regardless of your sport. It happens every spring and like recent years, I’m feeling left out. It’s my own doing, of course, and I could definitely make running or cycling a priority, but right now, I’m not quite there. Sincerely, though, Cheers to those of you who are on it. I will get there, but I’ll be a few months behind and probably a bit late for the races and events (unless I hit some of the fabulous autumn ones, which is possible).


Down the Tube

Since it’s race season, I want to share with you my (quasi) famous Pina Coloda Larabar bites. Erika even called me out once, so I’m finally making good on this. They are, of course, a knock off from the real deal, but if you really want to know, these are better. I’m not a fan of most real Larabars. They’re too sweet, too gummy, and too old. That whole packaging thing makes them darn convenient, but not as tasty as they should be.

Freeze-dried pineapple

Freeze-dried pineapple

For this, you’ll need an ingredient that can be a bit tricky to find, I admit. FREEZE-DRIED PINEAPPLE. But it’s worth looking, and I recommend some of the “food storage” websites. I found mine through Thrive when they did a gig at Costco, and no, I’m no affiliated with them at all. But you can also find them on Amazon, and check your local health food store. Everything else is usually found in a well-stocked whole-foods plant-based kitchen. I apparently really like dashes(-).

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

I rolled mine into balls. For photography’s sake, probably not my best bet since they look like meatballs, but for convenience’s sake, super handy. My kids love these, though I think they do find them a bit too sweet at times (no, my kids aren’t average),

Larabar Base - almond and dates

Larabar Base – almond and dates

These are Raw, Plant-based, and Gluten-Free if you use GF ingredients, which they should be. And they’re excellent training or race food.

the "Dough"

the “Dough”

Pineapple Coconut Larabars

1 1/3 c. pitted dates
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. freeze dried pineapple
¾ c. shredded unsweetened dried coconut
Water, as needed

Put everything in your food processor and let it rip, pulsing as needed. If, like mine, your dates are too dry, add just a little water (1T at a time) through the feed tube of your food processor to get it moving. It should ball up nicely and be super sticky. Either press into a well-oiled or parchment-lined 8×8 pan, or wet your hands and roll into balls. (I used my 1oz. scooper and these are a bit larger than I’d like.) Chill and cut into 1 ½” squares or transfer bites to an airtight container. Enjoy – they keep for awhile if you forget about them, but I don’t think you will.

Upcycled Rice Salad

upcycledgrainsalad 1

Do you ever find yourself starving at lunch time and the peanut butter and jelly you’re making for your kids looks dreadful? Turning to your fridge you find, well, nothing. Nothing but a bunch of randomness that makes no sense in terms of a “normal” meal? Or maybe I’m the only one. This here salad is the result of such an afternoon and a template for future afternoons, when you know you need the energy and stamina that comes from whole foods but can’t seem to put it together.

I love the word Upcycling. Upcycling describes how you and your partner are more than the sum of the two parts, or how that almond milk box was transformed from future trash into a bird-feeder. Sure, you and your milk carton were both functional before the change, but now you’ve become magical. It’s so much more than just reusing.


So, an upcycled salad is just the mixing of ho-hum parts to make beautiful epicurean harmonies in a matter of minutes. Here’s how it works in my house. My fridge usually has a cooked grain and various and sundry vegetables can be found lying around. If you aren’t accustomed to having lots of vegetables around, it’s time for you to give it a try. Buy things you normally wouldn’t when they’re on sale and try them. I generally also have a random salad dressing I experimented with or some sort of leftover sauce. Right now there is a quasi-creamy balsamic and a raw waldorf. And what kind of a hippie would I be without nuts and dried berries stored in the nooks and crannies of my community kitchen (it’s a small community, but a community nevertheless)?

That’s all a grain salad needs to come together. And when you stir it together, the creative genius inside you will sing songs of happiness, the writer’s block that has plagued you for 12 years will lift, and your children will behave. Or, perhaps, you will at least feel better than if you’d had that peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


Upcycled Grain Salad, this incarnation

2 c. cooked grain – brown rice, quinoa, barley, whatevs.
1-2 c. sturdy diced raw vegetables – carrots, onions, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, corn, peas, etc.
2 T. chopped nuts, pepitas, or sunflower seeds
1-2 T. chopped dried fruit – cranberries, blueberries, raisins, apples, etc.
½ c. (give or take) Pepita Maple Butter dressing (thinned), or something of your own creation.
*optional: chutney, diced avocado, fresh herbs, random condiments for garnish

Combine everything but your garnish and stir. Garnish, chill (you or your salad, either works) and enjoy.

