The Spicy Mescal - my new favorite cocktail

Warning - this cocktail is intense and is not for the faint of heart. It's spicy, smokey, and a tad sweet... aka freaking delicious!

The Spicy Mescal 

This drink is sure to please those who prefer a spicy and savory cocktail. It's simple enough to make on a fly, but complex enough to impress - even the most sophisticated of tastes. Mescal is a smoked tequila with attitude and lots of sass. It pairs well with both sweet and spicy notes.  

* Note: This cocktail can be made with tequila if you can't find mescal or simply don't like smokey flavors.

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Ingredients

  • 2 ounces mescal (I used the Vida brand) 
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (half sugar, half water - link here
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • Juice from 1/2 grapefruit  
  • 1-3 thin slices of jalapeño  (3 = HOT!)
  • Salt + cayenne rim

Instructions 

    Muddle the jalapeño slices and mix with the rest of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake, shake, shake it up!!
    Pour contents of cocktail shaker (ice included) into your cayenne salt rimmed tumblr. 
    BAM - that's it. Simple, bold, spicy, and delicious! 
    Let me know how you like it!
    Cheers!  - Chris  
           

        Crazy simple avocado toast - and yes it's as good as it sounds.

        stupid easy Avocado Toast.

        Avocado toast is trending wildly at a hipster coffee shop near you.  If you haven't seen it yet, trust me you will.  Why? Because it's damn delicious. 

         
        Cucumber Egg Avocado Toast
         

        Avocados are one of the best foods on the planet.  Maybe I'm biased, but you're reading my blog so I'm allowed to make sweeping claims.  I often get asked "But what about the high fat content?".  Yes, avocados are high in fat.  But they are high in "good fat" - aka MUFAs (Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids).  When eaten in moderation, they are actually heart healthy. This recipe calls for a 'serving' of avocado - so go ahead, get wild! 

        Cost.  Is avocado toast worth the hefty $7.00 price tag at artisanal coffee shops? No, not really.  Let's break down the ingredients and associated cost.

        • Whole Grain Toast. It's toast… It's basically free.  $0.25cents
        • Avocado. 1/3 of a creamy, heavenly avocado.  $0.75 cents
        • Toppings (choose any or all)
          • Fried Egg. Eggs are nutrient powerhouses. $0.25 cents
          • Cucumber slices. Crunchy, tangy, easy. $0.30 cents
          • Tomatoes. Sweet, sweet tomatoes. $0.15 cents.
          • Sprouts. Adds a nice crunch and visual upgrade. $0.15 cents
          • Mint. Fresh and delicate. $0.20 cents. 

        MAKE YOUR OWN TOAST WITH THESE STUPID SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS

        STEP 1) Toast the toast.
        STEP 2) Spread the avocado.
        STEP 3) Add your toppings.
        STEP 4) Enjoy thoroughly, and realize you just saved $5.00!

        Can't beat the price or simplicity, and it's a balanced way to start your day.  A

        Thanks for reading and supporting my passions of food and photography! See ya next time. 
        - Chris

        How I kicked my soda habit, and replaced it with fruit infused H2O.

        mom infused water.jpg

        It all started shortly after the holidays when I received an infusion pitcher as a gift.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this new take on water, but I soon began making pitchers of fruit/vegetable infused water that were delicious!  I quickly decided that this was my new “go-to” drink. 

        If you're like me, you’re always looking for something you can drink at home or at the gym, that isn’t just “plain old water”.  Infused water is easy to make and is a refreshing, calorie free alternative to soda, caffeine, or alcoholic beverages.

        Making It Couldn’t Be Easier.

        To make infused water, just chop your favorite fruits or vegetables, add spices or herbs, and put them in the tube. Pour cool water into the pitcher, and that's it!  If you want more flavor, use a knife and push through the fruit several times, or shake the pitcher around a bit.  If you keep the pitcher chilled, you can use the same fruit/vegetables for more than one day.  Infused water provides all the hydrating benefits of water, plus nutrients and flavor from the fruit and veggies. Add ice and a garnish, and you have a nutritious, easy to make drink without the calories!   

