All posts by cheflaurenmahlke

Blood Orange Chocolate Mousse Pie-Vegan

Trust me you will love this recipe, melting chocolate in microwave creates the mousse in minutes. This guilt-free recipe is also plant-based using silken tofu instead of heavy cream letting you enjoy this delicious and healthy dessert.

Ingredients:

12oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup We Olive Blood Orange Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon of Kosher or Sea Salt
1 container of silken tofu
Directions: Melt chocolate in microwave for 3 minutes and then 30 second increments after that checking and stirring until melted. Drain liquid from tofu. In a blender pulse tofu until smooth. Add warm melted chocolate and remaining ingredients to blender and puree until smooth. Pour into cooled pie crusts. Cool for 30 minutes. Can be made a day in advance.

Chef Lauren’s Olive Oil Crust
Ingredients:
2/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup of water
2 cups of All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon of salt
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 Whisk 2/3 cup of Olive oil and 1/3 cup of water with fork for 2-3 minutes until emulsified. You will know it is ready when Olive Oil and water have become one and created a cloudy appearance. Add salt and flour continue mixing with fork. Spread on floured cutting board to finish combining by hand. Roll out with floured rolling pin to desired shape. Roll roughly into a round circle. Place into round pie pan. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. 

Corn, Tomato and Avocado Plant-Based “Ceviche”

As the temperatures heat up this plant-based “Ceviche” is perfect to help cool off your evening. Featured at my last Food & Wine Pairing with Monticello Vineyards we paired this with their 2014 Oak Knoll Chardonnay.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 lb of heirloom tomatoes
3 cobs of summer corn
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 small can of hearts of palm, drained and chop into 1/2 inch circles
zest and juice of two lemons
3 tablespoons of We Olive Lemon Olive Oil
1/2 bunch of minced chives
salt for seasoning
Plantain Chips

Directions:
Dice tomatoes and place in a strainer over bowl or draining into sink. Salt tomatoes generously, this helps remove the liquid from tomatoes and most of the salt stays within the liquid. Let drain for at least a half an hour. Place all three cobs of corn in husks unopened in microwave for 12 minutes.
While hot with an oven mitten slice off the bottom of the cob up to 1 inch above the nub.
Push through the cob through the husk and cob will come out without stings. Slice kernel off of cob.

Combine tomatoes, chives, corn, avocado and hearts of palm dress with olive oil, lemon juice, zest and season with salt.

Can be made two days in advance, add avocado before serving.

 

 

Napa Valley Trip with Kids on a Budget

 

Living in Northern California my family and I are within an hours drive to Napa Valley with some of the best wineries in the world. What you don’t often hear about is the amazing Campground right in the middle of Calistoga, Bothe State Park. Read on for recipes, campground tips and activities for traveling with kids to this amazing spot.
Camping Napa ValleyThe drive-up is beautiful driving through some of the most beautiful vineyards and wineries. We are members at Clos Pegase so we were able to stop to drink some wine and pick up our shipment and head down the street to our campground.

We checked into site 21 which for the camper was a pretty un-level spot but with a few tricks from my husband he was able to get us level perfect.  Despite the un-level spot for parking around campsite was beautiful opening up to a bright green field of Manzanita trees and oak trees perfect for the kids to play on.

We took a little walk around the campground and there wasn’t a bad spot we could find. Most of the campsites offer privacy in between with trees and brush and open up to a large space either on the creek side or the field side like we had.

We have spent the last year tent camping and rving with our kids and some tips that we have learned when traveling with toddlers.
-Have toys on the ready. We have a bin of outside toys that we set up with a baby gate and rubber rug and both kids will play in there discovering toys while we finish setting up.
-We also have toys inside like Legos, activity books, drawing so when the mornings are too cold or it starts to rain which it did on this trip we have fun stuff to do inside camper.
-We have two laptobs fully charged so we can get a movie in after dinner so they are have some downtown as well as time that my husband and I can relax and possibly have a fire.
-We try to not make plans set-in stone I try to be flexible as things can change quickly.
Saturday included blueberry and kumquat pancakes cooked with coconut oil (I stole this from my Mom) We did a little hike in the morning along with the creek under beautiful redwood an oak trees and it felt like we were in a coastal part of California like Marin not  Napa Valley. When it started to rain we came inside for lunch and then naptime.

