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This post is to share one of my favorite green smoothie drinks, but first, I want to report back on another morning ritual drink I’ve incorporated into my life.

If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me post my current celery juice “practice.” With all the recent hype about the wonders of celery juice (e.g., anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, cancer fighting, etc.), I naturally wanted to see if the hype had merit.

I’ve been drinking it first thing in the morning nearly every day for the past 2-3 months, and I have to say, I feel healthier. I almost never get sick in the conventional sense, such as getting a cold, flu or stomach bug, so I can’t say whether I think it’s improving my overall immunity. However, my skin seems clearer (I’m prone to getting roughness on my cheeks or small bumps on my upper arms), my seborrheic dermatitis lessens, and I just feel better–stronger and more energized. Yes, this is just anecdotal evidence from one person, but combined with what the research suggests, a lot of other people’s anecdotal experience, and the fact that it costs next to nothing to make, I recommend trying it for at least several weeks to see if you notice improvements, too.

I can’t say it tastes delicious, but if you haven’t tried it yet, I can tell you that you will get used to the taste. And if you drink it really cold, you will notice the taste less. So I nearly always start my day with about 6 oz of celery juice, and try to hold off on breakfast for at least 30 minutes. When I want to feel really energized, and since I’m still on a quest to incorporate greens into nearly every breakfast, I like to follow with this powerhouse drink and an egg.

This smoothie drink does tastes delicious and gives you several serving of fruits and vegetables in a glass, along with a healthy dose of Vitamins A, C and K (K is important for preventing osteoporosis, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of several cancers, including breast, colorectal and kidney) from the collard greens. Romaine, although low in fiber, is high Vitamins A, K and C as well as folate. Pears and apples both provide dietary fiber.

If you alternate this drink with my green paleo pancakes, you will supply your body with a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber important for achieving good health. In short, you will do your body a lot of good!

 

Ingredients (for 2)

1/2 a pear, core removed

1/2 an apple, core removed

2-3 leaves of romaine lettuce

2-3 leaves of collard greens or chard

1 banana

2 stalks celery

1/4 of a lemon, seeds removed

ice

Optional

2 tbsp fresh parsley

or

1 tbsp fresh mint

 

Preparation

Blend everything together in a high-powered blender (e.g., Vitamix) until smooth. Add ice to suit your personal taste of how cold you like your drinks.

 

Enjoy!

 

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This cake has become my family’s favorite easy-bake, easy-to-make, cake. It’s essentially banana bread masquerading as banana cake, but the cake shape makes it seem more special. It’s crazy moist, contains very little added sugar (because how much sugar do you need with all those bananas in there?!), and it’s a great way to use ripe and/or spotty bananas. We buy tons of bananas in Brazil because they are super inexpensive. However, I don’t even like raw bananas, so I literally buy 20 bananas a week to use in my Green Paleo Pancakes, Green Power Shake, oatmeal pancakes, breads, cakes and muffins.

I have ordered Bolo de Banana several times in Brazil, and while I’ve always found the cakes here overly sweet (not to mention full of gluten), I like how they incorporate so much banana into their recipes. So I tinkered with my gluten- and dairy-free banana muffin recipe to come up with this recipe. It uses 4-6 bananas, and instead of blending the bananas with the wet ingredients, I only mash the bananas a little with a fork so there are lots of chunks of banana in the final cake. Topping the cake with slices of banana makes the cake look more festive, and the banana caramelizes in the baking making it taste better.

 

Ingredients

1/2 Tbsp butter or oil

1 scant cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I like this brand)

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp almond flour

1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar*

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2-4 ripe bananas

1-2 yellow bananas

2 eggs

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup plant-based milk (I like almond or coconut)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

*I’ve used as little as 1/4 cup of sugar, and the cake is still delicious!

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease and flour a standard cake tin. Place the tin on a piece of parchment paper, draw a circle using the base of the tin as a guide, cut out the circle and set it inside on the bottom of the tin. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until there are no lumps and everything looks thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Peel the 2-4 ripe bananas and mash with a fork until broken down but still very lumpy in consistency. You need 1-1/2 cups for this recipe, but the recipe is very forgiving if you have slightly less or slightly more. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Whisk in the oil and milk. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and using a rubber spatula, fold until combined, but do not over stir. (I’ve read and been told that you can’t over stir anything made with gluten-free flour. However, in my personal experience, particular when baking cakes, one should never over stir.) Pour the batter into the prepared tin and give the tin a little jiggle to evenly distribute the batter.

Carefully slice the remaining 1-2 less ripe bananas into strips approximately 3/8-inch in thickness. Depending on the size of your banana(s), you may only need one banana. I aim for three to four strips. Lay the strips on top of the batter, and pop the tin in the center of the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

 

Enjoy!

 

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My son asked if we could make scones this week, and I realized we haven’t made any in the past several months. Have you noticed that at times, you completely forget to make something you really like and/or something your family loves? Do you find that sometimes, a favorite dish just falls from memory for no particular reason?

