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Quinoa Pizza Patties

I have an obsession with garlic.  I love the stuff!  Just about everything I make includes garlic – whether the recipe calls for it or not.  If you search the site you’ll notice that a good number of our recipes use Garlic Gold products.  Why?  Because we love them!  They are 100% organic and 100% delicious!  I’ve tried every single product in their product line and it’s hard to pick a favorite.  Their Garlic Gold Oil is unbelievable and is one of the products that I use most often at home.  Their vinaigrettes are super yummy and are so convenient to have on hand when I don’t have time to make my own salad dressing.  Of course, their nuggets are also one of my favorites and I love the variety of flavors that are available.  I love throwing the original Garlic Gold Nuggets in my salads and our Southwest Mini Sliders wouldn’t be the same without them.

For these delicious quinoa patties I used Garlic Gold Parmesan Nuggets.  For a vegan version make sure to sub with either the original nuggets or the sea salt variety.  I couldn’t believe how fast my family ate these patties up – luckily I made a double batch and was able to have a few leftovers on hand. The next day I crumbled a patty into my salad and later that night added it to our quesadillas – it was delicious!  These patties save really so don’t hesitate to double or triple the batch – you’ll be glad you did!



  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 3/4 cups adzuki beans (kidney beans or any other red bean would work as well)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 3 tbsp Garlic Gold Parmesan Nuggets (or 2 cloves garlic, minced)
  • 1/2 cup shredded non dairy mozzarella cheese (Monterrey Jack or Italian Cheese Blends work well for a vegetarian version)
  • 6-7 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup Homemade Breadcrumbs (gluten free if needed)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari (gluten free if needed)
  • sea salt to taste
  • oil for frying


  1. Add the adzuki beans to a large mixing bowl and using a fork gently mash until all the beans are broken apart.  Do not over mash them!
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, except the oil, and mix until throughly combined.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add 1-2 tbsp oil.
  4. Shape the mixture into 12-14 patties and add to the heated skillet.  You will need to work in batches, adding more oil as needed to cook all the patties.
  5. Cook the patties for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until crispy on the outside and heated through.
  6. Remove from heat and let rest for 1 minute before serving to allow them to firm up.


Makes 12-14 patties.


Leftover patties can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.  You can also freeze the patties for up to 6 months.

When cooking your quinoa try vegetable broth instead of water for a richer, more flavorful quinoa.

If you don’t have any Garlic Gold Nuggets on hand you can sub with 2 cloves  garlic but I highly recommend using the nuggets if at all possible.

We’re Nuts for Living Nutz!

Sep 16 2013 by | Comments (0)


We go through a LOT of nuts in our house.  We love grabbing a handful for a healthy snack, adding them to salads for a crunchy topping and even making Homemade Almond Milk for our breakfast smoothies.  So I might have been a little excited when Living Nuts contacted me about trying their products.  I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Living Nutz before as their products are not carried at my local health food store.  I quickly did a google search and found out that this AMAZING company offers an incredible line of ORGANIC, RAW and SPROUTED nuts!  I was in heaven and I couldn’t stop drooling over all the delicious products that they offered.

So what’s the deal with raw, sprouted nuts?  Well, by sprouting and then rinsing nuts and seeds, you release and eliminate toxic enzyme inhibitors AND increase the life and vitality contained within them, making them easier to digest.  Because Living Nutz are always gently dried and never roasted all the nutritional components are preserved.

Living Nutz was kind enough to send me a sample of their flavored nuts and I patiently waited until they arrived.  I was beyond thrilled to find out that I was able to try 6 different flavors!


I quickly ripped open each packet to sample and then one by one proclaimed it to be my favorite.  Honestly, picking the flavor I liked best is near impossible.  The Bodacious Banana Bread Walnuts really taste like banana bread!  The Divine Chocolate Walnuts are a chocolate lovers dream and don’t even get me started about the Absolute Chi Teriyaki Almonds – best tasting almonds EVER!

