Product Review: Windy City Organics brings a Rawesome Gust to the Palate

Raw.

Vegan.

Organic.

Superfood.

Living food. 

How does that sound?

This is what you get from Windy City Organics, the parent company of some of the most amazing raw food brands that I have come across: DastonySunBioticsRawGuru, and Rawmio. They also work very closely with Sprout Living, one of the leading manufacturers of raw, sprouted, vegan, and organic brown rice and superfood protein powders of the purest nature.

Based out of (you guessed it), Chicago, IL, Wind City Organics, is family owned and operated and is a dedicated raw organic food manufacturer.

Of course, as health conscious individuals, we want to eat fresh foods - never before packaged - straight out of a garden, as often as possible. But the simple fact is that we live in a modern world and not all of us have access to what we need to thrive in our own backyards. We live in a world where we are traveling by cars, planes, trains, buses, trams, subways - and countless other means of transportation. And when we aren't in a vehicle of sorts we are walking, biking, rolling or strolling into our next meeting - bluetooth in ear, coffee in hand, bags and/or babies in the other fighting crowds and desperately trying to keep our energy up. And we have what tucked away for a snack in between meals? What about those times that we are not in the hustle and bustle but we are on play time enjoying nature with a long hike or backpacking trip or taking it easy with a road trip? What's in our pack? An apple? A banana? Protein bars? And what else do we bring to sustain us between or in addition to meals that is nutrient dense?

The average protein bar consists of a long list of hard to decipher 'ingredients' like soy and/or whey protein isolate, dextrin, natural and artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, gluten (wheat/barley/rye) and genetically modified corn syrup - and even the ingredients that are otherwise healthy like nuts, seeds and coconut are typically highly processed/heated, destroying the enzymes and any nutritional properties - leaving them nutrient void and you unsatisfied. These bars will likely lead to a host of residual effects such as gas, bloating, lethargy and will leave you with hunger pangs shortly after.

I strive to consume fresh foods, that do not come in a package for the majority of the time. This is generally doable for me. I go to the market and fill my cart with oodles of produce. I also incorporate healthy fats and proteins with wild game, raw aged cheese, farm-fresh eggs (thanks Mom!), gluten-free whole grains, and superfood like seeds, nuts, cacao, coconut and concentrated dried or dehydrated fruits like goji berries, cherries and dates.

Enter Windy City Organics, a one-stop-shop for just what I need to fuel my body holistically. Their products are not only packed with nutrient dense ingredients, but the list of ingredients is short and sweet (or even just one ingredient like Dastony's Stoneground Raw Almond Butter...OMG divine) and 100% organic raw unprocessed goodness.

I recently had the opportunity to try some of their products within the Sunbiotics, Dastony and Rawmio brands. All I can say, is that it was hands down the best raw chocolate and almonds that I have ever had. For real.

I started with the Sunbiotics Probiotic Chocolate bar and Chocolate Almonds (soaked & sprouted) whilst sitting outside in the sun reading.

Wow. There is simply nothing about these that I would change. The raw ingredients of cacao, coconut sugar, yacon root and vanilla bean made for such a supple and sweet combination that just melted in my mouth. And the crunch of the sprouted almonds coated with raw cacao was absolutely delectable. Shockingly, I was able to stop myself at half each and enjoy the rest the next day.

My next endeavor was the Rawmio - Organic Gourmet Sour Cherry and Almond Raw Chocolate Bark (naturally I chose the other chocolate bar next lol).

I enjoyed this bar after a hike on a beautiful warm and sunny day. I cannot even begin to describe to you how tasty this treat was after my hike. That day I was totally fueled by carbs and after the hike needed some fat and protein for an added boost. I had this bar, my vegan (SunWarrior) shake and some coconut water. 

And then.. allow me to introduce to you the finest quality almond butter that has ever crossed these lips. Would I lie to ya'll? Of course not. Dude... this almond butter has a decadent flavor so rich and smooth that one would think there is a list 10+ long of ingredients listed on the back. Nope. Simply100% Raw and Stone Ground Almonds.