        I personally love the taste of cucumber-lime water.  I use the “Prodyne” water infuser pitcher from Amazon, which is under $20 bucks. I like to make a pitcher of infused water in the evening and put it in the refrigerator to chill.  In the morning, I have a cold pitcher of fruit or vegetable flavored water that I can drink and enjoy all day. 

        When you go to work or to the gym, infused water can be carried along with you in a water bottle. I used to drive to the nearest fast food restaurant to get a soda after my workouts (I really did!).  Now my go-to drink after a workout is flavor infused water.I have replaced my bad habit with a better one that is delicious and nutritious andI'm now saving myself about 400 calories a day!    This way of drinking water is so satisfying, flavorful, and light, you just don't need anything else!

        There are lots of flavor combinations that can be made into infused water.  I've included some recipes that are not only yummy, but nutritious too.

        EASY RECIPES 

        infused water.jpg

        GINGER AND LEMON INFUSED WATER

        • 12 cups filtered water
        • 4 lemons, thinly sliced
        • 4 knobs of ginger, half inch each

        FENNEL AND PEAR INFUSED WATER

        • 12 cups chilled water
        • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
        • Handful of green fronds from the fennel bulb
        • 2 large ripe pears, thinly sliced

        MINT AND RASPBERRY INFUSED WATER

        • 12 cups of filtered water
        • ¼ cup fresh raspberries
        • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
        • 2 limes thinly sliced

         ORANGE AND BLUEBERRY INFUSED WATER

        • 12 cups of filtered water
        • 4 mandarin oranges, cut into wedges
        • 1 cup blueberries

        Share your favorite recipe below, and cheers to good health! 

        Thanks!
        Diann Vogliano

        My Favorite Turmeric Milk Recipe

        The Story of Tammy's Tonic

        Fresh ginger and turmeric, powdered cinnamon, pepper, powdered turmeric, & coconut oil.  

        Fresh ginger and turmeric, powdered cinnamon, pepper, powdered turmeric, & coconut oil.  

        Tammy is my best friend's spritely and a semi-sassy neighbor who I must credit, as she gave me the idea to create this recipe.  She has been drinking a similar drink for months and has claimed her inflammation has gone down, and her energy has increased noticeably.  She insists her skin is brighter and tighter too.  Tammy is the best. 

        Check out my blog post on the science-based health benefits of turmeric here - there are many!

        So I ventured to create my own version of this recipe, using fresh ingredients as well as dry, and to create a tonic concentrate. 

        With a major hat tip to Tammy for the inspiration, I have created a tonic that is as nutritious as it is delicious.  Blending fresh turmeric, ginger, cracked pepper, and cinnamon with water creates a semi-soft concentrate with a symphony of flavors and benefits.  It is then mixed with a milk alternative, and warmed, transforming it into a satisfying golden milk. 

        PRO TIP: It's super easy to peel fresh ginger and turmeric with a spoon! 

        PRO TIP: It's super easy to peel fresh ginger and turmeric with a spoon! 

        This recipe makes a very generous amount of tonic.  It luckily keeps well in the fridge, and let's be honest - it probably won't last very long.  Enjoy! 

        Ingredients

        TONIC (concentrate):

        • 1 cup water
        • ½ cup powdered turmeric (organic if possible)
        • 1 inch fresh Ginger (very finely chopped)
        • 3/4 inch fresh turmeric (very finely chopped)
        • 1 tsp. Ceylon or Vietnamese cinnamon
        • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
        • 1 tsp. coconut oil

        Bring water to a boil, and add all of the above ingredients.  Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes on low to no heat.  When it's thick and paste-y, let it cool.  Wah-lah! Turmeric tonic.  

        TURMERIC MILK (using the above tonic as concentrate) 

        • 1 tsp of tonic
        • 1 cup unsweetened milk-alternative (I use soy, almond or hemp - any will work)
        • 1 -3 tsp. wild honey (to taste)

        OR

        • 1 tsp. of tonic
        • 1 cup sweetened milk-alternative (I love it with vanilla!)

        *Mix, heat (via microwave or stove ), and relax while you sip your way to better health.

        Let me know how you like it!

        With love,
        Chris

        Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Guacamole

        So the combo might sound a bit weird, but trust me - it's delicious.  It's a mix of savory, creamy, tangy deliciousness that pairs perfectly with the crunch of a tortilla chip. 

        I brought this dish to Thanksgiving dinner,  and it was an instant hit.  It's my go-to dish that's simple and sure to impress. This recipe was created by my mother, and modified a bit by yours truly.  Let me what you think!

        INGREDIENTS:

        • Three medium avocados, diced (how to pick a perfect avocado, here)
        • 1/3 cup blue cheese 
        • 1/2 medium red onion, diced small 
        • 1/4 cup cilantro (or more if you're like me)
        • 1/4 cup slices cherry tomatoes 
        • 1/2 lime for freshness
        • 1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
        • Salt to taste

        DIRECTIONS:

        Start my preheating a pan with a bit of olive oil on medium-high.  Dice the onion super small, and sauté for 10-15 minutes (or until caramelized).  While onion is cooking, add the diced avocado, chopped cilantro, blue cheese, diced tomatoes, and salt to a bowl and mix.  Add balsamic and salt to taste.  When onions are finished, add to the mix.  Squeeze some fresh lime on top to help prevent the green goodness from oxidizing, and you are ready to rock! 

        Thanks for checking out my blog!

         

        Rescued Cabbage & Dino Kale salad

        Meet Sad Cabbage :( 

        Meet Sad Cabbage :( 

        We've all been there.  We open up the door to our fridge and see that near empty pack of greens in the crisper drawer, waiting to be tossed (cue sad cabbage photo, right).  We think "not today.. maybe I'll use it tomorrow".  

        Many times... tomorrow never comes.  

        Consumers (that's us!) are the BIGGEST contributors of food waste in America, throwing away 25% of all purchased food. This adds up.  In fact, it's nearly $160 dollars a month for a family of four.  It's also terrible for the environment.  For more on food waste - check out my blog post here. 

        Food is too good to waste. 

        Insert Vibrant Kale

        Insert Vibrant Kale

        I took that sad cabbage and revitalized it's more durable and vibrant friend - freshly picked Dino Kale. Check out my recipe below. 

        Note: the real magic is in the dressing. It's delicious and can go on nearly anything! 

         

        RESCUED CABBAGE SALAD
        with a life saving dressing

        • Greens of choice (whichever are going bad first - mix and match)
        • Veggies (sliced carrots, cabbage, etc) - Use liberally
        • Garlicky dressing (vegan) - Mix and coat lightly 
          • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
          • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (Bragg's preferred)
          • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
          • 1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
          • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
          • 1 Teaspoon minced garlic
          • Dash hot sauce (optional)

        MIX DRESSING AND ENJOY! 

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        Homemade Cashew Milk

        Below is a quick video for a super quick and delicious plant-based cashew milk.  I personally prefer cashew milk because it's the creamiest and easiest to make of all the nut milks I have tried.  Cashews are nutrition powerhouses, loaded with manganese, potassium, copper, iron, fiber, B-vitamins, and protein!  

        Recipe Below!

        INGREDIENTS

        • 1 cup raw cashews
        • 4 cups water 
        • 2 tbs sweetener (I like agave or honey, maple syrup works too)
        • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
        • Pinch sea salt
        • Pinch spice: cocoa, cinnamon, (cayenne if you're a bit crazy) (optional)

        INSTRUCTIONS

        1. Soak the cashews over night submerged completely in water.  The next day drain and rinse cashews well. Add cashews, water, sweetener of choice, vanilla, sea salt, and other ingredients if desired to blender.  With less powerful blenders it might be good to half the water (add 2 cups at first) then slowly add the remaining two cups.  
        2. No need to strain, should be creamy and delicious! I like adding mine to smoothies, cereals, pancakes, or just drinking it plain!  Enjoy!