 

 

 

 
I planed to make tacos for lunch but when my husband saw the can of spam that we been keeping in the camper along with the macaroni and cheese box he insisted on making lunch. The chef in me looked down on this lunch not thinking I would like it, but we all enjoyed it, it was very humbling.   It rained pretty heavily for the rest of the day so we were able to take a little night hike  which was wonderful for the girls to explore and see the creek by the light of the stars. We had never taken a walk before at night and it was a good experience for my toddler to overcome a little fear of the darkness. My husband took this picture at night in almost pitch black. Using a 30 second exposure he “painted” in light on all of the details.

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That night I made Asparagus peanut chicken satay with the coconut milk and ginger rice. The girls loved it and it was quick and easy to make. Find my recipe below as well as how to make a vegan version.

The next morning, after another round of blueberry and kumquat pancakes, we packed up the camper and drove to Old Faithful Geyser about five minutes north from the campground.

The grounds features a Geyser spouting every 5 to 10 minutes about 30 feet high into the sky of hot mineral water, it was so beautiful to see the steam pumping out from the ground. I envision us coming back on a beautiful warm day enjoying the Bocce Ball courts, the grass area and the cabana. They provide wine glasses and anything you would need to bring a picnic, unfortunately when we came it was pouring rain. We quickly got to pet and visit with the baby goats that were born just three weeks ago and made a note to come back and bring a picnic and a bottle of wine in the future on a sunny day. 

After all the running in the rain we were getting hungry and about 2 miles south on the  highway is Busters Barbecue that opens at 10 o’clock right on the side of the road you can smell the smoke meats a mile away. We enjoyed some of the best ribs I’ve ever had, a great vinegary barbecue sauce this is a must and a great casual spot featuring great food. I get the barbecue sauce on the side so I can taste the smoke on the meats.

I think the best time of year to come back to Bothe State Park in Calistoga is going to be fall on a cool-dry weekend. Fall is my absolute favorite time to see wine country when all the vines are golden and red and summer can get pretty hot in that area making it a little miserable for camping but if you can brave it Bothe does have a pool. Another activiy we want to check out for next time is the petrified forest another 4 miles north of Bothe.

On a separate girls trip two weekends ago to Calistoga we went to Indian Springs Spa and had Spa Services and got to enjoy the amazing Hot Mineral Pool always at 101* if we do this trip without the kids I would definitely add this glamping experience to my next Bothe Trip.

I love finding spots like this in the middle of wine country experiencing nature while spending the night on a budget of $35 a night, can’t beat that price when most hotels nearby are $400+ a night.

15 minute-Asparagus Chicken Satay with Coconut Milk and Ginger Jasmine Rice

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts, sliced thinly or firm tofu, sliced thinly
1 thumb size of ginger peel on, and 1 tablespoon of minced peeled ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of salt
1 can of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of EVOO
1 lb of asparagus, ends trimmed and thinly sliced into coin shape
1.5 cup of jasmine rice
*add 1 teaspoon of minced Jalapeno or Sambal Chili paste for heat

Directions:
In a saute pan on medium heat add olive oil, chicken, garlic and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. If spicy add the heat element at this moment.
In a sauce pot add thumb size of ginger, rice, 1 teaspoon of salt and open can of coconut milk. Push the creamy coconut milk to one side of the can with a spoon and let liqoud of coconut milk pour into a measuring cup. Should be around 1/2 cup, fill the measuring cup with water so coconut milk and water equals 3 cups. Reserve creamy butter like coconut milk for peanut sauce. Bring rice mixture to boil and reduce to simmer and cover on low for 15 minutes until rice is cooked.
Add creamy butter coconut milk to chicken with peanut butter, asparagus and soy sauce. Cover with 1/2 cup of water and let simmer on medium-low heat until chicken and asparagus is cooked through, cook until rice is done and serve.
*For vegan use firm tofu instead of chicken, I love the Siracha Firm Tofu sliced thinly and seared in EVOO. Remove from pan then start recipe adding tofu to sauce at the end.

