Posts tagged organic

Secret Cilantro Guacamole

So I’m thinking you need my secret guacamole recipe! Being the holiday weekend, you might be looking for a great dairy free appetizer. Most appetizers revolve around cheese… This is always my staple vegan, vegetarian and raw  (besides the chips) appetizer which is fun and festive! Friends ask me for this recipe all the time!.It reminds me of fresh table side guacamole at a very high end Mexican restaurant. I don’t prefer garlic or jalapeno’s in my guac but suit yourself. Add it after you try it my way!

Secret Cilantro Guacamole


2 large ripe avocados (preferably)  or 3 small

1/4 cup red onion

1/2 cup tomato

1/2 bunch of cilantro for 1 Tablespoon of specially prepared cilantro *see below

1 slice of lemon

1 slice of lime

1/2 tsp sea salt

Organic corn chips (I prefer blue corn)

The Secret is the Cilantro

Ok there’s nothing really secret about adding cilantro to guacamole folks. It’s how you add it! I have been trying to perfect my guacamole recipe for years and I finally have it down to a  science (for my taste… and it seems for everyone’s I serve it to) It started with these basic ingredients but included chopped cilantro. But when you dip your chip, you may or may not get a taste of chopped cilantro and in my opinion, the cilantro makes it! I got lazy one day and instead of chopping cilantro, I found these frozen cubes of cilantro from Trader Joe’s, thawed one or two  and added it! It was so amazing because the cilantro flavor was blended throughout the dip which means every bite tastes the same, delicious! However, I wanted to figure out how to make it organic, raw and as fresh as possible without those additives Trader Joe’s put in those frozen cubies… Here is what I came up with using my blender, which tastes even better (I have not tried the food processor).

Specially Prepared Cilantro

About 1 cup cilantro (the green leafy parts. You can cut and toss the stems) … give or take

About 1/2 cup water … give or take.

Put both ingredients in the blender and blend or pulse (you don’t need to do much)  it will be soupy, but should remain thick enough to be caught in a metal mesh strainer.  Strain and scoop a Tablespoon of the cilantro mixture to be added to the guac. If there is left over, don’t toss it just yet. You may desire to add more. I have not tried to freeze my own cubes of this mixture but it’s on my list. Let me know if you try it!

Putting it all together

Cut your avocados in half lengthwise around the seed and then remove. Squeeze out your avocados into a bowl.

Move on to chopping the red onion and tomato. I’m a sucker for infomercials! I love using the Vidalia Chop Wizard for this because the ingredients will be the same shape and size. Add this to the avocados in the bowl.

Cut the end off the lemon and lime. Cut one slice (about 1/4 inch) of each and remove the seeds. Squeeze the juice of each slice into the avocado mixture. One slice of each has worked for me, but thin slices! You can always add more.

Add 1 Tablespoon of the specially prepared cilantro mixture. Add 1/2 tsp of Sea salt and mash. Start with a potato masher and then switch to a spoon as to leave it a chunky texture. Taste with your chip. Depending on how salted or unsalted your chips may be, you may need to adjust the salt. Adjust if necessary, the lemon, lime and cilantro according to taste and then try not to eat the whole bowl!

I would love to hear your thoughts and reviews!


The Karmatarian~

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Zullo’s is a Zero Waste Kitchen… Is Yours?


Waste~ produced every single day, averages out to about 2,000 pounds per person! And I did say per day! The majority of this waste comes from the Food Industry. From how the animals are raised, the produce grown, to all the materials produced, used and discarded into landfills, the food industry is one of the biggest contributors to environmental damage.

A few reasons to buy local~  ever consider how far food has to travel to reach the grocery store or your local  restaurant?  Try an average of 1,500 miles!  To make the long trek, food has to be doused in chemicals to keep it “fresh” on top of all the pesticides and  herbicides it takes to grow if it isn’t organic.  Unnecessary transportation only adds to environmental damage.

Good news~ there are conscious, passionate leaders in the food service industry who are devoted to help shift it to an environmentally sustainable evolution. Dear fellow vegans, this may not be a vegan restaurant, but promoting organic, local and seasonal is a major stepping stone in the right direction for the food industry. They are helping  promote awareness.  It’s highly commendable!


