Category Archives: Vegan

A Sensuous Fruit Salad


OOooo lala figured I’d do a sexy recipe just in time for the weekend!  So let me explain the title of this recipe: I find fruits like figs, plums, blueberries, very sensual.  Sensual in the sense of their color, texture, apperance — I mean come on, figs?  They are sexy! 

Now just because it’s called a sensuous fruit salad doesn’t mean it’s strictly for lovers.  I am sure friends and family would enjoy it too, just don’t be too sexy when serving it (they might think you’re really weird).

The recipe showcases simplicity at its best — there is literally no other ingredients than the fruit itself.  I think it is really important for any cook to learn how to pick good quality produce — that way the ingredient can showcase its beauty on its own.   So today, I will give you a few tips on how to pick summer produce.

How to pick Brown Turkish Figs:

  • Look at the color — a ripe turkish fig should have a brownish yellow skin with purple hues
  • Ripe figs are soft to the touch, similar to a ripe peach.  The skin is very thin and can even crack due to the plump juicy flesh within.
  • Look underneath the fig, do you see droplets of “syrup” collecting around the eye?  That is a sure tell-tale sign you’ve picked a sweet fig.

How to pick Plums:

  • I always use my nose when picking plums.  Smell at the top of the plum, where it was picked — if the scent is very fragrant and sweet it is a winner for sure.  If you don’t smell nothin…put it back.
  • Depending on the type of plum you are buying, pick colors that are rich in dark purples (almost black) and reds.
  • Feel the plum, if it is rock hard it’s not ready yet.  It should be plump and soft, the flesh should slightly sink with the pressure from your fingers.

How to pick Melons:

  • Use your nose again! Same rule of thumb with plums, smell at the top of the melon where it was picked.  Remember: fragrant and sweet smells!
  • Thump the mellon — if it sounds nice and dense it is packed with juice.  Also if the belly of the melon is yellow that is another sign it is ripe.
  • Make sure the outerskin is nice and firm, any soft spots on a melon is a no go.

How to pick Blueberries:

  • Pick berries that are not smushed and are rich in blue/purplish hues.  Avoid blueberries that look red or even white — those are definitely NOT RIPE.
  • Blueberries that are large in size are usually very sweet, avoid eating any blueberries that feel very hard — they are very sour!

Ingredients for Sensuous Fruit Salad: (serves 2-4)

  • 6 brown turkey figs, washed and quartered
  • 1 cup blueberries, washed
  • 1 cup melon balls
  • 3 black plums, washed pitted and quartered

Gentle mix all ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Serve chilled with some vanilla ice cream or eat it plain.  For those who want more sweetness, feel free to drizzle some honey on top!

So below are some pictures of our new home — please excuse the mess and random assortment of furniture scattered around.  There’s still much to be done but we are getting close :)!!!

My mom will actually be staying with us mid August until…well whenever she feels like leaving.  Hopefully NEVER…but in reality probably a month…or two? *keeping fingers crossed*  Then she will be moving to Shanghai permanently to enjoy retirement and to be closer to her hubby and family.  Once she moves in a lot of recipes I’ll be featuring on here will probably be the meals she teaches me to cook — I’ve asked her to teach me everything she knows before she leaves!

The End. Have a great weekend yall :)!

(Southern Style) Mango Lemonade


I was in Nashville, Tennessee a few weeks ago, home of country music and anything southern (you know– sweet tea, beautiful acre lot yards, billboard signs that have the wait time of the ER?) and I was blown away. It was beautiful with the lush greenery and rolling hills, the rich blooms of hydrangeas paired with the sweet smells of magnolias, it’s hard to imagine that just a few months ago this entire city was under water.

Thankfully, Nashville cleans up quite well — with a strong community connection, the city was able to jump back on its feet in no time, truly impressive. I was actually there to photograph one of my good friend’s wedding and truly regret not coming to this beautiful city sooner. She had a splendid rehearsal dinner thrown at her fiance’s (now husband) parents’ house, the settings were so perfect it looked like the entire party came out of a Martha Stewart magazine (divine!).

They had a bartender mixing delicious drinks and cocktails, I of course had to steer clear of the alcoholic drinks or else the pictures would’ve came out slightly skewed or maybe even a little…blurry? 🙂 So the bartender offered me a glass of Mango Lemonade that not only quenched my thirst but instantaneously boosted my spirits.

