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Baby Kale Health

Vegan and Gluten Free Thanksgiving


Oh my goodness, time flies! It’s already Thanksgiving Day next week!

A couple weekends ago, I provided healthy food for the Taspen’s Organics Monthly Wellness Fair like I always do. The menu was a vegan/gf play on some typical Thanksgiving dishes. I made Butternut Squash soup with a spicy seed topping (I LOVE toppings for my soups), Balsamic Green Beans and Mushrooms, an autumn salad, Chickpea and rosemary flatbread…AND PUMPKIN PIE TARTS WITH COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM! Everything was gluten free and vegan, as usual!

I received rave reviews on everything, but the pumpkin pie tarts were the star of the show. I promised I would share the recipe, so here it is.

Baby Kale Health

I Feel Like A Little Bit of A Hero;)

There are so many different facets to food. Cooking it, eating it, shopping for it, growing it...and preserving it. This week I learned a little bit about food waste and wanted to share it with you.

Did you know:

  • There is an estimated 70 billion pounds of food waste in America each year?
  • An estimated 25 – 40% of food grown, processed and transported in the US will never be consumed?
  • When food is disposed in a landfill it rots and becomes a significant source of methane - a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide?
  • There are nearly 42 million people in the United States who feel the effects of food insecurity?

It absolutely kills me when I have to throw food away! I try my hardest to find ways to keep food from going bad, or to catch it before it does go bad.

This morning, I saved a giant bag of power greens from being thrown out.

In my own little world, I am a hero;)

I noticed the greens getting a little slimy on some of their edges, so I made a mental note to get them blended up ASAP. A few days later, I made it happen while I was making dinner (I was in the kitchen anyways, might as well multitask!).

vitamix power greens

I blended the power greens with water and froze them in muffin tins. The next day, I ran hot water over the back of the muffin tin to release the frozen greens from the muffin tin.

power greens in muffin tin

Now, I’ll be able to use them in the coming months by throwing them in smoothies, soups, sauces, and even muffin recipes! Not only did I avoid wasting a giant bag of greens, but I'll be able to add nutrients to all sorts of recipes. I’m so glad I caught the greens in that giant bag before they got all yellow, bitter and slimy.

You can be a hero, too!! Here's some other ways to save your produce from going to waste:

  • Your freezer is your best friend. You can chop and freeze, roast or parboil and freeze or blend and freeze.
  • Random Acts of Kindness. Make a double batch of your favorite soup or lasagna to save your produce from the trash. Then, give one batch to your friend, neighbor or someone you know that is having a hard time!
  • If you know you're not going to have a chance to use them, take them to work and ask a co-worker, friend or neighbor if they could use them right away.
  • You could even put your produce in your car and see if a homeless person would want them.
  • Use bruised or soft produce in smoothies or soups.

We're all in this together! Let's try to cut down food waste little by little.

*statistics in this article from www.feedingamerica.org

Baby Kale Health

Getting Batty with Kids in the Kitchen

I’ve learned a lot in the past 3 years teaching after school kids’ cooking classes. The most poignant is that kids love food. They love to explore food, cook food, use their hands to crush and smoosh, learn about different foods, and even taste when they are ready! I love watching different kids work with food in their own unique way.

Yesterday, my cooking class got ready for Halloween with some batty snacks. We made BAT BITES! It was so fun to see their creativity shine in this project.


Aren't they cute?! Love 'em!

Here is the recipe if you’re looking for a great Halloween snack to make with or for your kids!

Baby Kale Health

Love for Baby Kale Health!

My 9 year old son was a picky eater who was having severe stomach pains when he ate. We took him to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist who determined that he was severely constipated which is why he was in so much pain. I knew the root problem was that he wasn't getting enough fruits and vegetables in his diet, and I didn't know what to do. then I met Robyn.

I thank God that I met Robyn and asked for her help. From the moment she entered the picture, her demeanor was calm and she was non judgmental and supportive. We met regularly in my home at a time that worked into my schedule. We set short-term and long-term goals for my family that were realistic and achievable. She primarily met with me but she also included my 9 year old twins on several occasions. Robyn showed me how to make food "fun".

She focused on our strengths rather than our weaknesses to achieve this goal. One example: my son talked non-stop about Japan, so Robyn turned this idea into "Japanese night": We had the twins participate in a healthy Japanese stir-fry that they got to prepare and then eat.

I realized that kids like choices and they like to have fun with food. She introduced my twins to new concepts like "the rainbow of colors" and we implemented lots of great, yet simple ideas, like filling muffin tins with various colors of fruits and vegetables that the kids could sample and snack on. And before long, I had moved my two-tiered fruit basket out to the center of the kitchen table, and it became a colorful centerpiece in the room and a constant reminder about the importance of whole foods.

