When You’re Craving Hot Chocolate…

The simpler the recipe, the more important it is to use quality ingredients.

The simpler the recipe, the more important it is to use quality ingredients.

It is finally Friday! It has been a busy week and I need to get ready for a busy weekend ahead. The Kutty clan (Raj’s family) and the Chan clan (my family) are having a big Thanksgiving dinner together on Sunday and I am doing all my grocery shopping tomorrow. Then on Thanksgiving Monday, Raj and I have a baby shower to attend. I am so excited for everything this weekend, but tonight, I just want to relax in my pajamas with a blanket, Sex and the City reruns, and some nourishing hot chocolate…

“Haute” Chocolate

This dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and vegan hot chocolate is definitely a nourishing upgrade from the standard hot chocolate at your generic coffee shop. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water (filtered)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (raw, organic)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil (cold-pressed, organic, extra virgin)
  • healthy sugar substitute (i.e. monk fruit sweetener, stevia, erythritol, xylitol, etc.) to taste
  • the tiniest pinch of sea salt
  1. In a small saucepan over low to medium heat, whisk all the ingredients together until the mixture heats up to a simmer.
  2. Pour the frothy mixture into your favourite mug and enjoy!

Enjoy a comforting mug of healthy hot chocolate this fall and winter without spiking your blood sugar and without the pro-inflammatory effects of dairy. You can also add extracts of your favourite chocolate complementary flavours (i.e. peppermint extract for chocolate mint flavour, orange extract for orange chocolate flavour, etc.). Cheers!

XOXO,

Addy

Arvinda’s Indian Spice Blends Help Me Cook Like Raj’s Mom!

You know an Indian spice blend company is the real deal when their masalas taste like Raj's mom's home cooking!

You know an Indian spice blend company is the real deal when their masalas taste like Raj’s mom’s home cooking!

Raj’s mom, who is from Kerala, India, makes the most delicious Indian dishes (dahls, sambars, curries, etc.). She always cooks with the perfect combination of spices. Indian cuisine involves such intricate blends of complementary spices (also known as masalas) and I am slowly learning about all the different kinds of masalas from her. To Raj’s mom, knowing which spices go well together and in what ratios is second nature (no measuring is necessary). Since my Indian culinary skills are nowhere near her level, I am always on the lookout for ready-made Indian spice blends with flavour profiles that remind me of Raj’s mom’s home cooking. Thanks to the CHFA East trade show this year, I discovered Arvinda’s awesome Indian spice blends, which allow me to cook like Raj’s mom effortlessly! Yes, this line of Indian spice blends tastes that authentic.

Arvinda's Butter Chicken Masala, Tandoori Masala, and Curry Masala are my favourites!

Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala, Tandoori Masala, and Curry Masala are my favourites!

This past Thursday on World Vegetarian Day (October 1st), I was craving butter chicken for dinner, but I wanted to satisfy that craving with something vegetarian, healthy, and quick. Thankfully, I had some Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala to make myself a deliciously satisfying “Butter Cauli-Kale”. This yummy and hearty vegetarian alternative to butter chicken satisfied my craving and I think Raj’s mom would have approved! This dish was so good that I have already remade it two more times since Thursday! Since it is Vegetarian Awareness Month, I thought I should share this tasty and nutritious vegetarian recipe. It is so quick and easy too thanks to Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala.

This vegetarian dish does not look like butter chicken, but it is much more nutritious with the same spice and flavour profile as that of butter chicken!

This vegetarian dish does not look like butter chicken, but it is much more nutritious with the same spice and flavour profile as that of butter chicken! It definitely satisfied my craving for butter chicken!

Butter Cauli-Kale (Vegetarian Alternative to Butter Chicken)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, puréed
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 small head cauliflower or 1/2 head large cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 5 kale leaves, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon 100% all natural and smooth cashew butter (unsweetened and unsalted)
  1. In a frying pan (that is large enough to fit all the vegetables) over medium heat, sauté the diced onion in the coconut oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add in the puréed tomato and Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala. Continue cooking and stirring the mixture until most of the moisture has evaporated and the consistency becomes thick like tomato paste.
  3. Mix in the low-sodium vegetable broth, chopped cauliflower, chopped kale, fine sea salt, and coconut sugar. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and let everything simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables have cooked to desired tenderness. If you prefer a drier consistency with little to no sauce like I do, let everything simmer without a lid and stir often to ensure nothing sticks to the pan.
  4. Turn off the stove and mix in the cashew butter. Serve and enjoy!
Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!

Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!

If you get cravings for Indian food and want to satisfy those cravings with delicious and nutritious food, I highly recommend alway having your favourite Arvinda’s spice blends on hand! I am still slowly learning about Indian cooking from Raj’s mom, but for those times when I am in a hurry, there are always ready-made spice blends in my pantry!

XOXO,

Addy

The Cheapest Way to Eat Organic!

Raj and I try to eat organic as much as we can all year round and not just during "Organic Week", because organic foods just taste better.

Raj and I try to eat organic as much as we can all year round and not just during “Organic Week”, because organic foods just taste better.

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that eating organic is too expensive, my phone bill would be covered every month. Since it is “Organic Week” (September 19-27, 2015) here in Canada, I thought I would share my secret on the cheapest way to eat organic. After sharing this secret with Raj, the both of us now eat fresh organic foods more frequently and when we do, the organic foods are always much cheaper than their inorganic counterparts. So what is the secret? Shop in the clearance produce section!

The clearance produce section section at Raj's local Fortinos was full of still beautiful organic fruits and vegetables for over 50% off!

The clearance produce section section at Raj’s local Fortinos was full of still beautiful organic fruits and vegetables for over 50% off!

Sure, shopping in the clearance produce section has drawbacks such as having little to no organic produce at times (unless you live in a big city like I do where there are many large supermarkets nearby with large clearance produce sections), giving up meal planning for improvisational cooking (you never know what you are going to find in the clearance section), and grocery shopping on a daily basis (clearance produce usually lasts no longer than a day). However, if you can accommodate these drawbacks into your lifestyle without any issue, then the advantages will far outweigh the disadvantages. Not only will you save money, but you will also be eating more nutrient-dense produce, reducing your exposure to toxins (i.e. pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc.), supporting sustainable farming, and leading a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

I found two gorgeous heads of organic romaine lettuce for $0.99 (along with several organic eggplants for the same price)!

I found two gorgeous heads of organic romaine lettuce for $0.99 (along with several organic eggplants for the same price)!

In terms of savings, markdowns are typically at least 50% off. For instance, at Raj’s local Fortinos yesterday, we found two beautiful heads of organic romaine lettuce for $0.99 and a bunch of organic eggplant for $0.99 as well. What a bargain!

For under $5, we made plenty of organic vegan taco lettuce wraps to feed four hungry adults! They were absolutely delicious! Great ingredients make great food.

For under $5, we made plenty of organic vegan taco lettuce wraps to feed four hungry adults! They were absolutely delicious! Great ingredients make great food.

So for dinner last night, we stir-fried the organic eggplants with some cooked organic lentils the same way we stir-fried these jackfruit seeds here. Then, we scooped this delicious stir-fry into the organic romaine lettuce leaves and devoured these like tacos! This yummy and organic meal fed four adults and costed less than $5! Who says eating organic has to be expensive? I love shopping in the clearance produce section for organic fruits and vegetables and not knowing what to expect. It allows me to be creative and adventurous in the kitchen, while being healthy, organic, economical, and eco-friendly all at the same time. Try it!

XOXO,

Addy

“ManGO-Away-Cold-and-Flu” Salad!

A healthy diet should be naturally colourful!

A healthy diet should be naturally colourful!

You know how there are those few times during the year when everyone around you seems to be getting sick? Well, I am going through one of those times right now and I am proud to say that I still have not fallen sick. I have been taking preventative measures to ensure I remain cold/flu-free. In addition to taking oil of oregano daily while so many are sick around me, getting an adequate amount of sleep every night, and always staying hydrated, I have been having my “ManGO-Away-Cold-and-Flu” salad for dinner quite often lately. This high-in-vitamin-C and antioxidant-rich salad helps keep sickness away and is so yummy! I make this salad so often that I have never measured any of the ingredients. However, while making this salad for dinner last night, I measured the ingredients so that I could share the recipe with you all today! Enjoy!

One of my secrets to making a great tasting salad is using all organic ingredients! Organic produce just tastes better.

One of my secrets to making a great tasting salad is using all organic ingredients! Organic produce just tastes better.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium (red, white, or yellow) onion, diced
  • 2-3 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1-2 pinches garam masala powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • leaves from 1 head of green kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
If you are a salad lover like me, this recipe serves one.

If you are a salad lover like me, this recipe serves one.

