Thursday, June 4, 2015

Buckwheat Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream

Who says cake isn't for breakfast?

In the world of Savouring Stella, cake is a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Especially when it has densely nutritious buckwheat flour, carrot, and a lightly sweetened cashew cream frosting. Umm HELLO!

This beautiful cake is dense, moist, and just the right amount of sweet. It's spiced with cinnamon, and topped with cashew cream frosting- which when done right, is about the best thing in the world. How could cashew cream be done wrong you ask? I didn't think it was possible either until I had a cake with a cashew frosting and it was far too bitter and nutty. Not enough vanilla and agave in that recipe obviously. Fortunately for you, I've perfected cashew cream after years of practice. However, it's one of those things that's subjective to the individual, so when in doubt, keep adding agave, and lemon zest until it's to your liking.

Brunch spread; fruit salad, buckwheat carrot cake, yoghurt, granola, quinoa and greens, avocado. Photo credit: Brandi Daniels at Eat.Drink.Yoga

Buckwheat Carrot Cake makes one 9-inch round cake

cashew cream, cinnamon, lemon zest

Carrot Cake

  • 1.75 cups buckwheat flour
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill; alternately, you can use all buckwheat)  
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup almond or rice milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrot + extra optional for garnish
  • 1/2 cup raisins + extra optional for garnish
  • zest and juice of half a lemon

Cashew Cream 

  • 1.5 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked overnight, drained
  • 3 Tbsp agave nectar (maple syrup would also be tasty)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9-inch round baking pan.

Make cashew cream by combining cashews, agave, lemon juice and zest in a food processor or high speed blender. Let this baby BLEND until it's silky in texture. Add additional sweetener and lemon zest to your taste. Cover the frosting and place in the fridge so the flavors can meld.

 For the cake, combine flours, spices, baking powder and soda, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then whisk in apple sauce, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Add wet mixture to dry. Fold in carrots and raisins.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30-35 min, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Careful not to over-bake, once you hit the 30 minute mark, check on the cake and continue checking. 

Once it's done, remove the cake and let it cool. I let mine sit covered on the counter all day, or for at least a few hours. Run some errands, grab coffee with a friend, then come back to it.

When you're ready to frost, how easy is this, place the cake on your serving plate, dollop the frosting on top of the cake. For this version, I kept the frosting on top, you could also work it onto the sides. Use a spatula to smooth the frosting while twisting the plate in a circular motion. 

Optional garnish; I tossed the extra carrot in cinnamon and a touch of agave, and sprinkled it along the edges, then followed with raisins.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Yoga & Pilates Retreat Recipes

I just got back from my most recent stint of work with Azul Yoga & Pilates at their southern California location. I'm so inspired by the healing power of real food, and by it's ability to fuel our most exciting adventures.

In between sunset deck yoga sessions and pool lounging, I'll often be found in the kitchen, preparing daily brunch and dinners for retreat guests. With as many people who walk through the doors of any Azul retreat, all have particular eating habits, allergies and preferences. In their week with us, they are invited to eat a whole-foods, plant-based vegetarian diet; a mixture of recipes from resident chef, Jo Dombernowski, in Fuerteventura, and myself.

Top deck view at sunset from Vista Villa Azul, November 2014

Every so often, a week in the kitchen will be challenged by further dietary needs and allergies; this past week, that meant eliminating gluten and dairy, in addition to being a vegetarian plant-based retreat. Everything is made from scratch, with care, and with a focus on sustainable organic sourcing.

I know heaps of vegetarians that rely on dairy to get protein, myself included. I love a great cheese, and regularly eat whole milk yogurt. I love creaminess in recipes, yet try not to consume too much dairy, as it is an inflammatory for our bodies. This week, I turned to alternate sources for flavor and texture. A cashew cream frosting for carrot cake, a toasted nut base for pesto. After eating like this for a week, I felt on top of the world. That's the healing power of whole foods. The sand and surf didn't hurt either.

