Taking a walk around Orlando

Healthy Food, Inspiration, Local Orlando Businesses, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events, Recipes

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.

Henry David Thoreau

Even though it is winter there is lots of beauty to see along the way on an early morning walk or anytime during the day.

Orlando has lots of greenery, along with wonderful flowering bushes and citrus.

Plus walking helps improve a mood, gives you time to think, helps keep your brain active, increases balance, cost next to nothing and much more.

A little orange in life

A little orange in life

Being creative with stones

Being creative with stones

Purple camellia

Purple camellia

Orlando Flowering bushes some even bloom in the winter

Orlando Flowering bushes some even bloom in the winter


Cooking, FL, Growing, Healthy Food, Local Orlando Businesses, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events, Recipes


  • garlic – 2 cloves, finely minced
  • yellow onion – 1 finely diced
  • extra virgin olive oil – 2 tbsp
  • kosher salt – to taste
  • vegetable stock – 2 cups
  • cauliflower – 1 head, roughly chopped
  • bay leaf – 1
  • diced fire roasted tomatoes with juice – 1 can (15 oz)
  • oregano – ½ tsp
  • chili powder – 2 tsp
  • pimenton (spanish paprika) – 1 tsp
  • cumin – 1 tsp
  • maple sugar – 1 tsp
  • gravy master (optional; contains soy) – ½ tsp


Heat large pan over medium-high heat. Add in evoo, onion, pinch of salt. The salt helps draw the moisture out of the onion. Once the onion starts to brown, stir, reduce heat to medium, add garlic. Cook for a couple more minutes, then add veg stock, then cauliflower. Next, add bay leaf, diced tomatoes, oregano, chili powder, pimenton, cumin, maple sugar, pinch of salt, and gravy master.

After this starts to boil, turn heat down to low. Cover, let simmer.

Now is a good time to take a little break, maybe check out our Instagram page!

Simmer the cauliflower blend for 20-30 minutes until the cauliflower is as tender as you like. Uncover and simmer to cook down the juices some more if you like.

Warm some tortillas, and eat it up!

Good ideas for additional toppings:

avocado, cilantro, sliced radishes, salsa, diced tomatoes, refried beans, shredded cheddar (we used daiya), or whatever else your heart desires!


cauliflower tacos-1-2

cauliflower tacos-1-3

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cauliflower tacos-1-6


Farm Boy Kombucha Found throughout Central Florida

Cooking, FL, Growing, Healthy Food, Local Orlando Businesses, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events

This week blog post features another local Orlando business: Farm Boy Kombucha

Farm Boy Kombucha

Farm Boy Kombucha

Farm Boy Produce is a Orlando locally owned and operated company that was established in 2011. At Farm Boy, they strive to produce the highest quality Kombucha by using only the best organic ingredients. All the teas used in the brewing process are USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified. All the water used is treated with a four stage reverse osmosis system to remove all contaminants including chlorine and fluoride, to insure the healthiest Kombucha. In addition to this, all the tea used during brewing, and all other biodegradable ingrednts and materials are placed into productive compost bins and worm bins and recycled into productive soil, and generating hardly any waste in the process. These are some of key components on what makes Farm Boy different, and what makes Farm Boy a truly sustainable company.

Farm Boy Produce LLC
Local. Sustainable. Organic.



Farm Boy Kombucha can be found at Dandelion Communitea Cafe:


Win a FREE Ticket to the 2016 Florida Herbal Conference!

Cooking, Growing, Healthy Food, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events

Mountain Rose Herbs is giving away one free ticket before January 8th

We are so excited to share this interview with Emily Ruff, the Executive Director of the Florida School of Holistic Living and a community herbalist who has practiced the art and science of plant healing for over a decade. Her studies have taken her around three continents where she has studied under healers of many traditions. Emily’s dedication to preserving bioregional medicinal plant traditions and ecosystems led her to serve as a Board Member of United Plant Savers. Inspired by a need for greater connection among her regional community, she founded the Florida Herbal Conference event in 2012, an event which continues to sell out annually. Enjoy the interview and be sure to enter for a chance to win free registration to the 2016 conference!  
Florida Herbal Conference - win a free ticket!