I then implemented a rule that the twins had to take something from the fruit basket before snacking on anything else. Robyn introduced me to new ideas and new foods as well as lots of resource information including handouts that I keep in a notebook. She even took me to Natural Grocers, at my request, and gave me a tour of the store.

Her accurate and insightful observations, combined with her gentle and caring suggestions, helped me make a few simple changes that I feel good about. Having Robyn in our lives has given me the courage to keep trying new things and to keep encouraging my family to make healthy choices.

I plan to have Robyn come back from time to time to "check in" with us and see how we are doing. I can't wait to see her again!

Baby Kale Health

Ode to the Lemon

A bright bowl of sunshine, a basket full of happy. Oh, the precious lemon is so good for so many reasons. They are an absolute essential in my kitchen.

Robyn cutting lemon and basil

Every time I go to the grocery store, I pick up at least six fresh lemons. Here are just a few of the ways I use my lemons:

  • Warm lemon water in the morning
  • Clean my wood cutting boards
  • Freshen the house when I simmer a pot of lemon peel
  • A face full of pucker followed by laughs
  • Brighten a rich dish
  • Partner with seafood and chicken
  • Zest for my muffins, pancakes, berry sauce, and yogurt dips
  • Marinade my vegetables
  • Add it to vinaigrettes and sauces
  • A sparkling water treat
  • Goes great with rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic, dill and oregano!
  • Keep my apple slices from browning
  • Add it to white vinegar and water in spray bottle for cleaning
  • A blast of zip to my smoothies

Sure you could use the bottled kind, but why not juice it right when you need it? Plus, beautiful and bright lemons double as a great kitchen table centerpiece or decoration!


And here’s the REAL DEAL…what’s really great about lemons is that they:

  1. Provide a blast of Vitamin C
  2. Aid in weight loss
  3. Help with digestion
  4. Soothe a sore throat
  5. Reduce risk of cancer
  6. Prevent kidney stones
  7. Balances your body’s pH
  8. Bring a fever down

I do love me some LEMONS!!! Now you have a ton of different reasons to go get your lemon on!

Baby Kale Health

Practicing Mindfulness in Restaruants

My husband and I recently decided that we aren’t going to waste money on crappy food served with mediocre service at restaurants anymore – unless absolutely necessary. We RARELY eat at fast food restaurants. I mean RARELY – and only when there are NO other choices. We have gradually transitioned to packing snacks and lunches or going to grocery stores when we’re out ‘n about. And now, we’re looking at transitioning to “mindful restaurant dining”.

We want to be mindful about the restaurant, the food, the atmosphere, the service…the total package. Instead of on a whim, saying “There’s nothing at home to eat, let’s just go out.” And then proceeding to go have a mediocre experience and so-so sodium rich and calorie-ridden meals. It’s just not worth it to us anymore.

Instead we will work through those times to look for something awesome hiding in the cupboards (I LOVE making up meals with whatever’s on hand!), and save our money to go out to one of the many restaurants that are part of Denver’s new and rapidly-growing foodie scene!

I LOVE to cook, my family likes what I make, and it’s much less expensive. So why not just stay home? We do eat at home probably 95% of the time. However, there’s something about going out to a restaurant, right? Especially if it’s a good restaurant that pays special attention to quality of ingredients, exhibits creativity in menu planning, and sets the standards high for exceptional service. I’m also looking for inspiration for my own cooking. Yes, I want the total restaurant experience.

There are so many restaurants out there that could set themselves apart from the rest, but instead they sit on their laurels, complain about customers, and try to cut costs by using lower quality ingredients and not being properly staffed. I don’t want that for my family anymore. We work hard for our money, and when we go out for a meal, I want to feel like I’m spending that money in the right place.

This conversation all began after Mother’s Day brunch a few weeks back. We went to Linger in Denver. The food was so good – taste, presentation & creativity – paired with such exceptional and professional service that the combination brought tears to my eyes (seriously). In my opinion, it was the total restaurant experience.

Lola dumping donuts

My youngest daughter ordered donut holes that came out in a paper bag on a simple white plate with a special dipping sauce. Her eyes were bright with delight as she chose to dump the donuts on to the plate and watch the powdered sugar sprinkle on top like glitter.

The energy and excitement grew as my whole family began reaching across the table and over booth partners –yes, manners went out the window- to try different elements of each other’s meals.

My oldest daughter, who wants to start a baking business this summer, ordered waffles with Nutella pastry cream and cherries. She took all sorts of mental notes on how tender the waffle was, the texture of the pastry cream and the punch of flavor that the cherries added.