Luckily, I had an orange, some dark chocolate and all my regular gluten-free flours on hand, so we make these super flavorful and delicious scones. These are very similar to my orange current scones, but the dark chocolate chunks make them more of a treat for my kids.

 

Ingredients

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled

1/3 cup almond (or other) nut milk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

Finely grated zest of one orange

6 Tbsp of fresh-squeezed orange juice

1-1/4 cup almond flour

1-1/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I like this brand)

1/3-1/2 cup evaporated cane juice

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips or 1/3 cup of a dairy-free dark chocolate bar cut into small chunks

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk all the dry ingredients, except for the chocolate, together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the wet ingredients until well blended. Pour the wet mixture into the dry using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides. Fold the wet and dry mixtures until just blended. Fold in the chocolate chips or chunks. Using the spatula, scoop out the dough onto a lightly floured cutting board or directly onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Gently pat the dough into a disc shape, approximately 1-inch thick (flouring your hands if necessary to prevent the dough from sticking). Using a chef’s knife, cut the disc into 6-8 pieces (3-4 cuts). Carefully separate the pieces roughly 1-2 inches apart.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a light golden brown color develops on the tops and edges. Remove and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be stores in an airtight container for 2-3 days, once the scones are completely cooled.

You can add a little honey or raspberry jam to these, but they’re so flavorful and yummy on their own, they don’t need anything extra.

Enjoy! 

 

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Shortbread cookies hold a special place in my heart for many reasons. I have been eating them my whole life. They remind me of my parents–who are entering their twilight years, and who both love shortbread over all other cookies. I used to relish opening a new tin of Walkers assorted shortbread cookies, carefully selecting different shapes. And I like shortbread because I generally distrust sugar and love butter.

I also like that I don’t mind giving my children a shortbread cookie as a sweet treat since they’re relatively low in sugar (emphasis on “relatively”), yet my kids still see it as a cookie, a treat. They also enjoy helping me make the cookies, which can be whipped up in 30 minutes. Well, full disclosure here, it is currently so hot in Brazil, that by the time I incorporate the butter with the dry ingredients, it has melted so much that I have to chill my dough before rolling, cutting and baking it. But in most parts of the world, shortbread cookies can be made quickly and easily with so few ingredients.

Perhaps the best part about shortbread is that you can add just about anything you want to the dough. Here, the recipe is with fresh-grated lemon zest, but you can add chocolate chips or chocolate chunks, grated orange zest, ginger, lavender, or chopped nuts and dried fruit as seen in my holiday recipe for pistachio cranberry shortbread.

 

Ingredients

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature or slightly cooler

1/3 cup sugar (also good using just 1/4 cup)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

zest of one lemon (finely grated)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (140 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour, I like this brand 

1/3 cup almond flour

 

Preparation

In a medium-size bowl, or food processor, combine the butter and sugar until evenly incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Whisk together the flours and salt in a small bowl and add to the butter mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle that’s approximately 3/8-inch in thickness. Cut into bars roughly 1.5 inches by 3 inches or use cookie cutters to cut into different shapes. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 325F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the edges. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack or munching. These cookies keep for several days if you store them in a airtight container after they’re completely cooled.

Enjoy!

 

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I should rename my blog, “Muffin Mama,” since it seems I bake muffins at least twice a week. Baking is stress-relieving for me. In California, I baked muffins and breads regularly, but I because I haven’t bought a loaf pan yet here in Brazil, I’m all about the muffin. Unfortunately, because I can’t figure out the temperature on my oven in Brazil, there have been many muffins batches I wanted to share but couldn’t because they cooked too hot to be worth photographing.

I like making muffins because they’re simple to prepare, fun to eat, easy to make gluten- or dairy-free and low-sugar, and possess some element of nostalgia (possibly from the 80s–or was it the 90s when muffins became so popular that offering “muffin tops” even became a thing?). My kids love them, too, and I can put in all sorts of ingredients, such as carrots, zucchini, wheatgerm, and nuts, while keeping everyone happy.

This recipe is slightly more sophisticated than the banana or blueberry muffins I usually bake. These muffins you might serve when you invite someone over for tea or coffee, or as part of a brunch spread. They have a moist, delicate, cake-like texture, and the orange and almond combination make them just a tad sophisticated–if I can be so bold as to suggest muffins can have any sophistication. These would make a great companion to a leek and gruyere quiche or tart or an herb omelette if you’re inviting friends for brunch.

I’m crazy about almond, so you’ll appreciate the subtle almond flavor in these. If you don’t like almond, just use vanilla extract–just make sure it’s good quality, pure vanilla. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

 

Ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I like this brand)

1 cup almond flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp sea salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

zest of one orange (roughly 2-3 tsp)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 12-muffin tin by either greasing the cups with a little olive oil or lining them with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until mixture is even in color. Whisk in sugar, orange zest and juice, yogurt, oil, and extracts.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir until combined. (Don’t over stir.) Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups.

Lightly toast the sliced almonds under just lightly golden. Sprinkle evenly over the batter-filled cups. Place in the center of the oven and bake 18-22 minutes or until the edges turn gold and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Once completely cooled, muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days.