I’m ashamed to admit that my husband and I polished off all 6 of these packets in less than 3 days.  They were all so good that we couldn’t stop eating them!


Even if flavored nuts aren’t your thing, you still need to visit to check out their full line of products.  They carry a ton of organic sprouted nuts and seeds, organic raw nuts and seeds, organic berries, organic vanilla beans, organic teas and even lip balm!

 Later this week I will share with you one of the two delicious recipes that I created using these tasty nuts.  Here is a sneak preview of the scrumptious salad featuring Living Nutz Celestial Cinna Pecans.

Yellow Split Pea Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

I will also be sharing a recipe for Teriyaki Croutons that feature Living Nutz Absolute Chi Teriyaki Almonds.  They are unlike any croutons you’ve had before!  Teriyaki almonds, zucchini, fresh herbs and garlic are baked to create a crunchy and healthy crouton that is ideal for salads and soups.  Stay tuned next week for that fantastic recipe!

In the meantime, head over to Living Nutz and check out all their wonderful products.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.


*Living Nutz sent me a sample of their products in exchange for my review.  I received no other compensation and opinions expressed in this review are my own – I really just love their products!

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Journey Into The Raw

Sep 06 2012 by | Comments (0)

I love homeschooling my children.  It’s amazing to watch them absorb information and to see their excitement for learning new things grow.  It’s that excitement for learning that is so important to me.  I love learning new things and it’s one of the reasons that I recently finished my certification in plant based nutrition and have gone back to school to get my degree in Hospitality and Restaurant Management.  There is always something new to learn and fun things to explore.  Recently I started looking around in my area for cooking classes that features areas of technique that I’m not as familiar with.

While my diet is mostly raw I am hardly a raw foodie.  I have a green juice for breakfast and lunch is almost always a fresh salad of some kind or another.  The benefits of a raw diet are hard to ignore and it’s an area that I’m very interested in developing.  After the amazing experience I had at The EcoLounge, I was thrilled to discover that Chef Matthew Purnell was holding raw cooking demonstrations at the same location.  The series is called Journey Into The Raw and each class features a variety of raw dishes that are not only delicious but so healthy and nutritious.

It’s an intimate setting which I loved because it allowed those of us that are just learning about raw foods to ask a lot of questions – and ask questions we did!  For instance – did you know that Thai coconuts are among the sweetest?  When you are purchasing coconut water you want to look for water that comes from Thai coconuts as it has a more pleasant taste.  I also learned how to properly remove the meat from inside the coconut which we then used to make a delicious orange smoothie!  The other items on the menu that evening were a cucumber tomato stack, a hempy sea green salad, raw tacos and for dessert were coco-cacao goji bites.

All the food for the evening had been purchased earlier in the day at a local farmers market and everything was so fresh and crisp.

I’m not usually a fan of dishes that are tomato based but I think I could have eaten the entire bowl of the cucumber tomato stacks.

The flavors were amazing and I can’t wait to recreate this dish at home.

The dish that surprised me most that night was the Hempy Sea Greens.  I have tried and tried and tried some more to like seaweed but it just isn’t working for me.  I can handle them when they are mixed into dishes in limited quantities but I’ve never been able to work them into salads with any success – until now.

The very next day I headed to the store to pick up all the ingredients needed so that I could make this salad at home.  I’ve been enjoying it for lunch every single day this week and I’ll probably be enjoying it all next week too – it’s that good!

The dish I was most excited about was the raw tacos.  I had the tacos the previous weekend at The Ecolounge event so I knew that they were amazing and I was thrilled to finally have the recipe in my hands!

As a taco lover I have eaten TONS of tacos in my lifetime and these are easily one of the top 3 tacos I’ve ever had.  I recreated this recipe last night for my family and it was winner.  My husband ate 4 of them and my kids both cleaned their plates in record time.

The highlight of this dish was the macadamia nut ‘sour cream’.  I have no words to adequately explain it’s pure awesomeness.  I will most definitely be sharing the recipe with you soon.