The combination was incredible — with the bright tartness of the lemons paired with the fragrant sweetness of the mangoes, it just kind of brought you into this tropical southern heaven. One that frankly I didn’t want to leave from…so what other choice did I have but to recreate it at home? Results? Highly successful 🙂

If you prefer your lemonade to be more tart, feel free to increase the lemon juice to 2 cups. Also if the mango puree makes the lemonade a little thick just add additional water to thin it out. Other than that, stay cool and hydrated this summer — make a batch and take it to the pool to share with friends or maybe even to a bbq for 4th of July! Just remember, sharing is caring and this drink will bring a smile to anyone’s face (unless you’re allergic to mangoes or lemons)…

Ingredients for Mango Lemonade: (makes 10 x 8oz servings)

  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar (you may substitute half the sugar for honey)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
  • 3 mangoes, peeled and pitted

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled. Puree the mangoes using a blender or hand-held blender and strain through sieve to remove any fibers, set aside.

Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave pulp. In a pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, lemon juice, mango puree and remaining 7 cups water. Serve immediately chilled or on ice. (You can also freeze them in ice cube trays and make a mango lemonade slushie!)

p.s. In order to make this Mango Lemonade “Southern Style” simply enjoy a tall glass sitting on your rocking chair either in your front and back porch, watching the sunset and enjoying the light summer breeze, repeat until you’ve reach desired level of relaxation. 🙂


Strawberry and Cherry Limeade


Apparently this weekend, temperatures in Dallas,TX will reach the triple digits.  Summer is here with a blistering vengeance but thankfully I love the summers in Texas.  Because Summer in Texas means swimmin’, bbq’n, fishin’ and boatin’ — and all of these things are at the top of my “Best Things in Life” list.

I think one of my favorite summers by far was back in 2005.  That summer all of my closest girlfriends were in Austin and together, we painted the town crazy.  It was safe to say it was the pinnacle of rebellious independence : we were all single, young, beautiful and fearless.  We’d spend our nights tearing through 6th street, dancing and partying til the bars would close.  Yet our night wouldn’t be complete without our late-night ritual, the Waffle House run (hence how I gained the freshman 30).  Bed time would usually be a couple of hours before dawn and mornings wouldn’t start til well after 12 pm.

Our days often spent moseying by the pool, reading fashion magazines, sipping on cups of ‘Boone’s Farm’ and slathering on gallons of tanning oil (before I was up to date on the whole excessive uv rays causes skin cancer and wrinkles thing) because the darker the better was the fad back in the day.

Life was truly liberating back then, nothing really mattered.  We celebrated our freedom of youth, unrestrained by the problems of adulthood.  That summer created moments we still die laughing about and all the girl talks by the pool that made us become closer friends.   Every time we reminisce back to these memories of that one FABULOUS summer, without fail it leaves huge smiles on our faces.  And after all these years, these girls still remain wonderful friends of mine.  Though we’re now all in different places with our new lives, it was one of those summers that will inevitably keep us together, always.

Earlier this week as I was reading my Vogue and basking out in the sun, I realized how much has changed, not only in my life but within my self.  Sometimes you grow up so quickly, you don’t even realize everthing that has happened.  I am fortunate to have good memories that will always make me smile when life seems to be “moving too fast”.

Take a break. Relax. Enjoy something that makes you smile.

Apparently Strawberry and Cherry Limeade makes everyone smile.  This is a raw recipe, I used honey instead of sugar and fresh cherries instead of Maraschino.  Granted Maraschino Cherries are quite yummy, preservatives and food coloring are not.  If you like your limeades tart, add more lime juice and if you have crushed ice, make it into a slushy!  And of course, I will never stop anyone who wants to “kick it up a notch” and throw in a little magic called Vodka or Gin.  Either way, stay hydrated and keep cool this summer, I have a feeling it’s going to be a long one :).

Ingredients for Cherry Limeade:(makes 4 servings)

  • 1 pint (750mL) of S.Pellegrino sparkling mineral water
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 12 ounces of  cherries, rinsed and pitted
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave
  • 1 lime, sliced for garnish

Take the cherries and either place them in a blender and puree or place in individual glasses and mash with mortar.  If you are mashing with a mortar, make sure the cherries are broken down pretty well — this ensures maximum cherry flavor.

Mix the lime juice and honey, until honey has dissolved and place equally in the glasses.  Top off with the sparkling mineral water and garnish with a slice of lime.  If it’s not sweet enough feel free to add more honey/agave, same goes for tartness.

