Creamy Cucumber Gazpacho Recipe

I was wandering around the Jack London Square Farmer’s Market in Oakland when I heard someone calling my name. I turned to see a good friend sitting at a vendor table. Sara had just finished doing a cooking demo for Cookin’ the Market, and she was excited for me to try her creamy creation. 

Straight from the About Us page on their website, “Cookin’ the Market is a market chef program focusing on creating quick, nutritious meals using fresh, seasonal, locally-grown ingredients. Sharing free recipes, cooking tips, and cooking demonstrations around the San Francisco Bay Area. The program is a response to the pre-packaged, heavily processed and fast foods that have become so prominent in American meals. Cookin’ the Market emphasizes real ingredients, healthy recipes, and easy preparations to demonstrate that anyone, regardless of time or talent, can cook delicious and nutritious foods that not only taste better, but are also better for you.” (read more)

This delicious, refreshing green soup couldn’t have entered my life at a better time. I have cucumbers coming out of my ears from the front yard garden! I was excited to go home and replicate her recipe, which I’ve since made no less that four times. I think it merits a share and a nod to this awesome program and my awesome friend Sara. 

cucumber gazpacho recipe 

 While it’s superb straight out of the blender, I’ve also found that it’s even better after it’s been in the fridge for a day. So if you have time to make it a day in advance you should! 

Creamy Cucumber Gazpacho
Serves 4
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
  1. 1 large cucumber or 2 smaller ones
  2. 1/2 cup organic greek yogurt
  3. 1 tbs fresh mint (about 10 leaves)
  4. 1 tbs fresh chives
  5. 3 scallions
  6. Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  7. 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. Black pepper to taste
  1. Peel the cucumber and chop into 3 or 4 pieces
  2. Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender and puree until completely smooth
  3. Serve with a garnish of chopped scallions and a drizzle of olive oil
Adapted from adapted from a recipe by Sara Haston of Cookin' the Market
Cultivated Wellbeing
I love it because it’s light and fresh while still being rich in protein and nutrients, including probiotics from the yogurt! A fantastic and nutritious combination of flavors, and it literally takes mere minutes to throw together Peeling the cucumber is the most laborious part.


cucumber gezpacho recipe

Roasting: The Easiest Way to Make Veggies Delicious

When I first ventured off to college, I was excited to experiment with cooking for the first time outside my parents’ house. Having been curious to learn and try to replicate some of my mom’s recipes (none of which is written down or involves any measuring whatsoever), I was eager to begin my own journey in the kitchen. I cooked for my dorm-mates when we had potlucks in the communal kitchen, and I was always willing to try anything I could dream up — as long as it was cooked on the stove top. 

The oven was off-limits back then. Very scary. The words “roast” and “bake” conjured anxiety of burnt poultry or ruined pork parts. There’s no stirring, no mid-course correcting, no way to know what’s going on in there without opening the door compulsively, which I was told not to do. Casseroles freaked me out. With the exception of those green beans I mentioned last week, I didn’t want anything to do with the oven until much later in my cooking escapades. Years later. roasted vegetables 1

And now, I have to say that even though we have a very old, very inefficient, somewhat temperamental oven that literally heats up the entire kitchen when we use it, I couldn’t live without it. I am so eager to throw something in the oven and walk away to get something else done while my dinner cooks. Or at least I’ll work on another part of dinner while something happens inside that magical oven. 

Roasted Vegetables

Today we’re going to talk about the simplest, most delicious way to prepare just about any non-leafy vegetable: Roasting. I love roasted veggies. They’re so simple, and the process is all but fool-proof, even for a beginner in the kitchen. You can roast just about anything using an extremely simple formula that will pretty much guarantee deliciousness every time. With this formula, you can stick your veggies in the oven and move on to making another part of your meal. It’s a great tool for multitasking in the kitchen and getting a lot of delicious food on your plate at each meal without spending all day in the kitchen. 