  1. In a medium frying pan over medium to high heat, sauté the diced onion in coconut oil until translucent.
  2. Add the diced zucchini and spices (cumin powder, fine sea salt, chili powder, garam masala powder, and turmeric powder). Sauté everything until all the water that comes out from the zucchini evaporates.
  3. Place the chopped kale leaves in a large bowl and add the sautéed zucchini and onion mixture on top.
  4. Top off the salad with the diced mango and chopped scallion.
  5. Mix everything together. Allow the flavours to mix and mingle for 5 minutes and then enjoy!

XOXO,

Addy

Raddy Recipe: “Cuckoo for Coconut” Salad

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Now that it is finally warmer and sunnier in Toronto, I have been craving fresh salads and coconut water lately. So I wanted to create a coconut-based salad to complement a nice, cold, refreshing glass of coconut water. I came up with this “Cuckoo for Coconut” salad and it was delicious! This vegan salad is high in fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

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“Cuckoo for Coconut” Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons creamed coconut, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 baby bok choy, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

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  1. Mix everything together.
  2. Let set for 5 minutes to allow all the flavours to mix and mingle.
  3. Enjoy!

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We packaged this salad in Mason jars and brought them with us to Scarborough Bluffs Park. The salad tasted even better with the beautiful view of Lake Ontario and with some coconut water on the side. I hope you get to try this recipe and enjoy it outdoors in the beautiful weather this summer!

XOXO,

Addy

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Raddy Recipe: Raj’s Mom Shows How to Cook Jackfruit Seeds!

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Both my dad and Raj’s dad LOVE jackfruit and would list it as one of their favourite fruits. Thus, Raj and I both grew up eating this fruit and we love it too. To me, this sweet and fleshy fruit tastes like something between a mango and a lychee. While my family would devour the tasty flesh of this fruit and toss away the seeds, Raj’s family would save the seeds and make delicious dishes with them. With jackfruit season upon us, I thought I would share one of Raj’s mom’s delicious jackfruit seed recipes.

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Recently, my parents bought some beautifully ripe jackfruit for Raj and his parents. When his mom told me she was going to save the seeds and cook with them, I was skeptical at first, because the seeds tasted so bitter and unpleasant in their raw state. However, when she cooked them in a simple stir-fry, they tasted delicious (similar to a cooked potato)! Not only are these seeds edible and tasty when cooked, but they are also a good source of vegan protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, minerals, and some B vitamins! I will never toss out the seeds from a jackfruit again! Here is Raj’s mom’s simple stir-fry recipe for jackfruit seeds (sorry for the lack of precise measurements, but like many mothers who cook a lot, Raj’s mom usually just “eyeballs” her measurements and goes by taste)…

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Raj’s Mom’s “Do-NOT-Throw-Away-The-Jackfruit-Seeds” Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh jackfruit seeds, each one cut in half
  • water to boil the jackfruit seeds
  • 1/2 cup frozen “Chinese potato” pieces (found in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • chili powder to taste
  • salt to taste
  • few cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

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  1. Boil the fresh jackfruit seeds for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Then, drain and set them aside.
  2. In a pan on medium high heat, sauté the diced red onion with coconut oil until the onion pieces turn slightly brown and caramelize a bit.
  3. Add the halved jackfruit seeds and “Chinese potato” pieces into the pan and sauté them until everything is heated through.
  4. Add chili powder and salt to taste.
  5. Transfer stir-fry to a serving dish and serve immediately or garnish with a few cilantro leaves just before serving. Enjoy!

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The next time you eat jackfruit, I hope you save the seeds and try cooking with them! They are so delicious and nutritious!

XOXO,

Addy

Raddy Recipe: 1 Larabar = 8 Deliciously Healthy Cookies!

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Larabar Fruit and Nut Energy Bars are simple (contain no more than nine whole-food ingredients), gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, low-sodium, and vegan. They are delicious right out of the wrapper, but since they are made with only such few pure and raw ingredients, I thought to myself, “Why not bake with them?” So I experimented with that thought and managed to turn one Larabar into eight delicious and nutritious cookies! It works with all the Larabar flavours, but I will be showing you how with my favourite flavour, Coconut Cream.

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The Coconut Cream flavour contains ONLY dates, unsweetened coconut, almonds, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil.

1. Select your favourite Larabar flavour (mine is Coconut Cream) and preheat the oven to 150°F.

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2. Cut the Larabar into eight equally sized pieces (cut the bar into halves and then, cut each half into quarters).