We ended the night with one of my favorite desserts – truffle balls.  You know I have a love of fruit and nut truffles – our dessert category is filled with them.  These cacao – goji balls didn’t disappoint.  Filled with 2 superfoods (goji berries and cacao), they tasted like little bites of brownies sprinkled with coconut.  So yummy and delicious!

This class is apart of a 5 class series and Kristy and I had such a great time that we will be completing the last 2 classes this weekend.  If you live in the San Diego area you should definitely come by and check it out.  There will be additional series coming up each month that you can take part in.  You can find the information on the classes here.  If you’re not in the San Diego area I encourage you to check around in your local area for classes that are offered near you.  You can also use to find local groups that have events in a variety of categories that might be of interest to you.

For me, ‘raw food’ has always meant salads.  I was so happy to experience Journey Into The Raw and delighted that it opened my mind to all the possibilities that are out there that I haven’t yet explored.  I definitely gained a ton of inspiration and I’m excited to share with you some of the yummy raw creations that I’ve been working on.


Categories : Reviews, The Naked Life
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The Hidden Gem in Solana Beach, CA

Aug 29 2012 by | Comments (2)

Years ago, when Caleb was still just a young baby I joined  I was part of a mom’s group and it was lots of fun.  When we moved to California I looked around for a few groups to join and one of them was a plant based foods group.  About a month a go I received a notification that there was going to be a meetup dinner that would be serving organic plant based foods for the whole family.  I was so super bummed as we had other plans that night but I made sure to keep a look out for any new dinners that were planned.  Sure enough, last week I saw that another meetup was planned and this time I cleared our schedule.  On Saturday night the family and I headed down to Solana Beach to the Center For A Healthy Lifesyle where Organic Blood was hosting their meetup.

The dinner took place at The Eco Lounge inside the center.  It’s a beautiful place!  When you first walk up there is a gorgeous staircase that awaits you.  You’re greeted at the door by one of the members who fill you in on what’s going on for the evening.

You’re surrounded by the gardens that have been planted with everything from flowers, vegetables and fruit to chickens (yup, they have chickens!) and butterflies!

Caleb and Keegan had a blast wandering through the gardens and checking it all out.

After we had finished exploring it was time to head back inside for some yummy food.

There are both cooked and raw food choices available.  The menu changes each time as foods are prepared with fresh local organic ingredients.  Chef Matthew Purnell cooks up your food in a cute little open area kitchen.  I loved seeing all the beautiful ingredients come together to make amazing meals.

I had a hard time choosing what to eat since everything smelled and sounded so yummy.  I eventually decided to try the Fiesta Tacos which were a raw meal and the Green Potato Salad.  Let’s talk about these tacos!  First off, how AMAZING do they look???

The filling is a nut and mushroom mix and is topped with lettuce, a pepper salsa, guacamole and a to die for macadamia nut sour cream.  It must have been the look of pure bliss on my face that inspired my veggie hating husband to give these a try.  I almost didn’t want to share cause they were so delicious but I gave him a bite and he devoured the rest of them.  Good thing I had this gorgeous green potato salad to fill me up!

 Little red potatoes, broccoli, fresh herbs and some sprouts are the features in this salad.  It was so yummy and perfect for our summer night dinner.  My husband and kids shared some of the Italian Noodles.  It was filled with fresh tomatoes and 2 slices of juicy portabella mushrooms.

There is a large patio area right off the kitchen that we ended up sitting at for dinner.  It was a beautiful night and the kids enjoyed running around in the garden while Cliff and I relaxed.  There is even a DJ so that you can listen to music while you’re eating and chatting with friends.

We had a wonderful night and can’t wait for the next one!  If you’re in the area I highly recommend you come out and give this event a try.  They host the meetup once a month and you can check out the specific details on the page here –  In the meantime I’ll be crossing my fingers that the Fiesta Tacos show up on the menu again!