Want to start off the New Year Healthy?

Cooking, Growing, Healthy activities, Healthy Food, Local Orlando Businesses, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events

Homegrown Local Food Cooperative Orlando, FL

Homegrown Local Food Cooperative Orlando, FL

Order from:


Homegrown Local Food Cooperative is your resource for locally grown organic produce, pastured eggs and meats, raw dairy, honey and a variety of artisanal goods for the home and garden.

Homegrown goods are available every week through our Signature Online Farmer’s Market.  Simply log in, shop and pick-up your local goods at our boutique farm store on Orange Avenue where Ivanhoe and Health Villages connect.

Our local Farmer’s list what’s growing each week and you get to pick what farm fresh goodies you want and, they are harvested just for you!

Our local Artisans cook and prepare to order what you have requested.

Quality and transparency are important at Homegrown, and you can shop with ease, knowing that we are looking out for the best tasting, healthiest, most nutritionally packed, unadulterated, local food available.  At Homegrown our goal is to source the best quality food grown as close to home as possible.
Our produce is grown without pesticides, fungicides, or synthetic fertilizers and never from GMO seeds!  Our animal products come from animals who are treated humanely and do not receive routine hormones or antibiotics.  Our artisanal  food products are made without preservatives or artificial ingredients.  Our artisanal home products are made without parabens or sulfates.  Our garden products come from our local organic farmers.

Each product listed at our Online Farmer’s Market is identified by the farm, kitchen or craftsman who is creating the unique offering.  To learn more about our Producers, visit the Producers section.

Online Farmer’s Market Hours:Tuesday at 9am through Friday at 9am

Boutique Farm Store Hours:
Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4:00pm and Monday from 2:00pm until 7:00pm

We accept cash, check, ebt and all major credit cards. 



Cooking, Growing, Healthy activities, Healthy Food, Local Orlando Businesses, Organic Herbs and Teas, Uncategorized

We came across some yummy looking tangerines and decided to make some sherbet! We adapted from this recipe here from vanillaandbean.com, which they adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe here to make it vegan. See, it’s all about making a recipe your own!


  • 2 Cups Orange Juice, fresh-squeezed tangerines. This will require 2-3 lbs of oranges. Refrigerate the oranges overnight if possible.
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup Granulated Cane Sugar
  • ⅛ tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1¾ C, or 13.6 oz can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 2 Tbs Orange Zest, 2 small oranges


  1. The night before making the sherbet, place the oranges and coconut milk in the refrigerator. Place the ice cream maker’s freezer bowl in the freezer.
  2. In a high speed blender (or a food processor), blend the orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and coconut milk until the sugar is dissolved. Strain into a large bowl. Add the orange zest. Stir.
  3. Refrigerate until mixture is 40F or less (I refrigerated mine overnight to reach appropriate temperature).
  4. Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. When finished, the sherbet will be like soft-serve (mine took 25 minutes).
  5. While the sherbet is processing, line a storage container with parchment paper and place in the freezer.
  6. Spoon the sherbet into the storage container making sure to redistribute the zest evenly as it tends to get stuck and clump up on the mixer attachment.
  7. Place a piece of parchment paper directly on the surface of the Sherbet and freeze until desired consistency. I freeze mine overnight, but a softer serve consistency can be enjoyed in about three hours.
  8. Serve in a bowl or cone.
  9. Store for up to two weeks in the covered container in the freezer.

orange sherbet-1

orange sherbet-1-2


orange sherbet-1-3


orange sherbet-1-4



Cooking, Growing, Healthy Food, Inspiration, Organic Herbs and Teas

by: Chef Mark Thompson

It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I love books. A lot. Real books – printed books that I can hold, flip through and put on my bookshelves. Old school. No e-books for me. But if thats your thing, don’t let me stop you.