Serve with ice or if preferred, throw it into the blender and make it into a slush.  To make it extra saucy, just add an ounce of Vodka on top, serve and enjoy!

Ingredients for Strawberry Limeade:

  • 1 pint (750mL) of S.Pellegrino sparkling mineral water
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 12 ounces of  strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave
  • 1 lime, sliced for garnish

Take the strawberries and either place them in a blender and puree or place in individual glasses and mash with mortar.  If you are mashing with a mortar, make sure the strawberries are broken down pretty well — this ensures maximum strawberry flavor.

Mix the lime juice and honey, until honey has dissolved and place equally in the glasses.  Top off with the sparkling mineral water and garnish with a slice of lime.  If it’s not sweet enough feel free to add more honey/agave, same goes for tartness.

Serve with ice or if preferred, throw it into the blender and make it into a slush.  To make it extra saucy, just add an ounce of Vodka on top, serve and enjoy!

FoodBuzz 24,24,24,: Awesome Rawsome – A 5 course Raw Food Dinner


As celebration of FoodBuzz’s new Healthbuzz section, I wanted to discover the mysteries of the Raw Food diet.  This month, FoodBuzz selected my proposal for 24,24,24  I decided to invite a group of my friends and together we explored the beauties of eating raw through a 5 course meal. Does that sound Awesome Rawsome?  I think so.

This was probably one of the most challenging menus for me to think of — I mean eating RAW? I am use to the heat of the kitchen, the sounds of oil sizzling in a pan but no, not this time.  One of the main rules of eating raw is nothing is cooked above 118F, any temperature above that will begin breaking down the natural enzymes in fruits and vegetables. Now many of you are thinking — So what? but because of the degradation of these enzymes, it forces our bodies to generate the enzymes necessary to digest cooked food. Our bodies are unable to produce enzymes in perfect combinations to metabolize our foods as completely as the food enzymes created by nature do. As a result, starches, proteins and partially digested fats can cause blockage to your body’s intestinal tract and arteries leading to health challenges such as high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke.

I used Raw, a cookbook written by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein, as guidance through my exploration of raw foods.  They included this example about Eskimos and their raw diet:

The Eskimos are a remarkable example of the transformative power of enzymes.  The word Eskimo means one who eats raw. While living for centuries on a diet that consisted primarily of raw whale or seal blubber, Eskimos developed no arteriosclerosis and experienced almost no incidence of heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure.  Established nutritional doctrine would predict a high rate of these ailments given the diet, but even blubber will digest itself completely if it is not cooked since its enzymes are intact.  Once you heat even the finest olive oil above 118F, you will not be able to digest it completely.  More important, many authorities believe that eating cooked foods depletes our finite enzyme reserve.  Proof of this effect is that an eighty-five-year-old has only one-thirtieth the enzyme activity level of an eighteen-year-old.  In other words, your enzyme reserve is slowly exhausted over a lifetime of eating cooked foods.”


I found this compelling, I never thought about the importance of eating foods raw.  I mean in my mind, raw food meant leafy salads and those party veggie trays, — food isn’t meant to be eaten raw, right?  I guess that’s why I had so much fun with this proposal I had to think of a 5 course menu consisting of all raw foods, made in different ways and in clever combinations to make my guests say — Wait, this is RAW? I could eat this!

To do this, the most important thing would be to pick good quality produce and discovering the beauty of fruits and vegetables in their natural state and using them in way that would enhance their flavors. An interesting fact I also learned when reading Raw, was our bodies’ struggle with digesting unsprouted nuts and seeds — nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors that prevent them from sprouting into a plant or tree; however, if they have been sprouted (soaked in water), these enzyme inhibitors will degrade and then our bodies are able to digest them naturally.

Maybe it may not be practical to say– I will eat raw for the rest of my life! In the society we live in today many of us are not able to do that.  However, I’m going to make a personal commitment to improve the quality of foods I place into my body.  Maybe as a start, I’ll start eating raw a couple nights a week, or making my meals half cooked and half raw either way, incorporating raw foods into my daily diet would never be detrimental to my health and would only improve it.  Our health is one of the few things we are able to control in our lives through daily practices of healthy eating habits and exercise; our bodies will take care of us if we take care of it.

In all of the food we eat, (fruits, vegetables, meats), there are natural food enzymes that are present in their raw state.  These enzymes are a perfect combination and fit to help our bodies digest it completely.  Enzymes act as catalysts for every metabolic reaction in our bodies: cell division, energy production, brain activity, which are essential to our mental and physical well-being.