*You may notice the awesome green stuff on top. It was a rushed, and perhaps failed, attempt to make coconut cilantro chutney from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but on this application, it was AWESOME!

ETW: Zest, Downtown SLC

I did not intend to review this restaurant. It had good reviews on Yelp. How I wish I’d brought a better camera.

Can I just put this out there? Just because I’m an herbivore DOES NOT mean I need small portions. Contrarily, I need MORE food.

Zest Kitchen & Bar

Zest Kitchen and Bar Eat. Drink. And be healthy. (Emphasis on the drink part.)
275 South 200 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Set the scene: I got a babysitter, a miracle in and of itself. I’m paying her by the hour. Located in PF Changs back closet, it’s hard to spot. The only sign is less than a foot in diameter on the glass door. I guess you have to be “in the know” … hard to find joints are hip, right? Fortunately, we’d been to the location when it was a hipster burger joint after I was sworn-in 5 years ago.

Upon Arrival: The space is small and dark. Half is a standing bar with high tables and half is a dining room. We waited about five minutes as all four of the on-floor employees whiled away their time talking to each other. Finally someone greeted us, carded us (that’s weird but cool, I guess) asked us how we found the place, and then ignored our answer. We were abruptly seated with a smile straight off a sitcom. Five minutes later, our hipster waiter with a cartoon character on his shirt, beefy arms and almost no idea what the menu included, asked for our drink order (water) and he left. Five minutes later (or more) he returned with our water – apparently our non-drink buying was a deterrent. His other two tables were getting loaded (read – much better tips).

Upon Ordering: As usual, I asked  for recommendations, and while he couldn’t really tell me, his aloof demeanor was, again, right out of a sitcom. The table to our left (a tipsy older couple on a blind date) just had to tell him during our ordering (because they hadn’t seen him for 20 minutes) that the stir-fry was, “I kid you not, the best I’ve ever had!” So we ordered it. ($7)  He came back 10 minutes later dropped off the stir-fry in cereal sized bowl. After we finished it, he came back to get the rest of our order. Stuffed mushrooms with cashew cheeze ($8), the salad special (7?), and the stuffed avocado w/spicy seasoned walnuts, lettuce salad, salsa & cashew sour cream ($13).

The food took a while to come out. One. Plate. At. A Time. Let’s just say, the service was hilariously bad. It’s like they were trying to be bad because that’s hip.

mygoodcleanfood.comAnd now, the food.

I am not terribly picky, I’m really not, but consider the prices as I give you a rundown.

Stir-fry. $7, probably 1 cup of vegetables. No rice. Tasted like Rumbi teriyaki but with garbanzo beans in it. We kept looking for something to dip in the sauce. DEFINITELY not the best I’d had. In fact it wasn’t as good as the mountain of stir-fry I’d made the night before for the ruffians with the stuff in my fridge.

mygoodcleanfood.comStuffed Mushrooms. $8. Quantity 5. Seriously – five is the worst number for almost any table except one of, well, five. Said served warm, more tepid, and the flavor was uninspiring. And maybe it’s because I make cashew cheeze that I wasn’t blown away by the vegan-ness.

Salad. $7? It was small. The tomato vinaigrette was good. But it was half red onions and to say they were thinly sliced is like that guy at the gym telling you it’s all muscle. Big bites of spicy onion, standard mesclun mix, and three slices of a baby cucumber … three? Really?

And then, my favorite, the stuffed avocado. $13 Admire the above pictures. There may have been the equivalent of a whole small avocado on the plate. A large tablespoon of walnut stuffing with flavor that didn’t seem to land anywhere. Now, look closely at that awesome avocado. The bottom was cut off and still the big, fat bruise on it was visible. It was cold, always weird for avocado.

And still, after all four dishes, I was starving but unwilling to wait another hour or pay more money for mediocre food. We came home and had dinner.

There is a positive spin … it’s a gluten-free restaurant with raw dishes, and that’s cool, right?

Can I tell you the last part which is actually pretty funny? During the time our waiter took a year an a half drop-off, take and return our check and then return my phone which he’d left by the bar (I still feel uncomfortable with that), the slightly tipsy couple on the blind date  was ALSO waiting for Hipster Waiter guy, so they joined us. Literally, they pulled their chairs up to our table and divided my husband and I – just what I need on my once-every-few-months-date. The lovely woman thought the giant photograph of a cippolini onion looked like, well, it made me uncomfortable. I won’t even hint at her thoughts on the bell pepper.


