Simply and crudely put, aquafaba is “bean juice.” More accurately, it’s the liquid leftover from chickpeas stored in water; and was named from the Latin words for both “water”and “bean”. I put chickpeas in salads all of the time, so I wish I had known that there was some other utility for the contents left inside of the can. What’s so amazing about this this slightly bizarre bean-derived liquid is that it functions as a great vegan substitute for eggs. Its properties closely mimic that of albumen, so it works well as a binder, thickener and emulsifier. It’s versatile, because it can be used successfully and undetectably in a variety of dishes and cocktails (whether you’re vegan or not), and works particularly well within recipes that require fluffy meringues. To calculate how much aquafaba you’ll need for your recipe: 3 tablespoons are the equivalent of one egg; 2 tablespoons are the equivalent of one egg white. Also, a standard 15.5 oz can of store bought chickpeas holds about 12 tablespoons of aquafaba.
I found a lovely macaron recipe posted by Jasmine Lukuku from Black Food Bloggers Club (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s book: Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere). They are not only delicious, but absolutely beautiful. I love hosting English tea parties for my friends, so I might have to put these bad boys into circulation on my tea tray. Whatever the case, expand your culinary horizons and try using aquafaba in a few sweet and savory dishes. It’s a great option for people “who can’t take a yolk.” Da-dum-tum!
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love dogs. It doesn’t matter what breed, size or age – they make me feel blissfully content and never fail to elevate my mood. I’m convinced that those male dating coaches who advise men on how to pick up women by walking cute dogs in the park, had women like me in mind. I’ll approach a complete stranger at a cafe, or on the street, just to engage their canine companions. I’m an equal opportunity animal lover, but if I’m being 100% honest, cats just don’t do it for me like dogs do. Cats always seem so aloof, so emotionally unavailable, that they
represent men that I’d never date or friends that I wouldn’t mind losing. Dogs, on the other hand…well, there’s just something so pure about the raw expression of their needs, that they just seem so…honest to me. They’re often loyal to a fault, and the majority that I’ve come across, just love being loved. Luke Skybarker*, my German Shepard/Lab mix, lives to please and protect my family. He’s a “working dog.” One that’s been bred with a distinct purpose in mind, whether that’s herding animals or protecting its home and family. I cherish him, and, also, Jimmy Chew*, my chihuahua/terrier mix, although, he serves a completely different emotional purpose. His canine footprint is tiny, but his presence is large. I adopted him from a shelter, and lore has it that he was abandoned with his litter mates in a dirty barn somewhere in Modesto, California. I fostered this feral little dog, and he imprinted upon me like a newborn duckling, totally at the expense of loyalty and affection for the rest of my family, and feels no shame in his lack of familial warmth for everyone else. They could move out of the house tomorrow, and he wouldn’t miss a bark or experience the feeling of loss for the very people who keep him alive. Out of all the things that he’s expressed, he’s made one thing quiet clear: he’s a one woman dog. I guess this makes sense: The Maya used to view the ancient predecessor of the Chihuahua as guardians of the afterlife, and would often kill dogs after their owner’s death, and bury them alongside their masters, so that they could accompany them into the next world. Frankly, I think this ritual wasn’t spiritually based, but, rather, recognition that no one else could command respect from these mercurial, little buggers and deal with them after their owners had passed. It was more of a mob clean up job, than an act of spiritual elevation. If nothing else, the chihuahua is a “ride or die” companion. If I was bedridden with an illness, or stricken with a life threatening disease, I know that I would never be left alone with little Jimmy Chew in my life. Whichever the dog, or strange peculiarity of the breed, I am so grateful that they play such a selflessly pivotal role in my happiness and well-being. I hope that I do the same for them.
*I’ve changed the names of my dogs in order to protect the guilty.
additional articles on the health benefits of dog ownership:
With the start of the new year, comes 365 novel ways that you can spend your time exploring new horizons. January is not only a great time to assess your life; but it’s also a wonderful time to reach for new goals, develop new skills, and expand your financial possibilities. We’ve listed 60 fun activities and hobbies that might stimulate new interests, or lead to an unexpected business or even supplemental income. Alright, ladies, let’s do this in 2018!
