spicy vegan corn chowder & an update

Hey guys! <3 So I’ve been absent on this site a bit this last month or so for a number of reasons. One was that I have been focusing on some other exciting projects for Live Juicy { to be revealed in the near future ;) } At the end of February I left a job that I had been at for nearly two years! My biggest reason for that was that while it was a good job with benefits and decent money, it really didn’t mesh with who I am, when you are trying to force something that you know in your heart isn’t for you it leads to all sorts of unhappiness. So I left that behind with faith that I could find something more fulfilling and perhaps more in line with my passion for health and wellness while I continue to build what I have as a vision for Live Juicy.

The week after I left my job my cat Oskar passed away suddenly and totally randomly. He was alive, well and playful  all day until he passed away. Losing him was a total shock and devastating to both myself and Dane. To anyone who doesn’t understand the bond a human can have with an animal it will sound silly, but Oskar was my family, my friend, my fur baby. A lovable and feisty ball of unconditional love that I count myself incredibly lucky to have shared 8 years of my life with.

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{ where Oskar loved to sleep, a habit he cultivated as a kitten and continued the rest of his life }

So that’s a short story of some of the changes that have been going on in my life lately. Lots of lessons learned:  That I can be okay even after one of the worst things I could have imagined actually happened and to truly appreciate the time I spend with the people I love, to continually remind myself to take nothing for granted and to spend more time doing things that I love.

One of those things just so happens to be cooking.

Last weekend I randomly felt like making corn chowder, luckily we happened to have all the ingredients needed to whip up a batch. Mine turned out a bit spicier than intended because I used a large chili pepper and used spicy chili powder – but was still pretty awesome! If you want less spice use only part of a chili or omit it entirely :)

Part of what is so delicious about this soup is the flavor that the smoked paprika gives it. I highly recommend you get your hands on some to try it! I got mine locally in bulk at Ecossentials but have seen it in jars in grocery stores if you don’t live in my town. I use smoked paprika all the time in place of regular paprika, it’s fantastic on roasted potatoes and cauliflower!

Though I rarely specify on my recipes, I use organic whenever possible for all of my ingredients. This cuts down on exposure to GMO (genetically modified) ingredients and pesticides and tastes a lot better than conventional especially when it comes to produce!

Also I never use chicken or vegetable stock in my soups, by sauteing the onion and garlic at the beginning and using lots of  seasonings you never really need to use stock for flavor! I’ve tested this out and never miss having it in my soups :)

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2 tbsp coconut oil

3 small potatoes cubed

2 carrots chopped

1 medium onion diced

3 cloves of garlic minced

 3 stalks of green onion chopped

 1/2 – 1 whole thai dragon chili pepper or jalepeno, diced finely (amount depends on how spicy you want it)

 1 small red pepper chopped

 1 can of organic corn

 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened)

4 cups of water

1/4 flour (can omit if you like, this is just to make it thicker!)

3 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp chili powder

3 tsp oregano

Himalayan salt to taste

pepper to taste

Melt the coconut oil in a large soup pot. Add in the onion, garlic, and chili pepper and saute over medium high heat. Once the onion and garlic are browned, remove from heat and add in the carrots, and potato, stirring to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. In a large measuring cup combine 1/4 flour with 2 cups of water and whisk together to remove clumps. Add mixture to the soup pot and stir. Add in the remaining 2 cups of water, the red pepper, the corn and the seasonings. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Once soup begins to thicken reduce heat to medium low and stir in the almond milk. Simmer until potatoes are cooked all the way through. Sprinkle top with green onion and enjoy!

alyssa

vegan chai ice cream

veganchai

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp loose leaf chai tea
2 tbsp sweetener of choice (agave syrup, maple syrup, or honey)
1 can of coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
top with cinnamon

Warm the almond milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t boil. Remove from heat and steep the chai tea in the milk for 15-20 minutes using a tea ball. Remove the tea ball from the milk once the milk has darkened up from the tea. In a bowl {or a blender if you prefer} mix in the sweetener you are using & the vanilla & then combine with the can of coconut milk. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker &. Makes 2 large bowls of ice cream or 4 smaller servings :)

alyssa

hibiscus grapefruit chia drink

hibiscuschiaA couple of weeks ago I was browsing the juice section of a grocery store and noticed MammaChia drinks. The flavors sounded interesting, and they looked really cool. {They totally reminded me of the Orbitz drinks in the late 90′s…but healthy!} I couldn’t really justify spending $4 on one at the time but kept it in mind to try recreating at home.