Raw Vegan Sour Cream

cute nephew, right?

My nephew is almost 12 now, (5 in the picture above), but when he was 2 and more than a handful (no, seriously, he was tough), we lived in his basement. Sometimes, to give his parents a break, we’d have him down to visit and he’d help us make dinner. One of our common meals was guacamole and chips – super healthy, I know, in which we used just a “dollop” of sour cream.  My husband had a bit of a love affair with sour cream, so he’d always lick the spoon afterward. One time my cute nephew said, “I wike it, Nutsy!” anticipating a taste too, and so we gave him a little spoonful to try. Cute nephew gleefully took said spoonful into his mouth and immediately thereafter did that kid thing of just letting the food fall out of his mouth and said, “I don’t wike it, Nutsy!”

raw sour cream mimi kirk

We all miss sour cream just a little. I am not saying we’d take a spoonful like we used to, but it’s such a useful and versatile ingredient in baking, cooking, and adding just that little bit of tang to things like baked potatoes and burritos. I haven’t been happy with any of the store-bought ones, nor any of the recipes for tofu ones. So, a couple of weeks ago, I picked up Mimi Kirk’s “Live Raw” at the library (and one day I’ll own it) and flipping through found a recipe for sour cream.

mushroom stroganoff strawberry broken heart cake

So, I made it. And I didn’t soak my cashews because I have a Vita-Mix and that’s its job. And the second batch was better than the first for reasons I couldn’t tell you. And I used it a week and a half later and it was still fantastic – I think the probiotics actually make a big difference in curing it. And I only took a few pictures because I’m lame like that. But I have since used it in mushroom stroganoff (angels singing above), a strawberry coffee cake (I made two in three days and ate both of them), and topped potatoes (so good with chives!), burritos, and tacos happily with it. And Mimi said I could share it – thanks Mimi, you’re beautiful!

Raw Vegan Sour Cream


1 c. cashews, soaked for 4 hours (optional if you have a power blender)
½ t. probiotics, for curing – I emptied two New Chapter probiotic capsules
1 t. light miso paste
¼ t. salt
3 T. lemon Juice
¾ – 1 c. water


Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more water if necessary. Place in a covered container and store in the refrigerator. Mixture thickens as it chills. To thin, add more water. To thicken add 2 T. Irish moss paste. Use anywhere you would sour cream.


FBAH: Slow-Cooker Lentil Soup aka my kids’ FAVORITE meal


What a way to launch the new website, eh? I’ve had a rough few weeks realizing that I must be very, very old in technical years (is that like dog years?) since I have no clue what I’m doing. Or maybe I’m technically young? All I know is life has been consumed by the fabrication of this not so fancy website. I don’t know how other people manage, but assume they hire someone much savvier in web skills.

KaleBut today is a big day. I am participating in Food Bloggers Against Hunger, a collaborative effort of more than 200 food bloggers attempting to bring awareness to the realities, and perhaps failings, of the American Food System. My head is full of things I want to say, but nothing is quite right, and so I leave you with this.

I believe not just with my intellect, but also my heart, that the Standard American Diet lies at the core of many of our greatest societal problems. The What AND the How. Do we eat as families or standing by the fridge or in our car? Do we have to play the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game to get our food to its whole and original state? Are the toxins in our food making us sick – not just the ones we put on, but the ones inherent – sugars, processed fats, animal proteins in excess? Do our children even know where food, REAL FOOD, comes from? Do bugs and dirt make them squeamish, do bees terrify them?

lentilsoup1When my kids publicly eat salad, fresh vegetables, or green smoothies with glee, I am frequently told I’m a lucky mom.

I am not a lucky mom. I work my TAIL off teaching my children.

I have spent countless hours growing, buying, and preparing wholesome food. Our most effective classrooms are our garden and our kitchen table. Smoothies are best when green. Farmers’ markets and produce co-ops are a way of life. I have taught them over and over again the most important truth about food, that our bodies are special and a MAGNIFICENT gift, and treating them poorly is wrong.

If everyone believed they were special enough to take care of, we would demand good food. Especially for our children. Everyone would, and it would make a difference.

my kids

My kids are special. So, so very special. My almost 6YO son’s favorite food is a raw red pepper. My daughter who turns three next week sneaks seaweed to the table. My baby knows the blender means food and eats everything I put on his tray, including the first food he happily ate … Lentil Soup. It is easy, totally affordable, homey, makes a TON, and I want to share it with you.

