Posts Tagged ‘Jo Cessna’

Yesterday I  wanted to test out a recipe for valentines day brownies.  Since each Tuesday is our Community Wellness staff meeting at Kishwaukee hospital,  I thought it would be a perfect test panel of 10.  It seemed to get rave reviews and many are going to make it for their valentine.

Well I came home with an empty pan!!



4 tablespoons butter (or 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons butter)

2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (for best antioxidants use natural not the Dutch processed)

1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (I substituted Spelt – it has a bit more protein and is easier to digest)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt  (you could reduce this to a pinch or two)

1 cup sugar (the sugar I choose was 1/2 cup Sucunat and 1/2 cup Florida Crystals – for my family I probably would go for 1 cup                   Sucuant but it may have a more granular texture – I just love the molasses taste)

2/3 cup sweet-potato or squash puree (available in organic in cans at Duck Soup and HyVee)

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla up to 1 tablespoon


  1. Heat oven to 350 and butter an 8 inch pan (pie plate or square)
  2. In saucepan melt fat. Remove from heat and mix in cocoa – cool a bit.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. Stir together sugar, puree, egg and vanilla. Then mix into the cocoa mixture – blend well.
  5. Add all of this to the flour mixture and stir until flour has disappeared.
  6. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake 20 to 23 minutes – you will smell the brownies (a good sign to check them) To be sure they are ready insert a tip of a knife and if just a few crumbs stick it is done.  Cool and enjoy with your favorite valentine.

You know cooking is LOVE — so share some love today!


Looking for gifts – my super cute Heavy Duty Shopping Totes and Organic Cotton T-shirts are available at Sweet Earth downtown Sycamore – or straight from me.

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Waldorf Salad

I am so excited to share with you that as of Monday I am the Healthy Culinary Instructor at Kishwaukee Hospital Healthy Systems.  So what this means I will be teaching my natural cooking techniques to the community. I will still continue to offer private classes here at my home school and develop the recipe card sets for each season and send out my emails with tips and recipes.  Since  I now have to be on a different type of schedule  I will be putting to the test my tips on cooking on the run and keeping it real


So this is what I did yesterday:


After running across a bag of Kamut in the freezer (it is an ancestor to wheat) I was inspired to make something with it.

Before work – measured 1 cup of grain and put it to soak covered with water for the day.  Soaking helps cook faster but also reduces the acid of the grain and makes it more digestible.

Returning home – rinsed it and with 2 cups water and pinch of salt brought it to boil, then covered and simmered around 45 minutes (I like it a bit chewy you can cook it longer). So what to do?  I spotted some apples and knew we had celery … oh a sort of Waldorf Salad!

Cut up 2 apples, 3 stalks celery, handful sunflower seeds and another of craisins.

Dressing: 1/4 cup mayo, 1 generous tablespoon Dijon, dose of rice vinegar about 1 1/2 tab. season with salt and pepper.  We ate it on a bed of greens.

We had some leftover Turkey chili from the night before to add to the meal.

Now I have a great salad for lunchtime today.


You can vary the grain using rice, bulgur or whatever you have.

Cannot wait to share my new adventures with you!


The winter recipe card collection is available at   Sweet Earth downtown Sycamore; Duck Soup Coop in DeKalb and Creative Therapeutics. 

I will be ordering some more fall sets for those of you asking – let me know so I can reserve one for you.

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This weekend put a list together for these two yummy recipes they will jump start your morning.

As I write this email my “Sunshine in a Glass” is making me smile!



Sunshine in a Glass

1 ruby grapefruit, peeled, remove seeds

3 large carrots scrub clean cut in large chunks

1 inch of fresh gingeroot peeled and diced

water to thin if needed.

Puree in your vita-mix; food processor or blender. Water will depend on how juicy the grapefruit is.

Variations: add 1 tablespoon Chia seeds or flax or hemp seeds; add a handful of greens (the color will change)




Spiced Chia Muffins

(each day they get a bit more dense but still really good – good for 5 days ..if they last)

1 tablespoon chia seeds (chia is the Mayan word for strength)

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (other options ¾ cup whole wheat ¾ cup Kamut flour  or ¾ cup spelt and ¾  cup whole wheat flour)  experiment with your favorite flours


2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup pumpkin puree or sweet potato puree or any type of squash puree

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water

   If you do not use eggs leave them out and add ¼ cup liquid or an additional ¼ cup applesauce

½ cup maple syrup B or ¼ cup agave nectar and ¼ cup maple syrup  or ¼ cup honey and ¼ cup maple syrup


1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup dried fruit chopped

1/3 cup chopped nuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with papers

Mix dry ingredients together mix well.