Adriana Marzullo, Creator and Owner of Zullo’s, an organic Italian restaurant founded on the principle of sustainability based at the French Market in Chicago, provides fresh, seasonal and organic Italian food which all comes from local farmers! Adriana wanted to recreate the essence of her family’s heritage from the Molise province of Southern Italy, the town of Castel San Vincenzo. Zullo’s menu is made up of rustic recipes that are passed down from Adriana’s grandmothers, all while keeping the environment in mind.

Going Green = More Green $

To create a green business plan, Adriana sought out the help of a well respected Chicago Chef, Caterer and Consultant, Greg Christian who’s Sustainability Consulting company helps the food service industry reduce their environmental footprint and become more profitable by going green. Greg has over 25 years experience in food service, catering, and sustainability.   Click to read more about Greg Christian . Greg formed Zullo’s into a Zero Waste, B-Corp Certified kitchen. Everything used within the kitchen is recycled, composted or reused. Even the cleaning products are environmentally friendly. They serve their food in biodegradable materials from a booth that  was  even  created from recycled goods!  Learn how to green your  food service business and become more profitable

Cooking with Greg Christian

Recently, I was invited by Zullo’s, to come learn how their Zero Waste Kitchen operates and to cook with Greg Christian. I jumped on this exciting opportunity and brought along my great friend Rochelle to share a new experience.

Antonio and Abraham

Our morning started very EARLY! We met with Greg who is just a really cool guy and very passionate about what he does. Then we met Abraham, Greg’s Sous Chef and Antonio the kitchen assistant, two really nice guys! We also met Adam who stopped in to shoot video for the Zullo’s blog. He was really great and hopefully I will be adding his video to this post as soon as I get my hands on it! We also had the pleasure of meeting Adriana herself who stopped in to check on some things before getting on with her day, and then it was down to business. We had lots of work ahead of us, cooking for two farmers markets and Zullo’s at the French market. We were a little slow trying to learn our way around what is normally a very fast paced kitchen, but no worries because Greg was excited to show us what he does.

Greg and Adam

Zero Waste~It’s All in Your Head

Still wondering just what a Zero Waste Kitchen is? Sounds high tech, sounds intimidating, but really and surprisingly it’s not! Similar to other industrial kitchens with the main difference being the level of consciousness regarding food and waste. It’s about thinking a little… keeping separate containers for garbage, one for food scraps plus paper products for composting and another for recyclables. In the freezer, to avoid stinking up the kitchen, were two very large garbage cans to store that compost waste which is picked up weekly. Grease is also saved for a local farmer who picks it up and uses it for his equipment. We didn’t turn all the lights, burners and stove on first thing and leave them going all day long (even when not in use) like most other kitchens. We only turned things on when we needed them and respected the fire and the flame. Keep in mind, that we didn’t get into all the details that go on behind the scenes of a Zero Waste Kitchen. I know there’s much more to it. We were  just focused on the fun stuff… Cooking!

We were very conscious of the pans we used, and used the same ones on the stove over again with what seemed to be a planned out system regarding what foods we were cooking and in what order… Or maybe it was pretty early? Because this however, was just my observation. Less pans mean less water used for cleaning. Everywhere we could save, we did. The point is, that thought was put into the entire process and in turn there’s less waste and more profit. You have to wonder why all kitchens don’t operate this way?!


Getting into the ZEN of Food

While Rochelle was busy working with dough for the pizzas, I got to help out with the veggies. I learned that each food/veggie is different, Greg taught us about how certain veggies prefer to  be cooked  and others prefer to be cut, the main lesson was, to respect food and learn from it, how it wants to be handled and cooked. I never realized the importance of using all of your senses in the kitchen, like listening to the food cook for instance, while you are doing something else… this helps multi-task!

The food has a way of letting you know when it needs tending to by the change in sound as it cooks.  This is fascinating to me because I cook so often but can’t believe I really didn’t notice this before! The bottom line is: PAY ATTENTION and be gentle. Greg had us thinking about the food we were working with and where it came from. There’s something different about the fact that it was seasonal, organic and local that really heightened the level of honor and respect for that food. When you stop for a minute and realize that a farmer put much care into growing it for us organically, you see it in a totally different light and you certainly don’t want to waste it!


