Conscious Food Choices

For the love of delicious healthy food…

Spanish Tortilla… with a twist

This is a combination of the French Pommes Anna and a Spanish Tortilla, and it can be made with or without eggs. I served both vegan and non-vegan versions yesterday with Gazpacho Andaluz thought it was the perfect lunch, especially in the hot Costa Rican climate. However…it would also be fantastic with any hot soup on a subzero day!

Spanish Tortilla, Pommes Anne Style – Serves 10

Big Spanish Tortilla...Serving 21

  • 10 medium sized red potatoes, or 20 small
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1T fresh rosemary, minced

Egg Mixture (optional…leave out all below if making the vegan version):

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 T chopped parsley
  • 1/4 t Tabasco, or other hot sauce
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a cast iron or other oven-proof heavy-bottomed skillet with aluminum foil, coming up sides of pan at least 2 inches. This will allow you to flip the tortilla out of the pan and onto a serving platter easily after it is baked. Oil the foil and sides of pan with 1 T olive oil and sprinkle very lightly with sea salt.

Mini Vegan Version... serving 5

Slice the washed but unpeeled potatoes thinly and evenly into 1/8 inch slices, ideally using a mandolin or sharp knife. Hold in cold water for at least 15 – 20 minutes, then drain well and dry lightly with a clean towel.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes with remaining 2 T olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary, using your hands to toss and gently coat each slice. Place a nice round slice in the center of your aluminum-covered skillet and begin to fan potato slices from the center out, overlapping each slice about 1/4 inch so you end up with a single solid layer of spiraled potato slices right to the edge of the pan. Repeat this one for one more layer and then you can cheat a little on the rest – spreading them gently into the pan, with or without spiraling them, but making sure you get nice even layers without holes. Be careful not to dislodge your artfully spiraled bottom layer while you pile the rest on!

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a fork glides through the potatoes easily when pricked. If you are dong the vegan version, place back in the oven and continue to bake for 10 – 15 minutes more, until top is firm and just starting to brown a bit.

For the non-vegan version, beat together eggs, water, parsley, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes evenly and return to oven for 10 -15 minutes more, just until eggs are set and top is dry.

Allow potatoes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before you flip them out onto a serving plate. Carefully remove aluminum foil from top and cut gently with a sharp serrated bread knife. Enjoy!

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Potatoes, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , | 1 Comment

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine

Jamie Oliver calls Tagine “a sort of stew with attitude”… which sums it up pretty well, I think. “Tajine” is actually the Berber word for the earthenware pot this stew is traditionally slow-cooked in, but any heavy-bottomed pot will do the trick. While there are endless varieties, Morrocan Tagine is typically made with lamb, chicken and vegetables, dried fruits, cinnamon and other spices, and served over couscous.  Replacing the meat with chickpeas and eggplant makes for a completely satisfying and delicious stew which in the hot Costa Rica climate, we served over a room temperature barley and toasted almond pilaf.*

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine – Serves 6

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine


  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 8 sundried tomato halves, soaked in 1/2 c water
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 sweet potatoes or purple yams, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 onion, cut in 1” pieces
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 red and/or yellow peppers, cut into 1” pieces
  • 3 tablespoons dried currents or chopped raisins
  • 1 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Combine honey and ginger in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Put ginger-honey mix aside. In same blender, blend sun-dried tomatoes with lemon and spices until smooth.
In a deep heavy bottomed casserole or stew pot, heat one tablespoon of oil and add eggplant, stirring quickly to coat. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until eggplant cubes begin to sear and tenderize slightly. Remove from pan.
Saute onions in remaining 2 T oil and a pinch of salt until translucent, add garlic and saute for 5 – 10 minutes until mixture begins to caramelize slightly. Deglaze pan with a tablespoon or so of water if needed.

Add sundried tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes. Bring to a boil on medium heat and add sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are just tender.

Add peppers, eggplant, chickpeas, currents and half the honey-ginger mixture. Check for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Simmer gently, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure all the veggies get immersed into the sauce. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ginger mixture and cilantro and serve with cooked couscous, barley or quinoa.