roasted vegetables 3

Here’s the formula:

cookie sheet or baking pan (not the flat kind, you want a lip) + veggies of your choice + olive oil, avocado oil, melted coconut oil, or ghee + salt and pepper + (optional) balsamic vinegar. Spray oil works great in roasting so you can coat things well without totally overdoing the oil.

roasted vegetables 2

Here are some veggies that are great for roasting:

  • asparagus (chop the white ends off, roast the rest whole)
  • zucchini/squash (better with balsamic and sliced very thin!)
  • broccoli (chop into bite size pieces)
  • cauliflower (chop into bite size pieces)
  • eggplant (better with balsamic and sliced very thin!)
  • bell peppers (slice thin or roast in halves or quarters)
  • onions (sliced or quartered, both work great)
  • sweet potatoes (diced or sliced – leave skin on)
  • beets (diced, pealing is optional – I never peel them)
  • celery root (diced)
  • sunchokes (diced)
  • pearl or fingerling potatoes (whole or cut in half)
  • pumpkin (quartered or sliced, don’t bother peeling until afterwards)

roasted vegetables 4


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F for non-starchy veggies and 400 for the root/starchy veggies  
  2. Rinse your veggies and chop or slice accordingly
  3. Lay the veggies flat on a cookie sheet avoiding any overlapping
  4. Drizzle or spray with oil of your choices (I use this avocado spray or you can use a Misto Sprayer – affiliate links)
  5. (optional) drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar
  6. Sprinkle salt and pepper (skip the pepper for the sweet potatoes and beets)
  7. Roast non-starchy veggies for 10 to 15 minutes, starchy veggies could take up to 40 minutes, depending on the root
  8. For starchy veggies, shake them up on the pan after an initial 20 minutes, then check back every 5-10 minutes after until they’re done

With this tool in your tool belt, eating veggies every day will be a snap! Enjoy your delicious roasted vegetables with your favorite cut of meat and a nice big salad if you’re working on a low-carb lifestyle. (Find out why you should make your own salad dressing.) 

Now it’s your turn!

What’s your favorite veggie to roast? What do you add to your roasted veggies to make them delicious?

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation if you click and purchase it. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

Best Stuffed Squash Blossom Recipe Ever

vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain free

This year we decided to plant pumpkins in our newly created front yard edible landscape, and as a result, we’ve had a boon of squash blossoms to eat (on the left in the picture above). In years past, I’ve seen tiny baskets of squash blossoms in booths at the farmers’ market and been curious as to how people eat them. Every time I’d ask a farmer, the answer would be, “stuff ’em with cheese, bread ’em, fry ’em.”

MMMM, healthy! (sounded like gas and pain to me)

As a result, we never bothered buying them, but once we found ourselves with a front yard full of squash blossoms, I decided to experiment. The first batch I picked ended up getting chopped up and thrown into scrambled eggs, because I never found the time to do anything with them before they started to shrivel. Little did I know, squash blossom petals are like little magical yellow silky spider webs — much stronger and stickier than you’d imagine, which means they are great for stuffing, even if they shrivel a little bit. The eggs were good, but I wouldn’t say the blossoms added much to them besides color.

vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain free

I was prepared for the next round I picked, which I used for this recipe, and which will undoubtedly redefine what you think of a gluten-free, grain-free, vegan ANYTHING, much less a version of something that’s typically stuffed with cheese, battered, and fried.


I’m talking about stuffing squash blossoms with vegan cheese and coating them with grain-free batter. This is a vegan, gluten-free squash blossom recipe that will have you pinching yourself in disbelief. One bite of these little nuggets of joy and you’ll be singing the praises of vegans and “glutards” (a new term I just learned that completely cracks me up and apparently describes me) everywhere! Maybe you won’t be singing their praises, but you might be singing mine for sharing this with you. This recipe is not only gluten-free, it’s grain-free, lending itself to an even greater audience of restricted eaters.


While I’m not the most humble of people among us, I don’t generally endorse the singing of my own praises, but with Loren as my witness, these things are THE BOMB, and you won’t regret making a special trip to the grocery store for garbanzo bean flour to make them. That’s a promise.