“Nature in her never-ending perfection sees that all food, whether flesh, fruit, or vegetable, decomposes and returns to the earth from which it came.“ Roxanne Klein


Menu for Awesome Rawsome

Appetizer

Gazpacho Granita

relish of cucumber, red and yellow bell pepper and red onion

Soup

cream of corn soup with tomato basil lemon oil

Salad

heirloom tomatoes with arugula served with lemon tahini

Entrée

jicama ravioli with avocado crema and southwestern corn slaw

Dessert

watermelon medallions served with a tropical salsa in a chilled mango soup

Ingredients for Gazpacho Granita: (serves 4 to 6)

Granita

  • 2 pounds ripe sweet tomatoes, peeled
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt

Dressing

  • ¼ cup cold pressed olive oil
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Salad

  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
  • ½ red onion, finely diced

To make granita: Quarter tomatoes and puree in a food processor with sugar and garlic. Strain puree through a sieve to discard seeds. Stir in basil, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Let mixture chill in refrigerator at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

Pour the granita mixture into a wide and shallow container, such as a stainless steel baking dish (the shallower the container, the quicker the granite will freeze). Cover with a lid, foil, or plastic wrap. Freeze the mixture 1 to 2 hours, until it is solid around the edges.  Take the container out of the freezer and scrape the ice with a fork, mixing it from the edges into the center.

Repeat this scraping and mixing process every 30 minutes or so (at least three times) until the entire mixture has turned into small, sequined ice flakes.  When ready to serve, scrape with a fork to loosen the granita and spoon into serving dishes.

To make dressing, whisk together all ingredients until blended.  To assemble salad, in a large bowl combine all ingredients; add dressing and toss to coat.  Spoon granita on center of serving dishes.  Arrange salad evenly around each.

Ingredients for Cream of Corn Soup: (Makes 4-6 servings)

  • 4 cups sweet corn kernels
  • 2 cup filtered water
  • ½ avocado
  • Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Place ingredients in a large bowl and using a blender or hand held blender, puree until it is a smooth consistency.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove skin of kernels and taste with salt and pepper.


Garnish for Corn Soup:

  • ½ cup sweet corn kernels
  • ¼ cup julienned jicama
  • ¼ cup microgreens
  • 4 tsp tomato basil lemon oil


Ingredients for Tomato Basil Lemon Oil:

  • ½ pound ripe tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups cold pressed olive oil
  • ¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp lemon zest


Slice the tomatoes in half crosswise (through the equator) and gently squeeze out the seeds; discard them.  Working in a large bowl, rub the cut sides of the tomatoes across the large holes of a metal grater so that the flesh is coarsely grated but the skin remains intact in your hand.  Discard the skin.

Combine the tomatoes, oil, basil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a large bowl.  Place at room temperature for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, before using.  Strain and spoon the oil off any juices into clean, dry jar.  The oil will keep in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month  Bring to room temperature about ½ hour before serving.

To assemble soup, pour corn soup into bowls and garnish with jicama and corn mixture.  Drizzle with tomato lemon basil oil and top with microgreens.

Ingredients for Heirloom Tomatoes with Lemon Tahini: (Makes 4-6 servings)

  • ½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • 8 medium heirloom tomatoes, washed and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 3 cups Arugula
  • 1lemon,, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Freshly ground pepper


In the bowl of a food processor, place tahini, half the lemon zest, and lemon juice; pulse to combine. With the motor running, add 7 to 8 tbsp cold water and continue to process until mixture is thick and smooth. Add salt to taste, and refrigerate until cold.

Bring tahini to room temperature.Place arugula on a large platter and arrange tomatoes on top in a tight overlapping pattern; drizzle half the tahini over the tomatoes.  Scatter remaining lemon zest on top.  Tuck lemon slices around and between tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Serve remaining tahini on the side.

Ingredients for Jicama Ravioli: (serves 4-6)

  • 1 ½ medium-sized jicama, washed and peeled
  • 3 cups raw walnuts, sprouted
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Finely chop the walnuts and mix with chile, cumin powder and salt pepper to taste. Set aside. Take peeled jicama and cut into paper thin slices using either a sharp knife or mandoline.  Place in a large bowl of water with some fresh lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Ingredients for Corn Salsa:

  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • ¼ cup jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • 1 tsp cilantro, minced
  • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and taste with salt and pepper.

Ingredients for Avocado Crema:

  • 1 ½ avocado, pitted
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ tsp garlic, minced
  • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Puree and strain ingredients into a large bowl, adjusting the consistency according to your preference–  if it’s too thin add more avocado, if it’s too thick add more water.  Adjust the flavors to your taste.

Take jicama slices and using a round cookie cutter, cut into desired sizes.  Lay one jicama round and spoon walnut mixture in the middle and top with another jicama slice.  Make 3-4 per plate and top with Corn Salsa and Avocado Crema.  Serve immediately.

Ingredients for Watermelon Medallions in a Chilled Mango Soup: (serves 4-6)

  • 4-6 Watermelon pieces cut into 4″ rounds 2″thick

Slice watermelon into 2″-thick slices and using a 4″ round cookie cutter, cut out 4-6 rounds.  It would be preferable to use seedless watermelon so it is easier to eat for your guests.

Ingredients for Chilled Mango Soup:

  • 3 Champagne Mangoes
  • 1 ½ cups filtered water
  • 1 tsp agave
  • ½ vanilla bean

Peel and slice the mangoes, discarding the pit, and place in a large bowl with water and agave.  Using a blender or hand held blender, puree ingredients until nice and smooth.  Scrape vanilla beans from the pod and allow soup to chill for at least an hour.  To make mango stars, pour some of the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze for 1-2 hours.


Ingredients for Tropical Fruit Salsa:

  • ½ pineapple, small-diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 mango, small-diced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • ½ vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, crushed
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and allow fruit to macerate/marinate overnight. You may add a little agave or honey if the fruit is not sweet enough.

To assemble the dessert: place watermelon rounds in bowls and spoon chilled mango, filling bowls ¾ of the way.  Top with tropical fruit salsa and garnish with mint and frozen mango ice cube.

Watermelon Lemonade and Strawberry-Mint Iced Tea


The sweltering Texas heat is beginning, y’all. And boy is it hot.  Though Dallas is not humid like Houston, June hasn’t even begun and I find myself blasting the AC wherever I go.  To make matters worse, I am awkwardly sweaty (I call it a sexy “glow”) so whenever I am outside there is sweat pouring down my face, non-stop.  I had to find a solution for not only the excessive heat but something to cure my insatiable thirst for something refreshing.

I am making these 2 drinks for my Awesome Rawsome event this weekend and thought I’d give it a spin before serving them Saturday.  Oh yes, about that — FoodBuzz selected my proposal this month for 24,24,24!  So stay tuned for an exciting menu of Raw Foods hence the title “Awesome Rawsome”.  I’ll keep this short and sweet, the drinks are awesome — I’ve finished half the batch of Strawberry Lemonade because it’s probably the best drink EVER.  Don’t believe me?  Give it a try!  And seeing that Memorial Day is this weekend, why not whip up a big batch for guests?  Maybe if you’re feeling a little sassy, kick it up a notch with some gin or vodka (because who are we kidding, everyone gets a little saucy during Summer holidays).  Have a great weekend folks!

Ingredients for Strawberry-Mint Iced Tea: (makes 6 servings)

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup honey water (1/4 honey 1/4 water) <— you can also use agave
  • 4 mint-flavored tea bags

In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil.  Allow water to cool down to a warm temperature (around 110 degrees). Add 3/4 pint strawberries and mint. Allow to steep for 10 minutes then add honey water and tea bags.

Strain mixture through a fine seive and mash strawberries to extract more juice.  Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until serving.

Pour over ice.  Garnish with remaining sliced strawberries.

If you do not feel it’s sweet enough, feel free to add more honey/agave.  The reason I did not steep the tea leaves in boiling water is because with Raw Foods, they have a rule where they do not cook anything above 118F.  However, if you could care less, feel free to simmer the strawberries and mint at a low heat for about 6 minutes, add the honey water and tea bags and simmer for an additional minute.

Ingredients for Watermelon Lemonade: (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 1/2 lbs sliced watermelon, (preferably seedless), rind removed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, for garnish

In the bowl of a food processor, place watermelon and process until very smooth.  Strain through a coarse sieve set over a bowl, stirring to push through any pulp.

Pour juice into a large pitcher.  Add lemon zest.  In a bowl, whisk lemon juice and honey until honey dissolves; stir into watermelon juice.

Stir in water; cover and refrigersate until very cold.  Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices.