Apple Walnut Breakfast Bread Pudding

On New Years morning I plan on staying in my pajamas, sipping coffee and eating something delicious, without lifting a finger. No cooking or dishes on New Years morning. Instead I will relax, give thanks and welcome in the New Year with a scrumptious make ahead bread pudding. 

Apple and Walnut Breakfast Bread Pudding

2 tablespoons butter for greasing pan

1 loaf french bread
2 apples - peeled, cored and cubed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
6 eggs - lightly beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups milk
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Melt butter and brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Cover the bottom with cubes of french bread. Sprinkle top with apple cubes and walnuts. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon, milk, half and half and vanilla, whisk to blend. Pour the mixture over the casserole and press down so all of the bread is covered. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, bring casserole pan back to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover pan with foil and bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and allow the top to brown for a few minutes. 

Serve with a side of maple syrup and a dollop of whipped cream. Yummy.


Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts

I love giving homemade gifts and mason jars are my favorite way to package them. Raw nuts make a lovely, healthy gift on their own but if you want to spice things up try these candied nuts. These sugar & spice nuts make a wonderful hostess gift and they are an excellent addition to any cheese platter. 

Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts

2/3 cups dark brown sugar

1 1/3 cups organic sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 pound walnuts
1 pound almonds
2 egg whites, room temperature
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, paprika and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps, set aside. In a large bowl beat egg whites and water until frothy. Add the nuts to egg mixture and stir until they are evenly coated. Sprinkle the egg coated nuts with sugar mixture, stirring as you sprinkle to make sure they are evenly coated. Spread nuts in a single layer on parchment paper covered cookie sheets. You will need two cookie sheets for this amount. Bake 30-35 minutes, stirring several times. Remove from the oven and separate the nuts as they cool. When they are completely cool, break up any nuts that stick together and put in a mason jar.


Apple Walnut Crepes

Crepes are so easy to make and very versatile. They can be used for sweet or savory meals and light bites. Always make extra crepes, they save well in the refrigerator and will last for days. Believe me, you will be happy you made extra crepes. I use leftovers to fill with fresh fruit, fresh berry jam, lemon & powdered sugar or Nutella. We also love filling leftover crepes with spinach and cheese for a light lunch. 

Simple Crepes

1 cup flour - spooned and leveled
1 tablespoon organic sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter - melted

In a blender combine all ingredients and puree until mixture is smooth. The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and lightly coat pan with butter or non-stick spray (if necessary).  I used a ceramic skillet, so no butter was needed.

Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan and swirl around the bottom to coat evenly. Cook until the bottom of the crepe is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Loosen edge of crepe with a rubber spatula, then carefully using your fingertips quickly flip. Cook for 1 minute more.  Slide crepe out of skillet and repeat with remaining batter. Makes about 15 small crepes.

Apple Walnut Filling

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 granny smith apples - peeled, cored and cut into cubes
1 tablespoon organic sugar
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
pinch cinnamon
pinch salt

Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add apples, sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and salt, cook stirring until apples are softened. Apple Walnut filling serves 2 people. 

Mouth watering crepes...perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner & dessert!

Bon appetit.

Winter Holiday in New York

Last weekend I went to New York City with my family. Such a treat during the holidays because they go all out and make the city a winter wonderland. The first night we walked over to Rockefeller Center and arrived just in time to see the 3D holiday light show that is projected on the side of the Saks Fifth Avenue building

The show plays every 15 minutes and runs every night throughout the holiday season. This year’s show is about the Snowflake and the Yeti. The technology of the light show maps the building details to create a vivid 3D projection, which can appear to change the store’s outdoor features. It was a fun and enchanting moment.

My favorite place in NYC is Central Park. What a magical place nestled in the middle of this huge and diverse city. We have nothing like this in Los Angeles.

Macy's is the world largest store, or at least that's what their sign says, however, I believe it. There were a million people (approximately) inside. Macy's has 9 floors and every one of them is packed full of energetic shoppers. I didn't see any signs of a recession in Manhattan. 

If Macy's is the world largest store, then I'm guessing these are the worlds largest Christmas lights? We walked by this display somewhere near Rockefeller Center.

There was so much more I wanted to see while in New York, but it's impossible to do it all in just a few days.  To be continued NYC...

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy Holiday Season!