It had totally slipped my mind until I was looking through my tea cabinet yesterday and spotted some hibiscus tea. I decided to brew some up to use as a base for the drink and was pretty excited with how it turned out! It will be made again in the near future. :)

hibiscustea

** This drink is super high in vitamin C from the combination of hibiscus tea and grapefruit! The chia seeds are high in fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, & protein, and help to regulate blood sugar. I decided to pass up using any sweetener because I was using a ruby grapefruit & this made it sweet enough. :) **

* * *

* 1 1/2 cups boiling hot water

* 1 tsp loose leaf hibiscus tea

Steep the hibiscus tea in a tea ball {or a tea monkey in this case} in the hot water until it has cooled to room temperature.

teamonkey

Once the tea has cool, pour it into a bottle of any kind.

* add 2 tsp of chia seeds

* the juice of 1 grapefruit

Put lid on the bottle and shake until combined. Chill in the fridge for about 2 hours minimum to allow the chia seeds to thicken and set {overnight works too if you prefer}. Shake again before serving. ENJOY :)

alyssa

 

banana peanut butter ice cream cake

Last week I had been planning on making some healthy chocolates using coconut oil and cacao powder and whatever yummy fillings I could come up with. At the last minute I changed my mind and decided to attempt a healthy ice cream cake! Although it was slightly more time consuming it was well worth the extra effort involved.

The first time I made it I forgot to write down the quantities as I went along with making the recipe, but I made it a second time this week and got the amounts figured out ;)

bananapeanutbutter

6 tbsp. coconut oil

6 tbsp. raw cacao powder (or can substitute regular cocoa powder)

3 tbsp. brown rice syrup (or honey, or agave, or maple syrup)

2 frozen bananas (preferably over ripe!)

1 can (400 ml) of full fat coconut milk

2/3  natural chunky peanut butter (at room temperature)

1/4 raw cacao nibs

1-2 tbsp. raw walnuts

7 inch cheesecake pan

Melt 3 tbsp. of coconut oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in 3 tbsp. of cacao powder & 1 tbsp. of brown rice syrup or sweetener of choice. Allow to cool and thicken slightly and then add in *most* of the cacao nibs (leave a few to sprinkle on top). Pour mixture into the bottom of the cheesecake pan. Freeze for 20-30 minutes. While the bottom layer is freezing blend both bananas with the entire can of coconut milk until smooth and once the chocolate layer is completely hardened pour the “ice cream” over top and place in freezer for 4+ hours (the second time I made this cake I froze it overnight at this stage, its important for it to be completely frozen before the next step).  Mix the peanut butter with 1 tbsp. of brown rice syrup and spread it across the “ice cream” layer (if the peanut butter isn’t soft enough to do this, you can roll portions of it into balls by hand and flatten them and place over “ice cream” layer, I did this the first time but for the second time I made it I made sure to allow the peanut butter to reach room temperature so it was spreadable). Place in freezer for 20-30 minutes. Melt remaining coconut oil in saucepan and remove from heat. Stir in the rest of the cacao powder and brown rice syrup and allow to cool and thicken slightly before pouring over top of the peanut butter layer. Sprinkle the rest of the cacao nibs and the walnuts on top and put into the freezer. Take out of freezer about 30 min before serving :) Makes 4 generous servings.

alyssa

trying something new: lacto-fermenting

Fermentation and lacto-fermentation has been around for a long time, as a means to preserve food for long periods of time when refrigeration wasn’t available. Modern pickled/fermented foods are normally produced using high heat and pressure that destroys the nutrients in the foods and don’t enhance health. Lacto-fermentation is done with living cultures that preserve the nutrients in the food and creates a probiotic supplement that is awesome for your digestion.  (Lacto-fermentation doesn’t refer to the use of any milk products, but is the lactic acid fermentation responsible for culturing.)

How it’s done: The veggies ferment at room temperature for 3-6 days, friendly bacteria will multiply and grow converting the sugars and starches to lactic acid. After the 3-6 day period veggies are moved to the fridge where the cold will slow down the fermentation process. The quick growth of good bacteria and acidic environment prevents other bacteria from growing or surviving which prolongs the life of the raw vegetables. With time the veggies become more delicious and they will last up to 8 months in the fridge.

I started my first batch of lacto-fermented sauerkraut last week. I love regular sauerkraut so I’m excited and curious to see how this is in comparison. I followed the guidelines for quantity that came with the packet of vegetable culture starter which I bought locally here and can also be purchased online here. I didn’t want to do just straight cabbage so I added in a few extra things to make it yummier.

