Avocado Soup

Recently my ukulele friends and I ate at Technique, the resturant of Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Downtown Pittsburgh. The experience was truly memorable—the food was delicious and service was excellent. The ambiance was dream-like: soft colors, white tablecloths, white napkins, and white china. Gentle music served as the accompaniment to soft melodic conversations. Each course was beautifully presented. The wait staff was very professional, courteous, and attentive. Sorbet was served to cleanse our palate between courses. A three course lunch of appetizer, main course, and dessert was ten dollars with no tipping! My friends and I left Technique with the impression that this was the new standard for fine dining.

A few of us in the group ordered avocado soup as our appetizer. As soon as a spoonful of this soup touched our lips, we knew we wanted the recipe. It was refreshing and light, yet full-bodied. It’s savoriness was actually sweet from all the inherent flavor of each vegetable. It was crunchy, yet smooth at the same time. We asked for the recipe but was only given a list of ingredients—no proportions. Each of us looked at the list and remarked, “The secret ingredient is missing. There’s more to this soup.”

After making this soup about four times, I was able to figure out the secret ingredient!

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Raw Cherry Pie

The heat has been intense this summer. The best time to be out is in the early morning when the grass catches the dew, the air is fresh, and the summer flowers are standing tall.

The meals I’ve been preparing have been light and fresh— plenty of cold soups, salads, fresh fruits, and some protein. A light dessert, such as a slice of raw cherry pie is the perfect complement to a light lunch or dinner on a hot day.

The best thing about this dessert is that there’s almost no cooking involved!

There are no added sweeteners, just the sweetness from the cherries and the dates in the crust.

Since this pie is made with cherries, it is high in the phytonutrient—anthocyanidins. These phytonutrients help hold our skin together—meaning less wrinkles! George Mateljan’s article, “Can You Tell Me Which Foods Promote Collagen?” lists the berries that contain anthocyanidins and its effects on collagen:

The anthocyanidins found in deep-colored, red-blue berries and fruits (including cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries) have been shown to work in a somewhat different way. These phytonutrients help the collagen fibers link together in a way that strengthens the connective tissue matrix.

He also states in “Boosting Your Polyphenols” that cherries and other berries are high in polyphenols, a nutrient that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer health benefits:

In the fruit group, dark plums, cherries, dark grapes, and apples were found to be the most concentrated sources of polyphenols followed by berries. (Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries were included in the group of berries that were analyzed.) Among the vegetables, rhubarb and red cabbage were standouts for total polyphenol content.

Another bonus to this cherry pie is the nutrient-dense crust made with walnuts, dates, and shredded coconut.

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One of my favorite treats as a child was oranges. There’s been a family legend that’s floated around for decades by my mom—”Whenever you cried, we’d give you an orange. You would sit ever so content and eat that orange, skin and all. And then you’d want another one”.

Well, to this day one of my favorite fruits is oranges. I could envision my husband and daughter drinking the orange juice or eating the orange, or some orange zest, but the whole orange peel? No way!!!  To share my love for orange peel with my family, I had to think of a way to make an offer they couldn’t refuse—I sweetened the peel and dipped them in chocolate!!! Now how can anyone resist something sweet with chocolate. Dark chocolate!

Besides, I didn’t have the heart to throw out something organic!

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Gazpacho Soup

I recently made this soup for a very special guest, my pastor during his visit with my husband and me. I wanted him to experience the full range of textures and flavors this wonderful cold soup provides from summer’s bounty.

I made one change in the ingredients. The recipe calls for red  or sweet onions, but this time, I used a white onion instead to give it an added punch. The soup already had two sweet fruits in it-a red bell pepper and tomatoes. To give the soup some contrast, I thought a stronger, more pungent onion would provide the added kick! I was right. My pastor liked the soup so much, he e-mailed me for the recipe!

To enhance your enjoyment of the delicious gazpacho, may I suggest you pair this soup with the viewing of my painting, White Onion.

From the land of sun drenched summers, where sunlight bathes every object and colors vibrate comes Gazpacho Soup.

Refreshing Gazpacho Soup

Refreshing Gazpacho Soup

It was during one of my walks through the streets of Barcelona, Spain that I came upon this chilled soup at a local Spanish restaurant made with farm fresh vegetables. After my first spoonful, I knew I had to replicate this soup when I got home.

