RAWspberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

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One of my T-Rex projects of 2014 is to publish Life is Messy Kitchen. A new book – part toolbox + part cookbook. My heart twinkles. My belly rumbles. The entire house smells like cinnamon, or is that cardamom?

Fun times.

In preparation of the role of Master Messy Chef, lots of healthy recipes (including mouth watering photos by the fabulous food photographer Marcela Macias) will parade the blog corridors.

Gooosh! I said “healthy”, not cardboard-like. I’m married to Hamburger Monster, for God’s sake. If he’s excited, rest assure you can be too.

Eating clean shouldn’t mean sipping cayenne-pepper-n’-maple-syrup tonic by the gallon all day. It shouldn’t mean an Almanac of restrictions + embarrassing stomach farts + locking the fridge with a sign that reads “You’re so fat!” pinned with a Domino’s Pizza delivery magnet.

That’s why this is not a new “diet” column. This is a space to inspire your senses to add more plant-based nutrient-rich superfoods that make you happy + worry less about the highly refined lab-chemicalized stuff. By increasing the dose of power foods, the rest will take care of itself. Trust me. Cupcake junkie in recovery howling here.

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The new + enhanced version of you begins in the kitchen + today we’re making: RAWspberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache. It’s vegan + gluten-free + refined sugar free. Who’s excited?

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 12 Medjool dates, pitted
  • pinch sea salt

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 2-4 hours + drained
  • 2 organic lemons, juiced + zest
  • 1 vanilla bean, scrapped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, warmed to liquid
  • 1/2 cup wild honey + maple syrup or raw agave nectar
  • 1 cup raspberries (thaw completely if using frozen)

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed to liquid
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder


Step 1; To make the crust, grind nuts + seeds in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add pitted dates + salt + pulse until mixture comes together to a sticky ball. Flatten the crust evenly into an 8-inch non-stick pan, preferably with a push up bottom. Place crust into the freezer while you prepare filling.

Step 2: Clean the food processor well.

Step 3: For the filling, process cashews + lemons juice + lemon zest + vanilla + coconut oil until very smooth.

Step 4: Pour the filling over the crust + place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.

Step 5: To prepare the ganache, whisk all ingredients together until smooth + glossy. Dip spoon in ganache + drizzle over the cheesecake top.

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Photography Credit

Marcela Macia


My Pre-Friday Video Time Ritual

True tale: Found a battalion of eggplants in my fridge this morning. Pondered: “I can’t freeze them. I don’t think I can juice them. What am I gonna do with these?”

I Googled.

A Baked Eggplant Parmesan link popped up. I start salivating.

Clicked on the link. No pictures. Ain’t nobody got time for that!


Couldn’t get pass the pic with a flash. I mean, have you seen how radioactive food looks with a flash?

After 5 rounds of clicking + whining, I’m basically about to lose it. Mayi’s hungry people. H-A-M-B-R-E!

Lightbulb goes on: You Tube. Cue the celestial soundtrack. That’s where I met Dani Spies. Where have you been all my life girlfriend? Her clean twist on yo’ mama’s Eggplant Parmesan had me at play.

Made it. Ate it. Danced the champion song. That’s when I had the revelation: People wanna see how you do it!

Sure they like how to’s. Bullet points + checklists are nice too. Pretty pictures without flash are super. But sometimes, most times, people just want you to show them, not tell them, how it gets done. Skip the advice + the tips + the tricks. Show me, please!!!

Now, this goes against everything I’ve been thought + know to be true. Mayi, that’s me talking to myself, “You don’t give people the fish, you show them how to fish so they never go hungry again. Right?” Right.

That’s years of Catholic School for ya’.

But what if (stay with me for a sec), what if instead of giving people the 1 2 3’s + recommending them what fishing gear to get or empowering them to find their own fishing style, I just show them how I do it. Follow along. Like karaoke.

At first, I suspect they will just copy. Copying is bad, but not if you’re baking Eggplant Parmesan for hubby or not launching an Eggplant Parmesan e-book tomorrow.

First attempts are scary, so we’re tempted to follow the instructions word for word. But practice seeds confidence – confidence to break the rules + play + experiment + tweak a little something here + whoops why not add some carrots there. Bam!

We don’t stay amateur for very long when we admire our mentors. We honor their guidance by making up our own recipe.

Until now, I’ve only shown you how to fish. Today, for the first time E-V-E-R I want to show you exactly how I fish, so you can copy me, if you want. So you can practice with a life vest or like we call them around here “flotis”. So you can reach confident. So you can find your voice. So you can make it yours.

Your own is good.

To start the show not tell saga, I’m letting your inside my entire pre Friday Video Time ritual. Ta daaa…

I want to hear from you!

