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.