I topped mine with some raw cacao nibs...whoa.

And lastly, I tried out Sunbiots' Cheesy Almonds over a nutrient dense salad. 

These almonds added such a pleasurable zest to my salad that I did a little happy dance! Yes, this is what fantastic foods do to me ;)

Suffice it to say, that I couldn't have been more pleased with the products from Windy City Organics and I will be leaning on them for much of my rawesome fuel from now on.

Bed of romaine, shredded carrot, chopped broccoli and cumber with tomato and raw caraway seed sauerkraut, Sunbiotics Cheesy Almonds, and a side of strawberries.

All of these products can be found online at the specific brand's website listed above, wholesale at Windy City Organics or at RawGuru.

-Ashley

Vega One Power Smoothie

I've been drinking Vega One as shake in the morning for a few months now and I have to tell you - it really has been one of those things that has changed my life. I love brekkie time, but I was beginning to be in a bit of a funk when it came to what to eat because what I was eating was not making me feel well. It wasn't giving me energy. I switched to an all fruit brekkie which made me feel amazing, but it wasn't sustaining me. I needed something more. I found Vega One and never looked back unless of course, I have my new favorite signature dish, The WAKE Bowl. Or... perhaps combine the two (AMAZINGNESS).

Vega One is 100% plant-based, dairy, gluten, and soy free. It has a complete protein blend and balanced amino acid profile made up of of sprouted whole grain brown rise, pea, hemp, and savi seed. Each serving provides 15 grams of protein as well as 3 servings of greens, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, digestive enzymes and probiotics. Here is a complete list of ingredients.

Anyway, usually I have the shake with added chia seeds and almond milk, coconut water or water and then fruit along the side but I was super hungry and didn't feel like a salad for lunch so I threw all of this in the blender and viola! Vega Magic.
 

Vega One Power Smoothie

1 banana
1 avocado
2 handfuls of spinach
3 T coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1 T raw honey
1 serving Vega One (I used French Vanilla)
1 serving liquid chlorella (about 18 drops)
~ 2 cups water (I didn't measure so use your best judgement for consistency)
Few ice cubes (this makes the spinach blend better)

Method

Throw in the blender and blend silly ;)

Makes one large green awesome smoothie.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

The WAKE Bowl

I have gone though countless breakfast phases - from eggs, potatoes and sausage (yes, really) to coconut flour waffles, to spinach pancakes. But, one thing has remained the same - and that is my love for breakfast and morning. I adore my mornings and the breakfast ritual. Especially on the weekends. I open the blinds, prepare my coffee in the french press, dance a round a bit, stretch and make breakfast (or what I like to call 'brekkie,' which I picked up in Australia). The tunes play as I enjoy my brekkie, read about what is happening in the World, and perhaps do some writing. My weekend mornings are quite ritualistic and if you're ever around me during this time, good luck getting me out of the house before noon.

wake bowl.jpeg

This recipe was born out of me having a couple of nights filled with some heavy food that my system isn't really use to eating and I was feeling like I needed something that was cleansing yet fulfilling and satisfying to my morning appetite.

I've continued to make this brekkie meal over and over - experimenting with different fruits, herbs and spices but the version below is by far my favorite.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am deeming this my signature dish. 

The WAKE Bowl

1 T chia seeds
1 C unsweetened almond milk (carrageenan free like Whole Food's 356 brand)
Small handful of spinach  (torn into small pieces)
1 Banana, sliced
Small handful of raspberries
Small handful of blueberries
Small handful of goji berries
Handful of cubed pineapple
Sprinkle of cardamom
1/8 t fresh ginger
1 leaf of fresh basil (torn into small pieces)
2 T Coconut meat/flakes
1 T hemp seeds

Method

Soak the chia seeds in the almond milk (in the fridge) for at least an hour or overnight (better tasting IMO and easier to digest). Add in all the other ingredients (I do in the order listed so that it looks pretty ;)), give it a stir and enjoy!

Yes this will WAKE you up!!!