* A Note About Barley: Barley has a wonderful chewy bite which I prefer to couscous, and although there is a small amount of gluten in barley, it is apparently a different type and more easily digestible than wheat gluten so could be a better choice for those who are not celiac or highly gluten sensitive.

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | Leave a comment

Raw Pad Thai with Young Coconut “Noodles”

The Farmer's Market in Limon

Like the Raw Lasagna, my Raw Pad Thai recipe is also an adaptation from Russell James’ original recipe. (If you haven’t already – sign up for his email list to get the original emailed to you). This recipe is extremely flexible so use what you have on hand. I made this one with tahini because for some reason that is available here but also have made it with almonds, almond butter, and peanuts and it’s great. I used raw bok choy which I was lucky to find in the farmer’s market in Limon and love the combination of that with the arugula, but napa cabbage is great too, and of course if you can get mung bean sprouts (I can’t) then that would add a more Pad Thai touch to the recipe.

Young coconuts and tamarind are easily available in this part of Costa Rica, but you may have to do a bit of sleuthing to find them in your home town. Look for Tamarind Paste in your local Hispanic market (ask for Tamarindo) and both tamarind paste and young coconuts, or “white coconuts” can often be found in the produce section of Chinese or Southeast Asian markets, and in some high-end markets like Whole Foods.  You can also ask your local health food store to order you a case of young coconuts – they come 9 to a box – and then cut them all open and freeze the meat and juice to have on hand all the time. I love young coconuts! This is just one of the many ways you can use them.

Raw Pad Thai “Noodles” and Vegetables – Serves 4

Young Coconuts

  • 2 – 3 young coconuts
  • 1 ½ cups arugula, torn into 3′ pieces
  • 2 carrots, ribboned with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 4 cups young bok choy, sliced thin on diagonal
  • 1 spring onions, sliced thin on diagonal
  • 8 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 4 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped

Pad Thai Sauce

  • 1 oz tamarind paste (or 2 dried apricots, one date, plus 1 T lemon juice)
  • 3 T palm sugar, or coconut crystals, or sucanat
  • 1 T red miso
  • 1 t sesame oil (leave out if using nuts instead of tahini)
  • 4 sundried tomato halves, soaked
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 t dulse flakes or kelp powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoons garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lime
  • 1/2 jalepeno, seeded and minced
  • 6 T tahini

Make Sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a Vitamix or other high speed blender and blend until smooth.

Prepare Noodles: Cut open the top of the coconuts with a large sturdy cleaver over a large bowl, being careful to capture the juice. (Use juice for another purpose… like drinking!) With the back of a spoon, gently work out large pieces of the white flesh from the inner shell. (If you are new to this, Dr Ralph gives a thorough video intro to coconut whacking here). Slice the meat of the coconut in to long, fettuccine-like pieces.

Assemble Pad Thai: In a large bowl, toss together all vegetables, reserving a pinch of basil and cilantro for garnish. Pour 1/2 sauce over vegetables and massage gently with your hands to coat well and soften vegetables. Add coconut noodles and toss gently, adding some or all of the remaining sauce to taste. Allow to sit for 1/2 – 1 hour to allow flavors to combine and serve with a sprinkle of herbs and a slice of lime.

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Fresh, Low Carb Recipes, Pasta, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Salads, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not Really Pumpkin Pecan Tart (Raw!)

As promised, here is the raw and still-pretty-rich but much better for you version of the evil Pecan Pumpkin Tart. The “pumpkin custard” which is actually not made with pumpkin at all, is a lightened up version of Matthew Kenney’s Pumpkin Tart with Thyme, found in his cookbook Everyday Raw. This tart requires a couple of days to get all the elements together, but once you have everything it is actually very easy to make and can be done a day in advance. Don’t tell anyone one it is not actually pumpkin, or that it’s raw, until after they have tried it. They will never guess!