Day in the life of a Chef- on a Diet 

You may be curious as to how does a chef go on a diet? I’m surrounded by food cooking all day if I’m working and if  I’m at home with my two little girls, I am surrounded by food cooking all day.

In the Rev 32 program we learn about metabolism and following the metabolic code. I feel like I have added more into my diet then I have taken away and honestly I am quite full. What happens in the body is you never get hungry if you do get hungry your body starts storing food which can become fat.

We have heard it before and it is true, to change your metabolism eat less more often. Stay a way from sugars and carbs and enjoy lots of vegetables, fruit and protein. Which leaves me a whole lot of the food pyramid to work with to make delicious and full flavored food.


My breakfast around seven in the morning usually consist of eggs from my chickens (yes I have chickens, it’s super easy and the best eggs you’ll ever have) and kale with another vegetable sauteed with some extra-virgin olive oil salt-and-pepper. Sauté on high heat for 1 to 2 minutes and then covered with low heat for about five minutes so the eggs are cooked with a little creamy texture.

After dropping off my toddler at preschool I head to the Renaissance Club Sport gym and drop off my one-year-old at the kids club and go in for my Rev 32 session at about 9:30 which is an hour long.

Before I leave the house I make a protein smoothie with fruit, cinnamon, soy milk and protein powder that I drink after my workout. It’s crazy how full I am from the smoothie.

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At around 12:30 if I’m short on time for lunch I make a salad with flavorful pantry staples, dried fruit, nuts, canned artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes or canned hearts of palm. These are all great ingredients to have on hand, they don’t go bad that can be thrown into any salad to make it more flavorful. I add a little leftover protein from the night before with this salad I did roasted peppers, pistachios, hearts of palm and some lean steak from the night before with a drizzle of Peach White Balsamic from We Olive that is 10 calories per tablespoon and sprinkle of salt and pepper.


If I have a little more time I’ll do a salmon tray bake. Preheat oven to 400° throw in some of my favorite vegetables for this meal I did leeks and delicata squash with salmon, sage and garlic little drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Can be assembled the day before and roasted right before you’re ready to eat, also a great meal for lunch or dinner.

I eat an afternoon snack with some protein around 3:30 hummus and veggies, turkey with some Apple slices something that my kids will snack on too, if I miss this snack I usually eat way too much dinner.

Dinner is usually a modification for my husband and my kids and something for myself. I love that I’m doing this program during winter because I make the best soups and stews that are all vegetable and stock-based.

I love this Thai green curry soup with chicken, butternut squash, zucchini sprinkled with a little cilantro. My family eats it with jasmine rice I skip the rice and just eat as a soup. I sauté the chicken and the vegetables little olive oil I cover it with stock and add 1 tablespoon of prepared green Thai curry sauce 3 tablespoons of coconut milk and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Simmer on low uncovered for 15 minutes taste for seasoning and enjoy.

 

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Journey to Balance

Through this 8-week journey of the Rev 32 program, I have had certain goals in mind of weight loss, diet and muscle strength. I have learned so much about my body after having two kids and two C-sections I felt separate from my body in some ways. I have heard that exercise helps connect the body, mind and spirit, helps stress relief and increases endorphins to help give you more energy and it is crazy to feel how in less then 8 weeks I have connected my mind, body and spirit stronger then I ever had before and my stress level has changed too.
At the beginning of the program participants speak with a nutritionist over the phone for a consultation after filling out a detailed questionnaire focusing on diet, exercise and personal life. When I was doing my phone interview with my nutritionist which I had to reschedule once before because my daughter did not want to nap during my phone conversation; my nutritionist asked me if I was stressed. Without even realizing it I unconsciously started crying and discovered while trying to fight back the tears I answered “yes” I was stressed. With work and my two kids already a full plate, starting a program that was taking my “me time” was a challenge with my time and balance. My stress level was very high even though I wouldn’t of completely admitted it to myself, I had to speak to a complete stranger on the other side of the Country to find out I was stressed and needed to find more balance.
After some self reflection, discussions with my husband and making a few changes my stress level has reduced dramatically. However my plate is still full and I know the stress say “Hello” again but I know that exercising has helped me to let go of the stress. I wouldn’t quite say my life is in complete balance but the journey to balance feels like I’m succeeding instead of failing.
Things became easier the workout wasn’t as hard I was able to push myself farther than I ever had before and when it was getting hard I just told myself to keep going and I am so happy I did.
Coming close to the end of the REV 32 program I know I have made diet changes, lost weight, grown muscle and strength, made new friends and something that I am so proud of is I feel like I am getting a little closer to my journey towards balance.