Start a garden
Coach a kids sports team
Gather friends to play good ol’ fashioned board games
I like to start trends, not ride them, so surfing popularity waves isn’t really my thing. One recent exception, however, is avocado toast! Although, it’s been the culinary rage for quite some time; it’s for good reason. It’s fast and easy to make, delicious, versatile and nutritious. The key is to purchase high-quality levain bread baked at your local bakery (if you can get it) and ripe, tasty avocados. Although, avocados are available year-round and nationwide due to the influx of Mexican imports; there is an ideal time to get more flavorful avocados, with a less mild and “watered down” taste. California avocados (Haas are recommended), are in season February-September, with their peak occurring in the warm summer months. Get them at the height of the season and when their prices have dropped substantially. Also, when you make your super simple avocado toast, be sure to experiment with different toppings. I sometimes drizzle spicy, infused olive oil on top or thinly sliced radishes and sprouts with a sprinkle of the popular season blend, Spike. I also like to make pesto “smavocado” i.e “smashed avocado”, by adding fresh pesto (often purchased in the cold case at Trader Joe’s) to my avocado mixture. Avocado toast is so simple to make, it seems futile to include a recipe, but here’s some preparation guidelines to help get you started:
Toast fresh levain bread (brush olive oil and rub fresh garlic on toasted bread)
Spread avocado on toast and top with marash pepper (optional)
Top with any variation of yummy: sliced radishes, sprouts, green onions, red onion, microgreens
I like to add a sliced soft boiled egg with aioli topped with anchovies as a side dish. A short cut when making aioli is mixing mayo with horseradish and placing an anchovy on top, to add that unmistakable umami and briny note to your snack, brunch or dinner.
Summer is around the corner and there’s nothing better than the refreshing combination of cucumber and watermelon juice on a hot day. It’s lightly sweet, earthy and mild and the addition of lime, adds a bit of tartness that quenches the thirst and adds a bit more complexity. There’s no such thing as perfect proportions when making any fresh juice drink. We suggest playing around with measurements and adjusting flavors to taste.
2 cups (16 ounces) fresh watermelon juice
3/4 cup (6 ounces) fresh cucumber juice from about 1 large cucumber (use juice extractor)
1 1/2 teaspoons (1/4 ounce) fresh muddled mint from about 10-15 fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fresh lime juice from 1 to 2 limes
1 tablespoon simple syrup or agave nectar (optional)
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fresh lime juice from 1 to 2 limes
Combine juices together thoroughly and adjust to taste. Serve immediately
Depending on where you live, decadently sweet and luscious figs might already be in season. This roly poly, tear-drop shaped fruit is wonderfully versatile and can be prepared just as easily either fresh or baked, as it is within sweet or savory dishes. Figs have a long and storied ancient history, not to mention that it’s symbolic of peace and prosperity throughout the bible; but they’re also known for having substantial nutritional value. Figs are high in fiber and a great source of essential minerals, including magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper, and potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, and vitamins K and B6.
Interestingly enough, 100% of the world’s dried figs are grown in California. That’s great news, because figs’ nutritional value becomes more concentrated when they’re dried. Not only do they contain antioxidants, but three little figs have approximately 5.5 grams of dietary fiber, which means this cherubic little fruit packs quite a punch. Moisture-rich figs contain 55% natural sugar, making them among nature’s sweetest fruits, and fig puree can be used as a great fat substitute in baked goods. This dish is wonderful served anytime: Breakfast, appetizer or a light lunch paired with a mixed spring salad. Feel free to add prosciutto to create a hearty main course
Thinly sliced baguette
2 cups ricotta cheese
3 teaspoons fresh thyme
3 teaspoons oregano
Sea salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sliced fresh figs
Blueberries or pomegranate seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Place ricotta cheese in bowl and stir in your fresh and dried seasoning and herbs until well-blended. Sample and season to taste.
Brush french bread slices with olive oil and arrange on top of baking rack and place in oven for 3-4 minutes (Don’t hesitate to check in on these little guys through your oven door window like you did with your childhood Easy Bake Oven!). Take out when lightly toasted and let cool.
Place ricotta cheese spread on top of crostini and add sliced figs. You can drizzle honey or aged balsamic vinegar on top for added sweetness
Okay, let’s just admit it. Açäi bowls are Instagram darlings, because they’re photogenic like a mug. Well, thankfully, they’re not just pretty, “feel good” meals, but also delicious, nutritious and super easy on the digestive system. Oh, you haven’t had one, yet? If you’re still somehow among the uninitiated, we have a super easy recipe that’s perfect for lighter summer eating. Acai is a mildly tart berry categorized as a superfood and found in the Amazon. It’s typically served as the base ingredient in an Acai bowl and served cold; either scooped or blended, like soft frozen yogurt. Acai is sold in individual pureed packs and can be purchased at most health and organic food stores, in addition to larger retailers like Costco, Safeway, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Look for Sambazon, which is one of the largest Açai food exporters.