Categories : Reviews, The Naked Life
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Strong Body, Ageless Body DVD review

Aug 23 2012 by | Comments (0)


First let me say that I am not a workout video aficionado. I am a runner. I have always found a good run to be all I wanted or needed. That idea has slowly changed for me as I’ve gotten older so I started looking around for some strength training options to supplement my running.

I looked into a gym, classes at the Y, yoga and a few other things. I know myself better than to think I would really stick to going to a gym or being tied down to a scheduled class so I tried a couple of workout videos and ended up laughing at myself more than anything else. While I am in good physical shape from years of running I found I’m not all that coordinated when it comes to workout moves. I came across Erin O’Brien’s Strong Body, Ageless Body and decided to give it one last try. I’m so glad I did because this video is perfect.

While this video might be geared more towards older women don’t count it out for a good workout at any age. In fact Erin points out some of the exercises being good for women who are pregnant as well as postpartum.

The video starts with a warm up then goes through a course of strength training circuits using hand weights (you can see that Erin uses 6 lbs weights. I started with 3 lbs and worked up to 5 lbs), floor work and then stretching. The 45 minute routine covers both upper body and lower body exercises for a complete workout. Enough to work up a good sweat and feel your muscles being worked but not abused. If you want more of a challenge there is a box in the top corner showing more difficult variations you can follow.

I was able to complete this workout from the first. There were no crazy dance moves to learn or quick changes from one position to the next. All throughout Erin educates on form and function explaining the specific impact of each exercise.

I highly recommend this workout video for anyone, regardless of age, as a good strength training supplement to your exercise routine.





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The Great Life Cookbook Review

Aug 17 2012 by | Comments (2)

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to get my certification in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell.  I absolutely LOVED this class and learned so much more about the benefits of plant based nutrition.  The course is based off of the book The China Study by Dr. Campbell and I highly recommend you pick up this book.  It is eye opening and will change everything you think about animal proteins (milk, meat, etc).

For the first part of my course I had an amazing instructor – Lewis Freedman.  Lewis and his wife Priscilla have been eating a whole foods plant based diet for many many years and recently published their very first cookbook – The Great Life Cookbook.  For over 15 years Lewis and his wife have been hosting Friday Dinners.  People come and gather at their house and are served a delicious whole foods plant based meal.  It’s a wonderful tradition that celebrates not only healthy, whole food, but friends and family as well.  In The Great Life Cookbook they share with us their favorite Friday Dinner recipes.

While the recipes are based on serving sizes of around 20-24 people, all of them can easily be adjusted to fit your needs.  I have long been a fan of corn muffins and couldn’t resist whipping up a batch as soon as I saw it in the book.  I cut the recipe in half and also made them into mini muffins and couldn’t believe how moist and delicious these were.  Seriously the BEST corn muffins EVER!!!  I’ve enjoyed them almost everyday with my Krunchy Kale Salad and my husband has been having them with his Fiery Mexican Soup.  I probably should have made the whole recipe since they didn’t last very long.

One of my favorite parts of this book is that each section features seasonal recipes.  Every month has recipes dedicated to the seasonal produce that is available during that time.  Each section is color coded for a specific month and the recipes are listed at the beginning.  You’ll find tons of photos of not only the recipes but of the many people that participate in Friday Dinners.  With over 95 recipes to choose from you’ll never have to wonder what’s for dinner again.  Each month also has recipes for each course.  The book is laid our perfectly to help you host your own dinner party or to spoil your family with an amazing meal!

I’ve already tried a handful of recipes and so far I’ve loved them all.  If you’re a fan of desserts you have got to try Theresa’s Blueberry Crunch Cake (page 146) – it was amazing!  Although it’s technically a March recipe I couldn’t help but try the Millet Almond Balls (page 64).  I added some minced garlic and did half parsley and half chives – I could have eaten every single ball myself!  They would be a great starter for a dinner party.  They will definitely be going on my list of recipes for Thanksgiving this year.