Glazed Pecans

  • 2 cups pecan halves (24 nice halves, plus a bit more for snacking)
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • pinch salt, cinnamon, nutmeg

Oat Nut Crumb Crust

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup ground pecans
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 2 T coconut crystals
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t salt

Not Really “Pumpkin” Custard

  • 1/2 c cashews, soaked 4 – 6 hours
  • 3/4 c carrot juice
  • 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1/2 c Irish moss gel (see recipe below. Or substitute 1/4 coconut oil)
  • 1/4 c coconut oil
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ginger
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t cloves

Prepare Irish Moss Gel: Rinse 1/2 c dry Irish moss several times, taking care to remove any sand or debris. Soak for 24 hours at room temperature. Rinse one more time (save water for skin care, smoothies, soups or to water plants), top moss with 1/2 to 1 cup fresh water and blend very well (about a minute) in vitamix until completely smooth. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Glaze Pecans: Soak pecans in water for 3 – 6 hours. Drain and toss with a pinch of salt. Dehydrate 8- 12 hours. Toss with maple syrup and spices and a tiny bit of salt. Dehydrate again for 12 hours or until completely dry and crunchy.

Make Oat Crumb Crust: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pat evenly into 8′ tart pan with removable bottom. Chill well or freeze.

Prepare the Pumpkin Custard: Blend all ingredients in Vitamix on high until slightly warm and completely smooth. Pour into chilled or frozen tart shell and freeze for 2 hours. Refrigerate for 1 hour more to set consistency.

Decorate with Pecans and Serve.

Note: this recipe can be made without the Irish Moss. Increase coconut oil from 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Desserts, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | Leave a comment

Happy Thankgiving Pecan Pumpkin Tart

Ok, I just created a “Evil Butter Recipes” category, in honor of this and all the the other summer gallettes I could not resist posting earlier this year. This is recipe based on one my mom used to make at Thanksgiving and people ask me about it every year. (The truth is, neither her nor I ever made it the same way twice, so feel free to play with it). And… I promise to follow up with a raw and healthier version of this recipe soon!

Pumpkin Filling

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup/agave syrup
  • ¼ cup cream/soy milk
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (1 can, or one small sugar pumpkin, baked)
  • ½ t ground ginger
  • ½ t fresh grated ginger
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • ½ t vanilla
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • pinch salt

Pecan Slime

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 T melted butter
  • ⅓ cup coconut crystals (or Sucanat)
  • 2 T bourbon/brandy/dark rum
  • ½ t vanilla
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted lightly
  • pinch salt
  • 1  unbaked pie pastry crust

Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare Crust: Make a Perfect Butter Crust, or use any other pie crust recipe you like. Roll out gently, place in a large (10″) pie plate, tart pan (12″) or quiche dish, trim and flute edges. Chill while you prepare filling.

Make Pumpkin Filling: Combine pumpkin, eggs and spices in large bowl. Add maple syrup and cream. Spoon into crust and smooth top. Combine pumpkin, eggs and spices in large bowl. Add maple syrup and cream. Spoon into crust and smooth top.

Top with Pecan Slime: Combine syrup, eggs and spices. Add pecans. Carefully spoon liquid over pumpkin filling in shell and then hand place slimy pecan halves on top in a decorative pattern.

Bake: Bake for 10 minutes at 375.  Reduce oven to 350 and bake for 35 – 45 minutes. Bring to room temperature before serving or transporting.

Adding the pecan mixure onto the pumpkin

November 24, 2010 Posted by | "Evil Butter" Recipes, Desserts, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes | Leave a comment

Silky Chocolate Ganache

This recipe is taken from Sarma Melngailis’ Chocolate Tart recipe which can be found in her cookbook Raw Food Real World. Not only is the original tart recipe fantastic, but it has been the inspirational spinnoff for many many deliciously decadent chocolate treats and this ganache is the foundation.

  • 2 c maple syrup (or mix of maple and agave syrup)
  • 2 c high quality organic cocoa powder (not alkalized)
  • 1 c virgin coconut oil
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend 1 -2 minutes until velvety smooth. Store in glass containers as a spread or topping,  or pour immediately into prepared crust if using as a tart or bar filling.

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Breakfast, Desserts, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Evil Chocolate Breakfast Spread

Evil because its crammed with all sorts of wickedly good for you superfoods…cunningly disguised in something like a fudgey dark chocolate Nutella. I love this spread on a thick slice of San Francisco sourdough. I have heard through the grapevine that this spread is also the key component in a heavenly hot chocolate …? Recipe please!