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Enjoy ;) 

-AEB

Homemade Mustang Bars

Umm... wow. Yum. Yum.Yum. For real. This is some serious goodness. I am typically a 'one is enough' gal but these had me reaching for another one immediately after my first one. And so it began...

I am calling these 'Homemade Mustang Bars' because I got the idea from Paleo Treats. Note, I have not actually had their 'Mustang Bars.' And call me crazy, but I'm not going to spend $45.00 for 10 bars. But they looked interesting, so I looked at the ingredient list and made my own (omitting the almond flour and adding macadamia nuts). Obviously, I have no idea the portions that they used to make theirs so I basically did mine based on experience and what I had on hand.

homemade mustang bars.jpeg

Homemade Mustang Bars

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly salted
1/3 cup (crunchy) almond butter
1/3 cup raw walnuts, crumbled
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbls vanilla
3 tbls honey
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted) 

Method

Well, my food processor is still taking some time off so I mixed this together by hand. Simply add all of the ingredients in one by one in the order that it is listed above, mixing the melted (30 seconds will do) coconut oil and honey in last. 

Form bars and wrap in cellophane and store in the fridge. 

Yields ~ 8 bars  

Now, having had these, I will say I would definitely pay $4.50 for one bar. So, mad props to Paleo Treats

I need another word for YUM... 

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Product Review: Artisana Butters

Artisana! I even love to say their name. I had the pleasure of trying out some samples from Artisana recently and... I am certain I will be finding room in my kitchen for more Artisana products. 

Now, for these heavenly lil' packets...

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Cashew Butter: The cashew butter is almost like a frosting. Not in sweetness but in the buttery, smooth texture. This could be used for various frosting or cream cheese replacements. Loved it.

Almond Butter: I eat quite a bit of almond butter and loved this one because it is simply raw almonds. Many other almond butters have other  ingredients such as salt and cane sugar. There are SO many uses for almond butter. I like to enjoy just by itself or with a banana or apple. Yum :)

Cacao Bliss: OK- not sure this needs much of description. Cacao Bliss is bliss. Seriously. Delicious.

Macadamia Butter: I LOVE this butter. So good. I have made my own macadamia butter in the past theirs has cashew butter in at as well (here is why) which makes it super creamy. I enjoyed this plain but macadamia butter can be used in various recipes to replace cheese (especially ricotta), cream cheese or frosting.

Pecan Butter: Well, I love pecans to begin with but this butter was fantastic. I like to enjoy this one by itself but could be added to so many different foods... Perfect...

My favorite? 

If I had to choose, I may choose the pecan and macadamia....together... A wonderful bit of mother nature. 

Perhaps the best attribute to Artisana products is that their ingredients are completely natural and simple. The butters have few ingredients and often just one. Purely simple and natural :)

Discover more about Artisana here.

Enjoy! 

-AEB

Fig, Macadamia, and Cacao Balls

Well, my food processor may be broken ( ;((( ) but that will not stop me from experimenting with different homemade balls! Yes, I know, my sister has reminded me that the names of these tasty treats are not ideal. But I looked up synonyms to 'ball' or 'balls' and I assure you, there is no better word. Let me know if you find one...

I didn't have dates which is what I typically use for homemade bars/balls but had exactly 15 dried mission figs. And my mission was to make something simple and delicious.

Mission accomplished.

Fig, Macadamia, and Cacao Balls

15 dried mission figs
1/4 sunbutter
1/4 macadamia nuts
1 tbls raw cacao
Dash of cinnamon

Method:

Well, if you do have a food processor, throw all of the ingredients in and let it do its thing. If not... use a spoon and knife to chop all of the ingredients together.

Roll into desired shape. Wrap in cellophane and store in the refrigerator.