         

         

        Hand-Crafted Tumeric Bloody Mary

        It's summer, it's hot, and we need more bloody marys in our lives... (or at least I do). Check below for an all natural, lower sodium, and guilt-free bloody mary recipe - YUM!

        EASY RECIPE:

        Ingredients

        • 4 ounces fresh tomato juice (lower sodium if possible)
        • 1 ounce pickle juice 
        • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
        • ½ tablespoon cracked black pepper
        • 1-2 teaspoon turmeric, to taste
        • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil, parsley or cilantro (optional) - I use cilantro!
        • few dashes of worcestershire sauce (vegan options available)
        • 2 ounces vodka (or make without for a delicious virgin option)
        • 1/2 teaspoon horseradish or hot sauce (I prefer Sriracha or tabasco)
        • Veggies veggies veggies! 

        Instructions - Easy at 1,2,3

        1. Mix all liquid ingredients, pepper, and turmeric.

        2. Garnish glass with salt/pepper rim (using lemon slice to moisten the glass prior) 

        3. Pile on the veggies! In past versions I have used green beans, asparagus, carrots, radish, or even okra!  BAM - Salad in a glass! :)

        Mango Pineapple Lime Smoothie (super simple)

        Summer is finally here in the midwest, and there's no better way to keep cool than delicious & nutrient dense smoothies.  I love using frozen fruit in my smoothies to help keep it extra cold without watering down the flavor with ice. 

        SUPER EASY MANGO PINEAPPLE LIME SMOOTHIE

        RECIPE
        1/2 cup mango (I used frozen mango)
        1/2 cup pineapple (frozen pineapple tidbits)
        3/4 cup unsweetened milk alternative (soy, rice, almond, hemp, coconut)

        + NUTRIENT BOOSTS (totally optional)
        1 cup fresh spinach
        1 tbsp chia or flax seeds

        HEALTH BENEFITS OF MANGOS
        Mangos are the most popularly consumed fruit in the world, and for good reason! 1 cup of mangos has 100% of your daily value of Vitamin C, and 35% of your needed Vitamin A - not to mention they are packed with fiber, which helps keep your gut happy!  

         

         

        Glazed & Grilled Cabbage 'Steaks'

        Glazed & Grilled Cabbage 'Steaks' - a crazy simple recipe that is as tasty as it is beautiful. 

        red cabbage steaks

        Purple Cabbage - Green Cabbage's healthier sibling.  This powerful, bright and budget-friendly vegetable is packed with vitamins, minerals and gut-friendly fiber.  Try to buy a head every week (small if you're single like myself - it chops up into much more than you think).  

        Fun Fact: 

        • Purple cabbage is very high in photochemicals (specifically anthrocyanins, if you care to know), and they are wonderful because they are known to protect from all sorts of cancer.
          • This protective feature is also what gives red cabbage it's distinctly rich purple color (think eggplant, blueberries, cabbage).  
        • It's also high in Vitamin K, C, B6 and the powerful mineral Potassium (which can help balance out diets higher in sodium).  

        Below is the recipe - but feel free to sauté them, microwave them, or eat them raw by chopping them up fine and putting them in a salad.  For a super easy explanation on how to chop cabbage - go here!.

        Ingredients 

        • 1 head of cabbage, cut into 1″ thick slices (I used red, but green works too!)
        • 2 tablespoons olive oil
        • 2 to 3 large garlic cloves, smashed (pre-chopped garlic works too)
        • 1 teaspoon salt (sea salt tastes best)
        • freshly ground black pepper
        • spray olive oil OR non-stick cooking spray
        • Optional - I added sesame seeds, and a dash of soy sauce on the cabbage after cooking

        Directions

        1. Preheat oven to 400F and coat baking sheet with spray/oil
        2. Remove outer cabbage leaf and slice into 1" slices.  I removed the core first (see pictures below)
        3. Combine salt, pepper, garlic, and oil and rub on both sides of cabbage
        4. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes.  Flip cabbage carefully and cook for another 20-30 minutes
        5. Serve hot, enjoy with a side of lentils, and maybe even a glass of wine :)