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creativecalligraphy

Avocado "Ranch" Dressing

For the love of avocado, you have to try this!  And do yourself a big favor by adding fresh tomato and carrot to the salad that you're dressing because avocado has been shown to dramatically boost absorption of beta carotene and lycopene (check out the link above for more info!). Notes: I found the garlic bite to be quite intense when I first mixed up the dressing.  Letting it stand definitely helps to mellow that flavor, but if you intend to serve this to kids shortly after making it you might want to half the garlic, try 1/4 tsp garlic powder or omit it all together.  The chives give a really lovely subtle onion flavor.  The dill flavor takes time to develop, so if you have a chance to let the dressing sit before serving, you will be rewarded.  I dressed some garden fresh greens for dinner tonight, but you can try this on baked potato, with fresh veggies or steamed veggies or as a dip for artichoke (yum!)  If you prefer a thick dip texture, or know some kids who do, cut the almond milk back to 1/2 cup but leave the remaining ingredients the same.  You could also leave the almond milk at 1 cup and add 1/2 a block of silken tofu to firm up the dressing into a dip.  If you go this route you will want to increase the chive to 1/2 cup and dill to 2 Tbsp to boost the flavor and balance the mellow tofu. Have you guessed yet that I adore avocado and need no special occasion to play with it in the kitchen!?  Talk about a creamy and versatile fruit!  I'm charmed. [caption id="attachment_427" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Avocado "Ranch" Dressing"]Avocado "Ranch" Dressing[/caption] Avocado "Ranch" Dressing 1 cup unsweetened almond milk juice of ½ a lemon (approx ¼ cup) 1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar 1 ripe avocado (about 1 cup) 1 clove garlic 1 bunch fresh chive (used a handful/ about ¼ cup, adjust to suit your taste) 1 Tbsp dried dill or ¼ cup fresh dill, finely minced ½ tsp salt ½ tsp pepper Place everything in your Vitamix, blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.  Adjust for seasoning and then pour into a bowl and cover.  We want to chill this dressing for an hour or longer so the flavor develops. [caption id="attachment_428" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Garden Fresh Greens with Avocado Ranch Dressing: the orange tomato came from our garden, but there were only 2 so we each got 1/2!"]Garden Fresh Greens with Avocado Ranch Dressing[/caption]

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creativecalligraphy

Creamy Banana Pudding (Raw, GF & vegan)

While I love my green smoothies in the morning, I do like to change things up from time to time.  This is something that I whipped up when we were vacationing in England and I've now figured out that by blitzing it in the Vitamix I can get quite a creamy consistency.  Whether you use just a fork or go for the appliance, you will end up with something yummy.  It reminds me of yogurt and pudding and is as versatile as both of those little wonders.  You can top this pud with fresh berries and/or granola.  Sprinkle on some flax seeds and you'll totally be a super star. Adjust the sweetness as you see fit.  I prefer to use lucuma powder  here when I want the sweet flavor because it is a very mild earthy sweetness and it's raw.   Like any sweetener, lucuma adds calories but has the benefit of being a minimally processed whole food rather than an overprocessed, chemically treated product like white sugar.  Maple syrup is a good substitute if you really need the sweetness.  I challenge you to try this with less sweetener than you think you need (or none at all!)  Bananas are beautifully sweet and really shine if you let them. Creamy Banana Chia Pudding (Serves 1 adult or 2 children) This recipe can be doubled easily.  My suggestion is to use 2 bananas per adult, 1 per child.  Only add ½ tsp increments of sweetener for each additional portion if you are using a sweetener.   [caption id="attachment_380" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Creamy Banana Chia Pudding"]Creamy Banana Chia Pudding[/caption] 2 ripe bananas 2 Tbsp chia seeds 1 tsp lucuma powder or maple syrup (optional) ½ cup almond milk or other alternative milk There are a few ways to prepare this pudding depending on the equipment you have.  The manual way to tackle this is to grab a wide bowl and a fork.  Put your peeled bananas into the bowl and give them a thorough mashing.  If you like things chunkier, leave them chunkier.  If not, keep mashing until the bananas make a paste.  Top with chia and lucuma and mix those in.  Add the almond milk and stir until everything is combined.  Now leave the bowl alone for a few minutes while the chia swells and absorbs the almond milk. If you have a Vitamix, blender or food processor you can put everything in and blend for a few seconds until you get a smooth puree.  Transfer the puree to a bowl and let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes while the chia works it’s magic. If you want a smooth pudding and have a coffee or spice grinder you can mill the chia seeds into a powder before adding them to the manually mashed banana.  Still leaves you with an appliance to clean, but it’s not as messy as using a blender, etc. Top with granola and fresh berries for a great breakfast or quick snack.  