Breakfast Dosa

I ordered a Breakfast Dosa, which had eggs, masala potatoes and sambar curry all crowned in glory with a special crispy crepe. I noted that even the peas “popped” and played a special role where they could’ve easily been lost.

And my husband ordered an amazing chile relleno with this crazy good candied kumquat & tomato salsa. I’ve had raw kumquats before, but now I’m totally inspired to get creative with them the next time I see them in the store.

Linger Chile Relleno

I felt so warm and happy and comfortable and even confident when I left Linger that day. It was #thetotalrestaurantexperience. Will you join my family and me on this search for the total restaurant experience? Something to ponder!

Baby Kale Health

A Few Tips for Herbaceous Meals


Pssst! Do you want to know the real deal trick, the absolute secret to great tasting food? Here it is…(at least one of the big tricks)…I’m spilling the beans right now! Wait for it…

Fresh HERBS, baby! That’s it. Done and done.

“But wait,” you might be thinking “…how do I use them? What do I do with them? Which ones go with my meal or dish? Why even eat them?”

Not only do fresh herbs add interest, complexity and beautiful flavor, they also add a huge nutritional punch. Fresh herbs hold just as much if not more nutritional value than all the different fruits and vegetables in the garden. Many contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. “Ounce per ounce, there is as much nutrition, or more, in raw parsley as there is in lettuce. In fact, parsley has 33 times the amount of vitamin C, 16 times the amount of vitamin K, six times the amount of iron and four times the amount of calcium as lettuce.”*

Some herbs are even used for medicinal purposes. Essential oils from Basil, for example, have anti-infective properties that inhibit different types of bacteria, such as Staphylococcus, Enterococci, Shigella and Pseudomonas**.

Here are a variety of ways to add fresh herbs to your daily meals:

1. Add herbs to your raw vegetable or fruit salads.

2. Sprinkle chopped herbs over steamed or roasted vegetables right before serving.

3. Add herbs to your water, lemonade or tea! (Think Mint & Lime or Lemon, Basil & Strawberry or Blackberry, or even Lemon & Thyme) You can add them and leave them in your water, or strain them out.

4. Sprinkle them over soup before serving.

5. Top butter pasta or grain salads with herbs.

6. Mint goes great in a berry smoothie.

7. Make a compound butter.

8. Add herbs to your scrambled eggs or omelets.

9. Cilantro adds pure awesomeness to guacamole.

10. Herbs add zip to any sauce, dip or spread.

This should get you started with some HERBACIOUS ideas, and great tasting meals!




Baby Kale Health

Still Gettin' Minty!

Matcha Tea glass

We received almost 5 feet of snow at my house last weekend. That’s April in Colorado for ya! I’m actually relieved because this should put us in the forest fire safety zone for a little while. When you live in the middle of national forest land, snow and rain are one of the greatest blessings. However, I need some GREEN…lots of bright, grassy green in my life!

I’ve been craving green foods since March, but NOW, I’m downright obsessed with finding more green! Enter Matcha tea – the greenest of green tea. The color is so bright and springy, and yet the taste is so mellow and earthy.

My tea cabinet is always ridiculously full and an overflowing mess. I can’t help myself. I don’t drink coffee. I drink tea, and I’m addicted to trying all different kinds of teas. Green tea is my go-to in the afternoon, black tea is usually reserved for weekends so I can keep up with my girls, and I’ve even fallen in love with teaccino, which is actually chicory, or herbal coffee! And now Matcha tea, especially ICED Matcha tea has become a quick, refreshing favorite.

I love the benefits of all tea and Matcha tea, a concentrated form of green tea, is no schlump when it comes to providing health nutrients:

· It’s good clean energy, not the twitchy, nervous kind!

· Prevents and repairs UV damage to your skin.

· Enhances metabolism and weight loss

· Improves mood, concentration and memory

· High levels of chlorophyll naturally detoxify the body of toxins and heavy metals

· Combats aging

· Builds immunity, providing many essential vitamins and minerals

· Prevents cancer

That’s quite the list of reasons to incorporate some Matcha into your life! There are a few different ways to make Matcha, but my recent favorite is an Iced Matcha with Lime and Mint.

Step 1

Add 1 teaspoon Matcha to 1 cup filtered water. Add desired amount of ice. Shake. (I use a mason jar)

Step 2

Add a handful of fresh mint leaves (I rip them up to release essential oils). Add 2 slices of lime. Add sweetener like agave, honey or maple syrup to taste.

Step 3 (optional)

Strain mixture into a chilled glass with ice.


Can’t wait to enjoy one of these on my deck surrounded by more GREEN in...hmmm only about one month to go!