Today, each spoonful of this chilled, refreshing soup brings to mind the memory of the Iberian sun, the same unique summer sun that makes Sorolla paintings shimmer.

Gazpacho Soup is simple and economical to make. It is the perfect soup for summer when its ingredients are bountiful, and you’re yearning for something cool and refreshing. For an added boost in nutrition use organically grown vegetables from your local farmers’ market or from your own garden.

tomatoes 024

cubed and seeded cucumber (leave seeds if not mature) 028two stalks celery and leaves 027

sweet red pepper 025diced onions 036minced garlic 026

The vegetables for Gazpacho Soup only need to be roughly cut or sliced for the blended part of the soup. The blender or food processor does all the work! Well, except the red onions and garlic cloves. You’ll need to dice and chop a little more so that no one gets a chunk of onion or garlic in their soup.

If you’d like to add some texture to your gazpacho, reserve some of the red bell pepper, cucumber, celery, basil leaves, and cilantro. Set them aside for later. These need to be chopped a bit smaller.

I like to blend the vegetables that contain the most liquid first. The liquid makes it easier for the rest of the ingredients to liquify.

Blend four vine ripened tomatoes until liquidy. Add one half of a seeded cucumber and blend. Add celery, leaves included; half of a large sweet red pepper or one medium; two tablespoons of red onions; three cloves of garlic with shoots removed, diced. Blend.

basil 034cilantro 029lime 030

Cut or torn basil leaves; and three tablespoons of cilantro. Blend.

Add the juice of one lime to the blended mixture. Blend.

cucumber, celery, sweet red pepper chunks with cilantro and basil 038

extra virgin olive oil 035water lillies; gazpacho soup; crepes 035

In serving bowls combine diced red bell peppers, cucumber, and celery (reserved earlier).

Pour the blended mixture over the diced vegetables. Garnish with more diced vegetables, cilantro and basil.

Drizzle with extra virgin oil and hot sauce.

Salud!gazpacho soup  044

Gazpacho Soup

Serves 5-6


Reserve some cucumber, celery, sweet red pepper, cilantro, and basil for added texture and garnishing.

4 organic tomatoes

1 medium, organic cucumber

2 stalks celery with leaves

1 medium organic red sweet pepper

2 tablespoons of organic red onion or sweet onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

Cut or torn cilantro and basil

extra virgin olive oil

hot sauce (cayenne )

extra virgin olive oil

1. Reserve some cucumber, celery, sweet red pepper chunks with cilantro and basil. These need to be chopped finer.

The blended portion of the soup only needs to be roughly cut.

2. Place roughly cut tomatoes in blender or food processor. Blend.

3. Add cucumber. Blend.

4. Add celery stalks and leaves. Blend.

5. Add sweet red pepper. Blend.

6. Add onion, garlic, cilantro, and basil. Blend.

7. Drizzle with hot sauce (to taste) and extra virgin olive oil.

8. Add more vegetable chunks if desired.

Modifications and suggestions: Serve with a side of crusty bread and cheese; place slices of crusty toasted bread or shrimp in the center of the soup; for protein types, add shrimp or sausage to center of soup.

Chill soup before serving. To get it extra cold, add ice cubes.

This is an easy and fun soup to make. Add more or less of each vegetable. Keep tasting to adjust the proportions to your taste.

Copyright 2009 by Nurturing Wisdom

Pitting Cherries 101

My husband, John recently purchase five bags of organic cherries on sale! Such a shopper 🙂  He also delivered an order to our friends, Rosemarie and Joe. As delicious as the cherries were, there was no way we could eat about five founds of cherries. I was thinking of washing the cherries, placing them in a container, and freezing them pit and all… until Rosemarie called. She advised me that the cherries should to be pitted before freezing otherwise the cherries would develop an almond flavor from the pits.  As I listened to her over the phone, a running monologue was going on in my head-pit them? That sounds like a lot of work! It’ll take hours with five bags of cherries. I envisioned myself cutting around each cherry pit to remove the cherries from their pits. Rosemarie must have been reading my mind. She said, “Joe has an easy way to pit them. Use the blunt end of a skewer.”

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grain-free blueberry pancakes

Happy Father’s Day!

These delicious pancakes deserve a special occasion and today’s the day. Make these for your dad today.

I’m low on soaked almonds so I’ll be substituting previously soaked and dehydrated walnuts.


