Zucchini Chips to Dry For!

These "chips" are one of my favorite healthy snacks - they're yummy, addictive, and extremely nourishing! They're also considered a raw (or "living") food as they're not cooked. Instead, they're dried in a food dehydrator to preserve their maximum nutritional benefit.

This recipe is from the "Raw Dimension" chapter of my 2nd edition book Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. Hope you enjoy!!

Although this is the only recipe in this book to require a food dehydrator, I had to include it. These chips are easy to make, healthy, and completely delicious! For once, decadent snacking means guilt-free eats!

3 cups sliced zucchini (2 medium zucchinis), sliced very thinly
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon each: garlic granules and seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon salt-free lemon-pepper

1. Place the zucchini slices in a medium bowl and toss very well with all of the remaining ingredients.
2. Spread out in a single layer in your food dehydrator (I use a ParaFlexx sheet as it makes for much easier clean-up) and dry at 105° F. for about 10 hours, or until you can no longer stand the delicious smell.
3. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. These don’t last long in our house!

Serves 2; GF/SF/Green (according to the guidelines in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth)

Tip: An Excalibur food dehydrator is an excellent investment. Drying at 105° F. still makes for “living” foods, and is a great way to provide on-the-go snacks that are totally healthy.

Kombucha Update!

Hey babies! Hope your Tuesday is going well. Be sure to check out one of my favorite resources, the Kathleen Show's Prevention Not Prescriptions Tuesdays. I'm one of the bloggers, plus today she's featuring a fellow vegan author - Kathy Freston. She's singing one of my songs today, the "Yes, we vegans get plenty of protein" song. It's a great one.

Anyhoo...I just had to check in as I am drinking (drumroll please....) my very first delicious homemade kombucha! It's cranberry-pomegranate (made with green tea). Last night I put several bottles in the fridge after the "fizz stage" (which I've decided is four days for my tastes). Before letting them fizz, I had added a little organic juice to each one, bottled them tightly, and set them aside at room temperature. I'm using my old GT Dave bottles, as they're made to withstand the pressure. I've heard of kombucha exploding, but I've had no such trouble so far.

So, I thought I'd let you know what I've learned so far. Overall I'm pretty psyched, despite several "failures" (over-brewing, under-sugaring, etc.). After all, it's often those failures that teach us what we need to know! I am now finally to the stage where I feel so excited and empowered - I know I can do this! It's easy, it's fun, it's affordable...and it's goooooood.

So here is a glimpse of what I've learned so far:

1. Brewing kombucha is easy. Just get a good scoby (mushroom starter), add it to your sugared tea (once cooled), and let it sit for about 10 days. After that, I've stopped doing the middle brewing. I just go straight from this process to pouring it into my old kombucha bottles (that are very clean), adding about 10% fruit juice, capping tightly, and setting aside for 4 days. After this, it's perfectly carbonated and delicious! And boy does it feel good in my system. There's something about fermented foods that really nourish the system and rejuvenate.
2. Don't worry about messing it up. Worst case scenerio, you'll dump out the tea (like I had to do once) and start over. Your scoby should still be fine in most cases as well.
3. Be sure to add the right amount of sugar. I think I under-sugared the first two batches, which didn't give the scoby enough to "feed on."
4. Experiment with flavors. My usual favorite, grape, somehow hasn't worked so far! Perhaps the type of tea I'm using isn't so great with it. But oddly enough, the cranberry-pomegranate juice I'm using has tasted divine with each batch of tea. So, as a kombucha home-brew newbie, I'm sure it will take a little while before I get the flavors and teas down to an absolute perfect science. In the meantime, I can't believe how much kombucha I have in my fridge - and I didn't have to spend a fortune on it like I used to!!
5. Kombucha is very forgiving. If you mess things up, you'll learn something new. For example, once I completely forgot to add the sugar! Days later, I remembered. The kombucha still seemed fine (it was clean and tasted fresh), so I just diluted the sugar in some hot water, let it cool, then added it to the tea. The batch took a little longer, but was fine.

Thanks so much for stopping by - I can't wait until I can report that my batch of grape kombucha turns out great! That'll be a party day in my little world. XO

Contest winner!! And....NEW Giveaway!

