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Thirteen Super Foods for 2013

Now that we have all survived the apocalypse of 12/21/12 and realize we are still alive, the need to continue eating becomes not only a necessity, but a pleasurable duty for the continuance of the human race as we boldly launch into a new era of unknown possibilities.  This list is for all of you who have been living in denial of deeply satisfying foods for your soul.  Been craving the unctuous bit of fatty bacon, or the rich beckoning of melting butter?   Dear reader, please peruse without fear for I am a chef, who is also a nutritionist.  My foremost goal in life is to enjoy eating for absolute sensual enjoyment AND to optimize my health. You see, I truly desire to keep eating for a long long time, and I want to share with you the delights of eating for health without compromising satisfaction.  A few on the list may surprise, or even shock you but rest assured that it is all good.

Here then, are my top 13 for 2013, and all the glorious reasons why.

Wait!  Just one more thing. Before we dive head long into these most delightful edibles, take note that quality and source is the key.  So, every single item on this list is healthy, provided that it comes from an ecologically oriented farmer or producer. The golden rule is that the food should be minimally processed, organically grown or at least free from pesticides and herbicides.
And after you have read the list, be sure to visit again soon for yummy recipes that will feature these thirteen wonderful ingredients.
Bon appetit and Happy Healthy Delicious 2013!

1. Eggs

Free-range eggs

They are good for your for your eyes, good for your brains, and good for your sex life.  Eggs which come from hens  happily roaming free outdoors provide vitamins A & D, along with much higher levels of omega 3 than hens kept in battery cages.
In addition, free range eggs provide an excellent source of choline, an important nutrient that supports the liver and fat metabolism.


2. Burgers

Grass-fed Burger

Not just any beef burger, mind you.  The quality and source is paramount here.  The secret is to use only beef from bovines grazing on grass.  Studies have shown that beef from cows that are free-roaming ,grass-munching is lower in overall fat, but higher in vitamins E, C, beta-carotene, Omega 3, and another healthy fatty acid known as CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).  Studies on CLA shows that it is useful in preventing cancers, improves insulin metabolism, reduces inflammation, and helps to lower body fat.  (Note: Synthetic forms of CLA supplements may negatively affect our health, whereas the natural form from grass-fed animals are safe and confers the benefits mentioned above.)
Actually, the healthiest way to have the burger is without the bun. Yup, toss the bread, but feel free to add on the bacon, cheese, mushroom, onions…However, if you can’t do without, the gluten free version is the way to go.  My video shows you how to make a delicious, juicy, homemade burger in minutes, on a gluten free bun!
Click HERE for step by step instructions.
And so far, the best gluten free hamburger bun I have found is from Udi’s.
And if you are living in the San Francisco, Bay Area, one of the best sources for grass-fed beef is from True Grass Farms.


3. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate

Theobromine cacao is the food of the gods, provided that it doesn’t contain loads of processed sugar and additives.  When it comes to good taste and good health, the darker and more cacao (also known as cocoa) content, the better.  I highly recommend that you opt for 70% cacao  or higher.
Cacao is filled with antioxidants, and according to research done at the University of Cologne in Germany, cacao also lowers high blood pressure.   There is also a substance called phenylethylamine (PEA) which helps to increase dopamine; the “feel good” chemical that we all need.  My favorite way to enjoy the powerful benefits of chocolate is to use dark chocolate in flavoring savory dishes. (See my next post for a recipe.)

4. Bacon


        In the world of sinful, forbidden foods, bacon must be one of the most feared and craved.  What if I were to tell you that eating a few slices of bacon may actually be quite healthy for you?  When pigs are free to forage outdoors, in the sunshine,  they accumulate vitamins A & D, and we, the bacon eaters, are the happy beneficiaries.  Of course, there’s the question of nitrites and its affects on health. Allow me to address this concern.  In an excellent article written by Kaayla Daniel, author of  The Whole Soy Story, she explains that
when bacon is cured the old-fashioned way with spices, sugar, and a precise amount of sodium nitrite curing salts, along with the addition of ascorbic acid, the nitrite will convert to nitric oxide (NO), which is healthy, and not convert into the harmful nitrosamine.  NO expands narrow blood vessels, thus facilitating better oxygen uptake and circulation, eliminates clots, and reduces plagues. For you bacon lovers and those who crave it, but are hesitant, I highly recommend that you read “Save Your Bacon”  by Kaayla Daniel, PhD and learn for yourself the beauty of bacon.

5. Artichokes


This exotic , mildly menacing looking vegetable is a powerhouse for supporting the liver and maintaining a robust digestive tract.  Artichokes contain long chains of starch molecules known as oligosaccharides that help to support the friendly bacteria in our gut.
I love artichokes, my dog loves artichokes.

Tashi Loves Artichokes

Click HERE to learn the easiest way to prepare these delightful green globes and also read an”Ode to the Artichoke” by Pablo Neruda.

6. Avocados


These luscious fruits, known to the Aztecs as ahuacatl or “testicles” due to its shape, are one of the most nutritious foods around.  It contains vitamins E and K, along with folate and B6 plus minerals such as magnesium and potassium, both of which are important for cardiovascular health.  Avocado is also endowed with lutein, a carotenoid which is critical to good vision and skin.  As if that weren’t enough, avocados are superb for detoxification because they provide glutathione, a major antioxidant needed by the liver to do its job right.

7. Celery


Four ribs of celery a day, keeps the doctor away because it contains good fiber and helps to lower high blood pressure.
See my previous post for all the reasons why celery is not just a common vegetable, but a magical green wonder for health and romantic attraction, too!  Yes.  Good old celery can make you smell alluring to the opposite sex.


8. Cabbage

Purple Cabbage

Cabbages belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables known for their sulphur containing compounds which supports liver functions.  Although the three main types of cabbages (red, green, and savoy) all have health promoting nutrients, red or purple cabbage is extremely high in anthocyanin, a polyphenol that has been well researched for its ability to improve blood circulation (thus helping to prevent hypertension), promote vision health, and protects against oxidative damage.  It is the rich red, purple, or crimson colors in vegetables and fruits that signal the presence of anthocyanin.  Black and blueberries are other notable examples.

Note: Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower) contain chemicals (goitrogens) that inhibit thyroid hormones.  Cooking greatly mitigates this problem, so enjoy this family of vegetables cooked.  The only exception is sauerkraut, which is fermented and is actually very good for digestion and overall health.

9. Beets

Roasted beets

These sweet, dense underground vegetables contain a special class of phytonutrient known as betalains which help to calm inflammation, provides antioxidant properties, and assist the liver in detoxification.  Beets also contain betaine, another antioxidant that helps to lower homocysteine.
(High homocysteine is linked to risk of heart disease.)  But wait, there’s more!  You can’t beat beets for eye health as they also contain lutein & zeaxanthin, both of which protect the integrity of the retina thus preventing macular degeneration.

10. Butter + 11. Coconut Oil

Healthy Fats

When it comes to fat, saturated is where it’s at!  After decades of misleading negative information regarding fats in the diet, researchers are now realizing that unprocessed, natural forms of saturated fat are actually good for us; crucial for physical and mental health.
Butter contains butyric acid which calms inflammation in the gut, making it a therapeutic agent for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s and ulcerated colitis.
Coconut oil contains numerous nutrients that are anti-microbial, support optimal thyroid function, and brain health.  Please go to my
FoodFacts page to read all about the merits of good fat.

( Click HERE for a video of an interview with Dr. Newport and her research on coconut oil’s beneficial effects against Alzheimer’s disease.)

12. Liver and Pâté

Duck Liver Pate

Eat liver for your liver.  This traditional, nutrient dense food has been prized by many cultures for its ability to nourish both the young and the old; providing robust vitality.  It is a supreme food for those who suffering from anemia as it contains a highly absorbable form of iron while also delivering , zinc, copper, plus the fat-soluble vitamins A & D.
And because it is so nutrient dense, you don’t need to eat a lot to reap the benefits.  About 4 oz. once or twice a week is sufficient.

(Note: Since the liver does function as a filtration system, it is very important to obtain it from organically raised animals.  When choosing prepared pâtés, be sure that the purveyor gets their raw liver from free ranged animals and not from factory farms.)

13. Mushrooms

Chanterelle mushrooms

Whether they are shiitakes, chanterelles, or just the commom “button” mushroom, they all confer good health by strengthening the immune system, and promoting cancer preventive activities.
According to world-famous mycologist, Paul Staments, not only are mushrooms great to eat, but they can also save us from environmental disaster!  Click HERE for an awesome TED talk by Mr.Stamets on ” Six Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World”.  It will truly amaze and inspire.

Well then, those are my top 13 foods to explore, enjoy, and share.  Do visit again in a few days as I start rolling out recipes using these ingredients.  Here are a few tempting titles to entice you:

  • Spicy Chocolate Dip with Prawns
  • Three Mushroom Ragout with Bacon
  • Grilled Chicken Liver with a Caramel Balsamic Drizzle
  • Grass-fed Beef Meatballs in a Beer and Nutmeg Sauce

For the love of food and friends,



Daniel, Kaayla. “Save Your Bacon.” Wise Traditions Vol. 13 No. 3 (2012): 38 -45. Print

Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing Inc., 2001. Print

Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running. Berkeley: 10 Speed Press, 2005. Print







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Vanilla Scented Lamb Roast

Does the pairing of vanilla and lamb seem somewhat odd to you?  Well, using vanilla in savory dishes is one of the best culinary secrets that I am sharing with you right now!  The delicious fragrance of vanilla is not just for ice cream and hot chocolate.  Vanilla adds an ineffably voluptuous flavor to savory meat dishes.  While it enhances chicken and beef quite beautifully,  my personal favorite is to use it with lamb.  Somehow, the gamey carnitine boldness of the lamb is made deliciously refine and exotic by the floral, beckoning aroma of vanilla.
In this roast, the vanilla bean is part of the seasoning rub, and also in the balsamic- vinegar reduction.  All I can say is you must try it.

Whole Vanilla Beans

So, what is vanilla anyway?  Where does it come from? Is it a bean, a pod, a seed?   Does it grow on trees? Is it just for flavoring only, or does it contain health benefits too?
No need to scratch your head in a befuddled state any longer.  Here are the basic facts, followed by a few amazing health benefits:

According to “The Story of Vanilla”, written by Chat Nielsen Jr., whose family co-founded Nielsen-Massey Vanillas Inc., vanilla originated from Mexico where it was known as Tlilxochitl by the Totonaco Indians, who were defeated by the Aztecs. That’s how Montezuma, King of the Aztecs, got hold of the Tlilxochitl vines, from which grew the Tlilxochitl pods, commonly known to us moderns as the vanilla bean. The mighty Montezuma drank an energy boosting libation made of ground corn, cacao beans, vanilla pods, and honey known as “chocolatl“.  Unfortunately, this drink did not protect him or his subjects from the ruinous Cortez.  The Spanish conquistador loved the chocolatl, but be-headed Montezuma, and then plundered and destroyed his kingdom.  Fortunately for us, cacao beans and vanilla were introduced to the rest of the world by way of Cortez.
Now, is vanilla bean a bean or is it a pod, or what is it?   Well, it is actually the fruit of an orchid.  The pods hold tiny tiny tiny seeds within them.  Of the countless varieties of orchids, only Vanilla plantifolia (found in Mexico, Bourbon Islands,Indonesia), and Vanilla tahitensis (found in Tahiti) produce an edible fruit.  In order for the pods to develop, the flowers must be pollinated by hand.  Once the pods have grown, and are picked, they need to be cured before they can be consumed.
The history, cultivation, and processing of vanilla is truly fascinating, but beyond the scope of this blog.  To learn more, I encourage you to visit the Neilsen-Massey website link at the end of the post.

And vanilla beans not only taste and smell sensational, they are good for you too!

  • It has a very high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value, which means that vanilla beans are very good as an antioxidant.  High antioxidant foods prevent cellular damage, which means slower aging, a stronger immune system, and may prevent cancer.
  • Increases amorous mood (well, it has actually been shown to increase penile blood flow according to a study conducted by Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Institute of Chicago.  Other scents that produced similar results include pumpkin pie, licorice, and lavender.)
  • Calms anxiety.  According to a study done at the Sloan-Kettering hospital, patients about to undergo a MRI scan showed a 65% decrease in anxiety and stress when they inhaled the sweet scent of vanilla.

Here, then is the recipe to indulge your senses and invigorate your health:

For the lamb
1 leg of lamb (about 2-1/2 lbs),de-boned
3 – 4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 – 3 sprigs thyme, remove the leaves from the stem
1 whole vanilla bean, sliced in half length-wise, scrape out the tiny seeds carefully with a paring knife (*don’t threw away the de-seeded pod!)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & pepper, to taste
* Place the entire piece in honey to give it that wonderful scent. Of course, you can also place it into sugar, but please refrain from using the nasty white, processed stuff! Choose Sucanat, palm sugar, or xylitol instead.

First, make a seasoning rub with the garlic, thyme leaves, and olive oil.  I love to use a mortar & pestle to grind the ingredients together.

grind garlic, and thyme together with olive oil





Then, spread the rub onto the inside of the de-boned lamb.  Also spread the vanilla seeds evenly across, and season with sea salt & fresh ground pepper.

Spread the garlic mixture and vanilla seeds







Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Meahwhile, tie the roast with kitchen twine and sear the entire piece on all sides.  (I like to use a cast iron pan for this step.)

sear the lamb before placing in oven

Place it onto a roasting rack and place into oven when it has reached temperature.  Lower the temperature to 325 degrees after 15 minutes, and continue to roast for approximately 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees.
While the lamb is in the oven, prepare the reduction which will be drizzled over the meat.



For the Vanilla-Balsamic Reduction
1 vanilla bean, sliced open lengthwise, and scrap out the seeds
1-1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
Place the vinegar and de-seeded bean plus the seeds in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer on low heat and reduce the liquid by half. This may take about 15 minutes.  It is best to keep your eyes on the pan, because if the vinegar is reduced too far, it will be too thick to pour well.  Discard the bean (pod).
(You can also use this vanilla-balsamic reduction over grilled vegetables, baked chicken, or vanilla ice cream.)

When the lamb is ready, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.  Remove the string and cut into thin slices.  Drizzle on the vanilla-balsamic reduction and serve immediately.  This goes really well with sweet potatoes and sauteed kale.  And don’t forget a glass or two of zinfandel or pinot noir.  Salud!

For love of food & friends,

To learn more about vanilla, visit the Nielsen-Massey website.

The Story of Vanilla” by Chat Nielsen Jr.

More on the Sloan-Kettering study:

More of research by Dr. Alan Hirsch:

More on ORAC values of foods:


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Celery: Sexy & Salty, Really!

Celery Still Life

Did you know that this humble, ubiquitous vegetable was highly prized in ancient times as medicine and a powerful aphrodisiac?
Often neglected  on the crudite platter, or under appreciated as the frivolous garnishing to your Bloody Mary, this jade-green stalky member of the Apiaceae family was initially used for its healing properties by the Greeks and Romans, and did not gain popularity as a food until the Middle Ages.  Modern research substantiates traditional wisdom as scientists report that celery contains a substance that increases androsterone, a male pheromone derived from testosterone, which makes men more attractive to women, scent wise.  As a matter of fact , Casanova ate celery daily to boost his legendary libido.

In addition to being an aphrodisiac, here are some amazing benefits of celery to be enjoyed by both men & women:

  • Helps to lower high blood pressure.
    According to Dr. Michael Murray, eating 4 ribs of raw celery a day  may reduce high blood pressure to healthy levels. (See end of post for reference.)
  • Extremely low in calories, high in fiber, and containing over 80% water, celery is the perfect food to snack on, especially for weight management. (I love it with tahini, or almond butter.)
  • Due to celery’s high content of potassium, vitamin C, and other minerals; it is nourishing to the adrenals and supports relief of stress and anxiety.
  • Acts as a diuretic, which helps to remove excess fluid retention.
  • Contains natural sodium; about 100 mg. per 2 ribs.

Celery is also a very aromatic vegetable that adds wonderful flavors to foods, especially poultry.  I made this dish last weekend using celery salt, and fresh celery plus other Spring vegetables, along with a free range chicken.  The  combination of Celtic sea salt and celery can’t be beat, not only for flavoring, but also to increase adrenal support and boost amorous pursuits!

Roast Chicken with Celery Salt

This recipe is incredible simple, and easy to clean up afterwards as it is  all done in one roasting pan.

One whole free range chicken
(you can also use whole drumsticks, or breasts, with skin)
3 tsp. celery salt
(I highly recommend the Celery Salt blend from Celtic Sea Salt.  It is made from organic celery from All Star Organics  )
Fresh ground pepper
5-6 medium shallots, peeled
1 medium carrot, peeled and roll cut into 1″ pieces
4 – 5 celery stalks, cut into 2 inch lengths
celery heart, cut in half
1 medium fennel bulb, cut into wedges

The secret to a tasty, juicy bird is to rub the seasoning under the skin.  First, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Then, begin by gently inserting your index finger between the skin and the flesh at the breast and place in a little celery salt and rub it in while lifting the skin, working from the base towards the neck.

Lift the skin away and insert seasoning

Repeat the same with the other breast and back side of the chicken, then top with fresh ground pepper over the skin.  Cut a slit with a pair of scissors on one leg and insert the other leg through. (See photo) Doing this will keep the bird nice and tight while roasting to keep in moisture, and to retain its shape.
Now line a roasting pan with parchment paper and suspend a rack over the pan.  Place the seasoned bird over the rack and place in the oven.
After 15 minutes at 425 F, lower the temperature to 375 F and continue to roast chicken for about 35 minutes.
Then, carefully lift rack with chicken off, and place chopped vegetables into the pan over the parchment lining. Season vegetables with a little more celery salt and fresh ground pepper. (The dripping from the chicken will make the vegetables richly delicious!)

cut a slit at the base of the leg

Return rack with chicken over the pan, and continue to roast until the bird is done and the vegetables are tender (about 30 minutes.) Internal temperature of the chicken should be 165 degrees F.
Remove the roasted chicken and place on a cutting board, breast side down for about 8 – 10 minutes.  Resting the bird this way helps to concentrate moisture back into the breasts.
Serve immediately with the vegetables.

Place chicken and rack over vegetables

For Love of Food and Friends,

Murray, Dr. Michael. Total Body Tune Up. New York:Bantam Books, 2000. (p. 220)
www.whfoods.org (World’s Healthiest Foods)


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Nettles: Wild and Wonderful


Stinging nettle stings!  And it hurts!
I have personally encountered the needle-like defense system of the Urtica Dioica many times, and
although the ouch factor can be quite high, it hasn’t deterred me from picking this most wonderful weed.
Nettles are so well known that they need no description.  They may be found, by feeling, in the darkest night.”  ~ Culpeper (1561)

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Edible Beauty

After long dark months of wintry slumber, the Earth awakens with Spring, which brings forth explosions of beautiful, jewel-toned blossoms that perfume the air and delight the eyes.  Well, instead of just smelling or looking, how about tasting them too?
Edible flowers provide not only colorful, elegant garnishings to your dishes, they also contain nutrients that help to keep you healthy.

Nasturtium ~ Photo by Karen Diggs

Edible blossoms have been used as food and medicine for millennia.  Ancient Chinese, Roman, South American, and European herbalists have recorded many therapeutic uses of flowers.  For example, Marigold (calendula officialis) is used  topically to soothe and soften the skin, including calming acne, eczema, and burns.  Internally, calendula helps with indigestion, and ulcers.  Sweet violets ( viola odorata) are mildly sedative, and both the flowers and leaves are used for treating colds, sore throats, and coughs.  Violets are associated with Aphrodite and prized as a token of love.   Josephine had violets sewn into her wedding gown when she married Napoleon.  And the most romantic flowers of all, roses, are known for their ability to balance the heart and emotions; dispelling melancholy.  Women all over the world have long used roses for beautiful skin. My Mother who had flawless, wrinkle-free skin all her life, credited my grandfather for cooking a concoction of goats’ milk and rose petals for her to drink as a child.  I luxuriate in the fragrance of roses by brewing organic rose buds as a tea.

Organic rose tea Photo by K.Diggs

If you don’t have a garden, don’t be sad. There are plenty of  wild wistful floral offerings everywhere in the Spring and Summer.  During the end of March and April, I often gather nasturtiums, , chive , and arugula blossoms on walks or hikes.  I use them liberally on salads and to make pestos.
(See end of post for a quick and delicious salad with nasturtiums.)

Chive Blossoms ~ Photo by K.Diggs

Other edible flowers include carnations, chrysanthemums, dandelions, and squash blossoms.  While using flowers in your kitchen brings artistry, beauty, and flavor; care should be taken when gathering them, either from the wild or from a garden.
(Caution: Not all flowers are edible, and those sprayed with pesticides/herbicides should be avoided.  Some delicious-looking flowers are poisonous, so never ingest any that you cannot positively identify.  If you have any doubts, do not eat it.  If you have allergies, you may want to use flowers with care and introduce them slowly, being mindful of your reactions.  And finally, when picking flowers on a trail, be sure to choose ones that are away from where dogs can leave their markings!)

Spring blooms are also emissaries of Mother Nature, reminding us that it is time again for detoxification and renewal.  This is the perfect time for a cleanse, both internally and externally.  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is the time of the liver and doing a detox can clear away stagnation that built up over the winter months.  (See my next post for liver supportive herbs and foods.  Also, download my free mini eBook with great detox tips and recipes!)  Many spiritual traditions also have rituals for thoroughly cleaning house from top to bottom as the weather warms and the days become brighter.

Use sprays of lavender to purify and scent the air while you dust your shelves and floors. Then take a break by drinking a cup of rose tea, accompanied by a salad topped with nasturtiums.  A perfect welcoming of Spring!

Salad graced with Nasturtium ~ photo by K.Diggs

Avocado & Pecan Salad with Nasturtiums
3 cups organic Spring salad mix
1/2 avocado, sliced
8 – 10 toasted pecans
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 nasturtiums
Place all the ingredients, except the flowers, in a large bowl and toss well with a pair of tongs.  Adjust seasoning as needed.  Top with the nasturtiums and
relish the flavors of edible beauty.

For Love of Friends & Food,


Gladstar, Rosemary. Family Herbal. North Adams, Mass: Storey Books, 2001.
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Happy Soup for a Cold Dark Day

Tashi Loves Squashes

Fall brings short days and cool, dark weather.  Two weeks ago, as my emotions waded heavily through a cold and rain drenched day, I longed for a ray of sunshine that was no where to be found.  I felt trapped in a veil of endless grey.

Fortunately, I had on my kitchen counter several winter squashes.  One was radiating a brilliant orange vibe filled with energy and warmth.  Ah, bravo to these colorful edibles of Autumn that bring cheer and nourishment in their variety of fun colors and shapes. My savior was not a pumpkin, but a Red Kuri squash.  Originally from Japan, this squash has a rich nutty flavor and creamy mouth feel.  In general, winter squashes provide a gamut of nutrients including potassium, fiber, and beta-carotene.  The more orange the squash, the higher the beta-carotene content.
The presence of the orange hue in vegetables such as squashes, carrots, and peppers does not only signal the promise of better eyesight, and smooth skin through the presence of beta-carotene, but it’s vibrancy promotes energetic benefits.
According to experts in color psychology, orange is intellectually stimulating, triggers warmth,  and heightens enthusiasm.