Sweet Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Hash

2-3 sweet potatoes - peeled and chopped into 1/2" cubes
1/2 (each) red, orange and yellow bell peppers - chopped
1/2 red onion - chopped
2-3 vegetarian sausage patties - or 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup vegetable broth
Garlic, minced
Fresh sage
Fresh thyme
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Salt + pepper
2-4 eggs 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet and cook vegetarian sausage patties until browned on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same skillet add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil and add sweet potatoes and vegetable broth. Sprinkle with fresh ground sea salt & pepper and 1 leaf of fresh sage. I tore my sage leaf into pieces. Cover sweet potatoes and cook on medium for about 15 minutes, stirring often. 

When potatoes are fork tender add the chopped peppers, onion, minced garlic, fresh thyme, red pepper flakes and more salt & pepper to taste. Turn up heat slightly so the potatoes can get a little crispy. When hash is almost done add the crumbled or chopped vegetarian sausage.

Fry your eggs in some olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and place on top of a pile of sweet potato hash. 


Brown Bag It - How To Store Your Mushrooms

Mushrooms are nutritious and versatile, we eat them almost everyday in our home. They are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol free, gluten free, low in sodium, and they provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more.

The best way to store your mushrooms to preserve their life is in a brown paper bag. I've been doing this for years and it extends the life of the mushroom by days.

Most people don't realize that consuming spoiled mushrooms can make you very ill. Like all foods, mushrooms can go bad. No matter the variety, it is important to learn the signs that a mushroom has spoiled. 

Look over the mushroom for spots. Patches begin to emerge in shades of dark brown and black when mushrooms are no longer fit for consumption.

Feel the mushrooms for a slimy coating. The top part, also known as the head of the mushroom, is predominately where symptoms of spoilage occur.

Smell the mushrooms for an odor that indicates spoilage. If mushrooms have a smell different than an earthy, natural aroma, throw them away.

Flip a mushroom over and look at the gills. Closed gills indicate mushrooms are young, while open gills signify that mushrooms are older. If the mushroom has shriveled or wet gills, they have spoiled.

Avoid keeping mushrooms in the vegetable drawer in your refrigerator. The vegetable drawer is designed to hold in humidity. Mushrooms will spoil more quickly in humid conditions. Place mushrooms in a brown paper bag and store them between 32 and 36 degrees F.

Quick Mushroom Snacks:
Use raw white button mushrooms. Remove the mushrooms stems and fill with one of the following stuffing's.

Spinach Dip
Cream Cheese + Salsa


Make My Day SunCafe

Few things make me giddy. Lunch is one of those things. Okay dinner and dessert too, but you get what I'm saying. 

Most days I drive into Studio City to visit my customers and take them to lunch. Tough job right? Studio City's rapidly growing restaurant row offers many great dining options, but there is one tiny place that is a personal healthy favorite. SunCafe, is an organic, raw food, vegan restaurant.  

I always order the same thing, Biscuits & Gravy and a Pineapple Superfood Shake. Mmmm. So delicious. The Biscuits & Gravy are open-faced whole wheat sliders, with massaged spinach, garlic cauliflower mash, mushroom gravy and a SunChorizo topper.  Really fantastic.

The Pineapple Superfood Shake is made with pineapple, goji, coconut, cashew, and agave. The shake is raw and unbelievable!  

If you were talking to me in person, I would grab your arm to emphasize my delight. Whenever I leave this cafe I always feel happy, nourished and balanced.  

SunCafe also offers classes and raw juice fast cleanse/detox programs.

Here is a link to their site - Sun Cafe

To our health!

My Daily Flu Shot

Winter is approaching and it is important to boost your immune system to avoid getting sick. I believe the best thing one can do to ward off the dreaded cold, is to supplement your body with green plants and vegetables. The optimal way to do this is to drink fresh pressed vegetable juices. The human body is complex and has the power to heal itself if given the right nutrients. Green foods are perhaps the most healing foods on the planet, and the single most important addition to a diet you can make. Green foods are better than a flu shot!

A year ago I went to my health food store and asked them if they had anything I could mix with water that would deliver green nutrients when I didn't have time to juice. Hands down all the employees recommended Vitamineral Green by HealthForce SuperFoods, so I purchased a bottle and have become an unofficial advocate for this powdered green "gold". 

I mix a teaspoon into a glass of water and drink it first thing in the morning with a smile. On the label there is a statement that I have embraced whole heartily, "drink consciously and with positive intent". 

My entire family now drinks it. My sister even mixes it into smoothies for her kids.