Was this helpful? Did you like it? Was this crazy? Am I crazy? Okay don’t answer that last one.


Salame di Cioccolato (with Amaretto)

My family + I where obsessed with this restaurant called La Dolce Vita, owned by an Italian family. We started going in the early 90s, at least once a week for sure. My favorite, the dessert: Salame di Cioccolato.

We were devastated when La Dolce Vita closed a decade later. Devastated. Serious withdrawal symptoms.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet + Google, my mom + I found a version of the Salame di Cioccolato recipe online + have been perfecting it over the years. Today I’m sharing with you the mastered formula. Psst… it includes amaretto, yummy!


  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 12 oz Maria cookies or plain Graham crackers or Vanilla Wafers
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 3 tablespoons Amaretto (or liqueur of choice)


Steps 1: In a large bowl break the cookies into small pieces.

Steps 2: Lightly toast pecans + roughly chop. Add to the cookies.

Steps 3: In a double boiler melt the chocolate along with the butter. Remove from the heat + mix into a large bowl.

Steps 4: Pour in the sugar + vanilla + combine with a spatula. Add the egg yolks, one by one, mixing well after each addition.

Steps 5: Fold in the cookies + pecans. Add the liqueur. Should form into a moist + chunky mix.

Steps 6: Cut a large piece of wax paper. Spoon the mixture onto the paper. Place into the freezer for 15-30 minutes, until malleable.

Steps 7: When ready, shape the mix into a log with your hands using the paper. Twist the ends. Place the salami shaped roll into the freezer for 2-3 hours.

Steps 8: Serve as thin or thick as you like while frozen. Drizzle your favorite chocolate syrup to decorate.

This decadent treat will keep in the freezer, tightly wrapped for 6 months.

May cause serious addiction. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.


DIY Magic Wand



Step 1: Gather the materials.

Step 2: This is my favorite step! Paint dowel with glitter paint -you’re going to want 2-3 coats. If you’re in a rush -metallic paint only takes one coat. But you know that glitter is worth it.

Step 3: Glue a small ball of fluff around the tip of the dowel and hold till dried. This little ball is what holds the dowel in the star.

Step 4: To make the pocket of the star -snip the top tip off then use your needle and thread to start sewing on sequins to the pocket and back of the star.

Step 5: Stack the three stars together. Start stitching on the base of the star just over to the left of where the dowel will sit. I backstitched but a tight running stitch will work as well.

Step 6: Continue stitching all around, clockwise until you get to the 5th point of the star. Stuff a little of the fluff in each of the points -I use the point of my scissors to help guide the fluff. And no need to over fluff!. Finally stick the dowel in and stitch closed.

Step 7: Roll or fold the You’re A Star card (link to pdf) and insert in the pocket. A little bag of glitter, love note or a gift card would be a perfect match as well. You’re done and ready for magic!




Renae Bradley is the owner of Benzie and Benzie Bazaar – a shop filled with yards of beautiful Merino wool blend felt. When she isn’t packaging up Benzie rainbows she enjoys spreading fairy dust and good cheer to her two children; who still believe in Tooth Fairies and magic. Visit her blog or connect with Renae via facebook or twitter.


Heartmade Granola


I woke up hula hooping my way out of bed. Know why? Because today’s my Anniversary with Mr. Heartmade. But that ain’t all. Today it’s also the day Miss Mayi turnes Mrs.

Say what? Yes. Today, I’m marrying to the love of my life, David Larrinaga. (Envision me doing happy cart wheels + wearing all my party props at once).

Now before you get the idea I lied about my wedding date being on November 26, let me clarify.

The religious ceremony + white gown affair + Thriller dancing + 22 bridesmaids + big wedding cake eating event is still schedule according to plan. Today is, what we call here in Panama, our “Matrimonio Civil” – the legal wedding. Ya’ know? The court + the papers + the signing + the birth of Mayi Carles de Larrinaga? And my heart can’t stop smiling.

Before I head out to get pretty for this afternoon’s big moment + paint my nails bubblegum pink or something cute like that, I wanted to show you a little last minute treat I whipped out for our friends + family as favors.

It’s my fave homemade granola recipe. Hooray!

And you can do it too.

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  • 3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup cranberries
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Chop all the nuts in the food processor.

Toss oats + chopped nuts + cinnamon + salt + coconut in a large bowl.

Pour the honey + oil over the mixer + stir with a wooden spoon, until everything gets coated.

Pour granola mixture into a large sheet pan.

Bake (stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon) for about 45 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven + let cool.

Add the dried fruit.

Enjoy! Serve with Greek yogurt + fresh fruit.

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This is the day I might just die of happiness while indulging in some Heartmade Granola.




Photography Credit

Ruben Parra // Marcela Macia

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