I’ve always believed that if you take whole, natural foods you can make amazing meals that are full of all the flavors the earth has blessed us with.  This cookbook does exactly that.  It takes whole foods and creates delicious gluten free meals that are perfect for the whole family.  You’ll also notice that most recipes are either very low in oil or contains none at all.  Even though there is a lack of oil, you won’t be missing out on any flavor.

A lot of cookbooks that are geared towards those on a plant based diet are somewhat advanced and require a lot of specialized ingredients.  The Great Life Cookbook has recipes that are perfect for those just starting out as well as the veterans out there that are looking to expand their daily meals with some variety.  Most of the recipes require simple, everyday items that you’ll already have in your pantry and for those that need a little more help or background knowledge, the last chapter is an apprentice guide that shows you the basics.  You’ll find tips for working with vegetables, cooking styles, thickeners, sweeteners and host of other information all in one place.  It’s a valuable guide and so helpful for those that are just starting out on a plant based journey.

For more information on this amazing book or to purchase a copy of your very own check out their website – The Great Life Cookbook.  It’s truly a fantastic cookbook and one that you’ll love having as a part of your collection.





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Out of necessity my cooking style is definitely simple, easy and if possible – quick!  This summer has been hectic and I’m often throwing together meals without real thought or concern for taste.  Let me tell you how thrilled I was when an email came in asking me to review Christy Morgan’s new book Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet.  I’ve been reading nothing but great reviews of this book and was super excited to give some of the recipes a try.  Here’s the lowdown…

Christy gets a 100% for a cookbook filled with simple, ‘clean’, and beautiful plant based recipes.  I was SO happy to see that none of her recipes contained artificial sugars or odd ingredients.  These recipes are based on delicious plant based foods that are worked together to create simply fantastic meals.  All the recipes are plant based but you will also find numerous recipes that are raw, gluten free, soy free, low or no oil and a bunch that can be prepared in 45 minutes or less (BIG win in my book!).  I’m also a big sucker for cookbooks that SHOW YOU what the recipes are suppose to look like when they are done.  Many times I’ve passed over what I’m sure is a great cookbook only because there are no pictures.  Christy’s book is FILLED with gorgeous food photography and I’m totally jealous and inspired at the same time.

As someone that believes that eating seasonal fresh fruits and veggies is so very important I was delighted to see that Blissful Bites has each section of the book color coded and separated by season.  Over 175 recipes are included and you can easily flip through the book to find recipes for each season.  One of the recipes that immediately caught my eye was Magical Raw Tacos (pg. 114).  I made these for lunch one day and loved them so much I had them for dinner too!

 If you are not a fan of garlic or onion then you will love this book even more.  None of Christy’s recipes use garlic or onion.  While I don’t agree with her reasons for eliminating garlic and onion from your diet, if you’re like me and LOVE garlic and onion then you can easily add it into her recipes as needed.  In fact, for the tacos, instead of basil I substituted with fresh green onions from my garden and in the red pepper cashew spread I added a clove of garlic.  I’ve since made the red pepper cashew spread again and have been using it on my salads – it’s so delicious!

As a sushi lover it was a guarantee that I would make Christy’s Sushi Rice Bowl (pg. 148).  It was fantastic!  I’m not fan of cilantro so I skipped that part and I of course added in some minced garlic and some finely chopped red onion.  I’ve always loved cold rice salads and this dish was amazing.  It would be perfect for a potluck or get together this summer.  My kids are big fans of banana pancakes and Christy’s recipe for Gluten Free Banana Walnut Pancakes (pg. 51) doesn’t disappointment.  I’m slowly working my way through the book and already have a bunch of recipes bookmarked to try this fall and winter.

I also love that Christy highlights the use of sea vegetables.  They are so packed with goodness and they rarely get the appreciation and attention they deserve.  There is also a section on natural sweeteners, cooking techniques and the importance of choosing organic ingredients.  For beginners this is a great resource to have on hand for many of your most asked questions.