Baby Kale Health

Gettin' Minty Up In Here!

Mint and Lime water

This week’s favorite for me is water with fresh mint and lime! I try to drink a ton of water every day, but I seem to go through phases where it just doesn’t taste good at all. When I’m in a water funk, I like to add different flavors with fruits, veggies and herbs. This week’s flavor of the week is Mint & Lime.

Mint has many nutritional benefits including:

    - Fresh breath and oral health

     - Clears congestion in lungs and nasal passage

     - Prevents cancer

     - Improves memory and alertness

     - Promotes digestion

Lemons and limes are some of my most important ingredients in the kitchen, and have a permanent spot on my shopping list. I know, would you believe that something so simple is one of my key ingredients! I use lemons and limes for salad dressings, dips & sauces, marinades, flavoring energy balls and protein bars, cleaning my cutting boards, aromatherapy (!), and yes, in my water and sparkling water.

Limes have special benefits, too, including:

     - Skin care

      - Relief from nausea

      - Assists with weightloss

      - Prevents heart disease

      - Eye health

Sounds like some pretty great reasons to add mint and lime to a simple glass of water. Oh, I forgot the most important reason…it tastes FANTASTIC! It’s a super simple, refreshing and rejuvenating drink that will keep you fresh and revitalized any afternoon, but especially in the coming hot months.

Mint & Lime Water

Step 1
Fill glass with water and ice, if desired

Step 2
Squeeze a couple slices of limes in the water. Throw the lime slices away or leave them in the water.

Step 3
Rip up a few mint leaves and add them to the water. Let steep or enjoy right away. 

Tip: Keep a pitcher of this in the fridge for refreshing hydration throughout the day!


Psst…next week I’ll have another mint and lime drink to share with you. You’re going to LOVE it!

Baby Kale Health

Spring Into Shrooms

Spring in the mountains of Colorado is extremely temperamental giving us rain one day, warm sunshine the next, and then dumping a quick 6 inches that night. However, there are tiny changes taking place everywhere. The aspens are just waiting to burst and red-winged blackbirds have arrived. I’ve also noticed the appearance of fresh spring produce at our local grocers.

Spring produce includes:

· Asparagus

· Mushrooms

· Artichokes

· Strawberries

· Radishes

· Broccoli

· Beets

· Cabbage

· Cauliflower

· Avocado

· Mango

· Leeks

· Peas

· Rhubarb

I don’t necessarily stick to only what’s in season, but seasonal produce does influence and INSPIRE what I’m cooking. This past weekend, I featured a Springalicious menu at Taspen’s Organics First Saturday Wellness Fair. The Vegan and Gluten-Free items on the menu included:

· Mushroom & Thyme Soup

· Asparagus, Sunflower Sprout & Avocado Salad

· Beet, Carrot and Apple Salad

· Lemon Bliss Balls

· Iced Matcha Mint Tea

EVERYTHING was gone at the end of the day! However, the Most Valuable Player on the menu was definitely the Mushroom Soup, which, by the way, was soooo simple with only 6 ingredients. I wanted to share the Mushroom Soup recipe with you, so that you have one really good, but simple standby for all those rainy, chilly, snowy, muddy, windy spring days to come!

mushroom soup

Mushroom Soup

Inspired by www.pancakewarriors.com

1 large white onion, diced

1 package white button mushrooms (8 oz) sliced

1 package crimini mushrooms (16 oz) sliced

10 stalks fresh thyme, leaves removed

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 32 oz. boxes of organic vegetable broth

5 Tbs. tapioca flour

1 dried bay leaf

2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar

½ tsp. salt

freshly ground pepper


Options: As with anything I cook or share, there’s always options to switch it up. So with this recipe, use whatever mushroom combo you want. You could use all button or all crimini. I also like to dice some of the shrooms to add interest in texture. Also, try adding rosemary to the club!


Step 1

Saute onions.


Step 2

Add mushrooms and cook down until the liquid from the mushrooms is gone. Add salt to draw out the moisture from the mushrooms.


Step 3

Add garlic, thyme, rosemary or whatever herbs and spices you want.


Step 4

Deglaze the pot with Balsamic Vinegar…you can also use soy sauce or tamari.


Step 5

Whisk the tapioca flour with the broth. Then add to the mushrooms.


Step 6

Simmer for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

BrAiNsToRm!! I was thinking you could also use this as a Foundation recipe! It could easily be a gravy with less broth, and what about adding asparagus or peas to this...maybe even raw & shaved over the top for some crunch! I've also thought about adding a grain like rice, quinoa or even small pasta shapes to the soup. And, one more thought, was to add Fire-Roasted Tomatoes to this. Hmmmm...so many options!