Enjoy!

 

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Salmon regularly gets rated as one of the top 10 foods in terms of nutrition and health benefits. Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which studies have shown decrease inflammation, and reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. Salmon also boasts high levels of vitamins critical to maintaining the healthy brain functioning, including B-6 and B-12, as well as potassium, selenium and niacin.

I’m constantly trying to invent ways to get my kids to eat more salmon (important for those growing brains!). They love it in sushi, but I don’t trust myself selecting, buying and preparing raw fish, and we don’t eat out often enough. I regularly put smoked salmon in crepes because my kids will eat anything wrapped in a crepe, but when you want a very tasty dish that’s a bit more sophisticated, this makes a good choice.

I can’t remember where this recipe came from… It remains a dog-eared page torn from a now nameless magazine, but it remains one of our favorites. Quick and easy to prepare, you can’t go wrong serving this dish, and you can dress it up or down.

 

Ingredients

4 fresh salmon fillets (6-8 oz per person)

3 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp dark soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

3 tsp honey

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated or chopped

1 package soba noodles (cooked per package instructions)

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

 

Preparation

Whisk soy sauce, lime juice, garlic and ginger in a small bowl. Place the salmon fillets in a glass baking dish and spoon the soy mixture over evenly. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Heat a grill or turn on broiler function in the oven.

Boil a pot of lightly salted water for the noodles. When the water comes to a boil, add in the noodles and cook per the instructions on the packet (usually 5 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with the 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.

Remove the salmon from the marinade and place in a baking dish. Drizzle each piece with 1/2 tablespoon of honey and grill for approximately 10 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked and beginning to flake. Place the marinade in a small saucepan along with the remaining honey and cook over medium heat until reduced and slightly thickened.

Serve the salmon on top or alongside the noodles with a drizzle of the marinade.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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I did not drop off the face of the earth, but it has been ages since I’ve posted anything here. The past few months have challenged me physically as well as emotionally. Making the decision to move from my comfortable life in northern California to the massive city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in order to support my husband’s work was incredibly difficult. Convincing the children to go along with the decision was equally difficult. Packing up a significant part of our home (where the expression “pack-rat” got redefined) took far more time than I could have imagined. Getting all the paperwork in order and loose ends tied up–bank accounts, visas, residence permits, nearly drove us insane. Finding homes for some of our beloved pets–since we only brought two to Brazil, I found particularly difficult, and at the end, heartbreaking, since I consider our animals family.

Fortunately, the expat community in Sao Paulo, although relatively small, is wonderfully supportive, and Brazilians in general are friendly and kind. We live adventure nearly every day, and grow from it–personally and as world citizens. On top of requiring me to learn another language, the move has required dietary changes, such as regular servings of pineapple, papaya and watermelon instead of my daily helpings of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Chard remains elusive, and rice and beans abound. My cooking has not been spectacular, but a few dishes, and some of my travels definitely warrant sharing.

This dish I made back home, but never got around to posting until now. I call this my “breakfast (or lunch) of champions” because it is full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and it’s packed with flavor. In reality, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend eating bacon right before you head out for a 6-kilometer run. But if you have an important meeting, need to run a few hours worth of errands, or are going on a big hike and want sustained energy for 4-5 hours, this dish is perfect.

Like many people, my body doesn’t tolerate most types of beans as well as I would like, but garbanzo beans appear to be the exception, and garbanzo bean flour is the main ingredient in the crepes. I couldn’t be more thankful, because garbanzo beans are a great source of insoluble fiber (important for keeping our colons healthy!), protein, and several vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium and folate.

 

Ingredients

For the crepes, whisk together the following until you get a smooth, runny batter consistency:

1 cup sprouted garbanzo bean flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

3/4-1 cup water

Pinch of sea salt

1 tbsp of avocado oil, plus more for the pan

 

Preparation

Swirl a little oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour in half of the batter and swirl the pan gently to spread the batter evenly across the bottom of the pan. Cook until set and the bottom is just starting to turn golden brown–approximately 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip the crepe over and cook another 2 minutes.

Repeat. This recipe makes 4-6 crepes depending on how thick you make them.

 

Ingredients

For the wrap I call “breakfast of champions,” I place the following ingredients on each crepe and fold in half or in thirds for serving.

2-3 strips of bacon, cooked

1 egg, fried sunny side up

Two leaves of curly kale (tough stocks removed, and lightly braised)

1/2 an avocado, peeled and sliced

Coarse-ground sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

This combination tastes insanely good and flavorful, but you can experiment with whatever you like. I cook the bacon in a cast-iron pan first. After removing the cooked bacon, I drain off the excess fat and lightly braise the kale leaves in the same pan so they pick up all the delicious bits and pieces left from cooking the bacon.

Note: These crepes are super easy and quick to make, but you can double or triple the crepe batter recipe and make a batch so you have them handy. Just be sure to put a sheet of parchment paper between crepes and store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Please note that they are best fresh and warm, as can stiffen slightly if refrigerated or left out for any length of time.

Enjoy!

 

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