Yields ~ 5 small balls

fig balls.jpeg

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Carrot Pie Protein Balls

Yes!!! :) 

These really are like mini pies. Mini raw pies of goodness. And they are not too sweet, so you may want to adjust the recipe to your liking.

carrot pie ball ingredients.jpeg

Carrot Pie Protein Balls

1 cup whole rolled oats (certified gluten free)
3 medium sized carrots, finely shredded
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup raw pecans, chopped
1 tbls 100% pure maple syrup
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Method:

Shred the carrots in your food process, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Roll into desired size balls and store in the refrigerator.

carrotpieballs.jpeg

Yes, totally love these ;) Perfect for a pre-work out energy boost. 

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Enjoy! ;)

-AEB

Citrus & Avocado Kale Salad

I'm a little obsessed with kale salads these days. Cooked, raw, breakfast, lunch, dinner - I really haven't come across a time when I didn't want to add some kale. BUT, I will say that it if it is not cooked/sauteed, I need for the leaves to finely chopped so that it gets mixed in with all of the other flavors. I certainly don't eat raw kale plain. And I don't know many that do.

Anyway, I'm also obsessed with 90s music lately. Like a lot. I've been listing to Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mad Season and Everlast all week. Awesome. Here, you can listen to What It's Like (1998) while you read this post (adult content fyi).

OK, annnnyway, below is one of my kale concoctions from this week that ended up being super delicious and found its way into my lunch... three different times.

Citrus & Avocado Kale Salad

Small handful of kale, finely chopped
1/2 green apple, finely chopped
1 blood orange (you could also use 1/2 of a grapefruit or another type of orange)
1/2 avocado, chopped
1 small slice sharp goat's cheese, diced*
1 tsp scallion, diced
1 small carrot, shredded
Few macadamia nuts

Method:

Yes, just throw it all together. I make mine in the morning which is great because it allows all of the flavors to soak in to each other. 

citrus salad.jpeg

*Omit goat cheese or replace with Almond Cream Cheese for a vegan option

YUM!

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Better than Cookie Dough Protein Balls

Admittedly, I don't eat cookie dough anymore... BUT there was a time when I did. Yes, indeed. For lunch. Quite often. From Papa Murphy's. The whole thing. That would be after my cheesy bread-sticks from Domino's and my cigarette. Along side my Mountain Dew.

Yes, that is a true story. Ashley was the epitome of a junk food junkie.

But, for those of you that know me, you know that the days of (traditional) cookie dough, cheesy bread, cigarettes and soda have long since past ;) And while my goal for these, was a blast of awesome protein, what I got was a concoction that tastes IMHO BETTER than cookie dough AND is a blast of awesome protein. Yeah ;)

cookiedoughballs.jpeg

Better than Cookie Dough Protein Balls

1 cup gluten free whole grain rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup organic smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup dairy/soy free chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
3 tbls honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsl organic coconut sugar

Method:

Combine the oats, coconut, peanut butter, pecans and chocolate chips in your food processor and pulse until the pecans are chopped. Add in the honey, vanilla and coconut sugar. Pulse and blend. A dough will form.

cookiedoughballs2.jpeg

Form 2-bite-sized balls (I used my new handy little gadget to get the size) and store in the refrigerator. You could, of course, make bars/squares or whatever shape you desire ;)

Yields ~16 small balls

cookiedoughballs3.jpeg

Yum, yum, yum!!! Love these!

Enjoy ;)))

-AEB

Chevre-Macadamia and Fig Kale Salad

I'm not sure why I didn't put all of these ingredients together once before. It really is fantastic. Each bite has amazing flavor. I've had it four days this week for lunch and I am not tiring of it. Though I have made it a bit different each time, this one topped my list. And, I have no photo to show for it. 

Chevre-Macadamia and Fig Kale Salad

Handful of kale, finely chopped
1 apple, diced (alternatively you could do 1/2 an apple and 1/2 an avocado, I did this a few times)
1 mint leaf, finely chopped
1/2 small carrot, diced/shredded
Small handful of macadamia nuts
Sprinkle of Chevre Goat Cheese crumbles
1 fig, diced
1/2 tsp scallion, diced
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (alternatively you could use lemon juice or omit)

Method:

Toss everything together ;) To ensure you get the full flavor of this salad, I like to shake it up in a container or toss in a large bowl before I eat it. That way the apple cider vinegar gets a chance to do its thing and everything else gets mixed around.

