Chocolate Covered Strawberries


I’ve been planning to post this recipe for a long time but I couldn’t find the words for it. Last week, while devouring our delicious vegan desserts at the V-Note, I asked two of my girlfriends for some inspiration. Words like “Romantic”, “Sensual”, “Indulgence” and “Seductive” were thrown in the air. One of them even mentioned the similarity between a strawberry and a tongue Oh..Kay, let’s not go there… there’s kids in the audience. 😉 Speaking of kids, here’s an idea for a fun playdate activity. Children love to help dip strawberries in chocolate and it’s like a mini science project to see the chocolate turn back to solid. The only “problem” I found with this recipe is that for some reason when I put them in the fridge to let the chocolate set, somehow they mysteriously disappear!! So my advice is to make plenty because they will fly off quickly.


25-30 Fresh Strawberries

1 ½ Cup of mixed Vegan Chocolate (I had left overs so I used Chocolate Chips and Bitter Sweet Dark Chocolate chunks)

1 tsp Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

1/2 to 1 Cup Soy Milk (add as you go, you might not need all of it)

1 tsp Almond Butter

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

For dipping:

A handful of finely shredded coconut, cacao powder, chopped almonds and crushed pistachio – I crushed them with a heavy coffee mug. Great for letting out some aggression 😉


Wash the strawberries and pat dry on a kitchen towel.

Set-up a double boiler (Bain Marie) – you can use a sauce pan with water and a glass bowl over it. Bring water to a simmer on medium heat. Melt the chocolate in the glass bowl,  just make sure there is no direct heat on the chocolate. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter, soy milk and vanilla. Stir well until smooth ganache consistency.

Line-up the toppings on a plate or tray –the shredded coconut, chopped almond, pistachio and cacao powder — to dip the chocolate covered strawberries.

Hold the strawberries by the stem or leaves, dip into the melted chocolate mixture, twist and then dip the tip gently in the toppings.

Lay out the dipped strawberries onto a non stick surface — a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes until the chocolate is firm.

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Stuffed Grape Leaves in Green Tahini Sauce


Stuffed grape leaves or as they are  traditionally called, ‘Dolmas’, always seem like a holiday party food to me. Something that aunts and grandmas prepare in groups while gossiping in some far away village a long, long time ago. I wanted to try and make them to see if I could roll food that looks like cigars… I also like the surprise factor of when you cut open a roll or a stuffed vegetable and discover the filling inside, so I decided to take on the challenge.

I looked for recipes and inspiration and finally made a combination of cooked traditional recipes and the raw version made by my favorite raw food restaurant in NYC, Pure Food and Wine. Their idea of adding preserved lemon oil and cilantro tahini sauce is so refreshing and makes a beautiful presentation! I found it therapeutic to do the work of stuffing and rolling the leaves. It takes time and some practice, but don’t  you worry …Watch a few Youtube videos  and you, too, will roll it like a pro. 🙂


1 Jar of Grape Leaves (I used 2/3 of a 16 oz. Jar) about 35-40 leaves

1 Cup Rice

1 Cup Water

1 Medium Onion , Chopped

1/3 Cup Pine Nuts

Salt & Black Pepper

Handful one of each:

Chopped Mint

Chopped Dill

Chopped Cilantro (+ one more Cup for the Tahini Sauce)

Lemon Zest

Olive Oil

Tahini Sauce:

1/2 Cup Tahini

3/4 Cup Water

1-2 Cloves Garlic

1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Cup Cilantro, Chopped

1 tsp. Salt

Preserved Lemon Oil:

1/4 Cup Preserved Lemons

1/4 Cup Olive Oil



Sauté the onion in olive oil until golden brown.

Add the rice, pine nuts, salt, pepper and water. Cover and let simmer, lower the heat and ‘half-cook’ the rice for only 10 minutes and let it cool.

Add the chopped greens (dill, mint and cilantro) and lemon zest into the rice mixture, add salt and pepper and adjust it to your liking.

Open the leaves very carefully in a bowl with water (they come rolled together very tightly in the jar).

Cut the stem off each leaf and stretch it on a flat surface. Be careful not to tear. Lay the vain side up so it will be the inside and the smooth side would be on the outside.

Take a small amount of the filling (see picture), about 1 1/2 tablespoon and place it on the center -bottom of the leaf.

Start rolling and folding the bottom, then the sides and roll into a cigar shape.

Place a few unstuffed leaves (the ripped ones) on to the bottom of a pot with a little bit of water, lemon and olive oil mixture (about a cup, just to cover the bottom of the pot)

Pile up the stuffed grape leaves very tightly so they’re not going to open during cooking — I had 2 layers. (Some recipes call for placing a plate on top of the layers to keep them tight during cooking.)

Cook for 20-30 minutes covered on low heat until the rice is completely cooked and all the flavors blend together.

Make the Cilantro Tahini sauce:

Blend the tahini, water, lemon, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper in a food processor

Make the preserved lemon dressing in a blender, blend the preserved lemons and olive oil until smooth.

To serve:

Place the cilantro tahini sauce on a plate, a few stuffed grape leaves on top and drizzle the preserved lemon sauce on top and some more of the chopped herbs.