My daughter just picked the winner of my last giveaway at random and (drumroll please)...it's "Thriftgoddess!!" Congratulations, you have just won a signed copy of my 2nd edtion book "Radiant Health, Inner Wealth" as well as a free vegan makeover of your favorite dessert recipe.

To claim your prize, please respond (or e-mail me at quintess@care2.com) with your mailing address, and the recipe you'd like veganized.

Congratulations, Thriftgoddess!!!

And now for the new giveaway!!!

The next prize will be a homemade sourdough bread starter kit (EVERYTHING you need to start making delicious wholegrain artisan sourdough bread at home). This will include:

*Sourdough starter (it's good - it's from my very own batch that I use!)
*Detailed directions on how to easily make yummy sourdough bread (it's foolproof and easy!)
*Enough locally grown whole grain flours to make your first loaf of bread!

To enter this contest:
1. Follow this blog (on the lower left side of this page, you'll see "followers." Just click "follow" and add yourself to the list).
2. Reply to this post, stating what you love most about homemade bread
3. Become a fan on my facebook page (if you aren't already).

Please enter this contest no later than April 2nd. The winner will be announced on April 4th. Good luck!

Ten Natural Pick-Me-Ups That Really Work!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for being so patient while I slowly meander through my list of your requests for blog topics! Today, I stumbled upon a frequently requested topic: "How do I gain energy without using over the counter or prescription medications?" As I personally use Western medicine as sparingly as possible (which ends up being almost never), I have lots of ideas on this subject! Hope one of them inspires you to feel great naturally today!

Ten Natural Pick-Me-Ups That Really Work:

1. Try meditation. Just a few minutes of inner focus will revitalize you more than you'd ever think! There have been times when I thought I needed a three-hour nap, but was surprised to find that a ten-minute meditation perked me right up.
2. Breathe deeply. Try this quick exercise: Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nostrils, then exhale through your mouth. Do this five times. I'll give you a dollar if you don't immediately feel better!
3. Get some fresh air and exercise! Grandma was right - this really does work. Just being outside can be so rejuvenating!
4. Your local health food store has lots of herbal remedies that work to boost energy - try a little ginseng for a quick pick-me-up.
5. "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food," said Hippocrates. This, I live by! If you're eating well (and this includes getting in lots of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables), your energy levels will soar!
6. Ever notice a plant when it needs water? It looks all wilty and sad. Did you ever stop to think that we humans exhibit the same kind of energy when we get dehydrated? Personally, I notice a drastic improvement in energy when I drink plenty of water and don't allow myself to get too thirsty. I recommend about 3-4 quarts of water daily for anyone who is physically active.
7. Learn how to practice pranayam. This ancient yogic breathing technique will have you energized in no time! There are many great books and resources on the subject. Or come by one of my meditation classes and I'll show you myself!
8. Visualize yourself feeling healthy and energized. I know this sounds repetitive to those who are familiar with my book and workshops, but I can't say it enough! Visualizing something over and over really does make it manifest.
9. Cut out the energy-drainers that are present in your life. Not sure what they are? I recommend sitting quietly with a piece of paper (and a pen) and asking yourself this question: "What is zapping my energy?" Then, listen to the answers that arise within you. It could be anything from staying up to late, to never saying no, to eating too much refined flour. Only you know what is holding you back from experiencing your best energy levels.
10. Have fun! Laugh and play! Not sure how, since you've been working too much and have lost touch with your inner funny? This can be as simple as renting a stand-up comedy routine or playing a silly game with your child.

I hope these suggestions give you some inspiration to have some fun and feel great! I also recommend checking out The Kathleen Show's Prevention Not Prescriptions Tuesdays, as they always include some pretty spectacular blogs on the subject of staying healthy naturally. Thanks again for stopping by!

Kombucha Day 16...The fizz begins!

So, this is day two of the final stage of kombucha. I've let it brew, let it brew a second time, and two days ago, began the final fizz process.