Culinary books are a great resource – for techniques, flavor combinations, ideas and inspiration. Oh, and recipes. There are tons of tomes out there, but these are my personal favorites when it comes to plant-based cooking.



The Vegetarian Flavor Bible

The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity with Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, and More, Based On the Culinary Wisdom of Leading American Chefs

by Karen Page

That’s one heck of a subtitle. But it’s true. This book has been indispensable to me. Hands down the book I use the most often. It was preceded by Culinary Artistry (I bought three copies, because friends kept ‘borrowing’!), then an updated and expanded version was released, The Flavor Bible. This vegetarian version came out in 2014. The bulk of the book is dedicated to ingredient matches and affinities. Want to know what goes with mangoes? It’s there. Really want to know? Everything from almonds to yuzu. Classic and clever pairings garnered from the input of some of the best chefs in America. As well as methods of preparation, seasonality, flavor profiles, sample dish ideas, nutritional profile, botanical relatives and tips. Also, there is a fascinating timeline of vegetarian history, great quotes, information on eating plant-based, menus from top restaurants and more. Learn about it, and buy it here.



The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking

by Michael Ruhlman

A New York Times bestseller, Ratio, like the Flavor Bible, is another book to help break beyond recipes and find a new freedom in cooking. Recipes, of course, are helpful, especially when starting out or experimenting with new cuisines. However, knowing a basic ratio makes cooking easier and more intuitive. For example, a classic vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Where you go from there is completely up to you (and half the fun!). Oil? The standard is olive. But what about avocado or hazelnut or sesame? Instead of the traditional white wine vinegar, try sherry, raspberry or balsamic. Or go crazy and use lemon juice! It’s your world now. Add in some salt and pepper, it’s that easy. Other common additions would be shallots, dijon mustard and herbs. Just the beginning… There are 32 other ratios with countless variations. While not a vegetarian book, it is incredibly helpful nonetheless.

This book is also available as an app. Which, even given my affinity for books, I will admit is pretty handy. Ruhlman also has a very informative blog, as well as many other great books. I like them all, including the ones having nothing at all to do with cooking. Such as The Elements of Cooking, Ruhlman’s Twenty, The Making of a Chef, House, Walking on Water and Wooden Boats. You can find it all here.


How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food

by Mark Bittman

I’ve liked Mark Bittman for some time now. Up until recently he was a columnist with the New York Times, but has since left to work with a vegan startup. He is also an outspoken commentator on our broken food system appearing often on news programs, in documentaries and writing other books like Food Matters. His column, The Minimalist, was known for straightforward, simple recipes. This volume, one of a series, carries on that theme. This is a more traditional cookbook, but a massive one. And while there are over 2,000 recipes, there are also variations and substitutions and techniques to help facilitate spontaneous and seasonal cooking. The recipes run the gamut of soups, salads, breads, desserts, grains and way more. My personal favorite is the section on spices, condiments and sauces. It’s a great way to build up your pantry with natural, homemade goodness, without all the chemicals and superfluous ingredients found in mass market convenience products. With this book, you can make your own pesto, ketchup, eggless mayo, mustard, vegan fish sauce, barbeque sauce and mix your own curry powder, chili powder, garam masala and tons more.

This book is also available as an app, which makes a convenient, searchable, portable companion. Other books I like by Bittman include the aforementioned Food Matters, as well as VB6 and Kitchen Express (not entirely plant-based, but easily customizable). For more information, visit his website here.




Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine

by Tal Ronnen with Scot Jones and Serafina Magnussen

Just know this – Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney and Jay-Z are all fans of Ronnen. So, you don’t really need me to tell you. But I will anyway. This is vegan food taken to the highest level. Primarily Mediterranean, it is beautiful just to peruse, but there is plenty here that you could make at home. The first thing I did was make his simple, but tasty Walnut Parmesan. Some very interesting flavors and a section on basics, with recipes for almond Greek yogurt, cashew cream, vegetable stocks and a demi-glace that is next up on my hit list. He also has another book, The Conscious Cook, which is also worth checking out.


Dirt Candy: A Cookbook

Flavor-forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant

by Amanda Cohen & Ryan Dunlavey with Grady Hendrix

My new favorite cookbook. Funny, clever and filled with great recipes, ideas and techniques. Written in graphic novel form, it is part memoir, a history of her NY restaurant, and a cookbook all in one. Learn the trials of opening a restaurant and how to make Smoked Corn Dumplings or Huitlacoche Cream. What I like most is ideas for components to reinforce and add extra layers of flavor. For example, her recipe for Roasted Carrot Buns also includes a carrot & cucumber salad, carrot hoisin and a carrot halvah garnish to really bring out the carrot flavor in different ways and textures.


The Accidental Vegetarian

Delicious Food Without Meat

By Simon Rimmer

The chef at the Greens, in Manchester, England, Simon Rimmer has put together this tasty collection of dishes that could please anyone, omnivores included. Pulling inspiration from around the globe, there are dishes with Thai, Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern and Italian influences. Most of the dishes are simple enough even for a weeknight, but there are plenty to impress at your next dinner party as well. Samples include Leek & Potato Rosti, Phyllo Strudel with Port and Eggplant Tikka Masala.



The Omnivore’s Dilemma

A Natural History of Four Meals

by Michael Pollan

Basically an exposé of what it takes to get food on your plate. An attempt to answer the question, “What should we eat?” Delves into the benefits and problems with organic production, fast food, the meat industry, and foraging. A fascinating look into a broken system. The book earned Pollan a James Beard Award. There is also a young readers version available. Also great is In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and I also enjoyed Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education.


The China Study

Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health

by T. Colin Campbell, PHD and Thomas M. Campbell, MD

An eye-opening look at the effect our diet has on every facet of our health. The book is based on the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted. The main focus is the correlation between animal protein consumption and chronic illnesses. It can be a bit tedious, but the information is incredible. The study is featured in the film Forks Over Knives.



600 Recipes, 1500 Photographs, One Kitchen Education

by James Peterson

Somehow this guy seems to know everything about cooking. I mean, he did teach for seventeen years and write the advanced curriculum for The French Culinary Institute. So there’s that. He also has a degree in chemistry. He’s also written over a dozen books. This is the culmination of all of them, in one convenient package. It won a James Beard Award, as have several of his others. This is not all plant-based cooking, this is all cooking. So if you would be offended at pictures on trussing a veal roast, skip it. If you want to learn how to make concassée, Borscht, grill zucchini, and find out what the heck herbs de Provence is, then this is the book for you.


Flowers and berries in modern herbal medicine: Elderberry

Growing, Healthy activities, Healthy Food, Organic Herbs and Teas

Materia Medica: Elder

Common names: Elderberry

Latin name: Sambucus nigra var. canadensis

Parts used: Flowers and berries in modern herbal medicine, all parts historically.

Action: The flowers are a wonderful diaphoretic! Fevers are the body’s way of fighting off infections, so we don’t always want to lessen a fever, unless it’s either too high or has been going on too long. For a fever they’re beautiful in a tea or even in the bath, but tinctures will work well too.



Elderberries are antiviral and are an immunomodulator, which means they help the body balance to whatever level of action the immune system needs to fight infections. The berries make a lovely tincture, syrup, or elixir (combination of the two!) to prevent infections, and when taken during acute infections can lessen the infection’s severity. You can dry the berries too and add them to teas, they’re in our Heart Chakra blend, as well as the Everyday Wellness!

Elderberry plant

Elderberry plant

Once you can identify elder, and are aware of its healing properties, you’ll see it everywhere! Highway ditches, roadside creeks, your backyard! It’s a shrub and not a tree, and if you see one in the wild you’ll probably see 50! It prefers wet feet, which is easy to get in rainy Florida, and as of the last few years has taken to flowering almost year round! We’re lucky to have an elder shrub growing in the Dandelion garden and it is one of the happiest cultivated elders around! Tall, prolific flowers and berries, and keeps both its neighboring human and bird population very happy (the birds eat the berries too!).

I love to use elder daily in the wintertime, when everyone around me is full of cooties. It makes a beautiful and delicious preventative drink, and is was from inspiration from the elder that created the Everyday Wellness herbal tea blend at Dandelion!

Elder really is a pharmacy within a plant, and a tasty one too! Please enjoy these links to learn more about elder from some brilliant teachers:

Kiva Rose’s elder monograph

Rosemary Gladstar’s Garden Wisdoms: Elder Medicine

Jim McDonald’s Elder monograph

Eat The Weeds: Elderberries: Red, White, and Blue

Looking for new ways to cook healthier for the Holiday’s?

Healthy Food, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events
FRESH STARTS COOKING CAMP 2015 will give you some great ideas. Starts on Tuesday November 3rd at 7pm for a total of 6 classes.
Join Chef Amy, graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC and Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in this cooking series to learn how to prepare fresh, healthy, seasonal and organic meals. In each session you will learn about whole organic food and how to prepare it. Each class will include recipes for you take home along with resources on where to find the best quality food. These classes will guide you to become a seasoned home chef ready to prepare what’s growing locally in your neighborhood.

Testimonials from past Campers:

“Amy is the perfect instructor for this series of classes. She moves easily between conversation and demonstration to share her knowledge of nutrition and cooking technique. We all have heard the message that healthy and delicious food choices and preparation are accessible to all of us but Amy will inspire you to actually revise your grocery list and make changes to your daily diet. Greens are great.”

“Amy is a wonderful, friendly, welcoming person. And with her training and experience, she is a very effective teacher and an efficient chef. Her recipes are simple but delicious. She loves answering questions about food and sharing kitchen tips, and you will learn a lot in her class. I know I did!”

“Chef Amy has changed my kitchen forever! My vegetables are no longer just boiled, and chopping them is faster and much more fun! Her recipes are delicious and serve as a great starting point, but her techniques are what make cooking even possible for me. The amount of time they save and the fun they bring get me in the kitchen and wanting to be creative!”


Session 1: Go Green. Chef Amy will kick start the series with an educational lecture on how to select quality ingredients. She will discuss the benefits of eating organically and the realities of how most of our food is produced. We will prepare seasonal dishes with local greens. Dishes may include depending on availability: bok choi, kale, collard greens, sorrel, spinach and Swiss chard.

Session 2: Somewhere Over the Rainbow of Vegetables. Chef Amy will explain how to select the freshest seasonal vegetables and the most nutritious ways to prepare them. Cutting and cooking techniques for fresh vegetables will be the focus. In this class, you will learn how to incorporate vegetables into every meal and snack of the day.

Session 3: Sea Vegetables Aren’t Just for Mermaids. Chef Amy will identify a variety of sea vegetables and discuss the powerful health benefits of incorporating them in your regular diet. We will create easy dishes and snacks from these trace mineral rich treats from the sea.

Session 4: The Great Whole Grain. Chef Amy will discuss what a whole grain is and the benefits of choosing whole grains over refined grains. We will identify a variety of whole grains including oats, quinoa, rice, amaranth, millet, freekah and farro. We will prepare whole grain dishes that may be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Session 5: The Perfect Plant Protein. Chef Amy will demonstrate the best ways to cook dried legumes. She will discuss the benefits of consuming legumes as a staple source of protein. We will cover how to create tasty dishes from our nutritious little seeds.