We love this book so much we want to give away a copy to one lucky reader.  To enter simply leave us a comment telling us what your favorite recipe or meal is that leaves you feeling “blissful”?  You can earn an extra entry by liking The Naked Kitchen and The Blissful Chef on Facebook.  Use the entry form below for your chance to enter!  Giveaway ends Sunday, July 22nd at 11:59 pm PST.  We’ll announce our winner Monday, July 23rd on our Facebook Page.  Good luck to everyone!  If you can’t wait to find out if you won head over to Amazon and purchase your very own copy of Blissful Bites (you can even get it in a Kindle version!).

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Native Foods Cafe – Eat Here NOW!

Jul 03 2012 by | Comments (2)

While my family and I don’t eat out often, when we do, we usually have only a few select things to choose from.  So you can only imagine our EXTREME excitement when we come across restaurants like Shojin and now Native Foods Cafe.

Native Foods Cafe, Aliso Viejo, CA

Before I get to talking about the AMAZING food let’s chat about the outstanding service, casual atmosphere and family friendly environment that makes this the perfect spot for lunch or dinner.  As soon as you walk in you’re greeted by their super friendly staff who is ready to answer any of your questions.  Amazingly enough, although Native Foods Cafe is entirely a vegan restaurant, only 20% of their customers are vegan.  They are happy to explain any aspect of their menu and posted around the restaurant are explanations of their ‘meats’ for those that are unfamiliar with such things as seitan or tempeh.  The atmosphere itself is super casual.  You order at the front counter and your food is brought out to your table by a member of their staff.  While I would NEVER consider such amazing food as ‘fast food’, our order was brought out extremely quick and we only waited a minute or two before being served.  You don’t have a traditional waiter or waitress but the entire staff will come by every so often and check that everything is alright and you have everything you need.  Drinks are self serve – they have  a super yummy selection of Lavender Lemonade, Watermelon Fresca and Native Ice Tea that are on tap and available for refills as you need them.  They also have a selection of chai, hot teas, coffee and organic beer and wine available.  I think our favorite was the boxed water.  You can read on the carton about the advantage of drinking water from boxed cartons.

Boxed water – how cute are those?!

While the atmosphere may be casual – the food is not at all.  Everything on the menu was personally created by chef Tanya Petrovna.  The combination of flavors and textures would have you think you’re eating at a fine dining restaurant.  Everything single item is made fresh, from scratch every single day – it’s a difference you can clearly taste in their foods.

Super Italian Meatball Sub – Native Sausage Seitan meatballs, marinara sauce, caramelized onions, roasted sweet peppers, pumpkin seed pesto, ranch dressing and Native Parmesan on a warm grilled baguette.

If I can only eat one thing again for the rest of my life it would hands down be the Super Italian Meatball Sub.  UNBELIEVABLE!  I can’t even put into words how delicious this sandwich was.  I could not stuff it in my mouth fast enough.  It was so good that I made my family get back in the car the very next day and drive 45 miles just so I could eat another one.  Yes, it is really that good!

While the meatball sub was by far my favorite dish, they had some other really wonderful food that we tried as well.  My husband was a big fan of the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger and the Chicken Run Ranch Burger.

Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger – Our thinly sliced Native Original Seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, and crispy Native Bacon on a bun slathered with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, onions, and tomato. Topped with crunchy battered dill pickle chips. Shown here without the romaine, carrots and tomato.

I believe his exact words were “Best. Sandwich. Ever!”.  In fact he said that he had never had such a delicious sandwich.

Chicken Run Ranch Burger – Crispy battered Native Chicken, ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, and onions. What everyone would eat if chickens ran the ranch! Shown here without romaine and carrots.

One of my favorite sandwiches pre-plant based diet was a reuben sandwich.  Boy oh boy was I excited when I saw it on the menu at Native Foods Cafe.  Of course I had to try it and I’m so glad I did!  Quite possibly the best reuben I’ve ever tasted.  I feel like I keep saying this over and over but the foods at Native Foods is just so unbelievable.  I wish everyone that ever thought that a plant based diet was boring, plain tasting or just plain yucky could eat the food here – even the biggest meat eater would be impressed!