I want to share this delectable world of whole foods with you, so in the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting what I call a Retreat Recipes Special Collection. These are recipes of my own creation or adaptation. If you're interested in more recipes like this, you can check out Jo's cookbook, straight from the kitchen of Azul in Fuerteventura.

To kick off this foodie fest, I have a spectacular veggie pizza for you. This is veg from top to bottom. A crust of roasted butternut squash and almond meal, topped with a vegan pesto, red onion, zucchini, kalamata olives, and arugula. This is seriously the bomb. It was raved about over the table last week and was dubbed 'the best pizza I've ever had in my life' by one of our guests!

 Incredible Vegetable Pizza serves 4-6 Adapted from Wholehearted Eats

 pesto, kalamata, zucchini, arugula


  • 1 butternut squash (2-3 cups squash puree)
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  • 1 large bunch basil (1 cup loosely packed)
  • 1 cup spinach, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • sea salt to taste


  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives
  • 2 handfuls arugula


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Halve butternut squash and place cut side down in a baking dish filled halfway with water. Bake for 35-40 min until skin can be easily pierced by a fork. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, make pesto by combining all pesto ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth, add sea salt to taste. Set aside.

Once squash has cooled, scoop out flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add remaining crust ingredients. and mix until smooth. Depending how much squash you ended up with, you may need to add more flour to create a thicker dough. You want it to be soft, but able to form a loose ball.

Use your hands to press the dough into lined baking tray, creating a little lip at the edges. What's great about this dough is that you can pick it up and eat it like any other pizza. None of that crumbly cauliflower crap here!

Bake the crust for 30-35 min until it's golden brown. Remove from over, let cool slightly. Spread on pesto, and all of your toppings. note: I like to toss my zucchini and onion in a little olive oil so that they crisp up nicely in the oven. Keep arugula on the side for now. Bake pizza for another 15-20 min until vegetables begin to caramelize. Remove from oven, let cool for 5-7 minutes, then top with arugula.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Importance Of A Side Hustle

side hustle
n. noun
1. a project or venture in addition to your main source

Often referred to as a way of making additional money to further one's goals. Hustle is the art of working hard and being resourceful to get what you want. Those who hustle with heart have incredible work ethic, integrity with their word, and intentions in a pure place. A side hustle can also be a source of inspiration, personal development, or fulfillment. 

What I want to talk about is the importance of a spiritual side hustle. Define it as you wish, for our purposes, think of spiritual as anything that connects you to your greater purpose or your best self.  

A spiritual side hustle keeps you going. Even when traveling through rough waters, you still have something to 'fall back on', so to speak. There's a confidence that comes from working something on the side. Especially when that something is rooted in your higher purpose. Suddenly it's not so bad if you get some rough feedback or don't nail the position that you wanted at work, because at least- hey- you've got this other piece of your life that's filling you up in a powerful way. 

Tell me about yours. I'd love to hear what you have happening on the side that fuels your inner fire. What keeps you going? What are you committed to that's larger than yourself?

Monday, March 9, 2015

How to Silence Your Inner Critic

 You know that feeling when you're doing really well and then a little voice comes in and says
*it wont last*
Maybe your relationship is on fire, or you're out-performing expectations at work, you've just started a new venture. It's somewhere that you've gone out on a limb-- and that takes something. That takes audacity, courage. It takes guts.

For me, it's come up in my teaching yoga. I nailed a teaching gig at an amazing hot yoga studio, something that I wasn't expecting to see in fruition for a few more months. I was getting ready to go teach my first class in this studio, and I was telling a friend,
"I have a rockin' resume from trainings, but I don't have the experience. I'm scared that they're going to see that I'm not that great"

Oh wait, in reality, I've been teaching for 5 years, I've had wild success with bringing yoga to athletes in a studio that previously didn't offer it, and the 400 hours of training that I've done in the last 2 years, that's been a massive support. But what those trainings really taught me is that everything I needed was right there, I just needed to drop the self doubt, cynicism, and inner critic in order to access that power.