  • 1/2 recipe Silky Chocolate Ganache
  • 6 – 8 capsules blue green algae*, or more
  • 1/4 c finely powdered raw cacao
  • 2 T dried goji berries, finely ground in high speed blender
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 t salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup smooth raw almond butter

In a high speed blender, combine all ingredients except almond butter and blend a minute or so on high, or until everything is a smooth as can be. Lower speed and add almond butter – blend just to combine.

Finish mixing by hand (do not over-blend or the mixture will split). Adjust for sweetness, taste and chocolate intensity, and store in glass containers. Can be kept at room temp for 1 -2 weeks.

Play with this recipe:

  • Use roasted and/or chunky almond butter (my favorite)
  • Try hazelnut butter!
  • Add blue mangosteen powder for even more antioxidant boost

* I use Crystal Manna, because it has a very subtle flavor which is easily masked by chocolate. But you can use any type of bg algae or greens powder – just start with less and see how far you can push it.

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Maple Tart Tatin – Breakfast of Champions

Sugarless Tart Tatin imageThis is one of my favorite tarts, and my favorite breakfast! It’s such a beautiful simple way to use fresh seasonal apples (and/or pears) from the CSA or the farmer’s market, and its so easy to make! Sometimes I whip one up while I am making dinner and my boyfriend Hannes and I eat half for dessert and half the next morning. Unlike the traditional French recipe which uses caramelized white sugar, I found that caramelized maple syrup or agave syrup works really really well and makes you feel a lot better afterwards. Also, because the two of us have no trouble devouring an entire tart in one day, I found that with this tart you can get away with using a very small amount of pastry (only 5 T of butter for the whole thing – and tons of fruit!). This allows room to add a rich topping for a decadent dessert, or to keep it clean and simple.

Maple Tart Tatin:

Preheat oven to 375°.

  • 1/2 recipe Pure Butter Pastry (freeze the other half – makes it so easy to whip up the next one!)
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup, or a mixture of maple and agave syrup
  • 1 T butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 -6 apples, mixed varieties if possible, always organic or locally grown

Apples and Caramel for Sugarless Tart Tatin imageCaramelized Maple/Agave Syrup:

Boil the maple/agave syrup in a 9″ ovenproof skillet/saute pan over a medium high flame for about 5 -8 minutes, swirling and gently shaking liquid regularly to avoid burning. Be very careful here – this stuff is screamingly hot, and sticks – good to keep a glass of cold water nearby just in case.

Take off heat and add butter and pinch of salt, tilt and swirl pan carefully to incorporate. It will really look like caramel here. Let pan cool while you roll pastry:

Prepare the Crust:

Roll the chilled pastry out thinly, to about the same size as the pan. Chill while you prepare apples:

Prepare the Apples:

Only half-way peel the apples so you have stripes of skin showing still. This will allow the fruit to full absorb the syrup, but to keep some of the color, shine, and nutrients of the skin. Quarter each apple vertically, and slice out the core. This can be done very simply in one cut once the apples are quartered.

Apples in pan for sugarless Tart TatinArrange apples round side down, on top of caramel in pan. Pack in as many as you can in a roughly geometric pattern. Top with round of pastry, gently tucking extra pastry edges in around the apples.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes, reduce temp to 350° and bake for another hour. Remove from oven and let sit 20 -30 minutes to absorb juices.

Place a large serving plate over skillet and quickly invert tart onto plate – give a shake to release apples from pan. (I do this over the sink, wearing a baking mit or towel to protect my hand from any hot juices.) This sounds more intimidating than it is  – say 1, 2, 3 and then do a bold, quick flip – the faster you do it the less chance of juices escaping.


  • Make this with pears instead of apples, or a mixture
  • Add a bit of chopped crystallized ginger
  • Add a sprinkling of fresh or frozen whole cranberries before you put the crust on
  • Make this using all dark agave syrup instead of maple, and add 1/2 t of vanilla to the caramel after the butter.