Absolutely invigorating! Love this salad!

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Macadamia Nut 'Cheese'

Seriously...This was really good. Like lick the spatula good.

Macadamia Nut 'Cheese'

1 cup raw/unsalted macadamia nuts
Dash of sea salt
1/2 cup water1 tbls apple cider vinegar

Method:

In a food processor, grind up the macadamia nuts with the salt until fine but not smooth (or it will turn into butter!). Add in the water and pulse, forming a paste. Add in the apple cider and processes until you get a texture that is like cream cheese or ricotta cheese (which ever you prefer). I left mine a bit chunky. 

macadamia nut cheese.jpeg

I think I may like this more than the Almond 'Cream Cheese,' but I suppose that's to be expected. I mean, it is macadamia nuts... Yum.

The options are really endless for this recipe. Adding all sorts of different ingredients like cinnamon, maple, nutmeg or rosemary, dill, basil. Uh. Yeah. I want some now.

Enjoy ;) On some Plain & Simple Oat Bread?

-AEB

Soak your oats!

As you know, I've started to eat oats again. While they seemed to be helping me in some areas, I was still having some 'distress' after eating them. This time, I didn't want to give up ;)

Since I don't do well with cooked oats,  I was eating them raw. Is there something in the middle? Kind of. 

So I thought, maybe I should soak them overnight in something like coconut milk so that they are a little bit softer and easier to digest.

And then I Google'd: "soaking raw oats." And found 'Soaking Oats' on Nouveau Raw. I adapted from this method.

I didn't think about the phytic acid component but the reasoning made sense. Regardless, this method really worked for me AND tasted AMAZING!

I just fell in love with oats all over again ;)

Soaked Oats (for one serving)

(Note: If you are celiac or gluten-sensitive always buy certified gluten-free oats as there is a risk of cross-contamination in the farm fields and in the processing plants of those that process glutenous grains)

1 cup gluten-free raw oats (I use Bob's Red Mill Certified GF Whole Grain Rolled Oats)
2 cups warm/room temperature water
Pinch of sea salt

Method:

Soak the oats in the water and salt overnight (at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours). Rinse thoroughly before eating. Prepare as you like ;)

I had mine with a light coconut milk (from the can  not carton), a tsp of honey, some blueberries and a few raisins and walnuts.

Simply delicious...

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Cucumber Watermelon Summer Salad

Don't you just love summer produce? Me too.

Cucumber Watermelon Summer Salad

1 chopped watermelon

2 diced cucumbers

2 kale leafs, chopped (stem removed)

1 scallion, minced

5 mint leaves, minced

Juice from one small lemon 

Method:

Combine everything, top with the lemon, consume ;)

watermelon cucumber salad.jpeg

Great appetizer! Love, love, love.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Homemade Almond Milk

You would think that something as simple as 'almond milk' would have minimal ingredients. Hm. Think again.

In looking at a couple different brands that are deemed natural products, I see ingredients such as rice starch, salt, vanilla, natural flavor (who knows what that really is?), carrageenan, tapioca starch, sunflower lechtithin, and potassium citrate.

Um... I just want some juice from almonds. With maybe a little added sweetness...

So, we make our own ;)

First, thank you to my friend that posted this on this Facebook. A great infographic, I didn't have to Google at all ;)

almond milk infographic.png

I kind of followed the instructions...

Soak 1 cup of almonds (be sure they are raw unsalted/no sugar) in water over night or 5-8 hours.

almonds.jpeg

Drain the water and discard or alternatively, the graphic indicates that it's good for plants.

And here is when things went a bit awry for Ashley (at 9AM on a Sunday morning while I'm boiling water for my french pressed coffee).

Method (what you should do)

In a BLENDER, blend the cup of almonds with 4 cups of water.

What Ashley did...