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creativecalligraphy

Citrus Salad with Beet, Blackberries and Avocado (Raw Gluten Free Vegan)

Dinner tonight was inspired by a recipe that Annmarie Gianni prepared on the Renegade Health Show earlier this month.  I modified it to suit the ingredients I had on hand (some luscious blackberries and a ton of mixed greens) and also to meet my Father in Law’s dietary restriction; he can’t have grapefruit.  So unlike the Renegade recipe which features grapefruit, I went with citrus that my Father in Law can have… the amazing orange!  I tried the dressing per the Renegade recipe and while it has a super fresh zing that I loved... but I know that my kids prefer a creamy dressing.  So, I played around a bit and incorporated some avocado and a date to cut the tang of the lime juice vinagrette from the original.  I am SO pleased with the results and all 5 of us sharing dinner tonight enjoyed this salad.  I had a dinner portion and the guys had side salads with their meal. Let me know if you try this one.  The raw beets might surprise you with their sweetness.  So, so good.  Also, I can easily see the dressing as a dip for raw veggies of almost any variety.  It's a little tart and a little sweet, but the creamy factor is what makes it special. [caption id="attachment_320" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Citrus Salad with Blackberries, Beet and Avocado"]Citrus Salad with Blackberries, Beet and Avocado[/caption]   Citrus Salad with Beet, Blackberries and Avocado (makes 2 dinner salad portions or 4-6 side salads) Salad 1 ½ ripe avocados (you need 2 total for this recipe; the other half is used in the dressing) 3 organic oranges (you need 5 total for this recipe) 1 organic grapefruit (optional) 4 raw beets 1 pint organic blackberries 4 cups spinach 4 cups romaine 2 cups arugula
 6 fresh mint leaves 
 Dressing 2 organic oranges, peeled 1 medool date, pit removed 2 organic limes, juiced dash of sea salt a few grinds of pepper ½ avocado, pit removed 2 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil (optional) 
 To prepare the salad: Wash all of the greens and spin them dry in your salad spinner or lay them on a clean kitchen cloth for a few minutes to dry. Fold the mint leaves in half lengthwise and use your knife to make thin strips (julienne).  Alternatively, you can minced the leaves or tear them into very small pieces.  Just be sure not to leave big pieces of leaf because it can be a strong flavor! Zest your citrus fruits with a zester and reserve the peelings.  Next, remove the citrus peels and cut the fruit into bite size pieces.  How you do it is up to you.  I usually quarter the fruit and then slice each quarter into 4 pieces.  If you’re peeling the fruit by hand you can just add the segments… whatever works! Give the raw beets a quick wash under cool water to remove any sand or dirt.  Slice off the greens and then peel the beets.  This is a messy task that will stain your fingers (and anything else) reddish purple for a while.  Consider this your red badge of courage.  You’re trying a new salad and it is making you commit!  Once the beets are peeled you have a few options.  You can grate them using a hand grater (uber messy!) You can cut them into small pieces with your chef’s knife (also uber messy). Or you can employ your food processor and either grate, slice or chop finely depending on the nifty blade attachments that you have.  I chopped the beets into a fairly tiny shred using my food processor and we all loved them.  Do what works for you. Let’s deal with the avocados.  Slice each one in half lengthwise and twist to get the pit to release from one side.  To get the pit out you can either scoop it out gently with a spoon or, if you’re confident with your knife, you can tap the knife blade into the pit (it will stick in there) and twist the handle until the pit pops out.  You really need to be confident to do the knife tap, so please don’t try it if you’re nervous.  I don’t want you to get hurt!  I’m going to go with the notion that you’re able to get the pit out and all.  Time to score the avocado flesh in lines lengthwise and then again width wise so you end up with a grid pattern on each piece of avocado.  Take a soup spoon now and work it in between the skin and the flesh as you scoop out as much avocado as possible.  As you do this, the cute little pieces will pop right out!  Fun. [caption id="attachment_321" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Avocado Citrus Dressing"]Avocado Citrus Dressing[/caption] To prepare the dressing: Put everything into you blender and whiz until smooth.  It took me about 30 seconds of blending in the Vitamix to achieve a smooth and creamy texture. To assemble: Toss the mixed greens into a large bowl or lay them out on a platter.  Sprinkle with the minced or julienned mint.  Spoon some dressing over the greens.  Use the amount that makes you comfortable.  For my dinner portion, I used 1 Tbsp of dressing.  Next, top with shredded beets, orange pieces, grapefruit pieces and berries.  Serve!

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