1 head of organic cabbage

3 spicy chili peppers chopped

4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

1 small onion chopped

1 packet of vegetable culture starter (prepared with water and cane sugar as directed on packet)

Mix all of the above and put into a 1 gallon glass jar with the lid on. Several times each day check it to make sure the ingredients are fully submerged in the water/liquid.

lacto

It’s winter where I am, so cooler temperatures mean slower fermenting, I am at about the 5 day mark and planning on leaving it a day or so longer before moving it to the fridge to ferment slower.

You can make pretty much any kind of fermented vegetables you can dream of, kimchi, carrots, beans, pickles, garlic, etc. All using similar methods to above. As well you can make your own lacto-fermented condiments, like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salsa, hot sauce.

I’m torn between making pickles or salsa as my next project! :S Would love to hear any feedback if you have tried making fermented veggies yourself!

e3ada-alyssa

eco-friendly string lights

Back in the summer I started collecting egg cartons for a project that I was really interested in trying.  In October I talked about this a bit here. It took me a few months longer than intended to actually get around to finishing these up, but I’m really happy with the end result:

lights

The longest part of the entire thing was actually cutting all of the egg cartons up. Egg cartons are pretty awkward to cut through with scissors and this was the sole reason this project took me so long – I took so many breaks due to blisters from my scissors haha ;) But it was worth it!  I somehow cut up WAY more than what I needed for the strands of lights I had so will be making more once I get ahold of some more string lights :)

To make the flowers I cut up the egg cartons so that each cup was individual. From there I cut four slices through the sides of the cups to create four sections, or petals. From there I rounded the edges of these sections to make them look more soft and like actual petals:

in progress lights

Then I made a hole through each center so that a mini light would fit through. I layered two cups for each light to give the flowers more dimension.

A close up of the finished project:

ecolight

e3ada-alyssa

how to brew your own kombucha

Last week I bottled my second batch of kombucha. The second batch turned out fizzier than the last (YAY!) and I went with black cherry juice this time to try something different. So yummy!

how to brew

I’ve gotten a few requests recently for the recipe for how I brewed my kombucha so figured I’d share what has worked for me so far.

The first thing you will need to do is track down a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). This can usually be easily obtained from anyone who brews their own kombucha (each batch of kombucha yields a new SCOBY). Also you will need a bit of kombucha tea to start off your first batch.

* To start off brewing your kombucha *

* 1 gallon glass jar

* 14 cups of filtered water

* 1 cup of organic sugar

* 8 black tea bags

* 2 cups of starter kombucha

* 1 SCOBY

Boil water in a large pot. Remove from heat, and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add tea bags and allow to steep until tea mixture is cooled to room temperature.

Once cooled, remove the tea bags and pour your tea into the glass jar. Stir in starter kombucha, and place SCOBY into the jar. Cover the jar with cheesecloth, a dishcloth, or paper towel and secure it around the top with a rubber band.

kombucha

Place in a cupboard or somewhere that is safe and away from light (preferably somewhere with a stable temperature). Let the SCOBY do its thing, checking on the kombucha every few days.

During the fermenting time your kombucha will grow a new SCOBY, how this looks will vary depending on a number of different things. This site has good pictures for reference.

Fermenting time varies, but mine is usually ready for bottling around the 14 day mark. Seasons and temperature has alot to do with how quickly your kombucha will ferment.

There isn’t any danger in leaving your kombucha to ferment longer, but it will taste more acidic as time goes on. I would suggest tasting the kombucha every couple days after the 7 day mark to see when it reaches the balance of tartness and sweetness that you prefer. Once you are happy with the taste of your kombucha it is ready for bottling.

* Bottling kombucha *  This adds more fizz to your kombucha :D

* 3 32 oz bottles or something equivalent

* 1 1/2 cups of juice of your choice (if you want to flavor your kombucha)

* measuring cup

* funnel

Remove the SCOBYs from the jar and place them in another jar, with 2 cups or more of the kombucha liquid (at this point you can either cover it like you kept the tea covered during the fermenting time and store in the same way to keep the SCOBYs alive, OR you can begin a new batch of kombucha right away, using the same steps as above).

Fill the bottoms of the bottles with a 1/2 cup each of the juice. Pour kombucha from the jar into the measuring cup, and then fill the bottles using the funnel, stop about an inch and a half from the top.

bottles

Close bottles and place in cupboard to ferment for another 2-3 days. Open the bottles each day to release some of the pressure (apparently some people have had bottles explode because they didn’t do this!) Once the few days are up, the bottles can go into the fridge and your kombucha is ready.

ENJOY :)

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alyssa