Poured 4 cups of water in with the nuts in my food processor, flooding my machine, counter-top and kitchen floor. This all happened just as the kettle started to whistle - screaming at the top of its spout as I ran for a beach towel out of my closet.

Ahhh!!!

Whew. I got it under control. After I cleaned up my mess, I combined the nuts in the food processor with 1 cup of water, then added a second. Then, in a large bowl added the additional 2 cups of water and stirred with a butter knife.

Now, add some sort of flavor or sweetener if you wish. I added 1 tsp of 100% pure maple syrup which provided a very mild flavor.

Next, strain the milk through some cheese cloth (I folded mine over a few times to make a good cloth).

Pour your lovely almond milk into container of your choice (preferably glass and not plastic like I did...)

Dry out the remaining pulp to use for baking, salad toppings etc.

Makes ~ 3 cups almond milk. This will keep for 3-5 days in your refrigerator. 

And when you are done with that process (which really was very easy in retrospect despite my mishap), drink some almond milk (delicious!) call a good friend and go bum around in the mountains.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Sesame Date Balls

When it comes making these balls, bars or whatever shape you want to mold them into, my goal is minimal ingredients. You start piling in all sorts of dried fruit, honey, nuts and chocolate chips and pretty soon you have the sugar and caloric equivalent to a fully loaded ganache chocolate cake.

These are heavenly and are made using just four ingredients, then dusted with coconut flakes if you choose.

Sesame Date Balls

~16 medjool dates, pits removed
2 tbls warm water
1/4 cup brown sesame seeds
1/3 cup smooth almond butter (I love Barney's)
~3 tbls  unsweetened organic shredded coconut (optional)

Method:

In your food processor, blend the dates, water, and sesame seeds. Once the ingredients are well incorporated (you may need to use a spatula to mix in some of the seeds), add in the almond butter and pulse until everything is blended.

Form balls (or whatever shape you desire ;)) and roll in some coconut.

I wrap in cellophane and store in the fridge.

 Yields ~ 7 balls.

Enjoy (while laying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning ;))

-AEB

Kale Apple Slaw

Woohoo! My love for kale continues to prevail! :)

This salad was super tasty. You could add in protein with pumpkin or sunflower seeds or some lean meat but I left mine without this time.

Mmm. Fresh and delicious. I say that a lot, I know. But it was.

Kale Apple Slaw

2 cups shredded kale
1/4 cup green apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup purple grapes, chopped
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 tsp minced scallion

Dressing:

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp stone-ground Dijon mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbls water
Splash of lemon juice
Sprinkle of poppy seeds

kale apple slaw.jpeg

Yum!

Enjoy ;)

Creamy Minty Kale Smoothie

'They' say your taste buds change every 7 years (however I couldn't find solid proof on this...) but I am really hoping that my taste for kale does not go away. There was a time that I didn't like it at all and still need to have it mixed in with other things but holy moley this smoothie rocks. 

Creamy Minty Kale Smoothie

2 cups kale, thick stems removed
1 semi-frozen banana
5 mint leaves, stems removed
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup coconut milk (from the can: organic, full fat)
2 tbls hulled hemp seeds

Method:

Throw it all in the food processor and blend thoroughly.

Yep, rocks.

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Enjoy ;) 

-AEB

Carrot Gazpacho

I simply love researching and thinking for hours about the flavors, consistency and textures of ingredients to make a perfect recipe. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I rarely do come up with the perfect recipe. Sometimes close. Sometimes way off.

This time was quite close to perfect. Though, knowing myself, I'm sure I will make it slightly different next time. I usually have too much fun experimenting to do the same recipe twice ;)

Carrot Gazpacho

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 radish, peeled and sliced
1 tbl shallot
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 tbls apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
8 mint leaves (stems removed)

 

Method:

As with most recipes involving a food processor, there really isn't a method. But here is what I did: pulse the carrots, radish, shallot and olive oil. Then add in the apple cider, water and mint and blend all ingredients until well combined.

Serves 2-4 people.

This will keep well in the refrigerator for about 72 hours.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB