Anise and Almond Biscotti


It has been far too long since I wrote my last recipe post. If the truth must be told, I have not been so inspired in the kitchen lately. This is partially due to the fact that I have been preoccupied with other exciting projects around the house. My creative juices are only temporarily being sidetracked from food and fresh recipe ideas.  Many readers have been writing to me with reminders that Thanksgiving is coming up and I have not posted anything new. Thanksgiving is the one holiday where I really don’t try to make anything new and exciting. Like many other people, I like Thanksgiving dinner to have all my childhood favorites just like my mom made them. All of those recipes are already here for you to enjoy. But I will do my best to provide you with some new things to try this holiday season as well.

With this year being the first in a few that I am no longer strictly dedicated to a plant-based diet, I am feeling a desire to embrace my roots in pastry and the preparation of home style desserts. This particular recipe for Anise and Almond Biscotti is a personal favorite of mine to make for holiday gifting as well as for my own personal sweet tooth.

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Salad Nicoise with (or without) Seared Ahi Tuna


Fewer things are easier to put together on a hot day than a Salad Nicoise. Traditionally speaking, a Salad Nicoise is a composed and plattered salad consisting of potatoes, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, cornichon pickles, nicoise olives, anchovies, and either fresh or canned tuna. I love to prepare variations on this classic for dinner when I am feeling lazy or for guests as it is versatile for vegetarians and omnivores alike, and almost everything can be prepared in advance. As it is a composed salad, it is ideal to customize for picky eaters. This version was made to suit everyone in our house.

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Peach and Almond Crostatas (vegan and gluten-free)


Every so often and I will be watching a cooking show on television and be so inspired by a recipe that I will mark it down as something I will want to prepare in the future. Quite infrequently do I feel so fascinated by a recipe that I feel compelled to make a run to the grocery store and prepare it right away. Well that is how I felt when I saw Brian Boitano (yes, the Olympic gold medal winning ice skater) demonstrate his absolutely genius recipe for Pear and Almond Crostatas made with a crust of store bought almond paste. Being a lover of frangipane and all things almond in desserts, I could not resist the urge to make this seemingly too simple to be that good dessert. I did and it was better than I could have imagined.

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Poached Wild Salmon


Fresh wild salmon has been widely available for the past couple of months. It has been one of the things I have really enjoyed since I reintroduced fish and poultry into my diet. One of my favorite ways to prepare wild salmon during the summer is by poaching it. It must be made ahead and served cold which makes it an optimal dish to serve for lunch or dinner guests. It also happens to be my one of my favorite picnic dishes to bring to the Hollywood Bowl here in Los Angeles during the summer.

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Blueberry Crumb Cake (vegan)


I have not been able to stop buying blueberries for the past few weeks. They are not only at their peak of flavor, but are at their lowest price of the season as well. Eating them on their own, with cereal, or thrown into smoothies is always my preference, but when you have 2-3 pounds of them in the refrigerator it is fun to play with them. Like so many of my recipes, I set out to make this cake to be a little healthier than your standard white butter cake by using whole wheat flour and coconut oil instead. But it is still made with sugar and the verdict is really still out on coconut oil being good for you or not. I was after making something that the kids would gobble up in spite of the whole wheat vegan base and it worked.

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Plum and Edamame Salad


vegan, summer salads

I tend to get a little over excited when buying summer produce at the farmers market and come home with an over abundance of fresh fruit. I have to say that the stone fruits are my real weakness as they are best had when seasonally fresh. I like to cut up a variety of plums, pluots, nectarines, and peaches for my family to snack on after dinner and we will eat several each day. I like to select stone fruits at varying stages of ripeness so they will last me for the whole week, but there are still many left to eat by the time the week is up. I put this salad together to serve with poached wild salmon. The combination of the sweet and tangy plums, with the crisp cucumbers, and edamame made a delicious companion to the salmon, but would be equally good on it’s own or with mixed baby greens.

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Vanilla Layer Cake with Fresh Berries


4-3-2-1 cake

 I originally posted this recipe when my daughter requested that I make this cake for her 6th birthday in June 2012. This was also before I made the very difficult decision to remove all non-vegan dishes from my site. After two years of being a dedicated vegan, I recently began incorporating fish, chicken, and even a bit of dairy and eggs into my diet. In celebration of what I deem to be positive changes in my diet and the upcoming 4th of July holiday, I want to share this recipe with you once again.

I realize that this may come as a shock to many of my devout vegan followers. I have not posted in over a month because it has been difficult to form the words to express this decision. Well… not so difficult to form the words as I have written over 3000 rambling words for all of the reasons I brought specific foods back into my diet, but the editing is the hard part. I will be sharing all of my reasons with you very soon, but in the mean time please continue to follow The Conscious Kitchen as my fundamental beliefs of healthy eating have not changed. I still believe strongly in a diet made up mostly of the foods that nurture our bodies. Our diets should be heavily weighted towards eating fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, cooking at home, and minimizing processed foods. I have never ceased preparing moderate quantities of foods such as poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs for my family. I have recently embraced this more moderate approach to clean cooking and lifestyle that I have successfully tested on my family, and it is agreeing with me. As such, I will be re-posting old requested favorites from the poultry, fish, and dessert categories in the next couple of weeks.

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Vegan Mexican Style Brown Rice


I wanted to create a healthy variation of the rice dishes that I have always loved so much from my favorite Mexican restaurants. Made with brown rice and loaded with veggies, you are sure to enjoy this flavor packed pilaf with your next homemade Mexican meal.

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Baby Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Aged Balsamic


The combination of fresh seasonal strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar is a classic Italian treat. It is remarkably simple and dummy proof to put together yet happens to be an intoxicatingly sublime combination. Adding fresh baby spinach and a generous grinding of black pepper brings a savory balance to the sweetness and makes a delicious and beautiful Spring salad.

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Coconut Almond Cookies (vegan and gluten free)


vegan, gluten free

Who doesn’t love cookies? Even those who try to eat a healthy plant based diet still enjoy treats. I certainly do. I have found that recipes for cookies lend themselves quite well to makeovers. They are among the most forgiving products in the scientific world of baking.

There are a few cookies that I seem to make for myself repeatedly. These chewy and wholesome Coconut Almond Cookies are among my favorites. They are just sweet enough to satisfy my cravings, delicious, and at the same time not at all bad for me. They have the added bonus of being high in dietary fiber and are gluten free.

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Tortilla Soup


vegan and gluten-free, Cinco de Mayo

The first time I tried tortilla soup was at The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas over 25 years ago. The hotel was famous for this memorable soup recreated by star chef and leading proponent of Southwestern cuisine Dean Fearing. With the continued increase in the popularity of elevated versions of Tex-Mex food since the 1980’s, Tortilla Soup has become a staple on any modern Southwestern chef’s menu including my own.

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Salad of Asparagus Ribbons with Farro Perlato


There are many reasons to rejoice in springtime being in full swing. For many, it is the relief of being able to put your winter coat into storage. For me, spring is all about the array of fresh and sweet green vegetables that start to become available. The season marks the beginning of our most bountiful time of the year. All of the spring vegetables from peas to artichokes are favorites making it tough to pick just one. Sometimes the decision is made easy by what looks best at the market. Vibrant green fat spears of asparagus caught my eye this week. When I brought them home and tasted them in their raw state, they were so sweet and tender that I chose to prepare a fresh salad that would celebrate the sweetness that is briefly gifted to us this time of year.

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