<--Here you see the way it's beginning to carbonate. Two days ago, I bottled up the kombucha, added about 10% fruit juice (I used organic concord grape) and capped the bottles. I've heard they can explode (!), so I put them all in a box just in case. As you can see, no explosions yet! However, after opening one, I can see that it can still use just a bit more time to carbonate. I'll check them again tomorrow, and every day afterwards. Once they're perfect, they'll go into the fridge.

Happiness awaits! And is here now, if you want to get all Zen (and I do).

Kombucha Day 10

Hey kombucha friends! Well, it's day ten and things are a-happnin. Here's a rundown of the latest and greatest...

My kombucha guru (who says she's still no expert after brewing for 3 years!) came by and looked at my first batch. She tasted it and agreed with me that it was done. She noted that there were bubbles forming around the top, which (in addition to the not-too-sweet-or-sour taste) was how she knew it was about done.

<----By the way, this is the new starter my friend dropped off. It has kombucha and several of her scobies (mushroom starters) in it.
Thanks, Lorrie! :D

I made a new batch of tea, added sugar, let it cool, then added this to it.

Be sure to handle the scobies with loving care - and very clean hands!!

So, back to the first batch. Here's a glamour shot (I really missed my calling as a professional photographer, no?) of the bubbles and new scoby on top:

<-- So that's the new scoby that formed on top. The ones I started it with are lower down, floating in the jar. It's really neat how the new one formed so naturally. At first, it looked like a transluscent film on top (I was actually worried it was mold!) but then it began to look familiar - like its scoby mama!

p.s. Another thing I learned was that you shouldn't move the kombucha or allow it to be in direct sunlight. Better too dark than too bright.

So, yesterday I poured off the kombucha into small glass jars and left about 15% of the liquid (along with all the scobies) in the big gallon-sized jar. From there, I'll use that to make a new batch of kombucha.

The small jars that have the kombucha in it are now going through their second brewing. As with the first brewing, I put paper towels on top and secured them with a rubber band (to allow air to flow through, but prevent fruit flies from getting in). I'll be checking them every other day or so until they're once again at the right level of sweetness. The final step will be to carbonate the brew - which I'm excited about cuz I love me some fizzy kombucha!

Thanks for dropping by to read all about my newbie adventures in kombucha making. I am far from an expert on the subject, so be sure to find out all you can by reading up on it and asking friends. Namaste!

Book and Recipe Giveaway!!!

Hi friends! Hope your weekend has been fun and rejuvenating. My kombucha experiment is still going strong (I've even started a new batch - details soon!) and I'll be blogging this week about some things I've observed.

In the meantime, I've decided to spice things up a bit and do a few giveaways, starting....NOW!

The first giveaway will be a signed copy of my 2nd edition book, "Radiant Health, Inner Wealth." It's an invaluable resource (I've been told) for both new vegans and seasoned ones. With about 250 recipes, a complete kitchen set-up, glossary, inner wellness tips, and much more, you'll find it handy for all kinds of fun and flavor! As an added bonus, the winner's favorite dessert recipe will get a vegan makeover!

For YOUR chance to win, please do the following:
1. Follow this blog (if you aren't already).
2. Become a fan on my facebook page (if you aren't already).
3. Reply to this post, stating what your favorite dessert is.

Winner will be chosen at random and will be notified on March 20th. Please enter this contest no later than March 18th for your chance to win.
Good luck!

Kombucha Day Four

Well, not too much going on with the kombucha around here, but I thought I'd check in and give you an update anyway! The kombucha needs to do its thing for about 8-10 days. So, in about four days, I'll taste a little and see where it's at. I'm guessing it will still be fairly sweet, though. Once it does hit the primo stage, I'll remove the scoby and let it do a second ferment for another 4-5 days or so.

In fact, I was given a jar of kombucha that's in the second fermenting stage. It's day four and still isn't ready in my opinion. I want it to be just right, so I'm keeping an eye on it daily.

In the meantime, here are some of kombucha's benefits:
*Rejuvenative and restorative
*Aids with weight loss and body alkilinity
*Immune-boosting (I crave the stuff when my immune system needs some love!!)
*Many swear by it for curing cancer and other diseases.

Thanks again for stopping by - not too much to report, but soon there will be!

Kombucha Day Two

Hi friends and fellow kombucha addicts! Yesterday I began journaling my newbie kombucha brewing journey. Last night, I didn't add the kombucha and scoby (mushroom starter) to my gallon jar of tea as the tea was still warm when I went to bed. And if you remember what I mentioned before, you don't want to add the culture to warm or hot tea, as it can be destroyed.

So, when I woke up, here's what my set-up looked like:

Basically, the left gallon glass jar just contained my tea (4 green tea bags and the orange teaboy containing nettles). It isn't quite full, as I left room to add the mixture on the right.

The smaller jar on the right is the starter that a friend gave me - some of her home brewed kombucha with two scobies in it (the mushroom starters).

Here's a glamour shot of the starter I was lucky enough to receive:

So after the large batch of tea had cooled, I added the starter. Here are some exciting shots of me doing that:
By the way, see the white disc-like things coming out of the starter jar? Those are the mushroom scobies!! Pretty crazy, pretty fabulous.


Pretty incredible that something so odd-looking contains such a vital life-force, no? That slimy white-ish object contains such power to rejuvenate and restore the body! One of the women who was showing me how to make kombucha last night was waxing philosophical on the subject...she said "This might sound a little cosmic, but I look at kombucha like an affirmation of the abundance and goodness of life. It just keeps making more and more health-restoring scobies - it is so abundant and plentiful, and you can just keep giving, sharing with your friends, and enjoying."

So, back to kombucha-making...after pouring the starter into the gallon jar that contained my tea, all I did was put a paper towel over the top and rubber band it to keep it secure. You could also use a doubled-up cheesecloth or some fabric for this purpose, but I used some unbleached "Seventh Generation" paper towels. From there, I stuck it on a shelf out of sunlight. And I'll check on it every day from here to see how it's doing! From what I hear, there's a fine line between too sweet and too sour, so it's important to "catch it" right at the best spot. The shorter it brews, the sweeter it is. If you brew it too long, you'll have kombucha vinegar, and then at some point (from what I hear), a giant scoby mushroom that has sucked up all the liquids.
So, we plan to avoid all that! We're going for the perfect tangy-light sweetness that is sooooo refreshing, and that makes your body say "THANK YOU!!" as soon as you drink its life-giving elixir.

Kombucha Day One

So, tonight was pretty exciting for me. Those who know me well know that I have a big, fat, penchant for anything homemade! I regularly make my own sourdough bread, nondairy milk, sun tea, and soy yogurt - just to name a few.

So, as a kombucha lover (o.k., addict) the chance to make this at home makes me want to do backflips!! In the cosmic fantabulousness that is life, tonight was rather magical. There are two women who live in my town who brew kombucha and have said they'd be willing to share some secrets, as well as give me a starter (mushroom aka scoby).

Well, as fate would have it, tonight they BOTH called and said "Hey, I'm five minutes away from your house and have some kombucha with me. Want to try it?" I said "Hell no, leave me alone!" No, just kidding. I said yes, yes, yes...please! It was so neat to have them both here at the same time, comparing notes, fermenting times, and tasting both of their delicious kombuchas. Full moon magic! (It's a full moon today)

So, I thought it would be fun to do some blogging on how the process is going! They were both kind enough to sample out some of their home brew (both delicious) and show me how to start it. Which is actually pretty darn easy. So, here's what I did tonight:

1. In a gallon sized glass jar, I made enough tea to fill it 90% of the way up. I used green tea, mint, and nettles. And one cup of organic sugar. I added the sugar to the tea while it was hot to let it dissolve. And I used two teaspoons of tea per quart of water.
2. Once the tea has COMPLETELY cooled (they stressed this - don't add your starter to warm or hot tea or you could kill the living fermented goodness!), I'll add the starter (which will account for the other 10% left in my glass gallon-sized jar). Basically, the starter I was given is just a glass jar containing a big scoby (mushroom) and some kombucha.
3. Once the gallon sized jar is filled with both tea and starter, I'll cover it with cloth (or cheesecloth) and rubber band it around the top. It will sit out at room temperature.

From there, I'll let it sit......so stay tuned to see how the rest goes! I'm going to have way too much fun experimenting with different kinds of teas, healthy herbal additions, and fruit extracts and juices! Food nerds like me just don't get any happier.