A word on which squash blossoms to eat

vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain-free

example using a zucchini plant

There are two kinds of blossoms you’ll find in your garden if you’re growing squash of any kind. Some of the blooms are male and some are female. The male ones just look like a regular flower with a regular stem. Those are the ones you want to pick for a recipe like this one. The female ones have a little mini-fruit at the base of the blossom. Check out this article for more photographic examples and some great info on squash gardening. The take-home message is that you shouldn’t pick the female flowers because you will likely be preventing the fruit from forming. The bees move the pollen from the males to the females, and that “insemination” gets the fruit going. If you take the flower off before that happens, the fruit won’t mature. 

Squash Blossoms(1)

Gluten-free Vegan Squash Blossom Heaven

  • 20 male squash blossoms
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour

    vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain free

    basil herbalea super globe in my garden

  • 1 cup water (you want the mixture to be pasty — thinner than hummus, thicker than soup)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt to go in the batter + a little extra to sprinkle right after they come out of the oil
  • Cashew cheese (I left out the cilantro this time. Linked recipe makes more than is needed for 20 squash blossoms)
  • Fresh basil (any kind will work — typically smaller leaves are sweeter. I used basil herbalea super globe from the garden.)
  • Sunflower, sesame, or coconut oil for frying (you want about half an inch of oil in your fry pan)
  1. Make the cashew cheese following the instructions this recipe leaving out the cilantro
  2. Carefully open each squash blossom to stuff the cashew cheese and small basil leaf into the blossom and twist it shut (the petals just stick together like magic yellow mesh)
  3. In a wide shallow bowl, mix the garbanzo flour and salt and slowly incorporate about a cup of water, until you get the desired consistency — not too thick, not too runny
  4. Heat your skillet before adding the oil, then add 1/2 an inch and heat to 330F
  5. Dip the blossoms into the batter, covering completely, and then place into the oil
  6. Cook each side until golden brown
  7. Salt immediately
  8. Drain on some paper towels and allow them to cool before devouring

vegan gluten-free squash blossom recipe grain free



Spring Sugar Snap Pea Salad |Cultivated Wellbeing

I’ve had a very busy week running around 4 work sites and propagating health and wellness information to the masses of employees at my day-job. It’s wellness fair season, which means I’m halfway through two weeks of back-to-back events.


This time of year might be the most exciting but it’s also the most stressful, which means that eating well and sleeping as much as possible are the objectives to meet for my life outside of work. (I successfully slept 10 hours a night all three nights of this long weekend, by the way. I’d call that a SUCCESS!) I will not be getting sick or wearing myself thin. Not while I’m telling everyone else how to be healthy all day. This week’s recipe is one of sheer joy for me to share with you, and it hits the spot where “eating well” is concerned — especially if your definition of “eating well” involves a delicious requirement just as much as a healthy requirement. Both are equally important. sugar snap pea recipe

I’ve recently started listening to an NPR show called Splendid Table, which alluded to a variation upon what I’m about to share, and (like always), I encourage you to be creatively inspired to make this recipe your own. I’ll give you some suggestions at the end to spark your imagination. I served this dish at a backyard BBQ last weekend, and even guests who weren’t all that into sugar snap peas went back for seconds and thirds. We had zero leftovers, much to my disappointment. (I LOVE leftovers!) It really is mind-blowingly good.