More information about Food Bloggers Against Hunger is below.


humble, brown lentil

Easy Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

Yield 4 quarts (or more)

1-2 T. olive oil (option)
2 Onions, chopped
5 Carrots, sliced
4 stalks Celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1-2 bay leaves
1-2 t. dried thyme leaves, or 3-4 sprigs fresh
2 c. brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 quarts broth equivalent:
2-3 T. vegan stock powder
1-2 T. vegetable base (I like Better than Bouillon’s)
1-2 cubes Rapunzel vegetable bouillon
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped (substitute: spinach)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté onions, carrots and celery until soft, but not browned, over medium heat using oil or water-sauté method. Add garlic and cook quickly for 30 seconds. Dump the vegetables in your slow cooker, adding your bay leaves, dried thyme, lentils, and broth. Cook on high for 3 hours. Add tomatoes and salt, add more water if needed, and continue cooking for another hour or two until lentils are soft. Twenty minutes before serving, add kale and cook until just barely tender. Adjust salt and pepper, and serve.

Serve with homemade bread and salad.

*Cooking variations:

  • Without sautéing, add everything but the kale and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Add the kale just at the end.
  • After sautéing the vegetables, add everything but the kale to the slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours.
  • Stovetop: follow directions, but allow soup to simmer on the stove for 30-40 minutes instead of in your slow cooker, adding the kale at the last five minutes.

Use this link to send a letter to congress asking them to support anti-hunger legislation.

And watch “A Place at the Table” to learn more. Trailer here.


Super Juice – this winter’s cure for everything.

Remember a few months ago when I posted that video (yes, it was long, but very good) where he asked if there was anything Kale couldn’t do? I still love kale. I love anything green and raw that helps me beat being sick and feeds my body goodness!

Over the harvest season, I juiced and froze a bunch of kale juice, but not before slugging down 4 oz of the stuff. It’s nasty straight – NASTY! But it’s amazing at healing and strengthening the body! And we almost ALWAYS have one of those Costco boxes of spinach in the fridge or something green from our Co-op, should I be unable to find my kale cubes in my need.

1203121555a We don’t often get sick in our house, thanks to a relatively healthy lifestyle, but December is my hardest month – the most stress, the most events (and subsequent germ-sharing), the most unmet expectations, the most busyness, and the least amount of sleep. Right now, I’m fighting Mastitis. It’s. The. Worst. And I don’t use that term loosely.

1203121553So yesterday, I pulled out the big guns. My first line of defense (when I can’t ignore my children lie down and rest with a heating pad), are my essential oils. A bit of doTERRA’s On Guard and Frankincense right on the area of infection (not over an open wound, just where it’s red), and a few drops of On Guard by mouth every few hours. But oils alone can’t beat this.

And so, I turn to my trusty juicer and make this concoction full of health promoting and restoring happiness. I call it my Super Juice – (It’s corny, I know, but I have a five year old and to him, I’m still cool). I use it for every sickness (that allows me to drink a somewhat potent elixir – so, probably not for bellyaches). And while I like the way it tastes, I’m not going to guarantee you’ll come back daily for more. But you might.


Super Juice

3 carrots, scrubbed or peeled

3 stalks celery

3 apples, cored

½ – 1 lemon

1 – 2” piece of ginger

2 – 3 cloves garlic

A few handfuls of green stuff – kale or spinach

Prep your produce for the juicer – slicing and dicing as needed. Then, run it all through your juicer, making sure to use a carrot at the end to push the little stuff through, like the ginger and garlic.

VVP: Cranberry Maple Compote

It’s that time again, bring on the VVP!
Who’s coming to the table:  The bright and beautiful cranberry.

Through the years, cranberry sauce has gotten a pretty bad wrap.  Give thanks to the trusty can o’ cran that plops out a gelatinous cylinder of cranberry goo with a nice, big “schluup.”  Great entertainment, but just not appetizing.

A couple years ago I discovered this little recipe.  No, big recipe.  It is chock full of goodness!  Made with fresh cranberries, pecans, fresh and dried fruit and the fabulous fall flavors cinnamon and nutmeg.  One taste and I was in love.

The only problem with the recipe is the large amount of sugar, especially being on an alkaline vegan diet.  So this year the cranberry compote recipe has gotten a facelift.  Welcome maple.