My Serious Scorpio

Don’t Be A Flavor Chaser

I did not have a pen in hand because my hands were immersed in Zullo’s potato salad (delicious by the way!) among other things, so I may be leaving out a few important details. I won’t quote Greg as I certainly don’t want to mis-quote Greg, but while we worked we had great conversation which really resonated with me as I totally get into the “deeper” meaning of just about everything! We talked about how disappointing it is that most Chefs are busy chasing only Flavor. It’s a shame and almost sinful, because a talented Chef can make any dish taste fantastic with whatever ingredients are available, so why not respect the environment and use sustainable food to create wonderful dishes that not only taste great, but which are far more satisfying on a much deeper level? I was happy that my own beliefs, being that food grown with respect to the environment and the animals tastes SO much better, were actually validated by a well respected Chef!

Not only are most Chef’s chasing flavor, but most people in general lack respect and honor for food and themselves by choosing only to chase the flavor. Being rather gluttonous, living to eat rather than eating to live, most people tend to think every bite needs to be pleasureful. We are not put on this earth just to pleasure ourselves with food, which we talked about with Greg, if pleasure happens, Great, but we should honor and respect food and our bodies!

This lead into Greg’s deeper philosophy (which I love) about knowing which foods your body actually needs rather than wants… We talked about holding love energy or  the love vibration in your mind and heart when making decisions for yourself or for who you may be cooking for, at say the grocery store or while deciding from a menu, the right food with the right nutrients your body needs will  jump out at you (so to speak) when you are in that loving place. Like animals, we also have that ability to “know” what our bodies need for nourishment but we are far too busy and our minds far too cluttered to listen.

Food and Forgiveness

Greg wrote a  book called Food and Forgiveness: How  a Chicago Chef Came Around. “Ultimately, it will be forgiveness of self and others that will allow us to move ahead together in partnership to envision and create a safer, saner world.” Learn how the debilitating asthma of his youngest daughter caused him to search for ways to help her recovery, both through organic food and holistic medicine


Click here to buy your copy of Greg’s book from the Karmatarian E-Store


Our Finished Products

We made beautiful dishes from Specialty Pizza’s to Eggplant Parmesan, Potato Salad and more! These are a just a couple of pics because I didn’t take too many.  Everything turned out amazing to be enjoyed on every level (physically, mentally and spiritually… let’s not forget environmentally!). I am not sure if it’s because Greg is a fellow Scorpio lol, but I really admired his passion and thought he was an excellent teacher! We had an awesome time! Rochelle and I want to give a BIG THANKS to Greg and Zullo’s for a fantastic experience!

What?! Did you really think I was going to leave you with pictures of Rochelle and I taken at 6 am! We are both Hair Stylists… Pleeeeeez

Visit Zullo’s in Chicago

Zullo’s Blog

Catering Available call-1-312-454-5900


The Green City Farmer’s Market

Located next to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

2430 N Cannon Dr.

Chicago, Illinois 60614

Every Other Saturday (First weekend in 2011 will be January 15th)

8 am – 1 pm

* The South end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton


The Glenwood Farmer’s Market

6900 N Glenwood Ave

(the annex space of the Glenwood Bar)

Second Sunday of each month during winter months 2011

Nov 14, Dec 12, Jan 9, Feb 13, March 13, April 10, May 8

9 am- 2 pm

Enjoy the Journey,

The Karmatarian~

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Statistics about Waste~Facts and Figures!

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Chocolate Cupcakes Sent from Heaven with Fluffy Cookies-n-Cream Frosting

Chocolate vegan cupcakes with cookies ~n~ cream frosting

Life~ It’s unpredictable. Eat Dessert First!

In celebration of my first real blog article let’s do dessert!  I want to share  with you one of my most favorite chocolate cupcake recipes which you absolutely won’t believe is vegan! It means that no animals were harmed in the making so you will earn your wings while baking them and just one bite will send you straight to heaven! I am so impressed by these it’s not even funny. Thankfully I didn’t let the word vegan scare me from trying this recipe when I found it waaay back by accident because it  helped me to broaden my awareness and realize there is an awesome world of baking out there that does not involve harming animals or needless added cholesterol! Who ever started that whole baking trend that must consist of eggs and dairy? Well it doesn’t! How exciting is that!?!

I love the idea of cupcakes because they are so trendy yet they never seem to go out of style. I have to be honest, I really wasn’t a huge cupcake fan until I Close up chocolate vegan cupcake with sprinklesbaked these. No joke. I can’t stand a dry cupcake and that’s usually my luck when I bite into one. Times have changed and I see many batches of vegan cupcakes in my future as my son enters his grade school years and if I can find any reason at all to bake these, I will! This is a cupcake that visits me in my dreams!