Sugar Snap Pea Salad


  • 2 lbs snap peas
  • 2 lbs red grapes
  • 1 large red shallot sliced
  • 1/4 medium sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 6 chopped green onions
  • 6 to 10 sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3-1/5 lb pecorino romano, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • Dressing: 1/3 cup EVO and 1 tbs raw apple cider vinegar mixed well
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Snap off the tough ends of the sugar snaps where necessary. I just use scissors and do a few at a time. It saves time and prevents accidental pea mutilation.
  2. Rinse the peas and grapes and drain very thoroughly. I let them sit in a colander for a few minutes and then toss a few paper towels into it to soak up the extra.
  3. In a large bowl with room to toss, add all ingredients (dressing last) and toss

This dish is absolutely fabulous, because it marries the natural sweetness of the peas and grapes with the salty umami of the pecorino romano. And the fresh herbs give a boost of not only flavor complexity but trace minerals and antioxidants too! Healthy and delicious — it’s heaven in your mouth! Seriously. sugar snap pea recipe

Sugar Snap Pea Recipe Variations

A few variations I can’t wait to try that might help get your juices flowing in your own kitchen:

  • swapping peaches, nectarines, or a berry combo for the grapes (UPDATE! Just did this with white nectarines for another BBQ this weekend and the whole salad was gone before the last guest arrived!)
  • swapping out other potent hard cheeses for the romano like parmesan or asiago
  • trying a Mexican cheese, lime, and a TON of cilantro with the peas only, or maybe even with peas and mandarin oranges
  • adding garlic to the onion mix or swapping it for the shallots
  • trading chopped pecans for the slivered almonds

The possibilities are endless here! I encourage you to choose your own adventure with this sugar snap pea recipe — and then share your results with me below! I’d love to hear about it!

Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Soup


‘Tis the season for fresh veggies and light fare. As the days get longer and warmer, we can stow away our crock pots, press the pause button on our heavy sauces and stews, and pull out our salad spinners and steamers. Now’s the time for fresh salads and light soups, lean meats and fresh seafood. It’s spring!

This recipe replaces the heavy starchy potato with the fresh and light cauliflower — but not just any cauliflower, the ORANGE cauliflower. This awesome, vibrant orangey-yellow breed of cauliflower makes for a beautiful bright yellow soup rich with extra micronutrients like carotenoids, vitamin C and selenium.

Of course, you can make this soup with regular cauliflower, but I make no promise that it will be as beautiful upon completion. (I bet it will still be delicious though!)cauliflowersoupcwb

The Fresh Herb Quandary

One of the best things about having a small herb garden is that you only pull what you need for your meal, leaving the rest to grow and flourish until your next visit. I used to waste herbs all the time before I started my garden. I’d buy fresh herbs, use them for one recipe, and then forget about them until I found them in a nasty soupy plastic bag in my produce drawer three weeks later. I’ve found a solution to get them to last at least a bit longer, which helps a ton in those months when cilantro and basil won’t grow.


I say all this because I chose the herbs in this soup not only for flavor, but because I had an abundance in my garden. If you don’t have an herb garden or other recipes planned for the week to use up the herbs I call for in this recipe, don’t sweat it.

Be creative.

Use a combination of dried herbs instead, or use only sage and see what you think. (Sage keeps for a pretty long time in the fridge too.) OR, even better, plan your week around using the rest of these yummy herbs in your meals. (I’d recommend trying a parsley pesto — you’ll use the rest of that bunch right up and it will keep much longer.)

Creamy Cauliflower Soup


  • 1 large yellow cauliflower
  • 2 to 3 cups veggie broth, water, or chicken broth
  • 1.5-2 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp EVO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • OPTIONAL: butter or ghee
  • 1 whole medium yellow onion, chopped coarsely
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh parsley, sage, and oregano
  • 1/2 tbs REAL salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Gently warm a large pot on the stove
  2. Add EVO, keeping heat below smoking point
  3. Add chopped onion and garlic (if using dried herbs instead of fresh, add them here as well)
  4. Lightly saute until soft and onions are translucent
  5. Add in chopped cauliflower and saute 3 minutes more, adding in small amounts of broth or water to make sure nothing burns
  6. When the cauliflower is almost soft, add in the rest of the broth the salt, the apple cider vinegar and the pepper — here’s where you add the fresh herbs if you use those
  7. Let simmer for a good 10 to 15 minutes
  8. Add in coconut milk and optional butter or ghee and turn off the fire
  9. Using an immersion blender, blend until completely smooth (you could also pour the whole thing into a blender, but that can get messy if you’re not careful — make sure you have someone holding the blender still, especially if your pot is heavy!)
  10. Serve in a shallow bowl and garnish with fresh parsley and a swirl of EVOcauliflowersoup1