Rev 32-8 weeks of “Me Time”

People may know me as a Chef with my own catering and cooking class business in the East Bay. I’m also mom of a three-year-old and one-year-old both girls. I have a supportive, loving and hot husband and loving family. However when it comes to treating myself well I usually fall short in that process.  I do have a huge pile of clothes on my guest bed that has been there for way too long so “me time” takes a back seat since I have so many other things to do. However we all have this and that laundry is still there but the “Me Time” will be had! I decided to do something for me to make myself healthier more active and really push myself and see what I can do. I decided to start an eight week program Rev 32 at the Renaissance Club Sport in Walnut Creek.

Rev 32 in an intensive 8-week program and lifestyle change with a metabolic diet, meeting with nutritionist, logging my food daily to my trainer, support from a team and trainers and daily cardio with total body work out.

Ann, my trainer, told me about the program at past cooking classes and I couldn’t wait to try it out for myself. This program is different than just the Boot Camp or workout program because it comes with changing lifestyle choices with an extreme change in diet with removing any gluten, starches with carbs, alcohol, sugar as well as dairy in the first two weeks of the program. We see how these foods interact with your body. After the two weeks you can slowly start adding these foods into your diet with healthy options and see how it feels.

As a chef I pride myself succeeding food challenges to create full flavor and healthy food. The dairy wasn’t an issue for me since I removed most dairy in my household because of learning about the practicing of big farming and the dairy industry. Gluten and carbs wasn’t too hard I don’t normally eat a lot of bread and I have a very vegetable protein filled diet for the most part already. My challenge is eating more frequently and reducing beer and wine.

Each workout I have pushed myself harder then ever before and I know this because we each receive a MYZONE Belt which tracks our heart rates and level of cardio. The MYZONE belts fullsizerender-1track our work out and is displayed on a TV.It is a great way to challenge myself and also keep my mind off of the plank position that I’m sitting in for 60 seconds.

I honestly feel this is the best way to work out especially for someone like myself who is a newbie after having the two kids. I was mainly just doing a yoga and Zumba class here and there. I don’t have a lot of education on different workouts and weight lifting techniques. We are in groups of 4 to 6 other people with a trainer who will modify every single exercise for me so I know I won’t hurt myself. I feel like I have a personal trainer even though I’m within a small group and the group feels more like a team with everyone working together. Each person in the program is so supportive and  I’m so happy to get to know them. They put up with me accidentally counting out loud, which I know is annoying, as well as all the crazy grunting noises that I make.

The first half of my workout for the first two weeks every part of my body was saying “STOP! Your tired! Take a break” but I kept pushing myself until my endorphin’s started to kick in I start enjoying the fact that I’m not surrounded by two crying children and I am spending time on my self. I remind myself in another half an hour I will be in a nice shower, or if I have enough time to blow-dry my hair maybe put on make-up  and just not think about it anything, which is really the true joy of life.
I had certain ideas about what my weight goal would be at the end of the program, what my fat percentage goal would be but now that I’m just thinking I want to be able to do a plank or a push-up and have the strength to be able to hold my body. I want to feel like I can climb a flight of stairs or run after my kids and not be so exhausted. Overall I just want to be healthier, make good habits and the right choices for myself and have some treasured “me time” which is needed for us all.

I will continue to post about my experience in the program and recipes that I enjoy to keep my metabolism and protein in-take up.