A few Sundays ago I had a tremendous yen for pancakes but didn’t want ones made of grain. Grains had been giving me a few problems. I ODed on all the baked goods during the holidays that took a few weeks to clear out of my system. Besides, my bag of sprouted spelt flour was down to a few granules. I searched through my pantry and fridge, and I came up with a few ingredients that I thought would make some nutritious, delicious pancakes.

As I rummaged through my pantry and fridge, I thought of the flavor combinations I wanted in my pancakes. I found some dried, unsweetened coconut; eggs; frozen blueberries; vanilla; maple syrup; milk; walnuts; almonds; and salt.

It took three tries to come up with the proper combination of ingredients for these pancakes. I wanted them to be nutritious, delicious, light, fluffy, and hold together. The first few pancakes didn’t hold together (no gluten), so I added an additional egg as I made each pancake. I kept adding eggs until the pancakes held together.

I used cream of tartar in the first first week’s batch hoping to make the pancakes fluffy. The pancakes rose only slightly. The second week, I used baking soda thinking it was baking powder. The pancakes rose a bit more but had that soda taste:(  I read the label carefully for the third week’s batch, b-a-k-i-n-g p-o-w-d-e-r. The pancakes came out perfect— golden brown and fluffy:)

With all the experimenting, the pancakes were gobbled up each week by my family! Sooo thoughtful and kind to put up with my experiments! They all agreed that the third week’s batch was the best.

So, here’s my best grain-free pancakes from my (test) kitchen to your kitchen.

My Best Grain-Free Pancakes

Makes 9 to 10 pancakes


1/2 Cup organic almonds, soaked and dried; will make 1/2 up of almond flour when ground

1/2 Cup of dried, unsweetened, shredded organic coconut; will make 1/2 Cup of coconut flour when ground

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

5 range-free, organic eggs (large eggs)

1/3 Cup grass-fed, organic, whole milk (or whole organic coconut milk)

2 Tablespoons organic maple syrup

blueberries or fruit of choice ( if frozen, defrost and discard liquid)

coconut oil or your choice of fat

1. Grind almonds in blender until fine.

2. Grind coconut in blender until fine.

3. Break up any clumps of coconut flour or almond meal.

4. In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients together—almond meal, coconut flour, salt, and baking powder.

5. In a second bowl, mix all the wet ingredients—vanilla, eggs, milk, and maple syrup.

6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix batter.

7. Fold in fruit. If using frozen berries, defrost and discard the liquid (I drank the blueberry juice).

8. Laddle 1/4 Cup of batter onto oiled skillet.

9. Let the pancake cook at a low flame until bubbles form.

10. Loosen the pancake and flip.

Modifications and suggestions: This versatile and basic pancake recipe is full of fiber and protein. The almonds can be substituted with walnuts. The blueberries can be substituted with other fruit. Cow’s milk may be substituted with whole coconut milk. Maple syrup can also be substituted with another sweetener such as agave to prevent the blood-sugar spike; although there is so much fiber and protein (from the shredded coconut, the skin of the whole almonds, and the eggs) in this pancake that the sugars will be slowed down. I added a sweetener to the batter so that the pancakes can be eaten as a convenient, healthy snack during the day without adding drippy syrup. If you plan to use syrup on the pancakes, the maple syrup may be omitted from the batter.

My vegan friend said that to hold the pancakes together without eggs, I can use some soy flour.

Since eggs are a very delicate protein and there are five eggs in this recipe, I cooked these pancakes with a very low flame. I used two skillets to speed up the process. You may want to try a griddle at a low heat.

This recipe is featured in The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday.


Copyright 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

Hi, Dear Friends!

Happy New Year!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Last year was a busy year getting our daughter off to college. We are now empty-nesters and miss her very much. She was home during the holiday break, and we enjoyed her company immensely. Her friends were over, and it was just like old times. She’s now returned to her college and ready for the start of her second semester.

It’s been snowing here in Pittsburgh, one of those staying in my PJs and lazing around the house days. As I looked out the window I absorbed the silence of the falling snow and the beauty of the snow dusted trees and houses. Suddenly, I had a tremendous yen for a chocolate chip cookie and a cup of hot tea. Since I have a grain problem and was recovering from a bout of too much cheating (on grain) from the holidays, I wasn’t about to bake a cookie with flour made from grain! I looked through my pantry and fridge for some possible ingredients that would make a grain-free chocolate chip cookie.

As I gathered the ingredients, my husband said, “You don’t have the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies.” Oh, he of little faith! While I gathered, I imagined the tastes I wanted in my grain-free chocolate chip cookies. I gathered eggs, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, almonds, dried coconut left over from making coconut milk (thinking that it might be my flour substitute), dried unsweetened coconut flakes, coconut crystals (I was dying to try in a baking recipe), almonds that I had soaked and dried, chocolate chunks left over from our daughter baking chocolate chip cookies with her friends, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and a tub of organic Valencia Peanut Butter.

The first ingredient I eliminated was the dried coconut from making coconut milk as my flour substitute. I thought almonds would make a better flour substitute than coconut, because using coconut flour meant I would need to use extra eggs to bind it together. I didn’t want to use too many eggs. I wanted to keep the cookie dough stiffer than pancake batter. Besides, I wanted to add dry, shredded coconut to the cookie to give the cookie more fiber. I didn’t want my cookie overwhelmed with the taste of coconut. I toyed with the idea of using baking powder instead of baking soda, but I recalled baking soda as the leavening agent in regular chocolate chip cookie recipes. I wondered why not baking powder. Anyone know why? In the end I thought I should stick with a tried and true leavening agent for chocolate chip cookies, baking soda.

grain-free chocolate chunk cookies

Well, surprise, surprise! My grain-free chocolate chip cookies turned out to be little nuggets that were crispy on the outside, and moist on the inside. The extra protein from the almonds, eggs, and peanut butter balanced the sugars in the coconut crystals and the chocolate chunks. The extra fiber from the dried coconut, almond flour, and peanut butter slowed down the sugars  from the coconut crystals, already a low glycemic food, that didn’t give me a sugar high. This cookie turned out to be exactly the right accompaniment for my cup of tea on a snowy afternoon while lazing around in my PJs.

My husband said, “Mmm, these are good. Did you write down the recipe?”

Grain-Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen medium size cookies

Preheat oven 375°


1  3/4 Cup blanched organic almonds (soaked and dried)

1 Cup organic chocolate chunks or chips (organic 65%)

1/4 Cup of unsweetened organic shredded coconut

1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 eggs (range-free, organic at room temperature)

1 teaspoon of vanilla

4 Tablespoons of coconut crystals

2 Tablespoons of Organic Valencia Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky)

4 Tablespoons of organic coconut oil or grass-fed butter (1/4 Cup)

1. Grind almonds in the blender. Break up clumps with a fork or sift. Place in a large bowl.

2. Add shredded coconut.

3. Add baking soda.

4. Add chocolate chunks.

5. Melt coconut oil (how to measure a solid fat).

6. In a second bowl, add 2 eggs (whisk).

7. Whisk in vanilla.

8. Whisk in coconut crystals until disolved.

9. Whisk in coconut oil.

10. Add liquid to dry ingredients. Whisk.

10. Whisk in peanut butter.

The dough will be vey sticky. Line your cookie sheet with brown parchment paper. Drop tablespoon size dough pieces onto cookie sheet about an inch between each cookie. Flatten with a spatula or spoon. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes on rack.

Suggestions and Modifications:

1. You’re probably saying to yourself, “She’s not really suggesting I eat cookies for breakfast, is she???!!!!” Well, I did have two cookies (really wanted three) for breakfast with a glass of warm milk. I warmed them up in the toaster oven. They were crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Believe it or not, I was satisfied. My energy was up, and I wasn’t hungry  until lunch time. After all, these cookies contain organic ingredients, and they’re full of fiber, protein, carbs, and fats. They’re much healthier than boxed cereals.

2. I think this recipe would make a great basic cookie recipe from which you can create other cookies since the peanut butter and coconut were barely noticeable. Any nut butter can be substituted for the peanut butter. How about almond butter with some natural almond extract for a delicious almond cookie! Replace the chocolate chunks with cranberries. Add some orange zest and walnuts and you’ll have a wonderful cranberry, orange, walnut cookie. How about raisins in place of the chocolate chunks, some cinnamon, and extra shredded coconut for a chewy raisin, cinnamon cookie. I’m very eager to try these variations of this grain-free cookie recipe. Please let me know how you like this recipe, or any of my suggested variations.

Copyright 2009-2011 by Nurturing Wisdom















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