IMG_7407“Half cook” the rice

IMG_7409Grape leaf final

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Chocolatey Chia Seed Pudding with Cardamon Spice


If you live on “Planet Health” you’ve probably heard about Chia seeds. The  super food miracle seed. Full of nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants and so much more!! One spoon of this stuff is like getting a boost of good energy into your “system” and if it’s served as a dessert, even better (:

When soaked long enough in liquid, chia seeds will expand up to 12 times their size and will look like a thick jell/pudding . Pudding that is perfect for breakfast with cut fruit or as a chocolate desert. Flavor it any way you’ld like—vanilla, cinnamon, or coffee. In this recipe, I added Cardamon for that exotic essence, but make sure not to add too much of it because it could be overpowering. The only thing you need to do is blend chia seeds in a liquid (almond milk, coconut milk, or any other plant-based milk or juice) and flavor it to your taste, and 20 minutes later you’ve got yourself a healthy treat.

If you’d like to learn more about Chia seeds, check out this link.


Makes about four servings.


2 ½ to 3 cups Almond Milk

1 cup Chia Seeds

3 tsp Maple Syrup (you can add more or less depending on your taste)

1½ tbs Dark Cocoa Powder

Less than ¼ tsp Ground Cardamon

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Sea Salt



The cocoa powder does not blend easily with cold liquid, so you might want to stir it first with a smaller amount of the almond milk; then, add it to the rest of the mix and quickly blend some more to make sure there are no clumps.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together, blend well, and again make sure there are no clumps.

Let it sit in the fridge for at least a half an hour or leave it overnight.

I garnished it with cacao nibs. You could also sprinkle some cocoa powder on it.



Spicy Carrot “Noodles” with Black Lentil and Mixed Greens


When I saw these heirloom carrots, I knew I had to make them the star of a dish. So beautiful, they look like sunshine in a plate… and I sure need some sunshine now in this freezing New York winter 😉  I thought of making a Moroccan carrot salad with Harissa (which is a paste made of hot chillies), but I didn’t want a side dish. I was looking to make a salad that can pass as a meal by itself. It came out so good! Spicy carrot “noodles” and greens with the addition of black lentils- which made it a protein rich dish (for everyone asking “where do you get your protein?) even though there is protein in the carrots, the greens and in the pumpkin seeds. If you are concerned about protein or other nutrients you can check-out  CRON-O-METER. It’s a site that calculates food nutritional values according to what you enter. I don’t really worry about it as long as I make sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Variety  is the key word here 🙂 and yes, it may be a little extra “work” peeling the carrots but doesn’t such a beautiful vegetable deserve the extra VIP treatment?…



8-10 Carrots washed and peeled

1 Can Cooked black lentils washed and drained

Juice of half a Lemon

1 ½ tsp. Harissa sauce

¼ tsp. Cumin

Salt and Black pepper

Olive oil

4-5 Cups Mixed greens (I used Baby Kale and Baby Arugula)

Handful of Dry roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Chopped Cilantro


First make the dressing to marinade the lentils. Mix the Harissa sauce, lemon juice, oil and spices with the lentils first and set aside to let the lentils soak up the flavors.

Wash and start peeling the carrots keep on peeling them all the way to the end, until there’s nothing to peel. It’s best to use a “Y” shaped vegetable peeler to get wider “noodles”.

Blanch the carrots in boiling water for 1-3 minutes and drain -Or- sauté them very lightly in a little bit of oil, salt and pepper,  just a few minutes to soften them. Be carful not to over cook so they will not get soggy.

To serve: on a large plate, place the greens first, carrot “noodles”, lentils and pumpkin seeds.

Drizzle the rest of the juice/dressing with cilantro on top.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers -The Paste


I’m still on a roll to cover all the basics, which means ingredients that I use as “helpers” when I’m ready to “throw something on the stove”, make a quick sandwich or marinade I always have some kind of spread, sauce or a paste like this one to add into the mix and kick it up a notch.

There are so many hot sauces and hot pepper pastes you could buy but it’s so much more fun to make one of your own and play with it until it fits your taste. I like to make it more like Harissa sauce which is a north african hot chili sauce. I don’t really follow strict rules or recipes here. You can use dried chillies or fresh ones like Jalapeño. In this recipe I used both dried chillies and red Jalapeño peppers. It is rare to see red Jalapeños but they’re actually just fully ripened green Jalapeños that turned red.

I do have one warning though, DO NOT touch your face and eyes after handling hot peppers! It will burn so bad you’ll have to call the fire fighters 😉


5 Dried Red Hot Chili Peppers

5 Fresh Jalapeño Peppers

1 tsp. Vinegar or Lemon juice

Olive Oil (or if you prefer another oil; grape seed oil would be good)

½ tsp. Ground Cumin seeds

½ tsp.Ground Caraway seeds

½ tsp Ground Coriander

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Crushed Garlic (Optional)


Soak the dried peppers in hot water for at least 1 hour, wash and drain.

Remove all stems from the dried and fresh peppers.

In a food processor place the peppers and spices, process and add the oil gradually until the mixture gets a paste consistency. Taste and correct the seasoning

Place in a container, pour some extra oil on top to create a top layer. that will keep it fresh longer.

You can add garlic and chopped cilantro if you like.

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