Here is a link to the product - Vitamineral Green

To our health!

My Happy Halloween

This year we added a new tool to the pumpkin carving station, our power drill. Why not? It's a little loud, but kind of cool. While we were at it, why not add some glitter!

These are Annie's Eats Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. Beware seriously delicious!

I also made caramel apples. Apparently not the best idea in California, even in October. Sounds crazy, but it was over 90 degrees that day. I didn't realize it was so hot in my house, I guess I should have refrigerated these delights. So I ended up calling them "apples in a pool of caramel". 

Have a fun and safe Halloween!!!

Spork-Fed Vegan Cuisine

Spork Foods is a Los Angeles based vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny and Heather Goldberg. I recently had the pleasure of taking their gluten-free, vegan cooking class called "Meat and Potatoes". Located in charming West Hollywood, the studio kitchen space has a modern, yet cozy feel. Students sit around a huge island, where the girls cook and demonstrate their techniques. The classes are presentation style the sister's charm makes you feel like a welcome friend. They go into detail about the products they use and where to find them. Check out the Spork Foods website, you can see the girls in action! Their enthusiasm is contagious

The Menu:

Creamed Swiss Chard with Toasted Almonds
Apple Bourbon Braised Tempeh Cutlets
Spicy Oven Fries with Home-made Beet Ketchup
Velvety Chocolate Mousse Pie  

The class was filled with like-minded health conscious people, and at the end everyone sat down family style and enjoyed the foods they prepared for us. It was a lot of fun and I met some really interesting people.

Everything on the menu was delicious, even the beet ketchup. I am not a fan of eating beets, but I know they offer a wide variety of health benefits. They are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may fight cancer. Since I don't like the flavor, I'm always searching for different ways to get beets into my diet. I want the cancer fighting benefits! I will juice beets along with my other vegetables and drink it down as fast as possible. It was fun to discover that I enjoyed beet ketchup. 

At the end of class they give you the recipes to take home. I also purchased their latest cookbook Spork-Fed: Super Fun and Flavorful Vegan Recipes from the Sisters of Spork Foods. The foreword is written by Emily and Zooey Deschanel. Here is a link to their book on Amazon.

"The Spork girls are knowledgeable, creative and fun. Did I say fun? The food is delicious and you always feel entertained after a class. Its like having your own talking, breathing cookbook!"   
—Emily Deschanel- longtime vegan and star of the Fox hit series Bones  

The Spork sisters also have an online cooking class. This is awesome for folks who can't get to Los Angeles in person. Spork online is a membership-based website for anyone who wants to learn how to prepare fun, easy, delicious, vegan recipes. The classes are shot and edited in HD by professional filmmakers to create an entertaining and engaging experience. Once a month a new cooking class, featuring a themed four-course meal, is posted online and available to members. The classes are filmed with an eclectic group of students (including celebrities, authors, activists, farmers, parents, entrepreneurs and more) that spark interesting conversation around the dinner table and offer their own expertise.  Check them out.

To our health!

Something to Chew On

The idea of buying ONLY organic fruits and vegetables sounds fantastic. However, real life sometimes gets in the way and you end up settling for the closest grocery chain for some celery or potatoes.

My local health food store has everything organic under the sun and I try to shop there as much as possible. However, the hours are limited and the prices are high, so I often end up at my local Von's around the corner.

PLU codes are the numbers you see printed on the barcode stickers on produce. If the PLU code is five digits starting with a 9, the item is organic. Conventional produce numbers are only four digits.

The EWG's (Environmental Working Group) 2012 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and which are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 14 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

The pomegranate pictured above is not organic. However, Pomegranate's are not on the list of produce you should buy organic, so it's okay. The apple pictured above is also not organic. However, apple's are #1 on the list of produce you should buy organic. For more detailed information go to


Apples, Celery, Sweet Bell Peppers, Peaches, Strawberries, Imported Nectarines, Grapes, Spinach, Lettuce, Cucumbers, Domestic Blueberries, Potatoes, Green Beans, Kale/Greens.  These all may contain pesticide residues of special concern.


Onions, Sweet Corn, Pineapples, Avocado, Cabbage, Sweet Peas, Asparagus, Mangoes, Eggplant, Kiwi, Domestic Cantaloupe, Sweet Potatoes, Grapefruit, Watermelon, Mushrooms.  You can buy conventional produce from this list.

Good to know!

