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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Vegan Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce


Just saying “chocolate cake” makes everyone smile 🙂 . Chocolate cake with raspberry sauce makes me smile even more. It was one of my pregnancy cravings… I was addicted to a chocolate soufflé with raspberry sauce from a Belgian restaurant in NYC and made my husband go with me or bring it home every chance I got… Sometimes at crazy hours. Well, you get a permit to harass your husband when you’re hormonal 😉

According to a Parenting magazine, chocolate is the number 2 most craved food by pregnant women, right after ice!  It said “Chocolate — or any sweet for that matter — is something pregnant women can’t get enough of. This could be because chocolate makes you happy, and since there’s no drinking for pregnant women, chocolate is literally the next best thing. An old wives’ tale states if you crave sweets it means you’re carrying a girl”. Can you believe it?! Pregnant or not, nobody says NO to a piece of this moist chocolaty gorgeous red raspberry goodness.

I wanted a taller cake so I actually made two cakes to assemble as two layers. It is perfect as a one layer cake too, so If you want you can skip the second cake and just make it without the jam/sauce in the middle.


For the Cake:

Makes One 9 -Inch Round Layer


1 ½ Cup All Purpose Flour

1 Cup Sugar (I used Turbinado Cane Sugar)

1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder

1 tsp. Baking Soda

¼ tsp. Baking Powder

½ tsp Salt


1 Cup Almond Milk (I used sweetened Vanilla Almond Milk)

½ Cup Oil (Canola Oil or Grape-seed oil)

1/8 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract

Raspberry Sauce:

2 Cups Fresh Raspberries

2 ½ Tbsp. Water

¼ Cup Sugar

1 tsp. Lemon Juice

1/8 tsp. Salt

 For spreading between the  layers:

3 Tbsp. Raspberry Jam

Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

Dark Chocolate chunks (about 1 and 1/2 – 2 Cups)

1 Cup Almond Milk

4 Tbsp. Maple Syrup (or Sugar)


Fresh Raspberries

Handful roasted Pistachios




Preheat oven to 350°

Brush with oil a 9-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together wet ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl sift together the flour and cocoa powder, add in the rest of the dry ingredients.

Combine the wet into the dry and mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. (check if it’s ready, insert a tooth-pick it should come out dry)

Let the cake cool before adding the ganache and the raspberry sauce.

Raspberry Sauce:

Place all sauce ingredients In a medium saucepan, cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

Place the sauce in a small food processor or a blender and blend until smooth. Press it through a small fine mesh strainer with a spoon to get rid of the seeds. Keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.


Mix 3 Tbsp. of the raspberry sauce with 3 Tbsp. of store bought Raspberry Jam to make it thicker. “Shave” the top of the bottom cake to make it more even. Flip the top layer cake upside down to get a flatter top and spread the raspberry sauce and jam mixture between the two layers of cake before covering with the ganache frosting.

Ganache Frosting:

In a saucepan, boil the almond milk, reduce to simmer, add the chocolate and maple, turn off the heat and stir well until the chocolate has melted.

Cool a bit, spread over the top and sides of the cake and place in the fridge to harden.

To Serve:

When you are ready to serve, cut the frosted cake, decorate every piece with a raspberry, pour some raspberry sauce on top, sprinkle with pistachios and start dieting tommorow…

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Another way to decorate...

Another way to decorate…




Red Lentil and Acorn Squash Patties


I made these patties in a few different versions before. I learned that a great way to experiment with making patties or veggie balls, is to use dry uncooked and soaked legumes as a base ingredient. Add vegetables, herbs and spices and the options are limitless! The fun fact is:, Legumes, due to their high content of starch (that’s the white stuff you see in the soaking water) act like a “glue” so there is no need for eggs. How simple and cool is that?! Actually, Falafel balls are made with the same principle, dry uncooked and soaked chic-peas or Fava beans mixed with spices and herbs and then fried.

In this recipe I used the beautiful Acorn squash with the red/orange lentils and made it ready for fall…  I served it with tri-color couscous and simple tomato sauce but It’s great in a sandwich too. So lets get to work! start soaking your lents…


1¼ Cup Red Lentils, Soaked in water for about 3 to 4 hours

1/2 Acorn Squash

1 Small Onion

1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs

1 tsp. Fresh Thyme leaves

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp. Turmeric

1 tsp. Paprika

1/2 tsp. Dry Ginger powder

1/2 tsp Black pepper

1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

Oil for Frying


Preheat oven to 400º

Cut the acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds, brush with olive oil, maple syrup and sprinkle with sea salt (I used only one half of the squash, the other half I used for another recipe).

Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour until soft. Set aside to cool. After the acorn squash has cooled, scoop the “flesh” from its inside, do not use the skin.

Rinse and strain the lentils and chop the onion.

Place the mashed acorn squash, the lentils and the onion in a food processor and blend.

In a mixing bowl, add the mixture, the bread crumbs and the spices.

Heat up the oil in a frying pan. Use an ice-cream scooper to form balls, place it in the pan and flatten a little to look like patties. Fry on medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side.

• Always fry one pattie first to test the flavoring. If more spices are needed, add it to the mixture before frying the whole batch.

• If the mixture is too soft for the ice cream scooper to pick up, add more bread crumbs.

• If you prefer, you can bake them in the oven, it comes out just as tasty. Just brush them with oil before baking.

Maple Roasted AcornIMG_5747IMG_5755IMG_5756Always test one first





Raw Coconut Cherry Pie with Cashew Cream


Who doesn’t love cherries?!  They’re so beautiful and flavorful. They are rich in vitamin C and are considered a super-fruit. Their season is short so I knew I had to do something quick with the bag of sweet cherries I got. The first thing I thought about is the color. That’s the real “food coloring” of nature, without the chemicals!  Mixing the cherries with the coconut cream makes a pretty purple, then topping the pie with fresh cherries over the white cashew cream and I got two colors for the price of one…  There is no baking here, just a lot of blending and cherry pitting.

For the look of clean lines of the pie layers, you can put it in the freezer for a few minutes between each layer of cream to allow it to set and prevent the layers from mixing. This decadent pie is so rich and full of nutrients, it is hard to eat more than one piece, which makes it almost a guilt-free dessert 🙂

Before you start, remember to soak the cashew in filtered water for at least 4 hours (preferably in the fridge).










1½ Cup Walnuts

1 Cup Pecans (I used small American Native Pecans)

2 Tbsp Water (more if needed)

1½ Cups Pitted Medjool Dates

½ Cup Shredded Coconut

1½ tsp Coconut Oil

½ tsp Cinnamon

Pinch of Salt


Cashew Cream:

2 Cups Soaked Raw Organic Cashews

½ Cup Maple Syrup

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt


Cherry Coconut Cream:

2 Cups Pitted Cherries

½ Cup Coconut Cream (Cream = Not the coconut milk)

½ Cup Coconut “Meat”

1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 tsp Vanilla Extract




Put all ingredients for the crust into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Note that sometimes the dates are a bit dry and need more water to help bind it all together. Add water only if needed.

Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan. You will need to do some patch work to spread evenly.

Place the crust in the fridge to set and harden.

Cashew Cream:

Soak the cashews for a minimum of four hours. Wash and drain.

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender (A good high-speed blender is important, you want the cashew cream to be super smooth with no pieces)

Place cream over the crust and put in the freezer to set.

Cherry Coconut Cream:

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Add this layer of cream onto the pie and freeze to set.

Finally, top the pie with a layer of cherry halves and serve.


* You can freeze the pie. If you do, don’t forget to thaw it ten minutes before serving.

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Mediterranean Style Quinoa


Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) is a grain-like seed and is nicknamed ‘The mother of all grains’. It has a nutty flavor and is considered a high quality plant-based protein that is rich in fiber. Visually, it looks like it could pass for the healthy cousin of couscous… I see it as a basic ingredient that I can shape into patties, mix into salads, Tabbouleh or Stir-Frys. A good way to introduce it, is to serve it with your favorite sauce like you might serve rice, pasta or any other grain we think of  as “side dish”. Quinoa is easy to cook and can be served hot or cold.

4-6 Servings


1 ¼ Cup Quinoa

½ Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives

½ Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes –OR– ½ Cup Dried Apricot (my favorite)

½ Cup Fresh Mint finely chopped

½ Cup Pine Nuts

Juice of Half a Lemon

2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil (If you use Sun-dried tomatoes in Oil, you might need less)

½ to 1 tsp Sea Salt (depending on your taste)

Freshly ground black pepper

(Optional: add 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced)



1. Cook the Quinoa in 3 cups of boiling water for 15-20 min and then drain.

2. Lightly toast the pine nuts on a hot non-stick pan for a minute or two. Flip and toss them around; be careful because they can burn easily. Set aside to cool.

3. Chop the olives, sun-dried tomatoes (or dried apricot if you choose) and mint leaves.

4. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and let it sit for a while so the quinoa soaks up the flavors.

Serve warm or cold. Yummm…