*Caramelizing maple or agave syrup is a little trickier than using white sugar because if you are using dark maple or agave, you will not be able to tell by color. After 4 -5 minutes the mixture should start to thicken, boil more slowly, and start to smell more caramelized. If it starts to smoke or smell burned or bitter take it off the flame immediately, and add the butter. This recipe is very forgiving – so don’t be afraid to go a little dark or light with it – you will find your own personal preference.  You are just looking to concentrate the sugars from a liquid syrup to something of a hard-crack stage which means it will be crunchy when cool, but still a thick honey-like syrup when boiling. If in doubt, dip a dry wooden spoon tip in the syrup, then dip for a 5 seconds into your a glass of cold water. It should turn into a maple tipped wooden lollipop…. Mmmmmm….

February 2, 2010 Posted by | "Evil Butter" Recipes, Breakfast, Desserts, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Quasi-raw, butter, and my favorite Peach Gallette

For a while I have been thinking about my own eating habits as being “quasi-raw”… this  could be anywhere from 75% – 95% raw, and is totally flexible depending on whats in season, what’s on hand, what country I happen to be in, and who is coming for dinner.

I do believe in the virtues of raw food, and although much of the flavor of fresh (see Addicted to FRESH), comes from uncooked foods, I love also being able to mix it up by taking more traditional cooked/baked recipes and loading them up with really fresh seasonal fruits or veggies, and turning people ON to that freshness in other ways.

Fresh Peach Gallette imageSince my background is that of a professional pastry chef, and I LOOOOVE food,  all sorts of food…I want to say that there are some things that are not great for you, but cannot be substituted for by anything else, and one of them is butter. Really good butter. Fresh from the farmers market, organic, grass fed when possible, or at least French or European. (You have to be able to smell it, or it doesn’t count).

Can you smell it when you look at this photo? What I love about this tart is the incredible simplicity of it – the flavor is simple bright fresh peach, nestled in a flaky pure butter crust, the shape is as organic and free-form as you want to make it, and it takes no time to pull together with any fruits you happen to have on hand.

Fresh Peach Gallette

Perfect Butter Crust:

  • 1/2 c butter, frozen
  • 1 1/2 c unbleached white flour (can use up to 1/2 c wwheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 ice water, with squeeze of lemon

This can be done by hand, but its incredibly easy and fast in a food processor or mini-prep:

Chop butter into 8 -10 pieces and combine with flour in mini-prep. Pulse until butter is no larger than course bread crumbs. Stop, add salt and 4 -5 T of the iced water and pulse just a few seconds more to slightly combine. Turn out into a medium mixing bowl and toss lightly with a fork, adding 1 -2 T water if nessesary until the mixture just holds a ball. Pat lightly into a 1 inch circle and chill for at least 1/2 hour, while you prepare the fruit.

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare fruit:

Peach Mixture:

  • 4 -5 peaches, washed and sliced thinly
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • 1/4 c Agave syrup, to taste
  • 1 t arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch nutmeg and cinnamon

Combine fruit and remaining ingredients and allow to macerate for 10  -15 minutes while you roll the crust.

Roll the chilled dough into a large circle, 3 -4 inches beyond diameter of the the pan you are using. This is a freeform tart, so you can make it in anything you have – its supposed to be rustic. I like using an 11′ glass quiche pan (shown above).

Pile fruit in center of crust, even out, and then fold the pastry sides gently towards the middle, so they lay directly onto the fruit, leaving the middle exposed. Crazy, uneven shapes are fine – part of the charm of this tart.

Bake for about 40 minutes at 375, then reduce to 350 and bake for another 20 -30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the peach juice is thickend slightly.

Remove from oven and brush the exposed peaches with a bit of the juice form the tart to moisten them and make them shine. Serve warm for dessert, and then finish off the next morning for breakfast!


  • Add a smattering of blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries
  • Replace cinnamon with zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Replace peaches with nectarines, plums, or any other stonefruit in season
  • Replace stonefruit with apples or pears, or combination.
  • Try adding chopped crystallized ginger and a few cranberries.
  • Use maple syrup instead of agave, or use a combination

January 28, 2010 Posted by | "Evil Butter" Recipes, Desserts, Food Consciousness, Fresh, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes | , , , | 1 Comment