Cranberry Maple Compote

12 oz fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled and pureed in the blender
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 pear, peeled and diced
1 c water
1 c chopped dried fruit (mix it up and have fun!  we love dried pineapple, cherry, cranberry if you’re sticking with the theme, I think a little crystallized ginger could be good for an added kick)
1 c chopped pecans
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
maple syrup, to taste (I used 1/4 cup but my sweetness sensor is pretty low these days.  You could add anywhere from 1/4-3/4 c maple)

Bring water to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and add all other ingredients.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cook until the cranberries burst.  Remove from heat and let cool.

I made a double batch this time around, measured it into 1 1/2 c portions, and stored it in the freezer.  Great to pull out for the holidays.

Some other ways to use your super delish cranberry sauce:

Eat it with a spoon!
Make a parfait with your favorite plain yogurt and granola
Layer on top of crackers and vegan cream cheese for finger foods
PB+Cranberry Sandwich?  Potential…
I’m thinking a ginger graham cracker crust with vanilla bean vegan ice cream topped with cranberry sauce.  Mmmmmm.
Mix in your morning oatmeal
Use as a topping for pancakes or filling for crepes
A tart spread for a savory sandwich

So there you have it.  Cranberry Maple Compote.  Love it.

Go Back

The previous VVP dish is found in Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen here:

Go Forward
Cook to Love is the blog next in the potluck.  Visit it here:

Banana Pat-a-cake Bliss

Why pat-a-cakes?  Because I love playing pat-a-cake with my daughter and I LOVE these pancakes!  Not kidding, best “baked” good I’ve eaten in the last 4 months of veganism.  A perfect start to a cool fall morning.

Bonus points:  they are alkaline, gluten free, refined sugar free, vegan and just plain awesome.

Banana Pat-a-cake Bliss

1 1/2 cups oat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 c coconut oil, plus more for greasing skillet

2 Tbl ground flax plus 6 Tbl. water, stir together and let sit for a few minutes
2 c unsweetened almond milk plus 2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbl maple syrup

2 over ripe bananas, mashed

Mix dry ingredients together.  If you don’t have oat flour, just throw some oats in the food processor and make your own.

If your coconut oil is in a solidified form, cut it into the dry mix.  If it’s liquified because your house is nice and warm, mix it into the wet ingredients.

Mix liquid ingredients together and combine with the dry.  Add in banana.  I like to keep some banana chunks for happy flavor bursts, so if you’re like me, don’t mix the batter too well, just until combined.

Heat skillet to medium.  Melt 1/8 tsp coconut oil in skillet (I did this before each round, the bananas like to stick.)  Scoop 1/4 c batter per pancake (any bigger and they got moody about flipping.)  Cook until golden on each side.

Top with your favorites!  We love applesauce, apple butter, yogurt, or frozen mixed berries cooked down with a little cinnamon and sweetener.

Amended from a recipe found on this site.

National Pancake Day

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Yahoo! Any excuse to make pancakes is a good one! I was running on the treadmill at the gym this morning and there were all sorts of ads for National pancake day, featuring stacks and stacks of buttermilk pancakes. Oh man. I had to figure out a way to make an even better pancake….. Veganize it and add chocolate! I have a few friends with celiac sprue who have to eat gluten-free. This recipe is in their honor and is loosely based on my earlier flax pancake recipe. I used gluten-free oats that I had in my pantry, you could also use  whole grain, store bought,  gluten-free, flour. If you don’t have gluten issues, you can use whole wheat pastry flour instead. My daughter said they were the best pancakes she ever ate. I wouldn’t go that far, they puffed nicely in the pan, but were a bit doughy in the center, and not because they weren’t cooked through! The doughy factor did make them taste more like a fudgey dessert though!

Vegan Chocolate Gluten-Free  Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/2 C. non-dairy milk of your choice (I used cashew), add 1 T. lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes, vegan buttermilk!

2 T. ground flax seeds

1/2 C. unsweetened applesauce

1 C. gluten free oats, blended into oat flour, or whole wheat pastry flour for those without gluten intolerance

1/2 C. cocoa powder

1 T. natural sweetener of your choice (I used date syrup)

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. vanilla extract

1/4 t. kosher salt

Add ingredients in order to your blender. Pulse a few times or until just combined. Cook in non-stick skillet for about 2 minutes on each side, being careful not to burn them. The oats act differently than regular flour and need a little more cooking time!  If you want, drop a few dairy free chocolate chips onto each pancake before flipping to make them double chocolately! Makes about 12 three inch pancakes, or 4 servings. We always serve our pancakes with whatever fresh fruit we have. This morning, these were also drizzled with date syrup.