Session 6: Soups On! Chef Amy loves vegetable soup all year round. Its an easy meal, side dish or snack that you can make ahead of time and enjoy anytime of the day. We will learn how to make a fresh stock as a base for our homemade soup du jour.

Camp Details

Each class will include a health and recipe packet, sampling of the dishes we create and homemade beverages.

Class Schedule:
Tuesday ‘s from 7-9pm
no class week of Thanksgiving

Homegrown Local Food Cooperative
2310 N. Orange Ave.
Orlando, FL 32804

Tuition: $150 for the entire Camp!

To Register email Chef Amy:

Cacao with friends

Organic Herbs and Teas
Cacao with friends

Cacao with friends

Hot chocolate is so lovely to share with friends. Hot cacao is even more lovely, lush even. Cacao is more than a candy bar, and has more than just caffeine in it. When I think of cacao and drink or eat cacao I pause and think of the centuries of reverence and ceremony surrounding this special plant, Theobroma cacao. The Olmecs, Maya, Aztecs, and many other native peoples who lived in the Central American rain forests considered cacao a gift from the gods, and it was an important part of their lives. Experiencing it yourself, it’s easy to see why. This heart opener brings me joy and clear thoughts, and what better traits to share with friends.

This hot cacao “recipe” (as you’ll see, my recipes are often a pinch of this, splash of that, and leave lots of room for creativity) was a truly decadent hit with some friends of mine, and I’d love to share it with you!

All of my ingredients are organic, because that’s what I keep on hand. It’s also how I trick myself into eating healthy: I only keep the good stuff on hand. Not all the time, but I try.  You’ll need:

  • 1-1.5C shredded coconut
  • 4C warm water (I used a tea kettle and let it whistle, then took it off the heat for several minutes to cool down to warm)
  • 1-2C cacao nibs
  • 2T powdered cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick!)
  • 1t powdered ginger (or 1/2t fresh grated ginger)
  • a PINCH of chili powder, or more if you’re a hottie!
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3-4T maple syrup
  • optional vanilla extract. I used about a capful of some homemade vanilla extract in bourbon

This is a homemade creamy hot cacao made with some deliciously rich  and dead simple homemade coconut milk.

Dead simple homemade coconut milk:
Add your shredded coconut with the warm water to a blender, blitz for 3-5 minutes depending on your blender, then strain. It helps to have cheesecloth or a nut milk bag for straining, but isn’t necessary. I used a simple kitchen strainer.

Hot cacao with friends:
I strained the coconut milk straight into a sauce pan that was already on a medium low heat. To that I added the cacao nibs, cinnamon powder, ginger powder, a pinch of chili powder, small splash of vanilla extract, and a little sea salt. Then stirred frequently and kept on a very low simmer with the lid off for about 10 minutes (or more, if you can stand to wait, your kitchen will start to smell pretty delectable.). I added maple syrup as my sweetener. It wasn’t very sweet, which is what I wanted, so if you like it sweeter feel free to add more than what this recipe calls for.

This mixture needs to be strained, as you’re decocting the cacao nibs and not using something like cacao powder (which I imagine you very well could, but I had a surplus of nibs on my hand so that’s what I used). This is extremely decadent and creamy, feel free to cut with some water while you’re decocting to spread the love a little further. Or be even more adventurous and split this with a complementary heart opening tisane of roses and damiana!

Serves 4.

May cacao bring joy to your heart, mind, and life.

Bio: Nina DiCristina is an herbalist in Orlando, Florida. She’s been studying the plants since 2008 and formally with the guidance of herbalist Emily Ruff at the Florida School of Holistic Living since 2011. She’s also been fortunate enough to study with Rosemary Gladstar, and  Guido Masé. She loves the daily communion with the plants and the joy they bring to those who know them. She writes at www.artemisiamoon.com, can be found pouring the tea at beloved Dandelion Communitea Cafe, teaching at the Florida School of Holistic Living, and enthusiastically assisting at the annual Florida Herbal Conference.