Whisk together wet ingredients until blended.  Combine the two separate mixes.

Fold in the dried fruit and nuts.


Fill each cup full you may have extra for 1 or 2 more muffins.

Bake 18 to 23 minutes,  check the muffins with a toothpick when inserted in the center comes out clean.


Few Chia facts:

 The Chia expands 12 times its weight so while in your digestive tract they soak up fluid and you feel very full thus you can lose weight as you feel full.

Another benefit is the omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 these fatty acids provide heart health and other benefits to skin, hair and nails.

Calcium is also a perk especially for vegetarians who avoid dairy.  The Chias give 18% RDA per ounce of calcium – wow can you imagine if you paired them with dark leafy greens – a calcium packed punch!


Have fun with the chia – an overnight “pudding” soak 1 tablespoon chia seeds in 1 cup milk (almond, rice, hemp or other favorite) in  the refrigerator.  The next day you will have a pudding consistency eat as is or sweeten with honey, maple syrup or your favorite natural sweetener.  Dress it up with nuts and dried fruit.






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We just got a new HyVee store here in the area – it was quite the event in our little town. You could not get a parking spot for the first several days of the opening. What is most exciting to me is the beautiful selection of produce available. On my last trip I was fascinated with all the different melons they had. Today I had a couple of special friends for lunch and here is one of the side dishes I made with a couple variety of melons.


Cut melon into cubes

Dice up crystalized ginger about 1 tablespoon per 3 cups melon

Sprinkle with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder

Refrigerate at least an hour.

Refreshing, delicious and of course beautiful!

Give it a try!



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This weekend my husband and I packed up my knife, board, food processor and apron and headed to Rushville IL a 4 hour drive to southwestern IL. His sister and husband own Peace Of Earth bed and breakfast and she invites me to teach down there 1 to 2 times a year. It is a Peace of earth, 26 acres of woods, hiking, gardening, chickens, quiet. I always sleep so good while I am there — the cabins which are beautiful with real beds and screened in porches that are built to feel like your in the trees are so cozy. Yes there are bathrooms and showers. When we arrived Friday evening we were greeted with hugs and tuna steaks grilling. Saturday I taught a class on greens so in the morning Pat gathered greens from her large garden and we indulged our guests with greens. Here is a spread I made that I had the class help me create,


Green Goodness

4 to 5 cups mixed greens (I used baby kale and arugula)

12 green olives

1/3 cup pecans

1 clove garlic (more if you love garlic)

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

zest of 1 small lemon

lemon juice of 1 lemon (reserve part to see if need it all)


We coarsely pulsed it in the food processor. At this stage it could be a sprinkle on grilled fish or chicken.

Take it a bit further with a bit more liquid (water or more lemon juice) and you have a nice spread.

Taste and adjust sometimes greens can be bitter so add a bit of maple syrup or agave.

Also you can add parmesan if you would like.


Ideas for the spread:

-crostini and broil with a slice of fresh tomato

-slice a tomato in half top with green goodness and bake or broil for a nice side dish or appetizer

-use it on pizza instead or sauce or with the sauce

-just eat it by the spoonful!


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Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my mom at her farm. We feasted on asparagus from her patch and we made my favorite Rhubarb Custard pie together. A delightful and delicious afternoon.
She sent me home with a bag of asparagus to use. Well today is cool and cloudy and I wanted to make a hearty salad and here is what I came up with.
Roasted Asparagus Quinoa Salad
Roast a nice bundle of aspargus (clean and trim) cut into 2 inch pieces
400 degree oven – lightly oil a sprinkle of salt – roast about 5 minutes
Set aside asparagus
In pan saute in a bit of coconut or olive oil 1 Vidalia onion diced or a bunch of green onions (whatever you have both in season)
add 1 carrot finely julinenne or chopped and pinch or red pepper flakes – saute just until soft.
Cook 1 cup qunioa with 1/3 cup of currants in the water – just follow directions on package.
I used red quinoa but use what you have

Toss together – aspargus, sauted onion mix and cooked quinoa
Squeeze juice of 1 lemon over all and zest the entire peel
Toss in 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds or walnuts
Top with feta.

Enjoy it with a big smile on your face!!!



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