I would love to take the credit for these cupcakes but I can’t. Truth is I only changed the recipe slightly, baked a few batches and then got creative and baked a whole cake. That’s right cake fans, this recipe can be turned into the most impressive moist chocolate cake! Credit for this cupcake and frosting recipe is due to the must have cupcake cook book called: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Tempting creations like Green Tea, Banana split, Chai Latte, Smores, Tiramisu, Chocolate Mint, and tons more, 75  to be exact. There’s a cupcake flavor for everyone! I originally found the Basic Vegan Chocolate Cupcake recipe at Chow along with the Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting.

The Chocolate Cupcake


1 cup vanilla hemp milk. I used Living Harvest brand. You can use soy, almond or other non-dairy milk

1 tsp  apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup vegan organic granulated sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tsp  vanilla extract

1/2 tsp more vanilla extract. You can use almond or chocolate here but I chose more vanilla

1 cup all-purpose organic flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder, I used Hershey brand cocoa before I found organic cocoa

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt


 Preheat  oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

Whisk together the hemp milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes (if using soy milk this will make it curdle which is what you want, I didn’t notice any curdling with the hemp milk but did not want to chance omitting the apple cider vinegar as they came out so perfect with it). Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, more vanilla or other extract to the hemp milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large clumps remain (a few small ones are ok).

Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Single chocolate vegan cupcake

Cookies -n- Cream Fluffy Buttercream Frosting


1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening. I used Earth Balance vegan natural shortening sticks

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine. I used Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks

3 + 1/2  cups vegan, organic powdered sugar, sifted

1 + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup vanilla hemp milk. You can use plain soy or soy creamer

1/2 cup finely mashed vegan chocolate cream filled sandwich cookies. I used Back to Nature organic brand. You can use Newman-O’s or even Oreo which are vegan. About 5 cookies = 1/2 cup mashed


Leave the shortening and margarine sticks out to soften at room temperature for a bit. Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the vanilla and hemp milk and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy. Stir into the frosting 1/2 cup mashed vegan chocolate cream filled sandwich cookies. Frost cupcakes generously and top each with half of a sandwich cookie.

I put the frosting in a big Zip-Loc and cut the corner off and piped my frosting on (a real baking Pro! Ha ha). I froze the remaining frosting for when I get a crazy craving for this amazing treat! It defrosts pretty decently at room temp. You can halve this frosting recipe if you are spreading rather than piping as it  makes a lot!

For a fun variation: I frosted a few cupcakes before I added the mashed cookies to the Cookies-n-Cream frosting recipe and just topped with sprinkles.


To make a dChocolate vegan cupcake cakeouble layer round chocolate cake, I made two batches of the cupcake batter, one for each 9 inch round baking pan and baked for the same amount of time (adjusting if needed). It came out perfect! You can get pretty creative with fillings for the middle or  just use some of the same frosting.

chocolate vegan cupcake tier

I would love to hear from you! Any favorite vegan cupcake recipes out there? Please do share :)


The Karmatarian~

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A Blog is Born!

I can’t believe it. My blog is finally up!!! Excuse me while I do the happy dance because I am feeling pretty damn excited! It has taken me forever to get this thing off the ground as I faced one road block after another. Caught up in the downfall of the economy, I have had to deal with some very tough challenges. I held on to the idea of this blog and shared my excitement with whomever would listen. Little did I know it would be a while before it was up and running.

I would really love to know the reason for these life challenges as I question them often. I guess I could go along with the old boring saying “there’s a reason for everything” or maybe it’s something more creative and interesting like… the nine personal year numerology I was dealing with last year blocked my blogging efforts, but the idea for it came prematurely to give me something to hang onto and expand on in order to deliver this blog at the perfect time and in the perfect way. I like that! Whatever the reason, I guess it just is. From my numerology experience, I’ve learned that there is NO starting a new creative venture under nine “endings” energy… it  just won’t last and I’m far too superstitious! So I’m thankful for a new year, new numerology and that my wonderful friends and family are still excited about my blog even after all the waiting! To my dear friends and family, thank you so much for your patience and support.

I  feel positive change in the air and I am finally ready to start sharing.  The one thing I have held onto through all of the mayhem is eating right!

There is a food revolution taking place and I am very excited to be a part of it. I hope you will join me on my journey as I hope to cover a wide variety of food related topics, share information, ideas and of course, great tasting vegan recipes. Please sign up to be notified of my newest articles and let’s do this thing!


The Karmatarian~

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