My second class comes around. I had a similar conversation,
"I had a really great first class, but what if I can't do it again!"

How fast that self doubt comes out! That inner critic is the ego, and it does a fantastic job at shadowing over the successes putting the magnifying glass over our perceived "screw-ups". And do you notice how sometimes those screw-ups don't even exist? But that won't stop your mind from focusing on the what if-madness mentality.

What I want to make clear is the difference between you and your thoughts. That's right, completely separate. You are not your thoughts, not your experiences, and not your story. The faster we can get that, the more clear the road to inner freedom becomes. Imagine a world where you didn't think about all that could possibly go wrong before making a big decision. Imagine feeling this great sense of trust roll over you as you open yourself up to what could go really well right now.

I get glimpses of this in my work; that deep innate trust and surrender to the moment. And I'm human, so I also get the inner critic that rears it's ugly head. The practice is focusing on what's good.

The reality is that both "good" and "bad" things will still happen in your life, but you're no longer magnifying what's wrong, and you start looking for what is going so righteously freaking right!

The Practice

Get out a blank sheet of paper. Pick a situation in your life where you're experiencing resistance of any kind (resistance shows up as anxiety, fear, stress, worry, etc.). Give the situation a title, write it down. For example; Fear of Failure in Teaching

Write down all the reason's that this situation is "wrong" 
(warning: we're going below the line, but don't worry- we'll come back up). 
Why aren't you the right person for the job, what will people wise up to and realize about you, why is failure imminent, what could possibly go wrong? Tap into the inner critic, get really specific and get all of this down on paper. Don't filter anything out, get raw, get real, no matter how ridiculous is sounds. Fill an entire page if you can. Example; I'm not qualified, I can't do handstand like the other teachers, my uncle told me this isn't even a real career, my thighs are too big for these yoga pants

Put down the pen. Breath. Step back, and look and what you've written.  

Cross out all of the reasons that seem too ridiculous to be real. If something hasn't stood in your way up until this point, cross it out.

Now, if you weren't concerned about looking good/doing it right/not failing, what else could you cross out as reasons that aren't real. Get really straight up with yourself. There's no blame or judgement in this, just seeing clearly so we can move forward.

If you weren't concerned about what other people will say/think/do, cross out the reasons that no longer limit you. 

Circle the things you're willing to work on that would greatly improve your confidence in this area. Because the truth is, we often have work to do. And once we're clear on what we need to work on, that inner trust and confidence comes in and says, "ok, I am committed to X so in order to be best in the world at X, I'm going to work on Y to support this".

What you're left with is a lot of crazy concerns, crossed out. The real work is circled. Now, you can focus your attention and energy on the work that you've circled that will actually make an impact. Up until now, you've spent valuable energy worrying about these false reasons, now you longer have to do it. 

You've empowered your progress by getting real and shining a bright light of that inner critic and you watch it disappear as the truth gets revealed!

Keep in mind, this work is practice. And just because you dispel the ego once, doesn't mean you won't have to do it again. It does, however, make you really great at distinguishing the thoughts that are worth your time. Remember, where attention goes, energy flows. Focus on the good shit.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

I heard today is National Peanut Butter Lover's Day. I'll take it! In honor of the holiday, I figured it was due time I share this recipe for 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies. Yeah, 3 ingredients. Does it get any easier than this? In the realm of daily desserts (ya'll eat dessert on the daily, right?), I love the combination of dates and nuts. So simple, so rich, and so clean. 

For these cookies, I use Adam's brand peanut butter. All natural, and it contains a little salt. If you're using an unsalted peanut butter, add a pinch of sea salt to the recipe.