Mocktail Monday: Mock-Kahlua Float

Mocktail Monday for this week might fall into the dessert category...yes it's that decadent!  About 10 days ago I saw Heather Christo's Kahlua Float cocktail on Pinterest. I pinned it, of course, but I couldn't get the image out of my mind! Yes, it was that beautiful. 

My challenge was to make a drink equally delicious but without the alcohol. Ice cream, chocolate and coffee.... how could it not be delightful?

Mock-Kahlua Float: 

Serves 1

1 scoop espresso or coffee ice cream
1.5 ounce mock-kahlua (see below for recipe)
1/8 cup sparkling water
Melted dark chocolate for drizzling into glass (at least 60% cacao) 
A pinch Cacao or Cocoa powder for garnish


1.5 ounce espresso or very strong coffee
1/8 teaspoon cacao or cocoa powder
3-4 drops kahlua flavor - I used LorAnn Oils "Keoke Coffee" Kahlua-type flavor 

Candy Rim:

1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons chocolate jimmies

Heather Christo does an amazing job of showing how to rim the glass and construct her drink.  I won't even try to replicate.  Check out her site for step by step instructions - Kahlua Float

Whenever possible I try to add anti-oxidant packed super foods to my recipes.  Small doses are better than nothing!  I use Dagoba Organic Chocolate for my cacao powder. 

Cacao has more antioxidant flavonoids than any food tested 

To our health!

German Pancake with Caramelized Seckel Pear

What better way to celebrate Oktoberfest then with a German Pancake. I've been making this recipe for years and we love it every time. There are only 6 ingredients, so it's simple to prepare and it's fun to watch the pancake puff up in the oven. This will serve 2-4 depending on how you slice it.

Seckel pears are the smallest of all commercially grown pears, and they are exceptionally sweet. So sweet, they are sometimes called sugar pearsI only used one thinly sliced pear, but you can use more depending on your taste.

German Pancake:

3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk (or almond milk)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to combine. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the milk, salt and vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Add the butter to a cast-iron skillet and transfer to oven until the butter melts. Remove from oven and quickly pour the batter into the hot skillet. Return to oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.

While the pancake is in the oven, caramelize the pears in a skillet with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon for about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan as soon as they become golden brown. You can top the pancake with whatever you have on hand, fresh fruit or preserves are also delicious.

When the pancake is puffed and golden, its ready.  It will come out of the oven very puffy, but will reduce quickly. Top with caramelized pears, maple syrup and powdered sugar.

Guten Appetit!

Mocktail Monday: Strawberry Melon Slush

This weeks Mocktail Monday, Strawberry Melon Slush, is a healthy and simple fruit treat. Blend strawberries, watermelon and ice. Easy right? If you want to pump up the health benefits add some chia seeds for a anti-oxidant boost. Enjoy.

Mocktail Monday: Pomegranate Fizz

Cheers it's Monday!  I'm starting my own movement, it's called Mocktail Monday.  Have you heard of Meatless Monday? I'm a vegetarian, so every day is meatless Monday in my house.  Which is why I'm starting Mocktail Monday!  It's a positive way to start the week.

I had pomegranate juice and homemade grenadine in my refrigerator, that I made for a previous post.  The mocktail for this week is called Pomegranate Fizz.  I replaced the pomegranate liquor with grenadine and used Pellegrino in place of champagne.  My handsome boyfriend was kind enough to tend bar for me while I took photos.

Pomegranate Fizz Mocktail

Pomegranate seeds
2 shots chilled homemade grenadine syrup (see September 10, 2012 post)
2 ounces chilled pomegranate juice
1-2 ounces chilled pellegrino or sparkling water
Orange peel for garnish

Mix juice and grenadine in a glass, then add the sparkling water.  Twist some orange peel around a chopstick to make a fun garnish and rub orange peel along the rim of the glass for an added citrus essence.  Throw in pomegranate seeds and enjoy.

Grilled 3-Cheese Sandwich

Cheesy goodness on grilled Sourdough. The secret to toasting the bread just right is to grill it on a cast iron griddle. My sister bought me a cast iron tortilla griddle for my birthday and claimed "It makes the best grilled cheese ever", so I put her claim to the test. Big sister was right. Crunchy bread on the outside, soft bread and gooey cheese on the inside. It was good. 

For this grilled cheese I used extra sharp cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan. I added thin slices of onion and threw thyme on the griddle, just for fun. This grilled cheese was for my boyfriend and it was gone in about 90 seconds. 