Coconut-crusted Delicata Squash

coconutdelicata1I love winter squash. It can go sweet or savory, light or heavy, creamy or chunky. I love that I can buy winter squash on a whim with no plan, and it can sit on the counter for weeks until I’m ready to use it, remaining just as fresh as it was the day I bought it. With all its versatility, I could find a use for winter squash at every meal — if only I had the time to prepare it.

I fell in love way back in college when I found myself eating at the first home-grown restaurant I’d ever been to. Eastside Cafe (in Austin, TX) grew its own produce right outside the back doors of the building (and I hear now they have chickens!). I’ll never forget this dish — baked acorn squash with a sesame ginger glaze — it was like dessert as a side dish. At the time, I had never even heard of acorn squash, much less did I have any confidence whatsoever that I’d be able to replicate something resembling this dish at home.

Fast forward 10 years and here I am, still in love with winter squash and trying new healthy recipes with the different varieties all the time. (Check out this super thorough round up of all the winter squashes and the easiest and best ways to prepare them.) 

I have to be honest though. Sometimes preparing winter squash can feel like a lot of effort — pumpkins can be hard to cut through, butternut squash takes forever to cut and peel (and it rolls all over the cutting board), and you always have to clean out the seeds, which can be a mess. But this year, I discovered a new variety of winter squash: the beautifully easy-to-work-with delicata squash provides all the wonderful pleasures of a winter squash with virtually zero hassle. No need to peel, easy to slice open long-ways and chop into pieces, and easy to clean by simply scraping a spoon down the center — I love this squash! You can do a lot with it, although before this exciting creation, I’d only tried a simple roast in the oven.


In 5 easy steps, I give you a healthy recipe for a side dish that will impress your palate and that of the guests you host: slice, scrape, chop, season, toss, roast, DONE!
coconutdelicata3 Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized delicata squash
  • 2 tbs EVO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 3 tbs finely grated dried unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp pinch red pepper flake
  • 1/2 tsp ground pink Himalayan salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Cut the squash in half long-ways and scoop out the seeds
  3. Slice 1/2-inch thick pieces all the way down (it make sense to cut the smaller ends thicker and the larger ends thinner for even cooking, so that they’re all about the same mass and bake evenly)
  4. In a large zip-lock freezer bag, toss squash and all other ingredients until well-coated (make sure there are no holes in the bag … you’ll be sad if there are)
  5. Lay squash flat on baking surface (I used a ceramic baking dish, but I’m not sure if it makes a difference)
  6. Bake on 400 for 30 minutes. No need to turn them over
  7. Enjoy — and eat the peel, it’s good for you! (more fiber, more phytonutrients)coconutdelicata2

Creamy Cashew Dip

cashewdip2This recipe isn’t pretending to be cream cheese.

There’s cheese, and then there are nuts or soy/tofu or rice or hemp — there is no substitute for cheese. The sliceable or shredded rice cheese is a waste of space, and I try to avoid soy-based fake dairy at all costs. Nutritional yeast is DELICIOUS on popcorn or kale chips, but it’s not cheese.

It’s not!

I am not vegan, but I started avoiding cream cheese after multiple cream cheese snacks resulted in uncomfortable emergencies at the crag. Cream cheese bothers my system — a lot — and coupled with the nerves that come with climbing (for me), it’s all bad. I’ve tried vegan alternatives, but they are no replacement for cream cheese, and they just make me sadly wish I had the real thing.

So I decided to try something entirely different: instead of attempting to replace cream cheese with a non-dairy imposter, I took my spreadable needs in a whole new direction. (And now I just accept that if I want real-deal cream cheese, I will have to deal with the consequences — preferably not outdoors on a climbing trip.)