3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies makes 16 cookies

peanut butter, dates, almond flour

  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup dates
  • 3-4 Tbsp almond flour



Combine peanut butter and dates in a food processor until smooth. You should have a fairly thick paste.

Add 3 Tbsp of almond flour, blend again. Add another Tbsp if necessary to thicken. You want to be able to press the dough between your fingers and have it stick together. 

Use a 1 Tbsp measure to scoop dough, roll into a ball with your hands, and use a fork to cross mark and slightly flatten the cookies.

Cover and refrigerate! These babies will last for about a week in the fridge-- If they make it that long! And they freeze great.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pistachio Herb Falafel

Falafel and I have had a longtime love affair. It's always been a classic festival favorite. You know, when you're enjoying a beautiful day, you need something quick, easy, and filling that wont weigh you down. Falafel is like my ideal meal. Tons of fresh herbs, vegetarian protein, creamy tzatziki if you're feeling frisky. You just can't go wrong. This is a great one that comes to you adapted from Green Kitchen Stories cookbook, Vegetarian Everyday.

I love this with whole wheat pita, plus some more fresh mint and dill, and my Quinoa Tabbouleh.

Pistachio Herb Falafel makes about 20 

parsley, mint, pistachio

  • 12 sprigs mint
  • 12 sprigs parsley + cilantro (a mixture of the two, or whatever you have)
  • 1.5-2 cups shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse mint, parsley and cilantro. Add the pistachios and pulse again until the mixture is coarse. Add the chickpeas, garlic, onion, olive oil, cumin, flour and baking soda. Process until you have a uniform texture that's still a bit rough.

With clean hands, form falafel into small balls. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through, until browned.

Enjoy in pita, on a green salad with pickled vegetables, or alongside quinoa tabbouleh (linked above!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jumpstart Your Goals When You're Feeling Stuck

I did something tonight that terrified me.

I told my trainer, Nicola, about my fitness goal to lose 13lbs and lower my body fat by 6-8%. Why is this so terrifying?! For a few reasons..

Ever since my massive lifestyle change and 70lb weight loss in 2008, I've been holding myself up as a beacon of health and inspiration for others. In the following years, I started teaching fitness classes, I would take classes and coach in fitness challenges for fun. I began teaching yoga-- as a mind and body path to transformation. After holding myself to this ideal, the last thing I wanted to do was admit that I'm not where I want to be, and I need help getting back to where I want to be.

I am now accountable to a team of trainers that literally kick my ass every week. Now that they know what my goals are, I'll be pushed where necessary and no one's going to let me cheat myself. Real talk-- after a series of injuries in the past two years (back pain and two hamstring tears), I've been scared to push my body in the way that I once did. But it's time to step it up. This fear mentality has gone past the point of wisdom and intelligence, it's keeping me comfortable.

I told Nicola how I'm keeping a food journal for the next week so I can take an objective look at my daily intake and see where I can trim some fat (see what I did there?). And now SHE'S offering to take a look at it and tell me where I can make changes. No cutting corners here, definitely not. Now that I've enrolled someone who can make a difference in my success, I have someone in my corner, cheering me on and telling me to push it to the next level. Accountability makes all the difference in my success- and I know that. Next time I have the option for dessert, I'll have Nicola in my head saying, 'does that get you one step closer to your goals?'.

I love goals. And they're not always easy. Sometimes the resistance we experience is more mental than physical. This is me, doing the work. And there's always work to do.

If you're feeling stuck with a particular goals, get out a piece of paper and journal on the following questions, free flow writing, allow whatever's there to come up, watch the resistance dissolve:

  1. I am experiencing resistance with my goal to:
  2. What's holding me back?
  3. What am I making hard?
  4. Where can I make this easier?
  5. Why is NOW the time for this goal?
  6. Who can I seek the support of (mentors, peers, coaches)?
  7. Three radical actions I can take to jumpstart my goal are:
Let me know what you come up with. I can't wait to hear your sharing!