You can bake squashes in the oven, although I find that it can be difficult to cut it in half when raw.
Here’s my tip on how to deal with a hard to cut open squash:
Steam it whole for about 10 minutes until the hard shell softens, then remove from the steamer and cut in half.  Scoop out the seeds and continue to steam or bake until the flesh is tender.

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Soothing Cocoa Pudding

Soothing Cocoa Pudding

A mouthful of Pudding

There’s nothing like a mouthful of creamy rich voluptuous pudding to soothe frayed nerves and to satisfy your sweet tooth’s desire.  However, when the  pudding is made from commercial dairy and processed sugar, and may even contain gluten, then the remedial effect is short lived as your blood sugar spikes then dips, while you get a runny nose or bloating from the dairy, causing you to get agitated, then irritated and then feel guilty for having eaten the darn thing!

This Soothing Cocoa Pudding is truly comforting, won’t cause an excessive energy surge and crash, and  provides good fats ( coconut milk),
minerals ( tapioca), and antioxidants ( cocoa powder), plus anti-bacterial action (xylitol) .  It’s also gluten free , grain free, and dairy free!

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Summer Solstice Strawberries

This was posted last year, but here it is again in celebration of Summer Solstice!

Sensational Strawberry Cubes~ photo by Karen Diggs

These luscious, red, juicy, heart-shaped delights will be coming into their prime in the Summer and we should take advantage of this gift from the fruit gods.

Here are some interesting facts you may not know about strawberries:

  • It is part of the Rosaceae family, which includes roses, pears, apples, peaches & raspberries.
  • There are over 600 varieties of strawberries.
  • It is actually not a fruit, but an enlarged receptacle of the flower of the plant.
  • During the Middle Ages, strawberries were a symbol of prosperity, perfection, and peace.
  • Just 1 cup of the fresh stuff will provide over 136% of the daily allowance of vitamin C.
  • Strawberries make an awesome facial mask that helps to treat acne and give a supple, fresh glow to your skin! (see instructions below).

Here’s a super easy, super delectable recipe to cool off those long hot summer afternoons:

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PaleoCoco Tea Cookies

PaleoCoco Tea Cookie

Yes, tea cookies are meant to be served with tea, but dipping these little Paleo dainties in a glass of port turns an afternoon pick-me-up into a moderately decadent treat.

This delightful grain-free version of the traditional tea cookie provides all the deep satisfaction of eating a sweet treat without the blood sugar roller coaster upset caused by grains, or conventional sugar.  A few of the ingredients may be a tad unusual or exotic  to some of you, but I so encourage you to give it a try.  It’s good to venture into exoticism, especially when it’s in the safe haven of your own kitchen. ( You will find a short explanation at the end of this post on those ingredients, where to get them, and why they are good for you.)
And what the heck is Paleo anyway?  There are plenty of books and websites devoted to the merits of a Paleo diet, so I’ll just be very brief and explain it this way: It’s a no grains, but plenty of protein, vegetables, fruits plus nuts and seeds, along with healthy edible fats way of eating that is in alignment with our genetic inheritance. (Please see end of blog for links on the Paleo Diet)

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Savory Dish with Chocolate from Catalunya

Mar i Muntanya ~ photo by K.Diggs

This Catalonian dish pairing chicken with shrimp is made unbearably luscious with the addition of deep dark chocolate. It is a ravishing combination of the savory and the bittersweet  coming together in a gustatory adagio of  harmonious flavors that slowly release their exquisite surprise bite after bite.  This dish is finished off with a paste composed of garlic, parsley, ground almonds, olive oil, and chocolate.  (It’s a simple version of the much more complicated molé sauce from Mexico.)

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