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3. With the palms of your hands, flatten each piece as much as possible into thin, round cookies.

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4. Bake the cookies for about 30 minutes or until crispy.

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5. Let the cookies cool down completely to get even more crispy and then, enjoy!

These cookies are so delicious and nutritious (high in fibre and healthy fats) since the only ingredient is Larabar. Also, this recipe, which makes eight bite-sized cookies from one Larabar, is great for portion control. So the next time you are craving cookies, try this out!

XOXO,

Addy

Quick Tip Thursday: Long, Luscious Hair with Argan Oil!

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Argan oil, which is extracted from the kernels of argan fruit trees, is high in essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and other antioxidants. I use this nutrient-rich oil as a hair treatment at least once every month to help grow and maintain long, luscious, healthy hair! I love the New Roots Herbal Argan Oil, because it is pure, organic, cold-pressed, non-GMO, hand-sourced from Morocco, and very affordable (usually around $16 CAD for a 50-ml glass bottle). Here is how I use it as a hair treatment at least once every month for long, healthy hair:

Pure argan oil like this one has an earthy and slightly nutty scent. I am not fond of the scent, but it will not keep me from doing this hair treatment at least once each month!

Pure argan oil like this one has an earthy and slightly nutty scent. I am not fond of the scent, but it will not keep me from doing this hair treatment at least once every month!

  1. Pick a day when your hair does not need to look great (i.e. an uneventful day-off or a work day with no important meetings).
  2. In the morning, apply a generous amount of argan oil all over your hair. (For my hair length, I use about 5 full droppers.)
  3. Massage the argan oil well into your hair and then, tie your hair up in a bun.
  4. Let the argan oil sit in your hair for the entire day (at least 8 hours).
  5. Shampoo your hair once or twice (no need to condition it afterwards) and let it air-dry.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 at least once every month and enjoy your beautiful hair!
Your hair will look greasy during this all-day hair treatment. That is why I tie my hair up in a bun. Another nice alternative is to braid your hair in a ponytail.

Your hair will look greasy during this all-day hair treatment. That is why I tie my hair up in a bun. Another nice alternative is to braid your hair in a ponytail.

If you complement this at-least-monthly hair treatment with minimal to no use of hair-styling products and heat, a healthy diet, and minimal stress, get ready to watch your hair grow in length and volume!

XOXO,

Addy

I cannot stop playing with my hair every time after I do this hair treatment! It just feels extra soft and silky!

I cannot stop playing with my hair every time after I do this hair treatment! It just feels extra soft and silky!

Best & Easiest Natural Homemade Blush + Lip Gloss!

The best and easiest natural homemade blush + lip gloss ever!

The best and easiest natural homemade blush + lip gloss ever!

In my and Raj’s lecture on “Staying Cancer-Free Through Nutrition” tomorrow night at The Big Carrot, I will be briefly touching on how the toxins that we absorb from the environment and synthetic products are just as important to consider in cancer prevention/fighting as the toxins and nutrients that we consume. Our skin is our largest organ. What we put on our skin matters and we should always try to keep our body-care and cosmetic products as natural as possible. I will admit that I struggle with trying to use more natural cosmetics, especially when natural cosmetics tend to be less readily available, less pigmented, less lasting, and/or less diverse in colours. I am taking baby steps though with the more foolproof natural cosmetic products like blushes and lip glosses (I will explore the more daunting natural cosmetics like eyeliners and mascaras another time).

Aside from a few drops of filtered water, these are the only two other ingredients!

Aside from a few drops of filtered water, these are the only two other ingredients!

Although there are numerous natural cosmetic companies out there making wonderful blushes and lip glosses, I wanted to make my own two-in-one (blush + lip gloss) from scratch. Unlike all the more natural blushes and lip glosses I have seen on the market, I wanted mine to be completely free of preservatives, made with minimal ingredients, and good enough to eat! I finally came up with a super easy recipe that requires only three (edible) ingredients and that makes an absolutely gorgeous blush and lip gloss!

Ingredients:

It is LITERALLY good enough to eat!

It is LITERALLY good enough to eat!