Classic Deli Reuben – Thinly-sliced, deli-style Native Reuben Seitan piled high on grilled marble rye. Topped with homemade sauerkraut, Native Horseradish Cheese and a slather of Russian dressing.

If sandwiches aren’t your thing no need to worry – how about a pizza or a Native Earth Bowl.  I tried the Greek Gyro Bowl and my new goal is to recreate the hummus that they serve on top.  It was so creamy and delicious and was very similar to sour cream.

Greek Gyro – Our thinly sliced Native Peppered Seitan sautéed with shallots on quinoa, steamed vegetables, and kale with lemon garlic sauce and hummus. Served with grilled flatbread.

We also tried one of their most popular appetizers – Nuevo Native Nachos.  I would show you the after shot but it was literally just an empty plate.  The nachos are topped with Native Cheese and in her current cookbook, chef Tanya shares her recipe with everyone – I’m so making it this week!  I should also mention that we tried all of these dishes over the course of 3 visits.  I did repeat and have the meatball sub twice but only cause it’s so freaking yummy!

Nuevo Native Nachos – Homemade corn tortilla chips covered in black beans, Native Taco Meat, Native Chipotle Crema, Native Cheese, salsa fresca, and guacamole. Topped with corn, green onions, cilantro and jalapenos.

As a mother I work very hard to make sure my kids eat food that is not only yummy but is good for them as well.  One of my most favorite things about Native Foods are their kids meal.  Instead of the normal side of fries or limp carrot sticks or even canned fruit, their kids meals are served with vegetables – FRESH, RAW vegetables.  My kids both order the Native Chicken Nuggets and while they both gave the nuggets 2 big thumbs up they also enjoyed the brown rice and veggies.

Native Chicken Nuggets – Cup o’ nuggets with a scoop of brown rice, dipping veggies and ranch dressing.

In fact Keegan found out that she loves raw beets (even I don’t like raw beets and I love all veggies!).  She actually scarfed down all of hers and ended up stealing the ones off Caleb’s plate.

Raw beets – who would have known!?

Now before you start thinking that this is just another review of a restaurant located only in southern California think again!!!!  That’s right, Native Foods Cafe has 13 locations and is currently working on expanding to include 27 locations!  Right now they are located in:

    • Aliso Viejo, CA (this is the location that we visited)
    • Newport Beach, CA
    • Palm Springs, CA
    • Santa Monica, CA
    • Tustin, CA
    • Costa Mesa, CA
    • Los Angeles, CA (Westwood)
    • Culver City, CA
    • Boulder, CO
    • Chicago, IL (Lakeview)
    • Chicago, IL (Loop)
    • Chicago, IL (Wicker Park)
    • Portland, OR (Tigard)

If you have the opportunity to visit any of the Native Foods locations I highly recommend you give them a try.  You’ll love their fresh, local organic foods and super friendly customer service.  And if you’re not like us and don’t totally pig out on dinner or lunch then you might have room for some of their homemade cupcakes, cheesecakes and other desserts.  They are not only 100% plant based (totally dairy free) but free of refined sugars as well.

If you do happen to be in the southern California area and are heading to Native Foods Cafe – I call shotgun!


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It’s one thing to eat a plant based diet but it’s another to eat an organic plant based diet.  While there are plenty of restaurants in the San Diego and LA areas that are plant based, there are only 2 (that my extensive google search has turned up) that are plant based AND organic.  Two weeks ago my husband and I drove up to LA to try out the second restaurant on our list – Shojin.  After checking out their menu online I was already in love with them.  The first thing you see when you open up their menu is a cute little intro about their views and food style.