Quick Desert Getaway

It was 106 degrees in Los Angeles last Friday.  My sister had a Groupon for two nights in Indian Wells, which is 30 minutes East of Palm Springs, that was about to expire.  Even though we were having a heat wave and it would be even hotter in the desert, we decided to go and try to have a weekend of relaxation...with a pool and A/C!

The Eastbound drive out of Los Angeles has always been one of my favorites. There is something therapeutic about the desert for me.  It contrasts and balances hectic city life.  As soon as I see the landmark windmills and my favorite date shake stand...I know relaxation is nearby.  Palm Springs and the surrounding desert cities don't look like your typical desert, but more like a man made oasis.  Luscious green grass, colorful flowers and palm trees line the streets and there are water fountains, lakes and of course golf courses everywhere!

Our agenda for the weekend was as, nap, lounge by pool, read magazines and repeat.  It was a grueling schedule! The only time we ventured off the hotel premises was to go to dinner Saturday night in nearby Old Town La Quinta. 

Main Street in Old Town La Quinta is lined with quaint shops and restaurants. It was off-season and the crowds were at a minimum as the shops were only open from 11-4pm.  When the weather cools, they have outdoor concerts, art shows and weekly farmers market in the square.  We heard laughter and music at the end of the picturesque street and followed the sound to The Wine Bar at Old Town.   

We had a glass of white wine while browsing the adjoining wine shop.  My sister spotted a restaurant across the tiny street that looked like a local favorite and we could hear music.  The Grill on Main had a live band and according a kindly gentleman outside, had "great burgers".   We settled into a pub table on the patio and ordered two peach sangrias.  

Most restaurants in the desert have water misting machines set up to keep the patrons on the patio cool, which is a refreshing feature.  It seems like a waste of water to me but it did work.  I ordered a vegetarian burger with sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese...delicious!  The gentleman outside wasn't kidding, it was a great burger.  I'm not sure I know how those onion rings got on my plate but since they were there, I had to eat them.

It was a relaxing getaway of great food, refreshing libations and exquisite scenery that I would highly recommend. Especially if you're looking for a quick retreat from big city life.

Huevos Rancheros Brunch

Huevos Rancheros and a mocktail makes a perfect Sunday morning brunch. This homemade Ranchero sauce is fresh, light, healthy and makes this dish one of my favorites. I use all natural "hand-made" white corn tortillas, that I grill on a cast iron griddle or an open flame to get a little char.  When served with my Sunrise Mocktail it makes me feel like I'm on vacation.

Huevos Rancheros

Prep time: 15
Cook time: 30
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped white onions
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chopped tomatoes and their juice
1 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 white corn "hand made style" tortillas
1 can black beans drained
1 can pinto beans drained
4 large eggs
extra sharp yellow cheddar - shredded
extra sharp white cheddar - shredded
1 avocado for top

To make the ranchero sauce, in a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell peppers, and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin, salt, cayenne, jalapeno, and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the stock and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and cover to keep warm.

Heat a cast iron tortilla griddle or skillet over medium heat. Spray each side of tortilla with olive oil spray and heat one side until just starting to brown, about 30 seconds. Turn and cook on the second side. Remove, cover to keep warm, and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Mix black beans and pinto beans together and heat over medium heat. Mash half of the beans. Keep warm until ready to use.

In medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of olive oil, over medium-high heat. Break 4 eggs into skillet and fry until the yolk is cooked to your desired consistency. 

Place 2 warm tortillas on each of 4 plates and spread each with 3-4 tablespoons of warm beans. Place 1 egg on top of each and top with the warm ranchero sauce and cheeses. Serve immediately. DELICIOUS!

Sunrise Mocktail

I made a homemade grenadine and drizzled it in a glass filled with ice and fresh squeezed orange juice. Making your own grenadine is not only simple, but it is far superior to store bought brands. There are no preservatives, so I make a small amount. 

Grenadine Ingredients:
1 cup pomegranate juice (I used POM brand)
1/4 cup organic sugar

Bring the pomegranate juice and sugar to a boil in saucepan. Reduce the heat and cover, simmering for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow mixture to cool, then pour into a container with a tight sealing lid.  

Sunrise Cocktail:
Fill a glass with ice and orange juice. Drizzle the grenadine over the top and let it sink to the bottom. Top with a orange wedge.