One of my go-to solutions for the past few months has been a standard hummus, but lately I’ve wanted something with a little more zing. I started playing with recipes that some people call “cashew cheese,” mixing, matching, adding new ingredients, substituting others, and discovering some pretty great combinations! But I am calling it a dip, because it’s not cheese. It’s delicious! But it’s not cheese.

You can also thin this recipe out with a little bit of water or almond milk into a saucier consistency for pasta or veggies!

cashewdip1Creamy Cashew Dip


  • 1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in warm water with a few drops of raw apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh water
  • 1 tsp avocado oil or EVOO
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper
  • ¼ tsp REAL or sea salt
  • fresh cilantro* (no need to chop, just use 10-15 sprigs or so, that should do it)

Blend everything in the food processor until completely smooth (about 5 minutes).

Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with crackers or fresh crudités.

*I know there are tons of people who hate cilantro. My sister hates cilantro and thinks it tastes like soap. I didn’t name this recipe Creamy Cilantro Cashew dip, because the next time I made it, I didn’t have any cilantro and used fresh parsley instead. It was equally delicious!

For all recipes I post, I encourage substitutions, creative alternatives, leaving out something you don’t like, adding more of what you do, etc, etc. Recipes are flexible, I’m just giving you a jumping off point. Be creative!

Kitchen Alchemy: Cran-Strawberry Sorbet

I have to admit, I don’t like cranberry sauce. Every year at Thanksgiving, I try it, and every year I don’t like it. Whether it comes right out of the can or someone offers me a “family recipe” that’s been perfected over the years, it’s just not my favorite thing. But for some reason, when I was wandering through the produce section at Berkeley Bowl, I felt compelled to buy a box of fresh organic cranberries.


When I brought them home, my husband asked what I’d planned on doing with them. I said maybe I’d make a holiday smoothie, and he laughed, suggesting that I try a raw cranberry before making that commitment. SOUR!!!

I decided that if anyone could make a cranberry sauce that I’d like, it would be me. Even though I’ve never made one before. Even though I had no idea what I was doing.

Because I was doing 4 things at once, and because my heart wasn’t really in it, I threw the cranberries into a pot, filled it with water, turned on the stove, and proceeded with my other kitchen tasks (baking muffins, mixing homemade humus, and making chicken salad out of leftover chicken breasts). As a result of this unplanned process, the recipe will read more like a story. Hopefully it will inspire creativity when something doesn’t go quite right in your kitchen. This post is about a poorly thought out experiment, so the measurements will be very approximate. But my mess of an attempt at cranberry sauce transformed into something delicious! Creamy sorbet!

After about 30 minutes on the stove in a covered pot, my cranberry sauce was a red soup. I uncovered it and let it cook a bit longer and then I gave up and poured it into a glass bowl. I squeezed the juice of 1/2 a lemon in and tasted. SOUR!!! And really really soupy.


I thought maybe I could add some gelatin and leave it in the fridge over night to see if I could turn it into a “healthy jello” type concoction. The gelatin I use comes from grass-fed cows on pasture and is designed to dissolve in cold water. I’ve only ever used it in smoothies, and only very recently, so I had no idea how much to add and no idea what it would do.  I would guess that I used about 3 or 4 tablespoons.


I also added in roughly 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 a box of my favorite coconut milk (Arroy D).crans2

After dinner the following night, I pulled my bowl out of the fridge, and it was still soup, although it tasted pretty good. After a few soupy spoons a lightbulb went off. Freeze it! I poured what was left in a silicone ice tray and stuck it in the freezer for a while.

My impatience got the best of me, so I pulled out the ice tray and threw some frozen strawberries (maybe like 10) and about half of the not-quite frozen cubes into the food processor, and voilà!

Cran-Strawberry Sorbet was born!


I still have the other half of the cranberry coconut gelatin in the freezer. I think when I do this again, it will be a more solid sorbet because the cubes will be completely frozen, but this was definitely delicious, creamy, and refreshing. I’d say that my fresh cranberry purchase turned out to be a success after all!

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