Our first trip to Shojin was for my birthday.  My husband and I left the kids at home and enjoyed a much needed date ‘day’ with each other.  We were starving by the time we arrived and ordered as many things as we could off the menu.  My husband tried the Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms (which he proclaimed as the best appetizer he’s ever had), Gyoza (which we split and was fabulous) and Orange “Chicken” Seitan (apparently I need to make this at home).  I ordered the Yuzu Ponzu Seitan, Pirates of the Crunchy (best tasting thing I have ever put in my mouth!) and the Yellow Magic Orchestra (unbelievable!).  Our food arrived VERY quickly and in between bites you could hear us murmuring “OMG”, “So yummy”, “Best food ever”, “Can’t stop eating”.  It’s been years since we’ve been able to order ANYTHING we want off a restaurant menu and know that it’s healthy and good for us.  We were so impressed by our meal that we ordered a bunch of items for take away so we could enjoy them again later that night.

We were so blown away by our experience at Shojin that the very next week we headed back up to LA – this time with the kids.  While at first glance their menu doesn’t scream “kid friendly” they are actually really accommodating and there are plenty of things to choose from that are great for kids – also, chopsticks and kids = fun times.

Both Keegan and Caleb tried the Gyoza and loved it.  For lunch they had the brown rice noodle bowl with a sweet soy sauce dressing.

My husband had the Gyoza again – they really are so delicious.  The flavors are amazing.

For his main course he tried the Grilled Portobello Steak.  I’m not a fan of mushrooms but I had the asparagus that came with it and the seasoning from the portobello was fantastic.  If we weren’t in public I’m pretty sure he would have licked the plate!

All week I had been looking forward to one thing – Pirates of the Crunchy.  Weird name but the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my life.  I could happily eat it everyday for every meal.

It’s hard to even look at the picture and not get in my car for a late night drive to LA.  I wish I knew how to cook with tempura cause I would be making this dish everyday at home!

 I decided to try a new ‘sushi’ this time and had the Caterpillar Rolls.  I loved how they made the avocado on top look like fish.  It was so cute I almost couldn’t eat it – I did say almost!

Shojin does have an amazing dessert menu and if you can manage to save room I highly recommend you give it a try.  I haven’t actually managed to do that myself but my husband and kids tell me the desserts are out of this world delicious.

If the amazing food, gorgeous ambiance and fun selection of organic wine, beer and sake isn’t enough to tempt you then the friendly and helpful staff will be.  They are great at answering any questions you have about the menu and will work with any food allergy or restriction you have.

Needless to say this is my favorite restaurant and I can’t wait to go back as much as possible.  Road trip to LA anyone???


Categories : Reviews, The Naked Life
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In the beginning, when my family and I first switched to eating a ‘clean’ diet, it felt like we didn’t have any food choices and I was at a lost for what to feed them.  If I couldn’t feed my kids hot dogs what would they eat?! After a few weeks I realized all the wonderful foods that were out there and available to us.  Yet again, I felt this way when we made the switch to a plant based diet.  I literally had no idea what to put on the table at meal times.  Now of course I can’t imagine eating any other way!

The beginning is always hard and often I wished I had had a cheat sheet with recipes and meals that were tasty, simple and quick to make.  A cheat sheet like Good and Easy Eats by Kim Wilson.  Every recipe in this book is dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, yeast-free, wheat-free and gluten free.  You don’t need any unusual kitchen gadgets and the ingredients list is simple and uses basic items you’ll find in your pantry.

For those that have been recently diagnosed with a food allergy or has a family member that is affected by one you will throughly enjoy this book.  The recipes include tasty favorites like pizza, biscuits and gravy, macaroni and ‘cheese’ and chili and cornbread.  When you’ve just been diagnosed with a food allergy having recipes like these tried and true favorites are a real blessing.

How would you like a chance to win a copy of this book and enjoy all 70 yummy recipes yourself?!  Even if you don’t suffer from food allergies or dietary restrictions you’ll love the delicious recipes.  You have until Friday, March 6th at 11:59pm EST to enter.  The winner will be announced Monday on our Facebook page.  Good Luck!


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Categories : Book Reviews, Reviews
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