Steps:

  1. In a very small bowl (i.e. dipping sauce bowl), add the red beetroot powder and then stir in the hot filtered water a few drops at a time until the red beetroot powder/crystals have dissolved and the mixture has a syrup-like consistency.
  2. Find a small glass jar, in which you would like to store this two-in-one blush + lip gloss product. Pour the liquid raw organic virgin coconut oil and the water-dissolved red beetroot powder/crystals into this small glass jar. Close the lid tightly and then shake the jar well to mix everything together. The coconut oil should turn deep red in colour (it will apply pink on the skin though).
  3. Place the jar in the freezer for about a hour to let the contents solidify and then keep it stored in the refrigerator. Take it out of the refrigerator anytime you want to apply a gorgeous berry pink colour on your cheeks and/or lips. Enjoy!
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Who knew beets and coconut oil could be so pretty on the skin?

 

I just love using this as a blush! The gorgeous berry pink colour stays on my cheeks all day (i.e. from early in the morning to when I come home from work, which is over eight hours). Not only does this easy-to-make product give a beautiful and lasting colour on my skin, but it also nourishes and moisturizes my skin. I really hope all my beauty-product junkies out there give this recipe a try, especially those who are also trying to go the more natural route. Your skin will thank you. 🙂

XOXO,

Addy

Raddy Recipe: Healthiest and Tastiest Low-Fat Onion Rings!

I prefer these healthy onion rings over the battered and deep-fried ones! These are NON-fried, nutritious, low-fat, high-fibre, high-protein, vegan, cancer-fighting, and best of all, super tasty!

I prefer these healthy onion rings over the deep-fried ones! These are NON-fried, nutritious, low-fat, high-fibre, high-protein, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, cancer-fighting, and best of all, super tasty!

This is one of my favourite snack recipes I have ever created! Who knew onion rings could be LOW-FAT (no deep frying involved), VEGAN, EASY-TO-MAKE, and SUPER TASTY?! With my and Raj’s free lecture on “Staying Cancer-Free Through Nutrition” coming up next Thursday night at The Big Carrot, I thought I should share my cancer-preventing onion rings recipe, in which onions and chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are the primary ingredients. Raw onion rings are generously coated in chickpea hummus and then placed in a dehydrator for hours until crispy. The flavonoids and sulfur compounds in onions have been shown to lower the risk of various cancers. Similarly, the antioxidants (manganese and various phytonutrients) in chickpeas also help protect against cancer. These non-fried and nutritious onion rings take a long time to make, but they are well worth the wait! I actually prefer them over the battered and deep-fried onion rings!

Sunflower Kitchen makes the most delicious flavoured hummus! Their HUMMUS + is vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and preservative-free!

Sunflower Kitchen makes the most delicious flavoured hummus! Their HUMMUS + is vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and preservative-free! I tried their “Edamame with Sesame Roasted Carrots” flavour for this batch of onion rings, but my favourite flavour is the “Curry Lentil with Spicy Cilantro Chutney”.

What you will need:

  • 2 medium onions (preferably Vidalia onions, which are sweeter than yellow, white, and red onions, especially when raw)
  • 1 container of Sunflower Kitchen HUMMUS + (I used the “Edamame with Sesame Roasted Carrots” flavour) or about 300 grams of good quality store-bought hummus or about 1 1/4 cup of homemade hummus
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • mixing bowl
  • dehydrator
I set the dehydrator temperature very low at 110°F to keep the onions "raw" for raw foodists, who can also substitute the Sunflower Kitchen HUMMUS + with raw hummus. If you want to lower the dehydration time significantly from 24 hours, you can increase the temperature to 150°F-160°F and this should cut the time in half (about 12 hours).

I set the dehydrator temperature very low at 110°F to keep the onions “raw” for raw foodists, who can also substitute the Sunflower Kitchen HUMMUS + with raw hummus. If you want to reduce the dehydration time significantly from 24 hours to about 12 hours, you can increase the temperature to 150°F-160°F.

  1. Slice onions into 1-centimetre-thick rings and separate each layer of rings.
  2. In a mixing bowl, pour in the hummus, add in the onion rings, and generously coat each onion ring with hummus. (I like to use my hands as the only utensils for this step.)
  3. Lay out the hummus-coated onion rings on the dehydrator trays.
  4. Dehydrate them at 110°F for 24 hours or until crispy.
  5. Let the onion rings cool completely in the dehydrator before removing them and indulging in them. (They get even crispier as they cool down.)
So healthy and delicious!

So healthy and delicious!

Hopefully, you all can check out this recipe! You do not need a fancy dehydrator. Mine is by Salton and was well under $100 (I cannot remember the exact price). I hope you all can also check out our free lecture on “Staying Cancer-Free Through Nutrition” this coming Thursday, March 26th at 7pm! 🙂

XOXO,

Addy